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Checking in – Finding my Creative Motivation and Ideas to Lift Your Spirits

Hello friends! Would you believe it’s been about a month since I’ve worked on any quilting? This is so unlike me. My sewing mojo has been seriously struggling for the past few weeks. I haven’t worked on anything quilting-related since I wrote about catching my breath almost a month ago. I typically sew almost daily whether it’s for fun, as a coping mechanism, and because it’s my ‘work’. And yet, for the past few weeks I’ve hardly touched my sewing machine, other than to make more masks for neighbors or for my girls to take back to college with them.

How to make a face mask

I keep this box of prewashed fabrics and soft elastic next to my machine so that I can easily sit down and whip up a few mask when needed. (This is the mask-making-tutorial that I use.)

While my sewing mojo has been missing, I have been in a mood to ‘get my sewing room in order’ including cleaning out and destashing fabric. As with most organization projects, that always leads to a bigger mess before you start to feel the benefits of the clean-out. (Thanks to all who bought up the stuff I listed last week. And apologies that I didn’t have more to share. I was amazed how fast it went.)

It took a few days to get it all shipped out and I felt a huge load lifted once it was out. I’ve since spent the last few days cleaning up the aftermath, as well as finally putting away the remnants and leftovers of all of my summer projects.

When so much in life feels so out of my control right now, it doesn’t help when my house/creative-space feel out of control as well. It’s been good therapy to set creating aside and take some time to clear my head and sewing table and to control some things that I can control. And I think that taking some time to clear-out and clean up has made me excited to sew again. Check out this popular post about Sewing Room organization if you’re looking for some ideas to motivate you to work on your own creative space.

Here’s where my sewing table is at right now. I’m finally cutting borders for the Union Jack quilt I pieced last spring. (That pattern is in the works and should be ready in a few weeks.)

I’ve also started a sweet and simple patchwork baby quilt for a friend. Scrappy patchwork is my happy place.

Looking back, I realize now, it’s also been a really busy month preparing my kids to go back to school. This year certainly looks and feels different that school did last fall for each one of my kids.  I have two girls who moved back to college and two boys in high school – one going every day in person and one doing remote online learning – which means my school year looks pretty different than normal too. Shout out all of the other trying-to-figure-out-this-home-school-life Moms (and Dads!) out there. It’s not for the faint of heart. I’m just praying/keeping my fingers, toes, and anything else crossed that the ones who are in school can all stay in school as long as possible… 

 

The last one moved back to college. My husband and I took her last weekend and had a fun time exploring a few remote spots along the way – including new to me Cedar Breaks National Monument. Beautiful scenery – and a little ethereal due to smokey skies from all of the western fires.

Speaking of fires 🙁 – if you’re looking for a way to help, Beth Bryant has shared her California Pixelated Patchwork quilt pattern as a free gift in exchange for a donation to the California Wildfire Relief Fund – or any group helping to fight the terrible fires here in the western US.

image from the Deseret News

Gosh, it’s been crazy times, hasn’t it? This past week my hometown of Salt Lake City was struck by a crazy hurricane-force windstorm that uprooted 1,000’s of beautiful old trees in neighborhoods, campuses, and parks throughout the city.  Including Sunnyside Avenue and Sugarhouse Park – both the inspiration for two of my fabric collections.  I have been mourning the loss like it was a part of me that was destroyed.

All of this crazy uncertainty has been rough, hasn’t it? 

Here’s a few things that have helped/made me smile this week:

Even though I haven’t worked on any quilts, I have made progress on my Stitchville cross-stitch project. The pattern is by Camille Roskelly – you can find it here. Cutest house needleminder from Flamingo Toes. I bought the 11″ x 11″ Snap Frame from the Fat Quarter Shop. I love how tight it holds the fabric and not having to reposition over and over.

I’ve also laid on the couch and watched the US Open Tennis tournament. Usually I never sit still while watching TV – I always ‘pride’ myself on being productive any time I’m watching TV. This time I’m proud of myself for just resting and enjoying. It’s also something my son likes and it feels good to just hang out with him.

Here’s a little more ‘feel-good’ inspiration for you. I’ve talked before about my cute Hmong neighbor Xiong Li who is in her 90’s. Since quarantine started back in March we haven’t been able to give each other squeezes, instead visiting and waving from her driveway while she sits on the porch. While I haven’t been able to give her hugs, I have been able to supply her with fabric, thanks in part to Riley Blake Designs donating their leftover flannel samples. 

Stack of Flannel Blankets for Charity

In the past 6 months she has made more than 100 (!) flannel baby blankets, burp clothes and bags. This is just some of them. These will all be donated to Lifting Hands International, the Navajo Nation, and local families/hospitals. I love that she loves to keep her hands busy at her sewing machine. She is a kindred spirit.

Ideas to lift your spirits:

If you’re looking for ways to lift your spirits helping others, here are some causes that are always in need of charitable donations. 

