Quick Links to topics within this article:
8 Tips to Discover More Time for Cross Stitch
Find Your Why
More than One WIP
Cross Stitch in More Than One Spot
Cross Stitch While You Wait
Cross Stitch Without Your Pattern
Only Cross Stitch What You LOVE
Cross Stitch Faster
Why Does it Feel Like We Don’t Have Enough Time to Cross Stitch?
Cross stitch can be a time-consuming hobby. It’s not something you can do in an hour, although there are smaller projects you can do in an afternoon. But that’s not a surprise to anyone after learning the basics and falling in love with cross stitch. Then life inevitably gets in the way, and it can feel like there’s never enough time to do the things we love, like cross stitch.
But everyone has the same 24 hours in a day, right?
So why does it feel like we don’t have enough time?
First, if you’re comparing your volume of FFOs (fully finished objects) with someone else, you are going to be dissatisfied.
Well, Beyoncé seems to get it all done, right? But she may have a nanny, housekeeper and a chef. Imagine how much more time you’d have for yourself if you didn’t have to cook or clean? So no, we don’t all actually have the same 24 hours in a day!
My Mom finishes stuff WAY faster than I do! And I still get jealous. Then, I remind myself that she has about 10 hours more in the day than I do because she is semi-retired. I still have a full-time job, a family and a side hustle that needs my attention. At my age, my Mom didn’t craft as much as she does now, either, and that’s just life.
The same is true if you’re a beginner crafter and you’re trying to keep up with someone who has been doing this for 30+ years. (I try to pretend I’m not OLD enough to have done ANYthing for 30+ years 🙂 ) Naturally, you’re going to be a bit slower, and maybe more cautious, and your projects might take longer.
I like to tell myself: “Don’t compare your blooper reel to someone else’s highlights”
So while it seems you don’t have enough time to cross stitch, it could be that you just need to reset your expectations for how much you can reasonably do at this stage in your life, or at this level of experience.
Give yourself permission to go slower than others. Or even better, don’t compare yourself to others, if you can help it. And enjoy your stitchy time more.
Most of us are women (guys, stay with me on this one), and in our western culture, we are (still) expected to take care of certain things at home. This is much less than it used to be, and perhaps you’ve found a life-partner that doesn’t have these expectations – which is fantastic!
But there are still institutions that tell young girls to always put others first, and to be mothers and homemakers. So that, after growing up and realizing that you will need 2 incomes to pay the bills, the woman in this example is not only expected to hold down a job, she is often still expected to chauffeur the kids to school and dance class and soccer practice, while keeping up with the laundry and dusting and still having dinner on the table by the time the man (or partner) comes home from work.
Or you could be on your own (shout out to all the single parents – I’ve been there!) (guys, this is where you might come back in 😁) and expect to be able to get it all done by yourself.
Even if you found a partner that doesn’t expect you – or even want you – to do it all, maybe that’s how you were raised.
I know for sure that if I did everything society said I was supposed to do, I would need another 2 days a week! That’s a lot for any one!
So when the laundry sits for an extra 30 minutes, or the dog didn’t get his bath until the weekend, you feel guilty for taking time out for doing something “selfish”.
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To stop the guilt, we try to talk our way out of it with that worn-out trope about putting on your oxygen mask first during an airplane emergency. We all know that one and we still feel guilty sometimes.
You’re probably screaming at me: “And that doesn’t get the laundry folded, Sarah!”
And you’re right. So it might be time to get okay with letting it go a little bit here and there. I’m not saying to let the dishes sit until you get bugs – no way! I AM saying to experiment with what can wait, and then letting it wait.
Maybe just fold the clothes out of the dryer that will get all wrinkly if you don’t, and leave the rest until after you’ve had time for yourself. Or recruit the kids (if you have them) in the household chores. You get a little bit of time back, and they learn to be a little more self-sufficient. It’s a win-win situation. This helped me a lot when I was a single Mom.
And if none of that appeals to you, let me put it this way: How do you feel when you haven’t had any “you” time?
Do you get irritated when you see that pile of dishes or that your coworker did that stupid thing again after you’ve told that bitch a million times not to?
I get resentful at home, and I can tell that hurts my husband’s feelings. My kids scatter and hide to avoid me at all costs. lol And then I feel even worse! That’s not who I want to be.
Now, how do you feel once you’ve gotten in some stitches? Happy? Relaxed? Satisfied?
After I’ve stitched on a project, I feel great! Like I can take on the world! I mean I’m totally pumped (maybe I’m weird), but I’m ready to deal with life’s bullshit. Like the dumb dishes or awful laundry monster.
The next time you feel guilty about squeezing in some stitchy time, I want you to try to remember how you feel afterwards. Remember how you interact with your family and friends and coworkers, and how you can be your best self when you take care of yourself first.
