inspiration + real life

inspiration + real life - noodlehead

Oooo. I felt this post coming for a long time. Hmmm, orginally I was scrolling through my pinterest boards and was thinking, gosh, I really hope other sewists find this board, it’s so cool! And I don’t mean that in a ‘look at my stuff’ kind of way. I typically only share sewing or creative diy projects on my pin board that I think are inspiring. I hardly ever pin my own photos, I’m not sure why, but I love pinning what others make using my patterns as well as other patterns and DIYs from so many talented people.

And then I went and typed that title of the post up there, you know the one, inspiration + real life. It gets me thinking deep about my creative life and all that. I feel like maybe that’s the missing link that I’ve been searching for to try and connect in my mind. I often find myself scrolling through instagram endlessly and thinking, gosh I just feel so inspired but not necessarily motivated to actually throw myself in and do something. It’s kind of a ishy feeling actually. I want to do the things and yet it’s hard to do the things! It’s hard to commit to projects, hard to find the time, and hard to sort through all the amazing inspiration out there.

So I’m sure there’s people out there that see my work and feel the same, inspired, but not sure how it fits into their real life. Well, I can tell you that I started super small. I mean, like nothing. I had a small desk and one shelf. I started with a free, yes free, sewing machine. I knew how to sew, but at the same time didn’t let myself get wrapped up in knowing everything. I just started.

inspiration + real life - noodlehead

this is my honest craft space from January 2010

I followed where my heart lead me. Sure there were times when I was scraping together a tutorial, feeling pressured to complete another project, or just generally feeling like I needed to make all the things, but that’s not really what kept me going. It was the community, this beautiful, sometimes mysterious world of online creatives. Having those relationships and sense of community always drew me back. There were times that weren’t so great in my life, but sewing was never something I stopped craving. Yes, my creativity comes and goes, but it’s always been there, and more importantly, I never stopped.

So what I’m trying to say is just keep going. Do what your heart wants. Creativity is not a contest, that I know for sure, but it’s such a great reminder. I hope you have fun with whatever you create, even if it sucks. I’ve made a lot of things that suck. But I also never questioned if I should stop creating. We were born for this.

inspiration + real life - noodlehead

38 thoughts on “inspiration + real life

  1. Debbie says:

    Thoughtful post. Since I retired from teaching,it has been wonderful to finally have the time to create.

  2. Brenda says:

    My dad likes to say that anything worth doing is worth doing badly. I remind myself of that, out loud, after every project that sucks. I love the creative process, and if the stuff I make actually turns out, that is kind of like a bonus.

  3. Ronja says:

    Thank you so much for this post, true words.

  4. Di Ross says:

    Thanks for this post , I think we all need a reminder like this. The internet can make everything look perfect! Loved seeing your photo of your crafty space back in 2010, made me feel better, you always look so organised. I do love a clean sewing room but a couple of days of playing, it looks like a bomb has hit it.

  5. Liz says:

    Thank you for your post. I’ve struggled with being creative lately – trying too hard to make perfect choices which has left me stuck and not doing anything as a result. What you shared is very helpful!

  6. Donna Baker says:

    I really hope one day our paths will cross in real life because I’d love to give you a great big hug. YOU are an inspiration.

  7. Billie says:

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on imperfection. I have gone back to quilting after many years of a career and four children. I find myself being so unhappy with points that get lost in a seam, lopsided blocks and such. I forget the joy in creating. The perfection will come the more I create … I just need to push forward. Maybe one of these days I might even write a tutorial about my mistakes and how to avoid them.
    Love your work. Keep inspiring us all.

  8. rainjerette says:

    Thank you. I really needed this today. I am struggling with making, and pondering if I should give it up altogether.

    1. acbeier71 says:

      Don’t do it!! I am just coming back after a long break with a finish. And I almost gave it up altogether too. The long break was due to emergency back surgery. For over 8 weeks I couldn’t sit on a chair at my sewing machine. I looked sadly a my UFO’s. Then when I could sit at the machine for short periods of time at first, kept making mistakes, getting confused, was super critical of myself, and I learned some really important lessons. I was convinced I should give sewing and blogging up. But I didn’t. I pulled myself up by my bobbin thread and told myself to STOP with all this negative thinking. Then I asked myself this; Am I trying to compete with an image of perfection out there? And I was.
      Then I remembered why began all of this in the first place. It was to have fun. I am not publically entering entering any challenges now, trying to keep up. I am sewing all the things in my folder that say “First Run,” which means patterns I fell in love with and haven’t made because I’ve been sidetracked. And I am only reading keeping up with 10 blogs.
      I am focusing on my health, because I have my back now. I can walk, and before you know it I will be able to…….

      1. Diana says:

        Acbeier71–I can relate to your situation. I broke my back a couple of years ago and for a long time I could not sit comfortably anywhere. For me it was more comfortable to stand while sewing, which I continued to do until just recently. I found that I was forced to reconsider my priorities and sort of reset my life. I also had to make a lot of adjustments due to the cognitive issues you describe here. (Apparently these are a common side effect of this kind of physical trauma.) In the end, many of these changes have led to insights about how fear and worry make pain unnecessarily worse, and how distraction is the best medicine 🙂 Thanks for your comments here and best of luck with your recovery!

  9. Amanda says:

    Yes! I completely know what you are saying! I get so excited and see so many things I want to make and then….it just doesn’t happen. I sometimes wish I could just be a maker full time, but then I think it would loose some of its magic for me. I just keep plugging along and try to fit it in when I can. I do know for sure that being creative is essential to my being through all seasons of life. Sometimes I get to do the creating and sometimes time only allows for me to be inspired without follow-through.

