2018 Final Countdown, Task One

Posted on December 29, 2018 by prairiemoonquilts in Challenges, Organizing, Studio Organizing Challenge

I hope you’re ready for our first task of this year’s Final Countdown!

If you’ve been reading along or following me on Instagram this year, you can probably guess what our first task is:

Clean off your main work surface

Here’s the current state of mine:

I’ve been working on this one ALL year, and I haven’t gotten it completely clean even one time. In fact, here’s a photo of it from January 1, 2018:

A few months ago, I got out a notepad, and made a list of exactly how many projects are laying ON the cutting table, and it was 41 — an outrageously ridiculous number.

I updated the list after taking today’s photo, and the number is now 44 — and it’s not the same ones that were on there before — a lot of the original 41 projects have been finished and moved on, but evidently, I cannot control myself when it comes to piling more on the table!

I so badly want to start the year off with this table clean. And to be able to keep it that way. That’s why this is our first task — it’s very important to me (even tho that’s not very obvious!), so I can only assume that a clear work surface is important to all of you, too.

I know it makes for better productivity, way less time spent looking for things, and the ability to keep a current project on track without losing parts of it in the pile. Plus, just having room to spread out a piece of fabric to cut it without having to move 20 other things will be like a breath of fresh air for me!

How’s yours? Is yours piled this badly? Or maybe not quite this badly, but it needs some help?

This is our one last chance to get it whipped into shape before 2019 begins, and I sure want to start out with a clean slate cutting table — how about you?

Now, you can use whatever rules you want to as you clear off your chosen surface, but here is the main rule I’ve established for myself while I’m clearing mine (which has partially contributed to my being unable to get it cleared off before now):

The items I remove must have a logical new home to go to. I can’t just move them into another pile that will only have to be dealt with later (even tho the procrastinator me would LOVE to do that).

So . . . I know I have my work cut out for me. Am I alone on this one? Or will some of you (all of you?) be just as busy as I am trying to complete this task?

My goal is to be able to show you a beautifully clear cutting table very soon! I tried to make a slide show for you, but I couldn’t get that to work, so instead, today on InstaGram, I’m going to post some photos of my cutting table throughout the year, so you can see the progression of the mess — or actually, the NON-progression is what I should call it, so if you’re on IG, go check that out to see my complete year-long mess.

Good luck to all of us as we tackle Task One!

As My Cowboy would say: “Get at it!”

39 responses to “2018 Final Countdown, Task One”

  1. Shirley Guier says:

    I HAD to clean before Christmas. My cutting table was so bad that I had created a new cutting area on the table I pin quilts on. I had totally lost it. When I finally found the bottom it was such a good feeling. Mine wasn’t from projects in progress as much as leftovers from finished projects. Some was 2 years old!

  2. Virginia Smith says:

    At this moment it is almost clear and has been clear just recently. But I have the advantage or is it disadvantage that I have recently moved and my sewing/quilting area is still not fully functional. In addition to that I had several months that I could not even sew because of breaking my arm.

    • Virginia Smith says:

      Must all to my comment . At this time only one project was on the table as I just finished curtains for my Son and wife for their show trailer as a Christmas present. That is now back in the box and the cutting table is set to go.

  3. Tonia says:

    Hello friends! What a great way to start! The “logical new home” presents an interesting point–since I am not always logical at all, or when I am working toward a self imposed finishline for a summer project, I would not take time out for spontaneous creativity on a project that has been swirling in the corners of my mind for weeks……ah well. Looking forward to a cleaned off work space!

  4. Janet M Smith says:

    My main work area looked a lot like yours only smaller 36 x 36. I had a 3×5 space I was using to trim HST. But now it is spotless, thank you very much, and I have had a shower, and I believe I will cut something bigger than a 2 1/2″ square. Good idea, Shelley. What’s next?

  5. Sharon says:

    I tend to pile things around the edges of my cutting mat, too, and then it starts encroaching on the mat. Recently it had been cleaned off, but then I started piling on scraps to make small projects for our guild sewing emporium at the quilt show. It was so bad that I had to lay a quilt top lengthwise to trim it. I seldom use a 24″ ruler, but I certainly can’t use it when there is such a mess. It will get cleaned again today. Thank you.