Hopefully, you won’t feel guilty anymore. I’m hoping you’ll realize how much just a few minutes each day set aside for yourself can help you spread that joy around.
Now, you can start to prioritize that time. Make sure that you fit it into the day since it is at least as important for your emotional health as eating well is for your body.
It’s hard, I know. I know. This is a big problem for me just about every day. I’m that typical Type-A personality that gets overwhelmed really fast when things aren’t “perfect”. Been that way my entire life and I continue to struggle with it.
But getting everything just right can really set you back when it comes to cross stitch, or really any creative outlet. I used to find myself wasting time frogging (rip-it, rip-it out) every little mistake, when I could probably have moved passed it and save hours.
As fallible human beings, we both know there’s no such thing as “perfect”. Perfection is strictly the domain of the gods. 🙂 So unless you’ve ascended, you’re going to have to learn to accept the imperfect.
There’s a few things I do to help me get past that sinking feeling.
Is it More Important to Get it DONE?
I have a cross stitch mantra.: “Done is better than Perfect”
Unless I’m stitching for a contest, there’s no real need for perfection. People will still like it. And I will like it better if it’s done and up on my wall rather than discarded into my ever-growing WIPs pile. Then I can happily move on to the next project!
Can you see it from 3 feet away?
There are inevitably errors in everything I’ve ever cross stitched. Always. Without exception. And there will continue to be. And you know what? Most of the time, no one can tell.
No one sees it but me – not even my Mom, who is also a perfectionist. Sure, if she gets real close and examines it and compares it to the pattern, she might notice a missed stitch or two.
But let’s face it, most of our cross stitch ends up on a wall. And if you can’t see the imperfection from 3 feet away, no one else will see it either. And even if they do, what’s the worst they will do? Yell at you that it’s WRONG, and they HATE it and you need to do it OVER?
Just kidding. In my experience, most folks just say something like “hmm, very pretty” and move on.
And the world doesn’t come crashing down. 😀
Can you love it anyways?
Sometimes, if I make an error, it has a pretty big impact of the overall look of the finished project. And in that case, I might take the time to frog out those stitches and restitch it correctly.
Most of the time, my mistakes are very small, or at least minor. For instance, I skipped a stitch in one place or I used the wrong color.
Do I still love it? If the answer is yes, I leave it in. Because as long as you still like it and you enjoyed stitching it, that really is all that matters.
It’s the little imperfections that make the cross stitched art uniquely yours.
Overall, if you can embrace the little imperfections, you will spend less time fixing mistakes and more time stitching. And that helps me feel better about how I use the time I do have to stitch.
Do you ever plan to stitch something for a birthday or a holiday and find yourself completely stressed out about it? Do you ever end up scrambling at the last minute to get something framed and wrapped, just in time?
When I’m faced with an unrealistic deadline, it ruins cross stitch for me. I can’t enjoy it, so I avoid it, and I end up stitching a lot less. Suddenly, I’d rather wait in line at the DMV with Taco Bell belly than face the failure and disappointment of knowing I’ll never finish in time.
Here’s two ways to keep deadlines from ruining cross stitch for you:
1. Don’t have deadlines. Just avoid putting yourself in a situation where a cross stitch project must be finished at a certain time. Stitch something because you enjoy it, finish it at your leisure, when you’re ready and not before. It will be there for you when the next event comes up. Just don’t place that burden of “I have to finish it by THIS time” on yourself.
2. Stretch out the deadline, if you can. Let’s say you’re making something for your best friend’s birthday, and it’s coming up in just 3 weeks! Well, 2 weeks go by and there’s no way this thing is getting done in time. Go ahead and shop around for a different gift for your bestie, and give yourself another 12 whole months to finish the project. This works for holidays and anniversaries, which also come around every year. It might not work for one-off lifetime milestones, like graduation or transitions. But if you’re making something for someone who loves you, they will still love it even if it took you an extra few weeks or even months.
The most important thing to remember here is that we often put these deadlines on ourselves. Your cross stitch hobby should be relaxing and make you happy. Avoiding self-imposed deadlines can help us feel less constrained for time.
8 Tips to Discover More Time for Cross Stitch
Going back to the 24-hour day, how do we fit in more time for cross stitch without sacrificing time for necessary things?
I use a few strategies to fit in more stitching time, and to get in the most amount of (relaxing – not rushed) stitches I can.
1. Find Your WHY
Ok, this sounds pretty woo-woo, I’ll admit. And I’m the FIRST person to tell you to turn and run when you see this kind of “mindset” stuff. But here’s the thing, science tells us that this works. When you prioritize the things that bring meaning to your life, you experience more happiness and satisfaction, and less negative emotion.
