I hope this is one of those posts you'll be able to refer to again and again to
refresh ideas and get some motivation for using your scraps! And...most of these ideas apply just as easily to all of your quilting projects and goals!
- First, clean off all of your sewing/quilting work surfaces. For me this meant cleaning off my cutting table, my sewing machine table, and my ironing board. These are the places where clutter accumulates first. Try not to get distracted by fabric and projects you find while doing this task! If you don't have a designated place for some of your sewing tasks make a concentrated effort to keep the surfaces you use extra clean: I did all of my cutting and sewing for over 15 years on our dining room table--not ideal, but you can make it work.
- Second, make a list of works in progress. You can use any method you'd like for this--use what works best for you. I find it's really helpful when I have a paper list I can keep in my sewing room. I'm also going to keep a spreadsheet on my computer as well. For a terrific free download, AllPeopleQuilt has this handy form for tracking 12 projects. I think the most helpful part of this list is noting the status of the project today. I also added my goal for the year below each work in progress on the list. I don't plan to finish all of these projects--for some of them I'd just like to make some good progress.
- Third, make a list of projects you'd like to start this year (or this quarter). This was the most fun: there are always so many possibilities. I try to narrow this list to just a half-dozen projects since I know more will get added to this list as the year goes on. Hopefully you'll also be able to use fabrics on hand for some of the projects on this list.
Set Simple Goals for Organization
- First, decide when you are going to spend time on organizing each day/week. Doing even a little bit of organizing really helps me get more sewing accomplished. I feel like having a set plan for when I'm going to organize has helped already. I've picked Saturday mornings for weekly organizing, and last Saturday morning I knew that I needed to do at least an hour of organizing before I could start sewing for the day. I've also decided that I will pick up and clear off all of my flat work spaces when I'm done sewing each day that I'm in the sewing room.
- Second, decide on a weekly or monthly organizing task. I picked just one organizing project for January because it's kind of a big task I've needed to do for awhile, but for other months I've picked several smaller tasks (like going through one older project box a week). I'm going to organize and label all of my notions. I have notions in a lot of different plastic bins and drawers without labels.
- Third, pick a project to start and finish this quarter...using your stash! You have a few options for this task--you can start something from your works in progress list you made last week (since everything for that project should be in your stash) or you can start a new project from your "want to make list" if you have fabric on hand for it. Finally, you might want to consider a scrap project. My goal this year is to make a scrap quilt every quarter that isn't already a work in progress.
Make Scrap Quilts with a Theme
- Use fabrics from one designer or just a few different designers whose fabrics work well together.
- Plan a scrap quilt around a holiday theme: Christmas, Halloween, Valentine's Day, etc.
- Choose a color scheme.
- Start with a bundle of fabric by one designer and then add in other fabrics to make it scrappy.
Ideas for Accomplishing More
- Always have something ready that you can pick up and sew. This can be handwork or simple machine sewing. I've really tried to do this over the past few years, and it's really helped. You can accomplish a lot in even ten minutes if something is ready to work on without any preparation needed.
- Utilize the "leaders and enders" method of scrap sewing. This entails having something quick and simple to sew at your machine as you begin and end your regular sewing. By sewing scraps together at the beginning and end of chain piecing other projects you can get a lot of extra sewing done in just a little extra time. (For a great explanation of this method read Bonnie Hunter's ideas on Leaders and Enders).
- Cut out a small or mini project...and use your scrap bin! I've decided to make all of my mini quilts completely scrappy.
- After finishing a project, immediately add left overs to your scrap bins (see this post for ideas on organizing your scraps).
- Go over the lists you've made and re-evaluate what you might want to focus on next.
- If you really don't want to work on a particular project, put it away until it inspires you again. Find something to work on that you really want to work on at this time.
Some Final Ideas
- When you're lacking the energy for sewing, try cleaning and organizing your main work spaces...it's amazing how quickly clutter can pile up on your work spaces.
- You can also sort or cut scraps when you can't sew. Sometimes I think we feel like we need to start and finish a scrap project quickly, but that's just not how it is. Scrap quilts take time, and some of that time needs to be spent with preparation tasks.
- Make a scrappy binding. Every so often I go through my left-over binding bin and make a colorful scrappy binding. See my tutorial for making a scrappy binding here.
- Finally...really try to sew just a little something every day. You'll be amazed at how quickly projects come together even when working in small blocks of time.