Tag Archives: create

3 Self Care Tips for (Mommy) Quilters

The number one greatest challenge I’ve faced in my journey into motherhood is taking time for self care. Even the words self care sound like the antithesis of motherhood. To me, being a mother means your job is to give. Not only do you give life to amazing human beings, literally birthing them into this wild world, but you also then provide the nurturing, sustenance, protection, guidance, direction, support that they need to grow and develop into independent creatures. You’re needed literally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for years without any breaks, vacation time, or even sick days. Unless you make a point to create, make, steal, demand–whatever it takes!–some time for yourself, it is so easy for self care to fall completely by the wayside. (Ask me how I know!)

My self care of choice these days is taking time to sew. It took me about 5 years and 2 1/2 kids before I realized that I absolutely needed to make time to sew and create, and that making time to do something I love wasn’t selfish; it was a necessary part of this beautiful dance called life, and without it, my dance steps were more of a heavy trod than a light leap. When we’re all lightly skipping and twirling, everyone is much happier than when mommy is stomping and dragging her exhausted, grumpy self around.

tea epp self care for quilters plum deluxeEven since coming to this realization, I still struggle some weeks to set aside time for me time and self care, especially when there are deadlines looming. A while back, I was in the thick of a few looming deadlines when I received an email from Andy at Plum Organics Tea Company asking if I’d like to try some of their tea and review it on my blog. In perusing their site to see if it seemed like something I would enjoy, and more importantly, something relevant to this space, I discovered their Self Care blend. I also found myself immersed in a world of inspirational quotes, encouraging mantras, and soothing encouragements to take time for oneself.  Relevant? I think yes. Full disclosure: Plum Organics provided two packets of tea in exchange for my honest review on my blog. All opinions are always my own. My gratitude for Andy’s timely email and the resulting realization that I needed more focus on self care is also fully my own, and huge.

As a result, I’ve created this short list of three tips (or ideas) for self care for (mommy) quilters. I include “mommy” in parentheses since the tips apply to any busy quilter, mother or otherwise. I hope it will inspire you to take a moment for yourself amidst your busy day:

1 – Create just for the fun of it. No purpose. No end goal. Just make.

Especially with an endless stream of quilty requests, whether for the next baby quilt for a family member or friend, a graduation quilt for a cousin, teacher gifts for your children’s teachers, or business related quilting, the list of quilting “needs” rarely, if ever, ends. Despite this–or because of this!–it is so important to create for the sake of creating.

epp girt by sea center medallionI’ve recently joined in with the Girt by Sea sew along led by the Modern Makers Retreat and have been hand stitching the center medallion with some fabrics I won from Bari J a month or so ago (Sage fabrics for Art Gallery Fabrics). They are outside of my usual style and color scheme, it is a project with no end purpose or need, and it’s fun! Meticulous cutting, hand stitching, no stress or deadlines. That’s chicken soup for the quilter’s soul.

2 – Slow down and take time to sit. Drink tea. Hand stitch. Read.

When it feels like there’s no way you’ll ever accomplish everything on your daily to-do list day after day, it seems like leisure is impossible. Yet, truly, what’s 10-20 minutes? Take the time to sit, relax, drink some tea, hand stitch, read… whatever helps you fully relax.

tea and epp relaxTea and EPP, anyone?

I’m a huge fan of English Paper Piecing (EPP) and the tiny meticulous hand stitching is meditative for me. Sitting down with a mini pot of the Self Care tea from Plum Deluxe with a sweet snack and my hand stitching, even if only for a few moments, can help rejuvenate and reset my patience level so that I’m better able to tackle the rest of the day. Try it!

3 – Take time for yoga, or simply stretch, move, and breathe mindfully for a few moments each day.

Breathing is something that you do all day and night, but mostly likely rarely think about. Yet taking a few moments to be more mindful of your breath, notice the way you are sitting, and then sit a little bit taller, relax your shoulders, and take a few deep easy breaths can make such a difference in mood and how you feel physically. Especially when quilting or sewing, remember to take a break every so often, sit tall, breathe deeply, and gently stretch your arms, shoulders and back. Your mind and body will feel so much better!

Even on the busiest day, I hope that this list will inspire you to take a bit more time for self care. Your mind, body, and family and friends will thank you! Now I just need to help myself take my own advice more often!

More about Plum Deluxe Tea

plum deluxe organic teaThe first thing I noticed about Plum Deluxe when I visited their site was that their tea is organic, non-GMO, hand-blended, and fair-trade, all by a small independently run company out of Oregon. The focus of the company is community and inspiring people to live their best lives. Even their motto is: Making moments matter. I encourage you to read their About page; they are not your everyday tea company! Everything associated with the tea is packed full of positivity–even the ingredients list on the tea states that the tea includes love and gratitude. That’s my kind of tea!

self care blend plum deluxe teaThe Self Care tea is fruity and delicious, and smells divine as soon as you open the package. I love loose tea, since seeing the actual components makes me feel like I’m enjoying tea straight from nature.

plum deluxe tea package ingredients Andy was kind enough to send me a package of the Self Care blend and a bonus package of Oregon Breakfast Black Tea, since I’ve been wanting to decrease the amount of coffee I drink and the Oregon Breakfast flavor is rich and robust. Not only does it have hazelnut essence, it includes love and gratitude. Mmmm.

