Monday, February 02, 2009

Sew Focused

Diana wrote:
I can't even fathom how you sew so quickly. I'm such a meanderer (is that a word I wonder?).

Lately it's been mentioned several times about how fast I sew...y'know I don't really think I sew fast...I think I 'Sew Focused.' I see you scratching your head, so let me explain.

My first rule of sewing focused is that I set aside dedicated time to sew. That means I don't plan other things on a weekend I want to sew. I don't venture out much...which is real easy to do in the winter! I don't run errands and I don't meander over to the craft store that masquerades as a fabric store to pick up things.

My second rule is that I plan, plan, plan! All items that I need to make a garment are pulled from their respective closet, shelf or bin prior to the actual weekend I sew it. If I am missing a notion or need something additional, it is purchased before I sit down to sew. ALL things are together, in place and waiting for me, so that when I sit down I can just sew.

My fabric collection, pattern collection, notion & button stash as well as thread collection has been set up so that when it's time to sew, I can just sit down and sew!

Do you sense a theme here? *LOL*

Seriously, I have a limited amount of time to sew...primarily the weekends and/or when I can get an extra day or two off...so my sewing time is focused. If it wasn't I would never complete a garment! If there was one piece of advice that I could pass onto you, plan out your garment, assemble your supplies and then set aside time to sew! You would be surprised at how fast you could complete a garment.

Now of course there are amendments/disclaimers to everything! I did meander this weekend. That particular dress could have been finished by 2:30 pm instead of 9:30 pm...but I read some of a book, watched a movie, my oldest daughter came by to visit so I stopped to talk to her...and then there is all that internet blog reading! *smile* Technically, I could have finished two garments this weekend...I just wasn't pressing. I was enjoying the journey...

To reiterate, my sewing focused rules are:

1. Set aside dedicated time - don't use it for anything else but to sew.
2. Plan, plan, plan! Make sure that all of your supplies are on hand when you sit down to sew.

3. Pretreat as much as possible before sitting down to sew.

4. Stay focused - you can accomplish much if you dedicate yourself to the task!

Hope this helps all of those who are wondering how I sew so fast! And here is the original post that I wrote back in 2007 about "Sewing Fast". I would like to pose these questions from that post again:

Do you do everything possible before you sit down to sew? If so, why? I mean have you ever thought about why you put something that gives you so much enjoyment in last place? And if you do give sewing priority, do you ever analyze why you sew slowly? Do you enjoy the journey and want to savor every minute of it? Or are you paralyzed by choices which makes it hard to make progress?


Read some of the answers to the original questions. They really make you think! And finally, "Do you sew focused?"

27 comments:

  1. Yes, you're right. I think I 'sew focused' but have too many other things going at the same time. I start to sew and the washer chimes, the dryer bongs, some other timer goes off and I lose an hour. yada, yada. I need to blank out time for NOTHING else! Thanks for the encouragement. K

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  2. I try to "sew focused". The other thing I do is sew as much as I can before I have to press. You know, sewing all facing seams, shoulder seams, sleeve seams, etc. Then I press all those little pieces and begin to fit the puzzle together. It's amazing how much time is "saved" by streamlining the process without compromising my standards.

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  3. I am hearing you and you are on the ball. I get distracted by so many things, alot of them unneccessary. But I still say you are fast!! LOL

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  4. I love the idea of "sewing focused". This would only work for me if I'm sewing something that I've made before. One day, I hope to be that organized. Maybe if I have the opportunity to have a studio away from my home! LOL I end up stopping to cook, do laundry, make sure the kids don't kill one another, the dang on internet (instant messenger is the devil), and being distracting by a phone call. One day...

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  5. Planning and organization - always key no matter what you're doing.

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  6. I do everything you've recommended. I plan weeks in advance, I have all the necessary supplies, I have dedicated time, yet it still takes weeks to finish a garment. The term "weeks" may be misleading. I don't always sew everyday - I may sew 3 or 4 days out of seven - so it's not really a week, is it?

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  7. I try to have everything in place before I start to sew, but I just have a problem getting in the "mood" when I actually have time. I'll be all excited and itching to get started...until the weekend gets here!! :D

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  8. One thing I learned lately is how irritating and counter-productive it is to stop sewing because something's missing and you need to run to the store to get it. Now I shop for my projects in advance.
    But I doubt I can sew "fast" as long as I have 3 kids at home and a full time job. It's a wonder I can set appart some time for sewing on week-ends, let alone week-days.
    Yesterday I decided to leave the computer (blogs, forums) alone when it's time to sew. That will help a lot in the productivity departement.

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  9. It depends on how many mistakes are made and how much ripping seams you have to do...and your perfection level.

    I've made 3 pieces in a a day before. I sew very fast too. But my students - I had one girl take 4 hours to sew a pocket :)
    I try to teach technique first then tell people to work on their speed and perfection will come as they learn. Also If you do the same things over and over the same way you have less chances of making mistakes - it becomes second nature.

    I am lucky to have a sewing center where everything is there when I need it (including supplies) and I don't have to put everything away when I'm done sewing like I used to do before I started teaching.

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  10. Having every thing you need to make a garment before you start is a big time saver. There was an article in Threads many years ago about making a jacket in a weekend with all the time laid out pretty much as you are talking about. Having the pattern ready and even cut out and interfaced before you sit down to sew is a big help. I try to do this during the week. Working at home helps here, but it is also a distraction, which is my biggest issue! Too much time on the internet is a big time waster for me.

