Quilt Blogger Interview
This post is not about a quilt finish. Or a new addition to my fabric stash. It’s not a post you will typically see here on my blog. But if you have ever wanted to get to know me a little better, read on…..
I was recently contacted by Sherri of the Yorkshire Rose Quilters’ Guild of Toronto, Ontario. She asked if I would be willing to be featured on their website for an interview.
Here’s what Sherri had to say…
“Hi Lorna – We are doing an online feature on our guild blog about Canadian bloggers and wondered if you would be interested in participating? Our members are always looking for inspiration and your blog and retail store would be of interest to our group.
We’re looking for an interview type of format, the proposed questions are attached. Nothing too revolutionary! We’re just looking for a way for our members to get to know a notable blogger from this side of the border. So much of our quilting content in general comes from the US, and we thought it would be great to focus Canadian bloggers that have an international following, like you. I hope you’ll consider participating!”
I took a look at the interview questions Sherri had included as an attachment to the email and I was impressed. I’ve been sent interview questions before. But it was clear to me right away that a lot of thought went into composing this list of questions. And I was eager to participate!
And I thought it would be nice to be able to share this interview with you, as well….
Canadian Quilt Blogger Interview of Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts
- Why did you start blogging? I began blogging as a way to document my quilting journey. I live in an isolated, rural environment and wanted to connect with other quilters. At the time, we were still on dial up internet because we were unable to get any other service. I felt like I really lived in the middle of nowhere.
- How do you connect with your readers? In the beginning, it was only through the comments I would leave on other people’s blogs that I could make a connection. As time went by, I began to add tutorials and tips to my blog. And then I started offering free quilt alongs. This attracted more readers and soon I was receiving comments on my blog posts and was able to respond to those comments by email. Connecting with others was my main motivation to start the weekly Let’s Bee Social link party where everyone can link up on my blog and are encouraged to visit with their fellow linkers each Wednesday. I also connect with my readers through social media. Facebook is one form of connecting but I am also now on Instagram where it is even easier to get to know those who follow me. When I began to teach classes and workshops and to offer trunk shows to guilds, this was when I was finally able to transition into connecting with my readers in “real life”. And that is when I realized I actually live in the middle of everywhere!
- Which of the projects featured on your blog are the most popular with readers? Why? Quilt Along projects have been the most popular because they offer the most fun to my readers. It’s nice to visit other people’s blogs to see what they are working on, but to be able to participate together while working on a project makes it feel more like a party! You just never know what patterns will be the most popular with readers. Some old favourites are: Elephant Parade, Fox & Friends, Forest Friends, and Black Birds. Some more recent patterns that have been very popular are: Ducks in a Row, Fox among the Birches, and Giraffes in a Row.
- How are you celebrating Canada’s 150th on your blog? I guess I started early. Late in December 2016, I released the Canada 150 quilt pattern and shared my finished lap and baby quilt versions that the pattern includes. My grandmother used to make a lot of rag quilts. She made a large throw rug that was made to commemorate Canada’s 100th anniversary. This helped to inspire me to want to offer all of my fellow Canadian quilters the opportunity to create their own commemorative quilt that could be treasured by their families for years to come.
- Do you offer any bonuses or special content to your blog subscribers? If yes, do you partner with any other bloggers or retail outlets to offer those bonuses to readers or to increase the reach of your blog? I don’t have any special content that is ONLY provided for my blog subscribers. My quilt alongs and tutorials are open to everyone. Other bonuses that I have offered are giveaways. For some of those giveaways I have paired up with online fabric shops. However some prizes have come directly from my own stash.
