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Finishing Stuff is Hard

Someone posted in a Facebook group I belong to that they were having a lot of trouble finishing things and asked if anyone else dealt with that. I wrote up a response and someone suggested I make it a blog post, which seemed like a good idea, so here it is, slightly edited for clarity.

Finishing things is something I’ve struggled with for most of my life! Eventually I learned to break it down into buckets of why I wasn’t finishing things and came up with methods for each. Your reasons may be different, but in case any of these are helpful, here are my buckets:

1. I have a hard decision to make and don’t know what the right answer is. This one gets me still, either there’s a design decision, or a piecing decision, or a “do I rip this or just move on” type decision. If it’s an either or, I’ll flip a coin and then judge my reaction to the response and choose accordingly. If it’s harder than that, I’ll bring in some outside advice. And sometimes I will just give myself a deadline to make a choice so I can move on. There will be other quilts, this one doesn’t have to be perfect. (Finished is better than perfect is the mantra I try to remember)

1. Transcendence involved a ton of design work before even starting it. I made a bajillion designs using the colors and narrowed it down to two. Which I waffled between for ages until I finally chose this one because I had enough fabric on hand to make it. Yay, pragmatism!

2. I need to do something hard/new and I’m scared to try it. Generally once I recognize that’s what’s going on, I’ve learned to force my way through it. But before I got better at facing my fears, I’d overcome this one by taking the project to a retreat or a sew day or some other sort of thing where there were other people who could help and motivate me through it.

2. Phoenix was really hard for me to even START because of all those curves and the on-point construction and the colors kinda terrified me. Then there was an issue during the design phase that included an element that would have made it a lot harder to construct and I couldn’t decide what to do. In the end I eliminated that element.

3. I’m bored with it. Sometimes I’ve learned what I’ve needed to learn on a project and I don’t need to continue it. If I’m not learning something, I’ll get bored pretty quickly. I had a lot of starts and stops initially until I realized that FOR ME, following someone else’s patterns was boring (no value judgment here for people following patterns, it just doesn’t work for me!) I also don’t seem to do well with repeated blocks. Once I started doing my own designs I finished WAY more quilts. But sometimes it turns out that I just wanted to see if colors worked well together. Or I wanted to try a piecing technique. Or something else that really doesn’t require finishing an entire quilt. And that’s okay. Make it a mini, or donate it and move on. No need to keep that stuff around.

3. This quilt top was basically experimenting with color placement and how the zig zags would look using this block. Once the top was done I saw how it worked and I was done with the experiment and never felt the need to finish it. I eventually donated it to someone else to turn into a charity quilt.

4. The ugly stage. My quilts all seem to go through an ugly stage and I lose faith that they’re going to turn out OK (this always seems to be during the quilting phase…..) When I hit the “blahs” I just move it into the “work on it 15-30 minutes a day” pile and then work on it before the “fun projects”. It will eventually get done and usually at some point it will stop being ugly and I get excited about it again. Or maybe I put a binding on it and gift it immediately so I never have to see it again. 😉

4. City Lights originally had quilting that was so tragic I cried over it. I picked out the few places that were awful technically, and then added much more dense quilting and it transformed it into a quilt I really love. But it took me a month before I could face it to do so.

It can be frustrating to not finish stuff, but try to figure out why and don’t beat yourself up over it. Your brain is trying to tell you something, and it doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with you!

So how about you, what stops you from finishing your quilts?


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