The Free Motion Quilting Project: WANTED: A project I can finish in 1 hour or less

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

WANTED: A project I can finish in 1 hour or less

I love quilting, but I'm getting really sick of huge projects that take up multiple months, or now YEARS, of my life. I need more speed!

Lately I've been waking up at six, quilting solidly until 10, and when I look down at what I'm working on, I don't see much progress, or at least not as much as I'd expect for four hours of work.

And because I have so many huge projects in progress, all I have to do is glance around my sewing room and find another monster on the floor, or on the shelf, or under the table, all waiting for me to work on them too. Progress on one project never feels like progress because there's so many other projects competing for my attention.

Finally this morning I slept in. Those projects can all go hang themselves. I need to reduce my stress, calm down, and refocus.

When I finally got up, I decided to make our favorite breakfast: Toad in the Hole. This is how you do it:
  • Melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a flat skillet on medium heat.
  • Place a piece of bread on top and let it get toasted and buttery on one side.
  • When perfectly toasted and crisp, flip the bread over and cut out a circle on one side with a cookie cutter.
  • Put more butter in the hole in the bread, then crack an egg into the hole as well.
  • Let the egg cook on one side until you mostly see white all around the yolk.
  • Flip the bread and egg over and cook from the other side. It's done when all the white is cooked, but the yolk is still runny.
  • Serve with salt and pepper and use a knife to cut up your bread and dip it in the egg yolk. YUM!
All told, this takes around 5 minutes to make and while I'm making it I usually make a cup of tea, think about my day, drink some orange juice, and clean up the kitchen.

Today I realized halfway through cooking Josh's egg that this is the perfect project: it's fast, simple, constructive, and delicious. Of course cooking is the one thing I usually stop doing whenever I'm stressed out.

But on further reflection, maybe cooking should be the one thing I always do when stressed and overwhelmed. It gives an instant gratification I can't get any other way because it's a project I can start, work on for 1 hour or less, finish easily, and then sit down and EAT.

I still don't have a solution for feeling better about my monster projects. They are as big and overwhelming as ever, but at least today I'm heading into the studio well rested and well fed.

Let's go cook!



  1. I always make a pincushion when I wish to make something fast. And I often use selvages for that. If I like to do something else than quilting, I make bread. Good luck with all your projects!

  2. Good for you Leah! Last year I found myself working so much I was actually making myself sick. When what you enjoy becomes more of a burden then a pleasure it is time to walk away from it for a while. I know you've built up a good thing for yourself, what with you blog, books, Craftsy classes, and so much more. But at the beginning of the year you wanted to take more time for you and your family. You have to know that you can - and SHOULD - walk away from those big projects. Do something new and completely unrelated to quilting for a couple of days. Take a break. Cook. Whatever it is that is NOT quilting. You'll find yourself renewed and ready to accomplish some things.

  3. I have been having fun making patchwork bags. The make great gift bags, and this seems to be the season of baby showers.

  4. Large UFO's are a pain. I have a counted cross stitch that is roughly 15"x20"(i think). I have been working on this for at least 5 years. I have a system where I work on whatever I want to and change projects depending on mood and location. Where my 2 hand quilting projects really need a bed to work on, the counted cross stitch is much more portable. Cooking works well as a break from crafting. My thing I need to work on is I often have so many things going that I feel stopping to eat is a waste of productive time.

  5. My 7 year old niece told me that it's really gopher in a hole...cause they live in the ground and frogs live in water! I recently needed a card...and made it out of Fabric! !! Took about an hour and came out better than I wanted.

  6. Oh Leah.... I laughed out loud when I read your title! I get it, know that feeling and hope you can accomplish finishing more projects in your near future! May it be of some encouragement to you, because of your efforts in teaching all of us in blogland, your efforts have helped us start, and sometimes finish, monster projects of ours! So although you don't get to handle our quilts, you may add those to your list of finishes dear one :)

  7. American toad in the hole is very different to English toad in the hole, wich is yorkshire pudding with sausage in it. Your version sounds a bit quicker to cook and just as nice. My favorite way to de-stress is to clean up an old sewing machine, at the moment I am working on an 1890's husqvarn machine.

    1. I thought 'toad in the hole for breakfast? Americans are mad!' Lol says me as I get up at six thirty am to pop some chicken in the oven. :-)

  8. Sounds delicious!

    I have decided to master big projects, By turning the smaller steps into mini-projects. I just finished 9 types of log cabin blocks using 1 3/4" strips to make (craziness here) a king sized top. Each block style became a mini-project so I could feel I "finished" something. I am now sewing together the top in quarters - each is a mini quilt. Good luck with all of the UFO pile is calling.