  6. Gramapama says:

    My work table has become a
    Pile Table. I need help. Good idea
    to find the right place instead
    of creating another place

  7. Wendy says:

    My cutting table is actually a top made to fit on our small chest freezer, so I have to keep it clean to be able to access the freezer! However, my catch-all spot is the top of an antique dresser that holds all of my fat quarters and pre-cuts, etc. in its drawers. I’d like to keep the top clear and nicely decorated, but it’s where I pile all the stuff I don’t want to put away while I’m in the midst of creating. We’ll see if I can remedy that with this sewing room renov!

  8. KT says:

    My work area got all cleaned up for Christmas since we had guests, but I can’t say that everything got put away in a logical place! I did organize everything as I put it into boxes to store away for the holidays. I don’t like to put the fabrics away until I’ve finished the project, and I’ve got too many projects in the works!

  9. Suelynn Williams says:

    I relate completely. Maybe that is what draws me most to your challenge – feeling I am not alone – and knowing how good it would feel if everything had its own place other than on my one big flat surface! I think taking a before and after picture will be very motivating for me! Even a houseplant has made its home on one end of my table.

  10. Sandra Famuliner says:

    I have a limited work area since I see in a dormer window. I have an antique school desk which sits beside my sewing table so I have a current block and a pile of leaders and enders on my table. Everything else is in totes in the closet. Now, my closet isn’t in the best of shape.

  11. Sandra Famuliner says:

    I have a limited work area since I sew in a dormer window. I have an antique school desk which sits beside my sewing table so I have a current block and a pile of leaders and enders on my table. Everything else is in totes in the closet. Now, my closet isn’t in the best of shape.

  12. Christi Bentley says:

    Just got my cutting table cleaned! I had almost forgotten what it looked like. All those leftover pieces of fabric are put away in the correct color bins! It makes me want to start something new!

  13. Randy says:

    will do.. won’t even put it on the floor lol

  14. Jane says:

    Great idea Shelly
    Sounds doable AND I’ll only focus on my sewing table for now. Also without the stack(s) shifting to another location is a wonderful preamble to start the new year.

  15. Tia says:

    Because I have cats that like to lay wherever they should not lay, I cannot leave anything on my working spaces. Instead, everything is placed on one of 6 bookshelves or 4 cubby shelves. Then the cutting table is covered with a fitted sheet and my sewing cabinet is covered with 3 baby-sized quilts. This allows the cats to lay on my surfaces without getting anything dirty.

  16. Sandra B says:

    I sew in a very small space carved out at one end of my laundry room. However, it works quite well for me as I am predominately a hand piecer and hand quilter, so I am not in there a lot. My cutting table is also the table where my sewing machine lives, so it is pretty important to keep the table as neat as possible. Is it always neat? NO!!! But, I do try to keep it as clear as possible so that when I do need to cut something, or use the sewing machine, I do not have to waste time cleaning up before I can get to the task at hand.
    Good luck in your quest to clean off your cutting table!

  17. I”m going to try this again. Last year I did miserably. It’s like doing dishes – there are always some to wash even with a dish washer to help. I do them every night because if I don’t, and I get up in the morning and have to face them, I go back to bed and cover my head with the blankets. Here’s to better results during this final countdown.

  18. Louise says:

    I had a head start on this one. My sewing room is also the guest room and we have guests in the room for a month. So, I had to clean it up. It will even stay clean for the whole month our guests are here. 😊

  19. Amanda M. says:

    My main surface is also my kitchen table where my 2’X3′ cutting mat lives so the quilting stuff got moved for Christmas and then everything from the mail to groceries to my coffee thermos to fabric got piled back on. However, today I did get the table found and everything dealt with!! Best part is I have found some motivation to work on some projects!

  20. Carol says:

    Ok this is not a problem for me. I don’t even have a work table up. I have not been sewing for a while. I’m excited about the count down….trying to get back into the sewing habit!

  21. Emma says:

    Ooh, this is a good one for me. I’ve moved my sewing space/desk into my bedroom to make room for stuff for the kids downstairs and need to keep it relatively clean. Plus it’s also my computer desk so…gotta be able to do everything on it!

