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I have to ask.............

Are you ready to start another new day with a new pattern? I hope so – life is great and affords us many opportunities to start fresh and new – and today is a great day to start making a new quilt: Ruffled Roses. Each month, you will find the pattern for part of this quilt online. Just print the instructions, cut, stitch, press… and before you know it, time will have passed, and you will be ready to enjoy your own Ruffled Roses quilt. What a wonderful way to start each month!

I have to ask.............

Postby eileenkny » Thu Jan 06, 2011 8:43 am

Several of us have been wondering, very seriously, how some of you get so much done. Like Sue being able to do about 20 quilts a year! Margo must have a clone somewhere to get so much done and Geneva as well.
How do you set up your area and prep your applique? Do you take it everywhere with you? Do you sleep at all? I am not being facetious here-I really need some advice. :oops:
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby Margo » Thu Jan 06, 2011 10:54 am

I really think that organizing your time is even more important than organizing your space. Quilting is Sue's job. She spends at least as much time each day in her studio as you working ladies spend commuting and putting in a full day (and more?) at work. And she always has a hand project to take when she needs to be away from her wonderful studio.

As for me, I am fortunate that I have been able to expand my quilting space since our children left for college. As for time, since my husband's cancer diagnosis in 2007, we have been house-bound for long stretches of time, and I've been able to get a lot of concentrated time in the sewing room since then. Because we are both retired, that also frees up a lot of time to devote to things that give us pleasure. Mine is quilting, his is golf when he feels up to it now.

Before that, I made quilting a priority when I wanted to get something done. I would schedule time to quilt on my calendar, just like I scheduled important appointments, like the doctor's visits for DH and his mother. (I'm also her caregiver.) I would set aside whole days or half days and would go into the sewing room and WORK.

People with more obligations (job, children, church, volunteer work) may not be able to set aside whole or half days, but you can set aside a solid hour for concentrated work. You need to MAKE time to quilt. If you just wait until you FIND time, it probably won't happen. Something else will get done, but quilting is easily set aside if it's not a priority.

When I head to the sewing room, I am on a mission. I know what I'm going to work on, and know that I work better in a neat environment, so the first thing I do is put away anything that may have been left out of place the last time I worked so I can concentrate on one thing at a time. I guess I'm not good at multi-tasking. :roll:

I don't really have a lot of UFOs because I either finish what I'm working on or decide that it has taught me some kind of lesson and I can abandon it. I do have several projects going at a time, but they don't drag on and on.

I hope that answers some of your questions about how I work. I'm looking forward to seeing what others do!
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby Sewdreamy » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:13 am

Great question and great response from Margo. I plan on making more time to quilt by retiring sometime this year, if all works like I hope. :D
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby pam7040 » Thu Jan 06, 2011 11:27 am

Margo I am one of 'cant find time because something else will get done'. However DS is finally moving out and I am in the process of sorting and storing my fabrics and equipment in a way that I can find things easily and only have one project out at a time. I must confess that before everything was all higgledy piggledy and I could never find anything. I am seriouly drooling at the BOM 2011 so if I can get my stash sorted properly, who knows I might join you this year. :wink: It might be a way of using some of the awful pink and lilac floral fqs that I bought when I first started quilting, because they were pretty. Needless to say I am more selective with what I buy now.
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby Margo » Thu Jan 06, 2011 1:49 pm

Pam, this is a great project for using up fabrics that work with your other colors but you don't especially like the print any more, because everything gets cut up into tiny pieces! It's more important that the value be right....the lightness or darkness of the fabrics so that you have some contrast in most of the fabrics against the background. For scrappy quilts, the more different fabrics you use, the easier it is to slip in some of those old dogs! :lol:

You may notice that in the Beloved Beauties version there are a couple of fabrics that are very close in value to the background. I used them anyway because I like the way the different values make your eyes dance around the quilt, but people using that kit may choose to leave those fabrics out of some of the elements! You just don't want to use a lot of those close in value unless it's a design choice.
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby RGold » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:14 pm