- Do you have a retail shop for visitors to your blog? It wasn’t long after I started quilting that I realized if I wanted to keep making more quilts, I would need money to buy more fabric. And once I realized that the people I was meeting online, and those who began following my blog, were also quilters, I knew that selling my quilts was not going to be the way to do it. So I started learning how to design quilt patterns. Fellow quilters would want to make their own quilts, so if I could come up with quilt designs that they liked and would want to purchase then I could make money doing that. I started out on a few other sites, but opened my online Etsy shop in 2013 and that is how I currently offer my patterns for sale. And because Etsy is open to anyone looking to purchase handmade items, I have been able to sell some of my finished quilts too!
- What is unique about your blog or your sewing style? In the beginning it is a bit of a struggle to discover just what will make your blog and sewing style unique. You may be tempted to emulate an established quilting blogger’s style, figuring that is how to be successful. I knew I had to avoid this, but I was not sure what my style was. So I tried a lot of new techniques and gained experience. When I created the Elephant Parade pattern, I knew that I had finally found my niche – creating traditionally pieced modern quilt designs. But we all know that that is only the half of it. A finished quilt top is only a top, not a quilt. I practiced all kinds of methods for quilting. And even felt that I had mastered how to perform free motion quilting. But I did not enjoy it. Then I began practicing edge to edge organic wavy line quilting. At first I felt compelled to apologize for sharing, yet again, another finish with the “same old” wavy line quilting. But so many people began asking me how I performed this quilting style. Others, like me, wanted to have a fast and fun way to finish their quilts without having to struggle with burying threads while outline quilting or being all stressed out by free motion quilting. And now I proudly consider this my signature quilting style!
- What bloggers or teachers are you inspired by? I am inspired by quilting bloggers who have become established. Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts. Rita of Red Pepper Quilts. Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts. Lee of Freshly Pieced. These quilters each have their own unique style. Each has a large following. And each of them has the tenacity required to keep on. Starting a blog is one thing, but keeping it going year after year takes hard work and dedication. It’s not easy to stick with it for the long haul. And with today’s social media, I think there has recently become a tendency for some to give up on blogging in favour of the ease offered by these forms of micro blogging instead.
- Is there a particular style or genre of artwork that inspires you? Charley Harper. The Modern Minimalist Master. As an artist, Charley Harper was always way ahead of his time. If you look at his entire body of work chronologically, you will see how his style was developed. The element of minimalism, his use of simple shapes and minimal detail, is only one facet of the appeal his work has. His use of repetition and the “odd man out”. His use of unique viewpoints. Even his clever use of a play on words or rhyming words for naming his works is appealing. Charley Harper’s work inspires me, fascinates me and most of all – makes me smile.
- Where do you find ideas for your content? Most of my content is derived from new patterns that I have designed, and my ideas for those have many sources. Nature is my number one source for content. Another source, as previously mentioned, is Charley Harper’s style which can be credited for my source of inspiration for Rural Squirrel and Fox among the Birches. People writing to me with requests for a certain quilt design have resulted in Ay, Chihuahua!, Mermaid, and Rainbow Unicorn. Some of my ideas for designs have come from fabric that I liked. The Elephant Parade pattern was created after seeing a fabric called Elephants in Grey by Ed Emberley. The Crocodile Rock pattern was created after seeing a fabric called Crocs Park from the Urban Zoologie collection by Anne Kelle. So some of my quilts start from choosing the backing first! Other ideas have come from using an element from an earlier design and reworking it in a new layout. For example, the Jungle Friends design contains a large number of jungle animals. Many of those animals, like the crocodiles and giraffes, were used alone in previous designs. Or I may take one element of a previous design and make a new pattern that uses only that one animal. In the past I used to worry that someday I would run out of ideas, but with so many sources, I now realize that the possibilities are endless! My content is not limited solely to posting about my own new designs. Sharing helpful tutorials is a great idea for adding content to your blog that will attract new readers. Participating in blog hops and quilt alongs hosted by other quilting bloggers is a fun way to connect with other bloggers and to provide blog content. Fabric. We all love it. It’s simply refreshing to take photos of new fabric and post about the details.
