Don't Sew During Hurricanes

Hurricane Sandy caused a lot of anxiety and damage in the Northeast this week. At our office, most people worked from home on the stormiest day. My noble house, a 100+-year-old Victorian, withstood the driving rain and wind gusts but inside I was unsettled nonetheless. I worked at my kitchen table and looked up from my computer about 1,000 times to make sure the windows and doors were OK and the portable air conditioners I neglected to remove before the storm had not been ripped from their perches. Luckily, in the end, I have no damage to speak of and I didn't lose power. It wasn't my most productive work day, I will admit, because I was distracted by the storm and not able to fully concentrate on my tasks.

Fabric from the "Bella" collection by Lotta Jansdotter
for Windham Fabrics.

In the evening, after the major part of the storm had passed and "only" rain continued, I shifted gears and started working on a project for our next issue of Modern Patchwork. I'm working with fabrics from the "Bella" collection by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics. They are cheery, fresh, and crisp, and I was looking forward to sewing with them. I have an idea for a modern quilt that I think will showcase the fabrics nicely and be a good fit for the magazine.

Apparently, I was more affected by the storm than I thought. I made cutting errors, couldn't find the thread I bought especially for the project, and had trouble with my math. I put the whole project away so as not to make more mistakes and went to bed. Unfortunately, I woke up at 3:45 a.m. and worried over it for about an hour, too.

Here's the lesson I learned and maybe it can help you: I need to approach any new project with a clear head and well-thought-out plan, complete with diagrams, sketches, and careful calculations. I was too anxious to sew that night but I ignored my nerves, thinking sewing would make me feel better. The truth was, I couldn't concentrate as much as I needed to.

The project is not a total loss, however, but I might need a little more fabric to complete it. Thinking of a trip to the quilt shop is already helping me feel better!

What do you do to regroup and refocus when you have "issues" with a project?


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Quilting Daily Blog
Kristine Lundblad

About Kristine Lundblad

Kristine is Associate Editor of Quilting Arts Magazine, Modern Patchwork, QuiltCon magazine, International Quilt Festival: Quilt Scene, Modern Patchwork Holiday and Quilting Arts TV.

16 thoughts on “Don't Sew During Hurricanes

  1. I sew and quilt in our family room, watching tv with my Hubby. When I say “Oh, ****!” for the second time in an evening, he says “Time to quit!” So, I do. Wise man.

  2. Funny, I started a small project yesterday (a pieced background w/seven pieces) and cut a main piece wrong and so had to adjust 3 other pieces. then i forgot that i had included some silk and melted it while fusing. luckily i had used a teflon pressing sheet so the iron was protected but i had to unsew four seams to replace the silk piece. aagghh. when will i ever learn–when it isn’t going well, it probably isn’t going to get better so do something else. tomorrow is another day. i had no hurricane as an excuse–gremlins in the studio?? hope all is well today! p.s. i really enjoyed your comment LeslieFrost.

  3. When I know I cannot give my undivided attention to whatever I am currently working on, I choose several magazines/books from my extensive collection (i.e. stash), and just read them for the evening or even a whole day. That way I can justify procrastinating and get mentally started on a few more projects.

  4. I realized as the hurricane was approaching here in Maryland, that I was making a lot of stupid mistakes as I was writing in my blog, paying my bills ahead of time before the power went out, and a lot of other small ways that let me know that I was really worried about the approaching storm way more than I was letting myself realize. Long ago, living in the DC area, where I might have to evacuate for a lot of reasons, besides the usual necessities that go in a bug-out bag, I have a small art bug-out bag that I would take with me to an evacuation center if I had to re-locate. Found that, and then settled in for the storm. I had a beaded applique piece all ready to work on, with the buttons and beads all picked out, so there wasn’t much to “think” about. …and I sewed, and I sewed, and I sewed, long into the night to distract myself from the howling storm outside.

  5. I sort my fabric stash. Touching and seeing these beautiful textile friends always calm me and even better, they re-inspire me. I get new ideas, solve problems, and get a reboot to boot!!

  6. I really felt for you ladies suffering Hurricane Sandy – the pictures we received in UK looked horrendous. We have friends in Delaware, but fortunately they are not near the coast.. Living on the south coast of England, we, too had enormous floods during our so-called summer and many people had to evacuate their homes for weeks., but we didn’t have the strong winds. What do I do when I am stressed? I usually head for the kitchen and make comforting soups or cakes whilst contemplating my next sewing project.
    Gill Clear, England.

