Tuesday, May 26, 2020

My Pattern Design Business Experience - Part Five!

Welcome back to my blog series on starting and running a quilt pattern business. If you have missed any of this series, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4 Last week I continued to talk about the commitment to starting a business, focusing more on the time commitment. This week, I want to highlight a few of the unexpected benefits of starting and running a business. These benefits are not centered around just a quilt pattern design business. Still, I believe it would come with running almost any small business.

When I was introducing this blog series, I talked briefly about that when I started my business at the time, I was a government employee. I was working in Washington DC and felt like I was not going where I wanted to be in life. I guess I felt like I was not in control of what I was doing and was not satisfied. It is kind of hard to explain, but mainly a feeling that I wanted to do something that I would be excited to get out of bed in the morning and get to work. Instead of having to drag myself out of bed, dread a long commute only to be stuck in an office. Then have another long commute to get back home, only to have a few hours to relax before going to bed and then repeating it the following day. I am sure I just described half of the working people in America, but that is how I felt.

With a focus on wanting to do something I enjoyed, I quit my government job and went to work for myself. In doing so, I achieved the goal of finding a job I genuinely want and look forward to doing every day. Now, don’t get me wrong; there are a lot of challenges and frustrations that come from running a business. That is where I have found several unintended benefits that I was not expecting.

To better understand this, let me describe my personality a little bit. First, I am an introvert and generally on the quiet side. I always had some difficulties talking to strangers and was never comfortable speaking in front of a group of people. Also, as a result of growing up with some learning disabilities, I have struggled with self-confidence. In running a business, I have been forced to overcome all of these issues. That is not to say that they are gone, I have more learn to recognize them for what they are and do what needs to be done.

To run my business, I have become a certified instructor in both the Studio 180 Design Tools and the Sue Pelland Design Tools. To do this, I had not only to learn the tool but demonstrate that I could teach others to use them as well. It is forcing me to deal with being in front of groups of people. Additionally, I have hosted booths at a couple of Quilt Markets, actually running the first one all by myself. It is incredible what it does for your self-confidence to be able to drive several days across country, set-up, and operate a booth in a major trade show. Then pack it back up and go home and to receive positive feedback from your peers in the process. Now, I know for some that may sound easy. For me, this was a huge undertaking, and I will admit that I was very nervous about the whole thing.

The point of all of this is that I found, no matter what challenges are thrown at me. I have learned that I can overcome them. I know I have strength in myself, and I am accomplishing things that I would have never dreamed of ten years ago. There will always be challenges, and I have also learned that it just takes the mindset to be willing to step up and face the challenge head-on and overcome it. Then move onto the next challenge.

To summarize, the unexpected benefit from starting and running a business is learning to have confidence in myself and that I can accomplish a lot when I put my mind to it. Please join me next week as I continue my blog series.

See you next Tuesday,

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

My Pattern Design Business Experience - Part Four!

Welcome back to my blog series on starting and running a quilt pattern business. If you have missed any of this series, be sure to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3

Last week, I talked about the commitment to starting a business. First, I hit a little upon the research that should be done before starting, then the financial and time commitments that may be required. This week I want to focus on what my average day looks like and the type of work I am doing.

Now to start with, not every day is the same; it depends on what projects I have going on and what stage any given pattern is in. However, there are a lot of things that require my attention every day, which allows me to keep to a reasonably similar schedule every day.

On most days, I try to get up between 6:00 and 6:30 am. Anna, one of my dogs, usually is my alarm clock because she is generally getting restless by then. Now, the first thing I do is get myself up and on the treadmill for my morning run. The treadmill is new to my house. Before that, I would try to get up even earlier and head to the gym for my exercise. However, that did not always work out, and that is a story that does not belong as part of this blog. Anyway, I find that running first thing in the morning wakes me up and clears my mind for the day’s activity.

After my morning workout, I am on my computer for at least the next several hours. This time is spent handling the business side of things, answering any emails, filling any orders, and anything else that needs my attention. I use this time also to focus on developing social media presents. 

After taking care of the business side of things, it is time to get to work. Of course, work for me is creating quilt patterns. That does not mean that I go straight into the design studio and start sewing quilts.
My days can vary depending on where I am in a specific project. Yes, some days, I will go into my studio and start sewing to work on a display quilt. Typically, I spend most of the first half of the day working on the computer writing pattern instructions, figuring out cutting charts, creating graphics for the patterns. I also work on any other elements that will go into the finished quilt pattern. If I was to take a guess, I only spend about 20% of my time sewing and making quilts. The rest of the time is spent on the computer.

