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How to Find the Type of Sewing That Fits Your Goals

Episode 92: Sarai and Haley share a bunch of ideas to help you uncover your most important sewing goal right now, and how to balance having fun while meeting your goals.

Posted in: Seamwork Radio Podcast • May 31, 2022 • Episode 92

Think about all the distractions you experience in sewing. An indie pattern company releases a new digital pattern that’s perfectly on-trend for the season, and you can download it and start sewing right now. Your favorite fabric store sends an email with new linens that you have to bring into your wardrobe before they sell out. When browsing Instagram, you see a really inspiring pattern hack, and now you want to drop everything you’re doing and make it.

In this episode, Sarai and Haley share a bunch of ideas to help you uncover your most important sewing goal right now. They also talk about balancing having fun with your sewing while still working towards a larger goal. So if you’re struggling to find a goal, you keep getting distracted, or you are having trouble just getting started, give it a listen!

Podcast Transcript

Welcome back to Seamwork Radio. Today we're talking about how to find the type of sewing that fits your goals. So we're going to cover how to uncover what's your most important sewing goal right now, how to balance having fun with your sewing while still working towards a larger goal, and what to do when you have trouble just getting started.

Alright, so we're going to start with our icebreaker today, which comes from a senior member, Kathy. And Kathy asks, what skill did you develop that makes the biggest difference in your sewing practice, Haley?

There’s been lots of kind of aha moments for me. I would say the skill that helped me the most in my own personal sewing was learning more about full bust adjustments. I think that kind of, like, opened the door to me understanding how to fit my body. And then things just I felt like it was smoother sailing. After that, I wasn't fighting against my body when I was sewing for myself on a more, like, soft skills level, I think I learned how to be patient with myself. That wasn't like something that just happened overnight. It was kind of in hindsight, I can see how much more I practice patience with myself. I've always been really patient with other people, but not so much with myself. So those are the two things that helped my sewing the most. What about you?

It's interesting that you mentioned patience. I feel like sewing maybe taught me a little bit of patience. I think in my early sewing, I was pretty impatient. But I think when I took a knitting, I probably mentioned this before in the podcast, but I think knitting really helped me with patience because it takes so long to complete a knitting project. And that really taught me how to slow down and enjoy the process versus focusing so much on the outcome. I'm working on a sweater now that I only knit on it when we're watching movies or something, which is not that frequently. And it's just been months and months and months, and I still haven't even started the sleeves yet. So it's definitely a different mindset. I think for me, the skill that came to mind when thinking about this was learning how to use a serger when I got my first serger. I always kind of struggled with the fact that I hadn't even really gotten into sewing with knits that much at that point. But I'd always struggled with the fact that the clothing I made never looked as clean and professional as clothing you could buy because it wasn't finished in the same way as ready to wear.

Although I think you can do some really lovely finishes without a serger. At the point where I got the serger, I wasn't really maybe as aware of those. So getting a serger really helped me to feel like my sewing was finished and really properly taken care of and was going to last a long time. And I think that just gave me a different attitude towards the things I was making when they feel really like you've really taken the care and made them into this really lovely finished product versus something that looks maybe I don't want to say homemade because I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But something that just looks I don't know, maybe just a little bit, maybe just like it's not going to last as long.

It's interesting. I feel like that's like a real confidence booster to feel that, like, extra amount of pride in your finished garment. I feel like learning how to fit my body really accomplished a similar thing, even though it's a totally different skill.

Maybe there's something in that about looking for those skills or those goals that will help you to feel more confident, because I think that confidence will just inspire you to learn more and more. So this is a great icebreaker for today's episode. So thank you so much, Cathy. And if you have an icebreaker for us, you can post it on our community. If you're a Seamwork member to do that, you just have to go to, and there you'll find a community post where you can share any ideas you have for future icebreakers. So we'd love to hear your questions for us.

Alright, so let's get into our topic for today, Haley. So you might have certain sewing goals in mind, but it's easy to get distracted, I think, by fun things like just buying fabric or getting the latest pattern or maybe even just a project that you see that you want to make right now. And I think we all kind of experienced that. And personally, I think it's great to have all those fun things that you're really excited about. I love that. I love just coming up with an idea and sewing it up in an afternoon or maybe, like coming across a fabric that's in my stash that I'm really excited about and want to make something with or those ideas that just come to you or even just finding a great fabric online and buying it and selling it as soon as it comes in the mail. That's tons of fun.

But I think the problem comes when you end up dissatisfied with your sewing over the long term because of all of those distractions and because you're enjoying all these little projects so much, you're not really focusing on building your skills in the way that maybe you wanted to. And so it's really, I think, a balancing act between understanding what projects are going to help you to get to where you want to go with your sewing and also still having fun and still being able to do those things that just come to mind really easily on an afternoon or whatever it is for you. So maybe we could kick this off and talk about our own goals. Haley, do you have a recent sewing goal that you've accomplished?

