Patchwork: It’s Not Happening Right Now

posted in: Day In The Life, Quilting 17
The “RMI Deluxe Tailor Super Model” sewing machine! I think it’s Chinese. Image: Wikipedia.


Ever had times in your life when you looked longingly at your sewing machine and sighed a deep sigh because you knew there wasn’t a bobbin’s chance in you-know-where that you were going to sit down and sew anytime soon?

Ever unplugged your machine so that you could vacuum real good around the table only to realize, two weeks later, you never plugged it back in because you have not even been over to that side of the room in two weeks?

Yeah, me, same.

Hey, man. There are seasons in our lives. There are seasons when we reap, and there are seasons when we — wait for it — sew. For me, it’s just not a “sewing” season and I have to be okay with that.*

Sometimes, when I don’t get any exercise for awhile, I get very dramatic about it in my mind and think, “That’s it! It’s over! I’ll never have what I used to have, which was a somewhat regular exercise regimen!” The same goes with quiltmaking. I look back at my output over the past six or nine months and, if it looks like it looks now, which is bad, I feel like, “Whelp! That’s it! I’m a phony! How can I even call myself a quilter?? I’m all talk!”

But of course, this is ridiculous.

Sometimes, I just can’t exercise because I’m flying all over the country, for Lord’s sake. Sometimes, I can’t make a big quilt (or five) because I’m in grad school and more or less working full time. It’s okay, I tell myself. It’ll smooth out because I like exercising. I like making quilts. These things are going to be there for me when I get done with this other stuff — and I’ll be there for them, too, ready and excited to pick up where I left off, hopefully.

Yes, the “I’ll get to it when I have more time” mentality can be a problem. It can lead to inertia and self-sabotage.

But sometimes, it’s just true that you’ll do it later. Sometimes, when you have to choose between sleep and a round of cardio boxing, you gotta go with sleep. When you have to choose between getting the reading done and working on something that does not currently have a deadline attached to it (aka, your latest-greatest quilt), the reading has to win. For you, you might have to choose the kids, the needs of the spouse, the upcoming move, the divorce, the second job — any of that, over the other stuff. For now.

When school is over in May, I swear, the rest of my life is going to feel like a vacation. I’m going be in very good shape and I will make two quilts every single week.


*You get the joke, right? Sow/sew? I had to make sure! 

17 Responses

  1. Sandi Andersen
    | Reply

    To everything there is a season…… it’s been my mantra for quite some time. Do my best to stay focused on my quilting projects but sometimes health, fmaily, events, whatever mean that it takes a “back seat”. That’s okay. There’s a long winter coming here in Minnesota. I plan to make the most of it. I’m not going to set any goals, just do what time allows. All the best in your grad work and enjoy that plan to make two quilts every week. 😉

  2. Jeanann
    | Reply

    Loved the joke. I “got it” before the footnote.

  3. Lynn
    | Reply

    Thank you!! Im on day 14 of 19 working and if i sit down i fall asleep. So not much sewing going on here either. Hang in there. Sewing machines are jidgement free zones.

  4. Carol Premack
    | Reply

    When I went back to school for a teaching license more than 20 years ago, I packed up my fabric, (the living room and dining room were my “sewing room” at the time) because I knew that I wouldn’t be sewing anything during the school year. My parents sent me flowers on the first day of class, with a card that said, “No quilting until you’ve done your homework.” But I thought about quilting all the time, still visited quilt shops, read quilt books when I had the time, and when I had to create a “unit” and kesson plans around one subject, I chose quilting. I could include math, history art, and social studies. It wasn’t the same as actually sewing of course, but it was fun to do. After I turned in my last paper, in May, I came home and started a long cabin quilt. I think I sewed for four straight hours. I think I know just how you feel! I’m glad that you still have time to blog sometimes!

  5. Dorothy
    | Reply

    And sometimes when you are 75, you just have to take a break with no whining

    • shoshana
      | Reply

      much better to live without it, today will always be better that way!

  6. Robin Tuckerman
    | Reply

    I totally understand, it has hit me hard at times and I can feel sad about it, Thn like a lightbulb goes off I’m back at it. Somehow finding the time. You will be back to that machine sooner than you think.

