Behind the Scenes: BLOCK Magazine

Behind the Scenes: BLOCK Magazine

BLOCK Magazine is an “idea book” designed, produced, and published by Missouri Star Quilt Co. When you flip through these fresh, glossy pages you’ll find gorgeous photography, fun patterns, brilliant ideas, and one-of-a-kind stories! You’ll be left to wonder, “Who are these people surrounded by beautiful quilts and pretty props?” or “Who wrote that inspiring story?” and “Who in the world pieces together all these quilts!?”

We want to introduce you to the team of around 40 people who bring BLOCK Magazine to life! Take a peek into all the hard work, creativity and just pure love that is poured into each issue!


Executive & Managing Editors

Natalie and Jenny

The design of a quilt is decided by Jenny Doan and her daughter, Natalie Earnheart. They choose patterns and themes and then request the fabric they want to use. Once the fabric arrives, they team up with sewists, Carol and Janice, to complete the quilt tops.





Executive Editors include Mike Mifsud, Alan Doan, Sarah Galbraith, David Mifsud, and Jenny Doan. Natalie Earnheart is Managing Editor.


Sewists, Quilters, and Binders

“I’m a sewist so I help piece the quilt tops… I love that I get to be a small part of inspiring people who read BLOCK magazine. I have visions of people sharing their love of others through the gift of quilting… I have been a model a few times for the magazine and that has been really fun. Something I never thought I would get to do.” – Carol Henderson

Jenny Doan, Natalie Earnheart, Carol Henderson, and Janice Richardson make up the sewist team for BLOCK.

Piecing, Quilting, Binding

After the sewists piece together the quilt tops, they are sent over to our Machine Quilting department of over 20 skilled longarmers. Here, the quilt tops receive batting and backing and are then carefully quilted. After, the sewists stitch on the binding and then voilà, a finished quilt ready to become the star of the latest BLOCK issue!


Pattern Team

Before the quilt tops are quilted, they are sent to our pattern team to examine. The pattern writers will then write step-by-step instructions on how to create the quilt. They figure out yardage requirements, tools needed, and outline every little action needed to be taken in order to complete a quilt and send them off to the editors. Once approved by the editors, the pattern is sent back to Carol and Janice for testing. When the sewists give the okay, it is ready the talented designer, Tyler, to whip up some illustrations for our readers to have a visual representation for each step in the pattern. After one last review by all, the pattern is ready to featured in the next BLOCK Magazine!

Pattern Team and Editors
Here the Pattern Team: Jessica Toye, Denise Lane, Tyler MacBeth, Edie McGinnis go over final drafts with Creative Director: Christine Ricks, Managing Editor: Natalie Earnheart, and Executive Editor: Jenny Doan.

My favorite part of my job is working with such a talented group of people.  And how we all work together to put together something that we can all be proud of.” – Denise Lane

I love seeing BLOCK come together. It is so much fun to see a quilt in its earliest form and work on the transition to what our readers see in the magazine.” – Jessica Toye


Copywriters

Nichole, our lead copywriter, collects the memoirs of Missouri Star family members as well as inspiring stories from quilters from all around the world to plan story prompts for BLOCK. Then, Nichole, Camille, Julie, and David will craft beautifully written stories that go along with each quilt. Our copywriters truly have a way with words. You’ll fall in love with the stories they create!

Nichole Spravzoff (top left) and Camille Maddox (top right) both work remotely and are still able to wonderfully capture the voice of Missouri Star! Julie Barber and David Litherland (bottom) work together in the creative studio on copy ideas for the next issue!

