How Busy Moms Can Still find Time to Sew

Dear Sewfie,

I’m thinking of putting my sewing machine back into storage. Although I really love sewing, I live in an small apartment and with two young children, I have no time or space for it. What do you think?

-Xina

Dear Xina,

No! Storage is no place for a sewing machine! Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a lot of time or space to enjoy sewing as a hobby. Instead of thinking you need a block of 5 hours to execute a sewing project (which, as a busy mom, you will never have… but you already knew that) all you really need is a small corner to set up your machine and little blocks of time here and there. I call it “micro-sewing”. Here’s how it works:

location, Location, Location

Set up your machine in a corner of your home that is near where all the action is. You’ll want an area that the kids are usually in or nearby, this way you can keep an eye on them while you work. You know that little weird section of counter top by the fridge where the mail collects? That is perfect. Or a small writing desk in the corner of the family room will do just fine. Put all your sharp baby-hurting things in a storage container with a snap top. Keep that up on a shelf or in a closet nearby. Cover your machine with a hard case or a soft quilted cover. If the kids can’t see it, they’ll be less likely to get into it. Keep it unplugged – just in case.

You CAN find time for sewing!

Now you have a ready-to go sewing station! When the opportunity to sew presents its self, you will be ready! Simply whip out that storage container and plug in your machine – you are good to go! But how to find the time… read on.

Seize little opportunities

Take advantage of little windows of opportunity to make incremental progress on a favorite sewing project. For example, got spaghetti cooking? That’s 9 minutes, you could have a quick sit and sew the side seams on some toddler pants. The little guy is not a good napper? Even a short 20 minute nap is enough time to slip over to your sewing station and stitch up the handles on that adorable purse you’ve been dying to make. Husband watching the game? Jackpot! Set the baby up with some toys and give Dad some snacks. Now you’ve got 3 whole hours… you could make a whole baby quilt top!

They key is having your sewing “stuff” easily accessible so you don’t have to spend 20 minutes finding it and getting it all set up. That’s enough of an obstacle to discourage you from even starting.

Be realistically optimistic

There are many windows of sewing opportunity through the day if you just look for them. You need only get Zen with the fact that its going to take a bit of time to finish. Set realistic goals of accomplishing one or two small steps per day. By the end of the week, you’ve have a completed project. How good will you feel then?!

Friends, leave a comment and tell us what’s your favorite sewing opportunity!

Warm Stitches,
Sewfie

What is a “Tea Towel”?

Dear Sewfie,

My sweet niece gave me a tea towel for Christmas. I have to admit, I don’t even know what is tea towel is. What is it and what is it used for?
-Tea Time ?

Dear Tea Time,
The term “tea towel” originates in England and refers to the type of towel used to dry china tea service as well as other valuable serving pieces. Tea towels have been both highly functional and decorative, moving during the last century from service to showpiece.

Linen is the traditional fiber for tea towels, since it is highly absorbent, lint free and can be used to dry delicate plates and silverware without the risk of scratching. Tea towels are made with a simple weave, rather than a looped terry, and are made in a hand towel size. The size and material they’re made from also provides an ideal background for decorating with embroidery or printing. Nineteenth century English ladies embroidered their tea towels for decorative usage during tea time to cover food. Decorative printed towels were hung on the wall. Tea towels have been printed with monarchs and other famous people, country scenes, nature themes and calendars.

A tea towel is NOT your common dishrag!

Not to be confused with the common dish rag, a tea towel is kept spotlessly clean, because it is used on freshly washed dishes and as a cover for food intended for consumption. Clean tea towels may be spread over a tea tray before tea things are put onto it, or used to cover warm scones or a tea pot to prevent heat loss. When the tea towel becomes damp, it is hung up to dry, and it will also be periodically washed for better sanitation. A dish rag, on the other hand, is a small towel used to wash dishes and wipe down counters.
Tea towels are now often sold as souvenirs, particularly in Great Britain and Ireland, two nations well known for their tea. While these tea towels are perfectly usable for their intended purpose, they are typically kept for ornamental rather than practical reasons. Travelers may bring back tea towels for friends, or keep them as a reminder of the trip.

