Flashback Tuesday: Butterfly Garden designed by BOMquilts.com with fabric from Ellen Medlock Studios

This was one of the most amazing quilts that I made and there’s a wonderful (even tear-jerking) story behind it.  I designed and pieced it from one of Ellen Medlock’s earlier quilt fabric lines.

It sat on my cutting table for a while before my Aunt Leonard asked me to make a baby quilt for one of her nieces (my first cousin, whom I didn’t know).  Since I already had this quilt made, I sent it off to Kathryn Rister (www.quiltkitsandquarters.com) and asked her to quilt it.  Her beautiful quilting (and I *do* mean beautiful) enhanced this quilt in a way that I had never expected.

Once I had the binding and tag put on, I sent the quilt off to my Aunt Leonard so she could add a card and send it to my cousin and her baby girl.  She was very pleased with the quilt.

Not too long after all of this occurred, I was able to take a trip to Iowa, staying with my third (out of four) foster parents and one evening, they watched my kids while I went over to visit with Aunt Leonard and Uncle Honey.  They had purchased a new (to them) house some years ago and I had never seen it.  After hugs and moochies, I turned around to sit down and was STUNNED speachless.  In Aunt Leonard’s living room window were glass butterflies, hanging from thin fishing wire, in front of that window.

I had NO IDEA she loved butterflies.  I have been a part of Aunt Leonard’s life practically since I was born and never once did she mention she loved butterflies.  But, there it was.  No wonder she loved the quilt for her niece!  What precious memories that baby will have, not just from the quilt but also knowing about Aunt Leonard’s love of butterflies.

In a word:  PRICELESS!


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    A Quilted Memorial for George Ann

    A very dear friend lost her very short battle with leukemia a couple of nights ago.  She was admitted to the hospital the first week of June and never made it out.  My quilted heart definitely has another seam added to it.

    George Ann and I met at our local quilt group meetings.  Her mother had been coming for some time but George Ann didn’t really take to quilting until she retired from her job a few years ago.  Once she was hooked, it was all over but the sewing!

    George Ann went with me to spread some quilted cheer to a retreat that Kathryn Rister had near Abilene, Texas last April.  I’m pretty sure we acted like a couple of teenagers, talking the entire way up and back.  We instantly found a friendship and it grew from there.

    She saw beauty in nature just as much as she saw beauty in living and in people.  On our way to the retreat, we had to stop by the side of the road to take some photos of a stunning bluebonnet patch of flowers:

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    The state flower of Texas, bluebonnets!

    George Ann (on left) and Kathryn Rister at a Quilt Retreat.

    I am guessing that anyone who came into contact with George Ann found a friend in her.  She was so very likeable and loveable!  And her love of God and all of His creation was so deeply embedded in her heart.  We talked of Bible verses as much as we did about each others’ lives, families and our love of quilting.

    On the quilting front, she picked up on it like she’d been doing it her whole life.  She occasionally asked me questions but her momma and at least one of her sisters quilted, too, so I’m sure they helped her way more than I did.  I taught George Ann how to make string quilts and she absolutely LOVED the idea and asked me to start saving my strings for her.  To this day, I still have a “George Ann Strings” bag near my cutting table:

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    Saving strings for George Ann.

    I took a photo of the quilt I was working on last night, I realized I had just witnessed another God moment – I was making a baby quilt out of Texas A&M fabric and George Ann had (at some point over the last couple of years) told me that they were ‘partial to the Aggies’.

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    When I sent out a plea at Christmas to any of my local friends, asking the to help me trim our Christmas tree – George Ann and her momma were at my doorstep (along with a lovely neighbor) within the hour – even though they had more pressing things on their agenda, a friend is a friend and she was all that and a bolt of fabric!

    I also uncovered my super-secret angel on Earth.  Ever since my MS diagnosis, I have received an anonymous card with $20 in it, in the mail at the beginning of each month.  Without fail.  And it always came at a time when I needed it most – for gas in the auto, medications, money for the kids, etc.  This month, I did not receive a card…which opened my eyes to the fact that my super-secret angel on Earth is now an Angel in His heavenly Kingdom.

    My dear George Ann…I will miss you so very much.  Your zest for life helped she me that my attitude for living with MS could be a positive experience.  Your love of people helped me see how much friends and family are truly the most precious things we have and hold dear, outside our faith and love in our Savior.  Your smile was infectious.  And I will continue to save my strings and selvedges in hopes that I can share a little something with the next quilted heart angel you may send in my direction.

    Love without ceasing, pray without ceasing and keep your sewing machine humming in heaven!

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      Quilt Therapy?

      I reserved this domain name a number of years ago – when fabric was about $6/yd.  For those of you who have been quilting and buying quality quilt fabric, you’ll realize this has been my domain name for quite a while.  In that time, I’ve had non-quilters ask me what Quilt Therapy really was…while seasoned quilters smirk and enjoy their own forms of Quilt Therapy.

      And back in those earlier days of my quilting, it was said that Quilt Therapy was less expensive than true therapy.  Right now, with the cost of fabrics, quilting, shipping – I would definitely have to say that if you are a proficient quilter, it is NOT cheaper – though, for me, it is way more satisfying!

      Let’s see if I can throw out my own definition of Quilt Therapy for you.

