To understand why I do things the way I do, keep these concepts in mind about me:
- I am drawn to large, intense quilts for the most part, although I like lighter fare as well.
- I have a tremendous collection of kits and fabric sets that accumulated over a 23 year period of ineffectual dabbling. I also have a lot of UFOs that I rescued from my cousin's sewing room when she passed away. I mean, we're talking a combined collection of over a hundred in all. . . you can see them at my "On the Horizon" tab if you're morbidly fascinated.
- I am dedicated to finishing every one of those UFOs and NETYs (Never Even Touched Yet), but I also crave modern projects.
- I need variety - I am incapable of working on only one project at a time when they are creations that would take months to finish if a person worked straight through, only on the one thing.
- I don't have a longarm machine, but I do have the luxury at this stage in life of having three sewing stations that I can keep set up for use at all times.
With those in mind, the most productive way I've found that provides good variety with regular finishes is:
Organize a combination of monthly goals with a basic weekly structure. I always keep something "up to bat" at each station with ideas of what will come next at each one, but I set a specific finish as my top priority. (That priority finish may be the final completion of a quilt, or it may be getting something to a significant step.)
That's my modus operandi in a nutshell, and it works in a cyclical fashion. The only quilt I have ever taken from cutting to piecing to quilting to finishing as the priority project is my 25th anniversary double wedding ring quilt. Anything else goes through one station's cycle and then gets shelved or hung until I pull it out at a future point for a turn at the next station.
How that plays out for October:
The priority finish right now is my "25th, Baby!!" anniversary double wedding ring quilt.
This is at my Handwork Station, which consists of the sofa corner closest to the lamp or whatever doctor's office or DMV I anticipate spending time at. I keep supplies and individual blocks being worked on in a tote to the side, and a few more supplies on a shelf in that side table.
I work here maybe 5 evenings out of the week while watching TV with my Honey, and I occasionally capture a blissful movie session during the day. I have 22 more rings (of 90) needing the tuck-and-tie clean up work, then I have to hand stitch the binding down. It's probably going to take all month for that.
Normally, my handwork station has a sub-prioritization that goes in this order: Hanging sleeve for anything going out to a show > any label or binding that needs stitching down > any hand work that pops up for "Ruffled Roses" > a block for "Affairs of the Heart" > "Fiesta Mexico" work, except on fourth-Sunday. Don't think about it too much, this is a guideline for myself, not a rigid schedule. :D
Monday through Friday, any daytime opportunities I have for quilt work are spent at the machines in the Piecing Station and the Quilting Station. I have a Viking Sapphire that is an excellent table-top FMQ machine, and a cheap-o Singer Confidence Quilter that is an excellent little piecer. At this moment, I go back and forth between the two according to my mood. The FMQ table is occupied by my cousin's second "Joseph Smith" quilt.
The piecing station has a Super-Top-Secret project for attention that can only happen when both of two family members are not in the house, masked by my "Heart & Home" final assembly work.
These two stations tend to remain stable in whatever project is at them until that project reaches the next significant stage, like the full flimsy of an uncomplicated pattern - or all the blocks made of something intricate, or everything but borders assembled, etc.
Oh, and I do often keep a leader-ender project in a side box to get patches assembled between chainings of the "real" project at the piecing station. In other words, I'll do something like sew all the flip-over snowball corners for 42 heart halves for the main project, then throw a leader-ender duo together so I can snip off the string of heart halves to trim and press. . . then come back and chain-piece those heart halves through the next step without having to start new thread ends all over again. Leader-ender projects typically come from whatever non-priority project coordinates well with the current priority piecing thread color.
Weekends are for variety unless I'm particularly driven to smash through on the top priority finish.
On Saturdays, if I do any sewing work, it tends to be given over to something that's a treat to work with or a community service project, so I get a break from the projects that are living at my stations or on BOM rotation.
Usually this plays out in attention to whatever I want to do for a NewFO for Barbara's monthly link-up at Cat Patches. Since I clearly do not lack for UFOs, I *usually* use her linkup to pull a kit out of the NETY storage and get it onto a progress list. I'm happy if the month's NewFO accomplishment is to wash/iron the fabrics and get everything carefully cut out and nicely re-stored in a marked box. That way it's ready for pulling out some day when it can get "real" attention at the piecing station. This month, I want to pull "Saltbox Harvest" out of storage.
But a lot of Saturdays see no sewing because, well - - - Family! and the Great Colorado Outdoors!
On Sundays, I work on Block of the Month projects for BOMs Away Mondays. This might last several hours, or it might be only 10 minutes - - - See the final Saturday notation. ;D
It all sounds like a LOT of craziness, but it really settles into a very nice rhythm when you don't have to put individual stations away on a regular basis. Usually, the top priority is at one of the table machines. If it's at the piecing station, FMQ only happens for a short spell a couple times a week as a breather when the priority gets monotonous. If the top priority is at the FMQ station, piecing happens after a couple hours of quilting as a break from the mental intensity of FMQ work and a relaxer for my back muscles. Although, I've found that my back can withstand longer periods of FMQ work since I've been training in Taekwondo.
The weekly changes of BOM work and the slower-rolling hand station changes bring the variety of technique, color, and point-of-attention that my brain craves, while allowing me to zoom in on whatever priority finish gets the bulk of my attention.
Consider that before this system I was starting-and-storing many projects every year with maaaaybe one finish, because I'd get bogged down with the boredom of expecting to finish something straight through without systematic breaks.
Now I get several fantastic large quilts finished in a calendar year, as well as a lot of flimsies put together for the quilting queue. At this point in my life, the fact that the flimsy closet currently has 32 tops waiting for attention is a good thing rather than a daunting shadow. It means I've made terrific progress in the last three years at moving that truly stupendous number of NETYs and UFOs I had accumulated toward being finished, despite allowing myself a few brand-new projects here and there. :)
Give me 5 years or so, and I'll work my way through the entire list, at least to flimsy status! And by that point, I may even be able to buy a longarm - and then look out! I'll blow through that flimsy closet like you can't believe. In the end, it'll be a great legacy for my family~!
So!! For my October Goal Post:
All revisions and maps/pictures inserted by the 14th, professionally printed out and the proper file submissions made to the plagiarism and publisher establishments, university departments, and defense committee members.
UFO Work: (I try to make sure something from that list is at one of my stations at all times)
Free-Motion Quilting on Kelly's "Joseph Smith quilt
Community Service: (I try to slip this in somewhere - usually on a Saturday time or as a leader-ender.)
Work on hourglass blocks for a wheelchair quilt
Handwork - Finish the clean-up work on "25th, Baby!" and stitch the binding down
Piecing - Work on Top-Secret and finish the "Heart & Home" flimsy
FMQ - the UFO quilt, ideally finished! Next-in-line: "Plums in November" or "Modernology"