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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Guest Speaker: Paulette Eccleston

Paulette started her quest for Canadian quilt designers when she volunteered as a pattern reviewer for the CQA newsletter The Canadian Quilter. Her first review in the Winter 2003 issue, led her to Melody Fairburn from Sudbury. Through her dialogue with Melody, she learned of the difficulties that Canadian quilt designers have getting their work out to stores, to the Canadian public, especially for designers who have families and live in isolated places in this big country. This lead Paulette to suggest to Canadian Quilter to let change her focus from pattern review to a feature on the Canadian designer, to help give Canadian designers some exposure. This eventually led to not only introducing designers but to sharing their pattern designs in each issue.

Paulette's job just got bigger, not only did she have to find a new Canadian designer every issue (4 times a year), she had to try out each pattern, and she had to help edit it to fit the constraints of the newsletter. She had to offer a variety of patterns designed by Canadians that reflected the vast geography and diversity of Canada.

Paulette herself comes from a small city in BC, so her exposure to Canadian designers was limited to what her local stores carried, but whenever she travelled she looked for new Canadian pattern companies. Some new pattern designers seek her out, emailing her samples to try. She kept lists, business cards and samples. She wasn't able to just feature them in the order she finds them she had to balance them with the mandates of the newsletter. She's learned there is a lot of talent out there and that we need to seek them out and offer our support by buying their patterns and carrying them in our stores. She learned from many designers that there is not a national trade show to attend to make contacts.

Canadian designers come from all kinds of backgrounds and their companies vary in style and focus. Many get their start from working in quilt shops and conducting classes, and then designing projects for their classes, such as Chi Chi Quilt Designs by Chi Chi Radiuk from Saskatchewan. Others are strictly found on-line, such as Victoriana Quilt Designs, there, your pattern will be emailed to you and you print it yourself. Some companies, such as Button Bush Quilt Company and Designs to Share With You get the whole family involved. The mother creating the patterns, the fathers doing the bookkeeping, the kids doing websites, photography, creating kits etc. Other designers have had success with books published in the US, such as Myra Harder and Cori Derksen with 4 Seasons of Quilts. Paulette describes these 2 as up and comers as they move into fabric design industry. Kathy K. Wylie from Toronto has just released a new book Sew Flakes: Paper Cut Applique Quilts.

For manyCanadian designers the path to success is the trip to the US and to the Quilt Market in Houston, TX. Nellie Holmes of Originellies, one company within Upper Canada Quilt Works, said to Paulette that the most important decision she made was to get a booth at Quilt Market because it is there you get the most exposure and make all your contacts. If the first time isn't a success, she says, then figure out what it was that didn't work and do it again. Getting known in the states is about increasing your geography. It isn't about selling out; it is about selling.

After 5 years of introducing Canadian designers to Canadians, Paulette has passed the torch on to Joyce O'Connell. Now she spends her time teaching at her local quilt shop and designing her own patterns for her classes.

Her local quilt shop is Katja's Quilt Shoppe which will be featured in the autumn issue of Better Homes and Gardens Quilt Sampler Magazine as one of the top 10 quilt stores in North America.

Here is a list of the Canadian designers that Paulette spoke about and have not been mentioned yet, including the issue of The Canadian Quilter they were featured in. (please note our guild library has back issues of The Canadian Quilter):

1) MJM Designs, (Fall 2004), designers Margaret Crawford & Mary Young, Perth, Ontario, featuring Canadian redwork
2) Lotuslands, (Winter 2004), designer Aie Rossman, Calgary, Alberta,

3) Seams2be, (Spring 2005), designer Mary-Ann Lammers-Winter, Welland,Ontario
4) Absoulutely Obssessed, (Summer 2005), designer Lynn Knox, Vernon, BC

5) Sipiweske Quilt Designs, (Summer 2005), designer Marlene Biles, Wawanesa, Manitoba
6) Hula Girl Quilts, (Fall 2005), designer Lauma Cenne, Montreal, Quebec
7) Rocky Mountain Designs, (Winter 2003), designer Vicki Andrews, Golden, BC
8) Designs by Daintry, (Spring 2006), designer Daintry Chitaroni, Sudbury, Ontario
9) Designs by HL,(Fall 2006), designer Helen Louise Coppin, Whitby, Ontario
10) Country Quilts, (Winter 2006) designer Cheryl Wall, Abbotsford, BC
11) Among Brenda's Quilts,(Spring 2007) designer Brenda Miller, Strathroy, Ontario

(thanks to Brenda Miller, one of our local area designers, for coming to the banquet and modelling the quilts for us!)

12) Sew Karen-ly Created, (Summer 2007) designer Karen Neary, Amherst, Nova Scotia
13) Border Creek Station,(Fall 2007), designer Sherri Hisey, Newmarket, Ontario
14) Prairie Rose Designs, (Summer 2006) designer Beverly Howell, Calgary, Alberta
15) Mother Earth Studios, (Winter 2006) designer Hilary Rice, Cornerbrook,Newfoundland
16) Fairfield Road Designs, (Spring 2004) designer Christine Baker, Brockville, Ontario
17) Botanical Art Quilts, designer Janet Rice-Bredin, Naughton, Ontario

LFQG would like to thank Paulette Eccleston for her wonderful talk about Canadian quilt designers. Many of us are surprised and delighted to find so many talented people in our own backyard! And also many thanks to the Canadian designers who donated patterns as door prizes for our banquet! No one left empty handed and it was so hard to choose from such a wide selection of patterns!Thanks again! Please ladies, take the time to peruse the above links and shop Canadian! (Email me if you need the complete list of Canadian designers and the list of patterns)

We wish everyone a safe summer and hope to see you all again this fall and can't wait to see all your talent showcased in our October's "A Harvest of Quilts" Show. Keep reading the blog during the summer to find "Quilters on Vacation".

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