I got this question in my inbox the other day and I thought I would answer it today: How do you get the motivation to finish your quilt? you know, the ones in time out that you’re sick of and don’t want to sew anymore.

Haha, first, I have yet to meet a quilter who doesn’t have some form of a “time out” corner or drawer or closet of some sort. How long the quilt stays there is obviously up to the quilter. It varies from a few weeks to a few months to I don’t even know when that quilt was from?

Enough is enough. Quit punishing your quilts by making them sit unfinished in their time out chairs!

How do you get the motivation to finish your quilt?

I am a semi seasonal purger. It comes in spurts out of no where. I suddenly feel like I can’t take one more second surrounded by all the clutter, unfinished projects and mental obstacles around the house.

I want to be a hybrid minimal-mom-who-loves-trinkets. Does that exist? Not that I’m aware of…

I can put my unfinished quilts in a nice folded pile where no one else sees the unfinished edges or the fact that it is only the pieced top and I have to still quilt it.

But its still there… I know it’s secrets. It’s always taunting me in the corner, waiting for it’s turn.

I can be good at hiding the fact that it still requires hours of work and I’m just not inspired by it anymore. 

That is really what it comes down to, right?

I was inspired by this (fabric, pattern, person… whatever) and it motivated at one point but now…. meh. I have other things that interest me now. 

So how do you fix it?

  1. Find an another motivation.

Seriously – If the reason that you started that quilt in the first place was to make it for someone as a gift, then set a new goal. Hey, their birthday is coming up in 2 months or arbor day is in 4 months! Whatever you have to do or tell yourself. 

I am really goal oriented so this works for me.

Create that initial desire again to finish it for the person. – Even if you have to Fake yourself out and make up some bogus reason (like Arbor Day, It is a real thing to celebrate if you have a quilt finished by then! I know from experience.)

2. Pull that quilt out in the wide open where you are forced to see it every single day.

Out of sight, out of mind works like a charm. If I pull it out in the middle of my home or my sewing room where I am forced to work around it and move it every time I want to get to something under it then….. oooooooh, *insert eye twitching*. Let’s just say things get done.

This solution does not work for my kids. If I purposely put their toys in the middle of the room for them to clean up or laundry to put away, they will walk around it for a week and a half before even noticing it. – so this might not work for everyone 🙂

3. Find another purpose for it

I had several quilts that I adored the fabric at one point but it really has no place in my house. I would get started on a quilt with foxes and then halfway through, get distracted by the cute little squirrel print from TulaPink (true story).

I like foxes with glasses but I know it won’t be my first choice for a cuddle up quilt. 

So what do you do? – Finish it up and donate it! You can read more about charity quilts here and where you can donate here.

looking for a way that you can give back and use those quilting skills? - I've put together a big list of places that you can feel good about contributing to to donate your finished (and partial) quilts!

Quilters are loving and generous people. Donating a quilt is like donating a hug to someone who desperately needs it. 

4. Simplify your design.

Look, I get it. You started out ambitious and this is going to be the grandest quilt to ever be a quilt! and now you may be feeling like you jumped in too soon and too deep. 

Take a step back and decide where you can cut a few corners. (Figuratively, not literally.) Quilting is an art form.

Add in a few coordinating solid blocks.

Remix that pattern and call it DONE!

Done and finished is much better than unfinished and unused or sitting on a shelf waiting for “someday”.

5. Sell it!

Make that money and buy new fabric! (or add a little extra to your family vacay fund)

Contact your friends and ask if anyone needs a handmade gift. Mention that your family has a goal or just say you’re looking to purge some really great quilts! Then, get your tail to the sewing machine and go at it!

I don’t want to burst your bubble but MOST people will not be willing to pay what a quilt is actually worth. Let’s face it. Quilting is NOT a cheap hobby. Fabric is expensive and hours spent at the sewing machine … you’ll likely not get paid what YOU are worth. Unless of course, you have rich friends.

So before you start counting your Scrooge McDuck Money take a really good look at your network and decide what is the likely price range you can offer. Don’t sell yourself short but be realistic.

Heirloom quilts have a nostalgic beauty to them that ca not be replaced, but a target blanket will keep you warm too for a lot less $$. (*ugh. reality check*)

6. Find a friend and swap projects. 

I LOVE this. Swap the projects that you hate and challenge yourself to look at it in a new way. Set a few ground rules if it makes you feel more comfortable. 

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter what your motivation is for finishing it, you just get sick of looking at the darn quilt and it is time for it to go!

7. Set up a Reward system for yourself

I’m a mom, ok? I thought I had perfected the whole “bribing system” until my daughter decided that the piece of chocolate I was offering was not worth taking a bath for and she could do without both.

But it totally works on me. If I have a really tough week ahead, I will schedule out an open block of time on my calendar to do something fun. A reward for making it through the week! Woohoo!

Usually, I’ll let me kids play on their tablets for a few hours (gasp! – Its educational games I’ve selected) and I will sit my happy self down to my sewing machine and take some me time. Does it mean that its uninterrupted or always the most productive? No, but I enjoy it.

I’ve also been known to go and buy a new pattern or a new fabric and dangle it in front of myself like a carrot on a string until I finish a current project.

What can I say? I’m basically a 2 year old when it comes to motivational techniques.

Places to donate fabric, scrap fabric and unfinished quilts

If all else fails and you just want it out of your hair and off your worry list… let someone else take care of it for you. 

Consider Donating to:

  • Girl Scout or Boy Scout groups
  • Ask a guild if anyone wants it! – Lots of ladies may know beginner quilter who could use the practice and would be happy to add on to your quilt.
  • Local animal shelters (or make your own pet beds to donate by filling a pillowcase with scraps and sewing the opening closed)
  • Art teachers/elementary schools/home school groups
  • High school sewing classes
  • Local prison inmate sewing programs
  • Church missionary or charity groups
  • Local quilt guild charity projects
  • Ask your local quilt shop if they accept donations for charity quilts or community projects

I hope this list helped you see there there are plenty of options for pulling your quilts out of time out… they have suffered unused without a purpose long enough, haven’t they?? 🙂

If you have any other ideas please feel free to add to the list and let me know in the comments. This blog will be updated as a resource for future readers. Happy sewing!