We try a lot of new (and sometimes crazy) things at Quiltfolk. It’s part of our nature. If you’ve followed us over the years, you’ve watched us make everything from handcrafted quilt ladders to hardcover coffee table books. But believe it or not, for every new thing that reaches customers, there are probably 5-10 things that don’t. These ideas stay in our hearts, minds, and Dropbox folders. And every once in a while, an idea will resurface and evolve into something entirely new.
In quilting terms, these are often called “Un-Finished Objects,” also referred to as UFOs. When it comes to product development, Quiltfolk’s UFOs can be as simple as sketches on a whiteboard. But sometimes we spend a lot of time and money producing real life samples. Can you relate to this in your own creative projects?
A Very Special UFO
Well, today, I would like to invite you behind the curtain to watch an unfinished project that holds a dedicated place in our hearts—and eventually evolved into Quiltfolk Workshops (but more on that later).
Broken up into three sections, here is a never-before-seen film about my dear friend Kennette Blotzer, who you may remember from Issue 01: Oregon. Kennette is like family to me, personally. She’s been the guiding voice of reason and inspiration for Quiltfolk since day one. She’s an amazing woman, friend, quilter, and shop owner.
This “pilot” episode was filmed in 2020 and was intended for internal use only as we experimented with a new idea: Quiltfolk Films. The plan was to produce videos that paired quilt education with personal stories of makers around the country. These experiments can be really amazing and still not make it to market. They usually are! Sometimes, it’s just the wrong time. Other times, it turns out to be a bigger project than we planned. But most of the time, projects just continue to evolve until they become something different altogether. This iterative approach means a small kernel of an idea can morph and change dramatically over time. And we’ve become OK with that, even building it into our identity as a team.
And in the case of Kennette’s pilot episode, over time, the project morphed and eventually led to the Quiltfolk Workshops we launched one year later, in 2021.
Above: L-R, Workshop hosts Jenni Smith and Kay Walsh conversing over the beautiful quilts seen here; Philippe Boudin sifting through a pile of gorgeous fabrics while filming for Postcards from Provence.
The Evolution of Quiltfolk Workshops
Our workshops have even evolved so much over the last two years. Jenni and Kay launched our first virtual workshop by teaching the low maintenance Manx Log Cabin technique; then they visited Kaffe Fassett’s colorful home and studio in London, which inspired their tutorial for a Ribbon quilt; and then they made a stop at Blair Stocker’s adobe-style home in New Mexico where they shared tips about Mindful Making, the rest and mindfulness that can be found in chicken scratch embroidery.
As we entered 2022, we launched our first-ever virtual Block of the Month Patchwork and Prose (You can register for the second cohort now through March 31!). The blocks that have been created as part of this program have been mind-blowing. We have loved every minute that we have spent sharing progress and pictures with our wonderful quilting community.
And near the end of 2022, we announced our Adventure Workshops—where we travel to three global destinations each year, virtually bringing the world of quilting to you! So far, we have gone to Wales and France, and next on the itinerary is Hawaii and Scotland.
Then as the year came to a close, we hosted our first-ever virtual Christmas Workshop—which should be a fun new tradition.
As we look back at early versions/models/iterations of the things we try, sometimes we can get inspired all over again. That’s certainly how I feel when I watch the above video of Kennette. I think it’s a perfect example of how one idea might not come to fruition exactly how you planned it. But in this case, it laid the foundation for what would eventually become our virtual Quiltfolk Workshops. And as we have shared, that program has grown and evolved into something really special.
So even though this initial pilot was intended for internal use only, there’s value in sharing it today—both for hearing Kennette’s beautiful story and also as an example of how you never quite know how things will work out. But you just keep trying.
I wonder if there is more we can do (in the future) with sharing the stories of quilters in this format. I don’t know for sure, but I’m certainly glad we have this film in the Quiltfolk archive. And I’m even happier we get to share it with you today!
Let me know what you think! Do you like these kinds of stories filmed in this way? We’d love to get your thoughts. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or share this page and tag us on Instagram. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #QuiltfolkUFOs.