This is the second year I have used a spreadsheet to keep track of my quilting projects. It’s not a fancy or complicated system – but it is practical! I love being able to glance at the sheet of information and see what I have accomplished, and what I still need to work towards to complete creative projects.
My 2018 inventory looks like this:
- 6 small projects (23 in 2017)
- 13 mini quilts (5 in 2017)
- 11 completed quilts from start to finish (11 in 2017)
- 4 existing quilt tops quilted (3 in 2017)
- 3 new quilt tops (4 in 2017)
- 13 quilt tops still to be quilted (14 in 2017)
- 10 works in progress (13 in 2017)
- 7 new quilt patterns published (10 in 2017)
My Creative Journal – 2018
What I find fascinating is that for the most part, when comparing my ‘numbers’ between 2018 and 2017, it appears that my creative output is fairly consistent, despite the fact that my lifestyle has changed dramatically.
You see, in November of 2017 I re-entered the workplace on a permanent part-time basis. This came after spending 3 years at home adjusting to chronic fatigue and a weak immune system.
The 3 years at home meant there was lots of time to focus on creative pursuits while my body was healing. Deciding to return to a traditional 9-5 lifestyle was a really hard decision! I didn’t know if physically I would be up to the challenge, and I was concerned how it would ultimately affect my creative life and the business I wanted to grow.
Finding Harmony in Work and Life
After lots of deep pondering I decided not to return to the career in design I previously had. I knew that type of work would be all consuming and wouldn’t give me the balance I felt I needed in order to still give time to the quilting design process I love. So, instead I went to work for a small retail and manufacturing clothing business, close to home.
To be completely honest with you, this year felt really difficult at times. I have struggled to find my ‘new normal’, and deciding where to spend my energy. My personal focus has very much been on finding ways to stay motivated and develop creative momentum, both despite, and because of the time I now have available to me.
I have spoken about my struggles with energy and wellbeing in the past. It is a constant by-product of chronic illness that I have to battle and balance every day. And while I don’t like to define myself by my illness, I do have to recognise it is a part of my life.
We often hear the phrase ‘quilting is my therapy’, and the truth is, it really is a healing balm for many life ailments, including illness. Having a project waiting for me at the end of a long day, was often the mental energy boost I needed to gain physical momentum during the day.
During the year I didn’t always feel I was making much progress creatively. Actually, I often thought I was taking one step forward and three steps back! But, comparing the numbers on the spreadsheet I can see just how much effort and progress I really did make given my new life parameters .
For me, my biggest struggle felt like it was pattern writing. I have been telling myself that I have only published 2 patterns this year, but that is not actually true. I self published 2 full size quilt patterns, and had 2 published in Australian Homespun magazine, 1 in LPQ and 1 in the Martingale’s ‘Fat Quarter Favorites’ book. And, I also self published 1 mini quilt pattern and 1 tutorial. (I do however have at least 8 patterns waiting in the wings for me to write. Which is probably why it feels as though I haven’t progressed as far as I would like in this area).
One significant reason I feel my pattern writing stalled is because I have been wanting to use new-to-me software to format and ultimately print my patterns. Setting aside the time necessary to learn the new software has been a big hurdle, and something I realise needs to take priority in 2019 if I do want to continue to grow my business.
Being back in the workforce has given me a new appreciation for focused creativity, setting goals and the importance of staying motivated and organised in order to be my best creative self.
We all have our own personal hurdles that we need to jump in order to make the time for our creative pursuits. And if you have ever run a hurdle race, you know that there are always multiple hurdles you must jump in order to get to the finish line.
So now you know a little more about me – my life is sometimes complicated and messy – I imagine, just like yours! . I’m sharing this piece of my story to remind you that it’s important to walk your own creative path. Comparison is the enemy of creativity, except for when you are using it to see just how far you have personally come on your own creative journey.
My greatest creative breakthrough this year was discovering my own creative manifesto, which I summarise in two words – create joy!!
These two words guide all that I do. They are the reason I quilt. And most importantly they help me recognise the role quilting plays in my life!
It has been a year of many changes, but my love for turning little pieces of pretty fabric into quilts continues to grow and I am excited to see where this creative journey will lead in the new year.
