Keeping Organized
Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 7:37PM
Webmaster of JTQuilt in Tips


I hear more and more about working more efficiently and techniques that lessen strain on our hands and bodies. Yeah! We need more of this.


Please send us your ideas for saving time while improving the quality of our work.


I recently attended a lecture where the instructor had showed how to snip the dangling threads from the top of the piece by tugging on the top thread to pull up the bobbin thread and snipping both at the same time, rather than cutting threads from each side with a scissor action. She claims to save hours of time and strain on her hands. It works.


Chain piecing saves time, as we all know, but also increases our accuracy by repeating the same thought process before we move to another step.


After a project, re-organize your workspace by putting away the materials used. Clean your machine. Fill some extra bobbins with neutral colures. Change the needle on your machine and the blade in your cutter. Leave your area ready to work instead of starting with clean up.


Cut out several projects at a time. Organize them in clear boxes or baggies so that they are ready when you have time. Have projects that fit your different needs: carry along, no-thinking busy hands projects, ideas that need to be tried and practiced, machine projects, hand projects.


After a class or lecture, finish the project while you have those instructions fresh in your head. Practice the technique on a sample and make notes of what you did, what worked for you and what didn’t work. Our retention is very short. Get the most from the cost of the class by finishing the project. This may not be your preferred method but you need to practice to carry forward what you did learn.


Organize you work space to have your favorite tools easily available but always put away. This may take some creative arrangements. Think up. Pegboard, bulletin boards, clear storage boxes, baggies and basic office supplies are inexpensive.


Make time to learn the features of your machine. Label your practice pieces with the stitch and settings to create your own library. A couple of hours spent will save you a lot of time later when you can use all the features came with your machine.


Keep each pattern in a file folder. Staple a baggie to the folder to hold the templates and fabric samples. Or, put double sided tape on the inside of the folder and stick your templates to the folder. Keep notes of what stitches, thread, fabric and techniques you used. If you have an easy place to write notes, you will do it.


Baggies can be stapled or taped to the inside cover of a pattern book to hold your templates.


Have multiple sewing kits of the basic supplies. I keep one to travel, one in the sewing room and one beside my chair in the family room. Having multiples of basic tools is less expensive than the time wasted by looking for them. Our favorite basics are usually the least of our investment.


Use your impulse buying urges and bonus sales to by rulers of basic block sizes and backup tools and thread rather than more fabric.


Binder clips of various sizes work better than pins for groups of strips or pieces. They can be hung by their handles too.


Post em’s of various sizes and colors work for temporary labels. Attach to the back of a ruler or along the throat of your machine as a temporary guide.


Trade jobs with your friends. Are you better at cutting but hate binding?

Have a family member press while you sew. If they share in the process they may want to do more and they certainly will appreciate your efforts more.


Know your strengths and weaknesses. If you can needle turn a smooth edge, don’t spend time basting. If your cutting isn’t as accurate, buy better tools, take a class or trade services with a friend.


Thread several needles at a time. Keep a separate needle ready with each color used in the project. Always knot the thread before you set the needle aside. Then you can pick up any needle and start sewing. If you drop a needle, the thread will most likely stay on and you will find the needle on the floor.

Article originally appeared on Innovative Quilt Patterns by JTQuilt (
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