Monday, August 8, 2016

The Sky is Falling in the Quilt Universe

Is this the beginning of the end for Quilting?

If you follow any of the things published lately on social media you certainly might think so. 


People are talking about the fact that several giants in the industry are closing or streamlining their operations, iconic quilt shops are closing their brick and motor stores (The City Quilter in NYC is but one example) and magazines are shutting down as well.

Quilters Newsletter Magazine is without a doubt the longest operating quilt magazine in America and sadly it will cease operations after the October/November issue. The magazine has been published since 1969 and Bonnie Leman the founder, certainly was a pioneer in the industry when she published her very first issue written on a manual typewriter on her kitchen table. For me the news was a huge shock - I have been a loyal subscriber for most of my 40+ years as a quilter.  I liked that it covered all the news; shows and historical quilts and new products like no other magazine out there.  Granted the revolving door of editors and the constantly changing direction had me questioning my renewal the past few years but I could not let it go. It will be missed.




Earlier this year I published my first ever quilt book with AQS!  I was so excited to share my quilts with the public and it's first outing after being published was Paducah and by all accounts sales were good. 


Imagine my shock when AQS announced just a few short weeks ago that they were getting out of publishing altogether and going to focus on shows and their magazine. Many authors, myself included are caught in the crossfire and may never see much financial reward for their efforts as AQS tries to sell off every book in their warehouse by whatever means they can as quickly as they can. 





Quilt shops all over the country are closing, many owners say they want to retire but if the business was good and sales supported it then why not sell it and the inventory to the next generation of ownership?  So many just go out and very few find new owners which I find telling.  There is a lot of competition from online sellers who have less overhead and don't offer any of the resources or classes that your local quilt shop provides.

So you may be asking yourself "Linda what is the point of your post today?  Well you can bet there is one and it's big!!!

First some facts....

Many quilters are middle age and older - much older in fact. Many have more disposable income and more time as they may be retired or done raising a family than younger quilters.  Some are dedicated quilters who are constantly working on quilts or some aspect of quilting and others used to be but now other life interests or health issues have gotten in the way of being hyper focused on creating quilts.  

Another factor is that quilting is not an inexpensive hobby - you can easily spend $300 or more on a bed size quilt just on the fabric.  If you are raising a family buying quilt fabric and supplies may not be in the budget. 

Still another factor is that we have more than one generation now that was not taught sewing in school.  No Home Ec classes in many schools across the country means that young people are not exposed to sewing or quilting to the degree that the current largest group of quilters was. For example my grandmother was a quilter, my mother was not but she was an amazing seamstress and taught me to sew garments as a young child. I sewed my first skirt at 9 years of age. 


And that ladies and gentlemen brings me to the point of this blog post!!! 

In April of last year I attended MQX East in Manchester NH. They have a cool program where they provide a starter kit of supplies as door prizes specifically with the goal of a seasoned quilter mentoring a young person.  At the banquet on Friday night a table mate won one of the kits and said she didn't know anyone to mentor, she gave it to me. At the same event, my friend Cathy Wiggins won a Janome Gem sewing machine from SewVac Direct and upon learning that I was going to look for a child to mentor, gifted it to me.  I got home from the show and posted on Facebook what had happened and asked if any of my local friends had a child that wanted to learn to sew.  My cycling pal Erik and his wife Susie reached out to me and said their daughter Georgia was very interested and would I be willing to take her on.  Of course I agreed and we met to figure out a calendar.  School got out and Georgia who also goes by G to those that know and love her; started sewing. The first day we made a book bag out of a pair of jeans I had retired and we continued to meet once a week to work on projects


Of course the best part of the day is when the cats come to help out.  Georgia loves cats and we spend almost as much time petting them and playing with them as we do sewing. Here she is with her completed book bag - it has two pockets on the outside and one on the inside and is fully lined.  Not bad for a first project.

Summer progressed and Georgia got to the point where she could do the pedal by herself - this was a big step. She made a place mat for her mom who loves baseball and we used some of the decorative stitches on my machine that she picked. 

She does not use the rotary cutter and the iron only with help and supervision.  But each week her skills improve and she is loving it. 


