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Posts Tagged ‘pattern publishing’

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.

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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