Commentary

Thread Thursday 5: Have You Seen My Sewjo?

When you’re Sewjo is strong, you’re in the zone. You’re finishing projects. You’re learning new techniques. Strong Sewjo makes you a quilting god!!

When you’re Sewjo is weak, products languish in drawers. New projects just don’t excite you. Every technique seems like such a challenge. Weak Sewjo makes you sad. Well, it makes me sad anyway.

And that’s where I’ve been over the past few months. Every single weekend has been packed with activities outside the house. Every week night has been an exercise in just surviving until bedtime so I can do it all over again. And the thought of going down to the studio to get anything done has been so overwhelming!

Why Does this Happen?

This must happen to a lot of us because I got so many emails over the summer suggesting tips on how to get my Sewjo back. Maybe it’s just that quilting and hot summer months and their activities just don’t go together so well. Maybe we all have so much going on that we just need a break. Some quilters I’ve read about lately have moved and had to completely rebuild their studio space, and it just left them exhausted.

I’ve noticed for me it always seems to hit in the summer. Each year near the middle to end of June, I just stop being motivated to sew. And then it takes me until about this time of the year to get back into it. So I thought I would share with you some of the tips that work for me.

7 Ways to Reclaim Your Sewjo

Go for the Quick Win

wall with several mini quilts hanging

Mini quilts, some of my favorite fabric, and even some art from my daughter make for a happy way to walk into and out of the quilting studio.

Mini quilts are some of my favorite projects. You can try out a new technique without really committing to it, and they go together so fast! So if you’re in a rut, go for the quick win and consider taking a sew day to knock one out. I make minis quite a bit and have a display of them in my studio. I created them all for a reason, so I like to see them in my studio and remember their stories. Speaking of which…

Think About Why You’re in it to Begin With

photo triptych of a statue in Costa Rica, my daughter Emily, and a heart-shaped rock formation

We all have a reason for why we got into quilting in the first place. Maybe it was to express your creativity. Maybe it was to share your talents with those you love. Or perhaps you think other quilters are really cool and wanted to have some like-minded friends to hang out with. Whether it’s for a specific project or quilting in general, try to find some visuals of why you’re in this to begin with and keep them somewhere outside your sewing space where you can see it and be reminded about your love of quilting.

For me, it’s seeing silly things and thinking about them in fabric form, sharing art with my daughter, and finding inspiration in nature like the heart-shaped hole in a rock formation in Great Falls Park. It also means having something to do that keeps me from running the mean streets of suburban northern Virginia!

Deadlines

calendar icon

I’m on the fence about this one, but enough other quilters mentioned it in their stories that it seemed important enough to include here. Deadlines just don’t work for me. I find it really hampers my creativity. But some people seem to do really well when a calendar is staring them down. If that’s you, pick a deadline for a project and make it your goal to finish it on time.

Try a New Technique or Color

anemone quilt

Maybe you lost your Sewjo because you’re stuck in a rut. If you’re using the same technique or sticking with the same colors over and over again, quilting can become quite dull rather quickly. Get your Sewjo back by trying something completely different to see how it feels.

When I made the Anemone quilt for the Pantone quilt challenge, I tried new techniques and a completely different color palette than my normal range. Some of the flying geese were paper pieced, some were traditional, and some were done using the four at a time method. Using coral was a requirement, but I really stretched in how to make the coral work by using white as the only other color. It turned out to be really fun to do.

Dreading Your Least Favorite Part of the Process

quilt with binding sewn on front

This is where having a quilting buddy could really come in handy. If you really hate basting and your buddy really hates binding, why not swap projects for those steps and avoid your least favorite parts?! I love hand sewing the binding at the end of a project. It’s just so nice knowing that you’re almost over the finish line. But I also know a lot of quilters absolutely hate that part. So if any of you out there want to swap me for basting, hit me up!

There’s Not Enough Time

clock icon

So why even bother, right? Wrong! Find a little bit of time – even if it’s just 10 minutes – to schedule your sewing time. A few years ago, I committed to sewing for 10 minutes each day, whether I wanted to or not. Some days I would just shuffle stuff around in the studio to “clean up” a bit, but most days that 10 minutes turned into a half hour. I know we’re all super busy, but I guarantee we have 10 minutes a day several times a week. You’ll be surprised at what you can get done in 10 minutes and delighted when you’re enjoying yourself so much you go just a little bit longer.

Incorporate Sewing into Other Activities

blue and gray EPP blocks

I find that when my motivation to do anything is super low, I’m usually just spending the time watching TV or movies until I can get motivated enough to get up off the chair. Let’s be real. That motivation isn’t always going to just show up. So I’ve started keep a hand sewing project by my chair in the living room. Whether it’s binding a quilt or working on an EPP project, it’s so much easier to pick it up off the side table than it is to go to the studio to get some cutting or machine sewing done.

Are We Motivated Yet?

Have any of these tips worked for you? What works that I didn’t include? I’m always looking for ways to stay motivated and creative, so share your ideas in the comments.

In the meantime, I feel my Sewjo coming back, so I’ll be back here soon to show off some progress!

Where Have I Been?!

The vain side of me really hopes you noticed I took a break in this space for a few months at the end of the year. The logical side of me knows this post is just a way to update my mother on my life without having to actually call her. (She loves when I tease. Hi, Mom!)

