Top 10 Time Wasters to Remove from Your Quilting Process


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Time Waster ONE

Unorganized stash…. the biggest time waster is spending days to find the fabrics you are looking for.  It takes a bit of time to get organized but you will be so happy when it is done.  I separate my fabric by type – batik, flannel, printed cottons, solid colors, hand dyed, etc.  That isn’t totally necessary but it works for me.  Then within each of those categories I sort by color.  If I want a red batik fabric there is one area to look for it.  I suggest using big plastic bins to sort your fabric first, then organize each group when you are ready to put it on shelves (or store in the boxes).  Have a friend over to make the process fun and enjoyable - and then sort your friend's stash next time. 

Pro Tip: after organizing is done, when a pile gets messed up, remove the pile from the shelf or box and re-stack it with the top piece becoming the new bottom piece and stack one piece at a time, enjoying your visit with each fabric in the stack.

Time Waster TWO

Needing to clear the clutter off the cutting table every time you need to cut.  I think we all have the problem with flat surfaces being a place to pile things.  

Come up with a plan to keep it neater like putting away 5 items every morning as you enter the room.  If it becomes a habit, pretty soon there will be very little on the table top.


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Pro Tip: Put 5 Things Away each day as you enter your workspace.

Time Waster THREE

Trying to find scraps for a project in a crammed plastic bag or container.  

If you stack your scraps in flat layers (preferably pressed before they go in there) they are ready to use.  I sort my scraps by type of fabric and then some of them are sorted by color.

Pro Tip: Put Scraps away before they become wrinkled.

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Time Waster FOUR

Cutting wrinkled (unpressed) fabric and then figuring out that they aren’t cut accurately which results in re-cutting or a failed project.  Always press your fabric if it has fold marks or wrinkles, before you cut needed shapes.  I have seen videos by famous quilters where they unfold a fat quarter with deep fold marks and then proceed to cut without pressing.  I think that is sending a bad message especially to inexperienced quilters.  Accuracy is necessary.


Pro Tip: Accuracy begins with the iron

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Time Waster FIVE

Cutting one layer at a time with a rotary cutter.  One layer will wiggle and move when you raise your ruler and you need to spend time getting it in place again for the next cut.  At least 4 layers should be cut at a time because the weight of the layers will keep the fabric in position for you to place your ruler for the next cut.  I am usually cutting 8 layers at a time which is about maximum for accuracy with the rotary cutter.  A sharp blade is imperative.  If you have to re-cut 2 or 3 times you either aren’t using enough pressure in your movement or the blade is dull or nicked.  A dull blade is dangerous.  

Pro Tip: Cut 2-4 fabrics at a time (4-8 layers)

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Time Waster SIX

Untangling spools of thread when they are all tossed in a drawer or basket.  Secure the end of thread before you put the spool away.  A lot of spools have a groove at the top to wrap the thread into.  If not there are self clinging plastics available, and just Saran Wrap or Cling Wrap cut in strips is very economical.  The same goes for bobbins.  I like the plastic bobbin rings to keep my bobbins neat and tidy.

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Time Waster SEVEN

Sewing just one unit at a time and removing it from the machine and cutting the thread each time.  

Chain piece to save time and thread.  If a third piece will be added onto each unit, just cut the units off one at a time and bring them to the front to add the new piece. This will keep them in order too if that is a priority.

Pro Tip: Production line chain piecing saves hours.

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Time Waster EIGHT

Putting too many quilts on your wish list and then spending too much time trying to decide which one to do…. which usually leads to not starting any of them.  Make a priority list; put your ‘Favorites’ on top, then ‘Maybes’ next, and ‘Just for Inspiration’ but probably won’t make at the bottom of the list. This will give you a smaller list to choose one from.

Pro Tip: Make a Priority List and get started.

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Time Waster NINE

Waiting and wishing for inspiration instead of working on something.  I always have a mindless sewing project cut and ready to sew.  You will get more ideas while you are creating. 

Keep pencil and paper by your machine and make a list of the ideas that come to mind.  You can stop the mindless sewing at any time and go work on your new idea. 

Pick up the started mindless sewing the next time you just need the sewing fix or are between projects.

Pro Tip: Ideas come while you're creating. Write them down.

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Time Waster TEN

Not starting the project you're passionate about because of unfinished project guilt. I have found a number of ways to eliminate the guilt...

  • Dedicate one hour per day to an old project (or one day per week) and you'll chip away at them and feel good about the progress while simultaneously working on the new project that brings you joy.

  • Donate or sell a project you will never finish. There are lots of quilters and groups who love to inherit or purchase a Work In Progress. Decisions have already been made, shopping for fabrics has already been done, all they have to do it piece, sew, quilt...this lack of shopping for fabrics and thinking about color selection brings them joy. Let someone finish your great idea with their unique spin on it and get on to the project you're inspired to create.

  • If you love piecing and fabric selection but hate quilting...sell your quilt tops or hire a quilter to finish it for you. If you love long arm/hand/machine quilting but hate piecing, buy quilt tops made by others.

Pro Tip: Store WIP projects in boxes where they won't get wrinkled or dusty and keep a paper with the design/pattern detail (book it's in) dimensions, strip and piece sizes. Note the steps you've already completed, so picking it up again will be seamless or ready to pass on to someone else. You may even want to record your $$$ investment in materials to make selling the WIP easier.

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Some people consider unfinished projects to be a burden or guilt trip, but I see them as a jump start when I am wanting to work on a project.
— Wanda S. Hanson

Improve one small habit at a time. You’ll make more quilts!
— Wanda S. Hanson

Wanda is known for her mastery of Color, Productivity and Fine Workmanship…learn why in this short video clip:


CLICK HERE to Watch the full length Interview with Wanda