How 10 Minutes Can Increase Your Sewing Time

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Let’s face it. You have a lot going on and don’t feel like there is ever enough time to sew.

So, when you’re able to carve out some time to work on your sewing projects, you want to make the most of the time you have.

But does your sewing space ever look like this?

A messy sewing space
A messy sewing space

The Situation

On a day when I could only fit in 10 minutes for sewing, I knew what I wanted to do.

I had already picked out fabric, washed and pressed it, and gathered all the other supplies needed to make lanyards.

My goal for this 10 minutes was to cut a 3-inch strip from each of the 9 fabrics using rotary cutting tools.

Remember how my sewing room looked? How many strips do you think I was able to cut in 10 minutes?

Five? All nine?

Nope. Just two.

Why only two?

Because every zone was a mess! I couldn’t find the rotary cutter and I kept moving things from one place to another.

My large cutting mat was covered, the fabric baskets on the floor were in my way, and the only flat surface that wasn’t covered was too small to lay the pressed fabric or to put the cut pieces.

A messy storage area
Unorganized fabric baskets on the floor should be on the shelves. Pressed fabric for another project is tossed over a stool. Bins that were going to get me organized, lay untouched on the floor.
A covered cutting zone
The cutting zone is covered with unfinished projects.
A messy pressing zone
A cluttered pressing zone with fabric, patterns, and the ugly pink pantskirt.
Messy sewing zone
The sewing zone is a mess, also. Look, there is the only clean flat area. Too bad it wasn’t big enough.
A cluttered storage area
Another flat surface covered with stuff. Big sigh.

My sewing room, my actions, and my thoughts all had one thing in common…they were a mess!

Is a messy, disorganized, cluttered sewing space a problem you’ve had to deal with, too?

What’s a sewist supposed to do? (Especially one who doesn’t have a lot of time and just wants to work on sewing projects.)

A Solution

If I hadn’t been so focused on getting the lanyard strips cut, I would have realized those 10 minutes would’ve been better spent cleaning up my sewing space.

Sure, I wouldn’t have been able to get any strips cut out.

But the next time I had the opportunity to sew I would be able to focus, actually work on the sewing project, and accomplish more than I was able to in the messy sewing space.

Now, I’m not talking about a reorganizing, get-everything-perfect cleanup.

I’m suggesting a 10-minute quick clean with the goal of getting the sewing zone(s) in workable order.

The sewing space won’t be perfect but it will be functional.

And that’s what we want.

A space that is clean enough to sew, cut, and press so we’re making progress on our project.

All the big organizing and cleaning will just need to happen another day when there’s more time.

I don’t know about you, but when time is limited and all I want to do is sew, I’m good with a 10-minute speed cleaning to have a space I can think and work in.

How to Speed Clean Your Sewing Space

Your goal is not to organize everything and make it perfect.

Instead, you’re only going to do the most essential steps to get your sewing space to the state where you can sew.

The good news is this can be done in only 2 steps.

Step 1: Look around your sewing space and see exactly what’s going on. You know it’s a mess, but identify what needs to be cleaned now.

  • Does your cutting zone need to be cleared?
  • What about your ironing board?
  • Are there spools of thread and bobbins scattered around your sewing machine?
  • Do you have books and patterns stacked up on a chair?
  • Are there unfinished projects laying around because you pulled out something else to work on?
  • Are there things in your sewing space that aren’t yours or don’t belong there?

Step 2: Set a timer for 10 minutes and complete those tasks/steps to getting your sewing space cleaned up.

Don’t just move things around but actually put them where they go.

Tip: If some of the things belong in other parts of the house, get a box or laundry basket to put them in. This will allow you to stay focused on getting your sewing space cleaned up.

IMPORTANT: Do NOT get sidetracked! Remember the purpose is to clean up your sewing space enough to be able to work in it right now.

That’s It. You’re Done!

After the timer goes off, if you have time, work on your project.

Chances are you have some extra energy and want to get some sewing done in your newly cleaned up space.

If there isn’t time to sew now, you’ve set yourself up for sewing success in the near future.

Next Steps

As you cleaned up your sewing space, you probably noticed one or more areas that are begging for more attention.

Organizing fabric and storage are the big areas I need to address at some point in the future.

You may have the same problem or something completely different.

Research and planning on how to solve these bigger organization challenges are probably necessary because they are, well, bigger challenges.

In the meantime, use 10 minutes to speed clean your sewing space to have more sewing time now.

Update August 2020

This post was written in November 2019 and the pictures above are of my sewing space at the time.

Since then, we’ve rearranged some things in our home.

We moved our home office from a bedroom upstairs to a corner of the family room downstairs.

Immediately, I took over that bedroom to expand my sewing space thinking all I needed was more space and I could get myself organized.


A messy sewing space full of boxes and bins
My sewing space that is pictured above on August 15, 2020.
Another disorganized sewing space
My second sewing space (the old office) on August 15, 2020.

More space just means the mess is spread out.

In the Make Time to Sew Checklist, preparing your sewing space is the first thing on the list.

    If you have the zones set up but struggle with keeping them organized, that’s okay.

    It just means you haven’t found the system that works for you yet.

    Until you do, when the state of your sewing space keeps you from sewing, try setting a timer for 10 minutes and do a quick clean.

    Then start sewing.

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