Solomon Grundy and USP (2014 – Notes to Self)

Solomon Grundy,
Born on a Monday,
Christened on Tuesday,
Married on Wednesday,
Took ill on Thursday,
Grew worse on Friday,
Died on Saturday,
Buried on Sunday.
That was the end,
Of Solomon Grundy.

From reading a LOT of Quilting Blogs over the past two and a half years I get the impression that, had Solomon Grundy had the good fortune to born in the US, he could quite reasonably have expected a quilt or several for each day of the week and probably a memorial one at the weekend…

And that’s great news for those of us who love to make quilts but, sadly, I find myself in a culture where most people consider the possession of a quilt to be by no means essential. By and large, we wrap babies in soft synthetics, sleep under feather or polyester filled duvets, donate money to charities and think of lap quilts as an indication of extreme old age (I’m really hoping that our recent cold Winters are changing this impression!). Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that quilts are not gratefully received and treasured as gifts – only that many people wouldn’t in their wildest dreams consider buying one – especially a bed-sized one – at the cost of good quality raw materials, let alone paying for the hours of labour and skill involved in the piecing and quilting.

So the bad news is that I think there may be fewer quilts on Rainbow Hare in 2014. Most of the people I would like to gift quilts to have received one from me already and fabric/wadding/thread is just too expensive to make bed sized quilts just for the fun of it so I’ll be thinking twice before leaping into QALs. Likewise, postage costs are really putting me off joining any more Bees at the moment :o(

Like all sensible resolutions, this will probably soon fall by the wayside but I’m certainly leaning towards smaller quilted projects like cushions, bags and organisers.

The good news is that there will still plenty of sewing. 2014 is going to be the year of USP.

(USP = useful things, saleable items, presents)

Useful things – We are like the shoemaker’s children who had no shoes! I have somehow managed to spend two years sewing and giving away bee blocks and mugrugs and wall hangings and pouches whilst our home dec and clothes get shabbier and shabbier! It’s not that we lack material objects – like most people in the west today we have far too many things. It’s more that I don’t want the hole in the ozone layer to grow bigger than I can help on my account, I try to avoid purchases that involve the exploitation or mistreatment of people or animals and we’ve been in a Recession for a very long time. So this year I’m focussing on using up what I’ve got in the way of fabric, yarn etc – and bizarrely a LOT of felt squares – and I’m going to bring the three Rs (reduce, re-use, recycle) more into my crafting. I made a start with a new bed for Lucy, made from a holey picnic blanket and a duvet that had seen better days – she was so impressed she relocated to the hall but I think that’s her usual response to all new/clean un-dog-smelling beds. I wouldn’t be comfortable selling or gifting items made from fabric that isn’t in perfect condition but I’m happy to upcycle textiles to brighten up our house. We also have things that I don’t throw out because I think I’ll mend them but I don’t get around to it…So I shall be mending and re-purposing…

And, finally, I will make more clothes and to do some more knitting and yarn projects.

Saleable items – I’m really hoping to have more time to focus on my etsy shop and on building up a small stock of sewing and knitting/felting projects that will enable me to have a real life stall from time to time. I know it’s not realistic to expect to make a living from my sewing but I really need to keep the wolf from my sewing room door somehow! I’d also like to make some patterns. Fingers crossed, this will be the year.

Presents – this year I was happy, overall, with the number of gifts I managed to make – especially given that we had a very difficult couple of months in the run up to Christmas. Really, though, if I’m seriously going to hand make presents I need to work on gifts throughout the year – especially if there is going to be more knitting, which always takes longer than I expect. And on the three Rs theme I’m keen to try some felted jumper projects. Since the felting provides a stronger fabric than the original garment and everything has been washed at a highish temperature, items made from felted jumpers, seem to me, to be more of a ‘new’ item than a secondhand one and I’m thinking they’d be robust enough to sell or gift without worrying about them wearing out very soon…

Finally, in 2014, I must find a better way to balance sewing, blogging and everything else. To date, I’ve vaguely aimed at doing as much as possible, which isn’t a very good goal because there’s no measure of success and I always end up feeling that I could/should have done more. I know this is something lots of bloggers find difficult and I think life changes in such a way that it’s not practical to set up a regime and stick to it rigidly but, for the moment, I’m going to set the benchmark lowish. I will post one Wool on Sundays post on Sundays, one sewing post during the week and I’ll consider any extra posts a bonus.

If you stayed through this rambling, Thank you :) I hope to have some sewing to post soon!

Janine @ Rainbow Hare

15 thoughts on “Solomon Grundy and USP (2014 – Notes to Self)

  1. DeborahGun

    a great post Janine. I too am trying to spend this year using what I have, but I will be making quilts – for my family, as so far I have been giving everything I make to friends and my family have missed out. And the balance between day-to-day life and our online life – super difficult but we do need to find some balance which as you say will most likely ebb and flow from week to week. I'm looking forward to seeing some patterns from you – I love what you make :-)


  2. Willit Neverend

    Janine, this sounds a lot like me (except for selling stuff and blogging more). I've really reached the point where I just want to use what I have already, I want to reuse, reduce, recycle and make useful items, too. I feel like if I can clear away the excess things that I have (without wasting them) then I will have more time, money and space available to me to do the fun things, like blogging and selling items :) I'm looking forward to seeing what you make this year, and what patterns you may come up with. Best of luck with your Etsy shop.


  3. Celtic Thistle

    You have definitely struck a chord there Janine I have been uncomfortable for a while with the whole must-have the latest fabric or book that so often is the ethos behind a blog. Very easy to achieve when boxes of brand new fabrics are regularly delivered to your doorstep, not so easily achieved when the cost is coming out of your own purse! The 3 R' s are a much better way to go. I really hope you do manage to draft patterns as you always have such a wonderful take on your projects :)


  4. Catherine

    Totally agree with you. All this conspicuous consumption is a bit crazy. Whatever you make is always beautiful and inventive so I'm looking forward to seeing where things develop in 2014!


  5. Mara

    I totally get the quilts thing and I am also hanging back with joining any bee's, I had to send out 6 packages today, since I was gone in November and although the blocks have been done for a while I just didn't have the money to send out that many at one time. Love your USP's and wishing you the best of luck.


  6. Martha

    Great post Janine! I agree with you. I'm trying not to buy any new materials this year and use what I have. I have plenty of fabric to keep me busy for a while. Let see how it goes :)
    Good luck on building your Etsy shop and creating patterns sound like a fun endeavor.



    Hi Janine, great post – I'm looking forward to seeing your three R's put into your projects. I feel very much like you about people not wanting to pay for what a quilt is worth and the cost of your time etc, also like you I've pretty much given every one I know a quilt as well. I think for the first few months the only thing I'll buy is some wadding to try and use up a lot of what I have and I intend on getting a rotary cutter sharpener to try and save a few quid on blades as well. Really looking forward to your future frugal makes. Jules.


  8. Benta AtSLIKstitches

    What great plans!!!! I use fleece blankets to back my quilts ( so I guess they arecoverlets as they are two layers) I get them from ikea for £3- saves loads on the cost of a complete patchwork, and are lovely and snugly!


  9. Jayne

    Hi Janine, What a great post! Do you mind if I discuss this and link back to you on my blog some time this week? I've been looking around and found a few upcycling and reusing blogs, and your post would make a great entry point to the discussion. I love the USP – just what I have been thinking too. Have a great weekend. Jayne


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