Why Aren’t You Sewing?

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Are you like me? You love to sew. It makes you happy. But sometimes you spend more time thinking about sewing than actually doing it.

Do thoughts constantly crossing your mind about what you want to sew for yourself, your home, or others?

Whether I’m at home, work, or pumping gas, I’ll see something that triggers a thought related to a potential sewing project.

Sometimes these thoughts are inspired by flashes of memory of books, patterns, and materials I already own.

Other times the thoughts are triggered by something I see in my house or online.

Some thoughts are about how sewing can help me make changes in my life.

Still, other thoughts revolve around projects I’ve already started but need to finish.

Sadly, it seems I’m constantly thinking more about sewing than actually doing it.

Do any of my experiences resonate with you?

Why do we spend very little time sewing when we’re thinking about sewing almost all the time and we love doing it?

Possible Reasons for Not Sewing

A Place to Sew

Do you have a permanent place to sew or do you have a pop-up sewing space? (This is a space where you need to set up your sewing machine and unpack supplies when you want to sew only to put it all away when you’re done.)

Since my son graduated from college and moved to another state, I transformed his room into my sewing room.

Before he moved out, I had a corner of the family room set up for sewing.

And before that, I used the kitchen table for my pop-up sewing space.

Over the years my sewing space has moved from a pop-up at the kitchen table to an entire room, but the time I’ve spent sewing hasn’t really improved.

I spend a lot more time thinking about what I want to sew than actually sewing.

My lack of sewing progress wasn’t due to not having a dedicated space.

But if this is what could be keeping you from sewing, check out Creating a Sewing Space.

Demands of Work and Home

Do you work outside the home? Do you have kids at home? Are you taking care of elderly parents? Do you feel like there is never time for what you want to do?

My job as an elementary classroom teacher along with taking care of my family when my son was growing up consumed all my time and energy.

A lot of time was spent in the evenings and on weekends doing school work. Part of the summer was also spent on continuing education and visiting family.

When my son was in college, I moved to a new position in education.

This position allowed me to have regular work hours and responsibilities that could be done in the allotted workday.

Even with more time and energy I still spent more time thinking about sewing than actually doing it.

For me, work and home responsibilities weren’t the reason why I wasn’t sewing more.

If demands on your time are keeping you from sewing, make sure to sign up for Snappy Scissors, the official newsletter for The Ruffled Purse. When you do, you’ll get the FREE checklist Make Time to Sew.

Doing Other Things

If you’re not sewing, working, or taking care of your family, what are you spending time on?

I love to read. There are several authors I’ve followed throughout the years and can get lost in rereading their books.

Recently I discovered alien romance books and a few authors I REALLY like in this genre. They’ve all been writing for a while so they each have multiple books in a series. They are easy to read and I have a hard time putting them down. Sometimes I’ll read for several hours.

The thing is, after I spend time reading, I’m often restless.

While I enjoy the stories when I’m reading them, reading for long periods of time doesn’t leave me with the feelings of joy and satisfaction I get from sewing.

Weirdly enough, sewing thoughts move through my mind WHILE I read, but I don’t get up and take action. I just kept reading.

This on is all on me. I’m responsible for my actions and have to live with the consequences.

Just Getting Started

Do you want to sew but are having a hard time getting started due to a lack of knowledge or skills? Is selecting fabric hard for you?

While I’ve got sewing skills, there is still a lot I can learn. Thank goodness, there’s an abundance of sewing resources available online and in books.

One of those sewing resources is my Starting to Sew series. This is a free online sewing class comprised of a series of 12 articles and lessons.  Each article and lesson was carefully designed to take you step-by-step through learning how to sew on a machine.

Also, I’m lucky to have my mom living across the street. She’s an expert in quilting and sewing and is usually able to answer any questions I ask.

Sometimes I do get paralyzed when I have to select fabrics. This becomes an issue especially when I need a lot of yards.

However, many of the things I want to sew are under 2 yards. In fact, a lot of them probably won’t even take a yard.

I can’t use the lack of knowledge and skills as an excuse. I love to learn and also have plenty of projects that require the skills I already have.

While fabric selection is a factor, I do have several projects I’ve already started but haven’t managed to finish.

