Today’s quilt that I am working on has inspired me to share something that has been on my mind for a while. My friend Betsy brought it to me a couple of weeks ago in response to a sale I was having. It is a beautiful, hand pieced Amish quilt. The black background sets off the jewel tone solids wonderfully, and it will be a treasure for generations. The only trouble with this “quilt” was that it hadn’t been quilted! In twenty-five years!!! I am thrilled to be able to help this quilt come out of the closet and become a family heirloom…as I like to say: “A quilt isn’t a quilt until it’s quilted!”
As alluded to in a previous post, I have been feeling the weight of my many unfinished projects, and seeking inspiration to tackle them for some time now. I think Betsy was the second client that week to admit to having a project that hadn’t seen the light of day in that long. Although I haven’t been quilting for 25 years, I do have the dubious distinction to have that many unfinished projects!
Sometime in January, after I recovered from the holidays, I decided I would seek out all of my quilting projects, and start the process of at least deciding which ones were worth keeping. It’s hard for me to think about discarding any of these extensions of myself, but I think I found one or two to pass on to a better home. The resulting pile of projects was nothing to scoff at:
I included quilts that I had offered to finish for friends, and a couple of antique quilt tops that I purchased with the intention to quilt and offer for sale. I did not include any projects that don’t fall under the category of “quilt.” Let’s face it, if I thought about finishing every cross-stitch project, and partially knitted something I would probably be too overwhelmed to even begin. Nor did I include the way too many kits or projects in which no fabric has been cut. Perhaps I will talk about that pile later! I then proceeded to document them, with some notes on what was left to be done (quilting, binding, applique, peicing). I then used rough estimates to determine how long I thought each project would take.
As a long time fan and follower of Dave Ramsey’s financial principles, I am intimately familiar with the debt snowball principle. Basically, much effort is focused on the smaller debt until it’s paid, and then applied to the next smallest, and so on. This is a great way to have some success early on in what seems to be an insurmountable project. Although I don’t have a great deal of time to commit to my unfinished quilts, a little bit of time every day can sure add up.
And so, I sorted these projects from least to greatest…in terms of time needed to complete them. Some projects went to the bottom of the list simply because I didn’t really like them, and so would probably waste time procrastinating due to lack of motivation. I then re-packed them…in reverse order leaving out a couple of them to work on as I have time.
The simple act of gathering my projects together and devising a game plan was somewhat cathartic for me. Even though I hadn’t made any progress, the fact that they were at least known and organized helped to ease some of the buzzing in my head. I don’t know about you, but for me loose-ends are somewhat energy draining.
The next step was to decide on a plan. I had thought that I would commit 15 minutes per day to these projects, make great progress, and declare 2015 the year of the FINISHED project. Upon closer inspection of my schedule, and life in general, which is full of must-do’s and deadlines, I decided to give myself a little grace.
These projects weren’t begun out of compulsion, they were chosen to give me pleasure in the process. I didn’t take up quilting as a hobby so I could be stressed out, why would I put that much pressure on myself?
My new plan is to be in the practice of progress. I’m not going to deadline myself into completing rushed through quilts. I am also not going to bury my head in the sand, and pretend they don’t need attention. My soul is fed by the act of creating, my ultra-busy life needs some periods of rest. My sewing room calls out to be occupied. I will be mindful of these truths. I will begin with the small projects, and perhaps find a reason to begin something new. Life is full of unexpected surprises…many of which can be celebrated, or soothed by a handmade gift of love. I will dedicate 2015 to pulling my treasures out of the closet, and breathing new life into them…and maybe 2016 too.
My hope is that by sharing this with you, you will be inspired to get out your family heirloom. If it needs to have borders applied, give it some borders, if it needs to be quilted, either get out your hoop, or give me a call (I’d love to help!). If you don’t have a pile of unfinished quilts, I hope you remember the joy you used to feel in the quiltmaking process…and perhaps start a new quilt!
So…I’ll admit…My name is Tara, and I have 25 unfinished quilts in my possession? How many do you have?