6 Tips For Your Quilt Business

Road 2018 teacher, Jamie Wallen, has owned a longarm quilting business for over 20 years.

During his classes, not only did he help students improve their longarm quilting skills, he also shared advice about how to be a successful lonngarm quilting business owner based on his own experiences.

Practice. Practice. Practice.

Practice your craft at least a half an hour a day by drawing designs on paper, creating “muscle memory” for when you take the design to the machine. As you practice, learn new designs and techniques. Be willing to learn and grow with your talents and skills.

Go Online.

Jamie shared that there are 100’s of quilt block quilting design ideas online.  Search for contour line quilt blocks. Print them off and practice the designs.  Also search for current trends in quilts and come up with three different ways to quilt a particular designed quilt.

Clients Will Come

“No need to worry if you will get clients, ” assured Jamie. “They will come.” He recommended practicing your business pitch right along with practicing your quilting techniques.  You won’t have time to practice when a customer drops off their quilt.

Sharon was a student in one of Jamie’s classes. She has been quilting for over 20 years and started longarm quilting four years ago when her kids got out of school and she had more time. She has owned a longarm business, Bee Squared Quiltsfor 2 years. At first, she quilted for friends and their friends. She is ready to expand her business so that is why she took Jamie’s class. Her first longarm quilting class was with Jamie at Road 2016. She loved learning his design techniques and hearing his stories, so she signed up again in 2018. Her best take-away? Keep drawing.

Use Your Time Wisely In Your Studio

When Jamie first started his business, he found he was spending 10-12 hours in his studio but that he was wasting a lot of time. “There are lots of distractions and interruptions when you work out of your home. It’s takes self discipline to have a successful business,”  stressed Jamie. Some things that Jamie does to stay on track is to have a running timer on his machine. When he walks up to the machine, he hits it on and whenever he walks away, he hits it off so that all through the day he keeps a running total of the time he actually spends quilting. Today, he has cut down his quality time to 7-71/2 hours quilting.

Jamie recommends avoiding television when in the studio. Television causes a distraction because you often look away to see what it on. He prefers books on tape or podcasts because they keep you at the machine. “We need stimulation while we quilt and non-visual is best.”

Another suggestion is to take advantage of answering machines and voicemail. Stop every hour to stretch, check your messages, and do other tasks.

Make Friends With Your Clients.

Jamie shared this observation: “Your clientele are not just there for your services. They are also looking for friends. Make appointments with your clients to show you respect their time. Find out about them, their work, their interests. Offer them coffee. A mediocre quilter who treats his or her client kindly will be more successful than a superb quilter who doesn’t take an interest in their client.”

Another one of Jamie’s students, Chrissy, is new to the longarm quilting business world. She says she puts a lot of love in the quilting she does for her business, House of Threads. Chrissy said she liked “the touch and feel” of the machines during her class. She appreciated the opportunity to meet fellow quilters, see Jamie’s quilts up close, and have him answer questions. “Jamie is amazing.”    Tell The Truth.

“The human eye only corrects 75% of what it sees so the likelihood of your client catching a mistake isn’t that high. Still, it is better for you to bring it to their attention. Always come clean with your client if you mess up. Don’t try to cover it up.  And fessing up to a mistake doesn’t necessarily mean you will have to always undo your mistakes.”

Jamie’s tips can be adapted for anyone who owns their own business but especially for longarm quilters.

 

Jamie Wallen And The Art Of Longarm Quilting

For one week at the Azure Hotel, students learned how to improve their longarm skills on Innova machines under the tutelage of Jamie Wallen.

Prior to becoming a long arm quilter, Jamie was a Registered Nurse for over 20 years. Burn out with the profession settled in after working 18-hour days, 7 days a week for so long. One day, in the mid-90’s, Jamie went to a friend’s house to help him put up a fence. His friend’s wife was a piecer and had a quilting magazine laying around. Jamie picked it up, thumbed through it, and saw an ad for a longarm quilting machine. He bought the machine 2 days later!! Right from the beginning, it was never about the piecing for Jamie; he was all about the longarm quilting.  He recalled, “I saw the potential for ‘painting on a canvas of what was finished.’”

