Category: The Business of Quilting

I May Have Hit My Max

Every year I plan a number of new items for my Etsy store. Every year I complain – loudly and often (sorry, Hubs) – about how much work I have to do and how little time there is to do it.

This year, though, I may have finally broken myself… here are the FIFTY-EIGHT(!) quilted countdown calendars started for the 2020 holiday season at whimziequiltz.etsy.com!

Countdown Calendars in Progress

There’s at least 2 of each design shown – 58 in all!

The chances of me getting all these finished before November are pretty slim (I’ve still got some from last year that aren’t completely finished and that was a much smaller batch.)

But I’m so excited to see all the ideas I had in my head coming to life! The sports-themed ones and the princesses have been rattling around in there for quite some time. And I’ve been noodling on the three different dog treat designs since last year. Getting everything out of my brain – and onto fabric – is such a thrill.

There’s even a chance now that I have so many individual designs that I’ll open a second Etsy store just for countdown calendars. Or perhaps look for a craft faire opportunity once there’s a COVID-19 vaccine available. Yes, taking on so many projects during a pandemic lockdown has been stressful, but I’m cautiously optimistic, too.

Time to get back to work…

 

Is the Crafting Renaissance Over?

The Great Recession of 2008 was anything but great, yet, as a quilter and crafter, I noticed a small ray of sunshine in the economic clouds – the number of people who shifted their focus to creative endeavors. Whether it was because they had time on their hands, needed or wanted a side hustle or just used crafting as self-care, it seemed like everyone was making things.

Knitting was hip. Craft blogs were all over the Internet and craft fairs were popping up everywhere IRL. Etsy was on fire, Pinterest was taking off… it was a crafting renaissance.

Lately, though, I’m starting to feel like the renaissance has peaked and, in fact, may be over.

San Diego’s local collaborative workshop, MakerPlace, changed hands a couple of months ago and then unexpectedly shut its doors last week. I say unexpectedly, but really I’ve noticed a lot of turmoil in the craft world recently so this latest closing wasn’t a huge surprise.

The last scrapbook store in SD closed its doors over a year ago. There are 4 million people in the greater San Diego area and not a single brick and mortar scrapbook store to serve them. Zero.

As a quilter, though, I’m most aware of changes to local fabric stores. When I started quilting professionally 16 years ago, there were almost two dozen San Diego fabric shops, each one bursting with new fabrics. I’ve lost count of the number that have changed hands, closed completely or been bought by larger chains – and of the ones that are still around, most have cut back drastically on their stock.

Craft shows I attend are getting smaller and smaller. There’s usually a few long-time participating crafters, but new booths are few and far between (and some of the spaces feature nothing but mass-produced crap. At a craft fair.) Even the San Diego Quilt Show is on “hiatus” this year. After 38 years, there isn’t enough interest to even hold the premier local quilting event of the year.

It’s even worse online. It seems like every day I get an email announcing another online fabric store I’ve purchased from is closing. I click on interesting Pinterest tutorials and find that the original blog hasn’t been updated in 2-3 years. Or I see a fabulous creative piece I want to buy only to learn the Etsy shop is on “permanent vacation”.

I know the economy is doing better and more people are getting jobs and other opportunities, which means both fewer customers for craft suppliers and fewer people sharing and/or selling creative output. And the stock market is up, so store owners who can now retire are choosing to, closing up shop or selling to the highest bidder.

Then there’s the changes to the Internet and the demise of net neutrality. Algorithms that used to bring the world to you now assume you only want Amazon. Searches that would return random crafty websites now only bring up ads (and what small creative business can afford to buy in against the big-pocketed big guys?) 

The good old days of a maker putting themselves out there with a self-programmed webpage and still connecting with customers are gone. Etsy has more people selling off their stash of craft supplies, or just selling craft supplies alone, than selling something made with them. Even without staying up to date on the constant changes, updating Facebook and Instagram feeds is a full-time job – and if you spend all your time updating social media, when do you get the chance to actually make anything? 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy for everyone who now has a job, or has retired, or has just decided to take a break from creating for a while. I’m less excited about structural changes and lost opportunities, but I realize change is a constant in life (and the Internet is going to Internet.)

Still, I’m sad to see the vibrant craft scene that I’ve enjoyed for the last 10+ years diminish. I truly hope this craft renaissance isn’t over, that the environment for creators will revive – and thrive. The world needs more makers, artists and crafters, not fewer. And I’d really like a local scrapbook store to visit once again.

15 Years and Counting…

My 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz Block of the Month quilt is finished!

WhimzieQuiltz15thAnniversaryQuilt

15 YEARS AND COUNTING…
Completed January 2020
Cotton Fabric / Cotton-Poly Blend Batting / Modified Sewology Pattern
71” x 85 ½”

I started Whimzie Quiltz and More, my custom quilting business, in 2004 – which made 2019 my 15th year anniversary. To celebrate I made myself this fun pink and orange quilt (WQ’s current colors!) 😀

From January to December, I set aside the 15th day of each month to finish one “block”, or section. Luckily, I was able to sew all 12 sections together juuuust before the end of the year (not kidding, I finished the last stitch about 4:00 PM PST on December 31st!)

