Monday, January 17, 2011

Mise en Place for Quilters

This is what my sewing table looks like right now.  Baby boy quilts, anyone?

I find that life goes more smoothly mise en place, that is, when everything is in place ahead of time.   I started doing this with my cooking, mostly to avoid the inevitable moment when I'm halfway through the cake batter only to realize I've used the last of the vanilla.  Eventually, while watching me go through this slightly OCD routine, my aunt informed me that not only had I not invented the habit, but it was a named and well documented technique. Oh well.

I do it with everyday life.  Now before you go accusing me of being a total control freak, let me say that I don't do it consistently.  I wish.  I have just noticed that when I make the effort, the day seems easier and my mood better and the stars feel as though they've aligned.  Setting up the coffee pot and putting it on "auto" to begin brewing just as my alarm is going off is the best.  Especially when I've taken a few moments to make lunches and get the kids to pack up their books and PE bags and agendas.  When I've got all the laundry not just clean, but put away so no one wakes up on a rainy Monday morning wailing, "I can't find any sooooooocks?"  And when I don't do it?  All I can think is, "Ugh.  Why didn't I?"

When analyzing my UFO pile for my New Year's Resolution post, I finally came to the conclusion that the quilts that don't get finished right away are the ones where I got stuck; I ran out of batting or didn't have enough fabric for the border or just couldn't bring myself to make that many yards of bias binding.  But when I precut all the pieces and have everything laid out in front of me, when the batting has been bought and the back pieced along with the front, that's when I discover the hobby or art or what-have-you of quilting that I fell in love with sixteen years ago.  I imagine myself preparing to make a complicated recipe and getting all of my ingredients and tools ready to work.  I feel capable of creating without the distraction or interruption of looking for the next piece. 

Just like with cooking, I realize now that I am not even close to the first person to make this comparison.  Brenda Gael Smith applies it to dyeing fabric.  Karla wrote a great post after she was inspired by the Top Chef finale.  Even the acclaimed Alicia Paulson thought of it and wrote about it before me. 

I can't be original, at least I'm in good company.

1 comment:

  1. Although I'm no chef, I've heard of Mise en Place before. I've never thought to apply it to the rest of my life though. It's a great idea!


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