Do you struggle with finding time to sew? Does it seem like time slips away before you can even begin a project. Today, I’m continuing my series on Finding the Time to Sew.
Please welcome the completely amazing Abby Glassenberg (aka While She Naps) and find out how Abby Finds the Time to Sew. Below is an interview I recently did with Abby, but first, a little more about this incredible lady.
I have long admired Abby’s contribution to the sewing world. In addition to writing an amazing blog, she creates beautiful stuffed animal patterns, hosts a podcast, writes books, and is the co-founder of the Craft Industry Alliance. I know you will all enjoy what Abby is sharing with us today!
(photo credit – Lisa Neighbors)
Note: My interview with Abby was done through a series of questions. I’ve listed the questions in bold and Abby’s responses below.
1. How long have you been sewing? Is there any particular reason that you started sewing?
I learned to sew in 8th grade Home Economics class. Although I got a C- on my final project, a pair of Bermuda shorts with very wonky seams, I could see the potential of sewing and was excited about it. I bought a sewing machine when I was 13 and experimented with it for many years, primarily sewing little things like scrunchies. I always wanted to make dolls and toys, but just didn’t’ have the sewing skills to bring my ideas fully to life.
In 2004 we had a baby, Roxanne, and I decided to leave my job as a 6th grade social studies teacher to stay at home with her. A few months in to being a mom I read about blogs in the New York Times and thought there must be blogs for people who like to make things – crafty people like me! I started a blog and named it While She Naps because I intended to record all of the crafty things I was making while Roxanne slept.
I found a few craft blogs, including one by Clare Robertson called Loobylu. She had a challenge going called Month of Softies. Each month you made a softie that fit the theme she’d chosen, took a picture and posted it on Flickr. I couldn’t believe I could participate in this worldwide community of makers (Clare was living in Australia at that time and I’m in Boston, Massachusetts). I made a monster for the monster theme and that got me hooked. Etsy launched a few months later and I set up my shop while it was still in beta so that I could sell the toys I was soon churning out. Softies and blogging are what got me started as a sewist and helped me to improve my skills and become a designer.
2. What types of sewing projects bring you the most joy and why?
I like to make practical things. That’s what draws me in to craft. I took art lessons after school for many years growing up and while I loved them and learned the fundamentals of color theory and design, I was always confounded about what to do with my finished products. When I found craft I felt at home. Make a quilt or knit a hat and you’ll be warm in the winter. I love the practicality of craft.
3. How do you make time each week (or however often) to work on these projects?
Having a dedicated workspace is key. For the past 10 years I’ve worked out of a corner of our bedroom. I have an IKEA desk that was my husband’s in college and an ironing board and a little secretary table for my sewing machine. Everything is set up and ready to go so when I have just a small pocket of time I can get right to work.
I don’t watch TV so that helps. In the evenings I can sew up in our room uninterrupted (our kids are very good sleepers) and that’s wonderful. I also have certain rules for myself during the daytime. When my kids are at school and it’s quiet here in the house I don’t allow myself to do things like empty the dishwasher or fold laundry or go to the grocery store. That’s my time to work and to sew. Those household chores are things I do with my kids in tow.
4. What things in life are currently inspiring creativity in your sewing projects?
I’m not one for waiting for inspiration to hit. I think it’s important to just get to work every day. Right now I’m working on patterns for softies and dolls that can be sewn from quilting cottons. Although I prefer to sew with fleece and plush fabrics I think there are a lot of sewists out there who’ve never sewn a doll or toy and are more apt to begin if they can use the materials they already have on hand. More often than not those are quilting cottons. Since I sell patterns I’m working on creating more that will appeal to this population.
5. If you sew as a business, how do you find time and energy to sew for yourself as a creative outlet?
I like to do hand sewing and embroidery just for fun. I often have a project on the side table next to the couch to work on while the kids play or chat with me. Sometimes it’s English Paper Piecing and sometimes it’s an embroidery sampler.
6. How does this stage of life help your ability to find time to sew?
I think this stage of my life (raising small children – we now have three daughters) can sometimes feel like a hindrance to productivity but is actually a blessing. Because I only have small pockets of time to work I use every minute. Before we had children I was a teacher and I had summers off. Instead of being productive I would waste so much time. I had too much free time! Now that I have almost none I really appreciate every moment.
7. What tips can you offer to other sewists who want to create time in their lives to sew as a creative expression?
I think it’s important to not see mistakes or failures as “a waste of time.” Sometimes you’ll spend hours, or even days, working on a project only to realize that it’s not going to pan out and you’re going to have to trash it and start over. When time is scarce it’s easy to feel like you’ve wasted so much time on something – what was the point! But try to reframe that and say, “I learned that I can’t do it that way. This was an interesting experience.” It’s never a waste of time. Part of creativity is exploring dead ends.
8. Anything else: A personal story about sewing, where you buy fabrics, your best sewing tip.
My favorite sewing tool is a pair of hemostats. These are surgical forceps and they come in surgery packs at hospitals. Often they’re thrown away unused. I went to Johns Hopkins for college so almost all of my friends are now doctors. One sends me packages of hemostats periodically. They’re super for grasping and turning tiny softie limbs and for stuffing them, too. I use my hemostats so much that I have a callus on my finger from them! (affiliate)
9. Please list the ways people can find you online.
Co-founder of Craft Industry Alliance with Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew: http://www.craftindustryalliance.org
A huge Thank You to Abby for taking a few moments to share how she is Finding the Time to Sew.