Plan Your Quilts with this Foolproof Guide

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #quiltingtutorial

Today on the blog I have a foolproof 4-step guide that will help you plan your quilts this year. Planning and list-making is not my natural instinct. I'm usually more of a "go with the flow and see where the day takes me" kind of person. But let me tell you, that is not a recipe for productivity. A clear plan really is the best way to maximize creativity and feel freedom to have fun!

Where I live (Chicago), this time of year the days are short, my walks with Scrappy are extremely cold, and overall productivity is at an all-time low. This season is my time to fill up on all of the cozy foods and warm myself underneath the stacks of quilts I spent last year sewing.

But, when you’re cuddled up wearing two pairs of stretch leggings and fur-lined slippers, it can be a challenge to sew. Honestly, it can be a challenge to just get out of bed, so sewing really gets kicked down the priority list. I have a trick though, my fellow quilters. It’s even a trick you can mostly do from bed (You’re already sold. I can tell.)

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #quiltingtutorial

Plan your quilts. This is the time of year to hatch plans for all of the wonderful things you’re going to make in the future and you don’t even have to sit at a sewing machine to do it. You can force your partner/child/neighbor to build you a fire and concoct your grandiose quilt plans while curled up a fat quarters distance from the hearth. 

This entire post is based around a formula I created in college. Each of the 4 steps are equally important so you can't skip one and expect good results. Ready?

Plans = Lists = Success = Rewards

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #sewingtutorial

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This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #babyquilt

The quilt above is the Tail Feather pattern. Get it here!

Step 1: Plan Your Quilts

According to my quilt equation, plans eventually equal rewards. I’m a believer in rewarding oneself as often and as lavishly as possible. So know that whatever “work” you do in this step, you’ll be rewarded nicely for it. But first, we must plan.

If there was a hard part to my “being productive while snuggling in bed” trick, it would be Step 1, the actual planning. In this phase I’m going to take you on a journey. A visualization journey. Lean back against those soft pillows, place a pad of paper and pen next to you, relax your legs, arms and jaw (I don’t really know why you should relax your jaw, but my yoga teachers always tell me to do that. Maybe I’m a jaw clencher. Don’t be a jaw clencher.)

Think about all of the people in your life that you love. Granny B for giving the best hugs, Aunt Judy for always liking your Instagram posts, your next door neighbor Shelley, for buying you coconuts at the Korean market that one time.

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #babyquilt
This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #babyquilt

Is your heart full of love and gratitude? Perfect. As you come up with names, start writing them down on your pad of paper. Don’t worry about keeping things in order. You can actually just scribble names down in all directions at this point.

Once you have a handful of names, close your eyes again. No peeking. Oh, and relax that jaw. I want you to think about 3 things: 1. A quilty project you have made before that was a lot of fun. 2. A quilt pattern you have recently seen and want to try. 3. A sewing technique you don’t know how to do.

That’s it. Now you’re ready for Step 2...

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #quiltingtutorial

Step 2: Turn those Plans into Lists

Step 2 is simply organizing your scribbles from Step 1. The key here is to keep all of that fuzzy love and gratitude in your heart and NOT let any sense of timeline, deadlines or anxiety creep into your head.

If at any point you look at your list of people and think, “Oh dear, I better scramble out of bed and get busy!” You’re missing a key element of this guide. I’m helping you be productive while snuggling in bed. Keep those covers pulled up and stay relaxed. You can get up in Step 4.

With each person on your list in mind, think about their home, personality and, ahum, how much you love them. Do you throw-quilt love them? Or small-tote-bag love them? Maybe Granny B has been complaining about her old ratty placemats. Looks like a set of new placements and possibly some applique are in your future! Lucky for you I have a free tutorial 😉

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #quiltingtutorial

Step 3: Success!

Congrats! You did it! You successfully did months of planning while nestled snugly in the comfort of a pile of quilts. By Step 3 not only have you spread loving, positive thoughts out into the world, you have also created a concrete list of people who will be getting quilts and an idea of what those quilts will be.

Step 4: Give Yourself a Reward

Time to treat yourself! Although you may not feel like you worked hard, you got a lot accomplished. It’s time to give yourself a reward. Maybe a nap? Or an episode of The Great British Baking Show? How about a cookie, a show, then a nap. Technically three rewards, but you earned it.


Next time you catch yourself feeling undermotivated, overwhelmed, or even just tired, I encourage you to pull back the covers, crawl into bed and plan your quilts for the next few months. I promise you'll end up feeling more cheerful.

This 4-step guide will help you plan your quilts this year and maximize your productivity! A clear plan is the best way to have fun and get creative. suzyquilts.com #quilting

27 thoughts on “Plan Your Quilts with this Foolproof Guide

  1. Velma Feyes says:

    I am 65 and on disability. Want to start machine quilting. Can you recommend an inexpensive sewing machine that does a good job?

    • Judy D Zedalis says:

      Brother would be my favorite from Walmart. $125. It’s a work horse. I am sad I lent mine out and never got it back. But I invested in a quilt machine finally. I got it really cheap in eBay from a sewing dealership. $700 was my winning bid. Original price was$4500. Craigslist is also a good place to look for used ones. But for sure have them demonstrate then before you buy. Watch YouTube videos on how to clean and oil your machine. How to do tension. Those are the Biggie’s. Well maintained it will last you a lifetime.

