Friday chatter: Do you have time set aside for sewing?



I am definitely a creature of habit.

This is something I’ve discovered over and over in the course of running a business for the last five years. When I first started, I was on my own, working out of a spare bedroom in my house, setting my own schedule and doing things at my own pace. I had total control and freedom.

And it was tough. It was hard to know when work began and ended. Prioritization was difficult. I felt like I was always working and always not-working at the same time.

Since then, things have changed dramatically. I have a wonderful studio to commute to (via a short walk), a fairly set schedule, and a somewhat more well-defined role, not to mention three other people to help share the burden.

Of those things, creating a routine for myself has been the most beneficial thing I’ve done for my mental health and wellbeing. There is time for work, and there is time for life. I don’t freak out about work when I’m not there. This in turn has given me more space to appreciate everything else: my home, my marriage, my friends, my family, my garden, my spiritual practice, my health, my hobbies, travel. You know. Life.

I have routines built around other things too. I meditate every morning at the same time. I make breakfast (usually a smoothie or oatmeal, like the yummy baked cinnamon oatmeal shown above that I ate this week). I exercise almost every day after breakfast. Right now, I’m trying to learn some Spanish, so I do my lessons every day while I drink coffee.

Far from feeling confining, these routines free me to make fewer decisions and just do the things I want to do every day. There’s no agonizing or fighting with myself or balancing priorities.

This made me wonder if others have routines built around their hobbies and interests? Do you have time you set aside for sewing? I’m curious if any of you have created a sort of sewing “practice”?

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 64


Not really. Whenever I can is my regularly scheduled sewing time. I work nine 9-hr days, so don’t get home until 6. Often, I think, I’ll do a little work tonight after the gym & dinner. But then I am so tired I know I’ll only end up messing up & having to rip out my work. So 5 nights a week of sewing usually turns into 1. I get most of it done on the weekends–the reason I like bad weather! If it’s sunny, my husband wants to go for a bike ride!


I have a nontraditional work schedule, meaning I work set hours, but my days off are all over the place, whatever my work demands allow. I sometimes do some sewing after work, but it’s short sessions, like an hour. I do much of my studio time on my days off, because I like to work for four or five hours on a project uninterrupted if I can. Someone told me it’s a good practice to spend 10 minutes a day in your creative space, even if the only thing you do is look at your inspration images or think about your project. It’s something I’m trying to do more. Sort of a routine, in a life without a lot of routine.


ahhhh… I’m soooo with you on that :) …


I really like that idea!

Lady ID

I do this too. I sketch during the day, make notes about projects, etc. I don’t always get to sew everyday but so far this year, I have sewn at least one day every week which I love.


Unfortunately (fortunately?), I feel I only have time to read the Colletterie! It helps me at least think I’m creative!


I’ve got lots of routines and schedules, but mostly to with my kids and work or housework. I do sit down to check email and blogs at the same time each day, and exercise, but I’d really like to establish time for sewing, reading, meditation, etc. I’m often too tired or busy, but maybe a set routine would help.


I haven’t set aside time in recent months for sewing, and I miss it. But I miss having a dedicated space for my sewing, just having the sewing machine out with pieces ready to sew is really inspirational.


It varies from week to week, but I try to set aside a few hours on the weekend at a minimum—if I don’t schedule it (literally, in my calendar), that time gets eaten up by other things.


I used to go to a sewing class just to have that scheduled sewing time, even it was only 2 hours per week. Since i haven’t been to that this term, I’m finding my sewing time is much more erratic. But that’s also down to being 7.5 months pregnant, working full time and looking after a 3 year old, so I am therefore pretty much permanently exhausted just now! I suspect I will continue to have no sewing routine for a good while longer! I do miss having that focussed time though, so need to give some thought as to how I get that back.

Leigh Ann

I attend a class as well, so I can learn new things, but also–and this is a biggie–so I’ll have two hours a week I know I’ll get to sew. I have good intentions of doing more sewing on my own, but it never seems to work out; there are always so many other things that need to be done.


