Spotlight of the Month

Welcome to:
Patch Abilities’ Spotlight of the Month
“where I will be shedding some light on some of my favorite creations”

Having designed more than 130 different patterns to date, one would think my creative tank is nearing empty.  Oh contrare my quilting buddies.  It’s always full, and ready to v-room v-room! 

For many of my designs, there is a backstory:  how I came up with the idea, why I chose the particular fabrics I did, etc.
I thought you may enjoy reading about some of my favorite designs and perhaps get a little peek into my creative mind and see how it ticks.

So, each month I’ll be spotlighting a small handful of my designs and telling stories.  Everyone likes a good story right?  Especially a good quilting story.

And now here is a little story on this month’s patterns.


Warm Welcome pattern is shown in a handful of different fabric choices here.

Warm Welcome was the very first pattern that started this crazy ride of Patch Abilities.  Yes, I’m going back to the very beginning.
My Mom had designed up this little 6 x 20 hanging and made them up by the hundreds in all different seasonal fabrics and sold them at craft shows.  Yes, I said by the hundreds.  I’ve asked her how many she thinks she made over those “craft show years” and she cannot compute.  I can tell you I hated shlepping these in big plastic totes in and out of craft halls all over Iowa in the 1980’s.  To this day, the thought of vending at a show gives me chills.  All of you Moms who’ve done craft shows are probably laughing at this.  I do too . … . now.

So how did it become one of my designs and how did it start Patch Abilities?  In 2002, my Agronomist position at the local Coop was eliminated, and I was forced to reevaluate what I was going to do with my life.  I also turned 30 soon after.  Not a bright time in my life.  Rather dismal in fact.  Being creative and always having liked sewing and quilting, I was at my Mom’s shop one day, just passing time and she suggested I start a pattern company and begin with this “old” design of hers.  She said people had always asked for the pattern, but there was none . . . not yet anyway.  Well, I had not a clue about how to start, run, maintain or even fathom a pattern company, but I’m a self-starter just like my Momma taught me and I dove in head first.  As I studied this “welcome” my creative wheels began to turn and soon were smoking hot.  This long skinny hanging was popular, I thought, because everyone has that thin wall space between a door and window that is too small for anything else!  Can you say EPIPHANY?!  I could think of lots of other ideas for long skinny hangings.  And my creative motor was off and running.

This pattern is one of my simplest because I use a heavy fusible webbing for the letters, so that they are just ironed in place and do not need any applique stitching to hold them in place.  I’ve always had the idea to do this up in fabrics of every season and feature them in the pattern to give folks the idea, but then again making the same hanging over multiple times is not my idea of fun.  Besides, my creative mind wont rest unless I’m coming up with new designs, not reworking old ones.  The panel shown at the bottom of this “Welcome” was one of many small panels in an older Moda fabric line.  My Mom had a hard time selling the bolt of small panels, so I did this sample and that bolt disappeared real quick.

The Warm Welcome pattern includes the entire alphabet, so you can personalize it to your liking.  In case you want to put your family name on it.  Directions are given to lengthen the hanging if your name is longer than a “welcome.”
The other 2 patterns shown above are the “Teaching” and “Nursing” patterns.  Early in my designing, I was given the suggestion many many times to do a good teaching and nursing pattern, as they were hard to find.  And so, these 2 little goodies came to mind.  On the Teaching, I chose a dark plaid that reminded me of plaid school uniforms for the border, and thought of items that immediately make me think of teaching.  The Nursing pattern was a bit trickier for me to come up with “nurse” items.  A stethescope was obvious, but filling up the space with other items took some thought.  When I came up with the bandaid, I knew I had to use a cute cartoon-like print on it, just like those used on kids to make boo-boo’s and bandaids not so scary.

So, that’s the story on these 3 designs from wah-hay back.  If you’d like to purchase any of these patterns and their respective hangers, click on the image above as it is a link to the respective online store page on my website.  If you’d like fabric kits like the image you see, you can contact my Mom’s shop.  Most of these exact fabrics are long gone I’m sure, but she makes up kits with the closest fabrics.  Here’s her website:  www.merrysstitchins.com

Being the first of many Spotlight of the Month’s to come, I’d love to hear your feedback and suggestions.  Feel free to ask me questions or give suggestions on a design you would like to know the backstory for.  As a “thank you” for your comment on this 1st Spotlight, I will be giving away a set of all 3 patterns talked about here, to one lucky winner.  The winner will be randomly drawn from all comments received this week.

Thanks for peeking in on Patch Abilities.


3 thoughts on “Spotlight of the Month

  1. Back a couple years when you visited our guild in Rochester, MN I purchased your WELCOME pattern. I have made it in a variety of fabrics and given it as gifts.


  2. I have always loved your patterns and have made quite a few. I am always on the lookout for any new ones your are designing as I will keep buying them.


    1. Hey Mary Ann – I’ve drawn your name as the lucky winner of the 3 patterns featured in my spotlight of the month. If you would email me your mailing address, I’ll mail them out to you. Thanks for your great comments. =) -Julie


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