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 | DevotedQuilter.com

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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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 | DevotedQuilter.com
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!

9 comments:

  1. Bernie has a huge heart, and I'm so glad she still has her first quilt. I look forward to seeing her work with it again. :)

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  2. I loved this little feature -- thank you both for putting in the time to make it happen! It's fun to look back at where Bernie started -- with a dad who owned a fabric store, with a gaggle of sisters who sewed -- and see how she's gotten where she is today. (And BTW, Bernie, I've made dozens and dozens of quilts ... and not one is as big as a queen size! I can't believe you make three right off the bat!)

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    1. I didn't know any better. Haha - All of them were yarn tied though. I had no idea how to actually quilt them on the machine. I have made one more queen size and quilted it on my machine but just with stitching in the ditch. Queen size is really a lot to wrestle through the machine!

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  3. This was fun getting to know Bernie a bit better! Bernie's shop was one of my first adventures on Etsy, and she made purchasing fabric so easy and enjoyable. I hope she has many more successful years as an Etsy shop owner and a quilt maker!

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    1. Thank you Kathy. You are so sweet and yes, you were one of my customers from the very beginning!!!

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  5. Thank you Leanne - this was lots of fun. I look forward to reading the next installment of "let's get to know..." :-)

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  6. So much fun to read this interview with Bernie! Someday I hope to meet her in real life :-)

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  7. So nice to read this Leanne! I knew most of this about Bernie, but still learned a few new tidbits, and also about the search engine optimization thingamajig. ;-) Like Wendy, I hope to meet Bernie one day; we have a lot in common!

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