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Getting My Quilting Mojo Back

meI used to be a quilter – with a capital Q. I entered my quilts into shows and sold them in galleries. I liked making the quilts, but I hated everything else about the process. I hated writing Very Serious Artist Statements. I hated entering quilt shows. I hated worrying about how much time I was spending on a quilt, knowing that that was pushing up the price. I didn’t like thinking about my designs in that way.

So I stopped. And I started Shiny Happy World and I didn’t make a single quilt for a few years.

Buttonholes Quilt PatternI started making cute toys instead of expensive quilts. And then I started designing patterns for those cute toys so other people could make them too. And that was awesome!

But then I made a quilt. I made the Buttonholes quilt and it was really fun to design a quilt pattern especially for beginners – with no places where the seams needed to match up and no stress whatsoever.

And then I made the Scary Squares quilt and had the Most Fun Ever. And then there were a few more quilts – including the Puppies quilt which I love, love love. Update: The Scary Squares pattern is not currently in the shop. But you can make a similar quilt with my Craftsy class, Cute Quilt As You Go Applique Monsters.Scary Squares quilt pattern from Shiny Happy World

And all of a sudden I realize I have my quilting mojo back. And you know why? Because I’m making quilts that I LOVE. These quilts will never appear in any gallery. They’ll never win a prize in a show. But they make people smile and they keep people warm and they’re really fun to make. I’m not stressing about points or matching seams – I’m playing with color and shape and cuddly monsters and cute puppies. And I love it!

Why did this come as a revelation?

12_puppy_applique_patternsI reviewed Quilting Happiness here, and in responding to some people’s comments about the book and the review, it really made me think about my own quilting journey. I feel like I fell into this trap of always pushing my skills – always making more and more complicated quilts – until i didn’t enjoy what I was doing. I was designing for the galleries and the judges and my own weird internal measuring stick.

It’s like I had to give myself permission to make quilts that were “below” my skill level. Where does that come from? I have the technical skills to make a mariner’s compass quilt. Or a Baltimore Album quilt. That doesn’t mean I HAVE to make one! Making one (for me) will be stressful and sweaty and I’ll probably say a lot of bad words. I can do it – but it won’t be fun. And I want my quilting to be fun, dang it!

I’m writing this because I know a lot of you have struggled with the same thing. I read it in a lot of private emails after I posted my Quilting Happiness review. You don’t need my permission – but I’m giving it here just in case hearing it from another source helps.

You do not need to challenge yourself with every project you make. If you want to learn a new skill – awesome! But don’t feel like you have to. It’s ok to just make things for the joy of it. You can make beautiful, stunning, gorgeous quilts for the rest of your life without ever worrying about chopping off points or matching seams.

There. I’m off my soapbox now. πŸ™‚

Starry Night quilt in progress - 10 starsAnd now that I have my mojo back, I’m planning a LOT of new quilt patterns for next year. Most of them will be of the easy peasy Buttonholes variety – with no fussy points and no seams to match. A few of them will be skill stretchers, like the Starry Night quilt. (Update – I’ve pulled the Starry Night pattern temporarily while I reformat it to be released as a regular pattern. Sign up for the newsletter to make sure you know when it’s in the shop.) I hope all of them will be fun – and that all of you will make things you love, whether those things are simple rag dolls or complicated quilts. Think about what makes you happy when you sew and follow that path!

Have a wonderful day!

Happy sewing! Or quilting! or stitching! Or whatever you love to do!

Best,
Wendi
Wendi_Gratz_Shiny_Happy_World

MAKE IT YOURSELF!

12 COMMENTS

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Thanks so much!

  1. Carrie S. SAYS...

    Thank you so much for a fabulous and very honest post. The “weird internal measuring stick” gets the best of me too sometimes. As much as I LOVE the internet for inspiration,and fabulous patterns ;), sometimes it leads me to compare myself too much to others, and I end up feeling bad. I just love to sew, and the people I sew for usually just love that I took the time to make something especially for them. They don’t worry in the least what the difficulty level was πŸ™‚ I do love a good challenge though and learning new skills!

