Resources to help you do some Quilting Play
Estimated reading time: 4 minutes
When times get tough…the tough do some quilting play! This is not a long post, but hopefully it will give you the encouragement you need to PLAY in your sewing room.
We often joke about quilting being cheaper than therapy, but really it’s not a joke. Spending time with a little fabric and our sewing machine is one of those rituals that keep us sane. When I’m stressed, “sew” time takes a higher priority because it’s a process that lets my mind calm down. Because I also sew for hire, sometimes sewing can begin to seem like work instead of my “fun time.” To keep it from becoming drudgery, I try to have a little sewing “playtime” every Saturday. This is my sanity sewing and it’s when I try to break out of patterns and rules and do something that I find interesting. In this post, I share with you some of the things I do to make sewing more playful and some of my favorite resources that have helped me in the process.
Necessity is the mother of invention
During COVID, many of us made a pivot towards making protective masks, and what an encouraging thing it was to watch the sewing and quilting community come together to say: “We can help!”
During this process, I actually had to get creative because I didn’t have a precise pattern or all the right things to make my masks. I looked at several techniques online, and I didn’t have all the supplies for the technique I preferred to use, so I had to improvise a bit as I went along. (It was basically a mashup of three different tutorials.) But that was a perfect example of sewing / quilting play and experimentation.
As we hunkered down for what turned into years of social distancing and sheltering at home, I found refuge in that extra time spent playing in my sewing room. Then just as we were coming out of the COVID cloud, we discovered that my husband had to have open-heart surgery. Once again, I found myself retreating to my sewing room whenever I could just to remind myself that life would go on. Quilting play was a huge part of what kept me sane during those months.
We know that play is one of the most important aspects of child development. I believe that adult play is equally as important, but as adults we become more “work oriented.” It is super healthy to just do something every once-in-a-while just because you think it might be fun. Or to try something new just to see if it CAN be done.
These are the types of activities that spawn new inventions, build neurons that delay alzheimers, and sometimes result in belly laughs because you came up with something pretty ridiculous. And so what? It wasn’t wasted time. It was a well-deserved mental health break.
We spend so much time hurrying and trying to “get work done” that it’s easy to forget how to play. So, what follows are a few thoughts and resources to get you going in a playful direction.
Ideas for your Quilting Playtime:
1. Try some improv. This is one of my favorite ways to play. Improv might sound a little intimidating, but the truth is that it is very forgiving. Here are a few resources if you’d like some guidance:
- Victoria Findley Wolfe’s Book, 15 Minutes of Play (one of my personal favorites.)
- Try my Improv Bookcase Quilt Pattern (Read Every Day)
- Or, just go for it. Grab some scraps and start sewing them together in whatever way makes you happy. You’ve got this!
2. Learn a new technique. Here are some suggestions (With links to tutorials):
- Curved piecing
- Paper piecing
- Learn how to Applique
- Try out a new specialty ruler (Some good ones to try are listed here on my product recommendation page. The Deb Tucker rulers will also help you learn new skills!)
- Make a crazy quilt like the one shown in the header of this post!
- Try out a new block (You might have a few ideas over here in the Quilt Block Library…)
- Sashiko (my new favorite handwork!)
- Try some Big Stitch Quilting
- Make a Collage Quilt
3. Design your own brand new quilt block.
4. Try to bust your stash. String Quilts are some good ways to do this and offer an excellent way to play with color.
I hope these ideas will spark your brain to try something new and take some well-deserved quilting playtime.