Mid-Quilt Blues


Have you ever sung the mid-quilt blues?  I am not singing them right now, but I have sung them many times.  I have been thinking about it as we are in the middle of this quilt along.  I have been having too much fun seeing what the designers have come up with every two weeks and seeing all the great color combinations of the blocks on flickr to be singing the blues. 

BUT maybe you are.  Maybe you have.  Maybe you will. 

What are the mid-quilt blues?  It’s when you are sewing along, sewing along, sewing along, and then for no good reason, you hate your quilt.  You want it to disapper and pretend it never existed.  You think it is going to be the most horrid creation on earth and don’t want to finish.  Ever felt that way? 

I often feel that way.  I have come to accept it as part of the process.  Usually it is when I am smack dab in the middle of chain piecing a gazillion units that all of a sudden don’t match.  It’s like when a word you have spelled since kindergarten like “who” all of a sudden looks like it is spelled wrong.  Everything’s just out of whack. 

I had one quilt I made (Simply Twisted, in my first book Simply Charming now in the Simply Charming Collection) that I wasn’t sure I would like it even before I started.  I told myself that I couldn’t judge it until it was washed.  Sure enough, as I was piecing a gazillion half square triangles, I hated the quilt.  I just knew it wouldn’t look good.  I knew that I this time my feelings of the quilt looking horrid would be vindicated and the quilt actually would be horrid.  You guessed it . . . . I love the quilt.  Love it!  Still one of my favorites.

Of course, that doesn’t always happen.  I don’t love every quilt I have made.  But more often than not, I love my quilts, even after singing the blues. 

It was after my experience with Simply Twisted that I realized that for me the mid-quilt blues, for lack of a better name (If you have a better name, I would love to hear it.), is often part of the quilting process.  Understanding that allows me to sew on.  Sometimes it feels like trudging on, but sometimes I can help make it feel like drugery.  Aren’t those great words – trudging and drugery?  They just make you feel their meaning. , , ,

So what do I do? 
~ Sometimes I take the blocks or units that I have done and play with them.  Flip through them, pet them, lay them out, . . . .
~ Sometimes I distract myself.  Turn up the radio and sing along, or pay attention to what is being discussed, or just zone out to the hum of the sewing machine . . . .
~ Sometimes I take a break.  Put it away for the day, a few hours, or even a few minutes.  Often walking upstairs to grab something to eat is enough time to break the mood. . . .
~Sometimes I think about taking it to show and tell at guild.  Having a mini show and tell in my head works wonders. . . .
~Sometimes I look through quilt magazines or quilt blogs or flickr, and they inspire me to sew.  And so I sew. . . .

What do you do to help yourself just keep sewing? 

P.S.  Sorry, can’t help myself . . . . yes, I know there are times that it’s alright for projects to be put away.  I have UFOs.  In fact, I just sent an old UFO to my sister’s sister in law.  It was so liberating.  I had been feeling guilty for not finishing it for years.  I guess that’s a discussion for another day. 

So with a current project that threatens to become a UFO, what do you do?  How do you save it and let it fulfill its destiny to be finished and loved? 


  1. Gene Black
    June 4, 2010 at 11:01 am

    I am having the mid-quilt blues for the first time on a commission quilt. So I left it at a friends house for a week. Now I am anxious to get back to it. Here’s hoping it worked for me.

  2. Diane
    June 4, 2010 at 11:39 am

    I had an “assembly time blues” with the last top I put together. I liked the 12 sampler blocks when I made them, but when I started to arrange them on the wall….yuck!
    I was really getting ticked…what a waste of fabric, what a waste of time…and then the sashing and 2 borders went up and I thought: “ok not so horrible” Now that it’s sewn together I like it–I’m betting after I quilt it, I’ll like it even more. (whew!)

  3. pdudgeon
    June 4, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    yep i’ve definitely had the mid-quilt blues. So far i’ve found two ways to work my way out of them.

    the first quilt began with a jelly roll and charm squares in a rather odd color combination. I sewed and sewed, still wondering all the while. it wasn’t until I put the final borders on the quilt that i discovered all the colors in the quilt were what i would find in an assortment of Easter jelly beans, complete with green grass! Who knew! LOL.

