My name is Charlotte, sometimes known as Ms Lottie, occasionally as The Slightly Mad Quilt Lady. This is my blog, where you'll find me writing a lot about my quilting and textile arts and a little about my family's life in a small seaside town in New Zealand. Haere mai!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Stuck for inspiration?

Random shot, just to boast about what I'm having for dinner!

When I'm making a quilt, I can get stuck.  Because I don't tend to use patterns, and sometimes I don't even have the idea of the finished quilt in my mind when I start, the designing takes place on the hoof.  This has big pros and big cons.

Biggest pro:  When it's finished, it is truly my quilt. 

Biggest con:  The design process can stump me to the point where I put the whole thing away in disgust.

I was getting quite the pile of works-in-progress (WIPs).  To the point where some of them were becoming dreaded unfinished objects (UFOs)!  (After all, if you haven't worked on a project for more than a year, can it really be called a WIP?)

Big, overwhelming pile of WIPs.

But I've been finding some tricks and tips to help me see a project right through from start to finish.  The most important one is dedicated quilting time.  And I'm not that great at self-discipline so dedicated quilting time that I spend with another quilter is the best for me.  I've started spending two hours a week with another guild member.  She has enough room for me to set up my machine, so I always plan to use this two hours as dedicated sewing time.  I also spend an one evening a week at another quilting friend's place.  I can use her machine if I need to but I tend to spend most of this time discussing our respective projects, getting honest feedback and inspiration.  And then I'll squeeze in a little pressing, or thread tying in or drawing.

What we've recently started doing at our evening sessions is a list of what we are each going to work on before our next meeting.  For me it provides a prompt when I'm wondering what to do next and it also keeps me a little more accountable to myself.

Another trick I've been using when I'm stuck on a project is to just make myself pick it up and lay it out and take one more step.  Just one.  Whether that be sewing one more seam, making one more block, or laying out some fabrics to choose from.  If I can make myself do one more step, then I often find myself racing off again, inspired and stimulated to continue.

For example, I've been making an 'I Spy' quilt for my daughter. Nothing too tricky about that. Except I decided to piece the backing out of offcuts of the novelty fabrics I had used. But when I started sewing them together in strips it just wasn't working.

See?  Too many colours, too many patterns, too much going on.

So I packed it all up and haven't touched it for a couple of months.  But it was on my weekly list to do 'something' towards finishing that quilt.  Today I pulled it out, lay it down, changed some of the novelty fabrics for plainer fabrics and divided some busy areas with plain strips - suddenly it was all working and by the afternoon I'd finished piecing the whole back!

Almost finished.

So what tricks do you use when you're uninspired by your current project?


  1. Now thats what I call a fish!!!

    We have a group that meets once or twice a month and we do stuff! Its been great at keeping us mostly on track :) I still have the odd ufo but wips are now far rarer and do get finished within reason (mostly :)

    Look me up on Artfibredunedin.blogspot Theres a wonderful(!!!!!) photo of my middle along with a recent concoction (sigh - wish I had a better figure or that the photo had been edited.)

    viv in dunedin

  2. Ms Lottie,I hear you!When the growing season is in, it is so hard for me to get myself to do anything else. I,too,have so WIP projects. It depends on the state of my nerves, and then,whether or not I have company, thus,demanding I stay put, so as not to be rude.It is so hard for me to just sit. It may be rude,also, but I'll pull out one of my projects at that time. If any comments are made about it, I simply reply,I don't smoke and drink very little coffee, so I sew,or whatever the case may be.I get a lot of projects done that way.We have lots of company.

  3. Makes me want fish too, lucky you! Oh, quilting, ok. I guess I am the most uninspired person I know. Ahh, 17 years to finish one quilt? To be serious, I need a prod at my back side to finish, or at least a deadline. You know, baby is gonna be here in a month, get that quilt done! Wedding coming get the idea. I need to have a reason. I hate that about myself. I have to many WIPS and UFOS to really count. I am thinking what I need to do is set them out, count them and "gift" the ones I haven't worked on or have forgotten, in the past year or two. As far as working on a project where I am, I just do it. I actually have a few projects in bags that I can grab to go. Have a great dinner, Elaine

  4. Don't hate yourself about needing a reason to finish a quilt, Elaine! I need a good reason to cook dinner ;) Maybe you need to think up more reasons!

  5. Well lucky for me by your definition I only have WIPs not UFOs! It was the laying it out and leaving it out that has got me working on the blocks I received from the ANZAC Bee - if something's on the shelf or in a bag it just gets forgotten! I like that you have dedicated quilting time I may just have to work some into my week. x

  6. I usually stamp around in a mood for a bit, then tell myself sternly that it HAS to be finished, so just get on with it, lady!

    Sometimes does the trick ;-)


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