In addition, I figured out a way to make selecting fabric easier.

Just Don’t Want to Sew

If you’re not sewing, could it be that you just don’t want to?

I thought long and hard on this one and determined it wasn’t a matter of not wanting to sew.

Sewing makes me feel good.

Creating something with my own two hands and problem-solving when I get stuck are just a couple of things that bring me joy when I sew.

Sure, there are times I get frustrated or have to tear things apart and start over but those things are just part of the process.

At the end of the day when I don’t take time to do something with sewing, I feel regret.

I’ve listed several reasons for why we could be spending more time thinking about sewing than doing it. But none of them seemed like “the one” for me.

Do any of them resonate with you, or are you still searching for an answer?

A Reason and Solution

Discarding the reasons listed above to explain why I’m not sewing more, I was at a loss.

My next step was to turn to times in my life when I’ve been successful in getting things done.

When I was a classroom teacher, things got done. Lessons were taught, transitions were smooth, and there was little wasted time.

At home, things were a little less successful. It took years and a personal challenge in 2017 that I called the School Year Challenge to turn my thinking about home projects into doing.

What did these two situations have in common?

After spending time reflecting, I realized it’s because I took the time to write down the lessons and home projects.

Instead of just thinking about what I would teach or thinking about the home projects I wanted to do, I wrote them down.

Once the ideas were written down they were no longer floating around in my head. As a result, my mind could then focus on getting the next steps done.

When I told this to my husband, he told me about the Zeigarnik effect, the theorem in David Allen’s “Getting Things Done” method.

The blurb on the back of one of David Allen’s books includes a few statements that stood out to me:

“…your head is for having ideas-not holding them!”

“… our productivity is directly proportional to our ability to relax. Only when our minds are clear and our thoughts are organized can we achieve effective results and unleash our creative potential.”

Allen, David. Getting Things Done the Art of Stress-Free Productivity. 2015

Interestingly enough, parts of what I read in David Allen’s book supported my own observations and life experiences.

I knew exactly what I needed to do with my sewing thoughts…write them down and organize them!

What about you? Do you think writing down your sewing ideas will help you take the next steps?

Next Steps

If you’ve found yourself in a situation like me…where you’re spending more time thinking about sewing than actually doing it, it may be beneficial for you to get your thoughts out of your head and organize them.

Write Down Your Thoughts

Decide how you’re going to collect your thoughts. Will you make a list on paper, put ideas on sticky notes or notecards, or use an app or another electronic method?

What worked best for me was starting a sewing journal and the Notes app on my phone.

I had a sewing related notebook and decided to use that as my sewing journal.

vintage pattern notebook
This journal is part of the Vintage McCall’s Patterns Notebook Collection, published by Chronicle Book LLC.

Organize Them

I’ve been thinking so long about the things I wanted to sew, I knew there were commonalities among the sewing projects. So, I created categories before starting to write anything down.

These categories became the table of contents in my notebook. This way I could quickly locate and record my sewing thoughts as they came to me.

table of contents

In the beginning, I wanted to capture as many sewing ideas as I could that, at one time or another, flowed through my mind.

I started by going through each room in my house. When something I saw triggered an idea for a sewing project, I added it to my prepared notebook.

Pinterest was my next destination. I went through my sewing boards and wrote down all the sewing ideas I had collected.

When I was at the grocery store, I had a few more ideas and quickly captured them on the Notes app on my phone. When I got home, I transferred the ideas to my project notebook.

After the first day, I had over 100 ideas written down!

a page out of my sewing notebook
These sewing ideas are on my Miscellaneous page.

Now What?

Organizing and writing down your sewing thoughts won’t magically transform them into action.

However, since your brain is no longer thinking about all the things you could be sewing, it will turn to thinking about how to get more sewing done.

I started thinking about how I was able to have a productive classroom and get my projects in the School Year Challenge done.

The reason was everything was scheduled. In order to spend more time sewing, I needed to plan when I would sew.

For me, sewing isn’t strictly scheduled or a block of time. Instead, it’s just a time I’ve determined to start sewing.

Once I get started, my focus turns to the project and nothing else. If I have to stop at a certain time, I set a timer.

