Managing a Sew Busy Life


I’ve had the rather challenging life lately. Life seems to be a slow-motion avalanche swamping me at the moment. In the midst of my less-than chillaxed life, sewing has been a real refuge from the onslaught of reality.

Sewaholic Alma: sneak peek

Sewaholic Alma: sneak peek. It makes me giggle that I have tweeted this image a few times…

In the past couple of weeks, I have made a gorgeous new Alma blouse (yes pictures soon, have patience people! I have provided a sneak peek above) and a muslin for MariaDenmark’s new trousers.

MariaDenmark 301 – Winnie Wide Legged Trousers

MariaDenmark 301 – Winnie Wide Legged Trousers

Maria and I met through Twitter and it’s been fabulous. She’s got me to sew an a-line skirt (in fact I’ve made two I just have not had a chance to take pictures due to the life avalanche – which I have been feeling very bad about), a t-shirt and now trousers.

Maria sent me her trousers pattern just before it was released – to test instructions, notches etc. Life shortly thereafter delivered a quite spectacular landslide and they took me a little longer than usual.

However I’ve finished my very rough muslin. The fabric only cost me $4 and it’s a polyester twill – which sounds horrid but it’s got an excellent drape. Given my first Thurlows I thought it best to be cautious with my cash!

Maria’s new trousers are wide-legs. Despite my love of hussy-length skirts, I have always adored wide-leg trousers. And these are perfect. I can’t wait to find some nice fabric and make them again! The junk trunk is happy.

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

MariaDenmark Winnie Trousers: muslin back

Please excuse the appalling pictures taken on the iPhone at 11pm! And the unironed pants… and I’m standing slightly lopsided… and they are unhemmed!

These trousers have just 12 pieces – compared to the 21 pieces for Sewaholic Thurlow. Now I really like the Thurlows but the simplicity of Maria’s design appeals to me – and I love the fit. I took my sides in a tiny bit too much and will add belt loops next time.

Maria directed me to a Threads online tutorial for doing the fly front zipper and it was magic! Life changing stuff! My fly front zip went in perfectly!

Maria is running a pants ‘fit-along’ at the moment so if pants have scared you, don’t be afraid. These pants are easy peasy. Grab a pants pattern, learn some new stuff about fitting your booty. I’ve just got to figure out how to get the back waistband to fit perfectly and then my life will be complete :-)

And my Apronalong prize arrived today! Thank you Karen :-) x I love it – even the wrapping paper/bag!

Apronalong prize!

Apronalong prize!

BUSY LIVES

This weekend’s #sewingsocial got me thinking. About sewing, about being busy. And about managing all those things (It was ironic that I had to stop scrubbing the kitchen floor to participate).

Busy is a catchcry of today’s world. We are all so busy (or in my case sew busy and so busy!). I personally don’t think I’m any busier than anyone else. Or that the things in my life are more important or demanding than anyone else. I think it’s all about perspective. The things that we do in our lives are important to us as individuals and make us who we are – our values, priorities and ambitions.

I often get asked how I manage everything. I don’t know, it’s just how my life is and I just get on with it – not much else to so about it really is there? I get outta bed (some days more reluctantly than others) and just plod my way through life.

I have a fulltime job. I am married with two children. I don’t have a cleaner for my house. I cook our meals, we rarely have take-away. My kids do after-school activities. I squash in a weekly grocery shop. I have a high-maintenance dog. I sew. I blog. I tweet. My husband has one night out a week at ‘boys night’. We go to Sydney to see family now and then. Not spectacular but it’s busy all the time – like most people’s lives. I often don’t sit down until after 9pm every night and I’m back up at 6.15am.

And I sew. I often get asked ‘how do you find time to sew?’ Good question but the better one is ‘why do I find time to sew?’

In the midst of family dramas, workplace upheavals and sick children, sewing provides me with a centre. When I sew, trace patterns, cut out, it’s almost like the world’s chatter shuts up. I think ‘suffer’ from the ability to have a very singular focus, I am VERY goal-driven. So doing something completely unrelated to the demands of my life actually means all that ‘essential’ life stress disappears for a time. I am only listening to the pattern, the fabric & thread, the hum of the machine and the hiss of the iron.

It’s something I’m choosing to do. I can stop sewing at any time and there is no yearly review, letter to the editor, customer complaint, call from the school, no heart attack, no sick child if I stop.

I think if your hobby stresses you out – you need to get some perspective on it.

Does it matter if you do a blog post today? If your zipper is a bit wonky? Your bound buttonholes need some work? Not really.

