The Free Motion Quilting Project: Ending the Year with a Clean Slate

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Ending the Year with a Clean Slate

I know it seems odd, but this week between Christmas and New Years is favorite time of the year. It feels like an extra bonus week and I always use this time to finish up old projects so I start the new year with a clean slate.

This year I decided to ramp up my finishing efforts by also adding a massive full craft reorganization to the mix. I pulled out every craft box and bin, every drawer filled with ribbon and floss, every bead box and fat quarter and reorganized the entire lot at once.

I organized my upstairs office / craft room on the floor and decided I'd had enough of a back ache for the rest of the year! When I started cleaning up downstairs, I piled things up on the cutting table so I could stand and sort and that made things much easier.

I ended up having to work in batches - pulling out as many boxes and drawers as would fit on this table, then spreading out the contents to see what was all here and how it could best be organized back in drawers and bins:

This is not a small job! I've been crafting since I was a little girl and have so many different craft interests beyond quilting. I love to spin, knit, crochet, weave and make elaborate costumes. This year I got into leather work and now have a massive stash of leather rivets and tools to organize too.

A few months ago I realized I had lots of bins filled with a disorganized selection of tools, ribbons, and random odds and ends for future costumes I plan to create. It was impossible to find anything quickly and I would often have to pull out three or for bins just to find what I was looking for.

So cleaning everything out was like a massive reset for the entire space. I know exactly what materials I have and where I can find them so it will be easy to pull out the things I need when working on any new projects.

Stop Buying Start Making

Something that started bugging me as I dug through my craft horde was how much of certain things I've purchased. This implies I don't remember what I've bought and rather than go check, or go use what I have on hand, I go shopping instead.

I've written about this before and I've tried to work on it, but it's a habit that has persisted. Rather than go be creative and make something pretty when the urge strikes, I just buy more stuff. That needs to end.

Buying scratches the itch, but doesn't feed my soul. A lot of materials like paints and canvases, I know I haven't used them because I'm afraid of messing them up, or worse, wasting materials.

What's the worst thing about using up some paint, even if the painting is terrible? It gets used so it doesn't go bad and separate! I've had to throw out so many materials and supplies over the last few days that just went bad because they sat in a bin for so long.

What is this space worth?

Dad is always encouraging me to look at the space things take up and think about the impact it has on my business. It's hard to quantify since a lot of this craft stuff is just for fun, not for business or even for video tutorials, but it's still a good thing to think about.

Sometimes this horde of materials and unfinished projects gets in the way of getting our work done and that definitely needs to end.

In the spirit of making the space more usable, I cleaned off my embroidery station and moved my stabilizer hangers. These had been a few feet away, which was okay, but not nearly as convenient for hooping embroidery as they are now.

Ad: You can find these racks right here on I LOVE them for holding the big rolls of embroidery stablizer and it makes it so easy to pull off just the amount you need.

I want to do a lot more with machine embroidery and with this space so nicely cleaned up that will definitely be a possibility.

What have you wanted to do for years?

Another thing I found while cleaning out these three rooms of my house were journals. Journals, journals and more journals! It seemed every room of the house had another stash of journals tucked away in another corner.

I barely skimmed through the pages but what jumped out at me was the lists. The same lists of things I want to teach and share continued in journal after journal, year after year.

This makes me a bit sad. Why have I written essentially the same lists over and over since 2010? It seems I've been wanting to teach a goddess workshop, make patterns of the quilts I've created, and share more creative, artistic techniques, but never taken the steps to make that happen. Sure, I create these projects for myself, but clearly I've been wanting to share them in a different way for a very long time.

It's hard to deny patterns like this. I'm not even sure what's getting in my way exactly, but I want it to change.

So this has been more than just a clean up of physical stuff. I've also been cleaning out my mental stuff too. I've put away all my toys, and all of my works-in-progress except for a few select projects I've decided to focus on.

My goal is to work with more focus and intention and to stop rushing off on tangents. I get curious about a new material or technique and rush off to create a whole project around it, when I should just take a day to experiment and play, then put it away.

I'm done making big messes and feeling constantly disorganized and distracted by all the STUFF around me. Now everything has a place to be put away and I can focus on the things that really matter and the goals I've been wanting to achieve for more than seven years.

