Archive for the ‘Handicraft’ Category

Quilting as Mother Culture

a Guest Post from

Rachael of Homeschooling Kiwi Style

“It seems to  me that, whether it is recognized or not, there is a terrific frustration which increases in intensity and harmfulness as time goes on, when people are always daydreaming of the kind of place in which they would like to live, yet never making the place where they do live, into anything artistically satisfying to them.”

–          Edith Schaeffer, The Hidden Art of Homemaking

I’ve always loved to try my hand at different forms of creativity.  When I was about 15 years old, I started  cross-stitching, and from then on I cross-stitched pictures for gifts for friends and family for several years.  I delighted in the finished product, but it also gave me something to do with my hands on those cosy winter evenings.  I find it fascinating that I can look back at a portion of a cross-stitch picture and remember where I was or what I was listening to at the time.  Sometimes it was a movie, sometimes it was a youth Bible study, sometimes it was listening to a particular speaker on a Christian radio station.  I have since found that I retain a lot more if my hands a busy when listening.  Not that I advocate taking along your cross-stitch to church, but we certainly find now that our girls take in a lot more of the Sunday sermon when they have taken notes, keeping their hands busy, rather than trying to sit absolutely still and just listen.

Another reason I love creativity is that it is simply like breathing to me.  If I haven’t done anything particularly creative for a while I start to feel it!  I’ve tried my hand at several new creative outlets, particularly in the past few years as my girls have gotten older and are able to join in.  We also love doing an art project as part of our picture study.  I’ve dabbled in a little bit of drawing and water colour, sometimes wishing I could set up and spend days painting!  But then I come across something else that I want to try…perhaps that’s why they are called the “liberal” arts!

One hobby that I have started recently, and that has stuck, is quilting.  I didn’t sew much as a child.  I did a couple of those “home economics” courses at school, but I don’t think I produced much more that a little patchwork cushion!  I have certainly never made my own clothes.  I tried a bit of stretch sewing back in the nineties, when tracksuits were fashionable, and sewed a few little pairs of leggings for my elder daughters.  But I didn’t own my own sewing machine until a few years ago, when another homeschooling mum gave me an old Necchi.  That old Necchi has had a workout!  It all started with a quilting class at church, taught by our pastor’s wife and another lady who is a beautiful quilter.  We had a few basic lessons on piecing fabric and learnt how to make a “quilt sandwich”.  This is when you put all the layers together: the pieced (or patchwork) top, the batting in the middle, and the back.  From then on, my old machine has made numerous small quilts.  I’ve also tried out other sewing projects, such as tote bags and cushion covers.  I’ve been able to take up curtains for the rooms we’ve renovated, and probably best of all, my girls have all had a go too!  All I had to do was say “yes, you may use the machine” and off they would go.  Bethany (12 ½) has made numerous little bags for herself.  These all have linings and trimmings. She has adapted a basic tote bag pattern and got creative!  Lately she has been producing “Little House on the Prairie” costumes, complete with fancy hats!  Emily (11 ½) has also had a go, and produced little cushions for gifts for  her brother and sister.  Ainsley (8) is also a keen sewer and has made miniature quilts for her dolls and cushions as well.

It has been wonderful to have a go and see the results, and it’s also been wonderful to see my daughters using their own creativity to produce beautiful projects.

We have been made in the image of our Creator, and this is just one little way in which we can mirror God’s creativity and add some beauty to our home.

Here are some of my favourite inspirational quilting blogs and websites:




Check them out, you never know, you might love quilting as much as I do!


Read Full Post »

A Guest Post by Jimmie from Jimmie’s Collage

Adventures in Creating

I always cringe when I hear a woman say, “I’m not creative” because we are all creative. At the least, we have the potential to be creative. God created us in His very own image as beings that can create.

If we do not use that creative potential, it can, over time, grow dull. But on the other hand, we can revive our creativity with gentle prodding and consistent use.

I go through seasons when I have a strong urge to create. Taking an art class, sewing an apron, writing an article, cooking a new dish, or even crafting with paper are ways that I can fulfill that desire. Although I do get a sense of satisfaction from my finished product, the point is the act of creating.

Creating is invigorating.

