The lone quilter

October 10, 2015 § 18 Comments


Going back to school as an adult later in life is not easy. I have been so busy! And I need to learn how to study all over again. I also miss my sewing machine.

I thought I would pop in for a moment and chat about this portion of a statement in a book that I recently read,

at many times along the way we will feel the inevitable loneliness that comes with doing good work: [ ] the artist who works alone on a quilt that in the end will be enjoyed by many, but no one will fully appreciate the lonely hours of tedious work that lies behind the completed project.”

The author was talking about the necessary time spent alone to improve & perfect a task or job. He listed athlete, teacher, business owner, artist & quilter as examples of people who out of necessity spend time alone to improve their game, instruction, business or craft.  I wonder if he consulted any quilters about how they feel about their time spent making a quilt?


I rarely find that time alone to be lonely.  While working alone I am not lonely. As an introvert, I use that time to think, listen, process and renew my energy. Sometimes just the process of strip sewing pieces of fabric together is just what I need to de-stress and relax. Without that time spent alone I tend to feel rushed, tired and grumpy.

What about you? Do you find time spent sewing alone refreshing? Or do you feel lonely?


The photos are from a trip we took to Whistler, BC back in September.  It was gorgeous up in the mountains! I want to go back!

§ 18 Responses to The lone quilter

  • Brenda says:

    I compare piecing many squares (186 – 6″ squares for instance) to erasing all the chalk writing off a blackboard (old school, like me); splits my attention to within and without enough to clear away the cobwebs and any emotional overloads. Calming, quiet, and necessary.

  • Joy says:

    I’ve never felt lonely quilting.

  • This is such a nice, reflective post and the photos are beautiful. I agree with you about the alone time spent making a quilt. I don’t feel lonely either, I feel at peace and find joy in the giving even as I’m stitching. Quilting is a very important and necessary part of my life.

  • amanda says:

    I don’t find quilting lonely at all. I would imagine that people who tried it and did find it lonely would stop and pursue some other hobby instead. i find quilting very meditative and yet it provides me with concrete progress which I sometimes don’t find in the rest of my work/life. Good luck with school! When I went to grad school ~10 years ago, it was very hard for me to get back into the school routine.

  • sewkatiedid says:

    I Just had this conversation in the car with another quilter so so funny to see it here! I wouldn’t trade my time alone quilting for anything. I enjoy every moment and every creative stitch;) I wish for everyone to find something in their lives that gives them such joy in their solo time as quilting does in mine.

  • Marsha says:

    I don’t think you can ever be lonely when you fully engaged in an activity. It is only when you have nothing to engage your mind. Then again I am an introvert.

  • vivjm says:

    Maybe it is the difference between introvert and extrovert? I am the former and find my time quilting to be soothing, meditative and recharging. I certainly would never consider it lonely!

  • Great questions in this post Anita. I never feel lonely when working on any craft (quilting, crocheting, wool felt, etc.) Like you, I relish the time to ponder and work thoughts over in my mind. I miss this time terribly when my schedule becomes overly full.

    Hope your classes are going well. Will you be taking more in the spring?

  • I think loneliness, like boredom, happens when there is a gap, attention that is not focused or some other “hole” that is not filled. So yes, I can be lonely while quilting, but not because I am alone. It is because there is something I need (not necessarily identified) that I don’t feel I’m getting. Certainly it is easy to feel lonely even when surrounded by others, so being alone is not the significant ingredient. Interesting questions…

    The picture of the gray jay is lovely.

  • Debbie says:

    My alone sewing time is what refreshes me and helps me face what else life holds. I find a unique peace there.

  • Mary Jo says:

    Never lonely sewing. In fact if I am feeling lonely for grown kids or lost friend or family sewing is a great help. I do enjoy sewing with others as at a retreat or class but it is never my best sewing time since it takes concentration to do a good job, It is more for sharing like interests and having a fun time with quilty friends.

  • Beth D. says:

    Thank you, Anita, for sharing that exerpt. I feel understood by that author! Some of the time I spend alone quilting is fun, the creative part, when I’m trying out ideas, and I never feel lonely then. However, some of it is tedious and then I do wish for company and often call a far-away friend or one of my grown children, just for a chat.
    Good luck on your studies! It’s very admirable that you are pushing yourself in this way! Bravo!

  • Gorgeous photos! I love the small bits of alone time – they are special, like a retreat!

  • Jeandf says:

    To be honest, I’m best when sewing alone. When I go to a sew-in I don’t get too much done. And if it’s noisy, I get overloaded really fast.

    Sewing alone puts me in my zen…

  • Ann Warrington says:

    Every word you wrote describes how I felt/feel. Going back at 45 for an RN degree was rough, but one of the most rewarding times of my life. You too will make it……will say prayers for you. I have always had some needlework/quilting project in progress. What you wrote regarding your quilting/sewing is exactly how have felt my whole life. I am never lonely…… is part of my soul. I am retired now and love the quiet times to sew. Enjoy the challenge of your studies……and I hope you find the time to quilt with the great talent your have. Take care. Love the pictures. Please keep us posted how you are doing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Cori says:

    Refreshing, it is my quite time.

  • Ciar says:

    Three years ago when I started teaching myself how to make quilts I thought it would be nice to do it with other people. Like you I, too, am an introvert. However, taking my courage in both hands I went to a guild miles from my home and wasn’t made to feel welcome. I went back the second time only to be insulted about my fabrics. I left and now prefer to do my own thing. I know what extreme loneliness feels like but when I’m cutting and sewing I don’t feel lonely. Anita, best of luck and success in everything you do.

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