Since starting my small business, Quilting Moonbeams, in 2013, I’ve found that my busiest times are the few months leading up to Christmas and the few months leading up to graduation. T-shirt quilts seem to be go-to presents for those events — and I’d have to agree!
After starting my new job, I didn’t have as much flexibility in my daily schedule, so I cut back on advertising (via my Facebook Page). However, word-of-mouth is a powerful (and free!) marketing technique and one that has kept me in business since I began making quilts for other people.
I’m grateful for those individuals who think ahead about gifting a quilt. I feel bad, but when I get a request for a quilt two weeks before Christmas, I have to say no. Thankfully I had several wonderful customers who planned ahead this fall and their gifts (and surprises) turned out beautifully.
She wanted to have two t-shirt quilts made as a surprise for her husband. They met at Purdue University, so one quilt was all college t-shirts. They were also both active in Greek Life, so I made another quilt with her sorority shirts on one side and his fraternity shirts on the other.
She also had some shirts and sweaters that belonged to her grandfather who is now deceased. After considering some different possibilities for how to use those items of clothing, she decided on turning the sweaters into stockings. I had never done this before but was willing to give it a try. She wanted five, which I was able to do, but they vary in sizes. Her suggestion of making pom poms was perfect! I love working with customers to create something new together.
A mom contacted me about making a t-shirt quilt for her daughter. Most people show up with a bag of t-shirts and that’s what I was expecting this time. However, that wasn’t the case! The daughter had actually started working on the quilt several years ago when she had a job at Jo-Ann Fabrics. She had already cut out the t-shirts and ironed interfacing on the back (a step I don’t usually include based on the types of quilts I make). In addition to the shirts, several of them already had sashing sewn around them… but not all of them. And, there wasn’t enough fabric included to finish it the way I assumed she was trying to make it.
I consulted with the mom again and she gave me permission to do what needed to be done to finish the quilt. The anchor fabric the daughter used was no longer in print and I couldn’t find it anywhere, so I had to get another fabric that I thought would blend well. Because of the interfacing, I was able to quilt this one differently than usual. I think it turned out really well! When I followed up with the mom after Christmas she wrote: “She LOVED it. She cried when she opened it. She was so surprised. You did an awesome job.”
A woman asked if I could make a quilt out of nightgowns. Why not?! She brought a bag full of 6-7 nightgowns that had belonged to her grandmother. The woman had been storing them in a closet since her grandmother’s death, waiting to make a quilt for her own mother.
Thankfully the nightgowns blended well together, so I just made a simple patchwork quilt. I used embroidery floss to tie the three layers of the quilt together over the entire quilt. Again, I followed up with the customer after Christmas just to make sure she was still happy with the final product. She sent me a video of her mom opening the gift with the caption: “She loved it!!” She then followed up saying, “Thank you so much for making it! We just told her we are pregnant and the first thing she said is that she can’t wait to cuddle the baby in that quilt!” Four generations will experience the comfort of those nightgowns because she thought to preserve them in a quilt.
I made several table runners a few years ago for some craft shows that I entered. A woman from church already had a table runner for fall but needed one for Christmas, so I pulled this together for her one afternoon.
I received a call in early December from the wife of a customer who I’ve worked with in the past to create two quilts. She wanted one made for her parents for Christmas, but worried that I wouldn’t have time. I told her that I couldn’t guarantee it would be done by Christmas, but to bring the shirts over and I’d see what I could do. It turns out her parents have hosted a “Boot Camp” for their grandchildren for many years. They even had shirts made (although some were missing, which is why there are some blanks squares).
My other projects came together faster than I anticipated. I loved being able to text her and tell her that the gift for her parents would be done in time for Christmas day! When I followed up with her after the holidays, she wrote, “They absolutely LOVE it!”
And last but not least…
Aside from ornaments for our nieces and nephews, I only made one homemade gift this year. My dad and Bob bought a lake cottage recently and they have spent a lot of time making it their own. Now that my dad has retired they will be there even more. I decided to make them a quilt that is reflective of their new home. I found a fabric bundle called A Day at the Lake by Laura Marshall for Wilmington Prints. I loved the blues and grays along with the different chevrons, oars and waves throughout the prints. On Small Business Saturday I went to Crimson Tate and got a paint chip bundle of grays to use for the half-square triangles.
To say the quilt was a hit would be an understatement! Dad and Bob were thrilled with it and already have it in use at the lake cottage!
I’d say this year’s batch of Christmas quilts were a success!