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History of Quilting

History of quilting

The history of quilting; one subject I had never considered even though I have been quilting nearly all my life.

The question came to mind as I thought about best practices to influence younger generations into the art form (that post to come). What makes people like quilting? When and where did it start?

And that’s when I realized, I had no idea what the history was. I had always assumed it was a tradition passed generation from generation, but how did the tradition begin?

Origin

Although an exact date is not known, quilting is thought to have begun sometime between the first century B.C. to second century A.D. and the oldest quilt was found on the carved figure of a Pharaoh who ruled during Egypt’s First Dynasty, 3400 B.C.

Quilts were also found useful during the Middle Ages—knights would wear them beneath armor for comfort and throw quilts over armor to protect from the elements.

The New World

Flash forward to settlers coming to the new world, although no quilts can be found from this time, the art of quilt making likely arrived with the inhabitants.

The reason why no quilts could be found makes sense; quilts were utilitarian. They became useful, everyday tools: to provide warmth on a bed, mats for children, walls in one room houses, and more.

The earliest surviving American quilt is dated at 1704, thanks to an exposed newspaper clipping used as padding.

Modern Traditions

Quilting transformed into a social event during the settlement of the Great Plains as a way for women to socialize. Quilts also transformed into heirlooms and a form of fundraising, especially during the World Wars, and even continuing into today.

So why did quilts survive the test of time? Because the problem they solve still exists—protection from the elements—and as it turns out quilts are a great way to do just that.

*To dive deeper into these subjects, check out these websites.


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Pets in the Workplace

Pets at work

Pets in the workplace; yay or nay?

As of 2015, eight percent of workplaces allowed employees to bring their pet to work, a three percent increase from 2013. More recent numbers haven’t been released, but with prominent companies like Google and Amazon allowing employees to bring their furry companions, I’m sure that number has grown.

Benefits of Pets

Does your shop have a pet? If it doesn’t, you may want to reconsider.

According to this research, dog-friendly workplaces had less rates of absenteeism and higher productivity. They even reduce stress among pet-owning employees and are said to make a workplace more friendly.

Allowing a pet at work is not only a cheap wellness option (pets lower blood pressure), but could also come in handy when recruiting new hires too.

Concerns

Of course, there are many variables to take into consideration including allergies and checking with the landlord if you don’t own your building.

Other risks might be jeopardizing new business if your customers don’t like pets at work, or unforeseen risks.

To minimize these risks, make sure pets have fully updated vaccinations, maintain good hygiene, introduce them to the workplace slowly, and inform staff of dietary restrictions and needs.

Evaluate

Be sure to do your due diligence. What pets are allowed? Where are they allowed? Should you pet owners sign a waiver?

Ask around at other local businesses that include pets and think how your business compares. What do customers think? How long have the pets been around? What problems have they had?

What is your opinion on furry friends in the workplace? Leave a comment below to weigh in on the conversation.


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How to Shake the Winter Blues

Winter Blues

Are the winter blues making you feel uninspired?

We can all agree we’ve reached the point of winter where news of more snow makes us groan. Spring may be around the corner, but it doesn’t feel like it. And if you’re like me, you’ve contemplated a last second trip to a much warmer place.

This list isn’t going to tell you to print a photo of a beach to hang at your desk (hey, if that works for you, don’t let me stop you), but it will help change your mindset so you can make the most of this weather until warmer days come.

How to shake the winter blues

  • Lean into the boredom. The days may be dragging, but—believe it or not—boredom may be the answer to inspiring creativity. There is science to back this claim, but many artists also claim that having a job also inspires this creativity. Lucky for you, you have both, so the next time you have a big idea, go for it.
  • Meditate. There are apps to help you do this, but research shows that some is better than none. There is also a plethora of research that show the benefits, but after the first time I’m sure you won’t need convinced to do more.
  • Retrain your thinking. I’ve been struggling with this line: “What’s good is bad and what’s bad is good.” My busy schedule has made me used to not having free time, so when I find myself with it I don’t know how to enjoy it. I’ve come to enjoy what’s bad (never taking time for myself) to hating what’s good (having free time to enjoy time to myself). Take the time this winter to retrain this mindset.

 

Winter activities may be more constrained than summer ones, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be just as enjoyable. Rest is good, and hopefully these changes can help you enjoy it.


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It’s Time for a Website Overhaul

Website Overhaul

It seems like 2019 is the year of the website; almost everyone I know is working on or trying to update theirs.

The best advice I’ve heard this this: your website should reflect you.

Think about what you want – and what you want to evoke. Use these guidelines to help set a goal for your site before you start the project.

Website Content

What should a website include? I think the best answer is whatever you want your company’s webpage to do. No two sites are the same, which can be the best and worst part about the process.

Also think about how much maintenance you want to put into your website; if you want to include a weekly or bi-monthly blog, then by all means go for it! Be realistic when you consider how much time you really have though, if you already feel stretched too thin have your webpage include more evergreen features.

