Saturday, September 24, 2016

The magical balance

As I wrote before I am in the middle of a re-organization in my sewing space.
I am dragging out storage bins, and seeing what's there, adding in newer supplies.

I am deciding just how I can find that magical balance between storing supplies and using supplies.
I have discovered a lot of treasure that has been put away for years like a Time Capsule.

I find I need clear space to create, but when things are put away I forget about them.
That's a problem.
This rolling cart lives next to the cutting table and holds small templates, all my marking tools, some paper piecing patterns, and drawers of components.

These are small bits I sew and put away to be used later. Then forget about. Including the red blocks you see in the top picture.

The RSC     issues a challenge to make blocks in designated colors each month from scraps. This month is rose red and gold. Ewwww. That combo...ewww.

I am still not sewing much, as grief has sapped my creative side, hopefully temporarily. I feel I may be coming out of it a bit lately but have not continued to do the rainbow scrap challenge this year.

There's always tomorrow.

I happened onto these red blocks in my components drawer.

Apparently one year, I sewed some of those tiny scraps together, and liked them enough to put to the side til I decided on a setting for them.

If I don't write this stuff down, how will I ever remember??

Do you do that? Think you'll remember and then can't?

Anyway, because the challenge is red, and these are red, and there are tiny splashes of gold in the square blocks I'll share them.

The real meaning of this post is to ask:
1. Do you make blocks with no purpose in mind?
2. Where do you keep components that are simmering?
3. Is it true "out of sight is out of mind" ? If so, then how do you balance storage with using them?

My word of the year is a phrase, "use it" meaning use what I have be it supplies or talent. Recognize the possibilities and use what's in front of me.
What do you think???


  1. I like the color very much... it is as warm as a fire in our fireplace... and maybe the warm color can dry some tears... maybe for the moment you will use it for a new creation...

  2. I don't make blocks with no purpose as much as I have leftover units from projects. These go in a box labeled "parts department" and periodically I try to pull those bits together into more cohesive parts. Occasionally they will inspire a whole new project, but might not get used in the end ...

  3. I have to confess to some kind of amnesia. I always make blocks with a goal in mind. But unearthing the box of ancient 1980's pieces from my past quilting life showed me I have NO memory at all of many of these UFOs. Total blank. At least I am working with some of them again.

  4. I make most blocks with a purpose. There was one I did just to try the pattern. I don't have much storage, so most of my simmering stuff end up on a shelf near my sewing machine.

  5. I have to use storage that is clear sided so I can see what is inside. If I don't see it, it doesn't exist. (sigh). Right now I am clearing my parents' home of 30 years. When I get back to MD, I have to start de-stuff-ing my own home. If I can't see it to use it, the possession of a treasure does no one any good. So mamy beautiful treasures, so little time!!

    🙂 Linda

  6. First off, big hugs to you! I usually make blocks for a purpose - group of one block in colors for the RSC or following along a mystery quilt or BOM. The extra parts and pieces... those get sewn into components and get shifted from place to place. I do try and 'take stock' once and year and make a list of what is going on. That list stays by the sewing machine under the sewing table - nearby if I need it. I try to take a look at it when nothing else appeals... so I have options.

  7. Occasionally i sew small bits of cloth together because i like the way colors play off/with each other. Joining up colorful strips is one way i paint landscapes vistas and evening skies with fabrics. they might get pinned up on a board and simmer only to get used up for an angel body or background for quilt or small birthday gift or sewn upon a piece of card stock for gifting.i plan to get more of the clear plastic bins with lids so then these starts can sit on the shelf with parts,lace,ribbon,fabrics, and i can see what i have started.

  8. Yes, I definitely do sometimes just sew with bits of fabric, and for no real purpose other than to see what might happen. I often find those mixed in with my other scraps and once in awhile find a way to use them! I haven't solved the storage problem myself yet, but I like your colorful drawer unit. i like Libby's idea of the Parts Department! It looks like your red bits and pieces were a good find!

  9. Yes, yes, and YES!! I try to deal with the by going on a treasure hunt after each completed project. There's NO TELLING what I mind find to work on next!! :o))

  10. The color red is my "bugaboo" color--and here you have put all kinds of reds together...and they look great. I guess the alternate title for my blog could be ("Afraid of Red" lol).

    I have made a lot of blocks just to try them out and for fun--and have "spare parts" everywhere--mostly forgotten I must admit. I guess my main thrust has been functionality..but after this last big quilt for my grandson is done, I will be re-thinking my direction in the fabric world....hugs and hang in there...Julierose

  11. So here is my system. I use only clear storage boxes and containers. That way I can get a good idea what is inside with a glance (of course opening the lid allows for deeper inspection). I also take a LOT of digital photos as I work - these are stored in albums by project (that way if I stop working for awhile, the photos help to refresh my memory). When the project is finished, I edit out and delete the extraneous photos that were simply WIP notes to myself. I also add paper notes to the various project boxes (dimensions, yardage, layout ideas, etc.) Again, these get thrown away when the project is completed (or recopied and scanned to the computer file).

