Overcoming Quilt Completion Disorder (QCD)

Hi. My name is Amanda and I have QCD. Wow. That was really hard to say. It’s something I’ve suspected about myself for a long time, but have not been able to admit. Okay, so honestly, I didn’t even know it had a name until I read Faith’s recent post at Fresh Lemons Quilts. I don’t know if Faith coined the term herself or if it’s been around a while, but either way, I’ve got it. Bad.

To try and work through my disorder I’ve come up with a few ways to move past QCD and become a chronic finisher of UFOs (unfinished objects.)

What is QCD?

QCD is Quilt Completion Disorder and occurs when a quilter starts a project and doesn’t finish it. I know of no quilters who are immune to this disorder, but some suffer more than others. The stages of incompletion can vary from tops done, but need to be quilted to a kit or pile of fabric with a vision, but not yet started and everything in between. These unfinished projects can pile up leaving a quilter feeling overwhelmed and beyond help. Once overwhelmed, a quilter suffering from extreme QCD all but abandons the unfinished projects and continues to start new projects, thus perpetuating the problem. Husbands become annoyed and often the only projects that ever get finished are ones promised to other people, leaving piles of projects with no way out of the mess.

I can no longer deny the extent to which I suffer. I currently have over 20 UFOs in my sewing room at all stages listed above. Every time I walk into my sewing room I am confronted with the extent of my problem, but rather than face it, I look through my books and day dream of the next project to start.

Here is my Five Step Plan for Defeating QCD:

Step 1: Admit you have a problem

Check. I have a problem. I think it stems from the fact that choosing fabric and planning a project are my two favorite parts of quilting. I enjoy the sewing, no doubt about it, but there is a high-like feeling whenever I start a project—a real giddiness takes over and I think constantly about it, dream about it, talk about it and obsess over it. These are my latest daydream projects:

Step 2: Honestly assess the situation

Look at all of your projects. Put away any that you hate, that you do not foresee ever finishing. They are bogging you down and adding to the stress of QCD. Put them where you cannot see them or better yet give them away. Guilds will take anything to use for charity quilts. With what’s left, put them into categories—make a list of the quilts and categorize them by stage of completion:

  • Completed tops (3)
  • Completed blocks (4)
  • Nearly completed blocks (4)
  • Barely started blocks (3)
  • Cut blocks (3)
  • Kits or planned quits (5)
  • Projects to abandon (3)

The numbers in parentheses are what I currently have in each category. Yep, that’s 22 projects I want to finish. It’s a problem. Here’s the scope of the problem:

Step 3: Make a plan

Just like paying off debt by starting with the loan you are closest to paying off—start with the quilt that you are closest to completing. Once you get a finish or two under your belt, the next ones will become easier. Another plan could be to start small. This is what is working for me right now: every time I go to my studio to sew, I have to spend half an hour working on a UFO before I can work on my project of choice. These are three “closest to finished projects” I have right now:

Step 4: Make a completion goal

This can be for the week or the month or the year. It just has to be realistic. I repeatedly make unrealistic completion goals. Last year my goal was to finish all of my UFOs in 2015. Didn’t happen—not even close and the failure led to more paralysis.

Step 5: Don’t start any new projects until you reach a completion goal

This is so much harder to do than it sounds. I make this resolution every year. This year it lasted exactly two weeks. On a trip to Hawaii I went to my favorite local shop and walked out with enough fabric to start at least 7 new quilts.

Fabric Finds

Fabric for new projects I bought just weeks after resolving not to buy more fabric.

This is the hardest step and why making your first completion goal a realistic one is so important.

I cannot guarantee that these steps will work for you, but I think they could mean the path to resolving my own QCD. I’ll let you know how it goes. Or I’ll go start a new project—kidding. Kind of, not really.

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