You know I’ve been working on this quilt longer than I normally work on a quilt. I don’t consider myself a fast worker, but I’m definitely steady. I work at quilts on the daily. It’s prolific for me. A daily ritual that lasts most of the day. I took hand quilting with me on my vacation, so …….. I’m addicted.
It’s also a job. Does that take away some of the luster for you?
I’m working on a short video for my shop. Did you know I sell quilts for a living? Did you know that until a month ago it was my family’s sole support? Things have recently changed, a little for the good, a little for the bad, but that’s another story for another day.
Anyway, I was doing a voice over for my new video (not released yet) and it got me to thinking about how I first started making quilts.
Way back in 2008, when the kiddies were still kiddies and I was still a twenty something with no gray hairs to pluck out, I had a regular job as a realtor. I was NOT good at this job. I’m not a social butterfly and that job required that. I grew restless and bored and needed something, anything, a hobby. I went out and purchased a sewing machine.
Back in middle school home economics in 7th grade, I learned to use a sewing machine. I made pillows and pajamas. All was hideous. And the teacher was too pulled in every direction to make a difference in any skills I might have had. But I did learn a few things.
So with my shiny white $100 Singer from Sears, I started making pillows and other small projects around the house. I bought fabric, I used it, bought it, used it, and scraps were leftover. I didn’t know what to do with the pesky little bits of fabric, so I tossed them in a bin.
My mother who is always a generous soul bought me a rag quilt purse pattern off of Ebay, and I made her a purse. Then, I had to make everyone at her work a purse. Scraps continued to pile. I think the ladies might have been giving me $20 a piece for the small bags. The fun of making them didn’t last and I began for the first time to scour the internet for other fabric related things I could make. I bought more fabric and made more things, and this went on for a bit until I realized how much money I was spending on fabric.
My Etsy shop was born from this very issue. I made hardly no money selling real estate (seriously! I told you I was awful). I needed a way to make a little money on the side so I could continue buying fabric (this was a problem from the very beginning, y’all). I thought the shop could supplement that money and it did. People bought the little purses.
The idea for the quilt came from nowhere.
This was the early days of Etsy and it was not as saturated as it is now. There were literally no rag quilts there. I took my little purse pattern my mother had bought me, turned it into a quilt pattern and my rag quilting adventures began. I thought this was new. It was not. Rag quilts had been around forever, they were just new to me. Regardless, I started selling them on Etsy. I quit my realtor job in the Fall of 2010. Goodbye!
Scraps are piling at an alarming rate now and I have NO IDEA what to do with them. So I started donating and selling them off in great batches.
My rag quilting got to be the most boring thing in the world to me. Yes, I still got to pet pretty fabrics all day, but the same thing over and over and over, no thank you. Or at least give me gaps where I’m not going stir crazy.
I started experimenting. I started reading. I found Craftsy. I took a good hard look at those scraps and deciding different quilts could be made from them.
My income is still mostly made from selling quilts. They just look a little different now. But yes, I still sell rag quilts from time to time too. I no longer make the same quilt over and over again. Every time, I make a custom quilt, I try to do things a little differently, this way I’m always doing something new. This way I don’t tire of my work.
Because I really love making quilts all day. It makes me happy, but there is still a line that I have to keep to, so things don’t lose their luster FOR ME. I need to get to use my own creativity and make what I want to make at least part of the time. I’m lucky for so many sweet quilt buyers that give me complete creative freedom.
I would make quilts even if nobody every bought another quilt from me again. I don’t know what I’d do with them, but I’d still be making them. It’s a creative need/itch that needs to be sated constantly. It’s a job, but it’s also a hobby.
Many of the quilts you see me working on are for custom orders, but some are just because I want to. For hobbies, I join things like Wandering Quilt so that it’s not all work.
It’s kinda play + work + play. I do something I love for a living. That’s something to be grateful for.
My fourth Dresden quilt is completed. See my prior posts on this particular quilt here and here.
Stats for this quilt
-King size measuring approx. 108×108″.
-features (81) 12.5″ blocks.
-59 Dresdens w/ 20 blades each.
-All blades were cut at 3.5″ (see my blade tutorial here).
-Layout is 9 blocks across, and 9 blocks down.
I meander quilted over the whole quilt except within the plates. The plates have no quilting, and the centers all have a twirly whirl.
This massive quilt contains vast amounts and varieties of low volume fabrics from my stash. If you are wanting some low volume fabrics for yourself, I have blogged extensively on most of the fabrics you are seeing right here. All the blades are from scrap fabrics. Thank the heavens! This quilt used up massive amounts of the stuff. That’s always a good thing.
I always use Warm and Natural batting.
The backing features three different fabrics: this gray one, this aqua one, and this raspberry print as well.
The binding is Sunshine Roses by Tanya Whelan (although the color is different in the link. I couldn’t locate that fabric for sale).
This quilt is about to make a journey to Ontario. Hopefully, it will be warm enough and welcomed with love.3
rachel at stitched in color says
My story is much like yours. I really enjoyed reading it! Here’s to the work play Work balance.
Thank you, Rachel!!
This may be too personal for a public answer, but I’m curious – how do you go about charging your clients for a custom quilt? Do you charge for your time invested, materials, level of professional skill, or all of those? I find it fascinating that you replaced your job with doing something you love. Been a fan for a while now and just finished a Little Miss Sawtooth for my stepdaughter. Thank you for sharing your creativity with us! ❤️
Hi! I try to pay myself $25-30 an hour and expenses. 🙂