Magazine Graveyard: Quilty Is Closing

posted in: Paean 8
Quilty magazine; first issue, Spring/Summer 2012
Quilty magazine; first issue, Spring/Summer 2012

About a month ago, I announced (publicly, though that sounds too fancy) that I was leaving Quilty magazine as editor. I had made my decision in August and, painful as it was, it was the right thing to do.

A number of weeks ago, my publisher informed me that Quilty magazine is closing.

The May/Jun ’15 issue will be the last issue. Me and Team Quilty are putting the finishing touches on the Mar/Apr ’15 issue now and that will be out at the end of next month. Then it’s just the one more issue in the spring and poof: gone with the wind.

When I go to speak at guilds and quilt events around the country, I will inevitably be approached by a smiling, happy woman with a copy of the first issue of the magazine.

“I’ve loved this magazine from the start,” she’ll say. “It’s so friendly. It’s so easy to read and honestly, this magazine has taught me how to make quilts. I love the articles, I love the tips, I love the videos that show you how to do everything… Thank you, Quilty!” I’d thank her for reading, thank her for buying, and I’d joke that she was smart to get the first issue, as it’s clearly going to be a collector’s item. I don’t want to inflate the value of a niche market periodical, but this might actually be true, now.

Quilty is just a magazine in a sea of magazines. Except that it isn’t. Before Quilty, there was never a magazine devoted entirely to the beginner quilter. It was my vision that this absolutely had to exist if we (quilters and the quilt industry) wanted to bridge a strange, frightening gap that is occurring for the first time in American history — namely, that we have a culture that still values quilts and we have great numbers of people who want to make them, but we have now and will have forever more a culture that does not teach sewing. We are a service industry. We are not manufacturers. For all intents and purposes, manufacturing and fabrication in America is over. We’re not going to start sewing our own clothes again and that means there aren’t sewing machines in the home.

So for the women and men who want to make a wedding quilt for their best friend in the whole world but who haven’t the faintest idea that you have to plug in the foot peddle or wind a bobbin to sew a stitch (“What’s a bobbin?”) there simply has to be a landing place for them, a world of with-it, clear, and yes, dammit, entertaining how-to content where they can get beginner instruction and actually reach their goal: to make their best friend a gift that is an actual, physical manifestation of love, that will last generations, and that will secure their place as the Person Who Gave The Best Gift Ever, BAM.

Quilty was that place, that friendly landing place. Surely, there will be something that will fill the gap when Quilty closes. There has to be. It’s not like Quilty was or is only one place for a beginner quilter to get help, thank goodness. But there was only one Quilty. Only one Spooly. Only a short period of years where being a little bit weird and a little bit funny actually happened in a quilt magazine.

I think the Quilty videos will continue after I leave; I’ve got one more shoot to do in April, then it’s no longer my sea-faring vessel to man, so I don’t know. There are thousands and thousands of fierce Quilty fans out there. I see their letters, I meet them, I watch the ticker tick up on the video views. You matter, friends, even if those fabulous, glossy pages will be no more. Keep learning, keep asking questions. Tell the Quilt Police to go play in traffic. Make the quilts you want to make.

And buy up a bunch of past issues. Let’s start that eBay bidding war.