March 05, 2021

Let's Get to Know...Bernie Kringel!

 Before we get into today's interview, just a reminder that my Anniversary Sale is going on this week. Visit my Etsy shop to save 25% off all patterns, no coupon code needed.

Now it's time for another installment of Let's Get to Know...This time we're getting to know Bernie Kringel, a quilter, blogger and online quilt shop owner with a big heart.  😊 Bernie makes quilts (and accepts donations) for Mercyful Quilts, giving quilts to people in palliative care at her local hospital, Mercy Hospital in Sacramento. She also introduced me to A Doll Like Me when she started making for the super special dolls. 

You can find Bernie at her blog, Needle & Foot and her shop is here. All of the pictures in this post are courtesy of Bernie.

Now, let's get to know Bernie a little better!
Let's Get to Know Bernie Kringel |

Tell us about your first quilt. Do you still have it?

I made my first quilt when I was 17 years old. It was a log cabin pattern and was queen size. This was in 1977 and I certainly didn’t have a rotary cutter! So lots of time was spent cutting strips. I didn’t have a way to quilt it (that I could figure out!) so I yarn tied it. I used that quilt for so many years until it started to fall apart. About two years ago I took it apart and now have the quilt top separated and ready for me to repair. It needs a great deal of work. Hopefully I will get to this someday!
Baby on a quilt |
Here is a picture of my first quilt.  This was taken in 1987 so it had been in use ten years already.  Note how my son is face down on the quilt sleeping - not allowed anymore!!!

Do you come from a family of quilters or crafters?

No one in my family quilted but my mom sewed a lot of clothes for me and my five sisters when we were younger. Mom taught me to sew when I was about 11 years old. I remember I made a baby doll
nightgown with matching panties. It was a tiny rosebud print in lavender on white. When I was a girl, my father owned a fabric shop. This meant we sisters had easy access to a lot fabric. I also had the opportunity to work in the shop on Saturdays and during the summer which was a lot of fun. Dad is also a great woodworker. He has made so many wonderful items for me and my sisters. One of the favorites is a wooden cradle that most of the grand babies have used when newborn. He also made a hutch for me and a rocking horse that the grand children passed around as well as lots of other items. One of the most popular posts on my blog is titled Four Weddings and Four Dresses and it tells the story of the wedding dresses my sisters and I made for our weddings.

Do you have any sewing related collections (other than fabric and thread, lol)?

I can’t say I have a collection per say but I do have my grandma’s wooden sewing box and I treasure it. I also have a jar of wooden spools from her sewing box.

What sewing notions could you not live without?

Of course there are a lot of notions I love - my Hera marker and Chaco-Liner are great for marking quilts. My seam ripper is used all too frequently. As for one notion I would not quilt without, that has to be the rotary cutter. It got all of us away from tracing templates and scissor cutting pieces. Using a rotary cutter and ruler piecing is so much more accurate! Recently I was given an AccuQuilt Go and have a few dies for it in various size squares. This is a huge help to me. I have stacks of squares now ready to be used. I am thrilled to have it.
Twister quilt |
My favorite quilt I have made thus far is my version of Twisted (a popular pattern by Dorie Javier).  I donated it to Mercyful Quilts.

Would you rather cut the pieces for a quilt or stitch a binding?

Without question, I would rather stitch a binding. Honestly, I dislike cutting all the pieces for a quilt. I can’t say for sure why this is but I it is the least favorite part of quilting for me. But binding a quilt - I love it. It is the final step so there is that satisfaction of a finish. Also, it is meditative to just sit and stitch. I think it is a very pleasant way to spend time in the evenings. So much so that I have been hand quilting a lap quilt and finding it has the same soothing qualities.

What do you wish you had known when you started quilting?

Well, that is a tough one. I feel like I started quilting twice. With the first quilts I made in the 1970’s (3 queen size quilts), I was totally self taught. I didn’t know how to bind them so I did it ‘envelope style’ - just sewing front to back and then trying to stuff batting in between the layers!! This was quite awkward and not entirely successful. But it was just me figuring things out.