Eileen, thanks for asking this question! And Margo, thank you for your thoughtful explanation. I've heard from others about making time, rather than finding it, and I'm trying hard to do that. I do not have an 8-5 job. I freelance, and it's pretty much feast (sometimes 10-14 hours/day), or famine (when I'm worried about when the next job is coming). During the very busy times, sleep becomes my priority in off hours, so I try to take advantage of the slow work times for quilting, but it's hard to get into a routine that way. Plus, I've now gotten much more involved in TQS and in a couple of local quilting groups (which I never had before) -- I'm enjoying both tremendously and have gained so much (in personal friendships as well as quilt knowledge), but that does tend to divide my quilting time even more. This year, I'm trying to focus my weekends (when I have them -- freelancing often means people give you things to work on over the weekend so they don't have to :? ) or slow times for doing machine piecing and getting things ready for hand work. Then, I should be able to take advantage of 10 or 15 minute breaks to do some applique, hand piecing, or hand quilting. I'm hoping that will make me feel more productive.
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby eileenkny » Thu Jan 06, 2011 2:31 pm

I'm like Robin-I don't work a regular job. I quilt for others and we all know that in the great scheme of things that this is not a necessity. I've been busting my butt trying to finish a piece from the class I took with Katie PM. I actually have a deadline; something I'm overly familiar with. So my center block copy is cut out (by DH Mike with his Alto Quiltcut 2) and taped together. Once I'm done for the day with the other piece, I'm going to sit down and do my tracing. I have to give my friend back her light box on Sunday so I want to get the tracing done before then. :|
I'm going to just plug along at my own speed and everything should get completed eventually. :)

I don't have an engagement calendar so I'm trying to use a spiral notebook to stay on track. Robin, we're accountability buddies, right? :wink:
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby RGold » Thu Jan 06, 2011 3:17 pm

We are accountability buddies, Eileen! :D ... but also sympathetic ears!
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby ajclapp » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:21 pm

Great responses, Margo and Robin. I often say you find time for what's most important to you. When I decided to make the time for quilting in August of 2000 I started getting up earlier in the morning to work (or play) an hour or two before anyone else in the household arose. That way there were no interruptions. I also often found some time later in the day so was able to finish a lap size quilt in a week. I did that every day for 3 years, seldom missing a day. That's how the quilts were done for my rag quilt books. Then when we became empty nesters I decided that was enough of the early morning sewing and stayed up later at night instead. I still found plenty of time for sewing but lots of other stuff didn't get done. This week I started the early morning routine again. I figure if I get 1 or 2 hours of sewing done most mornings that would be an additional 300 to 600 hours a year and that should be plenty of extra time to do a few projects that I wouldn't be able to do otherwise. I make more mistakes during the early morning hours so have to be more careful. My DH often works at home in the late mornings and the phone rings a lot so I don't get a lot done until later in the day and then there are errands to run etc. And I work at home so I'm always at work and since I'm my own boss I can choose what work I want to do each day, or take a whole week off if I please and just sew, as long as I have the important stuff done. It's just a matter of being inspired. And this year I'm keeping track of my sewing time on an engagement calendar like I used to do in the past.
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby Margo » Thu Jan 06, 2011 4:45 pm

I hear you, Annis! That "other stuff doesn't get done" around my house includes vacuuming and dusting. I'll get it done when company is expected, and not before! That's my story and I'm stickin' to it! :lol:

BTW....here is a link to Annis's book! http://www.amazon.com/Year-Quilts-Leisu ... 1574863886
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby ritzy » Thu Jan 06, 2011 5:08 pm

If I really want to get something done, such as the BOM, I will get my chores done so that I have Saturday free to work as long as I want. I think, like the others have said it is a juggling act (because, after all, we do have families and other responsibilities) we have to make time and if we organize, sometimes we can work on it when we are sitting and waiting for other things.
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby SusanH » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:01 pm

What a wonderful question, Eileen - and wonderful answers from everyone so far! So how DO I get stuff done? Well... there's not a lot of magic about it. First of all, I'm lucky. I don't cook (much), I don't clean (much - I try not to let things pile up), my kids are grown (though they and the grand kids get all the time they or I want together!), my husband loves to see me happy (which means I get to quilt a lot), and I have space to keep things "set up" (which sometimes translates into "space to keep messes lying around!"). Bottom line: I can find time to quilt.

