Sewing Room Efficiency :: Making the most of the time you have in your sewing room!

Let’s talk about sewing room efficiency! I’m often asked how I get so much done, or if I sleep, so here’s my tips to get things done in your sewing space, without sacrificing too much sleep!

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

It’s all in the planning

Before I cut any fabric, or consider the quilting, I make a plan. My Quilt Planner, has streamlined this process for me, previously I had scratch paper with random numbers everywhere. I print a quilt planner out for each quilt so I know exactly how much fabric to order, how many strips to cut, and pieces to cross cut.

Quilt Planner by Amy Ellis -

If I’m working on a book, I print one quilt planner for each project, and put them all in a binder, with dividers between each project. You could do the same for each quilt you make, or organize purchased patterns in page protectors, that way you can always find them!

Keep things organized

I’m not asking you to keep your sewing room organized, but your project! As you cut, label each stack of like pieces, either with a coordinating letter, or the size that you cut it. This way you don’t have to re-measure before you start stitching, those moments when you are looking for your ruler are precious, don’t waste them!

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

Also group all the pieces for one quilt in a box of some sort. It can be a shoe box, or 12″ square plastic bin with a lid – use what you have to keep track of all the pieces. This is especially helpful when you are working on multiple quilts at the same time.

Batch work

In keeping with my plan,  I cut an entire quilt at once, then move on to the piecing. I typically will chain piece for as long as possible, then spend a similar amount of time pressing all the pieces.

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

When pressing I press the pieces over the seam allowance so that they will nest later when joining more pieces. However, I don’t pick up each piece after it has been ironed, I add to it. The group of pieces below is a good example, just move down a little on the ironing board when you place your next piece, then each seam gets extra pressing and is sure to lay nice and flat for the next step!

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

I use to press all my seams open, but found that it slowed me down too much, when pressing, and later when pinning for matching points. To each his or her own – it’s up to you!

Small goals

Ok, you don’t have hours of uninterrupted time? Small goals. Challenge yourself to get one fabric pressed or cut in the next 10 minutes for your next project. And the next time you have 10 minutes move on to the next one. Don’t let the time you don’t have keep you from making the most of the time you do have! Steal yourself away and get a little pressing done, or sew a few more seams.

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

If you batch right, you can even bring a small portion of your project to another part of the house where you are needed. Trimming HST’s while helping with spelling and multiplication facts is no problem, and you are meeting a small goal!

Little helpers

When agreeable, I will have my kids cut apart chains or organize pieces. This doesn’t happen as often anymore, but when my kids were younger, a small pair of scissors, and a pile of chain piecing and they would happily work on it for 20-30 minutes. If you would like them to make matches, set them up with room to make lots of piles.

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

Involving the kids, buys you a little more time with your current goal, and gives them a sense of pride when they realize they are helping to make a special project with you.


When all else fails, grab a cup of coffee (or drink of choice) and keep stitching!

Even if you only have 15 minutes to work on a project - make the most of it!

No, I don’t actually sew with coffee on my machine, but my Baby Lock Soprano and I get along well late into the night! I am a mom of 4 school age kids, and all the activities that come with them keep me up late working on my own deadlines more often than I care to admit.

There’s my six tried and true tips for getting lots done in your sewing room! Is there something else that works for you? Share in the comments – we’d all love to learn more!


PS – I’m adding a printable to the post!

Time you DO have! by Amy Ellis -

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By |2017-02-06T09:17:45-06:00December 17th, 2015|Sewing Tips!|17 Comments


  1. Linda Swanekamp December 17, 2015 at 10:18 am - Reply

    Thanks for all the great tips! I do keep track of my projects (many) in zip bags with a copy of the directions and where I left off. I will have to look at your quilt planner. I started keeping a spiral notebook of what I have done that day by date and tape in any ideas I have for future consideration. Love your work!

    • Amy December 17, 2015 at 1:07 pm - Reply

      I’m glad they are helpful Linda! You might really like the quilt planner – it has kept me much better organized, and I don’t have to redo the math to figure out what the numbers mean in my notes :)

  2. Karen December 17, 2015 at 10:50 am - Reply

    Don’t have little helpers anymore (they’re 39 and 37), so guess I’ll have to drink more coffee! Thanks so much for the great ideas!

