Make Life Good: Create Something



Find that thing, idea, cause, or person that moves you, inspires you, thrills you. Create for that reason.

My projects usually start with a reason, something really great, that makes me want to do more. I find my muse. I think it makes my project instantly have direction and meaning. My kids inspire me. Lucy's 4, she is in Pre-K. She is a very kind, thoughtful, creative little person who loves to make me laugh. Anthony is almost 2. He will be 2 on October 13, 2 days after baby #3's due date. Anthony is sweet, hilarious, and rambunctious. I have so many things that I do and create because of the love I have for my little ones. The little lady residing in my belly, who I think will be named Kate is my most recent muse.

Choose a project

What do you want to make?

My version of nesting has nothing to do with a dusting cloth & some cleaner. I feel compelled to make my kids something before they're born. My mom made me things when I was young. I still have some of the palm size bean bags for bozo buckets from one of my childhood birthday parties that she sewed for me. I think having someone create something for me must be one of the deepest ways I experience love. Creating for someone I love definitely pulls me through a project. For my kids I make cotton swaddling blankets & baby quilts. The funny thing is, I don't even love sewing. I think for me it's the process of starting with an idea and ending with something tangible that thrills me. I think the process fused with creating for someone you love really excites me.

Make Time

Once you have your chosen project & inspiration. You have to make it a priority. You have to schedule time for it or it will never happen.

Since I've begun having kids this is my number one hang up. I would constantly panic that there was not enough time in the day to create. I can get a little crazy, if I don't have time to make things blocked out daily.  I think most people can understand the feeling of not having enough time. Some truly don't.  For me it's about carving the time out of the day. Honestly, the busier I've gotten, the more time I realize that I have, and thankfully the panicking has stopped too. I also think that's where the focus has come too. Time to devote to a project is something I treasure, but is currently limited. If I waste it, it's my fault. Please note, I work from home and I am a stay at home mom. My husband works 3 jobs to make this happen. Not everyone has (or wants) this. You may have to be a weekend warrior about your projects if you work out of the home. 

Time to create is food for my soul. Blocking it out to work has transformed my life. I get household chores done in the morning. When my kids nap, that is when I work in my studio. When they get up, I make dinner. When they go to bed, I jump back to whatever is on my desk. My work is my passion. Whether it's making jewelry, making quilts, taking pictures of my kids, the list goes on. It's what I thrive on.  I have fought for it though. Please note, my husband supports me in all of my endeavors. A little less love coming my way when I let the house go, but he recognizes how vital this is to me and my happiness. This is because I've been really clear on how essential it is to me to have this time.  If you want to create something, make it a priority, and adjust your schedule accordingly. Even if it's just a half hour here and there, it will do wonders for your soul!

Choose your materials

Is there something you're really interested in working with?

My projects have several layers of inspiration woven into them. I need to be thrilled about something to dedicate time and focus to it. I think that is because I get easily bored.  I used fabric from our local JoAnn's for Lucy & Anthony's quilts. I spent hours wandering the aisles until something spoke to me, I designed their swaddle blankets to compliment the quilt.

I've been quilting for years. Nothing fancy, just usually for a gift for someone. One of my favorite quilts I've made used depression era grain sacks. It's very bright and funky and currently resides in Lucy's bed. For Kate's quilt I decided to work from a source of inspiration: antique handkerchiefs. My collection began with some hankies my Grandma gave me from when she was a girl and has been growing for several years!


Think about how you can make this work? How can you pull off the design you want to make?

This old beat up box of handkerchiefs has been moving from home to home with me for years. There's quite a variety of different patterns and designs. Is it possible to make a cohesive design fit for a little lady from this box of handkerchiefs? How can I take this box of mixed patterns and colors and make something that is not hideous? Sometimes I really like to leave these questions to the back of my mind to sort out. Obsessing and over-thinking are my enemies here. I think about it a little bit actively, and then commit it to my subconscious and start on the next thing. I think this is where I address the possible concerns and issues I have, then I let them go. Somehow, everything gets worked out

Hunt for inspiration

Pinterest. Pinterest. Pinterest



I am fueled by Inspiration. This part of the creative process is an ongoing thing for me. My projects are not usually linear in fashion. This step had probably been going on simultaneously with the others for some time. I know that I have a pile of mismatched handkerchiefs. I have no idea how I can possibly create something cohesive and pretty with them. It's time to search for inspiration. My source: Pinterest.

