Tag Archives: relax

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.


Slow Stitching Retreat: A Day of Bliss

Imagine you’re sitting in a rocking chair on a sunny porch, sunbeams playing at your feet, a cool breeze blowing your hair, fabric in your hands, slowly stitching your way through the day alongside new quilting friends all doing the same, seeing your handwork grow at your fingertips. Bliss, right? Now add amazing quilters Carolyn Friedlander, Chawne Kimber, and Samantha Lindgren as teachers, mentors, and fellow slow stitching friends and there you have the Slow Stitching Retreat at Medomak Retreat Center in Washington, Maine. Last week, I was so blessed to be able to join the retreat for a day, with baby Finn in tow.

medomak retreat center maineThe retreat was the brainchild of Sam from A Gathering of Stitches, and was just as blissfully amazing as the name Slow Stitching Retreat suggests. I attended on Thursday, and joined the group learning the Park needle turn applique quilt block from Carolyn Friedlander. Those of you who know me know that Carolyn is one of my all time favorite fabric and quilt designers. I love her architectural influence, highly textured fabric designs, and simple geometric pattern style. It was all I could do not to jump up and down and squeal like a little fangirl when I first met her at QuiltCon. To spend the day learning from her and relaxing with a room full of equally enthusiastic and experienced sewists was such a rejuvenating and inspiring way to spend a day. It certainly helped that Carolyn is super easy going and we all had a great time chatting and stitching the day away.

Park in progress
Getting started: basting my Park block
carolyn friedlander slow stitching retreat
Carolyn walked around helping and answering questions as we dove into needle-turn applique, some for the first time.

slow stitching on the porchAfter we all had basted our Park patterns, we headed out to the sunny porch to slowly stitch in bliss. It was a truly fabulous experience, and one I think everyone should enjoy!

finn stitching helperFinn was there with me, of course, and he was absolutely perfect. Honestly, he happily rocked and watched all of us sew, joined in on conversations with his smily baby babble, and was happy all day long. I think he will be a slow stitcher when he’s a bit older, too!

sam a gathering of stitches
Sam joined us for some slow stitching on the sunny porch. Such a gorgeous day!
carolyn friedlander slow stitching maine
Carolyn Friedlander doing some slow stitching of her own.

Since I was only able to attend for a day, I wasn’t able to take Chawne Kimber‘s class on tiny stitching. I did sneak over to their workspace to gawk at her amazing creations and talk a bit about her sewing process, though.

barn slow stitching

chawne kimber cauchy complete tiny stitchingtiny stitching chawne kimberchawne kimber cauchy complete tiny stitchingThese teeny, tiny bits stitch together into such gorgeous, substantial quilt blocks, it blew my mind. Chawne had a thick stack of many different quilt block samples, all tinier than the tiniest block I’ve ever sewn and all absolutely stunning. They begged to be touched, and then once I touched them, there was no denying: I had to sew a teeny tiny block, even if it was soooo slow that it took me a year to complete. Chawne was also so easy to talk to, and such an inspiration. I wish I could have stayed all weekend and chatted away for hours.

meeting chawne kimber
A blurry picture, but meeting Chawne is worth documenting even if it’s blurred!

After returning home, I finished stitching the outside edge of my needle-turn appliqued Park block, and I spent two #sewtake20 sewing breaks to get started on a Chawne-inspired tiny quilt block. I’m stretching far out of my comfort zone by going wonky AND tiny!

tiny stitching inspired by chawne kimberHere’s my 40-minute, not quite 4″ square quilt block start. I am loving it, and being able to use the scraps of fabric from my “too small to save” bin feels good.

This day spent slowly stitching flew by, but solidified my feeling that quilting retreats should be a part of every sewist’s life. I am very much looking forward to being able to attend a full retreat in a couple of years when my mama milk bar is not in full use, and I plan to start saving pennies now. I’m so grateful that Sam is bringing quilt retreats to Maine with A Gathering of Stitches, and I look forward to seeing what rejuvenating, peacefully refreshing quilt retreats she organizes in the future. Thank you to Sam, Carolyn, Chawne, and all of the other retreat attendees for the lovely day and burst of inspiration.

I’m linking up my tiny quilt block beginning with Design Wall, since all quilt blocks matter, no matter how small.