Work Patterns

In my never-ending quest to squeeze more creative time into my day, my attention has turned to work habits.  What drives the decision to start one project over another?  Why do some ideas linger like a mild headache?  Why do some projects flow start to finish and others stall and restart repeatedly?


I don’t have all the answers to those questions, but by watching my own work habits I have begun to see some patterns. 


My friends joke that I don’t do simple, but I do.  My son’s quilt is a bunch of squares sewn together.  It doesn’t get simpler than that.  I didn’t draw the pattern.  I found it in McCall’s Quilting several years ago.


So why didn’t I look at it and forget it like so many other patterns I’ve seen over the years?  I remembered it because the whole quilt is made of squares.  I like squares.  They’re easy to cut.  They’re easy to sew.  They lend themselves to strip piecing.  I can snug up the seams and match the points easily.


What shapes do you enjoy working with in quilts?  Circles?  Triangles?  Stars?  What happens when you start a quilt that doesn’t contain those shapes?  What happens when you start a quilt that does? 


I found that identifying the shapes I like to work with and ensuring my projects include those shapes is one of the keys to a quick finish.  It makes sense.  If I enjoy the pattern and the process, I will finish it faster than if I don’t.

            ceiling tile 


As much as I like squares, they’re not very challenging.  Sewing them together makes for mindless sewing.  After a few weeks of this, I start getting bored.  Why two weeks?  Why doesn’t boredom set in after one week?


It looks like two weeks is my personal rejuvenation period.  I just finished the NQA challenge quilt.  I drew that pattern in EQ6 and listed the sewing steps and cutting instructions on the printout.  I drew the quilting designs to fit the spaces.  I had to think about every step.  I call these “thinking quilts”.


After a thinking quilt I need mindless sewing until I’m ready for something more challenging.  My son’s quilt fit perfectly.  I will finish piecing the top sometime this week.


As interesting (or not) as this all is, what’s the point?   The point is that I can plan my projects to fit my work habits and keep myself busy and motivated.  If I had started another complicated project right after the NQA quilt, I would have procrastinated because I didn’t want to think that hard.  I wasn’t ready.

Take a look at your own work patterns.  Do you do one challenging project after another, or do you need a break in between?  At what point do you get bored and need something more to keep you interested?  How do you rejuvenate?


By planning my projects according to my personal work pattern I am both finishing UFOs and working on my quilting wish list.  Is this a technique that might work for you too?

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