Small business 4 – Green Man Quilts

For the next in my series of interviews with women who own a small business, I’m talking to Sheena Roberts.  I met Sheena at Missenden Abbey in Buckinghamshire whilst doing a level 3 City & Guilds Patchwork and Quilting Certificate course,  taught by Barbara Weeks.  At the time Sheena and I were both employed in other spheres but we are now both self-employed with our own small businesses.

It was a pleasure to catch up with Sheena recently at the NEC, during at the Festival of Quilts (see my posts about this here, here, here, here and here), where she managed to take a little time out from her role as The Quilters’ Guild Festival Officer to talk to me.

DSC_0382What is the name of your business?   Green Man Quilts

When did it start?    January 2010

Why did you decide to start a business?

I had always wanted to be able to use my patchwork and quilting skills to earn money.  I realised I couldn’t earn enough from making things. I had a flash of inspiration that I could use my skills in teaching and build a business that way.

What jobs had you done before?

Primary School teacher, library assistant, office administrator, make-up artist. I was involved in a direct sales business. It was that introduction into business and multi-level marketing that gave me a good grounding.

Tell me a bit about the business?

I teach predominantly beginning or early patchworkers and quilters. Despite that, all my classes have a strong design element to them. I don’t teach from kits. There is always the opportunity to adapt, change and challenge.

What things have been difficult for you in setting up/running your business?

Getting ‘bums on seats’! It’s very hard as a new business to be well enough know to fill classes of 12 or 16. I found that an insurmountable battle. As a result, I refocused my business on providing personalises classes for much smaller groups.

What would you say to someone in the early stages of setting up a business?

Don’t stop. Never turn round. Never go back.

What is the best thing about working for yourself?

The freedom to respond creatively to fresh challenges.

http://greenmanquilts.co.uk/

 

And in other news… there’s a new pattern, ‘Compass and Stars’. You can find it here.

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Hand-stitched patchwork pattern: ‘Bright Garden Borders’

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I thoroughly enjoy the gentle occupation of hand-stitched patchwork. The quilt above is one of the ones I entered into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK, last year. In the show, the title was ‘The Missed Exhibition’ and there was a back story (you can read about that here).  Now, in happier times(!), it has been re-named ‘Bright Garden Borders’ because it certainly is bright. It began with a set of 40 Kaffe Fassett charm squares which formed the centres of the flowers. I picked the solids from my fabric collection, and then decided how to combine them in rows. The background fabric (also by Kaffe Fassett) was chosen at a later date. The idea behind the quilt was a re-working of ‘Grandmother’s Flower Garden’ where the background forms a path round the hexagon flowers.

The bright green along the border is fabric gleaned from some recycling: you can read about that here. In the quilt above, ALL of the quilt was hand-stitched including adding the borders, but these could be added by hand.

The finished size of the quilt is 70” (178 cm) long x 58” (147cm) wide. The quilt was quilted by hand, too.

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I have now released this as a pattern, so you can make your own. If you are in the UK/EU please follow the link on the website under my photo to my Etsy shop and you will find a paper and an electronic version of the pattern for instant download. If you are outside the UK/EU please follow the link to Craftsy where you will find an electronic pattern.

The pattern is very easy to follow, even if you have never before  tried English Paper Piecing (also known as ‘piecing over papers’). Like all my patterns, this one has clear, step-by-step instructions on how to make the quilt. with a photograph, in colour, of each stage (like the one below, showing the fabric being marked out).  I also tell you how to layer up your quilt, do the quilting and finish the edges. There’s a useful colour chart and a diagram of the templates needed.

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This is the very opposite of a ‘make it in a weekend’ quilt.  You need to be patient with this one!  This is an enjoyable, relaxing, slow method of making a quilt.