Tucked away in her home studio in a suburb of Washington DC, Pat Sloan has created dozens of patterns, books, and fabric collections. With the help of her husband Gregg, Pat has been teaching quilters through classes, quilt-alongs, and popular social media groups.
Tell us about your business. When did you start it and why?
I started to teach quilting classes and create my own designs for them in 1996. I taught my first class at a Ben Franklin and for years I kept up with the manager of that shop as she was in my guild. My first career was 20 years as a software developer and project manager, so I’m a geek. Writing code is a very creative process but I knew all along I wanted to do something different. I’d been planning since my 20’s to have my own business but I just didn’t know what it would be.
Once my passion for quilting kicked in, I knew I could make this the creative business I dreamed to own. There are not many entrepreneurs in my family, but one of my early computer jobs was for a tiny contracting firm and that is where I learned what you needed to do to run your own business. I have to thank Murray who gave me the best advice of ‘Never Quit your Day Job’. Meaning doing what you think your business will be while you work a full-time job. If you have enough passion to do it as a second job on nights and weekends, you will be able to make it work.
Do you specialize in a specific look or technique?
Since I’ve been in business over 20 years what I do has evolved over time. I started my business when I was very interested in primitives and folk art with lots of applique. Over time I gravitated back to where I had started with clear colors and more patchwork. My applique now is still in a folk art style and I love to mix it with patchwork and lots of asymmetrical designs.
Where are you from? What is your community like?
My husband Gregg and I have lived in Northern Virginia just outside Washington DC for over 30 years. Prior to that I lived on the east coast until 5th grade when my dad took a job in Germany. I lived in Germany and Belgium until high school graduation and a few places in the US before my husband and I ended up in Virginia and we are still here.
This is a very highly populated area — my county has 1.2 million people in it. Even with so many people my area is very cozy with neighborhood plaza’s. I walk to my grocery store and Starbucks. Every month my sewing friends all gather at a local Wegman’s grocery store that has a community eating area. They encourage groups to meet there. On our night there is a children’s chess team practicing. It’s fun to live with so much going on in a compact area.
How many fabric collections have you designed?
I’ve designed 16 fabric lines starting in 2003 with P&B Textiles with my Old Blooms Collection. I did several lines with Moda as well and now I’m working with the amazing team at Benartex. With Benartex I’m developing each line to have that warm cozy neighborhood feel. My first line is ‘Bonnie Lane’ which is named for my mom. I went with a soft blue, Peach, charcoal and green… all colors that I love.
What do you love about designing fabric? And patterns? And books!
I left my first career in computer software because I wanted to be creative in a different way. Creating quilts is such an exciting thing for me. Every part of it I love doing. The ideas, the drafting, the fabric picking and even writing the pattern up. What amazes me is that I do not tire of quilts at all. As I was writing this, my step mom emailed me photos of a quilt hanging in a city hall where she was visiting. I was thrilled to see it and now I want to go visit that city hall! For me that excitement of design and variety is why I love creating quilt patterns and fabrics to use in them. It’s that ‘what if’ that comes from making design choices and then seeing it through to the end for a final quilt.
You have a large number of quilters on your Facebook group. Why did you start the group?
I’ve been in internet communities since 1998 when I found Delphi boards during my breaks of working on Y2K software changes. From there I had Yahoo groups, Flickr groups, ran my own forum and then moved to Facebook with a business page. I love the community a group has. The Facebook business page doesn’t have a sense of belonging that being in a group has. Nor does it allow the back and forth communication on a topic that a group does. So I started my group when I kicked off a Block of a the Month years ago and it’s be going strong ever since. I’m now up to 165,000 quilters from around the world. You can join my Quilt Along with Pat Sloan group here. There are a lot of quilters online and I’m thrilled to offer a fun ‘quilting only’ space for us all. I know there are way more quilters than are in my group, so I hope they join me!
What do you think many quilters struggle with?
Being Perfect right away when doing something new. I think a lot of the issues a quilter has such as ‘what fabric do I use’, ‘is this block ok’, ‘is this sewn right’ can all come down to wanting to be perfect with the first try and first decision. Being creative is a process and there are always going to be many ways to get the same result. That is the way creating software is. Ten people can all get the same result but write code that is very different. And make mistakes. Nothing is perfect the first time. So just like in computers, when quilting, trying things and not expecting perfection right away will make it more enjoyable. In other words, relax and have fun!
Is there a certain quilting technique that you love to do best?
Applique lets me create a story that I can’t do with patchwork. And I’ve perfected my machine blanket stitching which lets me create what I can see in my head.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Being an author of 37 quilt books is something I never dreamed of doing. I work with the best publishing team at Martingale. And a huge highlight was creating the idea for the Splendid Sampler book series and running that with my friend Jane Davidson. Working with amazing designers for a sew along was so much fun!
What craft or hobby did you do prior to sewing? Do you still continue?
I’ve done almost every craft at least once, except throw pots which I still want to try someday. Making clothing, stained glass, beaded projects and many others. Gardening has been one thing I’ve done since high school and I still love it. My first garden was planted tomatoes in 11th grade. My dream is to create a little herb garden with a white picket fence around it. I’m still going to do that!
What don’t people know about you?
I have told people just about everything there is to know about me, so here are five little known facts. Hold on, it’s goofy!
- Let’s get that Lipstick thing out in the open right away. I LOVE the idea of lipstick, the look of it, but hate wearing it. It comes off in 15 seconds flat, I never seem to be able to wear it for very long!
- I’m a picky eater. I may actually be a snobby picky eater. I only like to eat really good food.
- I say I’m a ‘city girl’ and I mean it. I get a bit weirded out over farm talk and think ALL animals should be house pets … even the cows … because aren’t they people too?
- I can NOT ride a bicycle. I WANT to ride one but I fell off one in high school and messed up my shoulder, which apparently has rendered me a bicycle idiot. I am totally unbalanced when I get on one and everyone within a mile should stay out of my way!
- You will rarely see me write anything by hand except my name. My handwriting is atrocious. Not even the worst doctor writing can beat my hand notes. Gregg (the shipping Department) has been married to me forever and HE cannot read it. pfffssstt. It is a very good thing that I LOVE to type!
- BONUS item … I’m ADDICTED to nail polish … but ONLY paint my nails myself. I can’t stand to go to a salon … it takes too long!
Is there something you’d love to do but haven’t?
Go to Japan. I’ve wanted to see the country since I was a kid. Now I want to see the quilt show too! Let’s add to see Paris as an adult. I went twice when I was in High school.
Besides OLFA, what are your go-to quilting tools?
My Baby lock sewing machines, Aurifil thread, and several (ok a LOT) of fabulous scissors.
Give us a quick sewing or quilting tip.
Tip 1 – If you are struggling with your final block being the correct size check each unit size as you sew them together. Then you will catch where the issue is immediately instead of at the end.
Tip 2 – use fabric you love. If you don’t love it, send it off to someone who will. Life is short, use the good fabric!
Where can quilters find more of the sew-alongs and block of the months you organize?
Visit my Sew Along Website where all the current and prior sew alongs are listed. Thank you OLFA for inviting me to share my quilting with everyone!
Pat has designed a Fall mini-quilt called Hello Autumn! for you. Find it here!
Connect with Pat on any of her social media platforms.
Company name Pat Sloan & Co.
Web site www.PatSloan.com
Facebook Group https://www.facebook.com/groups/QuiltWithPatSloan/
Blog – http://patsloan.typepad.com
Sew along website http://www.ilovetomakequilts.com/