So here's to starting the new year on a clean slate!

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. I am the same way. I love all of my crafts but get hung up on using my stashes. What if I mess up? What if I find a pattern that is even more perfect for that fabric,yarn, beads ,etc.? And I find the less I do, the more I buy. Seems counter-intuitive but somehow, I rationalize it as if I'm still "crafting". Crazy, huh?

    I reorganized my sewing space today, also. I hoping the decluttered space will also declutter my brain. Good luck to both of us!!!

  2. Bless you Leah! I really admire you going through all those containers and drawers, and using it as an opportunity to organise your thoughts as well as your things. Happy crafting! Allison

  3. It's nice to meet someone else that has so many hobbies. I knit, crochet, sew, quilt, bead and do some leather work. My husband has been know to give me a hard time about that. He doesn't understand why I don't just stick to one thing. We never know how much time GOD will give us on this earth. I want to try as many projects as I can. Good job on all that cleaning!

  4. I believe this is a common thread (no pun intended) of us creative's? I find myself in the same predicament....more of everything than I can possibly ever use and such a diverse range of ideas, knitting, jewelry, rug hooking, embroidery, wools, paint, need I go on? You've inspired me Leah, I'm going to narrow it down & focus. NO new purchases....Oh wait, that might be too extreme 🙄

  5. UGH!!! I so totally empathize with you. I, like you, have many interests but sadly I had a stroke in 2011 AND I, like you again, finish my year making sure my "house" is in order to start fresh. Sadly I realize with my limitations I REALLY will never be able to do some of those things again. A dear friend who shared my tears as we discussed the fact that almost 7 years after the stroke the odds are I will not ever be able to do them again. So she suggested I look for a 4H or Girl Scout group to donate them to and maybe she could even help me teach a class on some of them. It takes two hands to crochet, knit, and because it was on the left side of my brain it impacted my dominate side and left me with a tremor. Even doing hot fix crystals has become a side line because I haven't found a work around for it. I loved the fact that I had a youth ministry for girls and this was a way I could still help. So maybe if you find yourself selecting a few things you like and deciding to not pursue others you too might give some girls a hand up that might not be able to find materials or afford them. It instills such confidence with them when they learn to hand embroider (something else I have had to set aside), or needle punch, or perhaps even work with tin. BUT THANKS TO YOU I will be able to continue my beloved charitable quilting!!! I will not be able to hand quilt but I have learned how to machine quilt BECAUSE OF YOU!!! You taught me to give myself permission to not be perfect (yes I was like that once upon a time) and now that imperfection in my quilting simply makes it unique. Since "reverse sewing" is difficult for me as well - it was a breath of fresh air to be able to say "oops" and keep going forward. I thank you for that. May God bless you, your family and your business! I have followed you almost from the start of your journey. THANK YOU for what you have created that has helped not just me but I am sure many others.

  6. I am so impressed with your efforts and share the need to dig through the "stuff" and put it in order. End of year/beginning of year is a great time to regroup with sewing and craft things. I'm on it!

  7. I have been going through my crafting, sewing, knitting, weaving and embroidery things also for the last 3 months. I am at an age where I am downsizing. We have also repainted the hall and complete kitchen. So all my kitchen is spread in my living room and sewing room. The carpets and flooring are stripped. New flooring is acclimating and we will be taking a vacation till the middle of January then finish and do the living room and main bath. Then we will start on our oldest son's home getting it ready to rent. His widow moved to another state so we got the house back. Hopefully in the spring we can build a building to store my fabric and I will be off sewing again. Here is to a wonderful 2018 and lots of projects finished.

  8. I just finished my last project for 2017 and promptly took my machine to the sewing center to have it serviced. Will now work on organizing my space while it is gone and out of my eye sight. I, too am easily distracted and need to focus on getting UFO's done and delivered to those loved one's that I am making them for. Here's to 2018!!!

  9. This must be the time for organizing. Yesterday I cleaned my fabric room.(I have my mom's 1953 Pfaff in a cabinet there) Today I cleaned more and found patterns I thought I had lost or whatever. I had a blast going through my fabric and oh and awe over it, but also realized that except for batting and needed notions I need to go No Buy 2018.


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