Sewing With Kids in the Mix

on August 9 | in Sewing + Quilting Tips, Sewing Tutorials + Patterns | by | with 40 Comments

Update: This giveaway is now closed. Kathy will be in touch with you soon, allybjornson, piersandkatie and Whitfields!

Kathy Stowell from Bliss Beyond Naptime is a coach for creative parents, providing eCourses and more for families seeking balance and happiness in their days. Yesterday we talked about how to help kids learn to sew. Today Kathy shares some tips for helping you finding time and “space” to sew and create as a parent, even as your days are blessed with kids in the mix. Kathy’s tips are great for finding focus no matter what pulls you away from your creative time. Do you find yourself visiting blogs and wondering, “How do they do all of that with kids at home?!”– If so, this post from Kathy might be a good starting place for you to think about how to carve some more sewing time out of your days. Kathy has a video today and some tips for you to read below.

Kathy is generously offering three Sew Mama Sew readers a spot in her Sew Blissful Mama eCourse, which includes the patterns and video instructions for a six-piece, homesteading mama-inspired wardrobe. Comment below on how you find time and energy to sew, and you’ll be entered in Kathy’s giveaway.
I love that moment when I discover a friend also grew up with a mother who sewed. It’s like we instantly become slightly more related; we are insta-sisters sharing the whir of a sewing machine as a soundtrack to our youth.

My mom took up sewing when my brothers and I were still pretty small and by the time I was in high school her passion became a thriving home-based business. And throughout these years she attempted many times to teach me to sew but the bug never bit until, ironically enough, I had kids of my own. It coincided with first time in my life I found myself seemingly lacking the time and freedom to really dive into this “new” obsession.

At four and eight my kids are just creeping out of that “impossible to get anything done without some serious babysitting back-up or out-cold napping”-phase. Upon reflection though I’m pretty impressed with how prolific I was able to be in those early years and how much fun was had by all while Mama was blissing out with her sewing projects.

Thanks to much experimentation, gumption, and not to mention some creativity coaching training, I now have a few tricks up my handmade sleeves on sewing with little ones under foot:

1. Begin with a visualization :: Take a deep breath and imagine how sweet and smooth it can be. Hold that peace in your heart as you simultaneously lower your expectations on how your five minutes a day of sewing bliss might unfold.

2. Seize five minutes a day :: Set a timer if you have to but allow yourself at least 300 seconds a day. (Even if these five minutes are taken up with just stroking your fabric stash while staring off into space enjoy the process.)

3. Share the joy of the process :: Kids are extraordinarily thirsty sponges and readily soak up the energy that surrounds them. Show your kids the pictures of the finished project, take them to the fabric store, when there they can help pick out the fabric or patterns.

4. Infuse the scene :: Make a ritual surrounding sew time. Light a candle, turn on music or bring out special sew snacks. Rich memories get created when all senses are triggered and creative bliss can more easily creep into every corner of the home.

5. Creative play time :: Like the sense infusions, bring out special toys or materials. When the special sew time basket gets outgrown encourage them to entertain themselves by allowing them to push through the wails of boredom while you get your five minutes plus of bliss in.

6. Let go of perfection :: My new standard as a sewing mama: Good from far, but far from good. The important bit is to have fun and lower your expectations in regards to outcome and how the sewing scene unfolds; reframe this time in your life as an opportunity to hone your skills, embrace all the different challenges life presents and model to your kids the importance of taking time out to follow your passions.

But perhaps the most important aspect of all these tips, and to any advice you receive from anyone else, is to pay attention to what works for you and your unique family unit. So I’m curious: how do you manage to get your sewing on with little ones under foot? I would love to read about it in the comments below!

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40 Responses to Sewing With Kids in the Mix

  1. Rebeckah says:

    I don’t have children yet, but when I babysat (8 hour days) for a 5 mon-1yr old I would sew when he was napping and when he was older I would sit him down with my scrap basket (back when it would fit in 1 basket!) and let him play with the larger pieces while I sewed right next to him.

  2. Jessica w says:

    I don’t have kids, so finding energy isn’t as hard as moms who are super busy, but I try and do one project at a time so if get the satisfaction of finishing them. I also make myself take breaks and not over commit.

  3. Kirsten says:

    I too grew up with a sewing mama. So many good memories of playing beneath the dining room table while she sewed on top of it, and later hand stitching weird little unwearable doll clothes and heart pillows alongside her.
    I’ve always been into sewing but became much more inspired (if less prolific) once my little man was born. He’s 4 months old now and I’ve sewn him pants, jackets, shirts and, my recent obsession, overalls! In order to get my sew on I definitely take advantage of nap times and bath times with daddy.

  4. Ally says:

    Kindergarten starts soon. I can’t wait for the free time to knot and sew and spin.

