Stop losing things

Stop losing things

Never search for your rotary cutter, seam ripper, bobbins, rulers, or car keys again!

My mother always told me that I’d forget my head if it wasn’t attached to my body, and she was right. I am the king of lost items, and have all but created a backyard shrine to Saint Anthony, the patron saint of lost things. I have said more prayers to Anthony than I have pieced half square triangles—and that’s saying something!

Putting a quilt together is real work for those of us inclined to walk away from our sewing areas to answer
the phone with rotary cutter in hand (where is that damn phone anyway?) or take a detour to the back door to let the dog out while carrying a 24-inch Olfa ruler. Of course, when I need the cutter or the ruler, only God knows (really!) where they are.

What’s worse-—and there’s always a worse—I live with a neat, orderly Felix Unger type who never misplaces anything. Nada. Zip. So every time I scream, “Where in the hell are my keys?” or “Has anyone seen my Bernina?” I am looked upon with disdain and annoyance in my own home by the very person who has promised “until death us do part.”

I’ll admit that I’m distracted and have a million things on my mind.

At least that’s the excuse I’ve been using when I can’t quilt another quilt block because I’ve lost the thread color I was using (although the real reason is probably that I don’t pay attention to what I’m doing in the first place). It would also be helpful to admit that I leave a trail of clutter
everywhere I go, making it almost impossible to find anything anywhere I have been. (Antidepressants make that burden less heavy but also less
focused, and in the end, who cares?)

So here’s the million-dollar question: How do I stop losing things in my own sewing room so I can make a quilt from beginning to end without having to submit to an hourly whole-house shake-down and a daily cavity search for lost notions, patterns, and tools?

Here are some tips to keep those of us who are continually made miserable by the mislaid from destroying our sanity, our self-esteem (the remnants, anyway), and the quilts we stopped working on out of the frustration of losing things and because of the housecleaning, to try and find
the stuff, that took us off track.

  • My grandmother would swear that if you misplaced something you had just been using (and that happens to me all of the time), you should retrace your steps to find the missing stuff. For example, if you were rotary cutting and you went to answer the door, only to find your rotary cutter missing when you got back to sewing, then you should take the same steps to the door and back that you had taken and, more often than not, you’ll find your lost item along the way. (Of course, that would only work if you didn’t go somewhere else after you answered the door.)
  • Laugh if you will, but a plea to Saint Anthony really does work. In addition to saying the prayer, our Polish housekeeper Theresa used to place an empty mug upside down on the kitchen counter until the lost object was found. This verse even got the endorsement of my pre-schooler, Evan, when he advised his teacher that the Three Little Kittens truly could find their mittens if only they recited this prayer: Saint Anthony, Saint Anthony
    Please look around.
    Something is lost
    And needs to be found.
  • This is a weird tip, but it works for me. Don’t look for it. Nope, don’t even give it a second thought. Ignore it like Miss USA ignored falling on her butt during the Miss Universe competition (Watch it, it’s priceless! Start tidying up an
    area of your sewing room. Take out a hand-quilting project or wind some bobbins. The mere act of not getting all uptight over it and refocusing your energy will help you relax and eventually you will find what you’re looking for—and it will come to you like a bolt of lightning.
  • Here’s an easy one. Look for the item where it’s supposed to be. (What a concept.) Don’t go crazy digging under every piece of fabric or pattern. Stop opening all of your magazine stash trying to find the pincushion. Survey the room first, and see if it’s not in plain sight. Don’t go nuts because you might have actually put it in the right place. Yes, that would be a miracle, but it could happen. (And if you get a miracle, don’t forget to thank Saint Jude, but that’s another story.)
  • Look up. I always find myself looking down while trying to find the things I’ve lost. Someone once told me that looking up might be a better tactic. Maybe I put it on top of the fridge (nothing like a spoon of ice cream in the middle of a complicated paperpieced project, is there?) or on top of the TV?
  • If you’re a real scatterbrain like I am, talk to your things. Yup, talk. Say, “I’m putting my seam ripper in the drawer.” or “I’m putting the pattern on the dining room table.” This will help you jog your memory, should you forget where you put it. Of course, you’ll have to remember where the dining room is, but it’s all good.

The best way to stop losing things, I have learned, is to put everything where it belongs. It’s just a habit, but it’s a good one. Think of all of the bad habits you’ve collected over the years. Isn’t it time to cultivate just one that can be helpful in your lifetime?

To quote my mother, Rita Lipinski, a woman who has never lost a thing in her life:

“There is a place for everything. Put everything in its place.”

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