My philosophy for Hunter’s Design Studio is to design things that you can enjoy. My tagline is “Helping people have more fun while they make more things” and I mean that: I really want you to have fun, joy, and comfort from your creative efforts, and I hope the things I make support you in that!
My Pattern Design Philosophy:
- Help people grow their skills. I try to write for the highest success from the newest skill set. This means I probably over-explain things for most experienced quilters, but I want our up-and-comers to have a successful quilt top at the end, and to have learned a useful skill or two along the way. I make sure I don’t instruct things in a way that gives you stretchy edges or other similar issues down the road!
- Make it MAKE-ABLE. I dream up a lot of things that, in the end, would be horrid to make or worse, explain. So I don’t turn those into patterns. Frankly, if my readers could make such a convoluted thing, they are probably figuring it out their own way, and aren’t buying a pattern to do it! Instead, I figure out how to break things down so you don’t sweat or swear your way through them. I fundamentally believe quilting should be fun, so I try hard to write things that are fun, too. If I design something so hard to make that it makes you want to never quilt again, then we both lose!
- Mind the fabric. The fabric “generosity” in the materials list is a tricky tightrope to walk, but I think it’s better to have leftovers than to run out! I round up to the nearest 1/4 yard, or add an 1/8 yard if I’m on the 1/4 line. This only changes if the fabric is being used for cuts larger than an 1/8 (say an 8” cut) in which case I give you one extra large cut in case of an oops. C&T’s rule for my book was to add 1/4 yard to my calculations. I do work hard at writing patterns that use up most of their parts… in several of my jelly-strip based ones you can use the strip scraps to make a binding (I happen to love the puzzle of using it all up!)
- Mind the fabric, part 2. If there is a component in the pattern that can be made in multiple techniques (like half-square triangles) I make sure to list enough fabric for the technique that needs the most yardage, just in case.
- Be honest about my assumptions. At the beginning of every pattern, I tell you what the pattern assumes you already know: how to sew a 1/4” inch, how to rotary cut, how to layer/quilt/bind, etc. I also give you links to video tutorials that will help you.
- The pattern should be the key to the kingdom on the cover. For me, this means I give you accurate steps to make the exact thing in the picture (exceptions noted above), and maybe a couple of other sizes. If it’s a special technique, then you get ALL the steps. I once bought a pattern that said the equivalent of figure out how big you want to make it, then figure our how many of these blocks fit into that, and have at it. I don’t consider that a pattern.
- Be honest about the skills required. On the back cover of every pattern, I call out the skills needed. I don’t just say Beginner or Intermediate because I don’t think that’s enough information at all. I list the skills you will actually employ. As I write mostly for the Confident Beginner Peeps, I call out specifically if you need an accurate 1/4” seam, or just a mostly consistent one. If there are templates or paper-piecing involved, I say so. If you will be dealing with bias edges, I say so. I want you to know what you’re getting into, and I especially don’t want you unsuspectingly biting off more than you want to chew.
- Draw as much as possible. Every one learns differently – some people need all the words, some people need the drawings. I attempt to add computer drawn illustration to as many of the steps as I can. It bulks up the paper, but I think my readers are worth it.
- Make it VISIBLE. I write in a larger font than a lot of other designers, and I write out fractions (for example, 1/4 instead of using the smaller version ¼) because it’s easier to read without glasses. I assume you’re always looking for your glasses, just like me!
- Mind the colors. I don’t produce patterns with colored instructions because I find they can be really confusing if you’re not using the same colors in your quilt, and really unfriendly if you’re color-blind. Instead, I use symbols or grayscale textures to avoid color confusion. I also add coloring sheets and swatch sheets to help you keep track of your fabrics. Again, it bulks up the paper, but I think it adds value. It also saves you a lot of expensive ink if you print your patterns at home.
- Get it tested. I have a team of people on board to check my work. I hire a technical editor to check the math and construction, and several friends pitch in on tidying up my grammar, the flow of the steps, and if the parts on the design wall look like the drawings in the pattern. One friend hates to read the words, so she sees if the pattern can be navigated by the pictures. Another does the opposite, making sure my words actually describe what’s going on. Others spend their precious time and fabric stash actually making the pattern. It really does take a village.
