ELAINE QUEHL, Quilt Artist, Teacher, Dyer, Designer

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Poppy Passion and the brief life of a fabric line

It has been an interesting year being a Northcott Fabric Designer. I have learned a great deal! It was a year of planning and work that lead up to the release of "Falling Leaves" in September. Much to my surprise, about 8 weeks after release, the fabric line is now sold out at the Canadian warehouse, with a little of the autumn line remaining in the American warehouse.  What does it mean when a fabric line is sold out? Well fabric companies typically take orders before the fabric is even available, and then they decide how many yards to print based on the number of orders received. Orders are made at Fall Quilt Market in Houston or Spring Quilt Market, which tends to move around. At Market, shops in the retail business can go to see and order all the new wares, and they are able to view a limited quantity of fabric (they call these first prints "strike offs"). In addition, sales reps travel to shops around the country showing displays of upcoming lines of fabric. Based on all the orders at a certain date, the company decides how many yards to print.

So has it been worth it?  Yes, it has been more worth it than I expected. Originally I was under the impression that only 1000 yards of each of the 30 fabrics in the line would be printed, but based on the orders that came in, Northcott ended up printing 2,000 to 3,000 yards of each fabric in the line. I have also found that having a fabric line has lead to an increased flurry of teaching and speaking invitations. So in a way ou could say that I'm the flavour of the month, for I know the flurry will pass and then it will be someone else's turn. After 8 weeks of being available, even I cannot purchase any more of my fabric line from Northcott. I would have to go to a store that still has some of the fabric available and pay retail price. Somewhere in my little brain I expected that I would always, at least for quite some time down the road, be able to order more of my fabric line if I wanted to.  Not so, as there has been a good run and no more will be printed.  In that vein, let me introduce you to each player in my new and upcoming Poppy Passion line, due to be released in April 2015.

Poppy Passion comes in two colour ways. Each of the two colour ways contains 15 different fabrics: a major poppy panel, two ombre fabrics running from dark to light and back to dark, a stripe, two poppy prints, a pixelated print, and 8 single colours that coordinate with the line. All of them feature that mottled hand-dyed look since they are inspired by my hand-dyed fabrics. You will also notice that this line features MY poppies, and so I feel very much that this line really does look like Elaine Quehl. In the centre of the panel you will find the very same poppy that is featured in my "Kissing Joy" quilt.
Kissing Joy, 2009

This first colourway is called "Purple Passion", and is in every way inspired by the quilt above, as well as some of my sketches and photographs.













The second colourway is called "Coral Bliss.  It features the very same poppies as above, but in an alternate colourway.  I'm loving these softer shades.









Finally, here is the beginner pattern I designed to go with the fabric line.  It is a very simplified version of the poppy featured in my "Kissing Joy" quilt. I have simplified it so it can be managed be a beginner. And that is the goal that Northcott presented to me when they approached me about collaborating on a fabric line: that beginners and beyond could make something fast and easy that had a similar look to my work that had taken a great number of hours.

Seems to me that I move a lot slower than a fabric company.  I had planned to have a shopping cart on my website for ordering patterns by the end of November. Little did I know that the flurry of requests for my "Falling Leaves" pattern would trickle out by November, due to fabric in the warehouse being sold out. We did sell more patterns than I expected ... I really did not know what to expect as I'm new at this. For my next line, I'll need to have that shopping cart working from Day 1!

So if you were hoping to get some of my first line of fabric, I'd advise you to get to a store that carries it ASAP. Once it is gone, it is gone!

24 comments:

  1. Wow, talk about a. Success story! Amazing but just what we have all come to expect :-) seriously, congratulations, Elaine!

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  2. Ah shucks, thank you so much Carolynn :-)

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  3. Such good news for you, even if it all happened faster than you expected. I had no idea this is how fabric lines are introduced and discontinued, as I've never been one to follow a specific designer.

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    1. Thanks Laura. I didn't know either because I don't pay attention to fabric designers either. I dye my own fabric. It has been a huge education for me.

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  4. I am so happy for you! I too like the softer coral.

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  5. You must feel like the proudest mama ever to see your babies out in print. It's a fabulous line and sure to be a best seller. Congratulations!

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  6. i like them both…congrats i must be fun to be "the flavour of the month" so ride that bike till it hits the ditch and enjoy every single moment

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    1. Thank you Sherry. I will keep riding that bike as long as I can ;-))

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  7. What gorgeous colorways--I can see why the orders came in fast and furious. Thanks for describing the marketing process, and congratulations on your success!

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  8. I found you via the Sew-Sisters quilting blogathon. Your work is stunning. I'll be watching for the April line.

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  9. it is a stunning fabric line- just stunning- it would be hard to choose between the colorways. Perhaps you will try another line again soon. Congratulations on your success.
    Regards from Alberta,
    Anna

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    1. Thanks for your note Anna. I had a look at your blog and met your Tonkinese cat on-line. Reminds me so much of my Snowshoe cat that surely there must be some shared genetic material between the breeds. Will I meet you when I am in Edmonton in June?

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  10. Elaine, I'm so happy for you and I applaud your talent in turning your beautiful hostas and poppy pieces into fabric lines. And there's nothing to drive sales more than short supply of fabric. But I am sorry there's not a magic warehouse that will always have some for you to order! Your Canadian friends are so fortunate that you can teach at their guilds. Enjoy but don't let the kitties get lonesome for you.

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    1. Hi Martha. Yes, people panic when they think there will be a shortage of something they want. I've been known to buy more than one pair of the sames shoes in the same situation ;-)!! BTW, I am teaching in Florida in February. As for the kitties, Peekaboo is spending a whole lot more time on my husband's lap these days than mine!

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  11. Hi, from Bismarck ND USA on the Canadian Blog Hop. I enjoyed reading about your design experience and love the new Poppy Passion line. I can't wait until it's available. Thanks.

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    1. Nice to meet you Karen. Thanks for dropping by and leaving a message.

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  12. I just received the latest copy of McCall's Quilting magazine. Your fabric is featured in a pattern in this issue! Congratulations on the success of your fabrics.

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    1. Thanks so much Gail. I appreciate you popping by with a message.

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  13. love the colors, can't wait to see them!

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  14. Thanks Lolly. I can't wait either.

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Your posts are important to me. Due to a huge amount of SPAM on my blog recently, I have decided to moderate comments, at least for the time being. Please be patient, your post will be approved as soon as I can get to it.
Elaine