Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Joy of Making

Sometimes people ask me an intriguing question: "what are you going to do with that quilt?" Sometimes I ask it of myself, when I'm in lala quilt land (a real place, obviously), dreaming of fabric and design.

Lately, I've been reflecting a lot, on my own and with my sewing friends, about why I quilt. Sometimes, I think, "what would I even be DOING right now if I wasn't sewing?" Sure, I read books, hang out with my family and friends, blog, work too many jobs, clean, etc.... but this is my hobby. MORE than a hobby. More like a lifestyle. It has become a more important/essential part of my life than I ever could have imagined. When I think about all the fabric I would miss out on in a non-quilty life, it's actually pretty upsetting!


It's about the process and the skills I've learned. Quilting has taught me how to be patient (huge shocker for real, since I am impatient by nature), precise, and impulsive (all at the same time). I've learned how to make things with my bare hands. I've stuffed a closet full of fabric and been able to justify (most of) it. I've learned how to make perfect HSTs and how to sew an accurate quarter inch seam. I jumped into free motion quilting a couple of years ago and I haven't looked back. I haven't met a fabric store I didn't love. As president of the CJMQG now, I program meetings and serve as the main decision maker and contact for all activities. I see those skills translating into my professional life. Of course, another huge reason why I sew is simply you, the community, that we are all apart of and that I value so much.

This Botanics Challenge quilt is really what it was meant to be: a challenge. This is the first huge wall quilt I'm intending to just keep. Yes, I'll hang it up in my home, but it's more just for me to make than anything else.  Also, it's noteworthy because as a "modern quilter" I haven't actually made a full-size "improvisational" quilt top. Most of this quilt top is just that. It's my second time working with a scattered/scrappy low volume background, too, and I am seriously delving into that part of my stash (and ending up with weird-sized scraps!). Oh, and believe me, it is bothering me that the quilt top isn't done yet… but I'm trying to just let it happen. 

This quilt is also different because there is no. deadline. No baby shower to prepare for, no birthday to commemorate, no person to mail to. Just me and my quilt. And I am quite enjoying it.  :) So, I ask you: can't we just make for the sake of making more often? A bit of a scattered post from a person who is scattered all over.

P.S. My friend Sarah is hosting a 30/30 Challenge, where you spend 30 minutes every day of March sewing for yourself. Check it out! This sounds like just the kind of motivation I need.


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  1. You are amazing Jess and so appreciated! Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes I agree with you! I just love sitting at the machine hearing it hum and creating fabric goodness!

  3. I finished a small quilt last month and my husband asked me "Well, what are you going to do with it?" and I said that I didn't know and it didn't matter because it would find itself a home eventually. I managed to finish six quilts last year (some for known recipients and some just for fun) and each of them had been given away by the time the New Year rolled around. Roll around in your stash and enjoy the process of creating!

  4. I think we are at our best when we sew just for the enjoyment of it, rather than to meet a deadline. I feel quite stressed about all the people I want to make quilts for, but I try to just focus on one at a time and enjoy making that.

  5. I hope you don't mind but I am going to steal a quote form you for future use "Quilting has taught me how to be patient (huge shocker for real, since I am impatient by nature), precise, and impulsive (all at the same time). I've learned how to make things with my bare hands. I've stuffed a closet full of fabric and been able to justify (most of) it. I've learned how to make perfect HSTs and how to sew an accurate quarter inch seam."
    I am the only person I know who quilts and I get asked often why on earth I would, but it just makes me happy. I get to be a creative person through my quilts. I get to make a piece of art. If you handed me a paintbrush or a pencil I simply don't know what to do with it. But over the last 2 years I have learnt what to do with a sewing machine. Hand me a rotary cutter and I'm gold! :-D
    And I am a big enthusiast for the selfish sewing. I am actively encouraging others to join me in just making things for ourselves. No baby shower or wedding deadline, just immersing ourselves in the joy of our hobby and getting to spoil ourselves with the fruits of our labour.
    Keep enjoying what your doing. And I hope that when you see you beautiful botanic hanging from your wall you will remember the joy of creating and that it will make you happy every day.
    E xx

  6. My husband also asks what each new quilt is for. Why does it have to be "for" anything? Each quilt is a learning experience. The color, the pattern, the technique... If I didn't quilt, I'd be doing some other craft. I love quilting!

  7. I am another quilter that has a husband who has to ask "What are you going to do with that one?" or "Who is that for?" It doesn't matter whether it's a quilt or a pin cushion. Does it matter? I love to sew.

  8. I wonder that too--what I be doing as a stay at home mom if I didn't sew?! I have no idea. I often make for the sake of making and then half way through decide what I want to do with it--birthday gift, wall hanging, pillow, whatever. It really is the process for me. Having said that, I think the last like 10 things had a plan before I started them.

  9. Sew glad to be in the same community with you, Jess! Keep On Quilting On!

  10. Ahhh, Jess - yes! I agree wholeheartedly with this. ("I haven't met a fabric store I didn't love" either! ha) That's what I'm loving about my mini series - a chance to play and create some art just for me without a deadline (well, I guess one will have a deadline since I'm working on one for my 30/30 Sewing Challenge, but the rest of the colors won't). I'm glad you're having fun with your project - it'll be fun to see what unfolds as you get closer to your finish! And thanks very much for mentioning my challenge - I appreciate it : )

  11. Well said, friend. I think part of the reason we (or, at least some of us) aren't able to sew just for the sake of making is because we have such limited time in which to sew at all that we end up committing those few precious hours to deadline-oriented creative goals because, well, that's what we feel deserves the priority. Your gentle reminder to make and take time to satisfy our own creative drive, just for the sake of it, is really sound advice to those of us who can go off the deep end (avoids eye contact and lowers head) trying to fit every "else" in. :)

  12. Hi Jess! Looks exciting! I sew mostly just for the sake of making! There is enough stress and busyness in everyday life with all the other things, so this part of my life is for fun - my way to enjoy creating and to forget the outside World (except quilters and bloggers!) for a while. Happy sewings! x Teje

  13. People always ask me who I am making this quilt for or what am I using fabric for when I buy it...almost always the answer is no one and I have no idea:) It is who we are...I like how you said a lifestyle! Love it. I eat sleep and breathe quilts and wouldn't have it any other way. Sometimes I think if something happened and I couldn't quilt...to scary and empty. Great post.

  14. Great post Jess! I am in complete agreement with you. Quilting is a lifestyle, and we do it because we love it- if for no other reason whatsoever. Keep on, girl! Your love of quilting really comes through in your quilts.

    Thank you so much for sharing at Needle and Thread Thursday!

    :) Kelly @ My Quilt Infatuation

  15. No chance I'll be sewing thirty minutes daily in March. Sorting and packing take priority now!

    The process is just as important as the product (otherwise we could just go out and buy ready-made) but sometimes we forget this in our rush to the finish line!

  16. I have no idea why people say the stupid things they do say. For some reason women get asked these questions all the time. Why are you getting a college degree? Are you going to USE it? WHO is that NEXT quilt for? WHY do you need another book? I mean really....as if it is anyone's business. :) I really love what you are doing here - your creativity is an inspiration!


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