I'M HERE TO INSPIRE AND BE INSPIRED!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Creative Control vs. Opportunity



I have a question  regarding making quilt samples for a new local fabric shop in my area. Long story short, I got to talking to the store owner of this new store, and she asked me to bring in some samples of my FMQ samples. She loved my work. She was very impressed with my FMQ skills, and further impressed that I had only been doing it for right at a year now. She LOVED my Hearts and Feathers wholecloth that we all did together and said, not everyone can micro-stipple like that.....thanks, LEAH DAY;) Anyway she wants me to make a couple of small wall hangings. She says she does it a couple of ways. One: I pick the fabric, and design, she gives me the materials, I make it, it gets displayed in the store for a set amount of time, then I get it back. Or 2, She picks out the fabric and design, buys the materials, and keeps the project, and pays me money for it. I picked option 1, because I guess I like to have creative control. In retrospect, I think I should have picked option 2.  Once I picked option 1, she said she wanted me to make a whole cloth similar to the Hearts and Feathers quilt and include the micro stippling. (I told her I didn't want to make the exact same design, since it wasn't mine. )She suggested I use a fabric that reads solids and led me to the batiks. She also steered me to the thread she wanted me to use.(I'm scared of the thread, It's not as thin as I'm used to) She wants the thread to really show off the quilting. Ok, now I feel like she is picking out the design as she stated in option 2:/ Creative Control is very important to me. I don't mind a few guidelines to go by. It can even help with the creative juices to have a starting point, but ultimately, it won't be fun to me if my creativity is stifled. Option 1 was clear in the beginning. You pick the materials, you pick the design. Once I chose option one, I was led to the materials, and encouraged to do micro-stippling. Hmmmmm, things quickly change. She had said a good size of a wall hanging would be 12x18. It's for a small piece of wall between 2 doorways that measures 12.75 wide. Now that I am home, drawing up quilting designs, the design I keep coming up with needs to be square. I wonder if 12x12 will be ok? Again, I feel the creativity being stifled.





She also loved my Friendship Blog Hop Quilt that I haven't yet revealed on my blog. She wants me to make one of those for my second project. She also mentions coming up with a pattern for that quilt to be sold exclusively in her store. She said I would be published! Now, this all sounds exciting! But I have reservations. What are the ramifications of having a pattern sold exclusively at her shop?What should I ask for up front and what should I expect? Keep in mind, I have no idea how to create a pattern on my own. I would need her help with that.And, I probably would not have otherwise created a pattern for this, but who knows.

I wish I would have stepped back and thought about it more. Now I am committed to at least making the whole cloth since I already took home the materials. It's not a big size she wants. (12x18) so not so bad, but it will slow me down on my UFO's. And since I picked option 1, now I am making a project that I had not even thought about. My thinking is what am I gaining? I get free materials for a project that I didn't need. I mean, I wouldn't have picked that fabric to purchase, since I had no intentions of doing a whole
cloth in the first place. I don't need advertisement for my services, because I do not intend to quilt for money at this point. I like creative control, and I have a 40hr a week job. So my sewing time is for me. For what I like to do. Not to be paid for what someone else wants. My thoughts for quilting for money is " you can't afford me, baby" because people don't want to pay you for ALL of the hours you put in a project. It's a bit like slave labor.

I am gaining SOMETHING out of all of this. VALIDATION.  At least now I know that my work is desirable, appreciated. I'm sure all of her intentions are GOOD. I'm just stepping into a world I know nothing about. The business end:/ It's a little exciting and a little scary.I want to make sure it is worth my while. Wow, what a whirlwind of a day full of mixed emotions!

NOW, I'm off to work on my first UFO.....cleaning the sewing room......yah, I haven't done that yet :)

27 comments:

  1. I have no experience with the business side of quilting. However, if you really don't like it, can't you just say you changed your mind and stop it? Try it for a little while and see how it works out. I have sold a couple of my quilts but that's as close as I got to it. People are shocked at how much they are. They have no idea of all the work. I use that Sulky thread she chose for hand quilting! It's so thick! Let me know how it goes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know! So true! You can actually buy a mass produced store-bought quilt at walmart cheaper than you can buy(just) the materials to make a hand made quilt. People don't get it. All the hours. All the angst to get it perfect! I expressed my concerns of how thick that thread was. She assured me of how wonderfully it quilted. Then she showed me an example that was actually a decorative stitch that was gone over 3 times to make it pop...but its not the same as traveling while FMQ. *sigh* I guess all I can do is try.

