How Long Do You Want to Work On Each Sewing Project?

So this is an interesting question. I used to think that everything has to get progressively harder or you’re not doing enough. You simply must push yourself to progress further, to learn more, to make harder stuff, or you’re doing it wrong. (Does anyone else feel like that?)

For example, you start off sewing simple skirts, or aprons, or boxer shorts. As you become more familiar with sewing, the next step is a couple of more involved projects, maybe with a zipper or a button.

After you master the zipper and the button, the whole world of sewing opens up! You feel ready to tackle dresses, blouses, even simple jackets. Flipping through the pattern catalogues or websites, you recognize darts, pleats, zipper applications, and realize you can do them all! And then you start to learn about fit.

Fit is the one area of sewing that’s not really about sewing. It’s about how our bodies move in clothes, how to shape our garments around our curves, and how to work with ease. We start to learn if we prefer very fitted clothing (blazers, fitted dresses, slim skirts) or loose fitting clothing (pullover blouses, full skirts, draped styles) and which sewn projects we end up wearing the most.

And then – what? Do we have to progress to advanced tailoring techniques, evening wear or challenging fabrics? I find that projects at this level tend to take forever. (Case in point – the wrap coat I likely won’t finish until next fall!) And then I think about my life these days, and how little ‘fun’ sewing time I have. I have the confidence, skills and proper tools to tackle hard projects. But do I want to? Do you want to? It’s easy to lose interest when something is taking forever to finish – and often it’s progressed well into the next season before we’re done. Or we start to lose interest when it’s halfway finished, and move on to something newer and more exciting. Especially given how busy our lives are!

Sometimes the most successful projects are the simplest: a great-fitting knit top, a simple pullover blouse, a jacket that looks more complicated than it is.

So my question to you is this: how long do you want to spend on a single sewing project? Are you happiest when you can cut, sew and finish a project in a weekend? Or do you enjoy the challenge and slow progression of doing a little bit here, a little bit there on a large-scale project? How much time do you want to devote to each project?

From start to finish on a sewing project, from design idea to wearing it out of the house, when do you want to be done?

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73 Responses to How Long Do You Want to Work On Each Sewing Project?

  1. Jessica March 26, 2012 at 6:08 am #

    It really depends. I like more complicated stuff, but since my time is so limited by family obligations and other stuff I like to do, I prefer sewing projects that don’t take more than 10 hours from ironing the fabric to putting it on. I can finish something like that in a weekend or over the course of a week with an hour here and an hour there.

  2. Laura March 26, 2012 at 6:12 am #

    What an interesting question! I find the answer largely depends on my mood. I like to have 2 or 3 big projects on the go, but when I’m working on them, I often need to take a break and just *finish* something. A quick, satisfying hit before ploughing on with the bigger jobs.

    I also find that I prefer a big project if I can see how each step is moving me on. Like a lot of people, I have to squeeze sewing around the rest of my life, so if I can only spend an hour on something, I like to get to the end of the hour and be able to see what I’ve done. For me, this often means that I prefer stretchy projects, where the fit is more flexible – otherwise, I can spend an hour sorting out the fit, and then have to stop without actually doing any sewing! That’s more likely to put me off a project than the difficulty or length.

  3. didyoumakethat March 26, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    SUCH a great question. If I’m working on a big project – a dress I’m going to toile maybe twice and fit carefully, or a coat – I give myself a three month window. I don’t see the point in a tighter deadline; it will only become a headache. But to keep my sewing joy buoyant, I’ll often squeeze an easy make in between. Say, a Sorbetto, when I just need some light relief. And at the end of a big project, I’ll take time out for some fun, quick sews. So I do both! I do feel for people who say they’re going to knock a dress out in a weekend. That’s a lot of pressure and not much wiggle room for when things go wrong. And things always go wrong… I always build in time for what I call the FUF (The F**k Up Factor).

    • Adrienne March 27, 2012 at 4:24 pm #

      The F Up Factor is really important, I agree!
      Do you actually set deadlines for yourself, and plan out your weeks+months of sewing projects?? How far ahead of time do you plan it? What are your reasons for doing it that way?
      I’m curious!!

  4. julia March 26, 2012 at 6:22 am #

    I like to finish a project in a week or three, but if it takes longer, I get bored with it. I try to have just one project at any given time because I don’t have the room to store half finished sewing projects and I hate rethreading my machine if I want to switch between projects.

    I am sticking to simple things, kid’s dresses, T-shirts, simple skirts. I stayed away from the Minoru for the time being because my skills don’t allow me to make it in a couple of weeks. And because I know I would have to adjust it to fit.

    I try to get 30 min of sewing time in every day, but I am slow and am just about able to finish a T-shirt or a simple kid’s dress in a week.