    Yes, I make strata with no particular reason in mind. It is kept in a box called Misc. Strata (yes, I label the clear boxes as a further reminder to myself).

    My phrase this year has been ENJOY - which a month or so led to a complete revaluation of my project lists. I wasn't enjoying some of them and they are now re-purposed or otherwise ended.

    Great post!

  12. Oh dear, now & then I do put everything aside and spend some time just playing with fabric, even if there's no big result! It gets popped into a basket after, and I also do keep a written log of my 'what if' moments! Interesting reading your post & all the comments!

  13. Gosh, I haven't been to your blog forever! With everything happening, I just sort of zone out and forget,
    I forget about my blocks I put away too. But I promise things will change if I ever find my stuff again! I hope to be more organized, complete more things, start less. Buy less.

    For now anyway, that is what I plan for now.

  14. Out of sight, out of mind! So true!
    or...what was I thinking!
    Same goes for gardening! Sometimes it needs to be thinned out and reorganised to see the overall picture!

  15. Out of sight, out of mind for me too. Sometimes I leave stuff on the corner of a table, just so I will remember. I am trying to write more stuff down now too.

  16. I'm always drawn to's sch a powerful emotional color. I found once I got my studio in better order and brought out the label maker, things are better organized and I don't buy duplicate and triplicate of supplies. Those label makers are like having a freaking assistant! Good luck as you meander toward more creativity. ღ

  17. Out of sight, out of mind - that is so true for me! I have that same colored storage unit next to my cutting table. Top drawer holds bindings I've prepped for on-going projects. The other drawers hold some small project components, some pre-cuts, and some patterns. But I have other much less organized tubs and drawers that hold lots of mysteries.

  18. Don't even get me started! If I don't start an idea I have in my head, I'll forget it. I'm always starting new blocks for the fun of it. Out of sight out of mind..,my mantra! I'm in the process of turning a small bedroom into my main sewing space. Organizing it is a pain, and working around my daughters couch (which she has abandoned and left for us to get rid of)...In other words, I haven't any advice that is helpful!

  19. I hear you. Sometimes I start something and tell myself I will surely remember what I was doing, and then months pass and when I pick it up again the initial purpose is lost forever. Still, I like those blocks, both the color and the fact that you're using your fabric scraps. Maybe you can use them to make Christmas gifts, the colors are just right for that. Thank you for sharing at The Really Crafty Link Party this week.

  20. It happens the same to me as well!! I am trying to think about a way to write down the things I have (like weird rulers, templates) because I periodically find them in my sewing space and I completely forgot about them! Same for blocks that I make without any specific reason... those are in a single drawer but I don't remember what I have there! As my Quilter Planner arrives (and as I get more ideas from my bullet journal collections) maybe I will be able to come up with a strategy to write down these things to prevent forgetting them!
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it made me feel like I am not alone in my approach to creative projects!!

  21. This happens to me too! If I don't store that something where it's is easy to reach and see , I probably won't be seeing it for awhile:-(

  22. I am in the same position. Mourning loss. Overwhelmed with supplies. Discovering hidden leftovers and samples tucked away. I plan to give away or donate many this month. And then consider storage changes for the smaller amount I will keep.
    Wishing you better days ahead.

  23. Your red blocks are amazing! You must use them. My sewing space is tiny and therefore my stash and other tools etc get stowed away around the house wherever I can find a space so out of sight, out of mind is very much true for me! xx

  24. Ok three questions I can actually answer. Yes, I do make some blocks with no purpose in mind. If I were really sharp and smart I would always make sample blocks in red, white and blue and then I could put them with my RWB blocks and someday have an interesting quilt to donate. I've got components all over the place evidently. Nothing like moving to make you realize you have forgotten things and you aren't as organized as you think! I can address my projects -- (aka UFOs.) I've put my hands on all of them and list them in a spreadsheet. They are stored in numbered and named containers that are marked on the sheet. So, generally, but not always they are refreshed in my mind every time I open the sheet. Tools -- not so good with those. My favorite rulers are on ruler holders on the cutting table. The odd ball ones and large ones are on a shelf in the cutting table. But where did I put that flower maker? Or, right now, where is my blue thingie to mark on blocks, quilts, embroidery.... no clue and I've recently looked for it. So, yep, I forget things, I can't find things. For some reason I don't seem to buy doubles unless it is of rulers when the edges get worn down. So I feel your pain and don't have a lot of great ideas to offer.

