How to Complete the Largest Quilting Projects in 30 Minutes a Day

Posted by Rona Herman on

Running out of time clock

Do you ever find yourself wishing for more time to sew? Trying to figure out how to work on a quilting project when you’re already swamped? Getting big projects done with limited time is a lot easier than you might think. In fact, only 30 minutes a day will get you to the finish line. Let me show you how.

The past several months I’ve found myself saying over and over again that “I just don’t have enough time to quilt.” I know, it seems crazy right? As a quilting teacher and quilt pattern designer, my whole world literally revolves around quilting. However, with the planning, marketing, writing, travelling, teaching, you’d be amazed at how little time I actually get to spend at my machine. Sometimes I can hear him calling my name and asking why I don’t come play anymore. There’s got to be a better way, no matter how small, to fit more sewing time into my day.

Awhile back a took a personality assessment. In this assessment I discovered that I tend to procrastinate. I’ll be honest. It wasn’t a big shock. When faced with multiple projects I will opt to do the ‘little things’ first, then I can focus on the bigger projects, like a quilt. At least that’s what I tell myself. The problem with this strategy, however is there are always more ‘little things’ to do. Once I cross off a few items from my ever-growing ‘to do’ list, several more have already been added. This leaves zero time for sewing and doing the bigger quilting projects.

Overcoming the ‘List’

Kindergarten classroom

Remember the old saying, “Everything I need to know I learned in Kindergarten”? The best thing I remember from grade school was every time we accomplished something in class, we got a gold star. The more gold stars we had at the end of the week, the better our chances at getting a prize. Seeing all those gold stars next to my name gave me a true feeling of accomplishment. I earned those stars. So, why not apply that philosophy to today?

After spending entirely too much time staring down my long list of ‘to do’ items, I thought back to grade school and decided to change my perspective. Instead of focusing on all the things that still need to be done and crossing items off as I go, why not add the items to an ‘accomplishments’ list once they’re complete? That way, as I watch my list grow throughout the day, I feel more like I’ve accomplished something rather than feeling like a failure for not crossing everything off my list… again.

Each item I add to my accomplishments list represents one gold star. The more gold stars we get, the bigger our reward over the weekend, like getting to see that movie in the theater you’ve been waiting for or treating yourself to a facial and massage. The bigger the reward, the bigger the incentive!

Applied to Quilting

Cutting our fabric – The first step in quilting is to cut our fabric pieces. Depending on the size of your quilt project this can take hours or days. So, if it’s a large project, break it down by fabric. Fabric A has been cut – add it to the accomplishments list. Fabric B – added. And so on until all your fabric is cut. Now, instead of feeling like you have to cut all the fabric pieces in one sitting, you can accomplish one at a time over the course of several days. Progress!

Cutting fabric for Kaleidoscope quilt

Piecing – The best way to start with the piecing is to organize. Separate out the fabrics into piles based on each block. For instance, if Block #1 calls for 3 pieces of Fabric A and 6 pieces of Fabric B, those all go into one pile. Label each pile and put them into separate Ziploc bags. This way, when you are ready to work all you have to do is grab a bag and go. Be sure to mark ‘Organizing my fabric’ down on your accomplishments list!

Start thinking of each quilt block as its’ own individual project. If you only have a half hour to sew, grab one of the block project bags and begin sewing. With all the presorting done you can focus the entire 30 minutes to sewing and pressing. Block #1 finished? Add it to your accomplished list! Continue each day bag by bag until all your blocks are complete.

Piecing the Kaleidoscope quilt

If you have a more complex block, like this Lotus block, you can break things down even further. For instance, I sewed all the Half Square triangles in one sitting. Then next day I pressed them. The third day I began assembling the the block rows. Each one another accomplishment!

Piecing Half Square Triangles for Lotus quilt project
Piecing the top for the Lotus quilt

Just as we did for our fabrics, now we will separate our blocks into rows. For example, if Row #1 uses Blocks #1 – 4 put those in a pile and label it. If your top requires a border, that’s your final pile. When you have a quick 30 minutes to work, grab a row pile and begin to sew. Be sure to keep adding each step as another accomplishment!

Before you know it, you’re quilt is complete. Look how many accomplishments we’ve added! How many gold stars do you have?

Kaleidoscope quilt
List of accomplishments when making the Kaleidoscope quilt

By breaking things up into smaller, more manageable bite size pieces, we’re able to tackle even our biggest projects. As each item is completed, we add them to our accomplishments list. Now, instead of having one major glaring item on our ‘to do’ list causing us anxiety, we have multiple smaller accomplishments that were easier and less stressful. In no time at all we’ve crossed the finish line instead of remaining stuck at the starting gate.

Now, about that massage…

As always, Hoppy Quilting!

The post How to Complete the Largest Quilting Projects in 30 Minutes a Day appeared first on Hoppy Quilting.

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