Tuesday, February 25, 2020

A Week in the Life of a Designer, Part 3

Welcome back, friends. In Part 1, I shared about working with the newest fabric line in the store, Milestones. In Part 2, it was all about preparing for the fabric that arrives next month, Through the Years. Today, in Part 3, I'll tell you how it all starts - the process of designing and submitting a fabric line to Moda.
But first...

Staying Organized

I keep a yearly, monthly and weekly calendar to make sure I stay on top of important tasks. I would be lost without my chalkboard where I make notes to myself and list deadlines. At a staff meeting at the store recently, we talked about which programs, ie., Collector's Club or Kit To Quilt or 20 Years of KTQ BOM will be shipping in March and what needs to be completed. I have a separate notebook for each. We discussed what kits needed to be prepared for two workshops I'll be teaching in Colorado in a few weeks, and what kits, fat quarters, etc., needed to be cut for the store when the new fabric arrives.

Are you a horizontal or vertical filer?

We also continued making plans for our upcoming KT & Friends Retreat in Bennington, KS in June, and logistics for taking our retreat on the road to Appleton, WI in August (there are still a few spots available). There are lots of kits to prep for those classes (over 400 total), notions to order (thread, glue pens, etc) plus photography, writing/editing and printing the patterns. I'm also working on finding fun giveaways for the retreats. I plan about a year ahead for special programs and events since we need to order fabric at least 6 months in advance to have adequate yardage for kits and promotions, like our KT Monthly Special.

Designing Sweet Holly

My 2020 Christmas collection, Sweet Holly, arrives at quilt shops in June. I submitted the line to Moda last May, so in total, it takes about 13-14 months for a fabric line to arrive at quilt shops. What does that entail? All through the year, I collect vintage fabric - blocks, remnants, quilt tops and quilts - looking for the perfect prints for a fabric line. It starts with a feature print. When I purchase an antique quilt top or quilt, I photocopy any of the prints I think might work in a future line. I sort the prints by season - spring, fall, Christmas - and further by motif - leaves, flowers, geometrics, dots, plaids, paisleys, etc.

These are my fabric drawers, waiting for a home in my new studio. Each drawer holds files of swatches. We moved them to our house when my office was torn down to make more room in the store last spring. Unfortunately, my new studio wasn't ready yet, so they've been sitting in our entry ever since. As you can see, a few of the drawers are waiting for a little glue and new glass fronts in Robert's workshop. I have another set of these drawers that I use for my cutting table, storing rulers, thread, notions, current UFO's, and precut leftovers in the drawers. I plan to put them back-to-back with a large cutting table over the top in my new space.


This is an example of some vintage prints from past lines in cloth and color copies (hexagons), including a stencil I found from the 1950's with the candy cane/holly motif that inspired Sweet Holly.


Here's a sneak peek at Sweet Holly. Find the free printable PDF of the


For Sweet Holly, the stencil provided the original inspiration. I reduced the size of the image and colored it in. The branches of holly were also taken from the stencil. I used Photoshop to delete some of the holly leaves from the one shown with 4 leaves to get sprigs with 1, 2 or 3 leaves, then scattered them to fill in on the feature print. A mini version of the holly motif was used to create the small holly print. The remaining prints were all reproduced from vintage fabrics. 

The next step is to convey my fabric vision so it makes sense to Moda and the fabric mill. A color palette is selected with at least three shades of each color. I use my previous fabrics as color swatches, if possible. Each print is named, ie, Winter Clover, Gift Wrap Plaid, String of Lights, Candy Dots, and Santa's Sack for Sweet Holly. I number each shade of color in my palette and use a letter for each motif. I come up with as many different color combinations for each print as possible for the palette I'm using, ie, tan dots on a red background and blue dots on a tan background. Even if the original fabric swatch is brown, it may never be made into brown KT fabric. Or, if it's a blue and white 2-color print, it may show up as a multi-color print on tan, like the tan print above. I attach an actual vintage fabric swatch or a color copy to each print page and send it off to Moda.

