Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Money and the joy of Quilting

Here's a simple question: Why do you quilt?
I can think of so many simple answers to this question:
  • Because it is fun.
  • Because it is relaxing.
  • Because I love to combine fabrics together to make something beautiful.
But for how many of you is the answer: to make money?

This is a tricky question and I hope you don't mind the direction I'm going in today because I really need to start talking about this more. Talking about money, profit, and wealth makes many people uncomfortable, and if you aren't really into this idea, please feel free to check out designs today instead.

First off, there is absolutely nothing wrong with making money with your love of quilting.

Recently I posted my very strong feelings about this on The Bitchy Stitcher's site when she asked what she should do with the profits from a calendar she's producing. I practically shouted at her that making money is not a sin - not feeding your children or paying your mortgage, however, could get you thrown in jail!

Many, many quilters are in this hobby to make money. Longarmers, designers, and pretty much any professional quilter you meet has crossed from that place of quilting only for fun.

How do you think quilting has become a multi-billion dollar industry? Numbers of that kind get generated by people that are equally passionate about quilting as they are about bringing home the bacon.

Is this not the dream of so many creative people? To be able to do what you love, AND get paid for it as well? How could it be a bad thing when so many people dream and wish of exactly this life?

So no, it's not bad or uncouth or ugly or mean or any negative thing to want to do what you love and make money with it.

But...there is always a "but"....can you love your creative hobby as much when money gets involved?

Here's my personal experience: when I went to college, I started sewing a lot. I'd sewed a bit before, but mostly it was hand work. Now all of a sudden, I couldn't get enough of my sewing machine.

I started sewing so much, I dropped out of college (kind of inevitable when you stop attending class to make a skirt instead). I figured if I loved sewing so much, I could absolutely support myself with it.

But here's the catch - as soon as I started making things to sell, my joy at sewing started to diminish. I would page through patterns no longer with the intent to find a fun project, but to find something that someone else, some imaginary person, would like to buy.

How many times have you been told to design something like x, y, z because that is what is selling right now? How many times have you fiddled with a complicated pattern to make it more appealing to the masses?

I know it's a problem, and I'm ranting about it today because I'm currently pulling myself, fist by fist out of a huge, deep, black pit of Quilters Block. I haven't quilted ALL SUMMER. I haven't been ABLE to quilt.

I'm not lying. The last thing was binding on Hot Cast back in June. Until last week, I hadn't quilted in 9 weeks.

For someone who is as passionate, over-the-moon in love with quilting as I am, this is a catastrophic problem. Every time I walked into my studio, I walked back out again. Every time I started a project, I threw it in the trash. I simply could not work on anything. I couldn't find my usual happiness with it.

I found a lot of things to blame it on: a messy studio, lots of UFOs, lack of inspiration, etc, etc, etc. The truth is, I was overwhelmed with inspiration. Every day I would wake up with a new awesome project or idea bouncing around in my head.

But then I would sit down at the kitchen table and write down that idea, and then a thought would pop into my head "How does this pertain to the free motion quilting project? Will this go in a book? Will I make a video of it? Will I share it on the blog? Will I make a DVD of it? WHAT IS THE POINT?!!! WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT??? DON'T YOU KNOW??? MAKE A PLAN!!!"

As you can probably tell, by the time I got downstairs I had a fully diagrammed, completely outlined plan for that project and all the possible ways we could make money with it or share it on this blog.

I also had utterly no desire to make that project now because I'd thoroughly ruined it.

I'm being this honest and sharing this experience because I really hope, if you are in a similar situation, you can avoid making this same mistake. This sucks.

I now believe that every time you dumb yourself down, every time you make something just to sell, every time you design something just for the sole intent of selling, not for the joy or creativity of it, you lose a bit of your magic.

I like to think of it like a magic meter from Zelda. We have a bar that stretches from our heart to our hands, and we need to be respectful of this bar.

No, I'm not saying to never mix your passion with your need to pay the bills. No, I'm certainly not saying to not try to make a living doing what you love. I'm also not saying that you can't regain your magic after messing it all up on commissioned pieces and the like.

