"how am I supposed to find time to sew?"

answer: you’re not. in fact, you can’t.

You can’t find extra minutes like you can find spare change in your couch cushions;
everyone has the same 24 hours every day.

You can’t really make time, either,
for the same reason.

you have three choices: waste, spend, or invest

wasting time is easy

Any time that you simply let pass…
any minute empty of purpose…
this is wasted time.

sleep
daydreams
amusements
hanging out with friends
listening to music
social media
doodling
sewing

Yes, I included “sewing” in the list of time-wasters.

See, anything can be a time-waster.
Wasted time is time empty of purpose,
so if these things simply fill the void,
they are time-wasters.

But if there is a purpose mixed in,
then you haven’t wasted time,
you’ve spent it.

spending time requires being purposeful

Filling your time with any of these things
may be spending time purposefully.

Sleep re-charges and refreshes.
Daydreams may lead to epiphanies.
Amusements can bring joy and relaxation.
Hanging out with friends is important for community.
Listening to music is invigorating and life-giving.
Social media can be a great way to connect.
Doodling may help bring clarity.
Sewing is a creative outlet.

The important factor is knowing
why you are spending your time
on any given thing.

investing time requires wisdom

Filling your time with any of these things
may even be investing time wisely!

If you are not simply being purposeful with the present moment,
but also considering how it will affect the future for good,
then you are investing your time.

Consider how the way you are spending your moments
will affect and fit into the bigger picture
of how you are spending your life.

Invest wisely;
build something bigger
than your present.

Think of the people your life touches
and invest in them
as well as yourself.

Mostly, be aware,
be mindful,
and be wise.

learn to say “no”

In order to purposefully spend and wisely invest time
in the things that matter,
you have to learn to say “no” to the things that don’t.

Learning to say “no” to wasting time is hard enough,
but saying “no” to spending time
in order to better invest time is even harder.

The fact that you only have so many hours in a day
means that you have to say “no” to many things.
Will you be purposeful and wise about what you say “no” to?
Or will you simply let your time slip by?

Be purposeful, and decide what is worth saying “no” for.
If you want to spend time sewing,
you have to spend that time not doing other things.

You spend your time doing what is important to you;
Decide what is important to you, and do it.
Say no to other things.

That’s the only way to find time for anything.

talent isn't everything

are you talented?

Do you consider yourself talented?
What about the people around you -
do they see your talent?

Are you one of those people
who seems to be able to do
anything you set your mind to?

Or are you someone who struggles
through every step
of your creative process?

talent-envy

Whatever your answer to the above questions,
you can probably think of someone who is more talented than you.

Who came to mind?
Did you think of someone who seems to overflow
with natural ability?

Everything just comes so easily for her!
She doesn’t have to practice much,
and when she does practice, it’s completely enjoyable
because, quite frankly, she doesn’t have to try hard!

I have talent-envy:
this tendency to look at someone
who is just so good at what she does
that she hardly seems to be trying!

People look at me with talent-envy;
There are certain things I do
that come naturally enough
that I don’t have to try hard
in order to get good results.

But that’s just it…

the talent advantage myth

I don’t have to try hard to get good results,
and so, too often I don’t try hard,
and I settle for “good” instead of pushing myself to get better.

As a result, I don’t have much of an advantage
over someone who doesn’t have the same natural bent that I do.

My natural talent has led me to be complacent
and not grow in these areas of creativity.
More than that,
I have watched as people with less talent than I have
work hard and easily surpass my ability.

Talent isn’t much of an advantage.

I picture it sort of like a sprinter running a marathon.
Maybe she can shoot out in front
at the beginning of the race,
but before long she will give out
because she hasn’t trained for distance.
She may never even make it to the finish line.

It’s like the old, classic tale
of the tortoise and the hare.
Steady forward motion
is far more effective
than being fast out of the gate
and completely giving up a few steps in.

talent vs. practice

Another reason that natural talent
can be a disadvantage
is pride.