In my mind, there's no longer any reason not to have some great idea to be inspired by. If you're working on a kitchen. Use Pinterest. If you're working on your daughter's room. Pinterest. If you're designing a quilt. Pinterest! If you're not familiar, I will write more about the basics of Pinterest. Or just send me an email, I would be glad to share. I don't think anyone should be deprived of Pinterest.  Pinterest puts inspiration at your finger tips.

For this project I started with a board "Design {Quilts}". On this board, I add images of any quilts that I find beautiful. I use my gut to lead me to what I am really attracted to. Next, I create another board "Quilt {Baby Kate}". On this board, I compile quilt designs from my "Design {Quilts}" board that would work with my handkerchiefs and sewing skills. I am not a seamstress. I know how to work a sewing machine and that's about it!  Finally, I choose a single design that speaks to me and use that as my inspiration for my project. This part of my process takes days, sometimes weeks.

Make a decision

Give yourself a little time. But ultimately, it's best to be very clear about what your inspiration is.

I chose this quilt from "Little Miss Shabby" because I like the feel (light & airy), because it's relatively simple in construction (so I can figure out how to make it), & because there's a lot going on with the fabric, but it still flows (my choice of materials should work).

Learn Something New

Feel free to Fail! Take the fear out of the learning process. Take your project as a challenge and figure out what you need to learn.

Learning something new should be exciting and soul recharging, but for some reason it's become something people are terrified to do. I teach computer drafting at our local university every January. My students are often very fearful of failing. It completely gets in the way of them learning. My first job of my career as a designer was for one of my favorite people, Chip Rorem, an architect with whom I got to know and build a great relationship. When I began working for him, I was in over my head, but too embarrassed to ask questions. He told me "Feel Free to Fail". That took so much stress out of the learning process. I then felt very comfortable asking questions, over and over.  I use this phrase all of the time, especially to my students. Everyone is uncomfortable when learning something new. Don't let it deter you. I love learning but usually need a project to pull me through. I taught myself how to make jewelry. I read the sewing machine manual to learn how to sew. If you're interested in learning something, find a class, research on the internet. Information is truly at your fingertips. Use the excitement of a new project to pull you through!

Make It Work

This is where you have to trust your instincts and work through your problems until a solution you're pleased with is created.

So now I am back to one of my earlier problems. How am I going to take the mess of handkerchiefs I have and make them work for a quilt?

This part of the process can be very erratic for me. I go from the highs of excitement, to the lows of frustration when I'm sure my project is just going to be hideous. Then there's the doubt that comes from wondering if my idea is possibly as great as I originally thought it would be. Luckily, with 2 kids, I have a lot less time to waste on this emotional roller coaster. I have to be decisive and efficient or I would never get anything done.

The problem I experienced with this portion of my project is that I was thinking I could use all of my handkerchiefs. It never occurred to me that I would have to choose only the ones that worked well together.  I was very excited about my selections and how they would work together, but the actual design of the quilt threw wrenches my way. I loved the handkerchiefs in the image above, but there wasn't enough to complete the quilt.  I had to select more. Some of them dominated the piece. This is the time when I just have to commit to my project, put my head down and work through it. There's a lot of sewing together and ripping apart. It's frustrating, but also so close to the end!! And for someone, who ironically, does not love sewing, that's a very good thing!

End Result

If you are a seamstress, please don't judge me too harshly! I am very happy with the result. It's definitely not perfect, but the color flows. It's imperfect. It's relatable. The flaws are what make it unique.  There are big pieces of me and what I love in here. The quilt will be infused with them.  The little lady's carseat will be covered with it when we go out in the cold. It will be draped over the seat of her swing so she is comfortable. When she moves from her bassinet to her crib she will sleep on it. When she moves into her big girl bed, it will be there too. I hope it will be a constant reminder of how much I love her!

This entire process feeds my soul. Taking the inspiration I feel from creating for someone I love and combining it with the freedom and empowerment I experience from taking a design from an idea to a tangible thing is exhilarating. It drives me. I hope you found some inspiration from my post and start creating!! In my next post I will be showing you some of my earrings I've been working on and possibly a picture of my new little lady!

Thank You for reading! Have a Great day!


Amanda Benoit1 Comment