I recently had a few fellow Instagram friends (who also happen to be moms) ask me how I find so much time to sew. They mentioned how I get SO MUCH DONE while staying home full-time with three little boys.
The truth is, friends, I don’t spend a lot of time sewing, and I really don’t get SO MUCH DONE.
I wanted to debunk any false premise that I happen to be overly productive while raising three munchkins…three very demanding kiddos (just like we all have.) Because kids aren’t easy. And kids take a lot of time. But my three boys are so worth my time and my attention and my presence.
To begin, take note of all the unfinished projects I have going on right now:
I have the Dresden plate quilt almost half way done. I finally decided on background fabric and have it sitting pretty waiting for the next step.
Then there’s the Economy Block quilt for my boys. I am half done piecing the squares for this one. The two step trimming + sewing process is taking me a while, but I enjoy the process.
My half square triangle quilt is ALMOST done. All that’s left is the binding.
Don’t forget my Scrappy Star quilt. I have one block done. Yes, one block. That’s it. But I love the fabric stack I have sitting for this one, and I want to finish it because I’ve never done a star quilt.
Oh, yes, my ten year process of making a hexie quilt is also still in process as well.
And I have one vintage sheet quilt top started for a wedding gift that I believe is to be done by October.
Do you know what happens when you work on five projects at once…bouncing back and forth between them all? Working on five projects allows me variety in my Instagram feed and gives the illusion that I’m being super productive…when in all reality, I’m making little progress here and little progress there with very few completely finished projects.
Add in the few stacks of fabric I have folded nicely and set aside waiting for the perfect pattern to come along, and it looks like I have a lot on my plate.
What about the pillow covers I sell in my Etsy shop? The first pillow cover I made probably took me a week to finish. Now, I can finish one in about an hour’s time. I’m really trying to hone my skills when it comes to my product. Since I continue creating the same thing over and over again, I’ve learned some efficiency techniques, and I run into very few surprises since I’m sewing the same thing over and over again. The result? It doesn’t take me an abundance of time to sew a pillow cover (my usual product for my shop.)
Okay. Back to the title of this post: Sewing + Crafting + Etsy + Instagram + Quilting and MOTHERHOOD. How does all this work for ME? (I repeat…this is what works for ME.)
Once again, this is what works for ME. 🙂 But I’d love to hear in the comments what works for YOU!
My informal set of rules for myself:
+ I do not sew when the older boys are awake. (Unless my husband is home tending to them.) I used to try to capitalize on a few minutes here and there if my children appeared to be occupied well. This almost always ended in frustration for me or them.
+ I do my best to post on Instagram before my children are awake for the day. Posting can sometimes take me ten or so minutes of focused time. It’s best to do this without children around for me.
+ I do not work on the blog (laptop open) while my children are awake. (Unless my husband is home tending to them.)
+I turn down 95% of requests for custom orders. IF (and that’s a big IF) I do take a custom order, I always tell my customer I cannot commit to a tight timeline. Full time motherhood is not a good time for me for working on orders with deadlines.
+ I do respond to comments on Instagram and scroll periodically with children awake.
+ I do take pictures for my blog or Instagram when the kiddos are playing. Lighting is what determines when and where I take pictures. If the lighting is perfect at 10:30 in the right spot, I take a few minutes to snap a few pictures.
When do I sew?
+ Almost all my sewing happens during nap time five days a week. My two year old sleeps while my four year old plays in his room for an hour and twenty minutes. My six month old sometimes sleeps at the same time. Even if Miles (the baby) is awake, I put him on the floor beside me and give him some toys. If he’s happy, I sew. If not, I don’t.
+ If I’m pushing to get a project done, I will sometimes sew in the evening after the older children are in bed. Usually, though, this doesn’t work well. Picking up the house, tending to the baby, and responding to emails, comments, and writing blog posts usually takes my time after the children go to bed.
+ Three out of four weekends, I find time to sew on Saturday and Sunday. Usually, this is during nap times, but it’s not rare for my husband to offer to play with children for the sole purpose of allowing me time to create.
Where do I sew?
+ Our master bedroom has a sitting room of sorts that we weren’t using well. We used that space to set up a craft area of me. I have three sets of bookshelves from IKEA and an old library table. That is the extent of my space and storage. The biggest blessing is the ability to leave projects out all the time. I can walk in and pick up immediately where I left off. No cleaning up and getting everything out again every time I go to sew.
How do I afford this hobby?
+ I started sewing in 2009 on a little Singer Promise sewing machine that my sisters gifted me for Christmas. While I almost threw the machine out the window multiple times because the bobbin thread was CONSTANTLY getting tangled, I learned to sew on it. I sewed and quilted a queen size Swoon quilt on that thing. In other words, my first sewing machine was zero investment.
+ I now sew on a Singer Quantum 9960. Considering my husband and I don’t flippantly spend money, this was an investment. But, as you can see on the price tag, it wasn’t a HUGE investment.
+ For many years, I drooled over fabric just wishing to buy and buy and buy. Instead I chose a few special yards here and there and I bought batting at Jo Ann’s with 50% off coupons. I still don’t have shelves filled with fabric, and I usually leave fabric in my online shopping cart for at least 24 hours before purchasing. (It’s amazing how many times my tastes change over night.)
+ I have the blessing (AFTER TWO YEARS of blogging & Instagram & Etsy…slowly, slowly, slowly) to now use my blogging income and Etsy Shop income solely for funding my sewing and quilting. Since my little bits of spare change here and there are not intended to support our family or any ongoing expenses, I have the privilege to turn my profits into fabric and thread.
A few family dynamics that help the sewing and quilting cause:
+ We are at a phase of life where the children are not involved in athletics or other activities of the sort. As a result, we are home most evenings and some times that offers additional time to sew.
+ We watch almost no TV or movies. For us, TV took up a lot of time we decided we’d prefer to spend elsewhere. Sometimes I miss the lazy days of Antique Roadshow, though.
+ We live on a third of an acre in a subdivision. Yard work is very minimal and this set up keeps our lives simple.
+ My husband is one hundred percent supportive of my creative outlet. The additional free time he gives me to continue learning and sewing and quilting is probably the number one reason this small business set up works for me. (And he’s an engineer that can fix a broken sewing machine and figure out why my points aren’t lining up well…and he’s even done the math for a homemade pattern for me. Convenient in-house mathematician.)