Your site should address the who, what, and where immediately on your homepage, and all information should not be more than three clicks away. When it comes to copy, less is more.

Funding the Project

And the part nobody likes to talk about – price. Remember you get what you pay for, so if you don’t currently have a website budget, start one.

While you wait for the site savings to grow, do some research with local businesses (with webpages you like) to see who built their website and how much they spent. Also while you’re waiting for more funds, keep up to date with what you like, don’t like, and want for your website so you’re ready when design begins.

Planning Ahead

In today’s social media-driven society, plan on addressing your site again in five years. Whenever changes happen within your business, your website should reflect that, too.

Find your annual checklist and add a site review to that list. The more work we do in the meantime means less work when it comes time for another website overhaul.


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Spinrite Acquires Coats & Clark Inc.

Spinrite acquires Coats

Leading producer of yarn Spinrite diversifies offering with purchase of the North American Crafts business of Coats.

The Canadian based craft yarn company is still closing the deal, but will absorb prestigious craft brands such as Red Heart, Coats & Clark, Aunt Lydia, and Susan Bates.

This means Spinrite will be able to offer sewing thread, embroidery thread, trims, and zippers outside of knitting yarn. 560 employees of Coats will also become a part of the Spinrite team along with manufacturing and distributing centers in Albany, Toccoa and Douglas, Georgia.

Coats Group

Coats, known as the world’s leading distributor of industrial thread, has offices in 50 countries across six continents and employs over 19,000 people.

The craft giant also operates in a variety of industries, including apparel where their personal protection technology uses their in-depth knowledge of digital blends to provide “differentiated flame/cut resistant woven or knit products.”

Other industries they operate in include footwear, automotive, medical, and more.

As for their specific brands that will join the Spinrite roster, Red Heart is known for yarn, Aunt Lydia for crochet thread, Susan Bates for craft tools, and Coats for yarn, embroidery thread, and zippers too.

From the acquisition press release, President and CEO of Spinrite Ryan Newell says, “We are thrilled to add the prestigious Coats craft brands to our growing portfolio… Product diversification is one of the key pillars of our long-term strategic plan, allowing us to offer a broader assortment to our retail partners and consumers.”

Stay tuned to the American Quilt Retailer blog to find out about industry news including acquisitions, events, and more.


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Aurifil Goes Plastic Neutral with Plastic Bank

Plastic Bank - Plastic Neutral

Aurifil goes Plastic Neutral through a partnership with the Plastic Bank.

Aurifil, considered the world leading manufacturer of 100% cotton thread, asked themselves what they can do to decrease the plastic footprint they create from the thousands of spools left over from their thread used to create garments, quilts, accessories, art, and more.

As it turns out, Aurifil customers care about the same issue, too. Aurifil was consistently getting asked same questions about what their spools were made of and what customers can do to recycle them.

Although Aurifil encourages consumers to reuse spools, they took a look at the ever-increasing plastic build up in our oceans and knew that step alone wasn’t enough.

Aurifil Goes Plastic Neutral

Going Plastic Neutral

Enter Plastic Bank, a non-profit based in Canada that works to stop ocean plastic while impacting impoverished areas across the globe.

Plastic Bank accomplished their goal by changing plastic to a form of currency. Impoverished communities can exchange collected plastic for money, items, or rewards. By transforming plastic into a form of currency not only does it incentivize collection but makes an economic impact on communities around the globe who are most in need.

The new partnership will offset Aurifil’s plastic production rate by 8000kg. This means that areas around Indonesia, Haiti, the Philippines, and Brazil will clear 8000kg of plastic from their oceans.

Of course you can help the cause too by recycling spools in the traditional sense, or taking note from Kate Brennan, sales and customers serivce at Aurifil, who uses empty spools to store binding.

Individuals have the opportunity to go plastic neutral too, find out more at the Plastic Bank.


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Threads of Success Registration Open

Threads of Success Registration Open

The wait is over! Registration for this year’s highly anticipated event at Quilt Market, Threads of Success, is now open.

The event takes place from October 25th through the 28th at the George R. Brown Convention Center in Houston, Texas.

Threads of Success will include 35 breakout sessions that include opportunities for networking, lectures from keynote speakers, and educational features.

Geared toward industry entrepreneurs, the sessions will cover topics including writing, inventing, pattern design, Focus Tracks of Fabric Designers, accounting, copyright law, and more.

Of course anyone is welcome at the stand-alone conference but the event will be extremely beneficial to anyone breaking into the industry.

22 industry leaders have already been announced as speakers including Tula Pink of Tula Pink, Inc., Jennifer Keltner of Martingale, Christa Watson of Christa Quilts, and more.

Some of these speakers will present during one of the conference’s three breakfast and two luncheons.

The conference also includes a mentorship program with well-known names in the business and exclusive access to the Quilt Market trade show on the last day of exhibits.

Schoolhouse Series

Registration for Schoolhouse Series is also available upon registration to Threads of Success.

Schoolhouse Series includes over 250 sessions offered in 15-30 minute intervals on October 25th. The information-filled forum provides opportunities for manufacturers, designers, retailers, and veterans of the industry to display new products and techniques.

