A Little Misunderstanding….

Last week when I said I was going back to childcare and Kelli was going to concentrate on nursing, I think I few people got the wrong impression.

We got some notes from people like this,
“As for the quilt book, at least you can say you tried it and decided it wasn’t for you.”
“Sorry to hear you’re quitting.”
“I guess you won’t be taking on the quilting world.”
“I was going to talk to you about coming to our guild but I guess you’re not doing that anymore.”

People have always appreciated when I’ve been up front and honest so I am going to try that again…

Back in January of last year Kelli and I both had a break in our lives and we decided to give our hobby of quilting a try into making it a business.  We were excited about it and the first things we did was submit a book proposal.  That’s 14 quilts to design, 14 to figure yardage for, 14 to acquisition fabric for, 14 to sew and 14 write the directions for.  It was accepted and we were excited.

In the meantime we also had 3 quilts that we already had accepted into magazines that had to be sewn…that’s 17 quilts that we had to sew from the very end of January to May when the quilts and book copy were all due.  It was stressful especially because Kelli got married in March.

We did it though…was it fun?…not really.  Do we regret it?  NO WAY.  We are proud of our work and proud of our accomplishment.  Will we do it again?…maybe.

We are on a path of learning…we don’t know the consequences of that work.  We know that we’ve heard many different figures on book sales from several different people.  We’ve heard authors that make $10,000 in book sales.  We’ve heard of authors who only sell 1000 copies.  We do know we only make about 80 cents per book on books sold through Amazon, local quilt shops and the like.  If they put our book out in a Kindle version, we make MUCH less per copy.  So to help us out, we’d love it if you’re buy the book from us directly once it comes out.

For the most part, we worked full time on getting that book to the publisher on time.  If we would be lucky enough to get $10,000 it royalties-that’s two people-4 months of work splitting $10,000 as our main source of income…sorry folks.  That is crap for pay.  That’s $7.80 an hour…but will we make $10,000 who knows?!?! Keep in mind this does include any time for rewrites or our trip to Kansas City for the photo shoot or going to Market next spring.

After the book went to the publisher we put together designs for a second book.  We have them all ready to go but after figuring the math and not knowing how much money we’ll make, we don’t know if we want to jump into the fire again…would you? Do you want to work for minimum wage.  We instead decided that we are slowly going to start sewing the quilts.  We’ll stock pile them and set them aside.  If we think we want to make a book again after we learn what the complete process is like..we’ll submit them once we have most of the patterns written and most of the quilts sewn.  That way we loose the deadlines and stress.  If we don’t use them for a book, we’ll submit them to magazines or offer them as free patterns on the blog.

People have said travel and teach.  Me.  No.  That’s not me.  I do the things that I do and live the life I live because my main goal in life is to stay home and provide for my family.  Will I leave occasionally-yes.  But-a life of travel is not for me. It’s not for Kelli either…but we’ll certain consider a trip or two or guild meetings if it works into our schedule.  We won’t be living a life filled with travel though.

People have said well design fabric.  Read this article and see what you think about that.

People have said put quilts in magazines….Honestly, magazines only pay $200 to $600 per quilt.  The 600 quilts are intensely pieced…the $200 more simple.  We still haven’t gotten very far from that minimum wage quilting.

All that is fine…BUT.  This is where I drew the line.  A week ago Kelli was home.  We had a project to do and we were both trying to hurry through it.  It wasn’t working.  Kelli ended up having to rip borders off and we were both feeling a little miserable.  She grabbed a piece of fabric and tied it on her dog and then was going to tie one on mine.  I snapped at Kelli and said – “Really?  We don’t have time for that!!”  What??  What did I say?  That’s not me, that’s not the mom, that’s not the friend, that’s not the business partner I want to be.

This is the mom I want to be.  This goofy picture of us was taken before books and deadlines and quilting being a business.

JoandKelli
Being the mom is the most important.  It always has been the most important part for me.

This picture was taken back when Kelli and I had sewing and goof off days….not deadline days.  We had lots of fun then…and we had variety!

We want to put the fun back in to our projects and go back to loving what we do.

Will we write another book?…maybe.

Will we have more free patterns on the blog?…yes.  Will you get two a month?  doubtful but who knows.

Will we have patterns in magazines?  probably

Will I still blog?…Definitely.  I likely won’t be blogging twice a day…but likely daily.

Will we still come visit your guild?..give us a call and we’ll try to make it work!

What’s going to change then?  We’re doing this on our own time..in our own way and most of all, WE ARE GOING TO HAVE FUN AGAIN!!

36 thoughts on “A Little Misunderstanding….

  1. Linda

    Good for you. A life filled with stress is no fun. I enjoy your blog filled with quilting, home remodeling, life with grown children, and animals. Do what brings you joy.