If you’re in the mood to purge and have extra fabric on your hands here’s a list of places that can use fabric donations (see the comments on that post too.) If you’ve got flannel you want to send to my friend to make more baby blankets, email me directly for info: amy@diaryofaquilter.com

If you’re in the Utah area, September 18-19 is the Garden of Quilts event at Thanksgiving Point. While this will not be the same as last year’s event – no classes or trunk shows – you can still wander the stunning gardens and admire dozens of quilts. Thanksgiving Point is huge, making it easy to ‘social distance’ and it’s supposed to be beautiful weather. I’m looking so looking forward to this event and promise to take pictures and share with all of you who can’t be there in person.

If you’re feeling in a creative funk or looking for motivation, Samantha Dorn has some really simple, concrete tips to help you with your quilting mojo here.

This article was really helpful or those of us feeling like we’re in a funk or having a hard time finding our footing during these uncertain times. It helps us understand why we’re feeling the way we do and offers some good concrete tips and suggestions. Although I sometimes feels like I am, it’s good to know we aren’t actually going crazy. 

Here’s a sweet story about how one person can make a difference. My friend Ben Behunin‘s neighborhood was one that was heavily hit by the storm in Salt Lake City. In cleaning up the damage they found a car that had been destroyed – with a Venmo name in it. He shared the picture with his Instagram following and you can read about the results here.

I also loved this stirring little video about Hope.

❤ to all of you, friends!

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31 Comments

  • Reply
    Rebecca
    September 12, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    Hi Amy.
    Do you have a pattern you’d recommend for the scrappy patchwork quilt you’re making? I’m new to quilting and am currently making the baby quilt you mentioned a few blog posts ago (the one with precuts). I started a postage stamp quilt but have set it aside because the squares on that one are SO SMALL and it seems too difficult for my skill set right now. The scrappy patchwork quilt above looks more doable for me. Thanks in advance!
    Rebecca

  • Reply
    Lea
    September 12, 2020 at 4:33 pm

    Hi Amy, what a very nice post this is. Thank you. I watched the video at the end, and it made me teary eyed. Yes, hope is what every single one of us needs, now and always. Compassion too.

    I’m sorry about the windstorm in your neck of the woods. It must have been hard to see those majestic trees turned over like that. You live in a beautiful area. In 04′ we lived in SE FL and that was the year of so many hurricanes in the state that summer. I remember evacuating for one of the hurricanes that hit us directly and on the way across the state we saw many old oak trees that were uprooted. It’s a sad sight.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:39 pm

      Thank you Lea. I’m so glad you liked the video too. Hope and Compassion – what we can always use more of. xo

  • Reply
    Jani
    September 12, 2020 at 5:20 pm

    Amy, it sounds like you’ve had an awful lot going on, so taking a break from quilting – as strange as it may feel to you – doesn’t seem like an unreasonable response. I so appreciated you sharing the beautiful photos and the video about holding on to hope … thank you for all that you continue to share with us!

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:38 pm

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Jani. xo

  • Reply
    jantaber
    September 12, 2020 at 5:39 pm

    I love hearing about someone I admire so much as a quilter having a blip in their quilting screen. I have them, too, and it helps to know that it’s a universal phenomenon. Like writer’s block….which all writers experience at times. It seems to me, though, that the longer I stay away from my machine, the harder it is to make myself get back to it. So I find it’s best to do something simple (like your patchwork baby quilt) just to break the bad habit of non-sewing. Just do it, doesn’t matter what it is! Sorry for the loss of those gorgeous old trees in your beautiful city. I remember the tree-lined places we toured when there three years ago. New trees will grow in time, but it will look bare for a while. Now, I need to hush and go lie on the couch and read a chapter in a book. I’m trying to teach myself that it is okay to be unproductive in daylight hours, a hard lesson to learn, but as I get older it’s one I need to master. 🙂

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:40 pm

      Thank you so much for the encouragement. And good for you taking time to lie on the couch and read! You’ve inspired me to do that this afternoon.

  • Reply
    holly neal
    September 12, 2020 at 5:47 pm

    Oh so needed this today, thank you!! I love your choices for Stitchville! Did you change floss colors? What fabric is it stitched on??

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      I did change the floss colors, using what I have on hand. (I’m kind of a rebel.) I’ll get a picture of the color numbers and share it. I’m stitching on 25 Count Lugana in Oatmeal from the Fat Quarter Shop: http://shrsl.com/2i46i

  • Reply
    Pam
    September 12, 2020 at 6:50 pm

    Thank you so much. Needed something to get going again. I live in CA it is ugly. So thanks again for positive people caring about others.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:43 pm

      Thank you, Pam. My thoughts are with California!!

  • Reply
    Deanne Weber
    September 12, 2020 at 7:51 pm

    Thanks for this, Amy, especially the link to the Tara Haelle article. So many good suggestions! As for my quilting funk this past month, I decided to just sort and touch my Liberty fabric collection . . . and wound up making a very simple log cabin quilt. It was exactly the spark I needed!

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      Isn’t that a great article?? And your Liberty project sounds ideal!

  • Reply
    elvira
    September 13, 2020 at 2:50 am

    Thanks for sharing this Amy especially about Lee Xiong. I just read the blog post and those turn applique embroideries are mind blowing! Stay blessed & stay safe!

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:44 pm

      Thank you, Elvira. xo And aren’t those projects incredible?!

