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Do you have any sewing rituals?


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This site is no longer being updated so head over to Seamwork to get all the latest patterns, tutorials, video classes, and more.

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I love rituals. They shape my life and make me a happier, more centered person.

For example, every weekday starts the same way for me. I wake up early, turn on the coffee, and meditate for 10-15 minutes while it brews. I drink my coffee and go through a list of quick tasks I call “my dailies”. I eat, run or work out, eat again, shower, get dressed. Every day.

You might call this a routine, but I prefer to think of them as rituals. They are the things I choose to do, the things that center me and prepare me for the rest of the day. They make me feel calm and more creative.

And that’s what I think the difference is between a ritual and routine. Rituals energize and prepare you, routines (while helpful) are rather mindless.

I realized recently that I also have sewing rituals.

I clean off my space. I brew a cup of tea or coffee. I make sure my tools are handy. I put a pair of nippers on a ribbon around my neck.

Doing these things helps to put me in the right head space. It makes me feel (1) more prepared and (2) relaxed. The latter is especially important, because I find that beginning with this feeling of ease and relaxation is the number one thing that prevents me from getting frustrated.

This made me wonder if you guys also feel you have rituals around sewing, and what those might be. What makes you feel prepared to work on a project?

Sarai Mitnick   —   Founder

Sarai started Colette back in 2009. She believes the primary role of a business should be to help people. She loves good books, sewing with wool, her charming cats, working in her garden, and eating salsa.

Comments 62


Oh, my… You just reminded me of my granny in the best possible way. She used to sew when I was very little -before she went blind- and I have this image of her with a burgundy house dress and a pair of nippers on a pink ribbon around her neck.

I mostly sew to feel close to her and to my mom again. I missed them a little bit less when I have an unfinished garment and the sewing machine around.


I love having a nice clean work area before I start sewing.


A clean work space, tools laid out to the upper right all in a neat row and I refuse to start a project until another begins. I’ve learned from my knitting self that more than one project leads to chaos and panic. Thanks for the nippers tip, off to find a ribbon.


Sounds like the nippers tip has helped a few of you. I’ll have to add that to a future installment of Snippets. :)


My sewing rituals involved a glass of iced tea, coffee or hot tea — depends on the time of day, my mood and the temperature in my sewing room. I will start my dvd player up for background noise. It almost always is BBC’s Sherlock. I use it for timing.

My tools are all put away/in their place so I can grab them when needed. Then comes the removal of the kitty assistant who likes to hover over my machine, and sit on my fabric. After three removals, she settles down into basket of scraps and sleeps.


Since I never had a sewing space, clearing the table and setting up the machine were pure preparation, but choosing just the right CD for my sewing time was a well-loved ritual.

We just moved and I’m planing my sewing space. We’ll see what rituals I’ll establish there.


Oh yes, music or a good podcast are essential.


Definitely a clean area! I also prop up the sewing pattern for easy viewing and motivation. I turn on my record player and load up 5 records that play while I sew.

Chris Griffin

I totally get my tea, my background noise (silly tv) and my tools organized. Snippers, pins and shears to the right of the machine. Extra feet and needles on the side table, next to the computer and tea. Instructions on the left of the machine, or under the window within reach. THEN, SEW! :)


I have to make sure the chores are done first so I can have a clear head to sew. Then, it’s on with the comfy clothes (trackie bottoms and a hoodie), the slippers (can’t sew with cold feet!) and classical music on the radio. Then I’m all set.


I definitely clean the sewing area and get out the supplies first. Then I wear a long measuring tape as a scarf and pour some iced sweet tea into a wine glass. Good to go!

Rosie Sparkleneedles

I really need to develop a ritual of clearing my sewing space before I start. I am always so eager to leap in, and then become frustrated when things I need aren’t within easy reach or are hidden under pattern pieces etc.

All I do at the moment is put some cheesy music on!


