Tu-Na Quilts: Making Time to Sew

I’ve tried them all: lists, deadlines, motivators, organization strategies, and goal setting. Somehow, making time to sew eludes me. I’m finding myself pushing back the deadlines more and more. After all, I’m living the retirement dream in a 55+ Active Adult Community that has 92 clubs and activities in sunny and warm Arizona during the winter. That in itself is a lot to keep me busy.

I’m hoping to gain ideas from this Sew Much Fun Blog Hop to help nudge me back into my sewing room. In the meantime, here’s a few ideas that at times have helped me stay or get focused and maybe they will help you, too.Sew-Much-Fun-Blog-Hop-1000x1000[1]

Making Time to Sew

Some sewists strive to sew for at least 15 minutes a day. There’s even a blog, Life in Pieces, where you can link a post with your time accomplishment each Sunday. If this is for you, start keeping track of your daily sewing times.

2018 15 minute badge

I started. It lasted 3 days. While I haven’t joined the linky party there yet, I thought you might like to know of that resource. You just never know, I might show up there one of these weeks.

Some days, I’ll sew for hours and hours and deep into the night. Some days, I don’t even touch my machine. I enjoy reading quilting blogs and am often amazed at how much some of my favorite bloggers get done. For example: Karen at Quilts…etc., Julie at Pink Doxies, and Sally at The Objects of Design, whose clocks all seem to have more hours on them than mine.

I’m starting to realize that it’s not so much about setting aside time to sew as it is about creating a balanced life and not wasting the time I have in order to do all the things I want.

Finding Accountability

I’m finding that I need more than just the effort of making time to sew in order to move projects along. I need acountability partners. There’s a number of blogs that offer weekly or monthly linky parties. Some sewists find linking their WIPs or UFOs or goals helpful to keep them on track towards a finish. Here’s just a few of my favorites that I visit regularly even if I don’t link:

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts every Monday

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter every Wednesday

UFOs at Tish’s Adventures in Wonderland every Saturday

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict every Friday

One Monthly Goal at Elm Street Quilts link your one goal for the month in the first week then return at the end of the month to link your completed goal

Yearly Finish-A-Long is sponsored by a number of bloggers. Write a blog post with your quarterly goals and link to one of the blogs each quarter. Then at the end of the quarter, link a blog post with your completed goals. You can find more info here.

Sewing Something Fun

No matter how often I create with fabric, I am more willing to spend time and happily return to it each day if I am making something I enjoy or like. I love fabric and I love sewing. Oftentimes, those two don’t meet. 

tunaquilts 1a

I recently made this fun block. It was difficult and I spent a good part of 3 days working on it. You can read more about it here and find the free pattern here

Keeping It Real 

Whether I am thinking of the size of my project or tidying up my workspace at the end of each day or a project, I try to be realistic. If I only have a week to make a quilt, a lap size might be doable, a king size is not. I learned that the hard way. If I have no room on my cutting table to cut fabric, I try to take a few minutes to tidy up before continuing.


I am a messy cook and a messy sewist. I need to heed my own advice.

Reducing the Pressure

I like my blocks to be perfect. No matter how hard I try, they often are not. I am now striving for making them good or better. I make a lot of “good” blocks, and many “better” blocks and even a few accidently have fallen into the “best” category.

Good blocks will still make a wonderful quilt that someone will love and snuggle with. Better blocks still make a wonderful quilt that someone will love and snuggle with. Best blocks get hung on the wall as no one should touch those masterpieces. Who’s judging them? Me, of course. I’d rather have my blocks sewn into quilts to be used and loved than hung on my wall for only me to see and admire. 

tunaquilts 3a
I finally made time to catch up on these bee blocks several weeks ago. You can find the pattern here. The more I pressed those blocks, the more they looked puckered. Perhaps it was the fabric. Although not all the seams looked puckered. Perhaps I wasn’t careful enough cutting with the grain. I mailed them anyway even thought they were not perfect. Hopefully, Paige won’t get hung up on not seeing the forest for the trees. 

I’m getting better at overlooking and then forgetting about those minor little imperfections as well as embracing those unmatched seams and chopped off points as things that give my quilts character. 

Oftentimes, pressure is self-induced.

tunaquilts 3a

However, this Bee block I finished earlier this month turned out beautifully. I sent it to Emily of The Darling Dogwood to include in her bookshelf quilt. She asked for a shelf of books from 13-16.5″ long but would take whatever we sent. This one turned out 29″ in length. I wrote more about it on the Bee Inspired Blog here.

The block above is a perfect example of why it takes me a long time to accomplish things. I complicated a very simple block by making it larger than necessary and including a very interesting but complicated extra item. But I had so much fun doing it!