  5. Jodi says:

    Most of my sewing happens (if i sew) when the kids are napping, or having quiet time. I am now going to go and stroke my fabric for 5 minutes and dream something up. thanks for the permission 😉

  6. Katie says:

    I’m homeschooling little ones of 7,6,3 and 8 months, so sewing time is hard to come by, especially now my youngest is crawling. But in bits and pieces it gets done, sometimes in the evening, sometimes with the baby in a sling on my back, sometimes with the older ones driving the pedal while I steer, sometimes a snatched seam while they’re all eating, often instead of the laundry…. My eldest two girls like sewing and have set themselves a target of hand making an entire outfit – we’ve done handkerchiefs and knickers so far. The 6 year old says she wants it finished by the Christmas after this one so she obviously knows my timescales 🙂

  7. Rebeca says:

    Still working on finding the time…AND space.

  8. Rebecca T says:

    I never could sew when my daughter (now 6) was younger. Then I had a second, and there went a few more sewing free years. It finally clicked this past year with my daughter in K. My son (4) practically begs me to sew so he can play in the sewing room with me. He’s got a special set of Legos he keeps there that are only used when I sew. It also helps that I just put in a TV that gets netflix in the room – so on cranky days, he can veg out while I get a little done.

    I’m really looking forward to September when both kids will be out of the house in the mornings! I’m hopeful that I can have at least an hour a day to stitch!

  9. Jessica F says:

    I sometimes sew while I wear my 1yo on my back while my 3yo plays, but I usually wait until they are both asleep so I can focus a little more 🙂

  10. sangeetha says:

    I find time in the afternoons on weekends only, since I have a full time job. Energy, ah whats that?

  11. RosieD says:

    So glad to see other people in the same situation. There is never enough time in the day, though I would love for my 4 and 2 year old to be comfortable and happy while I am sewing. It gets better all the time…

  12. Carmen says:

    I’m a full-time working mom with a toddler. I don’t get the benefit of nap time during the week and sometimes not on weekends either. I try and sneak in when I can although she’s getting a little older that I can let her play in my craft room while I sew

  13. Shannon says:

    Kathleen I think they blanked it out. Mayhem is definitely the word of the day for the toddler years lol

    I sew in the evening once my son (almost 4 years old) is asleep. But if I have a quiet moment (e.g., cleaning while he’s playing Legos) I find myself thinking on my sewing projects working out designs in my head and so on. Then once I can sew in the evening I know exactly what I’m going to do and can get to it.

    Thanks for the tips and good luck with finding sewing time to all the moms out there!

  14. Laura says:

    Loved this post! My kids are 9, 7, 5 and 2 and it can be quite a challenge to sew with them around. My older children love to create, and are old enough to entertain themselves, so it is mostly my two year old that keeps me on my toes! I try to sew when he is napping as I am tired by the end if the day and often make mistakes if I sew at night. Sometimes, if I can’t seem to fit time for myself in (like when my husband was deployed last summer), I will hire a sitter to take the kids to the park for a short bit. And sometimes, rarely, my 2 year old will be engaged long enough for me to get a few minutes in. The trick is to pull out toys he doesn’t often see or play with 🙂

  15. Jennie says:

    I have a 4 month old, I try to sew when he has a nap or if the hubby is home.
    Some times I have him next to me in his bouncer or on his playmat, but he’s usually not happy for long. But for some reason he’s quite happy to sit in the bouncer & watch me crochet 🙂

  16. I am working on finding the time to sew!

  17. Jen H says:

    I have a 4 and 6 year old. I mostly sew at night. The energy for me comes from deadlines. If I have stuff I have to get done I have the energy to stay up and do it. I also sew with a friend one night a week.

  18. christy says:

    oh I love these ideas! thank you!
    I have had a hard time putting sewing ideas into action and so, with the help of a similarly busy mama colleague, we have come up with a plan….and it is working! we bring in sewing projects to the office!!! (yes, where we work!) and when we can, once or twice a week, we spend 15-30 minutes (lunch break, coffee break, after work) charging away at a portion of our sewing! My friend has set up her kids sewing machine (a spare!) in an unused corner of the board room and it is ready and waiting for us…..the only downsides we have found: a) sometimes we forget things like seam rippers and safety pins (threading an elastic with a paper clip is less than ideal, but it works in a pinch!), we might have to build a small sewing kit to leave with the machine! b) sometimes it is hard to stop sewing and go back to the computer, conference call etc! This is is really working for us, we motivate and inspire each other and I think we are more productive at work when we know we are meeting at lunch for a stitch and bitch!!

  19. Stamina says:

    My son is now 5, so I’m finally finding the time to sew. The best time for me to do so is after he’s gone to bed. I can generally eke out an hour so so before I’m ready to crash, myself.

  20. Katy says:

    I actually write down times for sewing in my personal calendar at home. Otherwise it ends up being forgotten or other things seem more important and get done first.

  21. Marie says:

    It’s not easy but it helps to have an understanding husband. Otherwise I can squeeze in some sewing time during her nap or going to bed too late and missing out on some sleep.

