Friday, February 28, 2014

Winners and Not Much Sewing

It has been one of those weeks where my to-do list hasn't really been touched and the return of way below zero weather has kept me huddled under my Valentine's Plus quilt reading books, blogs and slowly working my way through emails. The one day I was out and about I had a nice long lunch with my Mom and picked up enough groceries to get through the week.

I did get caught up with the blocks that have been released for Quilty Stitches over at Little Miss Shabby. The middle block is my favorite so far... love the triangles and the white space!
And I decided while I was at it to dig into a few more bins that weren't in the MUST DO category but I was in the mood for. I'm close to having one of my roll out shelves cleared in the laundry room which will come in handy as a "resting place" for stuff as I work through the rest of my house this year.

This file box was quite an excavation with large pieces on top that got progressively smaller by the time I reached the bottom. And it has some block remnants from some of my 1st projects which are kind of fun to see.
Onto the winners...

For the floral FQ bundle Mr. Random selected:
 Who is:
For the organizing supplies Mr. Random selected:
Who is:
For the sewing themed FQ bundle Mr. Random selected:
Who is:
And, for the kid's novelty FQ bundle Mr. Random selected:
Who is:
Congratulations to all 4 of you and thanks again to everyone who cheered me on throughout my Olympics Organizathon! Can you believe it's the end of February? 

Monday, February 24, 2014

Closing Ceremonies & A Give-Away

First of all, I want to thank each of you who left such encouraging comments on the blog throughout my Olympics Organizathon! I can't tell you how much you helped to keep me on the forward path. Not to mention all the great advice and ideas that were shared.

I'm still catching up on replying to comments (and am WAY behind on my blogroll) but I have read them all and wanted to touch on a few things today. I am really not an organizing guru - it has taken years to come up with systems that work for ME. I am a visual (out of sight out of mind) person who worries that I'll never remember unless I can see what I need to do next.
The funny thing about this is that as I moved into my new quilting room last spring I was amazed to gain an instant jump in productivity. Why? Because as I gradually moved in there was less STUFF to distract me. All the pretty studios I had saved on Pinterest with shelves of fabrics and cute quilty collections just don't work for me. No wall of pegboard or hanging racks filled with rulers as much as I would like them!

This discovery has changed how I organize. I try to find a home for things and then I have a period of habit building to trust that I WILL find those things again even though they are now hidden in a basket, drawer or bin. It might sound simple... but it isn't! Old habits are hard to break. Every Monday morning I clear the surfaces in my quilting room, regain a sense of order and immediately feel better.
I won the adorable mouse pincushion in a give-away in December from LeeAnna Paylor who blogs at Not Afraid of Color and I just love it! These 2 baskets are my concession to having some pretty fabrics on display. The rest as you have seen in my last posts are in drawers or behind doors.
Something else that really works for me are trays. When I need to use my table for basting I love being able to pick up this tray and move it elsewhere. I use trays or small baskets all over my house. It's a nice bridge between having it in sight but contained.
Notions are my biggest problem area. They are not uniform to store and oh so frustrating when I can't find them. For now I am trying to corral them in these boxes. The ones that are labeled are working... the others are still in process. But at least I know where to start looking!
I used to hang my scissors and rotary cutters where my rulers are hanging on the end of my cutting table but I dropped them too often reaching for them and my floor didn't take well to that habit.
Yesterday's give-away was all about labels. Did you notice the cute labels on my baskets above? I got the idea and the template HERE from Better Homes and Gardens. I buy my pouches at but I'm sure they can found elsewhere too. These meet my label criteria which is quick and easy! A package of these pouches will go to the lucky winner so if you haven't entered click HERE.
One more thing. I was going to comment on yesterday's post about the size of my stash on a more serious note but the post was so long already. I started quilting in 2002 after moving here in the midst of a bout of major depression that ended my career. I wrote a POST about this back in October 2012 if you want to read more.

As I look back to that time I was definitely self medicating myself by acquiring pretty fabric. I think I was more of a fabric collector than a quilter - and of course you all know I was an awesome UFO Maker! The upside of that (other than having lots of pretty fabrics) is that I have turned the corner into a "real" quilter who still buys some fabric but also uses LOTS of it. I'm good with that and I love my stash.
Today I'm offering one more give-away in sincere thanks for all of your cheers as I worked through my events and various venues. I have selected 2 groups of fabrics to cut a set of FQs from. Please leave a comment as to which set you would prefer - sewing or kids novelties.
I'll ask Mr. Random to select 2 lucky winners on Thursday, Feb. 27. Be sure to leave an email address in your comment if you are No-Reply! NOTE: This give-away is now closed.

