Something about the spring weather has me out and about more than usual these days. During the cold winter months, I like hunkering down in my sewing room all night long, but lately I can’t resist venturing out into the sunshine whenever possible, taking road trips on weekends, and dining al fresco downtown in the evenings—in short, I’ve been spending more time commuting than I have been at the sewing machine. However, as my fellow quilters will understand, this can also be frustrating; sometimes I find myself torn between a busy schedule and the need to create. Fortunately, I’ve found a solution that lets me have my cake and eat it too.
I decided that this is a perfect time of year for a bite-sized approach to art making, so I’ve been working on individual 12"-blocks composed of appliqué and reverse appliqué, and backed with a layer of batting. And, since lugging my sewing machine around town isn’t a feasible option, I’ve been embellishing them with hand stitching. Nothing too fancy, mind you, since keeping your stitches even and aligned can be a challenge in a bumpy subway car—but you’d be surprised what some simple chain, buttonhole, and back stitch can achieve.
Now, I have to admit that I’m not normally a low maintenance sewer (or traveler, for that matter). I like being surrounded by stacks of fabrics and piles of thread (and I’ve been known to pack the car with four bags when leaving town for 48 hours). But this new approach has forced me to minimize my materials and I’ve discovered that all I really need is one pincushion-full of needles, an embroidery hoop, thread shears, and embroidery floss (which I still wrap around cards, a habit that I developed in middle school when I used these threads to make friendship bracelets). So, while I’m looking forward to a little quality time in my sewing studio whenever I can squeeze it in, I’m also enjoying this rather nomadic approach to art making.
I know I’m not alone here; one of the most common frustrations I hear from fellow quilters is that between the obligations of life, work, family, and friends, there’s never enough time. How do you find the time to make art when life gets busy? What are your must-have materials for creating on the go? Share your techniques with your fellow quilters!