  5. Annabelle March 26, 2012 at 6:24 am #

    I don’t think I’ve worked on a project that only took a day or weekend – but that is because I never have a large enough space of time to work on a project. The way my schedule is, I know that any sewing project I undertake will be at least a week, but quite often it will take even more time. Since I haven’t experienced instant gratifaction when it comes to sewing, it doesn’t matter to me if a project is very involved or just a simple sew. Since finishing techniques are important to me, I would rather spend more time to have a garment that I am super happy with, rather than something that I can brag about how little time it took to make. That’s just me though. I do love seeing how some people are very efficient with their time and still make a fabulous garment.

  6. major moma March 26, 2012 at 6:41 am #

    I was just thinking about this same topic. My last few projects have taken weeks to complete and I miss the satisfaction of something I can start and finish in a weekend. Maybe I need to do what Laura (above) does and put a quick ‘inbetween’ project in the middle so I can get that completion satisfaction.

  7. BeccaA March 26, 2012 at 6:42 am #

    This winter I signed up for several sewing classes on-line and I find I am rebelling mentally against these self-imposed big projects. I finally decided to work on some quick projects for the satisfaction of finishing something before I go back to the Chanel-style jacket that is the next big item on my to do list.

  8. Michelle @ Little Peanut March 26, 2012 at 6:50 am #

    I have two small children, which leaves me with very little sewing time. This also means that I want whatever clothing item I’m working on to be something I can finish in a few nights. Perhaps later on in my life, when I have more free time, I’ll pursue more complex projects. I’m just not there yet.

  9. Beth March 26, 2012 at 6:53 am #

    I think you bring up an excellent topic–one I’ve been thinking about too. For me, the amount of time I want to spend on a project really varies. Every now and then I love to tackle a big, challenging project, but I have to time it so that it doesn’t drag on and on. I didn’t do so well at that when I made a jacket for my husband last fall. On a regular basis though, I try to choose projects that take me a weekend or two to finish.

  10. Jessie March 26, 2012 at 7:08 am #

    I do like a quicker project because even those take me so long! I have to sew in little spurts because of the kids and other things (I know we’ve all got busy lives) but I don’t want to just make a skirt or something. So basically I’m hard to please but I’m learning that if I get overwhelmed and bored there’s a good chance it won’t get finished.

  11. Andi March 26, 2012 at 7:11 am #

    I take about a week to finish most things, unless they’re a knit or otherwise very simple. However, I find that spending more time on a project doesn’t mean I’ll wear it more. The quick makes are like fast fashion for me — a simple drawstring skirt will get worn frequently because it’s easy to whip up another one if I destroy the original. Something that takes a lot of time will then hang in my closet because of one of the following reasons:
    1) It’s too fitted and my weight fluctuates a lot
    2) It’s too fancy and I don’t need to dress up often
    3) It took too long to make and I’m afraid to wear it.

    So the time I take in sewing is a very important concern!

  12. Gwen March 26, 2012 at 7:18 am #

    I like to have a variety of projects. I just finished a dress that required extensive fitting (15-20 hours), so I followed it up by hemming a pair of store-bought pants (30 minutes), fixing the waistband on a skirt I made last summer (one hour), and then sewing a knit top from a pattern I hadn’t used before (3-4 hours). Now I’m feeling energized again to try something new, which is good because I have a wedding-gift table runner to finish piecing, quilt and bind. Once that’s done, I’ll probably knock out another easy top or skirt before tackling a major dress project. And of course, I always have fairly mindless knitting projects going on that I can turn to if I need a brain break from sewing.

  13. CGCouture March 26, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    I’m definitely a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am kind of seamstress. I want my projects to be quick, fun, and to be completely honest–easy. My sewing time tends to be somewhat sporadic; sometimes I have day after day where I can sew, and sometimes I have a couple of hours a week (or even 2 weeks!) I don’t like to walk away from a project partway through for an extended period of time, because I tend to make mistakes (or forget to fix mistakes). Besides, the quick/easy projects fit my lifestyle, and that’s very important to me. I don’t see a point in making stuff I’ll never wear, and if I don’t see a need for it it’s hard to get excited about.

  14. LLBB March 26, 2012 at 7:38 am #

    I would say ideally I would like to take around 2 weeks. shorter for something simple, longer for something more challenging. Even though I sometimes get sucked in to cruising ahead on projects, I am definitely better off if I make myself take breaks! As for didyoumakethat’s FUF, mine increases by an order of magnitude if I try to cram too much into one sewing session :) So long enough that I can take my time, but not so long that I get tired of it and the project gets pushed aside.

  15. Marisa G. March 26, 2012 at 7:45 am #

    I am definitely the type of person who gets more satisfaction out of a completed project than a particularly difficult one. I am much happier when I tackle simple projects that I enjoy and am able to complete 2 or 3 in a weekend. If a project sits unfinished on my sewing table for long it will probably be scraped and never finished.

