Meet the Maker at Nancy’s Notions

Joi Mahon, Sewist at Nancy’s Notions

When and how did you first start sewing?
I started sewing somewhere between age 5-7. I would go to my grandma’s farm and read all of her Hershner’s catalogs and I would look at photos and try to figure out how projects and patterns were created. I guess I started teaching myself at an early age how to think creatively  and to figure out how things are put together. I hand sewed a lot for several years and started using a sewing machine around age 11. I think I was the only kid who asked for gift cards to House of Fabrics for Christmas.

What advice would you give to someone who just started sewing/making their own clothing?
I encourage my students to gain a love of sewing first before perfection. Too many people are hard on themselves when they are learning and get frustrated in our instant result society. IF you are taking piano lessons you don’t expect to master the piano after one class or retreat and you don’t skip the intermediate recital just because you are not a maestro. I want new sewists to love and be proud of their first projects. Mastery comes with repetition, and remember no one sewist is a master of every fabric and technique.

What are your must-have tools in your studio?
Several different types of quality scissors as they are all for different things, true tailor’s chalk, and my industrial iron. You need an iron that can provide heat and pressure for professional results.

What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing?
I am super creative so ideas come pretty easy, but I find I read fabric and design around the strengths of an individual fabric; how it will drape, how it will hang, how the grain can be manipulated for fit and function. Additionally, I love problem solving so when someone poses a project scenario I just love tossing out all sorts of idea (not all are good) and the creative process.

How did you become the face of Nancy’s Notion’s Wardrobe Builder?
It’s such an honor and I loved talking to Nancy about her favorite type of sewing and I loved when she would comment on my work. Last year I was reaching out to Jenny about an idea and she said that she had an idea for me and had the team contact me. We had several planning and brainstorming meetings and WB was born. I am so excited about this program because we have such a beautiful blend of quality hand picked fabrics that work so well with our monthly projects, we have a fantastic team working behind the scenes and I love teaching technique. My approach is very much making sewing approachable for all skill levels while being able to toss in my personal experiences and professional techniques.

Check out Nancy’s Notions Wardrobe Builder! >

Meet the Maker of One Big Happy

Jenny Fish, Knitter at One Big Happy

When and how did you first start knitting?
Almost 20 years ago, I had a Lucy moment and convinced my best friend Becca to go a knitting class. The class was a disaster.  I don’t think we ever got past the cast on row. Looking back, it was quite hilarious, but at the time I was so frustrated!!! After that we stuck to books from the library and local yarn shops for tips and tricks. 

What advice would you give to someone who just started knitting?
Be Patient and Persistent. Knitting is a labor of love. It takes time to master. But if you keep at it, soon you’ll be able to knit up some beautiful works of art and we all have to start somewhere. 

What are your must-have tools in your studio?
BAGS! I love all the bags. I have so many! Seriously. I have a thing for my knitting bags. I also love the clicking row counter and my locking stitch makers. The markers help keep me on track especially when my babies need me. 

What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing?
I’m inspired by the yarn. It’s almost like the yarn tells me what it wants to be. I soak in the color, fiber content and how its spun. Then I vision the fabric it will make, from that something usually pops into my head.. like, this texture would make a good scarf. Ok, this yarn wants to be a scarf. 

How did you become the face of One Big Happy?
Everyone that knows me knows I love to knit. Fortunately for me, when MSQC decided to start selling yarn, I already worked for the company. I’m local, a part of the family and have a passion for knitting and sharing my knowledge of the craft. We did a test run and so far it seems to be working. Being the face of the company just kind of happened.

Explore One Big Happy Today! >

Meet the Makers of Let’s Make Art

Not everyone has a ton of time or space to create. That’s why we’ve made it easy for you to start now. We’ll encourage you to try new things and take risks. We’ll laugh with you when things don’t turn out quite as planned. We promise to challenge you and to teach you to enjoy the process of making art. If you promise to be kind to yourself, not to compare your art to others, and to have fun, then we’re going to have a great time together. Let’s make some art!

