Where to Find Sam – September 2014 Edition

I’m traveling tomorrow, and talking and teaching and signing for the next week or so – if you’re close by, come see me!

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Thursday Sept 25th, 7pm – Nite Owl Quilters Guild in Upland CA. I’m doing my “There’s Magic in the Lesson, OR Perfection is Overrated!” lecture. Lots of trunk show, including new things from the book that haven’t been shown yet. And of course, I’ll be signing books too.

Friday Sept 26th, 6-8pm – New Moon Textiles in Pasadena CA, my former quilt store home (I worked there for a couple of years – it will be so great to see my friends there!) I’m showing the book quilts in a trunk show, and signing books.

Satuday, Sept 27, 10am to 4pm – back to the Nite Owl Quilters Guild for a workshop. We’re making Dingbats! It’s one of my favorite quilts, and another “so much easier than it looks” pattern. I think they still have a couple of spaces if you’d like to come play. I even rip seams and iron for my students, while cracking lame jokes – really, you don’t want to miss this!

HDS.007 - Dingbats - COVER 2014 - 300dpiRGB

Sunday Sept 28 – 2-4pm – out to Sew Modern in Los Angeles, CA, one of the best modern stores around, and home of the LAMQG. Lauren, the owner, will be breaking out the bubbly while I sign books. Oh, and in case you’ve never visited before, she carries every Kona solid. Yep, EVERY.

Monday, Sep 29 – 6 to 8pm – SLO Creative Studio, in San Luis Obispo, CA. SLO Creative is a new creative space developed by my friend, Janet Mease, and I’m there to help kick off her opening week events with some book signing, a wee bit of We Are $ew Worth It lecture, and a car full of quilts to trunk show. Please come support this new space!

Other adventures for the week include time with my creative mini group, these folks:photo-6

We’ve been meeting once a month for the last couple years, challenging ourselves with creative projects. I’ve been joining the meetings via FaceTime since I moved to PDX, but this time I get to sit at the table and share the chocolate! Our challenge this month is to make something in response to this artwork:

I’m not sure what I’m doing yet, buy I know it won’t include PINK ;-)

I’m also visiting my friends at Hoffman Fabrics! I get to touch the new pretties, and hopefully choose some to make a market sample or two for them. Psst…. we’re playing with solid batiks too, and they are so, so gorgeous. Watch this space.

Also, if the planets align, I’ll be heading to the Craft and Folk Art Museum in LA to see a new juried exhibition of contemporary textiles. Read about it here. When living and working a creative life, it’s important to put some inspiration back into the well, too. LACMA is across the street, so I might poke my head into a quilt exhibition that just opened there, Big Quilts in Small Sizes: Children’s Historical Bedcovers.

Lastly – we kick off the Quilt Talk blog tour on October 1 as I fly home. It’s going to be a fun hop that takes us as far away as Australia, and might even include a Skype interview if Victoria Findlay Wolfe and I can figure out the technology of it!

So I’ll leave you with these as a teaser… look for them on the tour!

All Buckets stacked

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WASWI Resources – Snappy Comebacks!

To make hand-crafted things is to be the target of blunt questions and statements that disparage what it takes to make art, and leave you smarting a bit. I’m not always fast on the draw with my snappy comebacks, but over the years I’ve amassed a few good ones.

HDS Sew Worth It RESOURCES

Take note, and rehearse a few with your sewing pals to have them at the ready! I usually deliver the lines with a slightly patient and patronizing air (awww… they don’t get it… bless their hearts!) and always with a sense of humor :-)

And please add yours to the comments so that we are all armed the next time someone says “I could make that.”

“My grandma could make that.”

So could mine, but it wouldn’t have the same unique character to it.

“Art is easy.”

Tell that to Michelangelo!

“Everybody can sew.”

You mean like everybody can cook?

“It’s easy to sew… why should I pay for that?”

It’s easy to cook too, but you still eat at restaurants, yes?

“How long did that take?”

About 20 hours, and about 25 years to get good at making it in 20 hours.

“I could buy one at Walmart.”

You could buy a cheap imitation at Walmart, but the quality would be missing.

“I could buy one at Target.”

But so can everyone else. This is a one of a kind thing… you’ll have the only one.

“My sister/mother/auntie/bestie quilts too.”

How cool! Then you KNOW what kind of time and skill it takes to make a quilt.

