Sunday, July 17, 2011

Like to do Block-of-the-Month's? Hope you have a sense of humor...

Quite a while back, I posted about Block-of-the-Month (BOM) programs and encouraged you to comment about your like/dislike of them and share some experiences.
Wow...did I ever open a can of worms!  Because I have been involved in administering a couple of these programs since then, I decided to wait a while before posting further on this topic.

I don't own a quilt shop, but I do work part time at one.  Our shop, like many, offers BOM programs...2-3 at a time.  I designed a quilt for a BOM about 6-7 years ago...wrote all the patterns, administered it, taught the class each month (technique and history), and did the kitting.  It was called "Quilting Through America" and the blocks all represented different decades/quilt styles in America, even including a "whole cloth" hand quilted eagle in the middle (hard to see in this picture...).  It incorporated broderie perse, whole cloth quilting, piecing, redwork, applique, string piecing, crazy quilting/embellishing, charm quilting, and all techniques were taught in addition to the history of the era.  (I made this sample, hand quilted the center, and the rest of the quilt was custom machine quilted by Marilyn Lange, Ypsilanti, MI).

Since then, I have administered a couple more BOM programs, working with two other people of like program was "canned," offered by Marti Michell through Maywood Fabrics ("American Beauty").  This employed her "Perfect Piecing" template system, included great patterns, and just concluded in the spring.  (Mary Jones made the sample shown below and it was machine quilted by Rhonda Loy, Dexter, MI).

Currently I am kitting and administering one that we developed from the Nancy Halvorsen book, "Count On It!" with the same two other people...both of whom are just as wacky about things being right and true as I am.  Together, we designed the outer border using previous Halvorsen designs.  We called it "Most Wonderful" and it was made entirely from Halvorsen fabrics (Benartex).  The sample was made by Mary Jones, custom machine quilted by Rhonda Loy, Dexter, MI.  There were directions to write and lots of fussy little pieces to kit.

I have tried to sum up the comments I received from the previous post below.

Why do people want to do block-of-the-month (BOM) quilts?  Lots of good reasons:

1)  Some just like the quilt. 
2)  Some like working on something where the design and fabrics are all picked out...NO DECISION-MAKING.
3)  Some are new to quilting and decide that this is a good way to learn new techniques. 
4)  Some don't have a "stash" and like the variety of materials offered. 
5)  Some like the pressure (or lack of pressure?) of working on one block at a time. (some of you just collect the blocks, and you KNOW who you ARE, LOL!). 
6)  Some want to meet other like-minded people and take the journey together.
7)  Some of you use these programs to get an INCREDIBLE amount of quilting done in a timely manner   (have you visited Yvette of the BOM Quilter blog??  OMG!  She works on SEVERAL programs at a time and gets them DONE - beautifully!!).

Why do quilt shops offer BOM programs?

1)  They provide steady, predictable traffic into the quilt shop.
2)  Some customers prefer paying for a quilting project a little at a time, one block or section a month.
3)  Great way to encourage customers to have success.
4)  Good way to introduce new techniques and/or tools to customers.
5)  Don't have to make the entire quilt kit at one time...kitting is time-consuming and this spaces it out over 6, 9, 12 months.

What are the chief customer complaints about BOM programs?

1)  The pattern has mistakes or is just unclear/not enough detail or pictures...not sure which fabric is used for what part of the block.
2)  There is not enough fabric to make the block/section featured.
3)  One or more of the fabrics in the kit have been substituted - not like the original, which you fell in TOTAL love with the first time you saw it.  Sometimes the substitution is good...sometimes, well, it's just plain hideous and looks like an after thought.
4)  Once you add up the total cost of the kits, the quilt is more expensive than if you just bought a pattern and picked out some fabric.

What are the chief shop owner complaints about BOM programs?

1)  Some quilters just collect the blocks to start the quilt LATER.  Then at this later date, if there are problems, or if the customer makes a cutting mistake, the fabric is gone from the shop and is no longer available.
2)  If the quilter's sewing room is unorganized, pieces of the quilt can get lost or separated.  Then, the shop may not have the fabric anymore when a replacement block/section is requested.
3)  Customers sign up, kits are made, shop resources are committed, then the quilter drops out or stops coming to pick up blocks.  Partial/incomplete BOM blocks are difficult to re-sell.  This costs a shop a lot of money.
4)  BOMs require buying a lot of fabric up front, then it can take up to a year to sell all the kits and recoop that initial outlay of money.  Then, the fabric needs to be stored, out of the general inventory, until it is cut for the kits.
5)  Unless the shop owner plans ahead and CUTS OFF or LIMITS ENROLLMENT, later participants don't end up making the same quilt as the sample due to fabrics becoming unavailable (especially Moda fabrics...they rarely reprint fabric lines...once that initial shipment of fabric is gone, it is almost impossible to get more).  This keeps the fabric selection fresh, but means shop owners really have to plan ahead.
6)  These BOMs are labor-intensive due to the time it takes to calculate, cut and package the kits.  This is why they seem pricey.  The labor cost has to be figured into the price of the program.

