Saturday, November 3, 2012

Clutter

I'm no stranger to having lots of, let's say, loose ends hanging about in my life. I start projects, lose interest for awhile, start something else, go back and work on the previous project a little bit, get stuck, start a 3rd project to meet a "deadline," and the vicious cycle continues until one day I make a spreadsheet of unfinished quilt projects that looks like this. And let's not even talk about the non-quilt related unfinished projects around the house, okay?

Believe it or not, I feel like I've been "holding myself back" from starting too many new projects this year.

I didn't realize that things had gotten so bad in the sewing room specifically, until we started straightening up the house last night for company that's coming this weekend. I got pretty snippy with the Husbatron when he tried to vacuum in the sewing room. I was worried he'd hoover up some of my precious scraps and half-started projects that are strewn across the floor. Then, there are the towers of fabric that are stacked "just so" in their proper order around the room that are prone to falling over if you even look at them the wrong way. Just in case you don't believe me when I tell you how bad it is, here are a few pictures.

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Observations:
1) You definitely can't say that I staged the photos for this post. Nothing but raw blurry phone photo'd honesty here today, folks.

2) Don't let the large quilt tops and backings that are classily draped over boxes and chairs to avoid wrinklage fool you. (Anything to avoid ironing fabric more than once, amIrite?) There are stacks of fabric that I've pulled/purchased for future projects and more WiPs hiding underneath them.

The truth of it all is that I'm afraid that I know I only have a little bit of precious time a week right now to work on my quilting projects, but I don't want to have to decide what to work on and what to put away, so instead, I leave all the projects where they sit and start something new.

Productive way to deal with the problem, eh?

But I'm afraid that if I "put away" any of these projects, that they'll languish and won't get done for YEARS. Unless they're in my line of everyday sight (and consequently in my way and serving as tripping hazards), they're likely to be forgotten.

I know some of you out there are shaking your head at me and wondering why I'm worrying and stressing out so much about my HOBBY. I do this for fun! Why do I always have to make life so structured and routinized? I think that sometimes too. But as much as I hate to admit it, I don't have as much tolerance as I imagine for clutter in my mind or in my physical space. The temporary relief that comes from starting a new project and being free from making a decision about which existing project to work on is fleeting and unsatisfying.

So in the spirit of creating some space in my mind, I'm shelving a few of my self-made commitments to get some stuff done. For the next week, I'm only working on one thing until it's completely done, and I'm putting away everything else.

I'll be working on my Central park flower garden quilt.

The top's done, the backing's prepped, and I've pulled out a slew of batting scraps to piece together the batting for it.

I'll spend the next few days piecing the batting scraps with a zig zag stitch, basting it all together, trying out this particular quilting design on it, and figuring out what the heck to do for binding

In the meantime, I'm giving myself permission to temporarily shelve:
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the string block project from October
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the postage stamp quilt I started last month
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the jelly roll quilt I started for this month, based on this pattern
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a couple of strippy quilts that are basted and ready to quilt
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a double-sided quilt spawned by Satan bad quilt math

Working this way might mean that I won't have a finished jelly roll project for every month of the year, that I won't have a month's worth of string blocks to show for myself in october, and that I won't finish all my WiPs this year (a pipe dream if ever there was one!). But that's alright. I'll be decluttering my mind/space one project at a time.

If there's anyone out there who finished up a jelly roll quilt in October, please do share! I'll have the party run through next Wednesday, November 7. Then I'll pick a winner who will get a Moda Scrap Bag!

16 comments:

  1. I hear ya! My UFO list is about the same, with various states of completed-ness.

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  2. Oh, my dear, I am right there with you on all the projects! In moving, my goal was to finish WIPs, and not start anything new...well we all know how that works out. Fail! I have many new that have been started and added to my pile of WIPs!

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  3. You are definitely not alone. Our neighbour had a visitor from Germany. When she found out I was a quilter she wanted to come over and see my quilts. Well there is the sewing room and then the over flow in the office and the pinned and waiting to be quilted pile in the bedroom. I really had my eyes opening to my personal chaos. She liked the quilts, even took pictures. But I am really trying to get something "done, done". Good luck maintaining your resolved. Joanne

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  4. I have so many projects too but my job keeps me motivated to finish. I have about 35 women a month who come to a club I host. Yikes!

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  5. I understand. Was feeling stressed by too many unfinished quilt tops. So I did what you have decided to do. Good luck.

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  6. Oh, I completely understand - I've been mucking out my space this month! It feels good once it's done, though. Two suggestions - use pants hangers to hang up your neatly lengthwise-folded finished tops in a closet - they stay nicely pressed that way. And you might post a list of the top five projects you want to finish (much smaller than your very impressive spreadsheet) somewhere in your workroom and work exclusively on those until you finish one. After you finish it, take it off the list and add one more from your spreadsheet. Might help keep you from feeling overwhelmed.....

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  7. Sarah gave some excellent advice. And as you see you are not alone. I have been sorting, boxing, labeling and prepping - easier to find and do that way - and things look much better.

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  8. Ha, ha! I spent the last two weeks cleaning out and doing a re org of my workspace. Just about to post about it too. My space was much worse off due to the ripping everything apart to find the right "white" thread to finish the quilting on the dress 48 hours before DOQ show drop off. Apparently, the thread was in my hand work bag that I never thought to check.

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  9. I completely understand. I was the Queens of UFOs..Well, too many unfinished quilt tops. :D Cheers

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  10. I've been over the bend about my UFO collection too. My spreadsheet is much longer than yours so it could be worse! I hang my flimsies on hangers like Sarah and it keeps them in good shape.

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  11. That's an amazing spreadsheet.....a little scary though. I do like Sarah's idea of the five project list. I'm also a multiple project quilter....I now have multiple design walls to keep things off the floor yet in sight....lets see if it works.

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  12. I think we can all relate to this...

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  13. Amen! Says the woman who somehow completed two large wedding quilts, 6 bridesmaids bags, 2 10" quilts for an art show, and is currently trying to finish a pattern for a newsletter. yet has a trunk and 6 boxes of ufos.

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  14. I started quilting 18 months with the idea that I would buy fabric for each project. I couldn't understand the concept of a stash. After all, working from a stash still meant you paid for the fabric in the first place, right? Well, 18 months later, many projects later, I have a small stash, I have four projects going (two are in the binding stage)and a few bins containing the fabric/pattern/thread for new projects. However, I can't deal with clutter so I do keep everything organized. I'm writing all of this to say that we can justify anything! I completely understand ironing once, putting it away would be bad, etc. Good luck and sleep well! It's a hobby!

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  15. With my Bernie on the fritz and just getting him back, I totally understand your plight. I've got one quilt I was quilting when my machine froze, and now I'm trying to finish up some HST's so that I can move to the list of UFO's! Good luck!

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  16. Oh yes, this clutter looks familiar. I think we all have a cluttered room like this in our homes. :) My clutter is scrapbook paper, stickers, pens, stamps, etc. It's better if I stick to one project at a time, finish it, and then move on to the next.

    Thanks for sharing your honest photos.

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