    Reply
  2. Debbie Watton

    I have found these recent blog articles about how little money there is in quilting very interesting. I sew for fun and sell things, mostly for my favourite charity, but I am well aware that to make a business out of my hobby is impossible. Fabric is expensive here in the UK and sending a quilt to a longarm quilter is prohibitively costly so making a commission quilt that someone will pay for is making me less than 2 dollars an hour. Even when selling for charity (I donate all materials and my time) and I’m only charging the minimum to cover the material cost, people question why the items are so expensive, if I charge any less I may as well hand the money straight to the charity and cut out the work. I enjoy your blog and seeing your work so I’m glad you’l continue to do that. Good luck with your future plans.

    Reply
  3. susan rizzi

    I applaud your decision to make quilting a fun part of your life again and agree with you about not working for minimum wage doing what should be your hobby. I would love to buy your book directly from you but will selling your book and having to mail it out yourself make your life more difficult? Will you make enough money to make it worthwhile doing the shipping from home? Please post when your book is for sale and how to buy it.

    Reply
  4. Terri in BC

    Good for you! I appreciate your honesty, but it’s too bad others seem to assume the worst when you’ve make a decision based on your own needs and wants. I’m looking forward to your book. Good luck!

    Reply
  5. Sharon

    I think people are living pipe dreams if they think they can make big money in the quilt world – they are only seeing the ‘big’ names hyped on company blogs. I run a quilt shop (quilts and quilted items) and it may pay a few bills, but will never make me rich. I have no desire to do a book, sign with a line or company, design for the sake of someone else capitalizing on it. I quilt because I love all fabrics, all techniques, the fun and love it and I want to keep it that way. So kuddos to you in keeping it real and making it what it should be – FUN. And of course, family and self should always be first.

    Reply
  6. Jill Klop

    Lots of interesting information in your post. I think I understood what you were saying in your original announcement. It is good that you guys took the plunge, you’ll never wonder about it now. Knowing what you said about the small amount of money you will make per book, I’d definitely buy it directly from you. I had no idea that the authors get so little. That’s very sad!

    Reply
  7. JanetB

    You are a mama, first and foremost. Anybody who has followed your blog would realize that. You have to go where your heart is. I love reading about your family, your recipes, and how you make it all work in your lives. Your priorities are in the right place!

    Reply
  8. Maureen

    Life is too short to not be happy. Do what feels right for you, and enjoy the process. No amount of money is worth being stressed and miserable.

    Reply
  9. McGill Ullrey

    Thanks Jo for your honesty and telling us what is most important to you – being a mom, having fun and being creative in your time, NOT on a deadline! Kuddos to both you and Kelli, I can’t wait for your book! Enjoy your life at your pace, and don’t let anybody tell you that you are not a success. One only needs to see your blog and how great your family is, to see that you are an amazing person. And I for one, love your quilts and your blog and I didn’t think that you were “quitting” or “failing”; I thought you were doing the smart thing and getting out of that rat race!

    Reply
  10. Deb- VTQuilter

    Good for you. So glad you are able to have quilting be ‘fun’ again. Life is too short to not do the things you enjoy in the timeframe that works for you. I think you have your priorities set perfectly. Enjoy the holiday season (I remember from past years you dislike December but hopefully you can find some joy in sewing on whatever you want whenever you want!)

    Reply
  11. Cindy F

    I appreciate your candid remarks about what a “professional” quilter designer makes. I agree with all the comments above. To take something that you love and is a passion and then have it change who you are is not what anyone wants for themselves. I wish you success on the book and time to enjoy the process of quilting again.

    Reply
  12. Penny in S CA

    Jo ~ I just read your heart to heart!! Seems like a reasonable plan for you (and Kelli) ~ be true to yourself!! I admire that you are truly a good person and wonderful mom!! I’ve been wondering, also if you continue with this professional side of quilting how were you going to keep with a schedule of completing all the necessary projects for your new & wonderful home in a timely manor then fully enjoy when completed?

    Reply
  13. patti leal

    congrats to both of you on making the decision that works for you. i know how gut-wrenching that can be (been there, done that, didn’t even get a t-shirt). i have always thought it was the deadlines that drive us crazy. i think it is more the fact that the deadlines never stop. ever. i didn’t want to live my life that way either. now you will be able to enjoy your quilting again and enjoy the time you spend on your new house. patti in florida

    Reply
  14. Brandy

    Bravo! Standing up for yourself and your time is a wonderful thing to witness. My husband thinks I should make quilting a business but I just know that would suck the fun out of it. So I don’t get a mid-arm quilt machine but I also don’t have the pressure of quilting for others. I would love to sell some of my quilts or take the occasional custom orders, but I know I would make far less than minimum wage. So I keep it fun, as you are.

    That being said I hope you keep blogging and I am looking forward to buying your book!