For two years, Jamie did nursing and quilting was his hobby. In those days, there was no support for longarm quilters so “you had to make it up as you went,” shared Jamie. He did a lot of practicing on bed sheets to come up with ideas. Soon, the quilting industry began to boom—and so did his business. How many quilts has he quilted? He stopped counting three years ago when his total reached 6,500!!  

A resident of Michigan City, Indiana, he and his partner, Rich, travel extensively with their business, Quilters Apothecary. In 2017, they spent 34 weeks traveling over 60,000 miles driving and flying, including a one-month stint in Australia teaching in five different cities.   

Jamie got in to teaching as a way to be a mentor for friends who made a big investment in their longarm machines but didn’t know what to do with them.  Today, he values teaching as a way to be a caretaker for the industry.

Jamie teaches at Road approximately every other year (he previously taught in 2013 and 2016), and his classes sell out fast. Being from the East, he enjoys coming to Ontario during the winter. He appreciates the creative energy found at the show and all the inspiration that it has. Jamie says his students are always “happy and ready to learn.”

During his classes, Jamie demonstrated drawing and quilting different designs as he shared personal stories of what it like to be a longarm quilter. One thing Jamie stressed with his students was the necessity of putting aside time each day for practicing.  With drawing, practicing at least a half hour to 45 minutes will help build muscle memory which eventually translates over to working on the machine. “Drawing designs is addictive. Anything a pencil can do, a longarm does,” Jamie said. He recommended keeping a TV tray, a folding chair, and some drawing tablets in the family room and use them when watching television.  

With quilting, Jamie said that the biggest problem is waiting until you have a quilt before you start quilting. “You need to practice a lot before you lay down a quilt on the machine.” He added, “Every new quilt design is like learning cursive. It will look ugly at first,” but over time, “repetition brings rhythm.”   Looking for new longarm quilting ideas? Jamie recommends going online. “Search for contour line quilt blocks. There are 100’s of quilt blocks to print off and practice.” He also said to look for popular quilts, print a picture of them, and come up with three ways to quilt it.    

What are the biggest changes Jamie has seen with longarm quilting since he started?  For one, it has become more of an industry than merely a hobby. People recognize its value and are willing to pay appropriately. Another change is how quilts are looked at in general. No longer are they just functional fabric items. They have evolved into family heirlooms where quilters preserve lasting legacies.  Jamie shared that the current biggest trend is photo quilts—4×4 inch photos on fabric.

To learn more about Jamie Wallen and his quilting tools, please visit his website.

 

 

 

Meet Road 2018 French Vendor: Les Secrets de Marie

Marie-Claude Picon-Iperti is an expert with blending the beauty of antique quilts with the simplicity of primitive stitchery. She is known in France for her talent of combining fabric prints, colors, and textures to create her version of the popular French country-farmhouse look. She thoroughly enjoys sharing her country’s quilting heritage.

Marie also has a strong love for America. It stems from her father’s experience of meeting a U.S. soldier during World War II. Her father was just 13 years old, living in South Africa. The soldier gave her father a ring to remember him and America by. Knowing the story, Marie had wanted to come to the U.S. ever since she was a little girl. In all, she has visited America 20 times.

Quilt Market in October, 2017 was Marie-Claude’s first foray into the United States retail quilting community. After that successful show, she sent her fabrics and quilts back to France. Then, she found out six weeks before Road to California, that a booth was available. It would have been too expensive to ship everything back to the States, so she had to become creative in introducing her product line at the show. That’s when she came up with the idea to have miniature versions of her projects, packaging them in small wooden boxes.

Her clever idea soon proved extremely popular and was a real hit with conference goers.

Marie personally made everything in her booth. All of the materials contained in the Les Secrets de Marie boxes featured French artisans and French products.

In addition to her business selling and showing French Farmhouse quilts and designs, Marie also organizes tours for French quilters. Her first book, French Farmhouse-Quilts with Rustic Simplicity, will be available from Martingale Press in May, 2018.

Marie thoroughly enjoyed her time at Road 2018 and thought the experience was “just wonderful.”

 

 

Road 2018 Best of Show

Congratulations to Claudia Pfeil  who won $10,000  from Sponsor Gammill Quilting Systems for her quilt, Fractal Claudia Pfeil is a quilting pioneer in Germany.

She made her first quilt in 1984 without the now common rotary cutter and rulers. As she remember, “There was much “trial and error” as I taught myself the tricks of making templates and seams.” This quilt ended up being her only large sewing project for many years.

