10 Tips for Planning your Sewing

 

After my recent posts reflecting on my sewing and planning what I want to sew next, a few people commented that they weren't good at sticking to plans. Now, I'm certainly not claiming to be any kind of planning guru, but I thought I'd share some of my thoughts about sewing plans.

1. Do you really want to make a plan? 

If you think you aren't going to stick to it, then don't do it! It will only make you feel worse. Like when you over-commit to anything, you won't do it well. At the end of the day, sewing is a hobby and it shouldn't make you feel bad about yourself.

2. Think about what items you need in your wardrobe

OK, so this is an obvious one. Have you got any glaring wardrobe gaps? Me Made Months are great for exposing the items your homemade wardrobe is lacking. Or, have you got any events coming up you want to make something for? A holiday or a wedding? You might want to try and balance 'everyday' and 'special occasion' items in your plan so that you don't find you've spent weeks making things you rarely get to wear.


3. Consider what is currently in your fabric and pattern stash.

I find that making plans makes me use fabrics that might otherwise languish, and gives me a reason to finally try out those patterns I've bought. I must have bought them for some reason, right? I don't feel guilty buying new fabric when I know I'm making room for it by using what I already have. Also, deciding to make something vague like 'a casual dress' will mean you can assess your pattern stash before buying something new - that neglected pattern might fit the bill, with a few tweaks.

4. Think about any new techniques you might want to learn.

This is the time to schedule in learning something new. Maybe you want to take a Craftsy course, or learn some couture techniques. I'm going to tackle sewing with knits as I feel this is a bit of a gap in my skill set.



5. Make it interesting. 

Or you won't stick to it. You might need more work basics but do you REALLY see yourself only sewing plain skirts, trousers and tops for the foreseeable future? Booooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrinnnnnnnnnnnnnngggggggg. It's ok to buy or thrift some things too, so don't be too hard on yourself. Equally, if you are making things out of stashed fabric that you don't really like anymore, will you be motivated to sew?

6. Allow room for flexibility. 

It's good to know what pattern and/or fabric you'll be using for at least some of your projects but try keeping some aspects vague like 'shorts' or 'a dress for a wedding'. You might want to join in with a sewalong or make use of a gorgeous new fabric you've found, but if you've been super-strict about your plan, it won't cover a little spontaneity.


7. Look at your normal sewing routine to help you plan what is achievable. 

With my Capsule Wardrobe, I looked at the number of items I made in 2011 and saw that I was averaging 2 items per month. On that basis, making 5 or 6 items in 3 months is realistic. Making 10 is not.

8. Do you want to set yourself a time frame?

This doesn't have to be a deadline set in stone (remember - enjoyment is key here!). You might set a time frame of 2 or 3 months for example. No one's going to chase you up about it, but it might be helpful for you to keep on track. I did this for my Capsule Wardrobe but haven't done it more recently as I feel focused on my sewing.

9. Follow your plan!

When you've made the plan, the only one who can achieve it is you. This is when you'll find out how good your plan really is! You might want to post about your progress midway to help keep you on track, and possibly make some changes. I've found the public accountability really spurs me on!


10. Evaluate your plan

At the end of your time, when you've made all your items, or when you've just given up, it's time to evaluate. However when reviewing, don't be too hard on yourself! It's a learning experience AND it's supposed to retain an element of enjoyment. This process will inform what you sew in the future and will give an indication to your real sewing habits.

Looking for more inspiration?

It's always helpful to see what others are up to with their plans, for inspiration. Here are a couple of examples of plans:

Su Sews So-So has been doing a '12 in 2012' project this year. In this, she has listed 12 garments to make plus 12 new sewing skills and 12 new techniques to try this year. I love this idea! It's a clever way to structure things. She has made great progress and has recently reviewed and updated her plan.

Another great way to make a mini plan is to follow the Colette Patterns Seasonal Palette Challenges. You can look in their forum for inspiration.

Do you have any other tips for sewing planning you can share?

K x

23 comments:

  1. Great tips! I'm a huge planner so fortunately planning my sewing projects helps and not hinders me.

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  2. I like your balanced approach with a focus on enjoyment- right on!

