Stitchers on the Mend

Hey friends…

I have an idea brewing in my head and I can’t let it go. It’s got me SO excited.

But it’s really “raw” right now (so please be gentle ;) ).

However, did I mention that it’s got me SUPER excited? And how I’d love to involve you?

Here’s the backstory…

About four years ago, when my youngest started second grade, I decided to go back to work.  I had been out of the workforce for about seventeen years at that point.  Most of my work experience was in secretarial work.  I enjoyed office work and was good at it but in my heart, I have always been an artist and a creator and I wanted to do something that would give me a chance to develop that side of me.

I had experience with sewing, hand embroidery and beading, and I had learned hand piecing and hand quilting through a neighborhood quilt group I attended for a few years.  I applied at a local sewing and quilt shop and was hired.

About three months into my job, I started training in sales.  I began the daunting process of learning how to sell all the sewing, embroidery, and quilting machines in a shop that has been a top Bernina dealer in the US for decades and that also carries about five other brands, including Janome and Brother.  

As I learned about the machines, I found myself gravitating toward the longarm quilting machines and soon bought my own Bernina Q24, with an eye toward eventually starting my own longarm quilting business.  I loved the idea that I could apply my artistic skills toward helping customers finish their quilts in beautiful ways.

Through a series of unexpected events, however, I soon found myself in the position of sales lead in my store.  I was nervous because I had very little experience in sales.  I wanted to give it my best, however, so I set my longarm quilting business dreams aside, for the time, and started moving ahead in the position.

It’s going to sound strange because the amount of time I spent as head of sales was probably a little less than a month, in total, but I really did enjoy what I was doing--nerves and all.  I learned some valuable things and I enjoyed working with the customers and the machines.  I was seeing some success and I could envision a good career in what I was doing.  Inside, however, I had competing values and desires and I was torn. 

Remember, one of the things I wanted, when I went back to work, was a job that would give me an opportunity to develop my artistic and creative skills.  Sales can definitely be an art but it wasn’t what I initially had in mind.

It was more than just that, however.  I had other values that conflicted with what I was doing.

In my experience, a simple life is a beautiful life.  I believe that a simple life is something we can build partly through spending less, owning less, and slowing down.  Through being present and being grateful for what we already have, I think we have our best chance at happiness.  

I also feel that our earth might have a chance of healing from damage done by decades of over-consumption if the majority of our society were to choose to adopt these values.  I’m very concerned about the current state of our environment and the ways pollution can threaten the quality of life of all living things--sometimes causing the complete annihilation of entire species.  I’m also heartsick at the ways industry--and the textile industry plays a big role in this--often exploits the people who come to it with few other options for survival.

What I found myself doing in my daily job, however, didn’t entirely line up with that.  I was encouraging customers to get the machine, buy the fabric, purchase the new accessory, take the class, sign up for the workshop--every time.  In moderation, I think these things have a place and I don’t think it’s my place to determine what “moderation” should mean for someone else.  But, I wasn’t encouraging any kind of restraint.  If a person was unsure, I was in a position where I felt like the right answer was nearly always, “Buy it. You don’t want to miss out on this.”  I found I was saying this to myself, more and more, too.

And I started noticing another phenomenon in my own life and in the quilting community I now am a part of.  As I immersed myself in quilting culture--attending classes, guilds, and conferences--joining quilt-alongs, competitions, and challenges--I realized that I was starting to build up quite a large fabric stash and an overwhelming pile of unfinished projects.  

The abandoned projects seemed like a symptom of, or maybe a continuation of the “shiny object syndrome” I originally noticed in my job.  At work, it was mostly directed toward machines, fabric, and gadgets. In learning environments, we were awed and excited by the newest lines of fabric and the coolest new techniques.  

It was a lot of fun and easy to get caught up in.  At the same time, however, I felt myself getting overwhelmed.  I had so many unfinished projects, my confidence was taking a hit.  I started to wonder if I just “wasn’t a finisher.”  Thoughts like that ate away at my motivation and it was starting to feel like too much.

This conflict inside me didn’t all happen during the month that I was sales lead.  It built up over the several months that I was in my job and peaked a month into that position.  I decided not to pursue the position in sales.  I cut back to part-time at the store and began creating my longarm quilting business in my garage at home.

Building my longarm business has been wonderful.  I love serving my community and being a part of helping them show their love through quilts.  I’ve started to dip my toe into pattern design.  Along with Dara Tomasson, I am co-authoring a book “Doodle School: A Daily Design Challenge to Up Your Free-Motion Quilting Game.”  It’s being published by C&T Publishing and coming out this September, 2021.  I’m really, incredibly grateful for and excited about it all!

That brings me to where I am today and my reason for sharing my story.  

