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I’ve mentioned here beforeΒ that I don’t have much time for sewing right now. I know that it’s a season in life, and that it will pass, but sometimes I do find myself frustrated at how little I can get done during the day. I had this idea of a baby who would take long naps, or hang out with me in a wrap or play seat while I sewed, worked, cooked or cleaned. I’m sure any experienced mothers who are reading this are having a good laugh at that idea!

I was in quite a funk about it the other day. I put Emmerich down for nap, and I knew I had exactly 30 minutes before he would pop up and call for me. I looked around my studio for something,Β anything, that I could sew right then and there. I eyed a baby quilt that I had pieced and basted right before we moved. I grabbed it, put a fresh needle in my machine, and used all of his nap times that day to quilt it. It was a tiny project, but my brain felt so relieved to have sewed something!

Em-Lap-QuiltIf only every project were like this. Everything cut and done and I just have to finish a few lines of stitching on it? Why yes, thank you, that’d be lovely. Put that stack of cut out shirts and dresses right over there, please.


I forgot how quick and satisfying straight line quilting can be. On my most recent quilts, I’ve been practicing some different free motion designs, but breaking out the walking foot was necessary to make this go faster and require less thinking. My sleep deprived brain can’t do free motion work right now!

Em-Lap-Quilt-BindingAnd did you think I was going to use my precious free time hand sewing on the binding? NOPE. I cut out single-fold tape and stitched it down with my trusty Bernina #10 Edgestitch foot.

Here’s the funny part about this quilt. It is sooo tiny! Apparently, I can’t do math when I’m pregnant. I had planned for this to be a floor quilt for the baby to play on. Well, my baby is 27.5″ long, so this quilt is not going to work! It’s about 38″ x 26″. What was I thinking?! Thankfully, he can use it as a lap quilt when we go for a chilly stroller ride to the park. I didn’t know what else I was going to do with it!

I’ve been making tiny piles of things I’d like to get started on. Some of them will likely be out of season by the time I’m done with them, but at least I’ll have them for our next cold spell! I have the loveliest chambrays to turn in Grainline Studio Archers, or maybe Sewaholic Granvilles.


But since it’s still cool out, I bet I could whip up a Grainline Linden over the course of a day or two. I have the softest, most luxurious knit I picked up at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store. I wish you could feel how squishy this is!


I have the pattern for this Jalie 3248 copied and ready to go. All I need is a little bit of a longer nap time so I can cut it out and have it ready to zip thru my serger. Those pockets will really come in handy for carrying my phone and a pacifier around.

Jalie3248FabricDo you have any ideas to help me fast-track my projects? I’m thinking I’ll spend one day cutting, another day sewing, and another one finishing, but I only have about 3 or 4 short 30 minute spurts to work with. Any ideas or tipsΒ that have helped you to sew like the wind?


  • It’s not a long term solution, but could you get a babysitter or friend to look after the baby for an hour or two while you sew? Just think how glorious it would be!!!

    • I second this! I bet you have lots of friends who would love to hold your gorgeous baby while you do a little work! πŸ™‚

      • Actually – this is a great idea! Since it was Mothers Day here last weekend, I asked my husband if I could just have some child free time to sew. Difficult if you are breastfeeding, but maybe someone could take him for a walk, bring him back for a feed and then take him away again? If you can bear that!!!

        • Aaahh- it hasn’t been Mother’s Day here yet, and now I think I know what I’m asking for! Yes, I do nurse him, so that’s never easy when it’s Rob’s turn to watch him and I have interruptions. But, I love the “bring him here, then take him back” idea! πŸ™‚ Haha- yes, I have a hard time resisting the little guy! What is it? I can spend every waking moment with him, but if he’s in the other room playing and I hear him laughing, I can hardly stay away.

      • Aw- thanks! Yes, people have offered, but that was when Em was in his not-so-fun-let’s-scream-and-cry-constantly newborn days. I refused to put anyone else thru that (why? I don’t know). Now that he’s fun though, I just need someone to offer who doesn’t work during the day! I’m hoping to find a sitter who can come over for a few hours a week. Otherwise, I have to wait until the neighbor girl is out of school for the summer and hire her!

    • It’s on my list to try to find someone who can come over for a few hours a week. We have a college campus near our house, so I’m hoping to find someone in Early Childhood Education (or some degree like that), but it is veeeery hard for me to think of handing him over to someone I don’t really know. It would be incredibly glorious though!