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  3. These are great tips, thanks for putting this together!

    I am currently doing a mini mini plan. The other day, I opened up my closet and started to write a list of wardrobe gaps, and things I'd like to sew. It quickly filled an entire page and then the daunting sheet of paper stared at me for the next day or two until I realized I'd bit off WAY too much for me. I needed to start smaller. Instead, my mini mini plan is that I'm planning a few mix-and-match outfits, from patterns I have, with some stash fabric but some not (because I don't have much fabric so I don't feel too badly, especially as I've sewn 3 things recently from stash). A couple of blouses, a couple of skirts, and probably one or two other things. No set deadline, but for me, enough to keep me busy for quite awhile. I need to mention it on my blog so that I have that accountability you spoke of!

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    1. Ooh good point! Breaking it down into bite size chunks is important.

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  4. Excellent tips, thank you! I particularly like the first one and it's something I need to be clearer on myself! The idea of a plan always seems so appealing, but I can never see plan through - if I'm honest I think it's because I don't like being told what to do, even if it's me who's setting the rules! How nuts is that!?! Haha!

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    1. You're obviously a natural rebel :)

      I think not all personality types like to plan, so no point pressuring yourself if it's not your thing.

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  5. I loved reading this because I'm obviously the total opposite to you.
    In the past week I've run up two mini dresses, a pair of shorts, a halter neck top and a maxi and reconstructed and remade a tweed jacket. I don't need any of them! x

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    1. Ha ha, I can't imagine you having any wardrobe gaps Vix! Nothing wrong with just enjoying the sewing process either. I'm like that with knitting.

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  6. Ouch! "Do you really want to make a plan?" My instinct is to get all huffy and say "Yes of course I do!" because planning is my day job and OF COURSE I would follow that through to my sewing... but the more I think about it, the more I think it starts to feel too much like work when I plan at home! Are you a psychoanalyst?!

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    1. No psychoanalytical training :) , but I do think that no-one should feel bad if they are not a 'planner'.

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  7. ah, these tips are great. and so sensible. I should plan more... it might help me clear my head when it comes to sewing - there's often so much that I want to make, and never enough time! I wonder if I should set myself the challenge of sewing to a plan. (A "challenge" sounds a bit more exciting, no?)

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  8. I was sold on number 1! That makes me feel so much better. I'm always hesitant about publishing my plans. If I don't have one it can't go wrong eh?! ;-)

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  9. This is a great post, I'm not a planner, more of a floaty go with the flow type but often feel guilty that I'm not more organised. I love your reminder that sewing is a hobby to be enjoyed, so I won't be hard on myself anymore! Thank you!

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    1. You're welcome! I think it's easy to forget sometimes that sewing should be enjoyable - it's very easy to give yourself a hard time because you aren't happy with the fit/finish of your garments. Of course it's good to push yourself and learn new skills, but it's all about balance.

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  10. Gosh, this is clever. Somehow (cleverness, probably) you managed to take the things that rattle around in my head and turn them into a list of useful tips! Very good food for thought, thank you!

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  11. Thanks for the tips! I'm a lousy planner and even worse at sticking to plans, but I'd like a little more structure in my sewing, so this is really helpful advice!

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  12. These tips are all spot on :) I personally enjoy making plans with no time pressure. It can be easy to be hard on yourself!

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  13. This is a fantastic post, really useful - and honest. With reference to the first tip, that's a really good point. I've given up on making sewing plans as I find that as soon as a project is on a list, it becomes a chore in my mind and I don't want to do it anymore! Instead I have little drawings of things I want to make in a notebook, in no particular order, just as a reminder of something I've thought would be nice.

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    1. Love the idea of sketching out plans, that's a great way to help you visualise the final outfit. It's really interesting to see the different ways that everyone approaches their projects.

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  14. Great post! I try to plan and stick to it, but I am uses to be carried away by making new plans.

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  15. I needed to read this so very much!!! Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful suggestions! I really need to focus on making things I will actually wear :)

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  16. This is a great post! Takes all the crazy ideas floating around in my head and helps me put them in the right place! Love it :)

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Thanks for reading and commenting - I love to hear what you have to say