FREE Quilting Patterns, Tutorials, Magazine

7 time-saving tips for more sewing time

7 time-saving tips for more sewing time

by Elaine Theriault

It’s great to be back with another exciting week of tips to share with you.

This week, I’ll be working with the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q. To be honest with you, I bought this machine after I previously reviewed it and it’s become my go-to sewing machine. It’s small and easy to transport to a sewing day or a sewing retreat. While small is great, what sold me is the fact that it has some amazing bells and whistles that I absolutely do not want to sew without.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

Here’s the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q with the optional extension table. I absolutely love the extension table. It adds a smooth, large surface around the sewing machine. The front curved edge? Well – that’s to die for when quilting or sewing large pieces of fabric together. The quilt or fabric pieces just glide over that curved edge.

It’s amazing how many people have never tried sewing with an extension table. What’s also amazing is how much more control you have when you have a proper work surface. If you don’t have an extension table, you need to get one.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q with optional extension table

I’m working with my Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q in a slightly different environment these days. I created a second sewing studio in my house. I work to a lot of deadlines and I needed a space where I could focus. I moved my large sewing cabinet to the new space and the Opal 690Q fits perfectly in the cutout.

I now have a very large flat surface for working. The trick is to keep it neat and tidy. I will say that I miss the curved front edge of that optional extension table. Sigh – we can’t have everything.

Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q sewing machine sitting in a drop-down sewing cabinet

I don’t have a proper plastic insert for the Opal 690Q to fit in the cabinet. I dug out an older Husqvarna Viking extension table and while not a perfect fit, it’ll suffice until I can order a new plastic insert. What I love is that the bed of the sewing machine, the plastic extension table, and the surface of the cabinet are the exact same height. Super smooth for working with large projects and image what it’ll be like to quilt in that space. The proper insert will close in the gap along the front of the sewing machine.

Despite the fact that this room has a very large window, the lighting is not the best. I set up a lamp on the cabinet to assist with early morning and late-night sewing.

How to save time and get inspired

If you’re like me, you want to sew. You want to make things and often, I don’t care what I make as long as I’m making something. There’s prep work needed when starting a project or prep work needed to move to the next stage of a project. Lots of cutting, pressing, marking, and whatever other tasks are involved.

Sometimes, I think we spend way more time prepping than we do actually sewing. And usually for me during that prep time, I spend a lot of time searching for things, tripping over stuff, dropping things, and working in a cramped space. I decided that it was time to make some major changes in this new sewing space. I want to walk in at any given time and be inspired to sew. I also want to be creative and efficient with my time.

Today, I’m sharing some time-saving tips with you so you get to spend more time with the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q. That’s the fun part! After all, that’s what it’s all about – making and sewing things, not managing our stuff.

TIP 1 – loads of space for matching fabrics

There’s plenty of room in front of the needle to allow me to work. You may not think this is a time-saver, but it is. I can easily match my pieces together without pinning which saves a lot of time. There’s less chance I’ll have to seam rip something and we all know that saves a lot of time.

There’s as much room if you’re using the optional extension table. Either way – you need space in front of the needle and to the left of the needle in order to work properly. Do yourself a favor and get some space.

Notice that I keep my sewing tools handy as well. Right where I need them.

There’s plenty of workspace in front of the sewing machine needle

TIP 2 – anchor that foot pedal

I got tired of chasing my foot pedal. So I “borrowed” the heavy outdoor mat that the dog slept on and plunked it down under my sewing machine. Problem solved. That foot pedal doesn’t move. Which is good, because without the mat, that foot pedal would inch forward and get stuck under the leg of the cabinet. When I wanted to stop sewing, the pedal was stuck in a down position and would continue to sew slowly until I moved the pedal away from the leg of the cabinet.

A very cheap fix and it works. This saves time because I no longer have to find the foot pedal and saves me reaching for the pedal. I also find that I’m sitting properly in my chair and actually using the back of the chair. I never used to do that, but with the foot pedal anchored, it all works for me.

A heavy outdoor mat used to anchor the sewing machine foot pedal

TIP 3 – clean the cutting mat

Remember that I said that I want to spend more time sewing? Well, if I’m working on a crowded cutting mat, how can I cut accurately?

It’s absolutely crazy that I have two large cutting mats and yet I end up working in a 12″ square at the end of one.

I did the clean sweep and took everything off the table. I put the stuff in orderly piles according to the deadline date and other stuff was returned to its home.

Do you know how exciting it is to enter the room and see that big space inviting me to work?

The cutting mats are clear

Not only that but if I want to cut a backing or a border or anything else that’s large, I actually have the room to lay it out. I have space for two mats, so why am I not using it more efficiently?

Anything to help free up time, so I can get back to the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q and sew!

Cutting large pieces of fabric is a snap with a clean cutting table

TIP 4 – clean off the ironing board

My ironing board pretty much looks like this most of the time. It’s a good idea to keep it clear. Why? It saves time when you need to press something. You won’t need to move items out of the way when you want to press larger pieces like a border. Trust me, your seams will look better if you take the time to press them properly on a clear ironing surface. A nice looking project at the end of the day.

TIP 5- prioritize your projects

I’ve such delusional doability and I’m so unrealistic about how long it takes to make something. I also used to be very unfocused when I sewed, but I no longer want to be that unfocused.

