Overwhelmed? Try the Quilter’s Notebook Cure!

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy

Good Morning, Quilters!

After a very busy September, my sewing room is a mess, my quilts and fabric are everywhere and I feel totally overwhelmed!

Ever feel that way?

I have just the cure—


We haven’t talked about The Quilt Notebook lately, but with just 90 days left in 2016–I’m turning to my Quilt Notebook to get me on track again.

First thing–Do an Inventory of all of your quilts including kits and projects with patterns and fabric.

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy

Next, choose The Big Three–your priority quilts for this year--(I chose four quilts)

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy


Then make a list of the next few steps to jump-start the project again.  Keep the steps simple and easy–so you will be able to accomplish them in less than one hour.

Avoid writing steps like “piece the top”–It’s too daunting.  Instead, break it down–like “piece the orange blocks”…

One of my quilts is such a mess, I listed “organize” as one of my next steps.

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy

I have 30 quilts-in-progress…and I’m not even sure where they will go…


I added a “Measurements Page” to my Quilter’s Notebook.

You can find quilt sizes in any reference book–but that doesn’t mean the quilt will fit YOUR BED…(Don’t ask me how I know!)

Mattress depth, personal preferences, quilt design–all affect the size of the quilt.

One of my tasks this week is to measure all the beds in my house to determine the perfect quilt size for MY beds.  I will also add the measurements I like for MY table and the size of the quilt rod that hangs in my bathroom.

Add pillow sizes if you plan to make any pillows.

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy


In addition, I added a few tips from one of my favorite books…Manage Your Day to Day 

  • Creative work first (Actually, exercise first…)
  • Reactive work second
  • Best energy for creative work
  • Establish creative routines
  • To Do List:  3 things
  • Hard edges:  Deadlines improve work time

We’ll talk more about these tips in coming weeks….

Quilter's Notebook, Lori Kennedy
Manage Your Day-to-Day


After my “Quilt Notebook” exercise, I feel better about my quilting life and all the projects!

If you are feeling overwhelmed—here’s a short task list for this week:

  • Update or make a new “Projects List” in your Quilter’s Notebook.  (Be sure to date it!)
  • Pick The Big Three quilts–your priority quilts
  • List 3-4 small tasks for each of The Big Three quilts
  • Add a “Measurements Page” to your notebook–list all the beds you’re likely to make quilt for and start taking measurements

“If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.”

What about YOU?  Do you ever feel overwhelmed by your Unfinished Projects?

How many UFOs do YOU have?

What are YOU going to do to jumpstart your creativity today?

We’d LOVE to hear!


Finally-Focused, Lori

at least until next week….


PS…All tutorials, images and information are the property of Lori Kennedy at The Inbox Jaunt and are intended for personal use only.  Feel free to re-blog, pin or share with attribution to The Inbox Jaunt.  For all other purposes, please contact me at lckennedy@hotmail.com.  Thanks!


70 thoughts on “Overwhelmed? Try the Quilter’s Notebook Cure!

  1. I’ve done some of the things you’ve mentioned in my quilting book but need to add some of your great ideas to focus my efforts even more.

  2. Will be at my daughter’s to babysit more than at home for the next several weeks. These ideas will help make better use of quilting time as well as prioritizing projects for travel and upcoming quilt retreats.

  3. Great post! I started a spreadsheet on my computer in February after my sister from BC visited me for three weeks. We went through ALL my drawers of UFO’s and listed them on paper with their status and tried to decide where they were going to go. I even listed projects I’d like to do and at least one of them is going to be abandoned because it’s so old, I’ve totally lost interest in it. I have been afraid to total them up and have been working hard at finishing! Some only had binding to do and have been starting at me for years! So, proud to say I finished 25 of them…there are 110 items on the list (some of very little ones!!) and there are 85 to go. Focusing on some that can be finished in one afternoon so that I can feel like I’m making quicker progress, but also working on some of the longer term projects. Yes, the list does help! My UFO’s were finally bothering me and I knew I had to make a plan. And, it works!!

