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Discover your why

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

Over in our Creative Passion to Profit Facebook Group we are hosting a challenge to help creatives increase their visibility and grow their businesses. On the first day I asked the members two questions. Why Do You Create? Why Did You Start Your Creative Business?

You’ll find a great deal of variety of answers. Some people were raised with creative parents; some were not. Some expressed their creativity from childhood; some put it on hold and it re-emerged as adults. Some started their businesses with purpose; some started accidentally. You will probably resonate with something someone wrote. You can read the responses or join in here.

Have you ever thought about what your why is? You know, why you do what you do? Why you are in the business you are? Why art or creativity chose you? And why you chose to make it important enough that it is your business?

Read more…

generating blog ideas

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015


To write or not to write.

One of the challenges my clients often have is blog writing, probably more specifically what to write about. I think it’s because more often than not, they feel more comfortable with the visual art than the written art. In fact, many of them do not want to blog at all. Today, though, blogging is important if we are to connect with our customers.

When faced with the blank blog page, many people don’t know where to start. I like to carry a small notebook or 3 x 5 card with me in case my muse strikes. How many times have you been out and about and something struck you, you thought you’d remember and, of course, you didn’t?

At home, I keep a 3 x 5 card on my desk for the same purpose. You might use Evernote or even a napkin at a restaurant, just something to catch that fleeting thought.

What exactly do I put on the note card? Here are some ideas that I use to get started:

Often it’s just a key phrase to remind myself of a topic. I might also overhear someone say something that strikes me. I might pick up a magazine at home or more often when I’m in a waiting room and some phrase strikes me. It might even be an article on a specific topic and that sets me in a direction. I’ve found ideas when I’ve been reading a novel. I’ve found ideas when I was caught up in Pinterest. I even got an idea during our ICAP Business Call this yesterday. Problem is, if I don’t take time to capture this idea, it’s gone, and I’m back at the beginning wondering what I’m going to write about.

Someone once asked me if was plagiarizing if I was using something I read somewhere else. I’m not stealing someone’s idea; I’m using it as a jumping off point for what I’m doing. I’m writing in my own voice and fitting the message to fit my brand.

The goal is to be inspired and inspiration is everywhere. If I’ve got this running of ideas and phrases, I’m never at a loss for inspiration.

Where do you get your blog inspiration?

photo credit: Blogger, after Vilhelm Hammershøi via photopin (license)

– – – – – – – – – –
Please do! Just use it in its entirety and be sure to include the blurb below:

Morna McEver is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Creative Arts Professionals where creative arts entrepreneurs craft business success. Her weekly e-zine offers tips, techniques and inspiration to help you craft business success from your creative arts passion. You can sign up for a FREE subscription at


See the ICAP blog at

Book Review: Your Best Year Yet!

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Best Year Get

Your Best Year Yet!

Jenny Ditzler

Grand Central Publishing; $13.95


One of my favorite planning resources is Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny S. Ditzler. I’ve been using this little book for years and recommend it widely. It offers a framework to define your personal values, identify the various roles you play and create goals for those roles. Here are some of Jinny’s questions plus a couple of my own:

1.    What did I accomplish?

2.    What were my biggest disappointments?

3.    What did I learn?

4.    How do I limit myself and how can I stop?

5.    What are my goals for next year?

6.    Where do I need to find education or support to get there?

7.    How can I make sure I achieve my top goals?


I find one of the most empowering aspects of Jinny’s system is the look at the successes of the year. It let’s you focus on your successes and not get weighed down by what didn’t work. It also lets you get off the treadmill of working on your business to see if you really are on course.

Here’s a quote from the book I particularly like: “We must prepare our soil before we’re ready to plant the seeds we want to grow in the new year.”

Teaching Through Your Website

Wednesday, December 7th, 2011

Earlier this year in The Professional QuilterGloria Hansen focused on how you can teach online without dealing with the technical aspects of creating a website, marketing to get the word out about your class nor collecting class fees. It works for the person who wants to show up at the virtual classroom, teach, get paid and then move on. For those who want to teach but also run the complete show, another option is to teach through your own website. Here’s an excerpt from her article listing some teachers who take this approach:

Popular mixed media artist/author Judy Coates-Perez ( teaches color theory on a password-protected website that she created. “I prefer having control over how the class is presented and taught without having to format things to someone else’s technology/website,” she says. “I can also control class sizes and when I want to teach them.” Judy’s website is clean and easy-to-navigate with links to each specific lesson. Each lesson includes instructions, color photos and links to further information on the topic. Judy also set up a private Yahoo group for students to post pictures and discuss their work.

