Minimalist living and quilting pursuits
We quilters often have piles of UFOs lying around. I myself as guilty as the next, with new fabric calling my name so quickly that I barely (if at all) finish a quilt top before moving onto the next project; meanwhile, my pile of unfinished quilts builds. My actual number of finished projects each year poorly reflects the number of hours spent in my sewing room.
As I look at the piles of partially pieced projects, I realize that I have hundreds of dollars tied up in - well, not much. Sure, the pursuit of arriving at this place was extremely enjoyable, but when I look at this situation, it feels wasteful. I have ten started quilts (that I can find - there might be more) sitting in my sewing room. I could have spent the same number of hours to have five finished quilts. I could be using them, my friends could be using them, they could be sold, they could be donated to those in need, etc. Instead of wisely using my resources to create beautiful things, I have simply created useless things. They were enjoyable to make, but if completed, they could be so much more. They could bring joy to others; instead, they weigh me down with guilt.
It's time for this to stop.
Last week, I worked on one project from start to finish, without putting it down to work on anything else in between. As such, I never lost momentum. I was excited about the project from the beginning to the end - partly because the end came so quickly after the beginning. I got the fabric, cut and arranged it, sewed it, quilted it, bound it, and was still on a quilter's high at the end. My excitement about the fabric and the idea carried me through the entire process of making the quilt.
My UFOs, on the other hand - well, they are not so exciting for me. Some of them have been around for years. The idea is not new or fresh, the fabric has lost its initial charm, and the infatuation period is over, so to speak. Finishing some of these projects is like pulling teeth.
I could continue on as I have been: Work on whatever I feel like working on, right at that moment. The benefit is immediate gratification. Lots of ideas flying around, lots of fun. But lots of guilt when I see the amount of waste I'm creating in the quest for the fastest fun.
Instead, here's my new commitment: Work on one project at a time. Carefully choose my ideas so that I am only spending time on my very best concepts. Don't accept every offer for free fabric (like challenges), don't join every competition. Realize that life is short - so why spend it on anything less than amazing? Make only the greatest quilts. I'll end up having less waste, even if I don't end up with any more finished projects (as they may require more time to complete). The downside of this option is that I can't chase every idea around. But it's time to learn that not every idea deserves my full attention, or the time needed to immortalize it in fabric. If I'm going to abandon it halfway through the project, it's better to abandon it in the idea stage. This way, I haven't really lost anything.
It'll take some time to get used to this new way of doing things. And there are practical aspects to consider - bees (I'm only a part of 2, which I find to be reasonable), waiting on extra fabric to finish a project, needing to go to the store for more supplies to finish a quilt (such as quilting thread or binding fabric), and the fact that I need to tackle the current UFO/WIP pile before I can focus on just one thing at a time.
But my goal is to have the freedom to fully invest myself into a single project. Because if it's not worth my full attention, then maybe it's not worth making. And I'm not wasting my life on those pursuits.