Dimensional Indeed!

Pam Lincoln at Mama Spark’s World recently filled my inbox with goodness! Check out the pix of her rendition of my Relatively Dimensional pattern!

IMG_3494She used a custom Gallifreyan Spoonflower fabric for the background, and then sent it to Kathy Koch at Thread Bear Quilting for the long-arm artistry.

IMG_3496 IMG_3497I’m utterly entranced with the interplay of the circles, and more than a little geeked out by the “DW” motif in the door panels. Swoon!

Brava, ladies! And thank you SO much for sharing the pix with me!

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A Slight Obsession with Sew Together Bags

Have you made a Sew Together Bag yet? Did you know there’s a pattern for a MINI version??

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It’s shorter, and has only two interior pockets.

Elizabeth at OPQuilt.com designed the adapted mini, but she did something utterly cool to protect the original pattern. Rather than offer up the cutting instructions, which could thereby cheat Michelle at SewDemented out of some pattern sales, she created a worksheet that doesn’t work unless you have the numbers from the original pattern. What a delightful way to honor and protect the original pattern!

Anyway – I’ve been on a bit of a tear, making them for friends. I’ve made eleven so far. I even made one for a zipper pouch exchange at my guild’s retreat this weekend. And I have the parts cut out for 4 more to sew while I’m there….

Yep. A little bit obsessed :-)

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Bloomin’ is in Keepsake!

I’m tickled to share that one of my patterns is being featured in the current Keepsake Quilting Catalog – it’s on the back page of the Spring issue! Thank you to all the friends who’ve forwarded pix to me.

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Keepsake has paired the pattern with Catalina, a new floral line from Maywood Studio Fabrics.

This version of the quilt was made by two dear and talented friends – paper-piecing maven Cath Hall of Wombat Quilts made the top, and Nancy Stovall of Just Quilting here in PDX did the long arm honors.

The pattern uses both paper-piecing and easy straight seam piecing to get the job done. If you’re not a fan of working within a collection, it’s an excellent scrap/stash buster – I used prints, batiks, and hand-dyeds in my version for the cover:

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Yes, yes, I know… I used PINK. But you noticed the ORANGE in there too, yes? Of course!

Both the hard copy and PDFs are available in my store… just follow the shopping link above. Or get yours as a kit from Keepsake.

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WASWI: “But I don’t need the money”

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It’s exciting to see the topic of selling handcrafted items for decent money rise up in the consciousness of our industry. I believe that the more we talk about it, the better it will be for all.

I was sent a recent post from Kate Chiconi, from which I pulled this quote (emphasis mine) regarding getting paid well for a quilt:

But I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no point counting the hours I spend in my enjoyment and expecting a return on investment. All that would achieve is a deep sense of despondency at how poorly I’m rewarded, whereas in fact the reward lies in the process and the pleasure my handwork gives, not the monetary reward. Fortunately, I’m not dependent on my sewing to support myself, unlike some of my forebears!

While I’m glad Kate understands the “despondency” of being low-balled for her work, and I’m thrilled she enjoys her process, I think she is missing the fact that her contemporary peers try to make livings with a needle, too.

For many of us, it’s REALLY tough to place a price on what we do. It engages all sorts of discomfort in our esteem, and often leaves us open to criticism and ridicule for daring to challenge the notion that it’s OK for artists to starve. Our love for what we do is called into question when we monetize it. And for we ladies, there’s an added layer of judgment about being uppity and “not nice” when you try to be business-like.

So we don’t do it. We shrink back when asking for a fair price. We do funky math and discount the cost of the materials because we already owned them (unwilling to point out that to replace them will cost good money.) We weakly defend the idea that you can love something AND make money at it (and why the hell is this only a conversation in the arts? I don’t see bankers struggling with this at all.) And the most corrosive lie we can tell is “I don’t need the money.”

It’s a great one to hide behind… not only does it make you sound fortunate, it colors you as generous and altruistic. You’re doing the would-be buyers a favor by leaving some cash in their wallets.

But while it might help you, and maybe get you a modest sale, it actually hurts all your sew-sisters and -brothers. YOU might not need the money, but I certainly do, and I’m not the only one. If you don’t educate buyers as to a fair price, then the knowledge of what that is will not permeate our art-buying culture. And we all suffer for it.

Even if you don’t need the money, PLEASE charge it. Donate the cash to children’s arts programs or your favorite charity if you need to get it out of your account. If you still don’t want to do that, please AT LEAST give the buyers a detailed invoice showing the depth of the discount they receive. Education is the easiest thing we can do to change this.

Kate ends with this:

We create because we can and because we must. Monetary reward is just a very pleasant fringe benefit…

Pleasure in my process is certainly important. But no one quilts for cash without enjoying their process – it’s just too damned hard. However, we can’t pay the rent in satisfaction, nor should we be expected to. Money isn’t a fringe benefit in the arts, it’s what feeds the family. Just like in other careers.

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In praise of counting, even when you don’t plan to sell

How many of us hit the first weekend of February, completely aghast that January was already history? One tenth of the year is done, and I’d be lying if I said I’m cool with that fraction. It’s actually making me sweat a bit. I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO.

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Like many people, I navigate the transition from December to January by taking stock, and one of the things I take stock of is how much work I do in my studio. Counting quilts isn’t too hard as they’re pretty big, but my post-meno memory still manages to lose track of a few – mostly test versions of a pattern in development, or things done for charity. I finished 28 quilts in 2014 – yes, a good number! And don’t hate me… remember this is my living! But when I look at that divided by 52 weeks, it made me wonder where my time went.

So here’s a more detailed breakdown:

  • 28 Quilts finished
  • 21 Bee blocks or donation/charity blocks
  • 4 Quilt tops
  • 17 Quilt Talk buckets
  • 11 Chunky Wee Bags
  • 27 Miscellaneous containers (small buckets, zip pouches, etc.)
  • 2 Cross Stitch pieces
  • 10 Other stuff (scarves, pattern tests for other people, sets of napkins for the house, etc.)

A whopping 111 items. Whew. Now *that* number makes me feel like I didn’t spend the entire year fiddling with social media!

So how do I track it? With this worksheet (download it here).

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While I point to other more detailed documents for tracking project time and materials, the one I use most is this one, with just enough space for the time used on common steps like piecing or binding. And this easily lets me see where my time went on all the other stuff!

Also – data is power. I can see that I made a lot of bee blocks, and this year I decided not to join in anymore bees or swaps for a bit to reclaim that time for other things I’d rather be doing. I can also track some broad numbers that I can use for more detailed bidding for projects, should the need arise.

I already have a good start for 2015 going (names of projects blurred to avoid spoiling a couple of surprises!):

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OK – back to the studio. Time to get something else ON the list!

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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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