How to stay organised: 7 top tips for kitchen-table quilting   Quilters are notorious hoarders of fabric and notions. And more fabric. You can never have enough and it all sparks joy. Yet, not every quilter can dedicate a whole room of their house to creating. Most use the kitchen table and jostle for space with dinners, homework and all the other household stuff that ends up there.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image by  Mikey Reed   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


              You might be surprised how many quilters work from the kitchen table. You might be amazed how many quilting businesses are run from the kitchen table. Take American modern quilting phenomenon Meghan Buchanan of  Then Came June . Meghan has built a successful quilt pattern business from her small home in Portland, Oregon which she shares with her husband and little son. She stores her fabric stash and materials in wardrobes in the couple’s bedroom and sews and works from their dining table. She regularly shares her home/sewing space over on  Instagram  and it’s really inspiring to see how she does it. Then there’s English Paper Piecing designer and Sewing Quarter presenter  Jenny Jackson  ( @hashtagsew on Instagram ) who has created a quilting corner in the bay window of her flat’s living in Brighton.   When we moved to our current home, I switched from quilting at the dining table to a corner of a room. I had my own table – an  Ikea Melltorp  – and my sewing machine and cutting mat had a permanent home. I felt very lucky. Over time, I gradually took over the entire room! It now hosts  regular workshops  where I teach beginners everything they need to know to make their own patchwork quilts by hand. I still sew my own projects in that same corner, on the same table. Overall, I still have the same amount of space for my own personal projects.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Image by  Mikey Reed   
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


              If you’re quilting from a small space, organisation is key. Packing up projects in a hurry so you can serve dinner can cause havoc with your neat piles of patchwork pieces. You don’t have to go the full KonMari method, but a few flexible storage “solutions” can make all the difference. As can some guidelines (no rules!) to keep you in check. Here are the ones I swear by:   One:   Cut one, piece one, quilt one   I try to keep to three work in progress quilts at any one time*. This is pretty restrained by quilting standards so adjust it to suit you: cut two, piece two, quilt two is just as good! It’s not unheard of for quilters to rack up 15-20 WIPs. Personally, I would hyperventilate at 10 and in a small space it would be almost impossible to keep track. So, I try to keep to a limited number of projects, at difference stages of the process to keep me interested and so as not to overwhelm my space.     *Disclaimer: I currently have 7 work in progress quilts on the go, including a commission. Do as I say, quilters, not as I do!!              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               Two: Projects stored together, stay together    Sarah Ashford  (who could give Marie Kondo a run for her money with her beautifully organised sewing space in Somerset) creates  project pouches  in A4 and A3 sizes which are genius for organising patchwork pieces. Lettering can be customised and you can choose between different colours and zip charms. They are a genius and inexpensive way to stay in control of your projects.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               Three: A little storage can go a long way   Portable storage like the the  Ikea Raskog trolley  is beloved of quilters and crafters. The three layers of storage can be wheeled to and from wherever you are working and tucked back into a corner or under a table.  There are similar products available from  Hobbycraft  and  John Lewis  if the thought of a trip to Ikea is too much to bear.   Four: Tupperware party   Transparent plastic storage containers are as useful for your sewing space as they are in the kitchen. From individual boxes like mine by  Whambox  from Homebase which I use for colour-coordinating fat quarters, to drawer units like the  Rainbow Storage Towers  from Hobbycraft.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               Five: Shop your stash   If you’re just starting out with quilting you may not have built up your stash of fabric yet. If you already have lots of fabric, use it! When I gave up my job as an NHS Manager to stay at home with my then two-year old second daughter, I no longer had as much disposable income to spend on fabric. My fabric subscriptions had to be cancelled and my open tabs of online shopping baskets had to be closed and forgotten. I turned to my stash. Aside from background fabric – usually Kona White or Snow – it was two years before I really needed to replenish some of my stash. I was amazed!              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