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  11. With 4 small children and a husband who works from home, my life is a distraction (ha!) but I try to cut out, interface, assemble notions, etc. in advance (while cooking dinner) since my sewing area is next to the kitchen. But like alot of you, I get pulled away easily and sometimes find it hard to get in the mood when I have the time (baby napping and others at school). Focus when the time is available is my biggest obstacle. Also too many ideas in my head and not enough time to put them into production is another.

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  12. I live in a studio apartment so I've been keeping my sewing stuff at my dad's house 30 miles away, where I can leave it set up all the time. That means I just have to drive there and then I can sew, which I do about once a week. I'm wondering, though, if I moved it all to my apartment where I'd have to keep it "put away" and take it out each time, if I would sew more since it was there or actually sew less since it's a hassle to drag it out? I'm getting sick of the drive (and with the cold weather I'm wanting to sew A LOT)!

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  13. Yup, I am very organized in terms of having everything at hand. But it's those THINGS that get in the way...like driving a kid to the mall or laundry or planning out the college tour or reading blogs. Just like you, Carolyn! I mean seriously, I should have been done with my faux-Chanel jacket long ago. Still, my balance between sewing, work and family isn't too bad because I do manage to get some sewing time in when I really need it.

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  14. I find that I sew focused (love that!) more now that I'm an empty nester. Thanks for the great tips to help me do it better.

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  15. Oh to be able to sew this way!! I have notice here lately though that I do have some time after about 830ish or so to start my sewing. That's the time that my son heads off to bed, before that, I can forget it. But, I like this idea of having everything all set and ready to go. Thanks for this post!!

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  16. Hmmm, well let's see. I guess I'm one of those stop and enjoy the ride kind of people. Your right, I do tend to get distracted sometimes... although as my kids were all in school I would use Thursday as my "sewing day" and the kids and my hubby knew that we would be having left overs and that they may as well just let me be if it was Thursday. I didn't get a dedicated sewing room until my son moved out in 2000 or 2001! So b/4 that it was a constant thing to have to pick things up every time it was time for a meal!
    Things are organized, and I do get things out and ready b/4 a project... yep... I suppose it's just enjoying the project. And when I do have projects like wedding dresses or something like that (for someone else) it always seems that I stay on task better! Guess I had better remember that I do count too! LoL...
    Thanks Carolyn... your an inspiration!

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  17. I agreed with you about planning ahead. I'm not as organized as you are, nor have I gotten to your level of production, but in the last few years my solutions, as far as getting more things sewn, are similar to yours. I'm still working on it.

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  18. What a great post. Lots of interesting comments, as well. You've given me loads to think about. Thanks.

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  19. I have a large inventory of zippers, buttons, and interfacing at the ready, which really helps. I'm lucky in that I don't have responsibilities to anyone else so when I sew I am automatically able to sew focused.

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  20. Great post. My problem is that everything gets in my way when I want to sew. I am now dividing my sewing into stages and planning the time to acomplish each stage accordingly. Hopefully I will be more productive this year.

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  21. I sew focused and when I am focused, nothing can interrupt me. Well, I will come out for food, but then I'm back at the machine. Everyone is on their own until I can try on the garment. Once I see how it fits and determine if I'm going to like it, then I take a break. Sometimes I go to bed after a 12 hour day of sewing with such a back and neck ache.

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  22. Excellent post! Echoing what Cindy wrote, having to rip apart seams and starting over is a true time eater for me at my novice stage. But your points on sewing focused are hitting home for sewists at all levels. LOL @ Sherril's Everyone is on their own until I can try on the garment." :D

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  23. Here's why it seems like you sew fast: we don't see the prep time. You say you sewed the outfit in the weekend, but how many days did you spend doing 10 minutes worth of prep here and a half hour there? Pretreating fabric (whether washing or steam-iron shrinking); cutting out; collecting zippers, buttons, facing, thread; all that stuff is part of the time it took to make the garment, but it isn't obvious when you present the finished item as "I sewed this over the weekend."

    I'm the same with knitting: I spend weeks pouring over patterns, picking yarn, knitting swatches, but "It only took me a couple of hours to knit that!" is what my friends hear.

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  24. I have only recently rediscovered sewing (thank you dress-a-day) and I discovered your blog from patternreview. I love it! Since I have no skills worth talking about (yet :)), enthusiasm and lovely fabric are really inspiring, thank you for writing this blog!!

    anon in ire

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  25. Haven't read the other comments (yet), sorry if this is already described. What you describe is commonly termed "mise en place" in cooking - everything in its place. All the ingredients are washed, chopped, or otherwise prepped, and they (and you) are ready to go. It is a smart, organized way to proceed, but it takes more discipline than I want for a hobby! :)

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  26. What can I say? We think and act alike!!

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  27. I think I'm pretty focused too, it's something that has come with experience. Before I sit down I have a game plan, and since I like to repeat models I have a effective M.O.P. for most projects. But I seldom sew during long sessions anymore, as it causes me to burn-out a bit and takes away the fun. I went from all-days to smaller sessions when my first child was born, and even though I now have the time again I prefer to just sew for 1-2 hours at the time .

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