Handling DSD — Distracted Sewing Disease

Admission to having DSD—Distracted Sewing Disease—leads to coming to grips with it and working with it. The only known cure for it is stopping to quilt altogether. For me, that’s not an option. So I will just have to learn to cope and live with it.

I work on multiple projects. This is normal for me. Do you do the same? To help me keep organized, I put all items for one project in it’s own plastic bin with a cover that snaps shut.  

tunaquilts 1a

Here’s just one of my many bins. 

This includes the pattern, fabric, AND notes as what needs to be done or purchased, where I am in the process, ideas I have, etc. This way when I feel in the mood to move that particular project along, I can grab the bin, read my notes and know exactly where I’m at.

In the event, my DSD surfaces at a moment’s notice and I find myself starting yet another new project, I usually just go with it making sure I have a bin to put it into. After all, I don’t want to stifle my creativity but I want to stay organized in the process.

tunaquilts 2a

This is a class project with my AZ group. I’ve included all the fabric and thread I need for this project.

For those of you who also suffer from this disease, you can join others and link up your distracted sewing projects, also called squirrels, or Drop Everything and Make It Moments  (DrEAMi Moments) at Musings of a Menopausal Melon – mmm quilts! on the last Saturday of each month. But be warned; you might find more projects there making you drop everything and make them!

Join These Bloggers 

Check out these other bloggers to see how they Make Time to Sew.

Faith and Fabric (our hostess) Thanks, Jen

Faith and Felt Obsession

Fabric Engineer

Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats You are here. Thanks for stopping by.

What I Learned Today:

  1. There is no clock in my house that says “Sewing Time.” I have to make it a conscious decision.
  2. I love the process of quilting: cutting, sewing the pieces together, being distracted by another quilt and making a block from that one.
  3. I enjoy the process of quilting; it’s a bonus when I actually finish something.
  4. Sewing/quilting is only one of my priorities in my life. Life is too short to worry and fret over not producing enough quilts or becoming overly concerned that I haven’t sewn anything today or even this week.

Question: Do you prefer to sew in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Do you find yourself spending more time at your sewing machine in the summer, fall, winter, or spring? I like evening sewing but it comes with the problem of needing really good light. I used to sew a lot during the winter until we moved to Arizona during the colder months. Now I find it hard to sit inside and sew on a nice sunny day and we have a lot of those.

Thanks for stopping by and do come again.


Tu-Na Quilts

Linking to:

Main Crush Monday at Cooking Up Quilts

Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Wednesday Wait Loss at The Inquiring Quilter

Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict


21 thoughts on “Tu-Na Quilts: Making Time to Sew

  1. billiemick

    I’ve tried many ideas and tricks to make me sew. The only thing that helps a little is to hit the sewing room before the computer and before lunch. Also listening to a good book on my kindle while I sew. Still i make about three blocks to someone else’s flimsy.


  2. smilesfromkate

    I can relate to much of what you have said today Karen. Some weeks I seem to be focused and get lots done, others family commitments leave little time for anything else. Sometimes I do have the time but when I look back I haven’t done anything constructive, just go around in circles. Just now I have too many commitments and I’m working on what shouts loudest, secret sewing, a course in time management is what I need. None of us make perfect blocks it’s just about setting your own standards and don’t judge your work by anyone else, there again we are our own worst critics. Be kind to yourself as you are always kind to others, you make wonderful quilts and contribute much to the quilting community.


  3. Velda at the Freckled Fox Quiltery

    You and I are so much alike in some ways. I almost stopped reading your post to go take a picture of the bins I keep my projects in…Recently I was looking through my stuff and realized I had two empty bins, so I had to go looking for projects to fill them. However, my problem is that I have to make time to do anything but sew. In my world sewing comes before everything. Thank goodness for my hubby who pulls me out of my sewing room every day to go for a walk etc. This is such a great time in our lives. Well enough to do what we want and not worrying about working etc.


  4. piecefulwendy

    I sew almost every day, usually in the afternoons. Mornings are for drinking coffee, reading emails and blogs, and running errands. Sometimes I sit down to sew and am totally unmotivated. Then I just make something, even if it’s one little block. That usually gets me going.


  5. Sandra Walker

    Well, top marks for organization Karen! I sew almost every day. I find deadlines really help me to stay focused. However, I am OFTEN distracted; hence the start of my DREAMi! linky parties (thanks for the shout-out there). There is no ‘one size fits all’ for life in retirement; you do you and you don’t have to explain to anyone why. Love that mixer block btw!