      • I bet it’s really hard to hand him to anyone! I was a nanny about 20 hrs a week in university, and it was great ’cause the parents were almost always home, and I’d just make dinner, play with the baby and 4 year old, and keep things rolling while they did their thing!

        • See? That’s what I want! I’d be here, but I could get my work, sewing and chores done while someone else watched Em. I have tried wearing him in a wrap and cleaning/doing yard work/cooking, but he gets sooo mad at me. I need to think of how I want to find this person. Any tips?

  • Emma

    Having a baby really changes your perspective of time, doesn’t it? πŸ™‚ My suggestion would be to break down each project into smaller time increments in your head: aim to just iron pattern pieces, or just baste on a zipper. Use feeding times to think through and plan out your projects. That way, when a free 15 minutes comes along, you are ready to dive in and get something done.

    • Oh, it does! I remember how I used to spend my mornings (morning was also 8 AM- HA!) lounging on the couch having my coffee for sometimes an hour. Why did I waste all that time?!

      I think that it’s a really good idea to break my sewing into smaller pieces. I’m so used to going right from start to finish that it’s hard for me to feel like I’m making any progress moving so slowly. I guess I don’t have a choice though! Using nursing times to think thru projects is genius! Thanks for the advice! πŸ™‚

  • Shirley Chirch

    Emma is right,breaking things down into smaller steps is definitely the way to go. I am a goal oriented person. I found that if my goals were smaller and reachable , that gave me the satisfaction that I needed at the end of the day to have accomplished something.

    • I agree that Emma is spot on. I hope that I can learn to feel accomplishment by getting even small parts of a project done. If I can really break it into tiny pieces though, and make maybe one small “step” a day my goal, I’ll feel much better about having gotten at least some sewing done. When I have time after Emmerich goes to bed at night, I usually feel too overwhelmed and tired to get anything done. If it’s a little step like doing a bit of ironing or sewing one or two seams though, I might actually start to make a dent in my sewing pile!

  • hayley

    I get more sewing done by focussing on one step at a time. So I don’t sit down and think, “I’m going to make a dress!”, I think, “I’m going to sew and press the shoulder seams”.

    I work piece by piece, as time allows, and it really does add up.

    I often think, “I’ll just see if this pattern fits on this fabric”, and if it does, I might come back later and cut it out. If I started by thinking, “I’m going to pull out some fabric, lay it out, smooth it, pin it, and cut out” I wouldn’t do it because it seems like too much. So focus on the next step and the next step only.

    • See- I think that’s my problem. I think of sewing as “make this entire project RIGHT NOW” instead of “do a little bit here and there until it’s done”. From everyone’s advice, I think I need to adopt your way of getting some sewing done. It’s the only way it will ever happen!

      I will try to “focus on the next step and the next step only” this week. That is sage advice! πŸ™‚

  • Elana

    I don’t have kids so I don’t have any sage wisdom to offer. But while reading this I was so excited that you got to make something during nap time, like beyond happy for you. Your tiny quilt is beautiful and I wish you more productive nap time sewing in the future!

    • Awww- thanks, Elana! I felt so happy once it was done. I’d forgotten how therapeutic sewing is for me. The hum of my machine instantly puts me at ease, no matter how stressed I’ve become throughout the day. Here’s to more successful sneaky nap sewing! πŸ˜‰

  • Well done on managing some sewing! I remember that relief and pleasure!!! I think that just breaking projects down into 30-40 min slots is probably the best way to go. And remember, he’ll probably be fine for another 10 mins after he’s woken (I tend to leave my baby a good half hour sometimes if he’s happy enough – especially at 6am – but then he’s 10 months and I think yours is quite a bit younger). And your little quilt will make a perfect blanket for his teddy/picnic blanket for his toys as he grows bigger.

    • I think I’d better go for 20 minute steps. I do have to give myself time to get set up and put things away again before he wakes up (or the cat will get into everything).

      I wish Em would be fine for 10 mins after he wakes! Unfortunately, he is usually quite unhappy directly after a nap, perhaps because his nap was so short! I do leave him as long as I can in the morning though (5AM- ugh!). Oh, someday he’ll learn sleep is amazing.

      What a sweet idea of it being a teddy picnic blanket! It’s working well as a lap quilt for his stroller, but he’s so squirmy that he tends to kick it off a lot.

