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?