We decided that she was ready to tackle a quilt. Her mom does not sew and would not have the first idea about choosing fabric for a quilt so my vast-will-not-be-used-up-in-my-lifetime-stash came into play.  We went shopping in my stash for the fabrics for the quilt and I will never even miss the fabric and it made it a whole lot easier for G to make her first quilt.  Many of you have a similar stash so mentoring a child can be easy on the parents of the child as they won't have to buy a thing and you probably won't miss it either!!!
We have a mascot - Hello Kitty!  Here is G with her first row of blocks sewn together.  She did all the sewing by herself. Each week we worked on the quilt and it started to come together one block at a time. Georgia was excited with each step of the way and especially as it grew.   



She told me just a week ago as we were sewing blocks together for her first quilt that she did not like quilting.  I said "well I think it's a little late to be telling me this."  She replied "I don't like quilting, I love it!" and that is the reason for this blog post. 


And here she is with the very first quilt she ever made.  She named it Colorful Confetti and we have entered it into the MQX Springfield show in the Kids category.  Next up we have to quilt it.


The bottom line of this conversation is this:

We as seasoned, dedicated quilters have to mentor our youth. We have to help them fall in love with quilting and sewing as we have or yes indeed this quilt industry will die out and the sky will fall. We dedicated quilters are getting older and many make fewer and fewer quilts every year.


We have to discover ways to involve them in projects they can use and that will spark their interest.  Georgia made a book bag, a dress (you know those pre-shirred ones where you sew one seam and add straps), and a place mat all before we even talked about making a quilt.  They were easy projects completed in one day.  She is excited about sewing and wants to try everything.  My big quilting machine is a bit intimidating to her right now but if I know anything about G she will tackle that with gusto as soon as she learns how to use it.


We have the power to interest kids in one of the greatest hobbies and vocations out there.  It teaches them math and perseverance and lets them be creative and is just down right fun to have something you made with your own hands.  Is it easy being the mentor? No.  While G is a delight, she is only 8 and often loses focus, she often gets off track and forgets what she is doing and quite honestly is just a typical 8 year old girl who some days would rather pet my cats.  

Could I do something creative for myself every Monday afternoon? Yes.  Could I spend time on one of my projects versus coming up with something she can do in one session that I think would be fun for her - yes.  But in my opinion that is not what life is supposed to be all about.  We quilters have been given a gift and many of us have had a lot of success and made money from that gift.  For me the gift would be wasted if I kept it to myself.  So for me the verse in Luke is being applied every Monday afternoon as I mentor Georgia and fall a little more in love with this bright little girl that loves to sew and wants to make everything...."To whom much is given, much is required." 


So my friends, save a quilt shop or a book publisher or a magazine of the future by mentoring a child today!  I can tell you first hand - it will be worth it!

~ Blessings,


Linda T.



 

56 comments:

  1. Good on you and Congratulation to G! How exciting for both of you.

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  2. What a great blog! I agree we should mentor! Congrats to G! Her quilt is beautiful!!

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  3. What a wonderful post. I have an after-school craft club - so far we have sewn and crocheted. I would love to find someone interested in the quilting part and get that going again. Thanks for the inspiration to do that.

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  4. Hi Linda,
    Thank you so much for the inspiring story and you're right. I hope you are an inspiration to your fellow quilters. I hope they choose to pass along a fabulous craft to the next generation.

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    1. Carolyn I have been thinking about writing a magazine article on the subject. Not just the big picture as I stated here, but how to actually go about it with tips and suggestions. Any interest?

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    2. Send me an outline. It's a valid issue and one I think could be of interest to my readers. We need to interest the next generation and it's on our shoulders to do it.

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    3. Fantastic .I teach in the community with students who just can not afford the fees of a shop quilt group.I recommend an assortment of shops who cater for all ages and willing to do lay-by.My students have ranged from 10 yrs to 89 yrs .Its great to see each students enjoy the craft and hear they have started teaching family members .Happiness is Sewing......

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  5. My experience: I gifted two teen girls with sewing machines (not expensive ones) on different occasions with all the lessons that they wanted. Each girl took me up on one lesson/one project. Maybe they're sewing by themselves now, maybe they'll take it up later, I can't say. What I do know is that you can't manufacture interest if it's not there already.

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    1. I neglected to say that these were unrelated girls--not related to me or to each other. That's why I'm not sure about the follow-up.

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  6. Beautiful, well written post. And so true. I mentored a child once and I taught after school sewing when my kids were little. It was very rewarding. We all need to think about this to ensure the future of quilting and sewing.