– The Let’s Make Art Team

Sarah Cray, Watercolor Artist and Co-Founder at Let’s Make Art

When and how did you first start painting?
I have always had a love and passion for art. Painting, drawing, creating was something that I did as a child and simply never stopped. When it came time to pick a career, I decided to pick art as my major in college and a year after graduating, I started Let’s Make Art with my business partner. 

What advice would you give to someone who just started painting?
Be kind to yourself. Do not compare. Remember to have fun.

What are your must-have tools in your studio?
Must have tools: Paint supplies and music. You know when I am in the zone by how much I am singing along to whatever is playing while I paint 🙂

What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing?
I think inspiration is a tricky beast and I am learning that mostly what it means to get creativity flowing is to show up consistently. I don’t always have the flutter feeling of inspiration BEFORE I start painting, but I almost always feel better when I am done painting. I view creating as a practice that I am passionate about and committed to instead of this magical, elusive thing. Sometimes the magic is there and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, I am making something. 

How did you become the face of Let’s Make Art?
As co-founder of Let’s Make Art, there weren’t a lot of people or options (or money for that matter) that we could use as a resource to help us find “the face”. And honestly, I am not entirely sure that it was strategic on what being “the face” actually means. All I know is that I had a vision for how art should and could be taught. And I thought, “Maybe if I could open up, and share with them everything: the supplies, how to use them, the mistakes, the joy, the fear, the techniques, the why – then maybe it won’t feel so out of reach for people who have always wanted to try.” So that’s what I did. I simply gave all of myself to this company.

Nicole Miyuki, Kids Artist at Let’s Make Art

When and how did you first start lettering?
In 2012 I started with a personal challenge to create something every day. I had absolutely no idea that that would be a catalyst for a career of creating, teaching and expressing myself through art!

What advice would you give to someone who just started lettering?
Tap into your inner child-like wonder that is there inside of you. Yes, it might need some dusting off, but it is in there, simply waiting to be free and create!

What are your must-have tools in your studio?
Watercolor paints and two brushes – a small one to letter with and a round larger one to paint with! 

What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing?
The colors that illuminate the sky when the sun goes down. Sunsets are Mother Nature’s beautiful daily light shows and have been the source of my creativity recently!

How did you become the host of your own Let’s Make Art series?
The internet makes the world smaller! Sarah Cray and I were both teaching an online workshop and she reached out about a company she was starting, Let’s Make Art. She enjoyed my teaching style, lettering books (see links below), and we instantly connected after one visit! Lettering became the second subscription box at Let’s Make Art and it was so much fun! Then, in the summer of 2020, I felt an urge and a need to create for kids. I transitioned from teaching lettering to creating a kids program and art box for our Little Artists! It has been so much fun, and we just launched our kids-only Instagram!

By Hand: The Art of Modern Lettering
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The Kids Book of Hand Lettering
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Jesse Petersen, Mixed Media Artist at Let’s Make Art

When and how did you first start journaling?
I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I made my own art journals in first grade and laminated the covers with all my Mom’s scotch tape. My parents tried really hard to discourage me from making art my career, but I’ve always been a rebel. 😉

What advice would you give to someone who just started journaling?
Don’t be too precious. The only wasted paint is the paint that is still in the tube!

What are your must-have tools in your studio?
I like to start with a great surface, a mixed media journal paper, or a sturdy panel. I love rich pigmented paints and working with a craft knife and collage paper. Yes! Paste is my favorite adhesive. 

What inspires you and gets your creativity flowing?
My creative ritual keeps me grounded and inspired. I like to start out my studio time with some calm music and sketching or a painting sort of warm-up before I get into anything too serious. Sometimes these low-pressure warm-ups lead to big ideas.

How did you become the host of your own Let’s Make Art series?
I’ve worked in the craft industry for a big chunk of my career and I really wanted to see a different format of creativity be offered. I’ve always made art journals and creative sketchbooks on my own while creating products for creative memory keeping in major retail stores. I wanted to offer more education around those ideas. I pitched the idea of doing an art journal subscription box to one of the Let’s Make Art co-founders, Al Doan, and the rest is history!

