Thursday, April 11, 2013

A Valued Skill

"It's an old quilt, but it was made by her mother.
She just wants to be able to snuggle under it again".
Quilting is a skill.  A skill I'm proud to show off and use to the best of my ability.  My skill is gaining momentum and I admire and sometimes idolize other quilters around me (and in the online community).  I feel as though my skill has substance and value... Until someone mentions $100.  I'm a sucker!  I'm broke, nothing outrageous just the normal young family trying to get by.  But does that give me the right to de-value my (and maybe even your) skills?

So to the point here.  Through a confusing turn of events I ended up agreeing to put a new back on an old quilt and give it a 'quick stipple'.  I didn't get a look at the quilt before I agreed to do it, to a predetermined price of $100.

I wasn't able to quilt the quilt at my home because the owner of the quilt is massively allergic to cats so I had to wait for a Hall Day.  I arrived ready to tackle this 'quick stipple' and found to my horror a lumpy, thread bare, sheep skin stuffed, burst seam, mess of fabric some people would call a quilt.

I can see the love in the quilt though, the stitching is beautiful, original crazy patchwork.  But note right under the green spot, that is thread bare.  So much of the quilt is falling apart, I can't just give this quilt a 'quick stipple' and expect it to hold together, never mind be useful.
Burst seams run rampant, 1 in 5 are burst and need to be fixed. 

So what am I to do?  I know what needs to be done, it needs the sheepskin batting removed, new batting bought, the seams should be meticulously hand sewn together, replacing those patches that are too far gone.

You can imagine my standing there looking at this quilt thinking to myself how much I just want to whack it apart and make a couple throw pillows she could snuggle with instead.   But I can't.  I also can't hand sew those seams together, replace the batting, or replace the worn patches, quilt and bind it for $100.  I also can not just leave it.

So what do I do you ask?  Well I pin the new backing on it and quilt it.  I fix every little seam while I free motion the quilt.  It is not the most tidy job, and I want to just accidentally rip it in half.  Instead I push through and get it done.   Remember those pretty hand stitches, yeah until they catch on your darning foot... every darn time you get close to one!  Ever sew through sheep skin batting... not much fun. Needless to say I was sweating 15 minutes into the project.

I spent 6 hours on the quilt.  I'm over half way done, but I estimate another 6 hours are needed.

$100 divided by 12 hours = $8.30/hour.  Sad but true, my valued skill adds up to under minimum wage.  This is not the first time I have undervalued myself.  I truly hope I have learned my lesson.
My 'Quick Stipple' 

I will be sending a note with this quilt explaining how difficult it was and how lucky she is that I had a soft heart.  I will also request more money for my difficulty if she can.  Also that if she even thinks about washing this quilt again it may disappear into nothing.


  1. Good advice and sometimes when things take longer, it comes back to you in different ways. Nice to find you again, I couldn't remember what your blog was called!!

  2. It is so hard to put a reasonable value on your time. Non-quilters have no idea how long things take (and it always takes twice as long as we quilters think it will).
    You have done a lovely job.

  3. Wow, you have given this very tired quilt a new lease of life. We all have done it Sam, at some point. Said yes to a quilting project, then wanted to run the other way when we saw it. Shows you have a good heart by seeing it though to the end.

  4. A lesson learned the hard way:( Just the same though it will happen again. I swore I'd never do anything again for anyone...ha ha. I have a little project on the go at the moment that is driving me insane.

  5. No doubt you have made someone very happy Sam (again!)