Chillax peeps. It’s just fabric, thread and a few notions. Just enjoy it for what it is. Pretty stuff, fresh challenges of your choice and connecting with like-minded people.

Does sewing relax you?

PS – thank you for all the lovely birthday wishes – the old gal appreciates it xox

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64 thoughts on “Managing a Sew Busy Life

  1. I definitely agree that I sew because it relaxes me. You know what has been stressing me out over the last week? That I haven’t had time to sew. I’ve not been letting myself sew until I’ve done some serious tidying/organising, which hasn’t been done because I’ve been feeling under the weather and I feel really grumpy that I haven’t had a chance to sew!

    • I know that feeling – I get frustrated! I just pop into my room when the kids are in bed and do a few minutes tidying up. I read and trace downstairs at night. That keeps the evil sewing gods at bay.
      Hope you feel better soon x thank you for all your knitting help. Knitting on hold at the moment – life is tooooo busy!

  2. That’s a great essay on life, being busy and sewing! I agree that sewing really helps me zone out other stresses in my life. Work has been abhorrently stressful of late, but I’ve never once stopped sewing in order to carry on working into the evenings. Life is too short, and sewing is my way of reminding myself of that! I think I’m quite goal-driven, too. My guilty confession is that I do have a cleaner come for two hours a week. I wish I could stop feeling guilty about that, but I can’t!

    • A dedication to sewing can help you set boundaries. While you might think you need to work, the urge to sew is strong. Then again I always think it’s important to remember that ‘noone ever died wishing they worked more’! However we frequently get sucked into the unhappy vortex of work ruling our lives & minds.
      Don’t feel guilty about the cleaner, that’s two hours you get to sew :-)

  3. Love your twitter shirt- super adorbs!
    Sewing is both my super best friend and my scheming arch villain nemesis. The days it comes together easily it feels like the gin is sweeter and the colours brighter. But when it doesn’t work it feels like it is out to get me- this is great though because it challenges my “mad skillz” and that in itself is fun. Or if worse comes to worst- cocktail up!

    • Totes agree. I’ve been managing to take what seems a disaster and find a solution – twitter shirt was an example of that. The collar was not going to behave and I was prepared to live with it. Then during a 4+ hour drive home last weekend, I realised I couldn’t live with it, figured out how to fix it and ‘ta da’ sewing room save!

  4. Great post! I need to see, it calms me down and I’m a lot better person/wife/mother when I’ve had that time to myself.
    I love your pants too! The fit looks great from the back and you can’t beat a pair of wide legged pants! I’m going over now to check the pattern out :)

  5. Good question. My sewing/machine knitting is relaxing. I am a perfectionist by nature, but I’m trying to let go a little. I’m new at this stuff, so I can’t expect it to be perfect first time around, or second, or third… What I love about sewing/machine knitting it is it’s sometime totally for me – unrelated to my roles as mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, volunteer or business partner. It’s one of the few things I do where I put myself first. Okay, I might be making it for some-one else, but I’m doing it because I want to and not because they want me too. This is what balances me (and I’m a Libran so life is all about balance) and what keeps me sane. Because of my crafting I can see I’m a better mother, wife, daughter etc… The connecting with others through blogging has been an unexpected highlight :)

    • I think it’s important to see all our projects as a journey. Some days the journey is great and lots to see, other days the places we get to are not quite what we anticipated.
      I’m a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants girl so it’s more about new things, seeing where ideas take me – and sometimes that moment of complete joy when it all pays off!

  6. What a lovely post Lizzy. When my life was in the stage yours is now I was quilting, and to sit down and run the quilt pieces through the machine after a long day relieved all of my stress. It kept me sane.
    Sewing clothes is very different for me and I do find it stressful at times, but the sense of accomplishment with a completed garment is worth all of the stress ( similar to climbing to the top of a mountain or running a marathon!). I too, am extremely goal oriented and become completely driven with each sewing project.
    I don’t sew to relax anymore, but I absolutely love making clothes….. and the blogging?….. connecting with my fellow sewists makes it even more worthwhile! :)

    • Thank you Sarah. I was going to spend more time writing it but decided that it would lose its spontaneous feel and decided to post.
      I used to quilt but then repetitive nature of piecing slowly wore me down – as much as I love the colour/balance/design aspects of it.
      I love seeing fabrics and imagining them into clothing.
      Life can be tough enough with letting your hobby defeat you so enjoy or value the moments of joy . And you make such lovely things Sarah!

