late bloomer

design, experiences, fabric, family, quilting, sewing

It turns out that we’re late bloomers. I haven’t joined you here in a month because suddenly, beginning in March of this year, after 13 years in business, people have started noticing our work. A lot of them. This is a joyous development but it has left us working long hours, 7 days a week. We’ve had exactly 4 weekends this year not working because even though we hired people over the summer, we struggled to keep up. I have been here (with our cat Mies providing moral support), at my desk, writing, designing, signing contracts, participating in conference calls and summoning up all of my energies in planning what has been the most exhausting summer of my life. That has been the hard part.
The great part is to finally be able to tell you what we’ve been doing all of these late nights. These are in no particular order:

A 10-part class entitled Designing Modern Quilts with Craftsy

I cannot tell you how much time I spent on this class. It was like writing a book. It’s not a sewing class. It’s a design class. Step-by-step, concept-by-concept I share with students what Bill and I have learned about designing modern quilts over the past 25 years. I show over 40 of our quilts, including the first quilt (modern, of course) that I ever made in 1987 as well as many that we’ve made as commissions or for our home. Among these quilts are ones we’ve never shown in public or published. I am nervous that people will be expecting a project class (“now sew A to B…”) but hope that all of you who have written to me wanting to take a class with me will find this helpful–and you get to take it in your PJs whenever you want! You can take video notes and go back to them later when something on a quilt comes up 2 years from now. I will be responding to questions on the Craftsy site and will be doing everything I can to create community and dialogue on this topic that is so near and dear to my heart.

If you take the class, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it. The class debuts later this month and I’ll write more about that when I know the exact date. As an aside, the weirdest thing to me was that they had a lovely makeup artist who was responsible for giving me “The Full Kardashian” each morning before I went on set. This was endlessly entertaining to Bill and Sophie when we Skyped in the evenings from my hotel room in Denver. Bill didn’t even see me with makeup on at our wedding! But this is a “When in Rome…” moment I decided so enjoy the rarity of me with makeup on.

A Kid’s Guide to Sewing

Last March someone commented on Facebook that our daughter Sophie needed her own book. Bill and I thought about it because the comment was made as Sophie and her classmates began sewing some quilts for school fundraisers. These sewing sessions were a source of great excitement among many of the 5th graders who participated. Developmentally, 11-year-olds have the capacity to start making cool things with good craftsmanship. We decided that Bill and I would work on the book without a fee and use all of the proceeds for Sophie’s college fund. We approached C&T only to find out that they were ready to launch Fun Stitch Studios, a new imprint for kids’ sewing books. For once, we had perfect timing. But they needed the book in 2 months to be included in the launch of the imprint next summer! 16 projects sewn by an 11-year-old in 6 weeks for a 144-page book. Also it was decided that we needed at least 55 photos in the book that would require 3 photoshoots with such complex planning that I had massive Excel spreadsheets of kids of many ethnicities (because I couldn’t stand the thought that a child of a certain race would pick up our book and not see himself or herself represented), projects, photo releases, clothing, pick-ups, drop-offs, etc.

It’s hard to explain how much time we spent trying to get all of this done. I read no books. Didn’t get to the pool once. Knitted nothing, had no vacation and didn’t see our friends. But we got it done and have a book that we are so darn proud of. The photography is so charming with lots of kids and adults sewing together because Sophie felt the book should be about how much fun it is to sew with your family and friends. Sophie wrote sidebars to every project. I kept my laptop next to the sewing machine. As soon as she finished sewing, I’d pull it out and she’d dictate a sidebar about what was hard, what was fun and tips for kids who planned to make the project. I’ll share more when it’s released next July but we will be doing a West Coast Road Trip to promote this book as well as other projects so I hope that we’ll see lots of budding makers on the road next summer.

At long last FABRIC!

We were approached by a number of fabric companies last fall at Market and decided to work with Andover. Boy was that a great call. For our first line, we wanted to design a “cross-over” line that would appeal to modern quilters with its scale and motifs but also to traditional quilters who maybe wanted something a little softer and easier to live with than acid green and neon orange. Victorian Modern is the name of the first line and we’re already finalizing details of the second line, which we hope will be out in early 2013. Vic Mod, as Bill and I call it, should be out later in the year. Giveaways galore here and on Facebook when it arrives. I’ll post swatches and the free pattern image tomorrow because it’s midnight and I need to sleep.

