Working Efficiently

I always get the “how do you get so much done” question.  I thought I would do a blog post about it in regards to my hourglass quilt.

I decided to make this one night while scrolling on my phone and looking at free patterns on Bonnie Hunter’s blog.  The next morning I woke up early before childcare and looked at my 2″ bucket of scraps.  See the totes behind this quilt?  They are all scrap buckets.


I have one for Civil War and cream based prints and I have one for brights and white based prints.  So without any work at all, I can pull the bucket and be ready to cut.

Here’s the bucket….

I pulled color families and put them into small baskets.  I set up a cutting station on the kitchen counter and cut for a 1/2 hour for a few days at naptime and cut in the evenings here and there.  In no time, I had the quilt cut out.

I did use my companion angle ruler.  It helps eliminate one of the points that would otherwise need to be trimmed.   If you look in the basket with the greens, you can see that the units are already paired together.  I do that as often as possible.


I didn’t have to pull fabric.  I didn’t have to slice a strip off.  I didn’t have to refold all of the fabric.  I didn’t have to put all of the fabric away.  That is a HUGE time saver.  I did have to do all of that for the neutrals as I ran out, but when I did cut into them. I cut a few extra strips on purpose.  That way when it comes time to make the next quilt, this step will already be done.  My mom used to say, “Use your head and save your feet”.  This is one way I practice that to this day.

In all seriousness, I had enough of this quilt cut out within 18 hours of deciding to make it, to start sewing…and I slept and worked in that time period.

In the evenings I would take a basket like this….

..and turn it into this…

The first round of sewing on these is DONE!!  Then in the morning I would bring them downstairs and set them in the laundry room.  Once naptime hit and my tidying was done, I would iron these all open.

Kalissa and I took a video of me ironing them.

Excuse the childcare clothes, messy house and not so fixed hair.  It’s everyday life here.

You can see that this method of ironing and trimming is much more efficient than cutting them all apart and then ironing them one by one.  This way they are all handled in a small groups rather than individually.  Anytime you can do that, you are more efficient.

Another thing I did that helps efficiency is to use the project as its own leader and ender.  As I finish sewing a grouping I slide in the neutral hourglass blocks and sew them together.


This way once I’m ready to put the neutral strip on, the strip is already sewn together.

I tried as much as I could to always have something at the machine to sew at night….


and something downstairs to iron by day.  Often times I didn’t get time over naptime to iron anything.  Some days are like that and that’s okay.  But then I often ended up ironing them while I was fixing myself supper.  It has been such an efficient project to work on.

Right now, I’m here…
This is baby quilt size.  I already have the next border ready to sew on.  It’s a white border…The green hour glasses are sewn but not assembled.  The purple blocks have the first pass sewn.

Even though I work on being efficient, it doesn’t mean that I am taking away from enjoying the process.  Trust me, I love the process.  I love the process more than the finished product in most cases.

I love the challenge of making the sewing process easier. Speaking of making things easier…Look what I have.


This is a baggie of leftover scraps.  These are all together in one spot.  These were saved after cutting out the quilt.  These are PERFECT if you would want to make a Wonky Star block or a paper pieced project like Pineapple Crazy.


I’m not sure what I’m going to be making with them but I know I’ll have them ready to grab and sew!!  Again, my Mom would be so proud.  I’m using my head and saving my feet.

What are some things you do that make your sewing more efficient?

By the way, you can find Bonnie Hunter’s Hourglass quilt pattern HERE.

7 thoughts on “Working Efficiently

  1. Donna T

    Thanks for the cute video Jo! I always cut my chain piecing apart and then iron. Your way looks much efficient and easier! Carver is so cute!

  2. Stearns Carol

    Jo, I’m going to be your mother for a minute. You can sew these together so they are ready to sew and make a block wtihout having to clip them apart. The straight edge needs to be facing each other so you just fold them up and sew, nesting the seams. Don’t even have to press first. Hope this makes sense. So you sew green with white on top and white with green on top with the straight edge sewn part facing each other. Then cut two off and then sew together.

  3. Lace Faerie

    Your mom-ism of ‘Use your head, save your feet” reminds me of my grandmother. She always said she was a lazy housekeeper. She put things away instead of putting things down and then having to go back and put them away at another time. She said that just added up to more steps and she was too lazy to want additional steps. She also had a spit-spot clean house at any given time. Unlike me, who after 33 yrs of motherhood and 2 years as daycare grannyhood, I’m still aspiring to reach that level of laziness! Haha

    I always thought, once we have an empty nest again, the house will stay neat. Turns out, I am the just as messy as the kids were!

  4. Julie in WA

    More videos! More videos! More videos!
    Love to see and hear you; you are a natural in front of the camera. Maybe you can have your own show?

  5. Elle

    Jo, I love how you are always keeping it real. I never noticed the things you mentioned to ignore: clothing, mess, Carver chatting. I love that Carter is an integral part of your life (my Grandparents lived on the other side of the globe so I didn’t have that).

    Keep on keepin’ it real :-D

  6. Penny Holliday

    Now why didn’t I think of that! I can’t believe how much time & effort I’ve wasted cutting my chain apart individually & rather than quickly using the tip of the iron to separate I used my hands grabbing the tips to open then iron. Thank you so much for sharing a another wonderful efficient time saving tip!

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