Adaku wearing the 'Althea' skirt in African print wax fabric from Dovetailed London.


A lot of us look forward to sewing during times such as the Christmas holidays or Summer holidays. These periods of time allow us to concentrate on some much needed sewing.  However, I have found that even during these periods, I still do not have quite as much time as I think.  There are numerous hacks, tips and tricks to short-circuit our sewing projects but I remain a huge believer in just doing the simple things well.  It's also super important that we keep sewing fun and stress free (even when unpicking is required, do so whilst watching your favourite program or listening to your favourite podcast).  If you are planning on sewing over the festive period, here are three tips to keep your sewing stress-free.

1. Find a dedicated sewing space.

This may be easier said than done. It can be as simple as the dining table, a desk in your room or even the floor (on top of your cutting mat). You will need to be able to lay out your pattern pieces and fabric as well as being able to sit at your machine once it is plugged in.  When you have found your space, it may not be that you have access to it all the time particularly if you are sewing on your dining room table, for example.  However, the mere fact that you have a space to sew (even if it is only available to you once or twice a week) will allow you to get a lot more sewing done that you could without a sewing space. 

2. Break your projects up into bite size pieces.

Yes, being able to sew a dress in a day ready for the evening is a great goal but unless we have made the dress before we may end up with a half finished item, that is far from perfect as well as being stressed and disappointed that we didn't finish what we set out to achieve. Not ideal before a night out (!) Instead, why not break the project up into manageable bite sized pieces? Give yourself the week perhaps (instead of just one day) and break all the stages of the project into 5 or 7 parts.  You can then do one part per day.  This can include: reading the pattern, washing and cutting your fabric, sewing the bodice, sewing the skirt and sewing your sleeves, for example.  This way, there is a lot less pressure and our sewing will be a lot more enjoyable.  We also allow ourselves some all important thinking time in between each section when we are able to reflect on the progress made, and what we might change if anything moving forward.

3.  Toile, toile, toile.

This could have been included in tip # 2 as I cannot stress enough the importance of making a mock-up of your project in lining fabric or old bed sheets before trying to make the item in your best fabric.  For your toile, you do not have to completely finish the garment - just sew enough and bring it together so that you are comfortable with how the garment in constructed.  Use long basting stitches in your toile as this speeds up your sewing and allows for ease of unpicking if you need to do so. Your toile will also allow you to see how the garment fits. Is it too big or small on the shoulders? Is the length too long or too short? Do you need to cut a size 14 bodice and a size 16 skirt and then grade between the sizes?  If you need to make any alterations, however big or small, it is far easier to spot these in your toile and you can then weave these necessary alterations in to your finished garment.

What do you to keep your sewing stress-free?

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