Monthly Archives: December 2013

Customer Service 101: Active Listening

 

It is so very important to listen to customers and really hear what they’re saying. I made a portrait quilt top (not quilted, so it could be hung in a frame) for a customer who wanted to give it to her husband for Christmas. She described it as he’s in the military and she wanted something beautiful and unique featuring this photograph of his squadron.

Julianna 1I heard her… until I saw the picture. Dude! That’s the mountain from Close Encounters of the Third Kind! The one the kids were drawing and the guy made sculptures of because the aliens would land there. How cool that this is an actual real-life landmark! I’m such a sci-fi geek. And my first pattern draft focused on how awesome the mountain is… until I realized that I wasn’t focusing on what’s really important to the customer.

It doesn’t matter what I think is important (or cool!) in a photograph. It matters what the customer wants to feature. So I scrapped my drawing of the mountain in all its glory, which hides the planes quite well… and swapped that for a plain stripped fabric which brings the focus back to her husband’s squadron. I think it’s well done.

Juliana 2

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My Holiday Loot!

I usually don’t post “yay I got this” kinds of posts, but you might actually be interested this year. Especially since a lot of the gifts I got, I picked out myself. Those came from etsy sellers.

First, my Dad’s side of the family has a secret Santa gift exchange every year. I got a very thoughtful gift this year, a mason jar for pins with a pincushion on top. Oh, and these gifts have to be handmade. It even has a little saying on it with kitty paws.

pin cushion jar

 

My hubby got me my own printer, which is awesome. Now I don’t have to bug him in his garage workshop to print something out every time I need that. It even has scan and copy features. Woot. I won’t bore you with a photo of that.

I bought this beautiful photography 2014 calendar from an etsy shop. It didn’t come with those blobs of grey, I added them because I started filling in appointments before photographing it.

calendar

I also got patterns from two etsy shops. The first pattern is of a messenger bag. Here’s that shop.  The second pattern is for up-cycled sweaters and finger-less arm warmers. You can find that kooky shop here. 

I’m on the hunt things made from wool and cashmere to start making my own up-cycled items. A dear friend has offered me several wool scarves that are moth-eaten. Perfect! I’m looking for items that are stained, stretched, shrunken, ripped, or otherwise unusable to you. Please please contact me if you have anything like that you’d like to donate to my cause. I can help with shipping costs if need be.

My next blog post (on Monday) will feature a custom photo quilt that I made for a client who gave it to her husband for Christmas. I’m so excited to finally be able to show it to you! (Didn’t want to ruin the surprise.)

Happy Holidays!

Where’d You Get That Skirt?

In January my Aunt Laurie asked me to make her a custom tree skirt for this Christmas. You can read about that process here. This year another dear customer wanted one for next Christmas. Here’s the story on her tree skirt. But first, my aunt’s skirt under her tree in all its glory.

treeskirt in use

This next customer wanted a tree skirt to fit her artificial tree. So, while I was in St. Louis on vacation, we measured the base of her tree (about 1″) and calculated how large the skirt should be so it looks proportional. She was using a tablecloth wrapped around the base, but would much rather return it to the table and I was certainly the gal to help her out with that.

The second step in the process (the first being measurements) was choosing the fabric. I recommended fabric.com because I’d used them before and was impressed with their selection and customer service. She browsed through fabrics while my brother and I watched a scary movie and put her favorite Christmas prints in the shopping cart before calling me over for advice. I recommended that she choose her very favorite print and then we’ll find a coordinating one. So that’s exactly what she did! She loved the flowery fabric and the red with white polka-dots goes so nicely with it. See?

Sheri's tree skirt

Turns out, she ordered enough fabric (on my request, I usually get more than needed in case of slip-ups) that I didn’t charge her for shipping the tree skirt back to her. I made a second tree skirt out of the extra fabric. It’s up for sale in my etsy shop for $70. Here’s a photo of that one. It’s similar, just the fabrics are reversed. The red pizza slices are larger than the flowered ones.

Tree skirt for sale 70

I’d love to do a custom order for you! It can be a tree skirt, bag, quit, or whatever you can think of.

Also, I’m completely honest about my skill set. If I’ve never done something before but am confident that I can figure it out, or it’s a new patter that I haven’t tested yet, I’ll make a sample before using your chosen fabrics to make sure there are no kinks that need to be adjusted out. If I’m not confident that I can figure it out, I’ll tell you exactly that. Usually I’ll have someone in mind to refer you to as well who can probably do it. I can do almost anything. I rarely say no, but I feel it’s important to be honest.

P.S. To whichever of my quilting friends who suggested I buy a bias tape maker tool, thank you! It has saved me soooo much time when making the binding for these tree skirts. Customers, time saved means less cost since I do charge for my time. We are sew worth it!

Like a Herd of Turtles

The turtles have arrived! And they’re so darned cute I’ve got to share some photos with you all. The first is of the blocks in one layout option. They haven’t been sewn together yet and may not stay in this arrangement, but it’ll give you an idea of what we’ve got. I’ll be adding a few small turtle blocks and a border or two to expand it into the size it needs to be.

turtles blocks

There’s a great variety of artists and methods used to create these turtles. Here’s one that’s appliqued and embroidered.

embroidered edges turtle

This gorgeous scene is painted onto the fabric.

turtles landscape

The last block I’m showing you today is drawn. Look at all the textures the marker lines create!
Zentangle turtle

I’ll post more updates as I go on this quilt as well as the turkeys’ two quilts.