And now it is quilted!

myhappyplacefabricThe backing fabric was going to be a plain, but then I found this super cute “Sewers Wisdom” design from Contempo, part of their My Happy Place fabric line. Even though I hadn’t planned on on a print back initially, it just seemed made for this quilt. Because the fabric had been on the market for a while, a lot of stores had sold out, so I had to sew 6 separate pieces together to get a back big enough. Totally worth it 😀

For the quilting pattern, I decided an all-over, extended chevron design would be the best choice. The all-over design wouldn’t hide all the work I’d done piecing and appliquéing the quilt top and the quilt would be light enough to display if that’s the way I wanted to go. I didn’t realize, though, that the chevron pattern would actually make the quilt drape so nicely that it’s a delight to cuddle up in! Instead, this quilt is going in my “Please Snuggle” cabinet with all the other quilts I love to curl up with.

cursedquiltI’m not going to lie, after all the effort I put into creating this quilt over the course of 2019, it didn’t end up quite the way I hoped. I tried a new technique for marking the quilt top that didn’t work out well. Plus, there were several mechanical issues with my long arm quilting machine that resulted in needing to rip out stitches from over a third of the quilt. (Fingers crossed, I’ve since figured out what went wrong and am in the process of resolving it before I use the machine again.)

Nevertheless, I’m pleased that, after being a quilter for so many years, I’m still trying new things and creating new quilts. Whether they fail or succeed, I’m still learning, still pushing myself and still doing something that I love. As I start 16 years in business, I really can’t ask for more than that.

 

 

Sew Spicy!

Thank you gifts for custom Whimzie Quiltz orders in 2019 went out earlier this week:

2019_ThankYou_Gifts

This year’s gift is a custom blended spice mix, created by San Diego-based The Invisible Chef. Called Sew Spicy, the mix is a warm and whimzical patchwork of gourmet seasonings, including pink peppercorns, Himalayan pink salt, garlic, cumin and oregano. It’s a little hard to read in the photo, but here’s the thank you in all it’s pun-filled glory ~

I had the thyme of my life working on your quilted project last year! You’re one of my zest customers, and I hope this thank you gift makes you un-bayleaf-ably happy.

If you want to spice up 2020 with another custom quilt, you’ll find a discount coupon inside to sweeten the dill… or, if you have a friend who’s feeling chili and needs my help, there’s a coupon for them, too!

( Begging your parsley for the terrible puns; just curry on as if I’m as funny as I think I am 🙂 )

As I’ve mentioned many times in the past, this annual tradition of a thank you gift for each Whimzie Quiltz customer was inspired by, of all things, Amazon.

As an avid reader, I was one of the first customers when Bezos started his original online bookstore. The first couple of years, I received an Amazon-emblazoned travel mug* as a thank you for my book purchases the year before. Naturally, once Amazon started taking off, this practice was dropped, but the idea seemed as such a nice example of customer service that I adopted it for my business. The puns, though, are all mine 😀


*No, I don’t have the mugs any more! I sure wish I did, as I’m sure they’ll be worth something someday. But I don’t drink coffee and, at the time, they took up too much space in my small apartment (needed more room for books.) I did keep 5 of the bookmarks Amazon originally included with each purchase; they’re now framed.

15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM ~ December

To celebrate 15 years in business, I’m making a quilt ~ and setting aside the 15th day of each month to work on the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM commemorative project.

It’s December 15, the last 15th of the year, and time to reveal the final block in my 15th Anniversary quilt…

December15

Yeah, it’s probably not a surprise 😀 I mean, a “15” needed to be in there somewhere.

There’s still more to go, of course; I have to sew the blocks together and then quilt the top. My hope is to actually get all that done before the end of 2019, but, wow, is December 31st coming up fast!

I honestly wasn’t sure when I started that I’d manage to keep with this project all year long. For one thing, I’m the kind of person who wants to finish something fast when I start it (yes, I can hear the snickers. I said I WANT to, not that I actually DO.)

And, second, things come up! Who knows when you are planning something in January what December is going to look like? But I lucked out in 2019 ~ no major health scares, no natural disasters. I mean, it wasn’t a perfect year by any means, but it could have been a lot worse.

I really appreciate everyone who has followed along with this project over the last 12 months AND everyone who has supported and encouraged me during the last 15 years. It still kind of blows my mind that, since 2004, I’ve gotten to make so many warm and wonderful quilts and quilted items for others to enjoy. Can’t begin to tell you all how grateful I am. You are the best customers – and friends – a quilter could ever want.

THANK YOU ALL!

I really hope you’re enjoying taking the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quilt journey with me. And remember, there’s still plenty of days each month when I can be working on a super special quilt for you, too! What do you want to celebrate in 2019?

Don’t Get Caught Holding the Same Old Wine Bag this Christmas!

Welcome to another edition of Looking for a Good Home ~ my chance to show off some of the quilted items currently for sale in my Etsy shop. These posts are purely sales and marketing, without any custom quilt-y tidbits, so feel free to skip on by if you’re more interested in stories behind the quilts I create. If you do stick around, favorites and purchases are always appreciated ~ use the coupon code GOODHOME in store and save 10%!


