How do you make decisions?

How do you decide what to work on every time you sit down at your machine? Is it deadline driven? Mood dependent? And how do you decide which direction to take a project?


I’m in the throes of designing/deciding on several projects — a few baby quilts, a few minis, and few other larger quilts — and I have analysis paralysis.


Deciding what do when I have a vision in my head is easy, I just follow the vision. But when the quilt is for an occasion, and for a specific person, then I get bogged down. And the more I like the person, or the bigger the occasion, the more bogged I get. Which, if I’m making a quilt for you, I like you, so you can see the problem.


Sometimes there’s a skill I want to work on and develop, like curves. Or there’s specific fabric I want to use, so I choose what will show it off best. Sometimes I see a pattern or quilt online and know that it’s perfect for so-and-so. But how can you force a vision? And how do you balance your vision with the recipient’s tastes?


And once you have that vision, how do you keep yourself motivated and focused long enough to complete it? It’s easy when it’s exciting — pulling the fabric, making sure you have a perfect balance of colors with a few pops of contrast, or you’re flying along with the quilting. But what about the step where you trim 100 HSTs? Or have to cut 300 4″ squares? Or make binding?

Linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.

17 thoughts on “How do you make decisions?

  1. Once, I get to the binding, I can usually get myself excited about the prospect of crossing the quilt off of WIP list. (I say that; but I’m just binding a quilt that’s been waiting for it since June…) I try to only keep about three projects going at once, and one is my Farmer’s Wife Quilt. Then I can swap between the other two depending on what I’m feeling like.

    1. I tried to institute the 3 project rule on myself recently… and failed miserably. Like less than a week probably. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (perhaps that will work better for me when I get some more WIPs out of the way)

  2. This is a big dilemma for me too. Priority items always come first, then I think if it’s a time consuming project how much time do I really have to delve into this today? I’m not sure if that is partially mood driven too. I think of it as the time and space ratio. Right now I work in a small space.

  3. Large trimming and cutting I’ll do in front of the TV. Usually we watch TV shows with dinner so once I’ve eaten I’ll start trimming or I’ll make my husband sit with me to watch a movie ๐Ÿ˜€ If I have lots to do I’ll break it up to do ~40 HSTs a night or something, then it will be done by the end of the week. Yay goals!

    As for knowing what to work on, I try and ~*~listen to my body~*~. It will tell me if I DON’T want to work on something because that’s when I hate sewing and get bored and don’t want to do anything. I just think about all my projects I have and the one that makes me feel happy or excited the most when I think about it is the one I work on!

    And that all sounds extremely hokey ๐Ÿ˜€

    Unless I have a deadline and then I just tell myself to suck it up, sucker.

    1. I “listen to my body” in terms of non-deadline sewing, too! It’s not hokey! lol (ps do you practice yoga? that’s totally a yoga term in my world). Sewing should be fun, not a chore. Sometimes you have to “suck it up sucker”, but if you are sewing for fun with no deadline, make it fun! EVEN if it means starting a new project (gasp!).

  4. To be honest..
    I don’t set deadlines, set priorities or even set a goal as to how, when, where or even why; when it comes to my stitching, quilting, designing or even canning. I kinda go with my gut, my creative mood & whimsy!
    Sometimes the day & weather play a part in my choices & directions with certain projects. Other times it is my actual work load, temperament, and overall inner feelings about WIP’s. Although in the end it’s my heart & desire that guide me to the finish line.

  5. I recently squared up about 360 HST and usually that is one of the steps I hate the most but once I’m doing it I realize (much like doing the dishes) I hate the idea of it but love doing it. Most of what I work on when I’m at the machine is project driven. I have the next 3 projects I want to start planned in my head right now and a list of current WIP’s that need to be finished before I can start something new. Sometimes the next projects are driven by new techniques I want to practice or deadlines. I think having a healthy mix of inspiration is the best and most freeing part of crafting for fun!

  6. Oh man, such great questions. I do my best to force myself through all the cutting prep at the beginning of a project because it is my least favorite part of the process (by far), so if I cut a little and then start sewing, I know from experience that I run a high risk of taking for.ever to finish the project. In terms of binding, I am usually so darn excited to finish up a project that finding motivation there is not too hard. It can be really tricky to decide what project to work on – especially when there is that one project you aren’t as in love with anymore… yup, I have one of those at the moment. I’m going to force myself to rip out quilting on it today, too. Ah, well.

