A Lot of Thoughts About Quilting

This post does what it says on the tin: a lot of thoughts, about quilting. I recently read a post by a blogger that really had me feeling a lot of feelings; and I decided to comment as such. I won't link to the blog post in question or anything, but I will post my comment here because a lot of the topics that I talk about are things that I'd like to see talked about more in the quilty space of the internet. Women's history and quilting are very intertwined, and both are things I'm very passionate about, so I do apologize if I come off as brash throughout this! Like I said, I'm just feeling a lot of things. I really want to talk about these things more, so if you agree or disagree and would like to pursue a discussion, please do! The original post was in reference to crafters charging too little for what they create (another subject I'm very passionate about!).

"There are a lot of gender issues at play here, and as a male voice in a predominantly female world, I don't know that it's fair that you say these things with an air of confidence, as if we are in your position.

A lot of quilters who sell their quilts do it to support their family, as an additional income; they're not looking to build a standalone business and can't afford sit on a high horse of advanced art education because what they created was "three dimensional art" (there are so many reasons that statement is completely false but I can't even go into that here); they need a seller so they can help out their family. Or maybe they're doing a commission, but it's for a friend, and they want to charge a price their friend can afford, and so they'll recoup some of their cash, but it's not important to them to keep all of it. Or maybe people say things like "to all of the scrap-vomit, (and let's just be perfectly honest, fugly) versions of the Trip Around the World quilts that hit the Interwebs last year. Whoa! [...] I'm just saying, some of them kind of hurt my eyes"; and then some quilters out there feel that what they're creating is no longer worth your $30/hour idealistic fee.

Or, like someone correctly comments below: you can label yourself an artist. A woman doing the same job, I will tell you 90%+ part of the time, will be called a seamstress no matter how she chooses to label herself. I feel so uncomfortable with you making a massive profit off of a lifetime of work done by these seamstresses. Why do you look down on that word as a label? You say that sewing is a skill, but then look down on someone saying "just" sewing. Yes, you are just sewing. You are solely doing the action of sewing. That commenter wasn't saying that the act of sewing wasn't skillful (as a person who sews themselves, why would they?) but rather than you are only utilizing a single skill when you are sitting a sewing machine, and sewing a seam. Yes, in that instance, you are "just" sewing. You're not an artist when you're at your machine, you're a seamstress. Deal with it.

And, to keep going on your profiting off of the years of woman's work, I find it so insulting your comments on the "scrap vomit" trip alongs (and, honestly, I'd feel this way regardless of whether or not I just started one that is quickly becoming my favorite thing I've ever created); because if you appreciated anything about the tradition of quilting and the seamstresses that handed this tradition down and made it into the trade that you are able to enjoy today, you would be able to at least appreciate a scrap quilt for what it is, if not what it looks like. Traditional quilts were so scrappy because of the amount of money fabric cost - they'd use clothing scraps, or save up for fabric and use it as sparingly as possible because it was precious. Vintage quilts that you see using only one or two colors are first off, more rare the older they are, and secondly, a sign that it was a prized possession. Being able to buy and use that much fabric for a single item was a luxury! By saying that only perfectly coordinated quilts suit your delicate sensibility, you're basically eschewing the traditions of quilting, and flaunting your privilege like that is really embarrassing. I feel such a connection and passion for this topic because I was unemployed when I started quilting, and couldn't afford more than a few scraps at a time. When I started, I wasn't sure on the aesthetic of scrappyness, I wasn't into it, but when I learned about the origins of quilting and realizing that I was in the position that my own ancestors were in a few hundred years ago, I learned how important it is to keep traditions like that alive.

Thanks, Scrapbeelicious members! You're the best! ♥
And, I mean, not only just talking about how insensitive to scrappy quilting that remark was, but how insulting to the people making these quilts. I've always felt that this community is so supportive, and I saw someone whose blog I follow mention that when they first started, they thought that everything was sugar-coated, that they didn't know why people didn't point out when there were flaws in what someone made. Here's the answer: who cares. You didn't make it, and if you did, would you want to read someone out there off-handedly call it "fugly"? Really? I mean, insulting in such a childish way, too.

I'm also saddened to see that you didn't make this quilt for someone purely out of financial reasons. Quilting to me, as I have seen it over the internet, and the way that I'm experiencing it, is such a giving and generous craft. I want to make things for people. I love it, even at a financial burden. Even if I didn't "make" as much as I thought I should. It's worth it to share, to love, to give."

I'd also like to add here that I definitely think women as a whole undervalue their work and sell it for far too little for what it's worth; but my point was that there was a tone of judgement coming from this blogger towards people who sold their work for less, and I felt that when that judgement is coming from a someone (in this case, a guy) who has so many different societal expectations and reasons why they might price things a certain way than a woman would (and of course, women making up the majority of this online space), it becomes somewhat obnoxious and I feel it oversteps a few boundaries. They were also drawing a lot of false comparisons for wage calculations, but that wasn't really relevant to discuss here. Overall, we should all strive to charge what we feel we are worth, and to further strive to increase our self-worth; in the meantime, why judge each other for the personal choices we make?