- ‘Fess up when you blow it. While all of the above should catch everything, sometimes it doesn’t. When that happens, I fix the pattern, update the print masters and PDF files, and publish the oops on the Errata/Updates page.
- Be open to feedback. Critique is necessary to making a better product, even if it stings. I do my best to listen openly to suggestions for improvement, with the understanding that I just won’t be able to please everyone.
- Kudos. This was probably the best compliment I’ve ever had about my patterns: “Sam’s patterns are so clear you can even follow them after you’ve had a couple glasses of wine!”
My Class and Teaching Philosophy:
I believe everyone has innate artistic talent, and it’s an honor to help you find, explore, and enjoy yours.
- I love teaching, especially sharing the building-block skills for quilting. When you get the basics figured out, everything becomes more fun!
- I’m supportive and encouraging, and like to make sure we spend time laughing as we learn. Life is stressful enough without adding more in a quilting class
- I’m good at finding different ways to explain things so different learning styles can be supported.
- I don’t keep secrets. I will always tell you everything you need to know to make your project. In on-demand classes, I construct the entire project on camera, including all the wobbles, seam ripper sessions, and “honest studio” moments!
- I always encourage, never discourage. I might suggest, but I seldom insist… unless you leave a blade open!
- Your quilt is *your* art, and you get to make it *your* way!
- I won’t sew, cut, or draw on your project without your permission.
- I rip and iron for my students (in person) and always bring the chocolate.
- My best teaching compliment: “Sam explains everything simply so everyone comprehends. She’s funny, too!“
- My tech team adds closed captioning to all our classes and videos for better accessibility.
My Environmental Philosophy
Supporting Local: I love to support other women-owned businesses, so my assistants, web developer, and long-arm quilters (see below) are all women, and they are local as well. I also use a local printer for all my printed goods.
Paper: In 2022, I ceased selling single copy paper-patterns from my site to reduce my participation in burning the fossil fuels used to move mail around the country. This also reduces my paper consumption for mailing materials (I re-use boxes and envelops wherever possible).
I still sell paper patterns to shops via wholesale and distributors, so if you’re desperate for the paper copy, please ask your local quilt store to order one for you – I bet they’ll be thrilled to have your business!
Plastic: The paper patterns I sell are bagged in plastic. While this is not an ideal environmental choice, it’s the best choice to protect the patterns from shop-wear (no one wants to buy the stuff that’s banged up) which in turn supports the stores that carry my products.
My Professional Relationships:
I feel it important to disclose that I have relationships with a few different companies. In each case I was a long time fan and consumer of their products before we began working together, and wouldn’t be working with them if I didn’t like and believe in their stuff!
- Fabric: I sew Quilt Market and pattern samples for several fabric companies in exchange for fabric. The fabric companies then cross-market my patterns to the quilt stores and catalogs they supply. I’ve partnered with Windham, Maywood, Cloud 9, RJR, Clothworks, Timeless Treasures, Andover, Moda, Ruby Star Society, Michael Miller, Free Spirit, Kaufman, Crafts Americana/Connecting Threads, and Hoffman California Fabrics.
- Warm Company: Warm Co sends me the batting I use in all my projects, and is happy that I recommend it in my book and on my blog. I started using Warm & Natural in the early 1990s when I moved away from polyester battings, and have used it ever since. I love how flat it lays, and how stable it is during basting. And it’s like butter when it ages! My favorite batting is Warm & White as it has a bit less shrinkage, and I’m not a fan of the super crinkly look once a quilt is washed. I also use Warm Co Steam-A-Steam for all my fusible projects.
- Aurilfil Thread: I was late to party on Aurifil, only discovering them in 2010. Before that, I sewed with a mixture of whatever I picked up here and there. I now use it exclusively for all my piecing. I have had a collection with Aurifil, and they have been extraordinarily generous in providing promotional thread packages for me to give to my students.
- Janome of America: I was a Janome Artist for three years, and sew on their lovely 1660P and 6500 machines. While I started my quilting life on an old Kenmore, I bought my first Janome in 1990, and have been a Janome owner ever since.
- Longarm Quilting: I hire the following longarm artists in Portland, OR, to quilt my quilts:
- Nancy Stovall of JustQuiltingPDX.com
- Kazumi Peterson of KPetersonQuilting.com
- Chris Batten of LoopedQuilting.com