Ask Jo: Seize the MOMENT

Every now and then blog readers send me a email or leave a comment in the comment section that I need to answer.  When I think other readers might be interested too, I answer them here on the blog. Today is one of those days….

I wrote about Kalissa and I skipping out for a sewing night not to long ago…I said in the post that I grabbed a project and started to sew.  In the post I wrote, “I ended up grabbing something simple to sew….these.  It’s strips for the Geese on a String quilt from Bonnie Hunter’s new book”.
After that I got a question from Carmella:
My question is this, you make everything seem very easy (which is NOT), but you seem to always have a project ready to go. I can’t ever seem to find something to work on unless I need it right away. Can you share your methods on being able to grab something and already know what the project is?

Having things ready to grab is one of the main things that helps me get so many things done.  Some days go by and I don’t feel like I am accomplishing anything as I’m only making baby steps on each project.  Then suddenly all of those baby steps come together and I’ve suddenly got two quilts finished.

I thought I’d give you a little preview of all the things I have going on…that are projects I work on “in between”.

The strips that I worked on in the photo above have slowly been turning into four patches.  I sew a few strips at night.  I iron them and then the next morning I bring them downstairs.  Over nap time…I cut into twoies.

At night, I’ll sew them.  I’ll leave them in a long chain pieced unit.  Then the next day at nap time, I iron them.

Also when I was upstairs the previous night I was cleaning the sewing room.  I’ve been so good at tidying up as I finish projects.  I found these.  They are leftovers from my Hunter’s Star quilt.  Well they need to be processed…they went came down stairs to be processed over naptime.

I cut them all into 2″ half square triangles.  They all were 2 1/2″ based but I am working on a project that I am hoping will be published one day and I need a TON of 2″ half square triangles….all scrappy so these will be a part of that project.  Please note, that project is MONTHS away from being finished.  It’s only in the very beginning stage.
Another project that was downstairs waiting for a few minutes was this…It’s a quilt top center.  It needed borders cut.

My double wedding ring quilt was waiting for some pins.  
On this night, when I go up to sew after supper, the first thing I’ll do is sew those twoies into four patches and then sew a few more of the double wedding blocks together so I can pin more.  All of this will take a half hour but then that will give me something to do over the next day’s nap time.  Each night I plan things that I can purposely do the next day over nap time.

I pulled these when I was looking through my UFO projects.  When I made Wild Thing, a Bonnie Hunter quilt from String Fling, I made this pile of blocks all in the wrong direction.  I want to figure out what to do with them.  The project is in my laundry room now with the book.  Over the weekend when I eat breakfast or lunch, I’ll pull it out and read while I eat and try to come up with a plan for them.  The project is on my radar but not on the front burner.

There is this….a quilt backing that needs to be ironed.  It’s in the laundry room.  Happily the laundry room is just off my kitchen.  I’ll pop the iron up one night and iron it while I’m waiting for supper to cook.
I have this book in the laundry room right now too.  I know I’m going to make a farm themed baby quilt for Kelli’s baby.  It’s on my radar.  I know I am going to use Bee in my Bonnet patterns.  If I have a few minutes here and there I can pull the book out and make a few more plans.  I have a few weeks before I’ll be going full force at it but in the meantime I want to start making a few plans.
Upstairs in my UFO cabinet I have about five quilts cut out.  Should Kalissa come home, or anyone else come home, and I need a something to grab and sew along with, any of them would be a good project…especially the baby quilts or this…Bargello in Plaid.

Many people don’t like having all this “stuff” happening at once.  For me, I thrive this way.  During a hectic day with the kiddos, I know I’m going to get 20-60 minutes of quiet time and sometimes, I count the minutes to the bit of me time.  Many people would spend the time on their phone, the computer, or laying down.  Not me…quiet time hits and I scream ME in my head and do all the things I can.  It is honestly what keeps me sane on the days the little potty training boys pee all over the floor, biting happens, or parents show up late.  I love my job and the kiddos but I’d be lying if I didn’t say, I love that little bit of ME time.

A person doesn’t need my job to have little things to “grab”.  Designate a drawer in you dining room and put things in there to grab.  Pull them out while supper is cooking.  When your kids call home, put your phone on speaker and trim up a few blocks.  Save your string pieced blocks and pull papers in the car while you travel like I do.

If I waited for the “right time” or the “right amount of time” I’d never get anything done.  Most of the sewing I do is snatched small segments….and that’s okay.

Speaking of such.  I know for many people, if it was 9:15 at night and they typically go to bed at 10pm, they would sit down and watch television or sit a the computer as they don’t feel they have much time to start anything.  NOT me.  I seize the moment.  I have 30-45 minutes!  That time is golden.  I’m not wasting it.

I think the key to working the way I do is having patience.  By working this way projects take longer…but I do think I get more project done.  I’m never waiting for four hours of free time to machine quilt a quilt top.  I load it one day.  I work on it a few passes each day until it’s done.

There’s the saying “Seize the Day!”….I’m much more of a “seize the moment kind of girl”.

I hope that helped you see a bit how I work…I know it’s not for everyone but it’s definitely me.

If you have other questions, drop me a note…

7 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Seize the MOMENT”

  1. I work very similar to you. Owning an interior design business for 35 years kept me on my toes, juggling all my clients. I do the same with my projects. Right now I have 20 blocks from a block swap to sash and border and Good Fortune to finish up on the borders. Sit and sew on saturday so might finish GF then. It would feel good. Getting read to close the business and spend more time on sewing.

  2. I work like that the same. I do it more out of boredom any more. I don’t think I have what it takes to stay with something from start to finish. I get restless. I do keep a list with what is the next step for each project and then, I can mark it off and add the next step. It saves my sanity.

  3. This works for me too Jo. My sewing area looks a bit crazy, but I always have at least 2 pieces ready to work on, one ready to hand stitch binding on while traveling, a little appliqué to go box,etc. I learned when my kids were little that the days of having hours at a time to sew were no longer possible, except at our annual quilting retreat(which I highly recommend to everyone, but especially for busy mother’s that quilt.)

  4. Paulette J Bergman

    Hi, Jo! I have caught up with you again…
    I am searching for the DVD of Pajama Quilter Reloaded &/or the Workbook.
    My DVD just went belly-up and I misplaced the workbook the first time that I shared it with a friend for an afternoon.
    Can you help me? I’m getting close to spitting tacks!
    Thank you very much! pj stitches!

  5. I usually have 3 projects going all at once and that is about all that I can juggle with my small sewing room. I do like to do binding while sitting at night. Most of my projects are large and I seem to get bored with just project.

  6. Carmela Cataudella-Sanzone

    Hi Jo,

    Thank you for taking the time to answer my question. I like your title “Seize the Moment”. Guess I am going to make that my mantra for each day. In reading how you plan, made me realize that I was always planning on big blocks of time and yes, TV, TEXTING, SOCIAL MEDIA, is the interference that I am allowing to distract me. I am going to rearrange “my time” and start to “Seize the Moment”. THANK YOU FOR ALL THE GOOD ADVICE!! Carmela

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