What I am saying is this - finding a balance is tricky.

If you lean too far into the money pond, away from the living tree of crafting passion, you are very likely to fall straight out of that tree and splat face first into that pond. You'll have a lot of money, but you won't love, or find as much joy, in your craft.

Many people are perfectly fine with this trade off. I'm not.

I feel like I've just lost my best friend. I feel like I've been abandoned by the love of my life. I feel like I've divorced my hands from my heart and I have no magic meter. I can't stand this anymore, and something must be done.

Very luckily, I happen to have downloaded the right book to help me deal with this. I've been listening to Drive: the Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink.

Basically this book digs into different ways we are motivated. For simplicity's sake I'm just going to talk about Extrinsic and Intrinsic motivation. The book goes into much more detail and into FLOW, which I think is super, super important, but for now, let's just talk about these:

Extrinsic motivation is the drive to make money and achievements. A great example of an extrinsicly minded person would be to make quilts only to compete with and win the big prizes at quilt shows.

Intrinsic motivation is the drive to simply do what you love. Not for the money, not for the end result, not for the finished quilt, or the used up fabric. Not for ANY END RESULT. Intrinsic is internal. Quilting for the love and joy of stitching. Nothing more.

When I started this project back in 2009, the night I started it, I remember being filled with Intrinsic Motivation. That humming, thrumming energy of passion and excitement and edge-of-your-seat anticipation.

I was started this project without any knowledge of what would happen monetarily. I didn't know it would turn into a business. I didn't know I'd eventually be a self publisher. I didn't CARE about any of that stuff.

I just wanted to quilt every day for a year.

But the reality was, 2009 saw some pretty big shifts in our family and the stability of Josh's job. Even as early as a month after starting this intrinsically motivated project, it became apparent that we needed another source of income, and FAST!

And so the tide turned from intrinsic to extrinsic. The designs were still created and posted with the same intrinsic mindset, but other byproducts - the books, dvds, etc, began to dominate with an extrinsic motivation.

I'm trying to explain this clearly and I really hope it doesn't come off wrong. I had to build my business quickly to support my family. As my motivation shifted, so too did the focus and speed of this project.

Things change, sometimes extremely quickly, and motivations must shift, but I do regret losing that initial thrumming excitement I used to feel with every new design.

So what now? 2 years later, we have built a successful online quilt shop. Thanks to all of you, my wonderful readers, this project continues to grow and spread and reach new quilters.

I've had to be extrinsically motivated all this time because, well, we needed to be able to eat! If I couldn't pay my mortgage, I don't think this project would have lasted very long anyway...

But does this need to continue?

I almost feel like a little kid again asking "Can quilting be fun for me again, please?"

Can I just quilt? Can I just create and not worry if it looks good? Can I just experiment? Does everything have to look amazing and spectacular, or can I be real and show you my ugly stitches, my failed projects, my mistakes?

I want to return to intrinsic motivation and simply quilt for the joy of quilting. Not for any specific goal. Not even for the finished, bound, and beautiful quilt. Just to stitch for the joy of it.

Maybe this is high minded and silly and you're right now rolling your eyes at my naivety. Maybe there isn't a way to balance this kind of passion and business.

All I know is, I've got to try to get my groove back, otherwise it will be pretty silly to call myself a quilter who doesn't make quilts.

So the first step I'm taking is to make a quilt for a friend. This is a quilt that I have to finish in just 1 week, so I can't over think it. I can't obsess about it or turn it into a huge multifaceted project. I am taking photos as I work on it, and shooting videos where I can, but I'm not going out of my way to turn this into something it's not.

It is a gift. A gift I'm giving to myself to return my focus to what I love and a gift for this friend to show her how much I appreciate her. A gift, nothing less, and nothing more.

Here's to seeking and hopefully finding this balance between the need for money (gotta pay the bills) and the joy of quilting.