For more on the quilts I’m helping with for my childhood summer camp, check out these posts.

https://quiltartbymegan.wordpress.com/2013/11/24/the-turkeys-are-here/

https://quiltartbymegan.wordpress.com/2013/11/05/turtles-turkeys-wolves-and-bears-oh-my/

 

Color Me Beautiful

As promised, here’s my experience of getting my colors done while on vacation in St. Louis.

My now-friend Celeste did a wonderful job. (Isn’t it great when you have moments like that? She wasn’t my friend before I met her, but really meeting her is all that it took.) We set up a mirror, chair, and spotlight. She had a big ‘ole box of fabrics. She looked at my skin color, into my eyes, at the roots of my hair and even asked me to stick out my tongue. Then Celeste began draping me with shades of fabrics.

Whites As she moved through the whites, greens, blues, reds… I began to see that different shades of the colors made my face look sad, sickly, and tired. Others brought out my eyes and made my cheeks rosy. My face didn’t change, but putting new colors next to it made a huge difference.

GreensThis green is wonderful on me. I can see that in the mirror. It makes me look happy, well-rested, and trustworthy. When I know that I look this way, I feel more confident. It’s a great-big chain reaction. The happier the color makes me look naturally, the prettier I look, the better I feel about myself.

RedsGuess what?! Nothing’s completely off-limits. I knew before going into this that black against my face is a big no-no because it deepens the shadows. I discovered that I can do dark brown or navy instead. However, I knew for sure, for sure, for sure that I cannot ever wear red. Well… tomato red doesn’t do the blotchy thing to my face or make me look like I’m trying way too hard. Look at that! I can wear red!

my colorsCeleste uses the Color Me Beautiful system which categorizes people by seasons. I’m an autumn who looks best in the deep colors, not the lights. Here are the colors that are best on me. I’m so grateful for this experience. As I embrace my role as not only an artist but a businesswoman, I’ve been gifted such a wonderful tool.

Here’s something silly. I was on my way to Dad’s church after my appointment with Celeste, so I had dressed for that before we began. When we finished the coloring, I changed into an over-sized sweatshirt. I walked back into the room and Celeste sighed, “Oh that’s much better.” Moral of the story: I look better in slouchy clothes that are in my colors than fancy ones that aren’t.

Later that day my aunt took me shopping to get shirts and sweaters in my colors. It was the most fun shopping I’ve had in a long time. Going only to things in autumn hues cut waaaay back on the overwhelm-factor I usually feel in stores. Not to mention it made it possible for us to whip through 5 or 6 places in 90 minutes. Turn me loose in a fabric store and I can be there all day. Clothing shopping in the past has just made me feel ugly. So I hated doing it. No longer. Now I just need to look for fit and style. I already know the color looks great. Now I’m going to go rock my mustard sweater and coral lipstick on my grocery store trip.

 

 

If you’d like to know more or would like a color consultation yourself, just ask Celeste. celesteoakland@gmail.com She learned from her mother, who was hand-picked by Carole Jackson of Color Me Beautiful.

 

 

 

Nine and a Half

Do you remember when you were little, playing hide-and-seek, or cleaning your room, and Mom gave you slightly more time by counting to nine and a half before getting to ten?  I have s’more photos to share before we get to the post about colors. Is this cheating? Kindof. I said the colors would be in the next post. So this isn’t a full post later, it’s just a half.

STLAlexandDadlookgood STLAlexhappydaddy STLHappyGirlsIlookgood STLJimandEsteylookgood STLMarylooksawesome

So Much Thanksgiving

I didn’t actually take many photographs while I was on vacation. I’m still waiting to hear back from some family members who’ve offered to share their photographs, but here’s what I’ve got in the meantime.

SheriTurkey

My brother and I helped Sheri make this lovely vegetarian-friendly turkey. Now when I say helped, I mean that I cut the celery and he cut the carrots. That’s helping, right?! Anyway, Sheri’s masterpiece was so cool that the group collectively decided to eat it symmetrically so as to preserve the bird. For example, if I wanted a carrot, I’d take it from where the carrots are most dense so the poor thing didn’t have a bald spot.

Ta-Da

There’s that brother of mine snuggling up to Sheri. He’s 15 now! I hadn’t seen him since my cousin’s wedding over two years ago… so we were very happy to spend time together. We watched movies, played card games, saw a lights show, and enjoyed ice cream. My first thought when I saw him this trip was, “Oh no! He’s a MAN!” Always my baby brother, not quite a baby anymore. JimSheri

Alright, here are a few more I’m adding right off Facebook. These were taken the day we went to the Arch. My brother was in school that day, but my sister, her hubby, and little Mary were there. Dad, too. And me. Yeah. Here are the photos. Ready? Okay, now.

Arch with Alex

Baby Mary was so snuggly and cozy! Didn’t complain one bit as long as she was close to her mama. Us non-mamas could hold her for 20ish seconds before she’d loudly object. Her Dad got a little longer, of course. Whenever she got fussy, music usually did the trick. She loves “Baby Beluga” and “Open, Shut Them”. If all else fails, Elmo is magic. Mary cut her first two teeth on this trip. So exciting! Mastens arch

Those were taken at the top of the arch. This last one is on the ground but I just love how baby Mary and I are making eyes at each other. Which is not what we’re supposed to be doing, we’re supposed to be smiling at the camera. Sometimes the candid shots are way cuter anyway.

MaryandItalkarch

In my next post I’ll talk about getting my colors done. As a quilter, I know that picking the exact right color is important. The almost-right color often isn’t good enough. I had my personal colors done (you know, for makeup and clothing) and it has changed my perspective. In the past when I wanted to look nice, I didn’t really know how. Little black dresses made me look pale. Makeup darkened the circles under my eyes. Turns out I was choosing the wrong colors. More on that soon.