craft therapy · quilting

Quilting for Tough Times

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One of my blog posts from the beginning discouraged sewing while in a bad mood. Honestly, I still don’t like the idea of  sewing for loves ones when I’m sick or angry. I find that I make too many mistakes when I’m not feeling well. Overall, it’s just not a great sewing experience. However, if it is a personal quilting project it should be based on your needs. Working with you hands can be therapeutic for many. I’ve discovered that doing a little bit of patchwork with quilting throughout the month helps me get through periods of loneliness, tough times, and moments when I need to be strong.

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When I commit to working on personal projects, I do a lot of praying and reflecting on life. I enjoy spending time just working with my hands. I also get lost in my thoughts. Once my rotary skills improved, I enjoyed cutting fabric squares to piece together a small quilt top. Achieving accurate seams is the most challenging for me. However, the journey is always important to me.  The whole process of working on a quilt, gives me the energy to keep fighting.

Life has taught me that I’m responsible for loving myself as well as creating my own happiness.  I know that it is recommended to reach out to people when you are experiencing tough times, but for me I just end up confuse. You don’t need to tell everyone your problems. I recommend talking to a professional. However, there are times that you need periods alone where you can work through problems yourself. Over the summer, I prayed a lot, and I knew I was tired of feeling like I was in the dumps.  I decided that I wanted to get better at quilting. I needed a change.

Each week, I was at my house, learning how to prepare a quilt top. The more it came together, the better I started to feel about myself. I don’t really know how to describe it, but when you make something on your own, it’s like an empowering feeling. I felt useful again.  I was learning new skills, and the great thing about it was that I wasn’t depending on anyone else to validate me.

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One of my most recent quilts features a lot of cats. I’ll admit that I’m a cat lady with no cats.  I wanted to make a personal project. It’s not perfect, but it reminded me that I have what it takes to finish a quilt. I hang it over my headboard. What’s different about this quilt, is that it was the first time I attempted to bind a quilt. Binding the quilt was hard, and I made a lot of mistakes. I was able to get over my fear of binding, and I have a lot of motivation to do better next time.

 

The most meaningful part of the quilting process was that it taught me how to start creating my own life again. I was learning how to express myself. I found it hard to get negative being surrounded by so much color all the time.  I say to myself sometimes “when life gives you lemons, make a quilt.” I don’t think the saying is original at all, but I tell myself those very words when I’m stressed.  I will always have problems, but at least I’m not sitting around dwelling on them.

Stephanie

 

 

 

quilting

5 lessons I learned after making my first baby quilt

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When I sew, I think a lot about family. It wasn’t hard for me to get started making baby quilts during the winter of 2017.  It was how I passed the time.  I remember feeling frustrated with life, and  I wasn’t getting anywhere fast, so one of the things I turned to was quilting for babies. It was one of the things that quieted my spirit. I did a lot of research on potential projects. I didn’t have a particular pattern, but I did sign up for Learn to Quilt: Charming Baby Quilt with Amy Gibson through Craftsy. Through that one particular class, I received a lot of helpful information to complete two baby quilts. Because of that process I learned 5 valuable  lessons that stay with me now as a beginning quilter.

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  1. Whenever quilting for a family member or friend, go into the quilting project with a positive spirit. When I first started learning how to sew, I would sew when I was happy, sad, sick, tired, or angry. It didn’t matter. I thought of sewing as my therapy away from personal  problems. As I moved on to learn how to sew for others, I realize I didn’t want to carry any negative attitudes from problems that occurred throughout the day into a project that was personal. In my opinion it’s different if I’m making something for myself. At this time, I don’t have any children. While completing my baby quilts, I pretended that I was quilting for a child or that I was quilting for a new mom. I thought about how I wanted the child to feel loved. Quilting for others is very personal. I want the project to be successful, so I only think of good thoughts, prayers, and appreciation for the receiver.

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2. Choose Quality

When I first started learning how to quilt, I decided that I wanted to use high quality  tools to have better results. Stop being frustrated while sewing.  A quilt is gift and necessity. You want it to last for you and your love ones. I didn’t want to cut corners. I knew I wanted to grow as a quilter, so I started by  investing in a new sewing machine, a Janome 49360 Quilter’s Computerized Sewing Machine. I purchased it from the Home Shopping Network. It was one of the best decisions I could have made as a beginner. It has speed control, an automatic thread cutter, and a drop-in bobbin system.  The sewing machine came with many helpful tools including a walking foot and patchwork foot. I also started stocking up on quality thread including Aurifil 50 wt thread. I did my best to do research on rulers, rotary cutters,  needles, batting, irons, pins, and etc. It was very time consuming, but I had a much better experience. In the past, I struggled because I was trying to cut corners. I’ve come to the conclusion that quilting can be an expensive hobby, but this is my passion and I’m willing to invest in it so that I can become a professional.

3. Aspire for accuracy, but don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes

Accuracy is very important in quilting. In quilting, everything is pieced together with a 1/4 inch seam allowance. Having a patchwork foot can be very helpful. You also have to check to your seams to make sure that they are accurate. Squaring up fabric and cutting accurately is crucial to the success of the quilt. If you are uncertain about a piece, don’t bother using it. At the end you, will save yourself problems.

My first and second baby quilts were far from perfect. I didn’t give them away. However, I started the projects because I wanted to know if quilting was something possible for me. Could I do it? Could I make it happen?  I realized that I could. You can too. My advice is to always strive to match your seams while piecing and making quilting blocks, but don’t beat yourself up for not making the mark every time. It’s ok to rip out seams. It’s ok to go back and cut your squares again. It’s also ok to invest in pre-cuts if you don’t feel comfortable your first time cutting up yards of fabric into 5″ squares. My very first baby quilts were made with charm packs. A charm pack is a set 30-40  5″ squares that you can piece together to form a quilt. The possibilities are endless. I found them easy to use when I first started because my cutting skills weren’t great. It took a lot of practice and better quality rulers before I felt comfortable cutting my own fabric squares. Take your time, but don’t get upset with yourself if you can’t make the mark all the time. IMG_20170501_121453_100

4. Enjoy the process, and every mistake is a learning experience

In quilting you will make mistakes. When I first started, I use to beat myself up because I couldn’t match my seams. I wasn’t cutting my squares accurately because my measuring was off. All admit that I spent hours feeling bad about myself, but it was wasted energy. So,  I decided to invest in quality rulers that made cutting easier and accurate. I watched several tutorials on YouTube regarding squaring up my fabric.  I did my research and I gathered information on how to match up my points. Yes, it was hard but I was learning. If you don’t make mistakes, then you will not learn. Let each project be a learning opportunity.

5. Be Patient! All beautiful things take time and hard-work.

Sewing and quilting take time. You aren’t in a competition to finish first, so go at your own pace. It takes time to cut, piece, and press all those little parts that make up a quilt. When you are a beginner it can be frustrating, but don’t worry about how slow or fast you are going. The important part is that you are always learning. Keep going! Remember with each mistakes, you are learning for better success next time.

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