On Timing

>> Wednesday, April 18, 2012

In January, I joked with some of my fellow Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild friends about designing a Moda Bake Shop (MBS) Quilt. I had a charm pack I wanted to use, I didn't want the quilt to scream "charm pack" (40 precut 5" squares for those wondering), I wanted to find a way to use one charm pack in a big quilt, and I had an idea for just such a quilt. I confess that there might have been some cackling and goading about what exactly "counts" as a MBS "recipe" (for more on that, keep reading...).

When I got home, I looked up the guidelines for submitting a pattern. I knew I would need an image and for some reason decided I should make the quilt top rather than just draw a mock-up. Making the quilt was easy and let me write notes about yardage and steps and helpful hints. About a week later, I returned to the form, ready to fill it out. At which point I was stymied by how to link my quilt top picture to the submission. I decided to post it on flickr, not add it to groups, and hope that was ok. After I did this, I realized that I should have added it to picasa, made it available only with a link, and sent the link. Oh well, lesson learned.

And then I waited. And waited. And waited some more.* Now I can't pretend that my design was revolutionary. It was not. In fact, it was very much inspired by many of the half-square triangle quilts I had seen pop up over the past year, especially those made with solids. This one (which I love) popped up in my Google Reader the day after I finished piecing my version. My twist, as it were, was using 1 charm pack along with several solids, to allow for pops of different colors scattered through the quilt.

My idea very much built on the work of others -- as, I think, most of the MBS quilts do. It's a useful collection of quilt patterns that often spin relatively traditional patterns or ideas floating around the internet in a slightly new way, or use a slightly new method, or simply showcase Moda precuts instead of cutting from yardage. There's nothing wrong with this -- heck, I was interested in playing too. It seems to be an advertising boon for Moda that simultaneously gives crafty folk free patterns, creates a buzz around bloggers who have a chance to reach a larger audience, and hosts a vault of ideas that anyone with an internet connection can tap into. It is, of course, limited -- its focus is Moda precuts, there is a rather opaque selection process, and its designs are not going to appeal to everyone.

Three months later, I feel pretty confident that Moda isn't interested in my idea. And, frankly, that's fine. Maybe I was cocky in thinking they'd like what I could offer or maybe they didn't like my suggested gender-neutral/"masculine" charm pack option (Salt Air + a bunch of different grays/silvers) or maybe they just had a lot of other applications in line they liked better. If there's interest, I may write up the basics (which is to say size/yardage/cuts, since the rest of the instructions could be summed up as: make half-square triangles, arrange them randomly, sew squares together). Or maybe I won't since this morning Sew Mama Sew posted a pattern that's a riff on what I came up with which is a riff on what others, especially Katie, have done.

Timing, as they say, is everything. I waited, perhaps a bit too long. I waited, perhaps, on the wrong venue. But, I realized this morning, it just doesn't matter. Because lots of people can come up with the same plan. Inspiration can co-exist. Patterns need not be the domain of monopolies (see Rossie on being a copy-leftist.) Credit isn't the point. For me -- a small-time blogger who sews when I have the time (make the time?) because I like to play with fabric and make things -- a free-flowing exchange of ideas is more valuable. However that plays out, as long as it does play out, is fine by me.

Edited to add: talk about timing -- Design*Sponge just posted a tutorial for geometric triangle wall art.

November 2012 addition: tutorial/mini-pattern here.

*To clarify: I received a confirmation of my submission but never heard from Moda again. Apparently others have received rejections but that wasn't my experience. If anyone from MBS stumbles upon this, I would offer the unsolicited advice that some form of clear communication is preferable to none, even if it's simply "if you don't hear from us within 3 weeks of submission, you can assume we're not interested."


Kelli April 18, 2012 at 10:44 AM  

I love it! The addition of the multiple solids really makes it pop and spreads that charm pack out so much.

Molly April 18, 2012 at 11:40 AM  

Well I love this quilt! I won an accuquilt go cutter a few months ago and have been wanting to use the HST die. I love the random look and the pops of solids. I think I'm gonna go for it. Thanks for the inspiration!

~Michelle~ April 18, 2012 at 12:46 PM  

I'm really surprised MBS didn't at least have the courtesy to drop a "thanks but no thanks" email. I had suggested a super easy project to them after a few months (when they were already over-saturated), and got back a snippy email saying it was too similar to something already posted - snippy is better than radio silence, right??

Lee April 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM  

I'm also very surprised that Moda didn't communicate with you at all about your design - did you at least get an email confirming that your application went through? I seem to remember that they did that. If you didn't get one, maybe they never received the application?

At any rate, I love the design and love the pops of solid color. I'm very surprised they didn't want it!

Tamara Hampton April 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM  

I agree on inspiration and I like what rOssie did in her blog post. I think all quilters should put a "donate" button on their blog and when we are really inspired by something we can hit it!

Karissa April 18, 2012 at 10:36 PM  

Regardless, you used up some stash and got a great quilt top out of it, so you win! Gorgeous, as always!

Erin @ MakeitSew April 20, 2012 at 11:11 AM  

Moda's loss! Love all the HST in this quilt top. And you achieved your goal; it doesn't scream "CHARM PACK!!" at all :)

Pieces of Cotton April 20, 2012 at 2:45 PM  

For what it's worth, I really like the top.

Christy April 21, 2012 at 1:20 AM  

I think it turned out great! I like the mix with lots of solids.

felicity April 23, 2012 at 1:18 AM  

I really like your design, and you're right - timing is indeed everything. Very odd that you haven't heard back.

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