  16. Seraphinalina March 26, 2012 at 8:16 am #

    I think I’m a short project kind of girl. Sewing time seems to come in blocks and there may be a week where I can’t get anything done. A big project is hard to return to at that point. I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’d like to do so when you add that into a project, even the easy ones take time.

    • Tasia March 26, 2012 at 10:50 am #

      Good point! I spend as much time planning, thinking and dreaming about the project than the time it takes to actually sew it. Planning is often the most fun part of the process for me, because anything is possible!

  17. woolcat March 26, 2012 at 8:18 am #

    I dream about the complicated stuff – dresses and blouses with fun details that I will make to fit me better than stuff in the store does, or jackets that look really professional. My actual sewing (as opposed to planning) time tends to be mainly spent making cute little dresses for my daughter. partly because I feel better about stealing away time to sew if it is not for me, partly because I love making stuff for her, partly because she has no figure flaws to hide and so making things for her is quick, satisfying and fun! For me I end up most often making skirts, which are pretty quick.

    But when I DO finish a complicated project I really enjoy it. As long as it still fits when I finish it!

  18. Stephanie March 26, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    If I sew something that is complicated, the next project is usually something easy and fun. I like to push myself to learn more, but I also do not want to lose the joy of simply sewing.

  19. silvia March 26, 2012 at 8:31 am #

    Good question. I suspect the answer will differ with each person. I know how to sew, I’m ok at fitting and I went to FIT so I can make patterns and drape. That said, I wear a uniform to work and sweats 80% of the rest of time (glamorous no?). I don’t wear tailored jackets and the few I’ve made sit in the closet until I get sick of looking at them and donate them.

    But, I made a coat this year because I’d never made one. It took an age and I’m glad I made it. I also make lots of knit tops and dresses because that is what I wear. So it’s a balance of expanding my skills while still making things I wear. I need pajamas, I don’t need a coat (I live in California). I need tees, I don’t need a Chanel jacket. Does that mean I’ll never make a Chanel jacket? No, but for every time-consuming complex item, I make 30 quicker things I’ll actually wear.

  20. Becky March 26, 2012 at 8:32 am #

    If you’re in for subsistence sewing, then quicker is definitely better. I’ve challenged myself to only wear/buy re-purposed or homemade clothing. Spending weeks on a coat makes a lot less sense if you have nothing to wear under it!

  21. Laura March 26, 2012 at 8:51 am #

    If I could just finish them in time for the relevant season, I’d be happy!

    I don’t mind a longer project, but I do tend to have shorter ones going on at the same time. I’ll always have something like a pair of socks on the go, so that when my brain is broken by maths or interfacing, I can put in a few rounds while sitting vacantly in front of the window.

    Also, the longer the project, the more likely it is to end up sat in the corner for months. *ahem* oops.

  22. Juliette Sewing and Style March 26, 2012 at 9:00 am #

    Wow- great discussion!!!!!! Some of my best projects are done in a few hours, some had to be re-fashioned a few times before finally getting them right, and only currently I am working on a dress, which I started as a muslim and I sew it a little bit at a time- just want to get it perfect ( not to say it is coming out this way: e.g. lining didn’t really go smoothly, especially that I didn’t want to line it in a first place etc) And yes- the inspiration is not the same, and my mind wanders off to the next project…

    Ideally, I like to finish all in one-max. two days. My best sewing time is evening to late night, but my family life doesn’t really allow doing it often enough, hence the delays. I think maybe the longer projects could work better if I squeeze a couple of very quick, couple of hours simpler ones in as well. That gives you a sense of accomplishment you need and will not (hopefully) let you get bored working on the same project all the time. Saying that, if I didn’t spend so much time yaking on the forums about it, my dress would have been done in a day or two LOL!

    P.S. You look fab in that floral dress!

  23. Joen March 26, 2012 at 9:02 am #

    I have recently pushed to learn new sewing techniques that I have never tried before, so some project do take longer as learning underlining etc. But it is always nice after a tedious project to go back to a easy t-shirt or slacks pattern, especially if it’s a tried and true one that I know fits well and have made before to get quick satisfaction from a project.

  24. Doortje March 26, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    It depends, most of the time I try to finish one project in one weekend. (‘Instant’ satisfaction…) Usually I’m trying not to spend more than two-three weeks on one project (from muslin to finished garment) otherwise it could suddenly turn into an UFO.

  25. Gabriella March 26, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    As most people here say, it depends. Some types of projects I really enjoy doing that little extra on. But most of the time I choose simpler, easier projects beacause I don’t actually enjoy sewing! I enjoy the preparation and the result, but not the actual sewing. Also, if I draft the pattern myself I’m often sick of the project even before I start sewing… I love patternmaking more than sewing! As for the question about how long a project may take… I work really slow, but I also don’t like the mess when a half-finished project lies around. If I know from start I won’t have time to work on it during the week, I chooses something that only takes the weekend.

