Design Stars – Reen Wilcoxson

Design Stars

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

Early this year, we had visitors from the Industrial Division of SCHMETZ Germany. To help SCHMETZ executives better understand the consumer market, many activities were arranged. Yes, we had traditional meetings and visited retail shops, but we also toured Modern Quilt Studio with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr and ended the week with a star studded designer showcase with five designers from the Chicago area. Each designer presented their special niche in the marketplace. The result was aptly described by SCHMETZ as “astonishing!” The day was laced with energy, talent, savvy and a passion for creativity. These five business women demonstrated grit, talent, creativity and strategic work. With hard work, that never goes out of style, they make awesome contributions to the sewing industry that we love. Meet, or re-meet, because several ladies have already been featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW: Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Reen Wilcoxson, Frieda Anderson and Angela Wolf. Five shining stars that make sewing even more fun!


Reen Wilcoxson

Reen Wilcoxson was featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #40. That issue was all about “In The Hoop” (ITH) embroidery designs, and Reen is considered ‘’the expert” in this exciting machine embroidery specialty. ITH designs are 3D items created in the machine embroidery hoop: purses, wallets, key rings, etc. Designs are created in steps with stops after each step. When the machine stops you add fabric, trim, manipulate fabrics, etc. When the design is finished it’s trimmed and turned to the right side as if you had sewn it using a sewing machine. Although nobody knows for sure who invented ITH, there is no doubt that Reen Wilcoxson is a pioneer in the field. She earned a reputation as a top notch designer of ITH designs, and is considered by many to be the premiere teacher of ITH techniques. Her projects are well designed, with easy to follow instructions, and her classes sell out quickly.

Like many women, Reen wanted to be home when her children were small. She always loved to sew and did craft shows for 25 years. She was very successful doing large juried shows. The first time she saw an embroidery machine (in 1997), she had to have it. At that time, there was very little information or support available for embroidery enthusiasts, so Reen taught herself how to digitize, and became active on the early Yahoo boards.

Reen’s first project completely designed in the hoop was a lollipop holder. She put two pieces of felt together and from that began creating fully lined purses with zippers and other innovative designs all stitched within the constraints of a hoop. Her teenage son built her first website, and she started to sell her embroidery designs in 2001. She has a Facebook page (with 82,000 followers), a Facebook group (with 45,000 members) and she posts on Instagram every other day.

She designs and sells “in the hoop” machine embroidery files online through her website, www.EmbroideryGarden.com. She does all the designing, digitizing, instructions, web page work and advertising herself. Like many entrepreneurs in the sewing industry, she does not have a staff — although, she does have many testers.

Reen says, “It’s important for me to have testers who stitch my designs and go over the instructions for accuracy. Their feedback is invaluable, because even though I always know where I’m headed with a new project, I need to be sure the directions are clear enough so that every home embroiderer will achieve the desired result.”

Design Stars – Ebony Love

Design Stars

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

Early this year, we had visitors from the Industrial Division of SCHMETZ Germany. To help SCHMETZ executives better understand the consumer market, many activities were arranged. Yes, we had traditional meetings and visited retail shops, but we also toured Modern Quilt Studio with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr and ended the week with a star studded designer showcase with five designers from the Chicago area. Each designer presented their special niche in the marketplace. The result was aptly described by SCHMETZ as “astonishing!” The day was laced with energy, talent, savvy and a passion for creativity. These five business women demonstrated grit, talent, creativity and strategic work. With hard work, that never goes out of style, they make awesome contributions to the sewing industry that we love. Meet, or re-meet, because several ladies have already been featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW: Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Reen Wilcoxson, Frieda Anderson and Angela Wolf. Five shining stars that make sewing even more fun!


Ebony Love

Ebony Love was featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #27. After earning a degree in engineering, she worked full time for a large corporation. Increasingly, she yearned for a more creative path. Ebony has always been a maker.

To scratch that creative itch, Ebony took commissions for custom quilts. She loved it! That led to her first sewing business, LoveBug Studios. Her career in the sewing industry really took off when she discovered die cutting. Ebony purchased custom “dies” to cut circles for a quilt she was making. At the time, she didn’t even realize she needed a die cutting machine to use the dies. Learning about the various machines and dies that were coming on the market became her mission, and she stopped taking custom quilt commissions. She realized other consumers might also be struggling to figure out this new thing so she wrote a book, The Big Little Book of Fabric Die Cutting Tips.

While working on an updated edition to her best-selling book, Ebony identified another gap in the market relating to the types of available dies and other products for quilters who love making traditional quilts. She partnered with Sizzix to launch a line of dies under her LoveBug Studios brand to introduce new shapes and block possibilities to the quilting public. Ebony rounds out her product offering by producing patterns, templates, books and videos to help people make beautiful quilts.

Die cutting isn’t the only thing for which Ebony is well known. She is hostess of uniquely-themed mystery quilts, which often center around popular books or television series. Her first big hit was based on Downton Abbey, partnering with Andover Fabrics, and has since introduced mysteries for Outlander, Anne of Green Gables, Little House on the Prairie, and Jane Austen’s novels.

