Ask Jo: Fabric and Designing

Every once in a while I take time here on the blog to answer reader questions.  Today is one of those days.

From Terri in BC, “What fun to get to play with new fabrics before the rest of us! Do you get to keep the quilts as well?”

Terri asked her question after seeing this box of pre-cuts and goodies from Moda that we got for upcoming quilt projects that will be published.

The answer…YES.  We get to keep all the quilts we make.  Sometimes they are gone for up to 6 months but the quilts always come back to us.  One of the reasons Kelli and I started designing was for a chance to get some fun fabrics for free.  We’re both just simple gals married to farmers who don’t have a lot of money but have a lot of time on our hands as our husbands are both work-aholics.  Getting fabric for free sounded amazing to us!

The manufactures of the fabric look at their gift of fabric as advertisement for them….and it is.  If you see a quilt we made using a specific fabric line, many people try to replicate that pattern and find the same fabrics to make it.  It’s a win for both of us.  We show off their fabric for them.

If any of you are ever thinking about doing something similar we highly recommend that you give Moda Bake Shop a try as your first adventure.

Here’s how you would go about it.  First off, head over to United Notions (Moda’s parent company).  From there look under Fabrics then under Future Groups.  There you will find my play ground.  I just love going there and seeing all the new fabrics that will be heading out to stores over the next 6 months or so.  I look and look and find one that I want to work with.


If you click on the icons there you can see every print that be in the fabric line.

From there, I head to the computer.  I design on the computer in Word.  You can see a tutorial blog post on how I do that here.  Some people use EQ and others use plain old graph paper.  Whatever works for you is awesome!  Remember, you’ll be wanting to think of the fabric line as you come up with your design.  The design has to be able to be made with a pre-cut.  Keep in mind that fat quarters are considered pre-cuts.  You can also add in more fabric like a background print or borders, backing and binding in yardage.  You’ll need to figure out all your math (Kelli does that part for us) to know how much of each fabric (or precuts) that you’ll need.

Once you come up with your design, go to Moda Bake Shop.  Along the right hand column there is a link to a form for you to fill out to submit your design.  It takes anywhere from two days to a couple weeks for you to hear back if your design is accepted.  If it is accepted, you will then submit a form to the sample room so that they can ship out fabric to you.  If they don’t accept it, don’t feel bad, they get many submissions…try again.

From there they ask that you have your project done the month that the fabric line is coming out.  For me, I sent in a project two weeks ago and it was accepted.  It used this fabric line, Advant Garden.  This is a MoMo line and I have loved her lines in the past so I knew I wanted to make something with it!!

ASST16120 15YD 33 PC
The fabric will be hitting stores in July.  In that case, I would need to have my project done in July-that includes having the tutorial written and ready for publication on the Moda Bake Shop blog.  Don’t let that part intimidate you.  Just remember to take a few pictures as you sew…and take a few notes too.  Some people write their pattern out before they begin their project and then “test” their instructions as they sew the project.  If you have question, there are people there who will answer them.

I think another important thing to note is this-Your project doesn’t have to completely original in that you designed the block from scratch.  You can take simple nine patch blocks made with jelly rolls and put them in a fun setting.  You can take traditional blocks and make them your own.

It is definitely do-able and the best part of all is that all of the fabric for the project was free….binding and backing included…well not exactly free.  You have to sew the project and write the tutorial.

Kelli and I both can’t say enough wonderful things about Moda.  They are so easy to work with.  Moda Bake Shop gave us our start with this quilt.

We remember being so nervous about it….(find the pattern here) .  If you need some help of have questions, I’ll try…

One more question from Sharyn, “I love your quilt…and Bonnie’s as well. How do you go about getting one of your quilts featured in a magazine?”

This question is in reference to this quilt that is currently featured in Quiltmaker.

The answer…submit, submit, submit.  If you look in the front pages of a magazine, there is an editor and typically there is an email address there too.  From there design your quilt. Some magazines like the quilt already made rather that a paper submission, and submit it.  Be ready for some “no” answers.  Also remember that magazines are working on an entire different schedule than we are.  Last month we just sent in a completed quilt that will be featured for a Christmas issue.  You need to be designing about 9 month in advance.  For example, Kelli and I are already thinking of a couple Patriotic designs that we will likely submit for next year for a 4th of July type issue.  With magazines, you might not hear a yes or no from them on your submission for 2 months from the time of submission.

It’s easy to get discouraged with magazines and projects being rejected…just remember often times they are looking for a “theme” for the magazine.  For example…Quiltmaker was looking for “star” quilts for this issue as 5 of the projects have stars in them.


If anyone has any questions, drop me a note.  I’ll do what I can to try to help!

7 thoughts on “Ask Jo: Fabric and Designing”

  1. Thanks for answering my question, Jo. I find it fascinating how this all works. I’m not sure if it is something I would like to try. I might just have to live vicariously through you. Thanks again!

  2. Thanks for the information, I have been curious about this also. Are you compensated in any way when your quilt is published in a magazine?

  3. Thanks for answering my question as well, and so much more! I always wondered how you got started and you make it sound so easy. Perhaps I’ll start writing up a few of my designs and try!

  4. Good info, not that I will be designing anything–I am a pattern follower! However I remember seeing your awesome quilt in the Origins by basic grey fabric and I planned to make the exact quilt..I bought two huge fat quarters packs or some such thing and eventually I would up making Orca Bay using those colors and then some of the leftovers went into Celtic Solstice (Packer colors!) so your eye candy does work to get us buying! Keep it coming!

  5. Thank you for telling us all that. I often wondered how you went about doing something like that. Once again, Jo, you are so helpful. I was wondering too, if you have to have a blog to get asked. Have a great weekend! thanks

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