Our fabric design guru at Moda, Cheryl Freydburg and her assistant, Jamie Chupik, look over my idea for a fabric collection, ask questions if anything is not clear, then send it on to the mill in South Korea for strike-offs (sample swatches). In about 6 months, I get a wonderful package in the mail that is 80-100 swatches of fabric with all the color/print possibilities for the line - all the ones I requested and more. I lay them out and savor the wonderful colors and prints for a while, then get back to work. I edit the dozens of prints down to my favorite 40, making sure the line is balanced with assorted darks and tans. Most of my groups have about 25% tans and 75% darks, with more of the classic KT colors (red, blue, green) and a few less of each of the supporting colors (gold, purple, black, pumpkin, brown). At this point, my mind is in overdrive, full of ideas for quilts. It helps to have an idea of the quilt I want to make at this point, so I know I have included a good background and borders. Robert often helps with the final editing. He can ruthlessly discard a gold print I love when I need to pare the line down to only3- 4 golds. It's good to have some objectivity. I send my 40 picks back along with any notes for the mill to make adjustments. In about 3 months, actual yardage arrives at my door. Oh what a fun day! And then, the piecing begins. 

But wait, while the yardage was being printed, I was designing the quilts on my computer with no fabric in hand, just pictures (jpegs) of the 40 fabrics I selected. I insert the fabric picture into each piece of the block, so it looks like a real quilt. With swatches only about 5" sq., I have to "piece" the border strips on the computer, too. This is what the quilt shops see in the Moda catalog when they order the fabric. I'll talk more about that in Part 4.


I cut and pasted the candy cane motif from the fabric to create the appliques because I'm still not great at freehand drawing computer images. I'll share the "real" quilt next time.

Here are a few more of the projects for Sweet Holly that have been computer generated (we're taking pictures of the real quilts later this month). I started with several precuts for lots of scrappiness - Honey Buns, Jelly Rolls and a fat quarter bundle.

Christmas Log Cabin - Honey Bun quilt
Joy fussy cut the center log cabin square using the black candy cane motif. Then she stitched up traditional log cabin blocks from precut Honey Bun strips (1 1/2" wide). So quick and easy! She framed it with more of the black feature fabric for a dramatic finish.

Shine Bright
I was playing around last summer, designing a red/tan/blue quilt for the 4th of July and immediately saw this quilt in Christmas colors, too. Shine Bright is a strippy Jelly Roll quilt that sews up quickly for cuddling during the holidays and beyond. Instructions for a patriotic version are included.

Evergreen

In July, I'll be stitching this 72" sq. lap quilt in a sew-a-long on my blog. Watch for information later this spring. Friendship stars, half square triangles and assorted trees surround a special center star for a lovely Christmas quilt for your home. Also included in the booklet are a runner and pillow (below). 



Now, as promised, answers to your burning questions.
Lisa S -I am a huge fan of your fabrics. I don't remember the name of the line of fabric but there was a beautiful dusty blue background. I am not a fan of blue but absolutely loved that one. I have not seen it used in any other line of fabric. Do you plan on making anymore with a dusty blue ? Of topic quilt question ,, do you have a favorite historic site in your area that you like to visit ?
The dusty blue is from Wildflower Serenade I and II fabric collections from 2008-9. I loved it, too, but it didn't fit into my palette as well as I liked. Maybe someday ...  I tend to be inspired more by the changing seasons and nature, antiques, and places we visit. I also enjoy driving through some of the older, historic districts in our area.

Laurie~I love to read your blog ❤️
One thing I’ve wondered about with fabric design - about how long is the process from design idea to distribution to quilt shops?
Once I've sent in the idea, about 13-14 months. I'm assembling fabric collections now that won't be submitted for a year or two.

