Wrapped in Love (Part II)

When one goes through difficult and dark times, you find out who your friends really are. I’ve been reminded in countless ways that I am greatly blessed and surrounded by caring, loving friends.

My Des Moines MQG friends started making a quilt for Frank as soon as he was diagnosed. In addition, they dropped off a gift card for me each week to use at a healthy grocery store/restaurant near the hospital. When he passed away two weeks later, they decided to finish the quilt anyway, and give it to me. I finally attended a meeting again a few months later, when they presented it to me:photoFrank played the banjo, guitar, and mandolin and was as interested in music as I am fabric. He knew very little about quilts when we started dating, and I remember us visiting a small neighboring town, and they happened to have a mini quilt show on display in the Public Library. He asked a lot of questions, about what makes a quilt a quilt, the layers, the process, block names. He even read some of my quilting books over the years, learned to identify certain traditional blocks (so he could impress my friends by knowing the lingo), and enjoyed visiting quilt shops with me just to see “how one differed from the next”. The fact that this quilt combines his hobby and my hobby–he would have been over the moon for it!

QuiltFull

Twelve different members contributed banjo and guitar blocks on light backgrounds, one member pieced the blocks together, another member pieced the back (using some musical quotes and sheet music fabric:

QuiltBack

QuiltBackLabelthen they passed it along to another member who quilted it (using echoing lines to give it the feel of the music reverberating). There is a label on the back with all of their names.

I love the details in some of these instruments:BanjoCollage1The inside of that red banjo (above) says “hope” the brown and blue banjo (top right) says “pure grace” on the bridge (at the bottom of the strings). The guitar below has tiny musical notes inside the sound hole:GuitarBanjoCollage3

GuitarCollage1It’s a shame he never got to see this quilt, he would have been so impressed and so touched. I am. It reminds me of him, and as I said, the fact that it combines our favorite hobbies makes it all the more special.   QuiltFrontBottomCenterThank you, again, for everything.

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Couldn’t Resist Sharing…

As a follow-up to Friday’s post:
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Yea, it would be even more hilarious if it weren’t so to the point.  Creatives, Sewists, Quilters, Seamstresses, Designers, Artists (whatever you label yourself):  Value yourself, your time, and your expertise enough to charge appropriately for IT. 

And my sister’s friend sent a photo of her daughter, Amelia, the adorable little recipient of the Lilly Pilly quilt I made:

Amelia and Her Quilt

This was taken after I left their home, when she stopped jumping on the quilt and bed, and was admiring her new treasure.  Makes my heart smile. 🙂

Lilly Pilly Twin – Making a Quilt for a Commission

There are some lovely quilt pics below, but first a few words on how I handle sewing and quilting on commission:

I’ve made quilts for commission before, as well as clothing, sewing alterations, etc; usually for clients I do not know but who find me through word-of-mouth, or a recommendation from the shop where I used to work. The biggest challenge is always trying to estimate one’s man-hours up front.  My advice for calculating your time; break it down into steps of the project. How long you expect it to take you to cut everything out?  How long will it take to piece, how long will basting AND quilting take you (or if you plan to hire a long-armer, find out their cost up-front), and how long to make binding, attach the binding and label the quilt?  Don’t forget any steps as you want to try to estimate your time as closely as you can.  Once you total up your man-hours, decide on an hourly rate for yourself (I use $15, currently, but I may give myself a raise soon as it’s been at $15 for a while now) and multiply that by the total hours.  Then, add 20%.  YES.  Add 20% to the total estimated cost of your labor.  Why? To cover your butt when you grossly underestimate your time; because you will.  We always do.  Now, this doesn’t mean I take advantage of my customers.  On the contract (ALWAYS have a written agreement before you purchase anything) I include a note that labor is estimated to the best of my ability, but should it take less time to make than estimated, the customer will be discounted accordingly.   The client will appreciate the discount, appreciate the clarity and your professionalism, and it’s is always easier to discount something, than it is to go back and ask for more money.

Now, if I make mistakes while working on the project, that cost me time, such as sewing blocks together wrong; that is my mistake, not my customer’s.  Therefore, I do not include un-sewing and re-sewing time as part of my labor cost.   (If I underestimate my time, my customer gets a break because I don’t charge more than my original estimate).

As for materials, my advice is to calculate your materials, at FULL cost (even if you are using your stash, scraps, or sale items) because you should be charging what it would cost to replace those materials for future projects.

So, on to my most recent commission. A friend of my sister’s asked me last Autumn if I would make a quilt for her daughter’s “big girl bed” (a twin size bed she would be moving into this summer). The little girl’s Daddy is an architect and I knew they wanted something modern and contemporary to fit the decor and style of their (very cool) mid-century modern home.  I told her do an image search with her husband on Flickr and Google to find examples of quilts they liked and we would develop an idea for Amelia’s quilt from there.  They did, and they came back with this:

Lilly Pilly Don't Look Now Pattern

They really wanted THIS quilt.  The problem? The pattern makes a quilt that measures 38″ x 51″.  Hardly twin size.  So, my hubby and I went to Kinko’s on a Sunday evening, played around with enlarging the pattern until we got the size I thought I needed; and made a bunch of copies of the appliqué pattern at 183% (or something like that–don’t take my word for it, but if you really want to know the %, email me, I probably have it written down somewhere). And at home, I taped them all together to re-create the appliqué pattern. At the bottom of this pic is the original pattern, and the top is the enlarged version of the same area:

Lilly Pilly Pattern

After tracing my pieces and pressing onto fabric (which I did at one of our MQG Sewing Days), I started working in quadrants, like this:

Lilly Pilly Twin Size Tree Applique1

I appliquéd as many pieces as I could while only working with one quarter of the fabric, then I sewed the four pieces together before finishing the appliqué (This made it A LOT easier to maneuver at the sewing machine and minimized my chances of pulling and stretching the design area).