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  7. What a wonderful little girl to mentor. I've been working with my own son and it's so fun to see him enjoy the process.

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  8. What a wonderful post. It so clearly written and reflects the industry right now. I am one of the Home Ec teachers of ages ago when Home Economics was offered in school. When you teach you never know how you reach students. Some I know have never threaded a needle after leaving school but others tell me of their sewing or their quilts. Or introduce me to their grandchild (I am getting old!) and tell her this is "Miss C" who showed me how to sew the top you are wearing. And it is not always the ones who loved Home Ec as a student but frequently those who hated it with a passion who become stitchers later on.
    If G is excited and her creativity has been fostered she will be out future. Good for her and you :)

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    1. I was one of those that hated it with a passion, lol. I now have 3 machines that I use and a long arm. I made all of the clothes we wore for years, took a break and started quilting, my 9 year old Granddaughter Olivia has a passion for it, she has 4 quilts finished and loves shopping in Mamaw's stash. she is always planning on her next quilt, not bad for a rising 4th grader! Now I have someone to leave my things to!

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    2. I am also one of those who nearly flunked home ec. The blouse never fit, and I had no patience so the hem of the lining of my jumper was too long. I never even liked sewing buttons, and I am still fearful of zippers. So, when I discovered quilting, I was in heaven with no buttons, no zippers, and didn't have to fit me:)
      When my niece was in middle school, it took her to a couple of quilt shows. She did the typical potholder weaving kit. She is the only family member besides my grandchildren who ever received a lap quilt from me and for her wedding shower, I made her pillow shams. My sister (her mother) told me in January, that my niece bought a sewing machine. Yeah! So, we never know how we influence kids.
      By the way, my grandmother came from Minsk and worked as a garment worker in Philadelphia. I have her old sewing machine that was a treadle that she made electric. My mom has a sewing machine that she never used. I wish I still had the duvet cover my grandmother made me as a child. So, when I sew, I imagine my maternal grandmother watching me with a smile.
      I live in the US, and my son with my two granddaughters (ages 7 & 5) live in Tel Aviv Israel. Perhaps, one day I'll have a chance to work with them.
      As a retiree, though, I do want to comment that I have much less income than I did when I worked. Social security only goes so far. My husband has military & VA retirements, so I can't just go and buy anything I want. He is still talking about what I spent on my embroidering sewing machine comparing it to the price of a used car. Luckily, I have, as mentioned, enough fabric stash to last more than my lifetime. I have purchased so many books and magazine, and I can no longer afford to buy any more. Also, I have eye spasms which limit the type of sewing and work I can do. It's frustrating, so my quilting has decreased. I can't sew 1/4" seams accurately so depend on foundation piecing or more free form work where I don't have to match points:)
      I remember several past guild members who taught quilting in classrooms and combined it with geometry with each child including the boys making a block. And, I had guild friends in the past who worked with women in the county jail to teach them. Of course, I'm both cases, cutting had to be done prior. But, it did get the children and women interested in quilting. So, there are various other ways to bring quilting to the next generations.

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  9. I have done similar. My granddaughter used to sit in my lap at age 2. She was happy at that age to watch the embroidery machine and it was her job to tell me when we needed to change thread. Well fast forward to now, she is 11. She sees regularly on my dsm, when she comes ver, even if it is just scraps from my bin, sewing them together to make her doll a blanket. She uses my computerized longarm like a pro, with help loading, etc. She sees her 4H projects and has won grand champion in the county many times, including this year. Thus year I also had my grandson who is 8 who said fine I will do sewing one year for 4H gecause Uncle Jeremy did one year. He really likes piecing, the longarm not so much. He doesn't want anyone to know he likes to sew as its for girls, I have showed him the number of male quilters on my fb and he said ok I will see in secret. I also sewed with a little 8 year old girl this year, she choose a Minkee quilt. She is still upset it is going to state fair and she can't sleep with it. They all got grand champion and reserve champion in 4H at the county level for their quilts. Her little sister who is 5 loved sisters quilt, and after state fair, she will be making her own and dye can't wait. So if you have no one to mentor but would like to contact your local County Extension Agent and sign up. It is quite rewarding and yes it will test your patience at times, but it is well worth it.

