Hello again! If you haven’t already read them, here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. In Part 1, I discussed how motivation and passion for things is a critical driver for making free time. Part 2 is all about getting the boring things out of the way as efficiently as possible so that energy is reserved for creative pursuits.
Today’s post is about using your free time, even if it’s only a few minutes, and even if those precious minutes are broken into tiny little pieces scattered throughout the day. I’m going to keep using sewing as my example of the thing that I want to do in my free time, but the concepts below can be applied to anything.
Create a habitat that nurtures your creative life, regardless of whether you have minutes or hours to spare!
The most important element in ensuring I actively use my free time to sew and create is having THE SPACE. My Not-Husband and daughter call it “Mummy’s room”. I call it my sewing studio but that’s an exaggeration. It’s a 2 m x 4 m space located in a sunny position behind our kitchen, and it doubles as my office. The main thing is that it’s a dedicated space that is ready for me to use whenever I have the chance. I can literally leave a project sitting under the sewing machine needle and come back to pick up where I left off hours or days later. I don’t need to spend any of my time setting up my machine, or finding the rotary cutter, or selecting fabrics, because its ready to go when I am.
Another way to think about THE SPACE is if you imagine having to cook every day but you don’t have a dedicated kitchen. Imagine that every time you wanted a cup of tea, some toast, or to boil an egg, you’d have to assemble the hot plate, locate the kettle, or find some room for the toaster. And then when you finally made your tea and toast, you had to put it all away again. Ridiculous, right? Well it’s the same exact concept if you’re trying to sew (or garden, or paint, or write a novel) and you don’t have dedicated space. You waste so much time and effort just getting set up that sometimes you’re exhausted and over it before you’ve even started.
If you’re serious about using your free time effectively and enjoyably, you need to create the space.
Your space doesn’t need to be fancy and it doesn’t need to look like something from a House & Garden photo shoot. But it needs to work for you, and sometimes that involves putting some time and effort into creating the right environment.
When we bought our house three years ago, I knew immediately that the studio space was destined to be my sewing area. It was close to the kitchen (the heart of our home) and it was filled with natural light and large windows. However, it was also a 1970’s museum piece with cork floors, chunky bespoke pine desks and shelves, and a rather dingy sofa (my cats quite liked it, actually).
As soon as I could, I gave away the furniture (thank you Gumtree) and purchased bright, clean sewing desks and created as much storage as possible. I painted the walls and installed shelving that was both functional and attractive. I filled it with things that say “BETH LIVES HERE” and it reflects both my personality and my interests. It is the one part of the house that I do not share with anyone*.
As a result of having made over this space, I am now inspired every time I sit down at my desk or my sewing machine. I WANT to be here and I WANT to create things here. Even if I only have ten minutes.
*I am making an exception for my baby daughter who likes to sleep in her bouncer while I’m working in my studio. And to be honest, I kind of like having her for company. 😉
I have the space and I have created the right environment. Now all I need are the right tools for the right job so that when I sit down to sew a project, it happens seamlessly (haha, no pun intended!) and its ENJOYABLE.
There are obvious, big ticket item tools like my sewing machine, overlocker and desktop computer, but I also place importance on the little things:
- My embroidery scissors are sharp and functional, they fit my hand well, and they are also really pretty!
- I’ve started exclusively using Aurifil thread. It’s more expensive than some other well-known brands, but I get a much better finish, which means less unpicking and re-sewing.
- I recently invested in EQ7, which for those without a sewing or quilting background, is quilt block design software. It has made a huge difference when calculating the fabric cutting requirements for my quilt designs (my quilty maths is just appalling!) and I have saved so much time and, more importantly, reduced my fabric waste. Win!
- Storage solutions are another tool that I’ve spent time researching and implementing. My studio is small, but I can’t stand clutter, so I have a place for everything from the smallest fabric scrap to the biggest roll of pattern drafting paper.
There’s a saying that goes “when you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail”; when you’ve worked so hard to make free time to do the thing you love, you don’t want it to all fall apart at the seams (ha, again no pun intended! at the critical moment because you don’t have what you need to get the job done well. This is just going to ruin your day.
Please… invest in the best brushes and paints, splurge on that trowel and weed-digger thingy, gift yourself the fancy cake decorating set. Whatever it is you need, it’s so worth it if it’s going to make you LOVE what you’re doing even more.
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The next post will review some organisational tools, apps, and concepts that I’ve tried over the years and give you the low down on which ones I think work best, and why. See you soon!