Be intentional with the projects you choose to make

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the wonderful, creative projects that we see on social media, in magazines or at quilt guild meetings.

Realize this: You cannot make all the things. There’s no way humanly possible.

Designers are constantly coming out with new patterns, projects, fabric lines, notions, houseware, yarn, scrapbooking paper…you name it. Selling products is their line of work and everything they do is geared toward selling more product. That’s business.

You, as a creative consumer, have to be selective with where you spend your hard-earned dollars and your precious time. You must be realistic with time commitments, available budget and your willingness to see the project through to completion.

I used to think time was my biggest constraint as I still work full-time. Nope, it’s supply chain issues due to COVID. It’s impacting wholesale suppliers, brick & mortar quilt shops and online sellers. I planned to participate in an online QAL that starts 9/13. Most of the fabric line is stuck somewhere in transit. No kits are available. Appliqué templates are hard to find – I scored a set at a local quilt shop this week. I rarely ever use the exact same fabrics as the sample, so I wasn’t too worried about sourcing fabrics for this project. WRONG! I was able to pull most from my stash, but trying to find QUALITY colored pin dots on a white background proved to be futile. I spent 6 hours yesterday visiting 2 quilt shops plus chain stores in search of said fabric. What I did find available was too see-through. No, thank you. Found the fabric I wanted on Etsy. The seller estimates it’ll be here in 2 weeks. It should arrive the week I need it, but if not – fine. I’ll work around it. What else am I going to do? My back-up plan is to use solid white for the background, but the small gray pin dots on white will add so much more pizazz to the big block.

Learning to be intentional about the projects I choose to make has been the biggest challenge. I learned the hard way to limit myself to one big quilt project per year supplemented with several smaller projects like pillows, potholders, table runners and wall hangings. Why? Most of the projects I like are are very detailed and require extra time to complete. I’ve also discovered that I’m often attracted to a quilt because I want to learn a new technique. Rather than tackle the whole quilt, I’ll make the blocks that speak to me and incorporate them into other projects. The end result is always fabulous. This approach allows me to enjoy making these projects and still have time available for the other sewing that I like to do – charity quilts, baby quilts – plus making samples for my own classes.

My husband, who works in supply chain for a major retailer, advised it could take years for supply chain issues to be fully resolved. For my fellow F.A.T. (fabric acquisition team) members, this means you’d better buy the fabric you need/love when you find it! Might not be there when you return! Here’s to stash development!

how to right-size your fabric stash

Now that the wheels are in motion for an early exit from the 9-5 workaday world (followed by a possible relocation), I’ve been seriously right-sizing my fabric & notions stash.

Here are some things that have worked for me:

*Teach sewing classes for kids and design projects that use what you already have on hand!

*Designate a “kid” fabric basket and let your kids/students pull from here for craft projects or practice fabric for sewing. You’ll be surprised at how quickly it moves!

*Participate in QALs, but shop your stash as much as possible.

*Cut your scraps/leftovers into various sizes squares and strips for future scrappy projects. Lori Holt has some great ideas for scrap management over on her blog and YouTube channel.

*Organize your stash by color, theme, precuts, FQs, yardage, etc. I organize mine by color, theme, precuts and specialty categories. For example, all my Lori Holt type fabrics are in one area, precuts are stored together, dog, holiday and kid theme fabrics are stored together (mostly FQ or 1/2 yard cuts) and the rest of my quilting cottons are sorted by color. I do have one bin of flannels I am collecting for a special quilt.

*Sell off your stash/notions/machines via FB Marketplace or Etsy. Cut your own charm packs, 2-1/2″ strip packs, 10″ square bundles, etc. With supply chain issues currently impacting almost every aspect of our daily lives, take advantage of the fact you have product available and can ship.

*Sell or donate books you no longer want or need. Your local quilt guild, public library or Better World Books would be happy to take them off your hands.

*Gently used patterns, books, notions, and fabrics can be donated to quilt and sewing guilds for their annual yard sale fundraisers. Some will even accept working sewing machines and furniture, but you need to ask first.

Before you donate, make sure it’s an item that’s still in good shape and usable. If not, trash it!

disappointment

One of the reasons I started my business was to encourage the next generation of sewists and quilters. Two years ago, I gifted one very deserving, aspiring college student with an extra special sewing machine, complete with everything she could possibly need for her sewing/costuming classes in college – Gingher scissors, rotary cutter, Creative Grids rulers, mat and an entire sewing basket filled with top of the line notions.

A couple of weeks ago, she texted me stating that the sewing machine’s foot pedal no longer worked. I told her she could easily replace it and gave her the name of a local business where she could buy one.

An ad for this very same machine popped up on Facebook Marketplace today. Yep, it was machine I’d gifted to the student. Her name is even on the front of the machine in the photo. Face palm.

[Coming back a couple of days later after I’ve had time to think about it.] In looking at the pictures, I can tell she really used the machine – perhaps even dropped it at some point (which would explain why the foot pedal no longer works). My hunch is she needs to raise funds to help pay for college and that’s why the machine was listed for sale. Anyhow, I have to keep reminding myself that I cheerfully gave it to her as a gift and it’s her to do with as she sees fit. But it’s hard…

I totally get how a fellow quilter felt when she posted about how she arrived at her son’s house for a visit only to find the quilt she’d recently gifted them laying in the bottom of the dog crate. It wasn’t a quick quilt pattern either! 😦

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