      Delete
  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well done on the whole cloth, very pretty! I completely understand your dilemma though, especially with the thread being as it is 100% cotton (YIKES!), I have a couple of suggestions, hopefully they might work. 1.) With the thread do a couple of tester pieces with varying needle sizes, ex: try a denim needle with the larger hole versus the needle you regularly use, it might prevent breakage so often.
    2.) Don't Panic! If you get stressed out your are going to inhibit your creative process. Try and view this as a fun challenge of your skills, not something that is going to lead to a side business that you don't want. You are in control!
    3.) Last but not least if you are going to create a pattern you have complete freedom to create a beautiful work of art that doesn't require a massive amount of travel stitching ;)
    I hope that encourages you, because we all know just how talented you are at what you do!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the advise! The pattern would be for the actual quilt I designed, not the quilting, but I see what you're saying. I know how I made the quilt. I actually went through some trial and error to get better results. But I'm not sure how to convey that in a pattern. And if I did make "my first" pattern, would I really want to be it to be so limited for distribution to one store. Hmmmm, a lot to think about. I'm sure if I really wanted to make a pattern,with hard work and research, I could.

      Delete
  4. This is why I'm reticent about starting out as a professional as well. (apart from the fact I don't think I'm good enough anyway). I don't like being told what to do, or how to do it. It's different when you pay for a workshop and specifically decide to do the pattern that is being taught.
    I tried making commissions once when I was making stretched wall hangings for craft fairs (that didn't work out anyway), but I was constantly unsure that I was doing it right. The customer is always right after all...
    I made sure I went over everything during the design process with the lady who had ordered it and she never said anything other than she liked it all, but I still felt unsure.

    Anyway, what I'm trying to say is talk to the customer and make sure it's going to be right. I'm certain that with the skill you have developed, whatever you make will be good though!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ha ha, so funny. I was just reading your post when my email "dinged" and you left a comment:) Anyway, I feel more like an employee on this project than her being a customer. She had me fill out a application and everything. She said if we went over $600.00(on multiple projects)she would have to send me a 1040.:/ That doesn't sound appealing if all I'm getting is free materials for unexpected projects.

      Delete
    2. I think you should have a written contract covering the details of your agreement regarding your patterns; you are not an employee of the store.

      You might want to register a business name and get a state permit in order to run a small business and get a federal tax ID number, but I don't think any of that is too complicated or costly. I just did a quick Google search and found this, which might be helpful http://www.sba.gov/content/follow-these-10-steps-starting-business

      -Karen (Fireballquilts.com) (for some reason the preview keeps saying I'm posting anonymously even though I entered my OpenID, so just in case it comes through that way, this is who is posting.)

      Delete
    3. Karen you showed up just fine! I don't intend on trying to write a pattern any time soon. After a little thought, I decided to do the first whole cloth, then tell her I have other commitments to get some stuff done. I REALLY want to get some quilts made for my kids!!I may rethink after the start of the year, after I do some research. I'm sure she has good intentions, I just don't like things happening so fast! She is looking out for her best interest, and I need to make sure I do the same for myself! Even if that is just to continue to be a hobbiest:) It's worked for me so far!

      Delete
  5. Danielle ~ I love your wall quilt! It came out beautiful, and your work is lovely! I am so sorry you got all that stress added to your day :( Thank you for sharing your dilema, those are all questions that need to be considered when / if we quilt for a business. I know Leah has some quilt as a business articles she wrote, and Angela Walters is also recently doing some blogs on the business part of quilting, maybe one of those gals has something already posted on this subject. I have seen your work, and know why your new quilt shop would like your pieces in her storefront.
    I have no business advice, as I just continue to do what I do for fun, even all the teaching ! Looking forward to hearing about your blog surprise more in the future.
    Godspeed,
    mary

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thank you!The business end. Blech! i hate it. i love being a consumer...haha! Ya if it stresses me out this much in one day, can you imagine if I had to write a pattern? Creativeness, I am good at. Dotting I's and crossing T's, not so much:)

      Delete
  6. I wish you all the best on your venture and I know from seeing your beautiful wholecloth quilt that whatever you make will be beautiful. Sometimes we have to stress ourselves out to know exactly what we want to do and what we'll leave for others.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Congrats on the offer, it's great to hear your work is paying off! It sounds amazing to get some free materials for a project, but would be a shame to end up spending so much time making something you're not personally excited about. On the other hand I can understand that a quilt shop owner would have specific types of products that she wants to feature. The wall hanging is a good test run to find out whether you're able to make something you feel good about within those parameters. If you don't end up loving it, you can say thanks but it just doesn't work for you. Either way I look forward to seeing what you come up with!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ya, Iunderstand her wanting me to use her materials. She really didn't have any thread I would consider good for FMQ, but she had a few I would pick over what she gave me. I mean..she DID SAY I could pick the materials, so it kinda threw me off when she REALLY ENCOURAGED me to use that thread.I had actually picked out another that she discouraged me to use. Maybe because it was silk? I think I have already decided to stop after the wall quilt. It may be safe to say I have commitment issues;)

