Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Lately I've had a ton of intrigue on the topic of selling quilts. I've made a massive number of quilts this year and last year and people have been asking why I don't sell them. I never know quite how to answer this question. It is a difficult topic to conceptualize and explain, and I am always worried about offending someone. I have people weekly asking for quilts, for prices, or simply why I hand away all of my work for free. The simple answer is... you couldn't afford me.
 Although I rarely blog about the quilts I make because I simply lack the time between diapers, dinners, naps, nighttime, homework and tantrums, I seem to always be busy also quilting. There are numerous websites devoted to the question of why quilting isn't a lucritive business but first let me do my best to bore your pants off.
It all started 250 years ago during the industrial revolution. Somewhere between 1760 and 1840 the United States began to revolutionize the textile industry with new manufacturing processes. It understood that human power was the most expensive type of power and that in order to save time and money they came up with a "better" more efficient way. Although there still exists people that crave "handcrafted" items, those willing to pay that increasing price gap haven't been able to keep up with the times.
Realistically speaking my most common size quilt is a crib quilt for a child/baby. At around 45inches x 60inches, it is both the smallest and easiest quilt I make.
First you need fabric. I am a reasonable/thrifty person so let's assume for arguments sake I can find you fabric for $7 a yard. I typically spend between $5-$10 per yard.

Front Fabric (4 yards 4*$7=$28)                 $28.00
Back Fabric (2 yards 2*$7=$14)                  $14.00
Binding Fabric (1/2 yard 1/2*$7=$3.50)       $3.50
Batting (2 yards 2*$10-$20)                        $20.00
Thread                                                            $5.00
Total Materials                                             $70.50
I always tell people I spend about 30 hours on a crib quilt, it could be less, it could be more but 30 seems about right when all is said and done. This includes planning, cutting, ironing, sewing, basting, quilting, and binding. Let us assume I make little more than minimum wage at $10/hour. Your quilt now costs roughly $370.50. To top that off, I consider myself a skilled professional and considering the number of quilts I have made, and the wage skilled tradesmen earn (i.e. plumbers, electricians, block layers etc), I am likely worth somewhere more than $20/hour. As a side note, I make more than this at my accounting job. On average, the typical crib quilt won't sell for more than $150-$250, and I'm just not sure that justifies the week I spent making it minus the cost of materials.
In the past, I have offered to make people quilts for the cost of materials plus $100. To date, I have had not one person accept that proposal. I had a friend recently ask me to look over her business proposal for quilting and I had a hard time making the numbers work. In a world where we view Pottery Barn as better than handmade and Walmart can sell my product for a 5th or 10th of my price, I'm just not sure quilting has a place if you can make a living doing almost anything else.
Needless to say, I still make quilts, I still love the look on someone's face when they open my masterpiece and I treasure that every day that person has a little bit of love made from me. I give them away for showers and special occassions but typically only to those who request them.
I recently made a set of twin quilts (pictures are peppered throughout this post) for a cousin whose best friend is having twins. We decided she would pay me for the cost of materials. Since it wasn't directly for her, my time is my gift to her. The quilts turned out beautifully and I hope she and her friend love them as much as I do.
Here are some links I found interesting. I'm not saying making a profit is impossible, I'm just saying you might make MORE money doing LESS.

Moore Approved
Little Blue Bell
So Sew Easy

Monday, July 11, 2016

If you are the One, that is all that matters!

I've read article after article about last month's recent events. I've held my kids tighter, kissed them more often and become more aware of everything around us. I like to think of myself as a rational human being, and a somewhat rational mother. However there are times, places and situations where my rationality is completely thrown out the window and fearful, stubborn, scared Mommy rears her timid head.

This week I began thinking about statistics. My entire life, I loved math! I was in a math league in high school and competed against myself and others. I scored nearly perfect on every math and science regents in high school. In college, I tested out of my statistics finals and minored in economics. To say I enjoy math is an understatement. I spent years as a financial analyst for Goldman Sachs and I am now an accountant and one of the few people I've ever heard say they LOVE taxes, especially small businesses. There is just something about a perfectly balanced balance sheet and clean income statement that put a smile on my face.

Where was I? Oh right, statistics.
I'm sure statistics are the reason I find no joy in playing the lottery, gambling at casinos or testing my luck at carnival games. I understand, statistically speaking, I have a very small chance of leaving with heavier pockets and I am perfectly fine taking my $20 and popping into the restaurant around the corner to enjoy a fabulous drink and burger. I'm not necessarily cheap or a saver by nature but I am aware of rate of returns, time value of money and enjoying your life as well as planning for the future.

However, when it comes to being a Mom, my very core beliefs, all my statistical understanding, the basics which make up my moral fiber and knowledge seem to fly out the window. I suddenly become encapsulated by that One. One in ten, One in a hundred, One in a thousand, One in a million. Because I promise you, if you are the One, that is all that matters. Who cares if you were some statistic, some infinitesimal chance, the only thing that means anything is that your everything is shattered.
As time has passed I'm sure the vast majority of you forgot about the little child taken by an alligator in Florida, on a Disney vacation during what was supposed to be a very happy occasion. I can promise you, the family of the One... has not, and neither have I.