               Six: Swap shop   Swapping and sharing fabric is one of life’s little pleasures. If you’re getting together with crafty friends, take a few fat quarters that you won’t use (be honest!) and see if you can swap for something you’d love to cut into. If you don’t have a local quilt group or aren’t a guild member, shops such as the Village Haberdashery organise swap events  like this one  or you could even arrange your own. Recently two people have donated huge amounts of fabric to me and I couldn’t possibly use it all. So I’ve shared the cast majority with students on my  quilt-a-longs  and quilters who come along to my  monthly ‘quilt club’ sessions .   Seven: Table-top defenders   If you’re using a kitchen table for quilting, you’ll probably want to avoid destroying it! As well as your self-healing mat for cutting with a rotary cutter, think about investing in a table-top ironing board or  pressing mat . These are brilliant space-saving options that are easy to store (under a bed, behind a sofa) and low-effort in terms of setting up your space and putting it away again in a hurry.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              If you sew in a small space, let me know your tips for making it work and staying organised. Comment below!              

 
   
     
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How to stay organised: 7 top tips for kitchen-table quilting

“If you’re quilting from a small space, organisation is key. You don’t have to go the full KonMari method, but a few flexible storage “solutions” can make all the difference. As can some guidelines (no rules!) to keep you in check. Here are the ones I swear by….”

       The story of a quilt: a quilt for keeps   About a year ago I had an idea for a new course. I’d taught lots of beginners how to make patchwork quilts and they had the bug! They wanted to make more and had all the skills but, as brand-new quilters, they also wanted someone to hold their hand. I wanted to find a way to bring new quilters back to quilt school to make something together, to develop their skills with the comfort of some guidance and company.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       My idea was a guided quilt-a-long. A quilt-a-long is a way for quilters to get together in real life or online to make their own versions of the same quilt. Pattern designers regularly host quilt-a-longs online and they are a great way to meet other quilters and make new friends.  My first guided quilt-a-long group got started in April 2018. I chose a star pattern that uses the classic ‘flying geese’ method to make the points of the stars. We used a clever variation whereby the fabric squares used to make the points of the star are smaller than the background fabric (‘the goose’). This means that you don’t have to worry about losing the tips of the star shape when you piece the blocks together – every single block will have eight crisp points and look fantastic.               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              I couldn’t resist quilting-a-long. I planned to make a quilt for our home. I almost always make quilts as gifts and lately most of my quilts were made to demonstrate techniques and finishes to inspire my students. This time I felt like making a quilt for keeps. I decided on a pink and orange colour scheme and pulled all the fat quarters I needed from my stash. I added plenty of Kona white and I was all set to start cutting.  As I made my quilt I added in some extra fabrics here and there – mostly scraps – and played with the blocks a little. I made a few with white stars and patterned backgrounds and others with patterned stars and a contrasting patterned background. Some stars were made from the same fabric, other were a mix of two different fabrics. I made 42 blocks and put them together in a 7x6 layout to make a large single (twin) size quilt.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              On holiday in France!  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Finished in time for an autumn photo shoot  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


       The quilt-a-long was so much fun! Seeing everyone who took part having fun with their fabrics, getting to know each other and gaining confidence as quilters, was amazing. Each quilt was so different and so personal to the maker who made the pattern their own – you could hardly tell that each quilt was essentially the same.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              Can you believe this was made by a new quilter?!  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


              I finished my own quilt using a plain bed sheet as backing, my favourite quilter’s dream cotton wadding and a low-volume patterned binding. I quilted it by hand using my usual Gutermann quilting thread in white and I quilted circles all over it to soften all the points and angles a little. This quilt even came on holiday with us last summer to be finished and I have sweaty memories of trying to quilt it during a heat wave in the Black Forest! It now lives on my eldest daughter’s bed. Until a few months ago my girls shared a room but, now she’s nearly 8, my big girl began to need her own space. The quilt works perfectly with the little red bedside cabinet we made for her, her orange Tripp Trapp chair at her desk and the colourful tub chair that already lived in the spare room.  I’ve made a companion quilt to this one in teals and blues, quilting-a-long with my next group of new quilters and I’ll share that one soon. It’s destined for my little girl’s bed which is painted green.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          
           
