Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Quilting Setbacks

You couldn't tell it by looking here...

    But as I mentioned last Monday, Quilter's Newsletter magazine will be no more after the Oct./Nov. 2016 issue.

the Aug./Sept. 2016 issue
Ironically, many of the magazines influenced by QN, including Quiltmaker (an offshoot at the time), plus McCall's Quilting, will continue publishing. Good for them...I'm glad.

But QN's demise breaks the heart -- particularly for this writer/quilter, who learned her chops while working as an editor there in the 90s.

I had other jobs back then; you may remember my name from the Quilts & Other Comforts Fabric Club. I was managing editor for their newsletter, designed patterns and helped choose fabrics. I also wrote the newsletter for the wholesale division back then, and talked to a lot of shopowners and retailers for articles, surveys and such.

But my main job was editorial at Quilter's Newsletter, under such greats as Mary Leman and Jeannie Spears. Karen O'Dowd's office was across the hallway from mine, and we had many interesting conversations.
     At that time, Bonnie Leman was close to retiring. (She died in 2010.) But she interviewed me for the job. (Something I remember in awe, like meeting Elvis.) She still published pattern collections then under her name. (She chose the quilts, we editors and artists designed and wrote the patterns for those quilts. If you've read a book by Bonnie Leman from that period, you were most probably looking at some of my and others' work, too.) And she continued to have input on what made it into the magazine -- and what didn't.

When I began working for QN, I'd been writing for decades. My last job before that had been for Boulder's newspaper, The Daily Camera, and I'd been freelancing for a long time. I knew how to write -- that wasn't a problem. And I knew how to quilt -- I'd been doing it for a few years, and had started teaching, as well.

I thought I knew how to write quilt patterns. I remember submitting the first one, proud as punch -- and having it soundly rejected.
     Marie Shirer ripped apart my text -- she didn't like it one bit. I still remember her emphasizing that "over" was a direction -- I should use "more than" when referring to numbers. (Something, by the way, that many, many people still mess up on.)
     Vivian Ritter, one of my best mentors, said, "Cindy, you've got this layout all wrong." And she was right! Being a left-handed person, I'd laid the pattern pieces out as if a left-hander was reading it. Magazines, if you haven't noticed, are laid out for the majority: right-handers. Vivian taught me a lot about clipping corners on patches so they fit together better, estimating yardage and shortcuts that made for better accuracy -- all techniques I still use today. (Thanks, friend. I'm so grateful.)

QN almost made it to its 50th birthday. What a celebration that would have been! I will never forget the friends I made there -- it was (and has been, since then) a huge influence on my work.

Quilter's Newsletter, sadly, is not the only quilt-related program or publication to go under in recent years:

The National Quilting Association (NQA) shuttered its doors -- and its yearly national show.

Mary Fons and her mom had their "Quilt Your Heart Out" podcast cancelled.

The American Quilter's Society will no longer be publishing books, although its magazine, American Quilter, continues. (There's one large exception: Ann Hazelwood's quilt novel series will continue for a while. Fortunately.)

The Kansas City Star, publisher of my Quilts of the Golden West, shut its quilt book division down, as well -- and sold the titles to C&T.

These are just a few -- there are others. 
Update:  Now IMQA -- the International Machine Quilting Association -- is no more, along with its show, MQS -- the Machine Quilters Showcase. The board sent out a July 26 letter, celebrating the group's recent 20th anniversary...and announcing that it would 'dissolve.' What a shame.

It's a difficult, competitive world out there -- and the quilt world is changing along with everything else. Podcasts and e-books have affected publishing. And although the nature and techniques of quilting have often stayed the same...not much else has.

Some of my colleagues are gloomy about the future. They seem to be predicting that the quilt world will fall apart and collapse altogether. I don't think this -- our shared art has such a history, a community about it. It's lasted for literally thousands of years, through hard times and good.

There will always be a baby or grandfather who needs a warm covering, and a bagful of fabric scraps that needs to be used up. When those two variables combine, a quilt often results. And the tradition continues.

Will we stay the same? Of course not. Quilting will change. (The Modern Quilt Guild's influence has already proven that.)

But what's next?

It will be interesting to find out.
Quilters Newsletter June/July 2016 (QN10616)
Love and kisses, QN -- we'll miss you.


Virginia said...

Thanks for your perspective on these changing times in the quilt world.

Cindy Brick said...

It's not fun mentioning it, Virginia -- I wish I had better news to pass on.

Other magazines and publishing companies are teetering on the edge. Some fabric manufacturers too, I'm sure. It's hard to continue to be innovative.

Thanks much for writing, and leaving a comment.

KimHansonQuilts said...

Cindy - A very, very good read. Thank you. I've worked with Quilter's Newsletter extensively over the past five or so years, mainly via their special issues. I've written for them as well. It's hard to believe that after almost 50 years they will no longer be publishing. Some of the quilters on FB have mentioned that the price of the magazine is too steep or that it doesn't offer them patterns that they are interested in. I had my project cut from the last issue of QN due to space constraints; I've also had projects in both the hands of Quilter's Home and The Quilter magazine when they just "went under". Quilter's Home became a successful Gen Q. At any rate, things do change but there are plenty of younger quilters who will keep the tradition of quilting going. The publishing industry, however, will likely just continue to change.

KimHansonQuilts said...

Cindy - I'm also going to share your blog post on my post this week.

Cindy Brick said...

Kim, thanks so much. I appreciate your sharing my thoughts.

This is a complicated issue...and yet a simple one. For many publishers, it comes down to M-O-N-E-Y. When Rodale owned Quilter's Newsletter (and its parent, Leman Publications), this issue used to drive me crazy. Rodale liked to hide behind a smokescreen of 'green/healthy/earth wisdom/family comes first'... but they were some of the most unfeeling, grabby, uncaring employers I have ever worked for. Go figure.

Thanks much for taking the time to comment, so others can learn from you.

CRHalem said...

It saddens my hear to hear this, I owned all the issues from day one of the Quilters Newsletter. In getting my divorce my now X husband took my best loved collection of magazines and burned them along with other things. I am paid up until the middle of 2017. Will they issue a refund? Probably not.
Another wonderful thing to go by the wayside.

Carrie Halem

Cindy Brick said...

I think they're planning on substituting Quilting Arts for QN subscribers, Carrie.

You know what -- because of my days at QN (and the fact that I am a born packrat), I have nearly all the issues of QN, from day one. Would you like them? I'm sure we can work out a deal of some kind -- I wouldn't need much, and shipping could be media rate.

We are in the process of clearing things out, and it would be an honor to see these issues treated with respect and interest. E-mail me at if you're interested.

Thanks so much for commenting.

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