Whether you are preparing for a craft or art fair or you want to get a start on quilted gifts for the holidays, it pays to get organized. That way, you won’t be swamped as the deadline approaches, and you’ll have more time to enjoy your customers or time with friends and family.
For advice on how to prepare your workspace and materials for efficient–and enjoyable–gift-making, we asked Candy Glendening for her tips.
Candy is one of the busiest fiber artists I know. She’s not only a mom of two teenage boys, she holds an outside job, bakes regularly, and dyes her own fabric for her many quilting/gifts projects for craft shows and the holidays.
Here’s how Candy makes it all work:
Organization Tips for Making Quilted Gifts
By Candy Glendening
1. Make similar, customizable projects. When I need to make several quilted gifts, I often choose to make the same thing for several people; it allows me to make them assembly line style. Each present is still unique, though; I dye fabrics a palette of colors that work well together and cut out and prep one of each piece in each color. Then, I mix up the colors so that each item is unique. I then personalize each one further with some appliqué or Free Motion Machine Sketching that fits each person’s character.
2. Create a staging area. I am very lucky to have a studio in my house (it’s one of the bedrooms), so I can leave projects laid out and ready for me to step in and stitch or iron for a few minutes when I have time.
3. Label and photograph for reference. With big projects like a group of bags, I’ll label the pieces with some masking tape so I don’t get confused (oftentimes there are several similar-sized rectangles that have completely different functions in a bag). I also take a picture with my cell phone once I’ve decided upon the color combinations; that way, when I have a big stack of handles next to my sewing machine for topstitching, I can quickly re-match them up with the bags I decided they belonged to!
4. Batch your tasks. When every second counts, every time you have to wait for the iron to heat up, or change out the thread and foot on your sewing machine adds to the total time spent on making. Topstitching 5 sets of handles doesn’t take that much longer than one, and it saves a lot of time in the long run! I learned this when prepping for the local art shows I participate in.
5. Create a temporary storage system. If I’ve got to put a project on hold because of another deadline, I’ll put everything associated with the first project in a plastic bin with a lid, making sure there are masking tape labels on anything that isn’t totally obvious, and put it away on a shelf.
6. Clean up when chaos threatens. Although my studio may look like a disaster zone when I’m working, the mess is usually caused by several piles of things that all belong to the same project, so that doesn’t bother me. There still will be a creep of random bits of fabric or pattern pieces that get shoved to the corners of the studio, however, so every once in a while I’ll have to stop and do a big clearing up session. This invariably happens right after my Christmas quilting projects are done!
Stitching up multiples of anything can be scary–when you’re in the midst of it you feel like you’ve been working forever with nothing to show for it; but then, all of a sudden you’ve got five or 10 completely finished items, and that’s exciting! I hope I’ve given you a couple of tips that will help you find time to make some handmade gifts for your loved ones!
Now that you have Candy’s tips, you’ll want to download her new eBook, Create Handmade Gifts for All: 18 Projects for Everyone on Your List. It’s full of easy handmade gifts for quilters and sewists.
P.S. Share your best tip for making gifts in quantity in the comments section below.