Mindfulness for Quilters

Mindfulness for Quilters

Creativity and crafting can be a very fulfilling task but with timelines and a never-ending project list, it can become a bit daunting. I am focused on creating a healthier lifestyle for myself and a huge part of that is the mentality I have daily. Naturally, this trickles into my quilting as I sew almost every single night. I wanted to share the tips and things that I've been focusing on in the hopes that it helps others. 

Let's start from the beginning. What the hell is mindfulness anyways? Sounds like some hippy term that says I should be loving every single second of the day. * Cue the eye-rolling here*

Let's dive in and see how we can use this practice realistically

Now that we got the definition out of the way, you're probably thinking how does this connect and incorporate into quilting at all?! Let me count the ways, friend! 

This is my personal take on mindfulness and there's no absolute, but I've found that these steps help me approach this creative outlet in a way that I truly appreciate this craft so much more.  

Let's start with the biggest one for me: embracing imperfections. 

If you've gotten to know me from my social media, you know I've always struggled with perfectionism and creativity. This little stinking word has stopped me from exploring any avenue of creativity for me for decades because I just didn't think anything I created would be good enough. Yikes

So how exactly does the practice of mindfulness help with this? 

Mindfulness is about accepting the present moment without judgment. Recognize that quilting, like life, is imperfect. Instead of getting caught up in striving for perfection, embrace the uniqueness and character of each stitch and fabric choice. Let go of self-criticism and cultivate an attitude of self-compassion.

Embracing imperfections is a mindset and a conscious choice. Let that sink in for a minute. 

Celebrate the progress you make with each quilt, rather than fixating on achieving flawless results. Acknowledge the skills you've developed and the knowledge you've gained along the way. Give yourself permission to enjoy the process without placing excessive pressure on the outcome.

Imperfections remind us that we are human. Quilts that exhibit imperfections connect us to the long history of quilting and the generations of quilters who came before us. They tell stories of human hands, love, and dedication. Imperfections create a sense of warmth and connection, inviting others to appreciate the beauty in the handmade and imperfect.

Remember, embracing imperfections is not about lowering your standards, but about accepting and celebrating the beauty in the imperfections that naturally arise in the creative process.

My second focus is on celebrating accomplishments which I touched on briefly above. Take the time to appreciate and celebrate your quilting achievements, no matter how big or small. Whether you finish a quilt, learn a new technique, or experiment with different fabrics, acknowledge your progress and give yourself a pat on the back. Embrace the joy and satisfaction that quilting brings to your life.

When you celebrate your accomplishments, you inspire and motivate others in the quilting community. Sharing your achievements encourages others to pursue their own creative endeavors, fostering a supportive and uplifting environment. Your celebration can become a source of inspiration and encouragement for fellow quilters, creating a ripple effect of positivity.

Celebrating accomplishments allows you to reflect on your growth as a quilter. It gives you the opportunity to look back on where you started and appreciate the progress you've made along the way. Recognizing how far you've come can be incredibly gratifying and provide a sense of fulfillment and pride in your quilting journey.

My third focus has been on connecting with the quilting community. I've recently joined my local quilt guild and have been attending events they put together. It's been an amazing experience getting to know everyone in my local quilting community. I've been searching for local quilt shows and attending them when I can. It's so amazing to see all the quilts on display and also meeting new people. My favorite way to support my local quilting community is visiting my favorite local quilt shops. If you're local to the Baltimore area my two favorite shops are Domesticity  and Bears Paw Fabric. Domesticity has the best selection of RSS (Ruby Star Society) fabrics and has a great class schedule. Bears Paw has been so welcoming to me and has a great Tula Pink selection. 

Another way I've been trying to foster and interacting with the quilting community has been creating a Facebook group of like-minded quilters! I'm currently co-hosting this Facebook group with Erin from @SeamRipperSociety. It's been such an amazing experience. We've been hosting monthly challenges and calls. We can't wait to see our group continue to grow and evolve over time. Our goal was to create a welcoming space where you can find the answers and help you need while also sharing all the beautiful things you're working on. If you're interested in joining, you can find the Facebook group here

Quilting seems like it's a very solitary hobby but finding friends in the quilting space is important. Sharing ideas, seeking advice, and celebrating each other's creations can bring a sense of camaraderie and support. Engaging with others who share your passion for quilting can enhance your overall well-being. 

Being part of the quilting community exposes you to a vast array of quilting styles, patterns, and designs. Seeing the work of others can spark your creativity, push your boundaries, and inspire new ideas. The community serves as a wellspring of inspiration, fueling your passion for quilting. 

The quilting community offers opportunities for collaboration and joint projects. Working with others on group quilts, charity initiatives, or collaborative challenges can deepen your quilting skills and broaden your horizons. Collaboration allows you to learn from different perspectives and create something truly special together.

Fourth on the list and another challenging one for me is p
rioritizing self-care. Quilting is a wonderful way to express creativity, but don't forget to take care of yourself as well. Set aside dedicated time for self-care activities such as taking relaxing baths, enjoying a cup of tea, reading a book, taking a walk outside, or engaging in other hobbies you love.

I think a lot of us can start to feel like this is the only focus we can have to be productive. Especially now that it's summer and the weather is nice, most of us are struggling to find that sewjo again. 

Quilting is very time-consuming and mentally demanding. Prioritizing self-care ensures that you take regular breaks and dedicate time to recharge and renew yourself. Engaging in activities that promote relaxation and enjoying a hobby unrelated to quilting, helps you maintain a healthy balance.

