Friday, June 9, 2017

Being Productive in My Sewing Space

Being productive in my sewing studio is not about running the sewing machine pedal to the metal. Its about making progress on projects as time presents itself.  I've gathered together my tips on my sewing productivity and I'd love to hear what you think.

Make a list.  To keep my projects on track, I start each month with a list of all the projects I'd like to make progress on.  The steps left to be done are listed and then crossed off once accomplished.  For example, if I'm working on finishing up blocks for a quilt, I will list out the steps: blocks, assemble, borders, backing, baste, quilt, bind.

Cut in batches.  My goal is to always have something to sew when I have a few minutes available.  To help with this, I will cut the fabric I need for various projects and create kits, clipping things together with clothespins or binding clips.  This works particular well for long QAL projects where sometimes choosing the fabric takes longer than sewing the blocks!  I carry this same thought into pressing and block trimming. 

Variety.  Everyone tires of a project at some point in the process.  As I result, I have more than one project going on at any given time.  If I am tired of making blocks for a large quilt, perhaps I'll make a mini to gift a friend.  Each project uses very different fabric and that variety keeps me interested and motivated.  I may take that to a bit of the extreme - I'm busy working on four different QALs right now.  

Go portable.  You can make progress on some steps outside of your sewing space.    Bring a batch of HST that need trimming, for example, and work on them in the kitchen while you are waiting for the pot to boil.  Keep a hand sewing project in the car ready for car pool line or doctor office waiting rooms.  (Note,  no HSTs were harmed in this photo. I don't usually put the cutting mat so close to the stove top!)

Motivate with music.  Have a task that you don't enjoy as much?  (For me, that is piecing and pressing the quilt back.)  Put on your favorite playlist and sing away.  It will be done before you know it.

Take breaks.  Marathon sewing sessions can be great but stand up and stretch every once in awhile. Position the ironing board so that you need to stand up in order to press your blocks.  It may take a few extra seconds but you will feel better!

Stay organized.  I keep a relatively clean work surface and use project boxes to keep everything together.  I'll store all the fabric necessary along with any kitted blocks in a project box.  It is nice not to have to hunt through my fabric stash each time I want to work on something. (See my project boxes post.)

Small steps.  This tip is straightforward.  Don't try to make 100 blocks in day.  Break the project down into smaller manageable steps.  Your quilt may need you to make 300 HST but that isn't so bad if you make them twenty units at a time.

Sharing.  Sharing is motivating.  Whether it is an upcoming guild meeting or even just a blog post, wanting to share a completed projected is sometimes enough motivation for me to sit down and tackle the step I've been postponing.  Participating in One Monthly Goal and publicly declaring your goal is another way to make progress.  Joining regular weekly sharing link-ups can also be good.

I hope you've found these tips to be helpful.  What do you do in order to keep yourself on track?

Have a wonderful day! Patty


  1. I usually only have three projects going at once - one in the piecing stage, one on the longarm, and one in the handwork binding stage. I can change between stages as I get inspired to do one or another. When I finish a stage, I move the next one up in importance to get it moving - ie if I finish longarming a quilt, I work to get the piecing one to the longarm stage so I can begin a new piecing project. Great tip to keep things orderly and neat so you don't waste time searching for a tool or the right color thread. I don't make lists.

  2. Patty, great tips! Enjoyed reading your newsletter also on this related topic, helpful information!

  3. Thanks for the tips Patty. I like to cut out something before Bed time, then the next day I am ready to sew it when ever I can.

  4. Sharing is very motivating! Lists are essential for me, and you might laugh at all the pieces of paper around my desk - but each one is important. :) I will also instill "no social media" days when I really need to get something done.

  5. Great tips. Instead of "mental" lists, I think I will write them down like you. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Great tips! I learned a lot! Thank you for sharing!

  7. All your ideas our wonderful! I do many of them, especially having variety: I definitely need more than one project at various stages! I also find time to do 'small' things before the kids wake up: like iron or trim scraps for leader ender projects. It's just fun to hang out in my sewing room!

  8. Great tips!! Now that things have slowed down at work, I'm hoping to get back into a regular (and slower) routine. Time to create my sewing list and get organized.

  9. You are spot on with each and every one of these tips! What a great job compiling them all together. Thank you for sharing! XO


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