Thursday, July 30, 2009

Hemming on My Lunch Break

All right, career girls. I need your advice. How in the world do you fit sewing into your work week schedules?

I just recently went back to work after a blissful five month period of unemployment. During that time, I mostly just hung out in my sewing room with my cats. My sewing skills improved, I worked on a ton of projects, and I started this blog. The only downside was a far diminished fabric budget. Now I have more cash to support my fabric habit, but less time to support my sewing habit.

I love what I do, but I can't help but feel overextended sometimes. My work requires a lot of reading off-hours. Again, I'm lucky--how many people get paid to read novels? But sewing is what keeps me sane (well, and insane, sometimes) and refreshed for work.

I've started bringing in hand sewing to do on my lunch break. It's kind of fun, actually! I have a cozy little office with a lime green door. I just shut myself in for a bit and take a little handwork break. It doesn't feel like as much of a chore as when I do it at home. There's no sewing machine in sight at the office (though that does give me some ideas!), so I don't think about how much quicker I could be doing something by machine.

So my question is this: how do you juggle a work (or childcare) schedule with a sewing hobby? And a blogging hobby on top of it? I'd love to hear your solutions.


  1. We work from home, and have a 4-year-old with us here full-time. The only way I've been able to get back to sewing is by being super-organized!

    I have a large moleskine I use as a project organizer with a to-do list and swatches for each sewing project; I keep projects in bags with everything they need. Plus, I keep a shopping list of every single thing i need for all upcoming sewing (with more swatches!) in my everyday notebook.

    So, if I'm near a fabric or notions store, I can buy everything I need at once. If I have a few spare minutes, I know which projects just need a small thing done. I can prewash fabrics for several things at a time, and so on and so on.

    And then, the hard part: taking those half-days to actually get some stuff all the way done. It can be frustrating, but this system at least got me back to sewing.

    The only real problem I face is sewing for myself - it takes so much longer to make something for myself I tend not to do it. (Also, getting the time off to go into Manhattan to fabric shop -- I end up buying online instead.)

    Actually, following your sewing has inspired me to try and get some serious projects going for myself again - I mean, if I made my own wedding dress, I ought to be able to tackle a nice simple summer dress!! I've even just bought my first slenderette to see how that goes!!

    Good luck!!

  2. Hand sewing at lunch which is actually better for me since there is actual *daylight* as opposed to evening lamplight that I typically go cross-eyed with.

    All other sewing is done in fits on the weekends.

  3. I do a bit in the evenings when I'm working on a project.

    That, or I fall into a sewing vortex, forget to eat dinner, stay up until 4 a.m, and then wonder why I am tired and starving when I wake up at eight.

  4. Other than the occasional evening most of my sewing gets done on weekends or when i take time off work.

    There's loads of stuff in the news here at the moment about people being underemployed (rather than unemployed), and it's put the thought that i'd like to be under employed; work 3-4 days a week and have an extra day or two for sewing!

  5. Another timely post! I am trying to figure this out too. I got back into sewing on the kind of post-grad-school adrenaline: had been working full time plus going to school; when school ended, suddenly it seemed I had so much time on my hands and all this creative energy ready to burst free after being constrained for so long. Now things have normalized and I find I'm not getting done nearly what I used to after work, in any part of life. Sewing is pretty much relegated to weekends now and it is dispiriting how slow projects are going. I need to get organized like Sarah! But I confess to having scheduled a day off on Monday, designated get-something-DONE-finally 3 day weekend after a pretty lackluster month. 8 hours of sewing PTO!

  6. I also sew in my lunchbreak sometimes...but then again, I run a consulting business from home.

  7. Truthfully, I don't clean my house. I just clean at it. That is how I have time to sew and work full time--and I still struggle to find time.

  8. My kids are all grown and my husband usually doesn't ask what I'm doing until around 10 pm. I usually get home around 5:15 pm and try to get in a couple of hours before he gets in. I'm off every other Monday and that's when I do most of my damage. I try to get in my sewing room everyday and do something even if it's just an hour! I take patterns to work and read them. It helps me move faster if I read the directions a time or two before I actually sew.

  9. Oh my goodness, I KNEW you ladies would have good feedback and advice.

    First off, Rachel, you win comment of the day for "Truthfully, I don't clean my house. I just clean at it."

    Ceka, I have been in the "sewing vortex" myself many times. Maybe I'll see you there!

    I love your organization tips, sarah. I work in midtown, and I've found that I can get to Mood and back on my lunch break. It has to be Mood, since they're the only place I know of that sells fabric AND notions, so it's one-stop shopping.

    Ivalyn, I sometimes read patterns on the subway!

  10. This is such a timely post! I am in the exact same position, as at the moment I am working long hours at a shif job. I find the lack of routine and having to plan each week around whatever shifts I may get has me really disorganised and I find it hard to fit in sewing around work and socialising etc.
    My main plan of action is just to try and motivate myself whenever I have a random hour spare not to procrastinate but to grab the opportunity and sew. This hasn't always worked but I am getting some things done at least!

  11. lots of coffee and late nights in the weeek after the kids (9 and 2)have gone to bed! Don't usually get any sewing done on the weekend as that's family time but sometimes manage to trace patterns and cut out in bulk. I read my burda mags on the train to work and knit and handsew sometimes too. Like Rachel, I don't clean much - I do manage to wash the clothes and feed the family though..... Reading novels is something I'm struggling to find time for at the moment. I'd probably have more time if I didn't spend so much time reading sewing blogs!!!!

  12. ooh, lucky!! After I gear up for fall sewing, I really have to just plan a day in to shop in midtown.

  13. Great post. I work full time and have 2 kids. So this is an definitely issue for me too. As with everything, something always has to give. I think we spend less time cleaning/fixing/"niceing" up the apartment than many others do.And sometimes sewing takes over from my other interests and needs (like exercise).

    Another thing for me is learning to have patience with projects, there are no one-day dresses being churned out from my sewing corner. I usually just sew in small increments after dinner, like an hour here and there. And then I sometimes burn the midnight oil on weekends, just to get something finished. But I think a lot about sewing and that helps me being focused when I finally sit down with my machine.

    As for blogging I would love to do it more, but I just don't have the time, so I have a "publishing plan" where I try to update a minimum of 1 post and a maximum of 3 posts a week. Of course I don't follow that to a T but it helps keeping the flow without risking a burnout.

  14. Weekends, evenings and lunchtimes...mainly. As an avid handsewer I don't need to be near a machine.


Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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