Thursday, June 29, 2017

Tips and Tricks for Working on Multiple Quilt Projects

For some reason, I've never been a quilter who works on just one project at a time.  If there's a deadline for a project, I can make myself work on one quilt at a time.  Well mostly, because there has to be a leaders and enders project going at the same time.  But my sweet spot is working on about 4 quilts at a time.  Usually all in various stages of completion.  The maximum I've ever tried at one time has been six or seven.  That was too many, I didn't feel like any one project was getting anywhere.  Organization is key when trying to handle multiple projects at once.  I'm still learning how to improve work flow, but maybe some of what I've learned will help speed up your work flow. 

Work Area Set Up:

I have two design walls, a large and a small one.

This picture is from 2013, so it's older, but it illustrates the point.  There are four projects in progress.  If the blocks are small they will stay up on the design wall, if the blocks are larger, just the ones I'm working on go up on the wall.  That helps me see where I'm at in the construction process on multiple projects. 

Projects in Progress Organization:

Having a place for the projects in progress and the fabric in use makes it easy to find exactly what part I'm looking for.  

All of my projects are in project boxes.  The blocks and or block pieces for a project are either up on a design wall or in a project box.  It keeps my sewing space uncluttered and I can usually find exactly what I'm looking for.  The other trick that's been a life saver is how my fabrics are folded and stored.  The third shelf down are all the fabrics that are being used for the projects in the boxes.  I fold my fabrics much like they are on a bolt. I can unfold part of the yardage, give it a touch up press and then cut whatever pieces I need.  Since cutting isn't my favorite step, I tend to cut as I go, so there are less loose pieces for me to keep up with.  

Assembly Line Construction:

I learned about chain piecing in my first quilt class.  Not sure I can sew any other way now.  The big challenge has been where to store all the different block pieces for different projects so I can easily get to them as I'm lining up the various pieces to sew.   A recent addition to the sewing room seems to have solved that. 

I ordered this 5 drawer unit from Pottery Barn Teen when it was on sale earlier this year.  Each drawer has parts and pieces for the various projects in the work.  The top drawer as the pieces for this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks, the next has pieces for En Provence, the current leaders and enders project.  Another drawer have the pieces for the Christmas Angels quilt which is my current third project.  

When I sit down to sew, I start lining up the blocks.  

From left to right is the binding for the Meadow Mist Mystery quilt, the RSC block, HSTs for the Angel quilt, sashing for En Provence and then En Provence block that I'm using as my lender and ender at the moment.  Yes, I could have done more than 2 of the HSTs for the Angel quilt, but I tend to make those in small sets so I'm not at the cutting table cutting them all at once.  That's one of the cutting chores I really dread.  Sprinkling those dreaded HSTs in with a set of other blocks keeps me moving that project along.  Is it fast?  No.  But I'm able to keep the project moving and it doesn't end up forever on the UFO list because of a step that is hard for me to power through.  

Method to the Madness:

When I started making quilts again, I had a two year old at home and a full time job that involved a lot of over time.  My sewing time was really, really limited.  Very often 15 minutes of sewing time was all I could eek out on a regular basis.  But I found a process that allowed me to make the most of that time. This is my work process:

1.  Cut whatever pieces are needed
2.  Pin the pieces at the sewing machine
3.  Chain sew what's sitting at the machine
4.  Press all the seams
5.  Repeat

With my 15 minutes one night, I'll cut what's needed for the next step.  The following night I'll use the time to pin all the pieces and maybe sew a few together.  The next night finishing stitching and press.  It's not a lot at any one sitting, but if I manage 15 minutes every night, there's a good deal of progress in a week.  

Recently I've learned that picking one project as the focus for the time period really helps with getting to a finish.  The One Monthly Goal has really helped with that.  So if it's just 15 minutes, that's the project where the time gets spent.  

Progress for the year using this approach:

4  Finishes
1  Binding in progress
1  Ready to send for quilting
1  UFO moved from pieces to finished blocks
1  Steady progress on En Provence 

We are all different in how we work best, this seems to fit the rhythm of my life.  What works or doesn't work in yours?     

Monday, June 26, 2017

Weekend Stitching: June's One Monthly Goal and Other Progress

Not sure I'm ready for the work week yet, but it was nice to get a day in the sewing room.  Even better the new washer showed up on Friday, saving me from another trip to the laundromat.  So it was a very nice and relaxing Sunday.  

Lots going on in the sewing room this weekend.  First off the June One Monthly Goal is finished.  

The goal for June was to get the borders on Blooms and Butterflies, then make a back, prep both for quilting, then package them up to ship out for quilting.  Done, done, done and done.