Claudia studied textile design at the University of Applied Sciences Niederrhein. This work drew her interests into different directions. She got the “quilting fever” –  but didn’t know it at the time.

In 1992, with the birth of her first son, Julian, Claudia decided that the work she had done in the textile arena would go in a new direction.  She started by going through her drawers and bins, uncovering  her “hoarded” treasures that she had been collecting over the years.  One of her treasures that she found were handwoven fabric pieces that she made while attending university, on a 16 shaft loom. She was dedicated to giving those 30×30 cm (almost 12 inch) blocks a new “right to exist“ in a quilt! Because she didn’t have the “proper ‘yarn’ for sewing,” Claudia went to the local sewing shop where she was introduced to her first rotary cutter, mat and quilting ruler.  Content with her  “learn by doing” approach, those experimental times gave her the courage to improvise.  She took her finished quilt to the sewing shop and immediately, the owners asked her to teach them her technique!!  Looking back, Claudia says she has “to smile about my self confidence without having any clue!”

It didn’t take long for Claudia to start buying and selling fabrics; first in the basement of her house, then in 1997, renting a small location in town where she opened Quilt & Co.  In 2002, the shop was moved to a larger – and current – location in Krefeld, Ritterstrasse.

The fall of 2004 totally changed Claudia’s world. She had brought Quilt & Co.  as a vendor to the French quilt show, Carrefour du Patchwork. Next to her booth was APQS. She played everyday on their Millennium quilting machine and was hooked with longarm quilting. She purchased her longarm machine in 2005, finding a way to “express myself through fabric and thread that was exciting, addictive and fun.” Claudia says free-motion quilting gives her the freedom–“like an eagle flying over the mountains”– to play with spaces and quilting designs.

When Claudia begins a project, she likes to work with a theme. Themes challenge her, get her out of her comfort zone, and start her thinking “out of the box.” Her theme for Fractal was kaleidoscopes. Claudia searched Google for pictures of kaleidoscopes and endless links introduced her to fractals. She admits that before then, she really didn’t know what fractals were.  She became fascinated by their dynamic , vitality and vibrancy.

Before falling asleep at night, she would collect dreams and visions of her theme and began thinking about how she could translate her visions into realistic designs. She began by preparing circles in different sizes out of white Dupioni silk on freezer paper templates. Next, she drew designs on to the circles, first with pencil, then if she was satisfied, she drew them with a black pen (Faber-Castell)  filling in the details and painted them with acrylic colors              (Stewart Gill) and Tsukineko ink pens. Playing and creating  the layers is one of the main parts of the quilt. She tried to enhance this impression with the choice and placement of quilting designs. Using 100 wt black silk thread, it took several backtracking stitches around the outlines of the circle designs to repeat and enhance the  black drawing lines. The design was couched with different yarns ( for example Razzle Dazzle and Yli ) around all outlines, respecting again the different layers to create a foreground and a background. Her final touch? 30,000 Swarovski Crystals!!! Claudia says her entire process took approximately 10 months to complete.

Besides learning about fractals, Claudia also learned by trial and error how to use mixed types of ink and paints and pens while making Fractal. She commented, “I learned that it is hard to get rid of pencil drawings on silk.”

When she received the news that Fractal had won Best of Show, it was around 5:00 AM in the morning in Germany. Claudia said she woke up “unintentionally” to check the time on her cellphone and saw that she had received several messages on Facebook telling her of her award. She went downstairs, opened her email and saw the official announcement from Road. Claudia said she was “shocked” when she found out she had won.

Where does Claudia go from here with her quilting? “I am working on my new project for 2018. I am bit behind my own time schedule this time. But the quilt is loaded on the machine and waiting to be quilted. In May, I will travel to the USA  to teach at several APQS Showrooms in Raleigh, Louisville, Austin and Dallas. In November, I will be at Quilt Festival in Houston and…. I am soooo hoping to be back at Road to California next year!”

Congratulations Claudia Pfeil for your outstanding entry.

 

 

 

 

Our Staff Make The Difference

Road to California is a family owned enterprise. However, the Reese family knows that it takes many dedicated employees to insure the show remains the best quilt show in the West. Most of our staff have been working with the show for many years. They keep coming back because they love sharing their love of quilting with the thousands of people who attend the show through their contributions behind the scenes.    