Typically around 5:00 pm or so, my husband will text me saying that he is on the bus heading home from work. This is a 90+ minute commute depending on traffic, so I usually continue working for at least a little while depending on the project, then go and relax for a while until he gets home. Dinner is often a simple affair, and my husband enjoys cooking, so I usually leave that to him. Then after dinner, we both relax on the couch and binge-watch whatever current TV series or sporting event catches our attention. It is usually about this time I either pull out a quilt that needs the binding completed or my laptop and continues work on pattern development. This lasts until bed.

On the weekends, the schedule is not much different, besides a little house cleaning, food shopping, and general chores that need to be done to keep a house functioning. Of course, on the weekends, my husband is usually home and tries to help out where he can with varying levels of success. All told, I typically devote several hours on Saturdays and Sundays working just to say on top of everything and keep to the schedules I have set for myself.

Now, if I were to add up my hours for an average week, I would average anywhere between 10 to 12 hours a day—an additional 7 to 8 hours a day on the weekends. This adds up to an average workweek of 64 to 76 hours a week. Sometimes even more, but rarely less.

Now, again this works well for me and my current lifestyle. Everyone needs to take a close look at their lifestyles and determine what would work best for them. I have heard of people that run a small business from their homes set fixed work hours to keep the business from takeover their lives. They will only start working at a set time in the morning and will quit at a set time at night. Outside of those hours, they will not read emails or accept phone calls related to the business. There will always be more tasks that need to be done than time to do them. That is where good time management comes in. There are thousands of references devoted to time management in the bookstores and on-line, so I will not get into the details. The only thing I will highlight is that it is up to you to decide to set your hours and how much time you spend working. So give it some thought, because if you don’t, you may find your business taking over your life.

Well, that is all for this week. Join me next week to cover one of the unexpected benefits of running a business.

See you next Tuesday,

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

My Pattern Design Business Experience - Part Three

Welcome back to my series on starting and running a home-based quilt pattern design business. Over the last two weeks, I talked a little about my history and touched upon why I decided to start my own business. If you missed those blog posts, check them out here. Part One, and Part Two. This week, I want to talk a little about the challenges I ran into.

In starting a business, one of the first challenges I ran into was how to do it. Between my husband and me, we had to figure out the type of business, what laws governed running a business, how to handle the accounting, and figure out the taxes. Luckily, there are a lot of resources available to assist with this. I would recommend starting by visiting the website of the Small Business Administration for your state. They will have most of the resources and information you need to get started. Just know that starting a business is a process, and you will never know everything. It is a good idea to be patient and learn as much as you can before you start; this could pay off in the long run.

Next is the financial part of running a business. The old saying is that you have to have money to make money, and for the most part, I believe that is true. Starting and running a business can be expensive. I did not want to go out and get a loan for my business, although that may be the right direction for some. For me, my husband and I only took out loans to pay for my longarm and domestic sewing machines—everything else we paid for out of pocket. To give you an idea, we have invested around $90,000 to $100,000 into the business over the last eight or more years. That amount was spread out over the years, and we didn’t have to come up with it all at once. However, I did want to highlight it because you should know that running a business does take financial resources. Also, understand that the amount invested will be different for different people depending on how the business was set up and what resources are available.

Finally, I want to talk a little about the time commitment to running a business. Over anything else, I believe the time required may be the biggest surprise to most. When I worked for the
government, I was up early to get to work and then did not get home until early evening. I was working 12+ hours a day or 60+ hours a week, counting commuting time. In starting my business, I found I was doing far more hours than that. Now it is very common for me to be working every day of the week, including weekends, and if I calculate correctly, I put in up to 70+ hours a week. Knowing the possible time commitments of running a business is essential to develop a good work/life balance. I put in the hours because I enjoy what I do and have a real love of quilting. My kids are grown, and my husband works long hours at his government job, so the hours I put in work well for me. For someone else, that may not be the case, and the time commitment will be a lot less per week. The point of this is twofold. First, know that running a business is a big commitment in time. Secondly, a good work/life balance will need to be reached for the business to survive in the long run. If not, running a business will become more of a chore than a joy and burnout will occur.

Now with this week’s blog post, I am not trying to scare people away from starting a quilt pattern business or any other business for that matter. I just want to ensure that if you are considering starting a business, what the financial, time, and knowledge commitments could be. Also, these are my experiences, and yours may be different.

