Today I put the last border on my Bird Talk quilt and I was so happy since I've been doing it in little bits and pieces, here and there. One night I will think "okay, I can get all the bird legs done" and another night I assemble the cardinal. Chip away at some leaves...little by little. I had help too with Olivia, who came and calmly cut and pieced leaves and leaf stalks while I filled pattern orders and dealt with computer things.
This has been a happy quilt to make. I don't know why, but birds are just so cheery. Maybe it is because I am named after the first bird of spring- Robins hopping along on the lawn with bits of snow still sticking but signaling that spring is indeed coming. Or maybe it is that I love to see the birds jump around and play with each other in a teasing way on the branches of the trees outside my studio window. Whatever the reason, birds just seem free, colorful, light and full of chatter.
I did start by making birds first. Then leaves. Then border. Then joining it all. The pattern itself is not overly difficult. It is made from patchwork simple piecing, half square triangles and some flying geese. You just have to pay attention to cutting a variety of sizes. I suggest labeling them with some post-it notes as you cut them out. If you want o make scrappier pieced sections of border, combine more smaller pieces into the larger size of block or rectangle for backgrounds.
Wouldn't this be fun with all Blue Jays, or black birds with fall colored leaves? I think this will be really fun to play with pattern and color on other versions. This version was made with Thatched Basics by Moda Fabrics. Some of the differences in colors are subtle- for example, there is a light red, medium red and dark red. You could use all one red, but the differences in value help to define wings from underbelly from top of bird. This could be a great place to experiment with ombres too- Hmmmmmm, I'm wondering the effect I could get with those!
This quilt is a lap size, or a twin with the border. This is the first time I have done a decorative, pieced border and I am really liking how it works with this particular quilt. I wondered if the border would be too much, but now that it's done, I am quite smitten with the border and am looking forward to doing other versions with it.
This quilt is easy to make with a combination of fat quarters, fat eighths and some yardage. I will be sizing it down to half scale for a wall quilt, hopefully by the start of quilt market. I had to make a decision on pattern sizes and the pattern itself is a 5 1/2" x 8 1/2" booklet (the size of my other patterns) but its 14 pages of instructions to include what you need for cutting, piecing and borders. I could either make a larger pattern at twice the price and include two sizes, or do two patterns at specific sizes at my normal price (its too much info to put both sizes into the small format booklet). I figured most people would know the size they want to make and appreciate not spending more on the pattern, so two patterns it is. I appreciate knowing if this works for you or if you'd rather spend more and have both sizes together.
This bird family is off to the longarmer tomorrow. Stay tuned for the smaller one!!
Happy quilting! And for more Thatched fabric patterns, check out my shopify store!
Sometimes I just like to sew. You know, the hum of the machine. The forward motion and progress. Adding piece after piece in a rythmic order and just getting into my zen place of calm at seeing rows of color and pattern coming together. KYOTO STEPS takes me to this zen place.
This quilt is easy to make- a logical cutting scheme and straight sewing- but still has a richness of activity and proportions. It is designed to allow some large prints to have a bigger block (yes, my common theme to show off my large florals) that are more centrally located. Then think of the other blocks as steps that skip and hop away from the center in light and dark.
I just love the quilting on this one. I want to rub my hands over it and feel the texture of those fans! Marion Bott (@bottmarion on IG) did a fantastic job with adding the perfect layer of textural dimension to this quilt. The fabric here is from my Painted Meadow collection (shipping October 2019) and I made sure some of my fat bumble bees made it into the large blocks. I also put the large pink print with big Coneflowers on the back of the quilt so there would be lots of drama and excitement when you turned it over.
I must admit I really don't like making quilt backs. And I REALLY don't like trying to match a print on a seam when making a back. I'd much rather add a panel down the middle so I don't have to see an unmatched print and use some extra pieces of fabric I have. In this case I made another row of rectangles from leftovers from the quilt top and ran it down the center. I think its stays in the style and spirit of the quilt front and gives a fun interest to the back.
Kyoto Steps looks serene in these teal and green colors. This is a scaled down version of the quilt with slightly smaller rectangles. This lap version still gives plenty of room for a big print to shine while playing with those rhythmic rectangles. Sally Corona (@coronaquiltworks on IG) quilted this one in fabulous hexies. Quite a perfect shape with this chair!
For this quilt I chose a Moda Bella Solid for the backing- I believe it is Pistachio. I wanted to keep it serene and calm but with a pop of color! I like the way the painted lines coordinate print in the Painted Meadow collection make a good binding with subtle stripes of teal, green, deep red or saturated pink color families.
KYOTO STEPS is written for three sizes- Lap 58" x 67", Twin 74" x 89", and Full/Queen 97" x 93". The placement of the rectangles is diagrammed out to make it easy to replicate this spacing of blocks. The quilt is made with 6 half-yard cuts plus background if you are making the Twin, mostly 1/3 yard cuts for the Lap (but get 1/2 yard if your main print is directional like mine is) and a mix of 2/3 and 3/4 cuts for the Full/Queen (also adding background yardage to the Lap and Full/Queen).
If you want to make this in a scrappier way, you can use mixes of Fat Quarters for your pieces. If you are using a Layer Cake, the scaled down size of the Lap will work for those 10" pieces. This quilt is suitable for more beginning quilters.
You can find KYOTO STEPS along with other patterns from the Painted Meadow release at my shop and the patterns are shipping to local quilt shops with the fabric collections!
