Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What to do when you don't know what to do? # 1

Okay, so you want to sew, you want to make something, you just can't put your finger on what to make.

I often feel at loose ends after finishing a big project, meeting a deadline, or after a period of time not sewing for whatever reason.  How does one get started again?? Let's talk about it in this new series. I'd like to start with piecing and later discuss easy applique techniques to do in the times when you want to just sew.

There are always fall back options, such as digging out a pattern, actually opening a book of techniques to try, or finishing a UFO (un-finished object). But...

There are times when I don't want to make the next great quilt, I just want to sew.
 I still want to be original, and put myself into the process, but don't want to make too many choices. I just want to see color next to color, and see shapes develop.

 I turn to my  scraps.
The odd little pieces are already random in shape, and have color variations within a range. I will take the smallest throw away pieces, and piece them together like a puzzle, growing into usable fabric. Then I cut shapes from this to use later. I will show examples of this next time.

Or I decide I want the feel of a snowbank, or the feel of water, so I piece them with this in mind and they grow into something resembling a snow bank, or water. Examples of this coming up later as well.

 This is the moment just to let go, and sew.

So on week one, consider playing with squares

I have made many a quilt,  using these little 2 inch squares. When I have bits of leftover fabrics I often go ahead and cut 2 inch squares for use later and store them in this box.  I use them like dabs of color/paint. Arrange them on a design wall, just play with them, put them up, and move them around until you have created something like a background, or a landscape or a ball, or in one of my cases a flamingo standing in water. The concept is to play without worry.

You could sew these together with a white square between for a very soothing pattern. You can place the color randomly or organize it into growing areas of blended sections to create a background.

Whatever you do, I hope you just arrange  them quickly and sew together into a new piece of fabric. This should be an exercise of short duration, to keep you in the play side of your brain.
This is a tutorial on how I sew the squares together into a background or scene. Click HERE to see it!

I call mindless pieceing Medicinal Sewing because it lowers blood pressure and increases happy endorphins.
I hope you share with me your ideas for this kind of play and as always enjoy creativity.


  1. LeeAnna, did you do your drawing? If so, I am super impressed. It's wonderful and absolutely looks like you, I think you need red hair. Maggie

    1. yep, that's my, er, style. I decided to embrace my drawing style and just enjoy the drawing. I draw a bit like I'm playing a pictionary game!

  2. Hi LeeAnna!
    Great drawing!
    Thanks for the tips!
    I'll pass tis on!
    Take care,

  3. Playing--that's my entire philosophy and most times good things happen! It's always a good day when textiles are involved!

  4. I often have that "what next" feeling, too. And I turn to mindless sewing. I love your term "medicinal sewing." The jelly roll race did that for me. :)

  5. Thanks LeeAna for reminding me to play. What you describe as mindless sewing I see as stretching my mind in another direction: not concentrating on details like perfect points but on the bigger picture: really looking. Thanks for the reminder.

  6. I call mindless piecing "Zombie Sewing" just sitting in front of the machine feeding fabric thru it. Sometimes I just NEED this time to sit and relax, let my mind wander, sew squares together for baby quilts, or scraps together into fabric, that I cut into 6" hearts to applique onto baby quilts. I just hate to waste the small pieces of fabric.