In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer

.Well, here we are – I just checked and we are officially past the halfway point of our summer vacation (school vacation); which has really put my sewing mojo in a rut. But more on that in a minute. (If you’re interested.) In the meantime, I started to prep more of the blue and red Orange Peel Applique quilt blocks (that aren’t orange) and had the thought, maybe I should count and see how many I’ve got. 

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a sewing room with a white sewing machine on a table and red, white and blue block quilt on the wall.

I was surprised how big the stacks looked when I pulled them out, and even more surprised when I started counting them. Turns out I have over 300 blocks! Plenty of blocks to make a really good sized quilt! (I guess that’s what happens when you work on blocks for eight years. lol)

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a quilting blocks in stacked piles.

Today I started playing with them on the design wall and I’m pretty excited about the direction this quilt is headed! In the words of my 15-year-old, “It’s going to be epic.”

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of sewing scissors, quilting blocks, and a cutting board.

All of the ‘peels’ are hand appliqued, but I’m going to machine-piece the blocks together. But first, I think I need to cut out the excess fabric behind the ‘peels’ so that this quilt doesn’t weigh a hundred pounds. All 300+ of them. Or do I? (Professional opinions wanted.)

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a pieced together red, white, and blue block quilt.

This project has got me kind of excited again because my “sewjo” (aka sewing mojo) has been seriously MIA this summer. Here’s the long explanation, if you’re interested. (I totally understand if you’re not 😉 and you’re allowed to just look at the pictures.)

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a pile of quilting blocks.

How to Find your Sewing Mojo

My relationship with summer is always complex. Finding the balance between fun/relaxation and structure with kids home all day has always been tricky. I’m at the stage now where my kids are older and a little more self-sufficient. Or at least you’d think. I still feel like I utter the phrase, “It’s time to turn off screens!” more than I’d like each day.

Still, we’ve enjoyed a lot of the traditional summer activities: family vacations, some beautiful hikes in our nearby mountains, watching my kid’s tennis matches, family reunions, etc., so we haven’t been major slackers.

Over the years I’ve learned that summer is most enjoyable when I let go of big projects, deadlines, and expectations and just roll with life as it comes.

That was definitely my game plan for this summer… but, welp, when will I learn that things never go according to plan?! lol The day after we got home from our summer vacation, we discovered a leak under the kitchen sink. The latest update since having everything torn out  (cabinets, walls, and flooring) is that we have no update on when any of it could be replaced. (Insert wide-eyed + crying emojis here.) This was not the low-key summer I was planning.

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a demoed kitchen.

Life is Unexpected…And That’s OK!

Here’s the current state of things: last week we finally got a temporary carpenter’s sink and extra countertop, so at least the kitchen is functional.

The good news: in 2 months we’ll have a pretty, updated kitchen. 🙂 The bad news: in 2 months we’ll have a pretty, updated kitchen. 

We moved everything from our bottom kitchen cabinets into my sewing space. Which was the former dining room next to the kitchen. After that, I packed up most of my sewing projects and piled them up in a basement storage room. I’m not going to lie, it felt pretty overwhelming. The whole unexpected nature of things totally sapped what little creativity and enthusiasm I had.

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a an unorganized sewing room.

I didn’t sew for weeks! Fortunately, some nice friends got me out of the house to sew one night after the most stressful week of tearing everything out. That was much needed. Since then I’ve come to accept that this is just the new normal for the summer.  I mean, who needs a dishwasher anyway? (#firstworldproblems).

(Okay, never mind, I’m really missing my dishwasher.)

For the most part we’re currently in limbo and I can’t do anything to change it. I’m doing better about just accepting it is what it is. I’ve realized that I function and feel a lot better when I decide to stop stressing out about what I have no control over. 

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a pastel block quilt hanging on a decorative black ladder that's leaning against a wall.

Current Sewing Projects I’m working on Now That I Got my ‘Sewjo’ Back

In the meantime, I’ve started working on a few projects again. Especially since we’re in a holding pattern while we wait for various contractors to become available to fix the different parts of the kitchen/house. I’m not up for starting all of the massive fabric clean-out projects I had planned for the summer (especially now that most of it is in a giant pile in my basement). But I decided to instead, use the time to finish up some long-overdue UFO’s (UnFinished Objects). Which is extra good because that was my goal this year anyway; and I’ve been sadly slacking the past few months.

For example, this vintage sheet patchwork quilt that has been patiently waiting 4 years for a pieced back so it could go to the quilter. I’m excited to say that I managed that feat this week!

And now the Orange Peel quilt will fill that role too. It feels good to get a little of my sewjo flowing again. And it’s helped me feel better about all the stuff that’s currently out of my control.

In Search of my Sewing Mojo and Other Tales of Summer by popular sewing blog, Diary of a Quilter: image of a woman sitting on a chair and leaning on a table that is covered with sewing supplies and quilting fabric.

If you’re own sewing mojo is sagging, Samantha Dorn of Aqua Paisley Studios has some great tips to help you get motivated again. They totally helped me!  

