5 Ways to Find Your Sewjo

Sewjo Cutting Table

Have you lost your sewjo?

So many people I know are feeling little to no desire to sew, let alone create. Whether it is personal circumstances (kids, parents, sickness, bills!), politics, drama, or simply the heat, sewing machines are sitting idle this summer. It is all totally normal. Yet I find so many folks feel the need to apologize for it, or worse, give up on sewing all together!

Remember people, this is a hobby. (Unless, of course you are an industry professional.) We are completely free to create or not create on our own time. Despite what our mothers or partners or kids might say, it isn't wasted space or time or even money if we don't sew for a little while. This isn't a gym membership where money is going down the drain when we don't go. The money's already been spent, so there is that. 

Maybe you go in an pet fabric? Or you scroll through Instagram, liking pictures of pretty quilts? Or you don't think about quilts at all as you lick that summer ice cream cone and wet your feet in a lake? It's all good.

Seriously, it doesn't matter. Sew or don't sew. You have your reasons.

Now all that being said, the last thing I want is people to give up on their creativity. If you are missing your sewjo and want to cultivate it or at least try and locate it, here are some helpful tips.

1. Turn off the phone and the news

Whether it is the state of the world or the feeling of inadequacy from social media, all they are doing is making you feel bad. It's totally okay to walk away from it for a bit. The world will keep spinning, posts will be posted, and the news isn't likely to change. Give yourself a break to create.

2. Create in response

Channel your feelings (anger, despair, or whatever) into a creation. It's okay to make an angry quilt. Embrace the process of doing so even more than the final project. Make a statement with your work, whatever that statement might be. (Great ideas here.)

3. Make something different

Try a different kind of creating. Whether that is pottery, painting, brush lettering, woodworking, garment making, or anything. Learning something new will get your neurons firing and your hands moving. 

4. Clean your sewing space

Or, at the very least, sort your scraps. Sometimes our spaces and the clutter overwhelms us. Usually the thought of cleaning is overwhelming too. Sorting your scraps  - I recommend the tips in Sunday Morning Quilts - does wonders for freeing up mental space. It can be very inspiring. Whether that inspiration takes you to your sewing machine or helps you find it remains to be seen.

5. Establish a habit of creative action

You know me, I love my Morning Make. Frankly, if I didn't have this habit - one I still consciously make - I wouldn't be sewing at all. Most days it is 15-20 minutes, some days I can get a whole hour. For me it is about committing to the dedicated time before anyone else demands my attention, like the kids or our business. It might be before bed for you, or at lunch, or post dog walk. Whatever works. The key to it is that creativity begets creativity. The creative act invites creativity. So if you are struggling, just get your butt in the seat and sew. Pick up an old project or sew scraps together mindlessly. You may not be interested in running a marathon right now, but it will be a lot easier to get back into training if you at least walk every day. 

Sorting Scraps Sewjo

CMYK - Another New Start

Mighty Lucky Quilting Club Carolyn Friedlander

Another new quilt start. Smitten from the beginning.

The Mighty Lucky Quilting Club is running again this year. I am signed up for a turn hosting in a couple of months. This year, however, the Club will work together to make an entire quilt. That is, each month plays well with each other and the whole thing is designed to give you a quilt top at the end. Still regular challenges, but with a different end goal in site.

The other difference this year is that the entire thing is about colour. So by the end of it you will have a quilt top and a deeper understanding of colour for all your other work. All without making a colour wheel.

Carolyn Friedlander kicked things off in January with a discussion about creating a palette and translating colour inspiration to picking fabric. I love her piece. I will admit, however, to be to being stuck on what I wanted to do. I've never been stuck for picking a palette before! New territory for me. But I didn't stress. Instead I pet some fabric and lived my life, confident that something would tickle my fancy eventually.

Enter the latest issue of Uppercase Mag. Devoted to CMYK - Cyan, magenta, and yellow. The base colours for printing. As with all issues of the magazines I had to wipe up my drool as I read it. Then I knew exactly what I was going to do for this Mighty Lucky Quilting Club challenge.

Uppercase Magazine CMYK
CMYK Fabric Mighty Lucky Quilting Club

So I picked a stack of fabric in these intense, pure colours. Not stressing too much about whether this pink perfectly matched that one. If I went that detailed then there would be no point to piecing! You need a bit of contrast in value, texture, and hue to have some depth to your piecing.

Then I printed off the templates for Carolyn's rows. She is a paper piecing master and it was good to work with her pattern. Pretty straightforward as paper piecing goes. Do not be intimidated at all! It takes me about 45 minutes to make 1 block. A beginner would probably take about an hour or more. Don't stress, just do it one seam, one block at a time.

