I'm happy to announce my shopify store is up and running! Actually it has been up and running for a short while but I'm still working out some of the kinks and I'm still deep in my learning curve. I signed up for shopify and it took me about a year to learn in between all the other stuff going on, and pull the "publish" trigger. But today is the first day I'm listing a product that is NOT on etsy and is only at my shopify site. It's a shift for me and I'm quite excited.
I've been on etsy for a number of years. And etsy has been a good place for me to be. I will STILL continue to have my shop there as well. I have no plans on shutting my etsy shop down because I know some people are comfortable shopping there. However, I knew there were some ways that etsy was starting to feel like it wasn't the right fit for me as my only avenue to have a shop.
So what wasn't fitting so right? There are some great reasons why you want to start on etsy. But there are some great reasons to grow and evolve beyond etsy too. These are some of my main reasons to expand to the shopify platform.
1. Fees. First off there is a listing fee on etsy of 20 cents per item and every time that item sells and another "same" item is up in the que, you pay another 20 cent fee. And then there is a percentage fee that etsy takes on the cost of each sale. In 2018 etsy increased that fee from 3.5% to 5%. That increase starts to add up over time. And it adds up a lot on larger ticket items. And etsy started charging 5% fees on shipping costs as well. A shipping cost is something I pay to ship something. It is not profit. So to pay a 5% fee on a cost I pay to ship goods is problematic. It's not till you really look at the numbers and see what you are paying in fees each week that it becomes REAL. Kinda like paying taxes. The actual numbers sting a little even though you are thankful you are making a living.
2. Analytics. Knowledge is power and the more you can figure out where your traffic comes from, the better. And truth be told, very little of my traffic was coming from within etsy. It can be well worth it to pay for real estate in a well traveled neighborhood that brings in a lot of customers "finding" you because you are in that location. But looking at my analytics showed me that very little of my customers come from within etsy. Most come from direct links, my website, linktree or pinterest. And it was frustruating to see that now the analytics have changed and direct traffic is combined with "etsy app" so it is harder to figure out that number. With the "etsy app" part of "direct", a direct link could have opened up within someone's etsy app on their mobile device when they clicked on a link. That doesn't mean they "found" you through etsy. I question why they are lumped together when it seems to only muddy the factual information of what etsy is really bringing to me in searches. If some of the increased etsy fees were justified with ideas of improving the search features, that wasn't really applying to me since that is not what drives the majority of my traffic.
3. Loss of control. Every time a company changes an algorithm or decides to implement a new pricing strategy or changes their business goals, it directly impacts your business as a shop owner. But it feels like it happens to you without having any control over it. My best example of this is craftsy (which is now Blueprint.com). I had quilt patterns for sale on craftsy.com and I made sales there. Then I got the email, 6 days before Christmas 2018 with the line "On 12/28, your pattern store will be removed from Craftsy.com" with an explanation that they were changing their marketplace and editing down the individual stores. Honestly, one week is not a lot of time for notice that your shop will be closed, not to mention it being the week before Christmas when you get the news! And it was their decision and not yours. It is THEIR platform and they have the right to do that. And its business. It is not personal. Some designers got to keep patterns up and for sale but craftsy decided which ones and the designers did not have control over whether or not they could add more. I'd assume some kind of approval process was implemented for that but I didn't pay much attention since my shop was on the "delete" list.
This was a gift really. I learned that I feel better if I have more control over my own business. It gave me a kick in the bottom to work on that shopify site. Yes, it still took me another 6 months to get it open but I felt fortunate to have other solutions. Fortunate that I had already researched what online platforms I liked. Fortunate that all my eggs were not in ONE basket.
4. Connection to buyers. Yes, etsy gives you the ability to communicate with your customers through a conversation. But the email address of a buyer is theirs unless a customer gives you permission to contact them otherwise. I have no desire to send a ton of annoying emails to customers or abuse a relationship we may have. However, when I discover I've made a mistake on a pattern, it sure would be nice to have an email list from those buyers whom I could tell there is a correction. Or the ability to ask if you want to be kept up to date on my shop info through a newsletter correspondence. Privacy rules are in place for good reasons, but etsy doesn't let you ask people if they WANT that type of correspondence from you. If I want to let people know about an upcoming sale or a new line coming out, I hope they follow me on the blog, on instagram, on facebook, because I can't really do it with the efficiency of a newsletter on etsy. Etsy essentially "owns" the contact information.
