crossing in American Patchwork & Quilting: thanks Margaret and Susan


Our Crossing quilt is in the current issue of American Patchwork & Quilting. Don’t they make all of the quilts look fantastic? Their styling and photography always capture the spirit of the quilts we design. I’ve lost track of how many quilts of ours have appeared in APQ but it’s got to be close to a dozen now.

When we first started FunQuilts we wouldn’t design patterns for hobby quilters. It seems so ridiculous now. We had some well-intentioned but, in hind sight, totally misguided attitude that people should design their own patterns.

There were two students, however, who changed our minds and would forever influence our attitude toward pattern design. One was Margaret, a student in one of our basic quiltmaking classes. She told me once that she didn’t want to be a designer. She wanted to spend her time making things because she had two small children and a workaholic husband and the making part was a therapeutic part of her busy life. She once said to me, “I’m just learning this stuff but I don’t want to make an Irish Chain or a Four-Patch. I want it simple enough that I can finish it and hip enough that I want to finish it.”

Another former student, Susan, is a neurologist. She wanted to make a quilt for her daughter’s Bat Mitzvah. “I’m a doctor. I only have so much time and I don’t want to spend it trying to figure out what it should look like or calculating yardage requirements,” she commented once.

We listened. Every time we develop a new pattern I think about those two women. Although there are some people who look down there noses on any pattern that has fewer than 500 pieces and doesn’t require two years to complete, I think about the people who are hobby quilters. Quilting isn’t the focus of their lives but it’s important to them to be able to make quilts for the people they love in the limited time that they have available.

Those women gave us invaluable advice and I’m glad that we took it.

7 Comments

  1. Jean
    Posted April 12, 2010 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

    there’s a place in my life for the quilts I design and patterns that I buy. Sometimes, it so happens that someone has already articulated the vague idea that I had and it just makes sense to use their pattern. (Sometimes, said pattern is a jumping off point for doing my own thing) Thank you, pattern designers!!!!
    Jean in Windsor, ON

  2. Posted April 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I totally agree with Jean’s comment. I have designed my own patterns and also been completely inspired by your patterns. I’m glad there are both options. Thanks for all you do.

  3. Amy
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I am also glad you guys came to your senses because many of us can not afford to buy a FunQuilts quilt – but will buy a kit/book/pattern/magazine.

    I remember asking if you had a pattern for “X” quilt that I saw on your website & heard about how you needed to make money for your child’s college education & left the conversation thinking – well you just lost the sale of a pattern…

  4. Leslie
    Posted April 13, 2010 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t interesting who becomes voices in our head in our life’s journey? Something so simple has opened many doors.

    I love how you and Bill make simple beautiful. I was going through my old magazines to get some ideas for a baby quilt, and I found myself rediscovering some of your old APQ patterns and color choices.

  5. Posted April 13, 2010 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Response to Amy’s comment — Actually we haven’t changed our policy about releasing patterns for any of the quilts in the gallery on our website (which is surely one of the quilts you’re referring to) because we do still have a lot of people who commission finished quilts from us of patterns that only we make. Some designs would be way too frustrating for the average quilter and others require judgements and training that can’t be explained in a pattern. Other patterns are very popular among collectors or may have become an iconic quilt for our company and we would like to keep it that way.

    To clarify the conversation we had, clients don’t want to pay $3,000 for one of our quilts and then see us sell the pattern for $12 to anyone who asks. What I tried to explain to you is that we realize that we may have lost the sale of a pattern for you and are sorry about that. To survive as a designer, however, we have to hold onto some patterns so we don’t alienate the clients who are willing to pay for an exclusive design.

    We are trying to strike a balance between encouraging the creativity in hobby quilters without alienating collectors, interior designers and others who order finished quilts from us.

  6. Alma
    Posted April 16, 2010 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    Thank goodness you decided to design for hobby quilters or I probably wouldn’t have gotten started. Your book was the first I ever bought. It’s been five years now and I’ve learned enough to design for myself sometimes but I never, ever tire of your beautiful sophisticated designs. Thank goodness you two have the confidence in your design that you don’t get sucked into the mindset you described, that more pieces must be better. Your designs are so clear that every one of them can stand up to so many colorways and interpretations and nothing is lost.

  7. Posted May 10, 2010 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    This post and the one from the 19th follow so well together.

    I’ll admit to still harboring your initial, well-intentioned thoughts, but I am softening. I still like to teach and share concepts. It may not appeal to everyone, but I’m not trying to appeal to everyone. But I do want to encourage everyone to push themselves, even a little. Whether that means stepping away from single fabric line quilts, buying kits, or always following a pattern.


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