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Quilting Bees (and other bugs)

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A seed is sown

Back in December, I was asked if I spoke at quilting groups. I replied that I hadn’t really thought about it, but… sure? And then I got home and fretted about what I would actually say at such an event! So I asked the Facebook, because that’s what one does these days.
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Shortly afterwards, I received a message request from a lady called Alicia:
I saw your post about samples. I have made a few samples for a friend using her own published pattern, but using a fabric line to benefit the fabric designer and the pattern designer. I would be interested in working with you if you need samples made. Let me know if you are interested! Good luck with your business!!
We started chatting, and I explained that I wanted to showcase my fabric designs. I sent her the link to my Spoonflower store, and an example of the Spoonflower Fill-A-Yard “cheater quilt” layout – and a photo of my hand with the one I had printed, for scale!
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Her response was very positive: “OMG! These are genius! I’m getting the chills looking at them and I’ve only seen about 15 so far!!

Well, this is a great start, I thought! So we began throwing ideas around, and I discovered how very little I know about quilt top designs, and how very many options there are out there!

I decided that what I really wanted was to let a skilled maker make the quilt she felt was right – so we agreed to make it a surprise.

Just to be clear – these are designed to be materials for you to cut up and turn into a quilt, using your quilter’s eye – so I am not making any design decisions, just giving you the equivalent of a jelly roll pack or something to get you started 🙂

I made four 1-yard cheater quilts – two in greens and mustards, and two in teals and purples – and sent them off to become Proper Quilts.

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In the meantime, I concentrated on learning how to use my new camera set-up to make time-lapses of my drawing process.

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I ordered the fabric on the 9th (NZ time) and it arrived on the 18th – inconceivably fast for me! Orders usually take around a month, if not longer, to reach NZ – and then another week or more getting through Customs (sigh).

The making of the quilt

The process of making a quilt involves a lot of planning, a lot of cutting, a lot of pressing, and then painstakingly sewing ‘blocks’ together. 
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The cutting board
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Pressing many tiny pieces of fabric
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Assembling a ‘block’
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Sewing a strip of blocks together
​Each block is then combined into a quilt top, which is then layered with batting, and in this case, a second top (as this quilt is double-sided), and then quilted. The quilting part is the part where everything is sewn together, through all the layers. That can be a very simple diamond pattern of diagonal lines, or a more complex and whimsical design. Finally, the edges are bound (with bias binding), and the quilt is finished! 
​Here are some photos of the process!
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The two quilt tops, all sewn together and ready for quilting, already look quite amazing. I’m not sure if I would have the courage to let them out of my hands for someone else to quilt, but Alicia has worked with her longarmer, Joyce, enough times that she felt confident to send them off to be quilted – and they came back even more amazing!
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Caution – quilting in progress!
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The quilted patterns are Steampunk-inspired gears and cogs!
The final masterpiece, quilted and bound and ready to head to New Zealand!
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The surprise bonus

As well as my lovely lap quilt, Alicia included some amazing bonus pieces – a place-mat, table runner, and bowl cosy – to use up the remaining fabric. Amazing! I had no clue, so it was such a treat to find these extra items in the box!
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The epic journey home

February 11th: “Hello, hello, Catherine! Your quilt is completely done. I picked it up yesterday from Joyce’s house and I finished putting the binding on today. Yay!” 
February 17th – we finish figuring out the complexities of shipping, and my quilt begins its journey.
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February 23rd: “The quilt has made it to NZ, yay! It’s being held by customs though...”
​After weeks of trying to figure out what was required, we finally got the package released from Customs… and it arrived on Friday, March 16th. Woo!

