Every day we get older. And no one gets to live forever. I don't want this to sound maudlin or creepy, but if I was gone tomorrow, my family has a BIG job ahead of them, dealing with all my quilt stuff.
My friends and I have seen what happens when a quilter passes away with a huge stash. I have written several times about the Quilter's Estate Sale of August 2020. Use the Search Box up in the upper left to find those posts.
My primary stash closets when they were looking neat and tidy:
I often say I have a "sinful amount of fabric" and that is true. As well as books, notions, supplies, patterns, magazine articles, projects under construction, etc.
For some time now, I have planned to help my family prepare for the day this all becomes theirs by creating a Quilter's Last Will and Testament. Here are 10 Top Tips on what I think your family needs to know about your stuff:
1. Who to call? Which quilter friends are willing to help your family sort through and arrange to sell or give away all this stuff.? Name at least 3 good friends, provide their phone numbers. Discuss this with those friends in advance--are they willing to take on this task?
2. Sewing Machines: how many do you have, where are they, serial numbers, when did you buy them and for how much? I currently have two Singer Featherweights, a Bernina 765 in an expensive cabinet and my beloved Bernina Q20 sit-down longarm. When I bought that in 2015, I told my husband it was really "expensive". Note I was not asking his permission to buy it, my money as a professional quiltmaker and teacher did that. But he only understood what that word meant when he saw the credit card bill. Your family has no idea how much your very valuable machines cost or are worth today. The Featherweights are often thought to be "toy machines". One of mine I had painted so I have almost $700 invested in that baby--I want that to go to granddaughter Stella someday.
3. Your Important Quilts: Which mean the most to you and are the ones you really want to stay with your family? Do you have some that have won major awards or been published that will increase their value? These "Best Quilts" need to be documented in writing, with photos, to help ensure that information stays with those quilts. Make a LIST--who do you want to get your favorite quilts? There are a few I want to go to my grandchildren, Stella and Sam, when they are old enough to appreciate them. Yes, I have given them baby quilts and kid quilts already. I mean the ones I want them to share with their children, long after I'm gone, when they talk about their "BB".
4. Your Quilts You Would Like to Give to Someone: make a list of any quilts you want given to a specific friend or family member. The "quilt worthy" person who will be so happy to have a piece of you in their life. If you are lucky enough to know when your end is near, add their name to those quilts in advance. Or, BETTER YET--give that special friend that special quilt while you are able to see them receive it.
5. Your Quilts that can be Sold or Given Away: is there an organization you want to support? Project Linus, Quilts of Valor, Guild Comfy/Charity Quilts all come to mind. But there are organizations that conduct fundraisers which might appreciate a quilt or two. Educational organizations and those that support children in need are possible candidates. I easily have 50 small wall quilts laying around that have little value for sale but could raise a little money for charity.
6. Put Labels on ALL your quilts. If you don't automatically put labels on ALL your quilts, start doing that today. Here is a Tutorial I wrote about Labels 4 years ago: Quilt Labels
7. Important Quilts Still Under Construction--again, if you know your time is short, find those good friends and ask them if they would be willing to finish that really important quilt you are working on, as a gift for your family. Not every quilt you ever started--just that special one you ran out of time to finish. Someone will say "yes".
8. Be aware that most of our stuff has little value to others, even quilters. The books, patterns you plan to make "someday", magazine articles you saved for 30 years, the 200 pens/markers in a box. even all your rulers, cutters and mats. People will be happy to take some of it off your hands, but not for money. Now is the best time to start purging that stuff. Have a "swap" or "giveaway" for close quilting friends. This takes work but you bought it all so you really ought to help your family by dealing with some of this stuff now, before it becomes their problem. The only special "things" I want saved for my family are my thimbles. Some are sterling silver, some are inexpensive brass topped thimbles I first learned to hand-quilt with. They are my most meaningful "tools" and take up very little room. I am looking for a special box I can store them in--I will include the story of those thimbles in the box.
9. The Fabric: It has value, to a lot of quilters. But, again, it's a matter of quantity. I am really in the purge mode this year as I try to reduce some of the "sinful" amount I have. There is a sale/swap/giveaway in my future this year. Just as soon as I sort through those closets again. Do you LOVE all the fabric you currently own?
10. Antique Quilts and Tops: I almost forgot this category--I have about a dozen antique quilts and tops, some cost me a good bit of money. some I lucked into for very little. They are stored away from my quilts, in a closet. I must take time to create a LIST of these, what I know about them, what I paid and where I bought them. Sure don't want my kids to think these are just junky old rags...
11. Lastly, write a note to the future about what quilting has meant to you. It has been my most important passion for more than 35 years, more dear to me than anything other than my family. It has gotten me through tough times, brought more joy than I could have imagined, and added dear friends to my life that mean so much--you know who you are. Over the years I have saved a lot of notes I have received from friends and students--they are in a beautiful basket for my kids to find someday. That is a good place for my "letter to the future" to reside.
These quilts all have to go somewhere. My kids appreciate them but they don't want them all:
|The Extra Guest Bed, with several layers|
|Working quilts--a lot of these are class projects that travel with me|
|The Rack holds works being quilted or waiting to be quilted|
|The Living Room--quilts everywhere you look|
So, what have I left out? Can you think of more steps we should take to deal with all our stuff? Any of these things can be done now, in bits of time. It doesn't have to take a month of hard work. Just get started. Take one of these ideas a month and do just that. In less than a year you'll be done. Your family will thank you.
And, let's quilt.