What kind of quilter are you? Do you work on one project at a time or do you have several on go at the same time. In the old days (prior to owning my longarm quilting machine) I would usually work on 3 at a time. I would have one quilt at the piecing stage, and one quilt at the quilting stage, and another I was planning. By having several projects I would never get board. If I got tired of working on one project I'd just switch to another. It worked really great! But once in awhile I would feel the need to finish everything I was working on before I started a new project. I think it was the fear of ending up with lots of those UFOs I kept hearing about.
Since I bought my quilting machine in 2001, things changed. Much of the time I used to spend on my own projects are now spent on my client's quilts. I love working on other people's projects. I learn so much from them. But I still have the need to do some of my own things too. I've learned over the years that I need to do some of my own projects in order to get inspiration to do the best work on my customer's quilts.
So how do I fit in my own quilts when I work full time, run a machine quilting business , keep up a house, volunteer at my church, etc. Well this is how I do it.
I quilt for my clients from 5:00 am until 8:00 am. I do my best work when I am fresh. So morning is the best time for me. There are no phones ringing or people knocking at your door at that time of the morning. I turn on my MP3 player and listen to books or music while I quilt. It is fun and I get a lot done.
On my lunch hour at my day job, I have a long term project I am working on. It is called the Family Tree quilt. I've mentioned it in an earlier post. I started it last year and it will probably take me five years to finish all the appliqued and embroidered blocks, It is a slow process. But I'm finding I am really enjoying it. I'm not in a hurry! There is no deadline and no pressure.
I like to do my cutting in the daylight and then piece my quilts in the evening. So on Saturday afternoon you will probably find me cutting my pieces and putting them into baggies so they will be all ready for me to put together during the week. I good friend of mine is a nurse and she gave me some Placenta bowls that work great to keep the baggies or small pieces in. (Don't worry they haven't been used.)
I try to find time whenever and where ever I can. For example, I take my sewing machine with us when my husband and I go camping. It is so fun to sit out in the fresh air and stitch away. I usually get a few stares and often meet the neighbours because they are curious what I am doing. I have a project that I work on only when I am camping. It is a block of the month Christmas quilt that I signed up for a few years ago. I've got 9 blocks done now. It will only take another few years of camping trips to have the rest completed.
When I am ready to quilt one of my projects I put myself on my waiting list. So, yes I do know how long it takes to get to the top of the waiting list. The only bad part is if I get behind I take my quilt out of the waiting list and put it back on the bottom of the list.
I also plan quilting holidays .I like going to a big quilt show like MQX or HMQS at least once a year. I get so much inspiration from taking classes and learning new things. I also take a sewing machine with me and I can usually find a few hours to piece the lastest project I am working on. One year my sister and I went to MQX in New Hampshire. The hotel we stayed at was full of quilters. So, one day I asked the manager if I could use one of the unused conference rooms to work on some projects we had started at the classes we had taken. To my surprise he said yes. We had the desk staff let other quilters know that we had the conference room and they were invited to join us. Before long the room was full of quilters. Each one showing off what they had learned. We had so much fun!
A couple of times a year our local Quilt Guild plans a retreat. I've been lucky enough to be able to attend a few. What treat it is to have hours of uninterrupted sewing time. The company is great! We are pampered by a massage and spectacular food. And the best part is that there are no dishes to do. I am always amazed at the amount you can get done when you have a day or two dedicated just to quilting.
We are all so busy! But take some time to do what you love. Find a way that works for you.