Synonyms.com defines this phrase as “To use one’s judgement, initiative, and perceptions as events unfold in order to improvise a course of action without a predetermined plan.”

Yep, that’s me.

When I’m sewing, I usually do have somewhat of a plan (emphasis on somewhat). I just finished a quilt for our new Grandson. I knew what I wanted to do, using a method that has served me well when producing several quilts.

This method is based on the “Quilt in a Day” approach. Strips of fabric are torn and sewn together in blocks to create a design for the quilt.

When I constructed that first quilt, I was taking a sewing class, where I received a spiral-bound booklet that showed the procedure, step by step. I still consult that booklet — except when I’m sure I remember the steps (emphasis on sure).

It’s critical to have a certain length of fabric for each color. There’s a helpful chart for this, with the detailed method. Invariably, I’m “off to the races,” but am halted several times before I’m finished. Time to consult my trusty booklet.

The torn strips are sewn together to create several quilt blocks. On Grandson’s quilt, I widened the size of the tear strips, without considering the effects. Making the strips wider also made the blocks wider. That meant that I needed larger fabric for the backing as well as more batting for the filler. Good grief.

My seam ripper is my best friend during all sewing projects. For the quilt, most of the fabric has to be put together with the right (front) sides — where the print is strongest — facing each other. I’d repeatedly have the front side facing the wrong side.

I couldn’t use all of the blocks because the wider blocks enlarged the entire top of the quilt. Too large for a crib quilt. Now I had three extra, lovely worthless blocks.

I also created a small pillow to match the quilt. Several ripped seams later, I realized that I had not drawn a plan for this project, including remembering how to gather the long strip to sew around the edges.

One of the threads has to be pulled to make the fabric bunch up, but my sewing machine didn’t have a wide enough setting for the stitch. I ripped it out and did it by hand — twice.

My gardening projects are often initiated without a “predetermined course of action.” Mostly this means I’ve spontaneously pulled weeds, planted flowers or seeds, or transplanted new flowers to pots or a bed.

There are several items I’d need: gardening gloves, a trowel, a short stool, a hand rake. Most of the time I start without the gloves and trowel, which means I’ll have dirt deeply imbedded under my nails. Without the stool, I will be on my hands and knees, resulting in dirty pants. No hand rake and the soil for the seeds will be lumpy.

Considering these issues, it’s amazing that anything grows at all. Oh, and for the weeding, I end up leaving small piles of weeds all over the yard (to the chagrin of my husband) because I’ve not taken the time to pull up a trash can.

My spontaneous-ness must be a character flaw. To overcome it, I’d need a pre-determined plan to do so.

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at susan12anderson@gmail.com.

Susan Anderson lives in Opelika with her husband. Contact her at susan12anderson@gmail.com.

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