  • Reply
    Rachel P
    September 13, 2020 at 5:26 am

    Amy, thank you for this post! You are such an inspiration for so many of us around the world (my husband and I live in Kenya, and I share your posts with my local guild here – all of us quarantined and holding our meetings and challenges and show-and-tells over zoom, like quilting guilds around the world!). Please know that like you, many of us are facing incredibly trying times and to see how beautifully you model stepping back and taking care of your family and yourself, well, we are grateful for you. I follow what Jantaber (above) wrote… and make up that “not sewing”, or being productive in ‘other ways’ is a gift to ourselves at some level – helping us hit the re-set button, and shift our energy and perspectives so that when we start up again, our creativity has space to bloom! Bless you!

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:46 pm

      Oh my goodness! Kenya!! That is amazing! Thank you so much for saying Hello and for your kind and encouraging words, Rachel! Bless you too. xoxo

  • Reply
    Monique Adams
    September 13, 2020 at 6:51 am

    Hi Amy, I always think your posts hit the nail on the head when you write about what you are experiencing! Two of our boys are back in college ,and our youngest is doing 8th grade via Cyber school this year. I am his learning coach so that is a whole new role, requiring some adjustments( no, many!) to my daily schedule. It will take some getting used to.
    I am glad to were able to destash and happy to say that I was the recipient of some of your lovely fabric…now to find the perfect pattern to showcase them in! xx Monique

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Sounds like we are living similar lives right now, Monique!! Thanks so much for your kind words. Good luck to you!!

  • Reply
    Lodi
    September 13, 2020 at 7:22 am

    Great post Amy! Thanks for the virtual inspiration.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:47 pm

      Thank you, Lodi. xo

  • Reply
    charlotte m.
    September 13, 2020 at 8:17 am

    Hi Amy. Great post. I often find that my creative block is caused by clutter in my sewing space. Sometimes, just taking the day to clean and organize helps me get over my funk. I feel much more creative in a neat space. I hope your school year goes well. My daughter has three at home doing the distance learning and it is an uphill struggle for all.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:48 pm

      A good clean out feels amazing, doesn’t it?? Bless your daughter. My heart goes out to these mama’s trying to manage and help multiple children!

  • Reply
    Joana
    September 13, 2020 at 8:25 am

    Thank you for the loving post—I meant to say lovely, but decided loving was actually the right word. My husband and I are still sheltering, and mostly it’s fine and we stay happy and busy. But we miss seeing our daughter and her family—this is birthday week for them, and our youngest grandchild is one, our princess is three, and our precious son in law is 31. I mailed a pretty pink dress and a second quilt for cuddles (he had one when he was born, but the second took a while). I’m making a donation quilt using your baby quilt pattern for a in home care group to share for Christmas and log cabin blocks for fun. I’m so thankful for being able to be busy and productive, and I’m also thankful for people like you who are being transparent about the good times and the struggles—since March 1, we have been to three doctors appointments, and that’s all. We feel a bit lost at times, and connecting to others who are focusing on giving and loving and caring for themselves and others reminds us that we aren’t lost at all.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:49 pm

      Thank you and hugs to you, Joana!

  • Reply
    Mary
    September 13, 2020 at 8:26 am

    Yes– thank you especially for the Haelle article. I have shared it with my family. Besides COVID, our daughter and her two second grade twins live with us. Daughter teaches 1st grade and had to go back to work. Grand daughters are now in e-school with me as their main ‘coach’. Husband is having health problems, and he would like to move from being out in the country, back to the (small) city we used to live in. I will be 70 in a few weeks, and that birthday would be a problem without all the rest! I am at a standstill. I did have a month + this summer when I didn’t sew, but I got past that….now I just don’t have time. I was already doing some of the suggestions, will try to add others. Hearing again that I am not alone in this problem already helps. The west coast fires are beyond belief…I just can’t imagine.

    • Reply
      Amy
      September 13, 2020 at 2:50 pm

      Oh boy – your plate is full, Mary! Bless you as you’re taking care of so many people. Sending love and hugs!

  • Reply
    Rosemary B
    September 13, 2020 at 3:20 pm

    I really enjoyed reading all of this today. It looks dry out there. I am in Northern Virginia and we have a little bit of “fallish” stuff going on. Leaves changing!!
    I am sewing as much as I can. The days are not long enough, and I need a “secretary”
    Enjoy these months readjusting to the school days and change
    Thank you for sharing these pictures and telling me about your sweet busy bee neighbor
    Sad to see those trees. Weather is mean sometimes
    Well, I clicked on the elemental medium page about being in a funk…. It won’t connect
    Oh well….

  • Reply
    Rosemary B
    September 13, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Happy Birthday Mary. I hope you can just take each day at a time. Best wishes to you and your hubbs

  • Reply
    Gwyn
    September 15, 2020 at 7:57 pm

    You may not be sewing, but you are doing things that are the most important in life: family, friends, and community. Stay safe and be well. Your inspirational places may never look the same, but you still have the wonderful memories to share. Enjoy your family and be well! I am getting some quilting sewjo from your Precuts Craftsy class!!

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