Tuesday, March 26, 2024

Finding The Spark Again

I managed to finish another quilt, Blue #2! It was hard to decide how to quilt around the cameo flower area, but once that was settled, then it was relatively fast stitching.

Blue #2 is completed!
Mostly, when there's a string/coins improv. quilt in the hoop, the stitching just feels inevitable. Why bother quilting a pattern over the top when it's so very satisfying to stitch through the middle of all the little strips?

Always good to have improv. strips in the hoop
I wasn't ever 100% happy with the shape of the flower until the quilt was almost totally finished. Then I was thinking that part looked okay, and found myself feeling more unhappy with the color of the bird. It looks pretty cute close up, but from a distance, meh! Not so much.

Not my best work, but I like it
Quilts are funny things. Fold this one up and wowsers, that's a lotta olive green! Still liking the color palette overall though. Surprisingly enough, it comes off as fairly serene, all the yellowy bits aside.

Found a good use for some old, olive green fabrics!
This was a quilt that would have never been made if it wasn't for the Winter Quilting thing that I did a couple winters ago for our church ladies. No Wasted Pieces was the demo quilt {example of what we were making} and Blue #2 was the quilt that was cut out and sewed up for all the in-progress demonstrations. Lots and lots of old, stale-dated fabrics included in the making of both, which of course, always makes me very happy.

Will probably end up gifting this quilt to one of
my nephews when they get married
The hand quilting on the back ended up being a nicely textured look. I'm always amazed at how much progress I've made through the years, even getting the backs of my quilts to a point where I'm not afraid for people to take a close-up look. Nothing to be ashamed of here!

Lots of good texture!
I was bustling around with lots of quilting energy, feeling very inspired, motivated and all the good things. Really made great progress with some applique prep on previous projects. Then it just all sort of fell flat. I didn't even have the heart to post about it. I'd wander into the quilting room and feel all the blah, blah, blahs. Didn't help that after my husband had re-organized his man-cave on the other side of my quilting area, he has been spending a boat load of time over there and constantly, endlessly playing all of his favorite music. Very good for him. All the therapeutic vibes etc. But aaghhh!! Sometimes I just need a little quiet time in the quilt room. Oh the joys of shared space!

An uninspiring quilt top
So I just ended up doing a lot of reading instead. Eating too much icecream. Kind of fell into a funk of wow, it feels really good not to be on call and is life really returning to normal? Don't think I realized just how mentally exhausted I've been. 

Eventually I {halfheartedly} started sort of wandering in and out of my quilting room on a more regular basis. I'd say hi to the space, maybe restack a marinating pile of fabric, even re-organize a few things if it let me procrastinate on making real quilting decisions. Couldn't really focus properly and it felt like a terrible time to start something new. Other than a little bit of hand quilting time every couple days, there was zero spark. Definitely no hand stitching on the newly prepped applique!
Always fun to play with the orphaned bits
Finally I decided it was time to snap out of it. Enough was enough. I perused all the lists and thought, hmmm... maybe it would be better to start off with some orphan blocks. Don't have to think so hard about that, right? Digging some of those totes out, I stumbled upon this plain jane quilt top you see two pictures above. It was a total flop from a couple years ago. Tried to play with some directional fabric and got the color palette very, very wrong. Not very much interest and energy in it at all. There was actually a note pinned on it suggesting it could be used for a backing some day, but somehow it had gotten shoved way to the back of a shelf. 

Coming together very nicely!
I studied the quilt top to see if maybe I had misjudged the quilt the first time around. Nope. Was it perhaps salvageable? Nope, not the least bit interested. Still a dud! Perfectly fine for a comfort quilt or a backing though. And then I had this tiny, fleeting thought. I mean, so small, I would have probably missed it if it wasn't for the forcing myself out of the funk efforts! Why not make a quilt top specifically for this? Would that even be an interesting challenge? And the next thing I knew, inspiration had come calling for real

Instantly, I found myself taking the lid off of the pink stash tote for a background fabric and then right behind that, was basically knee deep in the applique parts and pieces totes--not even sure the background was the right one. Parts and pieces were not exactly flying, but I was putting flower shapes on the potential background and promptly taking them back off. What about this? What about that? And then getting distracted in pursuit of the perfect fabric for a basket. Or hey, what about fabric(s)? Yeah... Even better! Changing up the colors of the flowers yet again. Hhmmm... My made-up-on-the-fly rule was that only abandoned parts and piece could be used for the applique. Definitely made for a very good challenge. 

This kept me well engrossed for a couple hours. Not because I was being picky, but because I could feel the design taking shape. Developing a look, feel, and vibe that was making me smile. Don't you just love when things start clicking properly? Eventually, I had what you see up above and it felt wonderful. So much gratitude for this lovely craft many of us enjoy!

