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!

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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!


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!

Thread Thursday 2: WIP Report Part 2

Two weeks ago, I started Thread Thursday with a first-half update on my WIP list. After 1,000 words and a lot of scrolling, I knew I needed to break things up a bit. For you as a reader and for me as an anxious person!! So here’s the second half of my list:

Projects by Hand

I fell in love with hand appliqué and English paper piecing several years ago and now have several projects going at once so I can sew on the go. They’re also great for nights I want to just sit in front of the TV but not be totally lazy about it.

Naturalist’s Notebook

This amazing project from Sandra Leichner has tons of tiny pieces, but it is so fun to keep layering them on to see the birds come to life. I’m finishing up the embroidery on the third block right now. I may put this project down for long stretches of time, but I’m always delighted to pick it back up.

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Sunset Isle Quilt Along

My name is Joni, and I’m a sucker for rainbow quilts. In fact, I’m working on so many right now I’m going to need to do something completely different soon to break out of it. That doesn’t mean I resisted joining in on the Sunset Isle quilt along hosted by Alyce of Blossom Hearts Quilts. And so here I find myself giving you a four-block update on my progress so far.

Before I get into the pretty block pictures, I’m proud that every single fabric in this quilt came from my stash! I’ve been working really hard to “shop” from the stash first, and I’m really happy with how this is going to look.

I just love it when I have all the perfect fabrics for a quilt just lying around in my stash!

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Stargazer Quilt Along

I’m quilting along with Rebecca Bryan from Bryan House Quilts for the Stargazer quilt. I really struggle with paper piecing, so I try to do a major project using this technique each year.

Rebecca has a genius method for doing it, and spoiler alert: I didn’t study it until after my first three blocks were done the traditional way. I felt like I was so far behind on my sewing and quilting after I moved that I didn’t think I had time to learn something new. I watched her video tutorial for the first time this week, and my mind is blown! To say I can’t wait to try it when the fourth block comes out later this month is an understatement. It definitely would have saved me the time I thought I didn’t have!

But for now, let me catch you up on my progress for the first three months.

stargazer quilt blocks 1 through 3

A bright sunny day meant a photo shoot out on my deck! Here are the first three months put together.

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How to Trim Half-Square Triangles Perfectly

When I first started quilting nearly 20 years ago, the method for making half-square triangles was pretty straightforward and limiting. Cut your squares 7/8-inch larger than the finished block, stack them together, sew a 1/4-inch seam on both sides of a center line, cut them apart, and press. You were supposed to have the right sized blocks following these steps.

Except I never did. Ever. It was so frustrating.

And while a number of novel ways to create half-square triangles have come along and the rulers – oh, the rulers! – make creating them clever, my favorite way to make half-square triangles is to make them bigger than I need to and them trim them down after they’re sewn.

half-square triangle quilt block

A perfectly pieced and sized half-square triangle!

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