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How to Deal with Project Burnout


by Nikki Willhite


woman with headache


It is always exciting to start a new sewing or quilting project.  However, if it is a large project, there may come a point when it becomes tiresome, and you don't want to work on it any more.  This is what I call "project burnout."  How do you deal with it?


It is simple.  You put your project aside for awhile and work on something else.  Quilters are known for having miscellaneous quilt blocks and unfinished quilt tops in their sewing rooms. There is nothing wrong with taking a break from a project.  The secret is to make sure you come back to it later, and get it done.


There are many reasons that cause you to tire of a project.  I like to make a lot of quilts that are mainly in one color.  While I love them, I do suffer from "color fatigue."  If I am working on a red quilt, it doesn't take a lot of time before I am tired of looking at the color red, and can't bear it any longer.  When this happens I set aside my work.


If I am working on a quilt that has many colors, I can work on it for a longer time before I tire of it.  Then my fatigue is usually caused by just wanting to do something else.


If you want to keep enjoying your sewing and quilting, and yet still complete your projects, think about rotating them.  The picture at the bottom of this page is a shot of my sewing room.  The bookcase in the corner of the room, behind the sewing machine,  has 4 drawers.  I call these my "project drawers."    I limit myself to 4 projects.  When I tire of a project, I put it in one of the 4 drawers.  Then I open the next drawer and take out another project and begin to work on it again.


I only allow myself to work on 4 projects at one time. I find that when I go through the "rotation"  I once again get enthused about my projects I have previously put away.  I may have to put a project away as many as 4 or 5 times before it is completed.  It doesn't matter.  The important thing is that I continue to enjoy my hobby, remain enthusiastic, and eventually all my projects get done. I do not allow myself to start a new project until I have an empty drawer from a completed project.


This is something everyone can do.  You can store projects in boxes, or under the bed.  The important thing is to have a good rotation system, and school yourself to keep to it.  Of course, if you are making a "time sensitive" project, such as a baby quilt, you may not have this luxury. 


This system may not work for everyone.  It does take more time to again rearrange fabrics, change threads and redo design boards for each project.  However, if you find you are not enjoying your quilting, this could be a solution for you too. 


My Sewing Room







Bear Claw Quilt Block

Quilt Sizes


Miniature      <36"
Wall Hanging any size

36x36 up to 52x52


52-68 x 52-78


64-72 x 86-96


70-88 x 88-100


88-99 x 94-108


94-108 x 94-108


Pre-cut Quilt Squares



Many beginning quilters like to buy quilt pre-cut quilt squares. While it is convenient, be aware you will need a lot of them. Here is approx how many 4-inch squares you need for the following size quilts without borders.


Crib 168
Twin 529
Double 624
Queen 728




Borders and Sashing
Pinning the Layers
Quilting Your Project



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