Orchestrating the Perfect Row by Row

How to Design Your Own Superb Row by Row Block
February 3, 2018 by
Orchestrating the Perfect Row by Row
Laser Cut Quilts, Madi Hastings


Over the past few years, many shop owners have expressed fear and/or frustration about designing their own Row by Row block, deferring to outside designers who "know what they're doing." We're here to tell you that YOU GOT THIS. You can do it yourself! Hell, you own a quilt shop. You can do anything. And even if you do decide to outsource the design, you'll feel confident in knowing what to request, since we've brought Madi Hastings, pattern and textile designer, on board to offer some design tips and tools for the upcoming Row by Row!

Madi has designed several rows for quilt shops over the past few years (including the top image). She's here to let shop owners in on her secrets for simplistic, painless design.

1. determine your method

Traditional piecing, applique, or foundation paper piecing? Which method will you employ for your shop's design?

Madi suggests, "Stick with what you know and what you're comfortable sewing so that your sample looks great and your pattern is clear and understandable." For example, 2015's theme of "Water" yielded this stunning foundation paper pieced row, designed by Richmond, Virginia's Quilting Adventures (picture and quilt by Kissed Quilts). You can tell the designer knew what he/she was doing!

You'll need to consider the difficulty and time-consumption levels for your customers, too. Paper piecing can be more time-intensive and difficult (though not necessarily), where applique and traditional piecing can be a fast finish (especially if you laser-cut your kits!) 

Remember...don't be intimidated by another shop's awesome design! There are infinite design possibilities, and yours can be equally grand! 

2. develop a concept

The Jack of Arts in Stafford, Arizona commissioned Madi to design their "Cotton on the Go" row in 2017. (above picture)

"Don't wait for inspiration to hit you! Go find it!" says Madi. She urges shop owners to employ use of Pinterest, other row by row designs, and Google images as a source of inspiration (but be sure to maintain copyright law). 

Don't consider yourself a great artist? You're not going to let that stop you, are you!? Print pictures of your inspiration, trace the elements you like on paper (with a LightBox from your shop), scan the image in, and use a free, opensource software like Inkscape to manipulate and lay out your design (Madi recommends CorelDraw or Adobe Illustrator, but you can't get more awesome than free). You can even in-fill the designs (once they're in vector format) with fabric .jpg files!

Madi also says, "Don't be afraid to go back to the drawing board. It hurts sometimes because our ideas are precious to us. I like to ask myself the following questions when I design a row: 

"Will this design sell?"

"Is it versatile enough that my customer will want to add it to the rows they've already purchased?"

"When I stand far away, does it look balanced in color and design?"

"Would I buy it to put in my own RxR quilt?"

If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, make a game plan to fix the design or address your concerns candidly with the person designing it...Your shop's sales will depend on it!

3. Take Action!

Red Rooster Quilt Shop of Dublin, Ohio, commissioned Madi to design their 2017 Row by Row block, "Quilt til you Wilt" (pictured above).

Madi says, "Consistently, the hardest step is execution. If you can remind yourself of that, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to! But if you're wishy-washy, ain't nothin' gonna get done." 
So....what are you waiting for, you quilt shop owners? You slayers of fabric? You hard-knock, ger-er-done folk? You beautiful creators?
You got this.

Mention this ad to receive a 10% discount off laser-cut Row by Row kits for your shop!
The Laser Cut Quilts team
Orchestrating the Perfect Row by Row
Laser Cut Quilts, Madi Hastings February 3, 2018
Share this post