For example, cross stitch is very important to me for several reasons. It helps me relax when I spend so much of my time being busy-busy-busy and stressed out, which isn’t good for my health. It provides me with a creative outlet. And it’s something that I can help others do, which I find very meaningful (and why I’m writing this for you 🙂)
If you want to make more time for cross stitch in your life, it will only work if you not only do it when it’s easy, but also when it’s hard. And to do that, you need to come to understand why it’s important to you.
And if you find that cross stitch just isn’t your jam like that, that’s ok, too! But I urge you to find something just for you that you can be passionate about. It really does make life better. 💙
2. Have More Than One WIP (Work in Progress)
This may seem like it would take MORE time and not LESS, but keep reading.
I have a couple of very large projects that I really want to stitch, but it takes me a minute to find where I am in the pattern and remember how I want to continue before I can make the next stitch. So I keep a few smaller projects around that I can pick up and resume very quickly. That way, when I only have 10-15 minutes, I can still fit in a few sneaky stitches. If I only have the one big project, I wouldn’t stitch as often, and I end up having less time to stitch overall.
3. Cross Stitch in More Than One Spot
First, you’re going to need to have more than one WIP at a time. Then, kit up a few in separate projects – complete with needles and scissors – and spread them around. That way, wherever you are, if you find you have a few unexpected minutes, you’ve got a cross stitch project nearby and ready to go. I keep a few in my favorite stitch spot, of course. I also have one in the car, one at work, and I keep an extra one by the front door near my purse and keys so I can grab it on my way out the door.
We ended up taking a last-minute trip to the Florida Keys for a friend’s birthday and I had a few hours of unexpected stitchy time while my spouse drove.
4. Cross Stitch While You Wait
Do you wait to pick up your kids in the car line at school?
Are you waiting at the pharmacy drive-thru to pick up prescriptions?
Did you have to waste 20 minutes in a waiting room?
What about the 10 minutes you’re waiting for water to boil?
These are all good times to pick up that project you’ve got tucked away and just sit quietly and stitch while you wait.
5. Cross Stitch and Multi-Task
Look for little bits of time that look busy, but could be filled in with some cross stitch.
Mass transit in Florida is 💩. But if you’re in an area where you take the bus or subway to work, that’s prime stitching time
I bring a cross stitch project to work and stitch during my lunch hour. (This is actually where I get most of my stitching done.)
My friends have a Super Bowl party every year (for those of you outside the US, that’s for American football). I really don’t watch sports that much, but I like to go and spend time with my friends. (Plus, I really like the half-time shows.) So I just stitch during the game and participate in the chatter.
6. Cross Stitch Without Your Pattern
This is going to make it a lot easier to cross stitch in those 5-10 minute gaps. For example, let’s say you’re stitching a house. First, look at your pattern to stitch the outline of the house, getting in the outline to the doors and windows. Later, you can just fill in the rest of the house without needing the pattern.
Another option is to stitch the house all in half stitches, using just the first slash in the cross stitch. Then finish the stitch with the second slash, just going over the stitches you’ve already made.
If you’re stitching a repeating border, start at a corner and cross stitch the border motif until it repeats. Later, you can copy that original motif all the way down to the next corner without having to glance over the pattern. You might even be able to figure out how to go around the next corner in the border without the pattern.
I usually use a digital version of my pattern and keep it on my cell phone. Then I can pull out my phone (which is always with me) if I need to quickly check the grid without pulling out the book or booklet for the physical pattern.
7. Only Cross Stitch Projects You LOVE
Be honest, if you’re just not that into that pattern, you’re not going to make time to stitch it. lol No judgment, it’s human nature. Stick to patterns that you really love and you will naturally work harder to carve out a few minutes here and there to stitch on it.
8. Strategies to Stitch Faster
I’ve got a ton of tutorials to help you with that. It’s not a race, so don’t stress out about it. You can stitch as fast or as slow as you like! Here are some articles on the blog that will help the stitchy time you do have to go a little further.
– Cross Stitch Calculator – make sure you cut your fabric to the right size the first time
– Prepare your fabric before you start – reduce the hassle of fraying. Also, have an idea how you want to finish your project before you start so you don’t spend more time figuring it out later
– Grid your fabric – a huge time saver by preventing mistakes and having to frog them
– Fix Knots and Tangles – reduce time detangling your floss with these quick tips
– Crazy east hoop finishes – These all take just a few minutes for a beautiful hoop finish
While it turns out that we don’t really all have the same hours in a day, there are ways all of us can not only feel like we have more stitchy time, there are a few things we can do to maximize our time and make the most out of the time we do have to devote to our cross stitch hobby.