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Managing the Piles (New and Old) on my Sewing Table

Another update on what’s on my sewing table this week. Piles of projects, both new and old, keep growing. This week I had two official realizations: I need three of me to try and manage everything. Or: I needed to take a break. So I did.

Both my husband and I are both self-employed. Since mid-March my husband’s business changed drastically and we’ve each been working hard to keep our both of our businesses going. (And we are so grateful we have work to do!) That said, this week I ran out of gas. I just needed to call a time-out and take a break. The mom/home manager side of me needed some time to catch up on regular life too. For some reason bathrooms still need to be cleaned, laundry done, food purchased and people fed. Go figure.

My sewing room needed some serious TLC too. The past weeks of writing a new quilt pattern, putting together kits, working on too many projects at once, etc., had taken a toll. It was time to clean-up and regroup in there too.

It felt good to take a breather, and give myself and my sewing machine some healthy space. After catching up on sleep and cleaning, I’m feeling a little more ready for some projects again. And, even though I had the table cleared briefly, new (and old) projects have crept in.

I finally started playing with a layout for my Riley Blake challenge quilt blocks we’ve been making over the last few months. The blocks are all hanging on my design wall. I’m still not 100% sure how I feel about this layout. I’m definitely going to expand it with some sashing. I’m sorry for the delay if you’ve anxiously been awaiting finishing this quilt. It’s on my to-do list for the coming week and hopefully I can share my layout pattern soon.

Whenever I share my sewing space, I frequently get questions. Here are more details:

Sewing machine: Baby Lock Cresendo. I love it with an undying love. Available at Baby Lock Retailers.

Design Wall: I bought mine years ago from my local quilt shop. You can find a similar ready-to-hang Design Wall by Fons and Porter here. Or there are lots of tutorials to make your own: Here’s a tutorial to make a permanent design wall to hang in a studio, as well as a list of make-you-own portable versions.

Quilting is my Therapy Sticker available here from Angela Walter’s online shop.

Here are a few of the other projects appearing now on my table:

One thing on my list of weekend projects is remaking some quick covers for outdoor pillows for our backyard. For the first time in 11 years we finally bought some real patio furniture. Our back deck has become my favorite quiet haven this summer. I’ll share more once the pillows are finished and everything is done. (Outdoor fabric from my local Joann Fabrics.)

Also on the list: recovering my pressing table. I love my little portable ironing table made from a folding tv tray. It’s been about 5 years since I last recovered and the canvas has seen better days.

I’m going to use this fun Lori Holt My Happy Place home dec weight print – perfect for a sewing room. I think I can get this project done pretty quickly (once I locate the whereabouts of our staple gun…)

And another on the to-do list: make more fabric masks. Now that we’re using them consistently, I decided we should have a variety of pretty/fun ones to have on hand. When we do need to go out, we might as well make a fashion statement. 😉  I’m also going to make a few more to give away to friends. I got a few fun upcoming Riley Blake prints to play with with that include a little something for everyone – flowers, bees, sharks, and some more conservative neutrals for my husband. Plus I finally got my hands on some more elastic.

You can find links to a variety of mask patterns here. Now that I’ve made a bunch, I’m getting faster at putting them together, so I can whip them out without too much thinking. I plan to use regular quilter’s cotton on both sides.

I’ll share more fabric details when they’re done.

Other projects on the table are other ongoing UFO’s including my Steam Punk blocks, cutting a few more Round We Go EPP blocks, and hopefully finishing the faded ‘beachy’ version of my Flying Flags. (Large pile of fabric for that one in a box on the floor that has been strategically cropped from these pictures.)

I had high hopes that would happen before the 4th, but nope. Not this year. But hopefully still this summer. Also missing from this picture – the Union Jack blocks which are finally getting sashing ready to head to the quilter.

Also still hovering around: the two UFO’s I dug out over a month ago that only need borders and sent off to the quilters… aaaaaand that hasn’t happened either…

… which is the reason I can’t bring myself to put them away. They’re so close to finishing. I just need to (A) Not start something else new! (this is definitely overstating the obvious) and (B) write down a physical list and start checking them off. This would also help further support action item (A).

