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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Welcome the Sewist into your Shop


Garments, accessories, home d├ęcor and quilts. The revolution afoot can breathe new life into your business as well as your customers’ creativity. Today’s new multi-crafting sewist wants to quilt and sew it all, and you, as an independent shop owner, offer the perfect venue to guide her and win a loyal customer.
Recent consumer focus groups conducted by Westminster Fibers, Inc., purveyors of such well-known brands as Rowan and FreeSpirit fabrics, have revealed that over one-third of active sewing consumers sew fashions and over 60 percent sew for their homes.

These consumers more than likely include your current customers as well as a newer demographic.

The Quilting in America 2014 national survey, conducted by the industry powerhouse F+W, shows the dedicated quilter continues to drive the marketplace. She is, on average, 64 years old and is 12.2 percent of all quilters accounting for 60.4 percent of purchases.
She is your customer.

The survey also points out that 20 percent of all dedicated quilters sewed fashion in the past 12 months and 57 percent made a functional item such as a pillow, tote and so on. Both statistics show an increase since 2010. Are you geared up with beautiful cotton sateens and rayon challis to draw
her into your shop and give her a reason to buy more fabric from you?
The new demographic is “figuring it out” her own way, which is typical of the generation dubbed Millennials (born in the 1980s to early 2000s). She is actually making good on her “pins” — becoming inspired to create and doing so proudly, mistakes and all! She is lurking on online sewing communities such as Burdasytle.com, with more than 900,000 members, 44 percent of whom are 30 to 49 years old and are engaged in fashion sewing.

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Friday, March 20, 2015

QuiltCon 2015 Wrap Up

The FreeSpirit team is back from QuiltCon 2015 and since we’ve just finished digging out of our inboxes we thought you might like an update on what we saw at QuiltCon in sunny and warm Austin, Texas.
We were so pleased with the attendance at this show and hope it will get better every year. This year there were attendees from 48 states, 15 countries and 109 modern quilt guilds – amazing! If you know someone from North Dakota and Wyoming tell them about QuiltCon 2016 so that all 50 states can show us what modern quilting means to them!

The show kicked off with the award ceremony honoring 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners in 16 categories ranging from Applique to Improvisation (sponsored by FreeSpirit), and Group quilts to Youth quilts. Each winner had their quilt marked with beautiful handmade ribbons.
First place in Improvisation went to Nydia Kehnle from Monroe, New York with The Rabbit Hole by Nydia Kehnle. Her quilt started as a writer’s block exercise but once she saw the blocks on the wall she loved how beautiful they all looked together and then proceeded into “The Rabbit Hole.” Nydia was at the show and we just loved getting the chance to congratulate her in person for her amazing quilt. Just look at all the great texture that her matchstick quilting gives it!

Second place in Improvisation went to Serena Brooks from Los Angeles, California with Aleph Bet.

Third place in Improvisation was awarded to Tricia Royal from Chicago, Illinois with This Way.

The Quilting Excellence award, sponsored by Make it Coats was presented to Marla Varner from Sequim, Washington with Coral Reef. Varner says, “The vibrant colors of this bicolor quilt were the perfect canvas for dense hand quilting. The quilting is improvisational, with each block inviting me to play with unique designs featuring multiple thread weights and colors.”
After the awards ceremony it was off to peruse the show floor, attend panels, and participate in workshops and demonstrations. It’s obvious to us that the quilting community is hungry to learn more because each panel, workshop, lecture and demonstration that we saw was packed. We even had a chance to catch up with a few of our FreeSpirit designers in attendance including Anna Maria Horner and Denyse Schmidt!
Denyse was spreading her modern goodness by visiting with you, true FreeSpirits, in some of our retailers’ booths. And Anna Maria Horner kept busy with her creative workshops – spreading the love of quilting. 
Our own Nancy Jewell hosted a demonstration about using contemporary fabrics in modern quilts and had plenty of examples on hand for the audience to see up close and in person. You can check out an overview of her full presentation here. One of our favorite points in her presentation was that while there are rules that define “modern quilting” you shouldn’t be afraid to do what feels good to you – and that prints (both large and small) have a place in modern quilting, too.

We also took the opportunity to sneak away from the show for a bit to visit some local shops (when in Rome, right?). Shout out to Valli & Kim in Dripping Springs and to Stitch Lab in Austin for humoring us while we poked around for the afternoon. Both shops have so much character and absolutely beautiful fabrics.
QuiltCon really energized our spirit to create - we had a great time and hope you did too. We loved meeting everyone and hope that in 2016 we’ll get to meet even more of you! If you’re hungry to see all of the winners and find out more about the show you can find a full list on the Modern Quilt Guild blog.
Now, tell us – did you go to QuiltCon? If not, are you thinking about attending in 2016 or 2017? What is your favorite modern quilt?
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Thursday, March 19, 2015

National Quilt Day - March 21st

Celebrate National Quilt Day - March 21st!

We are all about Quilts and Quilting here at FreeSpirit!

Check out our Pinterest board dedicated to Quilts, Quilts and MORE Quilts!



 We also have many quilt patterns to download for FREE on makeitcoats.com!