  7. This may be why sewing for other people (when they ask) is so painful for me. To think that Ms Holloway and Lillie are waiting on me to force myself to do something brings a grey cloud to my sewing sanctuary- it’s my little eden of relaxation and serenity and bent pins and mangled zippers……

  8. Happy birthday for yesterday Lizzy!! You looked absolutely gorgeous in your lace dress in the snow… and btw mygosh; snow???!! how awesome.
    I hope you had a truly fabudabulous day :)

  9. As a return to sewing enthusiast, I can relate so much to this post. As life changes, we change with it. But in the midst of it, we have to add those special things that keeps us centered and calm. For me is the needle arts – sewing, knitting, crochet and embroidery. I take them anywhere I go. My sons know that my ‘sewing’ basket goes with us in the car. This keeps me focused and calm as the events continue in front of me.

    I agree with you, how can you not find time to sew? It is important for us women to find that something that will help us breathe deeper, bring us back to our center. If we don’t have this, irritability comes and the world looses its sparkle.

    Your pants are looking very nice. I am also a huge fan of wide leg pants and this pants truly fit the bill.

    Thank you for sharing… I hope that life begins to slow down just a bit for you and your family. m.

    • So true, I also returned to sewing when I felt a little ‘lost’ – I stumbled across the Colette Sewing Handbook and I just knew that was what I really wanted to do with my ‘spare time’.
      Your comments remind me greatly of Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own. The need to have a space for creativity – to me sometimes it’s enough to find that space in my mind if not physically. It’s important to remain true to yourself.

  10. “When I sew, trace patterns, cut out, it’s almost like the world’s chatter shuts up.” Couldn’t put it better! It’s an island of calm in the middle of everything else and something we all need sometimes. I put a lot of my brain into neutral when I sew – in that I’m so focused on what I’m doing there isn’t any room for anything else!

    • I love that ‘a sea of calm’. I find its important to just slow down, take the time to baste, put things down and think about it. By not rushing and just enjoying myself I’ve found I’ve had the energy to go back and fix problems – or better still stop the problems starting LOL

  11. A friend of mine commented to me the other day that women are born for adornment. What better creative, inspiring and satisfying way than to adorn oneself with one’s own creations

  12. i do find sewing relaxing. even when it’s mandatory, deadline-bound sewing and i’m cursing myself for taking so much on, i still enjoy it. i’m not so good at making time for sewing when i’m really busy – i wish i was better at that :)

  13. I think it all goes back to that need to create for me. I don’t feel whole unless I have something I’m working on, creating. It’s good for the soul! And yes, I try not to let a lack of sewing get me down. I have a new schedule nowadays (and soon to be VERY different with a baby!) so I’m figuring out when I’m going to fit in sewing time. But I will fit it in! I need it. I won’t let it go to the wayside.

    • I think once you have lots of competing demands, like jobs, kids and so on, you just need to approach things realistically. I would love to sew all day some days but the reality is I can’t. So I have patterns to trace near the dining table, a seam pinned and waiting, googling pattern reviews for the next project. I’m always dreaming of my next step, project, opportunity and some days that’s enough to get me through!

  14. you are so good at writing! I have been thinking about what you end with a lot and my hobbies like sewing and crochet and now possibly knitting are like u say a refuge.
    I have struggled with daily life recently, not even my job, i love my job, but the social side of things. being always busy and not taking time for myself. i even got a bit ill because of it and it put things into perspective. it is ok to say no sometimes and just do things u want and need to do and not try and please everyone else. i am guessing as a mother this is more difficult of course but like you said it is everyones perspective. i am probably rambling but just wanted you to know that this struck a chord with me and i do think that sewing is a way of relaxing. :)
    i am hoping that you feel better soon and can use ur sewing to get through this avalanch.
    the trousers look great! i browsed her patterns recently as she is such a nice lady and hoping that after xmas i can explore some of them too. :)
    all the best!

    • So lovely to hear from you Kim. I’m sorry life has been rough but I hope things are improving!
      There is nothing that annoys me more than mothers who harp on about women without children “ohhhh she doesn’t know what busy means”. I think that’s rubbish. It’s just a different busy, priorities and demands. I think there are more ‘not-negotiables’ things but its demeaning to tell someone they don’t know what busy means. If anything kids taught me not to sweat the small stuff – ie, did anyone vomit on me today? No. Ok it’s a good day LOL.

