Do you ever feel like you have lost yourself? Everyday there is a barrage of influences — both quilty and non-quilty. Family members pass away, or have health emergencies. Grandparents need transitioning to assisted living. Cousins and friends have babies, buy houses, move away, and/or get married. Someone posts the quilt/tutorial/tip you’ve had on your mind for months, but haven’t posted yet. Mutual friends meet up, but don’t include you. New fabrics and wonderful books are released nearly everyday and fuel inspiration. Good and bad, constantly fighting for your time and attention. In all of this — where is me?
I feel lost in a sea of expectations and demands. Everybody wants and needs something, all the time. Some are benign, and take just a matter of minutes, some take days, but all of it is draining, and leaves little time for me. Recently, I was talking with a friend, and I realized I have never made a quilt just for me. The quilts I have, that I have kept, were all for a challenge, pattern testing, or blog hop — none just because. Where does all my quilting time go? I make quilts for new babies, to celebrate weddings and engagements, for those sick or going through a hard time. But why not for me? I can’t even remember the last time I made a bag or a pillow just for me, just because I could. Even the skirts I made earlier this year, were to ‘compete’ with all the wonderful handmade items I knew I’d see at QuiltCon.
This is not a unique situation; quilters constantly find themselves caught between their generous hearts and a lost self. Every year, in March, there is an event called “Selfish Sewing Week.” Participants sew for themselves, mostly garments but quilters take part as well, and link up there final results for the chance at prizes. There are other similar events as well. Events designed to encourage quilters to use their skills for themselves. Why must we wait for a wide event and prizes to sew for ourselves? If you are doing it to participate in such an event, is it really sewing for me, just because?
Do you ever wonder why? Why don’t I sew more for myself? Is it because I find others more worthy? Is it because I like other people more than I like myself? Is it because it’s easier to make design decisions for others? My husband often jokes that quilters are really just fabric hoarders who feel guilty from time to time so they make a quilt — is it guilt driving us to make for others? Is it the giving that makes a quilt special? Do you just have too many quilts in your own house already?
For me, it is a bit of all of these. I do find it easier to design a quilt for someone else. After all, if a design choice doesn’t work out like I thought, I don’t have to look at it every day. Perhaps most telling though — I do find other people more worthy of quilts than myself. Quilts are an external representation of something internal, like all art. It is much easier for me to love others more than myself, and what is a quilt but a big giant show of love and affection that also keeps your toes warm? I think of others and see all their amazing attributes — I think of myself and see the flaws. I am my own worst critic.
Over the years, I’ve started many, many projects for myself, some of which are pictured here, but none have been completed. Either the harsh critics in my head stop me, or someone else’s needs push my “selfishness” aside. In an attempt to correct the problem, I am an engineer after all, and that’s what I do, I’m declaring this summer a Sarah Sewing Summer. I have just a few more commitments to finish up, but they should all be done by June 15. So starting June 16, I’m just sewing for me — finishing old projects I still love, starting new ones, or maybe even finally cleaning up my sewing space so I can find things more quickly. I’m aiming to last all the way until Labor Day, anyone want to take bets on if I’ll make it that far?