Usually I’ll spend one day per weekend sewing, coming out only when I’m done with something or it’s time to eat. It’s a lot harder for me to set aside time to sew during the week because I usually feel so tired at the end of the day that I’d rather do something on the couch like reading or watching movies. But sometimes, I feel like sewing deep down, but I also feel like I want to do absolutely nothing, so I’ll set my kitchen timer for 15 minutes or 30 minutes, and just see how much sewing I can get done in that time. A lot of times, once the timer goes off and I have “permission” to go do nothing, I actually find I still want to sew for a bit longer. It sounds funny because sewing is something I love to do, but sometimes it just seems like too much work, and the timer trick helps me a lot in those moments.


I feel the same way…I have that deep desire to sew but am so tired at the end of the work day I only want to sit on the couch and watch a movie. But sometimes I make myself go into my sewing room for 30 minutes to get a small piece of the project done. I figure if I keep doing that eventually it will add up to a finished project! It helps to have a dedicated space where I can keep the work in progress out on the table ready to go.

Juliana @ Urban Simplicity

It is so interesting you should post this today; I was just reflecting on routine setting, especially with regard to sewing (and crafting more generally). I have the same problem you used to: my sewing space is my kitchen table and I have four kids six and under, so I always have to clean up everything when I get to a stopping point, instead of leaving it, and I can’t always count on having time to get back to it in a timely manner. I am also a person who likes to push through and keep on until the project is finished, and sometimes, that isn’t good either because I’m always working on it, instead of making space for other things too. Lately, my schedule has been sewing on Monday and Thursday mornings (I cut on Mondays, sew on Thursdays). Whatever I get done after breakfast and before my toddler’s lunchtime is what I get done that day, and I try to put the sewing machine away in the cabinet after that, as my late afternoon energy levels are bad, and the boys come home from school, and the baby needs me in the afternoon. I don’t finish projects quite as quickly as I did before, but I don’t feel crazy when I’m trying to make something either. It feels more balanced this way.

Annette Tirette

I currently spend my working time either working small illustration jobs or making drawings for my own projects (one of them being a webshop I want to start soon), so I don’t have any clearly defined ‘free time’. What I try to do is to spend two nights a week on sewing, or even an entire day if I feel like I have the time!


I live in a small house, which is great when it comes to cleaning (so fast) but not so great when it comes to having a dedicated space to sew. I’ve found I’m most successful at completing sewing projects if I plan them out over a period of weeks, with my sewing done on the weekend. Then it becomes a ritual. On Friday I haul out the machine, ironing board, iron, etc. On Sunday I put everything away. This gives my sewing focus as in, “this weekend I will do steps 1, 2 and 3 on this dress. It also keeps me from getting very grumpy during the week because my sewing things are out, and look messy, but I have no time to sew.


Oh my gosh this is my topic right now. There is a lot going on in my life and I’m having a rough time. So I guess doing something for myself like sewing would be a wonderful thing to do and there are quite a few already planned sewing projects.
My mistake is that I always make such a big fuss about it……. My plan is to clean up first, make everything nice , and do everything that needs to be done first. But when I’m done there is no more time left or Iam too exhausted. I really need to break down my stupid perfectionist dream about how the conditions should be to finally start sewing.

I’ m trying to form a habit to do something sewing-wise everyday just for a few minutes. Ihope this will work out. Wish me luck!


Good luck! Sometimes it is like exercise in that, if you tell yourself you’ll just do it for a few minutes, by the time those few minutes are up you’ll want to keep going!

Laura Lee

Your post described my life perfectly. Why is it that I need to do ALL of my chores before considering being creative or sewing? I, too, find myself too tired or everyone is home again before I even start my project? I “think” a lot about my projects but have rarely dedicated enough time to them. This week I am going to try to go to my sewing area for one hour regardless of what is on my to-do list. Let me know if you have any break through ideas!!


doing the things I enjoy energizes me to do all the other (not so enjoyable) tasks;-)


It got better. Like Sarai said, when you start with a tiny goal in mind you actually get in the mood for more sewing. For me it is really helpfull to find time to cut the fabric and when it is done – I’m motivated and it is easier to get a little sewing done. Even if it is just one seam per day. I like to make the most of it by listening to a nice podcast, audiobook or music. I’m really enjoying my me-time and it gives me the strength to manage everything else.

