Sewing when you’re stuck in bed


As I sat embroidering over the weekend while getting over a stomach bug, it occurred to me that there really are a lot of things that you can sew even when you’re feeling less than optimal.

Nobody wants to get wiped out with a nasty cold or the latest fashionable virus, but it happens, and when it does, you’re zapped of a whole lot of energy that you’d otherwise be using for more interesting things like your sewing.  Thankfully, you don’t have to throw in the towel and while away the hours of bone aches and fevers watching TV until your brain melts into jello.  Here’s some ideas for simple hand sewing projects you can do to feel creative even when you’re feeling like you got run over by a truck.

All of the supplies for these projects can be organized on a little tray like the one from a toaster oven or a lap desk.


  1. Yoyos:  Piles of circles cut from scraps of any fabric that can be gathered can be made into yoyos for embellishing, home projects, or if you’re a serious yoyoer, a quilt.  Save them up in bags and make them into something when you feel like it.  They’re so simple, you can make them in the dark.  I once made 50 during the course of a trip to a movie theater.yellowfloraljeansembroiderydetail
  2. Embroidery: Embroidery might be the ultimate hand sewing project.  Take your hoop, some embroidery scissors and your thread and fabric, and you’re set to make something pretty while you sit.  Embroidery can also take a lot of time to do, so those sick days will pass quickly.whensicksequins
  3. Beading/Sequining: Before you start beading, line a tin with strips of masking tape.  Scatter your beads or sequins across the surface of the tape.  This will help secure them so you can pull them off one at a time without the danger of them spilling out all over your bed.  You’ll be adding more sparkle to that cardigan without the headache of searching for seed beads under your pillow.flipdollorangecloseup
  4. Stuffies/sock puppets: A simple backstitch is all that’s needed to make a strong seam for a stuffie.  Undoubtedly, you can make it faster on a machine, but when you’re feeling gross, watching a little stuffie come to life can improve your humor even if your stitching is slow.
  5. Buttonwork: Buttons get the shaft.  They’re the last thing you put on a blouse, and if there’s a lot of them to do and you want to wear that shirt dress like 20 minutes ago, you’ll probably cut corners.  Yet our eyes are always drawn to buttons, and taking the time to sew them on properly and picking buttons that compliment your garment will be well worth the extra few minutes.  Why not sew on the buttons with a different stitch configuration beyond the “X”?  whensickbuttons
  6. Draw and dream: Ok, so this isn’t sewing, but it deserves an honorable mention.  Got a few minutes to spare?  Why not sketch out your next project or round of projects.  Draw shapes of garments and think about fabric choices and patterns you might want to use.  You’ll step back into your sewing room armed with ideas and ready to go when you’re up for it.whensicksketchThat’s it!  How do you keep yourself creating when you’re under the weather?

6 thoughts on “Sewing when you’re stuck in bed

  1. Hi Elizabeth, nice post, but sorry to hear you’re under the weather. 50 yoyos in a movie theatre? Was it a children’s movie or something? Thanks for the inspiration on sewing buttons, they do get the shaft. I have a button to sew on to make my son’s corduroys wearable again, and there’s a torn jacket to mend in the same colour for my daughter–and I am sitting around a lot these days as I have a six-day-old daughter 🙂 so I’m not sick but def recuperating. It will be nice to accomplish something for sewing while sitting down and breastfeeding. Thanks!!

  2. I love sketching out ideas! Unfortunately I’m not much of a hand-sewer, but I am mildly interested in learning embroidery. Maybe someday!

  3. Thanks for your thoughts–I’m on the mend.  Congratulations on the baby!  I salute you for wanting to BF and sew simultaneously. It is remarkable what you can do while nursing.  LOL, it was not a children’s movie.  It was an opera, and I literally can just make them in the dark.  Periodically, I’d hold up the needle eye to the screen and get just enough light in to thread it.

  4. Sketching is so fun!  As for embroidery, there’s not a lot to it other than loading up a needle with embroidery floss and going to town.  A backstitch and a running stitch can take you very far indeed.

  5. I wish I’d had these suggestions back in the fall when I was spending all my time lying in bed and/or getting sick! I did honestly spend more time knitting during that stage, when I was even feeling up to doing that. (And now to make up for it, I’m spending all of my handwork time hand-sewing toys!)

    And seriously–what is it about buttons that makes them so tedious to sew? Hope you’re feeling better soon!

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