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Creative Exercises for When You Only Have 10 Minutes

Episode 91: Sarai and Haley share 14 different activities for when you're short on time but feel like doing something sewing-related.

Posted in: Seamwork Radio Podcast • May 23, 2022 • Episode 91

Finding little moments for creativity is so important for your sewing practice—not to mention your mental health—and you might be surprised with what you can accomplish in just ten minutes.

In this episode, Sarai and Haley share some ideas to help you turn idle moments into rewarding creative exercises. Keep these ideas as a list in your sewing room and pick out one of these activities the next time you have ten minutes.

Podcast Transcript

Hey, everybody. Welcome back to Seamwork Radio. So today we're talking about quick, creative things that you can do when you only have ten minutes. So this is going to be a shorter episode for us, but we're going to cover 16 different things you can do if you're short on time, but you feel like doing something that's sewing related. We'll talk about a bunch of creative exercises to get your brain going and also a few things you can do to prepare for your next sewing session.

All right, so our ice breaker today. Haley, what project has been in your sewing queue for the longest but you've never gotten around to making?

Okay, so I had to think a little bit about this, but I think the longest standing project in my sewing queue has been some kind of, like, statement coat. I want to make a winter coat. All of my winter coats are, like, kind of vanilla, and I've always wanted to make one that was just kind of exciting that you could put on over, like a regular outfit. It would make it feel really special. So I'm thinking, like, pink or like a print or something with, like, a groovy for collar, just something like that's a real statement. But it always feels so frivolous. So I never, like, sit down and actually plan the project and make it. It's kind of like a vague idea, but I just think it would be a really fun project, and I love making outerwear, and I would probably wear it all the time.

Yeah. I have a pink coat that actually has a little faux fur removable collar. I don't know if I still have it, actually. I might have had to donate it in the move, but it was really cute. But I brought it when we went on a trip to Central Europe many years ago. And pink coats are really not done in Central Europe. Everybody wears black and gray in the winter, and that's the case in many parts of the world. And I felt like people were staring at me everywhere. I look like such a sore thumb. I've never really felt that way. Everybody was just looking at me like, who's this crazy person in a pink coat? That's weird.

I could see that. I could see that. I feel like here in Portland, though. Like, I would definitely get some thumbs up at the Fred Meyer, which is our grocery store out here.

Oh, yeah, anything goes here. That's true for I feel like a lot of things in the United States. Anything goes in some parts of the United States. I think for me, the thing that has been in my sewing queue the longest is I've always wanted to make, like, a tuxedo style jacket, like, smoking jacket with the satin lapels and just, like, very slinky. And I've always wanted to make that, and I even bought this Donna Karen pattern that I thought would be great for it. And I think I even may have bought fabric for it at one point, which I might still have in my stash, but I just never got around to making it. And then now I live in the country, and I really don't see why I would wear such a thing or why I would wear such a thing. I have a lot of Blazers in my closet. I really like Blazers, but it just doesn't feel very appropriate wearing them out here. So I don't know that I will ever get around to making it. It'd probably be nice for a holiday party or something like that dress up occasion.

But I love that look. I think it's so cool, but I don't know. I don't know if that will ever happen. Now I'd be hot.

I like that idea.

That's mine.

You want to plan a really fancy party so you can do it?


I feel like you have to.

And I could do the whole outfit. That would be great. Matching pants. So if you have an ice breaker for us for a future episode, you can share it with us. If you're a member, go to, and that will take you right to the thread where you can share your icebreaker, and we'll use it on a future episode.

All right, so let's get into it. So sewing can be a pretty time intensive activity. I think I find this all the time. It's just kind of hard to get started when you don't have a huge chunk of time. So sometimes it feels a little bit hard to fit into your schedule because it's hard to do in small increments, sometimes depending on what you're working on. But I think that there are these little things that you can do that can really just get your creativity going when you don't have much time either just kind of get your brain churning on a particular project or even just kind of start creating ideas for future projects. And I think that's a great thing to do when you don't have a ton of time, when you just have a few minutes here and there, if you just have kind of in your back pocket a little list of activities.

So we wanted to share some of our ideas with you about things that you can do, and you only have about ten minutes or so. Haley, do you want to start us off?