- What is one thing you would change if you were starting over? Why? The number one thing I would change if I was starting over is that I would have purchased my own domain – and kept it. It is not expensive. It’s a small investment. You never know where blogging will take you. And what you don’t want to have happen – happened to me and also happened to many others like me. I began my blog using the free blogspot platform offered by Google back in 2012. After getting to know a few other bloggers who use worpress, I felt like I might want to migrate my blog over to that platform instead. So I purchased sewfreshquilts.com and began a new site over on wordpress, but was unfamiliar with how to do it, so I just posted that you could find me over at sewfreshquilts.blogspot.com and provided a link to my original blog and kept on going with my original blog. The domain name that I purchased expired after one year and I did not renew it. Well…. there are people out there who watch for this kind of thing and they then purchase these domain names and “hold them for ransom”, hoping you will one day come to decide you would like to have it again. And it was only this past few weeks that I did just that. In preparation for the next step in my journey, I wanted to create a new, clean site (my new clean house) to direct prospective clients to, but still have a link to my original blog (my messy creative house). I wanted to have my domain name again. They ask for a premium price. And I am not going to get into how much it would cost, but it all depends on if they are aware that you want it. You can go on an auction site and make a bid. Or you can buy it outright. Bidding makes them aware that you want it and they are not obligated to sell it to you following your bid. I first considered just adding to or changing what I wanted for a domain name, as an alternate – thesewfreshquilts.com, sewfreshquilts.net, sewfreshquilts.ca, sewfreshmodernquilts.com – but I wanted my baby back! So I paid up and am now the proud owner of MY domain again. I encourage you to come for at visit at my new clean house – sewfreshquilts.com – but if you are looking for the fun me…. I’ll still be spending the majority of my time hanging out at my messy creative house over at sewfreshquilts.blogspot.com
Additional comments regarding my answer to question #10:
Sending a BIG THANK YOU to Cheryl of Meadow Mist Designs, first of all for being such a great friend, and for sharing her experience in this blog post from 2015. And also for participating in personal email discussions we had concerning the subject of buying your own domain. Thank you, my friend!
Some of you who are regular readers and friends may have noticed that I also updated my blog header (and Facebook and Instagram) with the new Giraffes in a Row alongside the name. I have struggled over the years to decide just what to use for a logo. First it was a blue spool. And then it was the bee, chosen mainly because of the “Let’s Bee Social”. But in preparing to go to Quilt Market this fall, I thought I should chose something a little more personal to me – something that I created to be my logo. And because that swoosh sign was already taken….
As I shared in my answer to the first question above, there was one very important reason I started a quilting blog. To make friends. Right now I am feeling particularly blessed. Being able to make so many connections with so many quilters in so many ways.
And it has been an incredible ride!
Thank you for being here for me!
If any of the questions and/or answers in this post speaks to you…
Or if you have any questions that weren’t covered…
I’d love to hear about it!!!!
Let’s have some discussion in the comments!
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An online interview, and your answers opened up your life to us. Thank you for sharing, speaking out, acknowledging others, and what stands out to me the most \” making friends\” I had no idea in 2011 when I began my blog how far reaching it would go. And when a blogger stops for a reason known maybe only to themselves, we miss them hugely. But have to understand. Keep on, please.
Thank you – you also taught me something new. Charley Harper. I'd never heard of him before so had to look him up – but those cardinals are fun. I can quite see how he inspired your own creations – although you have really hit the cute button with yours!
Congrats on such a wonderful interview! I have followed you for years and loved the interview. I made Elephants on Parade and it continues to be one of my favourite quilts. Way to go!
What an incredible interview, Lorna! You certainly raise the bar! I love your new site, too!
What a lovely interview! Your blog is one I always make time to read.
I love Charley Harper! I used to teach him when I taught public school art . I have calendars and postcards and coloring books by him. When I grew up, he used to do illustrations for the Ford employee magazine. I used to treasure those lillustrations, not knowing my future work. I have always wanted to do one of his swans (my last name is Swanekamp) as a quilt.Great interview! I always love you blog and hope to take the plunge sometime and make one of your quilts. I have a hard time with solids- I love more value changes in print fabric.Congratulations on the interview.
