Friday, October 28, 2016

Small & Scrappy & Sentimental

What a wonderful surprise to get the new Martingale/That Patchwork Place catalog in the mail and see a quilt from my new book gracing the cover! Don't you love the way it's displayed? The catalog contains all the new quilting books coming out soon and I know some of you will be excited to peek inside and see them. 

Here's my rant about books and publishing first:  It's a sad fact that some of our celebrated quilt book publishing companies are no longer in business. Perhaps you've noticed. The reason publishers go out of business? Quilters are choosing not to buy books the way they used to. Nowadays, everyone expects to get everything for free on the Internet. But the quilting industry suffers when people do this. Expenses are high when it comes to publishing and printing a book and paying a staff to design and market it - publishers sometimes barely break even when a book is finally published. Quilt designers are in this business to try and make a living through their noble efforts to inspire us to be creative. 

So, take a look at the catalog. What is creative inspiration worth to you? To me, there is nothing quite like the feeling of buying a book by one of my favorite designers and holding it in my hands, flipping through the beautiful color pages again and again, dreaming sweet creative dreams. It's how I first became inspired to quilt and later dreamed of the notion of becoming an author myself. Here's my idea -  do your favorite authors/designers a favor and this coming year support their efforts by buying a few more quilting books. Don't just look at the pictures you see on the Internet and say Oh, I don't need a book or pattern for that - I can copy it myself. If you care at all, support the person who gave you the inspiration.

I'm not just talking about myself here, trying to push my new book so I can make a buck off you. If it weren't for ALL of our industry's talented quilt designers, where would we get our inspiration to even make the quilts we make? They do it for US. It sure as heck isn't for the money, ha ha. Craft book authors make notoriously little money on book royalties. Here's the dirty little publishing secret - authors make about a dollar plus a handful of change for every book you buy. They have to buy their own books from the publisher just like you if they wish to sell them to the public when they teach or lecture. Books cost money regardless of who's buying them. Authors don't miraculously own or receive all of the books they wrote for free when they're published. When you buy a book on Amazon - authors get about 40 cents for each book because Amazon books are heavily discounted by publishers. Yet, here's the deal - because we love quilting with a passion and because we also love to inspire you, we still do it. 

So, listen - next year, why not skip a couple of cups of Starbucks, make your kids wear hand-me-downs for a few months, save string, I don't care - eat Mac & Cheese for dinner, whatever. Make some room on your bookshelf by dropping off some of your old books at the local library. Then, treat yourself to some new inspiration - buy a quilting book (or maybe two or three) and support your passion. 

But enough ranting. I feel better. I have to tell you that this cover quilt is really special to me and I'm so glad it's in the book. Seeing it on the catalog cover surprised me and stirred up some sentimental memories. The pinwheels quilt was started a few years ago when my beloved Wheaten Terrier Rigby became ill and we found out he needed multiple surgeries. He might have cancer they said.

When this happened, my head started spinning and I became scared. So I began making some spinning pinwheels to deal with the pain. I planned to turn the blocks into a pillow for him. We soon found out that he was misdiagnosed - there was actually no cancer. We were lucky to have had Rigby, Mr. Rigby, Big Rig, stay healthy for another 2 1/2 years before he finally passed away. The pinwheels quilt I'd started was put aside because working on it reminded me of that painful time and it hurt too much. I waited awhile and finally pulled it out last year and finished it, deciding it was too lovely to leave unfinished. I knew it would be a nice tribute to a companion who always sat near me and my quilts while I sewed. 

 When he first came to us as a puppy, he was Small and Scrappy!

 If you're one of those people who loves family sagas involving dogs, make yourself a cup of coffee, sit down  and read more about our silly Rigby here. And here.  And don't forget here . . . . And oh, yes -  here too.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Small & Scrappy Club

There will be "Small & Scrappy Clubs" popping up in quilt shops next year. When you join a club at a shop there will be monthly classes to make some of the quilts from the book. In addition, shops will make and sell kits for some of the quilts. What's more fun than meeting and sewing with others who like the same kinds of quilts? Talk to your local quilt shop about getting a club started near you.

If you're a shop owner, visit the Martingale booth at Quilt Market in Houston this week and pick up a flyer for more info on how to get a Small & Scrappy club going at your shop next year. (I will not be going to Market so talk to Martingale people when you're there.) Or, you can contact me in mid-November and I will have everything you need to know about starting this 6-month club. 

This type of club is for shops only. But, never fear -  come next year, we'll be doing some online sew-alongs for quilts in the book in my small quilt groups. All you need to do to join in is buy the book. Which little quilt will you want to try making first? 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Dear Jane - Counting Down

Yesterday I finished making block 155 (out of 169 blocks) for the center of my Dear Jane® quilt. I'm at the point where every time I check one off the list I become slightly giddy. Sure, it's taken me awhile to get here (started in 2010) but I'm taking it slow and working on it whenever I'm able to. And, as you can see, they sure do add up over time.

That indigo one took me forever. Not my favorite block. I kept getting frustrated, ripped out stitches, put it down a few times, picked it up again a day or two later. 

Now I have only 14 blocks left to go to complete the center of the quilt. I'm amazed at and excited about this and motivated to keep going. My goal is to finish those by the end of this year. And then tackle the triangles surrounding the center next year. I'm taking my time and not pressuring myself but, nonetheless, it's good to have goals. We'll see if I achieve this latest one. Finding the time is often difficult. I think about retiring just so I can spend all day, every day, working on my blocks . . . .

My piecing and applique skills have improved a bit since I began in 2010 and there were a few early wonky blocks that made me cringe every time I looked at them. So I remade three of them last month. My blocks are far from perfect but I knew if I didn't do that they would always bother me.

For years, I enjoyed looking at all the wonderful Dear Jane® quilts others had made and always thought: never in a million years would I be able to finish one of those. Well, guess what? I took the leap and I'm on my way. If you're thinking about beginning Jane's quilt or stalled on one you've already started, take heart - make small goals and keep going. If I can do it, so can you. Don't beat yourself up if and when you need to stop. Continue on with the journey and who knows, maybe you'll begin to love it and become motivated to finish. Better late then never.

If you're hesitant to begin, the Dear Jane software by Electric Quilt has been a great help to many of us. The software includes the patterns you can print out and tips on making the blocks. I know I would not have been able to get this far without it.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Pre-Order My Small and Scrappy Book

My new book, Small & Scrappy, will be released in December and I am now taking pre-orders for signed copies. Go to my website to order yours.

Above the button you click to add the book to your shopping cart, there's a box for you to send me a note and specify how you'd like the book to be inscribed. If you don't specify, then the books will be sent out with my signature alone and no personal inscription. I know some of you would like your book to be inscribed with your name (or another's name if you will be giving these as gifts) so please let me know if you want it signed. When my books arrive from the publisher (in early December), I'll begin mailing out copies.

Hope you'll have fun making some of these simple little projects! We'll feature some of the quilts through sew-alongs in my small quilt groups beginning in January.