5. How it looks. Etsy doesn't look bad. But I'm a designer and I like to have more control over how something LOOKS. I like to decide the decor in my home, the way I dress, the color on my walls, along with my company logo and how my images are shown. Etsy has a pretty uniform shop setup and its not so easy to mold that to a different look or have your own branding be more important. As a design-driven company, I wasn't so sure that fit with the directions I am headed and how I want to explore my company look and presence.
6. The ability to customize. There are some options for Drop Ship, direct Print-on-demand products but its limited. Having more partners with your products and offerings? There are lots of companies that will integrate and work with shopify and some of the other online storefront platforms. More choices. More areas to grow into if you decide to. My shop is still pretty basic. But I like that it can grow and change more easily to include more options and customizations.
With all that said, I hope you understand why I opened up my RobinPickensInc.com shop which is hosted through shopify. Its my store and I can manage it more to my liking. Perhaps you are a quilter or designer and are struggling with some of the same issues I mentioned. A wonderful article about why you should consider moving beyond etsy is "Why building a business solely on etsy is a bad idea (and what to do instead) by Sarah Peterson. She has excellent points that I have not covered here and I think it is a really interesting and informative read.
I did a lot of research to make sure shopify had staying power, processed payments securely (we all know that is very important!) and was scalable and worked for larger companies who couldn't risk being an experiment. I pay to have a shop on shopify and I believe I am getting a good value for my dollar, just as I want you to have. I wondered if I would sell enough to justify the costs but I believe in a case like a business store, you have to pay for quality and security. Just make sure you are paying for the things that help YOU as a business and not just the platform company.
As I mentioned earlier, my etsy shop will still be open. But as my business evolves and I grow, my shop must be allowed to grow with me. My plan is I will have my kits, including ones I can put together with my fabrics that are out of print, listed here through robinpickens.com (linking to my shopify store) which takes you to https://robinpickensinc.com. I also hope to have some other sewing and design related products showing up soon to add some color and smile to your creative space! You can still find quilt patterns, both in print form and digital downloads through my etsy shop along with them being on the shopify store. There are currently some kits offered on etsy and I will continue to offer the new patterns. But if you want to see more of my designs and kits, sign up to stay connected to the shopify site and my newsletter and I am happy to keep you in the loop! I hope this was helpful to you and explained part of this transition. Thank you so much for your support and keep creating!
A quick catch-up on some Moda Blockheads2 blocks. I have learned so much while doing these blocks! I tried triangle paper for the first time (and liked it!) and I stretched myself with smaller piecing on some of these than I normally do. With every sewalong I do I feel my skills become better. I start to think more efficiently when I look at instructions and question if I can make more of the blocks in a different way (like making Half Square Triangles in the 8-at-a-time method).
This first one is Sherri McConnell's block "Vintage" and I used a bunch of scraps I had from earlier blocks from my Dear Mum collection. I am pretty pleased with how this one came out. I don't have that much experience doing Quarter Square Triangles so this was good practice!
This was the alternative block designed by Corey Yoder called Rainbow Vine. Mine is not a rainbow but does have a variety of green leaves. I liked how quickly this fun block came together. Now I think I need to make sure the block above in my arrangement has a design that suggests a flower bloom!
The next block is a larger 18" one and is designed by Betsy Chutchian. Feels good to get this one completed and I really like this pattern! I used #poppymaefabric and #blushingpeonies . After making a big 18” block like this I needed to do a small one next!
And last one to share today is this block designed by Corey Yoder. Its called Dainty Blossom and is an alternate for the Block 48 which was originally designed in applique. This is so cheery! 12 inch block with a big blooming presence!
I just may be seeing my blockheads blocks wrapping up here! Time for arranging and joining!
I know its a journey and not a race. But I feel like I can see the finish line. But I'm not there yet. One step at a time...that's how progress happens. These are the things I tell myself when I'm nearing the end and need that extra push!
