One of my very favorite moments in life is meeting other quilters that I’ve gotten to know through their blogs, facebook, message boards, magazines, fabric lines that I love. . . whatever. I love these moments, while the person is real they become real in my life, taking on dimension and personality – becoming who they are rather than a character in my brain. (Have I ever mentioned the vivid imagination I possess?) I particularly enjoy meeting quilters as we have seriously common ground making conversation easy, particularly for an introvert who prefers to stand in the background and watch what goes on. Listening to conversations rather than participating in them.
This conversation comes up every now and again. And I like it. I’m never the one who starts it and I’ll never be the one who finishes it. The conversation is about work and getting paid for the work we do as quilters. There’s a secondary component of some quilters who charging far too little.
Note: on Mandy Leins I first learned of her while working on patterns for Generation Q Magazine, I met her at Quilt Market, she’s smart, wicked smart. (The wicked smart is a New England style compliment).
I do remember the moment when I decided that I wanted to get paid for the help/teaching I was giving to other quilters. In that moment I stopped helping/teaching quilters on a particular message board and slowly removed myself from the goings on there. I’m kind of sad about it now as the quilters on this board were lovely people, really lovely.
So this conversation about getting monetary reimbursement for work is a great conversation. I like getting paid. I need to get paid. Part of this has to do with how I feel about myself and my work. I am acknowledging a truth: I feel better about what I do and who I am when I get paid – there is a certain respect on both the person who is hired and the person who is paying. When I’m paid for work my skill level, my very hard won skill is being acknowledged – and all the work that went into getting there – where someone is willing to pay me for what I do is amazing and satisfying. My hard work has finally paid off. Yes! *fist pump*
I’m want to add three components to the conversation: 1) getting paid equally; 2) charging appropriately and 3) continuing to give.
Getting paid equally – this is that whole female/male thing that just needs to change. Seriously. The quilting community can do this! We can view women and men as equals and pay fairly. We can acknowledge the hard work of all quilters and pay their fees without complaining about how high they are. It does not matter if a quilter is female or male we do the same prep work to teach, to machine quilt, to write an article yada, yada, yada. My tongue bleeds when people tell me my fees are too high and yet will pay the opposite gender with the same skill level/experience without asking “can you give me a discount”.
Charging appropriately – I’ve had this conversation with a lot of newish quilters. I’m less and less shy with this conversation which usually involves machine quilting for hire. Take the time to check out what people in your area are charging and price your quilting accordingly. To quote myself, “don’t piss off the quilters in your area”. If you want to give a discount for the first little while as you’re getting your feet wet, great! I’m all for it. I did it. But then customers will not be surprised by the fees down the road. Oh and please, please do not charge $50 to quilt any size quilt. Oh forget the please – just don’t. Just loading the quilt on a frame or basting it (if you quilt on a home sewing machine) takes time.
Continuing to give – in my experience quilters are generous as evidenced by the life altering tragedies that happen and the response of quilters. It’s amazing how quickly quilts are made for people who are experiencing deep hurt from natural disasters, to ill health and the list goes on. And I love this about who we are as a community. I don’t want this to change.
I am grateful for the generosity of one quilter in particular because her continued generosity keeps me grounded and offers me space to talk when I’m not feelin’ it. Her generosity kept me in the quilting community when I was ready to leave.
I am not tooting my own horn or saying look how wonderful I am with this next couple of things it’s just what I choose to do. I recently took on some work for a friend for which I will receive no monetary compensation. I went into this work knowing this. I wanted to do this work. This work is not the “paying dues” or “name recognition” type of work – I did this solely because I love this person and wanted to. I would do this again and probably will.
I like to help quilters grow and find who they are in the quilting world. I generally do this behind the scenes because often the conversations get to be quite deep. Quilters are people too and need to know that they are loved and appreciated for who they are and that their work is good or if they ask, where they might be able to improve in their quilting.
As a general statement: make the quilts you love, use the fabric and patterns you love and the quilt making will improve. I promise because I know, been there, done that and will continue. And speaking of being who you are as a quilter head on over to Megan’s blog for a great read and a hearty laugh. After meeting Megan in person I’m so happy to know her!