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      I love learning new skills too and I’m really excited to explore free-motion quilting in the coming months. But sometimes it’s just So Much Fun to make something easy – even something that I’ve made before. And I think you’re exactly right – the people you’re making things for don’t care that you really pushed yourself on the project – they’re just thrilled that you made something especially for them. πŸ™‚

  2. This is such a liberating post, Wendi. I love the process of sewing, too, but striving for too much impressiveness or perfection just drains the joy out of it for me. The stuff I make is pretty simple, but the hours I spend making are way more important to me than the finished product. I can’t wait to see your quilt patterns!

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Thanks so much, Diane! I loved the way your book helped me articulate what brings me joy in my sewing – and also what drains the joy out of it. And now I feel like I’m moving in a very deliberate way toward exploring what kind of amazing results you can achieve with relatively simple processes. I’m looking forward to your next book so much – I’ve never tried paper piecing but I suspect it will be right up my alley. πŸ™‚

  3. Cheryl Land SAYS...

    THAT…Everything you said in this post…ALL OF IT!! <3

    • wendigratz SAYS...

      Thanks so much! I love that I can always see the joy in all your finished projects. πŸ™‚

  4. Debbie Halcomb SAYS...

    Wendi

    Thanks for this honest post. I was led to your site because of a quilt. I am a beginner quilter and was looking for modern quilt ideas. I think your critters are very cute but I have no young children and my grandkids are teenagers. My sister who has quilted for 40 years and I started a business to sell our quilted items at craft shows and flea markets to supplement our income. We were talking this weekend about how this has become too much like a job. My sister said, “I want to make what I want to make. Not what sells or what people commission us to do. ” So back to enjoying quilting for fun and living on our retirement which is hard for me because I have a serious fabric addiction:)

    Happy Quilting, Debbie

  5. Bev F SAYS...

    I loved your article. I used to oil paint landscapes and somewhere along the line I became a perfectionist and suddenly I could not paint anymore. I was afraid of making a mistake and not being good enough but good enough for who? I never found out and my blockage in the painting department is still there. I do so many other crafty things and I love sewing and the needle arts which I have done since I was a child. I started putting things that I had made on a site on the internet with other crafters when they first began and felt good about sharing my finished items. But then somewhere along the way the site became mostly professional quality items and though they were beautiful and idea inspire ring, those pics began to make me feel like I don’t belong with this crowd anymore. I am not good enough for these professional people and it took my partner to point out that everything I make and give away is loved and cherished by those who receive them. So I will continue putting the things I love to make on the site and keep on making things for those I love and sometimes a friend of a loved one. And all this being said was just to say that you inspire me with all of the wonderful things that you know and make and share with us. I am glad that you let us know that even super talented people like yourself have their moments.

  6. Lacey SAYS...

    Wendi,

    I just finished an article recently about the effects of social media and the pressures it puts on us. How we all only show the sunny side of things. I, like others who have previously commented, appreciate your honesty with this post. I belong to an EGA (Embroidery Guild of America) group. I am one of the few that just uses DMC threads because I think the other types of thread are so ridiculously high. I love easy peezy embroidery and cross-stitch. I do not care about all the “harder” stuff. I used to feel very intimidated by this group but learned exactly what you have – I was not enjoying those “harder” projects. It is amazing what we put ourselves through. When I finally realized stitching was no longer fun and I accepted what I enjoyed doing, I was set free. My friends in EGA totally supported me. I, and I alone, was the one putting pressure on myself. Life is too short. When it comes to crafting and hobbies, we should ONLY do what we totally enjoy. Thank you so much for your wonderfully inspiring and personal post! You are a gem!

    Can’t wait to see your future projects and the joy and smiles they will bring!

    Lacey

  7. Well said! Though I enjoy entering my quilts in shows I just do it for the fun of it, not to please the judges (even though it does sometimes.) You are so right – quilting should be fun!