  26. Michelle W March 26, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    Great topic and I think I agree with most others I am a multiple projects at a time kind of girl, sometimes I just need a break from the challenging ones and plug along but then a quick couple of hour project like a bag or curtains can give you the encouragement and instant gratification needed to keep moving on the tough stuff…kind of like life that way :)

  27. Caroline March 26, 2012 at 10:14 am #

    A good question – and it varies. I like to tackle something more challenging a few times a year, that may take a month to complete, but after something fiddly or challenging I like to do quicker less complicated things for a while. And some seasons seem more about sewing than others – in the summer the kiddo will be home and we’ll be biking and playing and swimming, and if I do sew I’ll want something that gets done more quickly and doesn’t require peace and quiet to figure out. That being said, I do appreciate the project to have a bit of interest – when I sew my son’s wardrobe of sweat pants in the fall, it does get a bit boring. Or when making a bunch of dress shirts for hubby … it does go more quickly to sew them all at once but isn’t terribly exciting.

    I’m the same way about knitting – I like to have something challenging, but then something relatively mindless to follow up with …

    With knitting I occasionally will have more than one project going at a time – but rarely. With sewing, hardly ever (though will occasionally interrupt a project for necessary mending).

    • Tasia March 26, 2012 at 10:48 am #

      Funny, I try really hard to only have one knitting project on the go at once, but often have several unfinished sewing projects! I’m the opposite.
      I agree that projects need to have an element of interest or it gets very boring, very quick!

  28. Buffy Ramm March 26, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I find the same question goes for painting, knitting and all arts activities. I CAN sew complicated projects, but I don’t because I never get around to finishing them. The easier projects are much for satisfying.
    However, I would love to sew my own winter coat one year!

  29. Kalle March 26, 2012 at 10:36 am #

    is the dress shown a pattern you’re developing (fingers crossed!)? if not, would you be willing to share the pattern used? it’s fantastic!


  30. arlene March 26, 2012 at 10:48 am #

    I like an intermediate project…..really simple is boring (and I can usually buy it for a whole lot less) and really intricate isn’t really the style I wear (wish I could). I don’t really care how long it takes – it’s when I run into trouble – things not working out – I mess up, that’s when I start to loose interest……and fit is often the issue.
    I have a jacket from a year ago…..that stalled because of fit issues. I keep hoping it will get done this year.

  31. Christine March 26, 2012 at 10:58 am #

    Hmmmm, I’m working on a couple of quilting projects right now and was becoming frustrated because my vision did not come together until just recently. I also just bought the Minoru jacket pattern and want to tackle it! I like having a project or two on the go and something easy and quick in between.

  32. Laurie March 26, 2012 at 11:02 am #

    I have to say for me its those weekend projects that really do it for me. I guess its because space is short in my little flat so to keep getting everything out night after night gets a bit tiresome. I’m also fairly new to dressmaking so am a little impatient and want to see the results sooner rather than later (hence why I luuurve the pendrell blouse and it is my most used pattern so far). Not that I don’t want to try those more challenging patterns. I keep telling myself “soon my pretty, soon”!

  33. Annette March 26, 2012 at 11:56 am #

    I had to think about this, it depends on many factors. Like how soon do I want to wear the garment? Is the pattern new and needs to be fitted, or is it a tnt (tried n true) pattern? I try to balance project time to fit my needs. I also like to challenge myself with new and different sewing techniques or fabrics.
    Currently I have one project ready to sew and several in my head. But the sun is shining.

  34. Dana March 26, 2012 at 12:22 pm #

    I am really looking forward to taking on some bigger projects. So far my most involved project has been the Minoru!!! It took some time I was eager to move on but I made a few renfrews and almost completed a Jasmine in the down time. I think judging from this experience I will be happy with an extended project (2 months or more?) as long as I can have a quick sewing fix when I need it.

  35. Suemari March 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm #

    Great question. I am a slow sewer overall- I set things down for weeks at a time, followed by mad sewing bursts. I tend to sew things I know I’ll actually wear – the same old pants pattern I’ve worked out to fit me, simple knit tops, simple tops and jackets. But I love to do something challenging once a year or so. It really helps my skills. For example, after making a tailored coat, I now put bound buttonholes in every buttoned jacket I make. My projects take anywhere from a weekend to a couple months.

  36. Louisa March 26, 2012 at 12:55 pm #

    I want to sew things I will actually wear. There’s nowhere in my life for a Chanel jacket or a sexy wiggle dress! Not that I don’t know how to do more complex sewing but most of the pieces I make are fairly simple to construct. The actual time-consuming part for me is in the fitting because I’m not a standard size or shape. This has inspired me to start collecting “blocks” that are already adjusted for fit and then using those to draft my own patterns. This may not really save time but it sure is fun! And empowering. I can see a photo of something I like and make my own even-better version. Recently I’ve been completing garments at the rate of one a week but that can fluctuate a lot depending on what else is going on in my life. I figure it’s not a race to the finish line! It’s supposed to be enjoyable, right?