Whether I end up sewing for 10 minutes or 2 hours, it doesn’t matter. I just want to sew every day.

Since I started capturing ideas in my sewing journal and setting a time to sew, I’ve spent more time sewing than reading. I go to bed at the end of the day with no regrets.

If you REALLY want to sew but have been thinking more about sewing than actually doing it, try getting your ideas down on paper or electronically so they are out of your head. Then set a time to sew and make sure you hold yourself accountable and do it.

Hopefully, you’ll find yourself doing more sewing as I am.

Let’s Connect

My goal at The Ruffled Purse is to support, empower, and inspire you to sew and make wonderful things for yourself, your home, and others.

Need help or have questions on this project, pattern, or tutorial? Send me an email at nicki@theruffledpurse.com and we can work together to get it figured out!

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  1. This was a great article, and made me really think why I had such a hard time finding time to sew. And instead spending lots of time thinking about projects I wanted to make. Like you, I don’t have most of these obstacles (although I do love reading too!) but still can’t find time most days to sew. I like the idea of a journal to organize my thoughts for all the things I want to sew, as well as planning for a time to sew (even if not hard fast). Thank you so much for this valuable insight and help! I really want to sew more in the future!

    1. Gay, starting a sewing journal can be a game-changer in regards to making time to sew. A close second would be realizing the time you spend sewing can be as little (e.g. 5 minutes) or as long as your schedule allows. Every little bit spent on a sewing project moves it forward. I’m happy this article provided value for you and will help you make the time to sew. ❤ Nicki

  2. I am very much a novice when it comes to sewing! I also procrastinate! I have purchased fabric and patterns which just
    lay here! I have a Singer sewing machine. I seem to have an issue with the foot pedal, controlling the beginning, pushing
    my foot down to hard. I have been thinking of buying a new machine. Is a digital machine controlled with a foot pedal or perhaps just being able to start by pressing a particuiar button? Any feedback or suggestions?
    Thank you

    1. Before you start looking for another machine, spend some time just sewing up and down scraps of fabric starting and stopping until you achieve that smooth start with your foot pedal. You will eventually get it. It’s not uncommon (even for an experienced sewist) to need to practice and get used to the foot pedal on a new machine.

      Some pedals do have a way to regulate the speed to half by sliding or pushing a button on the pedal. Not all machines have this option so look in your sewing machine manual where it shows the foot control info to see if your Singer has this option. If you’re able to set it to half-speed, it won’t seem to race so much at the beginning.

      You could also play around with how you place your foot on your pedal. Are you using your whole foot and covering the pedal (like you would a car)? Maybe try only covering half of the pedal. You could also try sewing with bare feet. Use your toes to push the pedal down from the top.

      There may be a machine out there that will start and stop by pushing a button but I don’t know of a specific one. And I’m not sure how you would control the speed of the needle once it gets going with a feature like that.

  3. A sensitive topic!
    Started as teenager, pattern fit by default, but then…
    – new patterns no longer fit as is, as I grew
    – precious fabrics purchased, I better research getting a good fit
    – what?!? pattern is just the start, first make a “muslin” to check pattern and fit?!? double the work?
    – start on something, it gets put away to finish “later”, during decades of too busy (obnoxious demanding jobs), the patterns/fabric supplies bought, and await start.
    So, a small crossstitch project here and there.

  4. I have an extensive list of UFO’s, quilts I want to make (to try new techniques), gifts for family members, and items for the house that I need to make. I’ve vowed to make at least one charity quilt a month for next year, I usually make at least 4-5 a year start to finish, but this year it was only one. I do have a small 3 ring notebook that I sketched out design ideas for quilts that is probably 20 years old, but none ever made. Life just has a way of getting in the way of other things. Sewing clothing when my children were small was a stress reliever for me; a challenge on how many items of clothing I could get for the $5 a lb. fabric I bought from a store. I made many stuffed dolls and toys for them, their Halloween costumes. Sewing is still a big part of my life, but I don’t make clothing anymore, or rarely.

    1. You’re right, life does have way of getting in the way of other things like sewing. It sounds like you have some systems in place so when you do sew, you know what to make. Thanks for sharing!

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