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Archive for the ‘Quilt Pattern Publishing’ Category

Book Review: Pieced Hexies

Sunday, January 20th, 2013

Pieced Hexies2

Pieced Hexies: A New Tradition in English Paper Piecing by Mickey Depre

Kansas City Star Quilts; $26.95

Everything old is new again, and that applies to quilting, too. For those of us who’ve been quilting for decades, we’ve seen the resurgence of a variety of techniques. And so it is with English Paper Piecing. Mickey Depre found hexies in late 2011 and something just clicked or totally grabbed her. Once she basted those first hexagons into a rosette, the design possibilities began swimming in her head and there was no looking back. In her book, she shares the “Original 7,” as she calls them, the first design variations that she drew. The seven eventually grew into the 63 designs in the book. Mickey gets you started with detailed basic basting and piecing instructions and then gets your juices going with all her samples. While I loved all the design variations, I would have liked to see a completed quilt from the hexies. This is the perfect “on the go” project; just don’t be surprised if you get hooked!

Look for the book at your favorite quilt or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.

 

Take Better Photos!

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

In the current issue of The Professional Quilter, Gloria Hansen, our regular technology columnist, deals with the challenge of taking the best photos possible for gallery, print and show submissions. Here are five tips from her article:

1. If you are shopping for a new camera, look for one with the ability to shoot  RAW images. This allows you to alter the image after you’ve taken the picture.

2. Use the correct white balance setting on your camera. This removes unwanted color casts by considering the “color temperature” of the light source.

3. If you use additional lighting, add two lights, one from each side at a 45-degree angle to your work.

4. Use a tripod, center the camera lens on your work and keep it perpendicular to the work.

5. Read the manual and experiment. Remember the only way to get good is to practice.

Please share your experiences taking photos below.

If you want to know more about taking good photos, Gloria’s comprehensive article is available in the Winter 2012 issue of The Professional Quilter. This journal is a benefit of membership in the International Association of Professional Quilters. To learn more and join, click here.

Meet Debbie Wendt, Longarm Quilter, Teacher, Pattern Designer and Notion Inventor

Wednesday, January 25th, 2012

The Winter 2012 issue of The Professional Quilterincludes a profile by Mindy Wylie with Debbie Wendt, a longarm quilter, teacher, author and pattern designer. Debbie is also known for creating Brilliant Bindings, a tool available in sizes for both longarms and domestic machines, her fat-quarter friendly 4-3-2-1-Done patterns, and her method to construct and produce quilts right on the longarm. Here’s an excerpt from the profile:

When did you start quilting and how did you get into it?

My first “official” quilt class was in 1984 when I took a Continuing Ed class in the town where I lived. The class was Amish diamonds in the center, all by hand! I started with templates and even made my own feather stencil for one of my borders. I have always enjoyed sewing, and quilting felt comfortable – much easier than fitting clothing. As a young girl, I listed sewing as my hobby. My grandmothers were both seamstresses, and I admired their work. It feels natural to have sewing and now quilting as my business. I continue to take classes because I want to continue learning about my passion.

How did this lead longarm quilting?

I started longarm quilting in 1998 when I worked in a quilt shop in West Monroe, La. The owner asked if I had interest in learning the longarm so she taught me the basics. I quilted 22 lap quilts that fall as Christmas presents, which gave me a lot of time learning the machine and techniques. I then graduated to pantographs, as that is what was most requested by the customers.

How did you get started teaching quilting?

I started teaching quilting while living in Cairo, Egypt.  When I moved there in 1993 I helped start a quilt group, Quilters in DeNile. Several people in a cross stitch group wanted to learn to quilt, so I taught classes for the quilt group and at CSA (Community Service Association) where expats from many countries gathered. “Good cotton” quilting fabric was hard to come by so my summer visits home were spent buying fabric and filling my suitcases. We could get solid cottons in the souks and small shops along the Street of the Tentmakers, but it was a lesser grade as the high quality Egyptian cotton was exported.

You self-publish your books. Tell us about that process.