Later, after I had sewed the larger parts of the basket together, all the pieces had to be moved down the background fabric a ways to make it look more balanced as a 'centerpiece'. I'm crossing my fingers the 'JOY' letters can be added somewhere to the quilt too, as I do so love how they resonate. It just felt meant to be, finding the letters in the totes right now. Especially directly after feeling so completely blank and uncreative for a couple weeks.*sigh  

It honestly doesn't scare me like it would have five or ten years ago. Back then I would have panicked and wondered if this could be a permanent thing! Thank goodness for a few tricks to help kickstart our flagging creativity. Wish I could dive in immediately and start the hand stitching for this right now, but I know myself very well. Will be better to try and hold out, use this project as a reward for good behavior! Not sure this little bout of creativity will last, but it felt amazing. Have started doing morning pages as suggested in 'The Artist's Way' by Julia Cameron. Haven't read the book in years and years, but it's something I tried briefly, about 15 years ago. Ordered the book but will probably hold off reading it until my current brain fog clears a wee bit more....


  1. great quilt progress! beautiful job on the hand stitching on the back of that quilt!♥️ I'm still trying to master a straight line😄

  2. sometimes a couple days off of creativity is needed and then when we get back to it the energy is there

  3. I love this new post!
    The blue and olive quilt is wonderful! I love hand quilting in the middle of the strips, my favorite way!
    The floral appliqué on the pink background is already beautiful!
    I have enjoyed doing the Bramble Blooms QAL this year!
    Lila Rostenberg @indigopearsstudio

  4. Quiltdivajulie - I re read the No Wasted Pieces post - PLEASE don't give up on blogging for IG where clicking a heart only shows that you saw the post (means nothing more to me - no interaction at all). I love your second class quilt and oh, do I feel the vibes of the "blahs' and that wonderful spark when mojo reappears. Been there and done that more times than a few! But you described it SO well -- I love the way you have with words. Loving the new pink top for that lovely vetoed-as-a-top flimsy. (p.s. what about a good set of headphones for hubby so you can create without his music? DH and I employ that approach (2 sets of headphones - our tastes are very different in video options during the evenings) and it helps a lot.

  5. Loving your “Joy” quilt and so pleased it’s bringing you so much joy!

    1. Oops that comment was from me - Meredithe

  6. My creativity and brain fog have been in a tangle lately. I was just thinking I might do some daily writing to see if I can figure out how to reset. I am sure I have an empty notebook around here - somewhere 😂

  7. love the olive green makes the quilt pop!

  8. Congratulations on your finish and wonderful start on your basket quilt!

  9. Blue #2 is a deceptively simple quilt, but the layers of color and your quilting add so much depth and texture. In my book it's a winner! Your "uninspiring" quilt top would make a special granddaughter extremely happy. A candidate for machine quilting? But no, you've come up with an entirely different plan, loving what you're doing with the big pink basket! I can identify with the occasional creative 'funk' that seems to spend a lot of time in my quilting room lately. Hoping for a breakthrough now that I can get back to BB1 again.

  10. Blue #2 looks great! Really elevated by the flower motif, I love it when you do that! The pink one is shaping up nicely, and just right for spring. I've been in the blahs creatively for a while now, too much rain here this spring! But suddenly, I am ready to go! Laughed at the comment on your husband's music, we have a similar thing here. My husband scrolls through Facebook, all is quiet, and suddenly, a blast of rock music, or motorbikes! Haha, drives me mad. Trying to get him to put the headphones on! Xxx

  11. Blue #2 is delightful... you could have left it at straight strips only, but the added contrast from the sweet, rounded flower oval elevates it so much! And then... all your lovely hand quilting adds more interest & texture. I like the variety of all your "pinks" on the 'joy' block too.

  12. I always love to see your applique flowers , they look so at home in your quilts. Blue#2 is a beauty and the flower shows off to perfection with the strip piecing.

  13. Yes, your appliqué flowers are always a treat. This bouquet may be the best yet. Clever to make a top for a boring older back. I’m working on my backyard beds and your flowers inspire me to get some new things for them. All the best. Ann at FretNotYourself

  14. Blue #2 doesn't look at all as if it was made with old stale fabrics. It looks downright lovely. Your newest project is off to an excellent start - no one would guess, looking at it, that you had been becalmed for a while. Keep going!

  15. Try earphones to block the noise from next door.


Thanks for visiting! I love getting comments and always try to respond via email. Please leave an email in the comment to ensure a return reply! {Many of you are popping up as Anonymous for some reason, so I have no idea who it is.} Regardless, I appreciate all the comments and read every single one.