              The fabric pull for my next quilt-a-long  
           
          

         
      
       
    

  


              I’m hosting two more quilt-a-long groups starting in the Spring. We’ll use the same pattern because it has proved to be incredibly versatile and spot on for new quilters ready to tackle their first “big” quilt. Most people aim for a throw-size quilt but you can chose to make a larger or smaller quilt – it’s up to you. I make sure you have several months to finish your quilt so you can work at your own pace in between the sessions where we meet to work together at key stages of the process.       

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


      

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
          
             
                  
             
          
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


       Have a look at  my website  for more information and to book if you’d like to join us!

The story of a quilt: a quilt for keeps

About a year ago I had an idea for a new course. I’d taught lots of beginners how to make patchwork quilts and they had the bug! I wanted to find a way to bring new quilters back to quilt school to make something together, to develop their skills with the comfort of some guidance and company. My idea was a guided quilt-a-long……”

       The story of a quilt: making a modern family heirloom   I finished a baby quilt recently and thought I'd share with you why and how I made it.    This one was special to me from the start. A good friend was pregnant after a long while of trying and I wanted to make a quilt for the baby. I don’t need much of an excuse, let’s face it, and I already had fabric set aside with a baby in mind. I even had a pattern ready too: Pow Wow from  Cluck Cluck Sew . I’ve made a few of Allison’s patterns and love them.              

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              I set to work. I’m a stay-at-home mum with a six-year-old at school, a three-year-old at home and a one-year-old business to run in the evenings and weekends so my sewing time is limited. But half an hour here and there plus the occasional evening sewing session and it’s amazing how quickly a patchwork top comes together.               

  

    
       
      
         
          
             
                  
             
          

          

         
      
       
    

  


              When it was time to baste, I chose a single fabric for the back. I usually like to use up what I have and make pieced backs but I found some gorgeous Sam and Mitzi fabric by Lewis and Irene on sale from  Fabric Punk  and, well, that was decided. It was a perfect fit – so cute for a baby quilt and it really complemented the fat quarters I’d chosen from my stash for the patchwork.  Then to quilt. I almost always quilt by hand. I love slow stitching and the excuse to watch TV while I sew! I tend to decide on how I want to quilt once I’ve basted but I was still undecided with this one. I thought to just quilt in the ditch around the arrow-heads but decided in the end to ditch stitch the flying geese sections and add in another chevron in between them. Simple.     


  

  


 
   
    
      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      
    
   

  

 




 
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     In the meantime, my friend had painted a lime feature wall in the nursery so that settled it: green binding! This one made it through the auditions. I always attach my binding to the top of my quilts using my machine and its walking foot and then to the back by hand with an invisible slip stitch. I love  Crazy Mom Quilts’ binding tutorial . I’ve done it so many times now I know it by heart but everything I do comes from Amanda-Jean.  I finished a few days before the baby was due. It was a beautiful frosty morning so I took the quilt off to take photos in a local meadow where the hedgerows were sparkly and white. It worked a treat until I fell over, landed on a hedge stump, ripped a huge hole in the bottom of my leggings and dropped the quilt. Cue a painful (pride and bum) walk of shame back through the village with ruined boots, a muddy quilt and everything hanging out of the back of my trousers!     


  

  


 
   
    
      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      

        

        

        
          
             
               
                 
                      
                 
                
               
             
          

          
        

      
    
   

  

 




 
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     Anyway, the best bit about a baby quilt is always the baby. Little Harriet was born, healthy and happy, and the whole family loved the quilt which was a bonus!

The story of a quilt: making a modern family heirloom

"This one was special to me from the start. A good friend was pregnant after a long while of trying and I wanted to make a quilt for the baby. I don’t need much of an excuse, let’s face it, and I already had fabric set aside with a baby in mind. I even had a pattern ready too!"