How do you feel about these topics? Are these things that you'd like to see talked about more? I'd love to see more blogs out there bringing up how important women's history is to modern day crafting; for instance how much ownership women were/are expected to give up over their pieces of art (historical tapestries, embroideries for example, not to mention how quilts went unlabeled for too long!) vs how well recognized and celebrated male artists were. There's a woman in my quilt guild who always talks up labeling quilts, and how important it is to document them as valuable art - I love hearing how passionate she is about it! It's so important not to let your voice get lost in the crowd.

Anyway, like I said, I'd love to hear any response you have! Thank you for putting up with a slightly off-topic post with only one blurry instagram picture, haha!


I was a little bit...no, I was very disappointed to wake up this morning to find that my comment was published on the author's blog with my full name and blog link attached, along with a lot of arguments, instead of thoughtful discussion. It is the opposite of the reaction I was hoping for, in seeking a meaningful (if heated!) dialogue. There are a lot of other issues that I feel have come up since, but I'm still trying to process things and make sure that I'm not too reactionary. I might update this later with some New Thoughts About Quilting, I guess is the point here, ha.


  1. well I have to say I enjoyed reading this! I also found the original blog post obnoxious, not to mention arrogant and condescending (especially for someone I know has only been quilting a small amount of time). The mother of one of my best friends actually does make "quilt art" and she is quite justified in charging what she does (see her work here: http://www.fibreworksart.com/Stevens.html) . Charging $30/hour plus 8 hours worth of "design fees" for "dreaming up" a quilt with a well established pattern -- groundbreaking - not! Not that I don't think handmade items are not undervalued in our current society, but going to the opposite extreme to overprice unoriginal work, that yes, you "just sewed together" and did not take any artistic skill to do said sewing, is not the way to go about making our community more valued! Actually people will be put off by your arrogant tone and need to belittle others in order to overvalue yourself. Rant over! Glad I was not the only one!!

  2. Gwendellyn - I've commented on your post on my blog, if you'd like to read my response. I certainly respect your passion, and I'm glad you shared it. I wish more quilters were as fired up as you!

  3. Man, I am having such problems commenting from my iPad... Argh. Here goes attempt 4!

    I had a similar erection to this post. I found it arrogant and judgmental and I really felt like it was a prime example of how an unawareness of male privilege and a complete disregard for women's history is so disgustingly common in our society. I mean seriously, did he think about what he wrote before he put it out there? Did he do any research on the fugly scrap vomit quilts of old (and new, which are totally fabulous!). I doubt it. Why would he? He's a man, so that's enough. Sorry for the sarcasm and man hating, but Jesus it was just dripping complete male obliviousness and it just pissed me off.

    That's not to say I don't think we tend to undervalue our work. I'm not saying when we're making for friends or family, but when we're selling our wares as a business in a venue, we should absolutely be charging enough to support the craft as a business. Did you read the original we're sew worth it post? I'd find you a link but I'm afraid my iPad won't save my comment (again). I can text it to you later. But I thought that post was coming from a much more cooperative and understanding place and made some really good points about "women's work" being undervalued in society for a long, long time. And we're the only ones who can change it! That post was more of a call to arms for sewists to band together and collectively work on not only raising our prices, but changing our attitudes when it comes to handmade items in general and the attitudes of others. Instead of dismissing something because you could make it at home, give it a fair assessment of the time and money spent to create that object, you know? And help educate people who don't sew or craft when they complain that they could buy something similar for much cheaper at Walmart. It was an interesting post and I thought the post okoume talking about sort of missed the point entirely. To me it came off as being all about the money, where the original post was really in keeping I with the spirit of our community and helping us all out by changing attitudes and valuing ourselves.

    Anyway, glad I wasn't the only one who was really offended by that post. I don't sell my stuff at this point but I might at some point in the future. When I do I hope I come off as an honest craft person trying to get an honest wage rather than as an arrogant douche trying to maximize profit at the expense of the history of our craft.

    1. I read that original post for 'sew worth it' and found it to be a much more interesting read, and more open for discussion. I also came across this post about the same topic: http://katiesquiltingcorner.com/2013/08/sell-quilts.html which again is a lot more open for discussion, and also includes a breakdown of costs.


