Kathy and I chatted each other up, and then we moved on to Miss D, one of the shop’s employees. Miss D knows how crazy pants my life can be—after all, she has witnessed my younger son doing laps around the store’s cutting table!—and during our conversation she expressed her amazement of how I accomplish so much sewing. Miss D’s comment got me thinking. How do I make the most of my time at my sewing machine?
What follows is a list of high-level strategies I follow to get stuff done. If you have some of your own suggestions, please share them in the comments below. : )
1. I have a dedicated sewing space.
I would love to have a real sewing room, one with a door that can be closed to hide the chaos, but I don’t. I’ve resorted to squatting in the dining room. This isn’t a problem—we rarely use the space as a dining room—and I benefit from sewing on a big table and in the best natural light in the house.
When my kids are at home, I don’t have big chunks of uninterrupted time, so having a place to spread out my sewing stuff is key. I don’t have to do any packing or unpacking—everything is ready to go. If a peaceful 10-minute slot presents itself, I can cut fabric or chain-piece.
Every three or four days, when I can’t stand it any longer, I vacuum up all the loose threads, return fabric to my stash or scrap bin, and restore a sense of order in there. Otherwise, it’s a pit. It’s one of life’s great paradoxes: To make something beautiful, you first have to make a huge mess.
|I was not exaggerating.|
2. I have multiple WIPs at different stages going all the time.
I admire those quilters who have the focus to work on one project from start to finish before embarking on another. For me, that’s drudgery. Sometimes I want to mindlessly chain-piece. Other times I want to dig through my scrap bin or cut fabric. I can get overwhelmed with too many WIPs, but five or six at a time gives me options to do what I feel like doing on a given day.
3. My WIPs are different kinds of projects.
My projects don’t require the same amount of time and energy. I design some myself—those are bigger time commitments—and writing a corresponding tutorial requires even more time. But one of my current projects, my Outlined Plus Quilt, was designed by someone else. I’m even using a bundle of Basic Grey’s Mon Ami for it, so there have been few fabric decisions to labor over.
Then there are my nonquilt endeavors. When I grow weary of big quilt projects, I can pick up a bag project in process and enjoy the thrill of a faster finish.
|Outlined Plus pattern by Meadow Mist Designs|
4. I hire a longarmer for a few quilts every year.
This is a new strategy for me. I’m a straight-line quilter, and I quilted my first 20 or so quilts myself. In the past six months, I finished two quilt tops that I knew needed something more than the straight lines I would quilt on them. This strategy makes my expensive hobby more expensive, but it helps me finish more big projects.
|Quilting on my Better Late Than Never Quilt by See Mary Quilt|
|Quilting on my Obsession Quilt by Garden Gate Quilting|
5. I finish almost everything I start.
I am not a compulsive project starter. Sure, I have a bunch of things going on at once, but I finish the vast majority of them. Occasionally, I do abandon something—I give myself permission to bail if need be. Remember my petal quilt, broken chevron project, or fiddly Christmas table topper? You likely will not be seeing them as finishes—ever.
What about you? What are your big-picture strategies to checking off items on your to-do list?
Linking up to Tips and Tutorials Tuesday, Let’s Bee Social, and Finish It Up Friday ...