    With the second quilt i chucked the part i had already sewed, morphed the remaining original fabric selection into a totally different quilt, and added more fabric from my stash. All the various parts came together beautifully in the new quilt, just like they were made to be together.

  4. Beth
    June 4, 2010 at 12:07 pm

    Sometimes I just push on, sometimes the whole thing ends up in the UFO pile.

  5. luvtoquilt
    June 4, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I like your comment about the UFO you had for years and finally gave away. I have one of those taking up space — I love the finished quilt top, but the batting is too thick, don’t know how to quilt it, it’s already pinned, and there it sits. Maybe I have to just bite the bullet and send it on!

  6. luv2quilt2
    June 4, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    I have one quilt that will never be put together because I just hate the blocks now. I ran out of one of the fabrics, couldn’t figure out how to do one of the blocks, etc., etc. Anyway, it’s still sitting in a box, but I doubt I’ll ever finish it.

  7. Chl
    June 4, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    I get the quilty blues ALOT! That is why I work on several at one time.
    If I happen to get really frustrated with one, I put it away, sometimes for a l o n g time! When I get back to it, I have almost forgotten about it. Whoops! Then I have to try and remember why I didn’t finish it??? Sometimes they go right back where they were.
    Then I get a bee or three in my bonnet to just get it done, because I still don’t like it and I will give it away to someone who will LUV it.
    I send it away to get quilted and darn it all if it doesn’t come back magically transformed into something BEAUTIFUL! I ask you, now how can I give this precious piece of art away?? (I have several that have turned out this way.)

  8. Needled Mom
    June 4, 2010 at 3:29 pm

    I always take what I have done so far and take it to my guild meeting. We have a special “free” table and others have the joy of working on it for the first time. When I see them completed and in someone else’s possession, it always makes me feel so good.

  9. Staci
    June 4, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    I always remind myself that every project, whether it is a making a quilt, sewing a garment, painting a wall or cleaning a closet, goes through an ugly phase where you feel like scrapping the whole project. I remind myself to hang on just a little longer because that phase passes and when it does, it all becomes lovely again.

  10. annieb
    June 5, 2010 at 1:00 am

    I will usually start another project, taking a few days break, and then come back to it with a fresh mind. I don’t have many UFO’s. I have started quilts that did not end up being the same as the original plan because I reworked them as I realized that I really was not happy with what I was making.

  11. Gari
    June 5, 2010 at 2:32 am

    I don’t know about the blues but I do know that I get bored quite often. For that reason I usually have 3-4 different projects going at the same time in addition to the BOMs I do. I also just started sewing string blocks that are “fillers” for the little times I need a sewing break. And sometimes I just leave the studio and read.

  12. Mom
    June 6, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    I once traded UFOs with my BQB (Best-Quilting-Buddy). We both had gotten into skill levels over our heads. My friend easily finished my UFO in a day. Her’s took me a month to finish. But I learned so much on her project, it was exciting and challenging the whole way, alot more fun than the drudgery of my original project. We were both overjoyed to have our UFOs completed. So my best UFO advice is, what are friends for?

  13. Whosies
    June 28, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    oooo. that’s a tough one. this is my issue– i love the block, i love the sashing….oh all together. NO!!!!
    I find that those are donated annonamously and loved by others. 🙂

  14. jaycadiram
    July 11, 2010 at 2:59 am

    It is so great to hear i am not alone in feeling this way in the middle of a quilt! It was so bad once that i put the quilt in a UFO pile for SIX YEARS! But I pulled it out a few weeks ago and finished it and it worked out so great that my partner won’t let me give it away as the birthday present it was meant to be (I posted pictures on my blog).

  15. WindBalm
    October 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    I used to do decorative painting, and the instructor, Sherry, used to say, “It’ll be FINE!” when we would have the inevitable mid-painting blues. I hear Sherry in my head every time I have those same doubts about my quilt projects. Sherry would always insist that we couldn’t judge a painting until the next morning, and I apply the same rules to my quilts.