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Part Two: Projects (think “Expectations”)

We’re talking projects before tools. If you need something special for your project (like those nifty row markers you couldn’t live without), make a note on your checklist as you identify it.


Clearly the worst thing that could happen during any sewing excursion (4 hours or 4 days), would be to run out of projects. I know this because I have yet to witness a quilter who has finished everything they brought. Most of the time I see quilters packing up piles of lovely completed work, complaining the whole time about what they didn’t finish. Isn’t that a shame?

If the goal is to have a successful experience it’s as simple as having realistic expectations. I know this is the only dedicated sewing time many quilters have. Jobs and families may inspire your creativity, but I’ll bet they fill your days. So while it’s tempting to pile on the projects with visions of coming home with it all finished, it’s not fair to set yourself up to fail.

So get real – this is suppose to be FUN!


How much time will I have/need? Take any project you could do at home in 2 hours, and plan at least 4 hours for it. Seriously. You have chosen to sew in a social setting because you intend to be social.

If you’re a knitter, you know when you can manage a complicated lace pattern, and when garter stitch is more appropriate. Quilting is no different. Don’t bring a project that needs your undivided attention, either. Very bad things will happen.

Did you think about yesterday’s questions? Small, medium, large projects (or easy/intermediate/difficult)?

Now comes the fun part:

Organization makes sewing on the go easy. Here’s a couple ideas that work great for me.

While I’m a little over the limit on large quilting projects right now (insert eye-rolling) I do have a method for managing them. I use plastic scrap-booking boxes to store each work-in-progress (WIP) separately. By WIP I mean projects I have actually started. It’s been cut, or I’ve started piecing, or I have all the blocks done and just need to assemble.

I keep current projects in (or on) a rolling storage cube at my sewing table. It makes it simple to grab a box and go when everything I need is already together.

For small projects, some preparation ahead of time really helps:

All those delightful little projects you have stashed away in every nook and cranny?  A pattern, maybe with a bit of fabric already selected, or a kit you couldn’t pass up? Embroidery or needlepoint,  hexagons or other hand-piecing projects count, too. Maybe even something small you’ve started, but not quite finished? Drag them all out (or as many as you dare).

If they’re already packaged with everything you need to make the project, terrific! If they aren’t, add what’s missing (or make a note and include it in or on the package). Build your own kits. Then throw them all in one bin/box/basket/drawer. You’ll thank me later.

Are you craft sewing? I use interfacings (fusible or sew-in), fleece, fusible batting, insulated batting and all weights of stabilizers more than I ever have before. In my sewing room, they’re all stored in different ways. Not a problem until it’s time to pack. So now I have one plastic box with some of each.

Scrap or improv projects are so much fun, but unless I can make a decision and bring just what I need (say in a gallon zipper bag), I leave them at home. Dragging a big bin of fabric around for the just-in-case doesn’t appeal to me.

So you’ve (hopefully) chosen some projects. Take a quick look at each:

  • Do you need instructions from a book, magazine or pattern?
  • Templates, template plastic or freezer paper? Craft scissors?
  • Specialty rulers?
  • Roxanne’s Glue Baste-It or glue sticks?
  • Marking tools?
  • Zippers, clasps, buttons or snaps? Velcro?
  • Walking foot, zipper foot, Curve Master or other accessory machine feet?

Make a note of these items on your checklist.

Now is a good time to think about what you do ahead of time to make it go more smoothly:

  • Prewash and press yardage (if you do).
  • Precut fabric
  • Make templates or patterns.
  • Make a test block if it’s a new technique for you.

Add these to the To-Do section of your checklist, and then take a deep breath. You’ve actually finished the hardest part!

Tomorrow I’ll wrap up with tools, and some packing suggestions. The checklist, and the posts are available on the Projects and Tutorials page.

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