    I’ve been in a bit of a sewing funk, not much quilting going on. But this year I finished up a longstanding UFO (Advent calendar Christmas ornaments for their children…who are now grown…yikes), made 4 tablecloths for my table, and have FINALLY gotten back into working on making some quilts again. Only one project out right now! I did clear off some of the non-quilting clutter though. I can see my desk (well, somewhat…) again!

  22. Pam Chinn says:

    Well I have to say task one is a perfect choice for me! And it is amazing for it to be given on the very day one of my daughters came to help Mom clear up some clutter. we worked on my cutting area and tables where the sewing machines set. I found small rulers I had been looking for!!! We took all the scrap pieces from various projects and got them all in one tote! Will be great to pull from that for string quilt blocks! I am so so excited to actually see the whole cutting table top instead of working on just one half of it because the other half was so covered! Anxious to see what your next task is!!! Thank you for the challenge!

  23. Cathy Poyner says:

    Task one Complete. Pictures on Facebook. I had about 5 projects on my cutting table. 39 projects in progress to start 2019.

  24. Diane Jarvis says:

    Thankfully my sewing area/cutting is a small area so it didnt take long! But I feel so good that I can start cutting the sashing to put my nephews wedding quilt together!!

  25. Cathy Wight says:

    I don’t have a cutting table, but the top of an island area in my kitchen serves that function so is usually fairly cleaned off. I tend to pile ‘stuff’ on the back of my long arm when no quilt loaded so that was my project today. It is now cleaned off and ready to load the next quilt. 😄

  26. Karrin Hurd says:

    I cleaned several areas up today

  27. Deanna says:

    Task one complete! It has really helped this year to have a table as a work surface. My space is much easier to keep tidy.


  28. Diane says:

    Oh my goodness! this is my work-cutting table. I just can’t seem to keep it cleaned off. Every once in a while I get it a third cleaned off and am sooo proud of myself, but alas, it dosen’t last. What to do, what to do??????

  29. Nancy says:

    Nice to see that I am in good company as far as “sewing room clutter” goes. Sounds as if most stitchers would rather be surrounded by their projects than have a showcase sewing room that looks like it’s never been used!
    Here’s to a creative, productive 2019, everyone!

  30. Joan L Ferguson says:

    I found my sewing table this morning! A couple of UFO’s are still on the table–I am pondering how to finish them so I keep them close for when inspiration strikes!

  31. Meloney says:

    Well, I have lots of surfaces to tackle. I blogged about it here: https://melsquiltingblog.blogspot.com/2018/12/end-of-year-challenge.html
    I think flat surfaces bring things to cover them. They don’t like to be seen, I’m sure of it.

  32. I had cleaned the table for Thanksgiving, but it is now piled all over again. I’ll work on clearing it now.

  33. Judy Smith says:

    Cleaned off the cutting table today. I know I’m a day late, but I’m caught up now.

  34. Krista Baker says:

    Task #1 is a great place to start. Yesterday my sewing area was full of Christmas decorations and the remains of the last several sewing projects I have been working on. First thing I did was sort and box the Christmas stuff! Today I am moving the boxes into their proper storage place.
    I am looking forward to moving on to my sewing projects. Want to get them all tidy and ready to start Task #2.
    Shelly, I love how you can get us motivated!

  35. Marsha Y. says:

    Thanks for your challenge, Shelly! I had cleaned before Christmas, but have been cutting pieces for a new quilt and my work area suddenly started to become very cluttered again. It took me a couple of hours, but I finished organizing and cleaning. It looks so good, that I almost don’t want to start cutting and trimming blocks as I know it will look messy again.

  36. Katie Z. says:

    I lucked out on this one. In preparation for 6 more people in our house for Christmas, I had cleaned up everything but the scrap bucket. I wrapped that up in 20 minutes, and now I’m clean!

  37. Stephanie says:

    Oooh, an easy one for me. I have two main work surfaces, and both of them are currently in pretty good shape (a rare ocurrence!) Mainly due to having to clean them both off for a) present wrapping, and b) company coming to eat.
    I will admit to wanting a lot of the stuff I see on yours though …

  38. Karen says:

    Task one is complete and it’s so nice to have room again to cut and fold large pieces of fabric. I was down to just a small surface area to work on. Feels great to have this done.

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