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I am a mother, a new grandmother, and a teacher. But whatever happens in my life, I keep sewing. I have worked as a political communicator and now as a teacher in my formal life. I have also written extensively on sewing. I have been a frequent contributor and contributing editor of Threads magazine and the Australian magazine Dressmaking with Stitches. My first book Sew.. the garment-making book of knowledge will be published in May 2018 and is available for pre-order from Amazon


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Thursday, November 17, 2016

5, 10 20 minutes to sew

Do you all remember Nancy Zeiman's book by this name? The idea was that you could get a lot of sewing done in increments.

Well I have my own interpretation of that. 

I like to do everything else in increments so I have more time to sew.

Take cooking.

 My husband, who does an overwhelming share of the cooking, will spend hours and hours getting something just right (sometimes we eat real late).

I, on the other hand, have a 10 minute rule for most dishes. If I can do it in 10 minutes or less I will make it, if not I don't. There is something about slapping down three meals a day for three kids for a couple of decades that go me to this place.

I have a friend who even sends me recipe ideas, some she labels, as "see Barbara it only takes 10 minutes" other ones she labels as "get Leo to make this for us in Florida."

I have been thinking about this because just this weekend I made a pan of granola bar things so we can have something sweet but trick ourselves into thinking it is OK and they were excellent.I clocked the counter to oven time at about 7.5 minutes. (In a hotel in Maine now will share the recipe when I am home. Oh and by the way this place is an amazing yarn shop, best I have seen in a long time. Worth a detour to Freeport.)

Housework, something I feel was invented only to frustrate sewers who have better things to do, is another place where I try to proceed with time limits and minimalism. In that department here are two of my current time limiters:

  • A battery operated vacuum. Mine goes hard for about 10 minutes which is great because then I can stop, no choice, in the middle of a job and say, well I might as well go serge something now.
  • Disinfectant wipes. Bulk at Costco. I keep these in the bathroom and kitchen and swipe stuff down and then throw them out (I know but I recycle and compost everything else in this house). Behind the taps, in the corners of the floor, the front of the cupboards. Not everyone is like my sweet MIL who keeps a plastic shower cap over her toaster so dust doesn't go down the toast slots. I can head off a lot of real cleaning with those wipes.
Now over to you.

I am super interested in your 10 minute sewing time liberation ideas. 

I am sure we all are.

How to you cheat some sewing time into your own life?


Jess said...

I am housework blind, which creates much more time for sewing. I thoroughly enjoy your blog, just want you to know :-)

Soposie said...

I love this topic! I use the wipes that way, too. I'm transitioning the kids to doing more dinner cleanup, and that's really helping ke get more time after dinner to sew a little bit. I doubt that's widely applicable, though. Interested to see what others might say!

Anonymous said...

Being nearsighted helps a lot with the dog fur dust bunnies along the baseboard - what I don't see doesn't bother me much.

Re Maine, one of my favorite places to visit there is Alewives Fabrics, I forget the name of the town but its fairly close to Camden area. Lovely voiles.....


Linda said...

Lol! To take it one step further, I have a friend that sprays Clorox in the air before her husband gets home so she can get praise for cleaning the bathrooms..... the only thing I can think of alongthose lines is that I multitask cleaning the shower while I shower :-)

Anonymous said...

I use a piece of fleece to whisk round for dusting. Then it goes into the washing machine. Done and reusable too!

sewingkm said...

Your blog and topics are such fun. I definitely adhere to 10 minute house-cleaning spurts so I can sew in hour-long spurts! Karen

annie said...

For the shower thing, try mixing equal parts of vinegar and Dawn and heating in the microwave. Spray on. Great control of scum.

As for food, I'm dating myself (and I would not eat this now) but, Campbell's soup and Minute rice used to have an ad for 10 minute meals using various soups, like tomato and cream-of-whatever, the rice and leftover meat. Course you'd have had to cook the meat on a previous night...

bbarna said...

Almost two years into semi retirement, I have re-instated the routine from my full time working years. Up at 6:30am, tidy the bathroom while I still in it, make the bed and pick up clothes, breakfast and start the dishwasher, laundry on Wednesdays, organize dinner...Usually this all takes between 20 min to a half hour. I also cook a double meal several times a week, so that I have a easy meal on my busy days. My husband and I run a longarm quilting business, so I still have clients anytime during the day or evenings.
Sewing for myself and family is slotted into small increments- tidy the sewing room, cut out pattern, set up the machine and serger, fuse interfacings, sewing, hand finishing. I read Nancy's book years ago and it stuck with me.
For my quilts, I try to cut out all at once and bring the pieces in plastic container on our summer camping trips. We have a solar panel on our camper roof, and a small sewing machine and travel iron work to get blocks put together.
I am not overly fussed about cleaning, but like to have the quilt studio dusted and vacumned weekly so clients don't think the worst.
Love the blog.
Barb from Prince George.

Karen Lyon said...

Just give everything "a lick and a promise" and let it go. I have more trouble with other people scheduling entertaining when I want to hermit myself away and get some sewing done. I don't have a sewing room and have to move things from the laundry room to the dining room.
When I start snarling, people do get the hint and leave me alone for a bit. Love the family, just need more me time.

