The Scientific Sewing Enjoyment Chart

I am back in my sewing room, and starting on a new project. Hooray! But I have to confess that while I love sewing, there are certain aspects that fill me with the opposite of joy.

I’m talking about cutting out.

I hate and despise doing this. Everything from ironing the fabric, to lining up grainlines (urgh) to drawing on dart lines (double urgh), makes me wonder why I do this stupid hobby in the first place.

Obviously there are other parts of sewing that I do like, or I wouldn’t be writing this blog. So I’ve made this handy chart as a guide to the different stages of sewing, and my enjoyment levels for each one:

sssec

Here’s the breakdown:

  • Planning – 100%: My favourite part. I can spend hours leafing through Burda magazines and draping bits of fabric over myself whilst squinting into the mirror.
  • Cutting out – 0%: As discussed, a low point.
  • First seam: – 70%: “Yeah! I’m actually sewing! This is great! It’s going to be perfect!”
  • Halfway through – 50%: Things have started to go wrong, enthusiasm for the project is waning.
  • Finishing off – 30%: “Oh man, I totally messed up the collar/zip/sleeves, and I still have to hem it/make belt loops/do 12 buttonholes?!” (this is often when project gets fatally stalled).
  • All done! – 80%: A moderate high. Start to plan the first time I’ll wear the new garment.
  • First wear – 70%: 10 minutes of smugness followed by 8 hours of noticing all the fitting mistakes.
  • First compliment – 110%: SUCCESSMakes it all worthwhile when you can bust out the classic  ‘Actually I made it myself’..

One thing I’ve noticed is that any creative effort goes through similar stages. Even writing an essay (or a blog post). The idea in your head always seems better than the finished result, and preparation always seems to be the most painful and difficult part.

Do you have similar likes and dislikes when it comes to sewing? Or are there people out there who totally love cutting out patterns?

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75 thoughts on “The Scientific Sewing Enjoyment Chart

  1. LinB October 21, 2013 / 5:02 PM

    Cutting out is the invention of the Devil. But, suffer through it we must, or else nothing to sew together, duh. I tend to steel myself to the dreaded task, then cut out 8-10 (or more) projects at a time. I leave marking darts, etc. until the time I actually work on the garment, for the most part. That way, the misery is mitigated a little bit, as I spread it out over the weeks (well, okay, sometimes years, sigh) that it will take me to get the project machine-ready. Since many of my projects are all cut from the same cloth, to get whole matching wardrobe units, I do end up railroading several projects through the machine at the same time, to be efficient with thread color, and to save myself from having to remember how to match top-stitching details across several projects. So, after cutting out, sometimes marking is also an Herculean task. All worth it for the sheer mindless bliss of feeding seam after seam through the machine.

  2. Steph October 5, 2013 / 3:44 PM

    I just found your blog (not sure how) and want to say how much I enjoy it! I don’t mind cutting out per se, although I have a tough time getting started on any project these days. I agree also that the planning and dreaming stage is a delight!

    • yesilikethat October 7, 2013 / 10:39 AM

      Thank you so much! I am also experiencing a sewing block, wish I had more time…

  3. Pauline October 4, 2013 / 4:36 PM

    I love the chart! I’ve recently started sewing my own clothes and you are one of my inspirations. I don’t mind cutting out, but I find picking the right fabric really difficult. You’re right about the last bit. I have made 3 garments so far, all have their faults, but I love wearing them and when they’re admired…that’s a win!

    • yesilikethat October 7, 2013 / 10:40 AM

      Wow, thanks Pauline! It’s easy to find fault but then you realise most people don’t notice the same mistakes as you 🙂

  4. ZoSews October 4, 2013 / 11:58 AM

    This is GOLD! I’m going to stick it on my wall lol! Cutting out is the pits.

  5. Niki, unifiedspace October 4, 2013 / 8:35 AM

    Haha! This made me laugh as despite not being a sewer, I love to cook and there are tasks like lining tins, sieving icing sugar, peeling mangoes which I really do not like doing but when it comes to joining up the ingredients, boy, what fun and the finishes result is normally not bad at all. I think I can relate to your sewing ups and downs via cooking.