  • I think you already have a good idea for a plan with a cutting, sewing & finishing day. When Lucas started napping longer, I used that time to copy/stick together patterns & cut out fabric, sewing while he slept never worked. I got sewing time when I sent the hubby & son off to spend the day with my in-laws πŸ™‚

    • Oh if I could send the baby and husband off to a grandparent’s house, that would be great! Unfortunately, that would take them flying in an airplane all day! I think I’m going to pick a project, and write out the steps that need to be done for it to get done. That way I can be satisfied when I get a small step done, AND I can cross something off a list. Double win!

      • Can’t you send them out for some father/son bonding time & you can have some quality time in your studio? πŸ˜‰ The only other sewing time I get is if I sew when I should be studying the days I’m not in school & Lucas is at nursery.

  • ellen

    You know, I am sure I was never as crafty as you, but my kids never stopped me. Kids learn the routine. Early on I put them in their carseat next to me and they just loved “seeing” me and the vibration of the table. Then there was the baby swing….wow, what a live saver that was! And finally, for the 6-12 mo old there was the baby walker, now banned, literally because mom’s could ignore them and kids were getting in trouble. like falling down a flight of stairs. I bought mine at a garage sale (as it was already banned) and my kids happily lived-in it while I puttered away. There must be something out there these days, not banned that gives them “freedom” and develops muscles….jolly jumper perhaps (for some reason not my kids’ favourite)….new moms, what are you using to craft away?? Maybe the answer isn’t in how to accomplish in a short time, but how to happily include Emmerich. πŸ™‚

    • Emmerich has a little activity/bouncer seat that a friend gave to us. I’m hoping that once he has a little bit more control over his body, he’ll play with it while I sew. I’m not giving up hope! He’s already too long for an infant car seat, and he’s outgrown the baby bouncer seats too. He’s just so long! We have a doorway jumper, but he’s not quiiiite there yet to use it.

      I think I should keep trying with him though. I gave up having him in the room with me while I sew, but perhaps now that he can entertain himself for a bit of time, I should give it a go again. Besides, I want him to grow up thinking sewing is cool and fun! πŸ™‚

      • Melanie Reasoner

        My baby is 1 now and he LOVES sewing. In fact his favorite spot is sitting at my machine, on my lap/ in my way, pushing the reverse lever on my turned off machine lol the challenges are different at every stage. He went from short bursts of sleep to one long nap and that’s helped but makes it so hard to stop when almost finished with something! Ive been cutting at night, assembling by day which seems to be working and has eliminated the “oh I’ll just do one more seam” sleep deprivation I got myself into lol. I’m so excited to see your blog-I heard about you on a facebook sewing group and was ecstatic to learn you’re from Portland like me!

        • Aww! That’s so cute! I hope the Emmerich loves sewing someday. I took him to Mill End this morning, and he had a lot of fun looking at and touching the different fabrics. I’m hoping he’ll always think that a trip the fabric store is fun! πŸ˜‰

          I have been working on getting tiny parts of projects done during his naps (which thankfully are a bit longer these days). I think I’m going to try to get lots of things cut out and stored in bags, so I can grab them and start sewing when he goes to sleep. By the end of the day, I’m too tired to sew much, so I need to get as much done during the day as I can!

          That’s so fun you’re also in Portland! Hello, neighbor! πŸ™‚

  • Ahhhh, not having time for myself was/is the hardest thing about being a mom! I tend to do all of my sewing at night after my girls are in bed, but I’ve had to set a bed time for myself otherwise I’ll stay up way too late (and be a grouchy mommy the next day!) Now that they are older(4 & 7) I can do little bits during the day. The Linden goes quick- I bet you could cut it one day and sew it the next! In the fall both girls will be in school and I will have time for myself during the day- it will be GLORIOUS πŸ™‚

    • I keep telling myself I’ll sew at night, but after he goes to bed (at 7PM) and we make/eat dinner, I’m pooped! I go to bed by 9:00PM most nights, because he still wakes up once or twice to nurse, and is up for the day between 5-7AM. I am dyyyyiiing for the night wakings to stop so I will feel like I can stay up a bit longer.

      The Linden has been #1 on my list for a while now. This fabric is seriously so amazing, I just want to wear it! I have the fabric pre-washed and the pattern traced, so I should probably pop that on my cutting table.

