Month: December 2018

UFO’s Anyone??

UFO’s Anyone??

By Judy Moore Pullen

In preparation for having a friend come to my studio to work on a baby quilt, I realized that there was very little room for one more sewing machine or person to work. My organizing system is that of “stacking.” Floor space is limited in my back-of-the-garage sewing studio. Partitioned off from the garage, it is warmed in the winter and cooled in the heat of our Texas summers, light filters in from French door windows, but square footage is limited. I have petitioned my dear husband to build a barndominium that would provide living space for us, as well as a place for our toys, a workshop for him to paint barn quilt blocks, and more floor space to better organize my work. So far, his answer is “No.” He also added that we are too old…

So, I decided to try to engage a few creative brain cells and work with what is. I need to better organize the space I have. While digging through my stashes of books, patterns, fabrics, and projects begun but not completed, a light bulb came on: collect all unfinished projects into one or more containers and whittle them down, beginning with the New Year. Sarah, a very dear friend and former president of our Highland Lakes Quilt Guild, made a list of her UFO’s. She focuses on completing one project, and proudly shares it, deservedly so, at our guild meetings. She started this practice as our guild president a couple years ago, and has successfully and joyfully been able to pass along the fruits of her efforts.

I have heard that in order to “get out of the box,” you need a box in the first place. I have stacks of plastic bins with lids from moving experiences several years ago. They will be put to better use to hold my unfinished projects rather than sitting on top of the freezer in the garage. While digging through my stashes like a dog digging for a place to bury a bone, I discovered projects that made me wonder what I was thinking of in the first place when I began. Somewhat like what was I thinking when I bought that dress several years ago, knowing that I probably was not going to lose the 5 or more pounds that would make it fit well.  So, I tossed all UFO’s into bins, making a list, influenced by the season of the year and Santa, to prioritize them when the rest of organizing my studio was finished. That was the plan anyway.

But, if one project is good, perhaps a couple or three would be better. So, keeping in mind that: “We are successful because we are flexible,” a sign posted in one of the wonderful elementary schools where I have been privileged to teach, I modified my original plan. I do like to have several things to work on at one time. That way, when I find/make time to sew, I can work on whatever my little heart desires at the time. I work on what I am in the mood for: hand needleturn applique, machine piecing, wool applique, rug hooking, embroidery….

Since this project is a UFO, I now have the opportunity to use Colonial Needle’s new Colonial Persian yarn, made in the USA, along with Presencia Perle cotton sizes 8 and 12, and Presencia floss. If a little is good, a variety of excellent quality and pretty threads is much better!

Now you can see one of the sources of my organization/excessive UFO problems: I simply enjoy doing too many things! I do not want to miss anything, except vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms. I remember a sign that said, “Housework makes you ugly.” For me, “Sewing makes you happy and pretty.” That is my story and I am sticking to it.

Better organizing my sewing space has also made me happy. In the process, I unearthed an antique apron that went missing several months ago. Found it, now I am happy. I also located several more projects that I am eager to begin. Therefore, I retrieved more bins from the top of the freezer and labeled them “NEW PROJECTS TO BEGIN ASAP.” My thinking is that if, like hot tea on a cold winter day, one new project is good, several are better. Still not giving up on that barndominium request. And, there are fewer plastic storage bins on top of the freezer in the garage.

Happy stitching,

Judy Moore Pullen

Slow Down and Relax by Going a Little Crazy!

Slow Down and Relax by Going a Little Crazy!

By Judy Moore Pullen

Do you sometimes get in a fizz with too much to do and too little time, especially during the holidays?  Have you heard the expression, “The faster I go, the behinder I get”? Do you have lists of lists and check them more than twice? During this season of anticipation, do you sometimes lose focus and get caught up with things, stuff? Create a time, place, and space just for yourself.

Write yourself “in” on your calendar: ME, MYSELF, AND I. Sometimes just the act of writing things down seems to make it more official, more important just like you are. Schedule yourself on a day or days and time that is just for you. I discovered that I was elbow deep in dishes until 8 o’clock most evenings. By the time I hung up my dishtowel and turned off the kitchen light, I was too wilted to treat myself to anything other than ice cream, which is still a good idea…But I did not have the energy or desire to do something creative like hand stitching. So, I located some research that said something about your largest meal of the day should be lunch, and that eating light in the evening was better for you. This is not a direct quote, mind you, but it fits into my schedule, opened up time in the evenings to relax and sew, and I am sticking to it. So, I wrote myself in on my calendar each evening. Granted, there are occasions when something special pre-empts my evenings to sew, but those are rare. Writing myself in my calendar was giving me permission to treat myself. After all, I have 12 hours in the day for other things.

Then I staked out a place for myself: my pink wing-back chair, pre-loved and purchased from a resale shop some years ago. I prefer to call it my pink nest. It is feathered with pillows. I have a “just my size” footstool for propping up my feet that brings my work on top of my lap pillow up to the right level for hand stitching. My comfort zone enables me to relax, breathe deeply, and get into a creative mode where ideas can begin to take shape. It is my happy place.

The space around my nest is somewhat cluttered, try as I might to be neater. I begin each evening with hot tea or ice water on the table within easy reach. There is a pretty little ceramic container once used for sprigs of flowers that now holds scraps and trimmings of threads. If one pincushion is good, several are better. Each one serves as a lovely reminder of someone who gave it to me. Containers hold projects. Some containers are plastic and I can easily see which project is inside. Others are re-purposed baskets or boxes that are just fun to have around and serve as décor during the day. I love to collect old containers, sometimes creating a piece of wool applique and/or embroidery and gluing it to the lids. A flexible arm lighted magnifier is positioned so that I can more readily thread needles and see my work. A vintage lamp on my right is just so pretty to have nearby.

crazy quilt

Sometimes going crazy with stitches and playing with needle and threads is a great way to relax.

I have several projects going at once…not uncommon among those of us who have a passion for needle and thread. Sometimes I just enjoy adding more hand stitching to a crazy quilt block that has been a WIP (Work in Progress) for some time. It is a mish-mash of fabrics, threads, stitches, and embellishments. I am still waiting for it to speak to me to tell me when it is completed. Zig-zag machine stitches around the outside edges help to stabilize the block, but there is still plenty of space to play. Some evenings, it is just the warm-up for getting my creativity in gear. I keep notepad and pencil handy for jotting down ideas, making sketches, and writing notes to myself. I prefer my time, place, and space to be quiet, but that is not always the case.

I so look forward to my time and nesting place and space each day. It helps me to pace myself during the day while doing more mundane things. It is a reward that I deserve, and so do you. I am thinking about setting up an alternate nest, in the den. Sometimes, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday football can be just too much of a good thing, and I need my own time out.