I sewed like this for a long time, not being a naturally tidy person. Learning to do that prep has been a game changer. Of course, it really helps to have a dedicated sewing space, which I haven’t always had.

Andrea Rebholz

NIPPERS ON A RIBBON. BRILLIANT. I am totally stealing this.


I move the cat off my current project, make a cup of earl Gray tea and turn on the iron and NPR. I think one of the parts of the sewing process I enjoy the most is planning and gathering the supplies. I have this sense of excitement about all the possibilities.


Haha – moving the cat is KEY. Sometimes he also has to be shepherded into a bedroom for a while or he tries to take a running slide across my fabric and carefully laid-out pattern pieces. He’s lucky he’s adorable.

Kathleen Fox

When I finish a sewing session I ritualistically leave my sewing eyeglasses in a special red eyeglass case. When I am able to get back to the project I always feel welcomed back no matter what the interruption was that took me away.
Being able to see well enough to sew is not something I can take for granted. I am grateful for every hour I can see well enough to sew. So I say a prayer of thanksgiving, putting my glasses away and getting them back out.


That’s really cool. I just got my first pair of glasses this year, so this is something I’d like to keep in mind too. Mostly I just complain about them.


If I’m starting a substantial project I like to clean and oil my machine first. It feels like we’re bonding and psyching up for a long haul. Then the machine sounds and works better and I feel I’ve done right by it. I always listen to audio books or podcasts while I work, and if it’s a good story and reader the work goes even better.


My partner was recently generous enough to give up his home office for me to set up a sewing room (wheeeee!), and it’s made a huge difference for me to have a dedicated space to leave out my machine, ironing board, quilting fabric, rotary mat and rulers, and the luxury of a design wall. It’s been such a treat and a retreat. Currently, I’m quilting a block a day, and I find that my ritual occurs at the end of my daily sewing session, in that I like to clean up my space, put my tools back in the right spots, clear off any loose threads and bits so our cat doesn’t get to them. When I do this, I feel like I’m respecting the space and my work, honoring the next sewing session to come.


I usually start by setting up my machine and unpacking my sewing crate. Then I get something to drink (what if I’m hit with a sudden bout of extreme thirst, right?). I also set up my laptop or iPad with a movie/documentary/audiobook/music. I am not able to sew in complete silence.

Michelle Y.

First, I love the ideas of nippers on a ribbon around the neck! I’m always setting those down some random place and then have to look for them when I just need to do a quick snip.

Before sewing, I clean up the room so that I can have the physical and mental space for sewing. I need to wear comfortable clothes that are easy to get on and off (if I am working on clothing that needs to be tried on). Usually, audio books are an important part of my sewing. However, I can only listen to audio books after I have thought through the project and prepared the pattern (altering whatever is necessary before cutting). When I have a new project, I’ll usually spend a Saturday afternoon getting it started and then I can work in little chunks of time during the week.


Well, I had an awesome sewing space in an upstairs loft area. I thought it was perfect and spent some time organizing, and I even had an electrician put in special lighting. Guess what? I NEVER went up there – too far away from my family and all the commotion of the downstairs. Gradually, I have dragged all my sewing supplies downstairs, and I sew on the dining room table. It is right in the “thick” of things – my kids coming home from school and practice, my husband popping in and out of our country home, and in the evening, I sew while everyone sits by the fire and visits or watches football which we are all addicted to!


I used to cook for a living so getting my “mise en place” ready is so important. I cherish the hour and a half I usually get after work and before my husband gets home because I can wind down after a stressful day. I can actually FEEL the stress leaving my body when I sit down at my machine after I’ve changed out of my office clothes.

French Toast Tasha

Thanks for sharing your morning ritual! I’ve started doing yoga every morning, and sometimes I feel weird about how much time seems to pass, by the time I get up & wash my face, make tea, do yoga, get dressed, etc., before any “work” gets done. It’s good to know that other successful women have a similar long morning!

