Stolen Rainbows, a lesson in trust.

Once upon a time, in a life far, far away, I was heavily involved in fabric swaps. I started a Facebook group that swapped nothing but 2 1/2″ strips.  Oh the fun we had. There were yellow strips, and flower strips and patriotic strips.

It was a wonderful group of quilters that called themselves “The Strippers”.  During any given swap there would be at least 12 women, and the Christmas ones always brought everyone together and our largest swap was a whopping 50 quilters. That one required some serious organization to make sure everyone held up their end of the bargain.

My favorite swap, though, was the rainbow strip swap. Each person was to send seven strips, one in each color of the rainbow, to the next 10 people on the list. Those strips were incredible and oh so vibrant.

I decided to try my hand at a “modern” quilt. I’m a traditional hand-quilter who used traditional blocks to create quilts with a vintage feel. So trying something abstract was well beyond my comfort zone.

This simple rainbow quilt was born. I was so proud of it. My seams were straight, the colors were magnificent, and I just knew my little girl would love it.

As I mentioned, I’m a hand-quilter. At the time I made this quilt, I still hadn’t ventured into machine quilting and took my quilts to a local long-armer if I wanted them finished in less than a year.

One of the women in this swap just happened to have a long arm business upstate in the DFW area. It was a reputable business and her turn around was decent. Angela was a reliable swapper so I thought I could trust her. Turns out I was wrong.

After I shipped her the top, I never heard from her again. I know she received it, because I sent it certified and she signed for it.

I placed many calls, I sent more certified letters asking for the quilt’s return, I contacted the local police. I even had a quilty friend and her husband, who lived up there, drive over and try to retrieve the top. Angela was gone.

Her facebook profile was taken over by her estranged husband. She apparently had my phone number blocked, because calls wouldn’t go through. The local quilt shop didn’t have any idea who or where she was.

This was several years ago, and I still have a bit of resentment over this. What it taught me, though, is that you must do business locally.

  1. Know your vendors personally. Have them work on an unimportant project first and ask them for references.
  2. You need a paper trail when dealing with valuable items.  There should always be an invoice or contract clearly stating the work that is to be done, signed by the vendor.
  3. Get references. Either from other quilters or the local quilt shop. If no one has heard of them or can’t speak of their work, then be wary.
  4. Verify that your quilt is insured under your home-owner’s policy.

I hadn’t thought about that quilt in quite some time. There just happened to be this one photo in a file I was cleaning out that reminded me of it, and I thought I would share the pitfalls of sending your work to someone you don’t know.

During this whole fiasco, I discussed this in depth with my friends, Wanda and Debra. They commiserated with me and gave me advice. After a year of no contact with Angela, I chose to let the matter drop. For whatever reason, she wasn’t willing to part with it. I could choose to be bitter and angry, or I could move on and make other quilts.

My choice was to name the quilt “Stolen Rainbows” and move on. I’m so glad that I did. It is my sincere wish that whoever is in possession of that quilt has happiness beyond their belief.

If you choose to send your top out to be quilted, please, please, PLEASE learn from my mistakes.