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Organizing your sewing day

Organizing your sewing day

Old 08-22-2021, 09:15 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 2
Default Organizing your sewing day

I am relatively new to sewing and quilting. I watched a lot of tutorials and have learned a lot! My sewing room is organized but… I have a table behind my machine as well as on both sides to extend the surface for quilting large projects and the small table on the right has my ironing station and small cutting mat for trimming. Due to space constraints the table behind the machine doubles as my cutting station and to make it a comfortable height for cutting I put two foam insulation boards under my large cutting mat. All of that has to be removed in order for quilting to be done and I put a slippery thing over the table as well. The surface to the left accumulates partially finished blocks or strips as I piece as well as cut offs so they have to be put away (or thrown to the floor!) before quilting. When I tire of quilting I have to reverse the whole organizing process which often overwhelms me to the point sometimes of avoiding the room altogether. I think I need to organize my sewing day so this doesn’t happen so my question is: Do you organize your day with quilting first and cutting/piecing next or vice versa or…?

Last edited by tanyasharon; 08-22-2021 at 09:18 AM.
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Old 08-22-2021, 01:45 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Houston, TX
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I don't. I'm often working on 2 projects and when I run into a snag or get tired of doing one thing I move on to the other. My sewing area now is fairly large, but when I had a small area, I usually ended up cutting on the dining room table just to be out of the way. Maybe that's why my husband suggested I take the big bedroom upstairs for my sewing when we moved to this house. lol
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Old 08-23-2021, 03:29 AM
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Welcome from Michigan!
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Old 08-23-2021, 07:55 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2018
Location: Near Seattle, WA
Posts: 5,037

First off, welcome to the boards and grats on having a sewing space!

I complain a lot about having a small house and a small space, but at least I now have a space. I remember the decades of setting up on the dining room table. I've been going through my things and decided to downsize, I've gone from a room full of fabric, to lol maybe half a room of better organized stuff. Goal is that eventually all the fabric fits in the closet but I think I'm still a few boxes away from that. Still... if you saw where I started, you might be impressed or you could think "she still has too much fabric".

But, yes, I have to do what I call "make ready" that's one of the terms factories and such use when they put a different product on the line, another one is "change over". I pretty much have to choose whether I'm going to be quilting for the near future or piecing. Usually my decision has been piecing, but in the last couple of months I've been doing things to improve my ability to quilt down. As with most tasks I don't like, I find being efficient helps -- like if you have a designated place for the foam boards to go when you take them off the table top. And I put on music and a set time period, something like "today's task before noon is to spend 30 minutes in the sewing room".

I was all set to get plural tops quilted down -- and then my machine decided it wanted to go on a visit to the shop instead! I'm about halfway through the 6-8 weeks estimated before they could get to it. I have back-up machines for piecing, I'm almost at the end of the current piecing project and I don't want to start another one... mostly because I don't want to do the make ready and then the putting away.
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Old 08-23-2021, 05:23 PM
Join Date: Jun 2021
Location: British Columbia
Posts: 63

Welcome tanyasharon,

I am using our dining room (closed to visitors due to the pandemic) as my sewing space and that one table is used for pretty much everything except laying out bigger quilts, when I have to move all of the living room furniture to make room on the floor. It can definitely get extremely cluttered and overwhelming.

Iceblossom has hit on a key strategy - having a place to put things when they need to be moved. I'm still on a learning curve with this, but I have a couple of those stacking plastic drawer units where I keep all of my non-fabric "bits" - cutting tools, bobbins, threads, manuals as well as a few trays and bins for the fabric stuff - garbage, crumbs, cut pieces for the current project, random off-cuts. These tend to live on the floor around my sewing machine if they're in use, or get shoved under the table if they're not immediately needed. Rulers and cutting mats ideally get tucked against walls and behind furniture when they need to be off the table. Sadly, the ironing board is still down the hall in the laundry room, butI keep telling myself it's good to get up and stretch when I'm sewing! I do chain piece and finger press where I can.

There is definitely still a time of "making ready" between the major stages of quiltmaking, but having these tools in place means I can actually do a little cutting, a little piecing, and a little layout on the table without going mad. When I'm finally ready to quilt, there is always a big cleanup required, but the earlier stages are somewhat manageable.

I do envy your sewing space. I'm not sure what I will do when we start having people over again! Good luck with your projects .:-)
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Old 08-24-2021, 02:12 AM
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I usually have a bunch of projects at various stages going at once and have most of them in project boxes that can easily be moved around. I also have some pizza boxes for storing blocks and kitted up fabrics/patterns. My sewing room is also our guest room, so the double bed comes in handy for spreading things out. It becomes my design wall for bigger projects because the one on the wall is 24" x 36". I don't have any extra tables for machine quilting overflow - I puddle my quilts up against the wall, get bigger quilts long armed, or quilt bigger quilts in sections. Somehow it all works for me, but it took trial and error to get to this point.
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Old 08-24-2021, 10:23 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2021
Posts: 2

Thanks so much to everyone who replied. First, it’s good to know I am not the only one who has struggled with this. Second, I got some good ideas.

For now I am trying this: whatever I am working on when I “close up” for the day, will be the same thing I work on when I start the next day - either quilting or piecing. That way everything is good to go in the morning. I can break for lunch or whatever and come back refreshed to “make ready” for a different process. Sounds good. Now, to see how well it works.
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