Saturday, October 28, 2006


Since I'm not doing anything quilty I thought I'd share picture Miss Froggy. Isn't she (of course it could be a he) cute! My friends, Barb and Mary, of Me and My Sister Designs made this little cutie for me. The fabric is their new Moda line they're introducing at the Houston Market right now called Spring Fling. I had to take a picture of his belly cuz I love the way they used a button in the center of one of large flowers and buttons on his toes. :-)

The quilting slump continues and now it's getting serious! I have not done anything since I went on my retreat earlier this month. I don't know what's wrong with me but I'm just not interested - believe me that's not like me. It started before I left on my retreat and then I forced myself to do some power sewing at the retreat and now NOTHING! Sitting at my machine does not sound like fun right now! What is wrong with me???? Sigh!!! My DH commented about my lack of sewing the other day and I told him that I need a new hobby! Oh, you should have seen the look on his face - LOL - he knows how compulsive I am. LOL I've considered trying scrap booking - nah - tried that and I'm not good at it. Maybe knitting - strong possibility but still on the fence. Anyway, while I've been thinking about this slump I've also been thinking about my quilting style. I've always loved my style and yet sometimes I feel that I have to apologize for it. Why? Well, I happen to enjoy making quilts using those fat quarter bundles/towers that Moda and other fabric companies put together. I've done some adorable and beautiful quilts with those - a controlled scrappy style. :-) I also enjoy the charm squares that are popular right now and just sewing them together to do a simple throw style quilt. I've been told that I lack imagination; that my quilts can be boring because I like the controlled scrappy style. (maybe this is the reason for my slump - I was insulted!) I've only been quilting since late 1999 but I've been very prolific since then. I took classes at the local shop from a very talented teacher however the style of the shop was using those fat quarter bundles, etc. I'm not good at going into a shop and buying a variety of fabric to make a quilt - just don't have that vision. Maybe the fabric companies have done some of us a serious injustice by introducing those coordinated fabric lines that I seem to enjoy so much. Makes me wonder! So, can I cast aside the comments about my style and just continue to enjoy?

I read so many inspirational blogs where “you” have taken your scraps and made some adorable quilts. I can’t seem to do that! Let me tell you about my Rubbermaid bins that are full of my “scraps”. When I have finished a quilt I take the leftovers i.e. scraps and put them into a ziplock bag then toss the bag into a Rubbermaid bin – when the bin is full I buy another bin and continue this process. You should see the stack of bins that are full of scraps – great scraps, too. LOL I’ve had friends and acquaintances beg me for my bins (well, NO, they might make a really cute quilt – LOL) They have even promised to make a cute scrappy quilt for me if I’ll just surrender these bins. UMMMMM – NO! So, there they sit and I know I could probably make some wonderful quilts – just not sure of myself to do that. Many, many months ago I sent an e-mail to Bonnie and asked her for suggestions for my scrap bins – she was stumped! LOL I chatted via e-mail with Patti and she had some great suggestions but that was a few months ago and we were suppose to get back to it and didn’t. SIGH!!!!

So, here I sit STUMPED about my quilting style. In an e-mail from Bernina and Alex Anderson she said the following: (this is just an excerpt from the e-mail) “One day, while sharing my work with Diana Mc Clunn, she asked if I would be willing to allow my quilt to be published in her and Laura Nownes first book Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!! I couldn't believe it! The quilt was a classic saw tooth star out of solid fabrics. How could any quilt so traditional and simple in nature be worthy of publication? It was a lightening bolt moment (we have all had them), and I realized it was not only OK but important to pursue the style of quilt making that feeds your soul.
Webster defines quilting as : 1. The process of quilting. 2. material that is quilted or used for making quilts. Sounds like all's fair with that definition.
I define a quilts as: Three layers of fiber, typically, but not necessarily, cotton on both sides filled with batting, held in place with stitches.
All quilts are created for their own purpose and reasons, each unique to itself. The quilt might be for a child to snuggle under or purely for decorative reasons. Perhaps the quilt has no specific intent or purpose other than to celebrate your latest fabric acquisition. The quilt might be created as the result or to endure an experience. Quilts are made to give in love and receive with honor. Quilts delight and feed our spirits. Quilts bond and bind us as a community that has no gender or age limitations. Through quilting we help define who we are.”

