Catching up with Amy Jolley

Time really does fly by when you’re busy. I can’t believe it’s already been a year since I was the featured artist for the month of March in 2021. A little has changed since then. One of the great things about this opportunity is that it propelled me into creating more and got me back into the flow for the projects that I had planned at that time. I also decided to go back to work full time and my husband, and I recommitted to starting a family. Two huge shifts for my creativity. I decided to put more effort into the Etsy shop SewGoodniss | Etsy and created more variety in the items that I was listing and paid for advertising to see if that would bring in more sales. And it did for a time but more importantly, the advertising drove more potential buyers to view my shop. It’s always gratifying when I get a notification that a buyer favorited my shop or an item. And then made a purchase.

During the last 10 months of 2021, I was at my sewing machine a lot more and trying new patterns and techniques. I made a lot of outdoor pillow covers for the shop because they were easy to sew and they sold quickly. I joined a Meet-Up Group for local sewists in my area and became involved on the app Clubhouse. These networking channels helped with sales and connecting with other creatives. Making tote bags became a big interest for me. I bought a pattern for the “Pepin Tote” at a local sewing store called the Quilted Strait in Port Gamble, Washington. This pattern taught me how to sew a recessed zipper, which was extremely intimidating and exciting at the same time. Even though this was challenging, I pressed on and created the most beautiful bag that I felt proud to wear on my shoulder. 

I went on to make 3 more tote bags and a wallet. Some with and without zippers. 

In the fall of 2021, an acquaintance/friend reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in selling my quilted items in a gallery/store she was opening. I was so excited! We agreed that I would send her some tote bags, pillow covers, and tarot card mats. We also agreed on price points for each that we were both comfortable with. At this point, I didn’t have much of either item in my inventory, so I set aside two weekends and worked hard to get these items finished before shipping them off to her. I made sure every seam was carefully sewn and reinforced for durability. This experience, however, left me feeling drained and I lost my initial excitement. She then decided not to sell the pillow covers because she felt that the quality wasn’t up to the scale that she was expecting. This left me feeling disappointed and I became fearful that the other items weren’t good enough. It was a total letdown. So, I pulled back and I stopped sewing and creating for a couple of months. I closed the door to my sewing/crafty studio and didn’t enter unless I absolutely had to. It felt like it was too much. This experience forced me to rethink my goals behind sewing and if I wanted to continue selling what I make and my intentions behind my creativity.

Here is what I discovered: If I have too many projects going on at once, then I get easily overwhelmed and this stops me from moving forward. Taking on smaller projects here and there helps with these overwhelming feelings. I really do enjoy sewing and the practice of creating something out of nothing. There is something so gratifying for me, though, at seeing my seams all line up, nested. And if not, that’s OKAY too. I’m not sure at this point if selling my items on Etsy is the avenue for me. Even though I learned a lot about my process in mass production in the experience with my friend, I really wasn’t prepared and if I am to continue selling my items, I will have to come at it from a different angle. However, I’m still interested in selling. In the future, there are a few things that I’d really like to work towards. First, I’d like the opportunity to become a vendor on the platform Spouse-ly    

This is a place that showcases goods and services created by military and first responders. 

Second, I’d like to get back into the space of making things just for the sake of making because just working from this premise brings me joy and takes the pressure off to make it “perfect”, whatever it is.

Thirdly, I’ve decided to volunteer to sew a quilt for charity through the Quilts of Valor program. This quilt will go to a Service Member or Living Veteran who has been touched by war to say thank you for their service and sacrifice.  More information can be found at this link https://www.qov.org/

Lastly, a lot of my inspirations come from Instagram. I see so many beautiful modern quilts and designs on this platform. I’d really like to try and make a few basic clothing options like skirts and dresses and a quilted jacket! I want to work towards being more fluid with my quilt designs and take more of an improv approach to my compositions. I’ve seen some quilters that create compositions that resemble landscape paintings or portraits known as fabric art, landscape quilting, or patchwork quilting. The accounts  Pride & Joy Quilting (@prideandjoyquilting) • Instagram photos and videos and @skycladquilts SkyClad Quilts – Nina Dodge (@skycladquilts) • Instagram photos and videos   make beautiful quilts that dazzle me and lead me to create similarly. This way of working reminds me of the days when I was an oil painter.

I feel that these goals are possible with the changes already here and the ones to come. Working full-time again has limited my creative time to weekends. And if I have nothing else going on, you will find me in my creative studio sewing or crafting in some other form. With changes on the horizon like motherhood and a PCS, I know my time to create will be less and I will have to work harder to carve out this time for myself. I will most likely keep my sewing projects small and finally get into using the weaving loom my husband built for me last year. Exciting things to come.

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