Interview with Erin Kroeker of The Blanket Statement
Also be sure to check out Erin's Cup Cozy, Here!
Introduce yourself to our readers – where are you from, how long have you been sewing, your specialties.
Hello, my name is Erin Kroeker!
I’m a modern quilter, pattern designer and fibre artist from Winnipeg, Manitoba. I work out of my home studio where I live with my husband, two kids, and our golden retriever, Finley.
I started sewing as a very young child. I've spent my entire life crafting, creating and working with my hands. I’ve tried many different mediums over the years, taken lots of different classes, read countless books, but I always came back to quilting.
Now I own a business called The Blanket Statement! I specialize in modern quilt and quilted bag patterns. Quilting can feel very overwhelming and intimidating when you're just starting out - so I made it my mission to design patterns that are not only modern, unique and eye-catching, but also accessible for quilters of all skill levels.
Can you explain how The Blanket Statement business name came about?
In 2017, I decided to take the leap and start selling my handmade quilts as an official business. I wanted to come up with a name that was clever and memorable. My husband and I were brainstorming all sorts of names, some better than others! Among the contenders was “Quilt Chamberlain”, but I figured my target audience might not be 90’s basketball fans.
So, “The Blanket Statement” was born instead!
You began quilting at 4 years old! Who was the main person who started you down the quilting path?
My love for quilting started when I was a small child, before I was even in school. My mom was part of a weekly quilting group, and she would hand me fabric and a hoop to keep me occupied. I made my first quilt when I was just four years old. I’m almost certain I made it for my stuffed polar bear, Snowflake!
My mom is still an avid quilter and often assists in the day-to-day tasks (like cutting fabric bundles and shipping orders) here at TBS!
Have you continuously made quilts throughout your lifetime – or is it one of those passions that reentered at a different time?
Through my childhood and teen years, quilting specifically came and went! As I was “figuring myself out” as a teenager, I wasn’t making quilts, but I was still playing around on a sewing machine. For a design class in high school, I convinced my teacher to let me design a floor length dress (dare I say gown?), create the pattern and then actually sew it! I’m happy to report I received a 98% on the project (even though I’d say I was only about 89% correct when it came to the dress actually fitting me!)
What are some of the things that draw you to quilting?
So, this is really a two-part answer!
First, why QUILTS?
In a culture where everything is trending towards disposable, quilts are timeless, they are made to last a lifetime and then some. Quilts are made to be passed down and cherished, a textile embodiment of home, of memories, of tradition and sentiment. They are a combination of function, art, history, and culture. For me quilts are full of the good feelings that come from things you know are made to endure.
Second, why QUILT MAKING?
Because there are so many steps! Now, I know for a lot of people, that’s why they DON’T like making quilts, but hear me out. I never get bored!
In the process of making just one quilt I get to choose colours and fabrics, cut fabric, iron fabric, sew pieces together, trim, baste, machine or hand quilt, make binding, attach the binding, hand sew a label... you get the picture!
Just when I start to get bored of whatever I’m doing, I’m on to the next thing! PLUS, at the end of it all you’re left with a quilt! Which brings me back to my first point.
Who do you make quilts for? Are they gifts, charitable projects, for your family, or just to release your need to be creative.
Simple answer – YES!
Long answer – YES! I have given many quilts away to friends and family over the years. Weddings, babies, birthdays, Tuesdays... I’m not that picky.
Once a year, I host a TBS Quilt Sample Sale + CancerCare Manitoba Fundraiser! As you can imagine, as a professional quilter and designer, I make a lot of quilts. Plus, I’m a cancer survivor! (You can read more about my cancer journey here) A large portion of all those sales get donated each year.
And then of course, many, many quilts are made just because I have an idea in my head, and it needs to get out! Some of these quilts end up scattered throughout my house being used, a few in the trunk of my car for everyday adventuring and the rest are nicely folded and put away.
Each of your patterns is a little bit different from the others. Where do you get your Inspiration? Which do you start with first - a name, fabric, or design, or something else?
This is a great question! First and foremost, my forever-muse will be NATURE. I love being outside, camping, hiking, biking, sitting, looking... the list goes on.
All my patterns are named after places in Manitoba, such as towns, parks, and lakes! Often the design comes first, usually as a blurry image in my head that comes into focus once I start working on it. However, over the years as I’ve been making a list of “good pattern names” occasionally one will jump out at me.
For example, Star Lake! I feel like the name mostly speaks for itself. I wanted this design to have a gorgeous kaleidoscope feeling. You’ll notice the centre radiates, making a repeating star shape and almost feels like water ripples after dropping a rock into the lake!