That plaid fabric in the backing has been in the stash for about 10 years.  It's nice to finally move it out of the stash closet.  So I'm 6 for 6 on this year's One Monthly Goal.  All the prep work was done last weekend, but with the crazy stuff going on at work, it just didn't get posted last week.  You can find more monthly achievements over at Elm Street Quilts

With Blooms off the design wall, there was room to start laying out the blocks for this month's UFO project.  

 It took most of Saturday evening to fussy cut the angels for the center of the blocks.  Block construction didn't get started until Sunday.  Christmas Angels probably won't make it to the finished flimsy stage by the end of the month, but it's definitely further along then when it came out of the project box.  

Linking up with:
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday
Monday Design Wall 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Stash Stuff - Week 25 of 2017

It's a beautiful Sunday morning.  I'm looking forward to my solo retreat day in the sewing room.  The last report for work was finished up at 6 PM last night.  I'm am so ready to do something besides review data and write up reports!  It's been quite a week.  The new position, coupled with having to finish up the stuff for the old position has been all consuming.  After spending hours on the computer at work,  spending any time on my home computer was just not something I wanted to do.  I'm way behind on personal emails and blog reading.  I'll do a bit of catch up today, but my main goal is to spend some serious time in my sewing room recovering from the insanity of the last couple of work weeks.  

I only managed to make it to the sewing room 2 days out of the last seven.  I got in a bit of time last Sunday and then treated myself to a couple of hours last night since the reports were all done. That dropped my average success rate in finding time to stitch from 95% to 91%.  A bit disappointing, but sometimes that's just the way things work.   Needless to say the say the stash report is pretty anemic this week. 

Used last week:  0.1 yard
Used year to date:  38.38 yards
Added year to date: 215.55 yards
Net added year to date:  177.17 yards

At least I was too busy to look at any of the fabric adds or stop by the quilt shop, so the net added went down rather than going up.  

The plan for today is to finish the label for the Meadow Mist Mystery quilt, so that maybe it can join the finished list before the end of the month.  Then I'm hoping to just play with whatever else looks good.  

We had rain last weekend, which made my roses happy. 

They make quite a show outside the dining room window.  

That's it for this week.  I'm looking forward to a much quieter and hopefully less frantically paced work week.  Linking up with quiltpaintcreate for the weekly stash report.  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Stash Stuff for Week 24 of 2017

It's a stormy Sunday morning here in northern Oklahoma.  Lots of lightening and thunder, very impressive stuff.  It's been a frustrating weekend.  The washer shopping didn't go very well.  The local big box store doesn't have any of the models we want in stock.  Two to three weeks to get one on order.  We do have one small appliance store in town, we'd never been there.  They have one I like, lower price than the big box store, but he sold the last one he had in the stock.  He supposed to get more this week.  Fingers crossed that I have a new washer before next weekend.

It wasn't a totally desolate week in terms of finding time to sew.  I did manage 5 out of 7 days to find 15 minutes to stitch.  But most days this week it really was just 15 minutes.  I did take Friday evening off from the report writing.  You can only stare at a computer screen for so long.  And I got in a bit of sewing last night after dinner.  I finished piecing the back for Blooms and Butterflies, so there's a bit of stash going out this week. 

Used last week:  2.67 yards
Used year to date:  38.28 yards
Added year to date:  215.55 yards
Net added year to date:  177.27 yards

At least being busy with work stuff keeps me from clicking on any of those quilt shop adds that show up in the email.  There was nothing in this week for a change. 

The "must do immediately stuff" should be finished by Friday.  My plan is to indulge in a sanity replenishing solo sewing retreat day next weekend.  I'll be more than ready for one by then.  

I did get in a couple of walks in this week hoping to avoid the typical shoulder and back problems that occur when sitting at the computer for long periods of time.  The Black Eyed Susans are blooming.  Aren't they pretty?

Linking up with quiltpaintcreate for this week's stash report.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Rainbow Scrap Challenge: Just a Spot of Yellow

June is turning out to be one of those months.  If you've come for the quilty stuff, skip down to the picture.  I'm pretty sure the next little bit is going to have the tone of a rant. 

I've been AWOL from my home computer, so I'm way behind on returning emails and reading blogs.  Unfortunately that's not going to change for probably another week.  So my apologies on that, I miss seeing all the fun stuff everyone is doing, though at this point it would feel a bit like salt in the wound since I can't play right now.  Getting the old job wrapped up and working at the new has been a challenge.  I've been working some long hours since last weekend.  Work is pretty much the agenda for this weekend as well.  But I'm hopeful that by pushing hard this week, I'll at least not be bringing work home each evening the following week.  

To top off this less than pleasant week was the pronouncement by the washer repair guy that it wasn't the door sensor, it's the control boards and the pump.  So after two weeks of trying to get the repair guy to order the part and then back over here, we're going to have to get a new washer.  Found that out yesterday, so this afternoon I'll take a break from all the report writing to go get a washer.  But the way things work here, the washer won't get delivered till next week, if we are lucky.  So that means a trip to the laundromat again this morning.  

