Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Sip Tea and EPP: Being Productive

This week we are talking about being productive, and it can have different meanings to all of us. Some can sew an entire quilt in a week and call this being productive, while for others just a tiny simple make can feel like a great achievement as well. It all depends on our own personal situations, skills and needs. We should not compare our own abilities and the size and the number of creations that other can do, but rather be driven by what feels right for each of us personally. I am going to speak from my own experience as a maker of small things because this is what is important to me and this is what makes me feel good. I sew because I love it and I sew because it makes me feel great, I also love sharing what I learn along the way. Some days I can sew for a few hours, some just for a few minutes and there are days when I feel totally unproductive and stuck, and not able to sew anything at all for various reasons. I worked out that I have to MAKE TIME for just a few tiny stitches a day to help me feel better and get me back on track with sewing.

I have also learnt over the years that for me in order to be productive and creative I need to be organised and by this I mean both my sewing space and the projects I am working on. Otherwise, I get stuck looking for things that I misplaced or forgot where I put them, and I spend too much time trying to get all the things I might need for the project I want to work on away from my sewing desk.

Having a small sewing space without much storage, made me organise all the fabrics and sewing notions in a way that it can be easily accessible and easily put away which is important too. I try to tidy up my desk each evening or once I finish working on a particular project. It still gets messy, but it is more of a creative mess than just untidiness and misplaced things.

I have a few large projects that I am working on at the same time. I keep them all separately in labeled boxes. I did not buy any special boxes, but used all sorts of boxes from chocolates, gifts, computer accessories... They work absolutely fine. For example, I have a box with my Wedding Ring pieces where I keep a needle and thread, papers, scraps of fabric, glue and a pair of scissors. So I can just take the box and sit at the dining table and work on it without looking for all the things I need.

I have read somewhere a long time ago a very helpful tip. If you need to work on something that you really do not want to work on (For me it's usually things like laundry, cleaning up, sorting out toys/papers...) do not think of doing the whole lot in one go. Spend just 15 minutes doing one of the chores and see how much you can achieve in this short time. For me it worked like a magic and I stopped being feeling overwhelmed by how much I had to do in one day and still fit in my sewing. I decided to apply the same approach to my sewing, and it worked really well too. If I know I do not have much time, I would find just 15 minutes and set up a timer to remind me when to stop. Those short sewing breaks can feel really productive.

I have to say that our Sip Tea and EPP Party has been a huge help for me in making the time to work on my English Paper projects regularly. I used to get frustrated that my Tenderness Quilt and other EPP projects were not getting enough attention, but now each week I allocate time at least once a week on Sunday to work on all those hand sewing projects and I rotate them week after week. Even though it is just a few minutes here and there, I still feel like I am being productive at my own pace.

Having my Little Man by my side most of the time made me realise that I had to be flexible with my time and with what I could work on. When I am doing some hand sewing, I can happily sit next to him on the floor and still be a part of his games by constantly being engaged with him. If I have to use my sewing machine, my Little One can be by my side in my sewing space. I always tried occupying him with pretty much the same things I was using. If I was cutting papers, I would give him a pair of kid's scissors, if I was working with fabric, I would give him a small pile of scraps, some paper and a glue stick. By now he knows that there is a place in my sewing nook where he can find his own scissors, his papers, his buttons and his fabric, so I don't even need to stop and give it to him. We can "sew" together and talk about what we are doing. It works really well, until he wants to use my sewing machine. :-) Then I have to stop, and he gets a turn too.

I am a person who can easily get inspired and excited by new ideas. I feel intimidated by large-scale projects that's why naturally I tend to make smaller things and switch between a few large projects. Having a few projects and switching between them regularly really helps keep me away from being bored or overwhelmed. This kind of variety helps me stay focused and motivated.

I have to admit one thing. Though I love Instagram and find it very inspiring, I can easily get lost in it and it takes away my creative time and leaves me sometimes unproductive. That's why I have learnt to step away from it and limit my time I spend online and sew instead or do other important things.

Let's have a look once again at all these small things that help me and hopefully can help you too be more productive:

  • pick your own pace that works for you
  • make time for your sewing
  • keep your sewing space organised
  • tidy your work space at the end of the day
  • keep your projects in seperate labeled boxes
  • implement a 15-minute rule
  • join our weekly Sip Tea and EPP Party or any other sew along
  • keep a few projects going at the same time

    Here are a few more great tips from our Sip Tea and EPP Party community. Thank you everybody for joining me and Lauren @mollyandmama every week for some slow stitching!


    "My tips for productivity is to know when you've had enough social media, and stop while it's still being inspiring and before it starts being demotivating! Too much of a good thing means I'm not stitching and just wasting time."

  • @vintagesewingbox

    "Joining the sip tea and epp party on Sunday mornings is one great way I get time to do a little bit of epp before everyone gets up. I also take my projects out and about with me and I always stitch when I’m a passenger in a car. I sew most evenings and I get a bit of time during the day when my little one naps. Every little bit of time adds up so even if you only do ten minutes a day, it all helps to get you closer to completing your projects."


    "I like to take my epp pencil case with me everywhere because you’ll never know when you’ll find a spare 5 minutes to sew."


    "For hand stitching I keep my individual projects within easy reach so I can take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself, even if just for 5-10 minutes when catching the news. Productive tips: Preparation is key and I tend to batch process e.g. I will cut a bunch of shapes for a few #eppprojects in one go & then baste them in one go..."


    "I’ve found that being part of a Sewalong has really helped to keep me going."


    "This weeks theme is around productivity with sewing. It’s not something that I worry about too much with English Paper Piecing as I do it as a way to take some calm time out of life. I am happy to have lots of projects on the go, I just pick which one I fancy working on. I tend to take a little pouch of sewing around with me for little moments here and there, and if I will be waiting around for the kids for anytime it’s Netflix on my phone and EPP for me! 
    For other sewing that has more of a deadline, it helps for me to set aside specific blocks of time to work on a project as I find it easier to binge work on something so I don’t loose momentum! And it helps to be watching a series of something as it’s easy to say that I will sew until the next episode... or another!"

    Happy sewing everybody! Larisa xox


    1. Good morning from Canada!! I always make time every day to stitch something, if I don't my day just doesn't feel complete.

      I was wondering about the Wedding Ring EPP you have in the photo. Do you sell this pattern or could you tell us where you got it from? I'd love to make one for my daughter.

    2. I like to be organised and have an ongoing 'to do list', means I can usually tick something off as completed no matter how small, could just be ´stitch on label'. I find Pinterest etc totally overwhelming and now rarely look at it, I like to use the time that I do have .productively. Thanks for an inspiring post Larisa.