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!

Mindset and Creativity

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I don’t know anything. This is a reminder that I need daily. Although I’m wary of pop psychology and cynical about self-help books, I finally picked up a copy of Mindset by Carol Dweck after my 12-year-old told me that I had a “fixed mindset.” What a timely book for me to read.

Basically, the idea is that we have much greater potential when we approach the world with curiosity and try to solve problems rather than accept failure. We get better at things when we give ourselves the opportunity to keep trying. This open mindset is called the “growth mindset”, but those who believe they have limited potential and often seek the path of least resistance may have a “fixed mindset.” The growth mindset opens us up to more possibilities when we realize that if we simply work at something, we can improve. Almost every time I listen to artists talk about their creative process, they mention the hard work that they put in daily. Often creativity isn’t a bolt of lightning, but a series of failed experiments. So there may be artists with innate ability, but without time and effort, they won’t achieve success. I need this reminder to simply show up and try even when I’m feeling uninspired.

At Quilt Market this past weekend, people frequently walked into my booth, saw the cool bags that Kokka had made, and asked for a pattern. I looked at these bags and said, “Well, it looks like a circle with tabs on it — you should try that”. After every market, when I talk with the Japanese team at Kokka about developing patterns for their bags, they seem a bit mystified by the need for a pattern. Japanese craft books, even through the translation, often have fewer and less detailed instructions. I wonder if this need to follow precise instructions is an American phenomenon?

Now these shop owners know their customers — if they hang a quilt in the shop, they need to have the fabric and the pattern for people to make that exact item. Why do some people insist on always using patterns? Perhaps it’s lack of time, fear of failure, or a need to follow the rules? A pattern made with the fabric you see in front of you requires little vision and should guarantee success, right? Well, maybe. I’m not sure exactly what is driving people to stick to the rules, but I think it could relate to this issue of fixed versus growth mindset. If we approach sewing with a growth mindset, I think we can learn more. I would never recommend ditching patterns altogether because of course you need basic sewing skills before you can improvise or figure things out on your own. Or if you’re looking for something to sew quickly and efficiently and don’t have much time, a pattern is often the best choice.

But maybe once in a while we could focus on process, step out of our comfort zone, and try to make something without a pattern. A good place to start is with deconstruction. Try taking apart a piece of clothing to see how it’s made and then sew your own version. I think if you can figure out how to make a sleeve pattern by yourself, you can rule the world! Or sketch out ideas for a bag and the pattern pieces that will transform your flat fabric into a three-dimensional object. Maybe you could just make a few improvisational quilt blocks and see where it takes you. Stretching your brain in this way will improve your sewing skills.

Anyway, I’m going to have a growth mindset and do some new things in the next year. It feels good to keep learning and to realize that we’re never finished. Maybe one day I’ll be an expert in physics and golf. Who’s to say I won’t?

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Having said all that, if you are looking for patterns for some of the amazing things that Kokka sews for Quilt Market, check out the Kokka blog. Doing metric conversions and making your own paper patterns should still stretch your mind a bit! And check out this interview with Carol Dweck: Talent Isn’t Fixed and Other Mindsets that Lead to Greatness and watch this TED Talk: The Power of Believing That You Can Improve.

 

Giveaway from Leila & Ben

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Today’s giveaway is from Leila & Ben — a small business run by two mothers who make sewing and crochet patterns. With these cool patterns for boys and girls, you can make something fun and stylish for your kids to wear. Check out all of their great designs here.

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The giveaway is for this adorable dress in multiple versions. The winner will receive a sewn dress in the size of their choice (12M – 5T), plus a copy of the .pdf pattern in both the smaller sizes (3 months – 12 months) and the larger version (12 months to 5T). So you can make these dresses for years to come! To enter the giveaway, simply take a look over at Leila & Ben and then come back here and tell us what you like by leaving a comment on this post. This giveaway is open internationally. Enter before Saturday, May 22 at midnight eastern. I’ll choose the winner with the random number generator and announce it here on Sunday.

Check out the Leila & Ben blog here and also take a look at their free downloadable kids’ vest pattern here.

Pattern in Progress

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Lunch, anyone?  Here’s a pattern that I’ve been tweaking.  Hope to have it up in the shop sometime soon.

Another Reversible Skirt

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Here’s one more reversible skirt I made this week.  Last one I’ll show, I promise.  The kids really like the large pockets and just figured out that they can put stuff on the inside pocket.  Pattern available in my Etsy shop.