Without any further ado, here are the quilts I put my heart into this year –
Let It Go
Let It Go was first published in the June 2018 edition of Australian Homespun. It was such a lovely surprise to see the quilt on the cover of the issue.
The independent pattern will be available in 2019.
Cherry Tree Lane
I slightly altered my popular Cherry Tree Lane quilt pattern to create what I affectionately call the ‘Bert’ version. This variation still uses a Layer Cake, but the sashing and layout is varied from the original.
The original Cherry Tree Lane quilt pattern is available here.
Tea Party – designed by Vanessa Goertzen of Lella Boutique
Tea Party is an original design by Lella Boutique. I am often drawn to quilts with simple square variations. The visual impact of large squares and the ability to almost mindlessly sew makes these patterns extra appealing.
You can purchase the PDF Tea Party pattern, here.
I Heart B&C Sampler
After some serious procrastination I finally stitched the binding on my ‘I heart Bonnie and Camille sampler’. I made this quilt as part of an awesome sewing bee back in 2015. It’s still one of my favourite quilting community experiences to date :).
Tilda Lemon Tree Trip Around the World
The Tilda Lemon Tree collection was definitely a favourite this year. And this Trip Around the World variation showcased it beautifully. I always enjoy working with Tilda fabric and yet it can be quite challenging due to the directional nature of so many of the prints. I have found the best way to achieve success is to combine a collection with an equal amount of neutral background fabric, or similar low volume or tone-on-tone prints.
August Rain is one of my sentimental favourites this year – this quilt tells the story of love, loss and hope. And if you have a favourite Jelly Roll waiting to be used – it is perfect for that too ;).
The PDF August Rain quilt pattern is available to purchase here.
Down Memory Lane
Hosting the Down Memory Lane Quilt-Along was a great way to share lots of basic tips and tricks with those sewing along, and this lovely quilt was an added bonus. I am so grateful to all those who sewed along with me and shared their talents and experience too.
If you want to make your own Down Memory Lane quilt in time for Valentine’s Day, the PDF pattern is available here.
Hopscotch – designed by Emily Dennis of Quilty Love
Being a part of the Modern Quilts: Block by Block blog hop was a lovely honor. Anytime someone asks me to help promote their work I feel truly privileged to be a part of something really important to that person, and I always hope what I create showcases their ideas beautifully. This quilt now hangs on the wall in my studio and I enjoy it’s colour and simplicity every day.
You can purchase Emily’s book on Amazon.
This Wonderful quilt is another great way to use a Layer Cake bundle. Originally this design came about when I had some leftover half square triangle units from another project and I created a similar mini quilt. It was amazing how many star like shapes I could create simply by rotating the triangle units, but the trick was making use of the full layer cake to create a nice size quilt. I had so many different ideas for the border, but in the end this checkerboard variation became the perfect answer to using the full 10″ square.
The Wonderful PDF pattern is available here
In A Spin
Fiona from 2 Green Zebras (the Australian distributor for Tilda fabric) asked me if I would make something to display the Tilda Sunkiss collection for Spring Quilt Market this year. By the time the fabric arrived on my doorstep I only had a few days to make this quilt from start to finish and get it in the post to make the journey to the U.S. I truly was ‘in a spin’ but somehow I managed to get it done and on its way in time – in part with thanks to my mum who hand stitch the binding, and then packaged it up and popped it in the post for me – thanks Mum, xx.
I never did see any images of it at Market, so I don’t know if it was there or not – but it currently resides at the end of my bed, making every stitch worthwhile.
The pattern will be available in 2019.
I originally made this pattern in 2017 in neutral linen fabric for my son, and then set about writing the pattern. This was the first pattern I attempted to write using the new software I want to migrate to, but because the formatting is not to my liking and the overall look of the pattern still needs work, I have yet to officially release the pattern . Fingers crossed I can devote some time to sorting it all out soon, and share this with you.
Penguin Party -designed by Elizabeth Hartman
My cousin recently gave birth to her third son, and this quilt was a gift for them. The construction in these penguins is not to be sneezed at – those little faces take accuracy and craftsmanship to make sure they don’t become askew. My favourite part was choosing the flannel fabric for the little penguin bodies!
