Tuesday, July 9, 2019

how I kit projects

I had a comment from rebecca grace

Those little blocks are darling! How do you prep those garden blocks to make them portable? Do you have all the fabrics selected and cut out for each block in a baggie, or an assortment of cut strips that you work from, selecting what works together as you go? I would like to do better with portable sewing but I struggle with having something ready to go as I walk out the door. 

I really liked this question. It might be a very long answer. It all begins with a mess of scraps or a quilt I want to make someday. I keep a list of quilts I really like and maybe make someday. These are mostly quilts I am not stressed about making. I have over 200 on the list. If I ever get to them great, if not.. oh well. Quilts on this list can change their status randomly. If I decide it is the perfect project for me at the moment, I move it to the planning list. For example, all of Bonnie Hunter's patterns are on the maybe someday list, except the ones I have already started. This year I picked 2 of them to work on for the year, garden party and sand castles. Both of them went from maybe someday to plan, to cut, and then sew.

 In the planning stage, I checked to see how work can be batched. Sand castles needed string pieces which I can do during tv time, so I cut the foundation papers and put them on the treadle in the living room where I do the string piecing. I didn't worry about cutting the rest until strings were done.

Garden party needed cutting, and all of it was from 1 1/2 inch strips, and no specialty cuts. I chose it for that reason. So for several nights I had a bucket of  1 1/2 inch strips by my chair in the living room, a tray, cutting mat, rotary cutter, and ruler, and I started cutting. Each block needed a 16 1/2 in long piece to cut 4 matching pieces 2 1/2 inches and a 6 1/2 inch piece. I also needed a coordinating fabric that was at least 10 inches long to cut into 2 1/2 inches rectangles. I needed 100 sets. I would pull one strip and see if it was at least 16 1/2 inches, if not, 10 inches. Here is where I can get into trouble, but, at this point, I throw anything not big enough into the string bucket, as I sort through the bucket and try to empty it. I didn't think to cut the single 1 1/2 inch square at this time, but, that would have helped.

I start matching fabrics and folding them together, as I go along. It is random and once the decision is made, I don't change the combo. I put 10 sets into each bag.

I cut a gaggle of the black on white 1 1/2 inch strips and throw them in the box. And at this point, the project goes into time out and waits for me to need an away from home project. In this case, it was almost a year.

If it wasn't a scrap quilt, I would still cut all the pieces ahead of time and put them in the project box with the instructions, but, I would cut all at once instead of over time. And if I am using "real" fabric, I am more likely to start working on it right away. I can't cut very well away from home. I am too distracted to cut accurately. I have plenty of quilts I am working on at any given time, so I have the luxury of being patient.

I have been very fortunate to have 2 consistent times each week that I sew from home, so it is easier to plan ahead. I hope this helps.

I am linking to:

chameleon color linky

Oh scrap
I am linking to:


  1. Prepping ahead of time is a very wise thing to do. I don't sew away from home much except at retreats. I always make sure I have the pieces cut before I go.

  2. That was a great question by Rebecca! Thank you so much for your detailed answer on your process too. I love how well that works to get the cuts done and then have them ready for the next time you'll be ready to work on them on the go. And I especially loved how you said once the decision is made, you don't change it. I think that's my biggest hang up with quilting... I end up waffling as to whether my choice was really the right choice. It normally is, but I always second guess myself. So much time wasted!

  3. Thanks, Maggie! Over two HUNDRED quilts are on your "Someday List?!" WOW! I hope you get to finish every last one of them. You know, reading through your process here, a wicked thought occurred to me. Is it possible that it's easier to make productive use of sewing time because you have so many different projects in progress at once? You didn't mention how many UFO/WIPs are going on at a time? It seems like there is shame and pressure that many of us in the quilting community put on ourselves about having too many unfinished projects or about starting a new project before finishing others. I am just curious how many projects you have in various stages and whether you find that makes it easier to always have something suitable for different occasions -- like something to hand stitch in the waiting room at the doctor, something to take with you on vacation, something to work on at a sewing bee or retreat, something to do in front of the TV, etc. So I'm curious -- what is a typical number of WIPs that you have going at a given time that gives you variety in what you're working on, enables you to have something always ready to go when needed for portable sewing, but that doesn't overwhelm you? I'm sure that your excellent organization skills are key to pulling this off successfully, too!

  4. I'm so glad you answered this question, because at the time I thought it was a good one that I would also like to know the answer to. Thank you.