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Conquering Quilting Roadblocks to Finish a Quilt

I have a number of quilts that are almost finished. It’s a bit embarrassing actually having a quilt-in-progress pile that is for the most part just awaiting that final step for completion. The reason for this is that I am not a fan of binding quilts. I love making quilt blocks and I love seeing a quilt come together, but honestly, when it comes to binding I just find myself lacking motivation.

Unfinished quilts waiting for binding to be attached

While in the process of finishing a recent quilt, I was chatting with a couple of my quilting friends about the fact that most quilters have that one part of the process that seems less enjoyable than the rest of the quilt-making process. For me – that part is binding. My friend Morgan of Cedar Makerie admitted that she finds basting quilts to be her stumbling point, while my friend Sanne of SewbySanne noted that it’s “ so funny and interesting that we all get stuck at different phases of the quilting process. For me, it’s sewing the rows together and quilting”.

The quilt-making process involves a number of steps, so it is understandable that as makers we are likely to have a certain phase or step that is less enjoyable to us than others. But that doesn't mean that we automatically give up at that point, so what can you do to overcome the "sticking points" when we get to them?

I realised recently that the best strategy for me is to break down the binding process into smaller steps and do a little bit each day in order to eventually get it down. I will put on some music I love and cut my strips, and then work on another project. The next day I might sew those strips together followed by making a quilt block for a different quilt. On the third day, I might press them and get them ready for sewing and so on. While this may seem counter-productive, as I do tend to jump around between projects, however in the end, it is worth remembering that even a small step forward, is still making progress toward finishing the quilt, and that is my ultimate goal.

Binding which has been cut, pressed and rolled, ready to attach to my quilt. Preparing to move on to the next step of the quilting process.

However, if you love binding and dislike another part of the process your strategy to overcome the hurdle might be different. For example, if you dislike stitching your layers together, you might opt to outsource this to a long-arm quilter or make mini-quilts so the process doesn't seem so laborious. I also asked my friends what strategies they use and this is what they said.

Morgan's advice was to "do the roadblocks while you have momentum", for her, that means that once she has her quilt top together she tries to baste it straight away, so it's ready for quilting which is a step that she enjoys more. She also recommended making sure that if you can't get to it straight away, then set yourself up for success, by preparing for the next step where possible, and doing the things you need to do to make it easy to carry out the next step, like cleaning the space needed to baste the quilt or re-threading your machine with the correct colour - so it is ready to go when you come back to it the next day.

Holding a finished quilt! I always struggle to get my binding done, but I recently finished this lovely quilt.

Whatever your sticking point, bear in mind that it’s not unusual for quilt-makers to have a certain point in the process that simply brings us less joy to complete. There are strategies you can use to overcome our obstacles and continue making progress towards finishing a quilt. Draw on the advice of the quilters and sewers around you or the quilty friends you have made online. Remember you have spent time, money, and energy getting your quilt this far, so it’s definitely worth finishing. Every small step you take toward that goal, regardless of how insignificant it may seem still contributes to the overall process and can help to break through the roadblock. By adopting the strategy that works best for you to do this, you will be celebrating finishing a quilt that started as scraps of fabric and has been transformed into your own work of art, before you know it!

Happy Quilting, Rachel