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.