Allow me to be your quilty couples therapist today because we need to talk about something serious – the relationship between you and your sewing machine. Rumor has it you've been in a sewing rut and I have 3 fool-proof strategies to pull you out.
Have you been listlessly walking past your sewing machine and thinking, “The excitement is gone. Where’s the romance? Have we lost our spark?”
It's OK. You're not alone. Many sewists suffer from these same relationship lows. Statistically 60% of all quilters find themselves in a sewing rut and end up leaving their machine for good.*
Does this mean that your sewing machine is doomed to the closet and your relationship put permanently on ice?
Oh no no no. All it means is that you’re in a rut. A sewing rut. Ask any quilter worth their fat quarters and they’ll tell you that to keep the relationship alive between you and your machine it takes work, commitment, and communication. Oh, and a lot of pretty fabric. (The best relationships do.)
*This is a made up statistic, but could be true if more statisticians studied quilting.
The quilts featured in this post are the Sew Mojo mini quilt patterns. Get them here!
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Getting Out that Sewing Rut Step #1: Do the Work
I use the word "work" liberally because there’s nothing very work-ish about what I’m going to tell you. You may, however, not want to do it right away. One great way to get back that loving feeling and pull yourself out of a sewing rut is to find a quilt pattern you have already made, then simply make it again!
That’s right! All we’re doing is hitting repeat.
Picture yourself driving in the car – windows down and a breeze blowing through your hair. Right when you think the moment can’t get any better, YOUR song comes on the radio. You’re transported to another place in time! Everything is warm and memories are cast in light sepia tones because not only can you sing every word, but you somehow have perfect pitch too!
Then...it's over. The song is finished and a commercial starts buzzing through the car speakers. Major bummer.
But wait! Let’s hit replay and live that wonderful moment and sing that fantastic song again! That’s what we’re doing here to get out of your sewing rut. We’re replaying your quilt song.
What’s amazing about making a beloved quilt pattern the second time around is that you can more confidently choose fabric and skim the pattern instructions without reading and re-reading.
My relationship advice here is simple – sit back, enjoy the process, and jam out!
Step #2: Make the Commitment
You were in love once. Even if it’s been a few weeks or maybe even years – you and your sewing machine had some great times together. You weren't always in this sewing rut. Let’s take a moment to remember the first time you sat behind your sewing machine, tentatively placed a foot on the pedal, and heard that beautiful hum.
I remember my first time like it was yesterday...
Cue dreamy timewarp music...
I was months away from my sixteenth birthday. Coincidentally my dad was teaching me how to drive a car at the same time I was learning to quilt on a sewing machine. Unfortunately for me, I was very bad at both. Rather than a tentative tap the pedal with my foot, I slammed down at full speed. There was nothing smooth about either experience, but what exhilaration!
While you put in the work and sew a tried and true quilt pattern, make a renewed commitment to your sewing machine. Reminisce and ponder a few great moments:
- Remember a time you walked into a fabric store, quilt pattern in tow, and picked out a fabric color palette.
- What did it feel like to complete that first quilt block?
- Picture the look on a loved one’s face when you have just gifted them a quilt.
Step # 3: Communication is Key
Even though I fully support talking to your sewing machine and fellow notions, this part of your marriage, ahum, I mean quilt counseling, involves the humans in your life. Sharing your quilts, talking about sewing, and seeing what other creatives are making can be the fire you need to ignite your inspiration.
Visit a Fabric Shop
Maybe it’s been a while since you visited your local fabric shop. Go! Chat it up with the employees there. Chances are they are making fun things!
Join a Quilt Guild or Sewing Club
Look up local quilt guilds in your area.
Wait! Let me stop you right there. I know what you’re thinking, “I’m an introvert and the idea of meeting a bunch of new people sounds exhausting.”
Well, as your therapist, I just so happen to have a game plan perfectly crafted for you. It’s simple. Ready? Show up. Just show up! In my experience there will be at least one person who takes it upon themself to chat with you and make you feel welcome.
Get Involved Through Social Media
The internet is also a fun way to meet other quilters all around the world! Years ago, when I put aside my suspicions of social media long enough to make an Instagram account, I had the good fortune of discovering the modern quilt movement. And what a love affair it has been ever since!
You can connect with me on a few different platforms:
As your therapist, I must give you a word of caution – during your time connecting with others on social media, consciously remind yourself not to compare your creative journey with theirs.
You may be in a sewing rut, but they may have just gotten out of one and are bubbling with enthusiasm to quilt and create and do pretty much all of the things that are currently bumming you out. That’s OK. Reap their excitement and shed that nagging little voice of comparison like a worn out coat – cause you deserve a beautifully quilted coat!
I may have taken that analogy one step too far. I’ve actually forgotten what I was talking about. I think the moral of this article was for you to listen to your favorite song while making a quilted coat? Yes, that was it.
Have you found yourself in a sewing rut? What have you done to get out? Share your tips and stories in the comments!
13 thoughts on “3 Strategies to Get Out of a Sewing Rut”
I love this blog post. You are an inspiration.
I found your youtube channel, and I fell in love. I moved from watching your techniques in hand quilting to reading your blog to watching your class for making Mojo Minis. I recently had a back surgery, but I know these mini quilts will be my first project after recovery.
Thank you for being an inspiration 🙂
What a sweet message! Thank you, Tahany, and I wish you a speedy recovery!
I’m going to read through this post all over again and insert my hubby’s name where it says sewing machine.
Just started with you! Perfect timing.. I just came out of a rut. Luckily the Row by Row 2 day road trip with a girlfriend pulled me out fast!!! Love your site…
In January, I had #1 of 3 surgeries to remove all the disks in my neck. My neurosurgeon told me before #1 that although my pain would be relieved and the use of my arms saved, I’d never sew another stitch because I wouldn’t be able to look downward at all. A month later at my first post-op visit, he asked how I was handling the loss of my banned hobby. I responded, “Not very well. I lowered my office chair and started quilting again 3 weeks ago.” Surgeries #2 and #3 were tougher, and I haven’t been able to sew until I finished healing. I have kept my sewing mojo alive and well by
(a) looking through every quilt book and magazine I own (a vast quantity);
(b) designing quilts in my head and writing notes about them on index cards;
(c) pinning quilts on Pinterest every few days; and
(d) meeting with quilting friends often and watching them work on their projects.
I am all healed up and ready to begin quilting next week. Four months is the longest I’ve gone without sewing since I was 5 years old (and I’m 63)! I’ll be sewing another 327 years to complete all the quilts I’ve planned in the past few months–with no mojo loss!
What timing…that this particular email landed in my inbox! How did you know? Thanks for your humorous and honest encouragement. I have had to start on an ice cream quilt, just 3″ strips going around a center rectangle. But it’s doing the trick…which is to get me digging into my fabric and dreaming up new ideas to try and quilts to make. Thank you so much for this post!!!
Love the fabrics and piecing in your photos!! 💖
Thank you! They were taken during the filming of my Mojo Minis class on bluprint (previously Craftsy). https://suzyquilts.com/fabric-play-sewing-mojo-minis/
Love your quilts – the colors are so vibrant and alive !!! Very stimulating !
Amo mis maquinas de coser tengo tres industriales ,pero necesito inspirararme mas ..leí los Pasos pero no entiendo mucho el inglés