What comes to mind for me is I've always been just totally horrible at doing alterations for myself. I am notorious for having a little stash of garments in the corner of my closet that I say that I'm going to alter and then I never do. And it's been a real goal of mine over the past year or two to be better about actually doing those alterations. And I've been a lot better at it recently because I'm just trying to be less wasteful throughout all of my life. And so I feel like it's been a little bit more top of mind for me.

Alterations are definitely one of the things that I struggle with, too. It's not as fun.

They're not as fun, which is why I never do them. But you know what? I'm really learning to appreciate the satisfaction of the end product and being able to wear something that I wasn't able to wear before. And I think that giving something new life has just been really fun and inspiring to me. Even if the process isn't my most favorite thing in the world, the result is awesome. So that's something I've been a sewing goal I've had that I have been kind of actively accomplishing. What about you?

To be honest with you, I haven't really made a lot of progress. I don't have a ton of swing goals right now, but I think one that I do have is just to sew more often, and I'm working on that. I wouldn't say I've accomplished it. I have in small ways. I've kind of made a lot of small things for gifts or for the house, just little things that aren't really like big projects. So maybe they're not exciting. I don't even post them on the community or anything because they're so small. But it's a good way for me to kind of get back into the swing of things after a little bit of a I haven't really taken a hiatus, just, like, kind of a slowdown for a while, mostly just due to time. So I guess it's a goal I wouldn't say I've accomplished, but it's one that I'm glad that I've made progress on. It.

Is there a goal that you feel like you just cannot make progress on?

You know, there's one thing that comes to mind for this I don't know if I haven't made I haven't made as much progress as I want on it. I've been buying up, like, all these I think I've mentioned it on the podcast already, but I've been buying up all these old sewing books on heirloom sewing, like books from the it's so fun. I love looking through them. And I have all these ideas for projects I want to make with them. And the main thing that I want is to make, like, a really pretty nightgown with some fancy details on it. I don't know why. I just have this vision of having a really fancy cotton heirloom nightgown, and I can't seem to get beyond the stage of just thinking about it and looking for ideas. And I even have a pattern that I like. It's a vintage pattern from the 70s that I really want to use, and I don't know, I just can't seem to get going on it. So that's one. What about you?

Yeah. The last maybe two or three winters, I've wanted to make myself a new winter coat with kind of all the fixings the underlining and lining and just kind of do it up, and I just never get started on it. Getting started always feels kind of like the hardest part. I can't settle really on one idea. I just know that I want to make a coat, and by the time I start feeling kind of, like, motivated or maybe like, a little spark of inspiration strikes. It's spring, and I'm like, well, that feels kind of silly. It's time to make some dresses.

I always struggle with that at this time of year because I already have a lot of pretty spring and summer dresses. But it's my favorite season for dressing because, I mean, fall is great, too. I love fall, but in summer, I just love putting on a comfy, like maxi dress and sandals. I don't know. I feel great in that, so I always want to make more. But it rains, like, nine months out of the year here. I really don't need more, like, sleeveless dresses, so it's tough. A coat is much more practical.
It is. And when I lived in LA, it was super practical. I could wear stuff like that pretty much all year round, and now I have to limit myself. I can have one, maybe two, depending on the style, a year. Okay, so what distractions do you think you get caught up in most often?

For me, in terms of sewing distractions, I'd say, like, the bigger distraction is not sewing related. They're just time things, just not setting aside time for sewing and just getting caught up in life. I have lots of other things to do, especially this time of year with gardening. We have a big property that we have to take care of now, and there's a lot to do outside. So that's probably my biggest non-sewing distraction. My biggest sewing distraction is probably just I love vintage patterns, and so I love collecting older patterns, and I'll just kind of go through them and get excited about them and sew something up with fabric. I have or plan really, like, quick projects based on those. And I don't always get to the things that I had really wanted to make, the things I planned for designer wardrobe and things like that, just because of those little fun projects. And my love for vintage patterns, I think, is a big part of that. What about you?

I think beyond just life and other hobbies persistently distracting me from my sewing goals, I think that what I get caught up in most often is probably Seamwork patterns because I engage in them so often. Obviously, I design them. I'm in fittings every week for them. I do the photo shoots. And, you know, sometimes it's hard not to fall in love with something when you are around it that often looking at it that often. Also sometimes it has the opposite effect, but sometimes you fall in love with it. And then I'm like, well, now I got to make it. That can be a little distracting. It's a fun distraction, though. I try not to hate on my distractions too much because I think that is part of what makes sewing so fun is that place you do get to play and have distractions, but it's all about finding that balance, I think, so that you get a good you get fulfillment from your hobby as well, and you don't feel as wasteful.