      How lucky that the girls will be in school! That means that you’ll have free time to come babysit for me! Yeeeaaahhhh! πŸ˜‰ Hahaha!

      • I would totally come play with that little guy πŸ™‚ My girls were never good at naps, but hopefully he will settle into a nice long afternoon nap when he gets a little older.

        I have that Pendleton knit in black and cream, it is so soft!

        • I will totally have you come play with him! And use my sewing machines while you’re here, okay? They are gathering a little too much dust these days.

          I have my fingers crossed that longer naps happen once he’s more mobile and can wear himself out. I heard someone complaining that their baby “just sleeps alllll the time”, and it took a lot of self control to not shoot lasers out of my eyes at her.

  • Ja Za

    I was in the same boat you are in…the only sewing I seemed to do was small repairs. It left me unsatisfied. after about many months of hiatus, I set up my machines in my home office. Previously I packed everything up as the little one (2 years) pulled off every knob, spring, spool holder every piece that could be removed from my vintage 50’s singer. Once I had everything set up, I dedicated the nights to projects. While my child slept, I stayed up and got lost in my sewing wonderland. I did lose a lot of sleep, and it did catch up to me, but I realized that, for me, having so much uninterrupted time allowed me to pattern make, cut, and sew in one fell swoop. Recently, I pattern made, cut and sewed a dress for her 5th birthday. I still get my best work done at night, uninterrupted.

    • I have a really great sewing space, so I’m lucky to not have to pack everything up like you used to have to do. I will be sure to put a baby gate across the door as my little guy starts to crawl, and I’ll be locking the door when he’s old enough to figure out getting in there!

      I have tried to do a bit of night sewing, but I’m usually so wiped out that all I want to do is sit down and relax. I also go to bed really early because he still wakes up quite a few times at night (and often wakes at 5AM- ouch!). Hopefully in the next few months he will start sleeping thru the night, so that I can sew and feel like staying up past 9:00pm!

  • cecile

    That is a beautiful little quilt !
    My kids are in school all day now, but when they were babies, I would cut patterns one day, another time cut fabric, and then start sewing since on another day. I did not have a sewing room, either, so I needed to put everything away and out again each time, that did not help. But soon he will play close to you while you sew… time goes fast.

    • Thank you, Cecile!

      That’s how I’ve been trying to work, doing a bit of cutting here, and little sewing there, maybe ironing in the evening. I actually was able to finish a project this way, which I hope to post about very soon. Take what little sewing time you can get, right? πŸ™‚ I’ll be very glad when he can play by me while I sew, but I’m also trying to soak up his short time of being a baby while he’s still small(ish). He is growing so quickly, I just can’t believe it!

  • Holly Lange

    I just bought your Craftsy class on Beginner Serging, and I’m so excited. I know exactly how you feel about not having the time. We are a military family that just relocated back to Ft. Lewis, WA, and I have 3 small children, ages 5, 3, and 1. I try to wake up early in the morning or stay up past their bedtime to get parts of projects completed. But, sometimes I’m so exhausted that it doesn’t happen. Nap time for my youngest is usually it for me too. For this reason, I switched from doing extensive quilting projects to garment sewing for my daughter and myself. The time commitment is less and I feel so much better when I finish a project! Best of luck to you! And, that knit does look very soft πŸ™‚

    • Wow- 5, 3 and 1? And you get some sewing done? You are my HERO. I can barely get any done with just one child, I’m so tired after he goes to bed! I have been doing a little bit here and there when he takes naps, but a lot of the time he still doesn’t nap more than 30 minutes. That gives me time to just get cozy in my sewing room before he wakes up! Doing little bits and pieces here and there seems to help though, so at least I’m making SOMETHING. πŸ™‚ I hope you have fun in my Craftsy class!

      • Holly Lange

        It’s crazy because I just HAVE to sew. Completing a project is my own little happiness! Like my Grandmother said, you usually can find time for the things you want to do, and she was so right! When do you offer classes? I’d love to come down sometime for one! Thanks Amy!

        • I think your Grandmother was right! I need to be better about how I chose to spend the little free time I have so I can sew some more. I’m so much happier when I am making something! However, running a business on the side too takes up quite a bit of time and brain power. Hopefully I can find a good balance soon.

          I’m not teaching in-person at the moment. I have had some classes brewing in my mind that I would like to teach, and I’ll be sure to write a post when I get back to it. I’m still not quite there yet though! πŸ™‚