I had enough natural talent when it came to sewing
that I quit sewing lessons before I probably should have.
As a result, I had to take time later
to relearn things I’d taught myself incorrectly.

Because certain things came easily,
I bristled when it came to practicing
the things that didn’t come so easily.

Fortunately, sewing meant enough to me
that I overcame this fault
and learned to practice.

But even now, as I have practiced and grown my skills,
I have found that those who began with less natural talent than I had
are now my peers; we have equal ability.

forget talent

Whether it’s talent
or talent-envy
that you’re full of,
set it aside.

It’s too easy to let either one
be an excuse.

Forget talent,
and embrace the hard work
of practice.

Show up every day,
grow any talent that you have,
and don’t worry about who has more than you do.

a simple way to build community {say thank you}

We cannot thrive apart from community,
but do we ever try.
And by “we” I mean “me.”

As a full-time creative, I’m tempted to hide myself away
doing my creative thing
alone.

But as a creative, I need outside stimulation
to grown and shift and be inspired!
To be creative is to respond to the world around me.

A body of water with no inlet
and no outlet
grows stagnant.
A creative with no outside stimulation
and no regular output
has little life.

sharing

In a world of social media
we think of “sharing” as a simple click
to put a link on our wall, feed, or blog.

But sharing is more than that.

When you share, even on social media,
you are doing something to build community.

You are putting a part of yourself out there
as you say, “this resonated with me,”
and ask, “does it resonate with you too?”*

This is a bid for appreciation,
a request for connection.

appreciation

It’s easy to appreciate something
without ever letting the creator
know of our appreciation.

We smile at something,
but do not often take the time
to thank the person who inspired that smile.

How many times have you said “thank you” today?

Do something right now to express appreciation,
both to someone close to you
and to someone who feels out of reach.

Send a text or make a call
to tell a friend or family member
how much you appreciate him, and exactly why.

Then think of someone who has influenced you; an author or blogger, perhaps.
Reach out, even if you think your words won’t matter to them.
Fill out a contact form. Mention them on social media. Say “thank you.”

It will probably mean more than you know.

how to determine the next step of your sewing journey

the struggle to begin

The first step is the hardest.
because without momentum,
it can be difficult to begin moving.
And that’s if you even know where to begin!
Sometimes knowing where to start
can be the biggest hurdle.

where are you now?

Before dreaming of your future,
establish your present.

Look around you, first, figuratively.
What do you enjoy doing?
What are your skills and abilities?
What have you accomplished in the past?

Now, look around you - literally.
What supplies do you have?
What projects have you already begun?
What sort of materials do you like to work with?

Before you begin your journey,
establish where you are now.

take the next step

Once your feet are firmly planted in the present,
your forward motion can be firm and confident.

What is the next step -
the one just ahead of you?

If your present state
is a place of small skills and big dreams,
and you haven’t even really begun a sewing journey yet,
then your first step is to thread a needle.

That’s all.
Don’t worry about the steps that will come later.
Simply take the next step,
the one right in front of you.
Let me help you: {Click here for a tutorial.}

If you’ve threaded a needle,
mended a few tears, stitched a button or two,
but have never made something from start to finish,
your next step is a small project.

Perhaps a little bag
like the one in my {simple sewing skills} guide.
{Click here to get it for free.}

If you know how to use a sewing machine,
even if only to sew a straight line,
you are in a good place to broaden your horizons!
I wrote the {classic wrap skirt} book with you in mind.

Take each step one at a time and your skills will grow.
Allison had only ever made curtains,
and she succeeded in making a beautiful skirt,
after just a week of visits to my studio.
{Read her story by clicking here.}

If you consider yourself a skilled seamstress,
but find that what you create, though beautiful,
doesn’t end up being something you actually love to wear,
then Part Four of the {classic wrap skirt} book may inspire you.

Part Four contains multiple case studies
that detail the design process of making a skirt
specifically for the needs and desires of the intended wearer.
{Click here to read one of those case studies.}

Wherever you are,
gather clues from your present surroundings
in order to determine your next action step,
and then take it.