The Great Unboxing

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So my quilt has finally arrived, and it’s time to see it for the very first time! I’m excited, but I also like to savour the anticipation – so I stop to take lots of photos 🙂
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Wow, extra things! What is this? Is it a hat? Oh, I see! It’s a bowl cosy 🙂
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Ooh, and a lovely placemat, and a table runner! What on earth!? How amazing!
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THE QUILT

And finally, it’s time to see my QUILT.
First impressions – it’s colourful, beautifully made, feels sturdy and snuggly – and it’s HUGE. I had no idea how large a lap quilt was! But I was so overwhelmed at seeing something so amazing made with my own fabrics that it took George to point out the fact that the quilting was all Steampunk designs – what a thoughtful touch! We were genuinely moved. How lovely, to take the time to add a touch of steam to our gorgeous quilt!
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George holds the quilt up at full stretch
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Lizzie-dog inspects our new acquisition
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The soft-launch

I was far too excited to leave my quilt at home, so it came with us to this year’s March Madness fair, even though we hadn’t come up with a hanging solution for it yet. Check out our little clip of Alicia’s beautiful creations at the Copper Catkin stall!
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First Time Jitters

Feel the fear and do it anyway

“Eek! I think I’m ready to have a stall at a market… But how on earth do I start?”

I think we have all been there with something or other – that feeling of nervousness, wondering if you’ll make the grade, is anyone besides your mum going to like what you do…? It’s nerve-wracking.  I’m still nervous the night before a market after over a decade!​ ​But it gets better.

​So, how do you get past that and into your first stall?

Let’s look at the 5 principles of Copper Catkin stall display – Dress, Fresh, Layers, Flavour, and Hook. Choose the easiest one, and work from there, until you have the whole thing covered. 

Dress

​Dress is actually quite an easy one, and most people have already thought a bit about how they want to set up their stall – tablecloth, price tags, business cards, a sign with your name on it… But how about you?

  • How will you present yourself?
  • How does your personal presentation integrate with your stall display ideas?
  • Will you match? Do you want to?

Fresh

Well, you’re new to the scene, so you automatically tick the ‘fresh’ box. But how do you make people say “WOW – I’ve never seen that before, I have to have one!”

What’s your point of difference? Why are you doing this market stall, and why should people come and see you?

Does that sound like an intimidating place to start?

It IS.

Selling yourself and your work is HARD.

So, start with this statement: “I am awesome, because not only am I brave enough to bring my work to this market for your to see and buy, but also…”

​Write yourself 6 or 7 sentences like this. Bring them to the markets with you as comforting reminders that you are awesome. Try to incorporate them into your patter when you talk to customers.

Layers

This one is an easy one to overlook. You brought your beautiful creations, right? That should be enough for anyone, right? It’s your first go, they won’t expect anything fancy, they should just be happy to look at what you made, right?

Well, no. Not really.

Here’s a secret: people don’t want to hear about the bad stuff, they want to celebrate the good stuff with you. So, they want to see your brand-new creations displayed to their best advantage, not excuses about it being your first time. Think about that new waiter who got your order wrong – you might have been nice to him about it at the time, but you still felt like your experience was changed by his inexperience.

So… Use shoeboxes, mug stands, bookcases, cushions, drying racks, ladders, folding screens… what have you got around the house that you can cover with a sheet and make pretty, to give your stall more height? What interesting fabrics can you drape it with, to give visual interest? Do you have some cool props? Driftwood, soft toys, home decor, stones, a vase of flowers…

Dress your stall like a window display or a house you want to sell.

​Show your love for your product through your pride in your display. Make it special and inviting and visually textured – colours, shapes, height, and depth. You owe it to yourself and your products to make every market the best you have ever done 🙂

Flavour

All our principles are interlinked, and Flavour ties back to Fresh and Dress in particular.

What makes you, you?

What makes your stall stand out from the rest?

It’s tempting to go with the current decor trends at Kmart or wherever and simply use them as they are to decorate your stall… but you will look like a mini Kmart, the same as 100 other stalls.

Paint things, use interesting fabrics, build your own displays, use a vibrant hero colour, dye your hair – stand out. People should go home after the market and talk about your coolness.

So… what’s your favourite colour? How can you express yourself with a pattern, or a slogan, that people will go WOW about?

Hook

So when you combine all of the above, there’s one thing missing – the element that ties it all together and makes people stop and shop with you. The hook – the bit that catches and holds their attention long enough to look at your products and buy. 
This could be the colour of your hair, a clever catchphrase, a stunning display cabinet, a clever company name, an interesting material… But it needs to be something about you, your display, or your product, that grabs them. Do your thumbnail test and see if you can get their attention from afar. 

Need more help?

Start with my free email courses, and then book for a one-on-one session where we can help you get where you’re going, or join a caterpillar workshop.