  7. I learned to quilt during Northern Iowa blizzards, so sewing during a storm is a joyous thing even now when I live in the path of hurricanes. I have many UFOs in my stash, so I pick one and sew. The storm disappears as I focus on the needle and thread. I know when I hear the singing frogs in the pond beside my house that the worst is past and I can sleep.

  8. Our sewing does comfort us. It gives our hands something to do when we can’t control other things happening to us. Memories are sewn in each and every stitch. I hold a quilt made 30 years ago and remember the pieces cut and stitches made while praying to God that my child’s diagnosis will be wrong. The error’s made, the points that don’t meet, the blocks placed upside down display to me the worry, the grief experience in the moment. Quilts are life. Our quilts look and feel like the lives we have lived. Treasure them.

  9. I can take the project to my monthly group meetings for other viewpoints. Another thing I do is I put the project aside and go work out. Exercise gets my brain rev’d up for finding more solutions.

  10. Kristine,
    Sorry to hear about all the problems. I find that a project during a storm has a calming effect on me. It keeps me away from the 24/7 news channels and lets me focus on other things as the hours slowly pass. I would worry about the electric power fluctuations damaging your machines.

  11. Yes, clear heads help with design planning for sure and, more importantly, keep us from cutting off the tip of our finger with the rotary cutter.

    I wanted to leave a comment on the page for the November give-away contest but it would not allow that so I am leaving it here. Too bad that those of us who refuse to do Facebook (for a multitude of reasons such as security and privacy) are not allowed to participate in the give-away. I think someone is missing the boat when a contest is set up this way. Yes, I am disappointed!

  12. I totally agree with KarenL@3 that it doesn’t seem right that we have to join Facebook to enter a giveaway. Not all of us want to give up our privacy. I did it one time and have received so much spam as a direct result. Please allow us to enter by email also, it would be so wonderful and fair to those of us who don’t want to use Facebook. Now for the storm – while it did not affect me, I think Nancy Smeltzer’s idea of having an art “bugout” bag with a small project for nervous hands during an unsettling situation is a fabulous idea. It would be fun to ask the question on your site about what each of us would put into our art bugout bag for such occasions. Could be very interesting stuff to read and learn from. Anyway, thanks for listening! Love Quilting Arts, just renewed again!!!

  13. I actually find that having a reason to concentrate helps tremendously as I am an ace worrywart. If I’m really feeling scattered, I’ll stick to simple things like sewing my batting scraps together to make the next small project batting or cutting my scraps into usable size strips. Paper piecing when I’m stressed is a good one, too…it just allows you to follow the numbers. Although I have to admit that my favorite quilting activity to do when I’m stressed is shopping but that wouldn’t have been an option in your case!

  14. I have to agree with maeve and KarenL about Facebook. Not for me.

    Although I live far away from your neighborhood (WA state), we do sometimes have real howling winter storms. I retreat to my studio in the basement and work at whatever my brain can concentrate on. If that doesn’t work, I do laundry. Put a load in to wash, and go to fold the mounds of clean clothes that pile up (it is just me and the cat). Sorting and folding seem to be a mind-less task to me, so when I’m done, at least the laundry is organized and I can see that I accomplished something. A hot bubble bath is stress-soother for me, but you might not have had that luxury.

    A “bug-out” bag for me would have all the supplies (including small light) to work on a knitting project.

    While you were all enduring the storm, I was digging through my UFO stash to find projects to finish to send your direction when someone has a destination organized.

  15. Thank you, everyone, for your wonderful comments! What fabulous ideas.

    Another addition to a “bug-out” bag could be a head lamp and batteries, just in case the power goes out.

    Off topic–and in response to the Facebook comments–please know that we appreciate all of our readers, commenters, and followers on whatever platform they choose. Many giveaways are held right here on so there are plenty of opportunities for non-Facebook folks.

    Also, just to follow up on the project I started, I’m pleased to say it worked up well after all without a trip to the quilt shop–although I will still go to buy a backing fabric … and whatever else catches my eye while I’m there!

    Happy quilting, all!


  16. Storms are stressful no doubt. When i find myself making mistakes – whether its from a distraction or tiredness – i stop what i’m doing and do something “mindless” until i stabilize. Sometimes I organize fabric scraps, sort buttons (!), review pending and upcoming projects, hand sew or watch tv. I also try to block the distractions by keeping the curtains drawn (if it’s a nature distraction) and turning my itunes UP to block out anything else. Love the bug out bag idea and would like to see more on this subject.