Time Management For Quilters: Balancing Creativity And Productivity

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Time management.

Anyone who calls themselves a “maker” – painter, sculptor, knitter, paper crafter knows there is value in managing our time.

Given the amount of time required to make a quilt (pattern selection, fabric selection, fabric cutting, piecing, making the quilt sandwich to reaching the final step, the actual “quilting” of the quilt), time management cannot be more crucial.

If you are a beginning quilter, time management is not a high priority. However, giving yourself the time you need to learn the all the necessary skills and develop your own stye is.

Once you feel comfortable with the whole quilting process and are able to gauge time requirements for a particular project, it becomes easier to allow your creative side to shine.

Attaching binding on recent baby quilt

As you read further, I hope to provide a few tips for balancing creativity and productivity in quilting.

Understanding the Challenges

In a perfect world, carving out a few hours each day dedicated to the pursuit of our craft without sacrificing the time we want to spend with family, friends, leisure and work responsibilities seems like a such a pie in the sky dream.

It is my belief, (and my belief alone, although anyone else is free share it), the optimal balance between work, home life and leisure is achieved when you have support – people. Others to do shopping, housework, drive kids to and from school and sports activities, clean, pay bills, attend to yard work or home repairs, etc. This optimal balance between work, play, home and quilting requires money and a lot of it.

If you fit in the category of the top 25% of income earners, what I have to offer in this post may be of no interest to you. I’d like to thank you for reading this far before scrolling to another blog.

For these rest of us, I would propose this: the challenges we face each day in our pursuit to successfully navigate a landscape filled with obstacles and yet meet our responsibilities in a timely manner can actually be the impetus to keep us on track.

When daily responsibilities are overwhelming, it is too easy to feel overwhelmed by the number and scope of projects you have siting on your work table. The combination of these can easily leave you struggling to maintain motivation and focus.

My home and work lives are relatively easy and stress-free however, I do, from time to time, experience the struggle of maintaining motivation and focus.

When this happens, I sit down, take a deep breath and then do the following:

Goals/ Routines/ Prioritizing/ Distractions

Set a Goal

Make a decision to have a particular project completed by a certain time. Here, it is important to set a goal that is realistically achievable. By doing this you give yourself permission to utilize an “x” amount of time to complete your project. A realistic goal is one that brings you peace of mind and doesn’t set yourself up for failure.

For example, “I will finish 1 quilt each month”, “I will spend some time next weekend to learn a better way to bind a quilt”.

Establish a Routine

I work part-time at local hospital which helps me to better structure my time and establish a routine. However, the more involved I am in the quilting world, the longer my”To-Do” list becomes. It is sometimes quite a challenge to balance and juggle between making a project, photographing, posting on social media, writing an article to be published with cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping…oh, and then there is that pesky need for at least 8 hours of sleep each night.

I assign certain days for quilting, another for photography, and another for writing and posting to social media. This routine can, and often does, change form week to week, but I try to start each week with at least an outline agenda of what I hope to accomplish during the next seven days.

Some like to establish their routine a month at a time. There are too many variables for me to consider to be able to that – at least do it efficiently. I think by the middle of the month I would be revamping the whole schedule. Besides, it’s less stressful for me if I avoid setting myself up for failure.

A few months ago I posted an article that speaks to this very subject.

An example of a dedicated quilting space or corner of a room.

Establishing a routine is also easier if you do the following:

1) Designate specific times of the day for quilting.

2) Break down a large project into smaller tasks. For example: set a goal to cut an “x” number of pieces day 1, or set a timer and stop cutting only when the timer goes off.

3) Create a dedicated quilting space. I cannot begin to describe the benefits of having your own space to quilt. For years I had to use the dining room table. The chore of moving everything back into a closet for every meal – just too much.

If you would like my thoughts on sewing room planning and what I feel are the foundations of an efficient sewing room, feel free to go here. I may be worth my while to take a trip down memory lane and see how my views have changed since that article was written!

Prioritizing Tasks

Not everything can be or needs to be done at once. Especially when making a quilt. I don’t care how flashy the headline may be, a quilt, 99% of the time, CANNOT be done in a day.

It goes without saying, any project with a deadline needs to be considered first.

If you are like me, and you have several quilt or bag pattern you really want to do, then along comes a need to make a quilt for gifting and then you look at the calendar and realize it’s September and you have all this cute Christmas fabric on the shelf waiting patiently to be made into a quilt and…

Times like this is where having a planner, journal or project sheets is helpful. I’m such a visual person, if I’m able to “see” what I’ve done and what needs to be done it helps to prioritize both my sewing and shopping lists.

Back in 2020 I purchased a very nice quilt planner, very similar to this one. Goes to show the best laid plans can become derailed in the blink of an eye (or a pandemic). As this month rolls on I may return to Connecting Threads and pick up one of these. I have a hard time resisting anything that promises to make my life easier and me happier!

Since then I’ve relied on project planners often included in a pattern that are easily printed off like the one below. It is included in the Makers Bundles Sew Organized Makers Bundles 2024:

Project tracker pages 1 and 2 from the Sew Organized Makers Bundle 2024

*Bonus Tip: To prevent unwanted and unnecessary stress, when prioritizing tasks, allow yourself the freedom to be flexible. Life happens. Just make some adjustments, set boundaries with others if needed, but don’t allow changes in your life be a distraction to prevent you from accomplishing your goals.

You can do anything you set your mind to!

Need more inspiration?

Learning To Make A Quilt P.1

Sewing Room Make Over

Janome 9450

Go make something pretty today!


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