After a LOT of reflection, I've come to a realisation that it is actually really hard to try to make your hobby into a job, and still keep the passion there. If you have managed to do this I would LOVE to hear some advice on how to balance it all. I'm a long, long way off bringing in any decent income from quilting, but it is still a dream to get there one day. I guess I've just become a bit more aware that even though you're doing something you absolutely love, it's incredibly hard work to try and earn income in a creative industry. Although it is still something I want to try to do, I'm a bit scared I'll lose the joy I get from quilting in the process. Perhaps I'm a bit naive for only just thinking of it now, but the last few months of last year made me start wondering.
I don't tend to talk much in this space about my ambitions to turn quilting into a business, but it is there. I hope eventually that between patterns, teaching and (eventually) quilting for other people I'll be able to make this my job (as I talked about here). One of the things I'd like to focus on business-wise is pattern design, so when I have the opportunity to design something for a magazine it's hard to say no. Having said that, I think I need to get better at saying no sometimes. I made five commission quilts between July and December last year, as well as several mini quilts for swaps and my epic (in terms of hours) star quilt. All the commissions were quilts I really wanted to make (or I wouldn't have submitted them I guess), but I think working in secret to a deadline changes the whole quilting experience for me somehow.
Like many of you, the only time I have to quilt is at night after the kids go to bed, and I'm lucky enough to have one day a week to sew while the kids are at school/care (although that will change this year as my youngest starts school). So when I have deadlines to meet, I think feeling I have to quilt every single night (even if I would normally do it anyway) is part of the problem, and part of why I have needed a break recently. Working to deadlines normally isn't a problem for me (I actually thrive on deadlines and find it is the best way to get projects finished without starting a million other things along the way), but having lots of deadlines one after the other is a problem. I inevitably think up new projects along the way, and start to resent the fact that I can't start them until I've worked through my list of commitments.
So that was all a very roundabout way of getting to the point ;o) I like to have a word to live by each year (a kind of mantra I guess?), and this year it is Perspective. I'm hoping that by keeping this word at the back of my mind, I'll be a bit more sensible with my time, and find a better balance between sewing for business (ie designs for magazines etc) and sewing for me (ie working on whatever I feel inspired to work on). By keeping this in perspective and remembering that I'm doing this because I love it and want to do it, I'm hoping I'll avoid burning myself out like I did last year. And I guess I need to get better at saying no.
I would love to hear about your experiences with this - do you share my dream of making for a living? Or have you successfully turned your hobby into a business? I would appreciate any and all advice from those of you who have managed to build your hobby into a business and manage to keep the joy there.