This is the final part of my post series about QuiltCon 2023. You can find the other ones here:
But it was hard to be so vulnerable and open about my struggles. It was hard to organize my thoughts and put them into words. Not sure I managed fully, but I hope you like it nonetheless :)
A big part of QuiltCon for me is the people – my fellow quilters and the buzz that one receives when surrounded by so many. And though we do have favorite styles, different fabric choices, and such – we all have this appreciation for the craft & art. But besides normal fun quilt conversation, which of course also happened, this year I had the goal to talk to other “small pattern designers”.
While I think I have my closest family and friends somewhat attuned to the process of quilt making, it is so different to talk about it with fellow quilters. And I found it especially refreshing to talk with my fellow designers during QuiltCon. This talk with friends in similar situations was interesting. In a very good way!
I have been feeling frustrated with the whole business versus hobby part of my quilting for quite a while. It is getting harder and harder to find a balance and my satisfaction in handling this situation was decreasing accordingly.
Talking with them made me realize, I am not alone in these feelings and problems. And it was so good to hear that! I am not sure about you, but my IRL friends always just told me not to worry, it is just a hobby… but I am trying to run a tiny business as well.
The hobby quilter part of me wants to enjoy it and have fun. I want to stay in contact with other quilters and enjoy giving and receiving feedback. Cheer each other on. Be inspired.
But running a business includes a lot of other things. Bothering me are mostly the social media norms like how often to post, to have to include reels, basically the “fight with the algorithm” – but also the time commitment for new patterns as it appears to have become standard to have multiple pattern samples, run a quilt along, pay your testers … They are not evil in or of themselves but I simply do not have the time or energy to fulfill them. I do have a main job after all.
I am reminiscing about the old days were I could “just” post a pattern, have my lovely followers test it and nonetheless sell it. Instagram was actually showing my pictures to you at that time ;)
But as one connection pointed out to me – and it might be a bit harsh but also very true: The current business world is not set up in a way that you can have both. Maybe not anymore, maybe it never was. You either do you or you cater everything to your audience.
As with all things you do not want to hear, I rebelled against it instantly. But I also tried to listen. And yes, the two parts are not compatible.
I had hoped for solutions, real solutions. But the feeling of frustration trying to walk this razor’s edge of in-between land is still there. Nothing has changed. Except for the validation: I am not alone in my feelings. And if you feel similarly, you are not alone either! And it is not my or your fault for not making the brain work in the right way. There might not be a way to change it.
When not committing to one but trying to do both, I am doing neither adequately. But am I able to accept that this level of frustration will always be mixed in – or will I choose to give up my pattern writing altogether?
As of now, I am not. I am still hoping to find a way to make this work for me. But I will keep listing to my feelings and will continue to evaluate.
I would love to hear your ideas about this and stay in conversation. So send me an email or leave a comment…
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And as not to leave on this somber note: I also brought back a few fun ideas. So look out for those.