Friday, March 25, 2022

Easy Ways I Help Myself Quilting / Beauties Pageant 167


One of my favorite people in the world is Future Michelle. My future self has a lot going on, though, so I try to set her up for success. Here are two ways I do that without spending a cent ...

Writing Notes About Projects

I like to have about a half-dozen projects going at a time. Having a few projects at various stages of the quilt-making process keeps things interesting for me and ensures that when I feel like cutting fabric or mindlessly chain-piecing or finishing a binding by hand, there’s something on my to-do list that can fill that urge. There’s a certain inefficiency with working like that, though. I often set aside a quilt in process, thinking I’ll pick it up again in a week or two, and not get back to it for months. It’s a great way to forget where I’m headed with a particular project!

So when I am about to change gears, I help Future Michelle out by jotting a few notes about where things stand so she can more easily pick up where I have left off. I have a sketchbook where I doodle new design ideas, do quilty math, and so on. This notebook seems like a good, logical place to write such notes, but it’s not. Instead, I write these notes to my future self on Post-its and pin them directly to the project. What can I say? Future Michelle is easily confused, and proximity matters!

Taking Care of Scraps Now

Another small thing I do for Future Michelle relates to the scrap scene here at From Bolt to Beauty world headquarters.

Let me start by saying that back in 2020, I participated in a big declutter event hosted by FeelGood Fibers. I went through all of my scraps and created order. Larger chunks got separated by color and placed in a drawer. Smaller or weirdly shaped bits were cut into 2- and 2.5-inch squares for future projects.

It was a ton of work, and I made some not-so-smart decisions, like cutting at my dining room table while resting my knee on a chair instead of setting up something more ergonomic at the kitchen island. When all was said and done (the process took weeks!), I had achieved my goal and messed up my right knee and sprained my left wrist.

The best thing I could do for Future Michelle, I decided, was to tend to the scrap situation here and there instead of all at once. Now, when I finish a project, I make decisions about the scraps right away, organizing the larger pieces, cutting the smaller ones, destashing what I no longer love, and recycling the unusable stuff.

Check out the photographic proof, above. I have somewhere in the neighborhood of a bazillion 2- and 2.5-inch squares. I delve into this treasure trove as needed and have a big square-busting project planned for (maybe?) 2023.

Tending to scraps promptly takes discipline, but it beats feeling overwhelmed down the road. I wouldn’t do this for just anybody—Future Michelle is worth it!

What are some easy ways you make the quilt-making process easier on yourself? Share your tips in the comments!

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  1. I love this, Michelle! I'm in the same club--I have a bazillion 2 1/2", 5" and 10" squares cut from leftover bits. I like to include 50 or 60 squares with a sewing kit in shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child.

  2. I always write notes to myself about projects, usually every time I stop. I also make copies of cutting directions and put them in various places-- by the machine, in the box, at the cutting table. It helps! Dealing with scraps, though, I've got to get better at that. Have a good weekend!

  3. I love the post it notes you leave yourself, that is super smart. I keep my space tidy because if I came in to see a big mess it would seriously de-motivate me. I'm certainly allowed to do what I need to as I'm working, but at the end of the day things get a tidy up.

  4. Hi,
    I make notes too, I pin the note to the block, colors, size and what it's for. I also have a little notebook I keep all the info in. That's a lot of squares. I've thought about doing that, but I get side tracked and forget about it. Have a great day!

  5. I am horrible about leaving notes on projects. Even if I do, I always end up asking myself..."What did I mean by that?" But I will say my scraps are all organized!

  6. Great ideas. I need to get into both habits, especially dealing with the fabric scraps in the moment.

  7. Hi Michelle, I've also learned the hard way to write myself notes about ongoing projects - and if I can, I put everything in a project box, including the notes. I'm not so good at my scraps but then I don't make that many traditional quilts, so I don't necessarily need 2" squares. I do, however, have a bin for strips. That is a really useful bin to have, and probably the one that I dip in the most. My other scraps are in baskets by theme or colour. So far it's worked well. Thanks for sharing your tips and hosting the linking party.

  8. Two great ideas!! A time saving and no brainer trick is to leave your next seam to sew right under your sewing machine foot. Where did I leave off - what's my next step - it's all set and ready to sew.

  9. I admire your organizational skills - making notes to yourself, and keeping your scraps under control. Personally, I'm always so focused on making quilts for deadlines (challenges) that I rarely take the time to handle scraps other than to sort them by color. Since I like making improv blocks and quilts (though I'm not very good at it), I want pieces in odd shapes for sewing later. Now if I pieced all my quilts from patterns, I might feel differently. Nonetheless, you've offered great suggestions. And, I'm thrilled that for the first time this year, I have a finish to share in your linky! Yay! It was three weeks ago, but I did it! :-)

  10. It depends on the project, but I might a bit of info on my FAL list, sometimes mock-ups or EQ8 planning on the compupter or scribbled info in my notebook or a paper in the project box. My computer files for quilts are folders for each project like my box and that helps a lot. I do not have that many scraps because I only put fairly small pieces in my scrap boxes, but I have not real plan for those. But sometimes they get used up for a scrap vortex project. And I recently started cutting 2.5" squares from my blue box for an idea I have ;) xo


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