I like your way of thinking about rituals. I’ve been thinking lately about how rituals in general are lacking in our modern American culture. While I’m glad for the independence we all get to make our own lives as we choose, I also think humans crave ritual, and we should all try to figure out at least a few that work for us. As for sewing, I do try to put things away and keep my space neat, but usually I’m so happy for “me” sewing time that I just jump in!


Haha, with two kids, I have learned to sew in tiny increments of time, with almost no “ritual” required, because if you’ve only got 20 minutes to sew, you can’t waste half of it brewing tea! BUT, on the weekends, when I have a longer time, I like to straighten things up and go through my WIPs/planned projects while I’m drinking my morning coffee and just dream a bit about my next project … :-)


I can totally relate! With five kids, if you have a window you just go for it! In that way I think sewing becomes the ritual.

Piper Springs

Sounds like my “ritual” of no ritual, too. Glad I’m not alone!


Simple little things we should do to make ourself happy and motivated,and those simple little things actually because our big happiness what ever we do love to do in our life !Well if i can’t drink my coffee in the morning,i don’t sew and i don’t do anything and i day is not going well also :) Coffee is my ritual !

virginia hooper

Like you my morning ritual is having my coffee and thinking of my day ahead. If I have errands to run I do them early so my afternoon is freed. If I am going to start on a new project, I will clean up what’s left on the cutting table. Usually the night before I will thread my machine and bobbin with the color needed for the next project and change the serger thread if necessary. If I am doing rolled hems I will go ahead and get that serger ready so I am ready to go to my project. I always pre wash my fabrics so I can do that while I am working on a project so it will be ready but I don’t iron until I am ready to cut out. I use Magic Sizing to put the crisp feeling back on to the fabric after it’s been washed.


I don’t have tons of rituals, but, like you, I wind the bobbin and thread my machine ahead of time. It’s such a small thing but it makes the chair in front of my machine that much more welcoming.

Juls O

The only rituals I have are more superficial I guess. I have to put on “sewing movie” . You know, something you love, but know the whole plot line so you don’t have to pay attention, but it helps mark the time too. I cannot sew with socks or slippers on. I usually go about with one sock on my non-sewing foot, and my pedal foot bare. I don’t eat while I sew. I like salty snacks, and I would be licking my fingers in between the machine and the iron lol.


I love watching old, much-loved romantic comedies or musicals while I sew! Puts me into a happy, cozy sewing mood.

amy w

My kitchen has to be clean because my sewing room used to be my dining room and there is only one entrance and that’s through the kitchen. I can’t sew if there is a mess. I cut my tissue pattern one day, fabric another and sew on another day. I can’t do all three on the same day. I have to be barefoot when sewing so I wear flip-flops so I can slip it on and off. And I put in a movie I’ve seen a dozen times for background noise.


Oh no! No liquids near the fabrics! I would spill it in a second.. But I must have the telephone nearby. Nothing worse than having to get up and go fetch the ringing phone. I also set the kitchen timer on the oven. So I don’t work longer than schedule permits and run late for something else.


For me, my own disorganization becomes my ritual. I know I’ll want a TV show on so I grab the laptop, likely balance it on top of half my sewing stuff. Whoops forgot the cord in the bedroom… ok now I plunk down at the machine and shoot… where’s my thread? where’s my sewing basket? I know the nippers are on their handy ribbon but where did I leave them??… got all that and now finally ready to rock out. Wait. I’m thirsty. Take a break, brew some tea…


Tea and the radio tuned to the ABC or a podcast. Then I can sew.


I find it so funny that so many of us need to remove the cat. Mine loves to sleep on my sewing chair. So, first thing is to remove her and clean off the cat hair. Turn on Roku to my current favorite, plug in the iron, assemble needed tools and fabric. Take the cat back off the chair and repeat.