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  10. I have found two neighbors to teach that have become proficient at sewing and quilting. One was about nine - she is now in High School, making tote bags to give and sew and recently showed me a quilt she has made. The other is recent - young working mother with a little girl. She made a quilt with this child's baby clothes and has made several baby quilts for shower gifts since - she is a natural at sewing and quilting. I need to look for another student. I may be a notice in our neighborhood newsletter. This is a service our guild could provide or members could be encouraged to reach out to younger people they know.

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  11. One of my beginning sewing students came to me after our first class with a very worried expression.
    "I have to teach sewing in high school home ec classes starting next week, and I don't know how to sew!" The university where she was studying Home Ec Education had ceased teaching sewing to the next generation of teachers. What a spot to put her in!
    That was a dozen years ago, or more. :(

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  12. G is the perfect age. Once they reach junior high there are too many other interests to compete with . I have worked with all three of my grand children and they have all made simple projects they are proud of. All have completed lap quilts including using my longarm machine to quilt.

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  13. We can all do our best to mentor and keep the craft alive but I have to say the on-line stores have made a big difference in where quilters shop. My local quilt shop sells a charm pack for $15.00, their fabric runs $15-$16 per yard. I know they have overhead, I understand that. So do I. I can go on line and buy the same charm pack for $8.00 and the yardage for $10-$12 per yard. Even with shipping it's a win for me. As you noted, it's an expensive hobby. Just my thoughts.

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    1. Wow! I'm not sure where you live, but in Utah a Moda charm pack runs $9-$10, and fabric $10-$12 a yard! I can see where you'd look elsewhere, but nothing can replace the hands and eyes on fabric and the customer service!

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    2. Wow! I'm not sure where you live, but in Utah a Moda charm pack runs $9-$10, and fabric $10-$12 a yard! I can see where you'd look elsewhere, but nothing can replace the hands and eyes on fabric and the customer service!

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  14. I love your article and your story about you and Georgia coming together. She is adorable and her quilt is beautiful. I read the article about AQS just the other day and had no idea that the Quilt Industry was in so much trouble.

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  15. So, after I read your post this morning, I stopped at the thrift store. I'm making a Rey costume for my daughter who is going to Dragon Con. I was looking at some sweaters to cut off and make into the arm things she wears when a young girl came up to me and asked me if she thought she would be able to cut up a vest and sew a shirt into the back of it. I asked her if she sewed, she said she had gotten a sewing machine for Christmas and couldn't get it to work, she mostly sewed by hand. I invited her to bring it over to my house, I was sure we could figure it out. She came over to my house this afternoon and we had our first "session". I've got someone to mentor.....thanks again for your post.

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    1. Oh Kathy that is just a fabulous story. It can happen if we are open to it and make the effort. What a lucky girl! This makes my heart happy!

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  16. She's so cute!

    I consider myself relatively young. I have three boys and they all like to sew with me. My 6-year-old is the most confident, but I don't let any of them use the iron or the rotary cutter alone yet. My 3-year-old enjoys sitting on my lap and helping to guide the fabric too. All three of them get the occasional bribe fat quarter when we go to the quilt shop together, but the majority of their projects come from my stash. It's a great way to use up my fabric (and I don't miss any of it). I love seeing how they put different things together. And I also love how my 3-year-old tells me that I make things by "magic".

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  17. I put some fabric rich in a family garage sale in June. Half yard to a yard pieces. $1.50 each. A young girl, maybe 11 or 12, and her dad stopped by. She saw the fabric and started pulling coordinating prints. I asked if she sews. She said she loves making totes and purses and giving the, as gifts. Some day she wants to make a quilt. I dropped the price to $1/piece and that girl beamed!!! It was so fun to make her day. I wish I found out who she was.

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  18. I put some fabric rich in a family garage sale in June. Half yard to a yard pieces. $1.50 each. A young girl, maybe 11 or 12, and her dad stopped by. She saw the fabric and started pulling coordinating prints. I asked if she sews. She said she loves making totes and purses and giving the, as gifts. Some day she wants to make a quilt. I dropped the price to $1/piece and that girl beamed!!! It was so fun to make her day. I wish I found out who she was.

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  19. I have taught several children to sew. Some just want to alter clothes. Some just want to quilt. It's fun and they all have a great time.

