Quilters and crafters are usually generous people. We love to make things and giving someone something that we have made is a way to express love and to them.
But in talking to quilters, both in person and in online groups, I hear two big complaints.
“I gave someone a quilt and they just stuck it in a closet and never used it.”
“I gave someone a quilt and they used it for the dog.” (Or some other use that the quilter felt was disrespectful.)
Often when we give someone a quilt, we have a fantasy scenario in our minds of how the gift will be received.
Usually it begins with the person with the person gushing “This is the most wonderful work of art I have ever seen! I can’t believe the time, effort, and money that has gone into it! I’m not worthy to be the caretaker of such a precious artifact!”
And ends years later when that person is on his deathbed. He is still clutching the quilt, which has been used every day but is still miraculously in pristine condition. In their will the quilt is mentioned specifically and they either want to be buried with it or donate it to a museum.
That’s not reality.
Most people do like quilts, and (especially people that know you) appreciate receiving them.
But here are seven things to keep in mind when you are considering giving a quilt as a gift.
1. Many people don’t understand the monetary value of quilts
Quilters know that a lot of time, effort and money goes into each quilt. But non-quilters don’t understand that.
And why would they? You can go to Walmart and get a blanket or comforter for $20.
Also, historically quilts were made out of scraps left over from sewing clothes. Lots of people still have the idea that quilts are made from something that would be otherwise thrown away, so it’s a nice bit of recycling, but not a financial investment.
If you want someone to appreciate the monetary value of a quilt, it might take a bit of education first.
2. Everyone has their own sense of style.
Sometimes what you think a person will like is not what they actually like. People’s tastes even change over time.
If you really want a guarantee that the receiver will love the colours and patterns, include them in those decisions before you make the quilt. It won’t be the same surprise, but then they will get exactly what they want.
If they don’t have the same taste as you, it’s not a personal insult. They’re just not you.
3. Once you’ve given a gift, you have lost control.
No matter what you give someone, you can’t control what they do with it.
It’s like the child that receives a great toy but only wants to play with the box.
Sometimes people will re-gift things, sell them or use them for the dog. It hurts your feelings, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
Once you’ve given something away, it’s no longer yours.
4. Not every gift will be a favourite.
Imagine a baby shower. The new mom receives thirty gifts. You give an adorable baby quilt.
But grandma gives some hand-smocked dresses, aunt Jane gives a stroller, cousin Lucy gives $100 towards a college fund, and neighbour Sue gives four evenings of free babysitting.
I’m sure the mom will appreciate every gift she receives. I know you want your quilt to be her favourite gift, but it might not be AND THAT’S OKAY. It doesn’t mean she doesn’t like it.
5. Not everyone likes quilts.
I know this is hard to believe, but it’s actually true.
The same applies to afghans, doilies, socks, or anything else that you make.
If someone doesn’t like quilts, don’t waste your time trying to convince them that they’re wrong. Just move on.
6. You don’t owe anyone a quilt.
Even if someone asks for one, you are not obligated to make a quilt for anyone. The only one who controls what you make and what you do with it is you.
If you think someone won’t appreciate it or take care of it like they should then don’t give them a quilt. It really is that simple.
7. Most people will love and appreciate a quilt.
Most people would love to receive a hand-made quilt. They do appreciate that you have put time and effort into it and accept it as a sign of love.
So keep giving quilts. And if someone is really interested, offer to teach them to make their own.
If you just like looking at quilts, check out some eye candy in my gallery.
Elizabeth DeCroos is the designer and teacher at Epida Studio. She loves to work in quilting, pojagi and embroidery and teach these techniques to others.
Learn more and get her to speak to your group.