I got the dreaded "Do you make blankets?" question yesterday from a woman I work with. Ack. Don't you hate that? You know in your heart what is coming next. They are going to ask you to make a king sized quilt for their daughter's wedding in a duck head and deer antler fabric, or a tee shirt quilt with every ratty tee shirt their son ever collected since fourth grade. Nooooooooooooooo.
What do you do when you get that question?
I replied that I do make quilts, but that my time is so limited I barely have time to make my own projects, much less take on projects from other people. "Well, I'd PAY you", she said. Right. If I charged $15 per hour and the project took me 20 hours, that would be $300. Add in another $150 for quilting, and $40 for the time to hand sew the binding, we are at $490, not including the price of fabric or backing, which would be what, $150 or more? Sure, I'll do it for $640. Are you sure you still want me to make that duck head quilt for you?
There is also something demoralizing about working with fabrics or a pattern that is not your own choosing. Of course sometimes it works out and you are given pretty fabric and a good pattern, but not always. If I were to make a quilt for someone I would want to have a hand in picking out the fabric and pattern so at least that part of things was gratifying. When I worked with my student last year, I had a lot of influence in guiding her when it came to picking out fabric for her projects. Her taste was different from mine, but she had a good eye for picking out bright colors that at least went together well. That was actually quite fun, and her joy in her accomplishment was fabulous. But that was different. I was supervising her making her first quilts, not making them for her.
I know many of you may make quilts for other people, and I applaud you for your fortitude and generosity. I just don't have it in me, except for rare exceptions. I also admire long arm quilters who quilt for others--good heavens the things they see and sometimes have to fix before they can even begin to quilt the project!
Recently, I discovered a hilarious website called "Ugly Quilt Gallery" with lots of photos of terrible looking quilts. No one was made fun of, so don't worry. All photos of the ugly quilts were cheerfully submitted by their makers for the gallery. The names of the quilts are a laugh too. There is one called "Autumn Fell On Its Face" for instance. The quilt above is from that gallery, and was made from all the leftover flannel fabrics the maker had in her stash. She was so optimistic it would be a success, and good humoredly shared the unfortunate results.
Just so you know I am not immune to making an ugly quilt myself, I must share this photo with you:
Uh huh. Those blocks are kind of cute, but man oh man, why a purple lattice?