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Archive for the ‘Projects’ Category

5 strategies to get your work done

Wednesday, February 26th, 2020

Have you ever found yourself procrastinating, overwhelmed, or just plain stuck when it comes to getting your work done?

Recently I did a webinar called “From To Do to Ta Da Done!” about how to get more — and the right — work done.

I think of it as a simple five-step process. Of course, simple does not always make it easy.

Step 1 — Clarity

Are you clear on the big picture?

If you do not know where you are going or why, you are going to stay stuck.

Read more…

Moving Past Stuckedness

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018


Have you ever had so much on your plate that you’re stuck with where to start? I know I have. Last week I started thinking about all the ideas I have to grow ICAP. There is the weekly blog/ezine, the monthly coaching and interview calls, and some content that is already planned to write. Then there is book in progress, the podcast in the works, and the work I want to have happen in our Facebook groups. Wait, I forgot about the webinar I am creating. I know I can look at the my projects and figure out which to pick first, so overwhelm is not the problem.

It really is about uncertainty and where to start or how to move forward on the one project. And, if you are like me, having so much to sort through can keep you stuck. You end up studying the issue to death, over-thinking it, over-revising it, and, yes, staying stuck. I think a good term for this in my case might be analysis-paralysis.

Does this sound familiar? What is the solution?

Read more…

Book Review: When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters

Friday, July 3rd, 2015

When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters


When Bad Things Happen to Good Quilters
Joan Ford
Taunton Press; $24.95


Do you have a UFO? Or maybe two? I have a few in various stages of completion. Why have I not finished them? Joan Ford’s theory is that something went wrong, and that is why the quilt is in the UFO pile. If that is your excuse, and even if it is not, you will find a wealth of tips to help you get past what is holding you back. Joan shares her knowledge as an experienced quilter, teacher and pattern designer. Additionally, she interviewed both experts in our industry as well as everyday quilters to share their frustrations and successes. The book starts with a look at the hardware, aka your tools; then moves onto your software, aka your fabric; then to making your blocks; sewing the quilt; quilting the quilt; and caring for it. You can read the book cover to cover and enjoy the tips, plus Joan’s wonderful sense of humor, or you can start with where you are stuck. Some of the tips I liked were Joan’s friend Beth and her idea of filling a pincushion with a pin to represent each UFO. She moved the pins to a second pincushion when each quilt was completed, and only when she had moved all the pins did she allow herself to purchase fabric for a new project.  Another fun tip is from Amy, who always writes her name in permanent ink on one of the seam allowances. This way the name of the maker of the quilt top survives.  You will also learn how to make the knots disappear and how to test your marking tools. And, if you look hard enough, you will find my “bad” experience that turned “good.” If you are looking for a good troubleshooting guide with a sense of humor, this book is your answer.


You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here is the link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.



Book Review: Make It, Take It

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

 Make It Take It

Make It, Take It
Krista Hennebury
That Patchwork Place; $26.99


Who does not love a retreat filled with sewing, food and friends? Krista Hennebury has been offering day and four-day retreats for 10 years. She knows a thing or two about good projects. In Make It, Take It, she has gathered her sewing-blogger friends, several of whom also run retreats, to create a virtual retreat. In this book you will find nine projects to take your sewing on the road and then seven projects to sew once you get to the retreat. I thought the tote patterns were cute and the selvage sewing mat useful. In the quilt project section, I loved the Pine Tree blocks done in orange and aqua. So, grab a few friends and head off to a retreat.


Look for this book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


Book Review: Set the Table

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

Set the Table

Set the Table
Mary V. Green, ed.
Martingale; $16.99


Are you looking for a simple, stunning project? You are sure to find one in Set the Table, a collection of 11 table runners by 10 designers. You will find both traditional and modern designs as well as simple and improvisational techniques. I found several that made me want to get out my fabric and start to work, including “Standout” by Josée Carrier and “Calamity Cross” by Jenifer Dick. Other designers include Natalie Barnes, Audrie Bidwell, Thomas Knauer, Heather Jones, Angela Walters, Candi Weinrick, Amy Ellis and Jessica Levitt. I am sure you will find several that appeal to you. In addition to the complete instructions, extra tips are interspersed throughout the text.

If you found a specific project that stood out to you, I would love to hear about it. Just leave a reply below.

You can look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon  if you would like to learn more about the book.

Book Review: Alphabet Zoo: Lions and Tigers and Quilts for You

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

Alphabet Zoo: Lions and Tigers and Quilts for You
Vicki Hansen
Kansas City Star Quilts; $25.95

This charming collection of lower and uppercase fonts of animal shapes is perfect for lots of uses. You can make appliqué pieces, hand or machine embroider the letter on fabric, or paint the letters. Projects include quilts, a birthday banner, pillowcase and more. I know you will have lots of fun with this idea.

Here is a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

Are You Working Out Your “Done” Muscles?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Done!A lot of us have problems getting things finished. Several reasons come to mind: procrastination, the need to be perfect, distractions by other things, failure to prioritize. Here are eight tips for exercising what I call your “done” muscle.

1. Get clear about what it is that you are trying to accomplish. Once you have clarity around your goals and/or a particular project, it is much easier to move forward. As you work, keep your eye on the prize. This will help you progress.

2. Break your project down into manageable tasks. When you look at a goal or a specific project, it can seem overwhelming. If you can break it down into bite-size pieces, it is always easier to see how you can accomplish it.

