Have you ever heard of Mise en place? Sounds fancy, but really that pretty phrase is simply referring to being organized in the kitchen!
Mise en place (French pronunciation: [mi zɑ̃ ˈplas]) is a French phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that are expected to be prepared during a shift. The practice is also effective in home kitchens. – Wikipedia
I am going to argue that sewing also requires a mise en place of sorts!
If you have been sewing for a long time, you probably do this without even realizing it.
If you are new to sewing though, you might find that employing a pre-sewing routine might make your projects flow a little faster and smoother.
This is MY pre-sewing routine, yours might differ and I encourage you to share what you do in the comments below!
First and foremost, you need to shop! Once you decide what you are going to sew, it’s time to go shopping. First, check out your stash. See what you can use from your stash and get ready to shop for the rest.
You can shop online at the following retailers:
Alternatively, you can go in store to any of the above listed stores (Not all Walmart’s carry fabric), your local fabric/crafting store or go raid your friend’s stash 😉 . Many of these stores have apps (I know for a fact Joann’s and Hobby Lobby always have good coupons on their apps!) and you can usually find good deals surrounding holidays.
Wash and dry (according to manufacturer recommendations) your fabric
This is important because the fabric needs to be given the opportunity to shrink before you sew with it. If you avoid this step, you might end up with a garment that is too small after the first wash and dry.
Iron your fabric
Please do this! Even if you don’t iron during the sewing process (I know many who do not), please DO iron your fabric. It will make your life so much easier when it comes time to cut out fabric.
Read through your pattern instructions thoroughly
You should do this before you even shop, but now you need a refresher! Read through the details and think about each step. Pattern makers don’t always know your process and they don’t always know what you are planning to add to their pattern. You might want to add that rick rack in step 4 and not in step 8. If you are going to applique on a shirt, you’ll want to do that before you sew the shirt together.
Read your pattern carefully and make notes where necessary.
Cut your fabric and any other items that need to be manipulated to size (ex: elastic, ribbon, rick rack, etc)
This is fairly self explanatory, but I do want to encourage you to be organized with this. You might think the arm of your shirt looks very different from the bodice, but 2 hours later when you get back to your project, they might look identical! (peasant tops do this to me all the time!) This is especially true when your pieces are small.
Pin items together and keep the pattern papers on top.
Finish your chores, occupy your children, find some entertainment
The worst thing ever is when you sit down to sew and your kids come in with the dreaded “I am bored!”. Or when you know that you have a sink filled to the brim with dishes and dinner is going to be a pain to make if you don’t get them in the dishwasher before this evening.
Go ahead and make sure you can be as interruption free as possible.
Grab a drink and a snack
I don’t know about you, but when I sew…hours pass very very quickly. It’s one of my few hobbies that actually makes me forget to eat! I am NOT the type of person that forgets to eat.
This is not a huge deal, but you might want to have something to drink and something to snack on nearby (but not too close to avoid spills and crumbs!) for when the hunger finally hits and your blood sugar drops!
Start pinning where necessary
Go ahead and get any pinning done. When I start sewing I just want to sew sew sew. I hate having to stop to pin (I pin very little to be honest!) or iron or do anything other than just sew sew sew! Iron any seams that can be ironed ahead of time and pin where you can.
Thread your machine and check bobbin
Go ahead and set your machine up with the thread you want and make sure the bobbin is prepped. If you use a serger, do a test run to be sure everything is flowing smoothly. Make sure your machine is ready for some hard work!
You might need some canned air (a reader once suggested a blow dryer…great tip!) to clean up thread from your last project. Make sure your machines are ready to sew smoothly.
Set up your sewing area for success with all of your fabric, notions, thread and pins in arms reach
If your buttons are in the bedroom, your zippers in the attic and your ribbon in the living room…you are going to have quite the athletic sewing experience! Make sure all of your supplies are close at hand. Preferably within arms reach.
If you do these 10 things before you sit down to sew every time, you will find sewing a much more pleasant experience! Make sure your mise en place is set up for success and I promise your sewing hobby will be taken to new heights!
Comment below and let me know what you do to sew yourself up for sewing success!
Bev Scheidt says
I love finding young homemakers…I’m an ancient one…its
heartening to know there are women out there keeping the magic alive!
Lulita Zambrano says
Thank you SO MUCH!!!…
You are so very welcome!
Sew some test runs on scraps of the fabric that you are going to use. Check for tension and stitch length!
kelly elrod says
Always wanted to learn. Your info has really encouraged me. Pray for me.lol
I am new to machine sewing because I have just recently had two of the SEVEN machines (that my mom left behind when she passed away 5 years ago) repaired. Prior to this, I would birdnest every bobbin on every machine I touched. Lol. Now, I am so excited because there are a lot of things I need to sew by machine. I’m in the process of revamping my whole house using DIY projects. The sewing machine repairman in my town comes to your home and is VERY affordable. And he taught me a few things about bobbins, tension, and some other things I’ve always wondered about. So far, I have finished making the curtains for my dining room, hemmed some curtains for my washroom, made some throw pillow covers for my living room, repaired a hole in my daughter’s pants, and I’m about to attempt some valances for the dining room and a curtain and valance for my kitchen window. I’m a little sewing fool! Thank you for your post about Mise en place, as I totally agree with all ten of your tips.
Wonderful! That’s so awesome. I love that you have caught the DIY bug! I need to tackle curtain making. My office is in dire need of pretty curtains!