The AQS Modern Mystery Quilt

I about fell off my chair last Spring when the American Quilter’s Society asked me to start writing for their magazine and to design a mystery quilt for their website. They have always been the bastion of tradition quilting and while I had seen lots of art quilts at their shows, I had never seen a functional modern quilt. So I started writing for them and will continue to have articles in their magazine at least through early 2013. On their website is a free Modern Mystery pattern broken up into 6 different sets of clues. Clue 4 was released today. The site with the clues is As of this evening there were 362 participants, the most ever in one group, on their sister site all sharing images of what each has sewn so far. They seem to be having a lot of fun with it. They have no idea how much we’ve tried to give them twists and turns so they have no idea what it’s going to look like.

There are a few other projects that I’m not at liberty to discuss quit yet, but seriously, we’ve been workin’ hard for you!

Houston here we come!

Lastly, we’re booked solid though mid-2014 teaching and lecturing all over the country. For the first time we’ll be at Market AND Festival and I’ll be teaching in between the two in Houston later this month. Hope to see you there. Our lovely and very talented intern Vanessa will be in the booth with me on Friday and Saturday so I know you’ll be nice to her. It’s her first ever business trip so she’s very excited.

For now,  I’ll say that I’m sorry my duties have kept me away from this space. It has been very challenging for me not to be able to respond to the many emails, phone calls and requests in as timely a way as I would have liked. You can hire people to do some things but at the end of the day, no one else is designing fabrics or writing our books. We need to do that and we want to do that. But I’m working on finding someone to ship orders and such.

A Big Day last Sunday

On a personal note, I achieved a big goal for myself on Sunday. I rode 103 miles on my bike. 100 miles in a day is referred to as a “Century.” I had ridden a century when I turned 40 with Bill on our tandem and wanted to do another one after turning 50 last year. Sunday was my day. Our family does the Apple Cider Century in Michigan most years but has in the past done shorter routes 35-50-62 for various reasons. Bill and Sophie rode with me the first 70 and I was on my own for the last 30. They veered off for the 75-mile route around mile 70 and I will never forget the feeling of seeing the arrows on the road that read “100” and making that turn. It was so powerful psychologically. I said to myself. “Look. I’m doing it!!! I’m going for it. I can do this!” It was so awesome.

I had my ipod and some tiny speakers in my handlebar bag so I was the one riding through the corn fields of Michigan blaring my Mommy Time Mix to the nearby cows and horses. No other riders were nearby. Support trucks passed me several times and I passed ones stopped, picking up other cyclists who had decided not to finish. Around mile 72 I noticed in the distance some people standing along the edge of some woods. I didn’t see bikes but I saw a stroller. I noticed a giant white thing about 6 ft tall but couldn’t see what it was. As I approached it I saw that it read “Good Job!!!” There were these strangers who decided to spend their Sunday afternoon standing on the side of the road cheering on the century riders. I wanted to stop and take a picture of it but behind my sunglasses were tears so I just yelled out, “This 51-year-old asthmatic thanks you!” They clapped and I kept riding, grateful for their kindness.

With my small lung capacity I ride slower than most long-distance cyclists so most of the 5,000 people doing rides of different lengths that day were gone when I crossed the finish line. There were some people loading up their cars who stopped to clap for me but mostly there were Bill and Sophie waiting for me at the finish line with hugs, kisses and food. Bill loaded my bike on top of the van with the tandem. If you passed us on the highway that day, you wouldn’t have known what a big day it was for our family. As people in other cars whizzed down the highway toward Chicago I wished every one of them could feel as good as I did at that moment.

How was your summer?

21 thoughts on “late bloomer

  1. Weeks, OH WOW! I am sooooo glad you are finally getting the recognition you both deserve! Congratulations! I can’t wait to see the fabric, take the Craftsy clsss, read Sophie’s book and I might even do the mystery quilt. Congratulations on your century ride, that is awesome! Won’t be in Houston this year, but will see you guys in Austin. Have a great day! Lora

  2. I am so glad to hear you have been so busy for good reasons. I was a bit worried when your last post was about your health, then a long silence. I had a friend with Facebook check on you. Stalker alert :P.
    Enjoy your success, you absolutely deserve it.
    I may be in touch for some Chicago clues, Sara Paretsky is doing a competition over on her blog based on where is VI.
    Quiltcon will be such a great get together for all the Modern Quilters. It is just a bit too far for me at the moment.
    Good to hear from you.

