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!
What do you have to say?
Keep On Quilting On!
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