  6. sonia October 3, 2013 / 8:36 PM

    oh! I thought I was the only person who got halfway through and felt that sad wane of enthusiasm “oh, this is never going to fit right!!” Luckily I finish everything but a lot of my makes get offered up to friends…

  7. sewsleepy October 3, 2013 / 6:39 PM

    I really love the graph and it has made me start thinking about which parts i like and which i don’t like about the whole process. For me, I like cutting out if i am using a rotary cutter. I also like easing sleeves when it works. I really don’t like pressing so sometimes don’t, even though I know i am sabotaging my own work. odd really

  8. gingermakes October 3, 2013 / 2:21 PM

    AHAHAHAHA! This is hilarious! I hate hate hate cutting, too– it’s so fiddly and precise and I feel like my fabrics are never really on-grain and straightening them is a bit of a horror show. I DON’T recommend mass cutting, though– I cut out 4 or 5 projects at once, and not one of them is finished. It sort of sucked all my energy and created a big mess that took me two evenings to clean up. Yuck!

  9. Lisa October 2, 2013 / 10:01 PM

    Very cool visualisation of the process! I used to hate cutting too, mainly because it always takes up more time than you think. I adjusted my expectations after timing myself a couple of times. It takes at least an hour, even with the simple projects. Since I know this I am not so disappointed by the amount of stuff you can get done in an hour. My favourite part is definitely the first few seams. And getting through difficult techniques without too much trouble. Setting in sleeves is a definite low, but I like buttonholes. Fun to think about this. 🙂

  10. Rosie Martin October 2, 2013 / 7:36 PM

    I love this graph and my curves are pretty similar to yours. Planning is THE BEST. I actually enjoy cutting out as I don’t have to think yet, can listen to the radion and still think about the wondrous think that is definitely about to be created. My low is definitely finishing off – I just cannot truly be bothered, though I have to so I do. Boooooooring!

    More sewing science please, it’s great! xx

    • yesilikethat October 3, 2013 / 1:25 PM

      If you have any suggestions, let me know! 🙂 I realised yesterday that I never know how I really feel about a project until it’s all finished. Often I totally hate it and then love it after I’ve worn it a few times…

  11. joellestlaurent October 2, 2013 / 5:48 PM

    haha i’m exactly the same! this really cracked me up 🙂 the best thing i know is sitting on the floor in my sewing room and pair fabric and patterns, over and over and over…. i always have piles of fabric/patterns everywhere

  12. Zoe October 2, 2013 / 4:51 AM

    So true. I pick out my pattern and fabric and then the thought of cutting it all out sends the pattern and fabric scurrying back to where they came from. My family is suitably unimpressed when I ask if they will cut it out for me.

  13. Blue Sunday October 1, 2013 / 10:01 PM

    What an awesome post! A friend of mine and I were talking a while ago about how we both despise cutting out. Especially me because I have to cut out and trace the pattern so that I can make adjustments. She has a method that I have adopted and for me it stretches out my sewing time thus stretches out my enjoyment time. She cuts her next few projects all at once. I am currently following this method and I find I am really enjoying my sewing time a lot more because once I finish one item I can move right along to the next one. Though my cutting time has increased (cutting out 4 patterns at once). I have four lovely projects to focus on before I have to do that horrible cutting again! 🙂

    I really enjoy your blog!

    • yesilikethat October 2, 2013 / 8:41 AM

      Thank you so much! That’s made my day 🙂

      I must try cutting out several projects at once. It seems like a good plan. I do try to do cutting out, interfacing, and changing my overlocker thread colour all on one day, so all the boring tasks are done. I almost never cut out and sew on the same day, the prep work is so draining! Ha ha.

  14. babygreens October 1, 2013 / 4:28 PM

    Excellent! Facings do me in every time. So fiddly, and never seem to fit quite right. As soon as I can I’m going to give them up and line everything instead. I also hate the time when a dress is hanging ready to be hemmed, shouting all it’s minor flaws at me.

  15. Eva October 1, 2013 / 4:16 PM

    Dude this is just spot on! You only left out the ‘hand finishing after three months of garment lingering in closet unworn’, another low for me. I try to leave the cutting for a time when I cannot be bothered taking out the machine etc., but have just enough energy after a day of work to do something sewing related. Also radio/audiobooks help a lot for me with those dreadful tasks (there are so many! It really is a paradox).

    • yesilikethat October 2, 2013 / 8:49 AM

      Me too, nothing better than listening to a podcast while cutting out. It gets too noisy when I start sewing.

  16. Sarah - Fabric Tragic October 1, 2013 / 1:25 PM

    Haha, I was just telli someone the other day that I have a pathological addiction to the high of planning of new garments, including knitting even though I’m a total knitting beginner. But sometimes I think of all the things I want to make and how I won’t have time and I get stressed! Idiot! I hate hemming. It’s at the end but it bores me to tears! Don’t mind the cutting so much!