But good news – there is something I DID do, It’s been on my list for almost a year now, since we had to move everything out of the main floor of our house following a kitchen flood last summer. I finally started hanging mini quilts back on the wall. Well, three of them at least. So I’ll at least take credit for that.

I’m hoping that posting this list of projects to do will keep me accountable to getting them done. And also provide more transparency about what things are really like around here. Sometime on blogs or social media it looks like people just magically have all of these new finishes. I’m trying to do better at documenting the process it takes.

A few weeks ago I wrote about being in a funk. I’m definitely still feeling those “funk” waves coming and going. This past week was another one of those. I’m doing better about recognizing and allowing them – not trying to resist or let them overwhelm me. Especially as so much outside of my control can feel overwhelming.

I found a couple of podcasts this week on that topic that really helped – a quick one and a longer one. Both had very practical, do-able tips. I’ll share them here in case they benefit anyone else.

Finding Peace When You Have No Control – Dr. Justin Coulson (9 minutes long)

Three Equations for a Happy Life – Arthur Brooks (45 minutes)

Be patient with yourselves. Allow yourself to step away from the things that are unnecessary if you can. Hang in there, friends! We’re going to get through this crazy time. I’m so glad we’ve got each other.

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13 Comments

  • Reply
    Rachel Anderson
    June 27, 2020 at 5:36 pm

    Amy, I can feel the emotion in your posts, and they give me permission to acknowledge the weirdness and to be a little sad about it. (This isn’t your first piece that has made me feel emotionally; you have a good way of writing in a “real” and relatable way.) Thanks for the inspiration to find creative ways to cope and serve. I’ve been very slowly sewing through some giant projects that have been on hold for yearsssss. Right now I’m trying to decide if I can machine quilt them myself or if I should send them out. I signed up for a Bluprint class on machine quilting large quilts and I’m about halfway done with it, but I don’t know if I’m going to be able to view the rest of the class because of their closure.

  • Reply
    The Joyful Quilter
    June 27, 2020 at 7:41 pm

    SEW glad you were able to take a break, clean up, and make a list. Hoping those resources you shared went a long way toward working thru your funk. Happy weekend!

  • Reply
    Robby H.
    June 27, 2020 at 9:04 pm

    Just because most of us won’t be going away on vacation doesn’t mean we don’t need a break. Good for you for recognizing that. I know that’s extra hard when you’re running your own business, but I think this is a year everyone feels a little extra depleted and will understand. Take care!

  • Reply
    Lynette Gross
    June 28, 2020 at 7:33 am

    I echo all of the above comments and acknowledge that these past months have been surreal/bizarre/showed me unhinged/ yep you get my gist but your sharing and caring has helped sooo much. We (quilters) are here to support each other, but only if we are kind to ourselves first, can we offer that support. I’m happy you are looking out for you! You’re a treasure Amy ❤️

  • Reply
    Janice
    June 28, 2020 at 7:54 am

    I’ve been working through some UFOs and WIPs, too. So far, I’ve finished 4 quilt tops and two minis. I have another sitting on my work table waiting. It’s a good way to make you feel like you’re accomplishing something.
    A suggestion on your TV tray ironing board: When I made mine, I made the cover removable. It has elastic around the edge making it easy to remove and toss in the wash. I keep a spare around for wash days. If you are interested, I can try to find the site where I found the instructions. I could do with making another for mine right now.

  • Reply
    Adrienne
    June 28, 2020 at 8:09 am

    Amy, I understand being in a funk. I am, too. But, who isn’t? It’s a hard time for all of us. We’ll get through. There are ways to find some peace. For me, if I stay always grateful for all the good things, it helps to keep my spirits up. Not always easy to do. But, worth the effort which can sometimes feel gargantuan. We’re the lucky ones, though. That’s something I always try to remember. It helps.

  • Reply
    Shirley Clark
    June 28, 2020 at 9:16 am

    I do hope you’re able to complete all of your projects. I’m retired, and I put a lot of stuff on hold to make masks for people here. Then I had some things to do gor the great grands. About the time I put all of the fabrics I pull for masks back up, somebody ask for more.
    Now with this stuff still lingering, I’m afraid I’ll be making more for the grands that go to school and possibly others. I really just want to bury myself in my sewing room and work on some things for Christmas.

