Go to bed, Quilter. You’re tired.

This quilt is called "Tumbler" by Lynn Banks.

By Kristen Banks

If you’ve ever done very much quilting or any serious sewing at all for that matter, you’ve probably experienced the phenomenon of ‘hitting the wall.’

There is a moment, usually late at night and after hours of staying at it, that you start making mistakes. You not only make mistakes, you make the most stupid mistakes. You aren’t even able to accomplish the most elementary task like threading your sewing machine correctly, even though you’ve done it right like 67 million times before.

When you hit the wall, it seems like nothing you could possibly do could ever go right again. You want to try and power through, so you can get just a little bit further, but try as you may you don’t get further and sometimes you even take a few steps backward.

It’s at this point that your whole life and everything in the world loses all meaning. You’re sure you are the worst quilter who has ever lived, and you wonder why you ever even began sewing in the first place. You start thinking you should throw your project in the trash, and just give all your fabric and your stupid machine away because obviously you are not fit to ever quilt again.

But then again who would you give it to, because you have no friends either. They all know how terrible of a quilter you are, and are just too nice to say anything to you about it. You are the most miserable of all the wretches. At this point you are done, the clock has struck midnight, you turn into a pumpkin, and go down in a blaze of emotional glory; a true sight to behold.

It’s in these times that my mother’s voice echoes in my ears “Go to bed, Kristen. You’re tired”.

My poor mother drew the unfortunate short straw and ended up with a child who just would not sleep. She likes to tell that I didn’t sleep through the night until I was four years old. This is probably not much of an exaggeration, because in those days, I had fighting sleep down to an art.

She said she thought I was afraid I would “miss something,” and it was an all-out war to get me to shut my eyes for more than a minute. She said I was never sleepy headed. My eyes would pop open of a morning, and then I was off. They didn’t shut again until I was flat wore slick out.

Mom tried everything in the book, to no avail, I simply would not sleep. I remember her trying to put me down for a nap, it usually ended with her finally nodding off while reading me the third or fourth story and me yelling in protest jolting her from her own few precious stolen moments of slumber.

She said that once, when I was a toddler, she had tried everything. I was really fussy and she knew I needed a nap, but I was not having it. She left me screaming in the hall while shaking my baby gate. She didn’t know what else to do. Moments later everything went silent. She came around the corner to find me collapsed in a heap and sound asleep. I had finally just exhausted myself. Even as an adult I’ve been known to ‘burn the candle at both ends,’ but I have since learned the value of a good nap, and would welcome one at any chance I can get.

I’m always amazed at how the whole world looks different when you’re well rested. I’m surprised at how I can go to bed feeling exhausted and pathetic, then after a good night of sleep wake up ready to take on the whole world the next morning. Although it sounds simple and ridiculous, sometimes the answer to your quilting problems or any problem for that matter, can be to rest. You don’t even necessarily have to sleep. Sometimes just taking a step back for a moment can be enough.

When I get into a situation where I’m frustrated, nothing’s going right and I’ve tried everything, I’ll take a short break. I try to completely remove myself form the situation. I’ll take a walk, make a sandwhich, have a conversation with someone about anything other than what I’m working on, anything to take my mind off of my problem. Before I know it I’m feeling less exhausted and frustrated. I come back into the room with a clearer mind and start the task again. I can almost always get it this time. And just like that, I remember why I love sewing again.

While sleep and time to yourself won’t solve every problem, it never hurts to take a rest now and then. It’s great to work hard, do your best, and give your all 24/7, but sometimes you just need a moment to clear your mind, recharge, and do nothing.

So the next time you hit a wall and are just sure you’re a terrible quilter and everything is lost, take this advice and take a rest. Because there’s probably nothing wrong with you, or your work, and remember these words: “Go to bed, Quilter. You’re tired.”

Every Quilter has a story and we’d like to hear yours! Send us your stories, tips, and ideas to luluandhazel@yahoo.com.


  1. Carrie Gannon says:

    I can totally relate to this…I m a note owl…but when I m tired I cannot think clear…I just had to tell my daughter Paige, to go to bed…she called me crying about everything…Kristen, I so enjoy your volume and look forward to the next one….

  2. Kathy Goff says:

    If I walk away and leave work that needs to be ripped out I have a hard time going back to it. I try to do my ripping before I set it down.

  3. Lilly says:

    I can relate to this also, and I know it’s because I am afraid I will miss something. But finally at age 65, I have learned to step away and just go to Bed! My night usually consist of 6 hours, but that’s all it takes to make everything new and exciting Again! Love your Stories! You should save all of them and make a book. You could call it, A QUILTERS NOTES!

    • Kristen says:

      Thank you so much Lilly! I appreciate your words. It’s nice to know someone else is in the same boat lol

  4. Tina Sheppard says:

    Too true! I know it is time when I have made the same mistake 3 or 4 times.