  7. Marianne ten Kate
    | Reply

    I love your writing, but I misread the line about choices: I thought you had to choose between ‘sleep and a round of calico boxing’. We all feel your pain whether we are a quilter, like me, or not, and know how much you will enjoy getting back into the ring with some fabric this summer!

  8. Ann Ragsdale
    | Reply

    I experienced not sewing after my husband died this year. It was always my therapy and I relied on it for comfort and relaxation. But I couldn’t do it so accepted the situation hoping I could eventually come back to it. I can happily say after 8 months my sewing machine is humming again and it is 100 times more pleasurable than ever before.

  9. Paula White
    | Reply

    Thank you. I needed to hear that right about now.

  10. Kathleen
    | Reply


    I don’t know how it is possible that you always speak your life and even my life so well! I just know I love reading what you write.

    I am In graduate school for psychology, and I long to sew. Yesterday, I was daydreaming about making some mug rugs as a quick project. Instead, today I have to draft an informed consent. Maybe I should do a research project on the psychosocial benefits of quilting!

    I also graduate in May. I already have my sights set on learning to piece and quilt by hand. Only a few more months to go – I can hardly wait!

  11. Lorel Maple
    | Reply

    I love the line, “it will all smooth out”. I have heard that from my long arm friend. I hadn’t been to your home page in a while and saw you sleeping on a door in a resale shop. My first thought was that I needed to donate some money! I can’t wait to send a graduation card to your P.O. Box! Hang in there…..

  12. Jamie Kipfer
    | Reply

    Right there with you! I started a doctoral program last year and between school, working a job and a half, and family, the sewing machines are not getting much action. I am determined to make my preschooler an advent calendar so I’m pulling late nights right now, but then silence will return to the sewing room. This too shall pass.

  13. shoshana
    | Reply

    life is like that, it comes and goes in waves, so does our acceptance of those waves, come and go in waves. sounds like you’re in the right place for now!

  14. shoshana
    | Reply

    it must have been what you wrote, but today, i did not do any piecing. today, i did not do any quiolting. today i did not do any crocheting or graphics , or anything particularly creative, but today, i did clean my house [finially!], today i did make a good supper for my family and today i did spend quality time with my two daughters[ and loved every second of it], and i did not feel rushed or nervous to get backto my “creative “work. today, ia allowed myself to live thegoodness of today andi hope hat tomorrow, [or whenever] i do get the time for quilting, crocheting,graphics etc., it will also be my choice, andwith joy.

  15. Linda Duff`
    | Reply

    Mary, I have retired the Bag Lady because I just couldn’t do it all anymore … I finally figured out that I’m not 30 any longer, and can’t do everything I used to do. I work a full-time job, I’m in our Winterset Lions club and also am helping at the District level, I’m on the board at the wonderful Iowa Quilt Museum and get to see your Mom on a regular basis, and I’ve been asked (and voted in) to sit on the board of the Art Center.
    It was getting to the point where sewing wasn’t much fun any more … I honestly hadn’t been in the sewing room for quite some time before I went down in late September to put tucks in a couple pairs of capris that were going in the suitcase with me to Portland for a Lions event. I was shocked at how long it had been that I had been at my machine. The other day, someone asked if I’d still make some of the things that I had sold in the shop, and I said yes, so I ventured downstairs again to the sewing room, and actually enjoyed the process of getting everything read and then being at the machine ….I think I had to make all these changes so that sewing/quilting wouldn’t be a thing of the past for me.. I can’t imagine not sewing.
    So now I feel better about it all, I’m looking forward to working on some projects, and have LOTS planned for Quilts of Valor. Hang in there .. you’ll get back to your machine when the time is right, and it will feel like a WONDERFUL homecoming!
    Take care .. and continued good luck with grad school.

  16. Jess
    | Reply

    Boy… do I understand.

    I’m finishing up my last semester of law school and I looked at my latest project today and found… DUST. On the fabric. Just…. gathering. To sparkle in the sunlight.


    We’ll get to it, friend. We shall!

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