Canadian teacher and quilt artist Pamela Allen ( rose to the challenge of online teaching in part because of a change in border regulations that negatively impacts on her ability to teach in the United States. To continue offering her classes to all interested students, she developed five online classes. She offers her students downloadable lessons, “mini-lectures” on the principles of art and art history, and “one-on-one personal critiques.”  “I can teach my class how I want it, and I can immediately troubleshoot any problems,” she says.

Artist/author Sue Bleiweiss has been using the online world for years to share her vast knowledge and offer classes, such as for journal making. Her latest three-week class, Watercolor Exploration for the Fiber Artist, came about after hitting on a process that allowed her to work through ideas for creating new fiber artworks. “My goal is to make it as personal an experience as I can for my students, which is why I make it a point to be online constantly throughout the class checking my email so that no student has to wait too long for an answer to a question or feedback on a photo that they’ve posted,” she says.

Mixed media artist/author Alisa Burke ( began offering online classes about three years ago. To make the experience more personal, Alisa includes video instruction. “Much of the class content is photos and video that I film in my studio of me working and demonstrating techniques,” she says. “I film and edit everything myself (camera on a tripod). I use iMovie and Final Cut Pro to edit my videos and then upload them to Vimeo (a video service), password protecting them, and then embedding each into a private  blog.”

Artist/author Carla Sonheim ( has a series of online classes with all of the right ingredients. Her popular The Art of Silliness class features one downloadable “activity sheet” per day for thirty days. Her goal is getting her students to “play” for ten minutes a day with pen and paper. Carla offers a dedicated blog and a Flickr site for her students to share, and to keep things fun she offers prizes. She also considers the comments and feedback extremely important to the overall success of the class, and she blocks out an hour per day for the month the class is in session to be available to her students.

Artist/author Diana Trout ( teaches an online class called Inner Circle Journal with lessons and videos. “Since the format of online classes is so different from an in-person class, I will be offering different subjects that will allow students to go into more depth than in-studio or retreat classes would,” she says. “There is more time for thinking, playing and allowing time for paint and glue to dry. These are huge benefits! Also, the blog is interactive so that students can post their artwork and get feedback and questions answered.”

Each class is unique to the instructor. While these teachers have successful online classes, others do not. I’ve spoken with several students who were unhappy with the experience. Just as your reputation as a teacher spreads when teaching in-person classes, so does it spread when teaching online classes.

When contemplating whether teaching through your own website is right for you, Sue stresses that you do your homework. Whether you are comfortable with creating the class yourself or if you only want to focus on teaching and leave the technical work of the site to someone else, online teaching can offer the opportunity to reach a broader range of students while earning additional income. Before you have students start their homework, however, be sure to first do your own.

Please share your experiences with online classes, either as the teacher or the student, below.

If you would like to read more of Gloria’s article on teaching online, it’s included in the Fall 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter and available to IAPQ members. The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

My Quilt Market Impressions, Part 2

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

Last week I shared some of my impressions of Quilt Market: new products, fabrics, inspirations. I’m continuing with more this week.

1. Michael Miller Fabrics introduced a number of new lines. In Kathy Miller’s Schoolhouse presentation she mentioned trends of navy, gray and red. For sports fans, Emily Herrick with Crazy Old Ladies introduced Hall of Fame. Her designs were inspired by vintage photographs of sporting events. Mark Hordyszynski showed his Halloween-themed fabric complete with glow in the dark pieces. And, I loved the bright and cheery designs from Pillow & Maxfield in their Ooh La La line in Citrus, Sky and Spice colorways.

2. Andover showed a number of wonderful collections from its designers. I loved the Pear Tree line from Thomas Knauer with its clean blues, greens and salmons. New from Lonni Rossi are Bubbles & Swirl and Lala’s Garden. And, the Winterthur John Hewson  collection is based on work by this important textile printer who came to Philadelphia at the invitation of Benjamin Franklin in 1773. The line includes a large panel, florals, birds, a border stripe and a textured leaf print.

