Like many quilters, I love to make quilts for family members. The latest to receive a quilt is my niece Abby.
Abby is my youngest niece and she lives outside Chicago. She is also a college freshman and her quilt is going to college.
My other two nieces grew up five miles from me. I was blessed that they spent hours at my home being creative. They started sewing early on. If you search back through the blog, you’ll find photos of the work they did, from scrunchies to quilts.
When I started Abby’s quilt, I knew I wanted to make a fresh, happy, colorful quilt. I asked her for a little guidance on color. She told me she liked blues and purples.
I had a conversation last week with a client who was stressing about spending so much time on and in her business that she was feeling stuck. Claire told me how she used to love to create just for herself, without a business outcome involved. Only now, she just did not even have time to do that. And, she was suffering. She felt lost and was beginning to be “stuck” with the creating that was important to her business growth. I suggested that she schedule “Claire time” into her calendar for creativity and stick with it, no matter what. By allowing time for herself, I believe Claire would show up better in her business.
As we were talking 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.” It was about nurturing creativity. I went back and listened to it again. What struck me then, as well as now, was when Elizabeth was having a hard time writing, she took time and just spoke out to the corner, to let genius come to her. If it didn’t, well, she showed up for her part of the job. Isn’t that what you do many times when you create? You just show up. Sometimes it is a wonderful effort; other times it’s just an effort. But you showed up.
As I watched the Final Four Tournament on Saturday, I was thinking about what basketball and the professional creative arts have something in common. Is it any surprise my mind would go to art when I’m watching sports?
This is the obvious. These kids love basketball, and for them it is their art. What you pay attention to grows.
Just as the college athletes pay attention to basketball and their skills and love of the game increase, your skill level in your art increases with increased attention. Your knowledge and love of the art grows as you look at more art, go to more galleries, take more classes. And, your skill level at marketing, and your passion at marketing, also increases proportionately to the effort you put into it.
How much effort are you putting into growing your business?
The Spring 2017 edition of International Quilt Market took place in St. Louis this year. As always I’m inspired and energized by what I see. Overall, I thought the colors looked clear and fresh, which I like. I saw several lines with words and/or letters. And, the inclusion of clothing patterns continues. Here are more specifics.
A major theme in Michael Miller booth was Paper Doll, which featured four wall quilts with fabric (as opposed to paper) doll bodies. You or your children or grandchildren create clothes and stick them to the dolls. A wonderful way to encourage connection and to introduce children to sewing. Also new from Michael Miller is the vivid 21-piece Hello collection by Susan Emory of Swirly Girls Design. The line features an old telephone print (remember those!), scissors, exclamation points, and fun letters to cut out, along with blenders and tonals in graphite and aqua colorways. Free patterns and kitting instructions are available. The line ships in June and promotions include a summer blog hop followed by an Instagram hop. (michaelmillerfabrics.com)
Moda introduced its 40-piece William Morris line, which was inspired by the archives of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The prints are from the wallpaper and textile designs of William Morris, 1834-1896). A kit of a 72″ medallion quilt is available. (modafabrics.com)
I got back from International Quilt Market in Houston on Monday. Quilt Market was founded in 1979, and I’ve been going since 1994. That’s a long time and I’ve seen lots of changes in the industry over the years. The industry continues to change with the times. We’ve seen times of prosperity and times of adversity. Yet, quilting continues to thrive. I came back inspired and optimistic about where our industry is headed. Here is just a bit of what I saw.
Michael Miller Fabrics. During its Schoolhouse presentation, co-owner Kathy Miller talked about color trends in the real world. Navy is the new black. Olive green is a new comfort color. Gold is big as throwback to the 1890s, 1990s and early 2000s. Nice blue greens show up as neutrals. We are also seeing richer colors. Kathy also shared an exciting new product. Michael Miller Fabrics has partnered with EZ Fabrics, designers of Minky, to offer a new line of its prints on a Minky.
Sweet and Simple Sewing Jessi Jung, Carrie Jung, and Lauren Jung
Jessi Jung and daughters Carrie and Lauren teamed up to present this collection of fresh sewing and quilting patterns. The collection includes 13 projects, perfect for gift giving or keeping. It was nice to see designs I hadn’t seen before, and I appreciated the hand-sewn and hand-bound journal.
Longing for a Longarm: Should You Purchase a Longarm Machine? Sue Allen Clayton Manorville Press; $4.99 (Kindle)
I work with professional quilters, including many longarmers, as well as a lot of people who would like to have a successful quilt business. In this book, Sue takes a light-hearted and realistic look at owning a longarm, whether that is to start your business or to quilt your own quilts. From her own personal experiences, Sue shares the pleasures and pitfalls of owning a longarm. You will learn about physical and space requirements, the tools of the trade, and money matters – what your longarm costs and how much you will make. A plus is the good introduction to the emotional challenges that go along with running a longarm quilting business. Sue also shares her personal resource list. This should be your first read if you are serious about buying a longarm.
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.”
I went on a personal retreat last week. In addition to all the museum visiting, one of the things I did on my retreat was to reflect on all the changes in my business in 2011 and the big plans I have for 2012. I guess you’ve heard about the Creative Arts Business Summit! That would be my big plan. Do you have big plans for 2012? Why not set a plan to play bigger in 2012? Here are some ways to help you.
1. Set a stretch goal.
I’ve often heard of this as a breakthrough goal. The idea is that once you achieve such a goal, you break through to a new level in your business. Look back to a really big goal you set and how you felt when you achieved it. Could you really go back to how you felt before? Look for a goal that would make a really big difference in your business and focus a little each day until you achieve it. It could be writing that book you keep thinking about or getting your portfolio together and actually contacting galleries to show your work or submitting your teaching proposal to a national show.
2. Take action.
Achieving any goal is all about taking action, whether that’s giant steps or baby steps. Both will get you there. Decide today to take some action each day toward your stretch goal. Write down what you plan to do each day.
3. Track your results and make necessary adjustments.
Every day take time to look at what you accomplished that day. I also like to do a weekly review. When you do this and see yourself moving toward your goal, you’ll build your confidence and keep going.
4. Get support.
Support comes in many varieties. It can be a coach (that’s one of my favorite support systems) or mentor. It can be business friends also growing, and you’ll network and encourage each other. It can be a class environment where you learn something to build your business. And, it can be family members if they understand that you are trying to grow. Be sure the people on your support team are people like you, truly invested in their own success and who want you to succeed as well.
5. Watch your mindset.
This one stops a lot of us. “What we think, we become.” said the Buddha. Take action to eliminate negativity and small thinking from your life. Read or listen to uplifting books, leave affirmations where you’ll see them and start a gratitude journal. These seem like simple steps, and they are. They can have a profound effect on your goals.
Lastly, I want to share my favorite resource for planning my year, Your Best Year Yet! by Jinny Ditzler. It’s the book I took on my personal retreat. I’ve recommended it before and everyone who uses this process finds it valuable. I’ve reprinted the review from last year below.
This collection of 25 quilts was chosen by Marianne Fons and Liz Porter as their favorites, and the quilts are also some of the most popular from their more than 30 years as quilting partners. They range from quick and easy to more challenging quilts. Styles include traditional and contemporary and feature a variety of fabrics from reproductions to batiks. The book also includes 15 Sew Easy™ technique lessons plus general instructions and information on quitting feathers.
Look for the book at your favorite quilt shop or book retailer. Here’s a link to Amazon if you would like to learn more about the book.