Begin the forward motion.
And then, keep it going
by taking the next step.

{case study} the making of my new favorite skirt

an excerpt from my {classic wrap skirt} book

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summary

Hours of hand stitching
to create a replacement
for a neutral gray maxi skirt.

A waste of time? Or a wise investment?

backstory

Last summer
I practically lived in
a particular gray maxi skirt.
Obviously, I liked the skirt,
but there were certain things I didn’t like about it.

It was made of a thin jersey knit fabric.
Not as thin as some, but thin enough
that it clung awkwardly to my legs when I walked.

I knew it couldn’t be my go-to this season,
because it was wearing out already;
it’s starting to pill
and some of the stitching is coming out.
Now, I could easily mend the stitching,
but these loose stitches are simply signs
of more wear to come.

Rather than continuing to rely on this as my go-to skirt,
I decided to make a better one.

problem

I knew what I liked about last season’s skirt:
the practical length and the neutral light gray color.

I also knew what I didn’t like:
the fact that the fabric was both flimsy and wearing out quickly.

I wanted to keep the skirt lightweight,
but substantial enough that I felt protected,
and I wanted a fabric that would stand up to many wearings.

Another requirement for my fabric
was that it be at least 53" wide,
otherwise the skirt would be too long to fit on the fabric.

If I was going to be wearing this skirt
as often as I had worn the knit one last season,
I wanted to take my time making it,
and really invest in making it beautiful.

solution

I found two linen blend fabrics online.
One was linen/rayon,
and the other was linen/cotton.
Both were labeled machine washable (cold)
and dry-able (low).
I ordered three yards of each.

After washing both of them,
the linen/rayon blend fabric
was clearly the right choice for this skirt.

First of all, the linen/cotton blend fabric shrunk so much in width
that I would have been unable to make a skirt as long as I wanted.

But secondly,
I absolutely fell in love with the linen/rayon blend fabric.
It drapes and flows so beautifully,
yet it has enough body to hold its own
and not stretch out of shape.

When I cut out the skirt, I hadn’t yet decided
exactly what methods I would use for each step of the process.
I used the scraps to experiment a little
and quickly found that I loved stitching this fabric by hand.

I decided to stitch anything visible by hand -
the hems on the straight sides of the skirt,
the inside of the waistband,
and the hem.

It was so easy to manipulate this fabric in my hands
that I didn’t even have to press the hems before stitching them.
I simply rolled the hem with my fingers as I went.

It took a while, yes,
but it was so worth it.

I took the project along with me on a road trip,
so I was able to keep sewing even though
I didn’t have access to a sewing machine.
In a way, this made the project go faster
than if I had opted to stitch it by machine!

outcome

I haven’t touched the old maxi skirt since making this one.
The old one will come in handy as a back-up, I suppose,
but so far I’ve only wanted to wear the new one.

I love the practicality and versatility of this skirt,
but more than that,
I love all of the positive associations that it carries.

When I wear it, I remember the road trip,
the places where I sat and stitched,
and the people I was with while I was stitching it.

I smile, knowing what I invested,
both time and talent,
to craft this perfect skirt.

The other night I wore it to dance practice.
I’m no professional dancer, and I don’t do anything fancy,
but as I danced the old traditional middle-eastern steps
and felt the skirt swish, I felt an extra level of joy,
knowing I had made this beautiful thing with my own two hands,
in the same way that women made their skirts ages ago
when they danced these same steps in ancient times.

reflection

One might say that I wasted time
hand-sewing a skirt
to replace one I bought
ready-made.

I would ask what was meant by the word “wasted”?

Is it really wasting time
to create something both beautiful and useful
while among friends and family?
Is it wasting time to spend it doing something that brings you joy?

I don’t see it as wasting time,
or even spending time,
so much as investing time.

The investment has already paid off, in my estimation.
I’ve had hours of pleasure and can look forward to more
as I wear this skirt that carries in it memories of beauty and joy.