So a few more blocks here. Above its the Scrappy Checkerboard designed by Cory Yoder. Below its Ribbon Star by Lynne Hagmeier. I'm trying to take stock of what I have and what I need from a perspective of color and size. I saw a great layout on instagram that Susan @quiltingcousin did and I liked the organization of blocks in the overall quilt. I've decided to model my quilt after this layout too.
But first, finishing the blocks. I'm not done yet. But I'm keeping up the effort and I WILL FINISH! As I roll closer to the finish line I've done Fidget Spinner by Lynne Hagmeier and Bella Spinners by Me & My Sister Designs. Also Around the Corner by Carrie Nelson and On Point Star by Stacy Iest Hsu. Sew on!!!
My Christmas quilts featuring my Splendid fabric came back from the longarmer, Marion Bott in Las Vegas (she's @bottmarion on Instagram). Oh I love the textures that get added to the quilts when they have the quilting done! I just want to lightly stroke each quilt and feel the patterns of the sewing.
I'm excited that Splendid is in shops now so you can all work on projects with these too! My next step is to put the bindings on and also make pillow backs and add zippers to the pillow cases (or should I leave them as envelope backs?)
Here is the Showering Stars Table Runner as I'm sewing the binding on. I like the linear pantograph of the quilting. The direction of the lines balances out the long format of the runner and strong patchwork lines of the star trails by going the other direction (horizontally vs vertically).
At the time that I was designing these patterns I had to pick out the binding fabric without having the actual made-up quilt in front of me. That is always a challenge for me- deciding binding recommendations so early in the process (but if it goes in a sales catalog I have to do it early). For most of the quilts in this group I wanted the bindings more subtle and just a complimenting Christmas color, so if the quilt is red, I'm doing a simple green. And in the case of Cardinal's Christmas Wreath, I felt so many prints were on the right and left side borders that a solid or almost-solid was called for.
But when it came to Jubilant Song I had picked the striped fabric for binding and boy, do I love it! Now I wish I had picked a striped binding for Joy and Delight. But my green strips are cut and they are attached to the front, awaiting the hand sewing to the back. I am not going to rip off a whole quilt's binding at this point. But note to future-self, be bold with the stripes!!
I recently posted some scrap bags of Splendid fabric in my online shop. There is a limited quantity so when they are gone, they're gone. And I'll be getting a few quilt kits of Joy and Delight up soon too! But for today, a-binding-we-will-sew!
I, like most quilters/makers, have a number of projects in the works at the same time. Yup. Because they all look so wonderful! I did decide to join in the Bowtie Flower sewalong that Elizabeth Chappell of Quilter's Candy is hosting on instagram. When I saw her quilt on the pattern cover, I knew I wanted to try it with Painted Meadow!
To be honest, in order to join a sewalong right now, I need to feel its something that won't take me hours and hours of long work. I want some projects that are doable and I can get to the finish line. I looked over the pattern and realized that it would fit in to my schedule and I could set up time to do all the cutting, all the HST, all the trimming, etc. Add in chain piecing and I'm there! Plus, I have to admit that sometimes I get bogged down in making my own patterns so it is a breath of fresh air to make quilts from patterns created by other designers.
For my white I am using Moda Bella Solids White Bleached 98. The pincushion is from Wooly Felted Wonders. Isn't it cute?
After deciding which prints I wanted to use (and yes, I mocked it up in the computer using the coloring page that Elizabeth provided- very helpful!) I got to work cutting. I decided to make my Half Square Triangles using an 8-at-a-time method. So my squares I cut for HST were actually 10" to make 8 HSTs. The exceptions were the blocks with bees in them. I fussy cut those so my bees would be center stage in the triangle shape.
I recently bought myself a Martelli turn table and cutting mat. Wow! It is a dream to use. I really enjoy having good tools and look forward to treating myself for a birthday or if I meet a goal I've set.
Next up were the stitch and flip blocks.
When making the stitch and flip blocks, I like to sew an extra seam in the part I am cutting off to make additional Half Square Triangles to use for something else. They are small and cute and I'm not sure what I'm going to make with them yet. I'll trim them up when watching tv some night. I'm thinking of doing a little mini wall quilt with them.