Self-publishing was the means needed to a quick end. I wanted to put my techniques into print so I could share my ideas with my students but didn’t have time to go through the proposal process. Thanks to my husband’s editing and computer skills we actually printed the first versions of my longarm books on our home printer. After their debut at my first teaching show I had them printed professionally. With self-publishing, complete instructions are crucial. I always have other quilters walk through the instructions to make sure they are easy to understand. I also have my husband, a non-quilter, read it for logical sequence.

Do you also self-publish your piecing patterns?

Yes, I also self-publish all my patterns. I am basically self-taught when it comes to computers. With some tips from my husband, I do all my own diagrams and layout. I worked with a graphic designer to re-design my logo and help with the Brilliant Bindings cover page. She also runs a printing business in the town where I live, so it fit to have her do all my printing. It made it very convenient to proof layout, photo colors and determine the best paper choices. Getting the perfect lighting and angles for my cover quilts proved difficult so I now trust those photos to a professional.

Speaking of marketing, are you active on the Internet and with social media?

I have a website to support my products and teaching engagements. I recently went with a company to re-design and upgrade my site to offer more to my customers, for example, a free patterns section and newsletter sign-up. I have had a blog address for a couple years, and I’m excited and determined to make it into a “real” blog. I will be working with it more in the coming year to stay connected and show my personal side of traveling and quilting. Facebook has been a wonderful tool personally, reconnecting with high school classmates. I started a business page just last month and look forward to exploring ways I can use it to connect with quilting friends, students and customers. I have not used Twitter.

What new projects are in the works? What can we expect from you this coming year?

I have many new projects in the works. It just so happens that my binding tool is a common shape in many quilt block patterns, so I’ll be releasing several new quilts in the coming year. I’m also in the design phase of a couple new tools. I look forward to releasing one at Spring Quilt Market in my hometown of Kansas City, Mo.

Please share your comments below.

Meet Daphne Greig and Susan Purney Mark, Canadian Pattern Designers

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2011

The Summer issue of The Professional Quilter includes an article by Eileen Doughty introducing Daphne Greig and Susan Purney Mark. Daphne and Susan are well-known pattern designers based in Canada. Here’s an excerpt from Eileen’s article:

Some great teams just seem fated to get together. Burns and Allen, Fred and Ginger, Fons and Porter. Though growing up thousands of miles apart, Daphne Greig and Susan Purney Mark were fated to meet each other at a quilt shop in downtown Victoria, British Columbia. Their web-based business, Patchworks Studio, was launched in 1996 and continues to thrive as they expand their publishing endeavours.

“I don’t think we consciously decided that a pattern business would be our journey,” Susan says, “but once we realized what was happening, we did spend quite a bit of time developing a business plan, examined what we wanted to create and how we were going to do all of this. I remember being quite excited to open a business account and get a business credit card!”

When asked if they have any regrets about running a business, both are overwhelmingly positive. Susan only wishes they had started years earlier as she is enjoying herself so much. “It is really a privilege to work in an industry that respects and nurtures creative women,” she says. Daphne enjoys the flexible scheduling allowed by being self-employed.

The two may make a good business match because their skill sets complement each other so well. They also have an explicit separation of tasks so they don’t step on each other’s toes. Daphne takes care of the website and financials, while Susan looks after the orders, shipping and physical inventory. Daphne also concentrates on the technical aspect of writing patterns, building on her long experience with word processing programs and document layouts. Making shop samples from others’ patterns (“some well done, others not so much!”) showed them the importance of reviewing their own pattern instructions for clarity and accuracy.

Communication, pure and simple, is the key to making their business relationship work. The two live about a 40-minute drive apart and usually meet once a week to trade paperwork and go over any details that can’t be dealt with by phone or e-mail.

The Patchworks Studio website and its blogs are the duo’s best marketing tools. Magazine advertisements and direct mailings have limited success, though they regularly advertise in several quilt guild newsletters. Writing articles for quilting magazines gives them additional exposure. Several distributors carry their patterns in the United States, Canada and New Zealand.

They have been attending International Quilt Market for many years, sometimes doing both Markets in a year. They also did several consumer sewing festivals and quilt guild shows for a few years. “It’s not only essential to be seen and introduce your designs to a world-wide audience, but also to see the new fabrics and notions, and the pattern competition,” Susan says.

