Happy New Year all! Have you started planning your stitchy projects for the new year?! There are so many quilts I want to start and I have been thinking about the ways to plan and tackle making them so they actually get finished!
I have been exploring different ideas and thought it might be fun to share my top five tips with you for finding time in your day or week to tackle those sewing projects you really want to start.
1. Find the Time to Create
A bit of an obvious one, but find the time to sit and stitch!
Spend a bit of time really taking notice of your daily/weekly routine to try and identify if there are any natural opportunities for you to create some time for stitching.
Plan an amount of time that is achievable – often, aiming for shorter periods of time can be more achievable and less intimidating to find the time for.
In the Mindful Quilt Along, we are looking to build a habit of sewing daily for just 15-30mins a day. Over the course of a year, 15 minutes a day adds up to 91 hours……imagine how much progress quilts you could make in that time?!
“Little by little, a little becomes a lot.”Tanzanian proverb
It’s even better if you can tie in your stitching time with something you already do – such as having a cup of tea – as you are adding to an existing habit, rather than trying to create a whole new activity within your day/week.
We all have different schedules, so it is important to find what works for you. And to remember that it’s something you may need to revisit over the years as things change.
When my children were a bit younger, I always used to sit down after lunch with a cup of tea and craft whilst they had a nap/had some quiet time.
Now they are older, this never happens (!). Combined with the fact that Mr f&f has started getting up a lot earlier, I’ve had to work at creating a new routine.
It takes time (and most likely trial and error!) but eventually, you will find something that works for you.
Currently, I’m having my quiet, stitchy time when I get back from the morning school run – that first cup of tea and a bit of stitching in the morning is the perfect way to start the day!
In the school holidays, I might shift this to first thing in the morning when the kids are (hopefully!) having a bit of a lie-in, or maybe in the evening?
2. Plan your Quilt Project Approach!
There are lots of different ways to approach the making of a quilt.
Some like to be very organised – cutting everything and labelling pieces before making their first stitch.
Others would rather cut and sew as they go, working on blocks individually.
There are even some people who only work on one project at a time (I’m afraid that’s not me – I’m a complete moth to the flame when it comes to new projects!!!!!)
Personally, I have a few different methods depending on what the project is.
For a machine-sewn quilt project, I generally select all my fabrics at the beginning, cut, label if needed and then sit and chain piece.
For a bigger, hand-pieced project, I tend to have a colour theme for the quilt in mind (and will often add any fabrics that I come across to a project pouch as I go – these are a great option, come in different sizes and you can even have them personalised!) and will then cut a few blocks or a section at a time.
3. Prepare your fabrics
If you are looking to build a regular (daily) sewing habit, my recommendation is to spend a little bit of time prepping your fabric pieces, so that you always have some stitching ready to go.
If the blocks have lots of pieces, you might want to bag them all up separately to keep them in order – taking photos of the layout can help as a reference tool if its easy to put pieces in the wrong place! Visit tips for being ready to slow sew for more ideas.
Now, whilst this sounds like a lot, the blocks come together really quickly. My Project Plan of Attack is that, assuming a 4 week month, I need to make 5 blocks per week (or 1 per weekday). To achieve this, I am planning to;
- Select all fabrics at the beginning of the month.
- Over the weekend – when I have more uninterrupted time – prep my five blocks for the coming week (cutting & marking fabrics for hand-sewing).
- Sew one block per weekday, with the ultimate aim of starting to join blocks together eg. Day 1 = Block 1, Day 2 = Block 2 and joining Blocks 1 and 2.
- Once I have bigger units, set them aside until I have enough sections to sew together (which I will probably do by machine).
Also, have a think about where to store your finished blocks. I like to keep mine in a zipper pouch* – as it generally means they can be kept dust free and flat, rather than having creases pressed in – until I am ready to join them together.
* I read somewhere ages ago that if the fabric is not exposed to air it is less likely to fray. I have no idea how true this i – I suspect it’s more to do with less handling! – but figure there’s no harm in going along with it!
4. Make Sure your Sewing Kit is Always Ready
Have a project bag ready to go at all times! If you’ve followed Step 3, you should always have a few pieces ready to grab and sew.
I love making pouches and they are all filled with different projects, ready to grab at a moments notice.
You’ll need to make sure that each pouch contains at least one block ready to sew/prep and your essential sewing kit (you can read about my essential sewing tools here!)
5. Track your Progress
If you are working on lots of projects – or even just one – it’s really easy to lose track of your overall progress and feel disheartened.
If you are looking for a broader view, the Quilters Planner is specially designed for quilters and includes tips, notes for spaces and project plan sheets. Or there is always a good old notebook and pen!
If you have lots of projects, you may also want to keep a master list of all your projects, and what stages you are at for each of them.
Personally, I have always loved a good tick chart/list to keep me on track and find it super motivating, so I like to break down each quilt into smaller steps.
For the Mindful QAL there is a monthly printable that summarises the instructions for each block, along with a daily tracker that can be personalised to track progress.
Many quilt patterns – especially digital ones – will include a quilt layout, which is a great visual both for planning the quilt, and also for colouring in as you go to track your overall progress, and can be easily kept in a project bag.
Do you have any other tips and tricks that help with project planning and completion?
I’d love to hear from you!
Today’s sky::: sunny and blue sky. Woo hoo!
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