When I write stories, I often get to reach out to people, Jenny included, and ask them about their own stories. It’s so much fun to hear their stories and bring them to life in BLOCK. I love writing, so it’s all fun to me.” – Nichole Spravzoff

My favorite part about writing for BLOCK is when I get to use personal memories and experiences as inspiration for the story prompts. It’s a lot of fun for me to figure out how to build a story off of a special moment!” – Julie Barber


Photography Team

Mike Brunner is our talented lead photographer. In charge of completing a successful photoshoot for the team, Mike enjoys working with and appreciates the ideas and collaboration of everyone involved. From unwelcoming weather to making the models feel comfortable to making sure the colors and settings are accurate, Mike has an intuitive eye for creating beautiful photography for BLOCK Magazine.
Prop Making with Lauren
Lauren Dorton is not only a talented photographer and photo-stylist, but she is an brilliant maker. Above, we see her strolling old country roads to gather pretty plant life in which she pieces together to create a winter bouquet for a scene in BLOCK Magazine. The entire team is very resourceful when it comes to finding props and Lauren is amazing at crafting everyday items into amazing props.
Jennifer designs and models
Jennifer Dowling is responsible for locating places that are indicative to our hometown, casting the right models, and gathering props. When food is involved, Jennifer turns into a caterer and prepares food such as a Thanksgiving turkey for a fall scene or baking cookies for celebratory backgrounds. Jennifer styles the scene in a way that brings the story to life for each quilt.
Dustin re-touches the photos

Once the photos are all shot, they are sent off to Dustin Weant, our amazing photo retoucher. Dustin really helps to bring the quilts into focus and allows for the models and scenery to really shine in the background!


Creative Director/Printing Coordinator

Creative Director, Christine Ricks is behind the scenes the entire 4-6 months it takes to create and finish an issue. Christine designs mood boards and creates style guides with the help of Tyler from the pattern team in which the rest of the team can refer to during the making. They use the changing seasons and coming holidays for inspiration. Flying in from her home in Utah every few months, Christine works closely with all of the teams involved to ensure the entire creation of BLOCK is done smoothly and timely.


Lastly, all the last minute details and printing services are organized and set into motion by BLOCK’s printing coordinator, Rob Stoebener. Then they are ready to be sent out by our speedy shipping department from the warehouse and into your mailbox!


Each issue is only $7.99 for a total of $47.94 a year for six issues when you subscribe.
[Canada rates are $9.99 per issue, for a total of $59.94 a year for six issues.]

The best part about this magazine is there are absolutely NO ads! It is a 100% pure, original, authentic Missouri Star creation!

“Your subscriptions matter. You help us keep it ad-free! It’s Missouri Star’s choice to keep it a high quality magazine and get value out of it. From the quality of paper to the photography, and the writing, it’s all from the heart.”

-Christine Ricks, Creative Director

SUBSCRIBE TO BLOCK MAGAZINE!



The Story of Us on Turning Point

The Story of Us on Turning Point

It’s hard to believe that our story started back in 2008 (nearly 8 years ago). We’ve grown as people, as quilters, as a community and as a company in so many ways since then. It’s been an amazing journey and we are so lucky to have you all by our side through it all.

A few months ago we were lucky enough to have the BYU TV film crew come to the small town of Hamilton, MO to film a Turning Point feature on Missouri Star Quilt Co. and the full story of how we came to be. We hope you enjoy watching the feature below and feel a bit more like family after doing so.

* Click the expand button in the bottom right hand corner of the video to make it bigger.

A Day in the Life of a Fabric Order

A Day in the Life of a Fabric Order

Ever wondered what happens after you click “submit” on a Missouri Star Quilt Company fabric order? Here’s a behind the scenes look at the process! It’s a day in the life of a fabric order! Because we are an online AND brick and mortar shop, it’s a little different than a warehouse with everything under one roof. Ready to see the process?

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Meet Stephen. He’s shopping at missouriquiltco.com and places an order for the Daily Deal. On this day, it’s a charm pack of the Frost fabric line. A steal of a price, too! While he’s at it, he adds a yard of Kona Solids fabric in Snow. Gotta build that stash!