I want to serve my community in a new way through my business. I’ve had so many ideas brewing in my head.  I’ve been thinking about some of the (very few) drawbacks of being an excited and engaged part of the quilting and hand-stitch communities.  One that I mentioned is the inner conflict I have about encouraging unbridled consumption.  I also talked about the overwhelm I feel and have heard others express about too much stuff and too many unfinished projects.

I want to start an online membership-based community that addresses these problems.  I’m going to call it “Stitchers on the Mend.” It will be a space where we can grow together and encourage each other.  I’d like us to look objectively at our craft and see it through a new lens.  By doing this, I believe we can take the guilt and overwhelm out of our creative practice.

This idea has me feeling more excited than anything else I’ve done in my creative journey and in my business so far.  The wheels in my head have been turning and I can hardly wait to get started.

I can see a place where we could…

Become more empowered.  Through guided lessons, expert interviews, and community support, we can gain the knowledge we need to make small, sustainable changes with big impact.  

or

Help each other focus. We can encourage and support each other in committing to a small number of projects at a time and, in so doing, strengthen our “finishing” muscles.

or

Work on building a simpler, slower life.  We can help each other establish a regular slow stitch practice--something that I like to call, “Slow Stitch Meditation.”  We can learn both basic and creative mending skills and practice them as a way to feel greater gratitude for the things we already have and a way to prolong their usefulness.  Rather than create a new quilt or hand-made item every time we want to show our love, we can offer our services to skillfully mend and care for the hand-made gifts we do choose to make and give.

or even…

Motivate each other to experiment with “new” ways of engaging in quilting and hand stitch.  We can learn slower approaches to creating stunningly beautiful quilts and other hand-made items.  We can utilize materials and techniques that are often thrifted, sometimes upcycled, and always gentler on our budget and on our planet.  

We can learn to use what has already been manufactured and/or materials that exist in nature.  We can learn how to take previously-loved materials and give them new life through over-dyeing with natural dyes or by block printing, sashiko stitching, stenciling, or layering them--and so much more.  From the process of engaging with thrifted and natural textiles, we can become more intentional, more resourceful, and more resilient in our creative practice.

Like I said, it’s still raw.

But you see the potential right?

I can’t stop thinking about where a community dedicated to slowing down, upcycling, mending, and finishing what we start, could lead us in 1 year, 3 years or 5 years from now.

In fact, I want to learn everything I can to make this an absolutely incredible, life-changing experience for my members, so I've joined a program that will help me do exactly that.

 

It's not cheap but that's how strong my commitment is to helping quilters and hand-stitchers to build a more satisfying, guilt-free, earth-friendly practice. I know without a doubt that this program will help me serve you even better.

 

But, again, here’s what I’m VERY clear on…

I can’t do this alone and I don’t have all the answers.

Currently, this idea is very rough around the edges.

It’s definitely not perfect (yet) and there are many things we still need to work out.

But the vision is there. And that’s why I’d love to extend an early invitation to you. I want you to be part of this….especially if you’re willing to help me shape this idea.

Meaning, if you join me as a founding member and you’re willing to help contribute ideas on how we can make this THE best place to support quilters and hand-stitchers in creating a slow, healing, eco-friendly practice, I’m willing to extend a very favorable “founding member” price.

When this offer is extended to the general public, I anticipate the starting price for this to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $12.99 per month (which will be a no-brainer given that we’ll be helping people finish more of what they start and engage in their creative craft in a more mindful, fulfilling way).

Here’s the best part though…

Join me before June 12th as a founding member and your price will be $6.99 per month. AND… you’ll be locked into that founding member price for as long as you remain a member.

So even when we do roll this out to the general public at the higher price, your price will always be the founding member price.

As I said, all the details for this are not figured out yet. Nothing has officially been created. And I expect some of the best ideas will come from you and others who join me as a founding member.

But the goal is to officially launch this on February 1st, 2022.

So between now and then, things will be happening fast and furious based on the ideas flowing back and forth between founding members.

With all that said, what I am clear about is how this community will serve all of us as we progress towards creating the simpler, slower, more satisfying creative lives we envision. That’s what excites me. That’s why I’m waking up early with my mind racing a million miles a minute.

I’d love for you to be a part of this. 

 

I’ll be honored if you decide to join me on this journey and become a founding member.

 

Between now and February 1st, 2022, I will communicate with you on a monthly basis, asking for your input and offering updates and behind the scenes looks into the implementation.

Remember, this is not done and will not be fully available until February 1, 2022.

It all begins here today.

 

And years from now we'll look back on this and say “do you remember when….”

 

Join me. Become a founding member.

All you need to do is simply…

Send me an email indicating that you are interested.  Send it to amy@dappledthingsquilting.com and in the subject line, include the words, “I want to know more about Stitchers on the Mend.”

Here’s to your success and here’s to the success of our new community!