Organizing Before It’s Out of Control

I started really getting in to quilting in March of this year. It’s only been three months! I may need to remind myself of this next time I’m fighting with perfecting Half Square Triangles on the quilt I just started….

Anyway, today I wanted to talk organization.

I must confess, I am not, by nature, a very organized or neat individual, which is why I think I’m so proud of how my stash organization turned out. My husband just stares at me blankly when i get enthusiastic, like why can’t I get excited about cleaning the rest of the house this way, or maybe he doesn’t think I’m as clever as I think I am?

I remember telling the woman who sold my my new sewing machine that I was trying really hard to only buy fabric for projects I had a plan for. She laughed at me and told me “Just you wait.” I didn’t understand. I do now. I honestly tried to stick to this! The fear of spending money on something and then either not having enough or never knowing what to do with it terrified me. (It still does!)

But my mom found a woman who was de-stashing for $10 a grocery bag, so, needless to say, now I’ve got a stash, and once you’ve started, every trip to the fabric store ends in a few cuts of unnecessary fabric. It adds up quickly.

One day I glanced into the garage and realized my quilting stuff had completely taken over a table and spilled onto the floor. Everything was just piled like a cotton volcano that had recently erupted.

That day I went to Big Lots and bought clear plastic tubs, then I neatly placed chalkboard labels on them, and commandeered a shelf. Lids were important to me because my garage is prone to dustiness, and I didn’t want to have to wash everything before starting a project. I bought three smaller tubs for scraps. I keep 2.5″ strips or precut squares, 3.5″ strips or precut squares, or precut triangles that are bigger than 2.5″ in these.

I used the other 6 tubs to sort by color. In fabrics that have lots of colors, I picked the color that spoke to me most, because, honestly, if I’m putting together something, I’m going to think the same way.

Next to the shelf I used the pegboard to sort my rulers.

On the top shelf, I have legal-sized cardboard boxes with masking tape labels to sort by project, and since I carry my stuff into the house to work, this has made a HUGE difference in the time it takes for me to set up and clean up from working.

My sweet husband has allowed me to keep my sewing machine on the dining room table, cover on, which saved me from trying to find a spot in the house to keep it clean and safe.

My next step is to start labeling all the folded fabric in the tubs with a piece of paper attached by a pin that lists how big each piece of fabric is, that way when I go searching it’s easier to see what I’ve got.

I’d love to see what any of you use to organized your quilts, fabric, or sewing tools!

Here’s what I’ve got! I’ve limited myself to just this space, so hopefully I finish some projects before I buy any more, as some of the tubs were surprisingly full.


RUN’s Quilt is Finally Pieced!

I started this quilt in March, after deciding me and my Janome we’re giving homemade presents at my husband’s family Christmas this year.

So I bought fabric for three quilts, which I then found out needed to be queen sized. I finally finished piecing the quilt for my oldest niece, RUN. I stayed up until 3 am to finish it, but it’s a true queen quilt, and I already have an idea on how to quilt it, so tomorrow I need to scrounge up the backing, get it ironed, and baste that bad boy. My goal is to do the quilting and put the binding on by the end of June, then buckle down for the next niece, JCN. I already have the bias tape cut for RUN, and it’s already sewn into strips, so the last prep will just be ironing.

JCN’s quilt should go a bit faster, as I’m going to take short cuts with the Half Square Triangles on her’s, and use the cheater strip method.

My nephew, BWRN, is only 1.5 right now. I have the fabric for his, but the quilt design hasn’t sprung to mind like it did for his sisters, yet. So if you have a simple-ish masculine quilt that would look good with antique car fabric, let me know!

Back [B]Logging – My First Quilt

I wanted to go ahead and share my first ever quilt- a small baby blanket for my friend’s first child. I used fabric from the dress I wore as her bridesmaid, and I made so many mistakes I considered not even giving it to her.

