Affinity Tutorial

Wrapping Up the Leftovers • Affinity Tutorial

Far Away Doors, Quilt Number 216 • Merrion Square Pattern

Do you ever finish a quilt, but not quite finish it? Like forget the label? Or find scraps that needed to be put away from a quilt that is two years old? Or do you have tasks that still await you even as you transfer them from list to list to list? Or do you add tasks to your list of things to get done? Or do you feel like you spend so much time working off your list that you have no time to think, to create, to play, to imagine?

Signature Blocks: lost, then found, then lost again, and now found once more!

All of these are types of things that plague creatives, as we are known now. The list is endless, and we can keep adding to it. I was quite intrigued, then, with Mark McGuiness’s solution: a 3″ x 3″ Post-It Note. Actually, he uses two of them. On the first one — as outlined in this article from 99U — he writes one main task in the upper left corner, and then adds the rest of the day’s chores to the Post-It Note. Since it is only 3″ by 3″ it can’t get overrun. McGuiness writes: “But what about all the rest? All the phone calls, emails, and requests that come in during the day? Not to mention all the new ideas that pop into my head as I work? Good question. There’s a place for all of these things, and that place is the second Post-It on the stack, a.k.a. my to-do list for tomorrow.”

He then quotes Mark Forster, noting the idea of an “open” and “closed” list. The first Post-It Note is closed. The second one, is open.

Signature blocks sewn together, then pinned onto the back of the quilt

Here are some of the things I did this week that were on my list, putting together disparate parts of my life. I made this quilt with the help of the Gridster Bee, but had misplaced the signature blocks. And then when I would find the signature blocks, I couldn’t remember which quilt they went to. But we put a new shelf in our closet to hold the stack of quilts, and in the shuffling, I was able to put the two together.

I did the bulk of the little houses on the front of the quilt, but it’s fun to look at all the different houses my bee-mates and others sent to me. I often keep my quilts hanging up around my house, because I enjoy them finished.

That is something that Janet Choi might appreciate: “The simple act of pausing to reflect and acknowledge your efforts provides valuable boosts of motivation, focus, and insight that would otherwise be lost amidst your busy day.” It’s like the other side of the To Do List…it’s the Done List.

“Your done list acts as a signpost, a manifestation of all that day’s hard work. This flips an overwhelmed mindset into action mode to correct course, learn from mistakes, and ultimately make better progress” (Choi).

I tend to write my “Dones” at the end of the day in my journal, made for me by Amy, an artisan book maker. I was in a workshop of hers at Camp Create, and she made me this. It’s a treasure, but not only for what it is: it holds a lot of my Dones, but I also like reading backwards to find out what I thought about things a year ago, or even a month. Although I don’t write every day, I write enough that there is a general trend.

I also write my Quilt Dones up on my master Quilt Index at the top of this page, cataloging them on this blog, and then listing them one by one. I know several of you have started a Quilt Index of your own, judging by my emails.

Choi says to count our smaller wins, too: “Don’t wait until you’ve hit big goals like completing a project or getting a promotion — which happen only occasionally and make it difficult to appreciate small but important advancements. Don’t dismiss all the smaller things that fill out your days and are building up in the long run.”

Which brings me to this: the little rotary cutter in the illustration above. I was making images for my new workshop, Blossom, and I always like to have a visual header as to what is going on in the paragraph where it links to the instructional video, and gives tips. I had the scissors in my digital image file, but when I went hunting for a rotary cutter, I thought: I could make my own. So I did. I have the how-to’s below for those of you who are so inclined (including a video!), but for the rest of you, I leave you with this: I hope you will now not only consider not only a To-Do List, but also a Done List. Isn’t that why we started quilting in the first place? To have things stay done?

Happy Quilting!

How to Make a Digital Rotary Cutter in Affinity Designer, by a Verified Amateur.

  1. Start the program. Open an artboard. If that already feels like a foreign language, an artboard is basically just a big scratch pad. I can open multiple artboards in one file and save them all under one name. So I can have a scratchpad for rotary cutter, a scratchpad for a quilt block, etc.
  2. Open Affinity Designer, click on “New.” A screen will show up with lots of sizes to choose from. I usually go with 9 x 11 as I can always resize it, but it fits on my laptop screen neatly. I choose “inches” not pixels from the set-up screen and I like mine sideways, so I click on Landscape. Don’t forget to click “Create Artboard.”