  10. Karen Martinussen says:

    Thankyou so much for this post. Since we probably never will meet in real life, as I live in Denmark, I’ll give you a big virtuel hug. I’ve followed your blog for a long time and allways look forward to the next post. You are so inspiring and so so talented, love so see your beautiful and thorougly made projekts.
    Thanks again.

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Thanks so much Karen! I’m so happy we can connect in this way. 🙂

  11. Judy says:

    What a lovely and thoughtful post. A beautiful reminder for all of us. It is so important for us humans to create no matter our age. It feeds our souls. You are a wise woman.

  12. Ruthann says:

    What an inspiring post. Thank you 🙂

  13. Nathalie V. says:

    I totally understand: lots of ideas in my head, but actually starting is very hard.

  14. Amanda G. says:

    Thank you so much for this thoughtful post. I always feel like I should be creating more. I have the time, but sometimes the motivation isn’t there. It’s hard to watch people on IG knock out projects left and right and not feel like a bump on a log. It’s nice to know that everyone has that feeling sometimes. If you had this on a post card, I would hang it on my fridge along with your other post cards. 🙂

    1. Pam says:

      Agreed Amanda! I have the time, but I don’t start. I just keep buying fabric and not using it. Looking at all the amazing finished projects on IG and FB are inspiring but I’m wondering if it overwhelms me and I don’t start. Probably time for me to cut back on social media and focus on what I want to do. Ughhhh … this feeling is so draining!

    2. Anna Graham says:

      Yes, I so know that feeling well. And you’re in luck, the peonies are on my newest set of postcards! 🙂

  15. I absolutely agree with your advice to just start. Start wherever you are. There’s no wrong place to start. I’ve learned so much by doing both sewing and learning how to make this a business. It’s all trial and error. That’s life!

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Yes, couldn’t agree more Rachel!

  16. Amy McAllister says:

    So much this! Thank you Anna.

  17. Shelley Trunnell says:

    Back in March I saw a picture on Pinterest of a cute little zipper bag. Turns out it was one of your patterns. Anna, I have been sewing ever since. I made that zipper bag and many more followed it. I moved on to your tote bag pattern after seeing your summer madras tutorial you posted. Many many more followed that first bag. From there I moved on to a very small quilt from a charm pack. I am now signed up for a longarm sewing class next Saturday. I may have taken 20 years off from sewing but I AM BACK! If it hadn’t been for that tiny little zipper bag I wouldn’t have a life filled with creativity and a newfound hobby I absolutely love. I have you to thank for that Anna. So, from the bottom of my heart…THANK YOU.

    1. Anna Graham says:

      Oh I’m so glad to hear that Shelley! That’s just so wonderful!!! 🙂

  18. Laurel W Krynock says:

    Such a great post, Anna! I always have to remind myself that my best inspiration almost always comes when I’m creating, not when I’m off looking for inspiration. So, yes, just keep making!!

  19. Cynthia says:

    thank you Anna – no truer words have been spoken

  20. Debbie says:

    What a lovely post.

  21. Tanya says:

    Thank you for this post. I wondered if I was the only person who drools on my keyboard but can’t make a move once I get to my sewing room. I wish there was a motivation pill.

  22. patty says:

    Nice thoughtful post

  23. MonicaAD says:


  24. Miquela says:

    Wow. I needed this today. Thank you…back to work.

  25. karen Libby says:

    I’m going to go home this weekend and attack that pouch pattern I got from your website! Zippers be darned!

  26. Kathleen says:

    “I knew how to sew, but at the same time didn’t let myself get wrapped up in knowing everything. I just started.”
    Your words, my self, back when I first learned how to sew, in the eighth grade, home ee class, late 1960s. So, no internet. I referred to magazines for craft, and fabric store patterns for clothes. I didn’t know everything, but I had really nothing to compare what I made to, except the magazine and the pattern envelope. I guess I took a no fear sort of approach to whatever I made. So now there’s the internet, and I look at some items and think, I can never make that. But if I think back hard enough, I certainly did make something very much like it, and did a darn good job of it too!

  27. Carol Fay says:

    Thank you!

  28. Kate Jenks says:

    I struggle so, so much with this. As the mom of a two year old and a four year old, I find myself constantly bursting with creative ambitions, but without the time and energies to really feel like I am getting anywhere. I often feel overwhelmed with a frustrating about this. It can be so discouraging. I also am someone who, in my desire to do all the things often ends up finishing next to nothing. I remember Grace Bonney once saying to just “do the work that is in front of you.” But just making myself pick a thing, even a very small thing, and do it start to finish, I can get rid of some of my anxiety about this stuff.

    What has also helped a lot is taking the time to consciously list for myself before I go to bed all of the things I have managed to accomplish and create through that day. This often means celebrating victories so small I call them Micro Victories. Maybe I just achieved a single row of kitting, or ordered the fabric for a project. Maybe I cooked lunch, or helped my kid string some beads for a necklace. By expanding my definition of what “counts” as creative, and focusing on what I do know or do, and not what I don’t get to or still have to learn, I feel a lot better about things.

    1. Kate Jenks says:

      Wow. I wrote that comment with a two year old wrapped around my neck, which explains the number of typos and grammatical errors. Apologies!

  29. Maryellen says:

    Thank you so much for this post. I have read your blog for years and looked forward to all your projects. I took time off from creating and used work/school as the excuse. Now that I have the time,I am struggling to start again. It’s that bugger, perfectionism, getting in my way. Thank you, Anna, for helping me to feel brave enough to just jump back in and start again…even if it turns out sucky!

  30. Brienne Moody says:

    Love this, Anna. Thank you for your honesty! Look at you now!!!

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