I’ve saved this e-mail and find myself reading it over and over trying to help myself with my dilemma and slump and yet there I sit.
Now that I’ve rambled and rambled I’m going to attempt to spend the rest of the day in my sewing room and “play”. We’ll see if it works!


Judy said...

Okay Darlene. I can give you an assignment and if you follow it perfectly you will be able to lose some of the bin fabric and maybe get sewing again!

Take a scrap pattern, any pattern. I'll find one for you if you don't want to pick one. Then take a bin, open it and take out one piece at a time, iron it and trim it down to the size needed for this quilt. Cut a bunch of these scraps to this size. Now make yourself sew at least one hour or two each day and just sew the pieces together into a bigger piece...(say you are sewing 2 squares corner to corner to make HST's). Then before long you will have plenty of pieces that you will start to sew into rows and then the rows into a whole top!

If making another top isn't what you want to do. I KNOW you have tops to start quilting. Grab 3 of them and sandwich them and start quilting!

Email me if you want me to help you with doing this! Don't worry about what others your own thing. They are lovely and you do such a good job!!

Vicky said...

Darlene, I know exactly what you're going through. I was addicted to towers (still am but I'm resisting) and would only make quilts from those towers. But paying attention to what my friend Jane was doing, and asking her permission (silly me!) to copy her sort of freed me from that corner I had painted myself into.

I'm familiar with the fabrics in most of your recent quilts. Why don't you make a string quilt? Just cut those scraps into different sized strips and start sewing them together. They'll coordinate in a controlled way, but you'll be using them and creating something new.

Or choose a background fabric, cut it into six inch squares, and then make a bunch of circles from your scraps. Load up a couple of good movies and sit down and applique those circles to the squares. I made my polka dot quilt in two weekends during one of my slumps by appliqueing and watching movies!

I'll bet you have the most beautiful scrap bins of any of us! Get in your studio and start playing them with them. Cut a bunch of fabric up into squares and make an Around the World quilt. Or pick two coordinating pieces of scrap, and make a friendship block, and then another and another. Maybe a friendship block from each of the collections you've scrapped away. It won't be long before you've worked your way through the slump while getting creative with those gems you have stashed away in bins!

Sorry this is long - but one more thing. Pick a pattern out of one of the books you already have. Then go to your stash - not your towers - and pull fabric for it. Or take it to the fabric shop and go to the color wall and pull fabric. Avoid the shelves with coordinated lines. Say you're going to make a pink and green quilt. Or a yellow and blue quilt. Use as many different yellows and blues as you can find in your stash or in the shop. Soon you'll be comfortable with pulling fabric from different lines for any quilt. (Jane helped me learn to do this and I will be forever grateful to her for that!)

Hope you're in your studio right now playing. You never know when inspiration may strike!

((Big Hugs))

Suze said...

Oh, I do hope the slump passes soon. YOu have some great quilts left to make.

Seems like Judy has some good suggestions........

I have to keep reminding myself. There Are NO Quilt Police.........

I have made a couple of real duds recently but I count them as a learning experience.

Hang Tough. This will pass.

Nadine said...


We all have those moments in our quilting life... Don't worry, sometimes "the magma" has to rest a little, before exploding in something unexpected and beautiful. Browse through your books, your magazines and your bins. Listen to that tiny inner voice, follow your instinct. Take 4 or 5 fabrics (not too many, and not especially coordinated, unless you FEEL you have too, but rather well contrasted) and pretend you're a pioneer : these fabrics are the ONLY ones you've got to make a quilt for this winter. Well, what would you do ?...

