An Open Letter to the Decemberists – Quilts and their makers have value

01/23/15 – A Few Updates!

First up – yes, some fans and local artists made a quilt for the band – you can see it here (it’s lovely – how lucky they are to be cared for so much!) And it’s not the one pictured below.

Second – the link to the raffle of the quilts, which stated the value of $388 is no longer alive because the entry date has passed. Once upon a time it could be found at https://pages.umusic-mail.com/decemberists/rules/ but no longer. I doubt my writing anything about this got it taken down :-)

Third - Meg Cox, a respected professional in the quilt industry, has snagged an interview with Carson Ellis that she will publish shortly. I’m looking forward to reading it.

Fourth – this was never about the band. The quilt industry peeps get the conversation. It has always been about educating the public that handmade art and craft has VALUE, and that the people that make these things deserve to be paid in accordance with their skill and talent – accountants love their jobs and don’t do it for free, so why should we? It’s also about teaching people who do make these things to up their game and charge their worth. If just one person sees more value in handcraft because of what I write, then it utterly negates the harsh words of the trolls. I’ve left their comments standing for the sake of balance :-) but will be deleting anything that is just plain hateful that doesn’t add value to the discourse.

Fifth – for those of you who comment that the valuation of $388 might be based on materials alone and needs to be listed that way for tax purposes, I would ask you to look at the valuation of any car given away in a contest. The car is always valued at full retail – not the price of the parts before they got assembled!

Carry on!

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(Originally published on 01.22.15 @ 6:02am)

Hey Decemberists! I see you have a shiny new album, with a really cool cover (that I read was designed by Carson Ellis, your frontman’s talented wife):

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Image credit to The Decemberist’s website at http://www.decemberists.com

And clever you, you’ve decided to raffle off a couple of quilts made to look like the cover:

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Image from The Decemberist’s Blog at http://www.decemberists.com/news/itunes-first-play-a-beginning-song-released/

Who wouldn’t want such a pretty quilt? I wonder who made it? I can’t find that information anywhere. All I could find (before the entries closed) is the estimated value, a ridiculously low $388.

I’m guessing that, perhaps, (hopefully?) none of you have ever made a quilt, because if you had, you’d know better. So, as a member of the quilting community, and one willing to publicly bear the torch for us being treated well, I have a few things to say to you:

The art of a quilt isn’t just in the materials, any more than your music is in the plastic of a CD and its case. The art is in the intellectual property, and the skill to render it into form. The hard work it took to learn how to do it right is a huge factor. Just as you didn’t get good at your art overnight, neither do most quilt artists. It takes practiced skill to know how to build a set of triangles into something pretty, just like the skill it takes to arrange a set of chords to make beautiful music. How would you feel if we raffled off your music for the value of the plastic, without saying who played on the album?

As artists who’ve “made it,” you have a certain amount of power. You’ve done well. You’ve made it through an incredibly tough gauntlet of toiling in dodgy dives for a few bucks and cheap beer. You’ve got fans, enough visibility to get a day named after you in Portland, and a record company to help distribute your music. You’ve got a pulpit. Now use the power of that pulpit to help other artists.

Tell us who made the quilts. Link them up so they can maybe get some business out of it. Pay them properly (because I know you know the lie in being asked to do your art for “exposure”). And get those quilts properly appraised so that you don’t perpetuate the idea that we like sewing for cheap. Because we don’t – we are worth SO much more.

I know that most people think quilt makers are a bunch of older ladies with nothing else to do, but I’m here to set that story straight. Many of us make our livings in the $3.7B industry that is quilting. Yes, the B stands for BILLION. It’s a huge deal, even if it isn’t visible to you, so let me run down some sewing economics for you:

First up – there’s the talent. We quilt makers often spend years honing our craft. Sort of like musicians do. It takes a lot of practice to get good at sewing. And lest you think “anyone can sew”, how would you feel if I said anyone can strum a few chords and yell into a microphone?

