May 15, 2018

Are you a fast or slow quilter? | A discussion on creative sustainability

Are you a fast or slow quilter? A discussion on creative sustainability | Shannon Fraser Designs | Modern Quilter

Are you a fast or slow quilter?

Does it really matter?

I addressed this the other week in my newsletter and it resonated with so many of you that I thought it warranted a full-on blog post.

It all started when a person left a comment on this Instagram post asking how I make so many things in so little time.

Hmm, the answer is “I don’t” or, at least, I don’t feel like I do. I actually don’t consider myself a fast sewer.

While it was certainly nice to hear that they considered me a fast quilter, I was also really concerned by the comment.

My goal is never to make anyone feel intimidated or slow in their ability to create quilts (or anything, for that matter).

My intent is always to encourage you and inspire you to pursue your creativity at whatever rhythm brings you the most quilty joy.


It’s far too easy to fall into the comparison game.

I’m not good enough.
I’m not quick enough.
I’m not creative enough.

Let’s. Just. Stop.

I’m not immune to these feelings. And seeing the amazing projects that other quilters are sharing can have me feeling all kinds of “less than” emotions. But that’s when I put my phone down and tell myself to “just do you, Shannon”.

Comparison is the thief of joy | Shannon Fraser Designs | Modern Quilter


I was drawn to quilting because it brought me joy.

Joy while I was struggling in so many other areas.
Joy when I was down.
Joy when I was happy.
Just pure joy.

And I don’t want to lose that.

And I definitely don’t want to make you lose it either.

It's the journey not the destination | Shannon Fraser Designs | Modern Quilter


So, know this.

It’s just me over here.

Every blog post, email, newsletter, picture, website change, pattern, Instagram post, comments, etc. etc. is ALL done by me.

Some days it can feel really overwhelming and I have to remind myself that I’m doing the best I can. And so are you!

Some days I don’t get my to-do list completely tackled. That happens way more that I wish it did. C’est la vie.

Some days I have to shift my expectations of what I can accomplish. Perspective is a such a beautiful thing.

Some days I have to remind myself that good things take time to create. I’ve never regretted going the extra mile by adding some slow stitching. Slow being the operative word 😉

We all create at our own rhythm. We all have different external obligations that make creating a challenge. We all have days where we just don’t want to create. 

And ALL of that is OK.

So, let’s just stop with the comparison and bring it back to why we started quilting in the first place.

Let’s remind ourselves of how far we’ve come. How much we’ve accomplished. How much we’ve learned. That’s the beauty of all this, after all.

And let’s celebrate every time we show up to create and be thankful we are where we are in our very own personal quilty journey.

Reverberance Quilt | Shannon Fraser Designs | Modern Quilt Pattern


Back in the summer of 2016 I ended up with a bad case of tendinitis that had me in a brace for 8 weeks. That was 8 weeks of pain, discomfort and not being able to do anything. It’s not an experience I want to repeat. But I know that I have this physical limitation that I must be mindful of. I can’t hand stitch for hours on end. I can’t be on my cellphone scrolling or typing for long periods of time. Even being on the computer can add to the strain. In order to be kind to my body, I can’t push myself too much. Maybe that’s a blessing in disguise, as my body is physically telling me to be kind to myself. Instead of ignoring these warning signs, I’m trying to be attentive and recognize that breaks are a good thing.

I know of several quilters who suffer from tendinitis and arthritis – shoulders, elbows and hands seem to be the common source of pain. Quilting is a physically demanding craft and to ensure we have a long quilty life, we need to treat our bodies with respect and give them time to recoup between sessions.

I’m obviously not a doctor, but here are some exercises that may be helpful. If you’re in a lot of pain, I do recommend skipping the exercises and booking an appointment with your doctor.

Hand, wrist and forearm stretches – this one is geared towards gamers, but the repetitive motion of hand quilting affects similar muscles. 


In addition to being aware of what my body is telling me, I’m also trying to be mindful of how I use my time.

Instead of packing my days full of to-dos, I try and sneak in free spaces to allow for tasks that may take longer than anticipated, but also, and more importantly, to allow myself to breathe during the day. And what’s funny is those free spaces are often when I come up with good ideas! It’s a win-win situation.

I’ve really been enjoying listening to the Hurry Slowly Podcast which focuses on how we can be more focused, creative and resilient by slowing down.

Slow and steady wins the race | Modern Improv Quilt | Shannon Fraser Designs


Another one of my favourite ways to practice self-love is to adopt a positive internal dialogue. We’re not going to get very far if we’re constantly thinking or saying bad things to ourselves. If I catch myself being hard on myself, I will actually say “be kind to yourself, you’re doing the best you can”. If I’m worried about something, I acknowledge that worry and then move past it. Worrying doesn’t solve anything, so I try and focus on tasks that can help me overcome whatever is concerning me. 

I’m always amazed at how much my stress levels come down when I use positive self talk. Don’t knock it, try it! And let me know how it works out for you!

Be Kind to Yourself | Shannon Fraser Designs

I certainly don’t have all the answers to this. Nor do I have it all figured out. But I’m trying everyday to get a better handle on what I can reasonably sustain – physically, mentally and emotionally – so that I don’t burn out or lose all interest in my creative passion.

Life is short – let’s focus on the joy!

I would love to know your thoughts on this topic and how you keep trucking along in a world that seems so focused on one upping another.

Happy quilting – at whatever pace feels right to you!




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  1. Great post. I'm going through a phase where I am not able to be as consistent at my sewing machine due to a lot of behind the scenes life struggles and craziness that is out of my control. Comparison can be such a thief of joy, and once I realized that, I am able to get back to my happy zone in the moments I can.

    1. I'm so sorry to hear that, Yvonne. Comparison never gets us anywhere, that’s for sure. Good luck navigating the life struggles and craziness you’re currently facing. Before you know it, you’ll be back at your sewing machine quilting up a storm. xoxo

  2. Thanks for this great post, I've slowed down a while ago, but it's still good to read about it and to know I'm not alone out there.

    1. Oh, I love hearing that! It seems every time I raise this topic, so many other makers are feeling the same way. Happy to hear you’re ahead of the curve and already focusing on a more enjoyable pace 😊

  3. Thank you for these supportive reminders. Self care is imperative to longevity in all parts of our lives. The finish line is not the goal.

    1. I love how you put that, Michelle, "the finish line is not the goal". Here, here!

  4. Shannon, this is such an important message to really be mindful of what brings us joy. Thanks for the links to the exercises. As you know, I need to manage my quilting activities carefully or my body puts up a loud protest. It's so hard to stop stitching and commit to doing the exercises on a regular basis!

    1. I totally get it, Marla. When you’re in the quilty zone, the last thing you want to do it stop and stretch! But it’s been really helping me out, particularly during this busy period I’ve been going through. Hope the exercises are helpful 😊

  5. I love everything about this post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it. I'm thrilled it resonated with you too. xoxo

  6. Such a great post Shannon! Comparison really is such a waste of time too. As I was learning about quilting, I did a lot of that (my stitching isn’t good enough, my points don’t match up, why can’t I get the hang of this or that?) But now that I’m a little older (more mature?), I try to get inspired by others but avoid comparing myself to them. I quilt for me, I do what works for me, I do what I love, with the fabrics I love and in the way that I love. Life is just way too damn short to do anything else!

    1. Yes to ALL that you said, Izzy! Life is definitely way to short to get hung up on how we compare to others. Focusing on what we love and what makes us happy is a sure fire way to stay motivated and engaged with our craft. Plus, it ensures lots of diversity in our community 😉