  • Reply
    Kristi Castanette
    June 28, 2020 at 10:16 am

    Amy, I just wanted to let you know how much I enjoy your blog, especially in this home-bound, scary, sad, stressful time in which we are all living. It is a breath of fresh air with quilty inspiration. I love your challenge lay-out so far and am very interested in seeing what sashing adds to the quilt. Have a great summer and take care.

  • Reply
    Rosemaryflower
    June 28, 2020 at 10:19 am

    I loved reading this because it speaks to me, Amy. On so many levels.
    I like the way you laid out your strategy, I wish you the best in achieving some of these goals Sometimes coping seems so simple, and then I find the snags are the things that pull me down. It is not like I am doing scientific math… haha
    I also go into a panic when the house seems dirty. My focus is also on the bathrooms and the kitchen. Dust is dust, and hubbs and I are not dirty messy..
    It is just about being organized and putting stuff away mindfully … so I remember where it is.
    Your sewing space looks wonderful. I have yellow walls, I painted them in a hurry when we moved into this house that was one year old. It had gold striped wall paper. That was 20 years ago. I want to paint my wall too. I love that.
    So, yes, I am sewing too. I am happy that you are pushing through and also pausing to regroup. I am doing the same.
    I am not sure if it is caregiver exhaustion (taking care of my 96 year old daddy) or Crisis Fatigue. Both are wearing on me. The former I refuse to let go of, obviously, I love my daddy. And then the fabric piles, and the house.
    Thank you for the links to the discussions with these two helpers. I need them
    The only thing else we can do is pray

  • Reply
    Allysgrandma
    June 29, 2020 at 8:24 am

    My funk came and went. As soon as I got my hands on my granddaughters again, I felt fine! They painted their playhouse on Saturday, yes they did. They are sisters, 11 and 5 with a new sibling coming in October, after they turn 6&12. How weird is that. All my grandchildren 6 years apart. Ally and Pyp are 6 days less than 6 years. I have been making masks to the point of my body giving out. I have an RN next door and I moved onto Surgical Caps too. I had a lot of help with my husband in the beginning when he wasn’t working, we own a car wash and it opened back up May 10. I have to say I’m not afraid of his retiring anymore. I now know I won’t have to kill him. Haha. He stayed very busy helping me and putting in our vegetable garden. I cleaned my sewing room yesterday because it was so bad I didn’t even want to go in there. I’m kind of messy so you know it was bad! I have a few masks to finish for a friend’s work with disabled adults and then back to baby quilts! Oh and I decided to use the flag pattern to for the backing of my son-in-law’s thin blue line quilt. I am going to add a thin blue line when making the small quilts out of gray and black with blue star fabric for the stars. It will help me tremendously to get that thing finished this year! He needs it!

  • Reply
    Twyla
    June 29, 2020 at 9:10 am

    I want to thank you for your time and all the information you give us on your blog. I direct many people to your blog for info. This is funky (good word) time. I am a home body but every once in a while I do like to get out but it seems stressful just to get ready to go out. Just getting away from home and home duties for a day helps me. So with all u do (and having an ailing child who I hope is much better) I can understand your need to step back and put you first. Wishing you the very best.

  • Reply
    Deanne
    June 30, 2020 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you so much for your wonderful blog posts! I look forward to them so much. I listened to both the podcasts you recommended and they were so helpful. When Bluprint had their free week in March I watched all of your shows and wished you had done more. I think I’ve made 3 or 4 of your patterns just in the last couple of months. So thank you for all that you do.

  • Reply
    Roxanne Workoff
    July 1, 2020 at 6:16 am

    I can understand being in a funk. I recently went to the dentist and they found a white spot that needs to be biopsies, and that has put me in a funk. I know I need to keep my mind active so I’m not sitting here worrying but then again if I’m going to be battling cancer, why bother. The waiting is the hardest. On a different note, do you have a pattern for the Union Jack flag quilt?

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