3. Noble Notions had some great quilting notions. I particularly liked their multi-use Quilters Clamp. It can be used as a channel lock for longarm machines or for securing your quilt to a table for basting. It can be used also for hanging items from your work area, such as a trash bag. They also offer both hand and finger grips for machine quilting.

4. eConcept Mall introduced a number of useful sewing products. The Sew Straight Guides are positionable rulers in 1/4″ markings that go on your sewing machine bed. They would be great for beginning and experienced sewers alike. Very handy is the dual thread stand, perfect for twin-needle sewing and also for easy bobbin winding. I also liked the KISS Laser Line. By positioning the laser light on your fabric and holding the fabric in place, you have a line to guide your cutting. eConcept also overs a variety of sizes of hoop shields for embroidery.

5.  I also discovered some scissors developed by Marry J’s. They feature a 1/4″ stop so that you can easily trim appliqué pieces or cut into corners without going too far.

Please share your impressions on Quilt Market below.

My Quilt Market Impressions, Part 1

Wednesday, November 2nd, 2011

Quilt Market is always inspiring: new quilts to see, the latest fabric releases, new designers, new products. Here are some of my impressions. I’ll add more next week.

1. Fabrics are still trending toward the light/white undertones keeping with the fresh, modern trend in quilting. In the Moda booth this was seen in several lines, including a line from Lucie Summers, a designer from Suffolk, UK, who specializes in printmaking. Her Summersville collection is inspired textures and shapes found in the countryside where she lives and features her vintage thrift store ceramic collection. The whimsical designs, also featured on gift items, come in four colorways: leaf, orange zest, coal and seafoam. Also contemporary in look from Moda is A Stitch in Color by designer Malka Dubrawsky. Malka’s line features simple, graphic patterns and bold colors that were inspired by her hand dyed patterns. The fun pieces looked great in one quilt and would be perfect for infusing a touch of color in a neutral quilt. Malka is also the author of Fresh Quilting: Fearless Color Design and Inspiration. One of the most popular lines in the Moda booth was Ten Little Things by designer Jenn Ski. This collection features a main panel with 10 illustrations of numbers and pictures, perfect for a child’s quilt. In the booth it was featured in a soft book for kids to practice counting and writing. One page included chalk cloth (fabric you can write on with chalk). See more at

2. Westminster Lifestyle Fabrics featured lots of new contemporary designs. I liked the Lilliput Fields line from Tina Givens, which is her take on ancient weaving, tapestry and design. She started with ancient Suzani tapestry, a tribal textile from central Asia, and then including an ikat and a Victorian inspired design. Her palette ranges from rich rustic burnt oranges and dark browns to a bright palette in eggplant, pinky pinks and soft yellows. Also from Westminster is Jane Sassaman’s Early BIrds collection with its recognizable large floral design complimented by smaller floral and textural designs. I liked her tone-on-tone curlicue print. Ty Pennington Impressions features designs inpired by the world around Ty. His booth featured all his designs done in ties, perfect for a menswear approach.

3. Clover always introduces a variety of new products. In the Nancy Zieman Trace ‘n Create Template series is the E-Tablet & Paper Tablet templates. The template features three sizes and two variations. Because protecting and supporting your tablet is key, Clover has a heavy Precut Tablet Keeper Shaper that will provide needed structure. The Nancy Zieman line also includes two new fusing products: Fuse ‘n Gather for making ruffles and Fuse ‘n Bind, a convenient precut, perforated interfacing for making binding. Also new are the extra small and mini Flower Frills makers.

4. Glitz was a hint from an earlier post I made on Facebook. When I looked at the judged quilts on display, that was what struck me. I was drawn to so many that included what I’m calling “glitz”: luminescent fibers, metallic threads, lamés. All the quilts were extraordinary, and the quality continues to be quite high. The awards ceremony was Tuesday night and you can see the winners on the Quilts Inc. website. Congrats to all the winners. I was thrilled to see lots of IAPQ members in the list.

5. New for longarmers is A Quilters Eye, a monitoring device that allows you to view a magnified portion of the back of your quilt while you are quilting the top. A camera captures the stitches on the back and they are shown on a 7-inch monitor that attaches to all machines. The product retails for $450.

6. Mighty Bright introduced a Lighted Seam Ripper with a 4X magnification. It features an ergonomic handle and an LED that lasts 100,000 hours.