Art Journaling Subscription Box from Let's Make Art

Whether you’re a total beginner or you’ve mastered the arts, the supplies and tutorials in this monthly art box are designed to encourage, support, and enhance your experience with Art Journaling. The monthly box provides the supplies you’ll need and a free video tutorial released weekly. 

Art Journaling Subscription Box
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Explore Let’s Make Art Today! >

Planning for Holiday Sewing Success

The holidays are filled with joy: decorating, baking, singing, and visiting with family and friends– it’s a time for celebration. But we all know that many times the season can also end up very overwhelming, especially when it comes to holiday gift-giving. Sewing can sometimes become more of a chore than a fun hobby as we stress about getting all our project plans done in time. When we move from quilting for fun to quilting with a purpose, it becomes extremely helpful to create a plan in order to meet all of our handmade holiday sewing project goals!

Check out our holiday project planning tips below and feel prepared for your best handmade gift giving yet or head over to our Handmade Holidays homepage to browse all of our holiday fabric lines, projects and more!

  1. Make a list of all the family and friends you plan to make something for. 
    • Here are some things to think about outside of your regular gift-giving list: Do you have a gift exchange at your quilt guild or at work? Do you sew for holiday charity events? Were you asked to make gifts for Community Bazaars, craft fairs, or fundraisers?
    • Once you know who you’re making for, choose a project for each person. Use our Quilts for Gifting or our Easy Gift guides for inspiration.

  2. Create a plan for gift giving.
    1. Take inventory. Look around your sewing room just like you would look into your pantry before creating your grocery list. Do you have all the supplies you’ll need to get started? Double check things that need stocked: thread, needles, rotary blades, etc.
    2. Once you know what you have, make a list of the supplies still you’ll need to get and start shopping! (To add something extra special, explore our Finishing Touches and Trims & Embellishments!)
    3. While you’re waiting on your supplies, work out a schedule to help you follow through with all your sewing plans. Choose a day or two of the week to dedicate to working on these projects.
    4. Pro-tip: Begin with bigger quilt projects first to give yourself plenty of time to get them done! Also, if you’re planning on making gifts for your friends who also sew, start on their projects last. That way if you find yourself running out of time, you can always give them notions, fabric, or Missouri Star gift cards!

  3. Next, make a YOU list. This will be all the other holiday projects you wish to complete outside of making for others, like all of the holiday decor projects you wish to complete for your home.
    • Think about what you need (or want!): Do you need something new to hang from your door this year? Have you added new furniture to your home that may need a runner or stocking to be hung from? Will you need a tree skirt?
    • Then, take our holiday style quiz to help you get started on choosing your fabrics and patterns!
    • Pro-tip: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to complete all these projects by this Christmas. There’s always next year to decorate too!

  4. Create a plan for your own holiday projects. 
    • Before shopping for some fresh sewing supplies – take a look at your stash. Do you have projects you started last year that you never finished? Do you have holiday patterns or fabrics on hand that you haven’t used yet? See if you can utilize any of your inventory for the holidays to come. Then create a list of the things you still need and start shopping!
    • Plan these projects around your gifting projects. For example: After you spend an hour working on a gift, take 30 minutes to “reward” yourself on your own holiday home pieces.
    • Tip: Where we start big with gift projects, start small on things for yourself! Giving handmade is a lot of work – so, the things you create for yourself should be a fun break! Avoid projects that could be overwhelming and definitely don’t stress about perfection.

  5. Lastly, stay inspired!
    • Clean and organize your sewing space! 
      • It sounds like a chore at first, but when it comes time to create next, you’ll feel prepared and motivated!
      • Explore our organizational tools for storage ideas!
    • Create a playlist.
      • Use a music app to create a playlist of your favorite songs to listen to while you sew. See if you can match the ‘mood’ of a project to the ‘mood’ of a favorite song. This will help motivate you as you go! (Pst, Jenny’s playlist is filled with musical soundtracks like Fiddler on the Roof, Wicked, and The Greatest Showman! She also likes John Denver, James Taylor, and Jack Johnson. Let her know what you’re listening to in the comments below!)
    • Over the coming months, check into our holiday page for fresh ideas and inspiration.
    • Pro-tip: Just Breathe!
      • Holiday sewing can mean a lot of time spent slouching over our sewing machines which can make our muscles feel tight and scrunched up. Breathing can make all the difference! Luckily, Jenny and Kelly Sheets put together this mini tutorial on how to breathe better and improve our health in order to expand our creativity!

