“Sewing in-between Sewing”

Sewing in-between Sewing” is a term I picked up yesterday on Instagram from a post by the lovely Alicia, an Australian designer who has a sewing story all her own.  She creates and sells unique children’s-wear to raise funds for cancer research…you can follow her on IG @a_tropical_daze. She has already reached 75% of her $10,000 goal, using up-cycled vintage materials that she sources from “opportunity shops” (we call them thrift shops in New England). Alicia is inspiring for so many reasons (I’ve posted before about how “Bohemian style” is out of my comfort zone!) but for me at this moment, it was her simple idea of “Sewing between Sewing”.

Schedule sewing projects is a huge struggle for me, so her post intrigued me. It showed a sneak-peek photo of the project she was working on, explaining “Needed a quick break from sewing orders to sew something a little bit amazing!

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I asked her “How do you balance filling orders with new makes? I have the most difficult time relaxing enough to be creative, when I have orders hanging over me….is there a secret?” ….and she explained “Answer to you balance/relaxing, I find when I am getting stressed with orders, I sew a romper that I can be free with being creative. That gives me a calm and refocus to get on with my orders. That works for me.”

This got me thinking: is it always necessary to finish up the HAVE TO dos, before getting to the WANT TO dos? Is it my Yankee Puritan background that forces me to “eat your vegetables before you can have dessert”?  What if there are so many vegetables to finish that you never reach the dessert…that’s no fun….and shouldn’t sewing be fun?

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We all have our HAVE TO DO sewing projects:

  • repairs and alterations for the family
  • the kids’ costumes for theater, scouting badges on uniforms
  • kitchen curtains, or whatever is needed for the house

…and I hear women talk about squeezing in a little sewing for themselves as a “selfish sew”.  But is it selfish to nourish your own soul, to take care of yourself?  Wouldn’t a few more “selfish sews” boost your sewing mojo, and allow you to be more productive?

The balance is possibly tougher when you have a sewing business, especially when you take custom-orders. Personally I  feel the need to finish outstanding orders 100% before I can do anything else. So what gets pushed to the back burner?

  • anything for myself
  • testing new patterns
  • creating new items for my shop
  • charity sewing

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These are the things that make me happy, yet I rarely prioritize them! Thinking about what Alicia said, I realize this isn’t smart.  It’s like slaving away all year for a week’s vacation….when truthfully your quality of life is vastly improved if you treat yourself to mini-vacations all year, whether it’s by eating out once in a while, or taking a long walk in the woods, or making time to read a novel….things you would do “on vacation” but you can actually do all year, at home.

It’s time to re-think my sewing workload. Like most people who sew-to-sell, I don’t strictly follow a “first-in-first-out” rule. Some orders are time-critical, others not so much. If I have orders backed up and some are for 1-hour items (bonnets, bibs, bloomers) while others are for 8-hour items (gowns, dresses), I’ll crank out a bunch of quick orders just to get them in the mail. And honestly, since I hate changing threads in the serger, I’ll group orders by color for efficiency. As long as every order meets the shipping window stated on Etsy (mine is 2 weeks, although I do take rush orders), I’m okay with all of that. I’ve never shipped an order late.

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So….if I’m juggling projects anyway, why not slip in a “Sewing in-between Sewing” project?  This much I know to be true:

  • my shop gets stale without fresh items
  • I get bored sewing the same thing over and over
  • I’ve bought too many patterns that are just sitting there
  • sewing for charity makes me happy

I need to re-prioritize. As long as the work schedule is on track, I think I’ll make more of an effort to take a break with some fun, creative, fresh projects…without feeling guilty. “Sewing between Sewing”. Thank you Alicia!

(Photos show rompers already sold…Alicia is constantly sourcing fresh materials for upcycling and making new items so check out her Insta!)

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5 Responses to “Sewing in-between Sewing”

  1. JustGail says:

    If you have Yankee Puritan background making you do the “have to do” sewing first, then I must have Midwest German Farmer background making me do similar. As a child, I had no clue what people meant by “going on vacation”. Still not sure I do, but that’s a whole ‘nother subject. I’ve been trying to ignore housecleaning 1 day per weekend to sew. I’m thinking I’ll have to not ignore the laminate floors, as they begin making snappy/popping noise if grit gets into the seams. At least when I say I’m working on a quilt top for Quilts of Valor, people seem to back off. Sigh.

  2. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Ahhh that’s a great idea, swap out housecleaning for sewing once a week, I love that! See, there ARE workarounds even for those of us who feel guilty when not working on necessities. And yes, charity sewing should be in a whole category unto itself, absolutely!

  3. Randi says:

    This is a reason I haven’t opened a shop- the fear of not having time to sew for fun (technically I have a shop and sold one thing but there’s nothing currently listed). Do you have a favorite charity or do you send things as needs arise?

  4. 7pinedesign@comcast.net says:

    Right now I sew for 3 charities: I make pajamas for a local church who runs a Pajama Program for families in need, I sew children’s dresses for Little Dresses for Africa, and I work with the NICU unit of a hospital in N.Y. designing baptism and burial outfits. There are so many opportunities out there to help, from quilting blankets to sewing bibs for senior centers. But Alicia (A Tropical Daze) has me thinking that there’s this entirely different avenue, which is to sew for profit and then sends funds for research. Do you have a favorite charity?

  5. Tibeca says:

    I struggle so much with this. And nothing will crush my desire to sew like a project that MUST get done. I know I couldn’t stop one project in the middle to sew something else, but I can definitely promise myself that once it is done, I can head right into something fun for me.

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