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His order is fulfilled from two separate places here at Missouri Star.  All precuts (and notions, books, etc) are stored in the warehouse and are picked there. The yardage, though, comes from one of our four fabric shops. In this case, his Kona Snow comes from Penney’s Quilt Shop, where our solids are sold.

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At the solids shop, bolts to be cut for orders are picked and stacked at a cutting counter. (Say, “Hi, Cindy!”) The cutting counter crew cuts these orders AND takes care of orders for people who are shopping in store. As you can imagine, it’s a busy place!

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Then the order is cut…..

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….and labeled with a sticker that has a barcode.

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It’s then scanned and placed in a numbered bin. When the tag is scanned, the system tracks the numbered bin all the way to the warehouse.

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The bins travel to the warehouse in a horse drawn carriage (with the high school marching band playing in the background, of course). Or something like that.

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At the warehouse, the shipping department takes over! The pickers pull orders in batches. Each batch fills a cart of 15 orders at a time. Pickers wear iPads that help them know where to go in the warehouse to find each item in the order.

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The screen even displays how many of each item to put in the bins. This particular cart has orders that all include the Daily Deal, so what you see here is the number of Frost charm packs to put in each bin (or order). Stephen’s charm pack is in one of these!

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The picker finds the charm pack location…

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…and tosses them into each bin for the orders on the cart.

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Then it’s off to the shipping stations where Stephen’s order is wrapped and labeled for shipping.

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The jolly postman comes for pick up and the order is whisked away, off to Stephen’s house!

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We hope this peek behind the scenes helps you to know what’s happening with your order. As you can see, some orders come from one spot (for example, if you order all precuts, they are all at the warehouse) while other orders come from multiple places (where it gets really fun). Let’s make a pretend fabric order for that:  Say you ordered a precut (from the warehouse), a yard of Christmas fabric (which is cut at Sew Seasonal), some Civil War yardage (which is cut at the Mercantile), a yard of the latest Bonnie and Camille fabric (which is cut in the main shop) and a few yards of coordinating solids (which are cut Penney’s Quilt Shop). The five pieces of your order will come from five different spots, all meeting up at the warehouse with matching barcodes. It’s pretty cool, actually!

We’re settling in at the new warehouse , getting used to our new system of picking orders and are working SO hard to get back to same day shipping. You can bet there will be a giant celebration as soon as that day gets here! We’re deeply grateful for the patience and support of our incredible customers. YOU ROCK!