Joey Ritenour - I have always wondered about the design process. How big is your actual design? Do you do the design and then choose the color? How much input do you receive from Moda? Who chooses the size of the repeat in the pattern? Do you create other art in addition to fabric? I have loved your fabric for at least ten years. I really like how your designs and colors all play well together. Congratulations on 20 years!!
Most of your questions are answered above. Moda had more input when I first started designing fabric, but pretty much leaves me to my own resources now after 20 years. The size of the repeat is determined by the size of the print. That's why it's difficult to find a large print cut up in a quilt - no repeat. I've found antique fat quarters with a full repeat that can sell for as much as $250.00 each. I do not create other art besides fabric for resale. I do enjoy crafting home decor and make a little jewelry for fun in my free time.

T Holzer - I have wanted to know for quite a long time how fabric designers actually get paid. Is it per line? Per yard? How successful a line is? I'm sure glad that you have given us 20 years of fabric!!!
I think the industry standard for fabric is payment by the yard. 

sue s - 3-4 fabric lines at once! You certainly are busy. Do you ever have time just to sew for fun? 
Yes, Sue, but not often. I love making the quilts I "have to", so it's all good. In my free time, I don't quilt much. I'd rather be outside in the garden or antiquing.

If you've read this far, thanks for hanging in there with me. Comment to win the Cabin Sweet Cabin charm pattern (available in June). 



Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Week in the Life of a Fabric Designer, Part 2

KT Winner

The winner of the String of Hearts Mini Table Treats PDF pattern is...
Evelyn - Love any and all table toppers. It is a beautiful way to easily change the theme of your table decorations. Plus fun to create!!

Congrats! Please contact Robert at lynne@ktquilts.com with your email address and he'll send it right out.


In Part 1, I said that we were working with the current fabric line, Milestones, while preparing for the upcoming line, Through the Years. Both are designed to blend with KT Favorites III to provide borders and extra scrappiness for my 20 Years of KTQ block-of-the-month. I love to use a variety of KT fabric collections when making a scrappy quilt. All the lines blend beautifully, so you can collect fearlessly.

Through the Years has a couple of fresh new prints that are sure to become some of my all time favorites. Here's the swatch chart for Through the Years, available in March. Preorder now at ktquilts.com. I especially love the tan with multi-colored little swirls that we call paper clips (9625-11), the tone-on-tone leaves (9623), and the main floral print (9620) in every color. So much yumminess!



Patterns for Through the Years projects were due to Moda by the end of January, so my editors and I were reading and rereading them to ensure the best product possible. We print, fold and stuff our own patterns (rather, Robert does 99% of it), so it's always a rush to get the finished patterns and covers to him as soon as I can. Here are the three main projects featuring Through the Years. 
Cobblestone Stars - 45" sq. wall quilt or 72" lap quilt
A Layer Cake provides the scrappiness for stars and a cobblestone sashing for a 45" sq. wall quilt pieced with 6" stars. Add another border for a nice size lap quilt. Or, stitch up 9" stars and sash with cobblestones for a lap size quilt 72" sq. made with a fat 1/8 bundle.

Star Cluster
Assorted sizes of stars & churn dash blocks make this a fun quilt to piece. How small can you go? The smallest blocks are 2 1/2" sq., but go together easily. It's all in the pressing. Start with a Through the Years fat 1/8 bundle, or dig into your scraps! I'll be hosting a quilt-a-long in April, so order your pattern or kit soon!
Sew What - Through the Years charm quilt

One Through the Years charm pack plus 3 fabrics is all you need to create a delightful little quilt for your sewing room. I just love the strippy "thread" on the spools, and a special place for my pincushion. Tiny buttons are stitched on for pin heads. Moda has a boxed kit for this cute quilt, so check with your local quilt today, or go to ktquilts.com.

Next week, I'll share the Sweet Holly Christmas fabric and what I'm working on to prepare for it's arrival in June.

Comment to win a Sew What charm pattern.


Tuesday, February 18, 2020

A Week in the Life of a Fabric Designer, Part 1

Hello, my name is Lynne and I have designed fabric for Moda for 20 years. I create quilts from those fabrics, write books and patterns, teach workshops, and host retreats. Our company is Kansas Troubles Quilters. My husband, Robert, manages our KT Quilt Shop in Bennington, Kansas.