The equipment is expensive too, not unlike the cost of guitars or drums. Yes, you can get a cheap machine, but they work like a cheap knock-off guitar sounds – like crap. And there are all sorts of things you need to have to keep them running. Like spare parts and good techs to do the tweaking.

Then there’s the cost of materials. I can’t find any details about the size of the quilts you’ve offered, but let’s go with an educated guess of 40” x 60”. I see at least 20 fabrics in there, and assume the minimum purchase for the top alone was about 6 yards. Premium fabric is running around $13 a yard, and you’d need about 3 yards to finish the backing and binding. So 9 yards at $13 is $117. Plus batting (let’s call it $20). And threads ($10 for the good stuff). So we’re at a conservative $147 before we talk about labor.

At $388 less materials, we have $241 with which to pay the artist. I’d bid 6 hours to work out the design, and around 15 for putting the top together, assuming nothing goes horrendously wrong. And for the record, I sew FAST (a skill that has taken 25 years to develop), and on an expensive, fast machine. It would take a couple of hours to put together a back and turn it into a quilt sandwich. It takes 2 hours for a quick and dirty quilting job, 10 for something custom and amazing. Another hour to make a binding, and three more to get it on with a hand finish (which is how many of us do it). At the low end, we’re talking 27 hours. $241 divided by 27 puts the labor at less than $9 an hour.

Do I have to point out that $9 and hour is an insult to ANY skilled artist? That my mechanic charges $99 an hour? That my friend just gave a plumber $13,000 for about 4 days of work? That $9 an hour, if you’re lucky, gets you “do you want fries with that?” and an order that isn’t screwed up?

Those quilts are worth far more than $388. And our industry cares about crediting who makes things (after being invisible behind centuries of anonymously made quilts, we’re kind of rabid about knowing who the makers are). So from one group of artists to another… give us a hand, OK?

Cheers ~ Sam Hunter

 

Sew Sassy Buttons – GEEK edition!

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New sassy buttons! An edition just for our geeky and nerdy sewing pals!

From Firefly: 
Sew Shiny!
The Quickest Stitch in the ‘Verse

From Star Trek: 
Make It Sew!

From Star Wars: 
Sew Geeky
Sew or Sew Not, There is no TRY

From Game of Thrones: 
Winter is Coming… Make Quilts

From Battlestar Galactica: 
Sew Frakking Nerdy
Sew Say We All

And from Doctor WHO: 
Bigger on the Inside
Sonic Seam Ripper

Get ‘em here! 

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Where is Sam? Quilt Market edition! With a slightly Fractured Fairy Tale, and CAH!

Read on for some quilt updates!!

I’m off to Quilt Market tomorrow! Here’s where to find me: (or follow on IG @huntersds and #quiltmarket)

TODAY: In the kitchen, making shortbread; finishing laundry; last minute errands; cramming it all into suitcases; hopefully not forgetting anything.

Haven't even started on the clothes yet!

Haven’t even started on the clothes yet!

Thursday: O-Dark-Hundred, PDX to IAH, landing early afternoon. With, methinks, the new X-Men movie on the iPad because, well, Hugh Jackman.

Thursday afternoon: Delivering a bunch of the pile above to the booths they belong in! (Aurifil, Brewer, Checker, EE Schenck, Hoffman Fabrics, Janome, Warm Co.)

Friday: Schoolhouse! 3:45pm in Room 362D! Showing some of the quilts from Quilt Talk and teaching retailers how to market the book. And I have great giveaway swag. And Sew Sassy Buttons. And SHORTBREAD. You want to be there!

Saturday: Book signing! 4pm at Booth 2336 with C&T Publishing – I’ll be signing free copies of Quilt Talk! With more Sew Sassy Buttons!

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The rest of the time: I’ll be on a scooter, protecting my goofy heart, with fingers crossed to stay the heck out of the hospital this time. For those of you who worry about me when I travel, please know that the Queens of BadAssery, Maddie and Flaun, are my guardian angels this trip, and are not afraid to kick my patootie and send me to my room if I get over-tired.