  4. Oh and regarding measuring beds…..YES, good idea. I made a quilt for my granddaughter and it didn’t fit the bed. Evidently the bunk size I found online was not the size of her bed…so I had to add borders after it was finished! I persevered, but what a rotten job. The quilt does not lie flat anymore, but as my husband said…”It’s a kid’s quilt…she won’t care”! And, my daughter is not a fussy type. Lesson learned!

  5. What a GREAT post, Lori! I always find your posts and photos to be pure eye candy but with a practical, “how-to” dimension as well. The tutorials have been so helpful to me over the years….but a post like today’s….??? It’s pure inspiration and so helpful. I love your “rock solid routine”. It’s silly, I know, but for me seeing “creative work first” was like obtaining permission for doing what felt right for me but with a bit of guilt attached. Does that make sense? Anyway…I’ve been an adult for many, many decades…lol…but you just helped enable a very freeing moment for me. Thank you!

  6. Thanks for the encouragement. I keep pretty organized but I especially liked the tip of writing down all the sizes of beds, table, wall hangings, and pillows. It seems like a simple thing, but it is really important in making decisions for quilt project. Especially now since mattresses can vary in thickness which changes the size needed for a good fit on the bed.

  7. As a person who loves organization I would have never thought to do that with my projects (and projects to be). Thank you so much for the push! You’re the best!

  8. Love your organization tips and to keep something such as a notebook visible for me to look at to remain focused. Can’t wait to see what other pages you find helpful for your new one book.

  9. Just starting a notebook sounds daunting to me, but I’ll start small this week by getting a notebook and listing the projects. I had never thought about “where” the projects would go, so that’s second on the list. And I agree with Kathy from WV; putting creative at the time of the to-do list is a great idea and freeing. Earlier is when I have the energy and creativity to quilt best, so why not get at it then? Much appreciated blog.

  10. Great post. I’m an organizing junkie, so this post really appealed to me. I’ve been using the reminder app in my e-devices for ideas and fabric uses. But the idea of a paper and pencil notebook is old school and I love it! I’ve been using a checklist for my top three projects and pinning it to my design wall so I can see it every day. But for the all UFOs? Have no idea how many there are. So, jacqui VMS, thank you for sharing your post. I may now have the courage to actually add them all up. And Lori, I visited some of your recommended pages – how to pick your top 3 – nicely done. I will use that to help sort through the list. I also like the skills pages idea. Building my skills in steps is what is on my checklists! Yes, I feel overwhelmed every Monday after I’ve spent the weekend in my sewing room and see the mess I’ve made ….. V-

  11. You reminded me that I already have a bit of a notebook started and next week I am on a “me” vacation so I think I will use some of that time to get back to it and add some of your ideas here like the measurement part a lot because when I sew for my home I am always measuring and remeasuring. I think I will be making a few of those pumpkins too!

  12. Great ideas for getting organised! I have lots of lists to keep me on track…. wouldn’t be without them! Thank you for the pumpkin tutorial….. will be adding that project to one of my lists! LOL!! Christine x

  13. Well, duh! Why have I never thought to take my own measurements of my beds? Great ideas! I have a sketchbook for fmq practice and ideas. I am going add a section for measurements, current projects and future ones. Love it!

  14. I just finished a lap quilt and was dismayed at what the clean up revealed about state of my sewing room…so Thank you, Thank You !!!!

      • Yeeks, I have to finish 5 blocks for a swap in my sewing group..7 are done. Having so much trouble making the applique fit in.
        I work on it and then let it sit for few weeks. We all signed up in Feb for Autumn deadline !! Next is finish quilt for 1st grandson’s 25th birthday in 3 weeks. Just found out they are expecting little girl in Feb..She has to have a quilt from her great grammy!
        I have waived one project..will tell them on the 10th…NO
        chemo for this girl. I much rather sew..Will walk with the Great Physician one day at a time. Made it 3 years so far with
        no treatment, just His care and love. I ‘m sure I’ve told you more than you asked ! LOL..Your Inbox Jaunt is a blessed part of His
        care for me.