  37. Uta March 26, 2012 at 1:02 pm #

    I love your question, and your thoughts on this! I want to be finished within a week; I find it hard to stay interested for much longer. Now, a week used to mean two half days, maybe a day on the weekend on top. I once made a coat and a dress in a week. Now it means a couple of hours a week, and often none. I want to sew beautiful, tailored things and I get so frustrated! Last week I made two knit tops, wore them three times already, and I’m so happy. In the end it’s more about getting to sew and finishing something, however small, for me.

  38. Mariló March 26, 2012 at 1:22 pm #

    I was wondering today if 10 hours (more or less) was too much to make a short. I want to make things faster because I’m very impatient and sometimes I lose my interest as I see things go slower than I expect. Sometimes I leave a project last because there is certain technique I’m not very good at, and I leave it behind till I find the feel to try it again.

  39. Lucy March 26, 2012 at 1:34 pm #

    Heh, I love the above-mentioned FUF. It’s something I always forget to build into my estimated time of finishing, and I really should ;-)

    I like things I can throw together in a weekend – the Renfrew will be great for that, once I’ve worked out all the fitting kinks. It’s funny – most of your patterns I can use a straight size 4 but the Renfrew I made has soooo much ease. It may have been my fabric. Anyway, I’m happy to spend a while on something, as long as I can work in some quickies in between. Sometimes on a big project you don’t feel like you get anywhere from session to session, when all you want is something new to wear ;-)

  40. Becky March 26, 2012 at 3:45 pm #

    I like to alternate–sometimes I like to sew things to teach myself some new tailoring technique, or fill a specific gap in my wardrobe, or that require a lot of fitting, and those tend to take time. But then I’ll throw a simple knit project that I can just whip together on my serger in its near-entirety, or a reconstruction project, or something quick like that in between. So then I can get the sense of accomplishment from finishing those more complex projects, and the fun of just knocking something out quickly, on a fairly regular basis. It’s the best of both worlds!

  41. nothy lane March 26, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

    I am guess I am the odd one out. I have always taken on huge projects that take me a month or more of sewing – like a winter coat. All of a sudden, I have found joy in making a shirt in a single evening or two at most, I would say that three weeks is the most I want to spend on a single project – the very most. I would prefer to get things finished in about a week.

  42. sallyann March 26, 2012 at 4:36 pm #

    Yes, I am a two projects at a time girl. One is usually for me and one for the house – you know – pillows, a throw, placemats. I do like sewing projects that are relatively quick to make but usually try a new technique every so often to feel a sense of accompishment and keep the interest going. I took a tailoring class once to make a blazer and was just worn out and so prefer an Easy Vogue jacket.

  43. Lara March 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm #

    I have thought about this quite a lot. I usually have a few projects on the go at a time, ranging in difficulty level and time-consumingness. I consider my sewing skills to be advanced, but most of what I sew doesn’t require advanced skills. Most of my sewing is simpler and faster, because that is all that the project I have in mind requires. Just because I can sew using the “bells and whistles” doesn’t mean that I always have to. But I am looking forward to a couple of Craftsy classes soon that will slow me down and have me practising some of those more advanced skills again!

  44. Maureen March 26, 2012 at 6:34 pm #

    Great discussion! My “hobby” is designing costumes for community musical theatre. For any show I spend hundreds of hours pouring over designs and patterns and fabrics, running sewing and accessory workshops and then finally overseeing the run of the show itself. After all that, I want a sewing project that is relatively quick, simple and elegant for myself. I often find that I would rather re-purpose something rather than start from scratch. If I am starting from the beginning I want a pattern that is tried and true; one that I have worked all the bugs out of. Because of my hobby I have a plethora of garments and fabrics to choose from. Having said that I spend hours thinking about what I want to sew before I actually have the time to start and finish it. Although I love learning new techniques, I usually save them for times I don’t have a show.

  45. Inna March 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

    I don’t mind working on time consuming projects that take weeks or even months to brush up my sewing skills. It’s like a good wine, don’t you think? :) But, as somebody pointed earlier, it’s always nice to reward yourself with something quick while working meticulously on a time-consuming project. I also like spending time on planning. I had bag experiences in the past with no or very little planning and all these “disaster” projects are now sitting somewhere in the closet.

  46. Mary March 26, 2012 at 7:18 pm #

    I have done all types of sewing for a lot of years. But now I sew for my own enjoyment, and now I tend to do what makes me laugh. Since I mostly quilt, I tend to choose those projects that the color or the technique that give me joy. Sometimes they are complex, but I find the greatest joy in the simple pattern that shows it’s beauty in simplicity of color or design.

