Studio, What's on the Design Wall

Slow Stitching

I decided to hand quilt the piece I am working on for our Central Oregon Art Quilting Group’s annual themed group exhibit. The previous post, What’s on the Design Wall, I shared images of this piece in progress.

I rarely hand quilt. As far as hand quilting an entire quilt, I think I tried that once or twice in my life and hated it. I grew inpatient. It seemed to go on forever…endless repetitive stitches.

I am that way with machine quilting and this is why in the past I have preferred to send my quilts for professional quilting. If I was patient, perhaps I could become a decent machine quilter (perhaps) but it just seems to take so long and i just want it to be done.

But, for some reason, I am really enjoying hand quilting this 18″ x 40″ art quilt made from all recycled materials (jeans, sweat pants, corduroy pants, tweed jumper, a curtain, etc.). It is very meditative and pleasurable. I love seeing the stitches sink into the fabric and relishing the slow process. I am loving: Slow Stitching.

Slow-Stitching in progress

Maybe it is the point I am in life. Maybe I have quieted down enough in my head and in my spirit to be able to enjoy slow meditative work. I am not going to overthink it, I am just going to embrace a potential new evolution.

More photos to come as I complete my hand quilting. The name is still up in the air but I am now thinking “Recycled Road” (keeping with this year’s theme of “Pathways). I still need to write my Artist Statement to know the final name. But that is a month or two away. No hurry. Just time to sit and stitch quietly in the evenings.*

*Why yes, of course I am going to sneak in a couple more projects – my mind won’t completely slow down enough to focus on just one project at a time!


Something funny (and perhaps only funny to me) just popped into my head:

Instead of this post being part of my “What on the Design Wall” series, it could be part of a new series “What’s on my Lap“!

Okay that was very lame hand quilting humor (but I cannot always control the talking hamster spinning about on the hamster wheel I call a mind).

Speaking of “hamster wheels in our heads”, recently I read a fantastic article by Quinn McDonald ( in the latest SAQA Journal, titled “Fool your mind into doing art – instead of laundry” (SAQA Journal, 2017, No. 1).

In this article, the author shares an example of a familiar situation for us crafters: You plan a day (say a Saturday) dedicated to working on craft projects, however before getting started in your studio, you run a couple of errands, maybe throw in some laundry, all the time telling yourself you will still have plenty of time that day for crafting…

But, before you know it, your day entire day of planned time in your studio has ended.

In addition to discussing the challenges with having a lack of discipline – “the kind of discipline that helps you stay focused”, the author also discusses the problem of having too many choices.

I am closing this post with a quote from article that gave me something to about in regards to having too many choices (like which quilting/crafting project to work on):

“Having too many choice derails creativity. You’d think all those choices would be good for your creativity. At the brainstorming stage, it’s helpful to have many ideas. But when you get to execution, too many ideas are dangerous time-wasters. Getting to the studio and getting the creative work done requires fewer, not more, possibilities.” – Quinn McDonald

Check out Sassy the Highly Opinionated Miniature Schnauzer’s musings on her blog Schnauzer Snips!

29 thoughts on “Slow Stitching”

  1. Tierny! I think we are kindred spirits! I’ve been patching and stitching by hand here lately and just loving it! Meditative, quiet, soothing. I rescued a bunch of blue jeans we were going to send to the Thrift Shop, and I’m planning on cutting them up to use for some impromptu patching and stitching. Are you familiar with Jude Hill of Spirit Cloth? She does all slow-stitching and beautiful embroidery work. And is very thoughtful, meditative, and soul-full.

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  2. Tierney’s blog post was on point. Creativity offers so much, but we sometimes get derailed by the act of creativity. Creativity offers so much, we have to enjoy all aspects, not just getting it right.

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  3. I forgot to ask you this – I’ve started using an embroidery needle instead of “betweens” as is usual for regular quilting. What kind of needle do you use, and what kind of threads? I’m using some perle cotton, some floss, etc. I do enjoy your posts – you have such a creative mind. And I saw the same post on SAQA – yep, too many choices lead me to have a mess in my head at night – can’t sleep for all the thinking! Not good! I think, for me, this is part of the aging process (I’m 65), and paring down – in my creative pursuits, and how I spend my time, seems to be coming naturally. For.Some.Reason. I don’t mind. In fact, I love it!

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    1. Sigh, this is something I need to spend time learning about someday – the proper needles to use for hand quilting. Embarrassingly I am just using any decent sharp needles I find in my needle collection. I did learn quickly that unless the needle is very sharp, it is not getting through the layers when you used recycled clothing in your piece! I think I have some of those “betweens” but I would save them for cotton hand stitching, I am thinking of switching to a sashiko needle I have somewhere in my sewing needle when I thought years ago I would try out sashiko – ha!


  4. Sometimes I get frustrated by having my creating days taken up with other things. But (and I’m lucky here) my life is filled primarily by me. It is ALSO a high priority to me to exercise regularly, and to enjoy cooking, and to sweep my floors, and to spend time with Jim. So if a day I thought would mostly be quilting ends up being only partly quilting, it is because I’m choosing to do other things that are ALSO important to me. My projects sometimes go slowly because of this. And as said, sometimes that is frustrating to me. But ultimately I will continue to choose these things also. The easier change may be in adjusting my expectations, rather than adjusting my choices.

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    1. That makes so much sense Melanie. The good thing about this slow stitching I am doing is I can hang with Terry in the living room and watch a movie/TV and stitch. I think exercising, cooking, time with hubby are just as important. I liked the article because there are days I decided to just focus on sewing…and I got distracted with something else 🙂


  5. How fun Tierney…I had no idea you would enjoy hand quilting. It’s interesting how our interests change as we go down the path of life, enjoying the journey and trying things we tried in our past. Thanks for sharing and inspiring me.
    Love ya,

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  6. I really like the combination of denim with the other prints, and happy to hear you’re hand-quilting this one (after hearing about the big mechanical quilting machine, I wondered whether quilters still do this by hand). How wonderful to discover the peace of slowness. I love slow processes – I’m pretty sure the sloth is my spirit animal. 🙂

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  7. Looking forward to seeing your project as it evolves. I used to do only hand quilting (before I got my long arm machine) but wanted to go FASTER. 🙂 I still hand quilt baby quilts for special little ones. I too discover that the day has slipped away sometimes. My ‘sweatshop’ is upstairs and I will go downstairs for one little thing…then POOF, the day is gone. My dad used to say that I would get caught up in the ‘Might as wells’, meaning as long as I am doing this, I might as well do that. 🙂 Happy sewing.

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    1. I love that saying from your Dad – ‘Might as wells’ – that is perfect. You sweatshop reference made me laugh and made me think of one time in the summer I was at a huge quilt retreat (with rows and rows of quilters at tables) and the air conditioning went out – and we really had a sewing sweatshop! Thanks for commenting 🙂

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  8. I think on this piece, the hand stitching looks perfectly “at home”. Maybe that is why you are enjoying it. I too have had a hard time making myself do much “slow stitching”. I like the activity of hand sewing, but I also tend to get excited and want to speed through a project. So it’s a tension there. I like this quilt of yours, though. Keep going!

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    1. Thanks Sue for your thoughtful comments, I never/rarely had any patience for slow stitching so I am pretty excited about this development! The progress is slow but the texture of the recycled clothing feels wonderful in my hands as I stitch!


  9. I really like this wool piece – and the hand quilting. I’m back into slow stitching also – I almost have too much slow stitching and it makes me feel rushed. 🙂 weird, eh? When I sit down to stitch, I try to remind myself to be in the moment – to chill – just breathe and stitch.

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