Leah

44 comments:

  1. You've said it all...in a nutshell! Every artist can relate to this. I have not dabbled in oil and canvas for years. So I keep trying other craft projects that interest me. But always, in the back of my mind I crave to paint but fear that demands of moneys or other emotional demands will hinder another piece of wall art. God bless you for recognizing your own needs must come first and you will soon find your "mojo" and return to what you love to do! Be true to yourself.

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  2. Oh what a great post, Leah! I really think so many of us get to just where you are at right now. It's really the thing we need in every area of our lives....balance. I know you will find it and you inspire so many of us with your quilting. I was afraid of the quilting part until I started to follow your blog. So I thank you for that. I hope this helps :) You'll find your groove again :D

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  3. I also think people lose some creativity when they make something just so they can blog about it & keep the traffic coming to the site. I'd rather see projects someone made for the fun of it all. That being said, I understand your point about balance, it just doesn't pertain to me personally (who only quilts for the fun of it).

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  4. I think you'll get it back, you're in a difficult place. I sell my quilts and I need the money, but, when I've been approached about making a quilt that I feel nothing for, I turn it down. The first few times I froze up, wandered trying to figure it out. I make what I want and if it sells, well great. I need to put myself and my quilting first.

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  5. Lots of excellent questions, answers, insights and information in this post Leah! Thanks so much for speaking so openly and honestly about making money from quilting. I have a little Etsy shop which came about because I had made so many samples which I used to demonstrate some technique or other on my website, but I had no use for the samples. So I decided to put them out there for sale. People liked them and bought them, so I kept making things that I love to make, mainly bags, and then I sell them. So I make them because I love to make them, then after they are finished, I decide to sell them...sometimes! this keeps me from having the attitude that I'm making just to sell. If I never sold another thing from my little shop, I could find a practical use for each item and be happy about it.

    I think another problem with trying to support oneself through a craft like quilting is that there are too many people out there who compare what we produce with what they can purchase for far less money at their local walmart or Target or Sears store. What they don't take into account is that we use top quality materials which we have to pay for, we are their neighbor, and we are absolutely within our rights to ask a reasonable amount of money for our time and talent.

    I'll be interested to read other people's comments on this subject too.

    Keep doing what you do Leah, because you do it well and inspire others in the process.

    MGM

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  6. Yes, you have a dilemma. When a hobby becomes a business, it changes everything. (Believe me, I've been there...........) The answers will come. My comment is you are a dynamic, creative person and I follow your blog almost daily. In fact, I just ordered your book and can't wait to receive it. When you have the chance to do what you love and love what you do, the liklihood of financial success is very real. Most quilt shop owners fail in business not because of their lack of skill but of their lack of business acuity. Pick the brains of some of your business friends to help design a true business plan. This will help out immensely. Good luck and keep up the gr8 work. Again, you are SO talented, you can't help but be a success.

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  7. As always, I admire both your insight and your bravery in sharing it with your readers. Thank you for that!

    Now, there's no reason you should need my permission to do whatever you like in your quilting studio (or any other part of your life), but if it helps:

    Yes. Yes, you can just quilt. Yes, you can experiment without worry. Yes, you can be "real" with us -- we can take it. Or you can choose not to share everything with the blog too, however you choose.

    Yes, go have fun! We'll still be here.

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  8. Leah - what a great post. You've clearly expressed the struggle between heart and head when it comes to art - whether it's quilting, painting or any other kind of artistic expression.

    Money is NOT a dirty word - but many artists choose to live in poverty because they think it is.

    I think you've opened up a great discussion. I look forward to other people's comments.

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  9. I too struggled with these issues, but in my case, happily, I didn't need to make money quilting. I was able to stop that business and go back to quilting for fun. It still took a while to feel comfortable and happy at it again. I hope your journey takes you to a place where you can enjoy quilting/sewing/creating whatever again!

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  10. Awesome, awesome post. I think this is perhaps something that most of us struggle with at one time or another. When I won my first competition I felt like everything I did after had to be amazing again... and somewhat like you I became immobilized... it took a year for me to come out of my funk.