  47. SimpleFibreLife March 26, 2012 at 7:33 pm #

    I’m an impatient person who is also new to sewing, so I’m all about instant gratification. My preference is to be able to knock out the project in a weekend.

  48. Esz March 26, 2012 at 7:34 pm #

    I’m a one project at a time girl really. But for the first time I’ve been held up on something waiting for pieces to arrive in the mail (its going to be the Ooh La La corset garter)….And while that’s happening I worked on other things (you know what!)
    Since I have a few big projects planned for the winter – namely a coat, I think I will have to get out of the one thing at a time habit. It probably slows me down!
    I like things to be fast, but will take the time for finishing, like the polkadot 40s dress I made recently, took a lot longer than normal because of the handstitching…

    Hmmm, I guess I dont really have a preference. Though I haven’t tackled anything huge just yet. Check back in a couple of months!

  49. Kirsty March 26, 2012 at 7:52 pm #

    I like to be able to finish a project within a week or so, juggling amongst other commitments. If its a larger project then that’s ok too but I’ll plan when to start being mindful of time available. I prefer to just work on one project at a time – this may mean either a single garment or a batch of 3-4 tops or a couple of business shirts if they have similar construction method and same thread requirements. A few weekends ago I cut out 3 tops and did them as a batch in a longish afternoon. Part of my one thing at a time process is so that I don’t have to rethread machines meaning I can grab fifteen minutes while dinner is cooking. I also like to have all my supplies ready before I start sewing so if I wake up early on a weekend I can barrel through. Having an overlocker definitely speeds things up. I also don’t tend to start another project until the current one is finished. Otherwise procrastination gets ahold of of me.

  50. Lydia March 26, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    My favourite projects have been the ones that have not taken inordinately huge amounts of time. If I work on a project that takes really long or is so complex, by the time I finish it, I am so sick of looking at the fabric, and I loose a bit of the excitement — especially if a project carries over from winter to summer, for example — and becomes too cold or hot to wear.

    I do not mind taking time to finish something nicely, but sometimes the fastest projects are the most fun to wear. I went through a skirt phase where I kept making the same skirt over and over in differnt lengths, variations. I wore them all the time — they took time, but not too much ( a weekend or a couple of weeks), and they gave me satisfaction — I wore different skirts to work all the time, and received so many compliments on different fabrics. I spent ages on a silk dress that I still have not worn because it is too fancy for every day (ok, I did add lots of silk roses).

  51. Amy March 26, 2012 at 9:19 pm #

    Interesting topic! I like both long and fast projects. After a long project, I sew a few things that are really quick just to relax, in a way. It’s wonderful throwing myself into very complicated projects so that I can learn. But if I was just sewing what I know or what I could guarantee, I’d definitely get itchy. Lately I’ve noticed a pattern like this in every area of my creativity or even fitness. I’ll do two things that I’m really good at, and then set a big goal that makes me push myself. Even if it takes months in fits and starts, it’s a learning project. I don’t expect perfect outcomes. Also, when I was first learning to sew there weren’t really any guidelines on how to begin or what constituted beginner, intermediate, etc. I threw myself into a very complicated coat as a teenager and it was all kinds of funny but I was so proud of myself and learned a lot of things at once.

  52. Rennai March 26, 2012 at 11:21 pm #

    For me its about love. If I love the look of the pattern it will be made no matter what. I will sew evening wear but only if I have something coming up to wear it at. It has to have a point a reason then it will get done. I see no problem with having a long term project and doing a quick something if the inspiration takes hold.

  53. ZoSews March 27, 2012 at 2:16 am #

    I am a bit of a perfectionist, which overrides my lack of patience amazingly, so I’m happy to work on something for what I think others might think is excessive :) I went through the whole ‘challenging myself’ period where I liked to get make something harder and harder each time – but now I just do whatever takes my fancy at the time! And if I’m working on one project that is a ‘challenge’ I might have a couple of ‘quick wins’ running along at the some time just to mix it up a bit. For example, at the moment I’m working on a jacket, but also a sorbetto, and I plan to start a renfrew very soon!

  54. maddie March 27, 2012 at 5:08 am #

    Although I like quick sewing projects because their fun, mindless, and well… quick, I find the most fulfillment when I spend months on a single project (i.e. a wedding dress). Working through the muslins, correcting the fit, and all the other little things that go into making the project is challenging and seems like it takes forever at the time it is being made but when the project finally comes to fruition, the satisfaction lasts for months, sometimes a year. With a simple top, blouse, or skirt, that satisfaction fades quickly.

