Hi Wendy, when did you decide to start The Weekend Quilter?
The Weekend Quilter came about in 2017. Originally it never set out to be a business, but really an outlet for me to express my creativity and decompress whilst working a high-pressure and demanding corporate job. The need to consistently post on the ‘grid’ to stay top of mind and connecting with other quilters on Instagram held me accountable to make time to create and live a more balanced lifestyle between work and play.
When it came to relocating to the United States in 2018 after I got married to an American, I quit my day job and I was forced to be ‘fun-employed’ for a year while I waited for my work permit to be approved. With all the free time at hand, I decided to focus on creating and building The Weekend Quilter brand, and seeing where that would take me.
Today, I’m no longer in the corporate world and The Weekend Quilter is now my full-time gig. I design and write modern quilt patterns, and freelance as a content creator for various crafting blogs and publications. I’m the author of Urban Quilting, The Quilted Home Handbook and in the summer, I’ll be releasing my third title First Words with Cute Quilted Friends; and I also co-host a podcast called Quilt Buzz.
What had you done previously?
Prior to The Weekend Quilter, I worked in a multi-national marketing research and consulting agency as a project manager. I managed multiple portfolios and projects, collected and analysed data to help organisations in the public and private sectors make informed business decisions.
How would you describe your brand’s ethos and signature style?
Quilts are a timeless part of our homes and heritage, and quilting is an art form that has thrived for centuries and continues to do so today. Whether you are retired, work, study, parent or care for someone part- or full-time, or just in between, we are all weekend quilters. We carve out time in our week to dedicate and create for many reasons. People no longer just quilt because it fills a practical material need. Quilting fills personal needs that are unique to each individual.
Quilts are an invitation into the maker’s mind and thought process. The simplest decisions such as design, colours, threads, fabric selection and placement, are all chosen with intention and reason. Quilts tell stories. They are reflections of us. They commemorate significant life events, such as the union of two families. The birth of a new baby, graduations, retirements or the passing of a loved one. The act of quilting helps a person clear their mind and engage in creativity, and it is a welcome distraction from what goes on in our hectic lives. The process also helps some of us heal and get through the darkest times.
As a modern quilter and designer, I aim to continue this tradition and pass down a creative legacy through my designs that inspires others to create no matter where they are in their quilting journey.
Sounds wonderful! Can you tell us a little about the processes used to create your work?
The design process begins with playing around with different shapes and colour on Procreate and PreQuilt, a web-based quilt design app. Sometimes I go in there with an idea in mind, and sometimes I just keep playing with different shapes, rotations and colours until I like something.
Once I have nailed a design, I work backwards to try and figure out what’s the fastest and most economical way in creating the design. From there I work out how much fabric is required for the project, write out the instructions, draw supporting diagrams and layout the pages for the pattern.
I then follow the pattern and create the quilt in all the various sizes. I use this as an opportunity to identify any errors and work out any kinks before it goes to pattern testers for testing or tech edited by a third-party.
Throughout this process I share my work on Instagram, Pinterest and my blog to drum up interest in the latest designs, inspire, and share new ideas and tips.
Which is your most popular product?
Surprisingly, it is my New Year Blessings mini quilt pattern. The mini quilt pattern is made up of a Chinese character, 福 (Fu). The Chinese word is the most popular and auspicious word used throughout Lunar New Year celebrations and it means happiness, blessing and good fortune.
This design came about a few years ago when my mum requested new throw cushions to decorate her home for Lunar New Year. The design was created for personal use only until I started to get several requests to make it widely available.
I believe this pattern is the most popular quilt pattern in my online store because there aren’t too many Lunar New Year quilt projects out there. The project is small, making it quick and easy to tackle; and makes the perfect gift for those that celebrate and are hosting Lunar New Year celebrations.
Very difficult question: do you have a favourite project?
That’s a tough one because I’m creating so many different projects all the time. If you reframed the question and asked what’s my current favourite, I would say it’s the Never Far Apart matching quilts from The Quilted Home Handbook.
The design was inspired by being far away from family and friends. At the time I was feeling a little homesick, and I haven’t been back home to Australia and visited my in-laws and relatives in Hong Kong in four years, since I moved to the United States due to Covid-19 travel restrictions.
The Never Far Apart matching throw quilts are all about bringing loved ones closer together – whether they are inches away from you on the couch or miles away on the other side of the world. Similar to a heart friendship necklace, these two quilts combined symbolise the special bond with a close friend or family member. It is also a celebration of the love that connects two people.
That sounds gorgeous! What does a typical day look like for you?
My day starts around 7.30am and cliché as it sounds, coffee first. Then Truffle’s morning walk to the local dog park. It’s then straight to the computer where I check emails and form a mental to-do list. Depending on my deadlines and what I have got going on, I’m either writing, designing, recording a podcast episode, in meetings or making. My day is then broken up with Truffle’s second walk of the day late in the afternoon and then it’s straight back to the grind till my husband comes home from work around 8pm to 8.30pm.
