Follow-up: Design Wall

On Sunday May 1, I posted some information about what was on my design wall.

Sandy commented “You have a lot more going on with your design wall than I do with mine. I get too distracted by a lot going on visually so I can only have one project at a time up on the wall. My other projects are in bags or bins that periodically get pulled out, pawed through, then put away again. Sort of a low-commitment-refresher on what I’ve got going on at any given time. But I tend to be a One Project girl–one at a time, at least until the top is pieced. Then I might move on to something else while waiting for inspiration on the quilting.”

She made an excellent point, which leads me to more discussion about my process.

Shortly after I started quiltmaking, I moved quickly from one quilt project to another. I would most often not return to a project once I had moved on and rarely finished projects. This was how I mostly had crafted in the past and I perceived it as a quiltmaking trend at the time. One day I looked in the fabric closet and found boatloads of UFOs. I rarely finished anything. I realized that the time had come to start finishing those projects before I moved on to new projects. I still haven’t finished all of my UFOs, but I am farther along and keep strict track of my progress and of the UFOs I finish. Many of the older projects are finished and the ones that aren’t are moving towards the top of the list.

As described a bit in the presentation I made recently, I have thought a lot about my process and how I work. One of the things I realized is that I do a lot of prep work before I focus on a project. The cutting and beginning stitching may seem like part of the project, but for me it is prep work. I only cut to have some patches to stitch. I sew the little pieces into bigger pieces so I can really focus on the piece. Sewing small patches together is a great use of the leaders and enders philosophy. Using this philosophy, I can make a lot of progress without focusing on the project exclusively. Then suddenly I am ready to put blocks and a quilt top together.

Also, test pieces are not real projects for me. They are just that: tests; techniques and things I am trying out for one reason or another before I commit to a full quilt. I don’t count them as projects.

I am really trying hard to work on one large project at a time and see it through to the end. I am trying to finish everything I start, which means a lot more testing goes on before I commit. It doesn’t always work like it should because I can’t work on the project if it is at the quilter and I can’t watch TV while sitting at my machine.

I still have a number of projects going at once, but they are all organized and moving forward, even if they are not at the front of the line.