  3. Beautiful post Weeks. You brought tears to my eyes when I read your ending.!! Sometimes, in the great universe, there is a small window, and all you have to do is take a deep breath and jump through it…well you did it! I am so proud of the entire family. Don’t forget to mention you will be teaching on a cruise next year as well!

  4. Wow. Congratulations on so many levels. I’m thrilled to hear that you have a book with Sophie! That is so exciting. I’ve always felt that one of the things I love about this blog is how you talk about the projects that involve your child, and how to cultivate a sense of wonder and creativity. It is really inspiring for me. My daughter is only 18 months old but we are already getting her involved in cooking, and I hope to get her involved in sewing (or at least picking fabrics) soon. I can’t wait to see the book!

    Your physical accomplishments are truly amazing! I am a younger, “able bodied” person and there is no way I could do 100 mile ride. Congratulations–you have so much to be proud of.

  5. Wow, congratulations Weeks! What an incredible post — so happy for your personal accomplishments, and excited for your professional ones! I can’t wait to see the fabric and the kids’ book, especially.

    And the craftsy class tempts me to sign up, though I don’t know where I’d find the time to complete it — but taking a design class with you would be amazing. The Plain Spoken quilt that was the first I ever started (not the first finished…you know how it goes) lives on our couch and is so well loved. I admire the simple, powerful design frequently as I start doing more quilts from my own concepts and find the sewn piece doesn’t always match the vision.

    Bottom line: thank you and congratulations!!

  6. What a summer you guys have had! I’m so glad that you are finally receiving recognition for all you do and have done to promote modern quilting. Can’t wait to see what the fabric looks like and the children’s book project sounds just wonderful. I know how busy this time of year is so don’t feel you have to respond to this email, just know that big congratulations and happy thoughts are coming your way from my little corner of the world.

  7. So good to hear from you. Congratulations on all your accomplishments and recognition – well deserved. Congratulations to Sophie as well.

  8. Oh, wow! So many exciting things going on! I tried to connect with you when I was in Chicago over the summer, and now I understand how busy you were at that time. Congratulations on so many accomplishments! The book with your daughter sounds just incredible-a memory for all of you to cherish for a lifetime! I already sew with my kids (now 4, 4, and 6) and they just love it. We’ve even done quilts for their dolls and they are so proud of those! I look forward to seeing you in Austin! (And maybe Craftsy, if I can squeeze it in…)

  9. Well done to you! I am glad I discovered you about 6 years ago as you were certainly instrumental in my being inspired in quilting and I still regularly refer to two of your books which I have. I’m so pleased for your success in a bigger way, even tho’ I think you’ve been successful and famous for years! Aren’t our biggest successes truly the personal challenges we set ourselves that centre on our core values? Because I think you’ve worked (&rode!)this way all along, you can always be satisfied because you have done what’s truly important, whether or not others recognise it. But gosh it’s nice when people notice and you know you haven’t compromised your values.

  10. When it rains it pours! I am glad to hear things are going well for you. The Craftsy class sounds wonderful, can’t wait to sign up. That is so awesome that you did the bike ride. Bill and Sophie must be so proud.

  11. Dear Weeks,
    I just read your post (I am behind, too) and I had tears in my eyes. I am so pleased with all of your success, especially the Century. You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing and congratulations.

  12. I am very excited to hear about the Kids book. My daughter is ten and I’m always trying to find new things to incite creativity.

    Your books were the first to get me really excited about quilting and I am so glad that you are receiving the recognition and appreciation that you deserve.

    I love the mystery quilt. I haven’t started mine yet, but I have downloaded the parts so that I can when I finish the ones I have in progress right now.

    Congratulations on the century. As another asthmatic who had to stay inside during the summer as a kid, I know what a big accomplishment that really is.

  13. My goodness!! I know you aren’t the type to spend long hours by the pool reading novels, but a few minutes here and there would be nice :) What a crazy summer. I can’t wait to see all the wonderful things you’ve been creating. The Craftsy class sounds fantastic! I hope I can find some room in my own schedule to take it. As always, I look forward to your new books and fabric.

    Congratulations on everything personal and professional! I hope you get a few moments to take a breath and enjoy it :)

  14. WOW! What a wonderful full-of-good-news post. You must be beyond thrilled. I, personally, cannot wait for that design class. Thank you and take care, Byrd

  15. Weeks – for years I have been hoping to get into a class with you and/or Bill. Any class.

    So, to take a 10 session design course “with you” is almost more excitment than I can bear!

    It is enormous work – THANK YOU!

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