Quilts with a Deadline


Hello, readers! This week I’m coming at you with a problem.

In the past, I’ve written about where to find inspiration. But alas! I find myself without any! Or, perhaps it isn’t a lack of inspiration, but a lack of motivation. A project paralysis of sorts.

You see, I find myself up against deadlines for the two baby quilts I have underway. I like the patterns and the fabrics, and I love the families who will be receiving them (because they are my family!). But for some reason, I look at the tidy piles of pieces and I think, “nope. I don’t want to”.

I would liken it to a writer’s block, but for quilting. (Pun alert!) A “quilt block” if you will.

I find “quilt blocks” often happen when I am working against deadlines for my quilt projects. And when the proverbial “quilt block” takes over, not a lot of actual quilt blocks are made!

Sewing Area


The worst part is, the longer I wait and the closer the deadline is, the bigger my “quilt block” becomes! The problem just snowballs on itself. Yikes!

In regards to baby quilts, specifically, Nancy the Quilting Goddess has always lived by the philosophy that as long as the baby gets the quilt before they turn 1, your job is done.

I try so very, very hard to subscribe to this school of thought, too. But for some reason, I always require myself to finish by the baby shower. I don’t even give myself until the birth! What am I doing to myself?!

This project paralysis steals some of the joy from quilting for me, and just like cooking, I think a quilt is better when it is made with joy (and love!). The love isn’t lacking, but I worry that these deadline-quilts will not have the joy they deserve, and it will show.

I already have a full-time day job. And I have my sweet family, a house, a yard, cars, a social life, etc. that also pull me a million directions. So when a deadline makes a quilt project feel like a job, it is hard for me to find the desire to set aside the time. I’m working hard enough, so quilting can’t feel like work, or I just won’t do it!

I am sure that I will get these quilts done (probably with Nancy the Quilting Goddess’ help) as I always do. But maybe you all can help me not just “get them done”, but also enjoy doing it!

Does anyone else struggle with “quilt block” when up against a (possibly unnecessary, self-imposed) deadline? What do you do about it? Leave a comment below!

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  • Carolyn Knees
Comments 12
  • MArci

    I, too, find now and then I run out of inspiration. When that happens I go to my fabric cupboard and rearrange my fabrics, look at them all, sort them in colours, values and shapes. Usually within a short time I am getting a feeling of ..come on … .lets go….from shopping bags, purses, table napkins, placement and of course baby quilts, which are my favourite.

  • Claire Lanteigne-Palmer
    Claire Lanteigne-Palmer

    Don’t take more than you can handle. From an old hen to a young chick. Anxiety will give you gray hair.

  • Nancy Hutchison
    Nancy Hutchison

    AHH the self imposed deadline. Probably the worst thing about quilting. I have “the list”, and I write possible projects down, then i have a more realistic idea of what is possible.

  •  Vivien

    When I get ‘quilt block’ and feel I’m being pulled in different directions I set myself a goal to quilt 1 hour a day giving me time for other life issues and before you know it your back on track. Good luck!

  • Ginny McCann
    Ginny McCann

    You said it yourself- a self-imposed deadline. Sometimes we bite off more than we can choose at a given time. Make the quilt less complicated. It will be loved because you made it.

  • Eileen

    I have the same quilt “block” problem. However, mine happens with teaching samples. I love the pattern, I love my fabric choices, I love the idea of teaching others how to make the quilt – BUT – there everything sits and I cannot seem to sit down and start. I don’t know why, perhaps ADD, but some other project seems to call to me to begin, continue or finish. Of course, there are times when I have to make a baby quilt for a shower, or answer the call to make charity quilts with my guild; but even without a good excuse such as these a paralysis of sorts seems to set in. Telling me to just buckle down and do it just doesn’t motivate me. Then, one day, I wake up and MUST start and I sew like a mad person. I’m sure it’s a character flaw…maybe I need a support group or 12-step program.

  • Christine Frymark
    Christine Frymark

    I step back, pour a glass of wine or cup of coffee, regroup and then try to break down the project into a more manageable timetable. Sometimes a project as a whole seems overwhelming, but if you can sew just one seam before or after work, it will get done and chances are you won’t be able to stop at sewing just one seam. There are a lot of distractions and excuses that can keep us from setting time aside to sew; however once you enter your sewing room I am sure you will forget about your other responsibilities and focus on the quilt you hope to complete. I am in a different zone when I am working on a quilting project. The hardest part is walking away from the million and one tasks that family life demands and just taking some time for yourself to be able to sew. Play some music while you sew. Maybe you could say, I will sew until my favorite song ends to help motivate you to sew a little bit each day or every other day depending on how hectic your life. Good luck!!

  • Cheryl Denice Grass
    Cheryl Denice Grass

    I’m on a fixed income. My family has suggested that I make them to sell. But I’m the same way. If it feels like a job I won’t do it. I made the quilted purses/ bags to sale a few years ago and when I stopped, I just stopped sewing. It took me a couple of years to get passed it and start quilting again. So hang in there. Maybe just do a little each day then put it away. The joy will come back. And stop giving yourself unnecessary deadlines. That’s my thought, I don’t know if it will help but I hope it does.

  • Debby Gregory
    Debby Gregory

    You are so right about this! I find that, first, I have to forgive myself for procrastinating! I usually find that when I am “in the mood” I am more productive. And I will usually get things done “in time”. (And the recipients still appreciate the gift no matter when it is received! 😊)

  • Elaine Brennan
    Elaine Brennan

    YES -I hate it! Last year, Christmas became a sweaty palms holiday. This year I have a notebook labeled “2019 Project Book” and I think this will help me avoid the last minute panics, other than unexpected projects. Am gradually marking things off and starting Christmas projects now.

  • J. Porep
    J. Porep

    I try not to set deadlines. It sounds crazy, but for me “deadlines” give me for anxiety than the daily stress of a day-fulltime job, house, helping raise my grandchildren, etc. I use quilting as my “therapy”. I look forward to the planning, cutting, and sewing. I give myself at least an hour a day to quilt—most nights I manage to sneak in more after my grandkids are in bed and the house is quiet. I know there are many quilters with many suggestions, but I just seem to stick with the way that makes me feel like the most accomplished quilter I can be.

  • Sheila

    I feel your pain. My great nephew, 5 days old and I have just finalized the top (pattern) last night. Hand quilting now.
    this is the 2nd quilt I put together, dumped the first because it came out terrible.
    so I can understand your dilemma. hang in there, it will get done.
    I have to work around family, shoveling, house work and 24/7 care of a 96 yr. old who lives on coffee, donuts ( if I dont hide the pot) and constant interruptions. Hard to think some days, never mind try to create a quilt. But getting it done.
    Good Luck

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