Clear Out the Clutter

Back-to-school anticipation still grips me.

Even though it’s been decades, I remember the simple pleasure of getting organized with new school supplies.  Yellow No. 2 pencils.  Pink pearl eraser.  White notebook paper.  

After a fun, busy summer of childhood craziness, there was a certain calm that came over me as I got ready for that first day of school.  Labor Day was the last hurrah, then order descended on my life again.

There’s something really satisfying and invigorating about clearing out the clutter!

So it’s no surprise that as this summer slipped away, I found myself wanting to get organized, especially in my studio.  Here are my tips for bringing order out of the chaos.

Step 1:  See It

First I took a close look at my closet.  That’s where I hang my finished quilt tops and store my fabric stash.  Then I tackled the drawers where I keep partial fabric cuts and quilts-in-progress.  Finally I went through my unopened patterns.

Step 2:   Name It

Now that I had a mental image of the status quo, I did what I call a “brain dump.”  I wrote down every single UFO from the abandoned WIPs to the finished quilt tops.  I named them by describing the color, pattern, or fabric (for example, “red poppy hexagon” and “pink HST floral”).  

Step 3:  Categorize It

With the list of UFOs in hand, I then assigned each project to either “charity” or “friends & family.”  For example, I’ve got several finished quilt tops hanging in my closet.  I asked myself who would like this gift?  A nephew?  A sister-in-law?  A patient at Community North on Christmas Day?  I pushed every single UFO into one of the two categories so that no project was abandoned. 

Step 4:  Prioritize It

Then I took my two bucket lists and gave each friend & family project a due date (by month) based on birthdays, Christmas, weddings, or baby showers.  I also assigned a date to each charity quilt so that each month I’m ready to turn in another gift.  

I was shocked at how far into the future my production stretched…if I completed one charity and one personal quilt a month, I had enough unfinished projects to take me into next spring!

Step 5:  Work It

Finally, the payoff to all the planning.  I pulled out my most important August UFO for family & friends, a pretty pink quilt top that needed to be sandwiched, quilted, and bound.  Within a few days, it was done.  Whew!  What a great feeling.   

Next, I pulled out my September charity project, a brown patchwork quilt top that had been hanging in my closet for almost two years because I didn’t like the colors. (Now really, that is embarrassing.)  To make quilting it more fun, I used a variegated thread which turned a boring quilt into a surprising visual adventure.   Again, it only took a couple of days to get this UFO done.  Cha-ching!

Now It’s Your Turn

Maybe your sewing room is so cluttered that you dread going in there.  The heaviness of all those unfinished projects can really make you feel defeated and zap your energy for sewing, but girlfriend the crazy summer chaos is over.  Labor Day has come and gone, and it’s time to “go back to school” and get organized.  Take baby steps, but get ‘er done, day-by-day.

Friends, family, and even people you don’t even know are waiting to cuddle in your handmade goodness.

You are a quilter, and you’ve gotta make!  

Diane Lockman

PS.  October is not just for staying in and getting organized…autumn is also for getting out and playing with your quilty friends!  We’ve got lots of great ways for you to get involved…workshops, sewing bees, block-of-the-month, and more fun like: 

See the website calendar for details.

Leave a Reply