Tag Archive for modern mix

From Blog to Book Deal: Q&A with Jessica Levitt

Please welcome Jessica Levitt to Craft Buds! Jessica is a first-time author of a new book about modern quilting. You may have also read her popular blog, Juicy Bits, where she shows of quilted creations and her fabric lines.

The book is titled Modern Mix: 16 Sewing Projects that Combine Designer Prints & Solid Fabrics (Stash / C&T Publishing) and includes 7 quilt projects plus 7 Quilts + pillows, bags and gifts.

Jessica Levitt

Jessica, you must be thrilled to see your first book in print. Was this the fulfillment of a long-standing dream, or something that just transpired over time?

Yes, I’m absolutely thrilled, but funny enough, it was never my dream in life to write a book. In fact, in school I kinda hated writing. I was never bad at it, but it wasn’t my thing and I have a degree in engineering so I didn’t have to do that much in college. But when I started my blog, all that changed. I love writing there because I can write like I’m having a conversation with my readers. And it’s so rewarding to be able to share all the work, that I would do anyway, with the world. So, now I’m hooked. And the idea of making beautiful projects and having a real, live, printed book in my hand that I wrote is amazing. I can’t wait until I see some of the projects people make from my patterns!

Pebble Road Quilt

Can you tell us about the process of pitching your book? How did you go about choosing your theme and communicating that vision to a publisher?

Certainly. The theme of my book was pretty obvious to me since I love modern quilts and sewing projects that use solid fabrics. I wanted to show readers many different ways to use them in their projects while still enjoying their favorite prints. Although quilting is my first sewing love, I knew I didn’t want a book that was only quilts because I love variety. I think it’s nice to have a cohesive theme that neatly ties all the projects together and makes your book different from all the general sewing books out there, but I do know it’s not 100% necessary. If you simply have a distinct style of your own, that can be enough.

When it came to pitching the idea to a publisher, I treated it a bit like a book report. I know every author does a totally different type of proposal, so this is just one approach, but it is important to know the publisher’s guidelines. For mine, I wrote a summary introduction of the book concept. I had the potential projects already divided into chapters. I completed one full quilt top (the one that ended up on the cover) and wrote out the full directions for it, including illustrations to show that I was capable of writing clearly. For the other projects I included computer sketches or pictures of similar previous work that I had done with a short description. The publisher had a couple of questionnaires to fill out, and I also included a small photographic portfolio of my work to give them an idea of my style and potential.

I sent all this information in as a hard copy, but I think many publishers prefer them electronically now. Then it becomes a waiting game. In the end, they didn’t want to include every project I pitched and I was free to alter some as needed, so the final book didn’t look just like the proposal. For some projects, they even asked for more information, like fabric selections, etc.

I was reading about your trip to quilt market when you pitched your fabric line Timber to several manufacturers, and you said it was a bit nerve-wracking. Did you feel that way with the book as well?

Honestly, not really. That’s because I didn’t have to pitch it cold to a bunch of publishers. In fact, my publisher, Stash Books, an imprint of C&T, approached me. Their acquisitions editor noticed my blog and asked if I was interested in writing a book. I probably wouldn’t have done it if she hadn’t made me think of the idea. So I met with her when I was at quilt market and talked about the process, and when I was finally ready, I submitted only to her. And don’t think I’m super-special or anything. They ask plenty of designers for submissions and then can choose from amongst those. A blog is a great way to get known and also to direct them back somewhere when you do submit a proposal.

I know that it often takes more than a year to publish a book. What parts of the process were you most involved with, and what has the waiting game been like?

Yes, it seems to take forever. I did the bulk of the writing and sewing last summer so it does feel like along time ago. Obviously I was most involved in the writing and sewing. I had more that 6 months to do that all that, but it’s never enough time! I think next time I’ll probably do more projects up front before I even submit a proposal, so there is less work to do. It made for a crazy, busy summer. After I sent in all the projects and text, then the editing begins. Stash is excellent at reviewing the text and illustrations to make sure they are both clear and easy to follow, and technically accurate. There are several rounds of edits, and for each one, we went back and forth, making it the best book possible. At the same time, they take the photos and start the design. I had input into both processes. Basically I gave them guidelines and lots of examples of my vision for the book. But they took it from there and did the photos and design on their own. Finally I requested changes or reshoots as necessary. It’s so cool to see the basic Word document turned into a pretty picture book, but waiting for your advance copy is torture!

Modern Mix Book

Can you tell me about one of your favorite projects in the book, and how you came up with the idea?

That’s a tough one. I get inspiration from anywhere and everywhere.

The cover quilt, called Pebble Road, actually came the from the quilting idea first. I love round “pebble” quilting like that. I wanted to make a really big quilt (it’s king size!) that had a lot of impact but that was relatively easy to piece, so I got the idea to do a stripe of circles that really pop. I love the bright Kaffe Fassat fabrics with the grey background.

Another favorite is the Diamond Strands quilt. For that one I wanted to feature large pieces of large-scale print fabrics, so I made them into vertical stripes. And, I’m usually not one to use templates, but I loved the idea of diamond shapes rather than squares because it’s more unusual.