      • hehe yeah i guess it is all subjective and sometimes hearing other people’s stories puts things into perspective. :)
        haha the vomit thing made me laugh. a friend of mine who just had 2 little ones has a simialr attitude now and is a lot more relaxed with life which is great. :)

  15. I do not work and haven’t since our earthquake and began sewing to fill a void that was left (am still hoping work is in my future but pre earthquake demand is taking time and one thing this earthquake has taught me is dont sweat the little things) as well as a diversion from the horrible and stressful things that were going on around me. Life had previously got in the way of this hobby that I love and I had not sewn for myself in a long time. Now I sew because it is about me time. I also run a very busy household with kids who seem to be on the go all of the time. I am the taxi driver and organiser…you know how it goes. My son has just started swimming three days a week and I am trying to decide if I would look weird if I took my knitting to the pool!

    • It must be a real life-changer living through an earthquake which devastates your city.
      I’m glad you have sewing to get your through – and no I wouldn’t think someone knitting pool side weird at all, in fact I would think it was a smart use of time!

  16. Sewing for me is not only the way I relax… BUT- and this may sound silly, I feel like it has in a way “saved” me.. I recently went through a break up and found myself in a deep funk… I would sit around when I wasn’t working and watch TV and think about how sad my life was. Then I realized I needed to do something- I had not sewn in 2 years! (Other than a crazy difficult Dinosaur costume for my boss!) So, I pulled everything out and went through all my stuff and restarted blogging and joined Twitter, and feel like I am alive again. I find myself smiling when I am almost done with a project and feel like I am excited again. So after work, after the kids are settled and I have done my “mom stuff” I get to it! I feel happy and more relaxed then I have in a long time. I’d rather sew and create then sit around and feel down… Ah well- much longer than it should be but your post made me really think about it!! Looking forward to seeing your Alma blouse!

    • Thank you – I lived your comment and I think it’s lovely that sewing provides so much more than just clothing to so many people.
      I think too that by making yourself happy in turn happiness will find its way back to you again. But never give up the sewing for it sounds like it completes you.

  17. I’m a doctor – very busy and sometimes emotionally draining. I find evening socialising very difficult, mainly because I’m shattered and I pretty much HAVE to be in bed by 10pm so that I get enough sleep and feel like I have a clear head for the following day’s work. So I very rarely go anywhere on a school night. It’s even worse in the winter when the days are so short and it feels like bedtime when I get in from work!

    BUT I’ve recently joined a dressmaking class – which is on a Tuesday evening. I love it, the time flies by and I feel really relaxed. Last week we ran over and I didn’t get back home till 10pm – normally I’d be so stressed by this but nope, for this I would EVEN give up my early bedtime!!

    • I often feel that way, too tired and worn down to be social. Sewing and blogging connects me back with the world and relaxes me.
      Your sewing evenings sound lovely. I used to go to quilting classes and it was just so much fun, I loved it.

  18. Great post, I couldn’t agree more. I swear that sewing actually helps to keep me sane. I can completely get lost in it and it’s sometimes a bit hard to stop what I’m doing and face real life again (like waking from a good dream!). It is so important to not make sewing become stressful in any way, I sometimes feel bad for not writing a new post but then think how silly I’m being, perspective is very important you are right.

    • It is a sanity saver and there is no happier place than in the ‘sewing zone’. I sometimes get stressed/frustrated that I can finish something, do photos or write a blog post – then I think there are so many bloggers out there I’m sure I don’t need to fret too much! My blog reader is always on overload!!

  19. i completely agree with a lot of what has been said here already. i need a hobby to give me an outlet from the stresses of life. while sewing you can’t just let your mind wander to other things–it requires your full attention. plus, sewing gives you a useful (and sometimes even practical!) finished product! so, to me sewing is both a stress relieving and resourceful use of my time.

  20. I agree also, sewing is so relaxing for me and I love the enjoyment I get from a well made, well fitted garment that is unique. I get so much enjoyment from going out knowing no-one else has what I have. Plus I really enjoy the process from flat fabric to garment. The whole process is a joy and vastly contrasts from my day job which can be pretty stressful at times and is very much based on being time sensitive. Sewing I can do when I feel like, if I feel like. Work I have no choice, it has to get done, or I get sued!
    Now I just need to find time to photograph the three garments I finished recently so I can blog and share them with the sewing world!

  21. I couldn’t agree more with the “just relax and sew” advice and on being a bit more gentle with yourself. Sometimes I’m a bit too hard on myself for doing things ‘imperfectly’ (I’m a recovering perfectionist) and it totally sucks the joy out of everything. However, I’ve learned to *see* when this is happening and put a stopper in it. Sewing is what I enjoy most in life, and I refuse to let it become a chore or a way in for my perfectionism. Nowadays I’m finding myself embracing the mistakes and being grateful that I learned something new and I’m on the way to becoming ‘experienced’. I really value experience and expertise; and I now realize that what I value most springs from what I fear most – making mistakes. So, if I want to become experienced, I have to throw off the chains and just freely experiment knowing full well that I may fail and that’s ok…in fact…that’s just great :) Thank you for a very inspiring blog and for being candid about your journey.

