Thursday, January 14, 2016

Just ONE Quilt

Many times I've imagined changing my sewing room up to have an L-shaped sewing table. On one arm of the table, I'd have a sewing machine set up with thread and feet and hand controls for quilting. And on the other arm of the table, a second sewing machine would be set up for piecing. And I could sit in the middle and work the quilting with my right hand and the piecing with my left. Just think how much I could get done if I could do two quilts at once! 

Wait, what?

Crazy idea, right? Yes, it's a crazy idea. Ridiculous, in fact. 

And, I can already hear some of you who might be saying you can have an embroidery machine and a sewing machine set up exactly like I've described, set up the mechanics for the embroidery, and you can be sewing away on one machine with the embroidery going to town right next to it. That's not what I'm taking about . . . keep reading.

The 'Three Simple Steps' Rewind

Last week I discussed my plan to tackle some quilt projects that have managed to linger in limbo for far too long. I've started a list of targeted UnFinished Objects (UFOs) and, for 2016 I set a goal to complete 12 non-revenue driven projects--stuff I'm working on just for myself. In the background, the quilt samples and pattern writing for my business continue on my usual schedule. 

I showed you my journal and the start of my targeted list of unfinished projects I plan to tackle this year. To guide me through the process, I'm zeroing in on three simple things to keep me on track with my goal. A plan, focus, and joy. I talked about the the first step - A New Plan -  last week. This week my focus is FOCUS!

2) Focus on ONE at a time

You've heard the Chinese proverb?

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

I think this phrase could be reworked for my quilts: The completion of a thousand (!) quilts begins with a single stitch!

I'm convinced that the absolute key to any success on my plan for 2016 is ONE quilt, ONE project ONE stitch at time. Queue the magic word:


That list I created in my planner . . . I'm so glad the planner has a cover. Once I choose the ONE project that will be my focus, I can close the book, and the cover keeps me from looking at the list.

In my mind, I know that list is there, in my planner, waiting. But with the cover shut, it's not staring back at me while other projects on the list beckon. Those aren't the ONEs I'm focused on right now.

If I start bouncing around, quilt a block on this project, then applique a block on another project. Work on a little cross stitch here and there. Maybe a few stitches on a binding. I'm all over the place, and stuff is moving forward a little here and a little there, but nothing--no ONE thing--is reaching completion. 

And that's my goal--to reach completion--with the 12 projects from my list. If you're following along with me, your goal may be different. You may want to move a big project forward one step each month. Whatever your goal, if you aren't focused, I'm going to bet that it won't happen. 

Is it working?

Well, let's see. Last week I showed you a photo of my first target. I've had this red, white, and blue quilt in progress so long I forgot the name of the pattern. Someone recognized it in my post last week (thanks Mary) and enlightened me. It's called Scrappy Star from Two Kwik Quilters. 

When I made the quilt top (I swear it must have been nearly 10 years ago), I thought it would be a good idea to hand quilt it. It's not small, about twin size. I even used swapped rail fence blocks for the border. I thread-basted the entire quilt, and started the hand quilting with an in-the-ditch line of quilting around each star shape. And that's where the project hit a wall. I don't know why, it just did. It sat in a cabinet for a while--a long while. I pulled it out last year and put it on a quilt rack in the corner of my living room intending to finishing it up. But with no focus on its progress, this concept and the quilt fell flat. Zero progress. Nada.

Right before the new year, as I was formulating my planner and my plan, I pulled the quilt off the rack. Now, the quilt center is entirely quilted, and only the borders are left to quilt. When I first pulled it out, my husband, ever the source of positive reinforcement, said something like: "that will take you months!"

Now I can barely keep from pulling out the basting threads. Gimme another week or so . . . that makes a total of three weeks, working on this quilt - and ONLY this quilt - when I'm relaxing with television in the evenings. Let's see if I can stay focused on finishing this ONE quilt!

One more simple step left to discuss next week. My favorite part . . . joy.

What ONE quilty project are you working on this week?

Happy Stitching!


  1. That's seems a workable plan! Best wishes on your continues success!

    1. We'll have to keep each other on track!

  2. I can identify with your situation and your goal of conquering unfinished quilt at a time. I have finished my first one which was a Block of the Month in 2009 (or was it 2006!), motivated mainly by my granddaughter who help rekindle my love for the pattern. Now on to the next quilt, which is calling for borders and cutting the backing, my least favorite tasks. Thank you for your encouragement! Savanah in Alaska

    1. If you're on borders and backing, you're in the home stretch. You can do it!

  3. I also began working on just one quilt, encouraging myself to finish it, so that I can get to the next one. I have completed two projects in the last two months, and am currently working on the machine quilting for another. Focusing on one quilt is making a difference for me and I'm expecting it will for you, too.

    1. You go, Pamela! I'll be rooting for both of us this year!