I’ll share more next week. In the meantime, please share your thoughts and experiences on Quilt Market below.

Meet Teacher, Designer, Author Margaret Miller

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

The Fall issue of The Professional Quilter includes a profile on teacher, designer and author Margaret Miller by Eileen Doughty. The photo on the cover that you see to the right is of Margaret’s quilt “Passion Flower.” Here’s an excerpt from the article:

How would you characterize your designs?

The more you look at my designs, the more you see. Variegated and gradated fabrics add depth; stripes create new areas not bounded by individual blocks. I have always striven to camouflage where blocks adjoin each other and where they adjoin the border. This is done by looking for motifs that naturally extend out of one block into another and letting color accentuate that effect. It bothers me when people say that my quilts are “complicated” when actually they are all based on such simple ideas.

I am known for my use of color – lots of it! I try to use at least three color families in every quilt and go all the way up in the lights and all the way down in the darks.

What is your teaching philosophy?

In all of my workshops, students are encouraged to reach for the unexpected and to make their own design and color choices. I tell the students to have patience with themselves – the first time they try something new in quilting, it often feels awkward or confusing. At the beginning of every workshop, I announce, “This is not a race and not a competition.” It is immensely gratifying to see a student grow in confidence in her quiltmaking skills or make a breakthrough in understanding color.

What are you working on now?

I’m most excited about the next design direction I’m pursuing – combining Easy Pieces and AnglePlay™ into what I’m calling Fusion Quilts. I’ve begun doing five-day retreats at The Quilt Gallery in Kalispell, Mont., for this technique, and the students are producing refreshing results!

Also, I am focusing on training others to teach my revolutionary piecing technique with long triangles (right triangles formed by cutting a rectangle in half diagonally). This long triangle is going to be the next classic shape in pieced quilts, I believe, after the square and the half-square triangle. Four-day-long Teacher Trainings will cover how to work and design with the long triangle. Information on teaching updates, reunions of teachers, new patterns and new workshops will follow. These trainings will help both experienced and aspiring teachers to hone their skills and develop new workshops around the AnglePlay™ templates. They will also develop a network of teachers all around the country.

The heavy question: What would you like your legacy to the quilt world to be?

Actually, that’s easy! I want to be known as the teacher that (1) enabled people to reach for the unexpected in their quilts, (2) enabled quiltmakers of all skill levels to painlessly include more colors and a complete range of values in their quilts, using a simple block and (3) made the use of the long triangle accessible by way of the AnglePlay™ templates. I hope I will leave a design legacy of many new blocks and quilts that feature that long triangle shape, which introduces the possibility of undulating lines and circular and spiral shapes in pieced quilts – for people who want a refreshing new look to the pieced quilts they love to make.

Please share your thoughts below on the blog.

If you would like to read more of Eileen’s article on Margaret Miller, it’s included in the Fall 2011 issue of The Professional Quilter and available to IAPQ members. The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership here.

Get past your creative blocks

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

My time away last week reminded me how much I love to create, how important it is, and how I don’t spend enough time on creating outside the business. My goal for the rest of the year to schedule “me” time in for creativity and stick to it.

As I was thinking about how to schedule that time, I remembered the  lecture Elizabeth Gilbert gave at the 2009 TED Conference entitled “A different way to think about creative genius” about nurturing creativity. I went back and listened to it again. What struck me then as now was that when she was having a hard time writing, she took time and just spoke out to the corner, to let genius come to her; and if it didn’t, well, she showed up for her part of the job. Isn’t that we do many times when we create, we just show up? Sometimes it’s a wonderful effort; othertimes it’s just an effort. But we showed up.

I’m sure you’ve had times where you’ve showed up for the job but have been blocked creatively, whether it’s from pressures, fears, uncertainties or something else. Here are six ideas to jump start your creative juices:

1. Fill the well. Look at other art, either surfing the Internet or visiting galleries. Go on an artist’s date, a la Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way. And, be sure to step outside the quilt realm. Sometimes looking at other art is all it takes to get a new idea.

2. Set a challenge or goal for yourself. I think the journal quilt idea is a great one here. Challenge yourself to create something small each day or week. Pick a theme. When I did the monthly journals, mine were all pears. Or focus on a particular bit of nature in your yard and follow it through the year. And, move outside your comfort zone. If traditional piecework is your thing, grab some paintstiks and let lose. If you are an art quilter, try a pieced block for a change.