The second time I began quilting was in 2011. But now there was the internet, YouTube and blogs. I learned so much with these resources. I would say for the second time I started, I didn’t truly understand how critical it was to be accurate. Accurate when cutting pieces and again when stitching the ever important 1/4” seam. If these two bits are accurate, the resulting piecing is much prettier.

What made you decide to open an online quilt shop?

In 2012, I took an early retirement from my job due to chronic migraine. After a while I felt I wanted to be able to work and it seemed that working from home was the best fit for me. Opening an on-line shop
was the perfect solution as I could work around my health issues. On the days I wasn’t feeling well I could work minimally, or not at all. I wasn’t tied to actually going in to a shop as I would have been with a brick and mortar store. Plus with an on-line shop, I don’t have the over head expenses that are involved with a brick & mortar. This makes it possible for me to work part-time. Meaning I can invest less and sell less because I don’t have to make a minimum amount to cover rent, salaries and utilities. This has been such a nice way for me to work. As I mentioned earlier, my father owned a fabric shop so I was somewhat familiar with all that was involved.
Needle & Foot quilt shop |
View of the Needle & Foot shop

What is your favourite part about being a quilt shop owner? And what is the hardest part?

I love choosing new fabrics to bring into the shop. Because I am a small shop, I don’t buy an entire line. Instead I pick and choose one or two focal prints and some of the coordinates. I love that process of browsing the new lines and selecting bolts. At first this was a bit tricky but I have a good feel for it now. I also love communicating with my customers. I want them to feel like they are receiving full service, as they would in a local quilt shop. So I try to be very responsive to their questions, help in matching colors (which is tricky when shopping online) and mailing swatches out if they need one.

As for the hardest part? Well, at first it was learning how to be a successful seller on the Etsy platform. There is a lot to learn about how search engines work, tagging each listing appropriately so that your items are found by people shopping online. Second to that, it was the business side of things. Learning how much fabric to buy, how often to buy, tracking open purchase orders so you know what is coming in and when and doing the bookkeeping that is needed are all important factors. There is a lot of time spent on these tasks and it is not the fun part!
Needle & Foot quilt shop |
Another view of the shop

Do you have any advice to anyone wanting to start their own quilt shop?

Hmmm, I will speak to opening an online shop since that I what I have the most experience with. First of all, be sure you study the way search engines work. You can have lots of wonderful fabrics to sell but the customers have to find your shop online. So the way the listings for each bolt or precut are written and put online is critical. Without the correct tag words and descriptions your shop can be lost in the myriad of other listings out there. You need Google to find your shop and push it up toward the top so the person searching for fabric finds it. There are so many blogs and articles out there explaining “search engine optimization” and I would advise studying this topic. It doesn’t sound like the fun part of opening a shop and that is because it isn’t the fun part! But without this, it is tough to be successful. Etsy has been a great platform for my business and there is an abundance of information in their seller’s manual to help a new shop owner with all of this. Also, it doesn’t happen overnight. Sales will be slow at first. It takes time to build up your customer base. So try to be patient.

This one’s not quilting related, though it could be if you listen or watch while you quilt 😊 Do you have a book, movie or show recommendation to share?

This is a fun question! I would recommend The Queen’s Gambit for a really interesting show on Netflix. My husband and I loved it and we are not chess players. It was fantastic. I also enjoy watching The Call of the Midwife. Books I have recently enjoyed are Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns and One For the Blackbird, One for the Crow by Olivia Hawker. Both of these are excellent books.

Thanks, Bernie! It was great getting to know you better!

March 02, 2021

Double Flower - Quilt Block Mania

 Before we jump into today's post, did you know that today is my 8 year blogging anniversary? I'm having a pattern sale to celebrate 😊 All of the patterns in my shop are 25% off, no coupon code needed, now through March 7th.

Shop the sale!

And now, on to regularly scheduled programming...😊

It's time for Quilt Block Mania again and this month the theme is Flowers. I love designing quilts with flowers, so this theme just made me smile. I already have Flower Box (my first ever published pattern), Flower Path, Pinwheel Garden and New Life, but there's always room for another flower design.