Well, I think that's the thing about distractions. They are fun, and that's why they're so distracting, because you do get so excited about them. And I think you're right. I think that's a big part of why we love sewing or really probably any creative activity is just expressing yourself in the moment. It's kind of that spirit of improvisation versus maybe the planning that feels a little bit more. I don't want to say like work, but it's a little bit more methodical. It's a little bit less freeing. So you're right. I think you just need to balance the two in a way that feels comfortable for you.

It's only really a problem if you feel like it's a problem. If you don't feel like accomplishing goals is something that has room in your sewing practice, then that's great. But if you're finding that you're feeling maybe less inspired lately, then some goals are a good place to start. Sarai, do you want to share some of our tips for finding that sweet spot, that balance?

I think this segues perfectly because I think we talk about identifying what your sewing goal is or what your primary sewing goal is right now. I think from the things that Haley and I were just talking about their own goals, I think you can see that those goals can be really small things. So we talk about a goal. It could be a certain project or a certain type of project that you want to do, or it could be something bigger. It could be a larger goal. And that kind of just depends on where you are in your sewing journey and where your skills are and what your particular goal is at any moment in time. So that's just something I wanted to throw out there. The things that we see a lot in the community and from people we talk to are we can kind of divide them up into a few different categories. The things that we see are, first of all, fitting. A lot of people have goals around fitting and want to learn a lot about fitting. So maybe that's a goal that you have.

Another one is being more intentional about design. So actually building a wardrobe and putting all the pieces together in a way that makes sense for you and for your life. And that's why we have our designer wardrobe class. People who have that goal might be interested in that. Another one that we see a lot is just fitting sewing into your life. That's kind of my goal right now. So if you're a very busy person or you just have a lot going on right now, or even if just you've taken a hiatus for a while or it's kind of slowed down, you're looking for more creativity in your life, just finding little ways to fit it into your life in a way that's manageable for you.

If you're a total beginner, maybe it's just learning the very fundamentals. Maybe that's your goal right now. A lot of people have goals around fabric and really understanding how to choose fabric and what different types of fabric are and how to work with them.

And then other people have goals that are really just about building skills. And that could just be something generally like I want to get my skills to a certain point where I could make this type of project, or it could be a certain skill that you really want to get better at, whether it's sewing with knits or I want to learn really feel confident with installing zippers or whatever it is. It could be something like that.

Or you might just have a more specific sewing goal, like some of the ones that Haley and I mentioned, like a certain type of project maybe you want to make, and that's your goal just to get to that point. So those are kind of the types of goals that we've seen. And if you need help kind of figuring that out in your own mind, we have a quiz that can help you with that. We'll put a link in the show notes for that so you can find it. But you can also just go to our website and find it there. You just go to You'll see it. And when you take that, it takes only a couple of minutes. And it can help you to kind of figure out if you fall into one of these categories that I just mentioned and then give you a lot of suggestions on where to go from there. You don't have to be a Seamwork member to take the quiz. Anybody can go and take the quiz really quick and free, so that's a good way to go if you're having trouble identifying your goal and then

I think the next step, after you've identified what your goal is, is kind of figuring out what success for that goal would look like for you.

So before you kind of decide to tackle it or how you're going to tackle it, deciding both why this is important to you and then how you'll know when you get to that point. So some of it is easy. So if you're trying to learn how to do a specific skill or a specific project, you have an end in mind. You know what success is going to look like in that case, if it's something a little bit bigger, like maybe I want to learn how to fit really well. What does that mean for you? What does that look like? How do you know when you've achieved that? Or is it maybe it's even a lifelong goal? Maybe it's something that you're intending to work on forever, but just kind of understanding what that looks like for you so you can celebrate when you get there and really feel like, you know, that you've achieved something I think is really important.

So that's kind of around coming up with your goals and understanding your goals. And I think the next thing goes back to what Haley and I were just talking about, which is balancing that goal with these other things that might be fun but distracting you from the goal at times.

So if you find that that's the case for you, maybe coming up with some kind of formula that works for you to help you balance that out. So maybe, for example, this is just an example. Maybe 50% of your sewing is focused on working towards your goal. When 50% is whatever else you want to sell. That's just an example. It could be whatever works for you. But I find that having setting little guidelines for myself like that can be really helpful. If I find myself feeling unmotivated or distracted or just not really able to focus on something that I really wanted to focus on, that can be helpful for me. So that's an idea you can take next. I'd say one thing that has been helpful for me is just creating a small sewing queue for myself and having certain projects in mind for my next few projects. I think that really helps me to feel a little bit more methodical than it might otherwise be. And we kind of go through this and design your wardrobe. I mean, all the designer wardrobe kind of builds up to you creating a sewing queue for yourself for the season that helps you to build your wardrobe.

