Navigating the Quilt Bottleneck - Change It or Embrace It?

Evie basting Spring Whimsy

I've spent the week pushing some long-term WIPs through to the finish line. Gosh that feels good! Most of the time, the number of works in progress (WIPs) I have on the go are a joy. I tend to focus on one project, but flit to other ones if I've lost motivation or need some time to mull over design decisions. 

Or, sometimes I come up with an idea and I JUST CAN'T NOT try it out! I don't have time to throw myself into it, but I need to get it out of my head. And then, because I give myself lots of stitching time, and EPP fits so well in my life, once I finish a quilt top, it gets added to my quilt top ladder, and I head straight to the next EPP I'm in the mood for. That quilt top ladder is my bottleneck. 

Barley on basted hexie harvest quilt

Hexie Harvest quilt with Barley Boy "helping"

My Quilt Top Ladder

The ladder has 5 rungs on it, and in an ideal world, I like to limit the number of quilt tops to one per rung. Recently, though, I've managed to squeeze TWO flimsies on each rung, with definitely no room for more. They were starting to weigh on me. It was time to take action!

I decided to use this week to get as many quilt tops basted and finished as possible. Tim and Tully are away, and the girls are back at school, so with less of us in the house, I completely took over the living room to make the process as easy as possible. I've made quite a mess! 

WIPs on dining table

Invisible Obstacles

The process has made me realise how many invisible obstacles I have in the way of finishing quilts. I have one desk for sewing, computer work, and photography. Bringing my sewing machine to the dining table let me keep it set up even while I work on other things. I kept my wadding and backing fabric options, as well as basting pins and tape, out between quilts, so I didn't need to dig them out each time. I kept the area where I baste clear and the rug rolled out of the way so that I could easily start on the next quilt. 

But, this process also made me realise how much my overwhelm is as a result of my self-talk. I have this over-riding feeling that I never finish things, which is completely crazy because I have a lot of evidence to the contrary. I have a degree and an advanced diploma. I have products in a shop I have brought to market. I have children who have survived up to 15 years of my parenting. I have finished over 100 quilts! And yet every time I walk past that ladder, or get another quilt top close to finishing, I feel dread and overwhelm.

Lola sitting by Ice Cream Soda blocks

Ice Cream Soda quilt with Lola “overseeing”

Embracing My Quilting Process

Today, my goal is to finish that beautiful, low volume Mistletoe quilt on my dining table, and then it's time to clean up! I've been mulling over whether my bottleneck is something that needs to change - I'm sure there are things I could do to make finishing quilts easier and smoother - or, if I just need to embrace it and wait for more weeks like this one where I finish four in a row. 

What if I embrace the fact that finishing in bulk might actually be the best way to reduce the obstacles? I've spent most of my quilting life assuming I need to change the way I do things, but these days I'm not so sure. These days I wonder how much it really matters to get it 'right' or be 'more productive'. I think maybe it matters a whole lot more to take charge of the internal conversation. That ladder is fine. Beautiful, even. And I ALWAYS finish my quilts eventually. 

Could you use a bit more encouragement for your WIPs?

Check out our helpful page of blog posts made just for that purpose.

Leave a comment

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.