  4. I think we can have this conversation without name calling. It's not fun anymore when the name calling starts!

    1. Like I said, this is a topic that I feel very passionately about, and I'm sorry if my manner is very brusque. However, I wanted to publish my comment here exactly as it was on the original post so that I wasn't accused of censoring things for my readers to take my side or anything. I was angry when I initially typed that comment, and yeah, I probably used more sarcasm and angry words than I should've. It's an honest reflection of how I feel though, and wanted exactly how I felt to be shown here, on my blog. I don't think I treaded into any lines of name-calling, honestly, because I agree - vitriol isn't productive. I feel that what I've said is productive and I had a good reason for saying it.

      That being said, I do understand if you disagree.

    2. I think your post does a good job of keeping this a respectful debate! But here and other places the comments seem to be escalating in a unfriendly way, ya know?

  5. Hello,

    I'm so glad I found you, even if it was through a post which I felt was arrogant and full of vitriol. I sincerely hope that you are not feeling too much stress or anxiety over being "singled out". I have been through the same kind of thing this year though differing opinions, and it's not nice. But one thing I learned about it was that other people's vitriol says more about them than it does about you. Honestly. And in a couple of months' time you'll just laugh about the day you dared to have a differing opinion to someone else and it ended up on a blog post. (Trust me - you do laugh, and you mostly forget what all the fuss was about).

    Keep on quilting, and keep on loving it. I look forward to seeing all your creations on Instagram and here!

  6. Hi! I'm here because of Michelle (commenter above) I read the original post, your post and the response post.

    I'm sorry that the original blogger had to pull you into their own whirlwind, but as Michelle said it reflects on them more than you.

    Try to brush it off and take from it the positives - there's always going to be someone who wants to pull you down to make them feel better.

    Looking forward to seeing more of your work and growth as a quilter and blogger! :)

  7. Hi Gwen, I just wanted to stop by and say I completely respect your opinion, I would be horrified to be public ally written about in that way without consultation and I hope you aren't upset or stressed by it. To put it bluntly, Molli might be a guy (who I consider a friend- no offence to him) but you had balls stepping up and saying what you really felt. Big love to you both. Keep up the quilting and the blogging xxx

  8. Hi Gwen, I just wanted to stop by and say I completely respect your opinion, I would be horrified to be public ally written about in that way without consultation and I hope you aren't upset or stressed by it. To put it bluntly, Molli might be a guy (who I consider a friend- no offence to him) but you had balls stepping up and saying what you really felt. Big love to you both. Keep up the quilting and the blogging xxx

  9. Hi Gwen, I came over here from 'that blog post' after reading it and the resulting comments.

    I had the exact same thoughts and feelings on it as you have articulated. My biggest gripe was some of the prices, in particular the wage with the excuse that it was so high because of "cost of living" in this particular country. I happen to live in that very same country, once having lived in the exact same city, and the wage quoted is an exceptionally very good wage, so I do not fall for that excuse at all, and still believe it is overpriced. I even had a comment left on my blog with an offer to continue the discussion so these costs could be "verified", which I declined because you can't "verify" something that I experience for myself! For those of you living in other parts of the world, it may be easy to believe because you're just taking someone's word for it on the expenses, so I feel like I come from a different perspective in how the wage is compared to the cost of living.

    On a full time basis $30 an hour works out to be $58,000+ a year, and do you know who gets paid that kind of money? It's around the starting salary for managers (maybe a mid range salary for retail managers who are amongst the lowest paid), IT specialists, those that have done many years working in trades to learn their skills. Many years being 5+, not less than 2.

    In light of this, I had commented on the first post about seamstress wages, and then was "called out" (though unlike you, without being named) in the second post. To find a realistic wage for the task, I had looked up industry standards for a role that I thought was closest to what we do: sew. That second post put me off entirely, because if this was supposed to be a "discussion" then I didn't understand why all these points were being pulled up into a post, with there being no reply to any of the comments left within the actual original post itself. This does not make it an "open discussion" when only the negative is jumped on, and posted in a way to show off the ridicule of other's opinions.

    After seeing the most recent addition with your comment, I was completely appalled because it really was unnecessary. It feels like it's a school-yard tactic of ganging up on a person and bullying, and reading some of the comments in that post, that's exactly where the post went! I find that a lot of the comments in those posts are just "arse kissing" as if they want to be accepted and somehow gain followers from being on the "right side" and have to admit I was somewhat disappointed in seeing some of the comments from other bloggers that I follow speaking in this way.

    I bet there are lots of other people who feel similarly to you who just don't feel as comfortable to stand up for their opinion, as you did, amongst the types of comments left in the post. After seeing how differing opinions have been treated, I wouldn't be surprised if it's now scared a lot of other people away from even wanting to post their differing opinion in the future, which is sad!

    I've not left any further comments over there because despite it being advertised as an "open discussion" I certainly don't feel like it is. You can't have a discussion through a series of blog posts where each individual point is picked apart and put on show for a whole blog readership. To me, any post after the first with the calculations was unnecessary as the whole situation started to read as a rant/argument rather than a discussion, with an "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude.