Wine is such a traditional holiday gift staple, perfect for those who are oenophiles, those who are hard to buy for, even for those who got left off the list! But your wine gifts will look NON-traditional with these quilted wine wrap sets fromWhimzie Quiltz and More, all looking for a good home…

Funny “Thankful Grateful Blessed” Thanksgiving Wine Wrap Set

Thanksgiving_Wine_Wrap_1

Ugly Sweater Party Contest Prize Wine Wrap Set

Ugly_Sweater_Prize_Wine_Wrap_1.jpg

Funny Christmas Gift Tags Wine Wrap Set

Funny_Gift_Tag_Wine_Wrap_1

Colorful Christmas Characters Wine Wrap Set

Varietals_Wine_Wrap_1

New Year’s Champagne Bottle Wrap Set

New_Years_Wine_Wrap_1

15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM ~ November

To celebrate 15 years in business, I’m making a quilt ~ and setting aside the 15th day of each month to work on the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM commemorative project.

Check it out ~ the penultimate 15th anniversary quilt block! (Okay, I’m going to be honest, I actually finished this block yesterday, November 14th. But I thought it was the 15th. It’s just been one of those weeks…)

15Anniversary_NovBlock.jpg

Overall, I’m not sure I’m in love the design of block #11, the pincushion looks a little weird. I tried it without the “stitches”, though, and it looked even weirder, so it is what it is.

And those pins! So if you don’t sew or quilt, you might not get this, but trust me, it’s pretty amusing… I unwittingly chose a pink and orange floral fabric for the tops of the pins. Yep, I created flower head pins without even realizing it!

I really hope you’re enjoying taking the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quilt journey with me. And remember, there’s still plenty of days each month when I can be working on a super special quilt for you, too! What do you want to celebrate in 2019?

Don’t Blink! Quilted Doctor Who Items in Stock Now

Welcome to another edition of Looking for a Good Home ~ my chance to show off some of the quilted items currently for sale in my Etsy shop. These posts are purely sales and marketing, without any custom quilt-y tidbits, so feel free to skip on by if you’re more interested in stories behind the quilts I create. If you do stick around, favorites and purchases are always appreciated ~ use the coupon code GOODHOME in store and save 10%!


The angels may have the phone box, but I’ve got several quilted Doctor Who items available at Whimzie Quiltz Etsy right now, all looking for a good home…

Countdown to the Christmas Special TARDIS Advent Calendar

doctorwhoadventcalendar1

TARDIS / Police Box Sign 12″ x 16″ Pillow Sham

tardis_pillow_sham

Pink TARDIS / Police Box Sign 12″ x 16″ Pillow Sham

pink_tardis_pillow_sham

Always Take a Companion 14″ x 14″ Pillow Sham

companion_pillow_sham

15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM ~ October

To celebrate 15 years in business, I’m making a quilt ~ and setting aside the 15th day of each month to work on the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM commemorative project.

It’s getting to be the busiest part of the year for me (so many new holiday items for my Etsy store plus a custom quilt order for Christmas!) but I still took today to finish a block for my 15th Anniversary quilt. Fittingly for the pumpkin month of October, it’s a giant ORANGE sewing machine ~

15Anniversary_OctBlock

Don’t have a lot of time for this write-up either, but suffice it to say this wasn’t one of the simpler blocks. 😀 Glad to have another block finished, though ~ only 2 to go!

I really hope you’re enjoying taking the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quilt journey with me. And remember, there’s still plenty of days each month when I can be working on a super special quilt for you, too! What do you want to celebrate in 2019?

15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM ~ September

To celebrate 15 years in business, I’m making a quilt ~ and setting aside the 15th day of each month to work on the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quiltz BOM commemorative project.

Happy September 15th!

It’s the 9th month of 2019, which means it’s time for the 9th block of my 15th Anniversary quilt. The original Sewology pattern included a block of oversized, stylized stitches for this month, but I decided on a customized block for my quilt instead ~

15Annniversary_SeptBlock

When I first started Whimzie Quiltz, my marketing tagline was briefly “Colorful and Comfortable Quilts”. Yeah, I’m the first to admit, it’s not very original, nor very distinctive.

But, not long after I started telling people about my new venture, I noticed a lot of the responses I was getting were “You make quilts? I’ve always wanted a quilt…” Thus was born my current catchphrase ~

Creating the Quilt You’ve Always Wanted

Although I didn’t get the embroidery machine until a few years ago, custom embroidered quilted items like pillows, Advent calendars, wine wraps and mug rugs are becoming a large part of my business. So I was excited to add the tagline and date by embroidering them on a simple, pieced box background. (Amusing aside ~ can you believe the first time I thought to add a date to this quilt was yesterday?!? Kind of an important element to almost leave out!)

With this block finished, I’m now ¾ of the way done with the quilt top. Only 3 more months and 3 more blocks to go…

See you back here in October, November and December!

I really hope you’re enjoying taking the 15th Anniversary Whimzie Quilt journey with me. And remember, there’s still plenty of days each month when I can be working on a super special quilt for you, too! What do you want to celebrate in 2019?