So the whole process is kind of built around that. But I think even if you have even just take the next three projects, you want to either print them out or put the patterns somewhere together. You kind of have them in front of you, and then you can always work in other things. It doesn't mean you have to be religious about it, but having those in some kind of an order can really I think for me, it helps me to stay a little bit more focused on whatever it was I was trying to do. So that's another one. I think it's particularly helpful if your goal is around building a more intentional wardrobe, but it can be helpful for really any of these goals, I think. And then the last tip I wanted to share is one that goes back to something we touched on a little bit earlier in our discussion, which is how difficult it can be just to take the first step in a project or a bigger goal. I have found this with the project I was talking about as a goal right now, which is making a really fancy night gown.

I just can't seem to get started on it. And what I find this is applicable to, not just to sewing, but this is something like a little trick that I use for pretty much everything in my life. But figuring out what really tiny little thing I need to do to get started has really helped me. So I always use the example of like, if you have trouble flossing every day, for example, instead of just telling yourself, okay, I have to do this every day or setting a reminder on your phone or kind of forcing yourself into it, you just find the tiniest stuff you need to do. And for me, that was when I take out my toothbrush. I take out the floss at the same time, and I put it on the counter, and it's like this really tiny physical thing that I do that helps me remember to do the next step. And so just like taking that first time, making it small and as quick as possible, just really helps me to get started. So that's something that you can try. It's been really helpful for me, I think for my naked project, for example, I guess I've done a lot of the planning stuff.

The part I'm having trouble even approaching is just even buying supplies for it, like buying fabric and deciding exactly what details I want to do. So maybe the next step is just to write down the place that I'm going to buy the fabric from or something that small will just kind of push me into the next phase, if that makes sense. Does that make sense?

Yeah, totally. I'm now thinking of what I need to do for my coat project. I really need to design it. I got to figure out the design.

Yours might just be take out a piece of paper. That's all I need to do right now. Take out a piece of paper.

I also need to floss now because something about me is that when someone mentions flossing, it gives me the intense urge to drop everything and go floss.

I went to this event last night, and there was pizza with kale on it. And I ate a piece. And the entire time and then we were doing this round robin icebreaker thing, and I was just, like, convinced I must have kale in my teeth. I kept running my tongue over my teeth and drinking tons of water. And then I went to the bathroom afterwards. And yes, I had a piece of tiny, tiny piece of kale right between my two front teeth. I was like, I knew it. I couldn't feel it, but I knew it had to be.

It happens to everyone. I have that person who will tell anyone. I don't even know the clerk at the grocery store. Hey, you got something?

All right, so I'm going to do a little recap since we went over a lot of great tips today. So these are kind of tips, but they're also in a sequence. They're kind of steps. So step one is to identify your current primary sewing goal. If you're having a little trouble with that, you can definitely check out our sewing quiz, because that can help you to kind of determine what category you fall into.

And just to recap those categories that we've found in our experience, there's fitting, there's wardrobe planning, there is fitting sewing into your life. There's just plain learning how to sew, learning basics, learning more about fabric, more skill-based things like knits or zippers. And then there's also more specific goals, like the one Sarai and I personally have right now.

Step two is identifying what success looks like for you.

Step three is creating that formula that works for you to achieve that balance of achieving your goals and all of the fun, frosting stuff you want to do in between.

Step four is creating a sewing queue for yourself.

And step five is to help you get started. Just break down your goal into one small micro first step. It doesn't even have to be big. It can be setting the floss on the counter, as Sarah put it. And again, if you want to learn more about this, if you want a little help identifying your goal, your style, you can take our sewing quiz. It is totally free on our website, and it helps you learn what kind of sewer you are based on your own unique goals and personality. And it helps you to identify kind of what's most important to you right now, because this can kind of change over time. What my goal is now is not what my goal was a few years ago. It only takes a couple of minutes and you can find it at that is

And if you like this episode, we would love it if you left us a review. Here is one from Aunt Lily. Not my aunt. I don't have an Aunt Lily, but that's her handle. Aunt Lily.

“I just rediscovered this podcast. It's helping me plan my sewing while I'm walking my dog. Love multitasking. The ladies are full of knowledge and helpful tips.”

Thanks, aunt Lily. You can be my honorary Aunt Lily. We appreciate you and we appreciate all of the people who have left us a review or rated us. It is so helpful to us. It helps other people who like listening and chatting about sewing to find us.

Alright. Thanks so much for joining us this week and we will see you next week.

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