Are you like me? You love to sew. It makes you happy. But you spend more time thinking about sewing than actually doing it.
Are 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 what 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.
Does this describe you? Why are we spending 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.
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.
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 I’ll reread 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.
Just Getting Started
Do you know what 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. 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 couldn’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.
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.
So what is the reason why I spend more time thinking about sewing than doing it?
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?
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 a list and the Notes app on my phone.
I had a sewing related notebook and decided to use that to record my sewing thoughts.
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.
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!
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 notebook 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.
I’m all about learning and want to help you have wildly successful sewing experiences.
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