Those are the basics of my life, sounding very much like I'm at a meeting for a 12-step program for the quilt addicted. Every time I visit a quilt guild or teach a class, someone always asks:
"What's your process?"
"Do you get to sew everyday?"
"What are you working on?"

1. Inspiration comes from everywhere - nature, travel, vintage quilts or quilts I want for my home.

2. No, unfortunately, I don't get to sew everyday. Sometimes, when I'm on a deadline, I don't touch my machine for a week or more.

3. This is the trickiest question. Usually, I'm working with 3-4 fabric lines at a time. Over the next couple weeks, I'll let you in on my creative process and what a week in my designing life looks like.

Milestones fabric, BOM, Kit To Quilt and more 

Milestones Projects

Milestones arrived in late fall along with several patterns featuring the collection. I used Milestones along with my KT Favorites III fabric for the 20 Years of KTQ block-of-the-month and was inspired by some of the blocks to create additional projects (the 4 patterns are included as a bonus when you purchase the BOM). Here's the Milestones swatch chart with sku numbers for easy planning. And, a few of my favorites.

Milestones


20 Plus - classic blues and tans

A Few Little Extras - two pillow covers and a pincushion, just for fun.

Bee-you-ti-ful Runner - to bring some sunshine inside everyday.

Woven Dreams Jelly Roll lap quilt - easy traditional piecing

2 Steps Forward - Milestones charm pattern

20 Years of KTQ

First, I was working with the most current fabric line and the monthly programs we have in progress.  We had a new block-of-the-month, 20 Years of KTQ beginning the first week of January. I worked with Joy at the store to make sure the kits were cut, the goodies were packed (usually with a little surprise), and that Robert could ship them on time. I was also piecing some of the blocks to post a quilt-a-long on Facebook at 20 Years of KTQ. If you're working on the quilt, join us on the 15th and 30th of each month for tips, to post your blocks and ask questions.

20 Years of KTQ BOM


Kit To Quilt

Our mystery kit was due to ship the first of February, so I needed to make sure the pattern was ready, buttons were ordered, write an intro letter, and let Joy know what was included in the kit. This month's project was just in time for Valentine's Day, String of Hearts. It's one of my easy, no piecing, Mini Table Treats. Just layer the circles, quilt, applique, bind. So fast & fun! Every other month, you'll receive everything you need to complete a small project - table topper, pillow, runner, wall quilt - for only $30 postage paid (retail value $40+).

At the same time, I was editing patterns for Through the Years, writing patterns and making quilts for the new Christmas line, Sweet Holly (June), working on new designs for the Spring Market collection, Bittersweet Lane, and designing a new line of fabric for Spring 2021. That's all coming up in the next few posts.

Is there anything you'd like to know about a designer's life? I'm happy to answer any of your questions.

Comment to win the String of Hearts digital pattern. It is one of 7 new Mini Table Treats created for a new booklet this spring.






Saturday, February 15, 2020

20 Years of KTQ BOM

Block #3 - Kansas Troubles

Welcome to the 20 Years of KTQ block-of-the-month quilt along. This week, we'll piece my namesake block, Kansas Troubles. Historically, this block was created during the Civil War by a quilter who was protesting slavery and all the violence between Kansas and Missouri during the vote to prohibit slavery in those states. I like the idea that women at that time found a way to express their views, even if they couldn't vote. Smart quilter.

If you'd like the instructions for this block and the rest of the 20 Years of KTQ quilt, go to ktquilts.com to order it HERE.


One of my piecers and our KT Event Coordinator, Kathy Limpic, offered to make this block for me since Robert and I took a little vacation last week. She did a great job piecing and taking photos for you. Note her pressing - it's perfection.

For each quarter of the Kansas Troubles block, you'll make (4) matching half square triangles (HST). Sew the HST together in pairs of two. Note direction of HST for each quarter block.


Follow the instructions to sew the HST units to the small middle triangle and add the matching side triangles and tan corner square. Make sure the large tan triangle is the same size as your pieced triangle. Adjust your seam allowance here, if needed. Here are the (4) quarter blocks, 6 1/2" square each.