BUTTONS! I have new Sassy buttons to share – track me down and ask to dig through the swag bag. Really, just ask – I love to share them. If you are a Quilt Industry Professional, I have a special button for you, because you are now officially Quilt Famous!*

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*The Fractured Fairy Tale behind Quilt Famous goes like this: Once upon a time, the daughters of a certain Quilt Humor Writer came to their mother with questions, as children are wont to do. Being as whip smart and sassy as their mama, the young ladies demanded to know, now that said mama had written a whole book, just EXACTLY how famous she was. It was determined that, by tabloid standards, their mother wasn’t very famous at all. But it was pointed out that, in the small realm of Quiltdom, their mother actually has cred, and oodles of fans who adore her, both qualifying attributes for the achievement of fame. Thus the term Quilt Famous was coined, and all of Quiltdom may live on, happily ever after, secure in their quilt fame, too.

In other news… the qiveaway for Quilt Talk and a bunch of other goodies is still open for comments until Monday, after I return.

AND lastly… I’ll be playing Cards Against Humanity (CAH) with my fellow quilters on Saturday night. I have blank cards that need some diabolical quilt related stuff written on them. Ideas? Leave them in the comments, or email them to me at sewsamsew (AT) gmail (DOT) com if you want to preserve your “butter wouldn’t melt in my mouth” rep. Your secrets are safe with me! I will send Sassy Buttons to the author of a randomly chosen phrase or question offered!!

Catch you later!

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Final QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 13 – ORANGE – with me!

You made it! Lucky 13 ends here with me, and of course, with the ORANGE bucket!

ORANGE Bucket

Here’s a link to the ORANGE pattern, and here’s a link to the instructions on how to construct all the color buckets (you only need to download this once).

It was pointed out to me that the ORANGE bucket seems to have a bit more work in the fabrics – to which I can only say “guilty as charged!” ORANGE is definitely my favorite color, and I had strips left over from making another project, so it was perfect.

Thank you for hopping along, and I hope you’re inspired to make a project talk with some words! If you didn’t yet purchase your copy of Quilt Talk, you can get a signed copy here. You can also hit up your local quilt shop or indie bookstore – remember, the price difference between the local store and Amazon is only about the cost of a frothy coffee or a half yard of fabric – so please give your local stores some love or they won’t be there when you need them!

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And finally – I have goodies for you! In addition to an autographed book, I have a package of my favorite newsprint paper-piecing paper, a hunk of Timtex and fusible fleece to get you started on a bucket, printouts of all the color words on the newsprint, and some Sassy Buttons. And if there’s room in the envelope, maybe other things!

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In your comments, please talk quilty to me! Tell me which words you’d use on your wordy quilt. Random.org will help me choose a winner on Monday Oct 27, after I get back from Houston Quilt Market (where I plan to take a lot of pix, so follow @huntersds on Instagram, or here on Facebook.

ALSO – when I get back from Quilt Market, look for a photo tutorial on how to make the buckets!

A LAST REMINDER: Hop back to these great people to grab any missing color patterns!

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 10 – GRAY – with Maddie Kertay

Day 10 takes us down south to Chattanooga, TN, and into the arms of the inimitable Maddie Kertay of the BadAss Quilters Society, and of the new quilt shop Spool. Gray is the color for the day!

GRAY Bucket

You might not know that I spent my formative years hopping back and forth between England and the US, and because of that, I have some blind spots in my ability to spell. The word GRAY/GREY is one of those spots. I had to research this one before making the pattern… it turns out that A belongs to the US and E belongs to everywhere else. I put both in the pattern so that wherever you are, you’ll be OK!