Isaboe Renoir

I set myself a schedule several years ago, and it was the most freeing thing I’ve ever done! People always think I’m nuts – how can a set schedule be freeing? But I know when things are going to get done, so I have lots of free time to do what I want (like sewing), and I almost never worry when something else doesn’t get done, because I know there’s another opportunity coming for it to get done.

I used to be an “as it comes” type for doing chores, running errands, but it always felt as if all my non-work(job) time was spent catching up on chores, never anything fun; now I have a set schedule and it includes free time to do whatever I want. For instance, I don’t worry about laundry piling up, because laundry gets done on say Wednesday; I don’t worry that the grass isn’t mown yet, because I do that on say Tuesday. And if an emergency comes up, I need to have a meeting on Saturday and skip the sewing I planned, that’s OK too; another set time for sewing is coming the next day or the next week, no worrying about when or whether I’ll be able to do it again.


I love this! It gives me a little more courage to implement my own schedule for non-working time. Like you say, friends think I’m crazy (or antisocial) to crave schedule and routines and stick to them, but I think deep down we all want something like that – at least for the stress reduction you explain here!


I agree! It really helps to reduce stress if you can take away the mental burden of worrying when things will get done, or that you will forget about them.

It does sometimes make me feel anti-social too, but I’d probably be more anti-social if I was stressed.

Diane @ Vintage Zest

No. :( If only I had the luxury! Before, it was on weekends, but unfortunately work now spills over into my “free” time.


Sewing is my priority daily. It’s a matter of whether I finish a project I’ve started, plan a new one. I schedule time to read your blog! Like the Wardrobe Architect. I set time aside to learn new things. Get on the Google to research stuff. I try to learn or relearn new stuff daily. I have lofty goals, like learn how to paint. But my soul and my skills are in fabric.


I am like you I plan all the things I have to do. Because if I don’t plan it I am all over the place with life, hubby, kids, sports, gym, hobbies, dogs,etc. But I also find if I don’t plan it, I will get consumed with “stuff” for the hubby and kids. Not being selfish but just like I make workout time for myself, I have to make sewing/crafting/hobby time for myself – so I plan it.


Nope… Back from work, I have a little girl who requires my attention. I could sew every night after her bedtime but I also like to do other things. So it’s more a question of when I feel like it. Plus at night it always seems that I won’t have the time to do all the sewing I would like to. I sometimes take a day off just for me and spend this day sewing. I like to take my time :-)

By the way, would you share your recipe for the baked cinnamon oatmeal. I saw (and commented) your picture on instagram. I discovered oatmeal during my year in the US and really like it.

Enjoy your week-end!


Sure! This is what I do for this one:

2 cups oats
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 T maple syrup
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup almond milk

Mix the dry ingredients together, then the wet. Combine them, spoon into 4 ramekins and bake at 375 for about 15-20 minutes. Then I’ll turn on the broiler and broil for another few minutes to get the top crisp.

You can serve it with maple syrup, walnuts, sliced banana, berries, raisins, whatever!


It sounds even better now that I have the recipe!!! Thanks very much


I sew every day after work and dinner. We are empty nesters and my husband works late and when he comes home he likes to unwind with surfing on the computer and listening to music. We basically go our own ways at night and visit each other — after years of rushing around and doing for others, I am completely happy and guilt free about sewing late into the night and early morning. I keep wanting to regulate myself, to remember there are other things I like to do — like read — but I read so much for my job and right now I just want to sew!!!! Is that so bad???? :)


I had been putting sewing time in my routine but got away from that. Thanks for the reminder to put it back and *make* time.

Even ten minutes a day makes a difference.

Michelle Rose

Setting aside 30 minutes/day for myself has been the ONLY way that I’ve been able to get regular sewing time in as a toddler mom who works full time. I get up an extra 30 minutes early every morning and squeeze in my “me time” after walking the dog, but before I shower. No one else is up at this point, and it’s the only time of day that the house is quiet.

I won’t lie–it was REALLY hard at first. (I get up at either 5:45 or 6:30am, depending on whether I take the bus or drive to work that day.) However, I’ve found that it puts my mind in a better place to start the day–sort of similar to when I used to get up at 6am 3x/week to take a bootcamp exercise class.

