Quitting Quilting

Okay… I’m not really going to stop quilting, but GloryQuilts – as a business – is undergoing some serious restructuring. I made the decisions a few months ago, but the new year is a good time to announce the changes. I’m changing my business model, which will hopefully change my attitude, because I have started to loathe the very sight of my sewing machine. I’m burned out.

I have loved making quilts for nearly thirty years – until recently.  Lately, most of my quilting has been commissioned and special order projects. Deadlines led to pressure, sucking the joy from what used to be happy creative work. Creating a career from your passion sounds like a good idea, but what was the passion: the creativity or the process?  (That was a rhetorical question.)  Paint-by-number sewing and quilting have taken up all of my time, leaving me with no energy or enthusiasm for the kind of work I used to enjoy.  I had looked forward to having granddaughters to dress in poufs and frills, but instead I bought their Christmas dresses at Kohls on my way to pick up more thread from WalMart. The last two grandsons still haven’t received baby quilts. One of them is already reading. I haven’t had time for those “unprofitable” projects, when there were so many paying projects waiting to be finished.

I never made a conscious decision to turn GloryQuilts into a quilt factory. I just gradually drifted into that situation, mostly for financial reasons. Creating a special order quilt always  seemed like a good idea at the time, when someone was writing me a check, flattering me with their confidence in my skills. By the time I finished, though, it was seldom truly profitable.

When I started selling quilts online, my descriptions explained that I was selling class samples and pattern prototypes.  Those sold well, and I started thinking of it as a job. Eventually, I was making quilts and quilted items to sell, designed specifically for financial gain, using fabrics and patterns that were trendy. My items looked pretty much the same as everyone else’s.

There is nothing wrong with that, if a person wants to run that kind of business, but it isn’t right for me.  I want to keep the joy of teaching quiltmaking, drafting patterns and creating original quilts. Of course, I’d be happy to make money from it, too, but the business has to come from the passion and not squash it.  I am going to continue selling class samples, pattern prototypes, and original, creative quilts and quilted items. I am not going to worry about whether or not the fabrics are fashionable. After all, those will look dated in a few years, and I want my quilts to last much longer. 😉

If a friend asks me to mend a pair of jeans, I want to be able to bless her by doing it gladly instead of saying I don’t have time – or bursting into tears.  I’m not a quilt snob. I do mend and sew crafty things and I don’t regard my creations as sacred works of art. I don’t think all vintage quilts need to be preserved in their original states, wrapped in acid-free paper and packed away from the light.  I think it’s okay to have Aunt Nelly’s hand-pieced quilt top machine quilted if the alternative is to leave it in a box for another 50 years.

I want my sewing room to be my happy place. I also want to spend more time writing. I haven’t been able to do much of that while I have been so over-committed with commissioned projects, and it’s important to me – another form of creative work I am increasingly passionate about.

So now, if you see a new GloryQuilts item for sale, you will know that it was stitched with happiness as well as skill, and it’s a truly unique creation.  I’m excited about the change.

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11 thoughts on “Quitting Quilting

  1. Not sure whether to say, “OH no!” or “Good for you!” or “I’m sorry.” I have enjoyed the fruits of your labor and pray that God will continue to bless you as seek to follow His best plan for you. I can’t wait to see the things are stitched with delight and joy!

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  2. YAY! I know that feeling. The day I woke up and dreaded going to my sewing machine was the day I quit doing custom sewing. I didn’t want to HATE it by the time I had grandchildren to sew for. I waited just a little too long. I still kind of dread it now and then. But I’m glad I got out when I did.

    I love the line in Hope Floats. “I know what you’re talking about. You’re talking about the American Dream. Where you take something you love and twist it and torture it, trying to make money at it. Until in the end, you can’t find a scrap of what you started out loving.”

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  3. I am so very, very proud of you – I’ve been going through the same thing, and have decided I’m going back to just creating for the joy of it, not worrying about whether it’ll be “popular” or not. I love to create, I love to make patterns, and if someone else likes it, fine – but if not, that’s fine too. I’ll stick with patterns because I hate making more than one thing, lol – and I don’t think I’d be even passable at teaching – but I am good at making what *I* like. It doesn’t have to be popular, or a best-seller, it just has to be me.

    I remember when I was working at the Viking shop – while I love my Viking, I didn’t much like selling them, and I wasn’t very good at it. I was so sick of demonstrating sewing machines, that when I got home, I never turned mine on. The whole time I worked there I didn’t use my own machine once. That’s just sad!

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    1. That IS sad. I’m glad you are done there. Do you really think you would be bad at teaching? You homeschooled your boys – surely it would be easier to teach something you love to a group of interested women than it was to teach algebra to teenage boys!

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  4. A difficult decision that once made brought about great relief I am sure. I totally understand when something joyful becomes joy-less and how hard it is to make the changes that are necessary.

    So glad you came by my site and I dropped in here. The fun part is ready the comments and seeing old familiar names. The only folks I’m in touch with these days is Pam in California and Deb in Texas. SO many changes in life. Yes I was in Wisconsin. My sister is living there now. I’ll be back up some time this year (maybe). Maybe we should try to actually meet. You know I still have your phone number in my directory? (if it hasn’t changed from ten years ago that is. lol)

    “last two grandsons”???? WRITE ME! Obviously we have a lot to catch up on.

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