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 Interactive Editor for Quiltmaker magazine in Golden, Colorado, USA. For six years, I've been writing pattern instructions and product reviews, and doing a host of other tasks necessary to help produce a national pattern magazine. Now I work remotely from rural Nebraska to generate some of our online content. I manage the QM Scrap Squad, our blog tours and our Quilt-Alongs. I have one of the best jobs in the world.
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9 Responses to Priming the Pump

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. Marcia W. says:

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

  8. 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!!

  9. 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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