    • I think it’s great to embrace the fun of sewing, try new things, different colours and so on. I’m finding sewing and blogging is helping me better understand a lot of things – not just sewing techniques but shapes and colours that suit me, visualizing line art into fabrics and FO. It’s a true creative journey and it’s amazing that the world of blogs provides such a positive atmosphere for that to happen it. So enjoy and don’t stress :-)

  22. I don’t know how you do it all, it seems to turn out in the end. I’ve always wondered how a century ago, women created beautiful garments and quilts all by hand. It’s probably because there weren’t any other distractions. It’s unrealistic to expect that everything gets done well and on time isn’t it? Sometimes when I find myself getting frustrated with a project, it’s usually because I’m trying to stick to some crazy schedule…….throw out the pesky schedule and it all irons out nicely. I have to allow myself the time to enjoy to process, even if it takes a week to do one collage….it should always be fun, that’s a priority for me.

    • It should be fun!
      I think we are probably in much the same position time wise as women generations ago. At least we have washing machines, dish washers and sewing machines to help. They provide us with more free time but then we fill it up with work and more commitments. Clearly we never learn LOL

  23. Gosh, this post comes at just the right time! Here I am, 1000 miles from home, visiting the in-laws for Thanksgiving, and I have this naggy, nudgy feeling in the back of my mind thinking about unfinished sewing projects that I really wanted to have done before the trip and about the horrifying week I’ll have at work when I get back. Sheesh– if I can’t relax and not let meeting sewing deadlines bother me over a holiday, what’s the point of sewing at all? I’d like to be a bit more efficient and sew quicker, but really, it’s a hobby, and it should be fun. :)

    • It’s frustrating when you can’t do everything you’d like – I certainly get that. When I’m ‘super’ busy I just leave it out (all over the house!) and sew a seam here or there, pin/baste something ready to sew, cut out in stages. I’m always amazed that things come together so quickly with no major ‘chunks’ of sewing time!

  24. Well, I have limited “free time” with three young kids so I love sewing as it is all for ME! It’s also nice to spend my time doing something constructive and not wasting it watching tv. I really enjoy sewing and I like how it challenges me and I’m learning new things from it.

    • I love the challenge too. And it’s not a draining stressful challenge just a fun one of my choice. And yes, something for me!
      I rarely watch tv anymore, I might be sitting in the lounge room but I’m often hand sewing, knitting, reading or writing.

  25. I can completely relate, sewing is like a little bubble away from the rest of my life and I always feel better even if I’ve only managed to sew a couple of seams. Unfortunately at the moment I’m so exhausted that I just drop at night – i know it’s not the end of the world that I’m not sewing but I really miss it.

    Can’t wait to see your finished alma.

    • Yes sometimes it’s enough to just get a taste of sewing to cheer yourself up. I’ve started knitting at night for the times I am too tired to sew.
      I’m hoping the weather will hold for some picture Alma pictures.

  26. Since I’ve been taking a little sewing hiatus (whether I like it or not!) I’ve been thinking about this a lot. I haven’t been sewing very long, but I knew right off that I never wanted sewing to become something that I felt I HAD to do. And since I haven’t had access to my sewing machine due to the holiday, I thought it would be a good test. Would I miss it, or would I enjoy not feeling the pressure to spend quality time with my machine? So far, I find that my fingers are still itching for a needle and thread. I think sewing, for me, isn’t just a hobby. It’s practically imperative for my creative well-being. So, I guess sewing IS something I have to do, after all. But it’s not a negative thing. I mean–I HAVE to eat. I also rather enjoy eating :) It’s the same for sewing. I can’t say that sewing relaxes me. I play video games to relax; I sew to create!

    Also, your trouser muslin is pretty impressive! I envy all people with mad pants-fitting skills. Someday I will be one of you.

    • You know I’m so glad I posted some of my random thoughts (and I have plenty so I try not to drown everyone in them!). Comments like yours really strike a chord with me and many more I am sure.
      I agree with you, I feel like I must sew. Someone was only saying the other day that I seem happier and more contented since I started my sewing and the blog – and it’s true. Life has been rather ‘challenging’ this year but having a creative haven has saved my sanity and certainly given me a sense of self-worth and achievement beyond all the reality of my life.
      I think for so many of us we are far more creative than everyday life allows us to be and its important to celebrate the things in life we do enjoy – not matter how removed they are from our daily chores and responsibilities. It’s still important.

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