    Another aspect of this whole issue is most people (or at least where I'm from) don't want to pay the value of what you create. I did this for a short while and couldn't justify the time spent... and I couldn't compromise on the quality of what I made to make it more profitable. Now I quilt for competitions when I'm inspired... for close family... and a certain amount for charity. I'm fortunate so far to not be scrambling to make a living.

    And by the way, thank you for all you have done for the FMQ world. I now actually think it is a skill I might acquire. I hated the part when it came to quilting the quilt and you have made me want to embrace it. I think you're amazing and I'm grateful to you!!

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  11. I think that you are experiencing what every entrepeneur feels at some point in their journey. My son has a fitness center, he started it because he wanted to help people be well and strong. All the other stuff got in the way and bogged him down, he lost the joy of exercise and the time to work one on one with people. It took him a while to re-discover his passion and it involved finding balance between giving his business his all and taking time for himself to pursue his passion. Take time to do some quilting just for you. I had the impression that Hotcast was a personal piece but perhaps when you share it and the process of making it with the rest of us it changes it for you. I think for many people balance is a difficult thing to acheive. Do you have a stitch group? That may be where you could find some time to just be a quilter. I know it is where I relax and enjoy myself each week.

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  12. I hope you are able to find the ability to quilt just for fun again. I don't sell craft products, but I understand what you mean. I've kind of a craft-jumper, and when I did card making and knitting, everyone told me I should make things to sell. I've always said no, because 1) you couldn't compensate me enough to make it worth it and 2) once it becomes a job, it is hard to allow it to also be a hobby.

    Now, I've jumped to quilting (I've been piecing since a child, it's only since finding your blog a month or so ago that I've tried free motion quilting.) Already people are suggesting to me I sell quilts.

    Crafts are the way I escape from the world. I don't want to escape right back to work.

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  13. Take the summer off every year. Spend it with your kids. You're doing great, hope our comments help!

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  14. Your post is true for many of us. I am a speech therapist, have been for 40 years now. I remember the beginning, I was going to help everyone, I was going to change things, I could do anything. Then reality, I must eat and that meant working for someone, their way, their rules, their timeline. No fun, no dreams, just 9 to 5. It amounts to burnout, stress, funk, depression, quiting!!! I've done all of the above. Yes I'm still a therapist, yes I still work for someone else, yes it is 9 to 5 but I keep going because every once in a while I feel I have done something special to really, really help someone and make a difference to them. YOU have done that for ME and others I'm sure. I have a new avenue that you opened up to me to learn and grow and enjoy and bring learning and joy of making something that only I created. Yes I learned from you and yes it is your design but Mine is done by me and a little different and special and that is because of you. You are the therapist and bring learning and joy to all of us. You need a break. You just finished a book which I love and bought, was glad to because it was yours and you make me happy. Rest and create for you but know that you make us happy to. You are such a gift! Take your time, do nothing, do everything, look at a rainbow, play with your child, love yourself and your family, create when YOU want to. BE HAPPY! We love you, you change our lives and make them better and it's not what we buy from you, but the beauty you create that makes us support your business. Rest and heal. We love you.

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  15. When ask if I quilt to sell, I tell people that when I give things away to friends that it is a priceless gift. When I sew for money all of a sudden it becomes worth less because there is no way I can charge for what time it takes to make a thoughtful and creative work. That said I would like to be properly compensated when I sew commercially. Usually I hear things like "you must have too much time on your hands". Which is discouraging. I have found that when a hobby becomes you job, it does become work and a lot less fun.

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  16. Leah, relax. Think of famous musical groups. Many many times, the first albums are the best, because they are working extra hard and they are doing it for the love of the music. The MINUTE they try to write music that they "think" will "sell", it's OVER!! I have to balance, because I own a quilt shop. Sometimes I sew up a sample from a commercial pattern for the store, and sometimes I make what I want to make just because. Many of the latter end as my original patterns or turn into classes. You just have to let it happen.

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  17. Great post! A lot to think about. I myself have been unable to make much money with my sewing.