Vicky is absolutely right (she just gave such inspiring advises ! I'll have to thank her).

This Friday, I was in the mood of machine piecing (though I much rather prefer hand piecing). I wanted something EASY (straight lines, no tiny pieces, you kow what I mean), and BEAUTIFUL. I went to my stash and pulled out the last 7 half yards I had bought : BROWNS, MUSTARD and GOLDS (autumn influence, I guess). I allowed me 5 more half yards in an unusual color to me : BLUE (I like blues, but rarely put them in a quilt, don't know why).... So I decided to make a "Trip Around the World" (my first one !) "a la Bonnie".... Oooh, Darlene, you should see it ! I just LOVE it. I'll call this quilt "THE UNEXPECTED", as it sure was !

Big hugs and smil,

Angie said...

Darlene, girl, just do whatever makes you feel good! As Suze said, there truly aren't any 'quilt police'. At least you have a 'style'. I don't even have one. LOL It sounds like you have made a lot of wonderful quilts. And I don't know who would dare insult you (and yes, it sounds like you were insulted; I certainly would have taken it that way!!), but push that aside and go on!! Ignore those people and stick with us. We love what you do! I have no imagination at all. I have to go by a picture, or no quilt for me (and I mostly do wallhangings, tablerunners, etc. cause it's easier!) but so what, it's mine and mine alone until I choose to share it. So chin up, and go make quilts!! Ease up on yourself and get back to having fun with your bundles!! :) And I bet that you will eventually find yourself taking one of Judy's or Vicky's suggestions, and you'll be digging in those scrap bins! :D

Libby said...

Darlene -- I, too, have fallen victim to the Mrs. McNasty's that are out there in the quilt world. They love to make snippy little comments to cut you down when really they are just green with envy because they don't have the time or inclination to get busy and sew. I know it's hard, but don't let them get you down. You have some wonderful quilts which adds up to beautiful scraps which means there are even more wonderful quilts to come from you once you get started.

You have already received some great advice on selecting patterns and fabrics from the other commmenters *s* Just pick something that sounds even a little bit fun and go to it. Even if your not really in the mood, just an hour a day -- could be broken into 15 minutes here and there -- you'll be back in fine form before you know it. If you need a little cheerleading, just let me know .... I am an excellent Rah Rah girl.

Cynthia said...

hi Darlene, if you have been happy with making quilts using fabrics that are cordinated that's fine. I love your quilts and the fabrics you have used for them. Don't worry about what someone else says. It is YOUR quilt.

Others have left suggestions for you. It just depends on what you want to do. Perhaps applique using the scraps. I made a scrappy dresden plate earlier on this year. I have shown it on my blog.
Have you looked at Bonnie's Quiltville site. Is there a quilt there that you might like to make using all your scraps or perhaps using only two or three colors from your bins if that is what you prefer. Or look through your magazines and see what you can find.
Whatever pattern you choose to do i hope you'll have fun making it. Keep us posted as to what you decide to do. We'll be here to cheer you on.

cher said...

I think you need to feel happy doing your quilting-if you felt happy making your previous quilts...why change?
You got wonderfull suggestions from everyone so far...I do know we all need a break from our passion from time to time. For me, I read a book, or play in my garden or just veg in front of the tv...a break can be a very good thing! when you are refreshed, you will come back to quilting happy once more.

Sweet P said...

Everyone has given you good suggestions. I would don't stress over your slump. Maybe your creative juices just need some time to rejuvenate. When you're ready to quilt again, you'll know it. And remember we are here to cheer you on.

paula, the_quilter said...

I will agree with the string quilt suggestion. If the scraps are uneven sizes then sew them down to some type of foundation. Kabinet Wax paper like Bonnie at Quiltville uses is perfect. You will be using up some of your scraps in a controlled scrappy fashion. This is what I did when I had my slump and I produced the Paintbucket Chinese Coins quilt (on my blog). It broke my slump.

