Making Time

Do you spend as much time quilting as you want?  If so, you are a rare quilter indeed.  One of the questions I am asked most often is how to find more time to sew.  Here’s what worked for me.

Get rid of things that no longer matter or activities that other people talked you into.  When I was a guild member, I would suddenly find myself on so many committees I hardly had time to do anything else.  As each obligation ended, I stepped away.  In my mind, it felt like I was captured by an octopus and as I freed myself, I mentally envisioned another tentacle coming unfurled.  You have to be ever vigilant! I went through this same process at least three times over a 10 year period.

Housework is one of those never ending monsters that can eat far too many hours.  Decide what is important.  I have no dust catchers sitting on tables or shelves.  All the little things that take time to move and clean are behind glass where they are virtually maintenance free.  Surfaces can be dusted with the attachment on my vacuum.

My mother wanted me to put things away every day.  I resisted for more than 30 years but finally realized she was right.  It takes less time to tidy up every day than to tackle a gargantuan mess.  Not only that, a giant mess is intimidating and its very existence saps my energy.  I don’t want to clean it but I feel guilty doing something for pleasure while it is there.

I do a lot of chores in 10 minute increments.  To give myself a break from the computer, I take out the trash, throw a load of clothes in the washer or clean something quick.  That might mean washing the kitchen sink or mopping the office.  At the end of 10 minutes, I am back at work.  My eyes have rested and my muscles have had a chance to stretch.

Cook once and eat 2-3 meals.  If there are no children, this is super easy to do.  When you are feeding more people, cooking takes a little longer but is still a lot less time than making and cleaning up on two nights.  There are a ton of recipes in cookbooks and online if you don’t already know how to make the second meal different from the first.  Of course, the best meals are the ones that you can serve over just as they are: stew, chili, pot roast and spaghetti are a few of our favorites.  That saved hour can be spent at your sewing machine.

Now you have some time.  How should you use it? Getting started on a project is the hardest.  You need a couple of hours to choose fabrics and make sure you have all your supplies and instructions, especially if you are designing the project yourself.  Often, it helps to have some unbroken time to do the cutting.  After that, you should be able to work for short periods because you always know what comes next.  As you cut and sew, put things in piles with labels on top or in baggies.  Keeping things organized means you never spend time looking for them or re-measuring pieces to see what size they are.

Pick a time to sew and stick with it.  When I worked outside the home and my kids were still here, I sewed from 7-8 p.m., the hour after dinner.  I was available for homework emergencies but otherwise, that was my time.  Choosing a regular time makes it a habit and you just automatically sit down and sew.  If you wait until all your chores are done, you will never sew anything! -  Carol Miller


I always try and set aside Sunday afternoons as my time to sew.  My husband likes to watch TV.  I'd rather sew or quilt.  I make sure the chores are done for the coming week and sit down for an afternoon of self fulfillment.   Sandy Fischer

To make time for quilting I do work in the morning  and the p.m. is my time.  That's when I can quilt without guilt.  What housework doesn't get done in the a.m. waits until tomorrow.  Since I've started doing this, I have more time to quilt.  Janice

My safe time is Sunday afternoon, but I also cook two meals when I'm in the kitchen cooking and one either gets frozen for another day or is next day's meal so I have a little more time to quilt.  I also sometimes spend time cutting or drafting; then when I have a little time its all ready and I can do both of these in the same room as DH.  Janette

When I buy things for a project such as fabric and pattern and little items I place all of these things in an expandable-pocket file folder; that way when I want to work on the project all the necessary things are in one folder.  I also have something on me always, either appliqué or hand piecing so I can work on things when I am not at home.  These pockets hold more than you think! I have one that has 3 different pieces of fabric, each more than 3 yards, plus the foundation papers.  Bobbie in OK

I have a timer that hangs around my neck.  I can leave things cooking away in the kitchen while I am on the machine.  I don't sew near the kitchen, so I can't rely on the buzzers that come on the appliances.   Jan in Kent

I am an early morning person, so I get out of bed usually an hour or two before DH (he likes to sleep in) and sew.  I did this even when the kids were at home as it was so peaceful and was such a great way to start my day.  Cindy in Ochre River

I do all my quilting and piecing by hand.  Quilting is work I do at home, piecing is done away.  I have always a little Ziploc bag in my car, and every day as I'm standing waiting for the traffic lights, before a bridge for a few minutes or when I take my son to his sports activities, I can do a little piecing.  I can get quite a lot done during all those little minutes that should have felt like wasted time otherwise.  Ann in Belgium