Sydney Brown said...

Light colored furniture! It takes MUCH MUCH longer to show dust than darker furniture.

garnet128 said...

I used to be OCD with cleaning. Every nook and crannie (including closets) was spotless and in order. Even my pest control guy said my house was the cleanest he had ever seen. I was so proud of that.....then. And you know what? All I ever did was clean. That is NOT living and it took me getting really sick and being unable to clean to figure that out. AND I found out I was the only one who cared about how clean it was. In fact, it bothered hubby and kids that nothing could be out of place.

Now is the complete opposite. My grown kids say my house is still pretty clean compared to others, but nothing what it used to be. Life is too short and I got better things to do.

Hubby and I both lost our parents in recent past and none of them did everything they wanted to do before passing. We decided we are not letting that happen.

I discovered I don't even like cooking so more often than not, we eat out now. We try to make good choices and eat healthy...salad bars and the such. When I do cook it is easy and I make enough to last a couple meals and put some in the freezer as well. I clean dishes as I go then the kitchen gets wiped and done.
Like someone else said, I clean the bath/shower while I am there and mist it with a weak bleach/water spray 2X a week. Very quickly wipe the bathroom down before leaving. What possibly gets missed today will surely get it tomorrow...RIGHT?

I do have to say, since our beloved dog passed, the house stays a lot cleaner all around. I would gladly deal with the dog hair and outside dirt again if I could have her back.

It is just hubby and I now and we don't make much dirt. I take spurts where something dirty will bother me and I go into action, but for the most part I don't let it bother me anymore. The dirt will be here long after I am gone. Yes, life is too short and my granddaughter will only be young once. Did I mention we love Disney!

Louise Perry said...

I do housework on a reward basis with with I am sewing. I'll do a task like laundry or cleaning the shower and that earns me ten mins sewing, then another chore...

Elle said...

Two things: I set the timer for 30 minutes and scurry around getting housework done. When the bell rings, that's it! Also, I keep the bottom of the toilet brush holder partially filled with liquid cleanser; a frequent but quick la-di-da keeps a major scrub at bay.

Beth H said...

Roomba. Best housework-avoidance device ever invented. I love to play with my toys while listening to it working away up the hall.

Terry Carter said...

Thanks so much for your blog. It makes me happy to read it. However, I do think that I need to get one of those battery operated vacuums. Such a good idea.


mags said...

Get divorced and live alone and eat good quality ready meals .....
Lots of time for sewing

Anonymous said...

I'll have to check the dictionary for 'domestic disaster'... They'll probably have my husband's picture in it.... I find that a bottle of Windex and a few rolls of paper towels can clean up pretty much anything and fast!

SilverMom said...

Oh, this makes me feel so much better...I thought (and felt guilty - just a little, not too much) that I was the only one who had turned her back on all/much of housework in order to sew. My minimal efforts these days are just to keep the cooking surfaces "food safe", give the bathroom and floors a lick and promise when company is coming, and more or less keep down the clutter.

My other big strategy, new this year, is to give up almost all yard work and vegetable gardening. Especially veg growing. As a friend pointed out, when our gardens start producing is when the farmers' markets open up. A nice division of labor...my local farmers can grow my veg and I can sew. Win-win!

Laceflower said...

My DH took over the house cleaning to give me sewing time, bless him BUT... there are things he never cleans so eventually it gets to me and I have to step in and clean the fridge shelves, the kitchen drawer and door faces and handles, the light fixtures and bulbs that are dusty and greasy and dust the wall heaters. I do spend a lot of time cooking because if I'm going to eat, it is going to be great. But 3 meals a day 7 days a week wear you down, alas.
My sewing ambitions outstrip my time limits so I always feel a bit frustrated on my lack of accomplishment of 'the mental list'. I need to let that go and enjoy what I'm doing in the moment.

SuzieB said...

Apparently I am oblivious to dirt but accumulated clutter drives me crazy - not that I do anything other than move it from one surface to another. How do you sewists store your sewing tools? Storage for anything is a problem at my house.

LinB said...

Dust does not worry about me.

Anonymous said...

Interesting! Back when our children were young my husband and I devised a plan where we cleaned madly Tuesday's and Friday's for 1.5 hours each. We followed a list and what didn't get done one time got done the next. Other than cooking, dishes and laundry the rest of the time we were free to have fun with the kids etc. The kids have since grown and although we don't clean with the same fury the strategy still works.

Liz Haywood said...

Housework? I just tell people we're renovating (still).
Last year I set up my sewing machine in the corner of our (unrenovated) kitchen, and find I can easily get a spot of sewing in when the mood takes me.
Just discovered your blog and enjoying the archives.

Judith Stansky said...

It's been a while since I've laughed out loud at a post, but you had me grinning at line one. I use a timer. If I can't get it done in fifteen minutes, oh well. I must stop and head into another room. The insanity of cleaning like this keeps me going. I also do laundry on cleaning days, just to mix things up a bit more. Have fun.