Kate McIvor

I have been REALLY busy at work for the past month, which has made me feel completely behind on my sewing and blogging projects. Two weekends ago, I decided to employ a batching principle…Instead of cutting out and sewing one garment at a time, I decided to cut out 3 garments in one day — complete with notching and tailor-tacking — and then sew them up the next weekend. I only got one project completed the next weekend, but it feels great to have the other 2 cut out and ready to go.

Jennifer Lachman

I have time I set aside for hobbies, and that’s when I do my sewing if among other things.


Another blog I read regularly had an interesting post this week about “being busy” and just how valid that claim is or is not.
I find if I have a set schedule, I don’t feel confined and I don’t feel busy, even though I accomplish a great deal in a day. If I don’t have a schedule, I just wander around, not finishing anything and end the day feeling frustrated and annoyed with myself. I write lists at work – another kind of schedule, really – and just work my way through it, crossing off and adding on the bottom as the day goes by.
At this point in my life (55, empty nest, just like Colleen above), I have a lot more freedom in my schedule, not like it was during the child rearing years! I get up at 5, make lunches, have breakfast, get dressed etc. From 6 to 7 I work on whatever book I’m writing. At 7 I leave for the gym. At 9, I head for work and second breakfast! In the evening, after dinner, if I don’t have some other obligation, I sew til 8:30 or 9, then head for bed where I read for an hour, then turn out the lights. I cut out on Sundays and can generally get a garment made in a week or two, more if it’s a new pattern. It’s my creative outlet. I miss it and get twitchy if I’m away from sewing for too long.


I work part time so I sew in the afternoons before I pick up my little one from school and then in the evenings I knit. It’s a routine I’ve got into and god help anyone who gets in the way……sorry hubby :-). He knows it keeps me happy!!

Madeline Chard

This is such a current concern for me. I am back at university studying this year, and financing the journey working as a casual relief teacher. This leads to two problems: I have a lot of uni work that is always on my mind, and I cannot plan the day ahead not knowing whether I will work or not. I have ended up making two daily schedules…one for a “work day” and one for a “non-work day”. I list things I need to achieve and prioritise, diving into things I enjoy and things otherwise. Sewing is generally a luxury on the list because I enjoy it…but becomes a priority when I need to fix an error. It is amazing how little I can achieve in a whole day otherwise!


When my daughter was little and I was reading lots of baby books, I learned that different babies need different levels of routine. Some are okay with no routine – they will sleep when it is convenient and are happy to be awake when there is action happening. Some need a very strict routine – they always need to be able to expect what is coming next. I think perhaps we never outgrow that.

Buzz Cogs

I need to set aside time for sewing. I walk by my sewing table everyday and don’t sit at it and sew! :-(

I’m still in the process of setting a schedule to give myself more freedom to enjoy my hobbies. It’s not that I’m so busy..just disorganized!


I used to have most evenings and all of my weekends available to me to sew, but I’ve been working 2 jobs since October and have lost that free time. Now I basically have about 90 minutes between getting home at night and going to bed, and my weekends revolve around work. It got to the point that I was kind of glad when I got sick around Christmas, because it meant some days at home away from both jobs (and yes, I definitely did some sewing). This post and many of the comments have been encouraging–if I can spend just a little time in my sewing room each day getting SOMETHING done, it is better than nothing. I’m setting a goal of 15-30 minutes daily. =)

s j kurtz

My spouse works from home, I work from home during the school year, in the summer I work at the home office of my old friend BT. BT has run his own small business since 1992, always out of his house, with seasonal employees. Now that tech has changed the landscape for a lot of us, I find myself looking to the schedule as a liberation tool. Otherwise, the home business eats up everything and everyone in the house. BT has been a great example of how to structure work time so that there is free time; time that can be really enjoyed without nagging worries about what should be done. Following that logic, I schedule my sewing hours, so I can focus on the doing parts. If I’m between projects, I tidy up (or rearrange the patterns by topic, always a stimulant to projects). I make sure I don’t sew during the summer by sending the machines off for tune ups (since I’m working, I can afford to send them to the spa). This summer, I’m ‘hiring’ my high school son to be the housekeeper, so my free time will be mine mine mine.