Thanks for sharing these answers with us. I recently discovered Charley Harper, bought some of the fabric, and even got a planner for next year! I can see his influence in your designs and I love it!
A great interview! And I just love your new header.
What a lovely inteview! I'm not at all a fan of most social media (I'm not even on FB) but I love how you've used the tools to your advantage in reaching out beyond the boundaries of your isolated home. Your designs are a delight, and I'm so grateful for the Christmas Quilt-Along patterns that you so generously shared for free! And yes, I'll have a completed quilt by this Christmas! Additionally, your inclusion of so many skin tones in your Mermaid Quilt pattern brought tears to my eyes when I first saw it on your blog. I saw it on a particularly awful news day here in the US (though most days in the last 10 months have brought such news), and it gave me such hope for the future. What a joy to find a young woman who, to me at least, represents the future of humanity, more respectful and inclusive, and of our wonderful craft. Blessings on you Lorna for all the joy you bring.
love Charlie Harper too
Oh wow, Lorna – what a journey! You did a wonderful interview. So proud of you – congratulations on your success! So happy I found your blog and your many happy quilt designs. The Bumper to Bumper quilts are especially being enjoyed by our twin grandsons. The one wouldn't let go of it – once unpacked. Melted my heart :)!
All of the prior comments ring true. I am so grateful to have been following you for the past few years. I have enjoyed making ugly sweaters, chickens and chicks, dogs, and my latest… Facebook celebrity hippos Fiona and Bibi that you so graciously adapted at my request. Your blog generosity is inspiring. And, speaking of blogs… I hadn't realized the reason for your blog update. I appreciate your advice and am now considering getting my own domain. You succinctly explained how important it is, and who knows where my quilting and blogging will go? Sometimes our imagination can't grasp just where the yellow brick road will take us! I found Charley Harper years ago when trying to design a kingfisher image, which he perfected. These saucy birds live along our creek and look so rogue with their mohawks. The Seattle Aquarium had an odd man out exhibit: a school of tiny blue fish and one orange fish. Lots of discussion and dreams with my then small daughters on how lovely it was to be unique. You embody the concept and inspire me in many ways. Congratulations on being highlighted and for being such a dear. Hugs.
Congrats on a great interview. Love your new header. I organize a sew day, one every couple of months, for a group of quilting friends and one member started your giraffes in a row pattern last sew day. Hoping she brings for show and tell to October sew day. I made Elephant Parade with your quilt along and will be giving it to a friend in November for her first grand. I have followed your blog for a number of years and sing your praises whenever I have the opportunity. I am proud to call you my friend. Keep up the great work you do. Love ya 🐝🐝🐝
Your new website looks great, Lorna. I wish you much continued growth and success and look forward to watching your journey!
I really enjoyed reading your story through the interview. Nice to learn more about you. Social media and especially blogging are a lot of work and I admire you for keeping at it. My blog really got pushed aside this year as our daughter got married and things other than quilting took center stage. Hoping to get back to it before it falls away because it's my way of recoding my quilty journey.
Thanks for sharing your interview here. The Dog Gone Cute QAL was dog gone fun and participating in the Blog Hop was (and always will be) a highlight of my sewing time. Cyber connections are lots of fun but I do look forward to the time when our paths will cross!
You sure are in the middle of everywhere! What a wonderful interview. It is great to get to know you better.I started with Elephant Parade, and didn't know that some of the other patterns were also available as sew-alongs to start.
Great interview! I am so glad for you that you are the owner of sewfreshquilts! I look forward to reading the new blog and layout.
Thanks for sharing your interview! It was so fun to get to know you better and how your quilt journey has evolved!
Congratulations on the interview. And on getting your domain name back!!