    I think the quilt for your friend will do wonders for you. That's what it's all about after all.

    I certainly do appreciate all you've done for FMQ-ing. And who quilts in the summertime anyway? You'll get your mojo back I'm sure!!

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  18. As much as I enjoy reading your blogs maybe you need to hold back something for yourself and separate your personal and business life. Or completely step back and get someone in to manage your business with you acting as a "consultant". Your life doesn't have to be only about quilting and sewing - there is a big wide world out here waiting to meet you.

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  19. I dont make money from quilting. I've had several people tell me to sell my quilts or to make them a quilt and they will pay me. My answer is always no. Quilting is something I do for ME. I spend enough of my time doing things for other people. I know that it would end up feeling like a chore rather then something I enjoy. I would hate to make a quilt out of fabric I hated or a design I didnt like. Its the one thing I allow myself to be completly selfish about and for now, thats the way it will stay. If I end up with so many quilts I dont know what to do with and feel they are good enough to sell then maby one day,but right now Im happy as I am.

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  20. I've attended workshops on this very thing. And it is perfectly possible, and acceptable, to have different sections to your creative life. You can teach, have a shop, make commercially appealing work, or create work just for yourself.
    For commerical purposes you need to be ruthless, working out timescales to produce, cost of materials, marketing, and profits, as well as target audiences. Very often what people make to sell is not the same as they would make for themselves.
    There is nothing wrong with that, its simply a different aspect of your creativity.
    I went on a Conference in April which was all to do with assessing yourself, your strengths and weaknesses, what you like or don't. What further info do you need? Who to find to help, where to find help or grants or support, Its requires deep thought, but it does get you to the point of finding a direction. Its something we were advised to do at least once a year, to either check we are on the right path or to revise decisions.
    I think you can be financially aware and also meet your own creative needs, but it means working out what you need and how to go about that, and not getting so tied up with one side of your creativity that another one drops away, to your detriment. Unfortunately taking stock and working out what's what, just isn't fun...and it can turn what should be a pleasure into a chore.
    Enough procrastinating, I need to make some artwork to sell... been putting it off all week, grin!!!

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  21. This is a great topic..Thanks for sharing. I think we all have this problem but no one wants to talk about. Your post has been helpful to me. Thank you.

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  22. This post is another reason why we love you so much. You are very honest, very real. Not only do you inspire with your beautiful quilting, you make us feel like we can do it too. Your mojo will come back. Sometimes it hides just around the corner to force us to reflect on what we truly need and want. ;0)

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  23. My husband paints little toy soldiers for fun. Many years ago, he was asked by some people with more money than we had to paint their soldiers for them. My DH loved to paint, it would be extra money, so why not? It absolutely sucked the life out of his love for the hobby. He hated to paint them, procrastinated, and finally when we talked about it, I told him it was ok to stop. When he did, he was able to go back to painting for himself and love his hobby again.
    Everyone who is creative gets a block. I find that when you "get back to basics" in a slump you are able better to power through them. You focus on making better points, a better applique stitch, read you fave books or patterns again, and treat yourself like you did when it was exciting and new and you will get through it.
    I wrote a bunch of article on this on my blog recently to help me get through this myself. Good luck, we are with you!

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  24. Great post Leah! You bring out some very valid points that I have never put into words myself but felt. I agree with some of the other comments that you need to have a regular place/person/group/project that is just for you. Maybe a set day or portion of a day for this every week and you can get the spark and joy of quilting back. Put the "work" quilting away and just work for you during this time.

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  25. I totally understand and I can totally relate too! I was a card maker and paper crafter for some years and just recently shifted toward fabric and quilting. I don't mind selling my overflow (I always create more than I can use or gift), but I don't want to create with my mind on what would sell. My hubby, who is very business minded always ask: How much could you sell it for? or trying to make me 10 same things for sale... I'm resisting so far - there is no joy or creativity in manufacturing, but it would be nice to have more money...

