Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Quilting as a Business

 Do you view your quilt business as a business?    

 (used with permission from Morna McEver Golletz)

In the past month, I've had several conversations with quilters and fiber artists about how they view their "businesses." Several really don't think of themselves as business people. They are happy to share their work/skills and don't think about the money beyond meeting their expenses. Is this running a business? Not really; it's supporting your hobby. And, if that's what you want, that's perfect for you. If, however, you really want a business, here are some tips:

1. Start to think about how you view your business and work on your mindset if needed. Do you buy into the starving artist mentality? Why? A business is supposed to make a profit. It's not a bad thing. Is your business structured to do that? And, are you ready, willing and able to do that?

2. Consider how others view your business. Do people think you are running a successful business? Or do they think you make quilts or art for fun and sell it on the side? You might look at how other business people view you vs. how your family and close friends view you, too. Do you have established routines and discipline or do you invoke the solopreneur's version of "writers' block" to run an errand or go shopping? Do you want other people and your family to view you as a business person? And, if they don't, does this affect how your view yourself?

3. Do you know your numbers? It's critical that you know how much money is coming in and how much is going out. You need to track these numbers and use the information to make decisions about your business. If you don't understand your numbers, The Professional Quilter is currently running a terrific series by Sue Tucker, who is the CFO at Studio 180 Design.

4. How do you structure your day? Remember back when you had that corporate job. You had tasks to complete. Your role had a place in the company and its profit structure. Now that you are on your own, the freedom is great. That freedom, however, imposes a requirement for discipline. If you used a planner/calendar at your corporate job, consider adapting the same or similar system now that you run your own business. Committing the appropriate time to your business will make a difference.

Running your business is much harder work than pursuing your hobby. It's just as much fun. And, in the end, it has the possibility of being much more rewarding.    

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


See the IAPQ blog at

I am a member of the International Association of Professional Quilters and recommend membership for anyone in the "business" of quilting.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Books on Sunday

Once again delving into my library, I found my copy of The Surface Designers Handbook by Holly Brackman. I bought my copy several years ago in Houston and remember reading the entire book on a very long flight back home. I couldn't wait to begin exploring some of the 'new to me' techniques that Holly very carefully introduced and explained.

The author has written 16 chapters exploring virtually every dyeing, printing, and fabric painting method that most surface designers are likely to come across. She also spends the first two chapters discussing safe studio practices, fabrics, fibers and dyes. There are excellent appendices including a dye worksheet for tracking steps in ones projects, calculating stock solutions and color mixing as well as weights, measures and water temperatures, important factors in achieving and repeating good results.

I would recommend this book for anyone interested in learning more about surface design. It is also a good companion to Art Cloth by Jane Dunnewold, another must have in my library.



Friday, September 21, 2012

Fun Comes in Threes - More Blogs to Visit

Heres a few more blogs that you might enjoy.

Many years ago I saw some work by Elizabeth Barton and immediately fell in love with her use of dimension, value and colour. At the time, Elizabeth's work was mostly architectural with houses, buildings and views of roof tops. Now Elizabeth is teaching online at which is a wonderful opportunity for anyone to learn from a superb artist.

Jane is a mixed media and fibre artist how makes joyful and creative art. Check out how she has used an empty spot in her studio and organized it into a functioning corner!

Terri Stegmiller has a bright and cheerful blog with wonderfully inspiring pictures, I love how she created some great tote bags from her own dyed and stamped fabrics.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Hand Piecing at Quilt University

I'll be teaching my Hand Piecing class at Quilt University beginning this weekend and its not too late to registerIf you've never considered working just by hand here's a brief introduction to get you started:
Why would quilters consider hand piecing? Some people may think, "Hand piecing? Why bother? Didn’t we get rid of that a long time ago? There are so many newer speedier methods!"

Handwork has really never gone out of fashion. There are times and places where working by hand is the best method. We cannot always haul the sewing machine, cutters, mats and rulers with us wherever we go. Thus, piecing some or all of our quilts by hand stitching can be a perfect answer for portability and the opportunity to use spare moments of time.
Is portability the only reason to hand piece? I think there are several good reasons, some of which apply at different times depending on our needs and moods. Here are a few to consider:

It is relaxing; we have to sit down to do our work. This is different from sitting at our machine where we have to concentrate on the machine and where the needle is in relation to our fingers. In hand piecing we can pick a comfortable chair, curl up in front of the TV or at the beach; I often stitch while my husband is driving during holidays, with the map close at hand. We can relax and hand piece any time and anywhere we choose. The stitching is repetitive; almost always it is a running stitch, which is easy to manipulate by your fingers, using only a few pins, if needed.

We usually work in small units, concentrating on one unit or block at a time. Accuracy is another key element in hand piecing. When we have small pieces to put together or curved units to join, working by hand ensures that bias edges are kept under control and eased into the seam evenly.