I mentioned that a big focus of Plum Deluxe is community; they also have a fabulous tea of the month club – for only $10/month subscribers receive 1 oz of a custom seasonally-perfect artisan loose leaf tea made just for the club. Subscribers also enjoy access to a robust and supportive private tea lover’s community, tea-inspired recipes, discounts on extra teas and supplies, and other surprises. They even host member meet-ups throughout the year, and several of their members host self-organized group events year-round. Andy was kind enough to offer my readers a free tea of your choice in your first month when you join the Plum Deluxe tea community. Be sure to tell him Kitty from Night Quilter sent you, and enjoy!

plum deluxe tea meaningful momentI enjoy how drinking loose leaf tea forces me to slow the daily rush. The practice of getting out the loose tea and boiling the water allows me to slow down a bit, so that I can remind myself to breathe a bit more deeply, stand a bit taller, and chill out. With three kids under 8, I have to tell myself, insist to myself–chill out–quite often. In the grand scheme of things, this mess and chaos doesn’t matter. Everyone will be better off if I take a moment to breathe. Sip some tea. Have a snack. Stitch in a sunbeam. You know, that rare rainbow unicorn called self-care for (Mommy) quilters. I’m going to *try* to work the practice into my life a bit more often. I think we’ll all be better off for it.


Missing June {Why I Quilt}

Over the past week, little reminders of why I love to quilt have been popping up here and there. First, the birth of my son. There’s nothing like new life to inspire an overflowing heart and endless inspiration. I just want to stitch my love into a million timeless quilts so that my family can be wrapped in a tangible sign of my love, always. Family, babies, love–what beautiful things!

Then, days later, Amy from Stitchery Dickory Dock announced her new book, For Keeps. In her words, here’s what For Keeps is all about:

For Keeps Pledge

What is it all about?  Well, quilting, yes, but so much more than that.  It’s about building relationships, about preserving priceless memories, and sparking unforgettable family time.  It’s about making beautiful things, and infusing our patchwork with even more meaning and functionality.  After all, isn’t that what quilts are all about? They’re a joy to make, a joy to give, and a joy to use.

It’s about making beautiful things.

This line gets me every time. I’ll tell you why in a minute… but first, the next sign: yesterday, Moda Fabrics posted a graphic on Instagram sharing that it was National Making Life Beautiful Day.

create beautiful things moda fabrics

Create beautiful things.

All of these little signs, popping up here and there all within the first weeks of June remind me strongly of the one who first inspired me to quilt: Grammy June.

On one of the last days before she died, while she and I were looking through her photo album of finished quilts, I kept saying, “Wow, that’s beautiful!”… “Oooh, beautiful!”… “That’s so beautiful!”.  Finally, in her matter of fact way, she turned to me and said, “Well I only make beautiful things.” I wish you could hear her say it. It was just so… true. And so very much like her. She told it like it was like no one else I know, both the good and the bad.

I remember one time, shortly after my second child was born and I was over at a family gathering, just feeling soooo tired and sleep deprived and needed to the brink of my capabilities. I said, “I just need a break,” and Grammy June, in all her tactful truthfulness, replied, “Well you don’t get one.” She was right, but her matter of fact manner stopped me in my tracks. I think I actually laughed. After all, at times like that you can either laugh or you can cry.

Grammy June was an extremely talented traditional quilter. She pieced and quilted by hand, piecing with her Singer featherweight during her final years. I still find myself thinking things like, “I wonder what needle Grammy June would use for this” and for a split second feeling excitement at showing her a new skill or completed quilt. I am sure she would be proud, and I like to think she’s smiling down from heaven, saying “Of course you did” whenever I successfully complete a new quilting technique or create a new pattern. I do know she provides inspiration daily, through her creations and simple advice, which still echoes in my mind regularly. Her one simple statement, “I only make beautiful things” has become my mantra.

make beautiful things
Photo by Liz West, used from Flickr with Creative Commons. Text added by me.

I aim to make beautiful things, daily. To create just a little bit each day: an act of love, a creative outlet, and a little stitch into the quilts of time. I’m missing June, but Finn was born the day before her birthday and within a week I’ve been reminded of her multiple times through her very own words:

…make beautiful things.

I quilt. I make beautiful things. I am continuing her legacy, building relationships, preserving memories, and sparking unforgettable family time. This is just one of the many reasons why I quilt, but it’s a big one.

A few months before her death, I completed a quilted wall hanging for Grammy June. She had made countless quilts for every family member, but I had never heard of her receiving a quilt. I knew that had to change, but I also knew I didn’t have much time. A wall hanging it was, in her favorite color purple, with my first-ever paper pieced Irises, my first-ever flanged binding, and my first-ever free motion quilting. It seemed fitting, and Grammy June loved it. It was far from perfect, but she saw the love and the effort and that’s what matters. That’s why quilts matter.

grammy june iris quilt
Grammy June opening her quilt.

In sum of this reflective post, I will echo Amy’s words and invite you to refocus your heart when it comes to your sewing. Take a moment to pause, amidst your busy lives, bursting sewing rooms, and piles of unfinished projects, to take a quick look at why it is that you sew, and for whom you sew. If you feel so inclined, take the #ForKeepsPledge and spread the quilty love.

At the very least, go ahead and make something beautiful! xoxo