However, it is exhausting work to go to these shows, and travel and lodging can be expensive. Eight years ago, the duo decided they were competing with their main customers (the quilt shops) and would be better off providing them with pattern samples and other support. They have been happy with how this worked out, particularly as it freed up an enormous amount of time to devote to designing, writing and teaching.

If you would like to read more of Eileen’s article on Daphne and Susan, it’s included in our Summer 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 and join here.

Please share your thoughts and comments below.

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Morna McEver Golletz is the founder and CEO of the International Association of Professional Quilters, an association to help quilters, fiber artists and other creative arts entrepreneurs build 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 F.R.E.E. subscription at http://www.professionalquilter.com.

Five Considerations for Aspiring Pattern Designers

Monday, August 24th, 2009

Many aspiring pattern designers ask themselves: Should I publish my designs as patterns, the kind commonly packaged in plastic bags? Or should I publish books, staple-bound or with a spine? In the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter, pattern designer Kay Mackenzie took a look at this topic. Here’s an excerpt from her article:

Patterns and books both have their places in our wonderful world of quilting. For starters, an idea may lend itself better to one or the other. If the design’s instructions will fit on just a few pieces of paper, then a pattern seems a natural choice. If your idea is concept-driven, then perhaps a book is a better fit. Maybe you’re simply drawn to the aesthetics of one and less than attracted to the practical aspects of producing the other. Maybe one is a more natural expression of your creative juices.

Though patterns and books share some common aspects, in a lot of ways they’re different animals when it comes to getting them done. And, any time you’re thinking about getting into publishing, you’ll need to do a good bit of research. Here are just a few of the things to consider when you make your decision.

  • With books, unlike pattern printing, you’ll have to decide in advance how many copies of your book to print. It’s a guessing game! Larger runs equal less cost per copy. But if you print too many, you may be stuck with cartons of books that you can’t sell. If you print too few,  you can always reprint, but the cost per copy is more, making your profit margin smaller.
  • Once the books are back from the printer, they’re good to go – no assembly required. You will, however, want to check them over. (Ask mehow I know that.) The trade-off is that you will need to have enough storage space on-site for all of the cartons or pay for off-site storage. The cartons must be protected from dampness, so don’t use the garage!
  • Patterns will need to be assembled so you’ll need labor – either your own or some kids’ – to fold and stuff them. Patterns need lessstorage space than books because you can print them you go.
  • Distributors are a major chunk of how things work in our quilting industry, and for this discussion this refers to the quilt-shop trade.(The bookstore trade is a whole other issue and worth researching if you decide you want to do a book.) You do want to sell to industry distributors, and here’s a thought about how that relates to books vs. patterns. While exceptions exist, distributors might prefer that you have a line of patterns before they will consider picking you up. Books are considered on their individual merits, so one well-made book can be submitted to distributors.
  • Brush up on typography and page design principles. Don’t include too many typefaces on a page and avoid overused fonts. A couple offantastic books that will set you straight are The Non-Designer’s Design Book and The Non-Designer’s Type Book, both by design guru Robin Williams. And, think to the future. Develop a distinctive, branded look for your pattern line.

You can read more of Kay Mackenzie’s article in the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our order page.

Meet Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs

Thursday, July 30th, 2009

The Summer issue of The Professional Quilter includes a profile of Joan Hawley, owner of Lazy Girl Designs. I’ve known Joan for years now, first meeting her at Quilt Market. Isn’t that where you make some of the best connections? Anyway, here’s an excerpt of our interview with Joan.

Why did you decide to start Lazy Girl Designs?
I started Lazy Girl on a whim. I was between jobs in my  planning career due to relocating for my husband’s job. Sewing, quilting and writing patterns were something to do while sending out résumés and waiting for interviews. When quilt shops showed interest in my designs, I decided to give it six months and see what happened. That was 1997, and I haven’t looked back.

I think your business name is quite creative and distinct. How did you decide on it?
I was struggling to find a name that fit my style and approach. I searched high and low. I read the dictionary for inspiration. I checked out the thesaurus, too. One day, I picked up a cookbook and started reading. I saw a recipe for Lazy Girl Soup and my search was over. Lazy Girl fit.