With good preparation, work progresses quickly. Preparation is key for hand piecing. By tracing and cutting all the pieces needed for your work and then having them ready for the hand work, you will save time.

Few tools are needed for your work. Remember that quilters in the past had scissors, needle, thread and pins. So, it is not a costly endeavor to begin your quilt making journey. When I worked in a quilt shop, I often thought that the initial expense of all the modern equipment deterred beginners when they wanted to just try it to see if it was a skill they wanted to pursue. The tools for hand piecing are generally ones which we already have, so expense is not a critical factor.

We can use short periods of time to work on our project. It is easy to find a few spare minutes in our day to pick up a project and add a few stitches. Think of the time spent waiting at doctor’s appointments, while dinner is cooking, or at the kids sporting events. If you have made the preparations that we will discuss in class, small amounts of time can develop into some wonderful work! With hand piecing it is easy to stop in the middle of a seam and then return to complete the seam later. You will not have lost your place. Imagine doing that with your machine piecing!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Five Essential Studio Tools!

If you know me you'll agree that I do like, and am easily distracted by bright, shiny things but I am a cautious shopper so don't have a lot of the latest doo-dads and gadgets in my studio (the kitchen is another matter!)
Btu I wondered about some of the tools that I keep using over and over again that aren't necessarily quilt related. These are items I consider essential in my studio and perhaps you would agree. So, in no particular order, here they are:

Proportional Scale

This gadget is the answer for enlarging or reducing drawings, patterns, or anytime you want to change the size in a copier.
Its simple to use and saves paper and aggravation! You can see a short Youtube video here:

Sharps Container

Sitting in the doctors office a couple years ago, led me to think about all the bent pins, broken needles and dull blades I have thrown out over the years (I've always wrapped the blades in cardboard before disposing of them). So I started my own little Sharps Container and have another one in my workshop kit for travelling. Once the container is full I cover the lid with masking tape and put it in the garbage. Hopefully I've made the landfills a little safer!

Camera Tripod

I take a lot of pictures in my studio of work in progress and finished pieces. I take pictures of my dye work for Facebook and my blog.
Last Christmas I got a tripod from DH and love it! It keeps the camera steady, as even the slightest tremor can distort your images and I found a small table mini-tripod for small pieces of work.

And as another tip: I take my camera and a hiking pole out on walks with me, the handle on the pole unscrews so I can mount my camera for a monopod!

Colour Tools

I work with colour all day, I've taken many colour courses, have lots of books about colour in my library, but find I don't have a good colour memory!
So I often rely on these tools to help me when working with dyes or fabrics. They are indispensable in my studio. I often pick up those palette brochures and paint chips at the hardware store as well, they are fun to play with!

Idea and Inspiration Boards

I find that any piece of paper, photo, magazine article or snippet of something that lays on a horizontal surface will disappear within minutes. But once its pinned up on a board its more likely to stay there (though sometimes the papers do getting stuck behind other papers!)
So I have put up one very large board and not one, but two more boards as well! I can generally find what I want or needs within a minute or two instead of hours! Sometimes I even try to make them pretty and every couple of months I purge the boards of anything out of date.

So do you have favourite tools that you'd be lost without? Why not sure them with us!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Meet Brandy Lynn Maslowski - New Designer

I first met Brandy - an energetic fireball of a quilters - at one of our Fibre Art Network retreats and we've been emailing, sharing and chatting ever since. I think you will find her story very interesting.....

Tell us a bit about your background and previous careers. Did you always want to be an artist?

At the age of 12 I was introduced to hand sewing by a friendly woman at the craft market across my back lane. I barely left her side for that entire market season. I’ve been a serious crafter ever since and was absolutely sideswiped with a passion for quilting after creating my first hand pieced quilt for my son in 2000. Throughout my 15-year career as a city firefighter I found that my studio often became a refuge to de-stress and explore my creativity. I quickly became engaged in machine quilting and then discovered fibre art and my passion exploded from there. I can’t say I remember always wanting to be an artist, but it has certainly grabbed me by the pants and won’t let go. My involvement with the Fibre Art Network over the last 3 years has lifted my spirit and inspired me in ways I could have never imagined. Surrounding myself with brilliant mentors and good people who just get what I’m all about has been the key to my success. Our move to the Okanagan Valley over the last year has opened so many doors for me as an artist and allowed me the freedom to follow my dreams.
"After the Fire" was featured in the IQA Houston Class catalogue

Tell us about your pattern business.

I started Brandy Lynn Designs in March 2012 with the launch of my first pattern in August - Inksations Table Runner and Silk Screen Kit. This kit is the first of 12 patterns in the Explore Fibre series with pattern number 2 slated to launch in November. These first 12 designs combine a traditional quilt pattern with a creative art technique and will be released quarterly. It’s a fun way to take those baby steps from traditional quilting to fibre art play. I teach over a dozen quilting and fibre art classes as well as a series of 4 lectures now with bookings throughout BC and across Canada. I am having the time of my life. My focus with students is to explore the joy of fibre and share my passion for creativity.
You are active on the web and in social media, why did you choose that route?