Cathy Norell was Road’s first employee outside of the Reese Family. She started with the show in 1991 when it was housed at the original Marriott Hotel on Holt Boulevard. At the time, Road to California consisted of only a few classes. By its third year, Cathy remembers, it had grown to a full show offering not only classes but vendors and even a fashion show. Cathy started out helping with registration and has for many years worked with the vendors, personally greeting them every day, making sure they have everything they need for a successful show. She says that she really looks forward to seeing the vendors each year. They have become “like family to me.” A quilter for over 70 years, her favorite quilts are the ones “that can be dragged around and loved.”      

Traditional quilters Patti McCormick and Karen Jones, have become familiar faces to guests in the main hallway as they assist with registration and information.

Patti has worked with Road for 18 years helping with buses, classes, and registration. At Road 2018, she was in charge of checking people in, helping them with their packets, and answering general information. Her favorite part of Road is seeing the show come all together and meeting people from many places with many different quilt interests.

Stationed at the North Registration desk, Karen not only answered questions and gave directions during Road 2018, she helped guests with their entries to the daily giveaways. Seeing the excitement of the guests is one of Karen’s favorite things about the show. In addition, Karen really gets in to the spirit of the show with her quilt jewelry.   

Husband and wife, Rae and Michael, are both quilters and are both part of Road’s staff. Rae is busy before the show even starts, checking in the vendors when they arrive to set up. Michael also helps with setting up the vendor floor. During the show, he is busy offering support for the classrooms.

Rae says that working for Road is “fun” and that she enjoys getting to know the people behind the scenes.

We appreciate these and many more diligent staffers who truly make the difference in helping us present a quality show.

 

 

Everyone Loves A Winner

At Road to California 2018, there were lots of winners to celebrate!! Thanks to the generous support of some of our teachers and vendors, we were able to give away lots of cool stuff before and during the show.

To generate excitement before Road 2018, we sponsored a 10-day Daily Giveaway. Each day, from January 3 through January 12, entries were collected from comments on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.  One comment was randomly selected per day as the winner. The Grand Prize winner was chosen on the last day: Erica from Chino, California. She said she entered the giveaway every day on Instagram. When she found out she had won, she was both “shocked” and “excited” as she jumped for joy. Erica won 4 tickets to the show; 4 passes to Jenny Doan’s Trunk Show on Friday night; and for Saturday, lunch for 4 plus registration in 2 classes: Blooming Dresdens taught by Lee Chappell Monroe and Goodbye UFO’s—Hello New Projects taught by Pat Yamin.

A young mom with two children ages 11 and 2, Erica has been to Road 4 times. She says it’s her “escape.” “I love coming here and seeing everything. I get so inspired.”  Erica has been quilting since 2009 and says she often hears, “You’re too young to be quilting!!” Her best friend’s grandmother taught her how to quilt. Recently, Erica has gotten her daughter started in quilting because she wants to pass on her legacy of quilting.

During the show, we gave away several sewing machines for our Daily Drawings. Guests entered their names into a big gold drum located at the North Registration Desk. In order to receive their prize, winners had to be present at the show. If they weren’t in the immediate vicinity of the drawing, they had 15 minutes to claim their prize.

Thursday’s winner was Debbie Johnson from Montclair, California. She won a Brother Disney Innovis Sewing and Embroidery Machine donated by Moore’s Sewing. Debbie has attended Road over 10 times and was in a class (her third of the week!) when she received the phone call that she had won. Debbie said winning the machine was “the perfect ending to my day.”

Something new for 2018 was that there were two drawings held on Friday and Saturday. At 11:30 AM on Friday, a Bernina “Simply Red” 215 donated by Mel’s Sewing and Fabric Center, was won by Sylvia Corbin of San Diego, California. She and three friends had attended Party Time the night before and was on a lunch break from Jenny Doan’s class when she heard her name called.

You could hear Sylvia screaming down the main hallway as she ran to collect her prize. Sylvia loves Bernina sewing machines (this prize made it her 4th Bernina) and loves the quilting community.

On Friday afternoon, Myles Eakes of Phelan, California was getting his lunch at nearby Victoria Gardens when he received the phone call that he had won. “Shocked” that he had won, Myles raced back to the Ontario Convention Center, without breaking any traffic laws, but did have to double-park in order to make the 15-minute deadline!!!