Sorry, I needed to vent.  Thank you for letting me.  Now on to just a little bit of fun stuff.

I did finish two sets of half fans this week.  That's about all the sewing time I've had.  I need 12 halves, so 8 more to make, then I need 6 full sized yellow blocks.  I believe someone last week was lamenting that finding dark and light yellow was a challenge.  It certainly is.  My yellow scrap stash is pretty big and I barely eeked out enough for all planned blocks.  I forgot to take a picture of my two piles of fabric.  It's just been that kind of week. 

You can find more sunny yellows over at Soscrappy and at Oh Scrap on Sunday.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Weekend Stitching: Bordering Blooms

I suspect this will be another fast and furious week. We've had a few of those lately.  Lots going on since Drama Teen's graduation.  The unexpected changes at work are going to make this week challenging.  I'll probably just manage to get in 15 minutes of stitching each day.  Hopefully that will be enough to maintain my sanity through all the transitions that have to happen. 

I did get some significant sewing room time on Saturday.  Blooms and Butterflies is now a finished flimsy.

 Blooms and Butterflies
Bloom block by Lea Brummett, setting by Kate
I'm happy with how this quilt turned out.  It's going to be my new cuddle quilt for the recliner.  The back will have to be pieced.  The fabrics for the back have been selected. Hopefully the back will get pieced sometime this week.  My June One Monthly Goal is to get this quilt ready to send out for quilting.  

I'm hoping that the work stuff that has to get done is finished by Friday. Then I can take that solo sewing retreat day I'm dreaming of next weekend.  

Linking up with:
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday
Monday Design Wall

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Stash Stuff for Week 23 of 2017

It's been a crazy and busy week.  The saga of the broken washer continues, so it was back to the laundromat yesterday.  We have more family coming to visit today.  Last week we had Drama Teen's college orientation which required a 2 day out of town stay. When I got back to work on Wednesday my boss informed that I'd be moving into a new position this next Thursday.  That requires that all of my project work be wrapped up this week.  So most of today (before the family gets here) will be dedicated to writing reports rather than playing in the sewing room.  Bummer.  But that's how it goes sometimes.   

Blooms and Butterflies is a finished flimsy, it will makes it debut on tomorrow's design wall post.  All the border fabric got counted in this week's stash report.  

Used last week:  1.59 yards
Used year to date:  35.61 yards
Added year to date:  215.55 yards
Net added year to date:  179.94 yards

Unfortunately the added column also got bigger this week.  Drama Teen had college orientation this week, so I took the opportunity to check out the local quilt shops (another reason to visit her at college).  I picked up a few fat quarters in colors that will be needed for this year's RSC quilt. 

I'll need 16 small fan blocks of the orange and red violet when we get to those colors.  My stash isn't very extensive for either of those colors so stocking up just made sense.  I visited our local quilt shop yesterday on the way home from running errands.  Of course you have to support the local shop or they don't stay in business.

The squiggly lines yardage would make a really cool background for a scrappy quilt using just the cool colors.  I just couldn't resist the butterflies.  No plans for either of these pieces just yet.  I'm sure something will come to me.  

I missed one day of stitching this week due to Drama Teen's orientation.  Parent orientation pretty much wore me out and we didn't get back to the hotel till late.  All I wanted was bed, so any thoughts of hand stitching evaporated pretty quickly.  But I did manage to find 15 minutes the rest of the week. So I've managed to find at stitching time for 153 out of the 161 days so far this year.  That's a 95% success rate.  Not bad.  The effort is showing up in completions for this year and in fabric out. 

Linking up with QuiltPaintCreate for this week's stash report.  

Monday, June 5, 2017

Weekend Stitching: A Bit of This and That

Sunday was a weird day. Drama Teen's writing group friends came from Florida for a visit last Wednesday and they left Sunday.  We dropped them off at the airport at 5:00 AM yesterday.  They were flying standby (a family member works for one of the airlines).  They didn't get a seat on a flight till 6 PM.  Which was good, that was the last flight out of our small airport.  I felt so bad for just leaving them at the airport but one of the Mom's assured me they were used to it and had planned for it.  Still that's a miserable way to spend a day.  

Between my laundromat decompression sewing from Saturday and my NASCAR race watching sewing on Sunday, a lot of changes are visible on the design wall.  Block 7 for the En Provence quilt, plus two sashing pieces are done. 

  En Provence, A Bonnie Hunter Mystery (2016)

All 12 alternate blocks for the Christmas Angels quilt are up on the design wall.  Ten of the blocks are completed, two blocks still have a couple of seams that need to be sewn. 

