Meet Debbie, Production Manager for Connecting Threads

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21 comments » Behind the Scenes, fun, Sewing Workspace

My name is Debbie and I work at the “happiest place on earth”. No, it’s not Disneyland, but we have a lot of characters with many hats and have fun doing our jobs just the same. I have worked for Crafts Americana Group for over 10 years now. I was first employed as a Customer Service Representative for four years before moving on to Connecting Threads. I couldn’t believe that I got the opportunity to work and get paid doing what I loved: sewing and quilting!

Let’s begin with my role here in the sewing center.  First the designers will send me their patterns. We have many processes to ensure that the patterns our customers get are accurate. Every pattern that we offer as a kit has been twice tested. The first time the pattern is tested (we call this a “test one”), we use older fabric collections and the feedback we receive from the sewer goes back to the designer for any changes. This is where I get to put my artistic side to work as I pull fabrics of my choosing rather than what the designer has chosen from the upcoming collection. Below you can see a “test one” project kitted up and ready to go out to be sewn. Also below is a “test one” quilt with fabrics that I’ve selected, next to the “test two” quilt which uses the fabrics the designer has selected.
  

Once the “test one” comes back and changes have been made to the pattern, I receive a cutting chart from Teri for each collection showing all the kits for the catalog, what fabrics are to be used, and how much for each kit. I then check the cutting chart against the patterns for accuracy. From there, the pattern gets tested a second time, this time it will be sewn in the upcoming collection fabrics that will be photographed for the catalog.

Before “test two” can be made, we have to receive sample yardage of the upcoming catalog collections from the factory. This can only happen once Jenni has approved the fabric samples (strike-offs) she receives from the manufacturer.  Once approved, sample yardage is air shipped to us to use for the catalog projects. We typically receive about 10 yards of each print in the collection. With help from others in the department, two of us will unfold and refold all of the sample fabrics checking for any flaws, then wind up on a winding board for ease of storage later.

Next, the newly received fabric is cut and projects kitted to be sewn; on average about nine kits per fabric collection and three fabric collections per catalog. That’s a lot of cutting and sewing! Judy will then coordinate to have the projects sewn by our contract sewists. I couldn’t possibly keep up with sewing all those lovely projects in our catalog, but I do get a few to work on. I usually work on the smaller projects that can be quilted in house, and the ones that I can easily put down and come back to. I am interrupted on a regular basis to complete other tasks that need my attention; it seems I am hopping around all the time. When the quilt tops are completed, I then get busy making the backings to send out to the Long Arm quilters. Sometimes I get three to four back at a time. You guessed it, then the same three to four come back and now it’s time to sew on the binding and sleeve.  Next the bindings are hand sewn down, usually by our in house sewers who love to do this, and then they are ready for photography.  The pattern goes through one more proofing process before being finalized for our customers. When it is finished, we shout with joy, but with one short breath as the process starts all over again for the next catalog.


21 responses to “Meet Debbie, Production Manager for Connecting Threads”

  1. Stephanie Says:
    04/10/2013 10:02 am

    Interesting about the process. I didn’t realize all of the fabric is checked for flaws then refolded “flat.” You have quite a job and yes, fun! All that fabric, all day long. Thank you for sharing a peek at what goes on at the happiest place on earth.

    Reply
  2. Carol Clark Says:
    04/10/2013 10:28 am

    What a great job, I love your fabrics and have copied a few of the quilts that are photographed in Your catalog. Good work. Thanks for the peek into the process.

    Reply
  3. Kelly Urtel Says:
    04/10/2013 11:01 am

    Nice job you have:)

    Reply
  4. Mary Says:
    04/10/2013 11:10 am

    Wish I had your job. Thank you for sharing. I love everything about connecting thread.

    Reply
  5. Robin Tuckerman Says:
    04/10/2013 11:33 am

    I am jealous, I love my job too but your job is your hobby. Do you take the time to work on projects at home or do you leave that for work? Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Rosalee Says:
    04/10/2013 11:38 am

    Hi Debbie! You have a great job–what fun! Love finding out what all is involved before we receive our order,thanks!

    Reply
  7. edith goss Says:
    04/10/2013 11:57 am

    you must be a mat genius, thanks for all your great work, love all your fabrics it can become addictive.