    I also understand about being overwhelmed with ideas - I have some many projects in my mind + several in various stages of progress, sometimes I don';t know what to work on next so I end up doing nothing ;)

    Just take it one day at the time and maybe make a little time in your day to do projects just for fun.. love your creations and tutorials too!

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  26. Thank you so much for this post. I was nodding my head as I read your thoughts. It's as if you've read my mind! I feel very strong about doing what I love and would love if the money would follow. I haven't found that balance yet but,
    I appreciate hearing your experience and knowing that I'm not alone.
    Here's to the joy of doing what you love and having faith that it will all work out.

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  27. You, & all the commentors, have covered so many aspects of this topic, for which I thank you all.

    One thing that leapt out at me in this blog post was your idea that you might even show your mistakes ~gasp!~ that might happen during your quilting process. I think that would be a great idea, as all the work I see displayed is so perfect, and showing (what YOU consider) a mistake will make it more 'real' for those of us who are trying so hard to achieve your level of expertise.

    We all need a vacation now & then, to step off that treadmill & away from the pressure of our working lives, and just do something FUN. Your work is very much admired and appreciated, and it would be such a shame if you were to abandon your passion due to burnout! Taking time to play on projects just for yourself, friends or family, make some mistakes (even if you choose not to share them with us), sounds like a perfectly sensible way to re-ignite that spark, and you'll soon be 'on fire' again!

    Thanks so much for all you do to inspire us.

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  28. I cannot express how deeply this post resonated with me. Finding the right balance has always been sheer torture; I actually put away my paints and brushes and gave up a career in portrait painting 10 years ago. Thank you and to all the commenters here for making me realize that I had not lost my mind and maybe I can start again.

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  29. I can definitely relate to what you wrote about! I have been sewing for over 35 years, most of those just for sheer joy; I made clothing for myself, my family, gifts, I made curtains and pillows and whatnot,then got into quilting. Did it for many years just for fun, now I do it for both, but like you said, it's a tricky balance. We need the income right now, have for the past three years. I love to quilt, but I want to be able to do it more at my leisure instead of feeling pressured to be bringing in money all of the time. I suspect it is one reason why many longarmers end up getting out of doing it for others and taking on jobs outside the home. I'm not complaining either; it is really a blessing to be able to help out with expenses by doing something I love, and people are so fantastic about being willing to plunk down good money to have me quilt their creations, but I am looking forward to that day again when I don't have to worry about that.

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  30. obviously from the many comments here, you are not alone in your feelings. I love to cook and bake and my mother and m-i-l are always pressuring me to 'make money' cooking for other people. First of all, it's a lot of work and they would never pay what it's worth: I use real butter, real ingredients and everything is hand made. I did a favour for a friend's wife and baked about 9 different things for her party. It was no fun making sure everything was perfect, and presented perfectly and although they 'made it right' in the end, they came with very little payment to pick up the order. Never again! And like the others, when you start making things only to share on the blog, it's not 'yours' any more: the scrapbook page has to be fancy and new, the card has to have some great element, and you have to buy all the newest and greatest stuff to showcase. Or you bake something even though you don't want it...just to have a post! That is why I am enjoying the quilting so much and spend hours so far doing it: it is ONLY for me and what I want to do & make. It's crappy in places but no one will know or care and I'm having fun. So I can totally relate how turning a hobby into a business and/or blog does indeed take the fun out of it. I think you are right to step back, take a breath, re-focus and do what makes YOU happy! I think we 'people pleasers' forget that it is OUR life and you are the boss...you make the rules and you decide what the right balance is. That being said, we all appreciate all you provide and wish you only the best. I guess it's like being famous: there is a price to pay to achieve financial success and you have to decide how much you want to give up to get it. Have you seen those 'Real Housewives'? They have pretty much sold their lives to be famous and all that money (if it even exists) leads to a false sense of what matters in life...Let's make sure it doesn't come to that...

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  31. Leah, your insight is wonderful. "Artists" block , or whatever you want to call it , is like hitting a plateau when dieting. It hurts. It makes you question yourself. But it's a necessary evil in my opinion. When faced with a block, it is a crossroads. It's when you look inside and see where you are and how far you've come. Looking back through your blog, you've made amazing strides personally in the past two years. So yes, take your time for introspection. Like a chrysalis opens to reveal a new butterfly, so you too will emerge from this time with a new focus, and take flight. I can't wait!

