sewing with a plan: sewing project sketch with pencils

How to start sewing with a plan (hint, it’s never too late!)

I’ve got 9 days to pull off Halloween for Team Farr, and my sewing room is a tornado zone which reminds me that it’s never too late to start sewing with a plan.

Definitely a little planning will go a long way to help you in your sewing. A lot of our projects are big complicated puzzles. Without a roadmap, it’s easy to waste time or make big costly mistakes.

So here is how to start sewing with a plan. We’ll talk about the importance of sketching, shopping smart, writing out your steps and breaking those steps down so it makes sense. Scroll down to get a free printable I made to help you out with your own sewing planning!

Pinterest image: sewing with a plan with sketches and sewing planner pages

Sewing with a plan step 1: Sketch out your sewing plans

Before you start sewing with a plan, you need to get all your ideas down on paper. What’s the best way to do that? Sketch it out!

sewing with a plan: sewing project sketch with pencils

I can’t emphasize this enough. Draw out what it is that you want to sew. You don’t have to be an artist here. In fact, if you really stink at drawing, you can simply trace your pattern’s line drawing. There’s something about committing your plan to paper that’s going to help you make good decisions now that’ll keep your project moving forward.

Be sure to add a few colored pencils or watercolor or oil pastels into the mix in your sketches. Get as close as you can to the color the fabrics you’ll be using.

This little addition to your drawing can really help you troubleshoot, especially if you’re doing something like colorblocking where the placement of color will dramatically change the look of your final garment.

You can also label up your sketches with details you want to add or other ideas. Sketching=brainstorming time!

Sewing with a plan step 2: make a shopping list

Now is a good time to write out basic information like patterns you need, sizes and measurements as well as any notions and fabric requirements.

First write a list of all the things you need for your project.

What do you have it in your stash? If it’s in your stash, cross it off your main list. Post-it notes are my list-making tool of choice, but anything works here. You could even put your list on your phone’s notes app.

After you’ve gone through your stash, make up a final shopping list for everything you need and where you need to go to get it.

How to sew with a plan step 3: Gather your materials

Now it’s time to get all the things that you need.

Buy all the supplies that your sewing project requires. Also, organize all of the things that you need into one place in your sewing room.

There’s lots of ways you can do this. You can put everything you need for a project into a 2 gallon plastic bag, or baskets, or even a neat pile.

Do whatever works for you. The couch in my sewing room is often occupied with the next project. That couch is prime real estate for reading/hand sewing. I’m always extra motivated to finish up a project so I can get my couch back!

Get your sewing planner pages

sewing with a plan: sketches and sewing planner printable

You can grab the planner pages in the picture above for the newsletter. Join hundreds of others and get access to the growing Resource Library that houses not just the planner pages but other helpful sewing guides, tips, and exclusive content.

You can print out as many pages as you need for a project or a series of projects. They’ll go a long way in helping you stay organized in the middle of a big (or little) sewing project! Sign up for all that below.

Sign up for the newsletter and get your free printable sewing planner pages.

sewing with a plan: sketches and sewing planner printable

How to sew with a plan step 4: write out your steps

You might be asking yourself now, “Why would I bother writing out the steps when my sewing pattern has a perfectly fine guide sheet to tell me just that?!”

Ah, but guide sheets don’t always put sewing tasks in the best order or one that even makes sense. Writing your sewing steps down on a task list can help you start to figure out if there’s places where you can put different steps together that make more logical sense.

The other thing that you can do in this step is to star the steps that you will need extra help to finish.

Do a little research here. Write down the video URL, book title and page #, or blog post next to every * you have on your list that’s going to help you on this step.

Sewing with a plan step 5: Identify where you can build in some efficient sewing

You already have brainstormed some places where you can move steps around a little

Doing things like sewing as many seams as you can before you press can save you a whole lot of time in the end without sacrificing the quality of your sewing. There’s tons of other time saving sewing hacks in this Ultimate Guide to Sewing Efficiently.

So say you have princess seams on the front and back of a jacket as well as a two-piece sleeve. Sew all of these seams in one step instead of sewing one seam, pressing it, sewing the next seam. You can press all of the seams at the same time too!

If you have similar steps like these, highlight them on your task list from step 4 and do these first.

Are there really easy steps? Can you reorder them so that they’re in between longer, harder steps? Those easier steps can be a good break when you’re in the middle of some tougher sewing.

Put your sewing plan into action!

sewing with a plan: costume in progress with planner pages, paint and glue, and items to glue
Astrid in progress

The last thing you want to do when you’re sewing with a plan is to get working on it! After all, plans without action are just a waste of time.

Decide on how many of your steps you can do in a day or a sewing session. Those longer steps might just be 1 sewing session on their own. On the other hand, you may be able to bundle a whole mess load of smaller steps in a session.

Draw a line on your task list to make little divisions that break down your steps into manageable chunks.

If you want to take it a step further and build in a little accountability for yourself, write down a goal of how many task chunks you want to get through in a day.

I know I never would have made it through the behemoth task of my husband’s 10th Doctor Suit without my task list! The cutting list alone was enormous enough to make me want to break out into hives. Breaking it up and committing to a little bit every day made it a much more fun and less stressful sewing experience.

And that’s really what planning your sewing can do for you. Those extra couple of minutes that you spend getting your thoughts organized can take a lot of pressure off of you, so you’re freed up to enjoy your sewing.

What are your favorite ways to plan out your sewing?

Catch more sewing tips below…

2 thoughts on “How to start sewing with a plan (hint, it’s never too late!)”

  1. I don’t do this much advance planning, but I do journal while I am sewing or when I am stuck with no sew-jo, to keep track of where I am in my projects or reinvigorate myself. I also use red rope expandable file folders to corral my project materials so I can keep things in my sewing room organized. It ain’t perfect, but I have many fewer unfinished projects and am happier in my sewing room than before.

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