Experience Behind the Tips
So you want more time for quilting? You read my earlier post 10 Tips to Make More Time for Quilting and you eagerly await the next installment?
Well, here it comes, but first, a caution:
Many of you will hoot and scream over this blog post series, I know! You love all the glorious fabrics you have collected over the years. Eye candy is of paramount importance. You are inspired by the vibrant colors, the subtle detailing, the feeling of the cloth in your hand, and the smell of it in your nostrils. You eat, sleep and breathe fabric for quilts, right?
Well, I’ve had to learn some important studio management lessons the hard way, lessons that have affected the ways in which I work and the efficiency with which I can complete any quilt. Let me tell you all about it . . .
We have six cats in my family. We have two brothers Meinie and Mo, all that are left of the original foursome – you can fill in the blank names of the dearly departed.
Then, there are two sisters, cousins to the first set of two brothers. Their names are not important, but the fact that they are both small cats, related to the first two males, is significant. These little girls cannot defend themselves from the much larger, heavier and stronger males.
Then, we have another set of brothers. These started out as Oscar and Wilde, but the Kiswahili word for “wild” is kali, so they are now Oscar and Kali. They are all lovely cats, each with his or her unique personality, affections and demands.
Oscar and Kali
The trouble started with Mo, who was lost and absent from home several years ago during a traumatizing six months. When he returned to us, Mo could not bear the company of any cat other than his brothers. With only one of those left, Mo picks a fight with any of the other cats he comes across. For the little girls, this might well prove fatal.
Mo, showing battle scars on his nose
We had to make arrangements to keep Mo and Meinie away from the other cats. We solved that problem with an alternating inside/outside regimen.
Here’s the hiccup: When the two girls, with Oscar and Kali, are indoors, they stay in my studio. Normally placid, at night and with geckos on the walls, the two boys go nuts. They climb the curtains, walk the tops of the pelmets, push claws behind artwork on the walls, knock over lampshades, pull supplies off bookshelves and wreak general havoc.
I soon learned, to my dismay, not to leave ANYTHING out overnight in the studio and expect it to be in the same condition next morning. For the last several months I have been working extra hard at managing tools, materials and equipment to keep the studio, and more importantly, my work, cat-proofed.
Out of that experience come the following lessons about time-saving for quilters. What cat-free time I have in my studio is precious, and the lessons I share with you here ensure that, whenever I find time to work, I maximize that time in the studio. These lessons about time-saving for quilters almost certainly will not be popular with everyone, but I can tell you for sure–they work!
If you are the kind of quilter who oohs and ahhs over beautiful books, fabulous fabrics, tempting threads and extravagant embellishments, you may be excused from reading forward.
However, if what you really want is more productive sewing and quilting time, please carry on and at least hear me out.
Whether your studio is a detached outbuilding or the corner of a guest room, these guidelines apply. The smaller the physical space available, the more important these tips are. Your studio, your place for creating wonderful quilts as gifts, household furnishings or works of art, exists more in your mind than it does in the 3-d space of your home or other location. Apply these lessons to your thinking, and watch them manifest in your physical surroundings!
Lesson 1: Get Ahead of Maintenance
“You’re only as good as your tools.”
Nothing slows a quilter like tools and equipment that do not work well. Tool and equipment preventive maintenance is an important time-saver for quilters. It is far better to exercise preventive maintenance of tools and equipment than to stop mid-way through a project due to an almost predictable break-down.
Depend on Murphy’s law:
If anything can go wrong, it usually does.
Inevitably, that kind of thing always happens when you are under a time deadline of one sort or another. Preventive maintenance saves lost time when you can least afford to waste time.
Let’s look at a quilter’s studio maintenance inventory, and consider what maintenance can help avoid costly repairs or replacements, as well as saving time:
- Dressmaker shears, embroidery scissors, thread snips – need sharpening by a professional. Never drop these tools, as a hard impact does much damage by bowing and nicking blades.
- Rotary cutter – needs blade sharpening or replacement, cleaning, oiling. Ditto for dropping it!
- Mat – needs threads removed from cutting slices in the surface; may need replacement.
- Ruler – needs non-skid attachments added or replaced. Handle added or replaced. Rulers cleaned and replaced when necessary.
- Pins and needles – Learn not to mix up pins and needles; otherwise, sort by type, and check for bends, snags and rust. Discard in an environmentally friendly manner; thanks!
- Rippers – clean and sharp; hook well seated in handle; test cutting ability in the curve of the ripper blade.
- Awl – as sharp as you like and without barbs. Consider using an eco-friendly manicure orange stick instead of a metal or plastic awl.
Quilting frames, hoops
- Check structure, tension, rust, damage, general condition
Photo by deejayqueue
Machines (Sewing, serging or other)
- Machine servicing – timing, parts replacement, engine brushes or overhaul; general lubrication, timing and tension settings checked by an authorized dealer/service repair person
- Iron: electrical wiring check, faceplate cleaned, temperature test
- Ironing board: check sturdiness of legs, condition of iron rack, oil sliding parts, check for rust; board well padded? cover clean and without holes?
- Pressing cloths: clean? holey? gummed up with fusible adhesives?
- Pressing aids: non-stick sheets damaged?
Always use the right tool for the job. Tool substitution can result in damage to the work, and worse yet, injury to yourself or others.
Using the wrong tool wastes time. Even if you must delay a task until you obtain the correct tool, that time is more productively spent working on some other project in the interim than to pound away at a task with the wrong tool, risking harm to the work, damage to the equipment and injury to yourself, not to mention wasting more time.
Any equipment that needs servicing, take it out for maintenance and repairs now, certainly within the next week. While the equipment is being serviced, tackle other time-saving procedures which have to do with cleaning house and getting organized. Then, when you have everything ready to quilt again, your machines and tools will be in good nick and ready for work.
When you collect machines and tools you took out for repair and servicing, ask the repair person what steps you can take to reduce unnecessary wear and tear on the equipment. Also ask when the equipment is likely to need another service. Whatever the repair person says, make notes. Add the dates to your calendar and set reminders to have the equipment serviced, then take action when the reminders pop up.
In six months or a year, when the equipment is due for attention again, have it serviced immediately. This saves time, and often money, over having equipment break down when you need it most!
Time-Saving for Quilters is an 8-lesson series of blog posts, reprinted with permission, similar to the kind of instruction students receive in QuiltEd Online art quilt classes. This is Part 1, with the remaining posts to follow in sequence in coming weeks. Subscribe to QuiltEd Online News to receive notification of the rest of the series of posts.