So let me catch you up on what I’ve been doing while I wasn’t here. I’m thinking by the month?

July

In July I decided to leave my position with the health department and move over to a more traditional marketing job at the Department of Defense. Leaving ASPR was a really tough call to make because of the great people and the wonderful work I got to do. But I also knew I had to move so I could continue to grow in other ways. I left ASPR near the end of July right before my daughter came to visit. And also, this started a much needed three-week break between jobs.

Picture of me and my friend, Ron

I’m going to miss the best work husband ever and getting to report from the field with him. This is Ron and me at our Centro Médico location after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico.

Read More…

2019 Quilty Resolutions

There’s something so exciting about unwrapping a new calendar from its package and thinking about all the possibilities for the new year. You can wash away the fact that you’ve eaten like a trash panda for the past two months and make resolutions to eat better or exercise more. You can think about how you could have been a better friend over the past year and resolve to do better this year. And if you’re a quilter, you’ve been going through your sewing room and Instagram and trying to decide what the next year will bring you.

happy new year on gold glitter background

My Crazy Quilty Resolution for 2019

I’m doing the same thing here this week. Buy my quilty resolution for 2019 might just surprise you. I’m resolving to create more UFOs this year.

read more

Last Week Was a Rough Week

I normally use this space for uplifting posts about the art of quilting and sharing the joy it brings me. But today I need to get real with you.

Last week was a rough week.

Last week we learned about the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Last week approximately 154 U.S. veterans took their lives – at a rate of nearly one death per hour. Last week 865 Americans took their lives – a rate of nearly 45,000 per year.

We’re getting better at talking about suicide and depression, but we can do more.

While my life is far from irreparably broken, I’ve had my own dark moments. Moments where going on just didn’t seem possible. Moments where “ceasing to exist” – as I called it – seemed like a viable option. One that would be better for me, my family, and my friends. Moments where just getting out of bed to face another day were filled with extreme physical and emotional pain.

And during these times, people would say, “That’s the depression talking. That’s not the truth.” But for someone in that moment, it’s the only truth they know.

Some people say depression is a bully. I get it, but I can stand up to bullies. You generally know exactly where you stand with a bully and what their intentions are. I think depression is more like an abusive partner. It tells you you’re no good, that no one would miss you anyway. Then right when you’re ready to give up, depression flips its script. “You need me. You’re nothing without me. You think this feels bad? Just wait until I’m gone.”

At least that’s what it’s been like for me.

I’m lucky in that I’ve always managed to reach out for help when I need it the most. I’m lucky that when I’ve asked for help, I’ve received it.

With celebrity suicides, we’re quick to point out just how much the person had going for them – how on top of the world they seemed. I’m here to tell you you don’t need to be a celebrity to get that reaction. Most times I’ve reached out to friends or family for help, they were completely shocked that this was something I was dealing with. “But you’re so strong! You’re winning at life right now. I never would have guessed you struggle at all.” Like the other half of an abusive relationship, we can be good at hiding the abuse and putting on a good show.

And while you might mean well to say these things to someone who tells you they’re suffering, tell them instead that’s it’s ok to be weak. Tell them you’ll help be strong enough for the both of you for as long as they need it. Tell them honestly and gently what losing them would mean to you. Be a voice that’s louder than depression.

Through hard work, I’ve been able to surround myself with people and activities that have kept my life in the light for a long time now. My friends who are like family, my daughter, my cat, exercising, and – yes – my quilting keep me going. Through admitting I’m not as strong as the world thinks I am, I’ve been able to find strength in being weak. I’ve found courage in being weak. And today, I’m choosing to be weak in front of you. Because maybe you need someone to show you it’s ok.

If you’re struggling, ask for help. If you truly don’t feel your friends and family would understand, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is there for you. Call them at (800) 273-8255. They’re available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

If you have a loved one you haven’t heard from for a while, reach out. Be the one who calls or texts. Share some of your strength with someone who thinks weakness is all they have left.

I’ll be back next week with more quilting news. Until then, love each other.

Hello There!

Welcome to the final week of the 2018 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop. Over the past two months, we’ve been working making our blogs better and talking quilty things. Please visit our awesome hosts to see who else is introducing themselves this week and to enter to win some great prizes (giveaway details are at the end of this post). Our hosts are Sandra from mmm! quilts (and my hive leader), Beth from Cooking Up Quilts, Jennifer from Dizzy Quilter, and Tish from Tish n Wonderland.

2018 new quilt bloggers blog hop button with host web site information Read More…

The Biggest Mistake Quilters Make

Do you ever get in a rut and think, “I just don’t want to make a __________ quilt again. What else is there?

I think if you lined up all my quilts from first to most recent, you would be able to tell when I got to that point. First there was the flowery, cutesy phase that honestly makes me want to puke now. Then bright colors on black backgrounds, muted colors throughout, rainbow quilts, bright colors on white backgrounds, geometric prints, literally using all the colors, and solids (where I am right now). And then there was the phase where I learned needle-turn appliqué and didn’t piece any quilts for almost a year.

Oh, and we can’t forget my grayscale phase. I’ll never forget the looks I got in an appliqué class when I started creating gray stems for my flowers. I’m pretty sure I heard one classmate ask another if I was color blind!

grayscale floral quilt

Beautiful Botanicals: That one time I combined my grayscale phase with my hand appliqué phase.

Read More…

 Scroll to top