3. Create a daily ritual. Twyla Tharp writes about this idea in The Creative Habit. The daily ritual becomes so ingrained that it sets the pace for your day. She says, “It’s Pavlovian: follow the routine, get a creative payoff.” I liked her example of the chef who starts each day by tending the garden on the terrace of his Brooklyn home. This creative environment lets him putter, pick veggies or herbs, think about flavors. At this point, he heads off to the restaurant to begin creating. For me, I have a ritual of walking each weekday really, really early. The fresh air gets me going. What is your ritual?

4. Take a class to learn a new skill.This could be a photography class, a water color painting class, a cooking class, a computer class. Just being creative in some other area will translate into your quilt work.

5. Keep an idea journal, if you don’t already. Fill it with things that inspire you from in and outside the quilt world. When you’re blocked, leave your studio and pull out your idea journal. Ideas will surface.

6. Act as if you don’t have any blocks and then just jump in. One idea will lead to another. Remember that every piece of art you create doesn’t have to be perfect. One of the quotes I have tacked on my wall is “progress, not perfection.” If I waited for everything to be perfect, I’d still be waiting.

Here are two favorite quotes on creativity:

“In creating, the only hard thing’s to begin; A grass blade’s no easier to make than an oak.” James Russell Lowell

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Rather ask, what makes you come alive? Then go and do it! Because what the world needs is people who have come alive” Howard Thurman

So, get creating. Allah, Olé, Bravo!

Please share your ideas on dealing with creative blocks or creativity in general below.

Looking for places to donate your stash?

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

How much fabric do you have in your stash? According to the 2010 Quilting in America™ survey, the average quilter has a stash of $3,677 worth of fabric and spent on average close to $1,000 the previous 12 months on fabric. In 2007, our stash averaged $3,195 and we spent $2,304. So we’re spending less on fabric and our stash is slightly increasing. But who among us is average?! I probably have in excess of that average amount, and I’m sure many of you do, too.

Are we hoarding our fabrics? In actuality, quilters are among the most generous people I know. Every time the word goes out about a need, quilters are the first to respond. This summer I’ve been cleaning out my stash and donating to worthwhile causes. If you’re in the same cleaning mode that I’m in, here are six places that can use your unwanted stash.

1. Project Linus. Project Linus is dedicated to making security blankets for babies, children and teens in need. Volunteers will turn your stash into quilts. More info: Look for the link for Chapter Listings to find one in your area.

2. Local quilt guilds. You may not belong to your local guild – not everyone is a guild joiner – but most of them have charity projects. In my guild we call it “Quilting for Others,” and our chair packages fabrics into kits for quilts. In addition to collecting quilts throughout the year, we have a quilt-in at our November meeting. Quilts have been made for Habitat for Humanity and children who ride in the back of police cars, for example.

3. Haiti Peace Quilts. This organization establishes and supports independent women’s quilting cooperatives. In addition to helping the women build a business, Haiti Peace Quilts markets one-of-kind art quilts in the United States. The cooperatives need donations of fabric and other quilting supplies. More info: Look for the How You Can Help link.

4. Prayers and Squares. This interfaith outreach organization combines the gift of prayer with the gift of a hand-tied quilt. Individual chapters around the world need fabric, batting and other supplies. More info: Go to the Before You Join link and look for the Chapter List.

5. Denver Fabrics Fabric Stash Program. Operated by Denver Fabrics in St. Louis, this store sells donated fabric in in its Annex stores on its fabric-by-the-pound tables. The money generated goes to the Foundation for International Community Assistance (FINCA) a microfinance organization. More info:

6. Clara’s Calling. This is a new initiative started by Lisa Steele, owner of Bella Fabrics in Carrollton, Va.; Rob Krieger, president of Checker Distributors; and Laurie Harsh with Fab Shop Network. The impetus for the project is to support the task of quilter and Master Sgt. Clara Vargas in Afghanistan to teach more than 4,000 widowed Afghan women how to sew so they can provide for themselves and their children. Donations needed include fabric and sewing supplies. Donations must be made through participating shops. We have an article on this in the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter and will share more on the project in an upcoming e-zine. More info: Look for the link to participating shops.

Please share some of your favorite places to donate your fabrics and sewing supplies!

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