  22. Terri says:

    Like the others, I also sew during nap or after he goes night night. My son is two. However, I found a few ways to keep him happy when I’m inspired to sew while he’s awake. One, my sewing area has access to the backyard. During warm days I can leave the door open and he’s happy to play with his truck going in and out. I also made felt figures, shapes and such that he can put on my design wall while I’m doing the same with my fabric. Last, I have a metal cart that I got from ikea and a box of magnets so he can decorate it, then wheel it around the room. It may only give me about 15 minutes at most, but its something!

  23. Trina says:

    I steal away time to sew whenever I can! I am generally set up at the dining room table, this way I can stay watch at the helm but still get in my own time for sewing.

  24. Trina says:

    I steal away time to sew whenever I can! I am generally set up at the dining room table, this way I can stay watch at the helm but still get in my own time for sewing.

  25. What wonderful tips! I would love to win one of these courses, I have a gorgeously energetic almost 19 month son and like many others struggle to sew! I lost my designated sewing space when he came along so now sew in the dining room, competing for space with clutter galore. I have realised that if I can clear a new space in the house that can be available I will be able to use precious snippets of time more easily and feel much more balanced. It’s an ongoing project!

  26. Meredith says:

    Those are great tips! I have a 3 year old and a 4 month old, and while the 3 year old can entertain herself for a few sewing minutes, the 4 month old cannot. So my sewing time is dependent on my husband being able to watch them. On the other hand, I can sometimes squeeze in a few rows of knitting while we’re all playing on the floor, my daughter coloring and my son kind of rolling around. Sometimes I worry that they think I’m not paying attention to them, but I talk with my daughter about what kind of projects I can make for both of them, and she likes playing with my yarn. So maybe these are just good memories in the making!

  27. Diana says:

    I make time, even if it means I put off some chores. Creative time feeds me and I am happier after I have indulged. It helps that my little one naps a lot at 4 months. I appreciate this post because eventually she will be more active and sleep less. Still once I decided it was important, I do manage to sew like I manage to take a shower and make my bed everyday.

  28. I find that little ones and sewing is a very hard combination to achieve….
    I’ve been struggling with it myself and find that the little ones invariably always win.

    I’ll be trying your tips and tricks and hope that things improve on the sewing front.

  29. Shirley says:

    Hi Kathy, I’am older no children at home but I am trying to help my niece find time to sew while her little one is running around the house doing all the things toddles do growing up. When my son was young I had my mother close at hand and my husband would always help out when we both came home from work. For my niece and her husband, being self employed and living far away from family members to help, it’s hard to find the time for any extra’s. This may be a way I can reach out to her in some way. Thank you for listening. Shirley

  30. Georgia says:

    I can only sew with a 2 year old on my lap! Or during his nap time… but let’s be honest, that’s the time for eating secret cookies and catching up on Master Chef. 😉

  31. Charlotte says:

    I tried to comment before but I dont think it worked. I get up about an hour before the kids and try to sew. I also fit in little 10 min sewing fixes during the day while the kids are playing by themselves. Thanks for the nice article.

  32. Becca B. says:

    With kiddos that are 5 and nearly 3, it’s pretty difficult to get any sewing time in during the day unless it’s nap or TV time. Instead, I’ve found my best sewing time is in the evening once the kids go to bed. I’ve replaced the time I would normally turn on the TV with uninterrupted sewing time. It makes me a much saner mommy!

  33. Mary Ann says:

    Love the 5 minute theory! Mine are 3 yrs and 9 months so nap time is what I have to go with.

  34. Raquel T says:

    My kids are still young enough to go to bed at 730pm. Which gives me atleast an hour before I’m too tired! My problem is sewing vs housework.

  35. Christine says:

    I wait until they are asleep! 🙂

  36. lexie says:

    I either sew during nap time, during the midnight hour or when my husband is home or a sitter. Now with three kids, I find it nearly impossible to have any energy, I might have the time but no energy. I find it rejuvenating to sew but I also like not to be bothered. – lexie

  37. Alicia says:

    Great tips! I just had my fourth baby, and was beginning to wonder if i would have to give up seeing altogether. Before now my sewing has been done mostly at Naptime.

  38. Catherine says:

    My boys love to create as much as I do, so I set them up with a craft activity, get the ball rolling, then squeeze in my sewing. That way, we are all “playing” in the same room and happy.

  39. Deb Cameron says:

    Oh I love your 300seconds a day tip :-). Ha ha, I put a movie on for my boys and generally get 1hr of blissful sewing, my boys love a good movie as much as I love my sewing, and good thing is they are happy to watch the same movies over and over, more money for my sewing 😉

  40. Kathleen says:

    Love this post! My children are four and two. While my four year old girl can entertain herself and is interested in my projects, my two year old boy is a wild monkey! I can only sew when he’s passed out cold! It always aggravates me when older ladies from my quilting guild say that their children never bothered them when they sewed…..”They just played quietly with their toys in the same room…..” Either they’ve blanked out the toddler years, or they’re slightly exaggerating! 😉
    Or maybe my kids are just masters of mayhem…..

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