I've yet to watch the Sochi Closing Ceremonies - I've got to get the binding done on my A Year of Lovely Finishes quilt so will be catching up on that too. I'm looking forward to a week of sewing and my Olympics Organizathon is now closed. My Gold Medal Sew Perfect Table has been ordered! Cue heart swelling music please....

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Last Day of Competition & A Give-Away

As the Sochi Olympics wind down today so does my Olympics Organizathon. I am happy to show off my revamped venues today and officially close down my remaining events. My Closing Ceremony post tomorrow will wrap it all up in my quilting room.
Event #3: Quilt Kit Making
Event #4: Stash Folding
Event #5: Stash Storing
My definition of stash is fabric that is FQ sized or larger. In my quilting room I store most of my rainbow stash in my daughter's old dresser. FQs are stored in the top 2 drawers and 1/2 yd up to 2 yd lengths are wrapped on comic boards and stored in the other 4 drawers. I'm coming up on a year of using this method and I really love it!
The rest of my stash lives in our laundry room where I used to sew. This room is full of closets and cabinets so I have no desire to ever move my stash anywhere else. No worries about light, dust or kitty fluff in here. Yes, I like big stash!
On the right side I have some collections by designer on the top shelf. Below that are my solids, additional rainbow stash and my current Sewing for the Seasons fabrics. My kids novelties and brights are below that and on the bottom shelf are decorator fabrics and trims in the bin.
I'm going to try storing my quilt kits in the bins between the shelving units. Can you believe I have had these since I was a teen in my black, white and red bedroom?

On the left shelves I have florals, paisleys, shabby chic collections and a few other novelty fabric collections like teapots, gardening and sewing. It won't come as a surprise to you that my quilting theme for 2015 is already set - "All About Florals". I am a prewasher so I use the black basket to hold new fabrics.
I have been putting some of my new purchases on comic boards to fill in this upper shelf. In the file boxes above I store themed fabrics and in the far right corner there are some containers holding floral FQs for watercolor quilts. 
I get some fun reactions when I bring people in here for the 1st time. I also have to say that I love my stash and have had a great time petting it over the last 2 weeks. Now I am anxious to get back to cutting it up and using it!
Event #6: Bin Clearing
Event #8: Space Planning
This large pantry style closet with shelves that roll out now holds yardage for quilt backings, long pieces of my some of my favorites and muslin on the top shelf. Finished quilts, wall hangings and table runners are on the next shelf. Oh, and my Christmas Strings quilt which still needs to be unpicked... guess that won't happen until March Madness!

On the bottom shelves there are some bins holding some more fabrics that have been kitted up, some Christmas scraps, a bin of fabrics from finished projects waiting to be used for quilt labels and some painting supplies. I'm excited to actually see the bottoms of these shelves.
And the adjoining closet where I used to sew has been completely redone and I am feeling pretty darn proud of it because it was a MAJOR mess! I've moved my kid's flannels, fleece, fabrics for clothing and small batting scraps into the boxes across the top.

Here is a close-up showing how my labels turned out. Boy oh boy do I love using this tape! I ended up labeling more bins than I'd planned to because it was so quick and easy. The chevron pattern made it easy to cut same size labels (4 chevrons for the bins and 3.5 for the magazine holders) and the lines were a nice guide to keep my writing mostly straight.
I'm storing supplies for knitting, cross stitch, painting and other general crafts in here. I use the fabric bag to store my current projects.
The right side of this closet has also been tamed. The kitty litter boxes take up the floor space in between where my sewing table used to sit. Can you tell I'm participating in a pillow sew along this year?
Nothing too exciting except for a bare shelf (Woo Hoo!) and you can see my new magazine bins on the bottom. It's so nice to have some breathing room and I actually look forward to my daily litter scooping in here. Seriously!
For today's give-away I'm going to offer a set of tools that have nothing to do with quilting but are instead ALL about organizing starting with a roll of the tape I used to label my bins. I'm also going to include some Sharpie pens and some other labeling supplies that you will see in tomorrow's quilting room post. Trust me, you will want these! 
Image from
I'll use Mr. Random to pick a winner on Wednesday, Feb. 26th. To enter leave a comment on this post and be sure to include your email if you are No-Reply. If you are at a loss for words tell me your favorite color.  NOTE: This give-away is now closed.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Scrap Management

Scraps... we all have them! Whether you love them, give them away or toss them is a different story. I am currently defining a scrap as anything less than a fat quarter.  Fat quarters in my system are stash and will be part of tomorrow's post.
Event #9: Scrap Management
For years I followed a version of Bonnie Hunter's Scrap User's System and that worked really well for me. I love working with pre cuts and I was doing a lot of fabric swaps so it made sense to take a little extra time to "finish off" scraps into sizes I used often.

