One of the best parts of working in this industry is the people you meet and the stories you hear. We all have a story; we’re excited to share some insight into some of our new friends. As part of our Fall Quilt Market, we held a contest for a blog shout out! Our first winner is Plum Easy Patterns! They have a wonderful website with lots of information!
I was thrilled when I heard back from Deborah (the mother), and Bethany (the daughter) a dynamic duo making patterns Plum Easy! It’s great to have both perspectives of their experiences with their company.
Tell me a little about you and your shop/company. What’s your focus?
When PlumEasy Patterns began it was because I created a new way of making the infamous Folded Star Hot Pad and I felt an obligation to share it. From the first month until now, this pattern continues to be our #1 pattern. The response from customers has been overwhelming. They write me, speak to me in person and tell me how much this pattern has impacted them. I compare a new technique for doing something that’s been done only one way for many years, to finding a new version of song that touches you. People have learned a new technique for an old pattern, and in doing this it has given them a new creative outlet. One that is easy and oh so fun to make. Some call my pattern addictive.
PlumEasy focuses on two things: designing patterns for sewing and quilting, and providing world-class craft fillings.
We try really hard to provide patterns that explain things well, and brings sewing down to a basic level though photos, illustrations and writing. Many of our patterns have printed interfacing to help make sewing even easier. We believe that almost anyone can make one of our patterns, if they read the instructions!
Our other focus is craft fillings. It may seem odd, but I could not find a good filling when I made my first pincushion. I was very frustrated. So I did some research and decided to start selling ground walnut shells to stores in 2-cup bags that were strong and would look nice selling in a quilt shop. Well, after two years we were selling thousands of pounds of walnut shells. We added lavender walnut shells to our catalog, and then poly pellets, and ground Turkish Emery. Finally, we added a Craft Sampler of all four items. These are four wonderful fillings that can be used in pin cushions, stuffed animals, strawberry mini-pin cushions, iron hams, door draft blockers, and more.
I think the thing that really sets us apart as a pattern company is our resources. There’s hardly anything we won’t do to help a retailer sell our products. If someone needs samples and doesn’t have time to make them, we can loan them one of ours for a time. We have curriculum written up to help guide someone through teaching our patterns in a classroom setting. I love getting to meet store-owners directly at Quilt Market because we can really take some one-on-one time to teach these owners how easy it is to get our products off their shelves and into shopper’s carts. My mom has a motto: “Kill them with kindness” and that is what we try to do for every customer.
What is one of your favorite projects?
I love the All Ways Arrows design, and have had a lot of fun with it. It is one little arrow that is paper pieced. The arrow can go in any direction and with every move the design changes.
To go with this pattern, we sell PlumEasy Piecing, printable interfacing sheets, and we also sell All Ways Arrows printed on interfacing in a panel of 20 blocks.
I really enjoyed designing the Morning Star Hot Pad.
It was a project that we worked on for so long and had such a hard time with. It was a huge relief when it finally clicked and came together. It was really fun to play with color and shapes and learn how versatile the star really was.
How did you get started in Sewing | Crafting | Making?
I began quilting in 2000 and it was love at first sight. I was obsessed with it and learned very quickly, as I was taught to sew when I was a little girl. A few years later and I was entering the crafting arena, trying to make a little extra money. I saw my first folded star hot pad and thought it would be great to make and sell as a craft. I realized I had a different way to make the folded star hot pad. My method was very fast and easy and decided I should write it down. I began PlumEasy in 2011 with that one pattern and a package of refill templates.
When I was about 12 my mother tried teaching me now to machine sew. I had some previous experience with embroidery so I knew my way around a needle and thread, but I was completely confounded by sewing machines. My mother would have me sew together strips for nine-patches and I couldn’t sew a ¼” seam to save my life. I got so frustrated that I completely gave up trying to machine sew.
It wasn’t until I was in college that my interest in sewing was awakened. I gained a reputation on campus for being able to hand sew. I began patching jeans and backpacks, hemming pants, and repairing busted seams. When I told my mother about this she sent me some basic sewing supplies and a small hobby sewing machine she had purchased for $5 at a garage sale. With all of these goodies she also included her first pattern for the folded star hot pad. I test this pattern out on the sewing machine and something in me ignited, and I couldn’t stop sewing. I still knew nothing about quilting at this time.
When I moved back home after college PlumEasy was still in its infancy. I began working with my mother right away. When we vended at our first quilt show I was blown away by what people were able to create out of fabric and thread. I spent every dime I had on fabric and decided I better become a quilter. I let myself fall headfirst down the quilting “rabbit hole” and never bothered to try to pull myself out again.
More to come… we’ll follow up with the rest of the interview next week!
Unity is strength… when there is teamwork and collaboration, wonderful things can be achieved. ~Mattie Stepanek
Until next time…Use QT to create something that is fabulous…something fantastic… something FABTASTIC!