December 12, 2008
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Have you ever wondered just how many beautiful, handcrafted treasures you have made for family, friends and yourself? I used to wonder that, too, until I started keeping a record of every sewing project I complete. Let me tell you why I started doing that, and maybe you'll want to do so, as well.
Thirteen years ago, I learned that the fabric store at which I worked would soon be closing. In the hectic few weeks while we cleared the store out, I had very little time to myself for my hobby. I thought of things I wanted to sew and told myself I would do them "when I'm not working...." and "once I have time...." I was worried that I would continue to procrastinate but wanted to believe that I would, in fact, find more time to sew.
I decided to keep a written record of all my finished projects, hoping that this list would help me see how much I was accomplishing. I started by keeping a handwritten list, noting the description and recipient for each item. I now use a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet, which lets me add new columns for information and automatically calculates totals for me. You can view my model spreadsheet here.
Another thing that motivates me to complete projects is the simple act of starting them. In recent years I discovered that I DON'T like having un-finished objects (UFOs) in my to-do pile. Once I start a sewing project I want to finish it within a few days. My personal preference is to have only a single project started at a time. Any project I am working on calls me to finish it, if only so I can start another!
The best way I have found to get myself started is to spend at least a short period of time in my sewing room most mornings before proceeding to other household tasks. This is in part due to the way the light hits my cutting table in the morning, and in part because my energy level is at its peak early in the day. If another time of day fits your routine better, by all means enjoy your sewing then!
A good way for me to start is by clearing my cutting and sewing tables, putting away scraps of fabric, notions, and recently-used embroidery threads. Sometimes I locate fabric for a new project and just spread it out in preparation for the next day, while at other times I actually start the embroidery or cutting for my project. Any of these is enough to put me in the mood to create.
This past Tuesday morning I entered my sewing room with every intention of finishing two eyeglass cases for a friend. I had embroidered on them a few days earlier and was looking forward to completing these projects, but found that I didn't have the zippers that I needed. I cut out the linings, fusible fleece and embroidered outer fabric, and fused the fleece to the embroidered fabric. When the zippers I ordered arrive I will be able to get right to work on the eyeglass cases. (See my Zip-Around Eyeglass Case blog for the instructions for this project. I embroidered "RBH" with Pinstripes Vertical alphabet and "Jan" with Contour Script 75 alphabet.)
I hope my record-keeping idea will help you to increase your productivity. The new year offers a fresh start and a good time to start a new plan for a creative 2009. Happy New Year!