Many projects at once or sewing one garment at the time?

January 26, 2017 21 Comments

Many projects at once or sewing one garment at the time?

January 26, 2017 21 Comments

me at a sewing retreat

Do you work on several sewing projects simultaneously or do one project from start to finish before doing the next one? I’ve always done the latter and until recently it even didn’t occur to me that the other option was a possibility!  I know that might sound odd, but I’m a single minded sewist that just get into the zone and then work work work until I’m happy with the result. But when I participated in a 3-day long sewing retreat in earlier this month got to see that many of my fellow sewists like to keep several projects going at once, and if they get stuck or bored with one project they just pick up another and do that until they are in a mood for a change again.



So we chatted about the pros and cons of these different approaches. For me the value of focusing on one project at the time is that I don’t have any UFO’s looming over me and I also get the biggest rush when I’m out of the hole and can move on the next project, as it always feels fresh! On the other hand I realized that juggling several projects at once offer the option of taking breaks from challenging projects while still being able to sew. Instead of just keep going and going like I do, sometimes getting into a pretty dark hole before I can see the light.

So now I’m curious, which approach do you prefer? Several projects at once or sewing one garment at the time?

Johanna Lundström

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  • Jason January 26, 2017 at 3:38 pm

    I mostly work on one project at a time when I get to actually sewing, but I often have many projects going at different phases of planning. Currently I have one project I am sewing, one that the pattern is ready, and three that I am working on the pattern.

    • Johanna January 26, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      That I can relate to, because as you say there are so much more than just the actual sewing part when it comes to a project. I too mix up pattern drafting with garment making, often due to practical reason or not just being in the right head space for sewing

  • Kathy January 26, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    I work on one project at a time because, unless the fabrics were the same colour, I wouldn’t want to keep rethreading my sewing machine and overlocker all the time. Also, my sewing room doubles up as my partner’s office and he already complains about ‘the mess’ that one project creates. I dread to think how much the moaning would increase if I had several projects on the go!

    • Johanna January 26, 2017 at 3:52 pm

      You make a good point about rethreading the machines! That is no fun for sure, even though the actual work just take a few minutes. I share a space with my partner too and well more garments, more messes unless we can come up with a nifty way to store those UFO’s temporarily!

  • JustGail January 26, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    If we’re talking actively working on items, normally I do 1 project at a time. As it is, I have to shift the pieces waiting to be worked on from spot to spot as I move from sewing machine, ironing board, cutting table, etc. If I had several projects, I can see myself using sewing time looking for pieces instead. Or trying to remember where I left off on which project. It’s rare that I get stuck on a project, as I don’t do very complicated items, and if I do get stuck, I figure it’s time to go do something else for a bit.

    On the occasions I have done more than 1 project at a time, it’s either multiples of the same thing, or one is an emergency (usually mending 🙁 ) project.

    • Johanna January 26, 2017 at 3:55 pm

      I would feel the same way! But I guess those who juggle several different projects at once figure out some kind of workflow that works for them and helps them manage all the pieces. Perhaps they store them away before starting on the next one?

  • LisaB January 26, 2017 at 4:41 pm

    I’m a one-project-at-a-time gal when it comes to sewing. I really like to finish things and really dislike things that lay around unfinished. So, like you, it never occurred to me to have more than one project going at a time in my sewing room.

    On the other hand, I almost always have two knitting projects going at once. One will be a simple no-thought-required item that I can take with me anywhere. The other will be something more complicated that requires concentration and only gets worked on at home.

    Interesting how I treat the two hobbies differently.

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      That’s interesting to hear how you approach your hobbies differently! I could see the allure of having two sewing projects in a similar fashion, one easy and one tricky (such as tailoring) and switch between them depending on the mood

  • PsychicSewerKathleen January 26, 2017 at 5:58 pm

    I am a one project at a time sewer too – due to all the reasons already mentioned! But I’m taking a sewing class that meets monthly for a whole day and for that class I actually have a separate project because I want the teacher to walk me through it one step at a time. I will do some work on it between classes but it’s like homework and I only do the bits she’s sent me home with at the end of class. In that sense I have 2 projects on the go but under normally circumstances I have one project that I want to get done to the finish and wear!

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:09 pm

      Having a project like that sounds awesome and I would probably do the same if I had a class set-up. A good lesson in being patient too I figure, since you only meet up once a month?

  • LinB January 26, 2017 at 8:36 pm

    I enjoy process over production. It is the actions of making that interest me. The fact that I have a useful item at the end of the process is a nice bonus. Seeing a closet full of unfinished objects does not disturb me: it excites me.

    I’ll cut out 8-10 garments at a time. Those that use the same color thread get railroaded through the sewing machine and/or serger. I sew as many seams as I can before heading to the ironing board. When I finish that batch, I’ll have several items finished at the same time, all of which go together.

    And, if I choose to use a neutral thread color — say, a medium gray — for garments with no top-stitching, I don’t bother with changing the threads. It does not bother me if the serger seam finishing matches the garment color.

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:12 pm

      Your approach must be the most efficient I’ve ever encountered! I can totally see the allure. Having to switch back and forth with things like I do when it comes to things like setting up for cutting is not time effective compared to how you do it. Plus I think your approach would make me sew better since I would repeat the process without long breaks. Thank you for sharing, very inspiring!

  • Kathy January 27, 2017 at 7:01 am

    I almost always do one at a time. I could not deal with the mess of more than one. I also like the sense of completion before I start another.

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:13 pm

      The sense of completion is what I get a buzz from too, I would miss that if I switched to several garments at once!

  • Diane K. January 27, 2017 at 7:44 am

    I am a one-project-at -a-time sewist, too. I get stressed out and our confused with too many loose ends at different stages.

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      I feel the same way!

  • Marjorie January 27, 2017 at 7:47 am

    I will trace off a multitude of patterns from Burda or similar, cut them all out from the chosen fabric, including interfacings etc and then only sew one project at a time. If the projects are all similar in colour and I can use the same overlocker thread, then I create an order of sewing preference. IG @marjoriesews

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:17 pm

      I love hearing about such effective approaches as yours. Very inspiring! Doing it my way definitely takes longer since I have to prepare my working area when it comes to tracing and cutting, as I don’t have a cutting good table

  • Chantal Lapointe January 27, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hi Marjorie,
    I mainly start on a project with the intent to finish it. However, it sometimes happens that I start adjusting another pattern and cut the fabric for another project. Like right now, I am working on Simplicity 8060 jumpsuit in black crepe. On the sideline, I already have all I need to get started with Simplicity 1371 high-waist pants in olive stretch cotton. I also got Vogue 1464 sailor pants in navy ponte knit all ready to go. I have two machines and one serger. If I’m really in the mood, I can thread both machines and have both projects going at the same time. The serger thread color is the only problem… I hate to switch. But multitasking allows me to make sure that I don’t loose my sewing mojo!

    • Johanna January 27, 2017 at 4:19 pm

      Interesting point about the sewing mojo, I can totally see that. Sometimes certain things feels less fun and it would be nice to step away like you can but still being able to sew!

  • Helena January 30, 2017 at 8:34 am

    I do one at the time, the finishing details are usually boring so I want to get them done before being lured away to more fun stuff. Plus, I want to wear my clothes as soon as possible. Also, as mentioned above I’m not much for re-threading my machines. However, I sometimes trace and cut more projects at once, but the sewing is done for one project at the time.

    The exception would be if I’m missing something (usually zippers or buttons) for a project and I can’t buy it, then I ‘d start another project.

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