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 ūüėČ 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.
Posted in Improv Sewing, Quilt Blocks, Works In Progress | Tagged , , | 4 Responses

Swim Bike Quilt Studio

Do you ever get in the mood to just rearrange everything? We are having spring like temperatures in Salt Lake City (which I’m surprisingly sad about, where is the snow!), and I think I must be feeling a spring cleaning itch. I sold a lot of fabric over the last few weeks on instagram [@swimbikequiltdestash–check it out if you are interested–there is still quite a bit left, some spring themed bundles, some scrap packs, some hard to find Tula Pink, Rifle Paper fat quarters, etc.], and I’ve been rearranging things.

I moved my sewing desk over to the design wall–I am tall, so reaching over the sewing table to get to the design wall isn’t a big deal for me. I got some great advice on instagram–about putting up a peg board, people’s favorite carts vs. shelves, etc.

Do you have anything you love in  your sewing space, whether it is a dedicated room or you carve out your own space? sign up for my newsletter

In other topics, I mentioned recently that I started sending a newsletter, sharing links I love and tips for finishing quilts. It comes out every other Tuesday (the next one will be delivered to inboxes on February 21). I would love for you to sign up!

Sign up here

You can get a feel for what it will be like–¬†read the first issue here.

Hope you have a happy weekend!

p.s. The blocks on my design wall are the free Greek Cross pattern from the Summer Sampler Series (tutorial by Fresh Lemons Quilts). They were made by kids in the Not Your Mama’s Bee. My 10 year old and I have all of the blocks cut out and have started chain sewing the rest for a twin size quilt! Baby steps.





Posted in Favorite Things, Sewing with Kids, Works In Progress | Leave a comment

Hello friends! I’m ¬†so excited to share my new pattern shop with you today. It has been a long time coming, and is definitely a collaborative effort (photographer, graphic designer, babysitter, advice giving friends, patient family, and me). I’ve spent so many hours over the past few months writing patterns, getting patterns edited, building this shop, and working/staring at the computer screen.

This is what the shop interface looks like. It is pretty user friendly, pdf patterns are emailed to you immediately, anywhere in the world. (Note: EU Customers can purchase from my etsy shop).

Click on this link or the image below to go to the shop

I can’t wait to just sit down and sew again, without the computer. ¬†I’ve had such a creative block recently, but after my shop launched this morning, I went down to my clean (gasp! the sign of a creative block for sure) sewing room and sewed some scraps together, just for fun.

How do you clear a creative block? Does finishing a big project (even if it isn’t sewing related) help?¬†

Here are a few things I like to try when I’m just not feeling creative:

  • make a list of 3 tasks that need to be completed; unload the dishwasher, write a thank you note, go grocery shopping, etc. Once they are completed, give myself “permission” to spend 20 minutes sewing something, just for fun
  • pull out an older project; rearrange the blocks, add a new color, or decide to give it away
  • take a break, and get outside, it doesn’t matter if it is going on a walk in your neighborhood or snowshoeing in the Wasatch mountains (my favorite this winter)
  • read a book; sometimes reading can kickstart creativity

what about you? what do you like to do to push past the “i’m not feeling creative” moments/days/weeks?

p.s. i’m launching an email newsletter. I’ll talk about it more later this week, along with my other new patterns, but wanted to mention it here first. I plan to send it twice a month, and I’m gearing it towards sharing articles, patterns, and links I love, with a special emphasis on tips and helps for starting *and* finishing quilts!

Get my email newsletter for the best in starting *and* finishing quilts, delivered right to your inbox:
Sign up here

Posted in Color My Quilt, Favorite Things, Patterns, Quilts | Tagged , , , | 2 Responses


The calendar on my wall (from last year) assures me that it is January 9, but I have trouble believing it.

Happy new year, friends! The last month or so have been full of planning and prepping and partying and visiting and eating (and eating) and skiing and snow shoeing. I was even brave enough to try a few blue ski runs (picture above is at Alta, right on the Alta/Snowbird line. The mountain in the background is the backside of Timpanogas. It was the most beautiful day, and it was just my husband and me. Merry Christmas to us).


My daughter and I made a pillow for her aunt (I helped with cutting and trimming and quilting, she did the rest!), but that was about the extent of the handmade in December. Except, I finished of 6 or so spools of thread finishing up projects here and there, so I must have made more than I am remembering.

My daughter and I also finished her quilt top (its giant–almost 80-90) from the #notyourmamasbee. We call this the #polkadotrainbowquilt. We made about 30 blocks (for a total of 42. We used 5” squares, the entire quilt is made of polka dots, and the blocks measure 14.5” unfinished), and the quilt will have minky on the back and is at Nicole’s house to be quilted right now (@kwilter100).

It seems to snow here all day, every day. Or at least weekly. I learned that practically everyone I know has snowshoes, so I jumped on the bandwagon. The baby is usually happy, until she gets cold. I’ve ordered some super duper warm base layers, so we will see if that helps.

I have finished 2 more quilt patterns, which I will be sharing soon, so check back later this week!

Happy new year.

Posted in Great Outdoors, Quilt Blocks, Works In Progress | Tagged , , | 6 Responses
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