Shop Survey Results

Thanks to everyone who completed my online survey! You can still complete it here if you haven’t had the chance. As I look to start an online business, your responses helped confirm my direction. I’ve been looking for a scalable model that allows me to remain an independent designer, while generating more income for our family. Although this is still an idea in process, it looks like patterns are the answer. You may have heard me railing against instructions in favor of experimentation, but I understand that many sewists want quick and easy, no-fail projects. Over the next few months, I’ll be creating my business plan and designing a pattern shop, starting with digital files.

Looks like the majority of you are quilters! I plan to start with some basic bags, pouches, and home decor project patterns, but I’ll add some quilting patterns and then apparel later.

As you can see, the majority of you would like to see patterns in my shop, which works well for a scalable business. Of course I’ll continue to design fabric and I’ve been enjoying my own painting experiments lately, as you can see above. The idea of selling goods sounds exciting, but I realize that’s only because I like to design the projects. I know from my embroidery business experience that making the same thing day in and day out can become monotonous. When I look back at my most popular blog posts over the years, bag patterns clearly take the lead. I’ve also learned from this survey that most of you (64%) still read blogs. And here I thought I was screaming into the void. Thanks for reading!

After my newsletter went out last week with my mini-collection over on Spoonflower, I did get some negative reactions and a few people unsubscribed, but the vast majority of you were supportive of my right to an opinion. Quilters have made political work for centuries and art is an expression of our culture, even fabric design. With our country on fire, both figuratively and literally, it’s difficult to ignore. Stay safe this weekend!

The Long Thread Shop

Hi all! As I evaluate where my design career is heading, I’m thinking of opening an online shop. I need your input! If you have a minute, could you complete this quick online survey? Thank you!

 

MAKE GOOD: gather here

make-good        gather-here

 

As part of my Make Good series, I’ll be featuring craft businesses that support their community. Local independent fabric shops often donate to charity, assist with community projects, and provide space for group meetings. This type of grassroots philanthropy that starts in our knitting circles and quilting bees can have a tremendous impact, connecting people and building community.

One such business that serves its community is gather here, a fabric and yarn shop in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Owners Virginia and Noah recently relocated to a new, larger space and have renewed their commitment to support meaningful issues.

gather-here-shop

A hate crime over the summer made them consider how their personal belief in equality is not just ancillary to their business, but in fact an integral part of what gather here represents. When a 12″ swastika was carved into their shop window, Virginia and Noah channeled their anger into action. They shared the incident on social media and received an outpouring of support from customers and neighbors. Virginia describes how she suddenly realized that her personal values were intrinsically connected to her business:

But in that one act of hate I realized that WHO I am, my identity is linked to WHAT gather here is. That swastika wasn’t just carved in our front window. It felt like it was carved on my body. On the body of my half-Jewish partner.  WHO owns gather here is a public statement now. And acts of hatred in our community are immediately condemned. Our business has embraced making political statements because we cannot shy away from WHO we are.

Since the incident, they have raised money for victims of a local fire, collected handmade winter accessories for low-income families, supported the Southern Poverty Law Center, and now actively promote gather here as a welcoming place of inclusion with a 7′ tall cross stitch advocating hope, love, respect, equality, and community. And like many open-hearted businesses, they have posted a sign to let everyone know that people of all races, religions, countries of origin, sexual orientations, and genders are welcome in the shop.

When a member of a gather here knitting circle died unexpectedly last year, their group knit a memorial piece that hangs in the shop, reminding us that the connections we make through craft are genuine and meaningful. The places where we gather to make things can become social spaces, mourning places, and even centers of action. In this time of uncertainty, it is reassuring to see principles at work in business.

 virginia-and-noah

Charms Collection

My Charms collection for Kokka is in stores now!  Click here for a list of retailers. This collection features three cotton/linen blend prints and three prints in double gauze cotton. See all the prints here.

ICE Finds

handmade-holidays

handmade-ICE

Here are some of my new favorite shops from the Indie Craft Experience this past weekend.

Felt Flowers from Muncle Fred Art.

Jewelry from F. is for Frank.

Prints and Pattern from Katrin Wiehle.

Letterpress from Brown Parcel Press.

Felted Animals from Petit Felts.

Ceramics from Bean & Bailey.

If you live in Atlanta, be sure to visit the ICE Pop-Up Shop on McLendon Avenue for more great handmade finds!