A quilt saga

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…

OK, so it ended just over a year ago, and it was in Indiana (which might as well have been Tatouine)…I was the editor of this magazine.

And did things like create and edit this book and special interest publication.









People hear this and they think one of several things:

  1. What a dream job.
  2. How does that match with your present career? (Read: how were you qualified to edit a national quilting publication?)
  3. Why would you ever quit that job? You were so lucky.
  4. You must know everything about quilting/sewing/magazines.
  5. Can you still get free stuff?

So here’s the skinny:

  1. Dream Job. Not so much. Think Footloose (the original, I play Ren) meets Witness (Amish country), meets The Devil Wears Prada, heavy on the devil, less on the Prada. Of course we all know the Devil in that story was the editor. I’d like to think I wasn’t the devil, but I suppose that depends on your perspective. Let’s just say I had some firm beliefs about the way quilting was/is changing, I was hired to “freshen” the publication, and I tried wholeheartedly to do that. In the end, I don’t know that the company I worked for really wanted what I was offering them. And if you are aware aware at all of the modern quilting movement of the past 2-3 years you know that they are really missing out. Dream job? Yes, as I look back on it I think maybe the whole thing was a dream. Like it didn’t even happen.

  2. How does that match with your present career? It doesn’t. Let’s just say the whole experience was a result of several things: a weird economy, impeccable timing, a love of quilting, a writing/editing/creative skill set, and an incredibly supportive husband.

  3. Why would you ever quit that job? You were so lucky. See #1. Editing the mag took its toll. Ridiculous hours. Putting all of my creative energy into print.

  4. You must know everything about quilting/sewing/magazines. I’ve only scratched the surface. I’ve been quilting for about 12 years and for years I was always the youngest member of my guild. Today not so much. I’m “old” by MQG standards. But I’m also really ok with that. I think we always have room to learn new things. On this front I think some would say I act like a know-it-all. I don’t know-it-all but I do know a lot. I also know I have things to share, and I love sharing and teaching. P.S. I don’t sew, I quilt. Big difference. Don’t even get me started on how I feel about the term sewist. As for magazines, lets just say after editing you never look at a magazine the same again. That being said I still LOVE PRINT. Perhaps even more so, despite knowing all product placement is essentially sponsored for all practical purposes.

  5. Can you still get free stuff? Or, can you get me free stuff. Yes and no. I feel like quilting is a quid pro quo business. At least that is how I treat it. Sometimes I feel greedy asking for things. So mainly I don’t. I do believe in paying it forward, though. If people give/gave me stuff I give a lot of it away. Quilt karma.

“Well, maybe you were special. But then again, maybe you were just like the rest of us, except you were riding around on flowers made of toilet paper.” Ramona to Birdie, Hope Floats

So why does this even matter? It probably doesn’t. But for a little bit I’d like to think I was something special. Someone who did and created things that made a difference to people in some creative way. Editing took a lot out of me. I have been processing this experience for the past year. I used to lurk to see what the new editor created, how she changed things, what she is doing with the magazine now. I’ve gotten better about this although I do still peak through the magazine when I see it in the store. I’m happy to report I have moved on. I can’t wait for the day when I no longer say “I was the editor of Quilter’s World magazine.” No one really cares anyway.

Perhaps the hardest part of leaving was that for once I felt like my mom was truly proud of the work I was doing. She felt like I was finally pursuing those creative tendencies I expressed as a young person, rather than being the scientist (geologist, actually) that I went to college (and worked really hard) for. She understood what I was doing and could see my efforts in the printed page. It was like that scene in The Joy Luck Club when the mom parades through Chinatown with her daughter, “the chess champion,” on the cover of Time magazine. I would argue that my quilting is that personal expression of that creativity, and frankly, I wasn’t quilting; I was “quilting” vicariously by choosing themes, fonts, layouts, styling, product, designs, designers, and fabrics, all for other peoples’ quilts. In leaving I felt like I was partially letting her down, although I knew I had to leave, for my own sanity, health, happiness and that of my family.

Sometimes I’ve felt like a quitter about leaving. But in my heart I know I’m not. I just did the best I could for as long as I could. Sometimes we have to seek a change. Early last summer I found the following quote on a tumblog which really helped:

“People don’t leave because things are hard. They leave because it’s no longer worth it.”

That a-ha moment for me came when I had an unsuccessful argument over the December 2010 cover. I wanted, and believed in, an alternate cover with a contemporary/modern quilt by Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Quilts. There was a volatile discussion. I decided THAT DAY I had been thrown under the bus one too many times. One should not have to be reduced to tears after an argument (I held it together during the actual discussion), crying in the parking lot, trying to pull it back together so she can finish the rest of her work day. I went home that evening and gave the word–I could no longer do it, or rather, I no longer wanted to do it.

The company I worked for was very successful but not “cutting edge” by any stretch of the imagination. In many ways they were mediocre, albeit a very financially successful mediocre. I wanted (and I wanted the/my magazine) to be more than that (and I worked really hard at it). Unfortunately, they didn’t want to be better, and they didn’t want or need me to be “that good.”

It was months after leaving before I had any creative mojo to quilt. Now I am back to having too many ideas and not enough time. I’m back to keeping lists. More importantly, I’m back to quilting and this makes me REALLY HAPPY.

So at this time of the year, and again in late October, when the quilt industry and those who can break their way into it are all abuzz, I find myself a little envious that I am no longer a part of it as the “editor of a national quilting magazine” and all that entailed–the courtship game–me to them and vice versa (although I AM discovering exciting and different paths in this area). There is an excitement and energy that I miss there.

But then I come back to reality and realize that leaving was one of the best things I have ever done. Life goes on and there are quilts to be made.

4 thoughts on “A quilt saga

  1. I completely get it! My boat was sailing the same stormy seas when I left the garment industry. While the experience was amazing, it was extremely draining on my personal creativity. Soon enough you will get your groove on full steam and find alternate ways to maintain your push your creative energy forward.

  2. A blessing on this post, my dear! In some part of your heart you will always be that editor, but like the pearl that grows around the piece of dirt in an underwater shelled creature, the resulting effect on your life will shine more luminously than that speck could ever have.
    It is no coincidence that many music people are leaving the big companies behind and self-producing. And their loss is absolutely your gain…….

  3. Pingback: On paralysis and changing perspectives | Stitch Outside the Ditch

  4. Pingback: Quilting the New Classics–Modern Bear Paw | Stitch Outside the Ditch

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