“How do you make this?”

I’m happy to give you private lessons. I charge $$ an hour. Let me get you my card…

“No really, just tell me how you do this so I can go make one.”

No really, I’ve invested a lot in my mastery… you should invest in yours.

“My kid could make that.”

Chuckle… we parents always think our kids are prodigies, don’t we?

“Can I get a deal if I buy two?”

No, it doesn’t take any less of my resources to make the second one.

“Can I get a quilt as a donation? It will be great exposure for you.”

Did you know you can die of exposure?

“Can you sew this project for me? It will be great exposure for you.”

If only my landlord accepted exposure in lieu of rent!

“Can I have it for a really super low price because I’m doing it for Amazing Worthy Cause?”

How great that Amazing Worthy Cause has your support! If you like my product that much, I would be honored to have your support too!

“People who sew charge too much.”

It’s a specialized skill, just like carpentry or fixing cars, and you pay way more for those.

“Quilting isn’t a necessity, like plumbing is when you’re toilet isn’t working.”

But you hire a plumber at full price when you’re doing a snazzy remodel, which isn’t a necessity either.

“There’s no way I’d pay that.”

Then you’re not my customer. Have a great day!

 

Go here for more info about We Are $ew Worth It

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WASWI – Molli Breaks it Down

I wrote the original We Are $ew Worth It post almost two years ago, and have been thrilled to see it take laps around the world. When it went viral, it reached our cousins in Australia, and one cuz in particular took it and ran, wearing high heels!

Through the course of emails about WASWI, Molli Sparkles and I have become friends, and today, Molli has given us a great and transparent look at his No Value Does Not Equal Free quilt, a stunning tour de force in shades of white. Read it HERE.

Image from Molli Sparkles, used with "Hell yeah!" permission!

Image from Molli Sparkles, used with “Hell yeah!” permission!

I encourage you to read to the end of the post – there are many important and subtle details in there, and Molli gives us the reasons for every number in the projects sheets. He also generously gives you a version of them to use for yourself (a super beefed up version of my original simple time/materials sheets).

Perhaps the most important sentence in the post is this:

“For those in the USA, where quilting is nearly a four billion dollar industry, I created a more localised costing sheet for you. As previously mentioned, I altered the fabric cost to $10.00 / yard, and the labour rate to $14.00 / hour based on the most recently documented US median wage.”

We help generate $4 BILLION for this industry, and I know many of us struggle to charge $10 an hour.

You are worth so much more than that. We all are. We ARE $ew Worth It.

HDS Sew Worth It LOGO

Thank you, Molli!

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WASWI – Where Should You Buy a Quilt Book?

One of my readers, Rebecca R., kindly wrote me last week, concerned, regarding the price of my book on Amazon. As she put it, “Amazon is price gouging you.” Yep, pretty much.

As I say a lot, I’m committed to being as transparent as possible in the name of sharing information that will benefit us all as part of We Are $ew Worth It. So here’s what I know about the numbers surrounding my book – a peek behind the green curtain, with some hard math numbers. I would love for anyone else to chime in with more knowledge in the comments.

1. A publishing company spends between $30-50K to produce a book. They edit, photograph, design, print, and distribute it, using a combination of salaried and contract staff. C&T Publications/Stash Books is my publisher.

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2. I did not receive an advance to make my book. I have no idea if more established authors in this industry get advances. An advance means you get some money up front, your royalties pay for that until the advanced amount is paid off.

3. The rest of the quilting industry (fabrics, batting, notions, etc.) helps authors by supplying materials and tools in exchange for exposure in the book. In my case, that was about 90% of the materials I used. This was seriously helpful, especially with no advance. Everyone who helped is listed in the back/resources pages. You should read this to see which companies help out the most, so you can support them. Yes, it seems rather incestuous, doesn’t it? But trust me, without this help designers couldn’t make new stuff for you.

4. It took me 8 months to design, write, piece, test, and quilt the projects for my book, and it was pretty much all I did for those 8 months (the pattern side of my business, my bread-and-butter income, was neglected). I had a couple of group sewing days where friends furiously paper-pieced letters for me, and another where a friend showed up to help spray baste everything. I sent out only one quilt to a long arm artist (and as it happened, we didn’t include that project). It was an intense and grueling time.