Thanks to the DIY culture and artsy crafting sites such as ETSY, handmade tea towels are now quite popular as gifts, collectibles and eco-friendly kitchen accouterments. They can be framed, used to make aprons and other craft projects or even used as gift wrapping.

Warm Stitches,
Sewfie

Scared to Sew? Tips on Reducing Sewing Anxiety

Dear Sewfie,
I own all the ‘right tools’ and have a fantastic Bernina machine- I’ve made some very simple yet beautiful quilts and love the end results- yet I am so stressed when I work on these projects. Why am I so scared to sew? I mean, I CAN do it- yet as much as I try to enjoy it- I’m so relieved when it’s over. Does everyone do this? How do I get over my anxiety and start enjoying this like I know I should???? Help me Sewfie!!

P.S. A side note to my question…. when I DO sew… my family knows how stressed I get- they actually stay away from me, sad- huh? It’s crazy- ’cause I REALLY DO ENJOY IT!

-Sue

Dear Sue,

First off….. take a deep breath! You have come to the right place, Sewfie can help you. She is a bit of a Type-A tomato herself, so she knows exactly what you are going through. What you are experiencing is called “fear of failure”, also known as “perfectionism”. You love sewing (perhaps you are even obsessed with it) and you want to do a good job – as evidenced by your investment in all the ‘right tools” and the fancy Bernina machine. But you are so concerned about doing a really great job and getting perfect results, that you can’t enjoy the process. You are afraid you will make a mistake, it won’t turn out just as you had envisioned, it will be “not perfect” in some way. Your focus on the end results is ruining the fun of the process. What you need to do is focus less on the end results, and more on the process, accepting that even if it doesn’t turn out perfect, it doesn’t have to be and you can still have fun. Here are some practical tips on how to reduce the stress of your quilting projects:

  • Buy cheap fabric. By “cheap” I mean inexpensive, not low quality. Shop the discount fabric shops or the bargain bolts at your LQS (Local Quilt Shop). This way, with less financial commitment, you will feel less anxiety about cutting into an expensive piece of fabric.
  • “Little victories”. Build up your confidence by investing your time and talents in some small, easy to finish projects like table runners or placements. By building up a series of successes under your belt, you can later tackle that heirloom king sized quilt with greater confidence and less stress. And in the mean time, you’ll have tons of cute placemats you can give away as gifts! Sewfie’s favorite source for cute little projects is Pieced Tree Patterns. They have these adorable small, laminated pattern cards called Tiny Ones. They are no bigger than an index card and their tag line is (no kidding) “Easy to Piece, Easy to Enjoy!”. They cost only $3 and they make the cutest projects. Sewfie keeps a stack of these cards on her sewing desk for times when she needs a quick fix of something fun and rewarding.
Pieced Tree Patterns ‘Tiny Ones’ pattern cards, 68 cute little designs
  • Don’t sew after 10pm. Nothing good ever happens to a sewing project late at night. You’re tired, you will make mistakes, crabbiness will ensue.
  • One stitch at a time. Don’t feel like you have to plow through a project all in one sitting and don’t set a deadline on when you “have to” get something done. Set mini-goals, such as, I’ll work on this until Block X is done, then I’ll take a break. When you’ve reached a mini goal, walk away, have a coffee break, etc. and revel in your progress. Learn to be happy with achieving the little goals along the way so you won’t have to derive all of your satisfaction from the completed project alone.
  • Don’t point out your mistakes. Every sewing project has some mistakes in it and the rest of the world need not know about them. I bet you are the type if someone was admiring your finished work, you’d dismiss their compliments and starting pointing out all the boo-boos…. don’t do that. No one else cares if the binding is crooked or you had to piece the blue fabric because you ran out after cutting it the wrong way.
  • Sew for charity. If you are sewing for someone else – someone who needs what you are making – then little mistakes and getting it “perfect” will take a back seat to the comfort you are bringing to others.

Finally, as for your family that fears the wrath of your sewing projects, if you try Sewfie’s tips, they are sure to notice a significant reduction in your anxiety right away. If you really want to show them that a Quilting Mom is a Fun Mom, then make things for them! They’ll be happy to see you sewing if they know they are getting a colorful pillow or a cuddly lap quilt out of it!

Warm Stitches,
Sewfie