  15. Being the unorganized person that I am, I am excited to get started on my own Quilter’s Notebook! As of right now I have bought fabric and patterns to make six Christmas quilts for each of my grandchildren – for this year! I have one block made for one quilt. Boy, do I need this notebook! I also think it will help to keep me from overbuying, as I have done since I started this quilting journey three years ago. Thank you so much for all the tips. I am going to get started on this notebook today as soon as I can find a pencil or pen…,,
    Also, that pumpkin pincushion is so cute! Thank you for the tutorial!

  16. I was afraid to begin the notebook as it would reveal the sheer number of UFO’s I have. But thank you to Jacqui, since I may have a similar number, I now feel hope that I can begin the count and conquer the list!

    • Pat, it took me a LOOONG time to own up to this many UFO’s….I just didn’t count them so I was in denial. But, I turned 60 this year and got to thinking I wouldn’t live long enough to complete all these items if I didn’t discipline myself big time! So, join me and we’ll conquer together :-).

  17. OMG … the Christmas project!!!! I hadn’t included THAT one on my “to-do” list. I don’t have a pen-and-paper list going, but it’s a good idea. In my sewing room I have wholeheartedly embraced the translucent plastic box … I have all my fabrics (well, most of my fabrics … we know “all” is a relative term to quilters 😉), in said boxes, by colour family. For my project boxes, I put the pattern and chosen fabric inside, then I take a picture of the pattern and put it at the end of the box facing out from the shelf. Then I know what’s in it without opening and digging. Great theory … doesn’t always work. I’m finally working on a “fall quilt” project I put away nine years ago. Probably not the “procrastinator’s award winner”, but perhaps close. With your idea on board, there should be no stopping my forward progression with the UFOs.

  18. Great post. I frequently make a list of ten for a day and if I accomplish it in a week I feel feel good so if I would stick to 3 I could accomplish 15 things in a week

  19. Were you peeking in my window? I had 3 children’s quilts to make NOW. One got downsized to an appliqued oversized pillow with no quilting. It echoes her new baby sister’s quilt that I finished last week. I’m using the same pattern – with changes – to make one more quilt. I’ll be taking pieces and the pattern with me to the baby shower on Saturday with a note explaining about the lack of time. Whew! I will then be able to slow the pace, and I may even finish the quilt before the next baby arrives. I forgot about my notebook: it’s buried in the stacks somewhere 🙂

    • This came as such a perfect time – I have set aside the week to finish up some of my projects that have been sitting for quite a while!!! I’m looking forward to setting up a quilt notebook so that I can see what needs to get done and to track my progress. Thanks, great post!

  20. I’m on a train for four nights so have plenty of time to plan. Luckily, I also brought my sketch pad to doodle so I can use that to do some planning. Oh, and of course, I managed to find room for some handwork. 😉 First on my list will be an appliquéd chuppah for our son’s wedding in April. Woohoo!

  21. I’ve had a great time starting quilts with friends, sew alongs, quilt alongs, a super special retreat and a few I already had going and wow… The squirrels are running amuck! I need blinders! I was trying to keep up, sewing here, cutting there, buying more fabric, pdf patterns… So easy to click and print… It was too much! I finally shook myself good and hard and snapped out of this keep up with the fabric frenzy! Slowly sifting through my now out of control mess and when I had time to I picked up my oldest ufo that’s been waiting way to long to be quilted and started quilting the doodles I had managed to squeeze in there somewhere. Ah… It feels great! Having fun again! Going to enjoy getting some finishes and controlling my starts.

  22. This is VERY timely. I am completely overwhelmed with where to begin tackling the dozen or so irons in my fire. Thanks so much for the tips, the book recommendation, and the pin cushion tutorial!

  23. I took on my UFO mess last year. You will never know how much better you will feel once you get a “handle” on your UFO until you do it!! I made a commitment, no new patterns, no new books, no new fabric until I finish what I have. I got ALL, yes ALL 31 of my UFO’s done. I rolled into this year with all new, fun stuff to do. I committed to never getting myself in that situation again!. All projects started this year, I have finished. I only allow myself to have no more that 5 at a time going. I enjoy my quilting so much more… I say just do it!!! You will be so happy you did… :-))

  24. Thanks for your honesty and ‘being human’ – I think of you as perfectly organized. Nice to know we’re all in this together! And LOVE your saying – “If you chase two rabbits, both will escape.” I’m going to print it up for my wall! I’ll appreciate your reminder, love your Craftsy classes, and can’t wait for the book!

