Seven Tips to Sewing en Plein Air

Seven Tips to Sewing en Plein Air

Flower PotBorrowing a word from the painting world, we came up with tips for bringing your sewing out of doors this summer.  Enjoy your garden and your sewing passion at the same time.  Rather than letting your works in progress languish over the garden months, bring some of the tasks outside and see how much progress you’ll make! Of course, the obvious activities which are TV activities in the colder months are hemming, snaps, buttons, tacks, etc. But here are some you may not have tried.


1.  Using a new pattern?  Bring the guidesheet to your chaise or garden swing.  Read thoroughly, make notes on changes you will make or measurements you need to check. In the winter months I do this at bedtime…letting the information soak in overnight.  You can create the same kind of reflective ambiance in your favorite outdoors setting.

2.  Pin darts, seams, tucks, etc.  on all pieces.  Best bet is to bring a flat rectangular basket or box at least three inches deep.  You can work in your lap or on a side table, then lay the pinned pieces in the container ready to sew.  I used to bring these projects with me when we tent camped.  Having a covered, waterproof box is best in those conditions.

3.  Who said hand-basting is drudgery?  Enjoy the rhythm of the needle as you carefully baste pieces together that can use a little extra TLC.  Set a sleeve, place gathers, or mount an underlining.

4.  Thread mark your tailored garments. Use your flat basket to hold the pieces once completed so the markings don’t fall out in transit.

5.  Catch up on your inspirational reading…Threads, Vogue Patterns, and more.

6.  Brush up on technique by bringing along your TNT how-to book, or the newest one you’ve just purchased at a consumer show this spring.

7.  Dare I say it?  As ye sew, so shall ye rip!  Its less discouraging when you balance the activity with the joy of your garden.


Finally, take advantage of a rainy day to purge your closet…Sort to give away, store away, retain, repair.

Rainy Day-001


What do you need to freshen your wardrobe?

Choose Patterns from your stash or order new ones.

Shop the sale for good buys from last season

Check out our web store beginning in mid-July for fall-ish fabrics.
Send us a wishlist.
Sign up for our swatching service.


I’ve deliberately omitted electronics from my list.  Take a break from the screens in your life and let the refreshing out of doors re-invigorate your creative energy.  Enjoy your summer!


What will you bring outside this summer? We welcome your comments to add to this list.

8 Responses to “Seven Tips to Sewing en Plein Air”

  1. Lynn


    I’ve actually set my sewing machine on my patio table and pieced some quilts. It was quite therapeutic. 🙂

  2. Jenny


    Good ideas! If I want to be outside, I generally just go pull some weeds, but it would be lovely to take out some hand-sewing to do near the bird feeder activity.

  3. Jean


    I often do the hand sewing chores outdoors – sewing on buttons and hemming by hand for example. Or my latest project, deconstructing an existing pair of (purchased) pants that fit well, but are getting worn out by ripping it apart so I can make a pattern from that one that fits (I am short and fat with a very round belly… and have a terrible time getting pants to fit)!

    I also once make a large “rag” quilt and ripped up and pinned all my squares with their stuffing… prepping for the sewing part… while sitting on my tailgate out in the mountains… had fun doing it too!

  4. Sawyer Brook Fabrics


    Jean- I love the image of you sitting on the tailgate with all your squares! Tailgates can work well as outdoor sewing surfaces. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jean


      You’re welcome.
      The setting was stunning also! I did it in Cuyamaca State Park, up in the mountains in San Diego County (this was back before the horrible Cedar Fire, which severely damaged that area). I was out by one of the wilderness horse trails, so I got to watch people come and go with their horses too. One of my more fond memories of living in that area. ~Jean

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