Category: Uncategorized

Time to get stitching

This past week, I tackled my fabric hoarding collection. I sorted through all my fabric stash to refine what I’m keeping. It was an attempt to answer the big question: “What do I really need to do my art?” At times I wish I used paint instead of fabric. With paint, if I needed a blue color, I could easily mix the correct hue. With fabric, I realize I have a lot of blues, but some read more turquoise and another may look more violet. I’m stuck with the color choices I have in my collection.

If I lived near a fabric store, I could pop in and see if they have a closer color representative. Unfortunately, I don’t live near a fabric store. When I am near one, there’s this desire to collect more…because…“What if I need this color someday?”

Things were getting a bit out of control, so I decided it was time to let go. My fabrics are stored in flat plastic storage totes that I can stack in the closet. I try to keep the fabric in one layer with similar colors together (operative word here is “try.”). [Pictured is my quilter’s cottons in blue/red, brown/grey, and some of my novelty prints.] I also have several totes containing my batik collections. Looks all neat and tidy, doesn’t it? If only I took a picture while I sorted through everything, piece-by-piece. There was fabric everywhere. I made sure everything that went back into the tote was positioned “somewhat” neatly. Now I can easily see what is in the tote.

During the process, I filled a huge paper grocery bag full of fabrics I no longer “treasured.” It was a bit easier letting go of the yardage knowing that I would donate the fabric to the local schools for their art classes. It was still difficult letting some of it go, especially the novelty prints. So many of these fabrics carry memories for me. For example, the bright yellow print with the blue birds, belonged to a dear friend who past away 2 years ago. I couldn’t give that one away…but I have no idea what I’m going to use it for. For my art, I mostly use batiks and solid quilter’s cottons. Novelty prints need to be used for something else. Hmmm?

Some of the fabric went into the bag, then got pulled from the bag, then went in again. Eventually I forgot what was in the bag and decided NOT to double-check my decisions. It is time to let it go!

Now that I finished this task, I feel lighter in my creative processes. I don’t have to think about digging through the mess to find what I need. I’ll be able to take off the tote lids and easily see my choices. Are you able to let go when you feel you have too much?  For me, right now, I’m ready to start something new. I have at least 4 calls for entry on my to-do list this year. Things feel lighter and it is time to get stitching.


Learn how to use your photos to make original fabric applique ~ NanetteSewZ OnDemand Class

Seen it in the wild

I went on a short road trip this weekend and spent some time at the zoo. I have a love/hate relationships with zoos. I love having the opportunity to see wild animals close up. If you’re like me and create nature art, they are great places to find artistic inspiration. For example this Sandhills Crane (see photo) doesn’t breed, winter or migrate where I live. If I drove 5 hours inland, I “might” be able to see one as it migrated between locations. However, a short visit to the zoo gave me an opportunity to see and photograph one close up.

As someone who went to school to earn a Masters degree in Wildlife Biology, I appreciate zoos for their opportunity to study animal populations. Many zoos, like the Smithsonian in Washington DC, offer captive breeding programs to help re-establish wild populations. Humans have created so much habitat loss in this world, that it is important for biologists to study and learn how to re-populate areas with native plant and animal species. I totally understand and appreciate all the education and conservation benefits of a zoo.

Yet, I feel a deep sadness when I see this photo and remember all the great species I saw contained in their human-made enclosures. I anthropomorphize my human emotions when I look at their faces. What are they thinking with all these human faces staring back at them? This photo of the crane was the best one I was able to take this weekend. If I render this photo into fabric, I’ll carry these emotions with me, but I’d rather have seen it in the wild.

Isolated and quiet

In the early years of the Internet, blogs were big thing. If you wanted to get seen, or more specifically heard, you developed a blog and shared your stories. There were a lot of people who became well-known communicating this way to their followers. Then, came Facebook and Instagram. Now, TickTock and who knows what else. Its a challenge to keep up. But with all the options, it is important to find the space that you feel most comfortable.

Right now, I feel most comfortable on Instagram. I love it mostly because of its original intent of sharing images. I’m following and being inspired by people I would never have found without Instagram. But, I’m hearing from so many, that it doesn’t hold its glimmer anymore.

Recently, on Instagram, one of the artists I follow asked if people still kept blogs. I shared that I did. Its not so “cool” anymore, but I continue because I like to write (always have). I also hope my dear readers (yes, I mean you!), find a glimmer of commonality in what I share. I hope…at least occasionally…you say to yourself, “yep, that’s how I feel too!” I hear back from some of you, so I know I’m at least a little successful with my plan of public journaling.

When it comes to the “Socials,” I find I still like Instagram the best (shameless plug warning: @nanette_sewz ). I love checking in on what everyone is creating. But I know both Instagram and Facebook, control what I see based on what “they” think I want to see or more importantly … how much revenue they can make off their sponsored ads. I’m definitely feeling a little disheartened.

