Twenty Minutes, Every Day: The 20 Minute Sewing Challenge


Getting started is the hardest part they say. Getting started on something you don’t want to do, are scared to do, or know is going to be hard to do is even harder. And doing something you know you need to do but don’t think you have time to do is never started. It just keeps getting put off until later.

When I realized I needed to sew for fun in order to stay sane I didn’t think I had the time for such self-indulgence. I kept putting off what I needed and I kept feeling worse. Impulsively, I guess I had had it, I set a challenge to sew for 20 minutes, every day, for the next 30 days. When I worded this as a challenge, instead of as doing something for myself, I took it seriously. And after hearing it in my head, sew for 20 minutes, every day, I felt both excited and relieved. No longer could I make excuses to postpone the activity that I knew, deep down, I needed to do.

No longer could I tell myself I was too busy doing more important things because there were 20 minutes in my day somewhere to sew. Not everything I do all day is important. 😉 And it wasn’t 20 minutes of sewing important, my-self-worth-is-based-on-the-outcome, projects it was 20 minutes of sewing for fun. Not a challenging garment, or planning and sewing a capsule wardrobe, or even sewing something blog worthy.

Just 20 minutes of sewing something I wanted to sew or cutting out fabric or ripping out stitches or pressing and prepping whatever the next step was. That’s all I had to do but I had to do it every day. Because I didn’t have to put aside hours each day to have a project completed in a week there would still be time for other responsibilities. And at the end of the 20 minutes, I could walk away if I had something else to do or if I wasn’t into it.

The first day of my challenge wasn’t the joy-fest I thought it would be. I couldn’t decide what to sew, what to start on. I was, honestly, watching the clock which is why I had set a timer. “You need to stay. You might want to focus. Just go ahead and resign yourself to being in the sewing room for the remaining 10 minutes.” And with that resignation, I relaxed and didn’t worry about choosing the “right” project.

Sure enough, on the work table, under paper and fabric, laid an unfinished, barely started project. Why not finish this? Ding, the timer went off and I stayed where I was, in the middle of familiarizing myself with the pieces and instructions of my unfinished Trail Tote bag. As the days of sewing for fun racked up the motivation problem disappeared. No timer was necessary.

When you know you are going to sew every day, even if it’s just for a little bit of time, there is no nagging yourself to get a project done and no guilt for ignoring a project. It doesn’t get ignored. During the challenge, sewing was no longer the all or nothing activity I tend to make it. My days had a nice balance of sewing and writing and house task and family. This is what productive people must do. Not wait for hours to open up on their schedule to get a project done but plug away on it every day while still leaving time for their other responsibilities. Eventually, the projects are finished; day by day, step by step. Done.

My projects got done too and many of them ended up being blog worthy but the idea was to take any pressure for a perfect outcome off of me or the project and to enjoy the process of sewing. What do they say? It’s not the destination but the journey. I enjoyed my journey it was restorative (and productive).

I didn’t make it into the sewing room every day in November, I missed four, but I sewed 26 days. Day after day 20 minutes adds up to things getting done, to time for recharging, to a sense of well-being, and on more days than not I went over the 20 minutes because it’s getting started that’s the hardest part.

Try The 20 Minute Sewing Challenge and tell us how it went
set your own challenge
What do you want to do more of? Set a daily challenge for thirty days to do more of the thing you enjoy. Remember that getting started is the hardest step so set a timer if you have to. For more motivation why not get friends to join you? Everyone can take on the same challenge or individual challenges. Set up a secret Facebook group so you can support and cheer each other on.

September 2017 Update: Bella Jae found this post spoke to her. Check out her video

6 Comments on Twenty Minutes, Every Day: The 20 Minute Sewing Challenge

  1. Gloria Rodrigues
    January 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm (1 year ago)

    Thank you so much for this idea! I had a detached retina and had surgery 3 weeks ago, my eyesight is only good in one eye and it could take months for my eye to recover. I have been wanting to get back in my sewing room but I know it won’t be easy! I going to try this to get started!

    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      January 18, 2017 at 1:20 pm (1 year ago)

      Godspeed on your recovery. But yes, things we are afraid we’re not going to be good at require something extra to get us started. And really, once you get started you’ll probably keep going or maybe a short amount of time sewing is perfect for your recovering eyesight.

  2. Bushra
    January 18, 2017 at 10:53 pm (1 year ago)

    It was really encouraging n motivating. Ppl like me who want 2 sew but can’t sit for hours on sewing machines due to a busy house wife.thanks.20 mins ides is great

    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      January 19, 2017 at 3:01 pm (1 year ago)

      Thanks for letting me know. I use to always think I needed a free hour (at least) to sew. Sewing a little bit every day on a project really worked for me. Things got sewn – and dinner was made 😉

  3. Marie
    January 23, 2017 at 6:26 am (1 year ago)

    Thanks for this post! I want to sew daily, but think it needs a large block of time. Thanks for reminding me it doesn’t, and for finding a process to get me going!

    • Mary Earle-Sigler
      January 23, 2017 at 9:58 am (1 year ago)

      I’m happy you will be sewing more often now. It’s hard to get started especially if you think you need a free hour to do any sewing. If you are able to leave your machine out, even if it’s in a corner of your living room until your project is done, you can work on your sewing project step by step when you get a free moment, or are waiting for something in the oven, or waiting for a late friend. It’s how most people read books, right? So sewing – reading…kind of the same thing 😉


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