Welcome to Sew in the Snow Blog

This blog is about my passions in life: family, quilting, and new adventures. Quilting is my main passion! I also love my family tirelessly and devote most of my energy to my young preschool girls and my husband. This blog will be about my creative process in quilting and some about being a Mom in this busy world. Being of Irish descent, I love a good story. So buckle in, here we go!

Friday, May 25, 2012

FAF: Mary of By a Thread

Recently I was chatting with quilters/sewers from my Quiltsy Team and Mary volunteered to be interviewed.  So, I went to browse through Mary's shop, By a Thread and I was really impressed. Her products are made of top-quality fabric with an excellent eye for details.  Her products are practical creations to improve the everyday life.  By a Thread is full of gorgeous batik covers and other useful items.  What a huge inspiration to me! I love her beautiful creations.
What originally gave you the idea to create such an interesting Etsy shop?
I learned to quilt from a friend when I moved to Vermont, about 8 years ago.  I like making beautiful things that are also useful.  That’s why I started applying quilting to everyday items.  I started making purses and selling them to co-workers and at the occasional craft fair.  I found Etsy when I was looking for a way to sell excess inventory.  Etsy made it easy to set up an online shop.

Ideas are often so hard to implement—tell us a bit about how you started and what were your first steps in creating your niche in the Etsy and handmade community.
I found that the forums, blogs and seller’s guide on Etsy, were invaluable to me starting out.  I had a lot of questions, but could get most of them answered by searching the forums.  I also had a lot of friends who cheered me on.  My first customers on Etsy were friends who supported my business.

Could you share some tips on how someone would go about growing an Etsy shop or online presence? 
Creating and posting new items regularly seems to be the most important thing.  You read that advice over and over in Etsy publications because it’s true.  I’ve found it helpful to give myself quotas and goals so I keep track of how I’m doing with this.  This past fall, I noticed that for every 5 items I posted, I sold at least one item. (Not necessarily the new items.)  In December it was closer to selling one for each item I listed.  I love December!

What is your main hurdle in running your Etsy site to date?
Confusion.  There are so many products I could make and so many ways I can market my business, that it can be overwhelming.  I got a lot of help with this by taking the Business Turnaround class at www.ittybiz.com.

Tell us about the most interesting item you’ve ever made.
I worked with a friend to make memory quilts for his two grandchildren.  He selected photos that we printed on fabric, and I made quilts with them.  They are family heirlooms that those children will probably have for the rest of their lives.

How do you promote your business?  Facebook, Twitter, blogging, or other?
I use facebook, twitter and pinterest.  I have an email list and send out weekly mailings.  I don’t have a blog, but I write posts for other blogs.  I’m a member of several teams on Etsy.

Describe the process of creating one of your handmade items. 
When I buy fabric, I always launder it first, so it won’t shrink in future washings.  I have standard measurements for items I make, so I use them to cut out the fabric and batting.  I use cord in a lot of my products.  I sew that into loops for buttons, by hand.  If I use cord for purses, I hand sew the ends so it doesn’t unravel.  I generally sew things in such a way that the seams are turned inward. (rather than using binding to finish edges)  I free-motion quilt all my products, then sew up final seams and hand sew buttons. When I appliqué, I use iron on appliqué, then quilt over it.

What do you love most about making your products? 
There are 2 things that I most love about doing this.  I adore all the gorgeous fabrics that are available these days, especially batiks.  It’s a treat to be able to buy so many of them and make useful, beautiful products.  I also love the feedback I get from customers.  I love hearing that a product I sold, brought happiness or was the perfect gift for someone they love.

Fun Facts:
List 3 adjectives that describe you.
Creative, persistent, curious

What is your favorite food?
Do I have to choose between cheese and chocolate?

If you were an animal, what animal would you be? Why?
I suppose I have the personality of a small bird.  I flit from one thing to another and back again.  I’m always busy.  I love trees and I love to sing.

In conclusion, I recommend that you treat yourself to a leisurely stroll through her shop.  You may find a treasure you never knew you needed!  Just click on this link and you'll be there:

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