Week in Review 2022 – 01/21

Habit Stacking

Do you habit stack? I hadn’t heard the term habit stacking until this week. Turns out I am a veteran habit stacker. Who knew? The point of habit stacking is to link one habit to another so that your day logically flows from one habit to another. If you don’t make and assign a time to achieve something you want to do, especially something you are uncomfortable or not eager to do, chances are you won’t get to it. This seems particularly germane to New Year’s resolutions. They have a tendency to fall by the wayside after the first week or two of January.

Image showing the quilting motif in process for Celestial Harmony seen from the front side.
The quilting for Celestial Harmony has begun.

Stacking Studio Time

I find time to work in my studio, because I stack my studio time in with other habits. I have a morning routine beginning with journaling, then breakfast, followed by my exercise du jour and then getting dressed for the day. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, I head into my studio and basically spend the day working, other than a lunch break. When I end my studio day for dinner, I always know where I left off or what I will start on next. Yes, there has to be some flexibility. I am active volunteer, so often one or two of those days are interrupted by Zoom meetings, but I try to return where I left off prior to the meeting.

Problem Solving Habit

Another habit, although not technically falling under the umbrella of habit stacking, is working out the mechanics of the next phase of my art. This could be how to piece a block, developing the logic route for a quilting motif or what sewing technique to use. Once I’ve nailed down what works best for me, I can do that step (habit) until it is done before moving on to the next step (habit). In other words I cement the step in my mind and muscle memory. Hopefully, I get a little faster and more accurate with each repetition.

Image showing the quilting motif in process for Celestial Harmony
The back side of Celestial Harmony

The quilting motif, although very simple, for Celestial Harmony, has proven to be technically diabolical. This is when I need to take a deep breath, step back and experiment. Precisely what I did this week. I discovered that marking the motif with a #2 pencil on Golden Threads Quilting Paper wasn’t going to work. Why? Because even though the paper tears away easily and the pencil line is removed with the paper in theory, it isn’t 100% removed. The problem is when the needle punctures the pencil line with each stitch, it brings a minuscule piece of that pencil line down into the punctured hole. Not a problem on mid value or darker fabrics, but quite visible on a pale fabric with an equally pale blue thread.

White fabric sampler of three ways to mark and quilt the same motif.
Testing sampler for how best to mark and quilt Celestial Harmony

Problem Solved

The motif had to be marked for me to execute it. How could I achieve this without the marking detracting from the work? Time to experiment off quilt. If you look at the image above reading RIGHT to LEFT I tried:

  • Washing the marking (didn’t remove the pencil and the fabric on the back side bled through).
  • Stitching over the motif multiple times. I didn’t like the look and could still see some pencil marks.
  • Then I switched marking pencils. If I was going to “see” the pencil, what if I used a less jarring pencil. I selected a light blue soft lead pencil. Good enough.

Now that I was finished solving the problem, I could start quilting. I wonder if habit stacking wasn’t ingrained in my DNA if I would be able to persevere through such hurdles as rapidly as I do.

I am linking up with Nina Marie’s Off the Wall Fridays and TGIFF.

By Gwyned Trefethen

I am an artist who uses fabric, thread and miscellany to create designs gifted to me by my imagination.