      A lovely little baby girl was born to a great set of parents, the baby’s mother I personally knew since my youngest daughter was less than one.  This little baby’s mother was my mother’s helper when I had very young children…and as she grew up and got more responsible, she was our go-to babysitter for our kids.  She took the kids to her house in the summer because I worked from home and needed some quiet time to get my work done.  She and her parents took our kids when my husband had to have an emergency appendectomy…and they took our kids in when a precious life ended far too soon and we had to fly from Utah to Texas to attend her services.  If we were going somewhere and needed an extra set of hands (like to the public swimming pool), she went with us.  She was and still is an awesome person – and we could not have been more pleased when she finally had a baby of her own.  She spent a few years of her marriage with just her husband, because her mom told me that her babysitting my four kids was the best birth control there ever was!  I think they’d been married for about five (or more) years before they had this precious new life in their hearts and in their home.

      This new baby calls to me and I begin MY Quilt Therapy.  It can be a long and winding road, especially if I have to rip out a seam or two (or six), but the Quilt Therapy gives me such a blast of fresh quilted air that I enjoy every single process of making a quilt.

      I am not as expedient nor able to quilt quite as much as I used to – with this multiple sclerosis, I can usually get in 15 – 30 minutes, on my feet (choosing or buying fabric, cutting, ironing, etc.) most days before my body parts start screaming for relief.  So now, when I make a quilt, I spend however many hours or days it takes to cut out the quilt pieces.  Then I rest.  Another few days and I will press all of the cut out pieces.  Then I rest.  Sitting down to piece a quilt top is pretty simple, and even more simple when it’s a baby quilt because it’s smaller than larger bed quilts.  But, there is ironing involved in that piecing process and once again, I do my piecing in daily/weekly increments so as not to be in too much pain.

      So, now I have the quilt top done…however my Quilt Therapy isn’t finished yet!

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      This is a photograph of the completed baby quilt top.

      Once the top is done, I have to decide if I can quilt it on my domestic machine or if I want a professional quilter to use her long-arm and quilt it for me.  In this case, I decided to go with a pro (Kathryn Rister) – mostly because a baby quilt is usually used a lot and washed a lot and it needs to stand up to the test of time.

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      This is a close-up of part of the quilt top quilted.

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      Although it’s not easy to see, this is the professionally quilted quilt top.

      Next in the Quilt Therapy process is the binding.  Then the label on the back…and sending the completed quilt to the little baby it was intended for.  Not yet!  I’m not quite done with my Quilt Therapy for this quilt.

      THIS is the closure I get when I enjoy my Quilt Therapy:

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        Quilt Shop Marketing for Fun and Profit

        Because I have a degree in Consumer Economics, I spend a lot of time watching the buying and selling of quilt fabric and related quilt gadgets.  One of the easiest way to find out how your consumers are doing is to watch their habits – when do they buy the most, what they purchase and how often should you put some type of eNewsletter together and send to your buyers.  None of this is simple but once you get the hang of it, your sales will increase and your virtual marketing ‘should’ change the fabric and gadgets that you order for sale.

        For instance, your shop has gadgets.  Lovely gadgets that will make a quilter want said gadgets.  BUT, you  have to ship them – and this is the most important Consumer Economics lesson you can learn – people buy gadgets at local places and not so much via an online shop.  Why?  Because there is an instant gratification factor.

        Or what if your last six-month sales report shows most of your customers purchase fabrics from one colorway and some mix and match what they want to purchase.  How do you purchase fabric for both groups?  The answer is pretty simple – you buy from both but you also offer folks to mix and match to their quilted heart’s desire.  You would not need to purchase a whole colorway of batiks (an example), but perhaps you can purchase half of them and see how the sales go.  Personally, I usually stick to one colorway for a quilt but like the jelly roll batiks for the binding.  Most especially a quilt is of one or two basic colors, the zing is with the binding!

        Another consumer suggestion is to allow your customers to have some fun on your website!  For example, you could hide a coupon within the pages of your website.  If your customers find the coupon, they can use it on a single purchase.  Any time you get a customer who has money to spend, make sure you can keep them on your website for longer periods of time. Mix it up and have fun with it!  I guarantee your customer base will grow with this type of quilt shop fun.

        The bottom line is, if you want to make sales and compete with other shops, you need to do a bit of research on your previous clients’ purchases as well as using social media to get more consumers going to your website.  And add a little fun into the shop’s online presence.  If you can do this, on top of everything else that it takes to run an online quilt shop – you will find success through sales!

        Skye2012

         For additional Quilt Shop Marketing ideas, please visit www.QuiltShopMarketing.com!

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          Another Satisfied Baby

          I guess I went on a baby quilt piecing binge last year because it seems I had four or five baby quilts to gift away this year!  Not that there is anything wrong with that, I am pretty sure it happened because I finally learned to handle my MS symptoms to the point that I was capable to sew again.

          This past weekend, my daughter got to be the one to enjoy that oh-so-special feeling of giving away a quilt to a special person.  She had asked me last year, when a friend of hers had a baby, if I would make a special quilt for the new little man.  I said no, but I would make one WITH her – to which she readily agreed.  Using one of my “Six Fat Quarters” quilt patterns, we chose the fabric, cut the pieces per the pattern and I sewed while she used the iron to press my seams and then we both put it all together.  Mrs. Kathryn Rister quilted it for me and then my foster mother whip-stitched the back binding and blind-stitched the label on.  It was definitely a family affair plus Ms. Kathryn!

          Here is my oldest daughter with her special little man:

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          And here is the quilt she and I made for him:

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          This photo is a close-up of the quilt pattern Kathryn Rister quilted the quilt with:

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          And finally, the happy mom and still-uncertain-about-me baby, along with my daughter, with his new little baby quilt:

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          BONUS!  BABY FEET!!!  🙂

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