  17. Saskia Liebenberg (@SaskiaLieb) October 1, 2013 / 12:50 PM

    I agree with your chart 100%! I think the reason I despite cutting out so much (besides the enormous hassle it is to lay everything out flat etc) is that you can’t really do anything about it if you’ve made a massive mistake. Seams can be unpicked, zips can be reinserted and you can fiddle here and there to adjust the fit, but if you’ve cut something out too small or on the wrong side of the fabric (ahem) you are doomed. Doomed, I tell you. The fear of that always makes me stall.

  18. Zoe October 1, 2013 / 10:49 AM

    I totally love your graph too! I have to say though I enjoy the cutting out bit. Flipping hate most elements from 25% finished until the end. Why do we do this hobby again?! xxx

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 11:17 AM

      It’s weird how much I love sewing, but hate so many parts of it! ha ha.

  19. Miss Demeanour October 1, 2013 / 9:14 AM

    Hehe I think it’s the latent scientist in me that loves a graph and I love your graph! I concur my dear on the halfway stage for sure. Weirdly though I actually like tracing and cutting even if it is a bit of a faff. But when I was at the halfway stage with the Simplex and realised the darts would need more altering and I needed to take the bodice off the skirt I nearly threw the whole lot out of the window. Fortunately, I took a step back and watched super scrimpers and returned to the project the following day and now it’s the most complimented things I’ve ever worn. Along with knitting I think sewing is finally teaching me patience and for someone who is a life long leaper it’s a good skill.

    I also totes agree on the planning stage. In my head right now I’ve got the most amazing wardbrobe evs and I’m totes jealous of myself 😀

    Happy sewing poptart,

    xxx

    • Zoe October 1, 2013 / 10:46 AM

      Hehehe! You have the most amazing wardrobe IRL too! xxx

  20. Scruffy badger October 1, 2013 / 6:05 AM

    Very good!! Love it! I have a mini mega low point….cutting out interfacing! That’s my ‘ oh no, can’t start sewing yet cos I’ve got to unpin the facing patterns, pin onto the interfacing and cut those pieces out …again!’

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:23 AM

      Interfacing things is SO boring, and fiddly too.

    • Dorothy February 18, 2014 / 2:56 PM

      Just lay the interfacing under the fashion fabric as you cut those pieces – folded, adhesive side it, then you can do it at the same time. You need to buy the wide interfacing.

  21. Pam October 1, 2013 / 3:58 AM

    GAWD…the cutting isn’t half as bad as trying to cover all the pattern adjustments….I despise this part of the process! (totally relative to my lack of confidence, but I still hate it 🙂

  22. Andrea October 1, 2013 / 3:52 AM

    Man, my chart is even more of a roller coaster than this. I hate laying out pattern pieces to cut, but like cutting them, but hate marking them. I am elated during the initial stages of major construction, like shoulder seams, side seams, skirt to bodice — but start to feel dread for the fiddlier bits like collars and cuffs. I like topstitching but not understitching (?!). I like sewing buttonholes but hate opening buttonholes and sewing on buttons under them. I hate pressing up hems but love sewing hems. I hate taking blog photos and editing them, and get so nervous hitting “Publish…” but that first comment is pure joy.

    I sound insane.

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:22 AM

      I feel exactly the same! Why is understitching so boring? I don’t like sewing buttonholes though I agree that sewing on buttons is the worst.

  23. :: Tía Cuervito :: October 1, 2013 / 3:30 AM

    I’m not a big fan either. But if I’m going to go through that pain, I plan ahead and prepare the patterns for three or four garments, cut them all at once and then I have a lasting supply of projects waiting for me in my sewing table.

    Of course the bad side of this is that once the ‘sewist block’ hits, it messes up those three or four projects…or you have a pile of UFO’s stuck between the halfway through and finishing up stages, which can last forever : (

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:21 AM

      I keep meaning to do this, it sounds like a good idea, although it takes me so long to cut out one project I normally have to have a little sit down at the end. I never cut out and sew on the same day, I find the preparation process so draining! 🙂

  24. emily September 30, 2013 / 11:23 PM

    Yes! Exactly my mental process too! It’s exhausting all those highs and lows!
    Although I would add the weird way that time seems to slow down so that it feels like the cutting out stage takes up about 70% of the overall time spent on the project. Urg.