  7. What a great post! I love the idea of “analysis paralysis!”. For me, choosing what to work on is often a balance between deadline and desire. There are some projects I am excited to work on (new patterns I’m developing, newer fresh projects, the quilt I’m making for myself, etc.). Then there are projects that unavoidably have fallen into the “ugh! This feels like slogging through quicksand!” phase. I think almost every single project hits the quicksand at some point. When time frames allow, I just try to balance the fun exciting projects with the quicksand ones. Usually, if I can chip away at the quicksand projects in between bursts of fun projects (yes, I have quilting ADD!), then usually they will pass the point of ugh and get back into the phase of “wooo! i’m MAKING this beautiful thing!… and I’m almost finished!”.

    I’m also a different case since my projects are usually small (tea cozy, wall hanging, paper piecing block, maybe into a pillow). Large quilts still intimidate me. My current secret project is a 60″x60″ quilt and I’m in the middle of terrified and excited at the prospect of having to finish it ALL by the end of the month for the pattern release. It’s all a balance (can you tell what term is on my mind these days!?)

    As for gift quilts that don’t match your style–I completely understand how you feel! The indecision of making something you don’t completely LOVE, but that you’re PRETTY sure the recipient will love is so tough! To combat it, I usually try to make my design and fabric decisions and then just convince myself (and have my family members convince me) that the recipient will love it. Then, it’s just a matter of “I’m making this beautiful thing for someone who I care about and who will love it”.

    Phew, am I wordy today! You really got my cogs turning with this post! When in doubt, sit down and sew the first thing you see ๐Ÿ™‚ Progress is progress, even if it’s done 10 minutes at a time. I hope you can snap out of analysis paralysis soon and get sewing! I know that whatever you’re making will be beautiful!

  8. I have never heard the term “analysis paralysis” but I feel as if I suffer from it quite frequently. In fact, I think it is coming on now…

    I was about to ask for help deciding on a pattern to use with my AMH hoard. It is time to cut into it and I want it all to shine! So I am no help. I lurk and learn!

  9. Oh yes, once I get to that step of trimming 100 HST units, I usually set it aside and then the deadline forces me to get back working. I would like to change that habit and just power through and get it done, you know. Easier said than done…

  10. I really get where you’re coming from in this post. I don’t have any particular approach to solve this problem. Somehow,it all happens. Eventually. I often remind myself that I sew for pleasure, not for work. If it’s not a pleasure at some level, I back off and do it later when I have the patience for the particular task.

  11. I’ve come to the conclusion that when I quilt for nonquilters, it’s best to ask for minimal input. People who don’t work with fabric — who don’t see the world through the same lens as we sewists and quilters — can’t view a handful of fabric selections and see the potential. That’s a skill that comes with experience.

    Recently, I made my sister a purse. Instead of asking her to pick the three fabrics she wanted in it, I had her go through my stash and pick five or six fabrics she liked. Ultimately, I picked one of those fabrics, found some coordinating ones, and made the bag (which she adored).

    I’m in the process of making a quilt for my MIL, who enjoys home decorating and is pretty opinionated about what she likes and doesn’t like. I decided to give her zero input! She sent me a pillow from her couch, I found a quilt design that has an Asian flair to it (which is completely up her alley), and I got started. We’ll see how she likes the final product …

  12. Usually it helps when I’ve left one project mid task on my sewing table (if its already out, that much easier to start back up!) but sometimes (right now…) I get stalled out and end up making lots of lists on each task necessary for each WIP and then start trying to cross off anything, even if its not necessarily the next task in line, like making some binding for a partial quilt top so at least when I get to that stage, I’m a little bit ahead of the curve!
    Also, I really like the project checklists at From Pixels to Patchwork.

    So, what I’m saying is that I need a paper checklist. In multiple forms, with differing levels of detail. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  13. Oh, yes, all of the above – mood, deadlines, what I can finish first – affect what I sew. I had the dilemma this week of having to work on a secret group project for a friend I adore in colours I detested with vehemence.
    At the moment I am using a whiteboard to list my to-dos. I don’t care which I pick to work on, as long as I chip away at one.

  14. I think that the Quilt Along and A Lovely Year of Finishes goal setting have both helped me get stuff into the finished column. Otherwise I’m so excited about my many WIPs that I’d do a little of this a little of that and be finishing things much more slowly.

  15. I find I’m planning what I want to make next whilst I’m sewing my current quilt. This may be why so many things don’t get completed for a couple of years! I generally see fabric I love which I think will be great for a person in mind, then I find a pattern that will maximise the beauty of the fabric, I hope! Usually things turn out well, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out like it looked in my head.

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