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Time, Time, Time is on My Side (Yes, It Is!)

Time, Time, Time is on My Side (Yes, It Is!)

Written by: 
Linzee McCray

Okay, so the Rolling Stones weren't talking about quilting when they wrote those lyrics, but you get the drift. Finding time to fit in stitching can be a challenge, but it's possible. Thanks to a suggestion from Sherri McConnell, I've figured out how to make the most of the time I have.

Nearly two years ago I interviewed Sherri for a story in American Patchwork and Quilting and of the many things we discussed, her comments about time management stuck with me. Sherri’s a prolific quilter, sewing with her own fabric lines (Creekside is her latest with her daughter Chelsi) and for others. In addition, she teaches, posts to her blog three times weekly, and is a busy wife, mother, and grandmother.

Sherri and Chelsea's Creekside fabric in an Ocean Waves quilt

Her secret? She doesn’t leave her sewing room without having something prepared for next time.

“It helps a lot because sometimes you don’t get to go sew for hours and hours,” she says. "If I have something ready to go, I can accomplish something in the 30 minutes I might have.” For example, a quilt that Sherri’s currently working on uses strip piecing and half-square triangles, so she prepped the pieces by stacking her strips with right sides facing and drawing diagonal lines on the squares. “That way, I don’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about the next step, I can just start sewing.”

These photos are from another project, in which Sherri laid out pieces for a single block and for chain piecing. Sherri gives credit for this strategy to Moda’s marketing VP Lissa Alexander, who years ago recommended the book Never Check E-Mail in the Morning, and Other Unexpected Strategies for Making Your Work Life Work by Julie Morgenstern. “I remember reading it on the plane on my way to Market,” says Sherri. “The technology in the book is dated now [it was published in 2005], but the organizing tips are still amazing.” It inspired Sherri to spend time on her number one project—sewing—before checking her email each day.


While I haven’t embraced the not-checking-my-email-philosophy quite yet, I have tried to follow Sherri’s lead in my sewing room, always having a project I can pick up and sew. For me, lately, it’s pillowcases.

My guild stitched a couple of hundred for the local homeless shelter and when I stopped by one day to donate some other items, the manager rhapsodized about those pillowcases—how much more homey they made the rooms, how much the residents appreciated them, and how quickly she’d gone through the 200-plus we’d made. Now, when I have the time, I’ll spend an hour or two cutting out fabric and stacking and pinning it, ready for sewing, and when I have even 20 minutes I can make some real progress. Best part? It feels great to get them done!

How about you? Do you have any tips for quilting when you don't have a lot of time?We’d love to hear them!

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