  25. yosami September 30, 2013 / 11:00 PM

    Haha, I love this! Totally agree with all of this except I’m still waiting for my compliments! I also have a shameful secret and confession about cutting out! My husband is an engineer and is a whizz at doing the patterns and cutting out precisely and I’m really sloppy and it irritates him so I trade in all sorts of favours to get him to do it! He can make up patterns from scratch and would make a fantastic pattern designer but unfortunately has no interest in sewing whatsoever! I also hate the finishing off stages and cut as many corners as I can. i nearly always stitch in the ditch and I have machine stitched many hems that would have been far nicer had they been hand stitched.

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:20 AM

      Wow! That sounds like the perfect marriage. I feel like my husband would be the same if I could get him interested in sewing, although he’s a bit of a perfectionist, it would probably take him twice as long to cut out but everything would be just-so.

      I also am a huge fan of stitching in the ditch and machine sewing hems. Hand-sewing is really not for me.

  26. alisonrea September 30, 2013 / 10:45 PM

    This is hilarious, so right, love it!

  27. Marie September 30, 2013 / 10:10 PM

    Hehe, you’re so spot on with this…it’s exactly how I feel!

  28. Kirsty September 30, 2013 / 9:06 PM

    Exactly!!!!!

  29. Kari B September 30, 2013 / 8:34 PM

    Last night I was sewing (well, cutting) and thinking, why doesn’t anyone blog about how much it sucks to cut things out?? It is NOT FUN, is it? Also, the minute I finish something and put it on, if I don’t get a compliment within the first half hour of wearing it I get super depressed. I think, my ideas are all awful, I’m never sewing anything again! Then I do get a compliment and suddenly I’m in love again. What a roller coaster! That graph just cracked me up 🙂

    I also agree with Emmie: interfacing makes me shudder.

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:19 AM

      I’m the same! If nobody says anything about my new garment I always get very low. Silly really!

  30. flossiejamieson September 30, 2013 / 8:19 PM

    ha! I’m with Emmie – at the cutting out stage, I am still in fantasy land and day dreaming that it will all go swimmingly and that I will manage to make a delightful garment without any cock ups or depressingly bad fit moments. Am currently at this stage with a rather complicated dress (Leanne Marshall 1877 – not complicated for many, but definitely for me!) and I know I shouldn’t do anything beyond cutting out without my mum on hand to help. So I can say that without her assistance, my enjoyment levels would be on one steady decline down to zero.

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:18 AM

      Good luck with your cutting out!

  31. Sheree September 30, 2013 / 8:18 PM

    Your chart did make me smile! I would never have thought of that in a million years, but I agree with you in most aspects. The planning for me is high up in the pleasure stakes, especially the actual shopping for fabric. Crazy as it sounds, I am often happy to buy the fabric, put it away without making anything and then get drawn into the next fabric shopping expedition. Reading blogs (enjoyable as they are) doesn’t help me as I am always thinking about the NEXT thing. Am I a lost cause??? I should add that I do finish things – eventually.

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:17 AM

      I emphathise heavily with this, shopping for fabric fits into the planning stage and that’s always the most fun.

  32. Donna September 30, 2013 / 8:09 PM

    I love this and I defnitely relate!

  33. Simona (@draculashbv) September 30, 2013 / 8:00 PM

    Waw you actually took time to quantify it! if I really think of it, I am in the same boat as you!

  34. Jo September 30, 2013 / 7:05 PM

    brilliant!

  35. LK September 30, 2013 / 6:40 PM

    Spot on!

  36. soisewedthis September 30, 2013 / 6:32 PM

    haha, love your graph! i don’t mind the cutting so much, but i think the finishing up, esp. hemming, is my least favorite part. i always put that off and i’m never sure my dress hems are perfectly straight and at that point i’ve already started planning my next project and i just want to be finished! and i’d add “taking blog photos” as 0%. that’s one of my least favorite things to do and i always put it off

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:16 AM

      Good point, I missed out the whole blogging part, including nagging my husband to take photos and then having to edit them all and upload them…

  37. Layla September 30, 2013 / 6:28 PM

    Haha I guffawed out loud at this! Soooo true. Cutting is not as mind numbingly awful as interfacing though- i’d sometimes rather just throw thing away than interface little pieces. Also finishing is lower on my list….hemming, god thats a bore and always ends up pretty rubbish. The first compliment though….ahhhh it makes it all worth it!!

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:15 AM

      Hemming is the worst! My hems are always uneven.