Stacks of blocks are now pressed and ready to go!
I hope you are playing along too. Check out quilters_candy on instagram and hashtag #bowtieflowerquilt and #bowtieflowerqal to see what others are doing!
Can you imagine a meadow with hearty, deeply colorful blooms like the red and pink sunset colors across the sky? This is what I thought of while I visited my mother last summer and we walked through the gardens. The coneflowers were in full bloom in the warm summer sun with their plump centers drawing in the bees and butterflies.
I love the proportions of coneflowers and those big full cones, full of nectar, and colorful petals that hang down with a lovely curve in warm red, fuscia and rich sunset shades. The flowers seem as if they are always looking up to the sky in anticipation of the happy sun or as a welcome for the bumblebees.
The beautiful shape of the coneflower inspired this collection and I couldn’t resist adding in those bumblebees- so plump and fuzzy, just like the flower centers! The fabric group also includes little drawings that show the coneflowers and bees in sweet illustrations or dancing within paisley shapes. Watercolor textures, sprigs of plants and sketchy oval dots compliment the lively group.
Painted Meadow has 4 colorways of cream, pinks, green and teal. It is available in precuts of Layer Cakes, Charm Packs, Jelly Rolls, Fat Quarter Bundles and Mini Charms. It was shown at the Kansas City, MO Quilt Market 2019 with Moda Fabrics and will be shipping to quilt shops in October, 2019.
Enjoy the sunset colors of Painted Meadow with coneflowers and the buzzing of plump bees as you feel the warm summer sun…
I've never been to Kansas City so I was really looking forward to visiting a new city, and being there with my husband and enjoying some BBQ and time away from the daily routine. Market requires numerous weeks of preparation so by the time we get there, I'm ready for a the excitement of the show and seeing lots of quilt people! And did I mention BBQ? Plenty of good eating on the trip! A whole day early (and no missed flights this time!) gave us time to rest, explore the city a little and get some sleep before the big set-up. Yup- barbeque was on the menu and it did not disappoint! braised and bbq'd everything and enjoyed the ambiance of the Power and Light district.
We stayed at the Marriot near the convention center, across the street in the older section that was renovated (the former Muehlebach Hotel). The rooms were lovely and renovated and the lobbies were elegant. I loved that we had the top floor so the ceilings were really high and the light was great! I had a great time taking photos of some of the quilts in the room before set up.
So what can you fit in two suitcases? Turns out you can fit: booth fold up boxes, seed packets, 6 quilts, 6 hangers, a quilted tote, promo flyers and clothes and toiletries for two people for 5 days. Not bad.
From a blank canvas to a quilted world! I had my three new quilt patterns, Beanstalk, Kyoto Steps and Picket on display, made up in my new fabric line, Painted Meadow. The three main quilts on the wall and left quilt ladder were longarm quilted by Marion Bott. Don't you love the textures? The Kyoto Steps on the ladder in teal and the pink and green Picket (seen in hotel room) were longarm quilted by Sally Corona at Corona Quiltworks.
For a little giveaway this time I got coneflower seeds (did I mention my new line Painted Meadown is based on coneflowers??) and made up seed packets. I hope the seeds made it all over the globe and into fresh dirt, ready to grow and bloom!
Sarah Huechteman made up a sample of the Beanstalk quilt for Moda and she made me a little gift with some of the leftovers of the Painted Meadow fabrics! How adorable is this little Bitsy Box?! The pattern is from Ticklegrass Designs. Precious!!
What really makes market amazing for me is the time I have with the Moda people and the other designers. I am so grateful to have this experience and company to work with!
I had a great time seeing shop owners and visiting at the Moda party. Another market done and now its time to plan for the next one!
Oh! And if you are wondering, Painted Meadow will be shipping to quilt shops in October 2019.
More holiday sewing with my new Splendid Christmas line for Moda Fabrics. This time its "Cardinal's Christmas Wreath" which is made from a Layer Cake of fabric and background cream fabric. This is a fun one to make with scraps too- just look for the right mix of reds and greens. This quilt pattern is written for two sizes: the larger one is 54 1/2" x 60" (that's the one in the photos and makes a nice lap quilt or larger wall quilt) and the smaller is 45" x 47 3/4".