  55. Jenny March 27, 2012 at 5:32 am #

    I make sure with every project that I really love the intended finished project, and that I love the materials (fabric) I’m using. Then I just enjoy the process of making something and don’t worry about when it will be finished. This works out about 95% of the time. When I find that I don’t love it or it is just not enjoyable, I give myself permission to let it go.

  56. Pauline March 27, 2012 at 5:36 am #

    Interesting questions and interesting answers from your readers.
    I love to challenge myself into learning new technics as I consider myself as intermediate, but at the same time, I like to start a dress on Monday and wear it the next Saturday.
    A week would be my normal time to sew a project. My most consuming project was the Minoru jacket as I was following the sew-along and I forced myself to keep the pace and not go faster, and two Chanel-inspired jackets that took me forever but were worth it (there was only one for me, I don’t need to Chanel jackets). And that’s paying as my jacket has better finitions thanks to your advices.
    As the opposite, I had a deadline for a dress this week-end: made it in 1 day (but entire day) and I have to come back at it as I messed the zipper. I wanted to finish so fast and I wasn’t as concentrated as I should. But you live, you learn! So now, I’ll go back to my one-week projects. No stress, concentration and fun, that’s the best for me.

  57. Anna March 27, 2012 at 8:24 am #

    Such a good question. I am coming back to garment sewing after a very long hiatus (10 years) and have decided to really improve my skills. I’m taking an online couture dressmaking course and I love it but boy those couture folks are finickity. Understandably, it’s taking more time to do each step, so a dress that I would be able to sew in a weekend is taking me weeks. That’s not a bad thing but after reading all of the wonderful posts, I think I need to throw some immediate gratification projects into the mix to keep me motivated. Think I’ll sew myself a summer skirt this weekend. Thanks for the great discussion.

  58. JillyB March 27, 2012 at 9:59 am #

    I like quicker projects (which for me means two weeks, since I have to chop up my sewing time into little bits), because I get bored really easily. For me, the time suck usually comes not from the complexity of the project, but problems with fit. When I spend so much time getting something to fit (and not fiddly little fit issues, but huge problems), I lose interest in the project before I even get started on the real garment. So frustrating! Your patterns, Tasia, have been such a boost to my sewing morale, because they fit straight out of the envelope, or with very simple tweaks to the pattern, giving me more time to actually sew the garment instead of swearing over a muslin :)

  59. Latrice March 27, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    I would love to make a garment within a day, even a weekend.
    However, projects that seem to be simple ends up not being so simple because of fit.
    I am working on my Renfrew top in class and its taking forever (let’s not even go into my Minoru). I had to do a Y-FBA, which has slowed things down. Once I have all the fit issues taken care of, the sewing part should be a breeze. *knock on wood*

  60. Stacy @ Stacyverb March 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    Sometimes I want a challenging project, but I don’t feel the need to learn a new skill every time I sew or anything like that. Quick projects can sometimes be very satisfying. When sewing time is limited, I choose to focus on easy garments that I can finish rather than a complicated one that languishes incomplete.

  61. emily March 27, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    I am a beginnerish sewist and I think that quick to medium length is more my preference. But right now, Minoru seems like it’s on the upper end of my ability, so as I get more advanced that may change!

    Would love to see pants & a strapless dress in your line some day! These are two of the things that are hardest for me to find RTW and my measurements are EXACTLY your size 10 :)
    (I am 6-10-12 in Colette, haha)

  62. Amanda March 27, 2012 at 1:17 pm #

    I’m pretty new at everything right now, so everything takes me forever! But I wasn’t content with starting with simple projects like skirts or aprons cause those aren’t things I need or want in my life, and even with learning new skills, I fail to see the point of practicing on things that I won’t use anyway LOL. The point of learning to sew, for me, is to make things I love, and so I jumped in the deep end LOL.

    So I guess I’m comfortable with the fact that, factoring in learning curves and the little amount of free time I have to spend on a project, it’s probably gonna take me awhile to do just about anything, and that’s ok with me. I just finished my very first fitted dress (my third project ever) and it took me a month but I’ve already worn it twice and had friends ask me to make them one too! So to me, the time spent is totally worth it.

    That said, I’m looking forward to a time where I can actually finish things a little faster. I don’t want to compromise quality, but I feel that once I’m more comfortable and familiar with fitting and other skills, I won’t have to take everything so slowly :)

  63. Steph March 28, 2012 at 2:39 am #

    For me it’s about working on something that is challenging enough to take my mind of everything else in life while & working on it & challenging enough so that I have a genuine feeling of satisfaction when I’ve finished, but not so challenging that it’s more stressful & draining than my day job.

    Sewing is probably my main hobby & I spend at least a couple of hours each weekend working on one thing or another. I find that the best way to achieve a good combination of challenge vs. stress is just sewing what I want, when I want to.

    It often means I’m sewing out of season or that I make an evening gown that I might not wear for a couple of months, but it’s (mostly) stressfree sewing.

