Ask Jo: PDFs & Machine Quilting

Hello, and welcome to another edition of “Ask Jo”.  I get many comments and questions from all sorts of places, the comment section here, Youtube, email, and from our Facebook group.  Sometimes I think others of you might want to know the answers as well so I answer them here on the blog.   Today I’m

Sam asked:
Just curious, wouldn’t you make more money selling as a PDF? Do you ever retain the rights to the pattern to post/sell instructions at a later date? I typically don’t buy magazines but would love a lot of your patterns. And yes I bought your book. :)”

Sam asked this question after I showed you our Bow Tie Bliss quilt that was featured in Quilter’s World.

It’s in the Autumn 2021 issue.

Sam is right.  We could make more money selling PDF patterns if you look only at the initial price of the quilt.

Getting quilts published in magazines also gives us a lot of exposure.  There are people who read the magazine and know nothing about my blog Jo’s Country Junction.  I know many of you don’t realize this but bloggers who have ads on their blogs do bring in a little bit of money.  Obviously, it’s not a ton as I still have another job but it’s enough to pay for all my hobbies, pay for some of the expenses for the charity quilt project when the fund is low, and I save it up for the extras I need at my house like the new electricity in the kitchen.

So…If I have more readers, I made more friends, and my ad revenue increases.  That’s what the added exposure from the magazine gives me.  So…having things published in magazines offers an added exposure of more people finding out about the blog.

But…if you want to know the bottom line…it’s this…I completely and totally with all of my being HATE pattern writing.  It is my arch-nemesis.  I fret over it.  I worry over it.  I can’t concentrate the way I wish I could.  I am not a perfectionist.  I am not detail-oriented.  I think of all of the things I have done in the world, writing patterns is likely in the top 10 of things I passionately hate doing.

If we send a pattern to a magazine, they write the pattern.  We have to read through it and that’s it.  We send them something really basic but it’s basic and it makes no difference if there is an error in it.

Another thing…we tried doing the PDF patterns from the site.  I’m not completely ruling it out but I am not all for it as it’s a lot of work.  I have to pay a commission to Kelli for the pattern writing as I hate it.  I pay Kayla a commission to set it all up and manage it.  So the price you see, isn’t what I actually get.  Still…it’s more than the magazine but then there is the bookwork of keeping track of who gets what and paying it out.  My other arch-nemesis…BOOKWORK.

This might surprise people but for every 100 PDF patterns sold, we likely get 10 people who can’t figure out how to download the pattern or think they downloaded and can’t find it on their device and want us to help them find it or sent it to them in an email.  It’s a pain.  We have to go back and look to make sure they actually paid for the pattern and then start working with them from there.  We want to help but it’s emails back and forth and I often have to contact Kayla so it’s more emails…and both of us have full-time jobs.  There is not enough time.

Another problem.  I did write a pattern.  There was an error.  I had to go through and contact every single person who bought the pattern and I had to send them the new copy.  Everyone was kind to me about that.  I so appreciated that but…it was a lot of work and I feel terrible about it.  Terrible.  I know how expensive fabric is and I know frustrating it is to pay for something and have it be wrong.

So…with the considers of my hating pattern writing, the added commission work, and coordination, the problems with people needing help to download patterns, and the worry I have if the patterns are right is too much for me.  It’s easier to send quilts to the magazine and not have to worry about it.  Plus, we get the added exposure.

If I were running a quilting business I would try to get over the hump and do more PDF patterns.  I would also work regularly on a Youtube channel.  I would join groups and care more about meet-ups with other quilt designers but that’s not me.

Last fall I was talking with a national magazine about being a columnist for them.  I was super flattered that we were in talks.  I even initially said yes to it.  But, I realized I didn’t want to…I ended up telling them no.  It would have been great to see my name on a regular column.  It would have been great that I could talk about quilting…

But, I realized I didn’t want all the other stuff that goes with it.  I didn’t want more deadlines squeezing their way in and taking away from family time.  I didn’t want to feel like I had to keep up with the new fabric lines, every quilt along and every new gadget that comes along.  I didn’t want to “get in the business” and feel like I had to be “in the know”.

I love being me.  I love staying home. I love that I can drop everything and be the mom or grandma I need to be.  I love my life “as is”.  I like that I can crank out 4 quilts for magazine publication in three months and then not submit another thing.  I love that I can go talk at a local guild and don’t have to worry about anything more than just being me.  I love that I can say, “no quilting for me today, I want to cross-stitch”.

I haven’t been in a quilt shop since sometime in 2020.  I know I’m going to go sometime here in the next couple of weeks.  I’m not the poster girl anyone in the quilting industry is looking for…and I’m perfectly content with that.

I’m just the neighbor who happens to quilt and be crafty and write a blog.  I aspire to nothing else.  Having that attitude is not common at all these days, but it’s me.  I have ZERO business aspirations.  ZERO.

My aspiration lies in my family.  I don’t want my hobbies to cause me stress.  I need them for relaxation so that’s why I’ll keep submitting to quilt magazines when the mood strikes…no PDFs…no column writing just forging ahead knowing my priority is family first.

Sorry, that ended up being so long.

There was another question about our Bow Tie Bliss quilt.

Teresa asked:
I love the quilting you did on the smaller quilt! Did you video it? Did you break thread on every block or was it a continuous design? Absolutely beautiful quilts. Good job!

I think we still lived in the farmhouse when Kelli and I made these tops.  I think I machine quilted it about 4 years ago.  I just don’t remember.

