The Emotions Of Finishing A Project

February 12, 2011

Finishing a project always brings out so many emotions.  Usually it is happiness and pride (is pride an emotion?).  Sometimes it’s plain old relief.  And then there can disappointment and frustration.  Every project is a roller coaster of emotions, I think. Even the little projects.  The intensity of emotions is directly related to the purpose of the project.  Knitting a hat isn’t quite the emotional experience that is knitting a vest for my mom for Christmas.  Sewing a pouch isn’t the same as making a quilt for a friend’s daughter.  And maybe the more you do something, the less of a journey it becomes.  The first time I flew home to Chicago from college brought out more emotions than any other trip.

I finished Amy’s quilt yesterday and wrapped it up to mail today. I originally started this project in June and it took me until yesterday to finish.  First emotion:  embarrassment.

pile o squares

I knew it would take me awhile because it was the first “real” quilt project I had done in a long time.  I warmed up with a lap-sized zig zag quilt and then jumped straight into a twin size bed project.  The pattern was easier and yet it wasn’t.  The pattern was also an original idea though you can find a similar one in the book The Practical Guide to Patchwork (Snapshots).

I got frustrated in August because my corners weren’t lining up and it wasn’t turning out as nicely (ie perfectly) as I had hoped. Second emotion:  frustration.


I thought about working on the quilt all through the fall and then I got caught up in other things, but started thinking about it a lot in December.  Finally, in January I pulled it out again.  I think about 1/8th of it was put together and it was seeming too wide to me.  I measured it, compared it to another quilt and decided I didn’t need two columns and I cut them off.  Just took the scissors and got rid of them.  I added on a few more rows and a couple of days later, started wondering about how wide the quilt really needed to be.  I re-did research on quilt sizes and realized that indeed, I needed those two columns.  Third emotion:  intense frustration at own stupidity and rashness.

quilt in progress

I fixed my “mistake” and in doing so, I realized that I had done a horrible job of planning.  I had no idea how many squares of each print I had, how often I was using them, if I had enough…  I got organized.  I created this crazy spreadsheet where I named each print, figured out how many I had already used, how many I had, how many total squares I needed, then how many more of each fabric I needed and then I was a little more systematic when I laid it out.  Probably a bit of overkill, but the project started humming along after that.  I’d lay out three or four rows at a time, take a picture (because once I started sewing I’d get confused) and then add it to the body of the quilt.  It took me about a five days to get the quilt top done.  I already had a plan for the quilt back and that was an evening and morning’s worth of work.  Then I made my sandwich which went a lot more quickly than I expected.  Except that once I had the quilt back taped to the floor I realized that my batting was in a closet that was inaccessible because all the furniture in the room was pushed up against the door.  Brilliant!  I managed to get it out, which entailed quite a bit of swearing. That roadblock notwithstanding, the sandwiching went well and then it was on to the quilting.


I wish that I could undo the early passes I made on the quilt. About a quarter of the way through the first round of quilting, I started to get the hang of it.  Fourth emotion:  joy!

The quilting took me two days.  That went a lot faster than I anticipated.  I did a relatively simple lattice design.  Interesting without being too difficult or too busy.  Next up was the binding which also went well.  I machine sewed it on, and then finished it by hand.  I thought it would take me a week to do the binding, but that took less than two days.  The next day I made a simple quilt label and sewed it on and she was done.  But she wasn’t feeling exactly done to me.

quilt backing

quilt front


She needed a pillow.  An embroidered pillow.  I went to bed making up the design in my head, and in two days, the pillow was done.  Then the project felt complete.  Fifth emotion: contentment.


I’m always super critical of myself and my work.  Could my corners have lined up better?  Yes.  Could I have quilted straighter lines?  Yes.  Will anyone notice the imperfections? Only experienced quilters and me.  Could this project have been made with more love?  No.  I am truly proud of this project.  It is one of the nicest things I have made.  It has been a roller coaster of a journey, but I learned so much through my many, many mistakes.  And in the end, when I looked at it, I don’t think I could have done a better job.

P.S.  I used 5 – 6 squares of 44 different prints.  Finished size is approximate 68 x 100 inches.

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12:35 pm / permalink / 2 Comments

2 Responses to “The Emotions Of Finishing A Project”

  1. February 15th, 2011 | 8:11 am

    what an amazing story (and a beautiful quilt!) – great job for keeping with it and making such a heirloom. I want to make something similar with patchwork squares for abby’s clothes/baby memorabilia.

  2. March 3rd, 2011 | 4:38 am

    After all said and done your quilt is amazing – I feel the process of doing anything is a learning experience in more way than one – and we learn a lot about ourselves – and what we make and do tells a story all its own.
    Great job!

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A few tidbits about me: I met my husband in college, flirting over tuba letters in the Penn Band. Our dog, CJ, and our cat, Sabrina, round out our family. I'm a sewist, knitter and needlepointer, and an occasional scrapbooker. I love organizing, reading, making jewelry, and hiking. A Chicago girl at heart, I am an avid follower the Cubs, Bears, and Blackhawks.

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