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  20. I sat down with my grand daughter in my lap to introduce her to sewing when she was 18 months old. She got the biggest kick out of "helping" Granny sew.... I bought her a small, but very workable sewing machine for her 5 birthday last year. She is really to young yet to use it, but when I go to visit, out it comes. I hope I've instilled a love of sewing in her heart that will last a life time. Whenever I announce that I'm coming for a visit, she starts planning our next project. On my last visit, we made a rag quilt...... I did most of it, but she certainly helped. Now she has a baby sister..... can't wait to get her started.

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  21. This is a great article and by mentoring you are doing a great service to both the quilting community and the individual. I learned to sew because my mother taught both me and my sister. I took Home Ec and had many hobbies involving sewing before finally settling on quilting.

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  22. I totally agree with you that we need to jump-start the next generation of quilters. There has to be a quilting revival...a revolution! I'm impressed with your willingness to mentor G and all she accomplished! Good for you.
    About your book...are you going to get your Rights back from AQS? If so, you could self-publish your book.
    Thanks for the blog post!

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    1. Well I still own the designs and could start over and re-publish the book or I could give them $$$$$ and have the book as it is printed. I'm exploring options. At least my book is out and still selling, I feel really bad for the authors whose books will be coming out this Fall. It's a mess and quite honestly I think the quilt publishing industry is in trouble. So much free stuff on the internet and Pinterest that I think there will be more that go out.....

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  23. Mentoring children as well as adults has been part of my quilting journey since the 70s. It is a rewarding, sometimes hair pulling endeavor. I have a stash that rivals most small quilt shops and I will have to stay alive until I'm 140 to see it all quilted. At 73 my longarm and I produce an average of 50 quilts a year for charity and the military. My daughter abhors sewing but loves the quilts I make for her; however, my grandson has made three quilts and wants my stash and machines when I find my puffy cloud in heaven. If he keeps the interest he can put himself through college quilting for others (if we still have quilters by then). Sad to think a craft can die out after so many creations completed over hundreds of years. Let us not fail to support our local shops as much as possible and pass the skill on to others. I wish I had had a mentor.

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  24. This is a great post and Congratulations to both you and Georgia. This has given me food for thought to consider mentoring a young person. I certainly have the stash for it and the time can be made.

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  25. This is a great post and Congratulations to both you and Georgia. This has given me food for thought to consider mentoring a young person. I certainly have the stash for it and the time can be made.

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    1. Keep me posted on your progress. Thanks Marlene!

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  26. Sounds like a lot of great ideas. Passing along heirloom crafts is a problem in many arts because of our 'information age' and competition from electronic games, media, etc. Look at the results when a young person is introduced to an art as something new, refreshing, and enjoyable - maybe even 'cool' or whatever the expression is now. To the concerns about price, more fabric is available from more sources at better indexed prices than ever. What is in short supply are time and attention, by both the student and the teacher. Congrats on your insight and work to help your new friend learn the art and craft of quilting and textiles. As a quilt and fabric store we will be looking to apply these ideas to a new generation.

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  27. Can we post your blog post to other quilt websites? I don't believe I could say what you have said any better. I intend to print this out and take it to my quilt guild. You are absolutely correct, without a new generation of quilters the industry is doomed. We have to mentor those children that have an interest in sewing. Foster that love of creating.

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    1. Absolutely, please share it far and wide Lynn.

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  29. What a wonderful, inspiring, and yet a little unsettling post. I had not heard about QNL shutting down operation....and only learned recently about AQS getting out of the publishing business. I recently bought your book and just love it. I think you may have found a whole new "ministry". P.S. This post tugged at my heartstrings a bit too much. I lost both Mom and Dad 6 days apart a little less than 2 years ago....Mom's name was Georgia too. Blessings back at 'ya!

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  30. This was a wonderful article, and my first response was quite emotional. O no! Who can I pass my passion for quilting onto? But after a few minutes, I began to question myself, and had to ask, if quilting is a dying art, why is the industry still worth almost $4 billion dollars annually?

    The Modern Quilt Movement and the millions of quilting blogs written by today's young Mom's are generating and maybe even driving the direction of today's quilters. Where did they learn how to quilt?

    I don't know the answers, but I wonder if the quilting world is transitioning to a different kind of marketplace that doesn't depend as much on shop owners to bring exposure. I absolutely loved visiting my quilt shops, and fought back tears when I read that the City Quilter shutting down. Visiting quilt shops is how I and others my generation learned and connected through our craft. I suspect that beginning quilters of my son's and daughter's generation also learn and connect, just in a way that makes more sense to an online generation.