I’m a visual person and I like to see what projects are ahead of me. Since I have the luxury of an extra table in the new studio, I like to spread out the next in line projects. I can see them, but I don’t have them cluttering up my ironing board or my cutting mat.

I keep a list of the deadlines and then I look at the list to see what needs to be completed next. This is a huge time-saver, especially if you assemble all the bits needed for that project in one spot.

Projects laid out to work on

TIP 6 – clean the floor

Stop laughing! I was totally tired of tripping and stepping over stuff. So I moved the non-urgent stuff that was piled on the floor into boxes and completely out of the room. It’s hard to work when there’s no space.

Not that my house is the cleanest around – far from it, but you’d be amazed at how quickly lint and dust collect in a sewing space. This is not good for you and not good for the sewing machines. Thankfully, I had a wood floor that is easy to keep clean. And now that everything is mostly off the floor, it’ll be even easier to keep clean.

Guess what? That means more time for sewing.

The floor between the sewing machine and the ironing board is clear

It’s so easy to come home and dump things on the floor saying that you’ll deal with them later. But guess what? Later doesn’t usually come.

Keeping the sewing space this tidy is going to be a love/hate relationship for me. I know the benefits of keeping it tidy, but I struggle with putting things away. Not so much the putting away, but just the sheer volume of some of the stuff I deal with.

Case in point, there are two quilts that managed to work their way onto the cutting table along with their backings that need to be cut. As long as it’s something simple like that – I can deal with it.

The floor in front of the cutting table is clear

TIP 7 – use the functions on the Opal 690Q

There are some amazing functions on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q that make sewing so much easier and faster. Now that I’ve freed up some time by clearing my workspaces, let’s get to the time-saving functions of the sewing machine.

There’s no presser foot lever for the Opal 690Q. There are two functions on the front of the machine that are used to raise and lower the presser foot. But what’s even better is that I simply have to press the foot pedal and the presser foot lowers automatically. That is a huge time-saver, especially when I’m holding something with both hands and don’t want to remove one hand to lower the presser foot.

There’s a fix function that ties a knot wherever I want a knot. Could be at the end or the beginning of my piece. It’s especially handy when I’m doing appliqué or decorative stitching or top stitching. Best part? I just have to press the button. No fiddling with backstitching or the stitch length.

I’ve got scissors which is a great feature – no need to find those snips to cut threads, although I must confess that I’m so used to using my snips, that I don’t use the scissors as often as I should. There are also several built-in thread cutters on the Opal 690Q which means even less need to find and use your own snips.

Another favorite is the needle stop up/down. This is an absolute must for appliqué, quilting, decorative stitching and a whole lot more. I love it in conjunction with the sensor foot which I’ll talk more about later this week.

And there’s a speed control with five different positions. Perfect for quilting as you can set the speed to what you’re comfortable with and then don’t worry about speed.

stop function is very useful for decorative stitching and if you want to sew without the foot pedal, there’s a start/stop function. I use it mostly for decorative stitching, but there are people who use it for quilting and sewing. I’m not that coordinated. No – it isn’t that. I like to be in control 100% of the time so that’s why I prefer the foot pedal for quilting.

The function panel on the Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

At the top of the screen below, you can see the Exclusive Sewing Advisor is set to Woven light fabric. This is a built-in help system. You choose the type and weight of fabric that you’re working with and the Exclusive Sewing Advisor will set the tension (4.0) and stitch length (2.0).

There are four menus of stitches with a total of 208 stitches, plus four built-in sewing fonts.

Some of the information is changed by touching the monochrome touch screen and some of the changes are made by touching the controls to the right and bottom of the touch screen.

There’s a lot of flexibility in this machine and I love it for all it can do.

Monochromatic touch screen Husqvarna Viking Opal 690Q

That’s a quick overview of the HUSQVARNA VIKING Opal 690Q. While this sewing machine is small in size, it’s loaded with features. Features that I just don’t want to sew without.

I hope you enjoyed those time-saving tips. Do yourself a favor and make it happen. Get it cleared up. You owe it to yourself and guess what? You’ll have more time to sew on the Opal 690Q. That’s what it’s all about – more time sewing!

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I’ve got more great tips for you. Something to do with winding bobbins!

Have a great day!


This is part 1 of 5 in this series.

Go to part 2: Easy sewing machine maintenance

[shareaholic app=”follow_buttons” id=”23735596″]



Rita Hays August 1, 2019 - 10:11 am

Time for a cleanup of my sewing room!

Elaine Theriault August 21, 2019 - 8:49 am

Rita— How is the cleanup of your sewing room coming along? It’s so nice to walk into a clean space! Elaine

Laura S July 28, 2019 - 8:03 am

With 3 curious cats I have to tidy up the sewing room every night. If I don’t someone will scoot small things off the table or lay on a pile of fabric or try to eat some thread.

Carla A. Canonico July 28, 2019 - 2:12 pm


Debra Rolfe July 23, 2019 - 6:33 pm

What great ideas!

Elaine Theriault July 26, 2019 - 9:00 am

Debra – you’re most welcome. The more time we have to sew, the better it is!!! Thanks for following. Elaine

Linda Love July 22, 2019 - 1:46 am

This is inspiring me to do a big cleanup!


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.