For next week’s blog post, I am going to talk about what my average day looks like.

See you next Tuesday,

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

My Pattern Design Business Experience - Part Two!

Welcome back to the second part of my blog series about my experiences in starting and running a quilting business. Last week, I gave a quick introduction to myself and how Quilting Affections Designs came about. This week I am going to focus on the question on if starting a quilt pattern design business is right for you.

To start, I know everyone is different, with different dreams, talents, lifestyles, and financial needs. Which means that everyone’s reason for wanting to start a business will be different. For me, I think it came down to wanting to quit the long commutes and long hours of working for the government and do something that I loved. When I decided to first start my business, I was working as a GS employee at the Department of Agriculture in Washington, DC.

At that time, my average day was getting up very early to catch a commuter bus a little before 6:00 am to get to work by 7:30 am. Then work a 9-hour day and then getting back on the bus to get home around 6:00 pm or later at night, depending on traffic. I can’t say I hated my job, but the long hours with the commute left me tired and drained. The best way I can describe it is that this was not taking me where I wanted to go.

In 2011, my husband retired from the Air Force after 23 years and was now working for a contracting company in DC, earning a good wage. Then in 2012, my youngest son graduated high school and joined the Air Force. With these changes, I decided it was time to start making changes in myself. With the support of my husband, I purchased an APQS Millennium and started to learn how to use it. Then in 2013, I quit my government job and started my own business.

I bring up this history to help explain a little of the background for the reason I started my business. While working for the government, I was tired, felt empty, and was not 100% happy with myself. Life is too short for that, so I decided to make a change. Luckily, from a financial standpoint, my husband and I was at a point where we could not only support ourselves but also finance a small business. Which I learned early on can be a costly endeavor.

Now I want to ask you, are you at a point in your life where you are not happy with the direction your career is going? Do you have a desire to do something different, maybe a creative drive? Starting a small business could be that change in your life that will make a difference.

I do want to throw out a word of caution, starting and running a home-based business is a lot of work, can get very expensive and create challenges that you never dreamed of. That will be the subject of next week’s blog; the challenges of starting and running a business from home.

Monday, May 4, 2020

Designer Tips and Techniques Virtual Show

This week the Designers Virtual Trunk show is back at again on Facebook. Starting on Tuesday, May 5th through Saturday, May 9th, from 12 pm to 8 pm, every hour on the hour, designers will be presenting a 15 minute Facebook Live on their favorite quilting/stitching tips and or techniques. Also, for those of you that love Instagram, the designers will be going live on Instagram starting from 12:30 pm to 8:30pm.   

On Friday, May 8th, I will be showing how to use the Sue Pelland Designs Leaves Galore for the left-handed cutter.  I hope to see you at 1pm EST.

You will find the full list below, make sure to head to each of these talented Designers Facebook pages and like them to get reminders of when they go live. 

Tuesday, May 5

12pm ET - Cherry Guidry -  Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio
12:30pm ET - Instagram 
12:30pm ET - Janellea Macbeth - Scraps Stashtic Quilts 
1:00pm ET - Instagram  
1pm ET - Jen Frost - Faith and Fabric
1:30pm ET - Instagram  

2pm ET - Teresa Weaver - Your Sewing Friend
2:30pm ET - Jo Westfoot - The Crafty Nomad
3:00pm ET - Instagram

3pm ET - Becca Fenstermaker - Pretty Piney Quilts
3:30pm ET - Instagram
4pm ET - Michelle Renee Hiatt - Sew on the Go
4:30pm ET - Instagram

4:30pm ET - Margaret Willingham- Eye of the Beholder Quilt Design
5pm ET - Marlene Oddie - Kissed Quilts
5:30pm ET - Instagram

5:30pm ET - Annie Unrein - Patterns by Annie
6:00pm ET - Instagram

6pm ET - Leanne Parsons - Devoted Quilters Designs
6:30pm ET - Instagram

7pm ET - Jennifer Fulton - Inquiring Quilter
7:30pm ET - Instagram

7:30pm ET - Reed Johnson - Blue Bear Quilts
8:00pm ET - Instagram

8pm ET - Tammy Silvers - Tamarinis - launch 
8:30pm ET - Instagram

Wednesday, May 6

12pm ET - Sue Pelland - Sue Pelland Designs
12:30pm ET - Instagram
1pm ET - Annette Ornelas - Southwind Designs
1:30pm ET - Instagram
2pm ET - Kate Colleran - Seams Like a Dream Quilts
2:30pm ET - Instagram
3pm ET - Melissa Marginet - Melissa Marginet Quilter
3:30pm ET - Instagram
4pm ET - Jackie Kunkel - Canton Village Quilt Works
4:30pm ET - Instagram
5pm ET - None
5:30pm ET - Melissa Merriman Harr - Toadally Quilts
6:00pm ET - Instagram
6pm ET - Laura Piland - Slice of Pi Quilts
8:30pm ET - Instagram