Lilly Pilly Tree applique2

Lilly Pilly Tree Applique

Because this quilt was going to a three-year-old, I didn’t want to have the white fabric along the edge where it will be handled the most; exposed to oils in the skin, etc., so I added a double 4.5″ block patchwork border to finish it:

Lilly PIlly Patchwork Border Detail

At this point, I sent it off to my business partner, Trina, to quilt on her long-arm.  She did a spectacular job, as always…

Lilly Pilly Twin Size Quilt

Love how she finished the tree trunk:

Lilly Pilly Tree Trunk Quilting Detail

Lilly Pilly Twin Size Quilt Back

 

The backing is a Moda Bella solid but I do not know which color it is.

Lilly PIlly Quilting Detail

Lilly Pilly Quilting Detail

Lilly Pilly Quilting Detail

Each leaf, branch and bird was stitched around a second time with the long-arm to reinforce the appliqué.  I did a little hand embroidery, to give the six little birdies legs and eyes, and I used a pink variegated DMC floss to embroider her name on the label of the quilt:

Quilt Label Embroidered Lilly Pilly Quilt Twin Size

I made two mistakes at the end of this project.  First, I should have added Trina’s name to the label, and secondly, I didn’t pull my phone out to capture the joy Amelia expressed when I delivered this quilt–pure, un-adulterated, three-year-old, jump-on-the-bed, joy.  EVERY handmade gift should be so well received!

Lilly Pilly Quilt On Bed

The bottom line is, if you decide to sell your handmade goods, don’t undervalue your time and your skill.  Contractors are paid well for their skills; as are Electricians, Musicians, Graphic Designers, Woodworkers, Painters… why should handcraft skills be worth less?

Have you ever made a project for hire?

Did you feel you were fairly compensated?

Retake, Release, and Reboot!

On Friday, we released our newest quilt pattern, Fox in a Box, the second in our series of critter applique quilts. This one has a non-applique version included in the pattern:
FrontCoverForDigital_woFRWe retook the cover photos (three times, actually!) after waiting for what seemed like an eternity for nice weather…

Fox in a Box Fox and Geese Applique Quilt

and later in the day on Friday, it required a reboot of my motivation to get back to work on the next pattern, which is well under way.  

In addition to quilt pattern designs for Row House Creations, I’ve been putting in a great deal of sewing machine time working on a commission quilt.  It’s based on one of Kellie Wulfsohn’s designs.  It’s twin size, applique, and a little tedious, but it is going to make an adorable quilt for a lucky little girl!

What have you been working on lately?

Happy Sewing,

Doris

That business of the Pattern Business

Blogtoberfest, Day 19

Next week is International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. Row House Creations, (that’s me and my partner, Trina) regrettably, will not be attending even though a few of our quilts did make the trip.

You may remember we attended Spring Quilt Market to introduce ourselves to distributors, make contacts with fabric manufacturers, and research the possibility of one day having our own booth at Quilt Market (still a dream at this point!).  It was a very worthwhile trip, and the contacts we made led to some great opportunities and increased pattern sales.

These days, we are tweaking our third pattern for *hopefully* a late October/early November release.  In the meantime, we have made several different examples of both One Big Cabin, and Modern Fortune.

After seeing the pillow I made for my niece, using the owl applique from One Big Cabin, we wanted to make a feminine version of the entire quilt.  So I selected these fabrics from my stash:

 

and made this quilt (not yet quilted when I took this photo):

 

But, that didn’t really give us the fun, atypically colored critters we were going for, so we made yet another girl-y version:

 

Final shot of this to come; but Trina quilted it in the eleventh hour last week and shipped these sweet little critters off to be displayed at Market in Houston!

We’ve made several different versions of Modern Fortune over the past 4-6 weeks as well.  This one is very close to our cover quilt, and is available as a kit from Quilting Connection in Ames, Iowa (follow the link to contact them to order a kit):

 

Here it is on my design wall, before it was quilted:

 

and this one is hanging as shop sample at Quilts and Other Notions, in Creston, Iowa.  It is also available as a kit, made from the collection, Puttin’ on the Ritz by Bunny Hill Designs.  (Again, contact the shop directly to order this kit):

 

Our baby size of this pattern creates it’s own “scrappy” binding from the fat quarters you use for your blocks–a nice bonus:

 

The version we made to send to Houston is a completely different look, in bold blues and yellows, it is a vibrant quilt (again, shown here prior to being quilted):

 

I showed you a twin sized version last week, that hung in our guild show at the AQS Show in Des Moines, Iowa, October 3-6, 2012, here is another shot of it with one of the baby quilts from our pattern cover photo:

While we are looking forward to being able to make some quilts that are not One Big Cabin or Modern Fortune variations, it has been fun to see these quilts come together in different colors, styles and manifestations.  (Secretly, we hope that we are not the only pattern designers making 6-10 versions of every.single.quilt.)  Are we?  If we are, we probably don’t want to know.

This was a fun surprise… it’s One Big Cabin made by our first customer to purchase a pattern, Linda Brandhagen (made for a grandson, I believe).  She emailed this photo to share with us–isn’t it adorable?  Thanks, Linda!

If you have purchased (or won!) a copy of any of our patterns, and made something from it, please share it with us in our flickr group.  We LOVE seeing them made up by other quilters!

To purchase either pattern online (in print or digital format) visit our shop.