  25. Your red blocks are beautiful. I'm frustrated with my studio/storage. I've complete gone thru the "fabric change of life" lately and can't stand my old stash. I think in January I will be getting rid of it so I can enjoy my studio again and the brighter stash that I'm now accumulating!

  26. My sewing/craft room has been taken over by excess stuff with not only my mother, but my daughter and her 5 children living with us. I've been slowly working on reclaiming it....very slowly. I have bought a few storage boxes and such, but would love one of those rolling ones like you have for supplies alone.

  27. I'm totally with 'use it' - I've way too much fabric, that just sits. But do a make blocks with no intent - no, probably because I like to finish things, and move on. Components that simmer sit on a desk or a table, until I get tired of them. Then I either make something or put it all away, and not necessarily with pieces together. Storage for me is too many under bed boxes!

  28. I use a bit of many of the systems mentioned above. The most effective way I've found is to store the EQ layout and pictures of any progress in the same file on the computer. I keep those "active" files in one folder, so I can keep up with what's been started.

  29. I'm an impulsive person (ADHD, OCD) when I see something I like I need to make a block or two to "try it out" with my fabric. I know I will forget about it in about two days worth so I rely on my organisation skills to remember, and that is in every department of my life. So, before stuffing the block somewhere, I write down the size of the pieces needed to make the block, where I got the idea, what was my plan, etc, and I attach it with the blocks. Then, I write down the name of the block or the quilt, date and all the other information on an EXCEL spreadsheet. I check that one very often as it is easier than opening all the drawers and bins. Also, I sometimes staple a piece of paper to a fabric with the quilt it was bought for, e.g.: a white on white I bought to make a snowmen quilt. It stops me from using it for something else and then wonder where have I put that particular fabric.(yes, it did happen before lol.) Now that I have a blog, I take lots of pictures of my work and UFOs and link these to the spreadsheet. It's even easier to see where I'm at. The pictures also trigger my mind to remember exactly where that UFO is stored.
    Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow
    has great ideas for putting those homeless blocks together.
    In order to "use it" up, I challenged myself to use some older fabric as background in my RSC. Yep, two birds with one stone. Gotta love that. :^D
    Hope you will find a system that works for you. Your post has sparked a lot of great ideas. It was fun to read.
    Big hugs to you. You take care of yourself and take the time needed to heal. We will still be here when you are ready to come back. ;^)

    1. Is it wrong to want you to come put my life in order?

    2. LOL. No, but you pay the airplane ticket okay?

  30. I even have a pinterest board called "buy". When I purchase fabric (which is often during the wee hours of the morning when I can't sleep), I pin the fabric to that board and write in the description what I want to do with it. So, when the mailman arrives with a package several days later, I know why I bought it.

  31. My heart breaks for you....grief is a process and takes time. I'm glad to hear that you're being gentle with yourself.

    I've only been sewing about 7 years, but I'll offer my responses to your questions in hopes that they'll help....
    Out of sight, out of mind is true for me, too. Because of that, I label every box, notebook, and drawer using washi tape and markers.
    To answer your questions:
    1) I have yet to make a block to see what will happen. I do however end up with orphan blocks. I turned one into a tote bag. For now, that will be my "go to" for orphans blocks. When I finish a project, I sew up orphan blocks into something right away. Then they go into my gift drawer for quick and easy gifts.
    I cut the scraps into 1 1/2", 2 1/2" strips, 2 1/2" and 5" squares for use in other projects. These are in a rainbow drawer like yours. I keep the snippets in a large shopping bag under my sewing table. I use these in my crazy quilt.

    My "simmering components" were a solved in an afternoon. I made Lori Holt's mini design boards ( The best size for me is at least 15". Now, several projects stack in a small amount of space. I use pant hangers to clip on my larger projects. I reinforce zip lock bags with masking tape and attach them to the hook of the pant hanger for the misc. pieces that go with all projects.

    The app - Simple Minds ( has revolutionized my productivity!

    As you go through this time of your life, it's natural that you are organizing and sifting. For me, the process is extremely comforting and healing. My house and sewing room is never cleaner than when I'm upset or simply working out a problem.

    Blessings to you! Hugs!!!

  32. I usually don't make blocks without a plan, and if I put something aside without the written instructions with it, I will eventually forget what I was doing with the blocks.

  33. I stumbled upon your blog via the RSC1016 challenge. Yes, I have a bin with orphan blocks. I place them on my wall at work and ponder when I need to clear my head. Recently I took all my orphans and created a Home for Peculiar Blocks so to speak - kind of my version of a gypsy wife quilt. Great challenge to place them on a design wall and then cut and create squares,rectangles and strips from my scraps to fill in. I machine quilted this using my regular sewing machine.
    May you heal from your grief. I found quilting to be a great diversion.

  34. BTW I LOVE the name of your blog