Commentary

2021 Aspirations

I fell into a bit of a trap when creating goals for last year, so 2021 is about aspirations. I don’t want to measure success against anything but my own happiness and progress, so aspirations just seemed a better way to frame it this year. Plus 2020 really did us dirty last year and messed up everyone’s plans. Aspirations will help me be more flexible and focused, I think.

Three words sum up these aspirations: color, modern, and quilting. So without further ado, here they are:

Color

The first area I want to work in is color. A couple years ago, I joined the Playful Color Quilt Guild from Rebecca Bryan. I literally did nothing with the group for a long time, but I started hopping into sessions back in October, and I’ve already learned a lot. I realized how predictable and juvenile my color choices were, so this year’s aspiration on color means I’m going to find my signature color palette.

Which means I had to clear out all the old to make room for new projects where I could play and learn. I’m slowly chugging through my pile of quilts to bind, and I’ve already finished three!

a stack of finished quilts Read More…

Quilt-Life Crisis Update

I came to this space a couple months ago having a quilt-life crisis. I guess staying at home all the time during a pandemic can really make you over think some things! But it’s all good. I’m still refocusing my quilting purpose, and I’m pretty excited about the goals I’m setting for 2021. I’ll share those next week.

But before I moved on, I knew I needed to get my WIP list under control. I had jumped on quilt along bandwagons for the past several years, and some of those were still hanging on… from 2018. I also had a few fabric piles that had been pulled for projects that I never started. There was no space left to create anything new and keep it all organized.

So I went on a tear to try to finish everything I could before the end of the year. That’s a lot of sewing, but I’m proud to say I made it happen! In just over two months, I finished 5 quilt tops, basted 9, and quilted 8. I now have a stack of 14 quilts that need the binding sewn down!

a stack of finished quilts

While I still have a lot of binding ahead of me (I love it!), there are only four projects left on my WIP list that I’m carrying over to 2021: two EPP projects and two hand appliqué projects. This really does feel like the fresh start I hoped it would. So I guess it didn’t end up being a quilt-life crisis after all!

See you back here next week to talk about my plans for 2021.

2020 Highlights

2020 was simultaneously the most boring and most hectic year of my life. I can’t leave the house! (Boring.) And my workload exploded! (Hectic.) But I couldn’t let that crazy minx get out of town without another look to see what my 2020 highlights were. I’ll start with the quilty goodness and share a couple cool things from my work and personal life too.

2020 Highlights: Quilting

I went into 2020 with six quilting goals. Looking back, that was way too many! I managed to meet most of them despite All This, I crashed and burned on one, and I completely never understood why I made another. So here’s how I did: Read More…

What am I Even Doing Here?!

I know this sounds like the tagline to 2020, but I’m talking specifically about here: this blog and my quilting life. 2020 has really had me thinking about a lot of things, but the thoughts about my quilting life have been really unexpected in some good and bad ways. Let’s dig into some sweet, sweet therapy on it all.

Joni emoji Read More…

Hanging In & Making Do

Like a lot of you, our lives changed dramatically since we started quarantine three months ago. When this all started, I thought we’d likely celebrate my birthday (mid-April) in quarantine. Then I thought we’d likely celebrate Sir’s birthday in quarantine (Memorial Day weekend). Then I thought I likely wouldn’t go back into the office until after Labor Day. Now I’m starting to think I won’t see my office until early 2021. And that’s about all the emotional energy I have for these kinds of predictions anymore. Read More…

February Success

A lot of us post about how we made progress on our goals during the month. I’m not going to do that. I’m going to talk about my successes instead. So here is my list for February success (with a little bit of January mixed in because I was too dense to think to do this last month!).

Success 1: Find a New Studio Assistant

At the beginning of the year, I posted a list of things I’d like to do in my quilting life in 2020. One of those goals has been fully met! Meet my new studio assistant, William!

William the cat on a chair Read More…

WIP Wrangling

Yes, quilters are known for having many projects going at the same time. Whether you call them WIP (works in progress), UFO (unfinished objects), or PhD (projects half done), we’re practically famous for the number of projects we juggle at once.

I hadn’t kept a serious WIP list for quite a while, so I decided to turn to the Projects tab of my Quilter’s Planner and make a decent list. Wowza!! I’m at 30 right now.

So now that I have a list, I want to share it with you to help keep me accountable to finishing some of these up this year! Here we go…

2020 Goals WIP List

As I start new projects or work on old ones, I’m trying to keep my 2020 goals in mind. These projects all have me on track to meet my goals.

  • Pendant Mini: My first mini masterpiece!
  • Scrap Bins: Four down, an undecided amount to go!
  • Sir Shirt EPP Mini: I pulled one of Sir’s dress shirts off the donation pile (I think!) and am making a mini with it.

English paper piecing blocks for a quilt

  • Enchanted Forest: An idea I have for Kona’s color of the year, Enchanted.
  • Classic Blue Pantone Challenge: I have no idea what I’m going to do for this year’s Pantone challenge!

Read More…

2020 Quilting Plans & Goals

Not only have we started a new year, we’ve started a new decade! Oh, the possibilities of everything to come. In past years, I shared my resolutions for the coming year. Last year, my resolution was to add more WIPs to my project pile. I was definitely successful with that one. I have so many projects going right now, and I love it! I’ve enjoyed being able to bounce from project to project based on whatever I was feeling at the time.

And while that was great, it wasn’t a very specific goal. It also didn’t do a lot to challenge me as an artist. So this year I’m getting more focused on my resolutions this year. Here we go!

Read More…

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!

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