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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.