Tuesday, July 10, 2018

10 Years of The Bitchy Stitcher: The QSMASBC

It started out, as nearly everything in my life does, as a joke. On my professional web site (now defunct), I said on my bio page that I had been lucky enough to combine two of my great loves—quilting and writing—into one career, but that someday I wanted to gather all of my passions into one publication: Quilter's Shirtless Man and Spicy Burrito Monthly. Being the thrifty humorist that I am, I recycled the joke on the blog, made a pinboard on Pinterest devoted to the concept, and soon readers began suggesting that if I didn't mind potbellies and fur, they'd take a photo of their own personal man-companions bare-chested, be-quilted, and, well, holding a burrito. And I counter-offered: if I get 12 such photos, I'll make us a calendar. I got 14. I made us a calendar.

For three glorious years, the QSMASBC was, if not the most popular quilt-adjacent calendar in the realm—or even anything close to it, certainly the most original. Other dudes-n-quilts calendars tended to focus on the traditionally hunky types, like muscly firefighters, and sure, that's fine. I like a nice pec as much as the next person. But I think calendars like that give a distorted view of just what kind of man likes to laze around shirtless on a handmade quilt. I mention often that quilt magazines are aspirational, and in some ways so are traditional quilt calendars. I wanted to upend that a bit and with my calendar celebrate guys we love because of who they are to us, and celebrate quilts we made ourselves even if we aren't prize winning professionals, and celebrate burritos. Because they are awesome.

Thus the slogan: Real Men. Real Quilts. Real Burritos.

 The first year we had 14 submissions, the next year 17. And in its last year, the calendar had 20 submissions to choose from. There were a number of people who swore they were going to get me epic pictures of a son or a husband, but never did, ususally because the aforementioned son or husband wouldn't cooperate. (AHEM, BARRY.) Then there were those, particularly Mark, seen above on the cover of the inaugural edition, who conducted photo shoots in multiple locations every year. In fact, Mark was so amazing as our first cover model, and so enthusiastic about his secondary career as a shirtless model, he was featured in every calendar. Though I ultimately went for a different cover in years two and three, I did mock up two Mark covers for our final year:

In its first two years, the calendar was picked up by eQuilter.com and they even had one of their staff dress as a QSMASBC calendar model for Halloween one year. The way it was priced made wholesaling it unprofitable, but I just appreciated their enthusiasm for the project.

It was short lived, but we had some amazing models, didn't we?

Yes. Yes, we did.

The reason I stopped is complicated. The calendar was only profitable in its first year, and as I had initially conceived it as a fundraiser for my brother, it became less of a labor of love after he passed away. The print-on-demand service I used made a great calendar, but I was unhappy with other aspects of the service. I never found a way to print them myself that produced a similar quality product for I price I could work with. So, I decided to let it end.

But I can still look back on these awesome guys who were such good sports and made the world a little sweeter and spicier for three glorious years. You can see all the pictures from all the editions here, here, and here.

Next Tuesday, I'll take a look back at my career in magazines.

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