In a nutshell, social media is a free medium to connect with the public. Free marketing is so important in an emerging business. I can reach fans, customers and mentors in the quilting industry on a fun and engaging platform. There is no question that social media is here to stay. It may evolve, but it’s not going away. So I’ve embraced it and it has turned out to be so much fun! I find if I stay true to my character and just be myself I can really connect with people even though I can’t always meet them face to face.

And if you like to engage in the social media frenzy... 


Twitter handle: @Brandywrites

Do you have favourite art styles or techniques in your work?

My favorite way to create is abstract and freeform play. Most of my fibre art pieces are a result of experimenting with new techniques to me. Although I have avidly explored and been so inspired by styles and techniques of amazing fibre artists over the years I find it so necessary to follow your muse by writing and playing as freely as possibly so you come up with something exciting and unique to you. I am inspired by everything from a tearful child to a blooming flower. I can take a photo, hear a poem or even smell a pasture and I am thrown into a frenzy of ideas for fibre art. I never leave home without a sketchbook or a camera. 

What is coming up in the future for you?
My most recent happy dance moment was being chosen as the Artist in Residence at the Summerland Art Gallery for the 2013 season. This year long residency will allow me the space and freedom to create more fibre art and engage with the public to show how fibre art is quickly emerging as a fine art in galleries everywhere. My future plans for the next 3 years are to continue with the Explore Fibre series of patterns, publish my first pattern book, accomplish my first solo art exhibit and work hard to bring joy and inspiration to quilters with my classes and lectures across Canada.  

I think you will agree that Brandy has an exciting career ahead of her as an artist and designer! Check out her blog at:

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

One Word Wednesday

Time Passes

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quilting and Procrastination....

Do you ever practise the subtle art of putting tasks off, over and over again? I've been reading a lot lately on time-managment, project planning and goal setting. Those who know me personally would proably say I get a lot accomplished, and that's true. But there's a lot a I don't get done when I should. I fall victim to trying to multi-task and take on too many projects at once.

I've read a few bits in the media about how multi-tasking really doesn't work very well, that attempring to do many tasks at the same time leads to frustration and poor results. Perhaps science has figured out that the maturing brain (mine, any way) really likes to take on one thing at a time and see it through to completion. I admit I love making lists, particularly when I'm travelling or away from home. I love seeing all the tasks that need to be done, written down in my planner. Maybe if it's written down, then I can feel it's half done!
Anyway, I 've been putting off a half-done task for about 6 months and last night at 9:38pm PDT, I emailed it off!  So, finally, finally I'm finished writing my latest class. It will be on my Give and Take Applique technique that has been published in books, magazines and a terrific DVD! Hurrah!
I'm going to be using this work method in the future....I wonder what it will be like to start and finish one quilts at a time??
I finished the project by setting aside 2 1/2 days when my husband was at work and focused on nothing but the class, no other projects. I turned off my email except for morning and evening and only stopped for lunch and dinner. Wow, do I feel good!
So I'm celebrating by offering 10% off anything in my store, including those terrific Give and Take Applique books, DVD's and Stencils! Just go to and type in DESIGN0911 during checkout.
I also celebrated by taking a nap this morning with my 19 month old grandson, he's very cuddly! If you would like to take the class, sign up for my Design Notes newsletter to the right of this post and I'll keep you updated when it will be offered.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Quebec City - Les Portes

When I was visiting Quebec City last month I had fun walking through the old part of the city, dating back as far as 1608 when it was founded by Samuel de Champlain. I love looking at old dorrs and thinking about what might lay behind them!



Would you like to see more historic properties and experience the wonderful flavours of old town Quebec? Consider joining me on the Fall Colours Quilt Cruise in September 2013 aboard the mMS eurodam as we travel from Quebec City to New York with many exciting stops in between!
Check out  the details at:


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

One Word Wednesday


Monday, September 3, 2012

More New Fat Quarters

I just can's stop making fabric! I've added another two fat quarters to my shop....this time with the stencils I used - as a bonus!

Check this one out:
Luminous windows show on this fat quarter, glowing with rich colours of blues, greens and golds. Can’t you see this fat quarter in some of your art work? Textile paints were stencilled onto black fabric and then heat set. Stencil is included to make more of your designs! Stencil measures 6″ square. Order this one HERE
Gorgeously funky fat quarter that's been hand printed with a Steampunk stencil. We used textile paints on hand dyed fabric and heat set for permanency. Fun as a feature fabric, measures 18" x 21". Includes stencil to make more of your own fabrics! You can buy this one HERE