In 1989, the Kentucky Heritage Quilt Society organized a "Quilters' Day Out" on the third Saturday of March to celebrate the rich tradition of quilt making in Kentucky. In 1991, the NQA officers were so enthused with the concept and success of "Quilters'Day Out" that they voted to take it to a national level.
The first National Quilting Day was observed in 1992 and since then it has grown into a global celebration for all quiltmakers and quilt lovers. Helen Storbeck, one of the founders of National Quilting Day, wrote in The Quilting Quarterly, "Groups of quilters were encouraged to hold special events, publishers and shop owners were invited to sponsor promotions especially for quilters and it quickly became a grassroots endeavor with quilters in every part of the country participating.  In the first year of National Quilting Day, quilters in other countries asked to participate. They were welcomed with open arms. As our feelings of a community network has evolved to include a world community, it is only appropriate that quilters and quilt lovers everywhere united to give recognition to the special art form."
There are countless ways to celebrate National Quilting Day.  Find a few suggestions here
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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Using Contemporary Fabrics in Modern Quilting

When you enter a fabric or quilt store you may notice that fabrics today look much different than those of the past. Today a new category exists in terms of color and design. These new prints are much more rich and vibrant. And while smaller prints are still an important part of quilting, what’s being created today does not compare to the ditsy prints of the past. Quilting today is not always about repeating the past but taking the past and making it your own.


At FreeSpirit we believe Amy Butler was a catalyst in creating contemporary fabrics. She began looking outside of the industry for inspiration and expressing what she found in a whole new genre that was very different from the batiks, calico, and civil war prints most were accustomed to. Her new designs struck a chord with quilters and sewers, and awakened many who may never have sewed or quilted to give it a try.   

This revived spirit found in the modern printed fabrics play another important role in that they often catch the eye of people who may not quilt or sew, and who are then inspired to learn a new craft because they want to make something with the beautiful fabrics they’ve seen. We’re finding that contemporary fabric designs are breathing life into the industry and helping to carry on the traditions of sewing and quilting to those who may have a more modern aesthetic. 


And, as the fabrics we use have evolved so too has modern quilting. The ideals are about quilting in the now and giving ourselves permission to make our own rules. Modern quilting is all about the following:
-         - Being functional rather than decorative
-         - Asymmetry in quilt design
-         - Relying less on repetition and on the interaction of the block motifs
-         - Containing reinterpreted traditional blocks
-         - Embracing simplicity and minimalism
-         - Utilizing Alternative block structures or a lack of visible block structure
-         - Increased use of negative space
-         - Drawing inspiration from modern art and architecture
-         - Adding a print
When it comes to mixing prints and solids it’s all about balance. Much like your life needs balance between work and play, today’s quilting is all about the solids and prints balancing each other. Contemporary prints mixed together with solids help reflect traditional design but in colors and with drama that reflect today.

In this quilt by Janet Middlekauff of the blog Simply Pieced you first see the solid, then the print. The print and the colors of the print lend balance to the rich solids.

Adding a print to the fabrics in your quilt can add significant depth and dimension – sometimes lending an almost 3-D effect to your quilt. By mixing patterns and solids you allow the eye a place to rest (and simultaneously create a second pattern). Many find that cutting up prints offers surprises in the end result and spreads the color palette throughout the quilt. 


(Left) This modified Dresden, titled Gelassenheit, by Heather Jones certainly plays upon reinterpreting a traditional pattern, but the print floats on top of the solids. It pops and creates its own design.
(Right) A Twisted Path, by Simply Pieced, really shows how prints and solids can work together by creating depth and interest.


In these quilts the solid creates its own pattern and grounds the design.

Adding a print among solids adds design value to your quilt. The quilt below by Ashley Newcomb uses FreeSpirit GreenField Hills by Denyse Schmidt to create a line which becomes the central element of design on this quilt. It also has a great use of negative space allowing the prints to dance across the quilt.  


Mixing solids and prints can add an appearance of framing for both fabrics as the solids create a visual interruption in the print. Try putting the fabric first to make a simple quilt that lets the print speak. 


Adding a print to accompany your modern solids also adds texture to your quilt. Texture not just with the print but also the fabric or substrate. The print in this simplistic, and still very interesting, quilt is a linen/cotton blend from FreeSpirit presents Hapi by Amy Butler. The texture in this case is achieved within the fabric and the geometric print.


Adding a print can turn an already beautiful quilt design into a piece of art. The example below uses FreeSpirit Acacia by Tula Pink to create the butterfly in the center of the quilt. 


In quilting, and especially in modern quilting, there is room for all types of fabric. All types of substrates. All types of patterns and all types of solids. Solids may appear to have one personality but then all of the sudden when they’re mixed with a print that personality changes. Solids and prints need each other. Solids make prints special.

FreeSpirit challenges you to take your fabrics and swatches and put them on the floor or wall and move them around. Step back. See what moves you and then go for it. The bottom line is that it’s as much about the attitude of what is being done versus the fabric being used – so get out there and do what feels good to you! (And, please, share it with us on Facebook and Instagram by tagging us at @freespiritfabrics and #iamafreespirit!)


While not mixed with a solid per say, this patterned quilt reads as a mix of solids and prints because of how the fabrics are used together and mixed with more vibrant and saturated prints. What affect do these prints have on the background? How does the print read visually to you?

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Designer Spotlight - FreeSpirit presents Elizabeth by Tula Pink

Tula Pink's newest fabric collection is a fantasy adaptation about a dynamic queen based on the life of Elizabeth I of England. Elizabeth's 16th Century England collides with the present in an explosion of color and pattern to create a thoroughly updated narrative. Tula used the original propaganda and symbology of Elizabeth's reign to weave together snippets of a story so enduring that we are still fascinated with her over 500 years later. From pelicans to pearls, there is a treasure trove of things to find and decode amongst the eccentrically decadent foliage, flowers, swirls and loops. It's both quirky and elegant in a way that only Tula Pink can achieve!

View the entire Elizabeth Collection on MakeitCoats.com

Click below to download our FREE projects highlighting Elizabeth
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