This is something I’ve shared often so any old timers here will have heard it before.  And, it’s advice that was given to me when I got my first longarm piece of crap very used falling apart weighed 1,000 pounds short arm.


Yep, that’s the quilting machine I started with . . about 11 years ago.  That machine was beyond frustrating.  Vince added those front handles.  Can you tell?  🙂

It wasn’t always easy for me to go down to the basement and deal with this machine.

The best piece of advice I was ever given was this:   Think about how long you can reasonably spend quilting each day or maybe three days a week.  Then commit to yourself that you’re going to do that.  Don’t set a goal you can’t keep . . you’re setting yourself up to be let down.  For some, it might be 10 minutes three times a week, for others, it might be one hour each day.  Almost every single time, even with that old machine, I found that once I started, I didn’t want to stop.

If you’re feeling uninspired, or the quilting fire isn’t burning as warmly as it once did, can you set a goal for yourself to sew/quilt a certain amount of time each day and do it?  It may help.  It can’t hurt!



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    That’s what I’m going to do starting in January. Right now I have to clean up and organize because this stuff is making me nuts! Keep reminding me!

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    Actually cleaning up has started me sewing a bit more. Sorting, folding and taking pictures of hidden fabrics is getting ideas flowing. And, while looking through some old WIPs , I decided I still liked some and started working on them.

    They may be smaller projects – wall hangings or baby quilts to donate but, they are starting to reemerge into the quilt room!

    I think it also helped that “getting organized” also counted as “sewing” for me. After all, I was still playing with the fabric and thinking about the possibiilties. The hour cutting the fabric and laying it out made it easier to go in and sew for an hour, iron, lay the blocks by the machine, ready for my next sewing break!

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    Erin D. says

    For me, and this is just me personally, setting goals like that can sometimes be counterproductive… if I feel like I *have* to do something because I’ve set a goal, it can make things seem less enjoyable.

    I am admittedly just starting out and don’t have any set deadlines, but I take a great deal of pleasure in quilting during most of my free time.

    On days when it’s just not working, though, I simply walk away. I know I’ll come back to it when I’m ready and feeling less pressure or frustration. I’ve found when I’m really putting pressure on myself, that’s when Bad Things start to happen.

    If you have deadlines and goals, though, Judy’s suggestions are great – make sure your goals are realistic so you don’t get into a self-defeating cycle of disappointment. This is supposed to be fun! 🙂

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    Hi Judy…I find that just a little piecing really unwinds me at the end of my day at work. I am longing for a long-arm! I saw one of the short arms exactly like you pictured at the small quilt show I went to recently…it went unsold as far as I know.

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    The quilting fires are definitely NOT burning right now, Judy and haven’t been for quite awhile. I’ve allowed some outside influences to affect my passion for quilting and enjoyment in blogging. Over the past week I’ve tried to set a goal or two but it’s not working. Sigh! Your advice today is wonderful.

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    Cynthia H., El Cerrito, CA says

    When I started on my personal mystery project (Labor Day weekend) of finding my cutting table under all the “stuff,” it kind of morphed into a habit of spending 20 or so minutes working in my quilting area every day or evening. Sometimes more! 🙂 I know it’s a habit now, because I feel weird if I haven’t done it. Like David Allen says, the scuzz factor kicks in; I don’t even have to put it on my daily To Do list because it’s now a habit.

    “Working” can be pulling fabrics, organizing them into ziploc-type bags, labelling them with Post Its, washing donated fabrics for QOV or HeartStrings, pressing fabrics for cutting, actually cutting them, sewing them together, etc.

    For instance, today (even though it’s a Sunday) is heavily scheduled, but I’ve already spent 10 or so minutes pressing open some light/dark pairs of 2.5-inch strips I sewed together Friday night in a blissful one-hour session.

    Because “working” in the quilting area is so open-ended, I can do it even if I’m not feeling particularly good on a given day. That might be a day to update my UFO spreadsheet (a task I reserve for just such times) or quilt one or two passes on a baby quilt on my Elna.

    I don’t do any cutting when I have a migraine, though, or have had to take pain meds (chronic pain from multiple causes), because both migraines and meds can affect one’s depth perception–definitely NOT something you want when you’re running a round razor blade so close to your hands!

    Maybe the flexible concept of “working” in a quilting area will help some citizens of Quilting World make more progress…. 🙂

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    Julianne says

    Great advice. Thanks for reminding me. I may not have the same amount of time each week. SO I am going to check my schedule ( calender ) each week for the next week or maybe two weeks ahead….look for me quilting time and block that time on the calendar. I will just Do IT.!!!!!!!!!!!!! Thanks.

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    That is exactly what I realized shortly after I started quilting. I found that I was exhausted after 45 min so I set a limit and didn’t allow myself to exceed that. When I had exceed it before I almost regretted getting the machine because it took the joy away. Now I can quilt for over 2 hours but require that I take breaks so that I don’t loose the joy again.

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    Was it you that talked about quilting just 15 minutes a day a couple years ago? Or am I confused?

    Anyway, I’ve learned that on days I don’t feel like quilting if I just make myself start one small task, I get into the sewing room and always end up spending more time than I’d planned.

    I think it’s just the getting started part that’s hard sometime.