Nostalgia and Warehouses

Nostalgia and Warehouses

Today’s post is a heartfelt one, written by Al. We hope you enjoy it as much as we have.
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Growing up brings about so many nostalgic moments.
This weekend was a huge one for our company.  HUGE, I tell you!  HUGE!
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Almost six years ago, we started our company in a great big 5,000 square foot building at 100 N Ardinger in Hamilton, Missouri.  It was way too big for us! We refinished the front 1,000 square feet to be our shop and went to work refinishing that space.
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We tore out the paneling and put up some fresh paint and a new floor and that room was great.
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We got our first internet orders there and we would all package the 3-4 orders a day right up and send them off right from the cutting table.
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As we continued to grow, we built a little shipping department in the back, then a machine quilting room.
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Once it became more than just Becky and Jackie answering the phones, we moved our customer service into their own room.
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Eventually, the shop moved to the main street (where it remains today) and that 100 N Ardinger building became strictly shipping and customer service.
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And then it wasn’t big enough for that, even! It was crazy, but we needed more space for our customer service team and a loading dock. Ammon (our warehouse manager) made a great forklift, but his arms were getting tired!
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About a year ago (August 8th of last year, actually) we decided it was time to build our own custom warehouse for our shipping and customer service.  We had all kinds of cool stuff that needed to be in there. We needed a way to get fabric cut in the shops and then connected back into your orders so they get shipped out in a timely manner. We wanted ways of organizing products so that we could always find them, even when we were down to that very last charm pack. But mainly, we needed space.
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So we got building! Winter came and snowed us out for a few months, but we kept going.
This last weekend, we finally moved our shipping over to the new warehouse.
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There were so many moving parts to this move. Did we think of fire extinguishers? What about chairs for the breakroom? (sorry everyone!) Carts for the pickers and bins for the carts? We got bins for the charm packs and layer cakes, but what about notions? What do those go into?
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The move got more and more complex, and was a pretty stressful time for a lot of us. And now (making sure no order was lost in the mix) we are working hard to get everything up to snuff.  Now we have the room to finally hire a few more shippers and get our feet back under us. Our goal by the end of the month is to be back to getting your orders out the day you place them. We are excited!
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With all that hubub going on, I was a little surprised at some of the feelings.  Sarah, Natalie, and myself were sweeping out the 100 N Ardinger building on Saturday night. After everything had been moved out of the front rooms and it was just a few empty shipping tables and shelves, we tidied up the floor and then all sat down and were overcome with this nostalgia.  We’re definitely not sad. This is exciting! We have needed more space for so long!
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But it’s weird, you know? It’s weird to grow up.
We were laughing about the early days there. How every package that has ever been shipped from our company had gone through that tiny room we were all cramped in. Hundreds of thousands of orders have been fulfilled from there. (!!)
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We recalled the days the A/C unit would quit and we’d just sweat and ship.  We remembered how (even before that) we had the Friday night sews, with people sitting on top of people.
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It’s also where the first tutorials were filmed with a little camcorder!
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Just to have those walls remember such wonderful times choked me up a little.
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A lot of companies have a garage that is their very, very beginning. Ours is that building on Ardinger. It’s that small room in the front where it all started, with Mom and a long arm machine and two shelves with a half dozen bolts of fabric.  And it’s great to remember that, I think.
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I asked Sarah what we should do with that building now. She’s not sure, but one thing is for certain. We’ll keep that front room just like it is. No matter what else we end up doing, we need to be able to walk back in there and remember those feelings that keep this business so exciting.
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I’m definitely not sad to be moving on from there. We are excited to be growing, but there’s a big part of me that will just miss walking in there every morning to tackle the day.
That being said, it’s nice to finally have room to park!  🙂  Thanks for the journey, everyone. Here’s to another great era in our new warehouse!  Thanks for sticking with us while we improve and learn. I promise you’ll like what we have up ahead!
-Al
Alan’s First Quilt

Alan’s First Quilt

If you’ve been following along on Instagram, we’ve been sharing snippets of #alansfirstquilt. Today, he’s here to tell the tale and share photos of the finished quilt. He picked an upcoming line of fabric from Fig Tree called Somerset (look for it in September). Here’s Alan!

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So I made my first quilt and put in the last stitch this last week (Sunday night actually).  A friend of mine, Adrian, was out in Missouri working for the summer with us and wanted to surprise her mom with a quilt and challenged me to make one, too.

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The buddy system worked really well for us, having one of us call the other and say, “Hey, let’s go quilt for an hour or two.” It helped us see our quilts to the end. But quilting really is a social thing, even if you’re just helping each other iron or both messing up on your 1/4″ seams together, it’s great to have a partner in the process.

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Now going through a quilt start to finish, I had a few thoughts I wanted to share.  My honest thought was that I would be a pro already.  I have watched every. single. one. of Mom’s tutorials. I’ve seen her do everything that touches quilting a thousand times (and then some) so I was ready to be a pro. I had it all worked out in my mind, so I was a little surprised that it wasn’t soooo easy. Maybe you’ll get a kick out of this story:

Both Adrian and I chose to do the Dresden Coin quilt tutorial. I was hovering on the churn dash because I love that one, but settled on the Dresden Coin because I thought it would go together a bit more quickly.