The original inspiration for this quilt was a caned back to a chair I saw at a yard sale. I thought it would be fun to replicate that woven look with center octagons in fabric. As I was laying it out, the design was becoming a bit too busy and challenging. It needed simplification so the lines did not compete with the prints on the fabrics and so I wouldn't tear my hair out! My happy ending place was this center part of Picket, with white triangle corners meeting each other, suggesting the continuation of line and an almost mosaic-like feel.
As I was playing with the shapes, I loved how the triangles played together and with some of my diagrams, the flying geese ends started to make their own statement. By lengthening the strips, they suggested picket fence posts (but not too long to be overly literal). The pop of white against a colorful border gave that additional chance to set the mood with color.
Picket is designed to be made with either a layer cake (or any mix of fun scrappy 10" blocks of fabric) OR with fat quarters. I like using the fat quarters to get a good mix of fabrics but still have repeating prints and to select my fabrics to tell a color story. The two lap quilts here have color themes of pink/coral/red and blue/green/teal. They have such a different feeling based on the warmth or coolness of the fabric colors.
For the layer cake version of Picket, I auditioned quite a few colors for the border and centers of the X blocks but I kept coming back to this Moda Bella Solids Spray color. There is something so fresh about it and I loved how it popped with the teals and greens and reds.
The quilt is made up of Snowball and X blocks, set on point. It's really pretty fast to make once you get in the groove of the blocks. I make up all the Xs, all the snowballs, then play with arranging them. Then at the end, I get to enjoy my colorful garden all surrounded by my picket fence.
I'm so happy to have had a lot of helpers on these! The large quilt was pieced by Susan Vaughan @thefeltedpear and was longarmed by Marion Bott @bottmarion. The lap quilts were pieced by Danica Willig @danicawilligdesigns and longarmed by Sally Corona @coronaquiltworks.
Check out more patterns made with Painted Meadow (and yes, Painted Meadow is shipping to shops in October 2019 from MODA FABRICS!) at my shop!
Chunky leaves in curved friendly shapes with graphic triangular blooms. Say hi to Beanstalk! This is a leaf/vine quilt made with Painted Meadow fabrics. The selection of fabrics and instructions use fat quarters for the leaf and bloom prints. The green stems and background are indicated as yardage.
I wanted some growing, garden themed quilts. Beanstalk and my Picket quilts were a direct reflection of the desire to marry plants and quilts.
Beanstalk has chunky, curved leaves made with 4" radius quarter circles (8" full circle size) that make the gentle sides of the leaf shapes, meeting half square triangles to finish off the leaves. You can play with the leaves by putting all dark colors to the bottom for a more shaded look or doing scrappy piecing with color and light/dark values.
The Beanstalk pattern comes with a paper template to make the curved blocks. However, I made the blocks for this sample using the Creative Grids Circle Savvy Ruler and I recommend it! Cutting circles with a ruler like this makes them so accurate and easy to sew together. I also have a number of Drunkards Path and quarter circle rulers in different sizes and one of the reasons I like this Creative Grids one is that it has ALL the sizes I use in one ruler! I can design with it, try different sizes with it, and translate a pattern for applique vs piecing with it too (different sizes minus the seam allowance).
When I started the plans for this quilt, I thought I would make it in only green shades for the leaves. But then I mocked it up with the teal and red shades and loved the graduation amongst the color families. It reminds me of fall and changing leaf colors. I think the reds add a lively touch!
Because I try different blocks to figure out my sizing, I usually make a variety of sample blocks. It seems like such a shame to waste these so I try to incorporate them into the backs of my quilts when I can. For this Beanstalk quilt, I used leaves that were too big and too small and a larger bloom as a pieced block in the center of my backing.
This quilt was longarm quilted by Marion Bott and the pantograph is a Sand dollar design. I love the pretty flower shape and the orange peel structure of this design. It makes such a lovely texture on the quilt!
I'm trying to decide what Beanstalk quilt will be next- one from Thatched basics? One with grays and muted colors? I'm not sure but I'm looking forward to planting a new Beanstalk! Visit my shop for this pattern and more that are made with the Painted Meadow collection from Moda Fabrics (shipping October 2019 to quilt shops). Happy sewing!
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!
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!
There is something so focused and calming about the symmetry of a design that radiates from the center. The Faceted quilt is formed off a central diamond, radiating out in rows of light and dark. But one of the things I love about it is the unexpected play of smaller triangles within the larger rows.
I imagine the way light glints through cut crystal or diamonds. That was my inspiration for this quilt, the way light dances within geometric facets and angles. It scatters out triangular light patterns in pretty lacy patterns.
Sweet Pea & Lily fabrics fell nicely into two groups to create the light and dark rows. Every so often and accent color adds an additional pop of color or pattern. I liked the play of purples and grays in the overall quilt and decided to use green as my accent within the quilt.
The pattern uses Fat Quarters for the prints. Moda kitted Faceted so be sure to check with your local quilt shop if you are interested in making it in this fabric combination. The kit gives you some extra fat quarters so you have room to play plus leftovers for other projects.
Enjoy a diamond today and the light facets within! The larger size of half square triangle blocks makes this quilt go together relatively quickly. The Faceted pattern is available in local quilt shops and in both printed or digital pdf at my shopify shop.
Want to see more patterns using Sweet Pea & Lily? Check out more of my quilt patterns that released with this line on my blog or at shopify! Happy sewing!
Designer of colorful florals for Moda fabrics. Modern to transitional quilt designer. Illustrator, sewist, crafter.
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