Contest is now closed. Doreen Hendrickson is our winner!
Kelly Mueller is the owner and designer behind The Wooden Bear! The Wooden Bear sells adorable patterns, kits, and other sewing related products. I asked Kelly to tell us a little bit about herself and her experience and success with EQ Printable Inkjet Fabrics. Read our Q&A below:
EQ: First of all, let’s hear a little about you!
Kelly: I grew up in Independence, Missouri, just outside of Kansas City. I attended college and received my bachelor’s degree in Accounting. I went for the accounting degree because it fits me- I’m a bit of an organized analyzer- but also because I grew up crafting. I thought if I could find a craft that I thoroughly enjoyed, and could be a viable business, I would have what I needed to begin. I also met my husband, Brian, in college. He makes life so fun, and has provided me with 21 years of marital entertainment! We have two wonderful sons. Zach is a freshman in college, and Caleb is in the 8th grade. Life is so sweet.
EQ: So, how did you get started in the industry?
Kelly: I’ve been doing various crafts, sewing and sketching throughout my whole life, thanks to my family. My mom dabbled in all kinds of crafts, and she always let me join in the fun. My dad does incredible woodworking and carving. My grandparents, Bear and Rosalie, did oil painting, photography, cake decorating, quilting, woodworking… The list goes on and on. Creativity has always been in my life.
The first time I tried quilting was at the end of 2000. My husband’s grandmother, Maryon, sent my son an adorable quilt she made with pieced squares and cookie cutters to make appliqué shapes. I thought, “I can do this!” So, without any previous instruction, I gave it a try. I’ve been hooked ever since.
In 2002, when I couldn’t find a fall quilt I liked, I purchased a large graph pad and designed my very first pieced quilt. The local quilt shop owner encouraged me to make it into a pattern to sell. That was something I had been considering, but thought it would take years of experience before starting. So, I began selling the patterns in her store, and then the one in the next town, and it grew and grew.
In 2008, I attended my first International Quilt Market. My mother-in-law, Karol, went with me, and we had great success at the show. I was also approached by Red Rooster Fabrics, and asked to design fabrics for them! On top of my quilt designs, they had seen the brochures I had designed specifically for market. Leading up to market, I had gone through a crash course in Photoshop so I could learn just enough to design my own brochures. I continued that journey learning more and more. It has been such a fun part of my business that allows me to design my own website, brochures, graphics, fabrics, and most recently, designs for printable fabric sheets that become great sewing and quilting projects!
EQ: Sounds like you really love your job and what you’re doing. Tell us more!
Kelly: There are several things I love about my job, but the items that top my list are home & family, and variety. First, home & family. When I started designing, Caleb was under a year old, and Zach was 5. This job gave me the freedom to work from home, and to have a totally flexible schedule. I could always be there for my family, and work around their needs. That doesn’t mean it was easy. Most of my designing in the beginning came from too-short naptimes, and a lot of midnight hours. But, I loved it!
Second on my list is variety. The variety of tasks required to run your own business are too many to number. This is a fact I love. I’m never bored. With everything that has to be done, I did have growing pains, though. Sometimes, I’m working on a new fabric line, or promotional and marketing items, and other times new quilt designs on the computer or at the sewing table. Usually, I make sure my husband and boys get off to work and school, and then after breakfast, coffee, and a shower, I head off to my quilt room with my two canine pals, Sadie and Ren (both retrievers). The good thing about my work is that my office is in our home, and I can be flexible with my hours. Those can also work against me, as it’s sometimes hard to “step away” from work. Recently, I have tried to have a more set schedule, working hard through the week, and then taking Saturdays off for my own creative play time. Sometimes I have to work so hard on scheduled designs, that I never just get to play.
EQ: I know you do a lot with our EQ Printable Inkjet fabric. How did you get started with that?
Kelly: After all the work that goes into making the art for my fabric lines, I wanted to think of other ways I could use it. It seemed like such a waste to do all that work, hand it off to the fabric company, and then just file them away, never to be used again. I had just designed a fabric line called Anchors Away, and I got an idea to try printing the graphics I had made to printable fabric, and then sewing them into projects along with the fabrics from the line. I was so excited, and got terribly carried away making tons of different designs!
EQ: Let’s see some projects!
(Click on any of the images below to see them larger.)
EQ: So, you take your fabrics from your Red Rooster line and mix it with designs you print on EQ Printable Inkjet Fabric?
Kelly: Yes, I had a package of printable fabric from another company that I had purchased several years before. I tried the designs on that product first, and was very disappointed. I try to find the best products I can, because I know customers will ask what products I use, and I want to be sure I have tested and approved them before I would recommend any.
So, I bought a couple more brands, including EQ.
EQ was the best hands-down! It had the best print quality for starters. The image was clear, clean, and rich. Not faded out. The next test was to soak it in water and see if it runs. No running whatsoever. The next thing I looked at was the feel of the fabric. EQ’s had a good feel compared to the others, and was thick enough to feel sturdy and comparable to the other cotton fabrics I would be using in my projects. The other printable fabric products were thinner, and one even tore and frayed as I peeled it off the product’s backing.
I was so enamored with the process of printing to fabric, that I designed a new line of designs called Patterns a la Carte. The first designs in that series are for stand-up pouches with printed sayings like, “Quilting Keeps Me in Stitches,” or “Yarned & Dangerous.” Right now, I’m working on pillow designs using sayings on printable fabric sheets, along with burlap and super soft flannel materials. I just can’t stop myself!
EQ: Thanks so much for doing this interview! I’ve enjoyed talking to you, and I love what you are doing with EQ Printable Fabric!
And, now onto the FREE STUFF!
Kelly has been nice enough to give somethings away for free!
A free pattern to download and use to make the Love One Another Pillow. It’s made by printing the graphic to an EQ Printables Inkjet Fabric Sheet, and then sewing together with your choice of fabrics! Super simple!
Want to make a coordinating gift bag for your pillow project? Kelly designed three patterned papers that you can download, print, and cut to embellish a kraft handled bag and a card like the one shown below. Use the papers any way you like! You can also print the patterned pages to EQ Printables Inkjet Fabric Sheets and use for sewing and quilting projects!
And, now onto the GIVEAWAY!
Go to Kelly’s website to win a Sample Pack of EQ Inkjet Fabric Sheets, along with the Patterns a la Carte Kit of your choice!
two 9″ x 11 1/2″ rectangles of Soft and Stable
two blank EQ Printables Inkjet Fabric Sheets
one 12″ zipper
one fat quarter of osnaburg for inside lining
and one Patterns a la Carte pattern and design of your choice on disc
And for another chance to win please answer this question in the comments: What’s your favorite quilt from our EQ Quilt Gallery?
Contest ends January 31st at midnight ET.
Contest is now closed. Doreen Hendrickson is our winner!