    I hope you don't dwell on what has been said and can forget about it all and have a great Thanksgiving without this clouding your mind :)


    1. well said Jo! you have articulated yourself really well! I'm afraid I just got angry and posted a lot of "thoughts" in the comments to the last post on said blog. I 100% agree with your "arse kissing" thoughts (Gwen and I actually discussed the same thing privately over email) which was why, in the end, I decided to post my comments, as very few were actually calling out what I thought was actually blatant rudeness. Anyway, hopefully the whole thing is over now, and poor Gwen can recover! Sorry for the random reply - I just liked your comment :)

  10. All controversy aside, Gwen love the sneak peak of your quilt. I am part of two quilting bees this year and haven't seen one completed quilt so far from either of the bees ;)
    So I am so pleased to see that you have atleast started putting the blocks together.

  11. I am just catching up with all the blog drama after the holidays, and while I see a bit of both sides of this, I'm glad you stuck up for what you believe.

    I personally do think we under value our work as quilters. I think everyone should charge more so that they can be viable businesses. If there was a man at home quilting to support his family, I'm sure he wouldn't just bring in a little here and there, he'd charge to be able to make a decent profit. But I also personally just accept commissions for family and friends and often just charge for materials. Because I don't think I'm worth a large price tag yet as I have been quilting for about two years. This is of course under the stipulation that the quilts will get done in my own time and I have design control (with their input, but ultimately the decisions are mine) since this is my hobby and I want to enjoy the creative process. If I were to venture out and try and make this a business, I do think I would try and find a way to make a profit, but realistically, art of any kind is usually undervalued monetarily in our society which is why many quilters that are profitable design fabrics, teach, etc. not just sell their wares. As a hobby quilter, I don't find it necessary to profit from family and friends by quilting.

    And, like the original blogger, I have a background in art/design. My professional degree is in interior design and I can tell you that I received no where near $30/hr with two years experience. Technically, I couldn't even sit for a qualification exam until I had gone through a two year internship under the direction and supervision of a registered designer. Coming from an art background though, I can understand why he defines himself as an artist (it's questionable with the particular design in question, just because it is a well known pattern) but am not sure why that is separate or different from a seamstress. Many seamstresses I know create entire gowns - selecting fabrics, altering designs, customizing fit, adding embellishments - which is an artistry in itself. It's not all hemming pants. The level of artistry can vary for a seamstress and a quilter from simple sewing to real, creative artistry.

    I know this is choppy, but bear with me...The second thought I had when he mentioned $30/hr was that while it was just above the median wage for his area, I don't agree that it necessarily was what he should charge. I haven't seen his work up close, so I have no idea what it should be worth, but saying that the average person makes that so that means I should just doesn't seem logical to me.

    I do find civil discussions like these interesting and I hope more people participate in a real, true discussion without anyone being rude or condescending. (Oh, and I love scrap quilts more than the regular ones I make, I find them more challenging and creative!)

  12. I hope this incident hasn't put you off blogging, and that you are instead enjoying quiet crafting time.

    I know I'm late to the party, but I wanted to respond a little. I hope you don't mind, but I read a little more through your blog, to try and understand where you're coming from.

    I agree with many of your points - most importantly that crafters and quilters in particular undervalue their skills. I would never dream of spending $200 on a baby shower present, but I would make them a baby quilt in a heartbeat. To me quilting is therapy - and cheaper than "real" therapy; that being said, I have never sold a single thing I have made.

    I don't agree with the $30/hour, but then again, I don't live where he lives. I also think my current employer doesn't pay me enough (I work as an electrical engineer). I think its a pretty standard human response to feel they're maybe a little undervalued. I can appreciate his desire to value his work where he's happy with it, and I can also understand that most people would not agree with him.

    Where I differ with you is the gender "thing". I work in a traditionally male field (defense engineering). I went to a technical school where I was the only woman in a class of 35. If I had come into this field with a solely respectful nature, I'm not sure I would have made it. I have had to fight for every ounce of respect I (hopefully) have, and usually not politely. But at the same time, I do respect my co-workers experience, if not their attitude. I really believe that just because I had to fight through it, doesn't mean the woman after me should have to as well. And I may be reading into what you were saying, and if so, I apologize. I don't think that because sewing has always been a traditional woman's world, we should be harder on men entering it and expect them to behave differently than if they were a woman. That's exactly what I've been fighting for the last 10 years, just with the genders reversed.

    Overall, I'm happy that you stood up for yourself, and your beliefs, and I hope you continue to do so. And I do agree with you that calling out a particular quilting movement or fad as anything more than "not my taste" is a little uncalled for. I recently was lucky enough to hear Lizzy House speak and she closed her talk with something along the lines of: we all need to support each other (she was much more eloquent though).

    Happy Holidays!