Dealing with Quilt Market’s Fun…and Frustration

I’ll be heading to Quilt Market in Salt Lake City in a few weeks, and I always go with mixed emotions.



On one hand I feel incredibly privileged to see all the new fabrics, notions, books, and patterns that will be arriving in stores. Market is always a treat for the eyes, and the booths the manufacturers and designers build to display their wares rival the loveliest rooms in home decorating magazines. I get super excited about the plethora of products and can’t wait to get home and give them a try.

I drooled over Fig Tree's wools at Market last fall.
I drooled over Fig Tree’s wools at Market last fall.
I MEANT to try this cool tool to make a pineapple block more simply...
I MEANT to try this cool tool to make a pineapple block more simply…

But on the flip side, Market makes me a little sad, because there never seem to be enough hours in the day to use all the glorious things I see. I come home excited about this quilt pattern and that new tool. I see handwork, garments, and wool appliqué I’d like to attempt. And then life—work deadlines and home responsibilities—gets in the way and the samples and ideas I brought back from Market get set on a shelf, and neglected.

I fully intended to make a scarf with this wonderful Minnick and Simpson fabric...
I fully intended to make a scarf with this wonderful Minnick and Simpson fabric…

Last year I was lucky enough to write a profile of Sherri McConnell for the February 2016 issue of American Patchwork and Quilting. (Sherri and her daughter Chelsea Stratton are the Moda designers behind Bright Sun and Valley).

View More:

Fresh Family Traditions Indian Summer 2-001
Sherri McConnell’s Modern Indian Summer from Sherri’s second book Fresh Family Traditions. (It’s also available as an individual pattern.)

Sherri is one of those people who is always posting newly completed projects on her blog and on Instagram—she’s such an energetic and prolific quilter, designer, and author. I asked her how she accomplishes so much and she gave me a great tip: she always makes sure she’s got something ready to go in her sewing room, so she can use even small bits of time. She’ll cut things out and have them ready to sew, or stack fabric right sides together, ready for chain piecing, next to her machine. That way she can run up to her sewing room and get something accomplished even if all the time she has is 30 minutes.

Parts of blocks are ready to stitch together to make Sherri's jelly roll placemats (tutorial on her blog)
Parts of blocks are ready to stitch together to make Sherri’s jelly roll placemats (tutorial on her blog)

I’m not one to try and “speed sew”—nothing can replace long afternoons in my sewing room, letting my mind wander as I audition fabrics or consider ways to change up a pattern. But once those “thought-intensive” aspects of making a quilt are done, it would certainly be nice to complete it in a timely way. For the kind of sewing that can be done on autopilot—ironing seams, stacking block elements right sides together—I’m giving Sherri’s methods a try.

The stack on the right is pinned and ready to go—finally getting to some fabric I “needed” awhile ago.

There will never be enough time to act on all the inspiration I derive from Quilt Market. But if I stop sewing at a point where it’s easy to pick back up, I can take advantage of those little chunks of time and a finished quilt may emerge from my sewing room a little more often.

Do you have any tips for moving your sewing along so you can get on to the next exciting project?

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21 thoughts on “Dealing with Quilt Market’s Fun…and Frustration

  1. My machine is always ready for those bits of time it sits at the kitchen table where the light is always good and I walk by and look at it 100 times a day

  2. That’s how I quilt too – just a few minutes a day is all it takes to relax me, and you would be amazed at how much progress there is at the end. You don’t have to speed sew during that time, just enjoy the process, just in smaller hunks of time.

  3. Cut fabric for 2 quilts. Use the simpler designed quilt pieces as leaders and enders. Voila!
    Two quilts sewn at the same time.

  4. I have several things cut out (and maybe even pinned) and ready to sew too. And I have a couple “requires no thinking” projects that I can just sit down and sew-mostly chain piecing. I am fortunate that I have a room on the main floor-close to the kitchen, laundry room,etc., that I can quickly escape to for a few minutes here and there. I try and sew a little each day-even if only for 10 minutes.

  5. I’m amazed how much I can accomplish in little pockets of time when a whole afternoon of sewing is just not possible. Before I quit for the day, I always check to see if I have any pressing that needs to be done for the next step, and do it then, instead of waiting for the iron to heat up the next time I get in my sewing room.

  6. I struggle to do that “squeeze in sewing every day” thing. I am all about those long stretches of time. I can’t walk away and come back to sew a few seams here and there. I have tried but have not had much luck.

  7. A lady at my LQS said she just plans 30 minutes everyday to work in her sewing room. That has really helped me accomplish a lot! I use the time similar to what Sheri described. It is amazing what can be completed with just a small amount of time on a regular basis.

  8. I find it hard to sew when I know I only have a few minutes, unless I’m binding a quilt – then you can interrupt me any time :)! I seem to get lost in my projects when I’m in my sewing room and it is hard to find the right spot to stop and leave things till the next time.

  9. I schedule myself a half hour to forty minutes in the morning before I go to work. I have an egg timer I set, so I’ll remember to get to work on time. I can get a lot accomplished when I have the timer going and I don’t have to keep looking at the clock.

  10. no new tips: I’m a super slow finisher!! But thanks for the tips from Sherri: I just need to put them in place!! 🙂 Have fun at Market!!

  11. I am with Helen, I am a slow,relaxed quilter. I don’t get hung up if I make a mistake, if it can be fixed okay, if not keep on going. I love to see at least a couple times a week if not more.

  12. I like to do planned cutting sessions, and then use small design boards to layer up a half dozen or more blocks. Then I sew with a small iron, for quickly pressing seams, right next to me. It saves time and when I have the blocks together I can take them to my ironing board for a final big press. If I have to stop in the middle of making a block, I don’t get confused next time I sit down, because it is right there on my little board.

  13. I have joined a group of ladies to sew on a regular basis. Scheduling time helps the project move along.

  14. I still work outside the home so not only do I sew in bits and pieces daily after dinner, but I have to think even farther ahead and make up a crock pot or have a casserole ready to pop in the oven before I go to work. If I have to make dinner (we rarely eat out) there’s no sewing time that night.

  15. I recently cut out a quilt by style of block and put each different piece in a recycled Chinese to go dish. I keep them right next to my sewing machine. I’m able to sew a block or two in a night after dinner and they are kept in order. If I want to bring them to my sewing group they have lids, so it’s perfect. .

  16. Happy to hear I have awesome company!!! 🙂 Way more supplies and inspiration than time… so, I have adopted this same kind of “system”… a little bit each night and soon enough it all adds up to a finish! Also, I keep a variety of projects going… some that are machine stitched and some that are hand stitched… just in case one night I don’t feel up to running a machine, a can still relax with some hand work… 🙂 I

  17. So many wonderfully useful ideas here! Thanks so much for all your comments, and for reminding me that I’m not the only one, as Sharon B. said, who has more supplies and inspiration than time!

  18. Oh wow! That’s a cool block with how it goes together and makes its own sashing. Love it!

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