2.5" strips and 5" squares are my favorites going back before charm packs and jelly rolls were on the market. I belonged to an active Yahoo! Group that was inspired by Pat Speth's Nickel Quilts series and we swapped multiple themes each month. 2.5" strips were added later to our monthly swap list. I also hosted monthly swaps on HGTV's Quilting Forum for a couple of years.

I store my 5" charms in these Sterilite ShowOff containers - here is a peek inside my Thimbleberries bin. When I run out of room length wise I fill in on the side. Some bins are themed and others are by color. These bins were a happy accident when I noticed that the charms fit so nicely. I keep these bins stacked on both sides of my dresser - I think I have 10.
When I was looking for a storage solution for 2.5" strips I chose a drawer unit with 3" high drawers and basically folded the strips to fit as many I could which ended up being in quarters (folded in half and then again in half). Here is a peek at my blue & purple drawer.
The drawer unit lives in my quilting room closet and the strips are sorted by color. When this unit became full I started buying the scrapbooking cases by Iris because they are 3" deep. I use 6 of them for themed strips (fall, Christmas, florals, etc.)
I used to store UFOs in the drawer unit on the left but as of last summer it became the home for most of my strings and not so pretty fabrics to cut up for string blocks. Maybe this summer I'll be able to repurpose the drawers above it too!

If I couldn't get a 2.5" strip I'd cut 2" strips... and if I couldn't get a 5" square I'd cut 2.5" then 2" squares. They are kept in these white plastic trays underneath my cutting table.
The bright bin has 3.5" x 6.5" bricks from recent swaps so there are a few other sizes for specific patterns kept here as well. I also have started a tray of Moda's Mini Charm packs. Now that my Dollar Store carries these types of trays in red I use white for storage and red for projects.

I guess if there is a recurring theme it would be find a container that fits what you need to store and then buy several! And, yes I do use these fabrics. Many of my go-to patterns and books are designed for these sizes. Cutting isn't my favorite part of quilting and as my hands get older (unlike the rest of me LOL!) I figure I'll be ahead of the game for happy scrappy quilt making.

When I started quilting again in late September 2012 I decided to focus on UFOs and not deal with scraps. I kept a basket near my cutting table and everything went in there. When I moved into my quilting room last May I started using bins under my cutting table to sweep all the leftovers into.
I had two bins jammed full and now they both have been emptied and sorted. Most of these scraps are now sorted by color in this over the door organizer. The outer pockets store binding remnants coiled up and the inner pockets hold folded up scraps.
This system is really growing on me! Since I have plenty of pre cuts this will be nice for paper piecing or applique as I move forward. And now that I've started doing Angela's RSC Sampler blocks it's great for that too. I like that they are out of the way yet easily accessible. If or when they overflow I'll change things up again.

I have also started keeping snippets for crumb blocks and selvages (when I remember to cut them!) and they are stored in a basket. Since I keep everything else what's a few more small pieces right?
Event #10: Batting Management
Last but not least is batting. I've decided to keep the larger scraps of batting under my cutting table where I keep my rolls and packaged battings. It's kind of messy but it's empty space that is hidden unless you really look for it and I might as well use it!
Smaller scraps and strips are now in a box in my craft closet which I'll show you tomorrow. Going forward I'm going to measure my larger pieces and pin a note to them... but I've decided I don't have the patience to back and do this now. I am committed to piecing these leftovers and using them however.

Whew! That wraps up 2 more events in my Olympics Organizathon and gives you an idea of my scrap management system has evolved over the years. I find that keeping on top of scraps is a ongoing process and the solution is pretty unique to each of us. How do you feel about scraps?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Books, Magazines & UFOs

Olympics Organizathon
Results are in for several of my Events and I'm happy to post the 1st of a 4 part series highlighting my efforts today. I plan to post about Scrap/Batting Management on Saturday, my Stash Closets on Sunday and everything else on Monday. I am definitely going for the Gold!
Event #2: Book Marking
I think it's important to consider what is working well and include that in the process of finding ideas for what isn't. For most purposes my system for storing books works well. I keep them on the back side of my cutting table organized by topic in magazine bins. If I'm looking for ideas to use a Charm Pack it's easy to grab the bin and take it to the nearest comfy chair.
What isn't working so well for me is keeping track of books I'm using for current projects. Sometimes they are in the project bin (bottom cubby with green handles) but not always and I find it incredibly frustrating to waste time hunting them down! 