Yes. So we came up with this big long list, and we put them into all the items into two categories. So the first category of items is get creative. So these are just, like, little creative things you can do to get your ideas flowing a little bit. So tip number one is to explore your stash, whether that's your patterns or your fabric without, like, a purpose in mind. Just get the ideas flowing. Pull out the things that maybe you haven't thought of for a while. Look at the pattern envelopes. I think that this is a really fun activity when you're feeling, like, in a little creative slump.

I did this pretty recently. I think I started out I was looking for a particular pattern, but I ended up just looking through my whole stash of patterns. I have quite a few vintage patterns, and it was really fun. I rediscovered a bunch of things that I had forgotten that I had, and it gave me a lot of ideas for projects that could make in the future. So it was really fun.

Yeah. I mean, it's just fun to, like, enjoy your stash. You don't always have to be sewing it. You can also just enjoy it from time to time. Tip number two is while you're in there checking out your stash, cut some swatches and make a little color palette for yourself. You don't have to do anything with the color palette. You can just make a color palette to have fun. It can maybe get some ideas going on fabric combinations that you hadn't necessarily thought of before. Tip three is to sketch some designs. It doesn't matter if you are a practiced artist or not, just doodle. Make it fun. Have fun with it. I love doing this. I'm like a big notebook person, so I always have a notebook in arms reach, and I do a lot of doodling.

I wish you could see the room I'm in right now because I'm just surrounded by notebooks. I have a little table. I have a chair in this room with a little side table, and there are two notebooks sitting on it and one on the floor right next to it. And my desk also has notebooks on it. Notebooks, notebooks everywhere.

Yeah, we're definitely notebook people. I can reach out and touch two separate notebooks from where I'm sitting right now. And I buy notebooks in bulk so much. But yeah, sketch. Have fun with it. Don't take it yourself too seriously and just do some doodling.

Tip number four is to pull out an inspiring book or find one detail or idea that you can incorporate into your sewing. It could be a color palette. It could be a texture, a detail, anything. If you're anything like me, you also collect fashion books or any kind of visual book. I love, like a coffee table book. Pull one of those out that's been collecting dust on your bookshelf and peruse it. Shop for some ideas.

Tip number five is to study a garment that you like so you can emulate it in the future. This can be something that's in your closet. It can be something that's off the runway or do a little online window shopping and really examine the garment. I think that this can be a really great way not just to get ideas, but to learn about selling.

Number six is to make a list of quick and easy projects that you can sew. Sometimes they can be kind of intimidating to do these more like conceptual, creative little creative activities, and maybe looking at all of the fine details of a tailored jacket is intimidating and not really the kind of thing that gets you excited for sewing. But making a little list of some quick projects that you can make can be really inspiring and really motivating.

Tip number seven is to choose your most worn and least worn garments of clothing in your closet and think about why. Maybe make a little list of why you like to wear them, or you don't reach for them as often, and this can be really helpful to help you make better selling decisions in the future. Tip eight is to write a list of adjectives to describe your style. This can be a super helpful exercise, especially if you're more in the planning stages of your upcoming projects. You can also make a list of criteria for future sewing projects and tip number ten is to research a sewing technique that you'd like to learn or learn more about and gather a little bit of research for your future projects.

That's a fun one to do. I've been really interested in some old-fashioned sewing techniques and been doing a lot of research on those lately. It's very inspiring.

So I'm going to share some tips for maybe something a little bit more tactical when you just want to prepare for your future sewing rather than get your brain going in that creative way. Maybe you're just not in that head space at the moment, but you want to do something sewing related or kind of just get ready.

So one thing you can do is prep your sewing space for your next sewing session. I could probably use some of that right now, a little bit of tidying and just kind of getting things ready for sewing. And this could even include things like threading your sewing machine, threading your serger, getting out the materials that you need, anything that you need to do to just make you feel like you can jump into that next sewing project really easily. I think it's a great thing to do. It's kind of like setting the table for the next session.
The next one is to organize your fabric and notions for your next sewing project. So maybe get your fabric out, put it in a project bag, get all the notions that you need, make sure that you have the thread that you need in the right color. Just kind of get everything organized. I think both of these things just help you to kind of be able to jump in really quickly.

The third one is to put your fabric for your next few projects in the laundry for pre-washing. I think that's a big one. I think if your fabric is not pre-washed and ready to go. That can be a huge hurdle to even starting to sew because it just puts another barrier of time between you and the project. So get all your fabric, not just for your next project. For the next few projects, if you have it, and get those ready to go by pre-washing them, print out a pattern that you plan to use. I think this is actually so simple, but it's really helpful.

