Sunday, April 28, 2013

On track . . . no, off track

. . . okay, back on track!  It's the end of April and I still have (completely) finished only one of my target UFQ's this year.  It was humbling to admit that to almost 300 California quilters earlier this month as I "lectured" them about UFQ Assault Tactics.  It's definitely my most popular lecture these days, but talking about it and doing it seem to be two different things.

A few days after returning from a pleasant trip to the San Diego area, I plunged back into working towards my 2013 goal.  I had layered up project #2 to be hand quilted before I left and dabbled at it a bit, but since returning, I've worked on it almost every evening.  I've worked out most of my design decisions about the quilting and am moving along at a steady, albeit slow, pace.  If I have it finished by the end of August, I'll be satisfied -- because there's another one waiting in the wings that I want to hand quilt this year also.

But I can do two things at once, so out came the Folkart Cats!  This BOM from the late 90's was another one I shared with my Friendship group -- they pieced and fused the 12 blocks for me.  My job was to stitch the applique edges using the buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine and piece the checkerboard sashing and the (tiny) 3" blocks for the cornerstones.  I finally finished the piecing at my guild's retreat this past October.   

But the buttonhole stitching . . . I hate doing that . . . "hate" might seem like too strong a word, but look how long it's taken to get it done -- over 12 years.   I had to bully myself into finishing the stitching -- "45 minutes before you can watch TV, Mary".  And so it was finally finished.  The blocks were ready to set together!!!

The top half!
I took a few days off from the cats to finish an even older piece and then had to return to the task at hand.  Once the sashing was set onto the blocks, I realized it was bigger than I thought it would be or than I wanted it to be.  So, the borders were eliminated -- saved me fabric and time!! 

Then I spent 2 days looking at it on the work wall trying to decide if I'm going to quilt it (in which case I'll do it in two half sections) or if I'm going to send it out.  Finally this afternoon, I convinced myself that which ever I decide, I can still put the blocks into the two halves.  And once I decided to do that, I also pulled fabric for the backing.  And I eliminated quite a few of the extra embellishments!  
The bottom half!
So the important lesson is to avoid losing momentum no matter what!!   It is a major contributing factor in more UFQ's than any other factor in my opinion.  Over the past few years, I've learned to recognize the signs that I'm about to lose momentum.  Running out of fabric, getting interested in something else, not knowing how to quilt a piece, not enjoying the necessary work and there are probably more.  

Recognizing the signs has enabled me to develop strategies to bypass those stumbling blocks and maintain my momentum.  I only allow myself a week to find "more fabric" or the "right fabric".  I eliminate aspects of a design that I don't enjoy doing -- works fine as long as I destroy the evidence (sell, give away, or destroy the pattern).  I start quilting as soon as I have even the littlest idea about how I want to proceed -- seriously, once I'm engaged with the piece, other ideas present themselves.  And deadlines are huge!!  Set them and use them as often as possible. 

If there's one thing I've learned over the past 5 years, it's that "starting" usually takes much long than "finishing".  Ponder that!