Quilty, My Quilty: The Last Taping Approacheth (For Me)

posted in: Chicago 2
If I had a nickel for every time there was a screenshot created of me mid-sentence, I would be very wealthy and would then pay to have them all removed from the Internet.
If I had a nickel for every time there was a screenshot created of me mid-sentence, I would be very wealthy and would then pay to have them all removed from the Internet.

When my St. Louis-to-D.C. flight landed late last night, we taxied on the runway; once I fetched my luggage I taxied on home and then I taxied my batooski right into bed.

Tonight and tomorrow, that’s all we got in Columbia’s District before heading onto Chicago to tape twenty-seven episodes of Quilty in three days. That’s just how good we are, brother. The days are long but the days are good and this time, they’ll be extra hard and extra good because it’s my last shoot. Many of you know now that the magazine is closing but they’re keeping the show going and I’m sure the person they put in the host position will be fabulous and do a far better job than I ever did; it’s my sincere desire that this is precisely what happens.

In St. Louis, I met so many devoted Quilty fans. It’s hard to leave. It’s really hard to leave. If I think about it too long, I feel wistful and sorry. But there are projects on the horizon that swoop in and take that maudlin business away and that’s what I grab onto. I can’t talk about anything, yet, because nothing is final, yet; counting chickens before they hatch is like, the worst job you could ever, ever want. Tedious, stinky, and you’re probably gonna be wrong.

I’ll just do the shoot this weekend and go from there.


Sneak Peek: Letter From the Editor, Final Issue of Quilty

posted in: Quilting 1
The first time I saw the first issue of Quilty in print. Chicago, 2011.
The first time I saw the first issue of Quilty in print. Chicago, 2011.

I’ve been dragging my feet, writing the last Letter From the Editor for Quilty’s May/Jun ’15 issue. It’ll be tweaked before it’s in print at the end of April, but I’m happy with it for now.

Dear Friends:

The first issue of Quilty magazine came out the summer of 2011. As the magazine was put together, I remember knowing only two things for sure: Quilty needed to exist, and I needed to learn how to make a magazine really fast.

What you are holding is the last issue of Quilty magazine. With thousands of fans and a river of “I love you, Quilty! You taught me how to make quilts!!!” fan mail, it seems impossible. Quilty has made such an impact; isn’t it only getting started? Yes, but that start looks different than I thougt it would. More on that in a moment.

The reasons for closing a magazine are numerous and, frankly, rather boring; it’s all P&L spreadsheets, dry meetings, and examination of market data. Knowing that magazines close almost as frequently as restaurants is cold comfort to me. It takes a village to make an issue, but Quilty has been like my kid and now my kid is leaving home.

This is where I get Kleenex.

There’s no need to cry, though; Quilty is immortal. We have proof in letters, comments, pictures, and emails that hundreds and hundreds of people have learned to make quilts because of Quilty. Beginners everywhere — and not a few veterans — have been inspired to become that beautiful thing called “a quilter” because of a little magazine. Is Quilty really over? Hardly. For the people who learned by and from it, it will always be part of their story.

“Where did you learn to make quilts?” they’ll ask you.

“Oh, there used to be this wonderful magazine called Quilty. It was so great. It ran great patterns and there were all these how-to’s and tons of quilt history and context. It closed, but I have all my back issues. Wanna borrow them?”

And then another quilter is born and another. We are all stitched together, a big patchwork quilt. Quilty has been and will always be just one patch. Thank you for reading.



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.