The Organization of Hunting and Gathering

Sometime ago I wrote a generic post about organization in my workroom. My workroom is somewhat organized considering it isn’t large enough and I don’t have enough bookcases. 90% of the time I can find what I need and I am less and less surprised by things I come upon serendipitously.

One of the major things I do is, what I call, hunting and gathering. I prefer to make quilts, usually, that use a lot of fabrics. I think many different aquas will be more interesting than just one. This means that many projects, I need to cut a lot of patches from a wide variety of fabrics. It doesn’t work for me to decide to start such a project, open up a fabric bin and start cutting. I can’t stand that long, I get bored and the whole situation results in me hating the project or just stopping about halfway through. Also, if I use that strategy, I get tend to have too many of one color and not enough of others. None of this is good for my stress level and definitely not they way I want my quiltmaking to be.

Also, I don’t know of a way to really randomize this type of fabric selection. Cutting from fabrics I buy new or pull out to use seems like as good a way as any. Also, as an added bonus, I use fabrics that I like right now immediately.

Another problem I had was that I would take fabrics out of bins and NOTHING would be cut from them. Not one square or anything. Shameful! This problem was alleviated by the Fabric of the Year project, which TFQ thought up and I ran with. You can read about the beginnings of that project for me in a post from 2008. Doing this kind of started the solution to my Hunting and Gathering.

As I got use to cutting one shape, the Fabric of the Year shape, out of new fabrics, it became easier to cut more than one shape. I thought it was a good idea and it became easier to use this new system to make progress on projects I was not yet ready to start sewing. Pretty soon I was up to the number of pieces I am cutting now. The other thing is that the fabrics became less precious. I started not to save them for a better project. I also knew, which I have talked about in terms of the FOTY projects, that I knew which fabrics were going to work for other projects so I could go and buy more before it was 3 years later and too late to go and buy more.

Cutting Chart
Cutting Chart

In addition to the above I also cut 2.5″x4.5″ pink rectangles, 2″ red squares and 2″ aqua or turquoise squares.

The idea is that after I identify a project I want to make that requires a ton of cutting, I  figure out what kind of cutting I need to do (coordinated fabrics or scrappy fabrics as well as size). Either can work with my system. Then I put the shape and color on my list. I keep the list near my cutting table so when I have a new piece of fabric (after washing and ironing) I know exactly what to cut. By now I have a sense of how much fabric these shapes will need (now approximately 5″x18″) and I know by the size of the hole in the fabric whether I am finished.

The bonus result of this cutting is that fabrics became less precious to me. There are many fewer fabrics that are free from any kind of cutting. I make progress on projects that require a lot of cutting and  I get to see new fabrics appear in projects I was making immediately.

One of the great things about cutting pieces from new fabrics is that it is a great warm-up. Sometimes when I need to get started, pressing fabric and cutting new pieces from new fabrics is a good way to get started. If I have 10 minutes, I can cut, feel like I made progress and got a little stress relief in.

Author: Jaye

Quiltmaker who enjoys writing and frozen chocolate covered bananas.

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