Thursday, June 29, 2006

Questions and Answers

Kathleen in Illinois asked the following questions:

"May I ask HOW do you get all this done? I know you have a family and a job (from reading previous posts). Do you have a real sewing room? How do you balance family and work so as to have time to sew? Sigh. I am so envious. I get soo caught up in what I "don't" have that I haven't been able to sew a stitch in months."

I have had a few others ask about my productivity and I thought since I had nothing to report on the sewing front that I might as well talk about why I sew, how I sew, what drives me to sew, etc.

How do I get all this done?
I pretty much schedule my weekends so that I have time to sew. Not that I have time every weekend but at least two weekends a month have to be dedicated to sewing. Now, I know you are wondering about errands and when do I get them done!? Most of my errands (food shopping, cleaners, meat market, etc.) are all done after work. I am already out and it just seems so much easier to accomplish it all then than to take precious time on Saturdays to do it. If I must do an errand on Saturday, I try to do it really early in the morning so that it doesn't take major amounts of time from my day.

I am a huge list maker. Lists take care of a lot of things and keep me organized and orderly. Also, most of my children are self sufficient. I no longer need to carpool or keep them entertained. They are pretty good about doing that themselves! *smile*

And finally slave labor - okay seriously, my kids have certain chores that they must perform either weekly or daily. It helps considerably with keeping our home clean and it means that I don't do all of the household chores myself.

Do I have a real sewing room?
Not an entire room but a dedicated sewing space. My cutting table is always up. My iron and ironing board are always up and one switch flips on my sewing machine and serger. So it is easy to sit down and sew. Do I think it is necessary to have a dedicated space - no, but it is harder to spend quality time sewing if you have to put everything together before you can sew and then take everything down after you are finished. I have learned to have some dedicated sewing space wherever I live. I realized early on that it is important to my sense of well-being to have that space! So I guess you have to decide how important sewing is to you. And if it is really important than you need to carve an area out of your living space that will allow you to feed your creative spirit. When we moved to this new home, what was most important to me besides a place to sew, was that I had my own fabric closet. We converted one of the largest closets in the house so that I could use it to hold my fabric collection. That was very important to me and it is reflected in my home!

How do you balance work and family so that you have time to sew?
When my children were younger, I definitely didn't sew as much as I do now. It took much more of my time to care for my family, participate in family activities and I also worked full-time. I have more time now because I have older children and more flexibility in my life. Also, I have finally accrued enough vacation time (read that as worked at my job long enough!) that I have enough time to plan vacations as well as take days off just to sew, if I want.

And I am very, very organized. Again those lists! I also have a two hour commute to work and home again. I don't always use my two hours to sleep! Almost every afternoon on the way home, I am either reading a novel or something sewing related. Sometimes I just daydream about what I want to make while I am coming home. But my life is geared around my sewing.

I need to say something here about how I regard sewing as an artform and that it is my outlet for creative expression. Some people write, some cook, some paint, some garden...I sew! I am truly obsessed! And the ability to take a piece of fabric and see a completed garment from the fabric, then construct the garment that I saw in my head, speaks volumes about who I am and what truly makes me happy! There is also that continual learning thing...there always seems to be another technique to learn, another type of fabric to use, something new to master that also drives me. Never mind the thrill I get from marrying fabric and pattern together...

My kids tell a joke, that if the house were on fire, that I would be yelling to everyone to get out but running towards my sewing machines to save them first! I think it illustrates my priorities pretty well and how my family views my priorities! *smile*

I get so caught up in what I don't have and haven't been able to sew a stitch!
I think Nike said it best..."Just do it!" If you read the sewing boards and see what other women own and buy, it can be disheartening. If you read sewing reviews and see the pictures of what other people make, it can make you distrust your talent. How do I know this? I have felt all of these things at various times since I discovered other sewers on the internet. But and this is an important but, purchase the best piece of fabric you can afford wherever you can get it from...thrift store, local Joann's or Hancock's, local fabric store, internet etc. and construct the best outfit that you can. Read everything that you can about sewing. I had a Pastor once tell me that if I loved sewing so much why didn't I own books about it. Why didn't I subscribe to magazines about it? You don't have to buy every book - borrow them from the library, take only the magazine subscriptions that teach you something! But do it. Just do it!

Even if its only 15 minutes every other evening - Just do it!

