No Sewing Machine for a While? Don’t Let Quilting Down Time Get You Down

QuiltNotes Learning Center

Last Updated November 12, 2018

quiltin down timeWhat’s a quilter to do when their sewing machine isn’t available? For many of us there are times when we just can’t get to the machine and sew.  These can be short periods of time or times that can drag out for several years. Here are some ways to make the most of quilting down time.

For me and my husband we are currently between houses. The “new” house is a fixer but we don’t want to move in until the kitchen is finished and that part is getting there. This week we are preparing the current house to put on the market. Here is what my sewing room looks like.

quilting down time

It won’t be set up in the “new” house until the dust clears. All I need now is the iron and ironing board.  Here is what I’m working on now.

quilting down time

This is the king size quilt I am hand piecing. The hexagons are marked and cut using the Brother Scan and Cut. They finish with 1″ sides. This is not English paper piecing. For hand piecing, the only supplies I need are thread, small scissors and thimble. The seams can be pressed at any time. I don’t have the patience to wrap all those little pieces of paper with fabric and my whip stitch is a total disaster. For me, hand piecing is faster and more enjoyable.

Use Your Computer During Quilting Down Time

If you have been following me this year you have probably seen the many articles I wrote as I was beginning this project. Here are some of them:

Marking and Cutting 1″ Hexagons With the Scan and Cut

Hand Piecing Hexagons: No Papers Needed

How to Hand Piece Hexagons – Tutorial with video

Cut Hexagons with Templates

How to Machine Piece Hexagons

Get Organized

Organize your sewing room and projects. Be ready to hit the ground running once you get back to using your machine. As I was packing my sewing room for the move, I found things I forgot I had. I took this time to organize a little and redistribute some things to the universe. Some things were more fun to give away than to pack in a box and move.

Lessons Learned From Projects Half Done

How to Store Quilt Patterns

How to Fold and Store a Quilt

Hunt and Gather Quilt Patterns

One of my favorite things to do is hunt and gather free quilt patterns and ideas for quilts. For this you need a computer with internet connection and your favorite beverage.

Fabric Manufacturers

For free patterns I like to go to the fabric manufacturer’s website. They always have patterns you can download for free. This helps them sell fabric. The fabric requirements for some of these patterns can include fabrics from an entire collection. Often these fabrics are identified by their number, making it difficult to substitute fabrics. However, there are many patterns made from fewer fabrics and patterns for precuts. This is the hunting part. Once you find a pattern you like, download the file. Organize your directories however you like. I have a folder called “Free Patterns”. Inside that folder I have folders for “Strips”, “Squares” and “Fat Quarters” to name a few.


Set yourself up on YouTube. This allows you to save and organize videos to your playlists. Set up playlists of whatever topic you like such as “Machine Piecing Techniques”, “Strip Quilts” and “Hexagons” or whatever interests you. You can make the playlist private if you like. When you find a video you like, look  below the video and to the right for the icon with parallel lines and a plus sign.

quilting down tiime

Hover over that icon to add the video to whatever playlist you have set up.

A channel is a set of videos produced by a person or company. If you like the videos from a channel, you can subscribe to that channel and be notified every time a new video is uploaded to that channel. Here is a link to my channel – Carol Thelen – YouTube. You can see the videos I have uploaded, the playlists I created and subscribe if you like.

Access YouTube from your iPad or computer. Install the app to your phone and have access there as well.


It you haven’t discovered Pinterest I encourage you to give it a try. The idea is that you see an article, tutorial or recipe with pictures and you pin a picture. This creates a link to that article or tutorial on the internet. As with every good idea, lots of people have abused this one. If you see a quilt or food picture you think is an article or recipe, you often are disappointed that it is just a webpage with nothing but ads. Often I can’t even find the pinned picture on the page it is linked to. So sad. but with that in mind, you can still pin pictures for inspiration.

You set up “boards” which are categories of things you like. Some of these can be “Scrap Quilt”, “Rose Gardens” or whatever you like. When you pin a picture, you can tell it which board it goes in. You can create new boards whenever you want.  Here is a link to my Pinterest boards – QuiltNotes on Pinterest.

For more project tutorials and videos:

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