How large is your product line?
In addition to 50 patterns, I have three books and one DVD. I also created the Lazy Angle ruler and market a “no math needed” Flying Geese x 4™ ruler. To complete the bag line, I also designed Bag-E-Bottoms, acrylic bases in several sizes to give our most popular bag, purse and tote patterns a sturdy bottom, and Handy Tab™, ready-to-sew fabric strips used to attach accessories, such as handles or D-rings, to the bags.

What has been the biggest challenge in your business?
The single biggest and ongoing challenge is achieving my goal of not having the business force life changes on me. I structured the operation and functioning of the company to fit me, not the other way around. For instance, I don’t want to manage employees. I’ve done that in my previous career. It’s administrative and emotional overhead and takes away from the time I need to run the company. I hire contract labor as needed for specialty tasks. For instance, I pay my acrylic manufacturers to package my items for me rather than create warehouse/assembly space and hire workers on my end.

You can read more of the interview with Joan Hawley in the Summer issue of The Professional Quilter. If your subscription is not current and you need to renew, or you want to start a new subscription, here’s a link to our order page.

Meet Pattern Designer Terry Atkinson

Friday, October 24th, 2008

The Fall issue of The Professional Quilter includes a profile on Terry Atkinson. I’ve watched Terry’s business grow since I met her at her first Quilt Market in 1997. Her simple patterns have always been well-received by quilt shop owners and quilters alike, including the perennial best seller “Yellow Brick Road.” I wanted to know more about how Terry grew her business.

How did you come to quilting?
I made my first quilt in college for an art class project because I couldn’t afford paint. I had lots of fabric around the house. Later, I took an adult education class about quilting and began teaching quilting to my home ec students. I think the teaching skills translated into my ability to write easy-to-follow instructions.

What led to the business?
I was teaching quilting at a local quilt shop. Soon, my students asked to buy my class handouts, and I adapted my most popular class handouts for my first two patterns. Initially, the patterns were sold in local quilt shops. A pattern distributor picked up those first two patterns that year, giving the patterns exposure across the United States. In 1997 International Quilt Market was held in Minneapolis, and I exhibited for the first time, giving my patterns even more exposure to shops and distributors. They started to take over on a larger scale at that time.

One of your patterns, “Yellow Brick Road,” has been in the Checker Top 20 for seven to eight years. Why do you think it remains so popular?
“Yellow Brick Road” is a quilt that looks good in any kind of fabric. It’s fun to sew, and people like the fact that it uses up all of each fat quarter so there are no leftover scraps. Each time you make it it looks like a brand new quilt because it takes on the personality of the fabrics used. From what I hear, longarm quilters end up with lots of these to quilt for their customers.

You have 27 individual patterns and 14 books. How do you decide whether to issue a particular design as a solo pattern or as a part of a book?
For a pattern, we have only four pages of instructions, so a book provides more flexibility. The pictures are larger in a book as well, so sometimes I make the decision based on if the quilt would look better in a larger or smaller photo. I also will use books to showcase new fabric collections. And, if I want to work with a theme, I’ll go with a book. For example, Let’s Do Lunch, which came out earlier this year, includes a variety of table runners, napkin rings and a few totes. Most of the patterns have food-themed names.

To read more of the profile on Terry Atkinson, you can purchase Issue 105 or start your subscription here.

PQ Café Business Series

Friday, October 24th, 2008

I decided to name our teleclass series, and I picked PQ Café Business Series. I think listening to the conversations is perfect with a nice cup of coffee or, my choice, herb tea. Stop in the café next month when I’ll interview Ann Anderson about publishing patterns. Ann is a pattern designer and the founder of Quiltwoman.com, a pattern publishing company and distributor. Ann also published the wildly popular Publish Your Patterns!, the definitive guide to starting and running a successful pattern publishing business. Earlier this year Ann sold her business and today enjoys focusing on art and textile design. She also consults with designers about starting and growing a pattern business.

The teleclass is scheduled for Nov. 13 at 8 pm, Eastern Standard Time. Details are here.

Our last class resulted in 250 signups and a large number of purchases of the audio. Since so many people wanted the audio, it made more sense to include the audio free with the purchase of the class. That way, too, if you can’t make the class, you can still listen at your leisure, even with your cup of tea.

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