Do you struggle with finding time to sew? Does it seem like time slips away before you can even begin a project. Today, I’m continuing my series on Finding the Time to Sew.
Please welcome my quilty friend Kitty Wilkin (aka Night Quilter) and find out how Night Quilter Finds the Time to Sew. Below is an interview I did with Kitty. But first, a little info on my friend.
Remember when I went to QuiltCon with Bestie? Well, we took this class on color theory and the first person we met was Kitty Wilkin. Immediately, Bestie and I knew that Kitty was one of us. I have loved this gal from the moment I met her. She is so extremely talented, generous with her talents, and completely genuine in every way.
Grab a cup of tea and meet my sweet, sweet friend Kitty Wilkin.
Kitty lives in rural Maine and there is only one sewing store nearby (Fiddlehead Artisan Supply). Yet, she manages to create one amazing quilt after another. She is the mom to three little ones (when I met her she was preggers with her youngest) and still manages to find the time to sew.
Oh, she also finds the time to blog about her quilty habit, too.
Note: My interview with Kitty was done through a series of questions. I’ve listed the questions in bold and Kitty’s responses below.
1. Kitty, How long have you been sewing?
I’ve been sewing for almost five years, but the first two years consisted only of creating Halloween costumes for my family. I’ve been quilting for four years, regularly for three years. It took me a few weeks after my second child was born to realize that I could–and in fact HAD to sew every day, even with little kids and a newborn.
2. What types of sewing projects bring the most joy?
I love quilting the most, and find myself drawn to the modern aesthetic and crisp, clean patterns. I’m trying to stretch more into improv and scrappy quilting; but they, admittedly, hurt my brain a little.
I’ve dabbled in making bags and LOVE that I can be clueless as to actual construction; but, carefully following each step in the pattern, by the end I have a beautiful bag. Garment sewing still terrifies me, but I’m sure to dive into that pool before too long.
I’ve recently embraced the wonder of hand sewing–both English Paper Piecing (epp) and embroidery. With small children who are constantly needing me, having a little handiwork nearby makes it possible for me to take tiny little stitching/sanity breaks in the brief moments of silence (but not the long moments of silence where my 3 year old is SURELY getting into something he shouldn’t. Those aren’t peaceful. :))
Basically, I love to make beautiful things. When I’m inspired and making a gift for a beloved family member or friend, the joy multiplies tenfold. The gift of giving was a strong catalyst in getting me into sewing.
3. How do you make time each week (or however often) to work on these projects?
That’s the perfect word–make. Time will not just appear or be found amidst the busy life of a full time mom so, I have to make time. I try to always have a handiwork project handy so I can sneak in a few moments of peaceful stitching between diaper changes, games of hide and seek, craft projects, outside play, and sibling conflict moderation.
I always bring stitching with me in the car; if I didn’t, all kids would surely fall asleep on the way to the destination, leaving me precious quiet moments during which all I can do is twiddle my thumbs (there’s no way I’m waking a napping child if I can at all help it).
I also have come to the realization that progress CAN be made a few minutes at a time, even on large projects, if it is made regularly. I started a movement (okay, really it’s just a hashtag, but in this social media age, a hashtag can be a movement, right!?) called #sewtake20, which embodies the idea that you CAN take 20 minutes for yourself and your sewing each day.
Twenty minutes seems like nothing, but when you dedicate yourself to MAKING that time, it allows you to sew daily, which at least helps me stay sane and happy, resulting in a much more even-keel mama, wife and friend during busy days.
I aim to take my 20 minutes as soon as the kids are in bed, setting a timer so that I don’t end up sewing tooooo late into the night. If I didn’t limit myself I’d surely sew until the first child awoke and needed me OR well past midnight.
With a babe who wakes promptly at 5 am each morning, that little sleep would catch up with me quickly. The key aspect of this idea is to be gentle on yourself. I know that with a four month old, three year old, and nearly six year old, life happens. There will be days when I don’t get to #sewtake20 and I’m ok with that. I just try to jump in whenever I can, either with handiwork or actual sewing.
My husband is also extremely supportive and actually seems excited to talk quilting with me. If too many days go by without sewing time or if I have a looming deadline, he plans an epic Daddy-day on a weekend to take the big kids off on an adventure so that I can recalibrate and recenter with a day of sewing. I am trying not to do this too often, since they go on some awesome adventures and I want to go, too (last time, they went on a hike to the top of a mountain, had a picnic lunch on the mountain, went to the beach to throw rocks in the water, and then got ice cream and pizza)!
But when I do need it, it’s fabulous to have an understanding husband who completely gets the fact that I need “me time” for my sanity. Plus, don’t tell anyone, but I don’t really clean. Shhh. There will ALWAYS be laundry! Maker’s gotta make!
4. What things in life are currently inspiring creativity in your sewing projects?
Inspiration is everywhere! The wonders of the natural world, play of textures in architecture both new and derelict, and even the play of unexpected color combinations can trigger quiltspiration.
