Make Beautiful Things

Found on Pinterest

Found on Pinterest

I think I’ve always had some sort of entrepreneurial spirit. I think it runs in my family. I’ve been told that my grandmother (the one who was a quilter) used to pick up old furniture off the side of the road and paint it to sell (this was way before chalk paint and Pinterest), she also had a ceramics shop and a restaurant at one time. I’m sure she was super resourceful, being the mother of 10 children.

When I was growing up, I had the typical lemonade stand (plus popcorn) at my parents’ garage sale.  I was always searching for another way to sell things to make some money. It was a fun way to pass the time. As I got older I would offer to scrub the bathrooms for some cash and take my parents’ car and hand wash it at the car wash. Our agreement was that they would give me $5 and I could keep anything I didn’t use (you remember those timed car washes that gave you about a minute of spray time for a 25 cents? I could usually wash and vacuum the car for roughly $2)

I’ve also probably always been crafty (I think I remember trying to figure out how to sell friendship bracelets) so when Etsy came into the world, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to make stuff to sell. The problem is, I’ve had a lot of experience with reality since I was 8 or 9 years old and I realized that it’s difficult to really make enough money selling handmade items to be profitable. And I know myself and I just wouldn’t enjoy making custom items for other people (don’t even ask about the curtains or the table runners I’ve made on commission).

So I came to a realization yesterday. Even though I want to build my blog readership and post more often, I’ve decided that I’m not in pursuit of sponsorship dollars or book deals. As the picture above says, I just want to make beautiful things and tell people about them. I want to make things for people who I know and family who I love so that I know that deep down they will love and appreciate the handmade gifts. I want to make pretty mini quilts to put up in my cubicle at work so that when people ask me about them I can say “yes I made these, no, I don’t sell them” which most of what I usually say (except most of the minis in my cubicle are not made by me because of swaps and such, I’m going to bring those home for a mini display wall in my sewing space.) I don’t want to work my tail off to promote an Etsy shop and end up burned out making things for other people. I no longer WANT to have a handmade business, I just want to make beautiful things.

I feel that when blogging first really started it was because people wanted a voice. I think that crafty people started blogging because they wanted a way to feel accountable because somehow when you write something down that people can see, or put it out into the world, you feel like you have to do it or risk disappointing your readers.

As you’ve undoubtedly seen, I don’t use a lot of photos in my blog posts because I use Instagram for that purpose, for the most part, my blog is my voice, the thoughts in my head and things I want to share with anyone who is willing to read it.

This sort of goes back to a Quilt Without Obligation discussion that happened a while back. I always end up comparing myself to the amazing quilters that I follow on IG who ARE writing patterns and promoting their blog to build readership and who WANT to design a fabric line or write a book. I just want to make pretty things and share my process and successes and failures along the way.

Of course, if someone wants to give me a book deal, I’m certainly open to the idea, but for now, I’m just going to use my precious free quilting time to make things I want to make, with very limited or flexible deadlines. I still need to finish up my 80s 90s Swap project, am working on a mini medallion swap with my friend Emily and have a monthly Quilters Bee Mod block to make, but the rest of my projects are going to be flexible.

It always makes me so sad to think of the practical hoards of fabric and unfinished quilt tops that end up being sold at garage sales and on eBay because that quilter didn’t get the chance to finish the tops or use the fabric. I’ve done pretty well with my Use My Stash/No Buy Challenge for 2015. It has been remarkably easy to NOT buy fabric since I have such a nice stash to work with. Now I just need to work on quilting and binding the tops!

Alright, I think that is all I needed to say for now. It’s very surprising how significant of a realization this is for me.  I know I’m not the only one out there who feels like this.

Thanks for sticking with me for this long post!

Happy Stitches,

Anna

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6 thoughts on “Make Beautiful Things

  1. Wanda Ann Dotson says:

    This is great advice, Anna. It is easy to get caught up in the make-money-from-your-blog mentality and forget why we are creating. We want to make beautiful things even if no one cares. I noticed after joining MQG last year and the frenzy that followed surrounding QuiltCon, that I was more unhappy with what I was making. Then I found you. The Savor Each Stitch Book Bee has made me appreciate my voice and what I like. I thank you for that.

    • modquiltmom (Anna) says:

      Thanks Wanda! It’s so true and I don’t want people to think that Modern quilters are about making money by quilting. It’s not about that it’s about being creative and comforting people with our craft.

  2. susan hilsenbeck says:

    Well said! I feel the same. For me, quilting is about the process, and I am very slow. I work in a very competitive field where it seems like everyone is smarter, more experienced, faster, etc. Enough! I don’t want to feel that way when I’m quilting. I’m all about Savoring Each Stitch.

    • modquiltmom (Anna) says:

      Susan for being slow you seem to be able to put together some little quilts pretty quickly! And what you make is amazing and so inspiring! I’m so glad you joined in our Savor each stitch bee!

  3. saroy says:

    I think you and I are similar — even though I don’t know you well. 🙂 I’ve had a blog since WAY before people were making money from them, and sometimes I feel like I “missed the boat” or feel like I should be doing what I see other online or on IG doing. But reality is that I have a full time job, a small kid plus another on the way, and other interests that I like to indulge also. Quilting clearly needs to just be for fun for me right now. I figure I can always reassess in 5 or 10 years as needed!

    Bottom line: I totally hear you and appreciated this post!

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