Fostering good sewing habits

Hands up who tends to be a slapdash sewist? I certainly am. Cutting corners is my thing, don’t you know.

But for 2013, I’ve decided my sewing needs to mature a little. Here’s some bad sewing habits I need to grow out of:

1) Skimming instructions

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There’s just something about instructions that makes them so… skimmable. It’s as though as soon as you introduce some sort of numbered list, I switch off. Equally,  sometimes I just can’t or won’t make the effort to get my head around what exactly a pattern is asking me to do.

If text turns you off, then there are a wealth of visual and video tutorials available online. Or, better yet, many independent pattern companies are providing in-detail drawings with simple instructions – perfect for more visual learners like me. (I used a pic of Gertie’s instructions above – but what it doesn’t show is the great little illustrative instructions featured over the page) If you really don’t understand something, Google is just a click away.

2) Leaving threads unsnipped and seams unironed…

It can seem such a pain to get up from your sewing machine to head for the ironing board or reach for the scissors – particularly if you have a lack of space. In my case, the ironing board and iron are in another room completely. Ironing seams helps everything look much more professional in the long run. As for snipping threads – it’s such a relief not to have to deal with a load of strays all over your garment right at the very end if you’ve done it the whole way through.

Gertie took a look into the whys and hows of ironing – specifically, whether it’s really necessary to iron your seams flat and then open. Over at the Coletterie, August’s good habit of the month was clipping those threads!

3) Never making a muslin

I’ve mused about my love-hate relationship with muslins before. To the slapdash and money-conscious sewist in me, muslins are time-consuming and a waste of otherwise perfectly good fabric. But after a number of fitting disasters, I’ve changed my tune a little – I even made a muslin of my most recent pencil skirt project.

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The fact is, if you’re making significant alterations, then a muslin is probably sensible. In my brief foray into the world of muslin-making, I’ve found a stable cotton to work well in a light colour you can easily draw on. Sunni at A Fashionable Stitch did a great pencil skirt sewalong a couple of years back which included how to tackle fitting the perfect muslin. Not sure if you need to make a muslin? Check out Sewaholic’s post here for musings on when a practice garment is necessary.

4) Claiming there’s just no time to sew

Sometimes, sewing can seem like just too much effort, particularly when I’ve had a long day at the office. More often than not, it’s not the actual sewing which makes me reluctant – it’s trying to muster up the enthusiasm to get started.

One great way to tackle this is to adopt Tilly’s 15-minute rule. Setting 15 minutes aside every day really helps me to get my sewing mojo back. Sometimes it turns into a little longer, other times I stick to the 15 minutes and just trace out a pattern or something. Bitesize chunks take the pressure off immensely – and it definitely stops me feeling guilty for being a bit lazy with the sewing machine!

Those are just some of the bad sewing habits I’m tackling right now. How about you? Are you a sewist who sticks to the straight and narrow, or do you often find yourself developing bad habits?

Balancing work, life and play

It’s week one of the Welsh invasion of Surrey and I’m already falling into the dangerous coach-potato pattern I swore I’d avoid.

I’m currently experiencing the curious phenomenon of becoming near-comatose as soon as weary feet reach the front door after a day in the office. Oh sure, I was bright and perky when I left work and had plans aplenty for the productive activities I’d get up to at home. Blogging, sewing, cake-making… there would be no stopping me!

But, curiously, what’s meant to be a brief respite with a cuppa on the sofa turns into hours of watching awful television and BAM! It’s midnight and I find myself cursing the time-stealing gremlins because how else were the hours snatched away?

I know, I shouldn’t be too hard on myself because it’s only been one week, but this really cannot continue.

On Friday afternoon, I returned home with a bank holiday weekend ahead of me and all manner of things to sort out. But somehow, I managed to turn a nap into a full-on sleepathon lasting right up into Saturday morning! When did I become so lazy?

As with most things, I took to Twitter to find out if I was the only one struggling to juggle work with the rest of my life. Of course, I certainly wasn’t:

What about you? How do you find time for your hobbies with your full-time job?

Normal service will resume as soon as I find a remedy for the time-stealing gremlins…

What’s on your sewing table?

The Seamless pledge has been running for about a month now, yet my sewing output hasn’t improved quite as much as I’d thought. Part of my aim was to reconnect with my handmade wardrobe, but while I’ve refashioned a little bit, my sewing output has been lacking.

This is partly because I just haven’t had the time to sit down and sew. It’s actually very rare to find me at home nowadays. While living in Germany, my sewing table served as my base, and even during my lacklustre (in the sewing department) final year in Swansea, my sewing machine was rarely out of sight. Here in JOMEC’s newsroom, a sewing machine wouldn’t exactly fit in with the Macbooks, maps and newspapers!

living the the cjs newsroomWatching the Leveson Inquiry in the newsroom instead of sewing, I am cool.

I always knew this course would be full on, but I hoped I’d at least put aside some time to sew. As it stands, I’ve spent the last three weeks on the same project! It’s difficult to come back and forth from a project sometimes as often I’ll have given up on the last session because I hit a wall, only to return and discover the wall still remains. A bit frustrating to say the least, particularly when other sewing bloggers are consistently making good quality items on a regular basis.

Back in April, Tilly began her Sewing Productivity Project. There are a lovely set of posts about how best to organise your time to sew and even some data visualisation (I’m normally used to talking about this in the context of journalism!) with hints and tips on how to improve sewing productivity. It’s safe to say I’m not the only sewer having trouble with productivity. Tilly’s set of posts on this are really interesting, with some guest bloggers contributing too!

As it stands, I’ve been oh-so-slowly getting along with my self-drafted pencil skirt, but it has been taking an absolute age. All the while, I’ve been resisting actually buying any new clothing, which is great, but I’m not doing so well with regards to actually getting back in touch with the sewing aspect of my life.

Over to you. What’s on your sewing table? Do you ever find anything getting in the way of your sewing?

On an unrelated note – I’m really loving how willing everyone is to comment, particularly on my past post about old clothes. I do read everyone’s comments, even if I don’t get a chance to reply to them all! Keep them coming, it’s great to get some more perspective.