Creative Sparks + Improv Blocks // Works in Progress

improv piecing 2Over the last month, I have talked with friends, in person and online via Instagram, a lot about the creative block I have been feeling lately. I have spent a lot of time writing and editing patterns, and a lot of time skiing during my “work” hours. I’m healthier and happier, but not necessarily more creative, and perfectly happy to walk by the studio and keep the door closed.

Ski Utah

Sometimes, you have to practice at creativity. I’ve paid attention to what other people do, received a lot of good feedback, and decided that fretting and whining wasn’t really helping, so I decided to act.

I want to share a few things that have helped me *want* to spend time in my studio again (these tips work for kitchen table sewing, too!)

  • Find all of your in-progress projects. Even the ones you forgot about. Then write them down! I thought I had 6 works in progress. When I actually started to count (and put them all in the same place), I was shocked. I have like 18 works in progress!!! I found some that I am excited about, and decided to start working on them first. [The Greek Cross block project is actually my son’s, it has turned into a joint project for now.]
  • Clean out your studio/space [lots of fabric went to a destash sale, there is still some available!] . This turned into a studio-rearranging-epic project. I decided I didn’t like walking across the room to get things from the design wall, and I wanted the small window at my back, so I moved things around.
  • I have wanted to buy an Ikea adjustable height table for at least a year–I usually cut on the floor and it just isn’t very comfortable. I bought a $10 tabletop in the as is section, adjustable legs, and my husband set it up that day.

sewing studio swimbikequilt

  • Clean up. I decided my style is messy and everything out in the open. But guess what? That stresses me out. So I put everything in a drawer or a cupboard, am going to buy another rolling cart from Ikea like the one below, and see if I can try “messy-minimalist” for a while. Ha! [what should I do with the stuff in the window sill??]
  • Improv project. When I was writing Vintage Quilt Revival, I worked on an improv project as a palette cleanse in between each of the quilts for the book. Just something fun, something not rigid, something that got the creative juices moving again. Inspired by Cheryl Arkison, who does a “Morning Make,” Amy Ellis, who is working on 100 Days of Improv, and Krista Hennebury, who has been limiting color and/or shape in some of her recent improv work, I’m making a block every other day or so, usually in the morning, with my giant pile of neutral scraps + black. Its been creative and freeing and lovely.
  • There is a lot of great advice about improv sewing over on my instagram feed, none of it from me 😉 Highlights: order is still important, chaos is not usually awesome, the quilter can choose when she incorporates order (Cheryl), limiting palette or shape can be interesting (Krista), and sometimes you just have to go for it.
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  1. Rosemaryflower
    Posted February 23, 2017 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    I really enjoyed reading this today.
    Sewing is not my full time job, but I do love sewing and making. I love all of the creativity and generosity shared from so many bloggers like you.
    Skiing? I would love to be skiing.
    I can understand why you need to get out and enjoy it – now is the time to ski.
    I used to be a figure skater and skated every single day. It was terrific fun and after all of that skating and skating, I could come home and eat lots of cookies.

    Now, I am trying to get a plan started and continuing to downsize. My sewing room is also going to need a thorough and introspective de-stash. There is too much, and a lot of it I inherited from my beloved sister, and my sweet adorable momma.
    Make a plan. That is a good idea. Thank you loads

  2. Vicki
    Posted February 25, 2017 at 9:19 am | Permalink

    Creativity can be hard. Even harder if I try to force it. Sometimes a switch in disciplines can help. I sit and crochet and it gives me time to reflect about other projects. What about a trolley for all your windowsill stuff? Depending on how high your table is you might be able to wheel it under there when you are not using it.

  3. Jenni
    Posted February 25, 2017 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Did you get the adjustable legs at IKEA?

  4. Posted February 27, 2017 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for the great advice, Katie. Hope your creating muse returns to you soon.

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