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Claiming a Creative Space

I moved out of my home at the first of the year for a renovation. Aside from the craziness from moving, finding a contractor, dealing with plans and permits (during the pandemic, of course), it has gone great so far.

Perhaps part of this is because I have waited patiently for 20 years to do this to our home and I am happy as a lark right now. Another reason might be that I will be moving back into my own long-awaited studio space when the final nail is pounded in. It is definitely worth the wait. So, you will hear very little complaining from me, no matter how crazy it gets over the next few months!

We moved into a sweet little cottage during the construction. It is a quiet little spot in the back of a small apartment building. It is not fancy, and has a pink bathtub. But it is perfect for what we need. It reminds me of a secret garden. It is a tad bigger than a 1 bedroom apartment, but the best perk is that there is a yard for my little dog and a lovely neighborhood to take walks in. So far, it has been like a lovely retreat, all cozy and calm.

Once the boxes were unpacked, I realized I was having a hard time getting back to sewing. Handwork in the evenings was falling into place, but I just could not bear to pull out the sewing machine. And the ironing board. And a cutting mat. And a pile of fabric.

Where would I put it? How would it ever fit in this space? And what in the world would I work on? I had literally no idea where to start.

I spent the past 2 years teaching and lecturing on how to stay creative in the crazy world we have found ourselves in. But suddenly I found myself not able to get started. I was in a creative slump - big time. I knew that the first step was to claim a space. A space that allowed me to be creative the moment I sat down, whether that was for 20 minutes, or the entire afternoon. This was a challenge in a little space, while sharing it with a husband who worked from home quite often. Well, we just divided and conquered! He got the living room, I got the bedroom. There was a door that could be closed and headphones that could be worn.

And so began the task of claiming my creative space. I did a lot of organizing that first week. I knew that I needed to be able to find things easily. Searching through boxes for a seam ripper can really crush the mojo. Luckily, I had a lot of wire shelving that I brought over from our house. That really helped to contain things in categories: templates and rulers, hand sewing projects, sewing machine parts, sewing supplies, and, of course, fabric.

It was working ok, but I found it hard to focus with all the boxes under the desk and being able to see all the "stuff" in the baskets. Maybe it's just me, but I think more clearly when I am not distracted by visual noise.

So, a little white cardboard, and finding another home for the boxes made a huge impact on that mojo.

I have a big ironing board, so I decided to split it up between a pressing station and a small cutting area. Best idea ever! A cordless iron and a wool felt pressing pad made ironing so enjoyable. I also used an old mat that I had cut down to a square years ago. It fit perfectly. To help get the creativity flowing, I flipped the mat over to the backside. You may have noticed by now that I don't use many rulers these days. Those yellow lines are just a distraction for me. No yellow lines = pretty, organic lines with personality!

Now it was time to get down to business. I knew if I tried anything too complicated or heavy on the design skills, I would not get very far. If there is one thing I learned through this pandemic it's that relying on what you love and feel comfortable with is the easiest place to begin when trying to get those creative juices flowing again. So I tried to make my first project as simple (and colorful) as possible. I started with solid precut squares and just started sewing half square triangles together. No rulers, no marking, no fuss.

Of course, when there is no measuring, I will most likely be adding bits for filler. Which is actually my happy place.

I brought over a big pressing board from the house. It actually worked well for a few things! It was an added work surface, larger pressing surface, and also could be propped against the wall to pin blocks on.

With a little help from my phone camera - it is almost like a design wall!

I tried to not think things through too much. I knew going in that this was not going to be a blue ribbon quilt. I just needed to get back to what I loved. Bright colors, easy blocks and no rules or restrictions. When the colors got a bit too bright (I know, is that really possible?), I pulled out a variety of grays to calm things down a bit and allow for some definition.

And there you have it. Some kind of wonky, colorful flying geese! I have definitely found my way back to sewing, and had fun doing it! It is amazing how my attitude lightens when I get back to that creative place.

Claiming my creative space allowed for that creative mojo to resurface. No matter how big or small the space, to know that it is there, waiting patiently for the next creative session, is enough to keep me in anticipation. It is so important for all of us to have a comfortable, workable space to claim as our own. To sew, doodle, or do whatever makes you happy. It doesn't have to be fancy, it just needs to work for you!

Lil' Boo and my new quilt enjoying the secret garden. Both are a little goofy, but lots of fun.

Have a great week everyone! Keep that creativity flowing!

Hugs, Pati

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