Add the large blue triangles to opposite sides of the completed 12 1/2" square Kansas Troubles block; press toward blue, then add the remaining two triangles. Your framed 18 1/2" square Kansas Troubles block points should "float" within the blue border.


Stitch the tan squares diagonally over the blue corner triangles, as shown. Trim the tan and blue behind the tan triangles for less bulk (shown below on 3 corners).



 Add the red corner squares just like the tan ones above; trim the red and tan triangles.

 The completed Kansas Troubles block with sashing.

The quilt needed a few filler blocks, so I stitched up some extra HST to make pinwheel blocks with some leftovers from the KT block. Here are Kathy's pinwheels from the front, and back. She has pressed her seams open to lay flat.




Kathy is an absolute perfectionist. I know she'll hate that I posted this picture, but it proves we all turn a block the wrong way sometimes. Funny how it's so obvious in a picture. That's a great way to see if you've laid out any blocks incorrectly in a quilt, too. Take picture before sewing your blocks together. Any mistakes will jump out at you.

 Of course, her final pinwheel section with sashing is perfect! Thanks so much, Kathy!

Join my Facebook group (20 Years of KTQ) to share your blocks and ask questions.
See you all on February 29th for Block 4.


Friday, February 14, 2020

KT Winner and a Sneak Peek

KT Winner of Box of Fabric Scraps

Congratulations to:
 
BMW Nana - I love the scraps. I think they would make a beautiful nine patch on point and maybe some wonky stars with any scraps left over. I love your fabric colors and patterns. Thank you for the opportunity to win some.
 
The random number generator chose your comment as the winner of the box of KT scraps. Please email me with your shipping info at ktquilts.com and Robert will get them right out to you. Thanks to everyone who commented. I enjoy reading every one of them and learning a little about you and your fabric addictions.
 
FYI - If you include your email info in your Google profile, I can let you know directly that you've won my giveaways. Otherwise, I rely on you coming back to check on the winner. If the above-named winner does not contact us within 2 weeks, we'll try to give the box of scraps away again. 

Sweet Holly

The sales reps have already shown quilt shops the newest Moda Christmas collections, including my new line, Sweet Holly. The inspiration for this collection was actually the result of a mishap last spring. Let me explain. 
 
In March, Robert had the brilliant idea (?) to remove the walls of my in-store office (10'x12') to make more room in our quilt shop. I was planning to move everything to my new studio once it was completed anyway, but someone was in a hurry. It really opened up the space and allowed a lot more light into the store. But I digress. Conveniently, it was spring break. I bribed a couple grandkids with lunch and a bit of cash to haul a few boxes (41, I'm told) and the furniture from my office to my old sewing space upstairs (26 steps) by the retreat center. 
 
On one trip, Rowan was carrying a box of miscellaneous stuff when it happened. He was almost to the top when I heard quite a commotion with both of the kids yelling and things sliding down the stairs - the bottom had fallen out of the box. I rushed to the bottom of the stairs, fearing the worst, to be greeted by falling fabric and papers, and two teenagers laughing hysterically. Once it was determined no one was hurt, we all started picking up the pieces. That's when I saw it. A vintage Christmas stencil for paint by number. I vaguely remembered I had purchased it with a box full of good junk at an auction years before, but I'd totally forgotten about it. 
 
Lucky for me, the stencil had all the elements of a good Christmas fabric and I had a deadline for Christmas fabric in just a few weeks. The holly, berries, ribbon, candy cane, candle, bells, snowman and pine cones all have numbers corresponding to the specific paint colors for each area. It's marked Olive Tullis, Textile Stencils, Salina, Kansas for 65 cents, but unfortunately, not dated. If anyone knows how old it is, please let me know.
 

You can see the candy cane stencil in the upper left corner is reproduced, along with assorted holly/berry motifs, in the featured fabric. The holly leaves and berries were taken from the large holly in the center of the stencil using one, two or three leaves. The small leaves, ribbon, plaid and remaining prints are all things that remind me of wrapping paper at Christmas time. Don't be surprised if you see several of the other motifs show up in future fabric lines.