There are other platforms coming available for us creatives. However, I built this place from scratch many years ago. I self-host the site and I am solely responsible for all the content and how I advertise. For that, I’m truly appreciative for you being here while I follow my muse. But, I’m curious what you think of all this technology and social media? Where is your go-to to place to find connections with people online? Is it all too much or do you seek more?

While you ponder those questions, I’ll share this week’s photo. It is a quilt I finished quilting a few days ago; simply an egret walking slowly through a marsh. It kind of reminds me of how I feel trying to stay connected with people online. There are alot of voices talking and vying for my attention. However, even with all that clamor, it sometimes feels very isolated and quiet.


Learn how to “Paint with Thread” — NanetteSewZ OnDemand Class

Seasons for everything in life

It is summer in North Carolina. The sun rises early and sets late. The temperatures are in the mid-to-upper 80s and their is humidity (ugh!). I’m feeling fortunate, that we don’t live in a part of the country that has all the cicadas. I’m seeing pictures from friends and family and thankful that it is quiet here. Here we just have birds chatting up a storm, with their newly hatched fledges. Its music to my ears.

The weather is on the cool side in the mornings, so I get my walk in early. Midday its too warm for me, so I’m catching up on my inside projects. Right now, I’m working on this quilt of an egret in a marsh (see photo). I’m also trying to catch up on editing my instructional videos (New class coming soon!).

This year, there have been a number of things that kept me occupied and challenged for time in my studio. I’m happy that the summer is offering me extra opportunities to work on my art. It feels good to make progress. If you’re feeling challenged to work on your art, remember to hang in there because there are seasons for everything in life.




Up the color

I wish I could have captured a photo of the moon Wednesday morning as we drove to the gym. It looked huge hanging in the sky in this beautiful shade of red-orange. It won’t be full until Thursday morning and should be visible for a few days. [If you read this in time, maybe you’ll see it too!]

This week I was listening to a podcast about making YouTube videos and the guest casually said that when he looks at things his attention goes to counting what he sees (Example: 2 cars each with 4 wheels).  I found this fascinating and started asking myself what do I focus on. My immediate answer was color. The orange moon! The grey cat and the women with the blond hair wearing a green dress. And, is the color of the water in the ocean blue or green?

Another thing that grabs my attention is the fauna and flora. Bees, birds, dogs and cats catch my attention. I notice their color, too; like the great blue heron, that doesn’t look blue…but sure is great!

I wonder if I should be paying more attention to what grabs my attention. I use a lot of flora and fauna in my art, but I’ve not really pushed the envelope on the colors. I am most attracted to vibrant colors with stark contrasts, but my work tends to be more muted … safe. Just wondering if maybe its time to up the color!




Attention every day

My biggest take-away from the 100-day stitch challenge I completed last month was that 15-minutes is a very doable time to work on something and see progress. Everyone, including myself, is stretched with commitments. Sometimes they are self-imposed. Other times, they are obligations where someone else is expecting our time. With so many these things pulling at us, it is hard to add “just one more!” But, it is also frustrating to crave creative time and not have it. It may feel like a frivolous indulgence that doesn’t require priority in our schedule. So we put it off to another day when we have time.

I frequently have thoughts of projects I started. Especially those which I seriously want to complete, but keep putting off for another day. I get an overwhelming feeling that weighs heavy on me. When I think about the projects I want to work on, I feel stress and disappointment.

I don’t believe caring for our mental well-being is frivolous. So I’ve been thinking about these projects wondering how to get them done and letting go of the one’s that I’ve truly lost interest in. The 15-minute sessions in the stitch challenge seems like an answer to me. So, I’ve set priority on a project I’ve been working on for at least 10 years.

Its a hand-stitched hexagon quilt. I had the idea when I visited Ellis Island in New York City many years ago. I was taken by the 3″-wide hexagon marble tiles covering the floor. I was also feeling the spirit of my grandmother who walked on those very floors in the early 1920’s. After seeing the floors, I decided I would make a tribute to her … and .. it is still not done.

Late last year, I pulled out this project from its hiding place and starting working on it again. I’ve made some progess, but again, its been slow going. At this stage in the process, I’m hand-quilting the layers together big-stitch-style. I’ve decided I will finish this quilt this year. But, first, I need to get the quilting done. I’ve decided there’s no better way to accomplish this, then to give it 15-minutes of attention every day.


Calling your attention

Ann Wood’s 100 day Stitchbook Challenge is over and here are the last 4 pages. I had some doubt that I would complete 100 consecutive days of stitching. I think by posting to Instagram and here, I felt accountable to you. For me, feeling accountable to someone other than myself always seems to add just a bit more nudge to get something done, because of the fear of publicly failing.