3. And then I realized I would be writing a book, so instead, I made a video.

And then I uploaded the video to YouTube, where you can watch it. (And I do not know why the full-screen version is blurry. Working on that.)

It runs about six minutes, if you have that much time. Of course, it took me three Google searches to figure out how to record from screen (pretty nifty, once you learn it), then I uploaded into iMovie so I could cut off the end where I keep saying, “How do I stop recording this?” over and over all the while critiquing my voice. I then uploaded titles on the front and back and even a little Title Card saying Thank You For Watching. Yes, sirree. I’m a rank amateur trying to act professional.

But there you go. Obviously I should have majored in graphic design in college, but that was some years ago when it was Photoshop Version 1.0. (Now, I’ve left Adobe behind and moved over to Affinity where there are NO monthly subscription fees. I’m just saying.)

Illustration from Newest Project…coming in October

I’m most excited about how Affinity Designer now has a gazadget that will let me automatically draw quarter-inch seam allowances around any shape I make (called a Contour Tool). So, so happy with this!

Happy Drawing! Happy Quilting!

11 thoughts on “Wrapping Up the Leftovers • Affinity Tutorial

  1. Thank you. Recently I started using tiny Post its – love throwing them in the trash when each is accomplished. Love, Christine


  2. When I was cleaning out my desk at my old job I found my room-do list from the before times. It’s now pinned on the wall of my new desk.

    That to-do list was part of what attracted me to my old job. The boss at the time said everyone had a to-do list three years long. I liked the idea that we’d have projects of all sizes and deadlines, but more importantly that some things would get pushed back based on priority.

    And yes there were tasks that were due my first month that I literally never finished.

  3. Oh my! I’ve had that separate-parts, never the twain shall meet experience more than once. Glad you reunited yours. I’ve learned to live too comfortable with in-process items to have much of a done list these days, unless you count books read.

  4. Great idea to use post it’s for a to do list. I really enjoy your Affinity tutorials Elizabeth. I just might have to give it a try out. It does sound nicer than designing quilts with pencil and paper. 😉

  5. I don’t have a beautiful book like yours, but I do keep a list of finished needlework projects. Back in January 2009, I was feeling like I never finished anything. So I used a database app on my iPhone to create records with the date, the item finished, whether it was from stash or not, and whom it was for. There are knit or crochet items, some quilts and some sewn items. I’ve finished 355 things since then, and given most of them away. I also like the idea of Post-It notes for my household to-do list, things I need to remember, but don’t need to record when done.

  6. Good food for thought, and good information here, Elizabeth. Too bad you haven’t convinced me to keep lists – opened or closed! I’ve tried lists, and quickly discovered that once I wrote things down, I never returned to them to remind myself of “what’s next,” nor to mark “done.” For me, that takes time from my mental flow, making a list ineffective and useless. But that’s just ME – my different personality and methodology. Each morning I determine, in my head, what needs doing that day, and I do it. Works for me. But I love your “E” journal, and how you’re tracking your makes. I wish I’d started that in 1976, when my quilting and sewing journey really began. In lieu of that list, my blog suffices. Thanks for sharing your insights!

  7. Love love love the concept of a Done List. I transfer things on the to do list all the time but once something is done I simply move on. Even as I write this, it’s hard for me to think of what I’ve done this year, let alone last year. It all becomes a blur. As you know, I did major in graphic design, but it was back in the day of cut and paste. While I got a very solid background in visual design theory, the actual practice is now completely different. I had to teach myself the computer skills to produce things just as you are doing now. I believe you already possess the design skills. I’ll look at your video someday when I get back to Affinity. I’m too distracted with baby things right now. Perhaps too distracted for a long time. hehe. He’s arriving soon!

  8. Hoo-boy! Learning Affinity is on my to-do list. I so appreciate your letting me know about it some time ago. And I got a laugh out of your finding the quilt one time and the signature blocks another time…sounds like real life to me!

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