One more bit of good news: my oldest has been serving as a volunteer missionary for our church. We haven’t seen her in 18-months and she gets home this week. I can’t remember the last time I felt this excited about anything. And it definitely puts perspective on all the other chaos. 🙂

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  • Reply
    Tanya Quilts in CO
    July 16, 2019 at 8:48 pm

    I am so sorry about your kitchen! My ice maker broke and flooded our kitchen 7 years ago. At first we thought it was ok, but several weeks later we had tiles breaking and the subfloor disintegrating. Insurance covered very little of the expenses–we used it as an opportunity for a full remodel. Our temporary kitchen was in the garage–it was rough, but now we have a gorgeous kitchen. Hang in there–it will be worth the wait!

  • Reply
    Carlie Holdredge
    July 17, 2019 at 4:21 am

    You can handle this and it seems like you have so far! Just take one day at a time and one stitch a day and soon it will be alright! I have found now as a grandma not to sweat the small stuff even when that seem not so small, now my life is less fretful. I just wish I had learned it earlier! A good month to finish the red, white and blue quilt, I really like it and now I want to try one of my own. You are a great inspiration, keep up the good work. and Congrats on the returning daughter, she is an inspiration too!

  • Reply
    Denise Clappier
    July 17, 2019 at 4:41 am

    Thanks for your honest feelings here. I’ve lost my sewjo since we moved in Dec 2018. Still trying to get my new space setup and comfortable. I also am so torn in summer between the outdoors and indoors along with a full time job. The landscaping and weeds need attention and not much energy left at day’s end. Have had to keep up with our previous house trying to sell it. Hopefully things will feel better when it is sold in a two weeks.

    Best feelings of all for you with your daughter coming home!

  • Reply
    Little Quiltsong
    July 17, 2019 at 5:03 am

    Oh Amy – I’m so, so sorry for this fiasco you are going through. I do see paper plates – take-out dinners and slow-cooker dinners though. Love the excuse for them :)! Hoping all will get fixed up quickly for you, so that you can sew, up in your lovely dining room again. Excited for you, that your daughter is heading home again – enjoy!!!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 5:41 am

    Sounds like you are coping pretty good ! Hang in there 😉

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 6:05 am

    Amy, I hope you called the insurance company about the leak. This is a that is problem that is covered by homeowners insurance. I see these pictures and I am bummed. This is a real summer ruiner. Try to pretend it is fun….. haha
    I love the quilt. I think you should not cut the backings. It might weaken the seams over all with the bias business going on.
    I live in Northern Virginia and I HATE summer. The planet has a fever, and if all of the scientists are correct, well, just keep the kitchen as it is. hahahaha
    Today I have to venture out into the blistering heat and shop for food, then take my 95 year old daddy to the skin doc for a skin check. My car AC will just barely keep up
    Happy Wednesday

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 6:07 am

    I left a comment and it disappeared. I hope it comes back
    Just to add, I really like the quilt

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 6:57 am

    My basement sewing room was flooded this spring and while I didn’t lose any fabric or machines I have had to move my sewing to other parts of the house and seriously downsize my stash. Very discouraging.

  • Reply
    Riceford Streams
    July 17, 2019 at 7:15 am

    I’m glad your daughter is coming home because that’s just the happy event you need to help turn the tide. I know a bit what you’re going through. We remodeled our kitchen — totally gutted it to the studs — so I packed up my sewing space into the basement closet to make room for our temporary kitchen. Two years later we discovered a water leak and behind the fridge, so everything got packed up again so damaged Sheetrock could be replaced. It was very disheartening! A quilt for my daughter was set aside and I finished it nine years later (9!!!). Thankfully the kitchen repair didn’t take that long.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Sorry you are going through this, but you will have something beautiful in the end. Working on UFOs sounds like a good use of your downtime. If the orange peel quilt is any indication, you will get some beautiful quilts as a result. It almost makes me want to do hand applique. Almost.

  • Reply
    LeAnn Hileman
    July 17, 2019 at 11:05 am

    Oh gosh, I can relate. I remember those days of summer vacay when I was glad/maybe for my son to be out of school and glad/maybe when he returned. Now that he is months away from finishing his PhD in Physics, I miss those days of having him always underfoot. Just one day at a time honey and this too shall pass.

  • Reply
    Barbara McDonald
    July 17, 2019 at 11:06 am

    You don’t have to publish this, nor do I think this will happen to YOU!

    My husband and I decided to have our master bathroom redone – work started on January 7 – we moved down to our daylight basement for a few weeks while the work was being done.

    We finally moved back upstairs last month! That’s right – a job that should’ve taken 3-4 weeks took FIVE. MONTHS. And it’s still not 100% complete, and I doubt it ever will be; the company is teetering on bankruptcy and could care less if our job is finished.

    All of this to say – I COMPLETELY get your lack of mojo! I’m still waiting for mine to come back. There were numerous times I wanted to get in my care and run away from home! But – I believe in your strength and faith and I know that BOTH of us are going to be okay!!

