I did it folks! (Oh geesh! Did I just say “folks”??) LOL

On Monday I told you I was speaking at a local quilt guild, that it was my first official speaking engagement, and that I was a tad bit nervous. Well, I got through it and I can’t wait to do it again!

One of the reasons it went so well is that I had a wonderful audience of women to interact with. They were attentive, engaged, asked pertinent questions, and it was just a pleasure to spend an evening with them.

So now let me back up a bit. Most of you know that my local quilt shop, Bolts & Quarters, usually has several of my quilts hanging in the shop. They carry printed copies of my patterns and everyone who works there is so supportive of my quilting adventures.

One of the quilts they have hanging is an ombre version of Spinning. The quilt has received a ton of attention and has been instrumental in the sale of that pattern as well as the fabric I used. It’s my most popular pattern to date.

Spinning Pattern in Ombre Fabric

It is because of that quilt that Laura, the president of the Scenic Rivers Quilt Guild, contacted me. When she found out from the shop that the designer was a local gal, she got my contact info from the shop and invited me to one of the guild’s meetings. Laura asked me to speak about how I got started designing and writing patterns and about my journey.

Now at this point I could try to impress you and tell you that I was invited to speak out-of-state because the guild is in Ohio and I live in West Virginia. But the truth is that I live almost on the state line so many of my days are spent back and forth between both states. And Marietta, OH is only about 25 minutes from my house. But maybe you’re just a *teeny* bit impressed??

I took quilts from all my patterns as well as printed patterns. I was hoping that FedEx would deliver my newest pattern so I would have that beautiful booklet to show and they did! It was delivered about an hour before I left the house.

My original plan was to have a PowerPoint presentation and a show/tell at the end. However, as I spent the day practicing I realized I would be much more comfortable and more ‘myself’ if I just spoke from the heart with no notes or slides. I ended up ditching the presentation and just talked. As I reached each stage in my story where a quilt was part of the story I stopped and showed the quilt. It broke up my speaking and gave the group a visual for that part of my story. I really liked the way it flowed, and if I get to do this again I would like to continue using that format.

Several women asked good questions about copyright, pricing, digital vs paper, local printers and online printers. I even found a couple ladies who love quilty math! 🙂 On my drive home as I was thinking about the questions that were asked, I realized that information could be included in my next presentation. I was so happy we were able to interact and have such a great discussion.

After the meeting, several women told me how much they enjoyed hearing my story. Perhaps the biggest compliment I received though was being asked to join the guild. Totally unexpected and so sweet.

So here’s my takeaway from this experience:

  • If you have an opportunity to tell your story and show your quilts, do it! Quilters love to talk about quilts and see what other people are making, and no one knows your journey better than you. Once I started talking the nerves disappeared and it was easy.  It’s been a while since I’ve had all my quilts together in one place, so it was as fun for me to see them again as it was for the group to see them for the first time.
  • Don’t think your quilts aren’t as good as others. I have a bit of an issue with this myself. But when I look at my collection together I see piecing I’m proud of and free motion quilting that has evolved over time. I can see my own growth. One lady commented that they love to hear a good success story. To me, I might not be good enough, but to someone else I’m a success story! So remember, YOU are a success story.
  • Have fun. It was fun for me to talk about my start in quilting and my journey and I think it showed. If you enjoy yourself, others will as well.

I’d love to hear about your experience as a speaker or giving a trunk show. How did you feel about your experience? Would you like to present but haven’t made the leap yet?