Priming the Pump

I have been in a sewing slump. Does this happen to you? A host of regular-life “stuff” has drained me of the energy to create. I find myself entering my sewing area only to stand there feeling lost and unsure of where to begin. I leave feeling discouraged and unproductive.

Over many years I’ve discovered the remedy though, and yesterday I put it into place.

I just start sewing. This is what it takes to “prime the pump.”

ninepatches Priming the Pump

I’ve learned that to just begin is what I have to do. Somehow, in a way I don’t understand, this works. I have some simple projects always ready to go for this purpose. Yesterday I made little Nine Patches.

ninepatches21 Priming the Pump

Each one will be sewn to a 3.5″ square.

Eventually they will all go together into a large scrappy quilt that I saw once on a calendar from Avalanche Publishing. Easy peasy!

Already the ideas and enthusiasm have started flowing again. I’m dreaming about which binding to apply next, which top to baste, which design idea to pursue.

ninepatches61 Priming the Pump

How could these Red Cross blocks be set, how would this yellow look in those patches, why don’t I try hand piecing a Swirling Sunburst?

ninepatches7 Priming the Pump

There. That’s more like it!

About Diane Harris

I'm an editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I wrote pattern instructions, product reviews and how-to articles. Then I spent four years as QM's Interactive Editor, working to generate much of our online content. Now I'm back to patterns and how-tos, which is a great fit for me. I still love writing about quilt-related topics for Quilty Pleasures, and I always have my finger on the pulse of the quilting world. I teach a variety of quilt classes and give guild programs, too. Reach me by email: editor@quiltmaker.com.
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12 Responses to Priming the Pump

  1. Marti Morgan says:

    I know the feeling – I need to get some things done, but life has me dragging. I go into my “sewing cave” and just start sewing something quick and before I know it, I am moving and grooving. If only I could live in there – oh well.

  2. Betty Edwards says:

    I am glad to know I am not alone in occasional slumps. Some times I know I need to get to sewing but just can’t. Can find all sorts of reasons why…and I will walk into room look around and walk out! lol

    Right now I am working on a T-Shirt quilt for my grandson that graduated from High School last year…he’s been playing some form of ball since he was five years old. I have bags of t-shirts so my son asked sweetly if I could have it made by Christmas. He doesn’t understand the “I don’t feel like sewing!” lol I have 12 grandkids all promised quilts…I have given two so far! lol I am Queen of Procrastination so it’s hard for me.

  3. Brenda Ackerman says:

    When I get in a slump it can be hard at first to get past that hurdle. I usually, just get out my scrap boxes of precut squares and like you begin sewing them together into 4 patches. It does not take long and the sewing machine sounds, touching and choosing fabrics, and the peace that comes with sewing all take over and I am creating a quilt! Thanks for sharing and have a great day!

  4. Beth Reese says:

    I woke up the day after Christmas feeling the relief of having finished all the projects I had needed to finish. The next morning I woke up completely depressed out because I didn’t have any projects and didn’t know what to do. I started looking through some of my magazines that had arrived and I had just thrown in a pile because I was so busy. I generally get excited when I get a new magazine and I see all the new projects lined up.The only problem there is that I then become overwhelmed and have to settle down and be realistic about my stress-o-meter and start small. The meter is very high this year so I start small, but in other years I jumped right in and the bigger the better, the more intricate the better. Right now, I’m happy with small and just enough to keep my attention and work on something that I really need to practice on. Thanks

  5. Emilia Heffren says:

    I am in a terrible slump right now. I am working on a Baltimore Album (on the borders now) and just can’t get motivated. I think part of it is being alone without a quilting buddy and another is that I have to give this gorgeous quilt away as a wedding gift which I promised a year ago. I will latch on to some of the tips here. Thanks.

  6. Jennifer says:

    I’m with Brita – that “have-to” project just seems to sap my creativity, no matter how pumped I was when I started it. That’s why I like Bonnie Hunters leaders and enders concept so much – I always have a behind-the-scenes project going and working on it puts me back into productive mode.

  7. Brita says:

    My quilting slump usually sets in while I’m working on (or getting ready to) a “have-to” project. Dragging my heels. Don’t wanna. So yesterday, when I finished a “have-to”, and before beginning the next “have-to”, I grabbed a Mary Engelbreit jelly roll and started cutting it up for a fun little quilt. There! Now I feel better! And re-energized.

  8. Patti Webster says:

    I am with Kim and Claudia! I love reorganizing me sewing area and fabric stash. This always gets my juices flowing when I am in a slump.

  9. Kim Hanson says:

    I have to say I’m with Claudia. When I feel I’m in a sewing/quilting slump, I restructure my studio, reorganize my fabrics and then I find I’m reenergized – and ready to sew!

  10. Marcia W. says:

    I’ve been feeling that slump too. Thanks for the jump start ideas! Really like your cross blocks.

  11. Katy P. says:

    Yep, I know the slump. I’ve found that cutting some fabric is usually inspiration to start actually sewing it! Glad you’re out of your slump!!

  12. Claudia says:

    Sometimes it helps to dig in and clean up the studio. Decluttering, clear space, finding something upteen layers deep–they can be the “on” switch to getting going again. My studio is such a mess right now, I can hardly find it.

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