5. It takes about 12 months from when you deliver the manuscript and quilts before the book gets out into the world. During those 12 months, I have had more deep commitments in the editing, technical editing, design review, and especially the marketing end of it. The author is expected to do the brunt of getting out the marketing word across any and every platform possible. So while I turned everything in a year ago, my time is still being consumed by this. And will be for a while yet.

6. Pricing: My publisher determined the price of my book to be $24.95. It has 144 pages, and a jumbo pullout pattern sheet for the letters. This seems to be good value in comparison to others… I’ve seen 112 page books for this price.

7. My royalties on this book are 8%, which means 8% of the price that the publisher sells the book for after returns and other things that can eat into that number. Most shops that will buy the book will buy it for $12.50, which means I earn $1 per book. I assume (but don’t know) that bigger outfits like Amazon, or chains like Barnes & Noble or Joann’s might get a discount on their wholesale deal. If they do, my royalties for those units go down with that discount, too. If the publisher gives the book out as a complimentary/free copy, I get 8% of free, which is zero. Royalties get paid quarterly, so I’ll see my first check for Quilt Talk probably next January – which will be a full TWO YEARS since I started working on it.

7a. My royalties on an ebook are 15%, with the book priced at $14.99 on C&T’s site. I have no idea what the likes of Amazon or libraries might pay for the right to distribute ebooks. Let’s hope I get $1 apiece for these too.

8. What ever you think about Amazon, they are the juggernaut that drives how the market operates. Their ratings determine my future, as they drive my internet popularity, which is how far up the list I appear when you type my name into a search engine. Few people look beyond the first page of an internet search, so coming up on page one is very important. Your leaving me reviews on Amazon matters mightily to that search rating, not to mention influences other buyers. And I’ll be nudging you about reviews later, because that’s part of my marketing obligation.

9. Obviously, Amazon buys in bulk and spreads profit and loss across millions of products, and so they can afford to discount. I have no idea what they will pay for my book, but I do know that I’ve seen the price of Quilt Talk fluctuate on their site from $18 to $22 (they have algorithms for this based on YOUR buying and browsing history). Add the lure of free shipping (whether you buy more to get to the $35 free ship threshold, or have a Prime account) and it’s easy to see why book sales elsewhere are a struggle.

10.  Stores: I assume the big chains get a break. I know the independent stores don’t. They will pay $12.50 for my book, and hope that you’ll buy it from them (rather than come and look at it and go home and buy it on Amazon). Remember, if you want a quilt store or independent bookseller in your town, you actually have to buy things there. Amazon will survive you not buying the occasional book. The quilt store might not.

11. Book signings: I’m doing several book signings at stores… no one is paying me to get to them. It is not customary for the author to get a cut of the sales action the book signing generates, beyond royalties. Book signings help stores the most, so if you can, it’s good to go to them. Even if you don’t buy my book there, it’s lovely to meet supportive people.

12. Quilt Market: If I want to promote my book at Quilt Market, I have to get myself there, and that costs about $1000-$1200 for plane, hotel, taxis, and food. I’ll be doing a School House Session at Market in October, which is a half-hour event where I pitch the book, tell shop owners how to sell the book, which projects make good workshops and classes (and I’ve already written the class outlines for those), and which products they can tie into  sales (rulers, cutters, mats, papers, etc.). My publisher is picking up the cost of this (they have to buy the School House slot from the Market people), but they don’t foot the travel expenses. While I’m there, I’ll also be signing at distributor booths to generate interest. Again, for no payment… basically, if I show up, these people will use me as best they can. Why do it? I hope to get contacts for teaching and speaking gigs out of this.

13. Pre-sales: Amazon is doing pre-sales, so I decided to as well. I chose $20 as my pre-sale price, but still need to charge shipping. This book is heavy, so my shipping options are $4 for media mail (slow to you, and a trip to the post office for me) or $5.60 for Priority Mail ($5.05 if I print at home). Regular old first class is around $7, so Priority it is, and I rounded it down to $5. I’ll be paying $12.50 plus shipping for my book, so let’s call it $13. So if you buy my pre-sale for $25 (which includes the shipping) I’ll make my $1 royalty, plus around $6 (I lose about $1 to Paypal), out of which comes mailing time, printer ink, mailing labels, order management time. I would love to be competitive with Amazon, and offer you the book for $18 including shipping, but at that point I’m making barely $1 in profit (not including the royalty $1) and frankly, it’s not a cost effective use of my time to do all that mailing stuff for break even numbers.