7pm ET - Terri Vanden Bosch - Lizard Creek Quilting
7:30pm ET - Instagram
7:30pm ET - Swan Sheridan - Swan Amity Studios
8:00pm ET - Instagram
8pm ET - Annie Smith - Annie Smith's Quilting Stash
8:30pm ET - Instagram

 Thursday, May 7

12pm ET - Lynn Kane - Puppy Girl
12:30pm ET - Instagram

1pm ET - Cristy Fincher - Purple Daisies Quilting
1:30pm ET - Instagram
2pm ET - Debbie Wendt - Wendt Quilting 
2:30pm ET - Instagram
3pm ET - Shelley Cavanna - Coras Quilts
3:30pm ET - Instagram

4pm ET - Monique Kleinhans -  Ladybug's Cabin
4:30pm ET - Instagram
5pm ET - Heidi Pridemore - The Whimsical Workshop
5:30pm ET - Instagram

6pm ET - Jerry Stube - Quilter's Quarters
6:30pm ET - Instagram
7pm ET - Simone Fisher - Simone Quilts
7:30pm ET - Instagram
8pm ET - Nicole Moore - Sew Much Moore
8:30pm ET - Instagram

Friday, May 8

12pm ET - Becky Campbell - Sewforever Quilting by Becky Campbell
12:30pm ET - Instagram
1pm ET - Tina Dillard - Quilting Affection Designs
1:30pm ET - Instagram

2pm ET - Beth Helfter - EvaPaige Quilt Designs
2:30pm ET - Instagram
3pm ET - Sherri Noel - Rebecca Mae Designs
3:30pm ET - Instagram
4pm ET - Kathleen McCormick - Kathleen McMusing
4:30pm ET - Instagram
5pm ET - Kimie and Missy - On Williams Street
5:30pm ET - Instagram
6pm ET - Andi Stanfield - True Blue Quilts
6:30pm ET - Instagram
7pm ET - Nancy Scott - Masterpiece Quilting
7:30pm ET - Instagram

8pm ET - Lisa Ruble - Love To Color My World
8:30pm ET - Instagram

Saturday, May 9

12pm ET - Sherry Shish - Powered by Quilting
12:30pm ET - Instagram
1pm ET - Cristina De Miranda - Ships & Violins
1:30pm ET - Instagram
2pm ET - Toni Smith - Quiltoni
2:30pm ET - Instagram
3pm ET - Alison Stothard - Hexadoodle Quilts
3:30pm ET - Instagram
4pm ET - Bobbie Gentili - The Geeky Bobbin
4:30pm ET - Instagram

5pm ET - Ebony Love - LoveBug Studios
5:30pm ET - Instagram
6pm ET - Carolina Moore- Always Expect Moore
6:30pm ET - Instagram
7pm ET -Kathryn LeBlanc - Dragonfly's Quilting Design Studio
7:30pm ET - Instagram
8pm ET - Tammy Silvers - Tamarinis - wrap up presentation
8:30pm ET - Instagram

I hope you enjoy the Virtual Show!

"Designing to Inspire"

Friday, May 1, 2020

Quilting Affection Design Groupies

Hello, I hope everyone is doing well and staying healthy. I know most people wish for things to get back to some sense of normal.  I would love to be able to go get a haircut, go shopping for new quilt fabric, and just get out of the house for a while. For now, the best we can do is stay at home where we are comfortable and stay safe. 

Well, over the last month, my team (my husband and myself) have been brainstorming ways to provide you exclusive content and information.  One of the ideas I came up with was to develop a new Facebook group called “Quilting Affection Design Groupies.

