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Episode 435: Practical Tips for a Sewing Room Clutter Cleanse

Hear our no-fail plan to confront your quilting room mess—and keep it clean. Plus, hear an interview with Mathew Boudreaux of Mister Domestic.

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Practical Tips for a Sewing Room Clutter Cleanse

Elizabeth Stumbo, the designer of American Patchwork & Quilting, shares how to kick clutter to the curb in minutes a day!

1. Schedule your cleanse. You make better decisions when you work uninterrupted, so block out 15- to 45-minute appointments on your schedule. 

2. Aim for consistency. Schedule your cleanse session for the same time for a few consecutive days, perhaps every morning before your family wakes or immediately after dinner. 

3. Minimize disruptions. Let your family know ahead of time when you’ll be busy. A consistent daily decluttering time helps. 

4. Be prepared. Dress in comfy clothes. Put on some music. Have a favorite beverage or snack close by. 

5. Gather your supplies. You’ll need the following items close at hand for each cleanse session: permanent markers and index cards or heavy stock paper to make labels for piles as you sort or boxes headed to donation centers, boxes and bags to hold sorted items, and a scissors or utility knife.

6. Touch once, decide once. Decluttering involves deciding to keep or let go, so the main activity throughout the cleanse is picking up or touching an item and asking, "Should I keep this?" If you instantly know something needs to stay or go (and you have space to store it), go with your gut. No need to analyze. However, if you’re not quite sure, see "Four Tough Questions," here, to help you reach your decision.     

7. Work like a machine. Go through any space you’re decluttering in a methodical fashion—left to right, high to low, front to back—whatever makes sense for your project. Don’t jump around the space. Don’t try to be creative or clever.

8. Keep moving. When you don’t quickly know whether to keep or get rid of an item, place it in a pile and keep moving through the room. Save the last 5 to 10 minutes of the session to deal with your pile of questionable items.

9. Know what’s next. Don’t fret about what to do with stuff you’re not keeping. You have only four options: Sell it, give it away, donate it, or recycle/dispose of it. Label four boxes accordingly and keep moving.

10. Keep testing simple. Operate tools and machines to see whether they work. Verify that you have all the pieces of kits. Then move immediately to deciding whether the item is a keeper. 

11. Skip touching when it bogs you down. If you’re decluttering items with emotional connections, have a neutral person hold up the item and ask whether you want to keep it. Without a physical connection to the item, you’ll be in a better state of mind to make quick, clear-headed decisions. 


UFO Challenge with Doris

Doris Brunnette, the editor of Quilt Sampler, shares a finishing tip to help you on your journey of crossing those projects off your list. On this episode, she gives tips on what to do with unfinished antique blocks or antique quilt tops that were gifted to you or that you picked up at flea markets.

  • If it is a pieced quilt top that is in good shape, with seams intact, you can finish it as you would if it were a contemporary pieced quilt top you made. Choose a backing fabric, and either machine quilt it, send it to a longarm quilter or if it was hand-pieced, and you have the time you may want to hand quilt it to keep the integrity of the original quilt. However, there is nothing wrong with machine quilting a hand-pieced quilt top. Done is better than never finishing it because you can’t hand-quilt.
  • If a pieced quilt top that has some damage, determine whether just fixing seams will take care of the problems. If there is damage to the fabric in places, you can take it apart and replace the damaged pieces with new fabric that is similar in color and/or print. Or dismantle a large quilt to create smaller projects using the portion that are not damaged.
  • It’s not uncommon to find a bunch of blocks parts that haven't been assembled into blocks yet. One option would be finish the blocks as they would have been had the original quilter finished them up. Another option I’ve considered is to piece them into another project to change the design. If you do decide to recuse another quilter’s UFO, whether it is a vintage top, orphan blocks, or something made within the last few years, just keep in mind that making it into something finished is what is really important. How you finish it is secondary. Think of it as honoring the quilter who started the project by turning his or her work into something useful and liberating it from the box, bag or drawer it was stored in as a UFO.

And we share the September number for the UFO Challenge.


What We’re Loving

Doris and Elizabeth share the trend, pattern, product, or person they're loving right now. Doris is loving Fiona Sandwich, a modern illustrator known for her EPP and foundation paper piecing patterns. Her National Park Sew Along is a fun one to follow along with if you love being outdoors.

And Elizabeth is loving the Hidamari Sashiko thread from Lecien Fabrics. Available in a variety of colors and with unique dyeing style, these threads are perfect for embroidery and big-stitch quilting.


Ask Us Anything

Lindsay tackles Ask Us Anything, a segment where we answer your most pressing quilting questions. We have a great question from Diane Swanson and was asked in our APQ Quilt Along Facebook group. She asks: "Are you going to have another scrappy quilt quilt-along?" 

Well, Diane, we have super exciting news! Our next scrappy quilt along starts on September 16, 2019! The pattern is called On the Bright Side -- some people may remember it from the February 2018 issue of American Patchwork & Quilting, and the pattern was by Jo Kramer and Kelli Hanken of Jo's Country Junction. This quilt is big -- it's king-size and will use even the tiniest scraps. The quilt along will be 10 weeks long, ending right before Thanksgiving. For more information, join the American Patchwork & Quilting Quilt Along group on Facebook. It's a private group, and we'll be posting all the important information there. If you don't have the pattern, you can buy the On the Bright Side pattern in our online store.


Getting Sewcial with Jess

On today's show, Jess Zeigler of Threaded Quilting Studio chats with Mathew Boudreaux of Mister Domestic. Mathew is known for his fabric weaving patterns, love of EPP and crocheting, his beautiful fabric designs for Art Gallery Fabrics (Catch & Release just hit stores, while Playroom is coming soon!), and his positive and infectuous spirit and laughter all over social media. Seriously -- just try to watch one of his videos without smiling. In the interview, he opens up about his fabric design process, his amazing YouTube series about organizing his sewing room, and what it was like designing a floor cushion pattern and doing a video with Bluprint. You'll feel so inspired to organize your own sewing room after hearing Mathew talk about his process and the best products he discovered for his own organization. (You can see the list here.)

Follow him on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube to keep in touch and learn his sewing widsom!