Myles is a hand-sewer and is currently designing a quilt featuring golf flags. He came to the show with his wife and mother- both quilters. At first, they did not believe he had won; after all, he was supposed to be getting his lunch so they took their time meeting up with him. Boy were they surprised when they saw him standing with his Janome M7200 donated by Moore’s Sewing!!

On Saturday morning, it took three tries before Denine Moriarity of Valley Center, California, was able to claim her prize, a Baby Lock Katherine, donated by Moore’s Sewing. When she heard that the second person drawn wasn’t present to win, Denine said to herself, “The next one will be me!!”  She was “amazed” to win and thought the machine was just “awesome.”

A quilter for 15 years, Denine came to Road 2018 with her sisters. She took two classes and loved the inspiration.

Irene Towler of Hollister, California, won the Saturday afternoon drawing, a Viking Tribute 145 donated by OC Sewing and Vacuum. Road 2018 was Irene’s first time at the show. She commented on the quilts on display saying that they were “the most beautiful quilts I have ever seen. Irene has been quilting “forever” and is a founding member of The Pinnacle Quilters in San Benito County.

The final drawing was held Sunday afternoon where Georgann Bradenburg was the “happy” winner of a Martelli Premier Work Station.   

It’s always fun to see the surprise, joy, and gratitude of Road drawing winners.

 

Road 2018 Special Exhibit: Red & White Quilting, An Iconic Tradition

The ballroom of the Ontario Convention Center was the location for viewing the Special Exhibit, Red & White Quilting, An Iconic Tradition.

Red & White Quilts have been popular for over three centuries of quilt making and have been a staple since the mid nineteenth-century.  Red & White quilts are bold, graphic and eye-catching and are the most iconic color combination in quilting. The exhibit highlighted this tradition celebrated in Linda Pumphrey’s newest book, Red and White Quilting an Iconic Tradition in 40 Blocks. The book features instructions for 40 blocks and 14 projects.  Each project has three variations shown so readers can decide which version they want to make.

A total of fourteen quilts hung in the exhibit, highlighting the versatility of a two-color quilt. Eleven of the quilts came from Linda’s book and the other three came from the International Quilt Study Center & Museum located at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln which were used as inspiration for some of the new quilt designs in the book.

The production of the quilts used for the book and the exhibit, were actually a “Pumphrey Family affair.”  Linda’s mother and sister each made one of the projects and the rest were made by Linda.  Linda said that she “set out to develop new quilt patterns that were little on the modern aesthetics, definitely contemporary but yet classical with using very tradition blocks.”   All of the quilts were quilted by Karen Kielmeyer who also did the quilting for the Special Exhibit seen at Road 2017, “Mountain Mist Historical Quilts.”

Road to California 2018 was the first place Red & White Quilting, An Iconic Tradition has been shown.  After Road, the exhibit will be on tour at the Original Sewing and Quilt Expos throughout the country in 2018.  In addition, the quilts and the book will be featured on an upcoming segment of “The Quilt Show” with Alex Anderson and Ricky Tims.

 

Road 2018 Was A Huge Success!!

How to describe Road to California 2018?

The sun was shining.

Teachers and their classes were creating.

The vendor floors were busy.

Guests kept coming.

And best of all, the quilts were amazing!!!

Best of Show, “Fractal,” by Claudia Pfeil

Not only was Jenny Doan, of Missouri Star Quilt Company, a popular teacher…

…her Trunk Show was inspiring.

Road’s Founder, Carolyn Reese, was honored by the Ontario Convention Center’s President and CEO, Michael Krause, for being a loyal business partner to the City of Ontario, the Convention Center, and the Community.

The new App, QuiltSpace, was enjoyed by thousands of users. The winner of the App’s Quilter Choice Award went to “Your Place or Mine” by Marva-lee Otos. She received $500 for receiving the most votes from the App users.

“Your Place or Mine,” by Marva-lee Otos

And Road’s new owner, Matt Reese, still found time to give 5 month old son, Braden, a tour of the show.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to making Road 2018  “The Happening Place to Be.” We can’t wait to start planning next year’s show!!

Returning Quilts Safe and Sound

Why do our guests come to our show?

