Sunday, September 18, 2011


It appears that quite a few of you understand the reluctance I feel about giving away a quilt when I'm not sure it will be appreciated. Thanks for your wise words and for sharing your experiences. Like you, I have been burned before - I have made quilts as gifts and have been underwhelmed by the response.

About 10 years ago, I made this quilt for the brother and sister-in-law of a friend after they had a baby.

The quilt looks really wavy in the photo, but it wasn't. And excuse our unpainted wall.

Even though it was a small quilt, it was quite a big undertaking for me. I was fairly new to the real art of quilting and was just learning the techniques. I thought the quilt turned out really well and I was quite proud to send it as a gift.

I didn't hear from the recipients for over six months, and their thank-you was a little note scrawled inside a Christmas card. I never met the baby, nor did I hear from the parents again.

A few years later, one of my colleagues/friends was pregnant with her second daughter. I was excited to make her a quilt because I really thought this woman would appreciate the gift. She asked for yellow and pink; I couldn't find baby colours so I put together this Irish Chain quilt in brights.

When I delivered the quilt, the mother was disappointed in the colours and also complained that the quilt was too big. I felt like I needed to apologize (actually I felt like I should just take the quilt and leave...but I didn't, of course). I don't work with this woman any longer, but when I see her occasionally I don't even feel like we were ever friends. Not because of the quilt, but maybe she wasn't the person I thought she was.

Then there's this quilt.

Another baby quilt made for another colleague...but with a different conclusion to the story. She was thrilled with this gift and still talks about it when I see her. It became her son's "blankie"  - and we all know what a compliment that is!

I don't mean to sound like I crave constant affirmation or that I need to be recognized for the things I make. However, like you, I do this to satisfy my own creative urgings as well as to bring happiness to other people. I just want my hard work to be appreciated.

That being said, little Mollie will receive her Patisserie quilt. As Sherri said in her comment, there is no way to know for sure if the recipient will appreciate the gift, but I know what went into its creation. And I will try to live by Janet's words, "Once I give something away, I seldom worry or even think about anymore..."

On another note, I attended a quilt show this morning. I have lots of pics to share with you...tomorrow!


Pat said...

I may be wrong in my line of thinking, but many years ago (when I was a we are talking MANY years ago), people were proud when they could BUY a gift as it meant they were doing well in life. It seemed that homemade that time....were given by those who couldn't afford to buy gifts. For some reason, it seems that mentality is still present for some people. I guess they don't realize that anyone with money (OR a credit card) can waltz into a store and choose a gift in a very short period of time. For someone to MAKE you a gift and give of a lot of their time on your behalf, that should be considered very special and treasured (now AND in the past) because it means the gift-maker cares quite a bit for you,but it seems many don't think that way...and I find that sad. I love all those gift quilts you showed and feel badly that the receivers of some of them didn't know what a treasure they had been given. :(

Laurel H. said...

O wow, I feel you on this. I have poured hours into handcrafted gifts for some people, only to have them brushed aside, never mentioned--I never even received a thank you note. I do not believe that means I crave praise; that simply means I feel justifiably disappointed. Funny, but it is sometimes easier to make quilts to donate I don't know, than it is to make quilts for people I know (with the exception of people I know will appreciate what I have done).

Pat said...

I should add that I don't think ANY of us is looking for heaps of praise, but...we'd just like our handmade gifts to be appreciated at least as much as the store-bought gifts a person receives and for the thank you to be as sincere as it is to the person who gave a store-bought gift!

PunkiePie (Jen) said...

Some people just don't know. I only give quilts or larger stuff like that to my very close family and friends. Other than that, I'll make smaller items for others.

Patty said...

Some people just don't understand how much of ourselves each one of us puts into a quilt or an homemade gift because they have never made one themselves and just don't realize. When I decide to make a quilt for someone once it is made and gifted, I've learned to detach myself from it. In the long run it more for my satisfaction and hopefully I've created something that will be cherished but if not, too bad for the recipient.

Lynne said...

Ooo, Pat's comment is so true! My mum made all my clothes because she had to - not becasue she liked to sew! Times have changed but mentalities take a lot longer!

Vesuviusmama said...

I'm so glad your third quilt story had a happy ending - I was starting to think I should just forget it and never give a quilt away again! :) Here's hoping that this recipient "gets it". And if you are ever feeling undre-appreciated, send one of your lovelies MY way, and I'll appreciate the heck out of it!!!

Tonya said...

I am the same way, I have a hard time giving a quilt away. People don't understand the time and LOVE we put into them.

Julie Fukuda said...

I think Patty is right, that people who do not make things often have no idea of what goes into it. Strange that a one-of-a-kind quilt made specially for a person could have less value than some mass-produced designer thing.
All the quilts are lovely and I'm with Erin on this one, send it to me!

Thimbleanna said...

Yay -- that third quilt was a big hit -- they're all so pretty! I feel just like you do, and it's all those experiences that help us learn and grow. Our gift-giving radar becomes more finely tuned and we're better able to recognize who will appreciate our work.

Cara said...

I'm so sorry this has happened to you, but I can relate. I got burned several years ago when I quilted a wedding quilt for my friends who never said anything about it and didn't even give us a wedding gift when we got married a month later. My mom also recently went through a similar situation, the disappointment can be so tough to overlook when you spend so much time and love working on a piece like that.

Susan said...

Totally with you on this one, i almost never make anything for anyone who doesnt knit or quilt themselves.... I just dont think they can ever appreciate it... All thee quilta look wonderful to me. Great job! :)