There are also a lot of fun smaller projects. I love bags, and in this book the Essentials Bag is one of my favorite. It’s a great size for carrying a wallet and a few other essentials. I wanted something that came together relatively easy and was a fun showcase for some print fabrics.

Modern Mix bag

Do you have any advice for an aspiring author or fabric designer?

Oh boy, if someone has the answer to balance, I want to hear it. I struggle with that constantly, but when I get it right, it can be so rewarding. I guess my advice it that you don’t have to rush into anything. Figure out what your goals are, and then give yourself some time to get there. I took my time submitting a book proposal, waiting until I was ready to make it a real priority, and I’m so glad I did. I want to make sure I get enough time with my kids as they’re growing up, so that means sometimes passing up on a work opportunity. But I can’t say enough good things about blogging. Sometimes it can be a chore and I neglect it (like this summer), but it has helped me so much. There is a ton of inspiration out there as a reader, and if you get a decent following, it can open you up to a lot of opportunities. To get yourself more known, my advice is to offer something for free. I’m not talking just giveaways, but patterns, etc., that people will keep coming back to. And devote some time to communicating with other bloggers.

 

Giveaway!

Stash Books is generously giving away a copy of the book Modern Mix to one lucky Craft Buds reader. Leave a comment with something you learned from this interview for a chance to win. We’ll pick one winner on Friday, September 30th. If located outside the U.S., winner will receive an eBook. This giveaway is now closed, congrats to #23, Jenelle!

September is Craft Book Month!

It’s back-to-school season, and September is time to hit the books. Craft books, that is! Big, beautiful craft books. Stunning photography. Crisp, glossy pages. Hard covers or soft. We just love craft books, and we know you do, too. All month long, we will celebrate modern craft books by reviewing new releases, interviewing authors and editors who make the magic happen, and crafting projects from the books we spotlight.

What’s in Store?

Weekly craft book giveaways, a month-long linky party for craft book projects (see below), and a chance for you to learn from our experts. If you’ve ever dreamed of writing a craft book, we also have some fantastic tips on how to get your book published!

The Experts

Find out what catches an editor’s eye from Allison Korleski, Acquisitions Editor for Interweave Books. It may be simpler than you think!

Stay true to your vision while working agents and publishers. See how Shelly and Karen from Patterns by Figgy’s did just that with their first book, Sewing for Boys (Wiley Publishing).

Sewing for Boys book

Learn how to pitch a book with Tonia Davenport, Acquisitions Editor for North Light Craft / F+W Media. She’s got some great tips for aspiring craft book authors.

From blog to book deal. How did she do it? Ask Jessica Levitt, author of new release Modern Mix (Stash Books / C&T).

Modern Mix book

Thinking about opening your own patterns shop, and maybe writing a book, too? Meet Kay Whitt, author of the new book Sew Serendipity Bags (North Light).

Linky Party with Giveaways!

In honor of Craft Book Month, we are hosting a linky party all month long to celebrate. From September 1st through 30th, you may link up one of your favorite craft book projects below for a chance to win some fabric, books, patterns and more. The prizes include:

One winner: Doodle Stitching book + Japanese fabric from Craft Buds
One winner:
Autographed CosmoGIRL Cool Room book + Kona Charm Pack from Craft Buds

Doodle Stitching + Japanese fabric Autographed book + Kona charm pack

One winner: Cloth Paper Scissors book (from Interweave), Paper + Craft book and Fiskars decorative-edged scissors from Craft Buds

Paper Crafting Books + Scissors

One winner: Girl’s World book by Jennifer Paganelli, courtesy of Sis Boom.

One winner: The Practical Guide to Patchwork book courtesy of Dewberry Lane.  (Dewberry Lane is also offering free U.S. shipping on all orders placed during September with the code FREESHIP. Check out her books and patterns.)

One winner: $25 shop credit to My Little Sunshine Handmade

My Little Sunshine Handmade BWS tips button

One winner: 2 sewing patterns of your choice from Pattern Patti
One winner:
Three vintage sewing patterns; selections from Goofing Off

Pattern Patti on Etsy

 

Ready to share your craft book project? Here’s what you need to do to participate:  (Please read carefully)

  1. Create a NEW blog post. Share one project you’ve made from a sewing or general craft book and let us know which book it came from. The project doesn’t have to be brand new, never seen before on your blog – just something you’ve whipped up in the past that you love.
  2. One entry per person. Everyone who links up to the party with the Craft Book Month button will be eligible for our sponsored giveaways!
  3. Link back to Craft Book Month in your post.  You can do this with a button, just copy and paste the HTML code into your post. 
  4. Share the direct link to your post in the linky below. Right click on your post URL to copy link address, then paste it in the linky.
  5. Visit some of the other craft book projects and be inspired! If you are on Flickr, you may also add your photos to the Craft Buds group pool; however, you must also link up the URL of your Flickr post to this linky to be eligible for prizes.
  6. Random winners from the linky party will be announced on October 1, 2011. Giveaways open worldwide. Stay tuned for additional craft book giveaways to be held each week in September (winners announced on Fridays) which will be open to both bloggers and non-bloggers.
  7.  

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