It can happen to the best of us. One minute, we’re stitching away happily and the next, the desire to create has disappeared. Suddenly, all the ideas have dried up, inspiration has vanished and all your WIPs are staring expectantly at you, waiting to be finished. But you just can’t do it. You’ve lost your mo-jo, or as we say in the quilting world, your sew-jo. It’s up and left the sewing room.
Swiftly following, is often panic. “What is wrong with me?” “Why don’t I want to sew?” and “Will I have have any good ideas ever again?” Or perhaps complete indifference and a flat, resigned feeling. It is a bit like writers block for quilters. On the face of it, it’s a disaster.
But fear not, there’s things that we can do and steps we can take to coax the creative spirit back. These tips will help you, should you face this particular creative stumbling block.
1. Don’t put yourself under pressure
Unless your career is on the line, there’s no need to put yourself under pressure to create again immediately. Unnecessary stress and pressure isn’t going to get those creative juices flowing. Why not take some time off of sewing completely? Read a book, watch a box set, or do some exercise. This may be over a period of days or even weeks. Distract and clear your mind of negative thoughts associated with sewing and quilting. You may be surprised to find that once you’ve taken the pressure off, ideas come to you when you least expect them. Or you may have such withdrawal symptoms from your sewing machine that you’re dying to get back to it!
2. Review your Projects-at-a-Glance Page
It may be the case that you have many ideas, but you just can’t bring yourself to put them into action. Maybe you feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to start. Why not take a look at the Projects-at-a-Glace page in your Quilter’s Planner and see where you’re at? Are there any projects that are almost finished? Could you have some quick wins? Are there other projects that you want to make? Why not write down all the ideas that you have, and maybe draw some sketches to act as prompts when you return to them in the future. You never know, thinking through your ideas one-by-one and noting them down might just be the kickstart that you need to get going again. But if it doesn’t work, at least you have them written down for the future.
3. Have a tidy up / re-organise your stash
There’s nothing like rummaging through your fabric stash to get your creative juices flowing. Try having a tidy up, organize your fabrics by color or play with different fabric or colour combinations. Why not curate a bundle based around one your your favourite prints? Usually it doesn’t take long to get inspired when holding your favorite fabrics!
4. Keep it Small
You may love stitching up king-sized quilts, but this is no mean feat and it can easily become a daunting and overwhelming task. So why not try a small and simple project? Maybe a zipper pouch, wall hanging or draw string bag; nothing too taxing. Having a quick, easy finish can be so satisfying, and if you’re just making it for you, it takes away the pressure for perfection. A finished item, however small, is always a confidence booster and a gentle way to get going again. There’s some great small projects in the 2020 Quilter’s Planner, including this gorgeous wall hanging by Karen Lewis.
5. Look Around
Looking at beautiful quilts is always such a joy. Head to Instagram and look up the hashtag #modernquilting for a veritable feast for the eyes. Or take a look at our Instagram feed @thequiltersplanner. There’s always lots of inspiration there! Or get out your quilting books. What shapes are you drawn to? What colour combinations make your heart sing? Is there a sew-along that you feel inspired to join in, or a pattern you just have to make one day? Screen shot or bookmark some of the images to refer back to.
If you do lose your sew-jo now or in the future, we hope you’ll find some of these tips useful. It could be a gradual return to creativity or it could be a sudden burning desire to get back into the quilting driving seat. The important thing is to find your own joy in the process, at a place and time that’s right for you.