There was only 1 day of the 100 where I “almost” didn’t make the commitment. I had a full day of visiting family I hadn’t seen in years. I was curling into bed late that evening and suddenly remembered. I got out of bed…stitched for 15 minutes and was able to sleep peacefully that night.

As I completed the stitched pages, I followed Ann Wood’s pattern to assemble the pages into a book. I posted a YouTube video of the completed book. As I flipped the pages during the video, a lovely cardinal had some commentary (Be sure to listen with the volume up). To me, at least, he sounded quite happy with the results.

When I finished the book, I decided I needed to keep the momentum going. I’m planning to apply this practice to some other projects that have been waiting for me for so very long. Fifteen minutes is a doable amount of time to do handwork. I wonder if you have any projects that are nudging you to complete. Is there anything you could commit to working on for 15 minutes a day? I bet there is something in your creative space that’s been calling for your attention.

See how this goes

There has been a lot going on for me the past few months. The stitch challenge kept my creative self challenged, but now it is time to work on some bigger projects. I’m trying to figure out which to start next. I have a bunch of video editing that needs to get finished, too. Although the editing has its own level of creativity to it, it doesn’t completely satisfy my persona that loves working with textiles.

Through the challenge, I realized that I need something that I can work on in really small doses. Sitting and working on one project for several hours straight does not fit into my lifestyle right now. There always seems to be something that competes with my time. (I’m sure you can relate.)

Earlier this year, I created some printed panels to work on during times like these. These are just what I need right now. I’ve always found it is helpful to have multiple projects going at one time. This way I can switch into something that fits my mood (or time) for that time frame I have available.

My plan is over the next couple weeks, to take breaks from editing to work on the panels. We’ll see how this goes. 


What they were suppose to be

Pages 13-16 of a 100 Day Stitchbook Challenge 2024 (20 pages in 100 days)

I’m a little behind in sharing my progress with the 100 Day Stitch Book Challenge. I started the project back in January and, as I write this, I’m 3 days away from completing the 100 days. Each of the past 97 days, I stopped for at least 15 minutes to do stitchwork on a small piece of cloth. I spent 5 days working on each of the 20 pieces of fabric.

Pictured here are pages 13-16 which I’ve been working on the last 2 months. I’ll post the last 4 after I finish them and I’ll also share all the pages compiled into a little fabric book.

Over the last couple of days, I’ve been reminded to always keep learning new things. I have always loved learning. I’m also curious how things work. I took on this challenge mostly to see if I could be consistent with my work, but I also started it to see what it was all about. Why is it that there are so many 100 day challenges starting in the new year? Why would someone want to join one?

I’m personally learning more about my art. I use to do a lot of embroidery, but I never felt I was good at it. I’ve seen other textile artists make these fabulous hand-stitched creations and I would think I wasn’t good enough to try. What I realized is the “perfectionist” still lives in me. She wants everything to look “just so!” What I’m learning is that even though the perfectionist lives in me, I’m not one. I don’t have the patience for the perfect stitch. I have to tell myself that I like what I’m creating, even if it is not “perfect.”

This stitchbook challenge has reminded to let go of expectations. Even if things don’t start out (or end) where I expected, my creations always become what they were suppose to be.

Precious little things

Again, I’ve been pondering how we collect things. This time I’m wondering what it means to keep something that is precious. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes “precious” as something with great value, high price or highly esteemed, cherished.

It is the cherished option that has me thinking. For example, I have several small collections of sea shells. They have great value to me but, they don’t really have any monetary value. To me something that is cherished usually has minimal monetary value but we have deep affection for the object.

I come from a family who tends to “cherish” the items they collect. Usually the item once belonged to someone they loved. Sometimes it just provides a reminder of a memory of a time or place. My sea shells collections usually remind me of the location where they were collected. Some remind me of the people who were there with me or the kind of day it was (e.g., sunny vs overcast) or even the reason I was at the beach (e.g., family reunion vs a day trip getaway).

As a textile artist, I have my mother’s scissors, yardage of cloth that my grandmother purchased, and 1950s era Singer Sewing Books. These are precious to me. When I initiate a purge session, I usually stop to think about the people who owned the items before me. And, usually, I quietly place them item back where I found them, then shut the drawer for another time. How could I get rid of it? It is still too precious. I’m not necessarily a “hoarder,” but sometimes it takes me a good long time to realize the item I cherish is no longer worth keeping.

A question I have is what happens to these things when I’m no longer here to tell their story or in other words “protect” them. Will the items become “stuff” again. Or, will they become someone else’s cherished treasure with a new story to share? And, how many will be pitched in a bag and set at the curb to await trash removal?

I’m not getting any younger. Maybe I need to make a plan…or maybe I shall just sit here treasuring my precious little things.