Both of these events give attendees insider access to a wealth of knowledge. Industry professionals will help you find out how to get published, avoid costly mistakes, market yourself, expand your creative network, and so much more.

Registration for Threads of Success costs $750 for the four day event.

For a complete list of classes and events, check out their website.

Continue reading Threads of Success Registration Open

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How you know it’s time for expansion

Expansion - is it time?

Are you wondering if it’s time to grow your business? Check out these six signs to see if expansion is the best option for you.

  • You’re bored. Do the days feel like you’re stuck in a rut? Maybe it’s time for a challenge, and one challenge that will get you off the hamster wheel is seeing if expanding is the best option for you.
  • You’re overworked. You gotta make money to spend money, and if you’re doing work that could be delegated to someone else, think about hiring someone part time. With that extra time you could find more ways to make money.
  • You’re in high demand. Do you have to schedule orders weeks in advance? Are you having to turn customers away because you’re out of stock? This is a tell-tale sign to find ways to partner to make sure everyone leaves your store happy.
  • You’re profitable. If you’re making a profit in the hundreds (or even thousands) consistently, you are ready to expand. If your profits aren’t trending, then wait a while until they do. Read this article from Forbes to find out more.
  • You have opportunities. Has someone contacted you for a larger than usual order? Are people wanting to partner? Jump on that opportunity before it goes away (after all you never know when it will come again).
  • You have ideas. The best entrepreneurs act on market trends. Do your research first, but if you’re sure something is going to take off find a way to make a profit off it.Expansion.png

Expanding is exciting and can open doors for your business you never imagined. If you’ve been thinking about it, maybe it’s time to take the next step.

This article was inspired by The Small Business blog.


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Rethinking Burnout

Rethinking Burnout

Perhaps you read the title to this blog post and thought “burnout doesn’t apply to me, I’m really happy where I am in my life.”

Maybe work is going great, and your relationships are too. You’re sticking to your New Year’s Resolution and you’re looking forward to the future.

But first let’s ask the question, what even is burnout?

Do you have burnout? AQR

A quick Google search shows that burnout is defined as “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands.”

Reading this description may not seem like burnout is present in your life, but what does your to-do list look like right now? Are there tasks on it that you keep putting off?

You can make the argument that these tasks don’t need to be done right away, that they’re more work for little reward, and a million other excuses as to why you’re not getting to them.

The biggest misconception about burnout is that it doesn’t target just corporate executives and high-powered politicians, but burnout lies in the nuances of everyday activities, the same everyday activities that weigh you down.

Maybe to address this you’ve taken a vacation three months ago but have fallen back into the rut. Maybe you take time each day to do a self care routine, but the to-do list stays the same. Maybe you’ve figured out that those things may be fixing other things in your life, but burnout isn’t one of them.

Unfortunately I don’t have a solution to the problem of burnout. At the least, I do hope this article helps you to target the burnout in your life and inspires you to take steps to address it.

If this topic was interesting to you, check out this article from BuzzFeed News.


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Top Trends for 2019

You may have read about this in our digital issue, but the best way to track what’s trending in 2019 is by taking note of what’s popular at quilt market.

American Quilt Retailer did just that and narrowed the list down for you! Check out the top ten must haves your store should stock up on for 2019.

  1. English paper piecing. Popular in Britain, this trend is making it’s way across the pond to gain popularity in the U.S. EPP is appealing for a variety of reasons, including increased creativity and easy to do on the go.
  2. Hand embroidery. You may want to stock up on extra embroidery hoops as this trend doubles as wall decor.hand embroidery
  3. Kitchen. Kitchen themes were prevalent this year; as it turns out quilters love to cook—and it’s influencing their craft too.
  4. Fruit. Going off the kitchen theme, quilters are craving summer, with fruit being one of the main staples of the kitchen theme. fruit
  5. Succulents. Popular for several years in the craft world, succulents are now becoming popular to quilt as well. Chances are many of your quilters like to garden too, so selling some of these plants (and having them as a display) may not be a bad idea.
  6. The color blue. Blue is the new red. Shades of blue could be found everywhere, so consider expanding your store’s options.blue
  7. Pop-up shops. Inspired by the fashion industry, retailers inside and out of that industry are jumping on the pop-up shop band wagon. Have a go-to display and products that are easy to take to and from events in your community.
  8. Small piecing. Attention to detail is what crafters are all about this year. Pair patterns of fat quarters to make your customer’s shopping trip a little easier. tiny
  9. Characters. Everybody has a favorite TV show, and consumers want more of them. Stock up on your children and grandchildren’s favorite characters (think Spongebob, Harry Potter, video game characters, etc.) popularized by society.
  10. Intergenerational quilting. Turns out, quilting can be a bonding experience too. Check out your kid’s selection of books and kits to help inspire the next generation of crafters.

You can read more about what we saw at the fall Quilt Market in the December issue of American Quilt Retailer.


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