Inspiration, we all need it, crave it and seek its presence. Sewing requires lots of work, but inspiration gives us the spark of creativity that drives us to do that work with pleasure. I hear from quilters seeking that ignition of the creative, especially during tough times. The pandemic, a loss of a loved one or pet, the tedium of a long winter or any challenging life event can cause our creativity to wither and desert us.
How do we stimulate our synapses and find our sewing mojo?
First, it’s okay to loose our inspiration and lie fallow for a time. Rest is part of the cycle of nature.
Here are my favorite nudges to get back to the sweet feel of being in the creative zone.
Get moving! We have all spent more time in our homes during the past two years. A short jaunt outdoors can recharge our senses even when we are avoiding crowds. Nature is a wonderful stimulant for the senses. Ocean, river, forest nearby help recharge my creative battery. But even if you are bound by urban landscapes, a trip to a park, zoo or garden can do the trick. Bake bread, make a fancy cake, work in the yard, read a couple books by your favorite author, have coffee with a friend, order in pizza and watch your favorite chick flicks.
The Stash is always waiting! When was the last time you really looked closely at your fabric stash? Visit the stash. No, not the ones you automatically are drawn to, not your favorites. You know the ones; the sleepers, the long forgotten ones. Dig into the recesses, think about when you acquired those older lengths and what you planned to do with them. Or pick a favorite; one that you have saved for “something special”, but still waits. Look, see, touch, smell; get reacquainted with your stash. (Maybe move some of the lesser fabrics to a giveaway or sell pile!)
The pattern stash. We all have magazines, patterns picked up in our travels and favorite designers. Peruse the pattern stash and rediscover old and new favorites. I have a penchant for repeating favorite patterns in new ways. What would that look like in Blues only? What if I did it all in metallic fabrics and threads? How would it look reduced or enlarged? What if I put a panel in it?
Lily Rose three ways! I really like exploring different color ways and materials when I love a pattern.
Design it! One of the reasons I love my EQ8 is that I can go in and peruse my own past designs and revive the feeling I had creating them and sewing them. Sometimes I will take a favorite design and rework it with new fabrics from stash or a favorite fabric designer line. If you are a sketcher, get your paper and pencil or favorite media out and doodle for a while.
FB Groups are fabulous! I hear many complaints about FB, but FB sewing groups have sustained me during the pandemic. I learned to FMQ beginning 6 years ago through a FB group. I run a Babylock Tiara FB group and help others troubleshoot their sit down quilting machines and build skills. The Esther Aliu applique group brought the joy of applique into my life and I will be forever grateful to them. Looking through Topics and group files in a favorite group is inspiring!
Learn Something New! Always wanted to learn a new skill? Want to try couching (my current new thing), how to make FMQ feathers, trying a new appliqué method, or a particular patchwork block, perhaps try a new quilting ruler, stencils or sewing tool? Fallow periods are good for researching, watching videos and dabbling in a skill you have always wanted to develop, but didn’t have the time to try. A little shopping therapy for a new toy doesn’t hurt at all.
Opposites stimulate. Do the opposite of what you usually do! Do you love blues and purple? Make something in red and gold or black and white. Tend to pastels? Pick up a Tula Pink or batik fat quarter bundle. Love big projects? Make something small. I do a color challenge each year (with myself) just to keep from getting locked into my favorite colors.
What Does the Heart Want? What is your favorite sewing/quilting mode? Are you jonesing to do a whole cloth FMQ like Sandra Pearson? Does piecing intricate patchwork turn you on? Do you dream of bits of applique under your fingers? Crazy for making bags? Do what you love the most when sewing ennui overtakes. Go to your sewing happy place. Making a memorial piece or ode to a lost loved one can also be healing.
Sewing Sisters! I cannot praise my sewing sisters/brothers enough! Sewing sister Sandra and I do yearly challenges even though she is in the UK and I am in the US. Sharing the creative experience is never a bad idea and pushes our skill and creative envelopes. Sandra pushes me to expand my FMQ repertoire; Glenda Jean in Oz sets my head spinning with her exotic color combos & materials. Sewing partners teach, cajole, commiserate and encourage and hold space for us in our down times. They truly inspire me.
Clean the Machines. Having a machine in the shop can make me crazy when I am in the sewing zone. But if you are heart sick and can’t concentrate to sew, it’s a great time to take your machines in for service. Oil and clean your whole fleet of vintage machines, reorganize your threads or fabric, rearrange your sewing space and tackle the dust bunnies. I work much better in a clean space, but boy do I hate to clean it when I am busy. If you can’t sew, clean and organize your space and it will be ready when you are.
Happy quilting! May your muse be always nearby.