For a week that started slow, it sure ended up flying by! We swam, went to Ikea, and I'm making steady progress on a new ebook about rag style tshirt quilts (more on that at the end of the post). It's been cooler this week, too, which is totally strange for August in Georgia.
Today, I'm thrilled to be joined by Suzy Williams of Suzy Quilts. I had the delight to meet and spend a little time with Suzy at QuiltCon this year. She is classy, funny, and generous, and I'm so glad she agreed to this interview! Also, Suzy included links to her blog for further reading-- be sure to click and enjoy her stories and tips because they're fabulous!
1) Tell us a little about yourself, your family, your hobbies, your creative background, etc. My graphic design background has greatly shaped my work as a textiles designer. I don't come from an artistic or crafty family, so everything I know about sewing and design I have intentionally sought out and learned, mostly on my own. (I wrote an article about my close relationship with my mom and how quilting helped bond us after she lost her eyesight - http://suzyquilts.com/sweet-jane/)
2) What are you favorite tools and software when quilt designing? How can a new designer learn those programs? My favorite tool as a designer is Adobe Creative Cloud – I use those programs daily. I actually wrote an article about this over a year ago. For the most part, it still applies. - http://suzyquilts.com/how-to-make-a-quilt-pattern/As a quilter, I'd say my very reliable Bernina. Also see - http://suzyquilts.com/about/
3) Let's talk inspiration and self-care: If you need to take a break from quilting and design so you can clear your head and recharge, what do you do and where do you go? I walk my dog Scrappy a lot. I can get very focused and honed in on a project, so it's really good for me to get out of the house a few times a day to take my dog on long walks. I'd say most of my good ideas happen on those walks around the neighborhood. And I guess she likes them too :)
4) How is creative community important to your work? My creative community has changed a lot since I started Suzy Quilts a couple years ago. As my business has grown I find a lot of fulfillment chatting with other business owners and hearing their stories. It's also really nice to swap ideas and have a business savvy sounding board.
5) What advice do you have for other makers, designers, and quilters on their creative journeys?In my experience, in order to make a business succeed, I have to be willing to be flexible. I also have to recognize that if I want to make textile design my "job," it's going to feel like work. For me specifically, I can't just be a quilter – I have to be a pattern writer, graphic designer, webmaster, photographer, marketer, networker, sales person, writer, dreamer, and videographer. I think my main take-away is, to be an entrepreneur, you must wear many different hats. If I thought people would buy my quilts according to their value, I would never write another quilt pattern again. I would just design and sew aaaaall day long! I didn't have much success making and selling quilts to the general public, so I had to take my passion for sewing and do something else. Everybody's journey looks different, so if you are interested in starting your own textiles business, I would suggest making lots of lists and crunching numbers. One good thing I've discovered is that if you have an online presence and are bold enough to ask for it, fabric companies will usually give you the fabric you want for free. First try asking the specific fabric designer, then move on to the fabric manufacturer. The worst thing that can happen is they say, "no," but the best thing that can happen is you just cut costs for your business by A LOT. Be bold. Ask for what you want. Put in the work and be patient – building something meaningful takes time.
All of these gorgeous images are from Suzy's Instagram @suzyquilts, so be sure to hop over there and follow her. Plus, visit her website to purchase or download her amazing patterns. Thank you so much for joining us, Suzy! I hope our paths cross again (and not just because I obsessively reply to your Insta stories... lol).
As I mentioned at the top, I'm working on my next ebook which is all about Tshirt Quilts (like the ones just above). There will be a free mini-tutorial on the blog about Rag-Style Tshirt Quilts, but in the ebook I'm going to give away alllll my secrets from over two years of making a shocking number of tshirt quilts (at least 100) in both rag and traditional styles. Both the blog post and the ebook are scheduled to drop on Tuesday-- Be the first to get the scoop by joining my Newsletter. Plus, by signing up you also get a FREE download of "3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Free Motion Quilting."
Another great place to connect with me (and to tag me on all your cool makes so I can ooh and aah!) is Instagram! And be sure to check out my stories for all kinds of goofy behind the scenes adventures with my little boys and our cats!
Happy weekending and making, loves!