Ebony recently opened another sewing business — MADE (www.madecreativestudio.com), a Creative Fiber Arts Studio in Mundelein, Illinois. “MADE is a place for people who already love making things, or who want to learn to love making them. It’s a place for creatives to gather, to learn, and to grow. MADE offers classes in sewing, die cutting, patchwork and appliqué, and long arm quilting.” MADE is a by-appointment creative studio, where customers can rent space or equipment. The die cutting stations are equipped with AccuQuilt and Sizzix machines and over 1000 dies. There is also a long arm lab outfitted with Handi Quilter machines.

 

Design Stars – Cheryl Sleboda

Design Stars

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

From left to right: Scott Wernet, Frieda Anderson, Angela Wolf, Reen Wilcoxson, Rita Farro, Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Rhonda Pierce, Rolando Bohlemann, Pete Janss

Early this year, we had visitors from the Industrial Division of SCHMETZ Germany. To help SCHMETZ executives better understand the consumer market, many activities were arranged. Yes, we had traditional meetings and visited retail shops, but we also toured Modern Quilt Studio with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr and ended the week with a star studded designer showcase with five designers from the Chicago area. Each designer presented their special niche in the marketplace. The result was aptly described by SCHMETZ as “astonishing!” The day was laced with energy, talent, savvy and a passion for creativity. These five business women demonstrated grit, talent, creativity and strategic work. With hard work, that never goes out of style, they make awesome contributions to the sewing industry that we love. Meet, or re-meet, because several ladies have already been featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW: Cheryl Sleboda, Ebony Love, Reen Wilcoxson, Frieda Anderson and Angela Wolf. Five shining stars that make sewing even more fun!


Cheryl Sleboda

Cheryl Sleboda is an edgy, left of center designer who was featured in SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW #25. At that time, she was still working her “day job” in the comic book industry. Her side business, Muppin.com (www.muppin.com), was about teaching heirloom sewing techniques and combining them with light up technologies for fabric. She designed a very popular skull and cross needle logo, so she also found herself in the t-shirt business.

When we interviewed Cheryl, she talked about how and why she made one six-inch square art quilt every week … for FIVE YEARS. By making one small art quilt every week, she learned new skills and techniques. She learned how to adapt technology to her projects, using lights and conductive thread, and she revisited traditional heirloom techniques, combining those vintage methods with the latest technology. By challenging herself to create a new micro-quilt every week, she developed her own voice. Looking back, those little quilts also serve as a journal of where she started and how far she’s come.

Since that interview, Cheryl’s life has undergone some dramatic changes. She decided to make sewing her full-time job and is operating two businesses. Muppin.com, her existing long-standing quilting and merchandise business, has branched out to include a consulting business for independent retailers. When she worked in the comic book industry, she taught stores how to use technology to improve their business. She has transitioned those skills into helping quilt shops increase business through social media and online marketing.

She established her second business, Sew Much Cosplay™, as a cosplay brand for a line of sewing tools and products for cosplayers. While attending scores of comic conventions, she saw for herself how many consumers were involved in cosplay and how enthusiastic they were about making their own costumes. The goal of this brand is to educate cosplayers on sewing techniques, and introduce them to the independent sewing retailer.

Cheryl is looking forward to vending at C2E2, a comic book convention in Chicago. Cheryl will be doing a presentation on basic sewing instruction and will lead a cosplay panel.

 

Needle Identification

What Do Those Numbers Mean?
How to Read the Needle Package.

Home sewing machines require a needle with a flat shank and a scarf – that little indentation above the eye on the back side of the needle. Needles with a flat shank and a scarf are identified as needle system 130/705 H. There are over 7,000 needle systems throughout the world. Thankfully, 99% of home sewing machines use 130/705H.

Sew SCHMETZ!

SCHMETZ Logo

 

Kenneth D. King, Part 3 – So, What’s Next?

So What’s Next?

In my next phase, I’ve added “storyteller,” with the novel and podcasts. I have just started spending time putting together my podcasts. The podcast is the novel I wrote, serialized in installments. The end game for this is to promote the novel, as well as a screenplay I wrote based on Act Three of the novel. Since I know voice-over from my video projects, it was a small learning curve to learn the software for recording and editing.

The novel, called All Grown Up Now: A Friendship in Three Acts, available on Amazon.com, is a story of how I became “all grown up.” It’s told in the framework of a friendship — the man (named Mark) who I met in 1980 in Oklahoma City, moved to San Francisco. He hired on as the Visual Merchandising (display) Director of a small specialty chain of clothing stores, and hired me to move there and be his assistant. Our friendship had three distinct periods, with an event that marked when the period had changed. This is that story. It isn’t a story that runs in chronological order, though, and it takes side roads to introduce the reader to people who were influential to me over my life.

The podcast is the same name: All Grown Up Now. It’s available on iTunes, Soundcloud, Stitcher, Spotify, and Google Play. As of February 25, it will be sponsored by BearWorldMagazine.com!

The podcast was broken up into episodes, and the run time is around 30 minutes. I hope people reading this will subscribe.

The overarching goal is to get my screenplay produced. The screenplay is Act Three of the novel, where I go to L.A. from San Francisco to kidnap my friend from an abusive relationship (there were guns involved). This happened during the O.J. Simpson drama, and that is the backdrop for the screenplay. If anyone reading knows someone who is interested . . . . ?