Do you have your own helpful tips on planning for holiday sewing projects? Let us know in the comments and don’t forget to tell us what’s on your playlist! 🙂

Jenny Reminisces on the History of Missouri Star Quilt Co.

What comes to mind when you hear the word “home”? To me, home is family. I can always be myself with them. Home is comfortable, it’s welcoming, it’s my happy place. Over the past year, we’ve all spent a lot more time at home, but the time is soon coming when we’ll be able to venture out again and I hope to see you before too long in my hometown. You’re always welcome in Quilt Town, USA. We have so much to be thankful for and so much to celebrate during National Quilting Month! We want you to know that wherever you are, you can always come home to quilting at Missouri Star. 

Looking back on that first quilting tutorial, it’s incredible to see how far Missouri Star has come. There I was, stitching with my home sewing machine and the iron I’d used for years, sitting down (because I’d broken my foot!), and teaching a simple 4-patch block using a jelly roll. I had no idea what the future held for our tiny company. Twelve short years later, many wonderful milestones have been reached thanks to your support and love of quilting. Let’s take a look back at all the steps that have led us to where we are today (click on the links to learn more or for some major throwback nostalgia!):

November 2008-Missouri Star Quilt Co. Founded
November 2008-First Longarm Quilting Machine
February 2009First Video Uploaded to YouTube
February 2009-First Purchase Made at Missouri Star
April 2011First Building Renovated
July 2012-Grand Opening of Missouri Star Main Shop
January 2013-Missouri Star Website Launched
August 2013-First 100,000 Subscribers on YouTube
October 2013Sewing Center Opens for Retreats
December 2013Sew Seasonal Opens
February 2014-First Issue of BLOCK Magazine Published
April 2014Penney’s Quilt Shop Opens
May 2014Missouri Star Mercantile Opens
July 2014First Shipping Warehouse Opens
November 2014Batik Boutique Opens
May 2015-Missouri Star Owners Awarded Small Business Persons of the Year Award
March 2015Licensed to Sew Opens
September 2015First Birthday Bash Celebration (Our 7th Birthday!)
October 2015Backing & Trims Shop Opens
November 2015Machine Shed Opens
December 2015Modern Shop & Kids & Baby Shop Opens
February 2016Man’s Land and Floral Shop Opens
June 2016Main Shop Grand Reopening 
April 2017First Missouri Star Live Facebook Video
May 2017-First Missouri Star Academy
June 2017-New Shipping Warehouse Finished
May 2018Missouri Star Named One of Forbes’ Best Small Businesses of the Year
May 2018-First Jenny on the Road Tour
August 2018-First 500,000 Subscribers on YouTube
July 2019-Missouri Star & NCMC Apprenticeship Graduation
August 2019-Missouri Star Theater & Education Center Opened
October 2019-Missouri Star Cares Charity Founded
Coming Soon! Spring 2021-Missouri Star’s Grand Reopening!

Now, our hometown has been revitalized. Strolling down the streets is a joy as I walk past thoughtfully restored quilt shops filled with beautiful fabrics, bursting with inspiration for quilters of all kinds. It was not what I originally had in mind. It’s so much better. 

The quilt shops came about in an interesting way. Over a decade ago, we had just one little brick shop, but then we started selling many different types of fabric and we thought it would be a good idea to group them by style. So, the individual quilt shops came about naturally. The main street in town had many empty storefronts and we have fixed them up one by one to house each different fabric collection. All our lives, we never had the money for a brand new house, but we had plenty of fixer uppers. My kids took on this project with enthusiasm because they weren’t afraid of these old buildings. And look at what they’ve become!

Thank you for your loving support over the years. We are constantly amazed at what our little hometown has become, a literal Quilt Town, USA! And it’s all possible because of you. We hope to welcome you back very soon. 

Love,

Jenny