Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Behind the Scenes-Designing for Magazines

Today has been a busy day working on instructions for several upcoming magazine features. We are very lucky to have several magazines pick up my designs throughout the year. Now I know this sounds exciting and it is. But it is also involves quite a bit of work. Designing for magazines differs from designing pattern for fabric companies, because we work 4-6 months ahead. So that means it was just Halloween in our studio. Each quilt we design will not be seen for several months and because we like to offer a fabric kit with each feature, I have to make sure I use the newest fabric collections that will still be available when the magazine ships. 
When I go to market, I check out many different fabric lines from the fabric companies and make a list of collections I like and the date they will be available. I star the collections I think I could make a strong quilt design with. Some companies are willing to send me samples of the fabrics that I am interested in along with their basic collections that I can use for upcoming designs. I tend to use these collections more so because of the convenience of already having them in the studio when I sit down to sketch. Once I have my idea and main fabrics for the quilt design, I select the remaining fabrics for the quilt. I try to use fabric that all comes from the same fabric company for each feature. This helps us order the fabric for the fabric kits we will offer and makes it easier for the magazine to list suppliers. Also after the quilt is completed, I send a photo of the quilt to the fabric company whose fabric I am using. The fabric company can use the photo as a marketing tool to help sell the fabric to the quilt shops. The fabric companies rarely show a quilt that has their competitor's fabrics next their own in the quilt.
Once I have the fabric and idea selected I do a final sketch or digital quilt I send to the magazine that I think the design will fit best. Each magazine has their own theme or style and it is important to understand the different magazine's style before sending designs in for consideration. I have about a 75% success rate when submitting designs. This may surprise some who think that everything I submit gets picked up. The truth is I just submit that many designs to the magazines each year.
Once I have a magazine interested in a design, I contact the fabric company and let them know what magazine is picking up the design and request sample yardage from them to make the quilt sample. I also make a job folder for it just like any other job. Because once the magazine picks up the design that is exactly what it is. The editors have deadlines to meet and if I am late, it messes up their schedule. Though sometimes a quilt may be late because we are waiting on fabrics to arrive (this is a pitfall of working with the newest collections). On average we get the fabric two to three weeks before the quilt is due, giving us plenty of time to meet the deadline.
When the fabric arrives, Kathy (my assistant) or I make the quilt top. Then Doris (my mother-in-law and long arm quilting master), quilts the quilt. Then the quilt comes back to my studio for the binding, sleeve, label and our photography. Every quilt we make gets a label that I print on special fabric that irons onto the back. Once the quilt is complete, we ship it off to the magazine for their photo shoot. I will not get the quilt back for a couple of months, the magazine will keep the quilt as reference for any color corrections done right before the issue goes to print. That is why I take a photo of each quilt before sending it out the door. I use the photo for reference when I write the instructions and for our website to promote the fabric kit we will sell.
Once the quilt is shipped, I sit down and write the pattern and get together the fabric order for the fabric kits.  I then send off  the pattern and order to Jerry (my father-in-law and partner) to edit the pattern and take care of ordering the fabrics. Now we wait....
The magazine will come back to me with the final yardage about a month before they are going to print. This sometimes matches the yardage I originally came up with and sometimes it differs. We will change our yardage list here at the studio to match the magazine and use this as our cutting list, so our kits match what is published in the article to avoid any confusion with the quilters. This is also when we go back to the magazine with the kit price they will publish.
Now that we have the final yardage from the magazine and hopefully have the fabric for the kits in house, Linda,who bounces between working with me or working with Jerry will cut and package the kits and get them ready to ship.
Once I know the magazine has dropped, I add the photo of the quilt and fabric kit info to our website and wait for the orders to come. 
As you can see there are a lot of steps to each magazine feature we do and it is a team effort that makes the process run smoothly. I have to thank the different editors and fabric companies I work with for their support throughout the process.
If you want to see what we have upcoming in magazines, please check out my website (link to our website is listed to the left) once you get to our website look under "What's New". I am working on re-designing our website to make this info appear on the first page rather than buried in the website. But that is a job for another day. I hope you have enjoyed a sneak peek of the steps involved to create each magazine feature we do. So until next time.... 

1 comment:

  1. I'm fascinated by this behind-the-scenes tutorial! Thanks for sharing.