  38. busyellebee September 30, 2013 / 5:51 PM

    I get nervous about cutting fabric for fear of messing up a lovely piece of material. I love making darts (I know weird!), I suppose because it’s technical and I like technical things. I find it annoying when I have stop half way due to non-sewing matters getting in the way, but apart from that, sewing is usually a fun and relaxing hobby – well as long as the bobbin is still full LOL 🙂

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:15 AM

      I like making darts but I really hate tracing markings onto fabric, probably because I haven’t really found a good way to do it yet. Agree that sewing is fun and relaxing, I just think the fun and relaxation parts are spread out pretty unevenly! 🙂

  39. fionaparker17 September 30, 2013 / 5:34 PM

    This is brilliant and so perfectly true! I really struggle with those little moments during construction when you realise you’re not 100% happy with one part, trying to push through and muster up a similar type of enthusiasm that you had at the start of the project is really hard when how you dreamt the project would turn out clearly isn’t going to quite match the reality anymore!

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:14 AM

      Things always look so much nicer in your mind than in reality! Unfortunately you can’t wear ‘mind clothes’…

  40. Béa September 30, 2013 / 5:12 PM

    Wow- you read my mind and charted it scientifically!

    Except possibly you underestimated the value for the First Compliment.

  41. ParisGrrl September 30, 2013 / 5:11 PM

    Pattern layout bores holes in my brains. The actual cutting, that’s not so bad. But the layout planning/pattern matching? ugh.

  42. Maryall September 30, 2013 / 5:04 PM

    Oh, and I was so low thinking there’s something wrong with myself because there are moments during my sewing that i feel so little motivated to do things! (as in finishings! ugh!) But I do like tracing/cutting, because I begin seeing the shape of the outfit! And yes, putting that piece of clothing on, and receiving compliments is worth all the trouble with the finishings! Love the chart! 🙂

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:14 AM

      I don’t know what it is but there’s always that weird mental block about finishing something off…

  43. Emmie September 30, 2013 / 4:48 PM

    I actually enjoy cutting out – it’s still the exciting stage when nothing has gone wrong yet! But more so since I got my rotary cutter!
    I’m almost the same as you with the other stages though! My 0% would be doing any interfacing. I don’t know why but I have a mental block about that! and the finishing off would be lower too! I suck at finishing off..

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:13 AM

      Agree that a rotary cutter makes it a whole lot more enjoyable, but I still don’t like it. Interfacing is the worst, forgot to include that stage. What a drag.

  44. shivani September 30, 2013 / 4:46 PM

    Great graph! Does cutting out include tracing? because I can’t decide which of those two I hate most. Followed by second fitting (first fitting is fine – it’s just the second fitting, when the adjustments seem to cause some other problem – that can make me want to walk away from the whole thing).

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:13 AM

      I am bad and hardly ever trace patterns, but it would include that too. I don’t mind tracing so much because I can normally do it on our table, which is too small for cutting, so I always end up kneeling on the floor getting dusty.

  45. crab&bee September 30, 2013 / 4:42 PM

    Ha! This is great. I agree that all stages of a sewing project aren’t created equal. I find researching patterns to be a lot of fun, but matching fabric with a pattern is really stressful. And pattern tracing is a drag. I will, however, say that the cutting phase is one of my favorites. It makes the project real in my mind!

    • Sally {thequirkypeach} October 1, 2013 / 1:58 AM

      How weird! I was going to literally say the exact same thing! I get totally stressed pairing patterns and fabric, like, what if this isn’t the best use of this fabric? Or is this pattern right? Haha – and I don’t mind cutting – actually since I got a rotary cutter, it is definitely one of my favorites also 🙂 But I really love your graph – totally spot on with the construction process!

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:12 AM

      I also have this anxiety – I always buy fabric for one particular project, then decide it’s way too special to use for whatever my first idea was. Then I get worried about matching it up to the perfect pattern.

  46. Anne-Rose September 30, 2013 / 4:33 PM

    That chart is really awesome!!

    I don’t really mind cutting out, but I have to be in the right mood for it. Cutting something out means I have actually started on a project, which is a positive thing in my world. I usually stall at the muslin stage, when I can’t get the fit just right or when I’m just not sold on my original idea anymore. This year I have learnt to press ahead, as nothing ever gets done otherwise, which is more frustrating in the end – sewing really makes me happy!

    • yesilikethat October 1, 2013 / 8:11 AM

      It’s true, it’s always best to press ahead and try and sort out whatever’s wrong, it can be disheartening though!

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