Tag Archives: Motivation

What Is Your Next Quilt?

How do you choose your next project? Do you decide based on deadlines, such as special occasions or upcoming classes? Or do you pick an exciting new pattern, an old UFO, or a great piece of fabric to get you moving? What motivates your choice?

It’s a question about priorities. Digging a little deeper, it’s a question about why you quilt. Do you quilt to please yourself, or to meet obligations, or from a sense of guilt?

I’ve made guilt quilts. That isn’t necessarily a bad choice, but the main reward is in simply finishing. There usually isn’t the sense that “it’s all about the journey.” Sometimes I quilt to meet obligations, usually self-imposed. But these days I quilt mostly to please myself.

Sometimes I wonder what to choose as my next project. What will please me most? I’m not always very good at choosing between competing temptations. There are projects I’ve long wanted to do and continually think, “that’s the next one.” There are a couple of UFOs in one drawer, and several yards of scraps in another. Both drawers call to me. There are class samples to make, as well.

I usually choose either what is most urgent or what is easiest to lay my hands on. Neither is necessarily the one that will satisfy me most.


When my son was in first grade, his teacher’s philosophy on reading was the children should choose from a Goldilocks variety of books: some books should be a little too hard, some should be too easy, and some should be just right. The variety allows students the pleasures of speed, of comprehension, and of challenge. That philosophy can work well for quilting, too.

Usually I don’t pick quilt projects that are “easy,” but I have made several disappearing 9-patch quilts, and I will make them again. They are easy to execute and always turn out well. Most of my projects are in the “just right” and “rather challenging” groups. I enjoy extending my skills and figuring out ways to make my work fresh and interesting, while still looking like “me.”

Right now I have three projects, all somewhat defined, to consider. I might not choose but work on them concurrently. One is a UFO that I’ve taken apart to blocks. The blocks are not symmetrical, so their arrangement makes a big difference in how they look together. It should be in the “just right” category, aside from settling on design.

I’ve taken the borders off and separated the blocks. All the parts are pressed and ready to reuse, as soon as I have a good plan.

Another has been in my head for at least three years. I’ve put it off because, to me, it is hard. The third is a class sample for my October medallion class.

How do you choose your next project? Are they intended for growth or for fun, or some combination of the two? Are you most motivated by deadlines or sew-alongs or challenges issued by your guild? What gets you going?



I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

I am a great planner and always have been. Sometimes plans work out; sometimes they don’t.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.
~ Lao Tzu

At this stage of my life, I have the luxury of time. While deadlines do crop up occasionally, most of my schedule is self-imposed. And for the most part, I’ve become comfortable with changing that schedule, since no bad thing will happen if I don’t finish project X by week Y.

First comes thought; then organization of that thought, into ideas and plans; then transformation of those plans into reality. The beginning, as you will observe, is in your imagination.
~ Napoleon Hill

Because I design my own quilts, the planning is key. With no pattern, no color scheme suggested by others, I pull from my experience and from my inspirations.

Plans are nothing; planning is everything.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

A pattern isn’t enough for me. The thought process helps me deal with problems before they arise.

Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans. It is lovely to be silly at the right moment.
~ Horace

But I always want to temper that with room for the unexpected, and for play. Often the greatest visual success comes from the element of surprise.

It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan.
~ Eleanor Roosevelt

The key, though, isn’t just in the plan, or even in the impromptu moment. It’s in the execution. If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.

More of an idea than a plan… http://wp.me/p3L3zY-gs

It’s No Bother!

Thanks to everyone who took a moment to comment on my little whinefest the other day. I was feeling discouraged. And most of all, as I look at how I want to use my time, I wondered whether the blog in the way I do it is a good use of a limited resource.

Because I focus on process, both how I think about things and the technical aspects of how to execute, it does take some time to put together a post. But as you know, teaching something teaches the teacher. Every time I write a post, I learn more, simply from talking it out.

This is what I do. And it’s a pleasure, not a bother.

At the same time, I know I can be kind of earnest and serious. And I’ve declined to talk here about my life or my family. In future posts I’ll try to inject a little more personality, so you can get to know me better.

Thanks again for your comments and your readership. I really do appreciate it.

Should I Bother?

Indulge me, please, while I indulge in some whining. There are a few layers to my discouragement, but they are all related. And they all relate to motivation.

Like most people, I have both internal motivators and external ones. Too much external “motivation” just feels like stress, doesn’t it? But not enough makes it a little harder to rev the internal engines, too. And like most quilters, I quilt for fun, but not always. Two things I enjoy most are solving design challenges and teaching. And, no surprise! I like teaching about how to solve design challenges.

Up until now, that is how I’ve used this blog. If you look through the Medallion Quilts tab or the Tutorials tab, you can see a few of the posts I’ve put up, trying to share what I learn as I push through this creative endeavor.

Based on some of that work, I was asked by a local guild to present at a meeting this spring. And recently I was uninvited because of a scheduling conflict. Also I was asked to serve as a resource for an on-line guild. The contact person for that group has since disappeared, at least from my view.

And frankly even with posts I put here, I get very little feedback. Really I have no idea if my efforts are useful to you or not. Or what questions you have about why or how I did something the way I chose.

My external motivators have largely disappeared.

So I’d like to know, what do you want? Most quilt blogs I see are beautifully done and enjoyable, but they are completely different than this. I’ll never report what I did today, or even what I did this week. I’ll never rely on eye candy as the main focus of the blog. It is dense, information-packed, and sometimes perhaps hard to get through all in one sitting. I focus on process and analysis. THIS is what I do.

Should I? Should I bother?

I can quilt for fun, regardless of who may someday receive my quilt. And I can write for fun, as well. But frankly, both are more fun when there is some external motivation, as well as the internal motivation.

Are there changes you’d like to see, that would make this site more enjoyable or more useful to you? Are there topics you’d love to see covered? Should I add a lot more personal information, daily or weekly reports of works in process, opportunities to clean my studio, or trips to the quilt shop? What attracts you to other quilt blogs?

Help me out here…