Last weekend I presented a "trunk show" to the Front Range Modern Quilt Guild. Recently, a guild friend had "outed" me to the leadership when she came over and I showed her the 40+ quilts I had in my home. It's unusual for someone to have so many quilts in their possession, especially within a "modern" guild which is generally made up of members who are still in stages of mothering young children as well as full time work. I really didn't mind sharing my work with the guild, it was kind of them to recognize my talents/passion.
One thing I addressed in the presentation was the question, "How do I get so much done?" I honestly didn't think my level of productivity was unusual until a guild member asked me a few years ago, "Do you ever sleep?" I have just been pursuing a hobby I really enjoy and wasn't comparing my number of finishes with anyone else's. Just this week, on instagram, a person commented on one of my projects, "I am jealous of all your time [sad face emoticon.]" I will admit this comment got under my skin a little but I know I shouldn't take it personally. I don't feel like I have more time than anyone else, but I know my life circumstances and priorities are very different from everyone else too.
So, how do I get so much done?
- I have a very supportive husband who watches the children a lot when he's not working. He really enjoys being a dad. Once, when we lived in Massachusetts, he brought the kids to the Museum of Science on his day off and I made a very challenging bag all in one day. I have been on three retreats within the past year, thanks to his willingness to shoulder single parenting for a few weekends. On a regular basis, he gladly gives me a break from their demands when I need or want to attend to a sewing project.
- I am a stay at home mom and I can fit in sewing time fairly frequently during the day. When I just had my son, he was a champion napper and didn't give up taking two naps until he was about eighteen months. He didn't stop napping altogether until he was way past the age of three. Once my daughter was born, my sewing slowed down considerably but eventually I got them to take naps at the same time.
- Yes, sometimes I sew when my children are awake. GASP! Go ahead and call children's services on me if you'd like. I think it's funny when people insist they only do anything for themselves when their kids are asleep, as if taking a few minutes for you, throughout the day is just not acceptable. But I will admit that sometimes I have been selfish and maybe my obsession with a project has taken priority when my kids needed me more- that's something I try to pay attention to and avoid. I really do feel strongly that kids don't need to feel like they are their parents whole universe, it's healthy for them to see you doing something for you and to know that they don't reign over the parents lives 100% of the time 24/7.
- I can sew when my kids are awake sometimes because my sewing areas have been in close proximity to their activities. I sewed in my kitchen for seven years. This picture shows that area in our MA apartment. (The sink and countertop are to the left, the "living room area" are to the right- it was cramped, but we made it work!). Right now, I am blessed to have a sewing room that is adjacent to the toy/tv/family room, where they play quite a lot. I also allow my kids to come in my sewing room (second picture) when I am in there.
- I usually gravitate towards projects that are comfortable within my skill level. It's true that I like an achievable challenge but there are many techniques I know I don't have the patience or time for. I don't make queen sized quilts out of tiny paper pieced blocks. Intricate needle turn applique holds no interest for me. It's true that I make super sized quilts but big doesn't always equal hard.
- I sew a lot because I LOVE it! It's my favorite and only hobby. I used to read tons of books and had a passion for journaling. Now I am lucky if I read a dozen books a year and the journaling has slowed down considerably. Perhaps my priorities are sometimes a little out of balance: we eat leftovers frequently, my house is not as clean as it should be, and I often favor sewing over exercise. I have had a few successes with being published but I am really not in this game to make money or make a name for myself. I love how diverse sewing and quilting are: there's always new patterns and fabrics to try and use and new skills to be acquired. I love giving my creations to friends and family and I feel good that I have also created heirlooms for my children. Lots of people lose their motivation (aka "sew-jo") and give up on it all for a while, that never happens to me, although frustrations do occur. I wouldn't do it so much if it weren't so fulfilling and satisfying. It's a cliche, but unlike housework (for example), sewn items "stays done"- completion is achievable!
Thanks for reading if you've gotten this far. I hope it's okay to write down my thoughts now and then instead of just posting project after project. I have been thinking about ways to make this blog more personal and personable instead of just being a record of my WIP's and finishes. To end, here's a quote I love from a beloved Mormon leader within my church. It sums up exactly how I feel about my hobby.
"As you take the normal opportunities of your daily live and create something of beauty and helpfulness, you improve not only the world around you but also the world within you." Dieter Uchtdorf.