    Maybe it's my job to figure that new way out and connect again.

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    1. I agree that the quilting market may not be "dying" but just like the tech industry and the real estate market before it, quilting as an industry may be "correcting" itself.

      While we have all been blissfully buying and sewing in the decades since the mid-seventies when this latest boom started, we were, with all our enthusiasm and buying power, creating a business "bubble". And we all know what happens to commerce bubbles -- eventually they burst! Let's face it, craft industries are not immune to the tenets of basic economics. But just like tech companies didn't totally disappear after their bubble burst and houses are still being bought and sold despite the mortgage industry implosion, it may be that quilting as we know it will continue -- just in a more consolidated fashion and with a little less diversity and a lot less duplication or excess than it did before.

      That said I do agree that it is equally important to grow the next generation of quilters if we are to keep this thing we love as diverse and vibrant a market as it has become.

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    2. Thank you Ann. I agree, I don't think it is "dying" but I do think there will be a correction. Many of the "dedicated quilters" have reached a point where they look at their stash and say I'm never going to use all of this fabric in what is left of my lifetime. I know I'm saying that. I think the fabric companies have produced so much for so many years that they have created the glut of fabric now known as our stash and many of us (most of my friends are feeling this way) have realized that we have more quilting behind us than in front. That being said I still think people want to create beautiful things and I do think we have to pass the skill on to generations younger than us. I also agree that many do not buy the same way those of us with great stashes bought, and I think we will continue to see brick and motor quilt shops that don't offer something different go out of business.

      Last week I was at the AQS Grand Rapids show and kept an eye on the crowd and the ages. I saw plenty in my own decade (50's) and quite a few in the next two decades older than me but very few in the two decades younger than me. I find that interesting because I started in my teens and really amped up in my 20's and 30's. I'm not sure where it is all going but I am sure it's going in a direction that many will not like, at least for the short term.

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  31. What a wonderful post, and an inspiring message for all of us quilters! We recently had our first overnight visit from our four-year-old granddaughter and I took my first step in interesting her in sewing. I had a charm pack that I don't remember buying and that I can't imagine using, but it had bright colors that would appeal to a little girl, so I had her pick out the squares she wanted to use and put them in the layout she wanted, and we made a "quilt" (only a top) for her "baby" (doll). I showed her how the foot pedal worked and how she would have to take her foot off when I said "Stop!" and push on it when I said "Go!" She stood beside me and I ran the fabric through while she "did the driving" on the foot pedal. The resulting quilt top took only a few minutes and held her attention and was a good intro to sewing. I'm hoping to continue to engage her in sewing as she gets older and hope she takes it up in earnest. After all, I have to leave the contents of my sewing and quilting room to SOMEbody!

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    1. That's wonderful. When G and I got started I had her sit in between my legs in front of me and I did the pedal. She did not have good control of it for a while so we worked together. Now she does it all on her own. Good for you for introducing her to your love of quilting.

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  32. Well, you may or may not like what I have to share, but I think its important to understand some things.

    I predicted the downturn of the quilting industry a while ago. I have been sewing for over 25 years and started quilting just a few years ago. I'm a retired computer network manager and administrator, so I surf the web for bargains and note the number of quilts for sale on eBay and other sites, and one of the first things I noticed was the overwhelming number of quilts being sold online (or trying to be sold....). Some are old quilt tops, some are antique and vintage, but many of them are new. Our quilt guild tries to sell their quilts during our annual quilt show, and they aren't selling very well. I talked to an antique shop owner and he said he can't give the newly-made quilts away.

    Quilters are pumping them out by the hundreds (each person), and with our expensive machines, we can do that. We've basically flooded the world with quilts! And because of that, the values have dropped way down, and "homemade" quilts are nearly as common as department store mass-produced quilts which sell for a fraction of the cost. Consumers who are unfamiliar with the skills that go into quilting don't understand why they should have to pay $$$$ for your homemade quilt, when they can go to Kohls and get one for about a third of the cost, and it looks just as nice. They're looking for something that coordinates with their decor, and not for something "homemade".

    I've heard a couple of people who stopped by the quilt shows say that if it isn't hand stitched and quilted, it isn't a real quilt. Nuff said on that.