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  32. Thank you for this post because it was exactly what I've been feeling but haven't been able to put my finger on. I love to sew and while I'm a SAHM it would be perfect if I could also make some money from it to help out with the bills but every time I go to make something to sell it either gets made and then sits there waiting for me to make a move to try and sell it or it doesn't get made at all.
    I love your honesty and take inspiration from it and I really hope you get your quilting mojo back and can find that balance to allow you to do what you love AND put food on the table.

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  33. I think many creative people face this dilemma of Art vs. Commerce. Hugh MacLeod is a brilliant blogger and his writing helped to clarify my own thoughts about my quilting business.
    http://gapingvoid.com/books/
    In the end, the most important person that you have to please is yourself. You're an amazingly fearless young woman, so go for it.

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  34. Hi! Leah,

    You are in a dilemma many would find themselves in, but you will come out the other side. Make the things you love and others will see the enchantment you felt in the making and they will sell themselves. None of us can make things we think someone else might like we can only be true to ourselves and we will still pay the bills.

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  35. I was just reading this entry:
    Wednesday, December 30, 2009,
    Looking Back and Letting Go.

    Maybe a new creative project to reflect on where you've been and where you'd like to go from here, could get the creative juices going again. You seemed to be at a similar point after the problems with The Duchess.

    I am so impressed and amazed by all that you've done in such a short time.

    A breather really does seem in order. Relax, and let the ideas flow until something really excites you.

    I've designed some Harry Potter quilt blocks and a quilt to put them in (http://home.comcast.net/~owlsea/), but I just have to put it aside now and then because I just lose my love of it once it becomes too much overwhelming work. Health challenges can make it difficult sometimes.

    But when I pick it up again, I can bring new joy and ideas to it. Things that I never would have thought of if I'd just forced myself to plod along when I really didn't feel like sewing at all.

    Sometimes it seems it will never get done, but I know I'll get there eventually, and the quilt will be better for the breaks that left room for inspiration. It's not going to be a masterpiece or a show piece. But just a cuddle blanket with good memories from the books for me, and my largest creative endeavor ever. It's a challenge to myself that I wasn't sure I could ever pull off. But bit by bit, I've finally designed the blocks, and dozens of layouts. I'm still not sure there won't be changes before I'm done. But I'm getting closer.

    Wishing you balance, and joy.
    THANK YOU for sharing your wonderful talents and encouragement for new FMQers!

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  36. Well on a smaller scale i know what you mean. I have recently started a blog. The main reason i did was for documentation. So i would know what and how i did things. If i wanted to repeat a pattern, and so on. I have a few followers now. So it wasnt long before i started thinking, "i havent blogged in awhile. Should wip up something i can show". Or hurry through something sence it has been a couple of weeks. I had to take a deep breath and remember why i started blogging in the first place. I love making quilts for others so alot of my quilts are simple patterns and over all quilting (i am using some of your designs). Not intricate or artsy. Those i do once in awhile.
    You are talented, Leah. The way you affect others quilting is hard for you to see and know. If we could all meet in one place and tell you, maybe you would feel more "balanced". I say again i am gratefull for the fact that you share your experiences so willingly.
    I think no mater what we are into it is hard to keep things in a balance. If you working outside your home and had to make time for your "joy" quilting it would be the same. Make time for that when ever you can. Juggeling full time work family and fun time is a challenge.
    You will continue to learn, get off track and back on. That is what life is like. Each day is packed with blessings so enjoy!
    D
    PS I want to see the quilt you make for your friend. Experiments, mistakes what ever.:)