I think when I started sewing and I think about all the things that I need to do before I even can even get to sewing. Like, I need to go find the pattern, I need to print it out, I need to cut it out. I need to do all these things. The more you can kind of take little chunks of that off at the top, I think the easier it becomes to get excited about sewing. So maybe just print out the pattern and get that ready to use and put it with your fabric as well. And then browse patterns and choose your next project. Or maybe your next three projects.

If you haven't already created your sewing queue, maybe you could start on a project like that and see what your next few projects are going to be, or even just browse. And without even any intention of creating a sewing queue or making any final decisions about your next project, maybe you could even just browse some patterns and pin them to a Pinterest board or something like that. Which brings me to the last thing, which is organizing your Pinterest boards. This is a funny one for me because Kenn always laughs at me —my husband always laughs at me, because I'm always doing what he calls Pinterest maintenance, organizing all of my many boards on Pinterest. And I have whole systems for putting all my recipes into categories and things like that.

But that can be a fun thing to do. If you only have a few minutes to just go in there and organize your boards. You can actually move pins around. It took me a while to figure this out. You can actually move pins around, like drag them around in a board. So you could even use Pinterest to create your sewing queue and take a picture and drag it to the top so that you can create like a little queue of projects in there. There's a lot of ways you can use Pinterest. However you choose to use it. It can be good to do a little bit of maintenance, and it's kind of like going through your sewing stash in a way. It's sort of like remembering all of your ideas and everything that you have and everything you've collected over time, which I think can be really inspiring and also going to get you ready and get you in the mood for your next project. So those are our tips. Were you going to say something, Hailey?

Oh, I was just going to say that I'm like a real Pinterest nerd. I love getting in there and doing the Pinterest maintenance, which I will now be stealing that phrase from him.

He looks over my shoulder. I have my iPad, and he looks over my shoulder, and he's, like, doing more Pinterest maintenance. It is kind of ridiculous how much time I spent just organizing things into folders, but I don't know, for some reason, it's soothing for me.

All right, so I'm just going to read through. I'm just going to recap all of these tips really quick for all of you. So we had some tips on just getting creative and kind of using the right side of your brain a little bit. And then we had some tips for prepping for your next sewing project.

So under the creative exercises, you could explore your stash or patterns or fabric without any kind of purpose. You could cut some swatches and make a color palette. You could sketch a few designs and just doodle. You could pull out an inspiring book and find some kind of detail or some kind of idea that you want to incorporate into your sewing in the future. You could study a garment that you'd like to emulate, either online or from your own closet. You could make a list of quick and easy projects that you could sew in the future.

You could choose your most worn and least worn items of clothing in your closet and think about why. You could write a list of adjectives to describe your style. You can make a list of criteria for your future sewing projects, things that your projects have to meet. You could research a sewing technique that you'd love to learn and then to prepare for future sewing projects.

Some things you could do real quick are to prep your sewing space for your next sewing session. You could organize your fabric and notions for your next sewing project. You could put your fabric for your next few projects in the laundry for pre washing. You could print out a pattern that you plan to use. You could browse patterns and you can choose your next project or just browse and you can organize your Pinterest boards. So those are our tips. I'm sure there are many other things that you could do if you have ones you want to add in a review. You could leave us a comment and let us know if there are other things that you do when you only have ten minutes but you want to do something sewing related.

We'd love to hear more ideas from you, and I'm sure other people would too. So the other thing that I wanted to mention is that if you feel like your sewing space could use a little bit of a refresh, if that's kind of stopping you from sewing, then you might want to download the Ultimate Guide to Setting up Your Sewing Space, which is a free mini guide we have that has tons of tips and ideas for creating a better and more functional sewing area, no matter how much space you have, whether you have a large space, you have a small space. There are tips in there for every size sewing space, so you can download it at We'll put that in the show notes. It's awesome. It has tons and tons of tips in there, and I think it's just a really inspiring little guide that might give you some ideas what you could do with your own space, which I think is so key in just getting you ready to sew and making you feel like you want to jump into your next project.

So if you liked this episode, this is a shorter one for us. And if you liked it, we would love to hear from you. You can leave us a review on Apple podcasts or Spotify or whatever podcast platform you listen on.

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