    • Jacqui says:

      You will definitely need a 1/4 inch seam foot for piecing accurately, and if you are going to quilt your projects you will need a walking foot for your machine. Get the ones that are made by the manufacturer to go with the particular machine that you buy. Don’t skip these purchases or you will find it very difficult to quilt without them, especially if you are a first time quilter.

    • Carol-Ann Rogers says:

      I wasn’t sure I would like quilting when I began at 60 years old. I bought a simple Brother machine at Walmart, for about 70 dollars. Two years later, I’ve made 8 quilts, and my machine is still working fine. I’ve only used it for piecing, though I plan to try machine quilting this summer. Hope this helps.

    • Betty says:

      I know I’m coming late to this conversation, but my advice would be to go to a quilt shop and look at used machines. Many folks who buy expensive machines trade them in after a couple years for the latest model…just like folks who won’t drive a two-year-old car! A good used machine will be far more satisfying than a cheap WalMart machine.

    • Sharon says:

      I have had Brother machines for a long time, one $49 from Walmart’s,which is good,but don’t have a lot of extra bells and whistles.Great beginner machine.If you can afford between $250. To 450$ you can get a Great Brother with lots of good things. Thread cutter , needle,threader,too many too mention. I’m telling you from experience. I have a Janome that I love with all the bells and whistles. I would buy a Brother if I hadn’t already bough this Janome.I sure hope this helps you.

    • Nancy says:

      Consider a vintage machine such as a singer 301. They are super reliable. You can maintain them yourself with help from a tutorial or you tube. They are a favorite among quilters who travel. You will never regret this purchase. Check out on eBay or used site.

  2. Dolly Bradley says:

    Im 64 n arthrists n am deaf of 2 daughters n now im 3 great grandkids 1 boy n 2 girls n i love quilting since i was 15 n helped w my mother in 1970 thru now! I still make nice quilts n alot of fabrics ! Even i make few jackets n sweaters for my dogs ! And sleepers n wghts quilt will finish soon! For my great granddaughter is 2 has austim! 2 daughters can sew like me! I have bought new brother sewing machine w 72 stitches n 32 foots i love them! I even made me quilting coat too !
    I hope everyone enjoy n have fun with sewing! May God blesses ya’ll! Smiles!

  3. Patricia says:

    I am so glad for this article. I am like you. I have ready so many organizations and list. They all are too detailed for me. I like you simple and short suggestions.

  4. Beverley says:

    Hi Suzy! I need your advice on what color of thread I should use on my colorful quilt( it’s for my colorful 6 yrs grandson). It has all the super heroes color in it. I plan to machine quilt it & I would rather not have to change thread color every time. Any suggestion you can give me will be very appreciated.

    • Jess says:

      I would use yellow. I’m planning a super hero quilt for my friend’s baby and i’m going use yellow. It blends well but is also visible without being in your face. Yellow or white would work too. 🙂

  5. Alyson Ray says:

    Great article! I always have so many ideas…that I get lost. This is helpful! I love all of your color combos you use in the steps! May I ask in the first photo what the turquoise blue is that looks like is a herringbone. And the one in the same pic that looks sort of bumpy???? I love the textures you put in your quilt! Thanks Suzy!!

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Thank you! That first one is Robert Kaufman Shetland flannel in ocean⁣⁣ and the second may be harder to find. I got it from Cottoneerand it’s called Elemental Woven Square Peg in mediterranean⁣⁣. I believe it’s made by Diamond Textiles.

  6. Claudia says:

    I liked this article. Taking time to really focus on each person and dream about the perfect project for them and then set the plan in motion is a great goal! A goal for 2020…start early, Christmas is only 12 months away!,

  7. Miriam says:

    Okay, now that you have a baby (my third is about to turn 1)–any tips on managing mom life AND finding more than 20-minute snippets to sew??? I’m hoping quilt planning from bed (I’m headed there now while the two little ones are napping, thanks for the idea!!) will motivate me to get back on the horse 🤞🏽

    • Suzy Quilts says:

      Let me tell you that finding time to do anything for yourself is hard. I’ve recently hired a sitter to come over a couple times a week to give me a break. It’s been a wonderful balance because I still get to spend most of my time with Desi, but for 4 hours 2 days a week I can catch up on adult things.

  8. Miriam says:

    Wait wait, one more thing! I just read that you release Desi into the Target book aisle… Next time try the kids section of HomeGoods… I’ve done two hours there with two toddlers on winter days when we just needed OUT. It’s a nice layered mess of toys, so the longer the stay, the more he will discover on the shelves! 👍👍👍

  9. Wendy says:

    I would love to machine stitch a quilt in the cable stitch ( as pictured in the one photo in your article)…Please share how this is done, particularly where the cable line stops and then starts on the other side. Thanks!

  10. Patty says:

    I love this and realized that I kind of do this already. I keep a running list on my desktop of people I want to make a quilt for, and I keep a running list of patterns I want to try. It’s easy to match them up that way. Sometimes I even cut out all the pieces for a quilt and then keep it with the pattern in a 2 gallon ziploc so it’s ready to go when I get time to work. I currently have 3 cut out just waiting for me to finish the one I’m working on now.

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