  9. Good for you...we all need breaks now and then to re-focus ourselves.

  10. Great time of year to make some quilted Christmas ornaments or mug rugs or coasters. Even some needlecases or other small items that you might want for friends and family as the holidays approach.

  11. Lol that's not what we called toad in the hole, but yours is definitely quicker. My brother in law, Dangerous Wayne, made a painting using a Tupperware box as a template called 'scotch egg' and I always think it would make a great quilt. Maybe egg based projects are the way forward!

  12. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets frustrated over the amount of work these things can turn out to be. :) It's always good to take some time out.

  13. I'm in week 3 of my Summer Art Camp. Watercolor, Collage, and Acrylic paint. I'm loving how amazingly fast all this is going. I did have a little issue with the paint today not drying fast enough so I got out the hair dryer.

    Paint is my easy fast something I can do for a quick pick me up. I could sew something small, but I love being off my machine for my break. Find your niche and go with it.

  14. Hm, an hour? I think you are going to have to quilt a coaster for that! I always go to a bag or purse between big projects - cos I have QADHD.
    Toad in the hole is something totally different in UK. I can't remember what we call your toasty eggy things, but toad in the hole is sausages in yorkshire pudding batter in England!

  15. This morning, just for fun, I took my little scraps, I mean "little scraps", about 1/2" - 3/4" wide. To join them, I placed them side overlapping them a little and stitched them together (on top) using a simple decorative stitch. It was such fun! No 1/4" seams and no pressing! Within a few minutes I ended up with a STRONG piece of fabric the size of a pot holder! The pieces I used were leftovers from a quilt kit, so all fabric blended together nicely! Now I'm checking my trash cans to see if I can find more of these little guys! BTW, I just watched Leah's new video, "How to Create A Scrappy Mix of Colors". You can watch it in "1 "Hour or Less"! It's great!

  16. I have been on a hiatus from sewing. We had to put down our black lab in March and let me tell you....that has been the worst thing I have ever done in my life. It's like I lost a child! She was only 11 years old and it's been 5 months and I still cry. I can't seem to get my sewing groove back on....until now. My daughter is due with her baby in December and now the "small" projects list is coming in from her. I have a couple of tree skirts that need finishing, but I will get to those! "sound familiar". Leah, I have always admired your quilts and lessons. Keep them coming!!!

  17. Dear Leah, your topic makes me think of something that I have been working on all my life...balance. It is so interesting to think about doing something that we love can also make us feel out of balance. As a working, quilting, mom and soon to be grand mom, as soon as I feel stressed or pressured doing something that I love (quilting), like you and the others that have commented, I cook, garden read, take a walk, do something different. Then, of course, back to crafting!

  18. I thought I would share a simple, quick recipe I from one of my favorite recipe books "The Formula: A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program." I use recipes from this book because they are so good, not just because I want to eat diet food.

    Mexican Pizza

    3- 7" or 8" Flour Tortillas
    6 T. Pizza Sauce
    2/3 c. Mozzarella Cheese,shredded (part skim)
    1/3 c Mozzarella Cheese, Nonfat, shredded
    3 T. Green Chilies, diced
    4 1/2 oz.Cooked Chicken Breast, cubed
    6 Black Olives, sliced (use a egg slicer for quick slicing).

    Microwave tortillas for a minute or two and turn over and microwave until crisp. Brush on pizza sauce.
    Add chicken, olives and cheese. Place back in microwave to melt cheese. Cut pizza's w/pizza cutter or scissors. (Optional: Add sliced bell peppers, onions or whatever you want, create your own versions). These are delicious and filling. I freeze flour tortillas and buy several jars of pizza sauce at a time, so I always them on hand for a quick meal. Enjoy!


  19. Take a look at this zentangle post:

    I tried it out Zentangle and kept thinking about this post the whole time. I'm digging it a lot. :)

  20. Hello Leah, so awesome that you love to cook too. My kids call that dish "eggs in a basket" and it is one of their favorites. When I am feeling like I need a project I can finish in an hour or less, I usually do crafts with one or many of my great nieces or nephews. I have 6 of them all within 15 minutes of my house. Although I usually get all 6 of them at once and we do something awesome like finger paining or making mud pies the entire project will typically take an hour with cleanup and dropping them back off at their parent's houses. Hanging out with little kids is a great way to find new inspiration. I have used many of their finger paintings to inspire very awesome quilting projects.

    I love your work and I look forward to reading more soon.

    Arts and Crafts Crazy, Carla


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