What to Do If You Only Have 15 Minutes to Quilt

Free Motion Quilting, Fish Welcome back to Open Line Friday.  Please join today’s discussion about Time Management for Quilters.

It’s that season when time is of a premium.  You probably fall into one of two categories:

  • 1.  You must spend every waking moment in your sewing room because you have so many gifts to complete…OR
  • 2.  You have so much shopping and cooking, you won’t see your sewing room until 2014.

Even when I am extremely busy, I try to spend at least 15 minutes/day quilting or sewing.  If I don’t…I get…well…cranky…

Fish Free Motion quilting

If I only have 15 minutes for sewing, I usually spend it:

  1. Cleaning and Organizing-even this feels creative.  I usually find things I have lost or forgotten-like this fish quilt.   (It was buried in a pile of “Tuesday Tutorials”! )   If my sewing room is not clean, 15 minutes is not enough time to sew–it takes that long to find everything and to move things around so there is room to work.
  2. Making small “Quilt Sandwiches”--If I have a stack of these in different sizes and colors all ready to stitch, I feel rich!  I love when I have an assortment ready and waiting!
  3. Trying a new motif–If my sewing studio is clean and I have  a few quilt sandwiches ready to go, then 15 minutes is enough time to try a new motif that I have been doodling
  4. Doodling-15 minutes is just enough time to sit and doodle and practice a new motif…For a few ideas, see the Red Apple Link or click HERE.

Time Saving QuiltingWhat do YOU do when you only have 15 minutes to be creative…

I’d love to hear!



39 thoughts on “What to Do If You Only Have 15 Minutes to Quilt

  1. When I am working on a project, I put Fabric in a “to be re-shelved” basket. If I have a few free minutes I re-shelve and visit my Fabric!

  2. Lori , you are such an inspiration to me, your designs are wonderful and done on a sewing machine! I too am short on time and long on projects, so at present my 15 minutes is spent on machine applique, it’s such fun, relaxing and just completing a few designs a day is very gratifying.

  3. I leave my treadle set up with a basket of scraps and make crumb blocks. I can just walk away with a bunch chain pieced in any state of finish and continue when I have another 15 minutes as the treadle is not my main sewing machine. Putting scraps away is another 15 minute favorite as I file by color and size.

  4. Hi! I too, need a (somewhat) clean sewing room. My thoughts seem to flow better when there is less clutter. I’ll often use that time to clean up or to cut scraps. I keep a scrap bin and have drawers that hold scraps cut in certain sizes to use for a quilt I’m working toward. Just the act of cutting some into those shapes can give me a feeling of accomplishment. Even just those 15 minutes keeps me grounded to my sewing. The longer I stay away, well, the longer I stay away. Popping in most days allows me to get more done and avoid giant sewing marathons. Love your blog!

  5. I clean, too, and sometimes doodle with pencil/paper. But I like your idea of making little sandwiches so that I can practice, practice, practice.

  6. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in “just” 15 minutes — whether it’s layering and pinning or piecing a project, every 15 minutes you can spend on it, is that much closer to getting done! Of course, it’s essential to have a work space that you can leave your work up and available.

      • I do this with a quilt in mind. For instance, I’m planning to make a scrappy Irish Chain, so as I work on other projects I cut the scraps into 2 inch squares or strips and put them into the Irish Chain box. Then when I finally sit down to work on my Irish Chain, I’ll have a good variety of colors and prints ready, and I can get right down to the sewing.

  7. I have to clean up between projects and during if it gets too deep for some reason. If life has gotten in the way of stitching too many days in a row…I resemble that commercial where kids are describing their Mom and turns out she’s a bear less she gets her sleep or something like that. I will draw and snoop for new idea’s and fabric
    too if I have a few min.

  8. I have a basket full of strips that I have cut from scraps as I cut out other projects and some foundation blocks ready. . I sew a block of of them for a string quilt for a charity quilt. Yes I have to sew a little every day too….

  9. I too use my spare few minutes to cut scraps into squares or strips. I was very confused at first about cutting up scraps, but developed a way I like. I have squares from 2 1/2″ to 6 1/2″. And strips from 1 1/2″ up (I leave these at the length they are). I cut the largest square I can from a scrap. If it is over 7″ I put it in another box called large scraps – handy for apllique. It is so much easier to do this as you can just grab a box and start making 9 patches or half square triangles. This is handy if you go away on retreat, or like me have a holiday house. Eventually you have enough for a quilt! And you don’t really have to concentrate! That’s what I enjoy about it. I do of course have more intricate quilts on the go and hand piecing, but this is kind of my down time sewing. I have a ‘non-productive’ period from time to time, as work and life get in the way. This keeps me in love with quilting.
    Loving your blog Lori, thanks so much for sharing!

  10. I, too, cut my smaller pieces into usable squares. I choose 2.5″, 3.5″, and 5″ squares. I put them into color families, and then when I get enough put together a scrap quilt. You are right, Lori, 15 minutes is enough to refresh me during a busy day.

  11. A day doesn’t go by that I am not sewing. However, I long arm for others so there is very little time for sewing for fun. To keep my sanity I have an art bin by my sewing machine with a quilt in progress. Currently it is a paper pieced double wedding ring. All the papers are ready and all the fabric is cut and stacked in color order. This way it is a quick sew to complete a couple of arcs.
    I also needle turn applique so before I stop working I add the next piece, thread the needle and take a couple of stitches and park my needle. This way I can sit down with a cup of coffee and finish a leaf etc.
    One thing I never do is end with a disaster, i.e. having to unsew something. I don’t want to spend my precious 15 min. in frustration.
    Thanks for a great blog!

    • Hi Missy,
      I think you’re right–if you are organized, 15 minutes can be productive. Sometimes I push too long and then leave my sewing room when I’m very tired–too tired to put things in order–then I have to spend my first 15 minutes, cleaning–and sometimes that’s all I have time for!

  12. I love to sew/quilt:-) but if I go to my sewing room, 15 minutes is never enough and I’d be late for everything or have a burnt dinner, so unless I have a good chunk of time, I don’t get started, but I might do a little bit of paper work, because really, who likes paper work, that can always put down at a moments notice!

  13. I also cut scraps into pieces I can use. Recently I read a tip in an old magazine. The woman kept some of hers cut scraps next to her while sewing other quilts. Instead of using a throw away scrap at the end of her sewing for her “tail” (I don’t know what everyone calls them) she would sew a 2 of her squares together. So I have a bunch of 2 inch squares right now in lights and colors. Instead of a tail, I have been sewing them together and now have a nice collection that I can sew into bigger square and eventually have a scrap quilt.
    Lori, where did you take the picture of the clock. I have the exact same clock in my tv room!

  14. What I need time for is to piece something that I can quilt on my long arm. I always think the piecing will take way too long, so I never start. But if I clean off my sewing area (quite a task, I’ll admit) and everything is cut and organized, I can get quite a bit pieced in 15 min increments. I put a movie on my Ipad and away I go!

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