I understand that family. I understand how something like that happened. I understand that their child was some freak accident, some One in something unlikely statistic. I realize that my vibrant little two year old, running and splashing in the water could have been that One. My timid five year old, getting a bucket of water could have been that One. My baby boy, sitting on the sand at the edge of the beach could have been that One and it is all I can do to not cry for that family every time I think of what happened.
Let's talk statistics:

This article is actually a very good read because it takes into consideration what I have been saying all along. Instead of giving you some general statistic considering the entire population, (i.e. One in 3,748,067 are your odds of being attacked by a shark) it instead analyzes people that actually are in the ocean (surfers) and calculates the likelihood of being attacked by a shark at One in 25,641 significantly more likely than the One in 79,746 of being struck by lightening. Now, this article analyzes shark attacks verse everything else and this article will tell you your odds of dying from anything (I did not verify its credentials, but then again that's not really the point.)
We are currently on vacation in Florida and I'm terrified of being the One in anything. Just last week, news about Vibrio vulnificus hit the newsstands. Apparently our odds of contracting that lovely virus are somewhere around One in 2,906,250. For most people, odds never seem scary until they happen to you.
But what if they happen to you? What if your little baby was the One. I guess the same can be said of cancer, respiratory illnesses, car accidents, plane crashes... life. But I implore you today, consider yourself as the One, your child as the One, your parent, friend, or spouse. Somewhere find your sympathy for these families, appreciate those around you, hold your children longer and tighter, find your soft words, don't judge, don't lash out or look down. Tell those families you understand and tell them you're scared too.

From my family to yours... I hope you never have to experience what being the One feels like, but if you do, know that I am here and I am probably still thinking of you too.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

A Sarah By Any Other Name Will Still Be A LaValley To Me

Do you believe in soul mates? I do. I do to my very core. I don't however believe that you only have one and I don't believe there is ever any rhyme or reason as to who they are. Sometimes people walk into your life and just never walk out. I have one of those. 
This person always has the right words to say. That's not to say they don't sometimes say the wrong thing or the thing I don't want to hear but they always come out with the one thing no one else dared to mention and few had the courage to utter. This person, is 100%, my person.
And one day, in the middle of it all; my person found herself an additional person. I do adore him, he is special in so many ways and completes in her ways I never could. However, it is hard to share. My children remind me of this lesson at least twenty times a day and they are about as graceful as I am at the task.
If I am completely honest with myself, and you, I did grapple with a little bit of sadness at having to officially share my best friend and I may have struggled a little with the idea that she was changing her last name. I learned a while ago that although you may think a name is just a name, those letters have a way of defining who you are. Like it or not, those names tell others something about us, we associate ourselves with that title and when the meaning behind the name fades, sometimes the name has a way of oppressing us. It has a way of tethering us to something we want so desperately to leave behind.
I cannot think of a better last name for my dearest to take and I suppose deep down I find some solace in the fact that someone chose her to be his Hartmans. But no matter how hard I try, a Sarah by any other name will always be a LaValley to me!
So enough about that, we all knew from the moment he put that ring on her finger she was going to hope and pray every moment for the most beautiful quilt. Her request was Queen size for her bed, wrapped with lots of love and comfort. Everyone has a special place where they are most comfortable. For some it is the couch, others, at their parents, cuddled in a special blanket, sipping on a cup of tea, on top of a mountain, in the woods, in their kitchen. You name it, people get cozy in all kinds of weird. I have a favorite extra large comfy chair in my living room that I sit in to enjoy my coffee in the morning while I ponder my day.
For my Sarah, there is nothing more comforting or special than her bed. When she's sad or lonely, in pain or riddled with anxiety, her bed, a tall glass of wine, Fav blanket and a sad romance movie does the trick. She will lay there, sobbing her eyes out, texting up a storm, heaving with sadness, asking me all of the questions that no one has the answers to and all the while she remains wrapped in the love I gave her as a wedding gift.
This was my first time with this pattern (double hourglass) and although it did waste quite a bit, I was able to use the leftovers to make her pillows the following Christmas.
 They are quite adorable ( I am in love with the bird fabric I used on the back) and so is the little boy who loved them before we packaged them up to send them on their way.
 Just look at that smile!
She will always be my forever and I feel so blessed that she chose me to stand by her side on her wedding day and every day after.
I love everything about her, but most of all I love her kindness, her compassion and her love. It is rare to find someone that looks at the world through your eyes, but I'm constantly surprised by how similar we feel and much I can relate to her. When I go to text her, she is usually texting me first. We can give eachother eyes from across the room and know exactly what is going through our minds. Our hearts hurt together, love together and grow together.
No matter what comes our way, I know we will always be together because some people are just meant to be. "If you're a bird, I'm a bird!"
I wish you two a lifetime of happiness!
To Sarah and Dirck!
So I probably should add one photo of the lovely couple, 
because at the end of the day I guess this was about them! ;)

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

How Many Times

I seriously do not know how many times I will take a break from this blog. It seems that every time I commit to working hard and keeping up my posts, life throws me something, I get busy and this gets dropped. So I will NOT commit to continuous posts, but I will commit to try.
 A lack of posts does not equate to a lack of quilting, we have had lots and lots of quilting, crafting, sewing, gardening and life happening.
 It has all been beautiful and fun and so busy!
 I just love making these amazing creations.
 I cannot wait to share the details with everyone!
Over the last few years we have had no shortage of events.
 My son Liam and daughter Madelyn recently welcomed the final addition to our family Landon Jon.
 I swear she was happy about it, you just cannot tell from the picture.
 We had girls days!
 And I had my first go at a garden... it was an absolute success!
I dabbled in pillow making...
 And my precious girl turned ONE!
 Friends and family members got married, had babies and I tried to keep up with everyone.
I transitioned to a stay-at-home-mom role and still dropped into work on occassion to have some adult conversations. It has been fun, exhausting and taught me so much more about the world. Being able to stay at home has encouraged me to be more open and has taught me a profound respect for other parents. Being a Mom is HARD work!
Image result for life is not a journey
...and I would be wise to remember that!