    Reply
  8. Denny Aleckson Says:
    04/10/2013 1:01 pm

    Wow! You do work at the Happiest place on earth! So very COOL! How fortunate for you, that you have such a GREAT job and love what you do! Quite a bit of testing before the finality of it all…I for one appreciate that so much…as I have had patterns with wrong cutting instructions or sewing mistakes..because of the cutting instructions. So “THANK YOU” for doing what you do as well as everyone else on staff there, as we quilters really do appreciate the effort! Keep on having “FUN!!!”

    Reply
  9. Janice (Jan) Buelow Says:
    04/10/2013 1:49 pm

    Hi Debbie
    Looks like you enjoy your quilting as much as I do. I started quilting in my early “40’s” after recovering from extended cancer treatments. I wanted at the time to leave memories behind should this happen again. I have been quilting for approx. 25 yrs. now and love every minute. Several Banners for our church have been made from Connecting Threads “Mirage”. I love working with your fabrics – keep up the good work!!

    Reply
  10. Pat Judd Says:
    04/10/2013 2:09 pm

    Thanks for sharing. It is interesting to hear what happens behind the scenes.
    So happy you can “work” with fabric. Happy shows through in the catalogues.

    Reply
  11. Carol Ann Says:
    04/10/2013 2:16 pm

    How very interesting.Thank you for “behind the scenes” look. I have ordered several kits from Connecting Threads and want to thank you for always adding a little more fabric then what is called for, as I invariably make a cuttin mistake.

    Reply
  12. Dorothy I. Dishman Says:
    04/10/2013 3:07 pm

    Thanks for the very interesting & stimulating article on your “job”! Learning the background of a persons’ job is rewarding in the fact that one can greatly appreciate what is done to make one’s experience enjoyable. It is so great to read the bio’s each week on each person’s job & background. Thanks for another wonderful learning experience.

    Reply
  13. Joy Gross Says:
    04/10/2013 3:25 pm

    Nice write up Deb.

    Reply
  14. Amanda Best Says:
    04/10/2013 5:33 pm

    What a great career you have! I have really loved getting a “behind the scenes” look at how Connecting Threads works, so cool!
    Keep up the fantastic job, Debbie!

    Reply
  15. Karen Says:
    04/10/2013 8:17 pm

    Sounds like a Dream Job — loved hearing about how the process goes. I think you are correct in proclaiming it the happiest place on earth. I shall admire the catalog in a new light in the future!

    Reply
  16. Pamela Boesch Says:
    04/10/2013 9:15 pm

    I love your company! I can understand how it can be the happiest place on earth as my sew room is for me. I see you take this serious, Thank you. My greatest wish is that you make larger quanities for your customers, Please! I don’t do quilt kits. I prefer sampler kits so I can make my decisions on my own on how this will in my quilt designs at my happiest place on Earth. Then I order the yardage I need. Most of the time these are sold out already. What you have left, I can go 3 blocks away and buy 30 days latter.
    Please increase quanities of yardage.
    Keep up the great work. looking forward to get your next catalog!

    Reply
  17. Diana Says:
    04/11/2013 6:28 am

    Very interesting to read about the process. Love the fabrics.

    Reply
  18. Joanna Liguz Says:
    04/11/2013 4:28 pm

    You really do work at the happiest place on earth,,,interesting process and to be able to sew and do all that you do to make it all happen,,it must be wonderful…

    Reply
  19. She Jackson Says:
    04/11/2013 5:48 pm

    What a wonderful job! How do you choose your contract sewists or how would one go about applying for that job?

    Reply
  20. Fran Sutton Says:
    04/12/2013 4:18 am

    Wow, I have always been happy with patterns/kits/fabric from Connecting Threads….now I know why!!

    Reply
  21. Linda Fielding Says:
    04/12/2013 7:24 pm

    It must be such fun when the new fabric collections arrive. I’m a regular customer and love the catalogues and read them immediately. Unfortunately, quite often the most popular quilt kits and even some focal fabrics are sold out by the time I receive them. Otherwise shopping at Connecting Threads is a delight – great quality fabrics and threads. Oh yes, I love the new flannel basics!

    Reply

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