14. Book Plates: I’ve decided to do signed bookplates for those of you that want a signature scribble from me, but won’t see me, or want to support your local quilt and book stores. I thought I would be able to mail them to you for free, but the cost of printing the bookplate, putting it in an envelope I have to purchase, and then putting a stamp on it comes out to about $1. Which is my royalty on the book you purchased elsewhere. So I’m charging for bookplates or again, it’s not cost effective.

So in short:

  • If you want to help the author the most – buy directly from the author on her/his site, or at an independent function such as a guild lecture.
  • If you want to help your local quilt or book store the most – buy directly from the quilt or book store.
  • If you need to save a few $$ (and really, we’re talking the price of a couple of fat quarters or a frothy coffee drink with a tip) – buy from Amazon under one of their free shipping deals.

I would love it if you add any knowledge you have to the comments!

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New Pattern – Star Stuff!

Another new pattern!

StarStuff - Cover 300dpiAnd so named for Carl Sagan’s statement that “we are star stuff,” made of the hydrogen atoms that are the stuff of life. I like the idea that we all have a bit of sparkle within us.

It’s a paper-piecing pattern – four identical quadrants make up one 15” finished star. I give pre-cutting instructions for paper-piecing, which minimizes fabric waste, and makes construction a little more efficient. If you can paper-piece and sew a decent 1/4” seam, you got this!

The pattern includes instructions for 6 quilt sizes from crib to king. You could bust some stash with it, or play with radiant colors like I did on the cover quilt.* I used leftovers to make the scrappy binding. The pattern also includes a  copy-able sketch sheet that you can fill with color for design purposes.

Color in Star pattern

It’s available in the shop here (will ship by the end of the week) or as PDF here immediately. It’s also carried by major distributors, so ask for it at your local quilt store.

Enjoy!

* Disclosure: this quilt is made with Kaufman Kona Solids, mostly purchased by me, and the rest generously supplied by Robert Kaufman Fabrics. The blocks were constructed by my lovely stunt sewists Abby, Jennifer, Julia, Julie and Julie!

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Dots, Dots, Dots, Dots!

I really hope you read that title with the rhythm of the Spam song in your head!

Quilt Dots Club 500x500

Today is my stop on the blog hop for Quilt Dots. If you haven’t seen these great little quilt lover’s accessories, you’re in for a treat! The Dots are quilting designs on magnets, clips and buttons. There are also necklace and keychain bases that you can swap the magnets out on. There are so many styles of designs available… truly something for everyone!

I met Kim, the owner of Quilt Dots last year at Quilt Market, and she had just added a collection from my dear pal Megan, The Bitchy Stitcher, that featured her delightfully snarky designs. That’s me wearing Bitchy’s “Don’t Make Me Cut You” as a necklace, below.

Sam with Dots

Kim added my Sassy Button designs to her catalog, and you can find them here.

Quilt Dots has a great giveaways EVERY DAY of the blog tour, so jump to here to see what you could win. Psst… I have free patterns over there!

Be sure to leave your comments THERE (not here… which is why the comments are turned off here). The Grand Prize is a full year’s worth of Quilt Dot goodness delivered straight to your door!

Free Pattern: Hedgie Pincushion

Hedgehogs

I don’t like to dispose of sharp metal in the trash – I’m always worried that it might hurt someone – so I’ve been putting my dead machine needles into an old pincushion for a few years. I thought it might be fun to make one where the needles become part of the design. A hedgehog is the perfect needle-y critter! Of course, pins work too.

How often do you change your machine needle? You should be changing it after about 8 to 10 hours of sewing time. A dull needle makes the machine work unnecessarily harder, so changing your needle regularly is like changing the oil in your car – smart maintenance. And a heck of a lot cheaper than a new motor!

You can download this pattern for FREE on Janome’s site here. It’s easy-peasy… you can make one in less than 2 hours – faster if you don’t get caught in an “indecision loop” when choosing your fabric! I know you know what I mean :-)

Enjoy!

Oh, one more thing… remember that discussion on designing patterns to “make a quick buck”? Here’s a picture to show you how quickly this pattern got designed:

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The published pattern was the ninth iteration. Just sayin’.

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