Beyond that, I can offer some tips that are meant to save time when working on a project. Don't get me wrong - I'm not "racing" to get projects done - but because time is one of the most valuable resources we have, and it's limited, I like to make the best use of it! Here's how:
-- I always, always have one or more "take-along" projects at hand. It can be applique, circle-making, binding... something that is easy to put in a bag and take with me to work on if there is time. I keep scissors, needle, and thread for the project in zip-lock bags or totes so that when I pick up the project, it's all there, ready to go. It takes a little planning, but it becomes second-nature to do that. Then, when I go someplace I am ready to get some sewing done.
-- I look for - and use - short cuts that save time. For example, when I baste a block for applique, I don't baste just one piece at a time. I baste the whole block (or as much of it as I can at one time). Think how much less stopping and starting there is when all the fabric is in place, ready to sew, at the same time! I often baste a whole set of blocks for a quilt, wrap them around swimming pool noodles, and then I can take the set with me and work on one block at a time because they are all ready to work on!
-- I keep projects together in plastic bins or ziplock bags. This keeps the fabric and the pattern and the sewn/unsewn blocks all together - I don't have to hunt down the missing pieces when I open the bin/bag - it's all there! That way, if I put the project aside so that I can work on something else... it remains ready for me to pick up again at a later date.
-- I don't bother with tools unless they make the job more efficient. I think that sometimes we rely on too many tools. Example: I use regular paper for paper foundations. I don't have to run to the store to get special foundation paper when I do paper piecing. Now you can carry that too far - for example it would be easy to use only white thread for ALL sewing... but that doesn't make sense, right? So think about what is efficient.
-- I know it's silly but I track how much time it takes me to do things. For example, I know that it takes me 1 minute to applique 2 inches. What difference does that make? None... but if I am looking at 2" leaves, I can begin estimating that appliquing a leaf will take me 2 minutes and if there are 10 leaves on the block, it will take me 20 minutes to do them... and so I know how long it will take me to finish them and I can start thinking about what I need to do in 20 minutes. It's not really important to know how long it takes to do something - it's more important to think about what your next step is, while you're doing the current one, so that you can mentally plan what you will need next. Does that make sense? And I can think about that for multiple steps -- if I can estimate that it will take me 6 hours to applique 4 blocks, then I know that if I can work on the quilt 3 hours a day, I can finish the blocks in 8 days... assuming that I can work 8 days straight. Then... I start looking at my calendar. And I start establishing priorities and setting goals... to finish the 4 blocks by next Wednesday... and to work on the borders for the next 3 days... and to baste it on the following Monday... and... you get the idea. Again, the timelines are not as important as the fact that I am PLANNING ahead... and when I do, I am mentally setting aside the time to get the work done. I think that many of us (me included) sometimes just "let life happen" and time gets away from us and we wonder what happened. The only remedy is to not let time get away: capture it, tame it, and make it work for YOU!
-- Set goals!!! Decide what you will get done today, this week, this month, this year. I start off each year with a list of things I want to get done. Some things on the list are trivial ("move azalea to back yard") and others are more substantive ("make XYZ and ABC quilts"). I review the lists and sometimes divide them into months ("January-March: design and make Rose Medallion quilt") - so that I can check my progress during the month or year. Sometimes I set goals on my daily calendar (1/5/11-finish quilting 2nd block; 1/6/11-quilt half of 3rd block). This keeps me focused on getting things done.
-- LOOK at how you spend your time now. We all have the same 24 hours; we all just use it differently. I don't expect anyone to quilt more or less than I do... but for myself, I love quilting. So when I look at how I spend time in a day and realize that I could EASILY spend 4 hours a day in various 1/2 hour segments, in front of a computer... that's time when I'm not sewing or being with family or taking care of chores. It would be interesting for each of us to take a week and put our tasks into a journal: how much time is spent cooking, cleaning, shopping, at the computer, personal grooming, sewing, family, school, reading, other hobbies... My guess is that we would all have a real awakening "A-ha!" moment when we find out how we REALLY spend our time... or to put it another way... how much time we let slip through our fingers. Notice: I am not saying how much time we "waste." We all make choices - and what may seem like waste to one person is just chill-out or relaxation or take-a-breather time to another person. If I need that or you need that... so be it!
-- Be involved in the quilt world: join a guild, join a bee, invite folks over to quilt... I belong to a guild and 5 bees. It averages out to a day a week that I have a bee - some are just an afternoon, some are all day. But it is focused time when I can sew -- and I plan ahead (with those take-along projects so that I have things to do at those bees!) and get stuff done... but more importantly, those bees are places where my friends and I get excited and challenge each other to do more, try new things, learn new things, etc. Being part of a quilter community is important to me.
-- There are a lot more simple ways to save time and get more done - use bias bars to make stems, use paper foundations for piecing, do projects in parallel rather than serial steps, keep a clean work space (messes make me procrastinate because I don't like being around them!), take classes (you'll learn and when you do, things get easier to do), etc. Find what works for you.
-- Put down the things that you are working on that you don't enjoy or don't want to do. Work on things that excite you -- I love working on things that I can hardly wait to finish! They keep me energized - and that's how I get a LOT done!
-- And finally... you've just spent how much time reading this long note????? when you could have been sewing????? Well... I hope that you at least learned a thing or two!
Happy sewing -
Sue Garman
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby BethMI » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:43 pm

