My Favorite Birthday Present EVER!- by Bev Hilton

A Perfect Miter Every Time Present
Using the Quarter-Inch Marking Point
on Crafty Bev's
FussyCut 3in1™ and Big Sister Tools

Sharing, or "Do unto Others" - by Bev Hilton

Bev's Semi-Annual Sewing Studio Revamp - by Bev Hilton

Creativity, Comfort Zones and Order
- by Bev Hilton

Using a Center-finding Ruler
- by Rick Hilton


Attic Antics
A Quilt Top Project
Using the FussyCut
3in1 tool
- by Bev Hilton



Creativity, Comfort Zones and Order


by Bev Hilton


"I'm not creative." "I'm not an artist."

Makes me crazy when I hear people say that. Why? Because it's just not true. We are ALL creative. We are ALL artists. Not convinced? Think about the last time you were confronted with a problem in your studio (or household or office). Did you give up and just throw the problem child in the trash? Of course not! You figured out how to fix the problem. You got creative! And truth be known, it might well have turned out better than originally planned because of the oops. We call them ‘design opportunities' because that's just what they are. I know very few who sew who exactly duplicate the garment shown on the pattern envelope. I know very few quilters who follow the pattern without deviation. Every decision about fabric, placement, embellishment is an exercise in creativity, in unleashing the artist in you. Every time I watch members of our guilds tackle a challenge, I see creativity in action.

A few years ago I set out to work through The Artist's Way, a book on unblocking creativity, a kind of creative twelve-step program by Julia Cameron. What an experience. If you are among those who consider yourself not creative, not artistic, I highly recommend it. It's not for wimps, though. It's a very interactive book. You'll spend far more time doing it than reading it. That's as it should be. And you'll experience it best if you gather a few friends and go through it together. Five or six is a good workable number. The wider the variety of artistic types the better; it makes for a richer experience. Allow at least three months for the full process. One week per chapter. It is an investment of time and energy, to be sure. But the results, the benefits, are incalculable. You may never be the same. In fact, you probably shouldn't be.Comfort Zones A couple of years back I took Mom to see Mary Ellen Hopkins at Jacksonville Quilt Fest. She was fantastic. A particular word of wisdom I recall is, "Every quilt you make doesn't have to be a work of art." Kind of like Brenda Papadakis, author of Dear Jane, who says, "Finished is better than perfect." There's a theme here. The quilt show itself was awe-inspiring. At the time, I said to myself, "Next year I'm going to have a quilt in that show."

Well, the next year we moved ourselves, our business, and my father-in-law, and do I need to tell you, there was no quilt from this kid in that show that year. I could barely find the sewing room, much less produce a show-quality quilt. Since moving, I had not gotten my sewing room set up so that I really felt comfortable working there. It felt glompy, uncoordinated. It was a great room, with great equipment and tons of goodies. But I couldn't always find things when I needed them, just couldn't hit my stride. Like working in molasses. Perhaps you've been there.

So the next year rolls around. I already had one year of an unfulfilled promise to myself; would there be another? NO! "I'm gonna have a quilt in that show," said I to myself. Got the paperwork, filled it out, sent it in. I was going to have a quilt in that show! I'm excited! Time passed. I knew what I wanted to do. I could see it in my mind's eye. I gathered supplies. More time passed. Suddenly I'm up against a pretty stiff deadline, and I hadn't even started the thing. I checked and found that I was well past the time when I could have hollered uncle, taken my quilt out of the show. I'd have to either make it, or there would be a quilt in the showbook but no quilt in the show. My pride simply would not allow it. Hey, I have a week. I can get this done. Now, in all fairness, I've talked with many quilters who admit to working better under pressure, and I have to confess, I think I may be one of them. Maybe. However, NOW I have to get REALLY BUSY! REALLY FAST! That imminent deadline FORCED me into the sewing room. Slammed me in there. It made me use my tools, made me try techniques I'd never done before, it made me find things I needed, made me think. It just plain made me BE in there, and quickly learn my way around. It both took me out of my comfort zone, and brought me into a new one. I finished the quilt, Autumn in Paris, at 6 a.m. Saturday. My dear husband Rick drove it to Jacksonville (he didn't want me on the road after being up all night) and delivered it at 11 a.m. – a whole two hours to spare!

Finishing that quilt was a huge win for me. And it broke through the barriers that had prevented me from really getting comfortable in my sewing room and using it here the way I'd used my sewing room in our former home. At last, I had completed the move. The icing on the cake was earning a judge's recognition for Autumn in Paris, my first ribbon in a major show. Three weeks later, I would earn my first blue ribbon, for Kimono II, an innovative category entry in the Suwannee Valley Quilt Show. All in all, a very good season. If you're a person who works best under pressure, this might be a way to go to take you outside your creative comfort zone. To grow as an artist, you have to shake things up, force changes in how you work, how you perceive things. Not a recommended way, but for some . . .


Every spring, or every other spring, or . . . I have a ritual of totally emptying the sewing room, gutting it, spreading everything (EVERYTHING!) out in another part of the house so I can see it, feel it, remember that I even have some of it! Everything goes into a logical grouping – an area for fabric, for yarns and fibers, threads, patterns, embellishments, and so on. Then I cull. Things I no longer need or want go to a treasure sale, are given away or trashed. (Be brutal.)

Then I look at the order of the sewing room and decide if the physical arrangement of tables, shelves, book shelves and so on still meets my needs. If not, I get out the little templates and move things around until I find an arrangement that will work. Finally I put supplies into containers and set them where I now want them to live. Function, frequency of use, and lastly necessity are the watchwords. We all have to work with what we have to work with.

The last time I did this prior to moving I did so with the help of Myrna Giesbrecht's Studio Makeover class at Quilt University ( Sewers from around the world examined their artist's psyche and learned things about themselves and how they preferred to work that they'd never known before. Fascinating! For example, I discovered that I don't like drawers (once it goes into a drawer, I may never find it again!), and I do love labels (that old adage, ‘a place for everything, and everything in its place').

Then each person tore into her sewing room, examined it, worked with what she had, upgraded, moved, eliminated, purchased, installed, and otherwise created a sewing studio space that met her needs as perfectly as possible within the resources available to each. This was a wonderful experience, and the result was a work space that fit each person like a glove!

Myrna isn't with Quilt University any more, but she does offer online classes through her website, Studio Makeover isn't on the current list, but may pop up in the future. Her blog musings are fun to read, too.

When's the last time you reinvented your sewing space? What did you find that you forgot you had? What came tumbling out that was exactly what you needed for a project you were working on or had planned? What did you eliminate? And remember – when you cull, you make room for new stuff!

Beverley Hilton
the Bev from

Copyright 2011 Theta Publishing Company