Monday, October 31, 2011

What's it worth?

Last week I addressed some oft asked questions, this week I shall answer one more.  What's it worth?

Now and again some one wanders into the store with an old quilt that they think is worth hundreds if not thousands of dollars and that by virtue of me standing behind the counter I know its exact value.  Well I don't but this I do know:  Most old quilts are not worth half as much as most antique roadshow junkies think.

Old quilts were never intended for anything more than keeping you warm at night, or wrapping up to keep the chill out.  They are like that pair of mittens your grand ma used to knit you every Christmas,  do you really think a hundred years from now that those mittens will suddenly be worth $100?  Doubtful, however those mittens have incalculable value to the child that wore them and has special Christmas memories connected to them,  but your warm and fuzzy feelings do not translate into c-notes.  Unless of course you are Amish.

"Amish" quilts crack me up, many people have no problem dropping $1000 plus on an Amish quilt but when I try to get $500 for a quilt I am insane.  Nobody admits that Amish is a brand and is a luxury good that is in the same category as your swanky Vera Bradley bag (yes I could make a better quality knock off of a Vera Bradly but "Brent Bag's" lack the marketing machine to end up on the spray tanned shoulder's of the Jersey Shore).

So what's it worth?  The answer as my dad once explained is that it's only worth what someone is willing to pay for it.  It's the difference between Antiques Roadshow and Pawn Stars.  On Roadshow the appraisers give a theoretical value that makes everybody happy.  Pawn Stars is the actual value because money is changing hands.

So why would I pay hundreds of dollars for a stained stinky old quilt when I could buy a brand new one for the same price?  Oh its a hundred years old so it must be rare.  Most of my quilts are a one of a kind so they are just as rare, and the fabric is not a hundred years old so it will last longer and hold up better.  I just wish that everyone else knew how valuable my quilts are, I mean I have a blog and everything, I am a famous designer, I even have a ribbon from the fair.

Adah thinks here bags are priceless and Eddie would never sell his quilts but that's because Daddy made them. Brent the blogger and famous designer has nothing to do with it.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Confession of a Man Quilter

"Opinion's are like (expletive delete), everybody's got one."   -Dirty Harry

So here is my opinion on a few core issues as they relate to quilting.  If you are old school you may want to look away now, this may cause your eyes to bleed.

I don't do it. I have no desire to do it.  I see no purpose it.  Back in the day before fabric was printed specifically for quilting and the home craft market, pre-washing was essential for a variety of reasons.  In todays market if you are buying quality fabric the technology and methods used to print fabric should be of a quality that prevents the colors from bleeding and running.  Batiks are a different story, because the dye process is different you may see some color creep issues if you are not careful, but that still has not convinced me to pre-wash.  Maybe I am just lazy.

Let me convert you to my heathen ways with the benefits of not pre-washing.  First is body (this could be a man card violation to speak of "body" as it relates to limpness and work-ability in an object such as hair or fabric, not the body of the Russian babe that just proposed to me in my in-box).  If you do not prewash your fabric it maintains much of its body, so you won't have to spend an hour pressing and spraying your fabric after you get it out of the dryer to return some of its body.  Second is shrinkage (I thought we got all the Cialis jokes out last week).  Many people point to shrinkage as a reason to pre-wash but I have turned that around.  If you wait until your quilt is completely done, and it was machine quilted,  the little bit of shrinkage after the first wash  will tighten up the quilting and give your quilt that old school look.

Batik vs. Cotton:
News flash, batik is a cotton,  so is flannel.  But even if it wasn't what cosmic law says we can't mix fabric in a quilt?  Maybe I missed that memo and the quilting Gestapo will have come for me by the time you read this.

An old wives tale tells of threads cutting into fabric.  If your thread is cutting your fabric, you have a serious problem with your machine and should seek immediate medical attention.  Cheap thread will kill you, or at least frustrate you, (I  have seen tears of frustration in a quilting class).  Grandma's thread that you inherited needs to be thrown out or put on display,  but under no circumstance should it be put in your machine.

Here is some shocking truth, thread color doesn't matter.  Most of my quilts have no less than six different colors of threads.  I often use leftover bobbins from my long arm for piecing.  As long as the tension is set correctly on your machine, no one will know if you used white thread or hot pink.  If your thread is showing after piecing and pressing, I can sell you a sewing machine that will make it disappear, or you could adjust your tension.

