I AM Slow Stitching
And it Doesn’t Matter What Kind of Stitching I’m Doing
By Maggie Bonanomi
For me, I can’t think of a better topic to address than Slow Stitching!
We all move along so fast these days, if not fast, then in overload mode. Slow Stitching is just what I want to do, and what I try to do — to take the time to savor what I am working on. Occasionally there are times when ‘hurry’ is necessary as in book deadlines or such but that doesn’t seem to give the stitching or the project its due, nor does it allow me to settle into my stitching and to benefit from both the quiet time and process of rhythmic stitching, or rug hoooking.
I love stitching wool appliqué. Once the project is planed, cut and laid out, there is nothing more to do except the stitching. There is something about hand dyed wool and its texture that feeds my soul. I practice my own form of slow by appreciating the feel and the texture of the wool in my hands, knowing that appreciating the fabrics that I create with is also a healing and important to my process. As I stitch, using a simple whip stitch, it is peaceful, calming and can be meditative as the main work is already done. As the pieces are stitched down they come alive…I don’t know how to explain it other than the project takes on a whole different look and feeling. I really like this, it would not be the same if I hurried the project by using a sewing machine! I am grateful to have a sewing machine, and I often use it, but it gets in the way and is a little noisy and mechanical, silly I know but I prefer the simpler hand stitching.
Now, I made a postage stamp blue and white quilt for my book Buttonwood Farm, published by the Kansas City Star. This time I used big stitches to “quilt” it as I am not a quilter and that was the easiest kind of quilting for me, even though I hand-sewed each little square of cotton fabric together.
The pleasure of working on this quilt was the collection of old blue fabrics I used as well as old white muslin, there are over 2300 little squares of fabric in this quilt. I even enjoyed cutting them all out. The more time I could visit with the old blue fabrics the better.
I had many pieces of different patterns, some tiny scraps others a little bigger, some washed from clothing and some not. I shopped from my stash. I not only created something of beauty, but ultimately I did my part for a greener planet. Hand stitching these little squares together gave me time to wonder where they came from originally, whose clothing was I using, and what kind of clothing they came from? Each little piece seemed to hold a tiny story that I could only imagine. I experienced deep satisfaction in sewing this piece. I understand strip piecing a quilt is fast and efficient but why miss all that is there to think about.
When I hook a rug, there is no rushing here and no ‘traditional’ stitches either but it is a process of pulling up beautiful strips of wool one loop at a time and seeing the design develop. Hand dyed wools have something you just want to touch. I don’t use a cutter to cut my strips, I tear my wool strips about twice as wide as I want then cut up the length. Again it is a process, an experience, to me it can be calming and meditative. I must admit there are a few times when I do want to get to a particular part of the project because I am excited about it and there are times there is prep work to do first, but once I’m into the rhythm of hooking, I can feel my body relax and my imagination begin to blossom
As stitchers, no matter what kind of stitching or creating we do, we spend a lot of time on our projects (and sometimes a lot of money). I think taking the time to enjoy what you are working on, become a part of the process, and following the guidelines of The Slow Stitching Movement, is a real benefit with rewards beyond finishing our stitching work.
About Maggie Bonanomi
“I still feel awfully lucky to live and work doing what I love to do, creating fabric, textures and color and living here in Lexington, Missouri, in my wonderful old house that makes the perfect backdrop for my projects.
“I grew up moving around, as my dad was in the Air Force. There were three of us kids that packed up our toys while mother packed up our home and off we went to our new location. We lived in California, Washington, from the Midwest to New England, always having to start over again. We did it. I used this great lesson when I married and my husband decided to return to the Army for another 20 years. We spent time moving stateside, but also had two tours in Germany. I always wanted to make our home comfortable, but often we did not have much of our own furniture with us. So, I used lessons learned from my mother, making do with what we had and creating comfort in what was available to us – a good lesson in creativity that I still draw on today.
“I am thankful I have had many interesting opportunities to create and design and best of all, an outlet for it. With our move more than 10 years ago to this home in Missouri, my focus has become more defined. Clearly the 19th century fits me and my home. I hope to stay here for a long time, it suits me just fine.”
Maggie is the author of Buttonwood Farm: 19 New Primitive Projects, With These Hands: 19th Century-Inspired Primitive Projects for Your Home, Nature’s Offerings: Primitive Projects Inspired by the Four Seasons,Â Comfort Zone: More Primitive Projects for You and Your Home, and Book of Days.
Thank you Maggie! You have expressed just the way I feel about slow stitching! Your work is beautiful, I have not seen your books ,but I am going to look for them right now!
Maggie, you could have not expressed your feelings and passion any better. Primitives and hand stititcing have always fulfilled my heart. I enjoy the whole process. When I came upon The Slow Stitching Movement, I knew I had found peace. I had fallen into a group of quilters whose purpose in life is to start whatever was popular and never finish anything. I was not happy, most of the projects were not me and therefore unfulfilling. UFOs are very stressful to me and so was sitting at a sewing machine for endless hours. I only felt relief instead of happiness that a project was complete. With Mark’s insight and guests like you warm my heart. Thank you for sharing. Peace.
Hi Maggie you describe the process of hand work so well, that is exactly how I fill when I do my hand work, is my meditation for the day, some time I will do a few stitches during my lunch at work.
i had just been thinking about this as it pertains to joining my crochet motifs. i love the slow process too. when i am immersed in beautifully colored fibers i enjoy such intimacy! thanks for sharing maggie, karen