I hadn't yet settled on a design for this block when we went into lockdown a couple of weeks ago and I found myself needing some fabric therapy. I ended up making 10 flower mini quilts that were 6" square. When my friend (and fellow QBM designer) Laura saw my IG post with the flowers cut out, she thought I was already working on the block for today and was impressed with how ahead of the game I was. Well, I wasn't...until she said that and I realized those double flowers would be perfect for today's block!

I reprinted the templates, this time for a 12" block and made myself a flower. This teal beauty is made with three different Island Batik fabrics and the background is from Northcott. 
Double flower quilt block |
It's too bad I didn't make a 6" mini flower quilt to keep myself, to compare the sizes, but here's a thread spool for scale, at least.
Double flower quilt block |
I stitched around the layers of the flower with Aurifil 50 wt thread in three different colours: 5005 for the outer flower, ____ for the inner flower and 2024 for the center.
Double flower quilt block |
There was a time I resisted doing zig zag stitching around appliques, though I can't remember why. Now it's one of my favourite ways to finish applique shapes. Go figure!
Double flower quilt block |
Though it won't be seen once this is finished into a quilt, I do love how the stitching around the applique looks from the back.
Double flower quilt block |
Want to make your own Double Flower block? Enter your email address here to download the pattern. Doing so will also subscribe you to The Bulletin, which I hope you will enjoy reading 😊

There are lots of other great flower themed blocks this month for Quilt Block Mania, so hop around and collect them all.

Rose Garden by Slice of Pi Quilts
Happy Flowers by Carolyn Burgess
Double Flower by Devoted Quilter
Faux Flowers by Blockofthemodotcom
Mod Tulip
Enchanting Echinacea
Rosebud Wreath at Patti's Patchwork
Flower Power - Cotton Street Commons
Dottie's Garden by Heidi Pridemore
Poppies by Duck Creek Mountain Quilting
Pretty Posies at Perkins Dry Goods
Mittens Smells the Roses at Puppy Girl Designs
Wildflowers by Studio R Quilts
Sweetheart Rose by QuiltFabrication
Flower Patch at Orange Blossom Quilt Design Studio
Scattered Petals by Snowy Days Quilting
Scrappy Tulip by Katie Mae Quilts
Happy Bloom Block by Oh Kaye Quilting
Buzz along
Everything's Coming Up Roses by Inquiring Quilter
Spring Posies by Blue Bear Quilts
Four Roses
Pieceful Crocus Focus
Improv Bloom by Love to Color My World
Sue's Field of Flowers by The Quilted Diary

It's My Blogging Anniversary!

Devoted Quilter is 8 years old today! When I first started this blog, I was so clueless, I had to have my husband teach me how to get a picture from our camera onto the computer. I've come a long way since then, lol.

I had no idea how blogging would change me, to be honest. I wasn't a quilt pattern designer before I started blogging. I wasn't a business owner (and never thought I would be!) and I certainly wasn't teaching quilting classes online to groups in other parts of the country. I wasn't sewing clothes, either. I also wasn't writing much at all. Even though I'd start the occasional piece, I hardly ever finished them.

Mostly, though, I didn't have friends who shared my passion for making quilts from beautiful fabric. Starting this blog, and then joining Instagram a year or so later, allowed me to find this amazing community of quilters that I now get to call friends. I hope to one day meet more of you in person (so far it has been only two), but even if I don't, I love having you in my computer and my phone, lol.

To celebrate my 8 years, I'm having my annual Anniversary Sale 😊 From now through March 7th, all patterns in my Etsy shop are 25% off, no coupon code needed. Free shipping still applies to all printed patterns, too, anywhere in the world. 

Shop the sale!

Thank you for being part of my quilting community! Thank you for reading, commenting, liking IG or FB posts, buying patterns, taking workshops and sharing my love of fabric and thread and the beautiful things we can make with them 💗 Thank you for sharing your finished quilts and your works in progress, too. It's a wonderful, never ending parade of inspiration and joy!