So there you have it, admittedly I am no expert, but I do have fun.  If you are not smiling while quilting you are doing it wrong (that is an expert opinion).


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Commercials are fun too.

Disclaimer:  Dad you may not find this entertaining, but it is educational.

With invention of TiVo and the DVR the game of commercial watching is becoming a thing of the past which is unfortunate as it can be entertaining and informative.  Let me explain the game.  You are watching a show, I'll use Project Runway in our example because the surrounding commercials are not to subtle.  One of the commercials I saw while watching reruns of PR last week was an ad for a product that helped with "feminine odor" (they were not talking about stinky girl pits).

To play the game you have to ask two questions to yourself or other players in the room. First question:  Why?  This is sometimes pretty cut and dry like with  Jeremiah Weed it is an "adult beverage" commercial so no mystery there.  In our example Vagisil commercial the why is less obvious to a guy such as myself.  As a guy my "why" questions are along the lines of:  Is this really a problem? Soap doesn't work on girls?   Or like many products (usually pharmaceuticals) is it an invented problem to sell a product?  So often in the "why round" we can introduce our theories, I have a theory on the Vagisil ad, this was no surprise to my wife because she thinks I have a theory for everything.

The next question is: Who?  This often adds to the why theories.  But the "who" can often be quite funny when you stop and analyze it.  "Who" encompasses male/female and age.  The Wilford Brimly diabetes commercials that used to come on during Matlock reruns was obviously aimed at older people and I am guessing women from Wilford's tones. So imagine my surprise when Wilford showed up between sets while I was watching Spongebob.  I have a theory on that.

Compare older Viagra commercials with the current Cialis ads.  Both treat "ED" (you can have fun with the "why" even if you are a guy)  Old Viagra commercials usually had a flashy car of some sort and a "Man's Man" extolling the virtues of the magic blue pill.  Cialis usually portrays a couple involved in romantic things like long walks on the beach or holding hands on a brisk fall day (girl stuff).  The difference in the "who" is genius.  Viagra targeted the man, Cialis is going after his partner.

The other aspect of the who that makes TV watching fun is that when you answer the question you find out who TV execs think are watching their shows.  MTV, Spike, Lifetime, and Bravo intended demographics are obvious from their programming choices, but watch the ads sometimes they can seem very incongruent (word of the day) with what they advertise.

The commercial game also adds a new dimension to quality tv shows like "The Jersey Shore"  watch the ads on that one.  When I have stumbled across the show I ask myself "Whose reality is this?"  and, "Are these people for real?"  Play the commercial game, and suddenly you understand what's wrong with todays youth, and homeschooling almost makes sense.

What does this have to do with quilting or sewing?  Who knows, but that is the problem with the internet, I can write anything I want, call it blog and pretend my opinion matters.

 "Stay sewing my friends."-the Most Interesting Man in the World, (misquoted for thematic purposes)


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Man Card

So I had somebody looking at a sewing machine last week and she was like, "My boy friend doesn't understand why sewing machines are so expensive." (say that with your whiny "significant other" voice for full effect, I know you have one, we all do).

So I was like, "Tell him to read this weeks blog post it addresses that very issue." (Say that with your "authoritative professor" voice)

And she is like,(whiny voice again) "He won't read it because he thinks any guy that runs a quilt store stupid."

So this weeks blog is my renewal application for my Man Card.  Comments in parenthesis are comments for blog readers only and were not included on the original application

Man Name:  Ferball, Ferlando, or Big Sexy (Man Name is a title/alias given to an applicant from other Man Card holders)

Sports - Participation:  Basketball, Soccer (I only include basketball and soccer because fencing and sailing may be misconstrued and could result in a "sweater vest" or "cardigan" classification on my Man Card because I lack football.  Though there has been talk recently of "Pirate" endorsement which fencing and sailing should qualify me for)  

Sports - Spectator: Mixed Martial Arts, Boxing, Baseball (I score big points with my spectating choices)

Cars - Ownership:  Audi Fox (All men have owned various cars, you are only required to list the coolest one you have owned, at first glance my Jeep might seem more manly, but without a lift kit or a winch it falls in the girl crossover category.  No girl drives a Fox unless it is her boyfriends)

Project Car:  1974 VW Bus (Though not a muscle car or testosterone with wheels, I still get points just for having a project car.)

