Multiple Projects

Thanks to Angela, who passed along this blog post on Sew Mama Sew by Cheryl Arkison about having multiple projects going at once. Even though I have cleared out a lot of UFOs recently, I still have multiple projects going at once. The most important point she makes is that having multiple projects allows you to perform a quilting step/task that fits in with the time you have. Cheryl writes:

“With each moment in the studio I eke out what can be done. Impromptu playdate in the backyard? Let’s cut fabric! Extra long nap for the little guy? Pedal to the metal at the sewing machine. Hubby away and trashy TV? Pressing leaders and enders.

If I was only working on one project at a time I would spend more time waiting than working. Waiting for just the right moment of alertness to cut fabric. Waiting for quiet afternoons to sew. Waiting for the kids to go to bed so I can wash the floor and baste. Waiting for inspiration to hit when I get blocked. So much waiting.

Instead of waiting I can hit the ground running on any project when time and energy allow. Less waiting, more working. Even if the work takes a long time to become a quilt. I can make progress because progress is always happening. It just isn’t always on the same project.”

And Cheryl’s points don’t even start talking about how we feel. We might feel like cutting during one nap time or auditioning fabric while Grandma watches the kids. All of these factors point to success by having multiple projects going.

Her last point in the excerpt is especiallly important to me. I work with demanding people in a high stress environment. Sewing and quiltmaking calms me down and takes me away from the crazy when I have had a stressful day, week, month. It doesn’t matter if I am finishing something every week or month. It matters that I am sewing – pushing fabric through the machine. That quilts eventually come out is an added bonus.

You might be remembering the project I did to clear out UFOs and wondering how Cheryl’s points fit together. I needed to clear out the “old junk” from my UFO piles to make space for new fabrics and new ideas. Having a project sit around for years, I don’t think is the point. It wasn’t the point for me. Even though I cleared out a lot of UFOs in a kind of binge, I still am trying to be process oriented rather than product oriented. That big push really cleared out the cobwebs that the old projects were making in my brain. Not having many old projects doesn’t mean that I don’t have multiple projects. I do – just fewer and newer and really and truly in progress. The difference is that they are not sitting on a shelf forgotten with no progress happening.

Mark Lipinski is also part of the Slow Stitching Movement. Sandy talks about the same concept on her blog. The interesting part is that this new version doesn’t make us all do handwork. We can still use modern technology.

I don’t know what will happen when I get stuck on a project. I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.