      Delete
  8. That sounds exciting and I understand what you are saying about the validation. I would complete the whole cloth first and see how things progress. If she wants to sell your patterns in her shop then you need to have a contract and everything that goes with that. There is a lot to think about because of copyright and associated issues. As you may know I sometimes contribute to Magazines and my quilts get published. Now for this I do design, write up and prepare the pattern for them to publish (and that is a real buzz). However, I also sign a contract (and get paid for my efforts) that gives them the copyright to the written works...this is why of late I have been thinking about putting some patterns up on the internet because all that becomes very limiting, i.e I cannot use my patterns anymore as I please. Just maybe take it slowly and see what you would like to get out of it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should put your patterns on the internet! I emailed Leah earlier and she suggested Etsy or Craftsy! I don't like limitations. It all sounded so good at first, but when you step back a moment, you realize that it's maybe not so good

      Delete
  9. Hey Danielle - A couple things here...I'm perfectly fine with you using the heart and feather design for this wholecloth. Seriously, it's a free pattern, available for everyone, for any reason so you can take the pressure of designing something brand new off your shoulders if that helps.

    Also you can make it 12 x 18 if you just add extra microstippling to the top and bottom (around 3 inches extra on both ends).

    As for the whole business deal - take it from me, if you feel a sinking feeling in your gut WALK AWAY!

    You do not want to ruin your love of quilting or your love for that shop with a bad business deal and personally, this sounds bad, bad, bad.

    Shoot me an email if you want to talk about it more, but understand there are a million other ways to get the validation you need without selling your soul (and yes, while that seems like extreme language, it will feel that way while you're working on this quilt you didn't want to make with materials you didn't want to use).

    Why not just offer the original wholecloth you've already made? That seems the most logical answer. Here - it's done! Hang it up and let people drool over it.

    Good luck!

    Leah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks, Leah! I can't use the whole cloth I already made, because she doesn't sell those in her store. I decided to do the whole cloth, then be done. I will just tell her it's a time management thing, which in part is true. I do love the store so there is no need to get in to the nitty gritty;)

      Thanks for some great advise!

      Delete
  10. I have been making store samples for years now with a few different shops. Each project needs to be discussed and you as the sample makier need to agree on each of the projects. If you don't think it is worth your time I would defiantly speak up. From my own experience, I have found that doing a simple trade is best. Meaning the shop provides the fabric, you make the agreed project, then she gives it back to you in the agreed amount of time. Getting paid for a project never works, and yes, once you make $600 or more by law she has to issue you a 1099 to file.
    I don't like the way your situation sounds but as Leah Day said, "Walk Away".
    I wish you the best and your quilting is very impressive and of great value!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sure it's all ligit, I just don't feel like I am getting enough. It's kinda like doing a project for a friend. I wouldn't charge my friend, as long as she bought the materials. the only thing extra I'm getting in this deal is to keep the project...which I didn't need in the first place....I have lots of projects on my to do list. This wasn't one of them. I really can't blame her. It's my own fault for not thinking it through. Live and learn...proceed with caution.

      Delete
  11. Leah's response is right on target!!! If your gut feeling is one of hesitation or, worse yet, one of being reined in and manipulated....even after "agreeing" to some type of working terms/parameters--run, do not walk, away, future interactions will not get better. I have been involved in similar situations (when I had my bridal wear sewing business)-when I was told that I had certain latitudes in design judgement because they "trusted" my years of expertise---in the 'real world' it doesn't work and, as Leah says, you end up hating the process and, sometimes, the results! You are NOT merely a producer of goods but a textile artist! **Side note....we all need validation and that is why our "bloggy friends" are truly gifts from the Lord.....Uber hugs coming your way!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right! Our blog friends not only validate us, but also calm us on a stressful day;))))Oh, gosh, I feel like I have blown this whole thing up, but it was how I was feeling.

      Delete
  12. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hi Danielle,
    I've recently been making class samples with similar options as you are dealing with. Generally, the stores give me the fabric - not the threads - to use in the projects, and after the class I get the projects back. I also will make a wall hanging for a new store in my area as a welcome gift in lieu of the usual flowers/plants.
    The thread she is asking you to use is absolutely not suitable for micro-stippling - it might work for an outline around the micro stippled area. Just explain this to her, and use your own thread if necessary. You'll be getting it back under agreement #1, right? Or - explain how much of that silk thread she could sell if you used it for the micro work instead of the heavy weight cotton, which will require poking huge holes in that batik with a size 100 needle!
    Your quilting is beautiful - don't compromise it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh thanks! I didn't think it could work just by looking at it! She just kept saying use a bigger needle. She suggested a size 90. I'm with you. I think I could fudge it on the bigger quilting, but I was worried about travel stitching and micro-stippling. I'm going to so a little(littler) sample to show her;)

      Delete