Posted on Leave a comment

Inspiration at the Diner

red neon sign at night - diner 200
Inspiration from the local diner.

Recently while eating at a diner, my attention was diverted by the napkin holder on the table. Folded paper napkins were jammed upright into the metal holder. Something clicked! I envisioned that napkin holder as a model for a pre-cut selection. Call it a “Diner Six-Pack.”

Orange napkins 200
A everyday item can take on a entirely new meaning.

At my next teaching venue I tested the theory and made up 72 Diner Six-Pack fabric selections. Each bundle contained six Fat Quarters sorted only by color. In three days of teaching I sold over 80% of my bundles. Only part of their attraction was the price ($15 for the bundle) but the folding of the fabrics where buyers could easily see all the offerings was another plus. When manufacturer-packaged pre-cuts are stacked for cutting, the top fabric is seen in full but the assortment must be rifled through to really see every pattern offered. How many times have your pre-cuts started to look ragged since curious customers cannot resist trifling with them?

How to make Your Own Diner Six-Pack Pre-Cuts

Choose six fabrics and cut into fat quarters. Make sure to include at least one solid (or a print that reads as a solid) in your Six-Pack color range. Fold as follows:

*Lay the fat quarter right side down with the cut 18” side toward you and the selvedge away from you.

*Fold the cut side in 1/3 of the way and follow by folding the selvedge edge over a third, covering the cut edge. Makes a long neat rectangle approximately 7” wide by 18” long.

*Turn the folded fabric clockwise on the table and fold again. Starting next to you, again fold a third in and followed by the third from the farthest side.

*The fabric is now a rectangle about 6” by 7”. Fold once in half like a little book, making sure all cut edges are neatly tucked in. Stack the ‘books’ of the different fabrics and arrange in a pleasing order.

*Cut a piece of card stock (recycled file folder works) in a rectangle 3” wide by 7 ½” long. Use a ruler to crease the card at 3” from each end. The 1 ½” (between the creases) in the middle of the card becomes the bottom that supports the fabrics upright, much like the bottom of the napkin holder. Stack the six FQ’s neatly within the card holder. You will need to also secure the bundle by cutting a 20” length of contrasting color ribbon or yarn, wrapping it around the bundle, and tying a bow.

We’d love to see your examples of folding fat quarters, whether this style or another. Post your pictures on our Facebook page.

fabric bundle 200
Fabric bundles ready for sale!

–Pepper Cory

Posted on 2 Comments

Selling–Rainbow Style

Recently I attended and taught at a large quilting event in the Midwest. I realized while perusing the vendor mall that many vendors showcased practically the same fabrics! There were the usual pre-cut assortments from large fabric companies, duplicating book titles, and even look-alike sample quilts in several booths. I couldn’t help but think that vendors missed the chance to move their older fabrics by not offering pre-cuts they’d made up themselves. I talked to one shop owner who said it was easier to order current pre-cuts than to deal with slicing up old bolts. But, I opined, the old bolts will still be there when you get home…and that’s money already spent! Isn’t it time to get the older fabrics out the door? Time to take them on the road!

Then I remembered something Kizer and Bender had mentioned in their article in the last issue of American Quilt Retailer magazine. (pages 22-26, February 2016, issue #127). The business gurus suggested displaying lines of fabric in color progressions or rainbow-style.

Thimble's Quilts
You can’t miss this display of bright fabrics in rainbow-style, the blue bench is an added bonus. It’s a simple showstopper.

There’s something universally appealing about a rainbow-style display of fabrics. It’s orderly and yet inspires creativity as shoppers run their fingers along the top of the bolts until they reach “their” color. The display invites them to choose and, like kids in a candy store always picking the same sweet, they will haul a bolt to the cutting table for yet another slice of their favorite shade. Why not apply the Rainbow principle to a bundle of pre-cuts?

Most strip bundles (jellyroll) are 2 1/2” wide strips and number from 40-42 strips per bundle. How about offering eight colors (six in the Rainbow progression plus black and white) starting with a solid strip of each color?  The progression is red-orange-yellow-green-blue-purple—that’s six—plus some blacks and whites at the “end of the rainbow.” Roll the strips with the black and whites in the middle and then the progression of colors, ending with red. Package the strip bundle with a paper collar printed with your store name and contact info. The Rainbow bundle just became a marketing tool. Rainbows are popular throughout Spring and Summer. Rather than asking the customer to choose from all eight color groups, you’re offering a selection that would have taken most people hours to pick!

The Rainbow idea might be the beginning of an in-store competition. Who can make a quilt with the Rainbow bundle? First person to make something and post a picture of their creation on the store’s Facebook page gets a prize…

–Pepper Cory

Posted on Leave a comment

Welcome to Pepper Cory

American Quilt Retailer is pleased to welcome Pepper Cory as our AQR blogger. Her vast knowledge of the industry and her business approach will be a great addition to our team. Our goal is to provide another opportunity for quilt shop owners and industry professionals to communicate with each other. We’ll be working to make this blog a useful resource for you. Read on for Pepper’s first blog post.

Pepper Cory
Pepper Cory

First Dip in the Blog Sea

When the opportunity to write the blog Piece by Piece for American Quilt Retailer presented itself, I was intrigued. Sure I’d written blogs before but they were purely for personal interest. In my occasional posts on the blog Quilt Flap I chat about unusual antique quilts. When there was enough interest out there that I would be challenged to take more photos and in a month or three, write again. I wrote about teaching and my own quilting efforts-with an interesting family story thrown in here and there-in another blog called Pepper at the Quilt Studio. I viewed both my blogs as sporadic commentary on what interested me. If anyone who read the blogs cared to leave a comment that was cool.

But writing a blog for a business is a different breed of cat. One might even pose the question, “Why should a business write a blog?” When I delved into the subject, I realized there are numerous benefits to writing a business blog. I hope that in the future you as blog readers and shop owners will be able to relate to what I write, comment and communicate with AQR, and find in Piece by Piece some useful and thought-provoking snippets of information.

‘Snippets’ might seem an odd word to describe the content of this blog but that nicely sums up the first rule of blog writing: keep it simple, interesting, and to the point. Blogs deliver straight-to-the-reader information while at the same time a reader can use the blog as a channel of information back up the pipeline to the publisher by leaving a comment.

As a blog writer, you can learn about your viewers by checking your blog’s analytics. What’s that? Analytics are the statistics about your blog. They tell you how many people view your blog and which operating system your readers use (such as Windows vs Apple vs mobile phones). You’ll learn which topic lit a fire so that you can write better and more interesting content. And if you know how your viewers access you, you can design a smoother delivery, as in a simpler blog design that a phone user will appreciate.

And face it: search engines (such as Google) love blogs! Topics in your business blog, links to other websites, the photos on your business blog—all go out into the sea of information on the internet and get quoted and re-quoted and then linked back to both your blog and business website. But the thing I love best about blogging is that it gives your business a personal voice.

This blog Piece by Piece will come out every two weeks. We will bring you timely industry news and give you the “back story” on topics you first read about in articles in American Quilt Retailer magazine. We’ll pose some questions about our industry and give you a heads-up when our whiskers tingle and we sense a trend building. But most of all, we want to hear from you. Consider this your personal invitation to write to American Quilt Retailer and tell us the topics that interest and concern you.