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The Pressure to Get a Finish

Last year in March a blog post came out regarding “The Dumbing Down of Quilting” and I responded in my podcast from the viewpoint of being a beginner quilter. I haven’t listened to that episode lately but I can vaguely remember not agreeing with what she said because I thought quilters of all levels should be accepted and be celebrated for quilting no matter what they feel like doing.

I still feel that way to an extent but I must also add that lately I’ve noticed that some quilters seem to be rushing to finish quilts without any plan of design, rhyme or reason except be able to say they finished a quilt and to share photos. Once you see the 20th quilt that looks the same as all the others it makes me wonder, “What’s the point?” mixed with emotions of why can’t I finish quilts that fast?

I wonder if anyone else feels this unspoken Pressure to Finish?

Sometimes it feels like there is an invisible competition in the quilt blog world of who can finish the most quilts in a week. I know my time limitations just like anyone else. Could I get more quilts done in the time I have to sew each week? Sure, if I dumbed down my design to large squares and rectangles. Would I be as happy with those finishes as the more intricate ones? Probably not.

I’m the quilter that sees the craft as more of an art. If I get a piece of fabric no matter how new or old I want to do it justice. I don’t want to just cut into it and put it with all sorts of other stuff that may or may not look good to “get a finish”. Why spend $8-12 a yard on fabric if you aren’t going to really put some work into the design of how it ends up?

I’m constantly trying new techniques and learning new ways to improve how I quilt. I want to enhance my quilts both with the design, the fabric and the final quilting that goes into it. If it takes me over a year to finish a quilt but it looks fantastic in the end why do I feel guilty that it took me so long?  So here is my word of advice:

Don’t Be a Lazy Quilter!

There will be times in your life that churning out quilts full of four patches and simple squares are necessary because of that surprise baby shower or wedding shower. But for the quilts you are doing for you I recommend the following things:

  • Try at least one new technique
    Yes, attempt something new in each quilt! Practice new techniques with scrap fabrics and then incorporate it into a project.  Your new technique might take you in a whole new direction that you never thought possible.
  • Improve on the techniques that you have
    Work on keeping your 1/4″ seam as accurate as possible. Cut with better accuracy! Maybe improve on the way you do your borders or binding. Do something to improve the skills you currently have.
  • Plan your quilting design
    The difference between a good quilt and a great quilt can be the actual quilting that is done on the top. Some quilts call for a simple design that is toned down so the fabrics and pattern shine through. Some quilts have simplistic fabrics but can really shine if some intricate quilting is done in various areas. Don’t give up just because it’s one more thing to do before the quilt is finished. Give it some thought. It will be worth the time you take.
  • Label it – no matter how small
    Labeling a quilt is important so make it a habit to put a label on your quilt even if it takes some extra time to do so. 
  • Take a class
    Education is useful with any hobby or job because you will always learn at least one new thing to apply to the rest of your quilting. New techniques, rulers, fabrics and other materials are being incorporated into quilting every day.  You will get a fresh perspective

and lastly….

  • Don’t feel guilty about taking longer to finish a project than someone else!
    Quilting isn’t a race even if you’re working on a jelly roll race quilt! Some of us have kids, an office to go to every weekday, quilt guild responsibilities, husbands, pets, a household to take care of – these things take time! It is perfectly understandable that your lap quilt took you 6 months to complete.  Don’t feel guilty for having a life outside of quilting.  There are ways to make the most of your quilting time but you do what feels right for you.

Don’t add guilt to your quilt!  

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18 Comments

  1. I agree with you wholeheartedly! The pressure is real, and we put it on ourselves. Or at least I know I do. Gotta slow it down and take breath, and a moment to think about design and precision.

  2. OH noooooooo…I’m a block poster. I post my blocks because I never finish my quilts……grin.

  3. BRAVO Katie! Well said. You are a very wise young quilter. Your addiction will serve you long and well. There are many facets to our craft. May you enjoy a lifetime of exploration.

  4. Great article! I just finished my first quilt. It was a very simple design…just 10″ blocks along with a few borders. But, I finished it! It is a gift to my daughter for my first grandchild. I feel comfortable enough to try a disappearing nine patch next. Wish me luck!

    • Good luck!! Lots of people are scared to do double borders and you went for it! That’s awesome. Have fun with the disappearing 9-patch. Every new quilt is an adventure.

  5. I don’t know, Katie. Some of us may want to just enjoy our hobby and not pressure ourselves to speed or perfection. I think there is room for all kinds and we can all respect eachother. What do you think?

    • I think you might have missed my point Tami – I didn’t write about adding pressure for speed or perfection at all.

      • Good to hear, Katie. Of all the joys of quilting, being part of the community is the best. Quilters are the best! Hope the agility is going well. DH is having a blast with it. We’re going to Albuquerque, NM for regionals at the end of April. I will be checking out quilt shops!

  6. i don’t feel any pressure to finish – other than having to discipline myself to not start another project while I have 2 or 3 in progress! I enjoy the process, I like to challenge myself, and I’ve learned that when I get jammed up or discouraged I need to work on something else for awhile. The quilters who press on and make getting a “finish” their goal are welcome to do so, but it’s not for me. I’ve been sewing too long to be satisfied with anything less than something I find really, really challenging. All quilters – live and be well!

    • I’m the same way Jo – sometimes you need a break from a project so you don’t get frustrated. Everyone has their own comfort level for how big of a challenge to tackle on a quilt.

  7. I enjoyed this article too. Great information and great thoughts. It has encouragec me to try different things with my quilting. Thanks.

  8. Great post Katie! I think the only time I feel “pressure” to have a finish is right before I’m about to record a podcast episode, lol. It can seem like a very boring upcoming podcast when you have nothing to report completed, or the same projects still in the works week after week. I get over this and just start rambling as usual, but I do like that the podcast at least helps keep me moving forward and doing something vs. nothing.

    I decided long ago that I have enough pressure in my job and now as a mom, so I’ll be damned if I let my hobby become a source of stress to me. :-)

    • Oh I get that podcast pressure too! Good for you for drawing the line. You are so right we all have things in our lives that we get plenty of pressure from we don’t need it from our hobby too!

  9. Good thing I never feel pressure to finish a quilt. Some of my UFOs are years old. =) I like designing, I like sewing, I like every part but the binding. However, I switch from project to project to keep my interest and creativity moving.

  10. Thank you, Katie, for another great blog posting. I’m VERY new to quilting, but not to sewing & crafting. It gets discouraging when the Quilt Police take all the fun out of an artistic hobby. I love the process, from planning to binding, and feel any job worth doing is worth doing well. That said…Like so many things in life, you have to have room for fun…and even failure (as long as you learn from it). We all have to start somewhere. I’m sure even Jane Stickle had some stinkers when she was learning, right? :)
    Happy Quilting!
    D

  11. Great post. I agree with you whole-heartedly. I’ve only been quilting for three years, but love trying new techniques (and therefore have beaucoup ufos!) I agree with Dana that any job worth doing is worth doing well. I enjoy challenging myself and want a finished project I (and the recipient) can be proud of!

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