Motor Head Experience: 6.5 L Diesel (I just have to list the manliest engine I have played with)

Nascar: No (Because I have hands on experience with cars I can answer no, if I was useless under the hood and did not know a tie rod from a fuel pump I could watch Nascar to fulfill my "Cars" requirement.)

Gun-Ownership:  .22 rifle (I own one but don't keep it at home, it is kind of a wimpy gun but my time in the army reserves makes up for it on the next question.)

Gun-Experience:  Mk-19 Automatic Grenade Launcher (Again most men have played with multiple guns I just have to list here the manliest one I have fired and hit what I was aiming at.  The only thing that scores better than a grenade launcher is a flame thrower.)

Beer: Designated Driver  (as a non drinker I have no preferred brand of beer, so I use the designated driver status to fulfill this requirement)

Tobacco:  N/A (this is no longer a requirement, but guys being guys the application has not been updated in years.)

So there you have it.  Just because I may or may not watch Project Runway by choice, and I know that Marcus Brother's is not a classic rock cover band does not mean my man card has been revoked.  If I start driving a baby blue mini cooper or wearing "salmon" colored sweaters even a grenade launcher could not save me from revocation.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sewing Machines and Chainsaws

I was recently talking to a fellow I know and he was in the market for a chainsaw, something to do with cleaning up after a bit of rain and wind. He had spoken with his neighbor about it, and his neighbor was one of those old school New Englanders with a certain kind of practical wisdom.

"What kind of saw would you recommend?" my friend asked.
"Don't matter as long as it is orange." Was the Wise New Englander's response.

My buddy laughed when telling me this story because he thought it was the funniest advice he ever got. "...As long as it is orange." I thought that was the best advice ever for buying a chainsaw.

A couple years ago my Pa got the itch to buy himself a saw (the $80 green Walmart one broke), so we spent the better part of a Saturday driving all over creation to check out different dealers and different brands of chainsaws. All the really nice professional grade saws were orange. So my dad bought an orange saw. I also had an epiphany that day as we were riding around, and because I bet most of you reading this could care less about chainsaws I shall share this bit of wisdom with you.

The chainsaw he decided on was a little over $500. That is $500 that my father will never have to spend again on a chainsaw. How many things that you purchase for more than $500 would you consider disposable? Nothing I would hope, but we have been trained otherwise.

A car is the first thing that came to mind, how many of us buy a car and expect to have it for a lifetime? Some numbers to illustrate my thought: $20,000 price of a new car $12,000 what the car is worth 2 years later when you trade it in, do the math you paid a little over $10 a day, not including gas, insurance, or registration/titling fees, just for the privilege to drive a new car. Why are you trading it in? I bet it still gets you from point A to point B. You would fire your oil man if he recommended that you upgrade your furnace every two years for $4000, now if he put wheels on it and painted a cool color and parked it in your drive way, you might consider it.

Next on the list is electronics. How many of us fork over a few hundred dollars every couple of years for a faster sleeker computer? If you are young enough I bet you might be one of those that pays to upgrade your phone every so often for a "better" model. Who would upgrade their washer and dryer ever two years just because the new model will wash your clothes two minutes faster?

So that was my epiphany.

I tell you all of this and now I have to convince you to buy a sewing machine. Why drop $1200 on a sewing machine when your grand mother's feather weight works just fine? ( This is why I make a terrible salesman). The only good answer I have is: Because you can. If like my father you are a buying a tool than your old sewing machine should be fine as long as it has the functionality you need....I say that and I am reminded of my grand father. He was a master carpenter and contractor back in his day, but never owned a nail gun. "Why the hell would I want one of those, my hammer works fine and those damn nails are expensive..."

I suspect that for most sewing is a hobby and as such by extension the sewing machine is a toy. A useful toy, but a toy non the less. And if you are sewing for fun, you may find that a new machine makes things a little more fun, and expands your hobby with increased functionality. And the nice thing about a $500 sewing machine or chainsaw is that if you take care of it, your grand kids will still have it around in 40 years to play with.