If you have these creative urges, too, you know that glorious feeling of flow – an uninterrupted focus on a pleasurable task. Time seems to stand still as I immerse myself in my creative work. Ideas come easily and there is an intense sense of being in the moment instead of planning for tomorrow or worrying about yesterday. If I am drawing or painting, I find it difficult to carry on a conversation because I am relying on a part of my brain that doesn’t use words. It feels good to use my brain in that way much like a workout feels to your muscles. I come away from creating feeling invigorated.

Creating is generous.

When I create, I am making something new that can be shared, displayed, eaten, worn, used, or given. Instead of being a consumer, I am being a producer. Instead of being a taker, I am being a giver. I can bless others with my creativity.

Creating is healing.

When I create, I gain a sense of control over my world. The circumstances in my life may be (and often are) totally out of my control, but in the kitchen I can take back a feeling of authority. I have power over those eggs and vegetables. They will mold to my will and form a quiche which will bless my family. It is empowering to transform a few ingredients into a nourishing meal or a comforting dessert.  When I create, I find a retreat from the stresses of life.

But let’s come back to reality. Creating is often pushed aside for the urgent and pragmatic. Dinner has to get on the table, and there is no time for experimenting with a new dish. The boring but reliable favorite recipe is served once again. Laundry and homeschool lessons have to be done, so painting and sewing supplies stay in the closet.

Like anything important in our lives, we have to be deliberate about making room for creativity. I find that these four things foster creativity in my life.

Change (versus Routine)

Any change in my regular routine is a chance for creativity to break out. Taking a different route, reading a different genre, sitting with different people – anything outside of my norm gives me fodder for creativity.

Challenge (versus Rut)

My life is already full of challenges that I need creativity to overcome, so this one isn’t something I have to actively pursue.

I love this quote by Amy Dacyczyn of the Tightwad Gazette, “Frugality without creativity is deprivation.”  Isn’t that true? When money is tight or resources are simply unavailable, I rely on my creativity to devise substitutes for what I need. Without that fun creative twist, the situation feels miserable. But when I apply my creativity to the challenge, I find that it becomes an enjoyable game.

Chance (versus Fear of Risk)

Dr. Linus Pauling said that “The best way to have a good idea is to have a lot of ideas.” So true.

My mother, brother and I have our own version of this, “It’s a good idea, but it stinks.”  We say this when we want to encourage one another for thinking of an idea even while we realize that the idea is terrible.  To be creative, you have to be willing to risk mistakes or even failure. Our paradoxical saying was a way of being realistic while encouraging more creativity, “That idea wasn’t good, but keep on trying. One of them will work!”

Silence vs. noise

I definitely must be intentional about silence since most public places now have music playing non-stop. Why does my own hand instinctively reach for the car radio to fill up the silence that would bless my mind with peace and room to think? Habit is the only answer. But I’m working to change that.

I’m now enjoying the first two laps of my morning walk in silence before I crank up the MP3 player. Although the music helps me keep a brisk pace and distracts me from the exercising itself, the silence offers a priceless gift.  I can think.

My thoughts are random – a mixture of prayers, complaints, thanksgivings, plans, and longings. Yet in the midst of the mental jumble, a new insight will pop out that helps me solve a problem or cope with a difficulty. I get ideas for repurposing thrift store finds and for writing blog posts. The silence is an important element for fostering creativity in my life.

So where are you in your adventure in creativity? What helps you be more creative? And what steps are you going to take to protect creativity in your life?

*Jimmie is the mother of one creative eleven year old daughter. Jimmie blogs about their Charlotte Mason styled homeschool at Jimmie’s Collage. Her second blog, The Notebooking Fairy, features free notebooking printables and how-tos.

Read Full Post »

The Habit of Twenty Wishes

A Guest Post by Susan from Stitchinlife.blogspot.com

…on how she is developing the new habit

of making her own twenty wishes…

Read an excerpt here!


All three of my children were seated at the kitchen table eating a breakfast of cold cereal with milk. John, thirteen was silently reading the back of the cereal box; he still looked sleepy. Sarah, twelve, was wearing last year’s gray and white striped sweater, now, too small. And Kathryn, ten, my youngest was insisting she wasn’t hungry at all.

I cradled my cup of warm coffee between the palms of my hands thinking about the pecan and pumpkin pie dough I needed to roll out, wondering if I should use the dough recipe with the oil or try the shortening recipe I never can get to work. Elvis, our chocolate Labrador puppy nudged his nose against my jeans, his sign, I know that he wanted to go outside. (more…)

Read Full Post »