American Valor Quilt-along

Next week will start the first Facebook live videos for my next quilt-along series for American Valor. There's still time to get your kit and quilt along with me!

Due to all the preparation for our local shop hop right on the heels of two separate spring breaks for my kids, it's been difficult to get this going as planned, but we will get started May 1!

The kit comes with full instructions and includes fabric for the top and binding.

Videos will be shot live on the AmyQuilts facebook page Wednesday and Fridays at 1pm with an additional video Friday at 5pm. This is all Eastern time in the US. The footage will be recorded and posted to the facebook page after each live segment so you can watch whenever it's convenient for you. If you don't do facebook, I will be running a separate blog post here with the videos embedded so you can watch them right here on the blog without going to Facebook.

I'm excited about this panel based project as there are spaces and design areas that we can really make sing with our free motion quilting. I have additional yardage that goes with this fabric if you are interested in making it bigger than the 37 x 67-1/2" kit directs, as well as some great choices for backing. Right now the yardages aren't listed online, but I'll work on getting it up somehow soon.

Won't you join in the fun with me?

Amy's Sew Simple Studio is Stupendous!

Yes, I've got a thing for alliteration in my titles.....

The stand-alone studio is now functioning! It's still a work in progress, but I've been doing all my live videos here for a few weeks now.

As you can probably guess from the exterior, it's an older building and needs a lot of work. But as this gem from history shows below, it's come a long way!

This is looking through the same doorway towards the back door. It had been a salon since the 1940's.

Decades of hairspray is not fun to paint over! Once we got the paint to stick to the wall, it took many coats to cover this dark red shade.

While this space is very much the playground for and of course, for me, I believe we'll be calling it the Sew Simple Studio. Mostly I call it the studio or my studio, as we have to make sure to keep the two locations straight and make sure our locals don't think of it as a second shop. Or think that we're moving out of Lynchburg.

While I'm sure at some point there will be a small retail element to this space, it will be just to support occasional classes, workshops, and day retreats. But its core function is give me a space to do my own projects and shoot my videos without cluttering up the classroom at Sew Simple of Lynchburg. If you've ever taken over the dining room or the guest room with your quilting stuff and suddenly have a guest in this space, you know this feeling. We have important guests all day at the shop and I do not want things to look messy.

OK, and I like being able to listen to whatever I want, as loud as I want, and typically, I'm singing along! :-)

This area will eventually be a classroom/event space

Not only can I work without fear of making clutter, but I can spread out better and have several projects going at once. This is important because I have different projects sometimes for the shop, than I do for my online peeps. Plus, there are various things that need to be at different stages for my customers and students.

The studio is helping me to put some much needed boundaries in place for work, family, and other interests. When you own your own business, it's hard to separate work from life. Especially if that work supports your family. The studio is very close to home and the kids' schools. This is helping me to have a refreshed mind. It is nearly impossible to let your creativity flow when your mind is flitting from thought to thought, especially if you're running on empty.

I think I might bring my Poured Out II quilt to the studio to remind myself how important it is to fill your cup up in order to pour out onto others.

I'm very excited about the studio, even though right now it almost seems like I've doubled my workload. It's already helped me create more videos. You can see my latest video on tension adjustments for free motion quilting. Subscribe to my channel so you don't miss any new ones!

Innovative, Remarkable, Remembered

I'm feeling very introspective lately, so what follows are some thoughts on innovation, being remarkable, being memorable, and being popular. I promise it ties in with quilting and creativity.

I was listening to an online talk by Seth Godin about innovation, risk and the mass market. He mentioned the name of the man who invented the car. To be honest I don't remember the guy's name, but I do remember that Seth mentioned that he had to get a permit or permission from the king, because it wasn't legal to drive a car on the fact, in many places, there were no roads.

I don't remember his name and I bet many of you don't either. But I do remember Henry Ford. Henry Ford didn't invent the car though. What he did was make it accessible to the masses.

Singer didn't invent the sewing machine, but they sure made it available to the masses. In fact they were revolutionary in their use of the installment plan and they were wildly successful.

So successful that even non-sewing people think of Singer as the leader in the realm of sewing machines even to this day, even if those who really use sewing machines these days know that new Singer machines are no longer innovative. They still are quite affordable and their wide reaching availability in the mass merchandisers stores, the big box stores, certainly shows that they are being sold to the masses. They have their place, but they're not exactly remarkable.

Why do I write about this? Am I building up to a rant about cheap machines and big box stores? No. About the difficulty of putting a price on helping people, not just selling a product? Not really. Though this is the crux of the questions facing the independent quilt shop and sewing machine dealer these days.

I admit I certainly could launch into a rant of this type, especially as Hobby Lobby has just opened up a store across the street from our shop.

But what Seth's talk brought to mind was that the masses are the middle of the bell curve of any market of any product or concept. The middle is unremarkable. It's affordable, easy to use, doesn't do too much too well.

The remarkable, on the other hand only appeals to the outliers. To the masses, the outliers are the weirdos, the obsessed, the elite. Quilters are artists...artists know they are outliers. I think it's safe to say that we could be called obsessed, some of us might be those other terms too.

He talked about those who innovate are remarkable, but over time they might not be remembered. What, or who, is remembered isn't usually the original developer of the remarkable thing. With the main creativity of the idea and/or the basic mechanical concepts worked out, the next folks to work on the idea are the ones who can focus on the masses and make the concept or the product accessible, remembered, possibly unremarkable.

We all want to be remarkable. In what area is completely up to you and as varied as people are.

A blanket is typically unremarkable. Sure, some folks have a special blanket, and you certainly can find luxury blankets somewhere. I wouldn't know, my blankets are definitely unremarkable. I like the blanket I might add to my bed on an extra cold night, but it's unremarkable.

But a quilt, even a poorly made quilt, is remarkable. (I'm not referring to the commercially made quilts sold by the mass merchants.) They vary from maker to maker, from season to season of the maker's life, and from what materials we choose. They are unique and worthy of being remarked upon.

Remarkable and memorable is a rare combination.

Sometimes we find a rare place in our creativity and really make something remarkable. It doesn't have to be museum quality, it could be because the "market" you are making your quilts for is actually remarkable and responds to your efforts in a remarkable way. This might be the family who reminisces about their mother and grandmother as they hold their quilt.

Remarkable isn't for the masses.

Do you think about the work of your hands, your quilts, your art as remarkable? That means it likely doesn't appeal to the masses or at least isn't shared with the masses. I've been there and I know many of you have too; a ton of people want you to make a quilt for them or for someone they need to give a gift to, and they have no idea what goes into a quilt. Their desire for the quilt immediately diminishes when they learn what goes into it.

Does what I do appeal to the masses? Nope. Can I bring what I do to the masses? Do I even want to do that?

I have even been innovative, but wasn't really able to bring it to the masses within the quilting niche. Does that mean I'll fade into obscurity as others bring that innovation to the masses? Probably. But in the meantime I hope my little tribe of students and quilty friends find me remarkable in some way.

Have you tried to innovate in your life, in your craft, your art, even your sewing? Innovation doesn't have to be revolutionary or a giant step. It might just be a tiny little step out of your comfort zone, trying a new technique, a different color, or even a different substrate/fabric. Maybe it's introducing a person to what you do.

Do it! Let's be remarkable. The personal reward is great. Remember it may not appeal to the masses, but that's OK. I'm pretty sure the masses (in general) don't appeal to us!