 Christmas Angels, self designed

The dark fabric in the blocks is a dark green, not black.  Angels was my May UFO.  I haven't decided yet if I'll start on the focus blocks are just put this one away once the alternate blocks are all done.  The plan wasn't to finish all the UFOs on the list, but to at least move them along.  I've done that with this one.  But if I can continue to work it in with the other projects on the list for this month it will stay out.  

Lastly, I finished off the small green fan blocks for this year's Rainbow Scrap Project. 

 Cabins and Fans, self designed

These blocks are 3.5", while the large blocks are 7.5" unfinished.  Now I'm ready to get started on the yellow versions of these blocks. 

It was a pretty productive weekend.  It's going to be a busy week, but I'm hopeful that I can work in a solo sewing retreat next weekend.  I need a break after all the graduation, college registration, visiting friends activites we've had the last few weeks.  If the washer doesn't get fixed, there will be another round at the laundromat and I'll definitely need some de-stressing sewing after that battle!  

Linking up with:
Monday Making
Main Crush Monday
Monday Design Wall

Sunday, June 4, 2017

Stash Stuff for Week 22 of 2017

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday.  Don't go to the laundromat on Saturday morning unless you get there when the doors open.  I was there 15 minutes after the opening and one family was using all but 3 of the regular machines (it was a long morning).  I will be very glad to get my washer fixed.  I really don't know how people who have no choice but to use a laundromat cope, it's almost like a war.  Of course, it's probably bad here because we only have one nice laundromat.  I've been warned not to use the other one in town, the owners don't keep it up.     

Thankfully my family took pity on me after my morning in the laundromat and let me spend the afternoon de-stressing in my sewing room.  It was a productive afternoon so there is actually a bit going out on the stash report this week.  

Used last week:  4.74 yards
Used year to date:  34.02 yards
Added year to date:  205.80 yards
Net added year to date:  171.78 yards

Unfortunately the backing for the Meadow Mist Mystery didn't make up for the incoming fabric this week.  I should have just deleted that Craftsy email, but I just fell for the Colonial Manor stash builder priced at half off.  

Colonial Manor Stash Builder from Craftsy (photo from Craftsy)

I can definitely see another QOV or two in my future.

In terms of finding time to stitch, I managed to find at least 15 minutes each of the last 7 days.  For the year, there's been some stitching going on 147 out of the last 154 days (95% success rate).  I've been pretty amazed at just how much you can get done even with just 15 minutes a day.  

I've also been keeping up with my walking each week.  I came across these beautiful, but alien looking flowers during my last constitutional. 

These are Nigella (also known as Devil in a Bush or Love in a Mist).  Wouldn't those be fun quilt names?  

Linking up with quiltpaintcreate for this week's stash report.  

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rainbow Scrap Challenge: Still Playing with Green

Why do short work weeks feel so much more hectic than a regular work week?  I was so glad to get to Friday afternoon this week, even though we'll have a busy weekend too.  We are waiting on a part for the washer, so I'll be hitting the laundromat this morning.  Drama Teen's friends from Florida have been here this week.  They fly home tomorrow, so that means an o'dark thirty (as they describe it) trip to the airport tomorrow morning.  

My stitching time this week has been a bit limited as we've actually cooked dinner most nights this week.  But I did manage to finish up all the large green fan blocks for May.

I'm still working on the 4 small fan blocks from last month.  But I'm hoping to get those done this weekend.  For June, the plan is to make 6 fan blocks plus 6 half fan blocks in yellow.  Not sure yet how I'm going to pull off the half fan blocks, but I've got some thoughts about how to construct those.  

That's it for me this week. Linking up with Soscrappy for this week's Rainbow Scrap Challenge and with Oh Scrap over at Quilting is More Fun than Housework

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Working on the UFO List: June One Monthly Goal

I'm not sure how we got to the first of June already, but we're here.  Most of my quilting year has been taken up with the graduation quilts.  The One Monthly Goal was a great help keeping me on track with the those graduation quilts, so I'm hoping it will be as big a help in moving a few more quilts off the UFO list.  So I'm definitely going to participate in the June One Monthly Goal over at Elm Street Quilts

Referencing my 2017 Quilt Plan, the project that is the closest to being finished is Blooms and Butterflies. 

Blooms and Butterflies
Bloom block by Lea Brummett, setting by Kate

This quilt just needs the borders added before it's a finished flimsy.  I've got the fabric for the backing.  So my June OMG is to get this project ready to be quilted.  Which means finish the flimsy, make a back, prep the quilt for quilting and package it up for shipping.  

I'm also participating in Patchwork Time's 2017-UFO Challenge.  She picked quilt #7 for June.  Blooms and Butterflies is #4 on my list, so I'll just change the numbers around and make this my #7.  

Linking up with the June One Monthly Goal over at Elm Street Quilts.