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  37. Very insiteful. I think we all get stuck in the nonmotivated mode sometimes. I sure do. I also like to make something for someone else. Actually, all of my finished quilts so far have been given away. My husband wants me to finish something for us, lol.
    Maybe, Leah, part of the issue is issues. You often create works of art to deal with past/inner issues. As therapy so to speak. Maybe deep inside there is a part that is not willing to start creating, because "it" isn't ready for more therapy. Just a thought.
    Creating for the joy of creating is very uplifting. I hope you find your "Lift" soon and soar again. Blessings :o)
    PS-no I didn't roll my eyes

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  38. A fantastic post and so many thoughtful comments. However, I really feel that it might help if you split yourself into two halves - your work side of quilting (working say 4 days a week) and your own creative side of quilting (for which you give yourself say 1 day a week). It is important to separate the two as you would in any job and hobby, it is just that your job and your hobby use the same space, your studio. Therefore, try putting on different clothes, hat, shoes on your hobby day (or half day) and don't do ANY work. i.e. don't 'go to work' that day. Or take weekends OFF or give yourself LEAVE occasionally. I know you need to meet family needs as well, these are done in a different time slot. My advice is just to separate your job and your hobby mentally if you can't actually do it physically.

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  39. Leah - I applaude your post. I think self-reflection is really important. And I appreciate that you put it out there instead of just keeping it in your head. I did the same thing not too long ago http://quiltingrevolution.blogspot.com/2011/07/operation-downsize-part-1.html Just hitting the "PUBLISH POST" button, made me feel 10 times better. It lifted the fog and gave me a little more clarity to be able to sort through the "clutter" going on in my head. Be true to yourself first...always. Process the responses, re-read your own post again and again and seek out answers within yourself. "Quilter's Block" sucks. Been there...can't realy tell you how exactly I've been getting out of it, but from your more recent post - I can see that just like me...Blogging about it was the first step in the road to recovery.

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  40. This is the first time I have visited you blog and I am overwhelmed by your post. I have a bricks and mortar quilt shop as well as an online store and I am not getting any enjoyment out of it any more. I am at such a crossroads and need to make some difficult decisions - that are based on the finances of this family. I have worked so hard to get to where I am I do not want to give it up but with the economy being what it has become I am not sure I can continue. I began for the love of quilting and need to get back to the love of quilting.

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  41. The mom in me wants to give you a HUGE hug of encouragement! We all need to make a living one way or the other, so take some time off, but don't stop! Your quilting has inspired me more than anyone else and I have been a hand-quilter for 25 years! You have inspired me to give machine quilting a try which I have never done before! Your work, blog, videos are such a blessing and you give so freely of your time - it is recognized and appreciated!! I pray God will bless you ten-fold for your generosity and give you joy in your work once again.

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  42. You are acknowledging what I have always suspected would be true for me . . . if I start trying to make money quilting, my passion will wane and I will lose interest in it.

    I used to volunteer at different social service agencies. I couldn't get enough of it. I loved it. One day I realized that I could actually make money doing what I was doing for free, and so I went back to school and earned a master's degree. As soon as I started getting paid to do it, it wasn't nearly as much fun. It just seems that with a pay check, obligation is sure to follow. One necessarily enters a realm where at least some of the rules will be made by someone else, and to get along, you'll have to play by those rules, even if you don't like them.

    My DDIL is always telling me I should sell my quilts, and I keep saying, as soon as I start selling them, the fun will go out of it. I'm convinced it's true.

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  43. Just catching up on my reading of the blogs I like to read... Yours is on the list.
    First of all you don't owe your readership anything.... What you have given freely was because you wanted to. So don't feel pressure from your "public"
    Two you have gotten alot of good advice from your readership. Filter it and take what you need.
    Three we all need creative rest time. We can only give/create so much until we need to be refueled. This is any area of life.
    Play... give your self permission. Crayon, doodle, put some music on and dance... Invite some friends over to play... laugh... laugh... laugh...
    You are a very intelectual, soul searching personality... or at least that what your blog put out.. You put yourself out there...
    Take time to refill and if anything I have learned in life it is this too will pass...
    Hugs from a reader....

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  44. This is a great post, very thought-provoking. Thanks for sharing the nitty gritty stuff.

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