Finally, I would like to pose these questions to those who read this blog...Why is sewing so important to you? If you could no longer sew, would it affect how you thought of yourself and who you were? And what special things do you do to carve time out of your busy life so that you can just sew!?


  1. Carolyn, thank you for your very kind - and informative! - reply. You are right, I need to adopt Nike's motto - and JUST DO IT....

    I don't have a "real" space. My Beloved and I live in an itty-bitty apt and things are everywhere. My "creative space" is on a card table in the kitchen, and yes, things must be set up/taken down....but I am just going to have to purpose in my heart to DO IT.......

    I put my mind to work today figuring out how to work around some other obstacles, and think I have found some solutions. :) So now it's a matter of JUST DO IT...

    Thank you so much for the information, and again - for your blog - it cheers me so!


  2. Carolyn, you are such an inspiration - one of the most prolific sewers I know! I always wish I had more time to sew. I think I there is a lot of room for improvement as far as my organizational skills go!

  3. Carolyn, what a wonderful post! Being creative is a great part of who I am. Sewing, knitting and crocheting is how I find peace in a crazy world. Since I left my job over a year ago and got into crafting, I no longer need anti-depressants to anesthetize myself to get through the day. I have my next project to look forward to.

  4. I think I would go crazy if I did not have the creative outlets of sewing, knitting and crocheting. I certainly would not be very happy. It's so important to have my "me time".

    It's all about prioritizing and organizing. I'm lucky to have a husband that is so supportive. We are a team, and all the chores and errands are completed by both of us... which allows for each of us to have the time for our hobbies.

  5. You are SO right about just doing it. Sometimes just beginning is the key...journey of 1,000 miles and all that...I used to feel bad about sewing on an old second-hand Slant-o-Matic until I read that the fabulous Koos Van den Akker uses the same machine...and it's his only machine. Just do it, Ladies, you deserve it. Magic happens.
    Kate Q:-)

  6. Carolyn, you are always so thought-provoking. Sewing is my refuge from the insanity of the world. It provides a balance to the emotional demands of work and life. I love what I do but it is exhausting. I can't imagine not being able to sew. I'm lucky that DH is very supportive and DS is an adult. Both of them can fend for themselves. I tend to sew in the evenings.

    To make more time at night, I cook on Sunday for the week, especially foods that are time-consuming. Sometimes, I have the slow cooker, pressure cooker, oven and burners going at the same time. I'm tired when I finish but it helps to keep us from eating so much fash food. We come home and just warm up what ever is in the fridge. DH thinks that he can cook but he can't. He does help with food prep. During the summer, DH mans the grill. We run errands together or he runs them during the week when I work late. Everybody pitches in. I had to learn to accept that everything does not have to be done to my satisfaction. DH & DS idea of clean is not the same as mine:)

  7. Just Do It -- what a great saying, and so true. i too have always made sure i have a sewing area, whether it's a whole room (like now), or the corner of the kitchen (like it was for 10 years, in our previous house). i HAVE to sew, or i get really crabby. wait, let me be more specific: i HAVE to be creative, and sewing is the most fulfilling for me (i like to garden as well).

    to make more time to sew, i plan. i try to keep my sewing area neat so that i can just sit and sew for 15 minutes, not spend 5 of those minutes clearing a workspace. i try to plan meals. and i just enjoy -- if we eat pancakes or cereal on the days i spend sewing, oh well. sometimes i need to spend the next day cleaning up the aftermath of my kids, oh well. i've also 'trained' my boys to understand that mama needs her sewing time, and many times they come in and sit with me and play or chat while i sew.

    it's been harder lately, with connor being almost 2, but i also know this time will pass so quickly, and he'll be self sufficient in the blink of an eye.

  8. Carolyn, great response to the question. You are very inspiring, glad to know you as a sewing internet friend.

  9. I have been sewing for 34 years. I have made winter coats,wedding dresses,prom dresses,men's suits,too much stuff to mention here.I think I've made it all. I use to make my mom's clothes every year and she looked forward to gettting a big box of summer clothes every year. I just stopped sewing after she passed away. I couldn't step foot into a fabric store. But 5 years later I'm sewing again at full speed. Right now my passion is quilting but know I will start making some clothes for myself as soon as I finish some UFO's.Sewing is something I have to do for my sanity.I love creating and I also know about what I'de run for if the house was on fire.


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