8 Tips for a Creative Life

tulip

This is a reprint of an article that originally appeared in the magazine CraftSanity, Issue 2, published by Jennifer Ackerman-Haywood. © Beth Ann Williams, 2011.

CraftSanity. Making stuff. Crafting Sanity.

Sometimes it’s about having something do to with my hands while my heart and mind are in turmoil. Sometimes it’s distraction from pain. Sometimes it’s about expressing friendship, love or commitment to a person or a cause. Sometimes it’s a way to reframe hardship or powerlessness. Sometimes it’s an affirmation of identity. And sometimes it’s for the pure joy of exploring “what if?” But mostly it’s a compulsion.

I have had to accommodate significant fluctuations in available resources and in physical abilities, but I have also learned there is ALWAYS a way to continue to create. It’s right up there on the level of breathing in importance to my sanity and well-being…

Which brings me back to CraftSanity.Here are a few of my favorite tips and tricks for living a creative life: Continue Reading…

Finished Is More Important Than Perfect

2013 Zen-Tangle

Finished is more important than perfect. Anyone who has participated in one of my classes or Demo Days has probably heard me say this – it’s one of my favorite mantras when teaching.

The second part goes like this: The more you finish, the closer to perfect you’ll get.

It’s generally true, especially when applied to learning a new skill or “perfecting” established skills. Time after time, I’ve observed that the creative souls who forge ahead and joyfully finish their project (whether it is a learning exercise or a finished work) tend to advance much faster than those who stop, judge, rip out, undo, redo, and eventually abandon the work because it doesn’t measure up to their expectations. Continue Reading…

Machine Quilting FAQ & Top Tips

machine quilting detail

Here’s another post dealing with FAQ – this time specifically related to using a sewing machine for quilting. For the time being, I’m avoiding the topic of which threads I recommend; we’ll save that for another day!

Do you work by hand or by machine?

The short answer is both. I almost always use a sewing machine to piece and/or appliqué my quilt tops, both for speed and for durability.
When adding the quilting, (the stitching that holds the quilt top, batting, and backing layers of a quilt together), I most often use a technique that might be compared to “hand quilting with an electric needle.” I drop the feed dogs, decrease the pressure on the presser foot, and set the stitch length and width to 0. This means that all the sewing machine does is make the needle go up and down. Stitch length and direction are controlled entirely by the way that I physically move the quilt with my hands. I rarely mark my quilting patterns, they are developed “free-hand,” or made up as I go along.

I usually machine sew the binding to the front of the quilt and then wrap it around and hand sew it to the back.

Do you have any tips for quilting by machine?

Sure do! I’ve been teaching machine quilting classes since the 1990s. Of course, I try to always remind people that there is no one way that is best; if something other than what I recommend works better for you, then by all means ignore me! Continue Reading…

Evolving…

Tree of Life Journal Quilt

Evolve or Die. That sounds terribly ominous, doesn’t it?
A bit Borg-ish, even… (Yep, that’s a Star Trek reference; and nope, I didn’t see it coming either.)

But there’s some truth there.

Letting go of the old in order to make way for the new – I confess that sometimes it feels like that’s what my entire life has always been about. Transitions – sometimes eagerly anticipated, sometimes forcibly thrust upon me, sometimes resisted and sometimes embraced. It can be hard to let go of the known (even when it’s less than perfect) in favor of the unknown… but it can also be exciting, can’t it?

That’s how I feel about this new website and blog. I’ve been resisting it for a long time, but I’m finally ready to get moving – even though I’m not entirely sure where I’ll end up. Continue Reading…