It's really hard to slow down and plan because I know I just want to get on with quilting...
We’d all love to have an unlimited amount of time and energy to sew and quilt.
That would be a dream of mine!
With my busy family life, I have to work around them to fit my sewing time in. When I do get time to sew, I need to make it count.
I’m always striving to be more organised, so that I’m not caught up and hampered at every step, trying to work out another problem.
This can be really hard to slow down and plan because like you, I know I just want to get on to the fun bit...actually sewing and making something.
But there’s nothing more frustrating than running out of something vital just when you’re in ‘the zone’.
Having to run to the shop for thread, or not having all the fabric, or even having a printer jam when you’re printing out your pattern can stop you in your tracks.
You lose focus, momentum, and then gradually all progress stops.
Make a thorough plan
Happily there are a number of things you can do to set yourself up for success, so that you don’t lose that momentum, and you have the satisfaction of a finished quilt in your hands.
I’m going to share with you some of the principles I’ve been using to help myself streamline my quilting process, and achieve more…
before beginning a new quilt, I make a thorough plan.
I'll be sharing my exact plan as a free printable in the next post and more importantly, I'll show you how to fill it all out.
Ask yourself, how much time do I have?
Is this a quick project that you need to finish in a few days/weeks? Do you have a deadline, such as a baby’s birth, or gifting for a special birthday?
If you’re not planning an end date for a quilt, then you don’t have to worry, but if you’re hustling to a deadline then be realistic about how much time you actually have to sew.
Then ask yourself when you will fit this sewing time into your busy day.
After work? Late at night? On the weekend?
Whatever time slot you hope to use, you’ll need to block it off as ‘booked’ and guard it sweetly but zealously.
Ask, how long will it actually take to make?
Sometimes you might have your heart set on making a particular pattern, and you'll make time to fit it into your schedule.
Other times, it makes sense to choose a pattern realistically based on how much time you're likely to have available.
This can be a bit hard to figure out sometimes, and if you’re like me, you can overestimate how much you can get done.
But choosing the right pattern that is not too complicated here is key.
Some patterns are by nature going to consume a lot more time in cutting out, determining fabric placement and assembly.
A repeating block pattern where you can do mindless cutting, chain piecing and final assembly really helps progress happen fast.
Time yourself making a block or unit from the pattern
To estimate the overall amount of time it's going to take to sew this baby, one way is to try timing yourself making a test block from scraps from the pattern.
Doing this helps in lots of ways, from determining whether you really do like those fabrics together,
to discovering instructions that you don't quite understand,
It can save a lot of heartache in the end.
Multiply that time by the number of blocks, and you will have a rough estimate of how long your quilt top will take.
Bear in mind that you will likely increase your speed as you become more familiar with the process of the pattern.
Particularly when you're chain piecing you should end up more efficient.
You might be done even sooner!
Don't forget to factor in all the parts of making a quilt...cutting, piecing, basting, quilting and binding.
What kind of quilting design do you plan to do?
A complex and dense design will take a lot longer.
Will you hand or machine bind?
Hand binding, particularly a large quilt, will add considerable length to the overall time needed.
Becoming accurate at all these estimates will take some experience making quilts and acknowledging the actual time taken.
So I don't want this to hamstring anyone...
if you really don't know how long things take, just start, and you'll work it out as you go along.
Do I have enough? - check your inventory
After you’ve figured out time frames and progress dates, chosen your pattern, then move on to checking your inventory.
Do you have all the fabric that you need for the quilt top? Can you buy it in store, or will you have to wait for it to be shipped?
Sometimes you might want to make a quilt from stash, or a scrappy quilt from your scrap bins,
so take the time to go through all that you want to use, and make sure you have enough.
Choose everything from backing fabric to binding fabric, and purchase it or order it. Allow enough time for it to arrive if its coming in the post.
Will you be quilting this yourself or sending it out to a longarm quilter?
Some long armers have considerable wait lists, so you might want to book a time slot in advance. Then you’re really committing!
Lastly, don’t forget good ol’ notions.
Those small and often uninspiring parts of sewing that are so essential to success are the ones that will derail a project right from the start.
Make sure you have all the needle sizes you need, enough thread and the right thread colours, fresh cutting blades, and even factor in starch if you like to use that.
Do you need any specialist supplies like a specific ruler or template.
Make sure to factor extra time if you need to order these and have them delivered.
Go forth and quilt!
Now that you’re as organised as you can be, you’re off to a great start!
There will always be circumstances outside our control which will derail progress, but with a thorough plan, you’re set for success.
You can take the stress out of quilting and enjoy the creative process knowing that you have less UFOs, more finishes, and more quilts to snuggle under.
Join my Facebook community
If you're a social bee, get involved with over 1100 sewists, quilters, and creators from around the world. Share your creations and get inspired!