Self-care encompasses both physical and mental well-being. When quilting, it's easy to get lost in the creative process and neglect physical needs like hydration, nutrition, and movement. Prioritizing self-care ensures you nourish your body with nutritious meals, stay hydrated, and engage in physical activities that support your overall health.

Prioritizing self-care means setting boundaries and learning to say no when necessary. It's important to recognize your limitations and not overextend yourself in quilting projects or commitments. Saying no to additional responsibilities or requests allows you to focus on your well-being and maintain a healthy balance in your quilting practice.

Remember, self-care is an ongoing practice that requires awareness and intentionality. By prioritizing self-care, you nourish yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally, creating a foundation for a fulfilling and sustainable quilting journey.

My fifth focus certainly ties into the previous one which is taking breaks and stretching. 

Quilting can be a time-consuming and sedentary activity. Remember to take regular breaks to stretch your body and release tension. Incorporate gentle stretching exercises to keep your muscles limber and prevent stiffness. I think most of us generally know why this is important for us but let's get into some more specific details on why we should be doing this. 

Quilting often involves intricate details and precise stitching, which can strain your eyes. Taking regular breaks allows your eyes to rest and refocus, reducing eye strain and fatigue. It's also an opportunity to practice eye exercises, such as looking at distant objects or blinking frequently, to refresh your eyesight. 
Taking regular breaks allows you to relieve the strain on your body and prevent muscle fatigue. Stretching helps to improve circulation, maintain flexibility, and reduce the risk of developing muscle imbalances or repetitive strain injuries.

If you're at a loss of what stretches to try during a break, here are a few of my favorites: 

  1. Neck and Shoulder Stretch: Sit up straight and gently tilt your head to one side, bringing your ear towards your shoulder. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and then repeat on the other side. To stretch the shoulders, clasp your hands behind your back, straighten your arms, and lift your chest while squeezing your shoulder blades together.

  2. Wrist and Forearm Stretch: Extend your arm in front of you with the palm facing up. With your other hand, gently pull back on your fingers to stretch your wrist and forearm. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds and then switch to the other hand. You can also rotate your wrists in circles to loosen up the joints.

  3. Upper Back Stretch: Interlace your fingers in front of you, round your upper back, and reach forward as if you're hugging a big ball. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the stretch in your upper back and between your shoulder blades. Release and repeat as needed.

  4. Seated Spinal Twist: Sit with your feet flat on the floor and twist your torso to one side, placing your opposite hand on the outside of your thigh for support. Hold the stretch for 15-30 seconds, feeling the twist through your spine. Repeat on the other side.

  5. Hamstring Stretch: Sit on the edge of a chair and extend one leg straight out in front of you, keeping your heel on the floor. Gently lean forward, hinging at the hips, until you feel a stretch in the back of your thigh. Hold for 15-30 seconds and then switch legs.

Remember to stretch both sides of your body evenly and breathe deeply during each stretch. Stretching should be done gently and without any pain. If you have any specific concerns or physical limitations, it's always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or a qualified fitness instructor before starting any stretching routine.

And last but certainly not least is creating a sacred space for your creativity. This is my favorite one! I could squeal. I've spent a ton of time creating my space where I quilt and it's one of my favorite things to show off in my Instagram reels. 

You can view a few of those reels here: 
Mindfulness Sewing 
My Sewing Space
Favorite things in my sewing room

Having a dedicated quilting space allows you to set a specific intention for your creative time. It serves as a reminder that this is a sacred and meaningful activity that deserves your undivided attention. It helps you enter a mindset of focus, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the quilting process. Remember, your sacred space doesn't have to be elaborate or large. It can be a corner of a room, a dedicated table, or even a portable sewing kit. The key is to infuse it with intention, love, and personal touches that make it feel special to you.

A sacred space provides a nurturing environment where you can escape from daily stressors and find solace in your quilting practice. It becomes a refuge where you can let go of worries and distractions, promoting emotional well-being and offering a sense of calm and peace

Having a dedicated space for quilting allows you to keep your supplies, tools, and works-in-progress organized and easily accessible. This promotes efficiency and reduces time spent searching for materials. It enables you to make the most of your quilting sessions, optimizing your productivity and enjoyment.

Here's a quick recap of what I've shared so far: 

Integrating mindfulness into your quilting practice can bring a multitude of benefits to your overall well-being. By engaging your senses, cultivating a present-moment awareness, and embracing imperfections, you can elevate your quilting experience to a whole new level.

Mindfulness allows you to fully immerse yourself in the creative process, finding joy in each stitch and savoring the journey. It helps you let go of stress, anxiety, and the need for perfection, allowing for a more relaxed and fulfilling quilting experience.

Remember to create a sacred space, prioritize self-care, and connect with the quilting community to enhance your mindfulness practice. As you quilt, be fully present, appreciating the colors, textures, and sensations that arise. Embrace imperfections as part of the creative process, celebrating the uniqueness and character they bring to your quilts.

May your quilting practice be a mindful and transformative experience—a source of joy, inspiration, and self-discovery. Let the rhythm of the needle and thread guide you into a state of mindfulness, where creativity flows effortlessly and time becomes irrelevant.

Quilting is not merely a craft; it's a form of self-expression, meditation, and soul-nourishment. So, take a deep breath, thread your needle, and let the mindfulness infuse every stitch you make.

Happy quilting and may your creative journey be filled with mindful moments!

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