There’s less than a week to go now until the first tutorial pops up online for the Long Time Gone Sew-along and I’m starting to get a little nervous about it all. It’s a good kind of nervous, the kind of nervous that’s somewhat deliciously enhanced by anticipation. With the kick off within sight I thought it a good time to share with you some tips and tricks to keep your project humming along while you deal with that pesky little thing called life.
This sew-along is going to be fast paced and, at times, pretty demanding. There’s a lot of blocks to make in a short period of time, but it’s completely achievable. (Trust me, I run my own business, have an active pre-schooler and a marriage to maintain and I managed to get it done in the timeframe we’ve allotted!) To help you not get overwhelmed and give up on the project Nicole (of Snips Snippets) and I are sharing the strategies we use to keep our projects in line. [Click here to read Nicole’s strategies for staying organised.]
Are you ready to get organised? Then let’s go…
Step 1: Preparation
The first thing I did was sit down and read the pattern from cover to cover and then back again. I wanted to know what I was in for so I could start thinking about how to prepare for things as I worked through it. For example, those pineapple blocks are going to need a lot of strips could I start cutting them at the start? Colour placement was another thing that I wanted to think about – would I approach it in a haphazard manner or would I spend some time thinking about it.
I also wanted to take the time to read the carefully considered instructions that Jen Kingwell provides in her pattern introduction. It always pays to read these instructions. It’s a bit like flying on an aeroplane, you may have done it before but you still need to pay attention to the safety instructions at the start.
Step 2: Fabric Pull
My favourite bit. For this quilt I’m using all Alison Glass so I just raided my stash and pulled anything and everything Alison Glass. I then had to work out how to store it while I worked on this pattern and at least 4 others at the same time. I use a combination of clear plastic bins (with lids) to store and stack my projects as I work. I’ve got a soft spot for the longer thinner bins (often referred to as under bed storage) at the moment because they allow me to sort everything into stacks of colour and they fit under my work table easily and a few at a time.
I also really like these bins because I can keep all my fabrics in them while I work and just pull from the piles as I need them. I often just put them on top of a stool beside my cutting table and sort and cut at the same time. It’s like a fabric lucky dip where there’s no dud prizes!
Step 3: Mid-Project Shuffle
When it comes to managing the block to quilt top stage I like to use the clear plastic shoe box storage that are available all over the place. You can get some great deals on lots of 10 so they work out quite economical. I like them in this size because they’re great for storing blocks before they become quilt tops and you can store the pattern with them at the same time.
I love using Alphabitties from Fat Quarter Shop for keeping track of my block pieces while I switch between projects. I use a combination of Wonder Clips and Plastic Ziploc bags to keep them altogether.
I also use a tracker of some sort to help keep me on the straight and narrow. Most of the times it’s just a clip board with a plain piece of paper where I’ve scrawled everything down, but then sometimes I get fancy and make a tracker. You’re in luck because I’ve made a tracker you can use to keep your ducks in a row with the Long Time Gone Sew-along, you can download it by clicking here.
Side note: Clip boards on hooks are an awesome way to keep things organised, off your work space and visible if you’re managing a lot of projects at once. I use them both in my office and my sewing space. I just put blank copy paper on them and scrawl what I need as I think of it.
Step 4: Finalising the Quilt Top
With this project this is going to be the part of the process that keeps you on your toes. I highly recommend reading the pattern. (This is also where having read the pattern at the beginning comes in handy because you’re not going to be as surprised by how it all comes together.) This is the magic in a Jen Kingwell pattern – we’re about to take all those beautiful blocks and meld them together to make a stunning quilt top.
I am truly lucky and I have a rather large design wall (holds an 80″ square quilt top without a problem) so for me I like to put all the blocks on the wall, step back and have a look at how they’re all playing together before deciding on my final tweaks and moves. If you’re not as lucky to have a design wall I’d suggest some of the following strategies for getting your blocks laid out:
- Use the biggest bed you have and lay them out in order, then get up high and take a photo with your phone. This is handy because it’ll show you where things will lay when you put your finished quilt on the bed.
- Clear a space on a floor and get up high and take a photo.
- Ask your Local Quilt Shop if you can borrow their design wall. You’ll find many quilt shops have a design wall in their teaching area, ask them if you can hire it for an hour or two to get your layout worked out. You might even find they have a sit and stitch session happening that you can crash (then you’ll get the added benefit of having others to talk to for hours on end about colour placement, value and did you see what happened in the latest episode of <insert current trendy show name here>.)
Once you’ve worked out the layout and it comes time to take it off the wall – LABEL the pieces. Work left to right and as you take them off the wall number them (another great use for Alphabitties) and then draw a rough diagram on a piece of paper and record the number and placement on the paper. (Then make sure you keep the paper with the blocks! Another good use for those clear plastic shoe box storage!)
I hope this has helped you get ready for the upcoming adventure! Don’t forget you can find out all the information about the sew-along by clicking here. There’s also some Frequently Asked Questions that might help you out as well if you’re looking for clarification, click here for FAQs. Now to just get everything in order and count down the hours until 7:30am AEST March 15 2017!
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