Last Monday I wrote about the positive aspect of donating boxes of quilting supplies, primarily the relief I felt by getting rid of lots of stuff that I no longer had an interest in finishing. The negative part of that is that I was left with a mess. In going through these bins I also found things that I am excited to work on again. However, having all of this out was overwhelming. I needed to create calm in the chaos.
All of this is scraps, UFOs, kits to be disassembled, orphan blocks and it needs to be organized and put away. Really, it’s just a giant mess of random stuff! We were in the Twin Cities for a few days and none of that mess magically disappeared while we were gone so I returned to a disaster! To top it off it was a crazy busy week with having the grandkids, volunteering, and Zoom meetings. Simply walking into my sewing room created anxiety from all the overwhelm. I wanted to sew but felt guilty because I should have been decluttering. I ended up doing nothing. No sewing and no cleaning. I was paralyzed by all that needed to be done.
Many times I have mentioned that sewing is usually how I decompress. The hum of the machine combined with mindlessly feeding fabric through the feed dogs immediately puts me in a Zen state. The problem was, I didn’t have any mindless sewing ready to go. My works in progress are at a point of needing borders or blocks arranged or tops sewn together. All of those take a pretty big time commitment and I didn’t have that this week. I didn’t even have a quilt on the frame that I could plug away at. Nothing was prepped for those times when I only had 15-20 minutes to sew.
Over the weekend, that was the first thing I fixed. I found a bin of half-square triangles that are cut and ready to feed through the machine. This is a project I started a little over a year ago and one I would like to finish. I just love this quilt because, well, blue!
This week, knowing I can do anything, but not everything, my plan is to combat the overwhelm. Here is how I will do it:
- Have an easy project ready to go for times when I only have a few minutes to sew (Plain Sailing).
- Tackle the bins and boxes one at a time. Since there are scraps and random fabric in these, I will sort and organize them as I go through them instead of just finding an open spot on the shelves for the container.
- Find a scrap pattern to cut as I sort through scraps.
- Commit to moving only one big project forward. That means sewing one top or sewing borders to a top. I will not put 10 things on my to-list with hours-long time commitments for each.
- Load a top on the frame, wind bobbins, and re-thread the machine so I can quilt a few minutes every day.
- Instead of focusing on emptying all the bins, I will consider it progress to clear out one this week.
- Commit to spending at least an hour each day in the sewing room, either de-cluttering or sewing.
- Continue to get rid of projects I have no interest in finishing. I will be back in Minnesota in a couple of weeks and want to deliver a few more boxes to the charity quilters.
- Work to make my sewing room my happy place again. It helps to re-watch TV shows or movies (anything that I don’t have to follow closely) and listen to music, podcasts, or audiobooks. Last week I started listening to The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell by Robert Dugoni and am loving it!
If you are feeling overwhelmed every time you step into your sewing room, I hope some of these tips will help you create calm in the chaos too. Here’s to a more productive and clutter-free week for all of us!