Whereas the Paint Lake Quilt started first with COLOUR. While visiting a local fabric store, I was admiring the wall of solids. With a little encouragement from my mom, I went home with 18 of my favourite colours and no plan!
I decided to challenge myself to create a pattern design that felt like a scrappy quilt, without the need for improvisation. The words “curated random” directed the process. In the end, it’s truly one of my all-time favourite designs and I love how it feels reminiscent of the wall of paint chips (or possibilities!) at the hardware store.
Do you draw out your quilt concept on graph paper or use a design program?
In the very early days of designing, I started out with graph paper and pencil. And although I still use paper and pencil for a lot of things, the design process happens almost solely in Adobe Illustrator these days! It’s such a versatile tool, where I can quickly make changes to my design or try new things, test out multiple colour schemes and quickly scale the design between multiple sizes.
When quilters purchase one of your kits, is the pattern included? Does the kit also include all of the top as well as the binding fabric?
The shop has a very à la carte design! I've tried lots of different options in the shop and offering each product on its own has been the best option!
There are a lot of customers who love a pattern so much, they make it more than once! This means that when they are buying a fabric kit, they often already have the pattern. So, it’s much easier for folks to be able to pick and choose what they need and add to their cart.
The kits include all the fabric needed for the quilt top, usually in a throw size. But I am always up for making custom size or colour bundles! Whenever I have a coordinating fabric for the binding, I offer that in the shop as well. This is a great option for those who want to take the guesswork out of shopping, while allowing others to customize their selections.
Aside from OLFA tools, what other items do you feel every quilter needs in their sewing room? By the way – which OLFA tools do you reach for continuously?
Well, OLFA tools account for at least half of what I would say you need – cutting mat, rotary cutter, ruler and snips! I literally use things daily! (I think my 45mm Ergonomic Rotary Cutter may be my most used tool!)
In addition to those, I always recommend an iron, seam ripper, pins, thread and fabric. That’s really all you need to make a quilt! Of course, there are plenty of additional tools and supplies that make things easier/faster/cooler but those are the basics!
One of my all-time favourite, non-OLFA notions is my Bohin Leather Thimble for hand quilting!
You have a number of options for customers to purchase to make your crossbody bag. Why do you like using metal zippers vs the plastic ones you see on so many bags.
I like (and offer) both options! I have two Emerson Crossbody bags that I regularly use, one with metal zippers and one with plastic. Metal zippers tend to be a little more durable and long lasting than plastic zippers. But of course, that is only one factor. Design, style and cost are all factors as well, which is why I choose to offer both in the shop.
Please give our readers several tips they can use to make them more successful quilters.
Take things slow and steady. Quilting is a craft of precision. It doesn’t need to be overly complicated, but accuracy will be your friend. This starts with cutting!
There’s more than one way to do things! Do what works for you. (There is no such thing as the Quilt Police)
Good things take practice. Practice makes progress.
No one makes perfect quilts! Better DONE than perfect!
Use fabric you love!
Don't skip ironing and learn to sew a consistent ¼" seam allowance!
Your blog has so much information about your quilts. What can readers expect to find there?
The blog offers a variety of tutorials, skills and introductions to different techniques, favourite tools and other things I’ve learned over the years.
There is a “behind-the-scenes" look into almost every quilt I’ve ever made! I go into detail about fabric choices, quilting choices, thread, tools, tips and tricks and oodles of photos!
You’ll also find a blog post dedicated to each TBS Quilt pattern. There you can find more about the design process and inspiration, details about the pattern name, and often pattern tester quilts as well.
You’ll also find a new series written by my mom, Susan, and her journey in life and quilting!
On your website you say to “eat more cookies”. Do you have a favorite recipe you can share with us?
That’s hard to choose because all cookies are favourite cookies!
But here is my Chewy Molasses Cookie recipe that I love:
- 1 ½ cups Butter
- 2 cups White Sugar
- 2 eggs
- ½ cup Molasses
In a separate bowl, mix:
- 4 cups Flour
- 2 tbsp Baking Soda
- 3 tsp Ground Ginger
- 2 tsp Ground Cinnamon
- 1 tsp Ground Cloves
Add dry ingredients together with the wet ingredients and mix.
Roll into 1” balls, then roll in white sugar. Place on cookie sheet. Bake 8-10 min at 350°
What’s next on the drawing board?
I have a quilt pattern that is set to release just in time for the holidays – The Pine Point Quilt! As well as another quilted bag pattern for early 2024.
Other than that, I have some secret projects I’m working on that I won’t be able to share for a while yet, but I am so excited about them. They are challenging me and stretching my creativity in new ways, and I can hardly wait to see the results!