I am SOOOO envious of all of you who are retired or stay-at-home ladies and who have the opportunity to quilt all day! I have a full-time and very demanding job with lots of overtime required -- too much. I learned long ago not to sign up for multi-session quilting classes. I would invariably have to miss at least one because I had to work that evening or day. So I buy books and DVD's instead, which I can learn from on my schedule (and to which I am addicted). Out of the last 15 monthly quilt guild meetings, I made 3. I either had to work or was sick or whatever.

This year, I managed to make 5 baby quilts plus a larger lap quilt -- all before August 1st. I haven't touched a sewing machine since then. I think I got a bit burned out with deadlines and trying to finish everything with my crazy work schedule. Last weekend, I finally cleaned off my sewing table (which had become the family dumping ground) and am now beginning to get the itch again. Maybe I'll start one of those projects I picked up in Houston??

I have a wedding quilt to make for one of my daughter's special girlfriends ... and a quilt for my sister ... and a quilt for my sister-in-law's parents ... and a Gees Bend quilt for me (always last on the list), etc. So many projects, so little time! I can hardly wait!!!

On New Years Day, I sat down and hand-quilted for 1 1/2 hours. Heaven!!!

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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby RGold » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:50 pm

Yes, Sue, I've just spent 3 minutes or whatever reading your message, but you have some really helpful suggestions, and I am searching for ways I can expand the quilting part of my life. I can't retire yet, and I haven't yet figured out a way to earn money from something quilt-related, so that means work is a reality for me. So, I'm trying to find ways to be more efficient in my work so that I can spend more of my time quilting, and that probably means making my quilting time more efficient, too. With quilting, I'm a bit like the proverbial kid in a candy store -- I want it all! I'm happy as can be reading about quilting (history, technique, anything!) and I'm happy actually quilting. One thing my husband and I have been discussing is to try to make better use of our low-energy times of day (tends to be 4-6 pm). If we have dinner at 5 instead of 6, then I have more energetic time after dinner for quilting or working. Of course, that means I have to get him to come home from school (he's a professor) at 4, like he says he'd like to :wink:, because he cooks dinner! I'm also going to try to put quilting in that 4-5 slot -- I'll be more energized that way, too.
Sue, thank you for taking the time from your quilting to write! I appreciate it!!
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Re: I have to ask.............

Postby Margo » Thu Jan 06, 2011 6:56 pm

Did I mention that Sue is kind of organized??? Maybe that's how she got to be a no-kidding rocket scientist! :D

Sue, thanks so much for all these great tips for getting more done. Obviously, I need to get off the computer and get back into the studio!!
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