  64. Ellie March 28, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

    Great question and I love reading all the responses.
    I got my first sewing machine 9 months ago while pregnant with my fourth child. Needless to say, I get little sewing time in. I’m still so new at it that even the tutorials that promise it’s a simple 1-hour skirt keep me busy for days. I’m proud to say I made one of those last week for my eldest dd’s 7th birthday. It took me days to complete but I knew all the time I put into it I was learning things (how to replace a broken needle, how to chose the right needle for the job, how to use a zig-zag stitch on the hem, how to iron a seam open…). So I could see that once I knew all that stuff and wasn’t learning new things as I sew, if a project took a long time, I’d get bored. I’m guessing one day I’ll be the type to have a couple projects going at a time. For now though, there is no such thing as a quick project. :)
    Thanks for your great blog, I read the whole Minoru sew-along and can’t wait till I can attempt such a project. You inspire me to learn to sew well!

  65. Eirini April 2, 2012 at 5:00 am #

    I enjoyed the discussion above! I am new to sewing and I like to take my time for projects. I try to spent some time sewing at least 3-4 evenings per week, after work, but this isn’t always possible, so my projects tend to carry on for a longer time that initially planned. But I don’t really mind. I tend to experiment with new patterns and/or techniques by making muslins- some of them never get to move on to the next stage of garment-making but they make me learn something anyway. I have accepted the fact that for the time being my level/skills won’t offer me the satisfaction of quickly putting something together for immediate use. But I do like to progress to projects with a higher level of difficulty to keep my motivation high. Maybe next autumn I will try to attempt you Minoru jacket fro the sew-alongs posted here! I have found and bookmarked a lot of good advice in your blog!

  66. Hanna April 6, 2012 at 12:06 pm #

    This is an interesting topic! I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this lately because I noticed some unpleasent development in my sewing habits: I began to sew just for sewing, to try some new techniques instead of making clothes that I could/would actually wear. So now I’m trying to get back on track and think ahead.

    But in general, it depends. I have been working on a Lady Grey since last summer, fitting it bit by bit and trying to find the right fabric and in the mean time I’ve finished something like seven Sorbettos, a couple of dresses for me, a dress for my mother and knitted god knows what I’ve happened to need right there and then. I do enjoy the more complex projects but I also tend to turn simple ones into sewing marathons including French seams and loads of pressing.

    I haven’t always been like this. When I was a teenager I used to just run through everything without bothering to press or finish the seams, I hated basting (and hated my crafts teacher even more for forcing me to baste seams that I knew I could sew without even pinning them) and also made clothes without patterns. In a way I miss that carelessness.

  67. Zoe April 15, 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Good Question. I take weeks and weeks to sew a dress; mainly because I can only work a couple of hours each weekend. I take my time and really enjoy the process; I fit carefully with a muslin, and I enjoy all the details like basting, and using silk organza to stay curves, and pressing carefully all throughout. I find sewing meditative, all absorbing, and therefore very satisfying. I want to sew quality garments that are as well finished inside, as outside, so even a relatively simple project becomes more involved. I like to learn and practise to try to get better with my skills, but I feel free to sew whatever excites or inspires me.If I don’t approach it this way, it seems like a waste of my time to me ( sort of like how I love cooking special meals with quality ingredients, but hate the fast, utilitarian, type of cooking chore ).

  68. Laura April 16, 2012 at 6:11 pm #

    Hmmmm….I do love to sew everything in a weekend but like everyone else, I have a very busy life, kids and work. I sew freelance and usually finish 2 to 3 garments in a week. Once in a while, someone gives me a very challenging fabric…silk, chiffon, georgette, ‘zebra’ (!!). I will then have to gauge the design and complexity of the techniques involved. When I hit upon a mistake (eg. attaching the sleeve wrong way!), I get so mad I lose interest all together. And when that happens, more mistakes entails. In this instance, it can take me a whole week to correct it, unpicking and reattaching it, then it will take up to 3 or 4 weeks to finish. Sometimes when I am given a fabric (that is not enough for the project) to make something unlined….it takes me up to two weeks just to figure out how to go around this problem. When I sew for myself, I usually take the easy way out….a straight top/dress/skirt – serged. Now that you asked, maybe it is time I reward myself with a couture style garment and see how long I am going to take….but darn it, there is the chore of selecting the right fabric for what I have in mind, not to mention…where will I go in that couture garment?!

  69. Linda June 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    I daren’t start a new project until I finish the one in progress. I run the risk of ending up with a cupboard full of half-made garments. How long for a single project? That depends – I spent all last winter knitting a lace shawl, and once made a traditional, embroidered smock for a folksy lover. On the other hand, from start to finish in one afternoon for an apron is really satisfying. I like to include plenty of variety.