This Cardinal reminds me of the dog we had growing up. He would stand, posing for us, in a grand position of attention, looking official and like he was surveying the world. I picture this bird in the same mindset, perched atop this wreath, watching that the Christmas skies are safe for Santa!
If you want to leave the side border panels off and have a more vertical wall quilt, the large would be 36" wide by 54 1/2" long. The small would be 27" inches wide by 47. I think I'll be making the small one up in the more vertical size because I have some smaller wall areas I'd like to put some decoration on when the holidays are here.
The pattern uses simple patchwork piecing and some half square triangles. The main thing to pay attention to is cutting the variety of sizes for the cardinal piecing. I like to label my pieces sometime with a little note I tape or pin on with sizes if I cut them at the same time. I hope you have as much fun seeing the wreath and bird come together as I did! Check this out along with my other new Christmas patterns at your local quilt shop or my online shop! Happy sewing!
Time for COLOR PLAY with the Showering Stars table runner! I was touched to hear that some people were using the Showering Stars twin quilt pattern for making Quilts of Valor. What a beautiful way to give thanks to our Vets! Since I've just recently released the table runner and pillow cover version of the Showering Stars theme, I thought I'd use those files to mock up some color explorations that might help envision the patriotic or other holiday themes.
The first explorations were these two runners and looking at the pillows in red, white and blue (or perhaps a bluish silver added).
Of course the next day I woke up early with more thoughts in my head...
I think the second one down in the group above is my favorite from this group because it mimics the blue of the stars area and red of the stripes in the American flag the closest. I intended these to be color studies for the table runners. But I realized that the table runner is 71" across which is also enough to make a twin quilt for width. If you were to stack about 6 of these you would have a 71" x 96" -ish quilt top. Add a little more borders if desired for a nice sized twin bed quilt!
Or for a nicely sized lap quilt, leave off the very end trails and stack three to make a 57" x 51"-ish quilt. This would also be nice with just the center section (take off the far right and left stars) as a 36" wide wall quilt for the 4th of July. The runner pattern is constructed as the center section first with the right and left star ends added so it would be easy to crop it this way.
But how about some other seasons and holidays??
New Years Eve and the table is set with festive candles...imagine some metallic fabrics in gold and silver sparkling against a deep gray, black or midnight blue. Or springtime greens popping up fresh from the ground. Halloween black, orange and purple stripes for trick or treat fun. And warm and cozy fall colors for a Thanksgiving feast. The stars keep twinkling throughout the year!
The original table runner and pillow covers are made up in Splendid for Christmas and you can see them at my shopify site or scroll on down for previous blog post. Check your local quilt shop for patterns and the Splendid line from Moda Fabrics. I hope this color play was helpful for some showering stars inspiration!
I wanted to create a smaller version of Showering Stars that could be used in home decor for pillows and table decoration. Scaling the stars and trails down to half size made it possible to design with these elements for my Splendid collection in Christmas pillow covers and a table runner.
I find I do most of my holiday decorating with red and the red textured background in Splendid is rich and vibrant. I love it! The whites are the cream texture which has a subtle sheen when you see the white on cream background. Simple patchwork blocks and a few longer strips make the trails and patchwork and flying geese make the stars.
I like playing with the mix of scale by having the double stars pillow and the giant star pillow with a much bigger star. The pattern includes directions for making a simple envelope back for covers and its sized for a nice substantial 26" square Eurosham size.
The table runner is sized 16 1/4" x 71". If you wanted a shorter runner you could crop off the trails on the ends or even just use the center stars with trails (making it 32-36 inches long, depending on if you include the last white blocks on the trails).
One thing that was really touching to find out about my original Showering Stars pattern was that numerous people have made it up in patriotic colors for Quilts of Valor. I love this idea! I've also mocked up these pillow covers and runner into red, white and blues to give some additonal inspiration for those that want to explore a more patriotic theme! I'll share those on the next post!
Check out my three other new patterns that use Splendid on my store at shopify and lets get sewing for Christmas!
Designer of colorful florals for Moda fabrics. Modern to transitional quilt designer. Illustrator, sewist, crafter.
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