And, really, if you don't feel like sewing, then don't. Curl up with a good book instead.

Sue said...

Rule #1) Don't ever listen to advice from ill-mannered boors. I can see why you were insulted.

I was checking out the quilts on your blog and they're beautiful!
I don't see what the problem is with you making quilts the way you like them out of the fabric you like, I always thought that was the idea.
Now I can't blame your friends for lusting after those bins of scraps, I'm thinking of relocating to Arizona and moving to your neighborhood just to get in line in case you decide you don't want to try scrap quilting!
Seriously though, you've been given some great ideas here if you decide to try something different, but do whatever the heck you want!

May Britt said...

You are not alone. I have been in this situation, got focus on my quilting, and lost it againg. And I can't find my focus againg. I know there is a lot of things I want to do, but when I walk into my sewingroom I can't find anything to do. I have started applique my daisyblocks, and are quilting on my "Say it with flowers" but that's it. Have new fabrics in my sewingroom, but can't feel the joy having them. But I am sure this bug will pass soon and we all get focus on quilting again.

Marcie said...

Who would be so arrogant to critisize someone elses quilts? That ticks me off! Do what you like to do Darlene. If you are feeling unmotivated, close the door to your sewing room and bar yourself from going in. Pretty soon you won't be able to stnd it and you will get all charged up! Just don't go kicking any cactus!

Nancy said...

Slumps come and slumps go but PLEASE DO NOT LET A FEW BAD MANNERED OLD BIDDIES TAKE THE JOY FROM YOUR QUILTING! (And yes I am yelling at you!)

If you like to make quilts using those towers of FQ then do it and don't let anyone make you feel your quilts are inferior because of it. I do so wish we lived a little closer. I'd love to come introduce you to the joys of playing in your scraps. Shoot, Arizona's not that far from TX. Maybe I'll just use some of my vacation time next year and come visit. LOL! I'm betting a bunch of the other Stash Quilters would be willing to come play too. Heck I'm absolutely SALIVATING at the thought of all those luscious totes full of scraps!!!!!!!

I know you've already gotten lots of advise from the other commenters but here's my advice on your scraps. If you truly do not want to work with them right now don't let them bother you. But if they are eating at you this is what I'd do:

First thing take all those scraps out of their little co-ordinated baggies and dump them in one huge pile. Toss them all together just like you would toss a salad so you're not tempted to keep those co-ordinated scraps together.

Now sort them into colors.

Next pick a pile - any pile. What's your favorite color? Maybe start with that pile. Sort it into Dark/Medium/Light.

Next find you a scrappy pattern you really love and start cutting the pieces worrying less about the type fabric or design but more about the color value needed for that piece. (BTW Judy/Jeanne's new hour-a-day would be a perfect one to start with.)

Now just start sewing them together a few at a time while you're doing other things. Leaders/enders style as much as you can. Before you know it a nice really scrappy quilt will emerge and maybe you'll have gained the confidence in your ability to create a beautiful quilt using up some of those marvelous scraps you have. And if not you just go right on making quilts that DO make you happy. Cause that's all that really matters, isn't it!

Patti said...

Darlene, there is absolutely nothing wrong with your "style". And whatever you do, stop listening to those people who criticize what you do!!!! Stop, stop, stop!!!! Quilting is for enjoyment - YOUR enjoyment. Make the quilts that talk to you. It makes no difference whatsoever if anyone else likes them. If YOU like them that is ALL THAT MATTERS!

Now - about your bins. Are you full of guilt feelings because they are sitting there unused? Do you REALLY want to use them, or do you just think you should use them? If it's the latter then it's time to banish the "shoulds" from your quilting life. Give them to someone who will use them for charity. It will be a marvelous freeing feeling for you! If you really WANT to use them, but it's fear and insecurity that's holding you back, then just jump in and go for it. Dig out the suggestions I gave you and just start sewing. If you make something ugly - so what???? Send it to charity. Use it for the back on something else. Toss it and try again. If you hate the process then just free yourself by saying "I tried", then give those scraps away.