3. Look for where you need help. Just because you have a big project, does not mean that you need to do it all yourself. Remember, it is not necessary to know how to do everything, just what needs to be done.

4. Prioritize what needs to be done. This can apply to a specific project or your daily “to do” list. It is easy to look for the quick and uncomplicated things to do each day so you can check them off the list. The problem is you are not really accomplishing what you need to accomplish. What you should be doing is tackling those projects that move you towards completing your goal.

5. Consider the ROI. That’s Return on Investment. You can look at your tasks and see if time spent doing these tasks is worth your time. Maybe you should delegate the tasks or not even do them at all.

6. Finish what you start. Make that your goal. Really look around at how many people actually finish what they set out to do. Many people say they are going to do something and do not ever complete it.

7. Remember good enough is often good enough. Sometimes we spend so much time aiming for perfection that we don’t accomplish our goals.

8. Don’t over-think everything. As the Nike ad says, “Just do it.”

If you have a tip for exercising your “done” muscle, please share it on the blog.

Book Review: Becoming a Confident Quilter

Sunday, October 6th, 2013

Becoming a Confident Quilter
Elizabeth Dackson
Martingale; $26.99

Elizabeth Dackson didn’t own a sewing machine until 2010 when she was looking for a hobby as a new mom and picked one up at JoAnn’s. She ended up as a self-professed fabric-a-holic and admitted fabric geek. Her first book is designed to help beginners gain confidence so they find the same joy that she has. Written in her easy-going style that is familiar to followers of her blog, Elizabeth includes the essentials – fabric, tools, rotary cutting, piecing basics and pressing – before getting you started with any of her 14 projects that build your skills. I found lots of quilts to like, particularly the improvisational Wonky Fences. She also covers all the finishing techniques you need from adding a backing through adding a label. I appreciated the section on reading quilt patterns and the resources for modern quilters.

Look for the book at your favorite book retailer. Here’s a link to if you would like to learn more about the book.

Can You Find Your Sewing Machine?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

photo[7]On my birthday, I like to reflect on those things I’ve accomplished and think about what’s ahead. I also like to have a little fun, as in playing with my fabric, as in making some art. However, I looked around at my studio and realized that it could use a healthy cleaning. So I started sorting books and fabrics and notions. Gosh, we quilters, sewists and artists certainly do accumulate a lot. I know I’ll appreciate the open space in which to create. Here are some tips if you are facing that increasing pile, or piles, of stuff.

  1. Do you really need all those back issue of your favorite quilt magazine? I’ve gotten better over the years, but the stack can get out of control. Now I try to decide when they arrive if I want to keep all of the magazine. In most cases, it’s  an article I want to read or a technique I want to try. I’ll tear out the article and then file them in a manilla folder by topic. If you are highly techie, you could even scan the articles and toss the originals. I also have a master list in a notebook of “someday” ideas and projects. I will note the existence of the article and how I filed it. Periodically I go through the files. Something that sparked an interest a few years back, may have lost its luster, and it’s easy to toss now.
  2. What about the books you have on the shelf? I get lots of books to review and I purchase a fair share also. Again, some that I found valuable in the past don’t hold the same weight today. Look for places to donate books you no longer use. It could be your local guild or your local library. If you want to manage the shipping, you could sell them on ebay. My books find a welcome home at the Virginia Quilt Museum. I know the museum adds some books to its library and sells others to cover museum expenses.
  3. Is your fabric collection in need of paring down? Of course we need a “palette” as quilt artists. Do we need that large of a palette? And doesn’t our palette need refreshing every now and then? If you’re like me, you’ll never live long enough to use all the fabric you own. You’ve seen the saying, “The one who dies with the most fabric wins!” I’ve decided I don’t need to be in the competition. I regularly donate fabric for charity quilts hoping to make a dent in the stash.
  4. And, how about those notions? A year ago a friend donated all her mother’s sewing notions to me after she died. Wonderful, I originally thought. Then I looked at the collection. Spools of thread that cost 25 cents. I think that thread is so old it will shred in any quilt I choose to make. So that was easy to toss. It did cause me to look at all the notions I had that probably went back to high school. Yes, I collected and tossed what was not useable and donated the rest.

I know it’s hard to get rid of “stuff,” and it can be overwhelming to do it all at once. If you can’t set aside a full day, block several hours in consecutive days just to clear out what you don’t want. Sort it into two piles – items to donate and items to trash. I know many people say add a third pile for stuff that needs to be fixed. I used to go by that theory, until I realized I didn’t want to fix the stuff.

Please share your tips below about how you get your stash under control.

Book Review: Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

Sunday, January 27th, 2013


Barn Quilts and the American Quilt Trail Movement

by Suzi Parron with Donna Sue Groves
Swallow Press; $29.95

The American Quilt Trail, large colorful quilt blocks painted and mounted on barns, is truly a grassroots public arts movement. In this book, Suzi Parron travels across 25 states and Canada to visit the barn artists and barn owners to learn more about the movement, which started with Donna Sue Groves’ project in 2001 to paint barns in Adams County, Ohio. From those humble beginnings designed to honor Groves’ mother and draw economic attention to one part of Ohio, the quilt trail now encompasses 45 states and more than 3,000 “quilts.” The stories are fascinating, and the quilts are just fun to see. I was fond of a Grandmother’s Fan that wrapped around the side of a barn in Ohio and the trompe l’oeil Lone Star quilt on a barn in Illinois. Recommended.

Look for the book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.


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