  6. Karen

    if I am machine sewing I like to do it in the morning it seems and hand work is done in the evening. I don’t have more hours in the day then you do 🙂 but I do not have all those extra activities that you do in Arizona – I am not a people person (clubs and such) and I am out in the country leading a much more isolated life then you do – my out and about is going to the fitness center almost daily for about 60-90 minutes of exercise and a little bit of chatting with this person or that as I go from one machine to the next or a walk around the track.


  7. Tami Von Zalez

    I sew when I can, mainly on the weekend. Deadlines such as hops spur me on to complete a project. This year I am participating in a low stress monthly block challenge with color prompts. It helped that I organized my upcoming projects in ziplocs. I find that I even bump those projects when I find an amazing remnant from the thrift shop.


  8. Rochelle Summers

    Thank you for such honesty. Hmmm. Always more than one project at hand. Not as organized as you with plastic containers. Love to stop and read and after all, sometimes the sewing machine needs a rest, too. I have one “tween” grandson who loves to spend an afternoon a week with me and that does NOT include a sewing project!! Too many UFOs….some I don’t even like anymore but am allowing guilt to keep me from moving on! Too many big quilts in my life already, so I prefer to tackle smaller projects. Have been doing “door hangings” for my granddaughter’s dorm room this year.


  9. Lou

    I really enjoyed your insights into what affects your sewing time. You always put such effort and time into your blog posts too, it’s really appreciated! :^)


  10. rl2b2017

    Hi Karen,
    I love to sew in the morning and afternoon. I love to wake up on Saturday morning, with the whole day before me and head into the sewing room. With a cuppa, of course. I put on something mindless on TV like HGTV – nothing I have to seriously watch. I try to make a mental plan Friday night after work as far as what I hope to accomplish for the weekend. This weekend, everything got finished on Saturday so I took today off and didn’t sew at all. I’m already looking forward to Tuesday after work when I’m planning on some buttonholing for at least an hour. I think you are not in love with your projects, or they would call you in for some needed attention. I hope you find your sewing love soon. {{Hugs}} ~smile~ Roseanne


  11. Demaris Soso

    Dear Karen,
    My sympathy for suffering so from this incurable disease that you profess to have, no let me see, was it DSD or was it MUP ? Or maybe you have both, that would be fatal, but still there
    is a cure, just plug along on sewing whenever you have a spare minute and it will eventually
    cure itself. Seriously though, I am glad you are enjoying your hobby and you do outstanding work and are a super story writer, very interesting. If they had Olympics for weaving a story or working with fabric, you would GOLD MEDAL for sure.


  12. tierneycreates

    I so enjoyed this post and I see your floor looks like mine! I always have fabric and thread bits and bobs everywhere on my floor. I try to clean but I will find scraps from a piece I made months ago stuck under something! Great motivational thoughts on finding time to sew!


  13. Carol S.

    Great post! I have plastic containers with labels that I can write on using chalk for my fabric projects. With several deadlines a month, I make sure to write the deadline date on it, too. I’ve gone easier on myself lately and have tried to have a better balance of sewing and enjoying life. Some days I fail but figure there’s always tomorrow to try again. I’m enjoying the blog hops because it makes me take the time to enjoy my blog friends…like you!


  14. Connie Kresin Campbell

    It sounds like you are leading a very busy life right now Karen….enjoy!! I always have multiple projects going on which is the way I have always worked. I’m not a perfectionist, of course I try to get everything to line up but I love creating over and over. Wonderful post!


  15. Marti

    You are living the dream. If I lived near other retired people my age who liked to be out doing things, believe me, I’d be out doing things.

    You sound really organized. I love that you have everything, even the thread in your project boxes. I’ve just started doing that and regret finding my UFOs with no instructions to let me know what I was thinking when I made it, or what sizes the blocks were cut.

    I have found that once I start sewing, I don’t want to stop. Kate’s 15 minute challenge has helped there. I know I won’t be able to keep it up once the weather warms here, but I am determined to keep posting my results there and I’m competive enough to want to have something good to post.


  16. inquiringquilter

    It’s hard for me to find time to sew as well. Goals help a lot, but when they are arbitrary I let them slip. That happens when things don’t need to get done for a blog hop, workshop or other public reason, but just for me. Gotta learn to put me first! Thanks for linking to Wednesday Wait Loss…maybe we can encourage you to sew more. I know I need the encouragement and that comes from seeing what others get done.


  17. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: A Review of Tu-Na’s 2018 Quilting and Blogging Goals | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

  18. Pingback: Tu-Na Quilts: Finding Free Patterns | Tu-Na Quilts, Travels, and Eats

  19. Mary

    I find my sewing time usually comes in the afternoon – after chores, cleaning the house and prepping for dinner. It doesn’t always happen when life is crazy, but it works for me. I loved your red mixer, but the pattern is apparently not available anymore. ;-(



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