Quilting Affection Design Groupies is designed to inspire you with fun and exciting quilting projects, exclusive content, and sneak peeks of up and coming design patterns.  I want everyone in the group to have fun and bring a sense of community.  Here are some of the ideas I have planned so far just to get you started.
  • On the 10th of each month, I will post a new free block pattern. These blocks are designed around the Studio 180 Design tools and the Sue Pelland Rotary Cut Applique techniques. I will also include ideas on how to make these blocks into small quilts. More information will come out shortly.
  • Facebook Lives and videos
  • A place to share photos of your favorite Quilting Affection Design, Studio 180 Design, and Sue Pelland Design quilt projects.
  • A place to ask questions. Remember there are no wrong questions, we can all learn from each other
  • When we get started, you will have an exclusive sneak peeks of projects that I am working on in the Studio. Just to drop a hint, I have things cooking right now and cannot wait to show you.
  • As the group grows, we will be adding more content and new ideas.
You invited to come in and join in the fun in the “QuiltingAffection Design Groupies” Facebook group. I hope to see you there.  

Designing to Inspire!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

My Pattern Design Business Experience - Part One!

Starting a quilt pattern design business may sound like a lot of fun and a great way to earn extra income. The reality is that quilt pattern design is a challenging profession that requires and a lot of time and dedication with a lot of hard work. With that in mind, I decided to devote a blog series to my experiences in running a pattern design business from my home. I hope that in sharing the struggles that I have faced and what I have learned will help others decide whether they would want to take the challenge of professionally designing quilt patterns.

First, a little bit about myself and how Quilting Affection Designs came to be. My quilting inspiration comes from my mom and my aunt. I began sewing at an early age on my Holly Hobbie sewing machine. In addition to taking home economics classes, which included sewing.  My love of quilting started while watching my mom make and hand quilt several quilts. After I was married, I took my first quilting class at a local fabric store. Here I discovered my talent and passion for quilting. I even got my first quilting job from my quilt instructor.

For many years while my husband served in the military, I quilted when I could. However, some places we stationed did not make getting quilting supplies easy to understand. So, I would find myself taking long breaks from quilting. We finally ended up in the Washington DC area, and while working, I was again able to take up quilting. Over the next few years, I dedicated myself to learning all could about quilting and all the new tools and technics. 
When I first got the idea of starting a home-based quilting business in 2012. I was focusing on becoming a Longarmer and running a quilt finishing service. My youngest son had just gone to basic training in the Air Force, and my husband and I had the opportunity to go to an APQS demonstration in Fredericksburg Va. I have been looking at different longarms at quilt shows for a while. I fell in love with the APQS Millennium, and the time seemed right,

so we took the plunge and ordered one. As I was getting my feet wet in the longarming business in 2013, I decided to design and enter a quilt in the Charles Maryland County fair for fun. I was surprised and excited to find I won best in a show that year. As time went on, I found myself devoting more and more time to designing quilts while my longarming service never really took off. So, in 2016, I decided to spend my time to pattern design and ended my longarming service and Quilting Affection became Quilting Affection Design.

From 2016 to the present, I have been a full-time quilt pattern designer, and what an enjoyable experience it has been. I genuinely love the challenge of coming up with original designs, choosing colors, and working with beautiful fabrics. Above all, I love that my job is to see my creations come to life.

Now, I also need to leave a word of caution because it is not all fun and games. Running a business is a lot of work and requires a lot of time and dedication. I am not trying to scare people away from doing something they love. I just want to ensure that if you are thinking of taking the plunge, you know what you may be getting into.

For the next several weeks, I am going to post about my journey into the world of quilt pattern design, what I have learned, and what I have experienced. Additionally, I will cover what my average day looks like, the tools I use for designing, working with other quilting companies, and the joys/challenges I run into every day. 

Now I want to make clear that this is not a step by step how to start a business blog. The purpose of this blog is to share my experiences and what I have learned in the hope that you will find the information enjoyable and maybe even useful.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Stormy Seas

Today, I would like to introduce you to one of my newest patterns, Stormy Seas. This pattern is made using the Studio 180 Design Tucker Trimmer® I and the Wing Clipper® I tools to make this striking quilt that measures 62" x 74".

The rich fabric used to make this stunning pattern is the Island Batik "Blue Sea" Collection by Kathy Engle, which is now available at your local shop.

The quilt is built upon only two blocks that use a combination of two units, the Four Patch technique, and Flying Geese.

Once you have all the units built, the fun part is putting it all together and seeing the beautiful design come to life. Then to add that extra enhancement a four patch border is added to create an appealing frame. 

Stormy Seas will enhance the look of any room. 

To purchase this pattern, head over to my website, www.quiltingaffection.com, it is on sale right now for $9.50 until January 31st.