Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quilting magazines, patterns, and Internet printouts

I belong to several yahoo groups having to do with quilting. Recently there's been a discussion on one of the groups - Stashbusters, I think - about quilting magazines. Quite a few people said they were letting their subscriptions lapse and/or weren't buying nearly as many quilt magazines as they used to buy. Reasons varied from "patterns are all recycled oldies" to "magazines are just fancy ways of advertising specific lines of fabric" to "I won't buy a magazine unless it has at least three quilts I want to make.

When I first got into quilting in the late 70's there weren't many magazines - or books for that matter - about quilting. Quilters Newsletter was the first magazine I found. I subscribed immediately and devoured every issue. I bought back issues when I had the chance. I subscribed to Quiltmaker as soon as I discovered it, and had all but a couple of the first few issues. I subscribed to Quilting Today, and had every single issue of Traditional Quiltworks. I tried a couple magazines that I didn't care for, and let my subscription lapse after a year. I subscribed to new magazines as they were introduced to the public. At the height of my quilting magazine mania I believe I had eleven or twelve different subscriptions! Most of them came either quarterly, or semi-annually, with two or three coming every other month. As quilting became more and more popular the magazines increased the number of issues per year. After about 10 years I had at least ten to twelve linear feet of shelf space devoted to quilt magazines. Something had to go!

My solution was to ask my husband for a filing cabinet, hanging files and file folders for Christmas. Happy to oblige - it makes his shopping very easy when I know just what I want - we picked up the cabinet the day after Christmas. For the next several months I went through my magazines, saving everything I thought I might ever want to make or read again. These were carefully sorted and filed by technique and subject matter. I also filed all my patterns, which freed up more shelf space. This filled three drawers of the filing cabinet. Doll and teddy bear patterns and cross stitch charts and magazines filled the last drawer. I kept intact only the current year of quilt magazines.

Fast forward to today. I didn't keep up with my sorting and filing, so once again I have large stacks of magazines to go through. In the meantime I've filled up the space that used to contain magazines and patterns with more fabric. Doll and bear patterns, cross stitch charts and more have moved next door into the filing cabinet in the computer room to make room for more and more quilt patterns. Magazines keep coming in the mail every month, and quilt patterns continue to sing me their siren song until I can't help but put them in my shopping basket.

It's time to bring this senseless accumulation to a screeching halt. I've not renewed a single one of my quilt magazines. I'm not keeping any at all. I can peruse the latest issue of each magazine at Barnes and Noble and will allow myself to buy one now and then if I must. If I decide I have to have something arriving in my mailbox I'll subscribe to one of the great Australian magazines. Or maybe Quiltmania, though I can get it at the bookstore also.

Just like I'll never use up all my fabric, I'll never make even a fraction of the quilt patterns that I've so carefully torn from magazines or brought home from the quilt store. Or even a fraction of the quilts in all my quilt books. And the people on the Stashbusters list are right. Many of the quilts in magazines these days feature a single line of fabric - they DO look like big shiny ads for those lines. It's been a LONG time since I saw anything really original in a magazine either. That's great - beginning quilters are buying those magazines and all those patterns are new to them. Quilt magazines definitely serve an important purpose for many, many quilters - I'm just not one of them any more.

So while I'm out of commission - unable to sew or quilt - I'm going through all the magazines on my shelf and trying to be very particular about what I save. When I finish doing that I will file what I save - along with the stack of previously ripped out things and purchased patterns that aren't filed - into the already-very-full filing cabinet. This will give me a chance to look at everything there and ask myself whether or not I'm really going to make each one. I know I'll still keep a good many of them, but I'm willing to bet there are lots more I will now be tossing in the recycle bin.

1. Delightful dinner with Rebecca and Rick
2. More range of motion in my right arm
3. Wonderful friends and neighbors who are stepping in to drive me around when Fred can't
4. Weight Watchers ice cream bars
5. Payday tomorrow!


Kim West said...

I got rid of a lot of magazines when we moved. The only magazine I think I will subscribe to is "Quilter's Home" - I read it from cover to cover... and it is more than a "pattern" book.

The Calico Cat said...

You had me at cross stitch charts, I have not even considered doing cross stitch since I started quilting, but I still keep my "I want to do" charts... Luckily I only have a few & they are not super duper doozies...

BTW If you run across any Judaica or cats - they are always welcome in my home... (pattern torn out of a magazine is o.k. too in those 2 categories.)

Mika said...

I'm on Stashbusters too, and I'm one of the newer quilters that's still in the "love of all things patterns" stage lol. BUT, I've always thought the patterns seemed to be more about advertising the fabric than the design itself, which is disappointing, because there are some of us who are more about the design if that makes sense. That being said, I'd love to get some of your unneededs, I have a hard time making myself buy patterns and magazines and such, they're really hard to find around here!

Michele said...

Oh my. My heart literally skipped a beat at all the magazines you have and files of "potential" you've kept. I'm still new enough to quilting that this excites me and makes my fingers itch to make something!
You're really making fantastic use of your "down time". Good for you!

Linda said...

My gosh Patti and here I was thinking I used to have a good magazine haul when I was still living in Aussie, but your stash is If your looking for a good Aussie magazine I'd reccoment either Homespun or Country Threads, both have a mixture of quilts, bags, dolls etc and lovely sections on history and designer backgrounds. They also have ads, but not quite so many as the US magazines. Stone House Publications in Canada stock all the Aussie mags and have subscriptions to all. I look forward to my copy of Country Threads arriving each month.

Wendy said...

Those magazines sure take over all your space don't they? I've only kept the ones that I really enjoyed like Better Homes and Gardens Quilts and Sampler magazines. Great work on all the sorting and purging.

Thimbleanna said...

Boy, you've sure hit a sore point at my house. Years of accumulation has just made a big mess and I don't know where to start to clean it all out! You're much more methodical than I am. Good luck on your clean out. Maybe you could start a business and clean out all of the rest of ours too! And, I fear I'm collecting blogs to read....Gak!!!

Su Bee said...

Gee - you've touched a nerve here! I have shelves and baskets and drawers and boxes and cuboards all full of magazines, plus piles under the bed. It is an addiction, and now that you mention it, they really are old patterns for new fabric lines. may have just made my husband a very happy man.
(wait - that sounds!)

JoAnna said...

Ok - I literally just got back from purchasing two magazines when I read this post. I'm still at a point where I enjoy looking at the new pretty things and seeing previews of the new fabric lines. But I did cancel my subscriptions and now it's more like a special treat to buy magazines.

Becky said...

I too am going through magazines. I have mine in binders by category. I'm not keeping all the ones that I like. I figure I'll never live long enough to make all the ones that I've already saved. I then take the old magazines to my monthly sewing group to share.

How much longer are you restricted from using your arm? How long until you can sew again?

Karen said...

Oh dear this collecting fabric and patterns is such a dicey problem. Wish I could just look through those pattern files of yours, though lol. Just tried WW ice cream bars for the first time, the ones that are like oreo cookies, omg, are they ever tasty!!

atet said...

Wow -- and here I thought my magazines were getting out of hand (well, they ARE -- but, not as badly -- I don't think). But thanks for the inspiration to go through my own stash of magazines and reduce some of the clutter!

loulee1 said...

OMG!! How many? :-O

Solstitches said...

I think any crafter will be able to identify with this post. We all seem to be collectors of one thing or another.
I am a new quilter with fifteen or so years of cross stitch behind me.
I cringe when I look at all the charts and supplies I've collected over the years and know I'll never stitch.
I'm another that needs to start a big clean up. Seeing what you've been able to achieve might be just what I need to spur me on.