Some come for the vendors. Some come for the classes. Some come to see friends. But everyone comes for the quilts.

Show quilts accepted for our annual contest and for special exhibits begin arriving at our office in December. The quilts are meticulously logged in and stored until the Sunday before the show when they are moved to the Ontario Convention Center for judging and displaying.

When the show closes on Sunday at 3:30 PM, dismantling the many quilt displays begins immediately. Each quilt is removed by white-gloved volunteers and carefully stored until the next day, when the process for packaging and shipping begins.

Other large shows can take up to a month to return their show quilts to the makers. At Road to California, we pride ourselves in developing a process where over 1,000 quilts are readied for pick-up by FedEx by Monday afternoon following the show.

Show Owner, Matt Reese, personally oversees the packing and shipping of the quilts. “I am 100% directly responsible for this special task,” commented Matt. “I do not delegate this responsibility to any of our staff.  Through the years, I have retained full oversight even when I was in law school and even when I was sick.”

Matt has spent the past four years perfecting Road’s packing and shipping method. His goal is to have the job done as quickly as possible without compromise. Matt says using computers, having multiple packing stations, and hand-picked volunteers make the difference.

Road 2018 Teacher Pat Yamin of Come Quilt With Me, stays in California an extra day after the show so she can help volunteer with the process. 

Each quilt has a return instruction sheet completed by its owner that accompanies it throughout the 5-step Shipping and Packaging Process:

Step 1- Expediting

One person verifies the return instruction sheet along with the quilt’s assigned tracking number and a volunteer matches it to the quilt.

Step 2- Packaging

A volunteer folds the quilt as it was originally received, per the owner’s direction, and puts it in a plastic bag to protect it against any possible insect or water damage in shipping.

The quilt is then placed in a brand-new box that matches the dimensions requested by the owner. These boxes are put together on site and are filled with acid-free packing paper to avoid movement of the quilt during shipping.

Occasionally, when a quilt is received, the owner asks to have it returned in the box they provided. In those cases, Road holds on to the boxes until final shipment. And sometimes two quilts are returned to the same owner in the same box.

Step 4-Weighing

All boxes are weighed on a scale and the weight is recorded on the return instruction sheet.

Step 4-Computer Station

This is the final check point for the quilt. It’s number and box contents are verified and a packing label is printed.

Step 5-Sealing and Mailing

The boxes are sealed and the mailing label is affixed. Also, the number of the quilt is written on the side of the box. All sealed boxes are stacked, ready and waiting for the FedEx truck to arrive. The FedEx driver loads the boxes, verifies the order and takes all the boxes to their main hub at Ontario International Airport for shipping.

We know there is a a lot of trust in us and our system by the quilters.  We take pride that we can assure them that they should be receiving their quilts safe and sound by the end of the week.

 

 

What’s New For Road 2018

We have lots of new and exciting things for our guests at Road to California 2018

Already announced is the change in company leadership with Matt Reese as the new Show Owner.

Also previously announced is our new App– QuiltSpace. Guests are encouraged to upload the App from the Apple Store or Google Play Store before coming to the show so they can become familiar with it and bring any questions to the QuiltSpace Booth at the show.

Security has always been a high priority for Road.  As in past years, there will be a special security detail to protect vendors from shoplifters and other other undesirable activity.  A private ambulance service is hired by the Convention Center to assist guests with any medical needs they might have during the four days of the show. They are located at four stations in the Convention Center: under the stairs in the south lobby; in the pavilion tent; in the main hallway and in the north lobby. For 2018, due in part to the recent tragedy in Las Vegas, the Ontario Convention Center will be instituting new security protocol that includes each guest going through a metal detector and having their bags checked. 

Also, no outside food or drink (except water) will be allowed inside the Convention Center.

Road to California hosts a booth inside the main Exhibit Hall, stocked with all kinds of show merchandise.  These items are moderately priced for our guests and they make terrific souvenirs to take home to guild friends or fellow quilters.

Gray Sweatshirts and Lanyards  

Denim ShirtsCanvas Bags

For 2018, the bags are ready for guests to personalize and make them their own.

5X7 Rotary Cutting MatsGlass Nail Files

They carry the Road to California logo

and come in 5 colors.

Be sure to stop by the Road to California Booth to pick up these and other unique items.