While I usually like to use freezer paper when I paper piece, this time I used Carol Doak's Foundation Paper for my templates. They print right on my home printer, are thin, and are easy to remove. The print at home factor was big as I didn't want to draw out the templates for 12 blocks. (No affiliation, I just like it.) 

In a week I have 6 blocks done. I will plug away on these then start the next round - it's improv!

To sign up to receive the bimonthly challenges, and the templates for this particular block, check out Mighty Lucky Quilting Club. It is $50 for the annual subscription. 

Ripples - A New Start

Ripples Improv Quilts Improve Curves

I literally woke up with this idea.

We all know I am a morning person, rising to practice Morning Make. I've never confessed that it is still tough to actually get out of bed. So I take a few minutes to breathe and think about what I want to do as soon as my feet hit the ground. If I haven't prepped my Morning Make the night before I decide what mood I am in that day in those few minutes. Sewing? Sketching? Writing?

A few weekends ago I had the pleasure of participating in The Creative Jam in Prince Rupert, British Columbia. Wonderful people, the ocean, and a phenomenal creative spirit. It was an incredible weekend. Total bonus for me was my morning walks. The rain and fog held off each morning and the ocean was still. I could watch herons, seals, boats, and the fog roll in like a quilt being pulled over a sleeping baby. 

Improv Curves Improvisational Quilts

The morning after I got home I woke up with this idea. Ripples. 

Two rough 4'' squares layered right sides up. One light blue, one dark blue, value being relative. A wavy cut with my good scissors. Sewing opposites together. Square up to 3.5'' x 4''. Repeat and repeat, a meditation. 

How could I not, with this as inspiration?

Prince Rupert Ferry View
Prince Rupert Quilt Inspiration
Prince Rupert Quilt Inspiration
Prince Rupert Quilt Inspiration
Prince Rupert Improv Quilt Inspiration
Prince Rupert Totem Pole View
Prince Rupert Quilt Inspiration

Tangential Creativity

Indian Cotton Drunkard Path Quilt

One of the best things about having a large list of Quilts Under Construction (currently at over 40, but I don't know the exact number today) is that I can never get bored. The other great thing a large list affords me is the luxury to not give a hoot about having a large list. So if I want to start something new, I will. And I will never feel bad about that.

Being open to inspiration and being inspired to act is one of the key reasons I quilt in the first place. Because I want to create, I want to explore, I want to try new things.  And with quilting I can do that with pretty much zero danger (compared to rock climbing), a minimal investment (compared to travel), and no ick factor (compared to trying some exotic foods). The idea hits and I can run with it and the only thing it impacts is my stash.

Last week a friend in the neighbourhood popped by with a beautiful gift. A stack of unique kimono fabrics direct from Japan. Her mom, a new quilter, was visiting from Japan. One morning they came over and I shared my quilts with her. We talked (via my friend, translating) inspiration, style, fabric, what we knew of the Japanese quilting community, and making in general. It was lovely visit and I wished her well as she left, a bag of scraps and some books for her to carry home for new inspiration. I told her to come by next time she visited Canada and we would stitch together. The beautiful fabric was a wonderful, and unnecessary gift. It sits on a shelf, where I pet it and smile - for now.

Indian cotton fabrics

But, the colours reminded of another stack of gifted fabric. This one given to me by my mother in law over 5 years ago after a trip to India. I had to look up just how long ago she gave me these treats! Thank goodness for having a 10 year old blog.

Back in 2012 I think I made 4 blocks with the fabric. Just to play. Those blocks, and the fabric, sat in a bin with all my other materials for teaching Circles. A few times a year I dusted them off and never thought of them again. That kimono fabric got me thinking, my hands got twitchy, and a few days later I already have 50 quarter circle blocks sewn. With enough background fabric for maybe 40 more.

Oh no, I have too many quilts on the go I couldn't possibly start another one. I'll have to park this idea and put the fabric back in the bin until I finish a few more quilts.

Yeah, that's not me! I relish the opportunity to see the tangent and take off down the path it opens up. I realize that not everyone is this way or that even reading about this might cause twitching in someone else. I knew that if I didn't embrace the idea right then and there I might never go back. And if it wasn't for that kimono fabric I might never have thought about these Indian cottons. If, if, if. I don't want to live a life of what ifs, I want to see what happens when I respond with Okay, now what? 

Who knows how long the kimono fabric will sit and be admired, or tucked away for safekeeping. I could try something next week or it might be 5 more years. I'm good either way.  One day it will make it to the Quilts Under Construction list.