Slow Sewing: Sewing Journals for the Creative Process

on September 8 | in Slow Sewing | by | with 15 Comments

Heidi Staples from Fabric Mutt blog is participating in our next fabric challenge later this month. We asked her to keep a journal of her project for our Slow Sewing series, to share a little about hand sewing and the creative sewing process.

Heidi has written her first sewing book which will be published by Stash Books next spring. We can’t wait to get a closer look! You can learn more about Heidi in her introduction, and keep up to date on her latest work via Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr.

We’d love to hear how you keep track of your projects, and whether you keep a sewing journal or not. Do you reflect on your process throughout a project? Do you do more reflection on the finished project? We shared a Sewing Journal template last year. Have you ever used it, or something similar?


My name is Heidi Staples, and I share my sewing adventures on my blog Fabric Mutt. Today’s post is sort of a two for one– part Designer Challenge and part Slow Sewing series. It’s been a pleasure to spend the last month working with Elizabeth Olwen’s lovely new Wildwood collection for Cloud9 Fabrics.

I kept a journal to document the creative process from start to finish, and it was such a wonderful experience that I’m sorely tempted to do this for everything I make from here on out! If you’ve never done it before, try starting a sewing journal of your own. It’s a great way to remember your sewing journey and learn from your experiences as you go along. For now, though, here’s the story of a little pillow…

August 2nd
The fabric arrived today, and it’s just as beautiful as I knew it would be. It’s incredible to me how Elizabeth has pulled together art deco motifs, floral prints and an atypical color scheme (aqua, navy, coral, peach and gray) to create a collection that’s absolutely perfect for fall. I’ve known from the start that I wanted to make a pillow out of hexagons, but the wild card has been which pattern to use. After much thought, I’ve decided to try a herringbone design out of 1″ hexagons. We’ll see where that takes me…

August 3rd
I spent the evening nailing down my design a little more firmly and assigning a job to each piece of fabric. I really love the moody shade of blue that weaves its way throughout this collection, so much so that I’ve decided to make the pillow backing from one of the dark blue prints. Before calling it quits for the night, I started basting my hexagons. It’s such a peaceful, repetitive thing to do, and there’s nothing I love more than seeing those little hexagons all lined up as I go along.

August 12th
It’s been a busy week of getting my three daughters set up in our home school program and my husband back to work as a middle school teacher, so sewing took a back seat for a few days. Now that we’re on day four of our new schedule, things are settling into a comfortable routine. I spend my mornings doing hand sewing while I supervise my youngest as she watches her preschool classes, saving machine work and other projects for the afternoons when my little ones are down for a rest. As I sit quietly at the dining room table, shaping the fabric with my fingers and listening to my children happily sing and learn with their long distance classes, there’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be.

August 19th
I’m a girl who loves a quick finish. With my busy schedule and all the interruptions that come up in a day, I need projects that don’t take much more than a weekend to complete. I think that’s why there’s something in me that automatically resists when I try to take up a piece of hand sewing. My instinct is to put it off until I have more time.

Today I had the constant feeling that I needed to work on my pillow, but I kept ignoring it because there were too many other things to do. When I finally sat down to pick up my needle and thread at the end of the day, I wondered why I had fought so hard. Sometimes it takes an act of will for me to make myself sit still and sew but, once I do, it’s as if my body gives a deep sigh of relief. Note to self: give in more quickly next time…

August 26th
My husband and kids are in bed, and I’m sewing by lamplight. Hand sewing in the evenings is becoming a lovely way to finish the night. I can sit here in the silence– an extremely rare thing in this household– and let my mind settle down after the craziness of the day. The needle goes in and out while I think, reflect, plan, pray and dream. I’m finding that it’s easier for me to fall asleep once I’ve spent a few minutes stitching together hexagons and quieting my thoughts in the process.

September 2nd
The hexagons are all sewn together at last, and today I’m doing the final work of assembling the pillow. Whenever I get to this point of pulling out basting threads and removing paper templates, I’m convinced once again that whoever thought up this method of sewing must have been crazy… So much work to sew together these little shapes! As soon as I see that finished hexagon “fabric” in front of me, though, it’s all worth it.

I’ve decided against quilting this pillow top. I want Elizabeth’s prints to shine, and these hexagons don’t need any embellishment. The Midnight Flora design makes a fabulous pillow backing. I love the contrast of that dark blue against the mostly low volume prints on the front. As soon as the last stitch is sewn, I can’t wait to carry the pillow outside for a photo shoot.

September 3rd
My Wildwood pillow has taken up residence on the hall chair just inside our entryway. I love having a few handmade items for guests to see as they walk in the front door. It’s such a welcoming touch, and this pillow will be a wonderful addition to our fall decorations which I’ll be putting up later this week.

My sister dropped by for a surprise visit this morning. I share all my sewing finishes with her, so I didn’t wait long before bringing the pillow over for approval. She did a double take when she saw it. “That,” she said, “looks like something you would buy at Anthropologie.” I could have kissed her.

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15 Responses to Slow Sewing: Sewing Journals for the Creative Process

  1. Heidi G says:

    Those hexagons are so sweet. Love the backing.

  2. april says:

    I wish I had the patience and skills for this project! Great job!

  3. Jane B says:

    Love this pillow! The fabrics are so gorgeous. For an alternate method of basting hexies, where you can leave the basting stitches in, not having to take them out, check out Bonnie Hunter’s blog under tips.

  4. Pam Tatge says:

    I am not a handwork person, but I am going to search for a way to do on the machine. The pillow pattern and fabric are very striking. Pillows are a fun way to experiment new techniques.

  5. Diane says:

    Love your pillow and the fabric!!

  6. Nicole says:

    Love the pillow and fabric!

  7. Brooke Sickler says:

    This fabric!! The color palette is PERFECT.

  8. Stephanie says:

    I love the pillow! I don’t know why I don’t make more pillows. That fabric is super great!

  9. Andi says:

    Lovely! I am far too impatient when I get a chance to sew to do handwork. I do understand the therapeutic qualities, however, as I love to have a small knitting project around to work a few rows here and there when I can.

    The pillow is beautiful and I adore the hexagon pieces!

  10. Dawn says:

    Lovely pillow. Are the hexes just sewn by hand or are they attached to a base i.e.. square of muslim?

  11. Cherie says:

    Lovely pillow. It was fun reading about how you fit in your sewing into your schedule, too.

  12. Lizzie says:

    Yes indeed, that’s a lovely line of fabric ( love the blur and Cowell, love the acorns! ) and a fabulous looking pillow. I like the effect off non-quilting here. Question: did you back the hexie panel with anything, like interfacing or a layer of muslin?

  13. Sondra says:

    Really lovely work and fabric!

  14. Juliet Wood says:

    Just to say I think this Wildwood fabric is fabulous and the cushion is lovely too.

  15. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful! I am going to keep my eye out for these fabrics, and I love what you’ve done with them.

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