I like to sew in the evenings when I can. Some days I’m just too tired after work and know I’ll end up making mistakes. Those days I’ll either peruse some project books for inspiration or spend some time organizing my space or prepping fabric for a project. I generally dislike ironing but have discovered ironing my newly washed fabric relaxes me. Perhaps it’s the rhythm of it or the the resulting nice neat stack of pressed fabric; whatever it is, it works for me and I’ve at least accomplished something.


I usually sew in the early to mid-mornings until the early to late afternoons. Depending on how much I want to complete makes a difference when I start. I stop when it is time to pick kids up from school and may or may not return depending on what I’m working on and other activities. Sometimes I take a day off for errands or appointments. Sometimes I sew six days a week sometimes seven. I usually sew at least two or three hours each day.

I guess I would be described as having a loose schedule.


No sewing practice yet, but becoming more organized and disciplined in my schedule is something I’m trying to work on this year. Now that my two-year-old is in preschool I have time during the day to work and this has freed me up from that feeling of always-but-never-working that I think so many self-employed moms feel. I want to push this farther and create pockets of time to read, sew, and just enjoy life sans-technology. It’s so easy for any spare minutes to get gobbled up online.


I’m not getting much sewing done currently. Between work, household tasks and a small child, finding the time is hard. I’m in the process of sorting out a schedule for myself, that allows for work, exercise, housework and crafting. So that it all balances out and I know when things are meant to be done rather than just time getting away from me.


I have one evening a week set aside for sewing, additional time comes as a bonus. The same way I have time set aside for exercise. It makes it easier to get things done, both sewing and other (more boring) things, such as house work.

Jet Set Sewing

When I had my son at 44, I went from television producer and writer to stay-at-home mom, bam! with no peers in the same boat. It was alternately wonderful and awful, but so worth it, of course.
When my son was 10 I re-embraced sewing, a hobby I had loved in my teens and twenties. It was that or go nuts (at 57, believe me, the media workforce is not beckoning to me).
Now when my son leaves for school in the morning, I go to my sewing “land” or my blog, and feel productive and creative again. Maybe it will turn into something. Maybe not. At this age I realize that it already is “something” because I don’t need to be defined by a career anymore.


This is an excelent idea!
I want to restart sewing and I don´t know what to do…. if I shedule time I at least know WHEN to start :)
My boyfriend watches livestreams two times a week, so it would be free time for me :)


I try to sew when my fiance is watching sport. It was much easier in the summer, because there were whole days of cricket and I was on holidays. I find it hard to pull out all my gear, sew and then pack it up again within the hour of so of football highlights that happen at this time of year. We’re both working now too, so we like to hang out in the evenings.

Amy Nicole

I have a routine for pretty much everything – and I love it. Sewing Thursday evenings, blog/computer work Saturday afternoons after my morning run, blog/magazine/book reading on Sundays, oatmeal every morning, French lesson via podcast on my walks to work Tuesdays & Wednesdays… The rest is a bit of fill-in-the-blank as I go, but it works for me and I love it!


I have a schedule this year. Weekends are for sewing by machine, when my daughter’s at her father’s house. Weekday evenings I do handwork–crochet, embroidery, hand-finishing on garments, whatever. The idea is that it’s small, portable, and easy to pick up and put down even if I only have a few minutes to work on it.

It’s worked pretty well this year. I’ve almost finished two crocheted sweaters, I’ve sewed up a pair of pajamas for my daughter, a nice snuggly quilt for the both of us, and a couple of shirts, two skirts, and a pair of pants for me, and I’ve got a cross-stitch gift just about done. I’ve got a pile of blocks for a farmers’ wife quilt along done, and pieces cut out for a raincoat and t-shirt for my daughter, and a blouse for me. So in terms of productivity at least I’m going gangbusters, and it’s staying fun, too.

