How Sewing to a Deadline can Increase your Productivity

You want to finish your dress but it’s still in two bits and you never seem to find the time to put them together.

You need some new knit tops for Winter, but you haven’t even pre-washed your fabric yet.

You have so many things you want to sew but nothing ever seems to make it to your wardrobe.

I know. I hear you. This used to be me until I worked out how to fix the problem. Read on to find out exactly what I did…

The problem: projects drag on and never get finished

It feels like you started your latest sewing project last week, but six months have passed and it’s still not quite what you’d call “wearable”. It’s so frustrating! You want this new dress now. It’s cold enough to wear those Winter tops as of yesterday.

But they’re still not finished.

Believe me: I know. I was there. I’d start projects, certain they’d be finished in no time at all, only to find myself ignoring them as they taunted from the dressmaker’s dummy where I’d flung them weeks ago.

Eventually, I worked out what I really needed to get these clothes off my dummy and onto me instead.

The solution: set yourself a deadline!

On some level, we’re usually sewing clothes for a particular reason. You might be running out of wearable undies, for example. Or perhaps you’re going to a wedding and you want to swan around in something new and fabulous. You have two ready-made deadlines right there.

Sewing to a Deadline with Cats

(Please note that any resident felines will not care about your deadline and may, in fact, do everything in their power to hinder your efforts.)

You get to make the rules with your own sewing projects, so you can set a deadline that suits you. It can be as simple as “I want to finish this by the weekend”; alternatively, you could use upcoming events in your life. For example:

  • Any type of event (wedding, party, dinner, coffee date, etc.)
  • A birthday or anniversary (you can consider the garment to be a gift to yourself!)
  • A holiday with friends or family

Recently, I used Easter as a deadline to help me finish sewing a dress. Technically, it still needs belt loops before I can officially say it’s 100% finished, but I’m still taking that as a win. After all, it has a zip, a hem and all the necessary seams required to hold it together; belt loops are just the icing on the cake, really.

Why does a deadline help your sewing?

Some people are super disciplined and able to get on to things without deadlines.

I am not one of those people.

Over the years, I’ve learnt to love a good deadline. It gives me something to race against – a burst of adrenaline as the time grows nearer and I still haven’t finished my seams. But there are some actual reasons that are even better than this.

Sewing to a Deadline Timer

It helps you plan for events/occasions

Special events do double duty: not only are they a handy deadline, you can use them to ensure you have something lovely to wear at them.

It gives you a goal to aim for (and satisfaction when you meet it!)

Your house is a mess and you don’t know why half of your socks are missing, but you’ve finished your dress in time for coffee with friends and that is a win. A sense of achievement is a fabulous thing to have. You’ll be swanning around looking fabulous in your new dress and no-one will know why you’re looking so damn smug about it all.

But you will.

Unless you’re like me, desperately trying to hide your lack of belt loops while swanning.

It allows you to prioritise your sewing

It’s easy to let your sewing slip when you don’t have a deadline in mind. But when that finish date is looming, it’s amazing how much time you can scrounge for sewing that hem and putting your pockets in your skirt.

I like to plan what I want to achieve each day as I approach my deadline. For example, I might set myself the goal of basting pleats and attaching the skirt to the bodice one day, followed by reinforcing the waist seam and doing my zip the next day. It makes it easy for me to stay on track and make sure everything will be done on time.

Sewing to a Deadline - Understitching a Seam

Sometimes, I have to say “no” to my knitting when there’s a zip I need to hand-pick if I want to wear my brand-new dress on a coal mine tour.

(I’m not even kidding about the coal mine tour. Check out my Katie Writes Stuff blog for the proof of that coming soon.)

Over to You

So far this year, I’ve used the deadline technique to sew four dresses and one top. It definitely works! You don’t even have to be too tough on yourself, either; once or twice, I may have missed an initial deadline, so I simply switched to a different one. It’s important to remember to have fun, even when you have a deadline looming ahead of you!

Have you ever set yourself a deadline for a sewing project? Is it something you would like to try? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you.


8 thoughts on “How Sewing to a Deadline can Increase your Productivity

    1. It’s certainly an incentive! I’ve lost count of the times I’ve pushed myself to finish a cardigan with the motto: I want to finish this while it’s still cold enough to wear it.

  1. I have two tops xut out on my sewing table that have sat there for several weeks waiting for me to have time but when I had a deadline for my last project (holiday) I managed to sew a top and undies in one day! Definitely need to set myself deadlines.

  2. Like you Katie when I am making a garment I give myself targets to reach by the end of that particular day. I’ve just made a jacket and so one day for example was side seams, collar and lapels followed by insert sleeves and hems the next day etc. It gives me a cut off time as well so as not to get too bogged down. You know the ‘and breathe’ moment 😊

    1. Yes, that’s a great technique. You achieve something for the day and you can pause before going on. I often like to finish the day by pinning seams to sew the next day – that way I can get right into some sewing when I come back to it.

  3. I should t try this. I pay 25 dollars to sew with a sewing instructor for 2 hours, but I have to lug my machine and if she gets to chatting with the other ladies, I don’t really get the help I am paying for. It has forced me to actually get started and get going on a project. However, the last time I went, she was so distracted that, again, my project got botched due to her not really giving me the sewing advice I need so I spent most of the time unpicking. So, I think I will write up some deadlines, in steps like you suggest, and try it! Wish me luck : )

    1. That sounds so frustrating! In your case, I’d suggest looking for some good sew-alongs on YouTube – that way, you’d get some great advice and demonstrations without having to take your sewing machine anywhere.

      I hope setting some deadlines helps you out. At the moment, I’m sewing a new dress and planning to have it done before my first day at a new job. It’s certainly keeping me on track! Good luck with your sewing, Dee. 🙂

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