Staying Motivated in the Craft Room
Crafting is such a great hobby! It’s a fun and creative way to help others, pass the time, and step away from worry for a while. Even so, it is hard to get and keep going sometimes. Here are a few things I’ve learned about crafting as a hobby, in no particular order. Perhaps you will find them helpful.
Pay attention to what you are drawn to. For example, there are many types of sewists: quilters, garment-makers, costumers, toymakers, etc. There are many complimentary crafts as well, such as felting and embroidery. I have the equipment and materials for all of these, yet my main groove seems to be quilting. This awareness will help you focus your efforts, energy, and money on what is most important to you.
Do expect to spend money. This is a hobby, and hobbies can be expensive. You can spend less by purchasing used equipment, watching sales, buying in bulk, and thrifting for materials, but even if you gift your crafts, it’s still less expensive to purchase gifts. Speaking of gifts, hint around for craft supplies and gift certificates for your birthday.
Don’t expect to make money. Professional artisans spend a lifetime and a fortune learning and practicing their craft. No matter how simple or easy it looks on the internet, it’s not. If anyone can do it, the market will be flooded. There are also the worries of setting up shop, sourcing materials, photography, marketing, shipping costs, selling fees, and customer service. Not much time left for fun, and this is supposed to be fun. If running a business sounds like fun, go for it! But sell something else.
Don’t take yourself too seriously. We would all love to create an amazing masterpiece, but that might not happen for a while. Your stuff is going to look wonky at first. Never mind – you had fun making it and will do better next time. Learn to laugh at your mistakes and remember that art is the mistakes you decide to keep. Pretty soon only you will see the “mistakes.” Keep early work on display to remind yourself how far you’ve come.
Here are some scrap mug rugs I made while I practiced a few new free-motion quilting patterns.
Work for five minutes, or do one thing. Sometimes it’s hard to get started, even if your chores are done. One day I made myself put bindings on these mug rugs, a pretty easy task. The familiar movements and sense of accomplishment were very motivating.
Take on small projects. Arts and crafts teaches us to slow down and have patience – not my strong suit. When I need instant gratification I make something small, like a doll quilt, mug rug, or table topper. Small projects are great for practicing new techniques and perfecting old ones. Small projects are great for beginners.
Look for inspiration/daydream. Keep a scrapbook of ideas. Spend time with your materials, imagining what they could be. For many quilters, a favorite task is going through the fabric stash and experimenting with different combinations of patterns and colors.
Set realistic goals, if you set them at all. Ever since I taught myself to machine quilt I have wanted everyone in my family to have fall and Christmas quilts. I’m still working on that. My mom got the first tied patchwork comforter I ever made, in the 1980s. As I advanced in skills and techniques, early efforts were replaced or redone. Her Christmas request in 2019 was for me to take it apart and turn it into two quilts because she loves the (now vintage) backing fabric as much as the top. I also made a brand-new Christmas quilt for a friend. That was my holiday quilting for that year, and it was a really good year.
Walk away! When you’ve been working hours without a break, when nothing seems to go or work right, when you’ve made a bad mistake that has to be undone and then redone, when the reality isn’t even close to the vision and your thread keeps breaking, just walk away. Shut the door. Have a snack, take a walk, take a nap, take a shower. After a good night’s sleep, it won’t look so bad, I promise. Take care of yourself – this is supposed to be fun. If you really hate it, toss it, and don’t feel guilty. It’s part of the process.