It makes me completely crazy when the BOM experience is flawed by multiple, repetitive mistakes in the patterns or fabric amounts.  I have an obsessive/compulsive personality, so I tend to check and recheck too much when it comes to calculating yardage and cutting/packaging kits.  My friends and the shop owner give me a hard time, but I know that if I were doing a BOM, I would want to know that care went into every step of offering me a quality project.

I also have high expectations of the customer...I put names on kits and hold people accountable for finishing what they start.  I want to do everything possible to assure the participant will have success in completing the project.  I love quilting, and I want EVERYONE to love quilting and have a successful experience.

Not everyone who runs BOM programs thinks like I do, and I am sure there are places for me to improve how I approach the ones I take on.  Today, one of our favorite customers was in the store and we were all thinking and commenting about BOMs.  She has a delightfully wicked sense of humor and came up with the perfect disclaimer that should be included in some BOM programs we've seen.  Thank you, M.D. - you made our day! 

(Disclaimer:  I want to share the following with a sense of humor...if you have had a bad experience, I am sorry...I am in no way making fun of your particular disappointment...)

"This is an opportunity for creativity...not everything you need is in this kit.  You are not securing a are buying a nightmare.  Have a nice day!"

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)

(I will be away from civilization this week...I welcome and appreciate your comments...I will respond to each and every one when I get back...).

In stitches,
Teresa  :o)


  1. LOVE the disclaimer! Then again, I never use kits or patterns of any kind. Congratulations on the weight loss!

  2. Too funny. :D I have to say, though, of the 5 different kitted BOMs I've been doing, only once has there been a problem, and the sponsor was quick to correct it for me. No nightmares to report here! They must think like you and triple check everything. :)

  3. I have a friend that would sign up for BOMs then not go in for her blocks. I would often "remind" her of her obligation and told her if she didn't finish what she signed up for I was going to recommend that she get banned LOL. I know there is a lot of work involved in kitting up as I ended up helping one day when I was in my favorite LQS...not something I would like to do full time :0). My biggest complaint about a BOM (if I actually did one) would be not enough fabric for errors in cutting. I would pay more just so I would have leftovers too :0)


  4. I've never done a BOM, but I love that disclaimer! Thanks for all the 'behind the scenes' of BOM....I had no idea how much went into them! And now that I know there is a commitment!....I'm very sure I'm not going to be signing up for one! It would just be another ufo! lol

  5. I like the BOM's that give all block fabric at ones and then every month the applique. Then I make all backgrounds!
    None of the BOM's I make become the same as the patern. I always make changes!!! BOM's inspire my to do something with it!
    Kind regards,

  6. I love this comment!!!! "This is an opportunity for creativity...not everything you need is in this kit. You are not securing a are buying a nightmare. Have a nice day!"

  7. I'm a high school teacher and we put a similar disclaimer on our review sheets. We say they are a guide for the test, not a guarantee that everything covered on the review will be on the test, or everything on the test will be on the review. Why do we always feel like we have to put a disclaimer on everything we do these days? I find I have to tell myself even to lighten up sometimes and laugh more. Life is too short to get angry all the time. Laughter really is the best medicine :) I've never tried a block of the month because my attention span just isn't that long!

  8. I think EVERYONE should love quilting too :0) The disclaimer is very funny!!

  9. I'm a failed block of the monther I'm afraid. I commit to the whole lot but I never finish in a timely manner. I'll get there in the end.

  10. We've all had our good experiences and bad experiences with BOMs. It's a bit of a crap shoot really. Like everyone else I could tell you stories.

    Lots of BOM patterns are offered as a set, way after the fact. I often see them at quilt show vendors. I don't ever buy them as they are so expensive. If I can buy a really nice quilt pattern for $10.00, or a book with lots of patterns for $25, why would I buy a pattern for $60 or more? Especially when the fabrics are no longer available? I totally agree that it takes lots of time and expense to kit up BOMs but when it is all over and it's reduced to the status of "just a pattern" I really wish the price reflected that.

  11. Very interesting feedback; being both a customer and also working on the other side of the counter, I can relate to all these comments/thoughts!! Great disclaimer!

  12. Great post. I am going to forward this to my boss an owner of a quilt store. A good look at both sides of the story.


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