Hope you guys are getting as excited for all of the fruit goodness coming as I am!

Today we are talking about preparation and getting ourselves organized as we prep for our FRUIT SALAD quilts. Susan is going to give us some great tips and hints how to think through and organize ourselves, and she is sharing another one of her infamous ORGANIZATIONAL SHEETS. I have to tell you… that just printing these goodies out makes me feel more organized. So take it away Susan…


The Fruit Salad Sew Along is starting tomorrow, and before I tackle a new project, I always like to do a little bit of preparation work.  Because I often get asked how I am able to finish so many sew alongs, I thought I would walk you through my process, share with you a planning sheet and show how a half an hour of work will hopefully set me up for success throughout the sew along!

…. a little prep work goes a long way

To catch you up, if you haven’t heard about the Fruit Salad Sew Along yet, it is being hosted by Joanna on the blog here, IG and Facebook group to highlight the projects from her Fruit Salad book as well as her newest fabric line, Fruit Cocktail.  Each week, for seven weeks, Joanna will pick a different featured fruit and we will spend the week highlighting projects using that block.  Some of the things we have planned are sharing different tips and tricks for making your blocks, some recipes from some of the members of our Fig Tree Friends Facebook group, and a few other surprises along the way. It will be a mystery as to which fruit will be chosen each week just to keep us all excited and on our toes!

This SEW ALONG will be run just like all of Joanna’s other sew alongs in that the focus is on trying new projects and having fun while encouraging our fellow Fig Tree Friends.  I am hopeful there will even be a few finishes too! There are no sign ups and no official requirements.  In the Fig Tree Quilts Friends Facebook group and on Instagram, we encourage people to post pictures of their progress and to comment and help motivate our fellow sewers.

The Fruit Salad Sew Along is a bit different in that not everyone will be working on the same project. There are many opportunities to customize your project to fit your interests.  You could participate by making one of the individual fruit quilts, by making one of the “Recipe” projects that combine several different fruits, or just making a few fruit blocks or pincushions to participate in the camaraderie and try out a new pattern.

I will be making the Fruit Salad Sampler, a throw sized quilt for my own personal quilted orchard!  I couldn’t decide on just one individual pattern, and this project is great for someone who wants to make a few fruit blocks a week, and have a finished quilt at the end of the sew-along.  If the idea of making many different blocks appeals to you, but you don’t want the commitment of a full quilt project, there are “Recipe” projects for some smaller items such as wall hangings, table toppers/runners and pillows.  Each project is designed with the same flexibility of mixing and matching your favorite fruit blocks.

Because there is so much customization available in my project, I knew I was going to need to spend a few minutes preparing myself before I got started sewing.  I often times like to have a planning session before I start a new project, where I will break down the project into manageable steps, identify the materials I will need, and I jot down anything that might be helpful for me know or quickly reference while making the project.

… download your own here below.

To help me organize my thoughts, I created a Fruit Salad Sew Along project sheet, and thought I would share a bit on how I plan to use it throughout the sew along. DOWNLOAD HERE.

Your first step in your planning is to note which project you have chosen. I like to jot down the page number of the pattern for easy reference.

Then, take a look at the project you have chosen and skim over the directions and fabric requirements.  For me, this meant taking note that I would need to pick a certain number of each size blocks, and doing a mental inventory of supplies that I have on hand vs. what I might need to order.  I quickly remembered that I had ordered a fat quarter bundle of Fruit Cocktail especially for this project, and that I had also purchased fabric for the borders and binding.  I couldn’t remember if I had picked out a back (I hadn’t!) and remembered that I used up the last bit on my roll of batting so I would need to order some more.  I couldn’t quite remember if I had chosen an initial stack of Low Volumes, so I jotted it down as something to check on.  This was a quick 3-minute process and one you don’t want to overthink.

After I went through the materials and supplies needed, I spent a few moments picking out the blocks that I wanted to make.  I really liked the layout that Joanna featured in the book, so I used this as a jumping off point.  I jotted down each fruit, leaf, or flower and the quantity I needed of each block to fill the layout.  This will be so helpful to me while I am sewing each week and will ensure I’m not making too many or too few blocks each week. 

Even though I have a game plan as far as the type/number of each individual fruit I want to make, I am sure I will adjust during the course of the sew along.  It will be easy to update my list to add or subtract blocks as I go with the extra blank spaces.

In the “Things to Do” section, I made a few bullet points of things that will make my personal sew along experience go smoother.  The first thing I noted was that I should start cutting out my sashing strips.  I usually really enjoy the cutting process, but I know that I am quick to lose motivation after I have made my blocks if I don’t have my sashing cut…especially if the sashing is scrappy and involves multiple fabrics.  Since this project is my main spring sewing project, I wanted to be sure I wouldn’t be too busy with other sewing tasks to actually quilt my quilt and finish the binding.  I knew I needed to pencil in a few days to tie up the long arm and handstitch the binding. The last thing I wanted to do was to identify a project bin or bag to hold my blocks and fabric allocated for this project in.  I had already misplaced my low volume stack once, I didn’t want to do it again!

The whole process took under a half an hour, but I know will save me so much time in the long run. This afternoon, I was able to quickly check off a few of the action items on my list that each only took a few moments.  These few things will keep me better organized as I am sewing this spring. 

My challenge for you is to do a bit of pre-planning of your own!  Spend a few minutes identifying your project, making note of blocks needed and jotting down a few action items. You just might be surprised at how much time it saves you too!

Stay tuned for more FRUIT SALAD SEW ALONG posts and goodies coming soon!

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  1. Susan Finn | 6th Apr 23

    So excited to start this, I am head over heels with this fabric line. This is my first QAL and I have been quilting off and on for over 30 years! Thank you for the organizational sheet, I like to carefully plan my projects, too.

    • joanna@figtreequilts.com | 6th Apr 23

      Welcome!! WE are equally excited! I have a feeling I might just have a whole new group of fruit projects when we are all said and done!

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