Monday, September 2, 2019

Making a Plan to Finish a Small Quilt

We all love making small quilts and I know some of you have a dream to create a wall full of them. I post challenges from some of my books each month in my Facebook group to give you suggestions on what to make. It's fun stitching along with others in the group and seeing what they're doing with the pattern. Watching their progress. Every quilt is different, but the same design. 

Our challenge in my groups for September - October is Aunt Sarah's Scrap Baskets quilt from my book A Prairie Journey.  We've been working on some of these quilts for the past year and are now closing in on finishing them up by the end of this year. But the suggestions are all listed in the group Files and you can pick one and make it at any time. 

How do you get started? Every year I try to post my suggestions on how to finish some of the quilts we work on as challenges in my online groups. Give you a little nudge. If you're determined to make a quilt a month from one of these challenges (or pick others to work on) you have to discipline yourself and decide if you really really want to make them.

Great ideas for tackling procrastination and getting things done! Love this free printable to serve as a reminder!:

Some of you can put together a whole small quilt in one sitting. But I sure can't and I know it's not easy or practical for most of us to do it this way. Don't beat yourself up. Just begin. Here's what I know -  if you break up your quilting into manageable chunks of time, you can easily finish one little quilt every month. And, if you keep it up, at the end of a year you will have quite a few little quilts made. 

Here's what helps me - when I need to complete a number of projects (like for a book or something) I buy myself a pretty little notebook and keep track of my progress. This works well if you have a goal to make a few quilts and it's a good way to hold yourself accountable by writing down your quilting goals and doing your best to accomplish some of them. If you can do it all in your head, more power to you. I'm pretty old school at times (or maybe just plain old). Having something tangible, like a notebook, to hold in my hands works better for me. But you can use your phone or tablet if that works. I'm writing a book right now and there's so much to keep track of that I can't possibly keep it all in my head. I need that notebook with my lists of things I have to accomplish every day or week. It feels good to flip through it and check off small goals. The small goals often lead to bigger goals and a good feeling that you've actually done something.

Decide on a few projects you really want to make. If you have one of my books and would love to make some of the quilts in it, thumb through it and pick a few that speak to you, a few that seem manageable. We're talking 2 or 3 small quilts at first. If you overdo it and shoot for 10, you might not get anything finished. Write them down in that notebook. Create a separate page for each quilt.  Then below that, write down everything it would take to make that quilt -  choose fabrics, cut the pieces for the blocks, sew the blocks, pick the borders, sew the borders, do the quilting, put the binding on. Give yourself a month and break down the steps week by week. Take each step one at a time. Check off each step as you complete it. Make notes. Use the notebook as a record of your progress. Keep it for future projects too. 

Before you begin -  clean off your sewing table a bit to make sure you have some room to work. Don't stress about the mess in the whole room if that's a problem. It will only keep you from being focused. Take 15 minutes and move stuff off the table, clear some space and make a fresh start for a new project. Organize the fabric later when you have time.  (That's a whole other post!) 

1. First Week - Spend an hour to choose your fabrics and maybe another hour or two that week to cut the pieces. Put this somewhere in a zip lock bag and keep it where you can easily see it and return to it the next week. Don't pressure yourself to finish the whole quilt in one day unless you want to and have the time or energy. 

2. Second Week - Make your blocks. This also only takes a few hours (sometimes less, because remember, most of the quilts are small).

3. Third Week - Put the blocks together withe the setting pieces if necessary. Probably takes an hour or two. Maybe add the border if you have time or at least cut the fabric for it.

4. Fourth Week - Finish borders, layer your quilt with batting and backing and spend the rest of the time finishing/quilting. This often takes the most time, but if you like handwork it can go fast.

All it takes is a little discipline. I find I work best with a schedule and some of you may find that helpful too. Schedule a time to sew on Wednesday and Friday mornings or evenings, or Saturday afternoons, say. As each week begins, make a plan to sew on a certain day that week. Other things will always come up and you'll certainly have distractions. You just have to keep at it and make this YOUR time. Don't attempt to finish the whole thing in one session. Do a little bit every week. Even a bit of progress can make you feel pretty good.

Bottom line - You can do this!



Prisca2010 said...

Good thinking!

Jay said...

Thanks for this, Kathy. Sometimes all we need is a little nudge in the right direction to get going. I'm finding a little structure is so helpful in fitting in the time to head to my sewing room, and once I'm there-- well, it's hard for me to leave!

sue bennett said...

Very good tips Kathy. You encourage all with your tips. Very nice quilts.

Candee said...

Thank you Kathy! You are so right!

liz said...

I am way behind, just finishing up the pattern from the first retreat. I do have the Christmas 2018 snowflake made, but not quilted. I have all the patterns,just need to start. Thanks for the notebook idea. Need to make more time for sewing, not housework. Thanks again. Liz in Naples.NY

Anonymous said...

Kathy, you're amazing...taking the time to light that stitching fire under us. Great tips, great inspiration. My space is cleared and I'm ready to go!

Sandy said...

I like your notebook idea. I have a notebook, but its a mess. One page per quilt - now that makes sense!

Candace said...

I love small quilts and the comparatively instant satisfaction of finishing one. I have wall quilts all over, I'm running out of space, but I printed your little Christmas tree pattern and intend to make it. I also plan to join some of your groups.


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