Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Time Saving Tips for Sewing and Quilting

Today is Whatcha Working on Wednesday at Leslie's Blog.

I have really been trying to be disciplined enough to work on some quilting projects before and after work. Even if I only make one quilt block per day or cut out a few fabric strips each morning.

Sometimes its mind over matter. My spirit may be anxious to quilt, but my body is often tired physically or mentally. I have found that if I just make myself get started, It all comes together and an hour or two later, I've made some real progress.

With all that being said, I've been trying to come up with some solutions for making my quilt making process faster. The Quilt making process in itself is time consuming. Its a time honored art and I imagine that our pioneer ancestors didn't make more than one or two quilts a year. Since everything was made by hand and there weren't too many modern time saving conveniences, I would think quilt making was done in their spare time, just like I do.

Here are a few ideas to help us to get more organized and hopefully speed up the production of those projects!

1. Sew for at least 15 minutes a day or make at least one quilt block a day. Once I get started, I will probably keep going, but if its not happening for me that day, I will at least have accomplished a little which will add up over time.

2. Use the leaders and enders system, also known as chain piecing. I need a stack of quilt blocks ready at all times that can be used for this. It sure does save thread and helps to get two quilts or two quilt blocks of the same quilt made at the same.

Here is a picture showing how I am sewing blocks from two different quilts at the same time. When I get to the end of sewing a strip onto the log cabin block, I grab a Strip X block of the baby boy quilt I am making, and sew a triangle on the side. I have a stack of these on the sewing table ready to be used for this. When I finish sewing the triangle on the side, I grab another strip to sew on the log cabin block and then repeat. Just reach behind the machine, clip the thread and bring that sewn piece back around to the front. With this method I don't have to pull the block out from the sewing machine, cut the threads and start over again each time.

This is by far the best sewing hint I have ever used and I highly recommend that you do this!

3. I've never been one to cut out all of the pieces of a quilt at the same time before making the quilt. I'm more of a cut it as you go person. But, I generally keep my rotary cutter and mat on the kitchen table so I could easily go ahead and cut out the pieces needed for several blocks while something is cooking on the stove or if I have a few minutes before going out the door to work in the mornings.

4. Organize for quick sewing: My favorite kind of quilts are scrap quilts. So, almost every block is different. Currently one of the quilts I am working on is a modified log cabin pattern. Each block has a center square and four different length sizes of 1 1/2 inch wide strips. This morning I layered three different coordinating pieces of fabric, and cut several sets of the different size strips needed for each block.

I have organized the different size strips into 3 zip lock bags. A good tv watching project is to put together sets of strips to make a block. I would need to pull strips of each of the coordinating colors from each bag. Then the pieces for each block can be pinned together and stacked on the sewing machine table. With this done I can easily sit down to the sewing machine during any spare moment without having to figure out what fabrics I'm going to put together for that particular block.

You won't believe how much time I spend sometimes scrutinizing the different colors trying to put together fabrics that look "cute" together. This takes up too much time. Sometimes I just think something to death, instead of just doing it!

Here are stacks of fabric pieces on my sewing machine table, ready to go!

5. I also want to fill several bobbins with thread so that I don't have to stop and re-thread the needle when I'm on a roll sewing the blocks together.

6. This is a hint I've read before, but haven't actually tried myself. I want to set up my iron beside my sewing chair at the right height so that I can press the blocks as I go without getting up and down so many times. The log cabin block I am making must be pressed each time a new set of strips is added on and this does take a lot of time.

But, I do want to keep safety in mind. I would never want a family member to get burned on the iron by bumping into it or something like that. I would have to only have the iron on while I was actually sitting there and perhaps only if I was home alone. If people are running in and out and through the sewing area I would never be able to have the iron at a low height like that.

I would love to hear any tips or hints you may have to help me get more done!


Pen Pen said...

Great post... I have started to sew my blocks without cutting the thread in between blocks too. wow, how much faster it goes! I've been thinking of getting myself a 15 minute timer, and setting to motivate myself to do various projects.... 15 minutes of walking on the treadmill, 15 minutes of sewing, 15 minutes of cleaning something.... what??? only 15 minutes on the computer.. no way! LOL By the way, I keep going back to see the Eliza Rose quilt... it is so pretty!!!

Anonymous said...

Whew!!! Your organization made me tired already! It is wonderful, and I know that you do love to quilt, and you have certainly spent time getting everything in order. This is a great time saver.

Back in the olden days when I did a lot of sewing for the family, it was done in ten and fifteen minute segments. Therefore, I really appreciate your planning for fifteen minute time 'set-asides.'

I look forward to your daily posts. It is disappointing when one is not up.


Audra said...

I have thought about quilting since my mother did it and was a wonderful quilter. I am not sure if I will have the patience! Love the little toile christmas stocking!

Leslie said...

Your tips are much appreciated. I want to get into quilting but I find myself so overwhelmed. I can't decide what fabrics to use, I'm not sure which pattern to go with...I want to do something simple for my first project and I'm surprised at how many say "Beginner" but I can tell by looking at them that it's a lot of pieces so it's going to take a lot of time, which I know quilts do but I don't want to overwhelm myself because it has to be a big quilt to begin with. I also can't seem to find many that tell me how much fabric I need to make a queen sized quilt, they're all mostly wallhangings and lap quilts. And the cost for the fabrics all totaled up...I don't want to spend a fortune on it. That's why I am not buying one right now as much as I would love to, I just don't have the money to shell out....I hope to get myself on some sort of path and get to work, though. This would be a nice winter project..

Thanks for sharing!


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