  25. I use excel for my note book. I have a “book” called Quilt Planner. One tab is for planning. I use a row for each project that I would like to do. Some of the row headings are: date, pattern, book, notes (For notes it can be things like a new ruler I bought, fabrics that I plan to use, sample block I made etc). Another tab. is for works in progress. When I start a new quilt, I can move a row from planning to here or just start a new row if it is not on the planning tab. Columns here are things like, date, pattern, blocks pieced, borders pieced, top pieced, layered, quilted, bound, notes. I mostly put dates in these columns as those tasks are completed. The other tab is for finished projects. When a project is completed from my in progress page, I cut it out of that page and paste it into this tab. I add final notes on the project (if it is a gift, I add who it went to–things I did or did not like about the project too).

    I also try to photograph all my quilts and put pictures in my quilt folder with subfolders by year completed.

    I have another excel spread sheet that I call my “Stash Tracker.” I use a separate tab for each year. I start with a zero balance January 1 of each year. I have columns for the date,fabric added and fabric used and my balance (how much I use compared to what I buy). Excel does all the math for me. Additionally I have a note column that I use to describe my purchase or project that I completed (I deduct when a top is pieced and then again for backing and binding). This year I have added way too much to the stash as I can’t resist a good sale!

    I like your idea of notes about frequently used sizes. Another GREAT POST!!!

    • Would you be willing to share a blank version of this excel file? I live in excel and this would be so helpful to me. Thank you for at least sharing the idea .. if you do not wish to share your tracker, I understand. V-

      • I am another one who would love to get a copy of your blank excel document, as I am physically better at the computer

  26. I love this post, some great ideas. I have a lot of UFO’s from the last 10 – 15 years when I was teaching classes, and I made lots of samples that were never completed. I am so lucky that I was organized then. all of the projects are bundled with extra fabrics from the projects. I have been undergoing treatment for Cancer for the last year, and am able to focus my energy on that and quilting. I have working my way through those projects now and gifting them to family and friends. While I am making great progress, some of your ideas will help me keep the process going. I love to quilt them myself, and have used many of your tutorials for new design ideas. thanks so much for your help as i work my way through this fabric and turn it into gifts for those I love, You help me more than you know.

  27. Another great post, we all seem to be on the same track. Have finished another UFO.
    Feels great to finally finish. Also made myself a new wallet. Now on too another UFO.
    Have made many pumpkins small and large ,have a couple grape vines in my yard so the stems and circlies are there for the taking. Always an inspiration, Thank you!

  28. Even though this isn’t rocket science or brain surgery, it is a genius suggestion. I sincerely cannot thank you enough for posting this idea.I am overwhelmed with projects in all stages of completion and non-completion so when I read this on your blog, I felt like you were talking straight to me. Seems like others may have felt that way also so I guess I am not alone. I sometimes awaken at 2 or 3 in the morning and cannot stop my brain from running away with thoughts of all the not yet quilts I have to work on. This plan would definitely work for me. I can see what I have just by looking in the notebook and it will force me to go through all the drawers to see exactly what I have and what I actually want to keep. You may have saved my life with the posting …. well, maybe not my life but certainly my sanity, composure, and sleep. So very glad I stumbled across your blog a while back. Thank you for laying this plan all out so it will be easy to follow. Because right now I need easy!

  29. Oh, to be able to find the quilting notebook I made along with you! Actually, I know just where the notebook (looseleaf) is–I just can’t find all the pages I made to go in it! My poor quilting room has had an adult child moving in, so I got it about half-emptied and stuff relocated. Then she wasn’t moving in, so I stopped emptying. Then she DID move in, right on top of the rest of my stuff, in all her disorganized glory! (Though I must admit she comes by it honestly…) Now she is moving out again….and I am so looking forward to reclaiming my space!