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So I needed two Layer Cakes (I’m a big guy) and my layer cake dresden template, I got those and hopped right in. My first obstacle was when I opened up the layer cake I broke the bands on it and was staring at this beautiful stack of fabric… but now what?  I just kind of stood there until I got the courage to start cutting, so I grabbed 4-5 at a time and started cutting my dresden blades.  Cutting fabric is a bit tricky, I kept trying to use the ruler / template as a guard, so I’d angle the blade into it and got some wonky cuts until I figured out straight up and down was my friend.  Game changer right there.

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The other hard spot was after I got them all cut, what next?  I had these big piles of dresden blades and struggled figuring out how to go from a stack to the quilt, so I grabbed two tables and started laying them out. It was turning into a big endeavor because nothing matched anything and it felt like there was no right place. I’d get one row set, then have to change it again because I’d see too much brown.

Then my sister Natalie suggested I just match up two blades at a time and sew them together, then put them into groups of four, then move around batches of four to make my rows.  It made it much more manageable, and I got a few spots of too much orange or too much red. I was too overwhelmed trying to get everything perfect before I sewed my first seam, so Natalie’s way was much better for me.

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This leads me to my next challenge. I had no idea how to thread my sewing machine or set it up. I sent mom a text, “Ma, we need to do a tutorial on the first time you sit down at your sewing machine. I’m lost!”  Thankfully, Natalie rescued me (again!) and showed me how to follow the numbers on our Baby Lock Melody sewing machine. Now I’m a pro! If you don’t know how to do it, maybe just get someone to show you once or twice and you’ll be set.  Then I tried Mom’s Baby Lock Jane (the super fast one she sews on) and broke the thread. I think I put four square knots in that thread before I gave up on it. Moral of the story; not all machines have numbers on them to help you thread that needle.  They should.

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So now got all my rows together and called Natalie. It went a little something like this:

Me: “OK. What do I do if my rows are different lengths?”

Nat: “Just make sure they have the same number of pieces, they’ll be the same length.”

Me: “I did. There is like a 3″ variance in length.”

Nat: “Haha, you’re a dork, Al.  I’ll help.”

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So, here’s how we fixed that. I cut my sashing to all the same length, then would pull on some rows and be loose on a few and that helped until I got the whole top together.  Then I had a top that had one great side, and one really wonky side.  So, we folded it in half 4-5 times until I had a 10″ strip by however wide my quilt was, then I just trimmed the one side about 1/2 – 3/4″ in and I had a straight edge again. I was ready for my side sashing and my borders.

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Borders were hard to pick! I wanted an orange one from the line, because I like orange. But it made the quilt too soft, so I went with a brown one. It was hard to let my orange go, but after auditioning the fabrics (as mom would say), I knew I was making the right choice.

This was all still work for me at this point.  I kept making the comment “I can’t believe people pay money to do this! It’s so hard!”

Then I went to the quilting department and got our great girls Sandi and Danielle to help me quilt.  Once we got the quilt pinned on, I think I giggled a little. It was happening!  I was so tickled with myself for making something. For doing it!

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As we quilted, that’s when it started clicking for me.  Sandi was there with us until almost midnight (Thanks, Sandi!). We got it done, and then were off to binding.

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I watched the binding tutorial a few times and got to work.  I kind of found my own stitch that worked for me. Mom said it was a slip stitch and not a ladder stitch, but it looked good and worked fine for me.  I don’t mind a knot or two showing on my backing. 🙂  When I finished, I texted mom: “I’m done with the quilt!” Her first response was, “What?! Who taught you how to bind?” I laughed. “You did! Via YouTube!”

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What an awesome feeling to have made a quilt.  I know where each mistake is. I know the sashing is wavy and the borders don’t match perfectly.  I know my binding is fudged in two parts cause I didn’t sew it onto the quilt right. But it’s done, and it looks awesome (I think!) and I’m so excited to have made something that just a few weeks ago I didn’t know how to do.

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That’s the greatest feeling to me. It’s making something that takes time.  Amazon can’t deliver this. When I give this quilt away, someone will have 20-30 hours of my life, and that’s something I haven’t given anyone for a long time.  Thanks, quilting!