    • Amy December 17, 2015 at 1:08 pm - Reply

      Ha! Hopefully there’s a couple you can try out in there, with your cup of coffee :) Thanks for stopping by Karen!

  3. evelyn December 17, 2015 at 5:37 pm - Reply

    Coffee-check. Project all together in a container-check. Ok, I have a ways to go. Thanks for the great tips.

  4. Jasmine December 18, 2015 at 3:44 pm - Reply

    I appreciate your small goal reminder. I have a harder time starting when my time is limited.

    • Amy January 12, 2016 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Jasmine – I have to remind myself of this all the time! Thankfully I can walk away and come back as needed or I would have a really hard time getting lots done.
      Good luck!

  5. Dawn December 29, 2015 at 8:19 pm - Reply

    Hi Amy. Here’s a tip: tidy up at the end of a sewing session. Nothing impedes progress or hampers motivation more than a messy sewing space!

    • Amy January 12, 2016 at 12:15 pm - Reply

      So true Dawn! I have that on my list to get done today – hopefully I can find a home for everything again!

  6. Leanne Parsons December 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Unfortunately, my biggest hurdle to sewing room efficiency is the lack of a sewing room! I sew at the kitchen table, where we also eat all of our meals, do homework and art projects, puzzles and games. Sometimes I feel like I’d get so much more done if I didn’t have to set up and put away for every sewing session, but then I remember that I also wouldn’t be right in the middle of whatever is going on either. I am trying to get a little more organized though, and keeping parts of projects in a box of some sort will certainly help!

    • Amy January 12, 2016 at 12:19 pm - Reply

      Leanne – I totally understand where you are coming from! I wrote my first four books all while sewing at the kitchen table and it’s definitely a challenge, but workable if you are creative with where everything is stowed. I would keep things close enough that they could be pulled out for a few minutes, but far enough away that they weren’t in danger either. Keeping your projects organized will make it so that you only have to pull out the machine, or the iron/ironing board when you have 10 minutes, instead everything. Good luck & happy quilting!

  7. carrie wikanderr December 31, 2015 at 12:30 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the tips, Amy. All helpful. Keeping projects in good plastic boxes is so key for me! There are a few things I do, don’t know whether everyone doesn’t already do them but I’ll share anyway: One thing I do if I’m making blocks is to lay out all the pieces for a block in piles – that way when I am sewin I just have t pick up a pile and make the block. , I also pre-wind several bobbins at a time – my Bernina uses special bobbins so I can’t buy the pre-filled. I also starch most of my fabrics before I sew with them. I use a lot of curves, bias cuts and circles and it saves stitch pull-out time if I can sew them correctly the first time.

    • Amy January 12, 2016 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Thanks Carrie! These are great ideas!

  8. Lara B. January 6, 2016 at 12:24 pm - Reply

    Amy, I feel like your words “Don’t let the time you don’t have keep you from making the most of the time you do have!” should be embroidered, framed and hung in my sewing room. It’s a great tip to use even the little bits of time. It would save frustration too… get things accomplished while waiting for others. Great post – pinned it!

    • Amy January 12, 2016 at 12:23 pm - Reply

      Thanks Lara! After reading your comment earlier, I made a printable page, so that we don’t have to take the time to embroider it! I need to find some cardstock, and pin it to my wall – good luck!

  9. Marta62 February 4, 2016 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    LOL! I’m also a kitchen table sewer “it takes me about 15 minutes to bring everything out and another 20 to put it all away and clean up! … I definitely need to get organized. Thanks for your your tips which are very helpful and I hope to try out your quilt planners!

  10. Gayla March 7, 2016 at 12:48 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the tips and the printable. Often I feel my sewing room walls should be papered with that statement rather than just hanging one up. That is my “excuse” for not sewing more, and I really want to change that. Thank you too for the planner pages of information. I’m looking forward to being more organized than my “scribble notes” all over the place that I someday intend on typing up and filing. Great site!

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