Cisa Barry

I am also a sewing business owner and found almost the exact same thing to be true. When I started my tailoring business out of my spare room I felt like I was always simultaneously working constantly and just lazing about. I would get distracted when I should have been sewing by dishes or laundry that needed to be done and had trouble unwinding enough to just relax in the evenings. If I couldn’t sleep, I’d just stay up and keep sewing. Finding life balance was incredibly tricky, but also very liberating. I’ve now had a brick and mortar for 3 very successful years and we just bought a house a mile away. While I still have trouble leaving work sometimes (old habits are hard to break!) once I’m home, I’m home. I can enjoy our new house, cooking, working on our yard and spending time with family and friends. I get it, Sarai. I really get how it feels. The joys and struggles of business ownership :)


It sounds like you’ve got the routine nailed. I run my own business too I’m still working on drawing a line between work and general life stuff. I had such great intentions at the beginning of the year. I guess I’m a workaholic and still feel a bit guilty when I’m not ‘working’. It sounds like some of the other peeps leaving comments had similar problems when they started their businesses too. I guess is just takes time to figure it all out.


I have totally been there, and still find myself there sometimes. I am a workaholic by nature too, and I think most business owners are. You have to do a lot of hustling, and the responsibility is tremendous.

But, burnout is a very real danger. I’ve also gotten to a point where I realized I was sacrificing my health, relationships, and emotional well-being because I was so afraid of failure. I HAD to reprioritize. And my business has not suffered one bit because of it!

I’m definitely still going through that process, but the shift was mostly a mental one. I still work hard, but my anxiety is about 20% of what it used to be.


Ah, Sarai, you always have such interesting posts that get me thinking. I didn’t do my usual and comment right away because I really needed to ponder this one. Routine. That’s a tough one. I suppose (for me anyway) it’s a case of everything in moderation. I am also a self proclaimed creature of habit. A well oiled daily routine for too long without deviation and I get stuck in a creative rut and just ‘keep busy’ whist not really creating work with impact, you know? Not enough of a routine and I drift without accomplishing my goals. I think that John Cleese in his speech about creativity (VERY worth the watch) was correct in saying that we need ‘open’ play time to conceive of creative, unique ideas and ‘closed’ doing time to execute them. Here’s the link – best 37 minutes ever :)


I typically try to set at least 2. He’s aside during the weekend, mostly a rainy Sunday. However also have tried to do an hour during the weekdays two. It’s based on my work timelines. Sometimes alittle at a time is best so I don’t get too tired. This weekend I was sewing while tired & ended up sewing two bodice pieces together. That’s when I decided to take a nap!


I learned when my twins were babies I had to do something for myself to recharge every single day. My husband and I also agree we get to have one night where we get to do our own thing. So, for the last eight years I’ve had Monday nights — where I abdicate all parenting authority and go to knitting after work (and get home around 8:30 p.m.). Unfortunately a schedule change and move by our day care provider, someone has to be home by 4:30 when the kids get off the bus — and that’s me. The thought of driving back to town is just too much for me, so I instead go to my sewing room and work after supper.

My husband gets Thursday nights to work on cars. Both of us are OK with this because we get independent time to get our projects. We also negotiate other times over the weekends and after kids go to bed, too.


I am project oriented….I’ll work on one or two things in a non-stop frenzy of sewing, then take a break for a few weeks. Part of it is budget constrictions…if I had unlimited funds I’d be sewing every day. In those imbetween times I do spend time in my sewing space…reorganising thread, planning the next project, going through my muslins to see if they are all worth keeping, etc. I actually enjoy the organising as much as the actual sewing.I also have a wish board [that’s what I call it anyway] with pictures of future possible projects that I update and reprioritise all the time.

Flor de zanahoria

I think it is really to work somewhere else than home to stay sane! I have a very busy job in which I work at least 50 hours a week but will soon move on to have more free time to craft. I have recently relaxed and work less, and it has a huge impact on my health, relationships and happiness. Having time to be creative whilst having an interesting job which does not eat up your life is a dream – and probably achievable goal soon!


Ahhh good question indeed… I make time in my routine for exercise, breakfast, meditation; the “essentials”… but as I’m working more and more freelance these days in addition to a full time job, my personal time for my own creative projects (including sewing) has been sparse, to say the least. As I’m sure you can relate to, when you’re your own boss, and there are deadlines for things, it’s hard to justify stopping work when there’s more work to be done. And if you do, how do you keep from being creatively drained enough to pick up a project and work on it? I confess, this is an area with which I struggle greatly – I will think about how I can schedule time for sewing, like I do with other lifestyle elements; perhaps that will help – thanks! :)


Yep, I definitely relate to all of that!

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