What about your appliqué? You were loving that but I've not read anything about it in your blog for some time. Maybe you shouldn't be at the machine at all - maybe you should be back to hand work for awhile. I have long periods when all I do is handwork and don't even touch my machine. Eventually I want to piece again - even if it's not for a year or two.

To bad you can't come up here to Washington to spend a week with me. I'd have you out of your sewing doldrums in no time at all!

Hang in there girl - you will find the answer.

Lisa D. said...

My dear friend - now I can see why you are in this serious slump. I read your post yesterday and couldn't comment because I was so mad and sad for you. Who would have the audacity to say such a thing? I'm still just shaking my head.

I stumbled onto your blog earlier this summer and started commenting and emailing you because I LOVE your quilts. So what if you like coordinated fabrics and FQ stacks or even - heaven forbid - KITS! SO DO I!!! These fabric companies pay these designers big bucks, and why? Because they have TALENT that I surely don't possess to create these fabric works of art. I love these coordinated fabrics, too - why not use them together? If you love them, that's all that matters, and your quilts are fun and beautiful. I love every one.

Please don't let some self-righteous QUILT POLICE tell you what you SHOULD be making. You make a quilt from your heart and it's one you will love forever. There are many quilts out in blogland and that I see at my quilt retreat (we have 90 participants!). Many are not my style, but I admire the artisans that can create something unique that I don't have the talent to do. I would never in a million years criiticize their choices.

Please know that it only matters what you think and you need to work on something you enjoy. Quilt Police be damned.

Big Hugs, my friend! I hope you can find your quilting mojo again real soon!

Anonymous said...

Hi - After I read your post I had to go back and look at your quilts. Your quilts are beautiful! I felt it then, when I first saw your pics, and again now in the review. Whoever made that comment to you lacks vision. Your quilts are far from boring. They have character and life.
I learned recently that 98% of what people say and do has nothing to do with us - it's about them. Keep this in mind and feel sorry for the visionless commentator. Renew your spirit - Rosaline.

linda said...

Hi Darlene, Thanks for visiting craft apple. Intersting post I've stumbled on here. My style continues to change, and I rarely find that it is what is I see others making. I would ignore people's comments - my styles are more "controlled" as well, because that is my personality - I like predictable right angles. :o)

As far as your slump, I'd take a break from quilting and make some small instant gratification projects - an oven mitt or a purse. And good luck!

EileenKNY said...

You have to remember that when someone says things to bring you down that misery loves company. Your quilts are beautiful!
I think you've received some great advice here so I will just add that we all go through slumps and dark times. What counts is how you come out the other side. Make something that is only for you and hold it close.

Susan said...

The point of quilting is to enjoy what you're doing. If someone else thinks that it isn't ____________ (fill in the blank with appropriate adjective) that's their problem, not yours. There is nothing wrong with anything I've ever seen on your blog, and that's all I know about your quilting.

There's a psych. technique that often helps me when people share their unwanted opinion. Picture a cup in your hand. What they say goes in the cup. When they are finished, picture yourself dumping the cup over your shoulder (or flushing it works well) while saying, "Thank you very much for sharing that with me." =)

Anonymous said...

It's o.k., I too am in a slump....

So maybe I have no place to give you advice on how to get back into sewing, etc.

Yub of rubbermaid scraps...

How about a string quilt for charity - just to get you going?

FQ bundle - How about a YBR just to get you going?

Don't worry about your style - The Thimbleberries Lady has made a living out of useing the "same" fabric over & over - very controlled.

The next time someone make you feel "bad." Remember this, your "old" "first" quilts are Beautiful - so nice that people PURCHASED them! That is saying a LOT!

Anonymous said...

I forgot - you are allowed to throw away your scraps if they are not "your thing." Just becasue they are so&so's thing, that does not mean they have to be your thing too. I threw out mine, because there are too many quilt ideas in my head to do from my non-scrap fabrics to keep those around becasue so&so does such lovely things with her scraps!