I loved using the candy cane and holly motif on several of the Sweet Holly quilts, including this simple charm pack project with fusible applique, Cabin Sweet Cabin.
 
 
Watch for Sweet Holly fabric at your local quilt shop in June. I'll be showing sneak peeks of the other colorways and projects in the next few weeks.

 
 



Tuesday, February 4, 2020

KT Winner...and another Giveaway

KT Winner

Jean -I retreat at least twice a year, once away from home and once locally where I am at "camp" and go home to my own bed every night. Both are sponsored by my quilt guild, Gold Coast Quilters Guild of Boca Raton, FL. We have 50 quilters at each and have a great time!
 
Sounds like a lovely time, Jean. So glad you've found your group to quilt with at retreats. And, congratulations! You've won a KT Through the Years charm pack, available in quilt shops in March. Maybe it will be the start of your next retreat project.
 

Cleaning, Packing, Wishing

I've talked a bit about my new studio construction project, but with the weather this winter, there's not much new to report. Between incomplete materials deliveries and muddy roads so bad that I can't even get out in my Jeep, the delays just keep on coming. So, I've taken a deep breath (many, in fact) and resigned myself to the fact that this is one project I can't control. It will be done when it's done. A practice in patience. Something I'm still working on. In the meantime, I'm trying to organize, pack, and purge in my existing sewing room. Every time I get a new fabric line in, I have to find space for it. (I know, you're wondering "What's the problem?") Here's where I'm storing past flat folds.

Fabric on the floor.
Just last September, all the fabric I had brought home fit nicely on this rack. Now, a bunch of tans fell down behind the rack because the pile was too tall. Oh well. Hope I don't need those anytime soon.

Current fabric & WIP on the floor.
This is the new Sweet Holly Christmas line I'm playing with now. There are several other pieces - somewhere. Actually, some of the worst spots in my sewing room I can't get a picture of because I can't stand far enough away. I feel like it could all come crashing down around me at any time. Help!

Stacks of books, baskets of precuts, more stuff.
I try to keep extra JR strips, charm squares, etc together in baskets so if I need a small scrap, I can go to that basket. Those baskets all used to have a spot on my shelves. Now, too many baskets and not enough shelves. It's time for more space.
 

Giveaway

So, I'm offering to share the leftover parts from some of the KT Favorites III and Milestones projects with you. Please, please, take them off my hands before I feel compelled to sort through all the triangles and squares and strips. There's even a pile of sewn half square triangles (lower right corner) of unknown origin. Yikes!


Comment to win this box full of fun scraps. I'd love to know what you would do with it. Sort it? Sew the triangles together into HST? Cut it into smaller units? I'll post the winner February 14th.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

KT February Special

Changing Seasons + Honey Bun

It's that time of year. You've taken the holiday decorations down, maybe sprinkled a few snowflakes and hearts here and there, but you're ready to spruce up your home a bit before spring. What if you could make a runner using a Moda Honey Bun (1 1/2" strips), then add button-on quilted squares to change for the seasons? I don't know about you, but I'm totally in!

Here are examples of the Changing Seasons runner made with a KT Christmas Honey Bun (left) and log cabin star topper, and a KT spring Honey Bun (right) and an appliqued topper. It looks great any KT fabric collection.

My Changing Seasons runner is traditionally pieced from just one Honey Bun plus binding. Add 4 buttons on the corners of the tan center, and you can magically switch from a snowflake to a star to a flower to a leaf. There are seven options included, but any leftover quilt block framed and finished to 14" square will work great. There are also instructions on how to turn those 14" quilted squares into cute pillow covers. Who knew decorating for the seasons could be so easy?


So, just for February, we're making it even easier for you. We've bundled the Changing Seasons pattern booklet ($10.95) with a KT Honey Bun ($30) for the KT Special price of only $32 plus Free Shipping (usually $8.95). That's a total savings of more than $17. What a deal! Find the KT February Special HERE.