Does your location inspire you?
100 percent, yes. Inspiration is everywhere and strikes at any moment. Living in a city like New York City, you are not only spoiled by some of the most iconic landmarks and urbanscapes in the world, but it is also home to some of the most splendid parks and outdoor spaces. It is a city that’s always changing and moving at a face pace, making it full of inspiration.
As well as selling patterns and homemade quilts, you also have written two books! Can you tell us a little about your latest book: The Quilted Home Handbook and what we can expect to find inside?
The Quilted Home Handbook is all about creating quilted touches around your home. It was inspired by our 18-month home renovation during the height of Covid-19. For 12 months my husband and I lived out of our bedroom whilst the reminder of our home was a construction zone. Often my mind would take me to a place where I think of what our home would look like when the renovation was done. And of course, as a quilter, you think how can I decorate my home with quilts.
Unlike other quilt pattern-based books, The Quilted Home Handbook, contains patterns not only for your bed and couch. There are projects for throw cushions, table runner, sleeping eye mask, sham cases and more. There are instructions on how to convert some of the smaller projects into wall hangings, tips and tricks on how to style your quilted home, as well as ideas on how to finish and quilt your project on the domestic sewing machine.
The projects in the book are cohesively designed so that there are more reasons to create multiple projects, and there are three colour inspiration stories (neutral, warm and bright and cool and moody) to jump start your project based around directions someone may consider when designing or decorating their home.
How do you balance writing with making, and also co-hosting the Quilt Buzz podcast?
Operating a podcast that comes out every other week, you can anticipate when things are supposed to be done and released. So, I make time around that schedule to complete other business tasks like writing and making. I’m also so blessed to be working with Amanda Carye of Broadcloth Studio, my co-host on the podcast. We each have assigned roles within the podcast production and if one of us is unable to meet a deadline for a podcast episode, we help each other to ensure we stay on top of everything.
How do you approach PR and marketing?
What I’ve found works for my business is consistency and relationships. Being consistently present, making and sharing; and consistently creating new relationships and cultivating them. In other words, by always creating and sharing it leads to discovery and opportunities, which then forges new business relationships for future ventures and brand building.
From the very start, I believed in engaging and networking with everyone. Whether they are a big company, a competitor, an influencer within and outside of your industry, or simply someone that is new to the craft. You can learn a thing or two, pave a way for future opportunities, collaborations and develop professionally through these conversations. There’s a lot of hard work involved and in keeping up with it. It’s a long-term game but the opportunities that come with it are so rewarding.
What’s been your highlight so far?
QuiltCon 2023 in Atlanta. That trip was filled with firsts and it was a reminder of all the milestones I had achieved to-date in my creative career. At the convention, I did a live demonstration for Brother as their brand ambassador and taught workshops for the first time. That’s something I avoided for the longest time. I don’t like public speaking and presenting to an audience, even when I was in my corporate job.
My first book was released during the pandemic, so I wasn’t able to do any in-person promotions, meet and greets, and book signings. And it just so happened that the release of my second book coincided with the convention. So, we took advantage of the opportunity to do all of the above. And of course, meeting new and old faces from the ‘Quilter-verse’. Feeling all their love, encouragement and support showed me how my work, and I, touched their quilting journey.
If you were to share any words of wisdom with readers looking to start a creative business – what would you say?
One of the things that this creative career path has taught me is, “you do you”. My philosophy around that is, put in the effort, work hard, consistently and continue to create and share, focus on you and your goals, and the rewards will come your way.
Being in the creative industry, especially when it is so visual and we spend so much time on social media and other online platforms, it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of comparing yourself to your peers and losing focus of your goals and purpose. There have been moments where I have had to unfollow or just temporarily unsubscribe to people on social media. Not because I disliked their work or them as a person or brand, but it was because I kept comparing myself to them and questioning why I hadn’t achieved that.
So, work at your own pace, put in the work and time, and you do you.
Finally, what’s in-store for you over the coming months?
In the coming months I will be releasing my third title, First Words with Cute Quilted Friends. It’s a completely different concept in comparison to my first two titles. The book is a hardboard first words book and is geared towards parents and grandparents who appreciate the art of quilting, or simply those looking for a unique and engaging first words book for their child or grandchild. All the illustrations are by me and I used foundation paper piecing, a quilting technique, to form them. The book makes a wonderful addition for quilters that are gifting or making a quilt to welcome a new family member.
Describe your work in three words: bold, geometric, unexpected colour combinations (sorry that was five words!)
What are your creating rituals? Tidy up my workspace before starting any new projects.
Tea or coffee? Coffee.
Mountains or sea? Mountains.
Night owl or early bird? Early bird.
I wish someone had told me… Anything is possible if you put the time and effort into it.