    Quilting is a ridiculously expensive hobby. Its expensive because for many years, the "industry" knew they could get the prices, catering to older women flush with cash. These women came out of that period in our history when salaries were great, union jobs paying well with great retirement packages. It was the golden era of this nation. That period is long gone, and the generations coming up after them are not as financially comfortable. In fact, this nation will probably never see that kind of prosperity again. The young people going out to work today, even with degrees, will never have the homes and retirement packages that you all have. They will probably have to work forever and figure out on their own how they're going to make it, because many companies simply can't afford to give them the benies and salaries that you folks have enjoyed. Welcome to the new world, folks.

    So yes, the industry will probably die, possibly die altogether, I don't know, but there will be very few people with the time or money to quilt in the future. (Even the retirement age will probably increase--if they'll get to retire at all...)

    Honestly, though, I think its probably for the best. We've cheapened ourselves by pumping out too many quilts (at the urging of the industry, which is continually trying to get us to buy, buy, buy), and we need to drop the use of fancy long arms (unless you are a true artist), and go back to the basics of the art. In other words, fewer (much fewer) quilts and more originality and quality of workmanship. Only then will our skills be appreciated again by the public.

    As for training up new quilters, I'm all for that...if they can find the time to quilt. I have a 20 year old whom I've taught to sew, but her generation isn't interested in collecting pretty things. In fact, her generation isn't even interested in owning a home. They want to simplify their lives as much as possible, because they knew they'll have to work for the rest of their lives and they simply don't have the time or energy for crafting. Its sad, but that's the future, folks.

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    1. Interesting take. I think we are due for a "correction" but I don't see it going away completely but it has happened before so only time will tell.

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    2. Sorry, but I have to address your comments about those of us who are supposed to be of a generation where we have it cushy: I have been working for over 43 years. I have no chance of retiring (except dying at my desk). I don't have a "great retirement." I've been saving what I could my entire working life. It doesn't amount to very much, despite my efforts. I've been a secretary most of my life--that's the kind of job I could get as I worked to try to better myself. I have a degree (graduated summa cum laude), but no one is interested in an "older" woman with a degree who hasn't a lot of experience in the field she's worked toward. There are plenty of people, more experienced and, above all, younger, that will get the job first. I know. True, if I could afford to take a huge step down in pay and work for barely above minimum wage, probably they'd take me, but I can't afford to do that. Yes, I have health issues and may not have enough years left to sew up my stash (okay, all you quilters who actually believe you can sew up your stash, raise your hands...), but that doesn't stop me from quilting after I finish my second job (did I mention I have to have two to get by?). Hand-pieced and -quilted hasn't been the only way quilts were made in a very long time. Quilts have been made by machine--pieced AND quilted--since the treadle machine came on the market. The DAR has some log cabin quilts (perhaps others, but I remember the log cabin pattern ones) made by sewing machine from the late 1800s. Women (the primary creators of quilts and clothing for most families in America for forever) have ALWAYS had too much to do and too little time to do it in. We're always looking for more efficient ways to get done what we have--and want--to do. Don't knock a longarm for its ability to get a top quilted so the next top can be done. Bad hand quilting is as regrettable as bad machine quilting (whether domestic machine or longarm). There are some amazing quilting pattern designers for the longarm, and just because something is longarmed doesn't mean the workmanship is shoddy. If anything, quality quilting is essential to encouraging beginning piecers: If the longarmer can make that quilt top, made by someone who isn't used to sewing and is trying her best but the top came out sort of wonky, look good, that piecer is more likely to feel successful and make more tops. And more. And get better at it as she goes along. (Yes, my third job is as a longarm quilter for others.) "Collecting pretty things"? How about USING pretty things? Perhaps pretty things those younger folks made themselves? I understand being pessimistic about the world. And maybe it's more comfortable to figure something is dying away anyway, so let it go, exit the stage and leave before the death rattles sound. Dunno. I can't disengage to that extent. Yes, the industry is changing. Change is a constant. Yes, it will evolve to something I might not recognize. Lots of things have. However, I refuse to accept that color and beauty, made by hand, will vanish from the face of the Earth. Fabric is another constant in human life, remember, and making it beautiful and treasuring it are both things that are also constants. Okay. Time to get off my soap box. I've got a t-shirt quilt to finish!