And now, to Maddie. I adore this woman. She is all-out inspiration, living life large, but the best part about that is she encourages those of us around her to do the same. She started BAQS when one person too many told her to be a bit more seemly, and to make her quilts fit their definition of proper. Not only did Maddie rebel, she made a place for all of us to go be ourselves. Acceptance is the first tenet of BAQS, and being totally, beautifully, uniquely YOU is the next, and “be nice” is the third – no flame wars allowed! AND she dived into making a quilt for the book with wild abandon! (See the pix on her hop)

Beyond that, she is the champion of MANY in the quilt arena. She is a wise business woman who uses her powers for good, the embodiment of one of my favorite quotes from Madeleine Albright:

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She helps those of us around her, coaching us all to shine a bit brighter. She promotes and links and shares and praises the things she believes in with generous abandon, and I’m a very, very grateful recipient of her TLC.

She’s also a dear, dear pal. I ended up in the hospital during last quilt market, and she and Megan Dougherty scrambled their schedules to make sure I had a friend with me pretty much until I got discharged. Lucky me, I get to take another picture like this one next week in Houston! (while avoiding the hospital like the plague!)

Maddie and Sam

Please hop over to Maddie, and if you haven’t joined BAQS yet, please do so… it’s one place you can go to just make the quilts you love to make.

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

 

QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 9 – BLUE – with Sarah Fielke

Day 9 takes us back Down-Under for the BLUE bucket with the wildly talented Sarah Fielke!

BLUE Bucket

Sarah and I “met” through the wonders of the internet in a discussion of things related to We Are $ew Worth It. In British and Aussie parlance, I was (and still am) chuffed to have her support for it, and now for Quilt Talk, too!

Following Sarah’s adventures in quilting on any of the visual social media feeds is like peeking into an alternate universe for me. I’m utterly fascinated… she does a LOT of beautiful hand appliqué and hand quilting, the first of which I do under duress (cussing up a storm) and the second of which I’ve never tried. My machine is my power tool!

Her latest book, a collaboration with Amy Lobsiger, is Little Quilts, a journey down the path of miniatures.

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Miniatures in any form are fascinating (I have a current obsession with Superhero Lego people), but as quilts, they’re a great way try a lot of patterns without a huge investment, not to mention easy on storage! The book covers all sorts of techniques by hand and machine for all interests, all in beautiful, inspiring fabric choices.

Sarah also designs fabrics, and you might see her latest line for Windham, Enchanted, at your local store right now. It’s both vibrant and whimsical:

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Please hop over to Sarah here, and check out what she’s up to.

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!

QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 8 – GREEN – with Rose Hughes

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? Mine was fantastic… I got to sign Quilt Talk at Powell’s City of Books, the holy grail of independent booksellers, and it was an incredibly special moment. I also got to sew with a friend (more quilt market prep), and we has a good and productive day.

And so here we are, ready to bring you another bucket! My partner in crime for the day is Rose Hughes, a dear friend and inspiring fiber artist.

GREEN BucketI met Rose a few years back, when we both lived in Southern California. She was coming down to the wire on her last book, Design, Create, and Quilt, and was in need of studio minions for a day of sewing the project samples. I joined other friends to help out for a fun day of sewing.

Rose pioneered a fast and easy appliqué technique for making complex shapes whose edges are finished with machine worked embellishments. Applique is SO not my strong suit, so I imagined that I would just be cutting out fabric, and perhaps ironing for the day. But no. Within an hour, there I was, up to my elbows in this new technique, and having a really good time with it – it was that easy to pick up. And when the book came out I was absolutely tickled to see the section I had worked on included on the cover.

Since then, Rose moved to Paducah, KY, and I moved to Portland, OR, so I wasn’t able to help with her latest book, but I’m excited to get my hands on it! In it, Rose takes you through the steps to simplify a complex image into a bold and graphic quilt design. Here’s a peek at the cover:

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All that ORANGE! The book comes out in January, and you can pre-order here.

Rose has also been a generous mentor. When I started out on the journey for Quilt Talk, I had a lot of questions, and she patiently helped me understand the complexities of the process. Quilting really DOES bring great people to your life!

Please hop over to Rose here, and check out what she’s up to.

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 7 – PINK – with Ebony Love

Happy Friday! We’re heading into the weekend with a PINK bucket, hosted by the original Pink Lady of quilting, Ebony Love. Hop to LoveBug Studios to find the pattern.

