Process: Help for the Perpetually Stuck

I have always marveled at people who are really productive and can have beautiful projects to show and tell about at every meeting. I am definitely not that way and always leave the meetings wondering how on earth do they do it, and why oh why can't I seem to finish a thing??

Speed has never been my gift, and I should also mention that I'm a procrastinator with a capital P (I say this as I write this blog post at 11:45 PM on the evening I am supposed to post). These things I know I can probably never change, so do I just throw in the towel on this hobby that I love? Or is it possible to learn what others seem to know--how to get unstuck and get to the finish?

The internet is a procrastinator's best friend, so I went to the blogosphere to see if any quilt bloggers had any words of wisdom on the topic. It was a little hard to find many people who wrote about this, but here are a few that I found to be helpful:
  • Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project blog: summed up, her advice is to honor your feelings about the project you're working on and if you don't want to work on it, listen to that instinct. Take a break, work on something that is motivating  you, enjoy the process rather than forcing yourself to finish unhappily. She also suggests hanging the project on the wall so you can visualize it being finished and hopefully feel motivation for the project again with time.
  • Angela Walters has a post on her blog specifically about getting stuck on choosing a quilting pattern, but I think her tips could be more broadly translated to any part of the process.
  • The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady has several strategies for moving projects along including blocking off time specifically for quilting, having regular appointments to quilt with friends, and my favorite-- to just take one more step with the project (no matter how small).  
  • Kelly at Blue Bird Sews offers 10 tips on finishing WIP's. Some of these would be quite a challenge for me, but I guess if it were easy, I wouldn't be blogging about it!
So what about you? Many of you in the guild are the prolific quilters that I so envy-- do you ever get stuck or lose motivation? What are your tips for getting a project across the finish line? 


  1. Ah, stuck: I think getting stuck/bored/amotivated with a project is a big part of why I have so many going at the same time. For me, having projects at every stage of the process seems to be helpful, so at any given time I can: pick fabrics or cut, or build blocks, or organize blocks, or machine quilt, or bind, or hand quilt.

  2. I am also a procrastinator, with a capital (and bold!) P. I figured out a long time ago that I never get anything done without a deadline, even if the deadline is arbitrary, like a guild meeting.

    Every month I want to show a quilt at a meeting I have it down to the day what I have to finish to get it done. I have to finish the top and backing by the Friday before the meeting (maybe I can stretch it to Saturday if the quilting is going to be really simple). Finish the quilting Saturday/Sunday. Add the binding Monday. Hand-stitch the binding Tuesday and Wednesday so I can wash it either Wednesday night or Thursday. Because it is all scheduled out it is harder to put off.

    I am *always* doing things at the last minute, but the pressure to get it done is enough to push me to finish (even though I am the only one that cares if I get it done). I am almost always hand stitching a binding the night before a meeting!

    I usually have one main project on the go that I've decided is my next finish and I work on the most, but I have many other projects ready to work on when I get annoyed with or tired of my main project. Especially after I make a mistake I am usually disgusted with a project and need a break--I might even choose a different main project while I cool off or wait for inspiration to fix it.

    I also like to start new projects when I need a break from my main project. Like what Chris said above, then when I switch to that new project, it already has some of the work done. I get overwhelmed if I think about making a quilt start to finish, so that helps.

    If I have a project that I am really not into any more or is dragging on (probably going to be a charity quilt), I interleave it into a much more fun project. I might work leaders & enders between chain stitching, or finish one block before I work on fun stuff, or something like that.

    I do the "just one step" mentioned above, too. That actually works to bring some motivation back, because the one step I force myself to do was usually the thing that was holding it up and then I am excited to work on it again.

    1. Wow, that looked a lot smaller in the comment box! :D Sorry so wordy. This topic is one I struggle with a lot.

  3. Great topic, Gina. I have a pile of quilt tops, some with backs and some without, that is growing too quickly ... pretty evident that basting is my least favorite part of the process! I like the one-step-at-a-time approach.

  4. I have trouble with distraction. I will start one thing and then not loose interest, but gain more interest for another project and then Boom! I've started something else!

  5. Kristin Lawson--I have a very hard time believing that you are a procrastinator! You always have amazing quilts to show at each meeting, so I never would have guessed. Thanks for sharing about your process, clearly you have found a way to manage your time and meet those self-imposed deadlines!

    It makes me feel better to know that others struggle with this and find a way to manage. I was just beginning to think that you all had magical powers ;)Maybe there is hope for me after all!

    I do find that i get the most stuck once I'm dissatisfied with how things are turning out (which is often at the quilting stage). It seems that there is a point in every project where I decide I really hate it. I can usually come to like it again, but it's just no fun working on something that you don't really like. I think a key for me will be to let go of perfection and learn to be okay with the skill level I'm at. I may just get a little too inspired at the guild meetings and bite off more than I can chew on my projects.

    Switching it up also sounds like a great idea. I think in my attempt to focus on getting projects finished, I've denied myself working on new projects (which is always the most fun for me). Mainly this leads to long periods of not sewing at all, which is not helping!


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