    Love and hugs to you!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 11:26 am

    Bless your heart! What a nightmare; no wonder you lost your sewjo, for a while! The orange peel blocks look great up on your wall; I’m happy that they are feeling your love, and hope that the kitchen project goes smoothly, when it gets fully on track!

  • Reply
    Chantal Thibodeau
    July 17, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    8 years, that’s a project. I made a similar project (http://courtepointemoi.blogspot.com/2014/11/modele-de-pelures-dorange-orange-peel.html), machine applique with light interfacing and didn’t remove anything. It doesn’t look too stiff or heavy. But it was a lap quilt.

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 1:24 pm

    I would not cut the backs out of your pieces. A heavy quilt or blanket helps reduce anxiety!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      Good point!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    I do a lot of hand applique’ and belong to a couple of applique’ groups and the latest consensus is to NOT cut away the fabric from underneath. The theory is that it weakens and can warp the background fabric. I made a queen sized hand appliquéd orange peel quilt a couple of years ago that is very much like yours and I did not remove any fabric from under the orange peels. It really doesn’t feel much heavier to me than any other quilt and I am happy with it. Good luck with whichever direction you choose!

    • Reply
      July 17, 2019 at 2:54 pm

      Awesome!! That makes sense. Thanks so much for the advice!

  • Reply
    Pam Landolt
    July 17, 2019 at 3:12 pm

    So sorry about the mess in your kitchen. I had to deal with a kitchen remodel in our old house. No fun, but worth it in th long run?. Your orange peel quilt has totally inspired me! I have never hand appliqués and this seems like a good beginning project. I will cheat a little by cutting my peels with the AccuQuilt die but will then hand stitch them to blocks. Thank you for sharing this and everything else you do. I always get inspiration from you?

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 4:44 pm

    You certainly got a lot of things going on for you…the kitchen situation probably would have finished me off as well, but I am glad you are finding some enjoyment again in your epic orange peel project. Just be careful so that it does not overwhelm you…looks huge to me!

  • Reply
    July 17, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    I agree with your son, that quilt is going to be epic.
    So cute.

  • Reply
    July 18, 2019 at 6:09 pm

    Hi Amy! OMG about your kitchen. Only two months, ONLY two months. Look at the first side or the bright side! All new, all pretty, all fixed. And I agree with your DD and the EPIC quilt. {{Hugs}} a bunch to you. Enjoy the summer and let the stress go away in the water. Life truly is too short to worry about things beyond your control. A lesson long and hard learned but a very worthy one to grasp. ~smile~ Roseanne

  • Reply
    Elizabeth E.
    July 20, 2019 at 10:35 pm

    I’m in the “cut-out-the-back” camp. If you are keeping tallies, that is.
    Loved your IG videos of your daughter coming home–it made me cry. I had boys and they just seemed like “Okay I’m home, when can I leave,” not the heart-warming scenes in your video. I hope you will have a good summer in spite of everything that has up-ended your life/kitchen/house.

  • Reply
    Melanie Martin
    July 21, 2019 at 12:28 am

    Sounds like the consensus is to not cut the backs of your blocks. Sounds too tedious and time consuming anyway! Now you can get to sewing those blocks together. Hopefully in time, you will look back on this crazy no-kitchen summer and laugh. It’s a good excuse to be outdoors more with the family!

  • Reply
    July 21, 2019 at 12:32 pm

    Eighteen months is a really long time to be apart from your child! I’m not at all surprised your so excited to see her. Hope you have a wonderful reunion. BTW, just was with your children’s various behavioral phases, by the time your kitchen is restored, you will have gotten used to dealing with the reduced circumstances! Hang in there.

  • Reply
    July 22, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    I’m so sorry about your kitchen! Hang in there. Congrats on your missionary coming home!

  • Reply
    Kathleen McCormick
    July 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm

    Oh my! What I can say is keep the fabric unless you plan on using this as a summer quilt. It won’t make much difference except to your time…it will be just fine!

  • Reply
    Kelly O.
    July 29, 2019 at 8:34 am

    What an incredibly interesting read this morning! thank you for sharing this history of your quilting family.

  • Reply
    August 1, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    In the long run, getting your quilt mojo and kid back will be way more worth the kitchen inconvenience. Working full time has messed with my quilting mojo. I don’t like sewing at night. I’m tired and make more mistakes. That’s no fun. But we’ve been able to get a new roof and get our daughter through her freshman year of college without debt. Your orange peel quilt is going to be epic. I can’t wait to see the finished quilt!! Best wishes for your life to look up.

    • Reply
      August 2, 2019 at 11:31 am

      Thanks, Gwyn. xo

  • Reply
    Phyllis Jones
    August 17, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    Amy, I’m so sorry about your kitchen. We had the exact same problem a couple of years ago. Whole kitchen had to be gutted and took forever to get redone. UGH!
    Do you have a template for the Orange Peel applique and what is the size of the square it’s appliqued onto? I love your quilt and always looking for projects I can carry with me. Thanks for all the great info you share!

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