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20 in 20 January Report

Here it is, the last Monday of January and I feel both urgency and relief at the thought.  Urgency because in spite of everything the month has gone much faster than I expected.  Relief because it has also been a dreary, heavy feeling month and I’m happy it’s almost gone.  Either way, it’s the last Monday which means I’m here with my 20 in 20 January Report.

Twenty minutes of sewing, six days a week, in 2020!  You can read more about my goal here, but what I’m really seeking is a journey.  I’m not after crossing 20 minutes off my list as much as I seek a creative process that is both exhilarating and effective.  THAT’S my real goal.  And my way there is to invest some time, every day, in figuring it out.

So let’s talk about January!  Part of the 20 in 20 monthly report is visual.  I started a half rectangle triangle (HRT) quilt to document my sewing time.  Every HRT represents both time spent sewing and what type of project I worked on.  The yellows are the Sabbath when I don’t sew, and any other neutral rectangle is a day when I didn’t sew a stitch.  My January blocks are above, placed calendar style beginning with January 1st.  You can see that I’ve missed only one day – the day that was my official kickoff!  (I’m still laughing about that one.)

I’m succeeding at spending a few minutes sewing every day.  That’s a victory, and I’m glad I’ve made it happen.  But truthfully, many of those days don’t represent a routine or a creative process at all.  They were more like, “oh no, I haven’t sewn yet today.  What can I work on for 20 minutes before I go to bed?”  It felt like the late nights when I’ve joined a sew along that requires posting a block daily, and I’m frantically making mine at 10:30 p.m.  Some of it is inevitable, especially on crazy days (like Wednesday, for me), but part of it was just lack of routine.  Seeing my HRT blocks like this gives me perspective.

So the biggest lesson I’ve learned in January is that I want a consistent routine more than I want to check it off the list.  I want to redesign my days and create a consistent time for creativity.

The second lesson I learned is that not all sewing time is equal.  I knew I’d run into this, and part of my 20 in 20 goal is to figure it out.  Two things happened:  1.  I wasn’t always clear on what I would work on, so I wasted energy waffling between projects.  2.  Cutting fabric for blocks feels very different than sewing and seeing blocks come together.

Regarding clarity, as new opportunities came my way, I needed to shuffle projects so I can complete the most important ones.  Sometimes putting first things first is tricky.  First according to what?  According to whom?  For about a week I just wanted to sew ALL the things!  The full swing of family life quickly knocked sense into me, but not before I bounced around with little to show for my efforts.  And what about my heart?  What about the ideas bubbling up inside that matter to no one but me, ideas that might be a flop but thinking about them gives me hope?  What about those?  Where do they fit on the project list?  They will never come to life if I don’t make space and time for them.

I’m learning that making my process effective and fulfilling will require making important decisions about what I do and don’t work on, and why.

As for the reward of sewing compared to the tedium of prep work, I didn’t make a category for prep time.  In a perfect world, that would happen in an extra block outside of my 20 minute challenge.  But it’s not a perfect world and sometimes you need to just stand there and cut fabric.  Like when I cut tiny diamond strips for 11 little lone stars.  It wasn’t technically sewing, but it needed to be done, and I counted it.  I’ve decided to let that time count as sewing time for the purpose of my challenge/experiment.

In summary, these are my three big takeaways in January:  I want routine, not a checklist.  I want clarity and purpose in my sewing.  And I am happiest when I’m actually sewing.  I’ll be pondering these things as I work on routines and effectiveness in February.

Overall, I’ve sewn on 22 of the first 27 days of the year!  That makes me happy.  I may not have tons to show for it yet, but it’s a solid start.  And that solid start wraps up my 20 in 20 January Report.

Have a great week!
– Jennifer


Lone Star Tree Skirt Sew Along: Piece Diamonds

Welcome to Week Two of the Lone Star Tree Skirt Sew Along!  If you’re just joining us, it’s not too late.  The pattern is available here and you can jump in anytime.  We’re going to finish our tree skirts well before Christmas!

Last week’s video covered sewing the fabrics into strips and then cutting them into strips of diamonds.  This week we will sew the strips into eight large diamonds to make a star so BE CAREFUL  in handling your fabric.  You have a lot of bias edges and don’t want to stretch them!  Once again, the video is in two parts.  In them you will find all my tips for marking, pinning, and sewing.  I love this step because the beauty of the lone star begins to emerge.  Here we go!

The first video covers marking and pinning your strips together.

The second video covers sewing the strips together into large diamonds.

There you have it, eight large diamonds!

When the diamonds are sewn together, play with them to see how they look if you flip them around.  I’m planning to put the red diamonds in the center of my star, which will look like this:

But if I wanted to flip it around, it would look like this:

You can see that the star looks very different when I switch them!  Last week I shared photos of an unfinished mod lone star as I deliberated on which way to sew it together.  I’d like to focus more on value in the future; I’m sure I will learn a lot!

We will meet back here next Monday for week three of the sew along.  Please share your progress with the hashtags #lonestartreeskirt and #hopefulhomemaker.  I’ll be watching for them!

Remember that all posts for this project can be found on the Lone Star Tree Skirt Sew Along page.

Have a great week, and happy sewing!

Garden of Quilts at Thanksgiving Point

Last weekend I attended a fun new quilt show at Thanksgiving Point, called Garden of Quilts.  The quilt show was part of Riley Blake’s 10th Anniversary celebration.  It featured quilts from their collection as well as the Fat Quarter Shop collection, in addition to quilts submitted by individuals and a few other special exhibits.

The Ashton Gardens at Thanksgiving Point are a gorgeous, 55 acre collection of gardens located in Lehi, Utah.  I have always loved walking through them.  Gardens and quilts:  can there be a more beautiful combination?

I submitted four quilts to the show and it was fun to wander until I found all of them.

My Prosper in Solids Quilt was in a pretty spot.

I wish I had a backdrop like this every time I photographed a quilt!

I found my Indigo Lone Star quilt hanging among some trees, and the moment I snapped this photo was perfect.  Do you see the dappled sunlight in a circle, highlighting the lighter ring of the star?  Perfect moment!

My Light quilt top is now a finished quilt, finished in time to submit to the show.  I was thrilled to find it with two of my dear friends who also worked on it.  I’ll share more of this quilt soon, as well as the fourth quilt I submitted.

In addition to hundreds of beautiful quilts and acres of lovely flowers and shrubs, The Ashton Gardens also feature a special Light of the World Garden.  The time I spent there was the most peaceful of all, among masterful statues of Jesus Christ, my Savior.

There were a few quilts that caught my eye, like this antique flag quilt in the Secret Garden, part of the private Ashton quilt collection.  The blue fabric faded, but the red is still vivid.

Watch for Garden of Quilts again next year.  I heard it will return, bigger and better, and I’m excited to see it.  I love being a part of the quilting community!

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