  30. Lori, enjoy your blog and appreciate all you do for us. I was wondering if it would be possible to combine the Notebook posts in pdf form? I would like to begin at the beginning and not skip around. Probably take too much work and time. My computer skills are very limited, so please forgive me for asking. Lol I would be very happy to purchase an ebook of yours on this subject. Thanks for listening☺

  31. I checked out your latest post after getting home from a meeting last night. I had stopped and picked up our mail on the way home to the ranch, so sorted through that before turning in. The latest issue of “Quiltmaker” Magazine was just too tempting to leave for a later date, so I leafed through it quickly. There is a regular feature titled ‘Find Your Inspiration’ featuring notions, gifts, books, and gotta-haves as they say. Well, what a coincidence … they featured a project planner.
    (I don’t know if it’s allowed to mention specific products in this forum so you can edit my comments from here on down if necessary.
    One of the items highlighted is the SCRAPPY PROJECT PLANNER by Lori Holt. A little spendy at $39.95 maybe but, hey, if it serves to motivate one to tackle those UFOs, I won’t judge. Looks like it is available from fatquartershop.com. VERY COLORFUL PAGES TO PLAN, ORGANIZE, AND RECORD PROGRESS. IT INCLUDES LORI’S 5-STEP METHOD OF ORGANIZING A FABRIC STASH AND 6 SCRAPPY HAPPY PATTERNS.

  32. Pingback: The Easy Feather-A Machine Quilting Tutorial | The Inbox Jaunt

  33. Hi Lori and fellow quilters – I am SO into this that I couldn’t sleep last night. I went back and re-read all of Lori’s posts on the subject. It is a bit a link-to-link dance; helpful yes but I felt like an investigator trying to remember where I saw what list of questions. a summary with all the linked pages would be SOOO nice; alas, I know it takes time.
    And I already created my excel notebook thanks to the woman who suggested it. I started with my finished projects and had a lot of fun reminding myself of the good, the bad and the ugly. But how much my skills have grown with each project. Then I drafted the big 3 tab.
    We have a hurricane coming to FL tomorrow or day after and I am anticipating hours of darkness with no power. With a flash light and prepared spreadsheet, I will begin the task of identifying my UFOs. What else will I do? Can’t sew or quilt on the machine!!! Might as well do something useful with my anxiety about the storm. Or maybe … that one UFO that needs hand quilting that is buried in the cabinet. Now that would also be worthy of my no-electricity time off! Wish me luck! V-

    • Vivian…we live in south GA but will be at our former home in north east FL next week. I remember the summer of 3 hurricanes along the east coast. The overflow winds broke tree limbs which outed the power… for 2 weeks…Lost most in freezer. Candle light didn’t do it for me to hand sew –too flickery. I will be stocking up on flashlight batteries and making up “sewing care packages” for any outage time. A few weeks ago, we lost power in GA for 19 hours over several counties just from a northeaster. Took ice out of freezer and put in fridge.
      Now to make up my sewing care pkgs while it is on my mind,..fabric, needles, scissors, seam ripper, threads, quilt books and mags, etc, etc. I am going to make up some for each location. Although we are 50 miles from ocean in GA and 90 miles from ocean in FL, you just never know. Sewing is my alter ego… LOL

  34. I bought a notebook for my quilt book at the beginning of the year, but was in such a rush to complete a challenge quilt that I didn’t start filling it in, and then……I thought it was too late, so didn’t fill it in for the next one, etc.

    I don’t know if I am overwhelmed by all my UFO’s but I don’t think that I remember all of them’ to say the least. I tend to focus on the next thing which is due….not a good way to work. Maybe I should start with the three I want to get done first, and then work on logging all a bit at a time—I have over 30 years worth!!! I tend to get distracted with everything going on and then forget the things I am supposed to do.

  35. One more thought….Lori—Is there a chance that you could show us some of your lists in a really viewable shot, or create some “false” pages to share so we have a better idea of how you write the UFO’s and goals for the big 3 or 4.

We'd LOVE to hear! Please reply...