Background noise, either the news, one of my favorite radio stations from overseas, or a podcast. Before I begin, I sip a Turkish coffee. I set the timer on my phone for sixty minutes. When the alerts sounds, letting me know that sixty minutes have passed, I tidy my work area and drink a glass of water and/or grab a quick snack.


When I finish at the end of the day I prepare for the next day. If I don’t prepare in advance I can spend any amount of time thinking about what to do, getting ready etc. By preparing in advance I walk into my studio (with tea in hand) and also start with putting my nippers around my neck (but I think of them as snippers, aren’t nippers little dogs?) It is also a good way to mark the end of the day or the end of the process or project.


A sewing ritual is the one constant in my life. I make sure my house is clean, then my work area is clean & set up & ready. I am glad to know that I am not the only one that sews with one shoe off. I usually wear flip flops so that I can remove my right shoe. I also sometimes sew with my shirt off, since I like to sew for myself, I’m always trying on what I’m sewing and sometimes that shirt gets in the way! I love having an old black and white movie on so that I don’t have all that modern day yelling and screaming going on. A good day sewing is any day!


I don’t think I’ve actually figured out any rituals yet, but I like to make sure everything around me is organized and clean, and sometimes I turn on music. I like the idea of working out before starting though, sometimes I get super restless.


I have my snippers on a ribbon, but the tips are so sharp I’m scared of them tearing at my clothes, project, skin etc. Have you had that problem?


I have two pairs. One is very very sharp and I don’t wear that around my neck. The other pair has blunter points and they’ve never damaged anything. The blades are still sharp, but the tips of the blades are a little more rounded.

Sharon Williams

I have my nippers/snips on a ribbon attached to my machine carry handle. Safer as I am accident prone.

My ritual revolves around getting out my iron and setting up space for ironing pads. All about the iron for me. Clean it up, fresh water, lint free pad.


I LIKE to have the area cleaned and organized, but that doesn’t always happen. The measuring tape goes around the neck. How can you wear snips or scissors? They have sharp points! They and all my other tools are to the right of the machine. I’m still working on an organized way to keep them where I can find them easily. Iron ready to go, tea on the cup warmer, or else I get so involved in the project and by the time I remember the tea it is cold. I like music playing. Reading how many have a feline sewing assistant makes me miss my cat, but I always worried she’d get her tail or paws sewed into my project!
I try to get things cut out in advance, all laid out in order of assembly, and just sew until my timer rings or hubby comes in looking for a meal. When I am deeply involved in sewing I could forget all about eating, unless I hit a snag–then it’s snack time!

Shirley Tulloch

I am new to sewing and don’t have many rituals yet, but I like the idea of choosing to have rituals, as opposed to a routine. It’s got me thinking now…At the moment the only ritual I have is listening to BBC Radio (specifically Radio Two shows from Brian Mathews and Tony Blackburn) as I moved from Scotland to Canada two years ago and miss hearing british voices. Listening to radio shows, even days after they’re aired (and even the news segments in the middle of the shows) is so comforting while you potter and then get down to the nitty gritty. PS what are nippers? Yes, I am that new and don’t know what you are talking about! I’m guessing wee scissors?


I have to make sure I have an empty house first of all – no distractions! And I like to put something on my iPad that doesn’t need much concentration. Oh, and lots of coffee!


The best time for me to sew is early in the morning. I work two jobs and am taking two graduate-level classes, so time is a luxury for me. Getting out of bed (on my non-running days) at 5:45 to sew is a great inspiration for me. My whole day starts off better when I can squeeze in a half hour or an hour to sew before getting ready for work. Those are the best days ever! And if I have a couple of hours back-to-back on the weekend, you can bet it was a creative, relaxing, happy, happy weekend!


Let me speak for the dogs! I have an L-shaped sewing table in front of a window. My cocker spaniel lies there all the time, but especially when I’m sewing. I have to be sure she’s not taking up space where the fabric goes, but as long as she’s near me, she’s happy! I’ve also learned to wash all projects afterwards: black dog hair just doesn’t get it!


