I often have people ask me, “How do you get so much done?” including my mom and my new friend Vicki (waving to you Vicki!) a couple Saturdays ago when I was working at American Quilting. So today I will try to answer that question somewhat – and while I can’t promise world peace or total enlightenment, hopefully I can end some blogging-guilt-complexes in the process
First of all here is what my sewing space looked like a few days ago. Pretty scary. (I still can’t believe I’m publicly humiliating myself like this.) The towel on the stained, burned and ripped ironing board cover is for the iron that started leaking. I have at least four different projects in process in this picture, not to mention the disorderly piles of fabric for a few more. And then there’s a piece of ric rac hanging from the blinds (?). Fortunately you can’t really see how badly the carpet needed to be vacuumed.
(To my own credit, yesterday I did take about half an hour to get things looking a lot better. I should probably take another picture to redeem myself a little.)
Blogs and magazines and beautiful sewing and pattern books create this impression that everything looks wonderful, the cutting mat is always cleared and ready for a new project, there are no pins on the floor and all fabric is neatly folded. I’m sure for a lot of people, crafting is like that. I’m just not one of those people.
So I don’t want to add to the misrepresentation that things around here are always perfect and I wile away my hours churning out quilts. Often I am moving junk out of the way before I take a picture for my blog and most of the time I have worked on something for weeks before it ever surfaces on the blog.
|during the Hoops photo shoot|
For me, my hobby is sandwiched in between the needs of four kids, a husband with plenty of demands on his time, house, church responsibilities, car pools etc. I’m not complaining about any of those things – I’m grateful for all of them. But it often means I sew at snatched, random moments and it’s not very orderly.
All that said, here’s how I do what I do:
- My kids are at great ages right now – I don’t have infants or teenagers, so that frees me up a little especially during some school days. My youngest is pretty easy going and he likes just hanging out with me so I can even get some done while he’s around. And he doesn’t try to sit on my sewing machine peddle as often as he used to.
- I’m a total homebody – I don’t even like going shopping – it’s a necessary evil to me. I could keep myself entertained for hours at home and never get bored.
- I can handle mess. I have friends whose homes I love to go to because they are always beautiful and spotless. Always. (Nothing wrong with that!) But they often admit to me that they wish they could accomplish what I do with my sewing hobby and acknowledge that it’s hard for them to start a project and let the house slide a little, or to live with the mess that creativity sometimes brings. So, I don’t know whether it’s a blessing or a curse, but I can handle my house in it’s imperfect state while I do other things. Not forever, mind you, and total chaos can really kill any creativity. But I can look at the perler beads or scraps of cut snowflakes on the floor in the middle of the afternoon and not let them bug me, knowing I’ll do a full clean-up that night. (However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t get embarrassed when someone comes to my house and I have to kick random shoes and toys out of the way so they can walk into a room.)
- I have a place where I can leave out my creative mess, shut the door, walk away and return the next day to pick-up where I left off. I know that not everyone has that option. My space is in a room that is half storage room in my basement. It’s not totally convenient and in the summer my machine and one current project usually migrate to the kitchen so I can be where the action is, but having that place where I can leave a little of my mess undisturbed is helpful. I feel lucky because I know that’s not always feasible for everyone.
- I like having something to show for my time. The dishes will always need to be redone, and beds will always need to be remade, and clothes constantly need to be washed. So I like to invest even just a small portion of my time each day on something that will stay finished. It’s healthy for my psyche. I know that my kids are my most important creation and that the time invested in them is never a waste. But it’s nice to have some short term accomplishments as well. That, and fabric is always obedient. Well, most of the time.
- Sewing is my happy juice. Just doing a little bit each day makes me feel good about life. I feel lucky to have found something that I really enjoy doing.
- I rarely quilt my own quilts. I’m really lucky right now to have a great situation where I have coworkers who will do it for me at a really great price. And they will do a much nicer job than I could do. And, the quilting part of making quilts seriously dilutes the happy juice for me. I dread that part.
- I don’t really watch TV. Occasionally I’ll watch a movie (BBC Classics anyone?) on a little DVD player next to my sewing machine while I work. If I do watch something with my husband or family, I’m pretty much always working on a project – usually binding a quilt. I can’t just sit still. Occasionally, for my husband’s sake, I’ll sit and just hold his hand while we watch a movie. It’s a necessary sacrifice for me to make sometimes.
- And in the spirit of really keeping it real, I’ll add this thought too: the days that I give a little bit of time to God by reading my scriptures and saying a prayer in the morning, I ALWAYS get more done. When I don’t do those little things, I feel like I’m running around in circles and accomplish nothing. Take that for what it’s worth to you, but I know it’s true for me.
There are plenty of distractions out there that slow me down. Like getting into a good book – which is not necessarily a bad thing – (I need to get more books on tape). But don’t get me started on the computer. I’ve had to set boundaries for myself and I often feel guilty for being slow answering emails or not responding to all comments, because I am so grateful for every one. I try to answer any specific questions that are asked, but I’ve found that it takes so much time to individually thank each commenter that it seriously cuts into the time available for anything else. So please, know how grateful I am for the wonderful feedback you give me. It means so much to me – I only wish I had more time to devote to responding.
So now that you know WAY more than you ever really wanted to, let me add one more thing. These are the things that work for ME. There are people in blog land that I admire so much, but I’m coming to accept the fact that I will never be them, I can only be me and I have to function in a manner that works best for my personality, family, and hereditary quirks. Same goes for everyone else. So my only encouragement is to find a system that works for YOU and own it. And NO feeling guilty about not doing it the way someone else does it.