Internet Wonderland For Quilters


Growing Your Quilting Community

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Internet Wonderland For Quilters

The Internet is really Wonderland. That doesn't mean it isn't unsettling at first. So as you feel like you're falling down a hole looking at the mishmash of web sites, Facebook, blogs, and large rabbits holding watches, think about this scenario.

My goddaughter called me up and said, "I need your help on a sewing project." I said, "What are you looking at?" She said, "Pull up my Pinterest page." Out popped a great project for fairy wings. We both clicked on the picture to find ourselves at the how-to blog that had a list of instructions. Then we clicked the supply list for the stabilizer they had used. It took us to the web page of a store that carried the stabilizer that really made that project work. The rest was a talk about logistics and color. Three clicks on the Internet had given us all the information we really needed. She ordered her fabric. I could talk her through and she was off to sew.

Let's wind back ten years ago. Ten years ago, we would have gotten together over a pot of tea, looked up a book that had some projects like that, gone to the store to see if there was a stabilizer and some fabric that might have worked. Maybe gone to three other stores if we didn't find what we needed. Not only is that in slow steps over several days. It's a system that was hit or miss by definition. And it's impossible at a distance. I wonder how we got anything done.

We know that the younger generations depend heavily on the internet. Older sewers may have their doubts and fears, but these kids are right. The truth is that the internet advantage is massive. It gives us global and endless instant access to sources, experts. ideas, and information.

So the information we would have searched days or months for, is right there, on the screen within the time it takes to type the question. No searching for days. No need for a blind-end road trip to find what you need. No wonder people under thirty don't really keep phone books or directories.

What does that mean to those of us who are quilters looking for ideas, projects, fabrics, and tools and communities? That there is a much easier way to look. And it's so much easier that it's really worth the trouble to learn how.

What does that mean to those who serve quilters? The quilters are looking for the easiest ways to find you. If you want them to join you, you must be there to be found. They may stumble across your store or guild in their travels. But they'll look for you first on the internet. If you're not there, they'll find someone who is.

One media pathway isn't really enough. You don't want them to find you once. You want them to find you everywhere they look. You want to build not only name recognition, but a presence they remember. The social media world divides into several kinds of sites that provide different kinds of exposure. No one path will attract everyone. But a skillful weaving of those paths can create an excellent way to you or to the person or store that can help you. Being out there in a brick and mortar store provides a small local presence. Being on the internet in a skillful blending of media puts you at everyone's fingertips. It serves individuals, groups and stores alike, in ways that can be fashioned to work for your circumstances to bring you to the people you need, and the people who need you.

Guilds, stores, classes, conferences, teachers and quilters all need to know how to use these sites to be shown and to be found. It helps if you know where these different media focus and how they work. We can use all of them skillfully to show who you are and what you offer. But they do specialize, which is why you should use them together. It's also painlessly easy to connect them. A Pinterest account seamlessly posts on a Facebook page, which can show off blog content and will take you right to the shopping cart on your web site. These pathways are simple and intuitive, and are just a click away. Any of those sites can take you everywhere you need to go.

When you tell people they need to get into social media, usually they say, 'Sure. I can do that.'

Then you say 'Do you do Pinterest? Facebook? A web page? A blog?'

You can see their eyes glaze over. If you're feeling that way, don't worry about that. Rome wasn't built in a day. Most of these services are like telephones. You don't need to know how they work to use them easily. They're made to be simple and accessible.

So when do you need help? It depends on your skills, your time constraints, and needs. Don't overwhelm yourself. Pick one and then build on it. Perhaps you establish your website. Get that going and add your Facebook page. You can add Pinterest or Youtube in time. Use the ones you know appeal to you and your customers. Add sites, bit by bit and watch your presence grow.

The Internet may feel like a trip down the rabbit hole. But like Alice, there's an amazing world of wonders and astonishments that we can connect with in an instant. What a wonderland needs is signs and paths that take you where you want to go. Social media provides a set of path making tools you can craft to lead them to you.

If you are not on the internet, there is a huge population who have no hope of finding you. You may have fabulous skills, great sales, amazing products, astonishing meetings, but there is a huge growing younger group that only looks at the internet. If you are not seeing them as part of your community or customer base, they probably can't see you either. So get out there.

If you are on the Internet in any way, they can at least see you. But the super highways of social media are how they travel. So put your presence out there. It makes for signposts that lead just to you. It's one thing to have a website or a blog. But a varied approach makes you so much easier to find.

The internet is a confusing and amazing wonderland. So help them find you by putting up the signs a good wonderland should have. Watch them come from your Facebook page, to your Pinterest picture to the blog, to your web site, and come in Monday for the supplies they'll need for the project you gave them. Not only that, but once they've found you, they'll come back again and again for the information, help, and community you've offered them online.

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Smaller blocks, often colored fabric, which are used to join the pieces of sashing together.
Ellen Eddy

Ellen has spent most of her life teaching, writing or working with fabric, and now she’s come to a point where all occupations blend.  She began quilting in response to a gift from a neighbor who saved a quilt top from one of her mother’s cleaning fits, and gave it to her, quilted, once she was grown.  She has been quilting ever since.  She currently teaches for quilt guilds and conferences a series of fiber art courses covering all kinds of machine embroidery techniques for quilters.  

Her quilt, Dancing in the Light was acquired in June 2010 by the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, KY.

Her book, Thread  Magic Garden, is now available from C&T Publishers. Her  first book, Thread Magic- The Enchanted World of Ellen Anne Eddy,  has proved to be a classic text on free motion and fiber art. Recently Ellen has started her own publication company, Thread Magic Studio Press, and has published small classroom books for herself and other teachers.

She has written for numerous fiber arts publications, including Quilting Arts, American Quilter, and Quilter’s Newsletter, Threads and Fiber Arts.

She also consults with stores/artists / and other quilting professionals on how to use social media as free/low cost advertisement. and community building.

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