The only guidance I had was my mother, who had read “Quilt in a Day” back in the 90’s, and completed one quilt at the same time. So, needless to say, I was kind of winging it. Some of the things I now know not to do:

  • Don’t hurry cutting. It’s the most important step!
  • Don’t be afraid of the seam ripper! That is, if it’s something that will eat you alive for not fixing, but also don’t be afraid to shrug and move on, if the mistake is something you can live with. There’s a balance here between fun hobby and insanity.
  • Don’t iron your seams open because ironing them to one side is SO much easier, and allows your corners to be much crisper since they ‘lock’ together when you iron them different directions

I’m sure the strip sewing method is easier, but I believe that the best way to further all my skills is to sew each piece individually (by machine, I’m not that crazy, or talented!), so that’s what I did with this one.

I used a simple stitch in the ditch on this, and if you study the picture carefully, you’ll see I wasn’t even great at simple! I have a habit of just smashing the pedal to the floor and making it work. I despise the seam ripper, so if it’s not going to affect the ability of the quilt to be finished, I’ll probably just leave it as it is! Which is how a strip ended up sewn on upside down, making several squares misaligned in the pattern. Luckily the recipients were a newborn baby, and a mom who’s made a quilt and appreciated the efforts, however they looked.

RUN’s Positively Pink Quilt

I’ve put my other projects on hold to tackle queen sized quilts for my two nieces and my nephew. They are getting ready to have their own rooms in a new house for the firs time EVER. Actually, the girls will go from sharing a bed to their own individual space. I’m sure I will go back and talk about the challenges I faced with some of the other steps, but I wanted to bask in the excitement of the stage I’m at!

This quilt is for a girl positively OBSESSED with pink. Like, her name could easily have been Elle Woods. Since I haven’t discussed sharing pictures or anything with their mom, I’m just going to stick to intitials and/or ages. RUN is 5. I figure she’ll be six by the time I get all three of these quilts ready to be gifted, and before their new home is ready to be moved into.

Anyway, on Sunday I managed to get the last of the 60 9.5”x9.5” blocks sewn together out of 3 3.5”x9.5” pieces. Last night and today I began sewing them into strips. I don’t know WHERE I went wrong, but my blocks came out 9.25”x9.5”, which I probably could make due with, however these blocks are being sewn together after a rotation, so I ended having to go back and square them all up at 9.25”. Lesson I’ve learned here- triple measure yourself before you assemble 60 blocks to make sure you don’t need to be sewing things on a scant quarter inch seam….

Anyway, here are the pictures. I’m down to two more 10 blocks long strips to sew, and I need to attach them all to my decorative strip (which I’n super proud of, as its my first time working with triangles!)

About Me

Hello! Welcome to Shaley Quilts! This is a blog as an outlet for my quilting enthusiasm. A documentary, if you will, of learning to be a better quilter. Maybe one day, if I ever get good enough, I’ll be able to offer patterns or tutorials.

My name, obviously, is Shaley. In the picture is my husband, a mechanically inclined man with a farm-bred work ethic and a personality, as you can see, too big to fit into words.

Inspired by Pinterest, I made my first quilt the spring of 2017 for my friend’s son using fabric from the bridesmaid dress I wore in her wedding. I screwed it up, accidentally sewing a strip on upside down and not noticing until I had begun quilting, but I moved forward anyway. I was embarrassed by it, but I gifted it anyway. I enjoyed myself, but I didn’t have my own sewing machine, and I didn’t have space to get into quilting, anyway.

Fall of 2017, my grandfather’s Parkinson’s began to progress more rapidly, and I realized he was very soon going to be wheelchair confined, and I wanted to make him a masculine lap blanket with pockets for his always cold hands. I drove over to my mom’s house again in every spare moment and started working on his quilt. Part way through, my mom decided to splurge on a new machine of her own, and I was gifted with her very old but very functional Brother. I finished his quilt on this.

By April 2018, I had started gathering fabrics for projects, slowly purchasing the tools I needed to make quilting a part of my weekly entertainment. My mother and father surprised me with a gorgeous Janome 7700 with an 11″ throat space, allowing me to machine and free motion quilt all but the biggest of projects. I have been obsessed ever since.

My friends and family have stopped responding to quilting talk, instead nodding, eyes glazing over, hoping I forget they’re there and walk away, so I decided to start this blog as an outlet for some of my quilting thoughts.