PINK Bucket

I met Ebony in person last year at Houston Quilt Market when I was pulled in to help in her booth after a scheduling snafu. She is one of the kindest and coolest people I met last year… Market can be a high stress game, and a messy schedule can make one, shall we say, a bit unladylike. But not Ebony.. she handled it with the aplomb and grace of the Dowager Countess of Grantham.

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It’s no mistake that I’m name dropping Downton Abbey here. Last year Ebony designed a mystery quilt to go with the Downton Abbey fabrics released by Andover, and she has another one coming for the new line in 2015.

Ebony is the queen of die cutting, and heavily promotes the EDeN (Equivalent Die Notation) System for adding die cutting info to patterns. If you find precision cutting a chore, you should check out how Ebony does die cutting.

OK, I’ve gushed on her plenty, and it’s all well deserved! Please stop by her blog and get your PINK on!

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 6 – HEXIES – with Cath Hall

Day 6 of the Quilt Talk tour takes us to Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts for a slightly different bucket: HEXIES. Yes, not really a color bucket, but with the trend to hexies still growing, we thought it would be a fun addition to the tour. And look at that hexagonal bee fabric!

HEXIES Bucket

Cath is a new Portland friend. She heads up the charity quilting program at the Portland Modern Quilt Guild and is part of the dynamic board. She’s also an Aussie, born in Britain, and transplanted to the US. One sentence out of her mouth and I knew we’d be pals – you can take the girls out of England, but you’ll never get the England (or Australia) out of the girls!

In addition to being a whiz with hexies, Cath is a master at paper-piecing. Her blog is a torrent of beautiful projects, lots of them made on paper, with a no-nonsense breakdown of the adventures it takes to make her quilts. And is she ever productive! She also runs the occasional test on patterns for me (we’ll have one to show you after it debuts for quilt market… the pattern is mine but the fabric is still secret – and I hate that I can’t just blab it all as soon as it’s made!)

Cath is firmly in the PINK camp, and keeps telling me that she’ll get me converted at some point. I still think it needs ORANGE added to it to make it look better, but I don’t hold it against her! She’s too much fun to hang out with!

Please hop to her blog to see all her beautiful quilts, and pick up the HEXIES pattern!

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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QUILT TALK Blog Hop Day 5 – WHITE – with Molli Sparkles

(Hi tour readers! A quick word…. the folks participating in this tour are busy and human, just like you and me, and so occasionally their posts don’t get put up in the wee hours while you are sleeping. Please be patient and kind about it… the posts will appear at some point, and if they don’t, I’ll make sure I post the pattern at the end so you don’t miss out. ~Thank you!)

It’s day 5 of the Quilt Talk book tour, and we’re heading across the water (and equator) to hang out with Molli Sparkles! Molli is an American ex-pat, living Down Under, and making lovely, modern quilts. Molli is in a totally different space and time dimension, so hang tight if his post isn’t up this morning!

White Bucket

Molli and I became comrades-in-arms over We Are $ew Worth It - and Molli took it and ran hard with this legendary post about making a stunner of a WHITE quilt, and doing a bunch of detailed math to show its true value. I can’t thank Molli enough for carrying the torch for this work. I chose WHITE for him as it’s the closest color to SPARKLE that I could come up with, as well as being a nod to the WHITE quilt and its story.

I also wanted to include Molli (and next week, Sarah Fielke) as they both reach the Aussie quilting peeps that have been so kind to me. For both of their giveaways, I will be mailing a hard copy, real paper-and-ink book to the winners in Australia. I know that our quilting sisters and brothers outside the US often get to win electronic books, but I’m more than chuffed to have you along for the tour, and want to make sure you get to hold a book. I can vouch for how fun it is to have one in your hands!

Please hop over to Molli to see what hi-jinx he’s up to!

Here’s a reminder of the tour and COLOR bucket schedule:

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BTW – Did you join my mailing list yet? Do it here. I’m dreaming up groovy exclusive stuff for you!