I am a musician and teach singing at a university, so for me sewing is a quiet time, and I avoid music. Sometimes I’ll put on a podcast, but usually it’s just the hum of the machines–sewing machine and serger. I have them set up side by side and can slide my little sewing chair quickly back and forth to finish a seam or serge part of something. I always have something on my feet, because in spite of my best efforts, there always seems to be a stray pin on the floor and you know if it’s there and you’re barefoot, you’re going to step on it! My little Bichon, Peanut, likes to lie on the bed (my sewing room doubles as a guest room) and keep me company.


I think I need more rituals, especially when it comes to sewing. I can get distracted hunting for the perfect streaming show that is good to listen to but not absorbing or visually stimulating. I have a few shows that work really well (Call the midwife, Nashville & Project Runway) and when they are on I drop right into my sewing head space. I love the idea of having a more lengthy morning ritual, but I’m not a morning person. May I ask what time you wake up?

hannah frost

I’d love to be all organised and have a ritual, but I find I just get the urge to sew, so I just crack on and sew. If I had my own sewing space I think I’d be more organised. I do always settle down with a cuppa though :)

At one time I had my own sewing space. Granted, it was tiny, 8×4 ft. It was always a huge mess, extension cord nightmare. I think it’s best to set up, pack up when done. End of project. Plan the next. And the cuppa, yuppa, even though I end up wearing more than I drink.


Oddly enough, my sewing ritual starts with putting all my sewing things away. When I’m finished with a project, I tend to leave my sewing stuff out for a few days, all over the dining room table, because I know I might need them again to fix small problems with the finished project. When I feel sure I won’t need my tools anymore for the previous project, I put everything away. Then I start a new project with a clean table and a clear mind. (My husband is happy when I finally clear off the table.)


My only ritual seems to be that I have to have a pin in my mouth in order to sew. Yes, I know, terribly dangerous, and I do try to curb the habit, but I do it subconsciously.

Kathleen Fox

I posted earlier about my red eyeglass case. After posting that I realize that I want to add more rituals. what a good way to get into the flow of a project and stay centered. I have decided to add sweeping the floor as a ritual between projects.


I pour a cup of tea. I also have the fabric spread out ready for cutting. That’s when my cat comes along sits on the material to supervise me while I cut. My Chihuahua at this point comes running downstairs runs over my pattern on the fabric & the cat chases her upstairs.

This is when I stop & take the dog for a long walk. Make her tired.We go home. I reheat my tea & get started on cutting. I save the sewing for later in the week.


Like many of you I have to clean my area. Then I get myself tea or coffee and get my ipod warmed up. I have tried podcasts but I get lost in what i’m doing and miss out on the discussions. I like the idea of cleaning when i’m done so my area is ready to go the next time. I love the days when I have the house to myself because it helps to cut down on the distractions.


I really like to take out all the bits I’ll need for the project like buttons or elastic so they’re all ready. then I wind on the bobbin and iron all the pieces if I haven’t already and place them in a pile of which will be used first down to last piece used so I don’t have to pick through the pile. a good movie or tv series is also good to have in in the back ground too. And maybe a little snack. Sometimes I skip the ironing part though if the fabric came out of the washing machine ok.


I have no ritual. When I feel the need to sew, I sew. Sometimes I have music, sometimes not. Sometimes I have coffee, sometimes not. Sometimes I sew during the day, sometimes after midnight. I have no organization. I can never find what I need when I need it. I constantly have to sift through rubble to get what I want. My family knows I’m busy with a sewing project by the stream of expletives flowing from my sewing space… and they tend to stay far away. I end up extremely aggravated by the end of it all and swear up and down that I’m going to get myself together next time, but that never happens. I think if I actually organized myself I’d be lost. I guess I thrive on chaos. Perhaps it is my ritual to be completely unorganized and ill-prepared before working on a project. Somehow it works for me. To each their own.

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