    Reply
  15. barbara woods

    glad for you, quilting is fun! don’t need to make it into work
    I know i am 73 and i like my life , quilting when i want or reading a book when i want.

    Reply
  16. Kim Gregory

    I just want you to know how much I enjoy your blog–the quilting drew me in, but the honesty and real life that you share keeps me reading. Enjoy your new house, kids and dogs and find your passion for quilting again. When a passion turns into a job then it’s no fun anymore. Look forward to many more posts!

    Reply
  17. Susan

    Good for you!! I always wonder about those amazing quilters who are on the road so much of the time…what is happening with their spouse and children? I admire that you have the strength of character to put your family (and your mental health) first.

    Reply
  18. Louise SS

    When I was a little girl someone asked my Dad why he did not work full time with music since he was such an accomplished organ and piano player. My father’s answer was: “Then music would not be a hobby anymore. It would be a job.” I have always remembered that answer…. So true! Keep sewing and have fun! Enjoy your life and family, you guys are amazing with all you do!

    Reply
  19. Sandi

    Jo & Kelli, Good for you with your decisions! I don’t think I could be happy with that kind of stress. I enjoy your Blog and your quilts and recipes. Thanks for sharing your life with us.

    Reply
  20. Anna Gering

    I totally admire you for taking a step back, deciding this isn’t what you want your life to look like, and then doing something about that. I’ve definitely considered trying to write a book, but especially after reading about your experience, I’m glad I haven’t taken that plunge. Maybe someday I will decide that it’s worth it, but in the meantime quilting will stay a hobby I enjoy, when I find the time for it. Glad to hear you and Kelli are having fun again too!

    Reply
  21. Linda Zakrzewski

    I just love your blog and hearing about your life. I enjoy your patterns and fully understand
    how you and Kelli feel. Do what works for your family and just keep writing your blog. Enjoy.

    Reply
  22. Myra

    I just started quilting when I have time and to sell a quilt, no way, they are made with love and I give them to people I love. I don’t blame you Jo, my favorite say is, ” Life is short so dance in the rain every chance you get” family is the best, you never know what tomorrow will bring.

    Reply
  23. Evie H

    Yay! I agree with all you’ve said and applaud you for doing what makes you happy. Please don’t stop blogging — I also like reading about your life away from quilting, but do love your quilting stories and free patterns. Thank you!

    Reply
  24. Jan

    Woo Hoo for FUN! Three cheers to you and Kelli for making the decision to going back to have fun and leave all the stress of deadlines behind you. Family is definitely more important. Wishing you both the best.

    Reply
  25. Skye

    Good for you! I am standing up & cheering!!
    You two are doing what we all should be (& hopefully, are) doing: making decisions that make your life joyous & filled with the things you truly value.
    I love your designs & quilts but I would rather see fewewr of them if I knew it meant you were living the lives that fed your hearts.
    Bravo!!

    Reply
  26. Rina

    If I were there I would give you a high five. The most important things in life are family and doing what makes you happy so I’m glad you decided to go that route.

    Reply
  27. Susan the farm quilter

    Life is wayyyyy too short not to do what you love in a way that you love what you do!! Smart of you to step off the crazy roller coaster before you lost your love of creating patterns and quilts. As a “professional” longarm quilter, I can say that I am right there with you earning much less than minimum wage – I guess I quilt too slowly because I want it perfect!! I quilt because I love it and I enjoy the challenge of creating beauty with thread on lovely fabric! It will never pay the bills…I’m just glad when it covers the cost of thread, batting and fabric for me to play with fabric too!!

    Reply
  28. Doris Quilting Queen

    I completely understand what you are saying and applaud you for your stance! I currently participate in blog hops and blog tours, been published in quilt magazines, have self published a handful of patterns and am in the process of writing my first book. There are many days when I’m stressed with deadlines for a blog hop, or getting a customer quilt finished or a charity quilt finished that I ask myself “what in the world are you killing yourself for?” Hubby keeps me centered and makes me step back and “breath”. Thank goodness for him! His all time saying is “If it’s not fun anymore, don’t do it!” And every once in a while I take his advise. lol.

    Reply
  29. Emily

    Jo and Kelli, a very informative post! I read the article you linked us to and was so surprised how the industry is structured. The comments were as revealing as the article. As a business owner, and I speak from present experience, you should love what you do to do it well. But, one should never sacrifice themselves, family, and others for it. When the balance shifts in either direction, one should evaluate their priorities. I am thankful there are people like you and Kelli in our world today.

    Take care,
    Emily

    Reply
  30. Judy

    Great post and what an eye opener about designing fabrics. It is nice to know that there are people that are not willing to sacrifice themselves to the industry. I have always seen your love for quilting in your blog and think it is great that you have decided to back off and go back to the fun that you once had with it.

    Reply

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