I think color is driving most of my sewing at the moment. I find many of my ideas begin as pretty elaborate images in my mind, and the challenge is finding a way to make them reality in the simplest way possible. Many of the patterns I have designed are foundation paper pieced, since that method allows very real-life images to be created from fabric.
That said, often patterns arise as an idea for a gift I want to create for someone, so I search for a pattern and if that search comes up empty, I create the pattern myself. My patterns Lupine and Hello, Love are examples of that. I also draw inspiration from visual texture: the way everyday items play with each other. This can appear in secondary patterns seen in quilts, but also in simple arrangement of shapes. I love the contrast of bright saturated colors and either black or low volume/white.
My kids and family are also constant inspiration to create. Two of my quilts-in-progress are for my sons, and I have a quilt in mind for many of my extended family members. There’s something about stitching your love and style into a warm quilt in which the recipient can literally wrap him/herself that really resonates with me. I want to express my love by making quilts for everyone. It just might take me the next 50+ years, but that’s ok.
5. If you sew as a business, how do you find time and energy to sew for yourself as a creative outlet?
I am in the early stages of creating a business out of my sewing, in the hopes that I can help contribute to my family’s bottom line by doing what I love to do. One guiding principle in this endeavor is that I am very careful with what projects I take on. I know that if it doesn’t inspire me, it will no longer be fun.
The patterns I design, the projects I create, quilt commissions I take on, and the events I join all inspire me and are exciting creative outlets. That way, pretty much any project I have currently in the works is a fun creative outlet for me.
While saying no is difficult, I know that if I find myself sewing for business only, it will sap the joy out of something that I love and find to be an energizing and enriching activity. There must be balance, and as I discuss in response to the next question, that balance also includes my family (and they always come first!).
6. How does this stage of life help and/or hinder your ability to find time to sew?
Great question!! As I’ve mentioned above, I’m a full time mom of three little kids, including a newborn. My biggest challenge with sewing is finding the right balance. I know now that I truly need to take time for myself in order to be the best mom and wife I can be; but I also know that babies don’t keep.
My kids will be off to school before I know it, and I don’t want to miss a single snuggle, gurgle, coo, or tantrum (okay, maybe the tantrums) if I can at all help it. That’s why my husband and I have made the effort for me to be a full time mom because we believe in the priceless value of it. If the “work” or even “fun” involved in sewing begins to take up too much time, then that balance is lost.
I am constantly seeking balance between wanting to get deeper into the quilting industry and knowing that my children are my number one priority and won’t all be in school full time for another five years (I’m not rushing them!). Finding the right balance will be something I work on daily, and in every quilting decision I make. With all that in mind, I do love quilting, designing, and am excited to be slowly finding my way in the industry by meeting other amazing makers and sharing inspiration across the world.
The quilting community is an endless world of inspiration, extreme talent, and generous spirit. It’s a lovely place.
7. What tips can you offer to other sewists who want or need to create space in their lives to sew as a creative expression?
The top tip I can give is to MAKE time for yourself. It’s the same as when you have the desire to do anything–exercise, write, take baths, or sew… find the time during which you can most easily sneak off for 20 minutes and make it YOUR time. No one is going to say, “Hey, you’re a busy mom. Why don’t I play with your kids or take on your to-do list while you take the afternoon for yourself?” (except maybe if you have an awesome partner).
Also, be inspired by the endless stream of gorgeous creations on Instagram, Facebook, blogs, etc., but as soon as that inspiration and joy turns to envy or “if only I had time to create entire quilts in a week like this person”, turn off the social media and go make something beautiful!
Remember, the internet very often shows all of the great, beautiful, successful moments and that everyone has much more going on in his/her life than is shown on social media. It is so easy to get sucked into a self-deprecating feeling when viewing the endless stream of gorgeous quilts and sewn projects, but that doesn’t help anyone.
Take the inspiration, be excited and proud of your maker friends, and then put the phone down, close the computer, and take 20 minutes to sew for yourself. Know that on the other end, there’s probably another maker having a rough couple of days, and wishing she could create things as beautifully as you do. The best thing we can do is to focus on creating beautiful things and appreciate the beauty in each moment.
Oh, and sew, of course!
8. Please list the ways people can find you online. Website, Facebook, Instagram, Periscope, Books, Magazine Features, etc.
- Instagram (@nightquilter)
- Twitter: (@nightquilter)
- Periscope (@nightquilter) Tune into our #honestcraftroomies hops on Tuesday nights, beginning 9pm EST
- Craftsy Pattern Store: Lupine & Hello, Love
- My pattern Unlocked is featured in (and on the cover of!) Make Modern Magazine, Issue 7
- Interviewed by Gnome Angel
- Co-creator and admin for the Facebook Group Late Night Quilting Club
- Official blogger for the 1930s Farmer’s Wife Sew Along currently hosted by Gnome Angel and sponsored by Fat Quarter Shop and Marti Michell
Thank you, Kitty, for sharing your time and talents with all of us!