When Kelli and I sorted through quilts a bit ago, we realized that we never did submit this one.  So we decided to and they took it.

Happily, we had the pattern written (rough draft) as we likely wouldn’t have remembered what we did.

So as far as doing a video for this.  No, I didn’t.  I had not tried to really do any videos at the time this was done and had none of the equipment needed.

As far as I can remember, I could do the block without having to restart but all of the sashings involved restarts.

When I opened up the quilt and looked at it, I had trouble believing I did the machine quilting…but I did.  I must have been feeling brave that day!!

That’s what I have for you today…a lot of rambling.  Thanks for being patient with me.   If I missed your question please ask again.  I love your questions!!

28 thoughts on “Ask Jo: PDFs & Machine Quilting”

  1. Betty Woodlee

    Jo you explained the PDF issue very well. I understand perfectly why you prefer to keep having the magazine write your patterns vs you writing them yourself. You are already stretched very thin and I admire that you prefer family time to fame.

  2. Sharon Sampsell

    I admire your honesty and integrity. I get exactly what you are saying. When people ask me why I don’t sell what I make I tell them if I were to do that it would take the joy out of it for me. Doing each piece/item for the sheer enjoyment is the ultimate for me.


    The greatest gift you gave yourself is priorities! Congratulations. It is a long journey to figure out what you want to fit in life and you have done that. Just stick to your guns and put family and crafty pleasure first.
    I love seeing all the charity quilts. I sew for Victoria quilts (cancer) and love your inspirations.

  4. I so agree with you that you prefer not to make a hobby into a big business that takes priority over your family. Who needs more deadlines. What you do is so important – your child care, you being a loving grandmother and mother. These are the important things in life. You seem to manage your income in a very frugal manner. Money isn’t everything! Just keep doing what you do – we love hearing about you and family and seeing the many beautiful quilts you make.

  5. I went to quilt guild on thursday night and there on the share table was the recent magazine with your quillt in it plus the last magazine with your quilt in it. Came home with me.

  6. You explain your decisions very well. I feel the same way. There is only so much time and it’s best to choose those that bring us the most joy.

  7. Family Time is SO important!! Besides, it’s what will last the longest, and continue on through generations. Not pdfs for quilts and such. It was fun to scroll through all the quilts and fabric and baby gowns, etc. I loved seeing the pink and brights fabric, so cheery!

  8. I agree with you, family first. I enjoy reading your blog and seeing all the quilts you make and the charity quilts that are made too. Just keep being you.

  9. Enjoy life as it gives you family, cross stitch , designing quilts .
    I take all the magazines so I’ve enjoyed seeing you in the magazines . Some of them are on my list to do. When I was home bound during COVID …I decided I would sign up for all the magazine that I like . I especially like Quilters World .
    Thanks for submitting all the great patterns .

  10. I agree. If you “have ” to do something, it takes the fun out of it. People will say, ” you should sell your quilts”. Well, people won’t pay what it is worth. I’m sorry, I was one of the dumb ones who couldn’t download the black and white pattern and had to have Kayla help me.

    1. It’s entirely okay Judy. We want to people to get what they pay for and all of it is a learning experience. No one knows how to do anything the first few times. Thanks for your purchase.

  11. Good for you knowing your priorities before jumping into more things to do. Just like blogging, there’s a lot more behind the scenes that needs taken care of that many don’t realize. But at least blogging doesn’t normally require paperwork to hand over to the accountant for taxes every year!

    For any patterns you make, whether for free here or in magazines, an “Errata” tab with corrections might work?

  12. All the reasons you gave for not doing PDF’s, columns, etc. are the very reasons I look forward to your blog every day. You are real. I just wish I had your energy. Thank you for the pleasure I get every morning.

  13. It’s great that you are doing what works for you! Before I got my longarm I worried about spending the money for it since it was just a hobby. I even mentioned to my husband that I would likely never quilt for money and he was more than fine with it. You have to know yourself and go with that and that is obviously what you’ve done.

  14. I dislike bloggers who are blatantly trying to sell me something. I know people are trying to make a little money, but I’d rather follow someone who can teach me something new or otherwise entertain me! There are a few blogger/quilters who manage to teach/demonstrate a lot and sell a little, and I don’t mind that at all (although I have to apologize for not buying much at all). So keep doing what you’re doing!

  15. Penny Holliday

    What a beautiful quilt! Love the design, fabrics & colors! The quilting is so perfect for the design! I love your post today especially that you are just who you want to be!

    1. Karen Pidcock

      You are a remarkable quilter and cross stitcher. Staying true to ourselves is difficult with all the “pressure” that is put on talented folks such as yourself to be everything to everyone. Thanks for sharing your work with all of us.

  16. Sue in Westminster, MD

    Jo, I love who you are! I love how you share your projects and why and how you do things, how you share how you have navigated dealing with Kramer’s illness and your widowhood, how you take the time to answer questions like why you don’t do pattern pdfs. I am amazed by how you coordinate all the donations you get and help so many people and groups! I am also grateful to Bonnie Hunter, because I found you through one of her mystery quilt link-ups when you shared your blocks there. I hope you know you are appreciated by so many of your blog readers! Take good care.

  17. Hi Jo, I wanted to make your Halloween Quilt. The one where everyone sent you fabric. You thought it would be in American Patchwork and Quilting out in stores in May. I want to make it But I have never found the book it’s in. Could you please let me know what Issue it’s in please. I love following you on this Journey.

  18. So agree with you about the family and business…getting too busy really just takes the joy out of it. Family is what’s most important.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top