Thursday, August 5, 2010

The next gift quilt, and others

My husband's first cousin's daughter is getting married next month. I have a quilt that I made some time ago that will be completed and sent as a wedding gift. It's one of five that were quilted with sporadic bobbin tension issues by a longarm quilter I formerly used. The problem areas aren't large, and I can pick out the quilting and redo it myself on my DSM. At the time, they disappointed me so much that I put them in the bottom of the chest and never finished the binding. Then life intervened and for the next ten (yes, ten!) years they lay there incomplete. One of them was finished a few months ago as a wedding gift for a friend. Now this one will find a home too. Here's a shot of it folded in half on the floor. I'll post a picture when the binding is done. I made it simply because I had never made a purple quilt before. I thought at the time it was fairly interesting, but now, hmmm, maybe not. Purple is good as an accent in a quilt but as the basis? Maybe not for me. It doesn't make it ugly though, and I hope Katie likes it. Many people, including my niece, like purple.

Kind of nice to have things in hand for this kind of quick gift.

On other fronts, I scanned some patterns from my Carrie Nelson quilt books and made up home-grown kits from my stash for a few projects I have planned. So much easier to have the pattern and the fabric bundled together without the bulk of the whole book. Here is where it gets embarrassing. I have two quilts in progress - the batik "Little Red" and a scrap "Opening Day" from her designs - and there are six - yes, I shudder to admit it, six - that I want to make for which I have pulled and bundled fabric from the stash closet. Her designs are exactly what I love to do for fun. They are scrappy, traditional, detailed but not too busy and interesting but not onerous to make. As much as I love Bonnie Hunter's quilts, and I truly do, they can sometimes be killers to finish. Carolina Christmas was a real bear. Ms. Nelson's quilts are a bit smaller usually and don't typically have pieces that are so tiny or numerous.

Some people might think I am not a very adventurous quilter, and maybe they are right. I find that I gravitate toward things that are traditional and pretty, and won't take a year to complete. I piece quilts for relaxation and enjoyment. If I'm not pushing myself into new territories, so be it. I've made all kinds of quilts in my life, I've done patchwork and I've done applique, big and small, planned and scrappy, intricate and simple. I'm at a point where I love to sew but don't necessarily want to get into very complicated projects.

There are two large applique projects I will probably make next year, but they aren't quilts that are tempting me right now because to make any progress you're tied down for many many hours, and I feel the need to skip around between designs right now. Never let your hobby feel like a job.

There is a member of Quiltville chat that recently posted asking for opinions whether she should go back to school or try to make a living from quilting. She is young, and has time to sample different possibilities but I admit I winced when I read her post. I know several people who longarm quilt for a living and it seems that they are busier than the proverbial one-armed paperhanger. (Oh, dear, that probably isn't politically correct to say anymore, but if you've ever hung wallpaper it's a potent image.) And if you want to piece and sell merchandise too. . .

I feel that it would be hard to make any kind of living at all from this. The general public is conditioned from seeing Chinese made quilts in JCPenney's and Walmart to think that $49.00 is an absolutely fair price for a quilt. I know people that receive my gift quilts would gasp if they knew how much the fabric and quilting cost even if you're trying to be frugal, and wouldn't believe the time that went into it. If you don't sew you may not understand the difference in quality between a quilt made by your family for you, and those for sale at that cheap price. I would hope that anyone would be able to see it, but you never know. So pricing a quilt is problematical, especially if you're not a "name" quilter.

It would also be very easy for this pleasurable activity to become a chore and lose all its' appeal. It would be a shame if 10 years down the road this young woman found that she had grown to dislike what once gave her so much pleasure. Maybe she thinks that a home-based business like quilting would give her more family time, but I don't think it would, because if you were going to prosper you would have to put in the hours just like at an office and that's time away from your family.

The best thing about my education is that it allowed me to find a well paying job that had longevity and a modicum of security. That, coupled with a fairly frugal style of living, allowed us to retire earlier than many people when we faced health issues that required it. So now I'm not even 60 and I have the time and finances to leave work behind and do what I love while I take care of people who need me. Well, unless the economy totally goes down the tubes, but that applies to everyone. . .

The young women on Quiltville Chat spoke about putting off continuing her education, and many commenters responded "You can always go back to school." Well, yes, but---it gets harder and harder. After you have a family the juggling of responsibilities gets worse, I've seen it in people close to me. I also took classes toward a master's degree while working full time and it was awfully hard. Not to mention the "old dog new tricks" angle! I firmly believe that. It was a lot harder being in school in my thirties than in my twenties. I can't imagine taking classes in my fifties!

Well, that's my soapbox speech for today.


paula, the quilter said...

I've been wondering what you've been working on since you have been so quiet. I once considered quilting for a living, but dropped the idea. I realized that I love sewing and quilting for my own enjoyment and did not want to turn it into a job.

Linda said...

The quilt looks great. I'm sorry about the quilting. I have been disappointed before too so I know exactly what you mean. It took me about two years to finish binding a quilt after I got it back. I just couldn't look at it.

I agree with you on the young woman too. I worked in a quilt shop for 10 years. I made samples for the shops, taught classes, quilted a few quilts, bound alot of quilts, etc. for the public and it really turns your hobby into work. I got burnt out and it took me a long time to get my enjoyment back. I only quilt for others now when they are desperate. I also went back to school in my 30's and it is very hard to juggle family, school and making a living...In today's economy I would be inclined to go to school and get an education so I could get a better job first and I would try quilting part time...

Decca said...

I can't imagine receiving a more lovely or better gift than a quilt. I know how much time and money goes into one. I lusted after one I saw in a quilt store that I couldn't possibly afford at $500 and I'm pretty sure that was cheap for the workmanship.

The only "quilts" I've ever made were panels for the AIDS quilt and they weren't "real" quilts -- just cloth remembrances of lost friends.

I'm sure the recipient will love it. You are SO talented!

The Calico Quilter said...

Decca, thanks for the kind words. Piecing quilts is my escape and my relaxation. Everyone needs something like that to lose themselves in. It keeps you sane.

It's very cool that you worked on the AIDS quilt.