Another thing that is not working well for me is keeping track of projects I want to make. I might not be in the mood to browse for ideas but would rather move right to the short list instead. Since this also applies to magazines I'll talk about this below.

I'm going to try using this plastic file box on the top shelf of my IKEA Raskog cart as the home for books and patterns for all current projects and my project binder. Easy to access and in plain sight which seems important for me in this case.
Event #1: Magazine Culling
NOTHING has been working with my magazines! They were scattered all over my home and randomly marked with either sticky notes or tabbed pages for projects I might make someday. When I first posted about this event I was encouraged by many of you to give ripping a try. 
I've thanked you before and I'll thank you here again... I LOVE this! Especially for my older magazines this worked really well. I found two binders and sat down to sort the projects into categories that seem pretty natural for me - applique, 3 tabs of scrappy (squares, strips and triangles), kids/charity, seasonal, special and techniques.
I then took another pass through the seasonal pile and sorted them into groups by holiday/season and stored them in the smaller binder. Next year when I change my focus to All Things Floral I'll change out the small binder. I also have a section in there for projects I'd love to make this year. The binders are in my quilting room closet next to my patterns in the green bin.

Now... what about the magazines that I couldn't bear to rip into? You know the ones... you love most of the projects now or feel you might be persuaded to someday! Sandy who blogs at My Material Creations left a comment recommending THESE containers by Really Useful Boxes that I ordered from Office Depot.
They are sturdy and hold a ton of magazines. I bought one for my quilting magazines and the other will house my home decorating/DIY magazine stash. And guess what - when they are full that will be my signal that it's time for another culling session. Thank you Sandy for a great tip!
Before I put these away I used a tip my Mom texted me after reading my blog entry about my magazine dilemma. I took pictures of the projects that I would have ripped out for my Sewing for the Seasons binder and have them labeled by magazine/issue/page and sorted in folders in my Dropbox account so I can browse them on my PC, iPad or iPhone. I did this for my books too. Perfect - thanks Mom!
Event #7: UFO List Making (Other Crafts)
Done! And I'm happy to say they are NOT as lengthy as I feared. My thoughts on these are to pick the low lying fruit and aim for a finish each month starting in March. My cross stitch UFO I'm putting at the top of the list is this pretty wall hanging that is completely stitched and I already have the hanging hardware for. 
As for my yarn UFOs... this might make you laugh!
3 knitted washcloths that simply need the yarn ends to be woven in. These are so low lying it's pathetic!

Getting organized is a moving target and not all solutions are "one size fits all". I'm just sharing what works for me and what I'm trying in case you might might find a helpful idea. And I'm still indulging my Olympics watching habit... I am so excited for the Ladies Free Skate today. I love that there is a tight bunch at the top so that the medals are up in the air. I hope they ALL skate their best and land their jumps!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Craving Quiet

Yesterday morning after my blog post I headed downstairs to get back to my Olympics Organizathon tasks. Since I missed my usual laundry day on Monday I was playing catch-up. Our washer sounds like a jet plane at certain points in the cycle so I grabbed a stack of fabric and escaped to the family room to watch some Olympics on the DVR. Then I had an AHA! moment.
Image from
Quiet. Not only the absence of noise but the quietness of mind.
Remember how I was itching to sew?
And my brain was feeling overloaded - I believe "twitchy" was used in my post.
Needless to say the TV was clicked off, the piles of stash abandoned and into my quilting room I went with my "newest" pile of skinny scraps. Mindless sewing at it's finest! And oh my... it was just what I needed.

What is it about creative time that is so calming? I left my quilting room after about an hour and felt like a new person... like I had just woke up from a refreshing nap. All the jumbled thoughts had been tamed and I was able to jot down some ideas and get back to my sorting.
For those of you who make crumb blocks how big do you go? I'm thinking between 6-7 inches like the one above. I want to keep them wonky so will have to add some sashing strips down the road - but for now I'm just enjoying the process. And the therapeutic benefits!                                    
Last night Elsa and I settled for our evening Olympics watching session while I worked on the 2nd block of Little Miss Shabby's Sampler Along. Who knew that cross stitching quilt blocks could be so much fun? I'm including my floss cards so I know what colors I used in case I fall behind. The 3rd block is now available so I've got my night planned.