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    3. Hi Donna,

      I was speaking in generalities, according to statistics and current events. There are always exceptions. I remember when I was in my 20s hearing about elderly people actually forced to eat pet food because they couldn't afford food. But things are changing.

      In our country today, the middle class is being decimated. Salaries have stagnated. More people are competing for the smaller number of good jobs out there. Most factory jobs aren't coming back, and the ones that do are going to machines instead of people. A degree today is extremely expensive. Remember when you could pay your way through with a summer job? And with students graduating in massive debt before they ever start work, that "barely above minimum wage" job that they took away from you won't even cover their living expenses and college debt, and many are forced to live with family or share housing to survive. In the tech field where I worked, companies are replacing well-paid Americans with foreigners.

      Need I go on? It isn't just the quilting industry that is going to suffer in the coming years.

      In the past, women made quilts to keep their families warm and to give away as wedding gifts and even to wrap their beloved dead in. (I'm studying to become an appraiser, by the way.) I also have a large collection of antique machines. Yes, the treadle has been around since the mid 1800s, but hand-stitching was still predominant. If anything, they might use a treadle to attach the binding. And yes, there was the occasional treadle-pieced quilt. The women learned to stitch to make clothing, and that carried over into quilting, and for a long, long time, hand stitching was the preferred and passed-down tradition. Now, as the electric sewing machine became popular in the 1920s and 30s, you see hand stitching slowly die out, but not totally--there are still hand stitchers out there. Interestingly enough, the quality of the quilts dropped off with the advent of the electric machine and machine stitched quilts. But you also start seeing more and more women entering the workforce with money to buy ready-made clothing and, yes, bed coverings. Quilting continued, but not on the level and quality we saw in the 1800s and early 1900s. Not until the "Industry" took off during the nation's bicentennial in the 1970s.

      Anyway, I agree with you that quilting will never die. As long as women exist, there will be creativity. Its in our genes :) . But the industry itself (exclusive designers/fabric "collections"; high-end machines; expensive, unnecessary rulers and other gizmos; etc etc etc) may not survive. I agree with Linda that it is going through a "correction" as she put it, but understand that the correction was caused by the on-going economy, older generations passing on, etc, and the fact (fact) that a growing percentage of those coming up after us have neither the expendable cash nor the time to put thousands and thousands, literally, into a quilting hobby.

      And yes, women have always been busy, but their lives were much more routine in the past than our lives are today. Being predominately agrarian, their lives revolved around the seasons and home life. Piecing and canning in the summer, quilting in the winter. And of course, church, for most, year round...community was everything back then. :)

      We may very well go back to simplifying the craft, and making much fewer quilts that are needed and cherished by family. Which, in my humble opinion, is the real reason for quilting, with the exception of show quality, true fiber artists, etc. (Even back in the old days there were quilting contests, community "bed turnings" and Fair ribbons. )

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  33. I have to chime in a little. This is happening in many 'industries' and not just quilting. It is particularly happening in square dancing - gasp - and not the kind you did in grade school, but that is the point. If you have no immediate relatives involved in it to prove otherwise your first reaction is one of an image problem. Square dancing is hokey and for senior citizens. The same can be said about quilting again if you don't know anyone that quilts. It has not been marketed to a younger mind set, yes in recent years there has been an uptick in some younger designers and older quilters accepting more modern fabrics and doodle quilting. It will evolve or die. It will be publishing on the fly or self publishing with technology or just downloadable designs. Already you can design your own fabric designs at Spoonflower. It will NEVER go back to just handstitching. The next generation will design it how they want it.

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  34. I have to chime in a little. This is happening in many 'industries' and not just quilting. It is particularly happening in square dancing - gasp - and not the kind you did in grade school, but that is the point. If you have no immediate relatives involved in it to prove otherwise your first reaction is one of an image problem. Square dancing is hokey and for senior citizens. The same can be said about quilting again if you don't know anyone that quilts. It has not been marketed to a younger mind set, yes in recent years there has been an uptick in some younger designers and older quilters accepting more modern fabrics and doodle quilting. It will evolve or die. It will be publishing on the fly or self publishing with technology or just downloadable designs. Already you can design your own fabric designs at Spoonflower. It will NEVER go back to just handstitching. The next generation will design it how they want it.

    ReplyDelete