Quilting, ripping & thinking

May 28, 2012 § 7 Comments

Thank you for your votes on which project I should finish next! I still haven’t decided because I’m still working on quilting these.  So keep voting!  Your thoughts have been very persuasive!

I was all set on Friday to quilt two of my quilts on the rental mid-arm machine at my local quilt shop. But the thread kept breaking.  At least 7 times or more on roughly half the quilt. We tried everything… changing the tension, changing the needle, cleaning the bobbin case… and it still kept breaking. After 2 1/2 hours and a little more than half done I gave up. I can usually quilt an entire lap-sized quilt with easy loopy stitches in roughly 1 1/2 hours.  I didn’t even attempt the 2nd quilt. Now I am in the process of ripping out all of the stitching. I hope the big holes left by the needle will eventually wash out. This white fabric is from JoAnn Fabrics and the weave is a little denser than regular quilting weight cottons.  It’s times like these that I wish I had a quilting machine at home. Then I could continue to tinker away at it as I have time.

On another note…  I was reading Jenny Gordy’s post on her blog Wiksten about running a small business and have had similar thoughts and feelings. Not the ones about growing too fast. I’ve never pushed that hard to grow. I believe in small steps.  At least for me.  But the feelings of frustration in not being able to do what I have imagined I can identify with.  This last year of dealing with the mono & insomnia has sucked the energy out of me for any sort of business decisions, let alone just plain quilting.  I’m glad to be feeling so much better. But now I am left in a place where I don’t know what I really want to do with my quilt patterns. I’ve stopped selling through distributors because I haven’t had the energy to print, package & ship large orders.  And I’ve seriously thought about converting all of my patterns to pdf download as a way to semi-sustain them.  And then there is the whole shopping cart thing to figure out.  I’m left wondering where this all fits in with life in general?  So many thoughts and questions and no real decisions about where I’m going or what I want to do. It’s always been my objective to do this because I enjoy it and because I want to pass on the joy of making something with your own hands.  How that looks as a business, I have no idea. I’d love to hear how others have managed a small pattern business. What goals or parameters have you given yourself? What has been your biggest hurdle? How do you balance time, energy, inspiration, ideas, making, packaging, shipping and all that? Do you actively seek out advice or do you just let it happen as it happens? As a consumer, what do you love about quilting patterns and what is the biggest turn-off when buying a pattern?  Any other thoughts you’d care to share?

§ 7 Responses to Quilting, ripping & thinking

  • nicolette says:

    My biggest hurdle to start selling patterns is that I’m afraid that when I’ve written one, someone will email to say that there’s already a pattern like mine out there somewhere on the internet. It’s hard to come up with something new.
    I’ve sold patterns via my LQS, but they pay so little money for a pattern and ask three times the price I would ask to their customers, so that didn’t really work.

    You could email some online fabric shops in the US and elsewhere to ask if they would consider to add your patterns to their selection of downloadable pdf pattern series. That way you don’t need to print and pack all those patterns.
    I’m curious to see what you will be deciding!

  • Beth says:

    Biggest hurdle in buying a pattern…seeing that after I pay a healthy sum of money I still need to go to the copy store and enlarge pattern to full size…grrr. I’m starting to ot buy books/patterns if they are not ready to use

  • susan says:

    i dont have a small business but as a consumer i would say offer your patterns in pdf. its easier for you and i for one like to get my pattern right away
    hope you figure this out :o)

  • I try to design most of what a teach. I’ve recently started converting my teaching notes into PDF patterns and am selling them on Etsy, slowly! I use my class to ‘test’ the notes/pattern for me, as I sometimes miss things. My patterns take ages to write up because they are v.detailed and full of pictures. But once they are written & loaded up then that’s it. Folks can buy them from me on Etsy or in classes. For me, the patterns are more of a side line, teaching P&Q is my main income, and while I love what I do, there’s a big jump from doing something as a hobby and doing it as a business. There’s much less time to just ‘play’ and create for fun, so it’s really important to try to keep a slot free in the week for these times. Not sure if any of this is helpful, but happy to chat more if you’d like more info. Good luck with whatever you decide. Jxo

  • Liz says:

    Check out Patterns Gone Digital http://www.patternsgonedigital.com/

    They have a growing number of pdf patterns but they sell only to retail stores. So the quilt store sets up a screen, lets the shopper look through the patterns and then buys the pdf. The benefit for the shop is that they aren’t stocking lots of patterns but they get the benefit of selling the pattern. So, this option gets you into the quilt stores.

    I don’t think they bar you from selling the pdf version on your own or a paper version, but check it out with them.

    So, it would be a way to get your patterns out to more people with fewer hassles. It may also drive more views to your own site, where they may decide to buy directly from you.


  • Rachell R. says:

    You could always convert your patterns to pdf’s, like you thought, and sell them online at places like Craftsy.com. They’re all about that, and it sounds really easy to sell through Craftsy. Places like Clotilde.com might offer that too, because I’ve bought a few online patterns from Clotilde, as well.

  • oh frustrating… I teach frame quilting at a machine store and I have a few thoughts..
    a If the needle isnt straight or loaded straight
    b thread not in the tension disks the way it should be
    c User error Especially if the breaks are _all_ on the curve (lets say your quilting is a clock face, are the breaks at 2, 5, 7, 10? ) the rule is to slow down at the curve like driving, phsically we want to speed up, kinda lean into it.

    Im not sure what machine your using on the frame or how tight you loaded it or how recent the store had done oiling, etc.

    on the pattern front.. I have no desire to work the grind of mail room, marketing, customer service..etc if I dont have to.
    I design my quilts, I quilt my quilts and I do charity work by making more quilts… I teach because I love sharing my knowledge and it isnt the huge time sink that all that other is. I consider myself an Artist and not really a “crafter” or designer of products. and lately my work has reflected that focus. I think the desire to perfect my voice and make good work will be rewarded in the future and it seems to be working.. but my focus isn’t money.
    I quilt a few other quilts a year to maintain my studio but only work I want to do.
    I realize its a luxury because I dont work and dont need to. I might want more money but I dont need more money.
    years ago I took a “7 habits” class and I hope my life will be a reflection of my core values.
    Your work is beautiful and if you need support or help with either Quilting Questions or large charity tops that are going to non church connected charities (valor or many others, I dont do charity work for churches except Unis and liberal Jews) Im happy to help. I donate batting, thread and often backing to tops I get.

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