Sewing efficiency: Tips on finding your sew-jo

Since starting this blog I’ve had loads of supportive friends congratulate and admire all the things I’ve been making.  However everyone keeps asking…“how do you have time??” Today I’m sharing with you my tips on how I find my sew-jo and try to be efficient in my sewing.

sewjo

For me personally, participating in community sewing events, like Kids Clothes Week (starting Monday) or Selfish Sewing Week (starting again on the 28th April), are such an efficient way to get a bunch of projects both started AND completed.  It gives me a start and finish date to work towards and a sense of accountability.

Last KCW I managed to get 5 items completed which is the MOST I’ve ever made in such a short period of time.

So if you’re one of those asking the question “but how do you do it?” – here’s the answer… PREPARATION!

Any of you who sew would know that the actual *sewing* part only comes after a significant amount of time prepping.

Sooooo my not-so-secret method is to get all this (boring) part done before the sewing starts!

Here are my tips to help you do the same:

Decide on Sewing Projects

1. Look in your child’s wardrobe

Practical but worth the effort to see what is actually needed and to make sure your beautiful handmade items will actually get worn.  (No point sewing a hoodie if your little guy already has five!)  This time around my Big Boy needs jeans which is why I’m making him some new skinnies.

2. Look at your fabric stash

Yes, I know, a new project is the perfect excuse to buy MORE fabric but let’s be honest we all have a fabric stash that’s growing faster than the projects we make.  Have a look through to see if there’s anything you bought with (or without) a project in mind and see if you can use it.  This KCW, I’m making winter PJ’s out of some Bob the Builder flannelette I bought on sale a couple of months ago.  I also had the fabric for the jeans and chinos.

3. Look at your pattern library

Do you have a bunch of patterns you’ve bought but never used??  I do and the Bimaa sweater is one of them.

4. Look for inspiration

Browsing the projects others have made is one of my MAIN motivations to make things myself.  I consider myself to be better at recreating a project that I’ve seen rather than thinking it up from scratch.  If you’re the same, I’d really encourage you to draw inspiration from others.  Follow sewing blogs (like this one!) by email or a feed reader like bloglovin’.  Follow the Pinterest boards like my Sewing: Little Boys Clothes or Sewing: Grown Up Girls.  Check out the Kids Clothes Week Community page for previous projects.  There are seriously endless amounts of inspiration out there just waiting for you!

Ok, now the practicalities:

5. Next and most importantly – MAKE A LIST!  There’s no way you’ll achieve as much as you can if you don’t write it down and make yourself accountable.  Also, tell other people what you’re planning to do so they’ll be expecting to see results! I posted my latest KCW list in my April Sewing Plans.

6. Buy any patterns, fabric, notions etc that you need and don’t already have.  (no explanation needed here, this part is easy!)  And don’t forget to pre-wash your fabric.

7. Take your kids’ measurements – no doubt they’ll have grown since you last made them something, even if it was only a month ago!

8. Print out your PDF patterns and stick them together – this is a perfect “in front of the telly” activity.

9. Trace your patterns – you can cut up your printed patterns if you like but I prefer to trace mine onto cheap-as-chips tracing Vilene/interfacing.  While it might seem like double the work, it does saving re-printing and sticking together patterns in the future (my least favourite part).

10. Cut out your fabric. Hooray! You’re nearly there!

11. Read through your pattern instructions thoroughly.  This will give you a great heads up when you get started on Day one.  Obviously you will need to follow them as you’re sewing along but a read through first will help you to figure out the general idea of the construction.  You might also find you’ve forgotten to buy something (like contrasting topstitch thread, buttons, zips, etc).

And now you’re finally ready to sew!  I really find getting all this prep done early and not “allowing” myself to start sewing until it’s done actually helps me to finish these *less fun* steps quicker so I can get to the *fun* part!

When you’ve finished…

Be sure to share your finished projects with others so we can all admire your amazing talents!  Flickr, Instagram and the Kids Clothes Week community are all great ways to do this but even just a picture on your own facebook page or just old-fashioned mentioning to a friend that you made *those* shorts.  It’s such a great way to get motivated to start your next project or even encourages others to have a go as well!

I’d love to hear what projects you have planned…

And join me back here next week when you’ll be able to check out my finished items.

Happy sewing!

Nat x

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