You can purchase the pattern here.
Step In Time
Another Mary Poppins inspired quilt – this was my contribution to the Fat Quarter Favorites book released earlier this year.
You can purchase this book through Amazon.
This quilt was under wraps for the longest time – and it was really difficult not to share it because I would undoubtedly include it in the list of my absolute all-time favourite quilts.
I am looking forward to sharing the story behind this quilt and releasing this pattern independently in 2019.
Another sentimental favourite! I made this quilt for my son’s homecoming, after he served as a missionary in South Africa for 2 years. I wanted to design something classic but something that hinted at his journey and the African culture he had embraced. The original inspiration can from the quote ‘faith can move mountains’, hence all the triangles representing the large and small ‘mountains’ that need to be climbed throughout life. I combined the symbolic mountains with a vibrant and unusual colour palette that gives the design a touch of culture, and I think it fit the design brief perfectly.
I had intended on releasing this design as a pattern, but then there was a sudden emergence of triangle quilt patterns released all at once by other designers and so I decided not to. I am still deciding if I will in the future ?!
Count Your Blessings
My final quilt for 2018 is this Count Your Blessings quilt. I love, love, love this quilt – and it has become an instant family favourite this Christmas season.
The pattern is coming in the new year.
Happy New Year, friends!
Thank you to all of you who support my blog and my little shop – I am excited to share more new projects and patterns with you in the new year!
Please let me know what types of things you would like me to share moving forward. Do you have specific topics that you would like me to share my perspective on? What types of articles do you find most valuable?
Leave me a comment or send me an email and let me know :).
Samantha – xx
PS. Do you keep track of your ‘quilt stats’ throughout the year? And if you do, what method have you found works well for you – let me know in the comments :).
PPS. Use coupon code 2019 to get 20% off the price of any PDF pattern in my shop until the 13th of January!
AU, NZ, CAN and US can shop here.
Everyone else can shop here.
Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts says
It’s hard to balance it all, but I think you’ve done a wonderful job if your completed projects are anything to go by! You’ve done so much!
I went to 4 days work a week in 2018 and it definitely made quilting harder. Less energy and brain space for the side business, which was to be expected. I’m back to 3 days a week in 2019 so I’m hoping that will help.
All the best for 2019 Sam, I hope you have another productive year with many new, beautiful patterns x x x
Thank you Kirsty! I know exactly what you mean – I was doing 4 days too, but only plan on doing a maximum of 3 days a week moving forward. I think the key thing is to find a rhythm that works for you and your family, and learning when to say no. In my situation it is very easy for boundaries to change quickly, and I have had to learn to make my boundaries very clear.
I would love to see the triangle pattern released. I t was one of my favorite triangle quilts.
Thank you Connie – it is on my list of things to consider for 2019. I actually bought fabric to make the quilt again in a smaller size, so there is a high likelihood that when I make that quilt I will release the pattern 🙂
Wow! You were very productive creatively considering you went back to work part-time! I love all the quilts you made this year! Best wishes for 2019💕
Thanks Michelle – I even surprised myself! It has been really fun to look back and see just how much I did accomplish, and that makes me excited to see what lies ahead 🙂
With all your challenges you were very productive. I also find it hard with a full time job to be creative so I have to eek out short periods of time to create. After 35 years of working a full time job I’m happy to say I’m at the end of that road and hope to spend more time creating in my retirement without the added burden of a work schedule. One way I do stay focused is to make lists of all quilts I have in progress, that helps me stay focused on what I want to accomplish especially if I am flipping from one project to another. I enjoy reading your blog and find it very inspiring. Thank you for sharing not just the joy but the struggles.
Thanks for your comment Denise! I have to admit I like to make lists to stay organised too 🙂
Liz Blois says
Hello, I love the idea of keeping track of my sewing projects during a year but I’ve never done it. Do you have any tips or guidance for how to start doing it? You say you used a spreadsheet, it would be great to see what it looked like.
I have got off to a great start this year because I have made two quilts from start to finish already and a soft toy to accompany one of them. I had the deadline of a new grandson due any day and the fact that we moved house two days before Christmas so I didn’t want to start them until we moved. I’d like to think that my creativity will continue at this pace but I somehow doubt it.