Life Lessons through Longarm Quilting

Quilting more than a hobby

I’ve been around.

Not in the 1950’s “certain types of girls” kind of way, but having a spouse in the military lends itself to a bit of a nomadic existence.

I’ve been a receptionist, a nanny, and a preschool teacher. I’ve travelled, lived in a foreign country, and in spite of my “Yankee” upbringing I live in the South where I get asked more about MY accent than when I lived outside the U.S.

Getting older, gaining life experience, and training myself to not give people an odd look when they ask me if I’m from Minnesota (nothing against Minnesota…but I’ve never even BEEN there) has taught me valuable life lessons.

Some of them from an unlikely place. (NOT Minnesota)

Long, Long Ago in a Galaxy far away…

I decided that while The Husband was away on a military deployment, I would mark the time by making a quilt.

The Kid was a baby that loved his afternoon nap (Thank You Jesus! I Knew I was one of your favorites) so every day I would pull out my sewing machine and stitch away.

I became obsessed with every aspect of quilting. (Except for hand stitching the binding! Curse you Spawn of Satan…you suck the life right out of me with the time you take!)

Just kidding…maybe?

One of the things I love about quilting is that “successful” piecing is all about precision. Like putting together a puzzle-all the parts need to fit together correctly to see the bigger picture.

I love precision! There’s something about doing things “correctly” that brings me joy!

Years ago I watched Martha Stewart demonstrate the “correct” way to fold towels. Now, all my towels get folded just how Martha taught me. (Seriously…don’t help unless you know the correct way! I WILL refold them!)

I can sit for hours stitching quilt pieces together, taking the time to pin, sew, and iron all the blocks accurately.

The process of quilting has gotten me through sleepless nights, comforted me in times of despair, and helped me grieve. It has been my distraction after a hard day, allowed me to give a gift in celebration of births and marriage, and helped remember loved ones who have passed away.


Quilting has become my lifeline

A few years ago I bought a LongArm Quilt machine.

Think Sewing on Steroids!

I already “knew” how to quilt. This would be the same thing but on a larger scale, right?

Having this machine would make quilting faster, easier, and let me quilt more efficiently.Quilting is my therapy and I schedule my sessions daily. Click To Tweet

More quilts in less time! (And how is the weather on your Planet, Rebecca? Sunny with Puppies and Rainbows???)

What I didn’t realize was once all the pieces are sewn together and it’s time to quilt, I had to learn a whole new set of skills that have taught me more than how to sew a quilt on a LongArm.

1. Don’t hold on too tight.

In order to quilt with ease of movement, you cannot hold the handles of your machine too tightly. If you do, your stitches become erratic and it creates a tremendous amount of strain on your arms, neck and shoulders. Once you relax your grip your stitching lines will even out, lines will become smoother, and your body will relax.

This was the very first lesson I had to learn. I thought the tighter the grip, the more control, the better the quilting would look.

Nope! Just the opposite.

If I am struggling with how my quilting looks, I ask myself, “Am I holding on too tightly?”

I can hold a grudge, an opinion, a judgement, an unachievable standard, a “correct” way too tightly. I need to loosen up MY grip, so that the way becomes smoother.(Unfortunately, my facial lines aren’t any smoother. It’s a metaphor. Not a miracle!)

2. Don’t forget to breathe.

Do you do this?

I never thought I would have to remind myself to breathe! Eat food other than candy, Yes…but breathe???

I become so focused on what I’m doing that I lose track of taking care of the basics.

Stop, take a deep breath, and then continue on.

3.  Keep your eyes on the Big Picture

When I’m piecing a quilt, it’s important to take care of details. Correct measurements, sewing precision, pinning correctly, and ironing the pieces flat are all aspects that enable the pieces to match up.

When it comes time for quilting, it’s more important to keep the big picture in mind.

Fretting over each stitch takes the focus off the bigger picture. It causes me to lose track, become frustrated with lack of progress, and get discouraged that I’m not further along.

One trick I’ve learned is to keep my eyes SLIGHTLY ahead of where I am stitching.

Instead of becoming hyper-focused on where I am, I need to focus on where I want to go.

To me, that is more than a quilting question.

What about you?

What has your hobby taught you?

Next week I will share 3 more Life lessons.

(And you might just get a peek into my crazy world of fabric-fabulousness…)





life lessons



5 thoughts on “Life Lessons through Longarm Quilting

  • Lynn Schantz July 26, 2016 at 7:00 am

    Great perspective!! Love your style of writing!!!

  • Sarah July 26, 2016 at 7:01 am

    Yaaaayyy!!! I’m so happy you’re “back” blogging! Isn’t it neat how God can use our hobbies to teach us life lessons? I’m so thankful for that. ? Also….Minnesota is lovely- you should come visit. ???

  • Mom July 26, 2016 at 8:31 am

    Absolutely love the photo you used at the end, and so glad your back on your blog, BUT?. precision??? Focusing on the big picture, yes, I do TRY to do that.
    I guess I have tried to follow your suggestion, but “close enough” has been such a friend to me, it’s hard to let go?

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