Jenni @ Fairybread said...

You got some long comments on this subject! I figure - do what you want to do. I love old style reproduction fabric and quilts, but I also like to try some other things too. I suppose what I'm saying is that by trying something different you don't have to give up "your style". You can have both, or if you don't like the new thing you try, you still have "your style". You don't have to try something new, but I know that often I don't try something new because I don't have the confidence I suppose. Often when you have a go, you quite enjoy it, then you have 2 styles you like.

Mary said...

Make the quilts that you like to make and disregard the comments of others.

My older sister and I have VERY different styles of quilting and she doesn't really like my scrappy quilts and I don't particularly like hers but we still enjoy sharing quilting in general with each other.

I like Vicky's advice and it's something I often do myself. Since cutting scrappy quilts always takes longer I usually cut more than one at a time. So make a second quilt out of your leftovers.

When I'm using leftovers from a bundle I usually pull fabrics from my stash that work with the bundle fabrics so I have enough for the second quilt.

And if you decide to take up another hobby - I love crochet and knitting too. I started because I wanted some simple handwork when I travel that didn't take a lot of prep work. Now I also like mindless knitting in the evening watching TV with Keith or while I'm listening to music.

Carol said...

Darlene...It makes me very sad and angry all at the same time when I hear people making negative comments about any one's work. We quilt because we love what we do...I just got back from Market in Houston and saw hundreds of beautiful quilts. There were many, many,many art quilts hanging...some with metal and wood pieces hanging on them as part of the quilt. I could look at those and appreciate the work that went into them, but they did not make me happy. They were not anything that I would ever do in my life...but I would NEVER say anything negative about them. They obviously made the quilter happy and that's why we do this. We all must do what makes us happy. On the other hand I saw some traditional and reproduction quilts that just made my heart sing. Different strokes for all of us. We must find what makes us happy and POO on the naysayers. Feel better...big HUGS to you!

Dawn said...

Oh Darlene - don't be so hard on yourself. To me quilting is my relaxation and for me to enjoy. So I don't care what others think of my style, fabric choices, etc. As long as I'm happy it is theraputic. And your stuff is wonderful! Don't be so hard on yourself! In fact a friend and I were soooo inspired by your vintage patches we keep looking at your blog thinking we NEED to make that!

A suggestion for your scraps? I took mine and made some string blocks. Once I got started I couldn't stop. I made evening stars, friendship stars, roman shades, jsut string quilts. And then I gave them to charity - although they turned out so beautiful I almost couldn't part with them! But it sure got me going using those scraps!

Evelyn aka Starfishy said...

Interesting... lots of great advice too! I love to make scrappy quilts, but unlike some scrap quilters - can't bring myself to throw everything into a top! This past year I've made many different "types" of quilts - all blue (squares), all green (ocean waves), darks/Thimbleberries (railroad tracs/bars quilt), wild geometrics (Octagon flowers, 4 patch), etc. I guess maybe I try to replicate what a fat quarter tower might look like if I were ever to buy one!!! I've seen those towers in my LQS sometimes and they look sooo beautiful and I am going to treat myself to at least 1 tower before I head to Austria for the winter. Your quilts are truly beautiful! I am sure that someday you will find a way to use your scrap bins that will make you happy - just keep stacking them up and the day will come... Perhaps you are in a piecing slump because you have some quilting to get done! I have not had any urge what-so-ever to start a new project or even buy fabric for one until I get my pile of completed tops out the door to the long arm quilter! Plus I have a few quilts that now need to be bound. So, that is what I've been working on - not as exciting as piecing a new top, but I am getting backings pieced together and the tops pressed - ready to send to the quilters!



Anonymous said...

I enjoy all styles of quilting--don't beat yourself up over your style or what you might perceive as a 'lack thereof'. Most of us are still finding our style and just enjoying quiltmaking! Carry on!

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