Finding Time to Quilt

We all have limited time in our lives. Time that is divided amongst many responsibilities, requests, and desires. These past two months, I have been trying to find pockets of time to quilt. Even a half hour can get me far enough to see progress after a few days.

To give me focus, I turned to a study aid I used fairly regularly with my middle school students to help remember something - acronyms. Here is a plan to help you accomplish more creatively.

F: Find Time

What? Where? This is the hardest part for some of us. I love having a whole weekend afternoon to sew, but that just doesn't always happen. Instead of lamenting this, I try to be flexible in finding time that works for me and our family. After dinner seems to be a good time for me to sit down for a half an hour, or an hour if I am lucky.

Most of what I do can be broken down into small steps that can be worked on during this time frame. I also have found ways to do things on my lunch break at work. Google Docs lets me draw and design patterns from anywhere. A lady I worked with would always pulled out her crocheting during lunch. This quilt had hand applique so I could sit with my family while I worked on it.

O: Focus on ONE Thing at a Time

If I am designing on my computer, I tend to have multiple internet tabs open. Multi-tasking is never productive for me and I get distracted easily. Also, I tend to have multiple projects going on at once. Therefore I hop from one to the next, never finishing anything.

Recently, I cleaned out my sewing room. I finished a few things I wanted to change, cleaned up the area and made three small piles. These were the next three quilts I wanted to work on. Doing one at a time, in a relatively clean room, really helped me focus on completing it.

C: Curate Your Materials

Facing a large amount of supplies from which to work from can be stressful and overwhelming. You have so much to choose from, it is hard to make a choice of what to use and where to start.

Last year, I finally curated my fabric collection. I know what I normally use, and what makes me happy to work with. Additionally, seven years worth of quilting books were passed along to someone else because they just caused me anxiety to look at.

With a smaller, well curated collection of supplies, I feel free to create instead of worrying about using everything that I have. I have a much clearer focus. And yes, there are times when I just throw something away.

Supplies can also mean options. I can easily spend an hour searching through Pinterest posts for a pattern or idea. Limiting my options keeps me from being overwhelmed.

U: Understand Limitations and Obstacles

Limitations include time, skills, supplies - anything that won’t change fast. I can definitely address and change these limitations over time; but in the short term, I just need to understand and work around them.

Obstacles, for me often include my time limitations, and my lack of certain skills. As much as I try to make certain types of quilts, I don't have the skills. Limiting my quilts to applique, something I am comfortable with and fairly skilled at, helps my success. It was more enjoyable to make this lighthouse than the bargello flag. In fact, someone asked to pay me to make them this flag quilt and I declined. Picking the fabrics and remaking it would have been a chore instead of a an enjoyment.

S: Space to Sew

Not everyone has the luxury of a designated space to sew, but if possible, try to find one. It is so nice not to have to clean up everything each time you are done sewing. It lets you do a little at a time, when time permits. 

Another "S" is Sew. That's right! You have everything lined up or maybe you don't. It doesn't matter. Just sit down and sew. Try something, rip it out, finish it, just sew. The best writing advice I heard, was sit in the chair and write. So my best piece of advice for creativity is sit in the chair and sew!