Julie Herman: Quilter, Blogger, and so much more.

What got you interested in quilting in the first place?
Simply Quilts on HGTV… back in the day. My first blog post goes into how I started quilting. 
http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/2009/05/beginning.html 

What was the first project you ever completed?
I don’t know what the first “project” I ever completed is!  It was probably a pillow or something… but the first quilt that I ever completed was for my brother.  He is a Cooper Mini fan and when I couldn’t find fabric that was just right, I decided to make my own!  I drew the logo by hand with black ink on acetate and then exposed a silkscreen.  Then I took solid fabric and screen printed the mini design on it.  He loves the quilt and it hangs on a large wall in his house! Here's a blog post about it:  http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/2009/07/my-first-quilt.html

How important are social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc) to your line of work, and how do you personally use them?

They are essential!  We now live in a culture of constant contact and are often faced with too many options of media to consume.  As a result we need a way to filter information so that we can have the best content possible in the fastest and clearest way possible.  Social Media allows me to promote blog posts of mine and others that I think have value. Then my friends and audience can consume the content when they have time.

Often I’m asked why I use multiple forms of social media… and if it is really necessary.  First I think it is necessary... and I’ll tell you why.  Each form of social media provides a different audience.  Many of my “facebook fans” are not on twitter…. and vice versa.  The same can also be said with Flickr.  Most people end up having a number one form of media that they check most often. I’ll use my family as the perfect example.
 

-My Mom sees my updates first when I post them on Facebook.
-My Brother sees them in his RSS feed on his iPhone
-My Sister in law usually sees my photos on Flickr before anything else.

-My Dad… who doesn’t have a Facebook, Twitter, Flickr... or any such account… stays up to date with what I’m doing through Google Buzz.

Each one of them has a preferred way of consuming content.  As a result I want to provide people with as many easy ways as possible to know that I have new content that they should go & check out.

Do you have any new projects in the works?
Of course!  I always have new projects in various stages.  Some are sketches… some are on my design wall... and some are almost done!  Right now I’m in the process of re-organizing my studio because I work best when I’m in a clean space & can find all my tools!

How are you able to relay so many giveaways on your blog?
Lots of searching!  I was noticing a trend where many blogs would have giveaways… but not many entries because their traffic was low. In an effort to spread the word about less known blogs and great giveaways I started my Tuesday giveaway posts. My goal is that blogs can retain readers after the giveaways.
Now that the giveaway lists have grown… many people contact me directly to post about their giveaway.  The list I’ll be posting today already has 30 listed in it!!

What would you say has been your most successful project, and why do you think that is?
I’d have to say that my Circle Around quilt has been the one project that has been made the most by other quilters.  I think that the high contrast in the design… and the simplicity of putting it together has made it very appealing to others!
I did a post almost a month ago where I featured Circle Around quilts that others have made. The post shows more than 10 color options and the versatility of the pattern. 
http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/2010/07/circles-everywhere.html

In addition I have a “Group” on Flickr where people can add their photos of projects they have made from my tutorials and patterns.  It’s very fun for me to see my patterns in fabric combinations I wouldn’t have dreamed of.  http://www.flickr.com/groups/jaybirdquilts/  Here's the original blog post about this pattern being on the cover of quilts & more: http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/2010/04/cover-really.html 

What was the Quilt Festival in Long Beach like?
The Festival was full of energy and inspiration.  I did demos for my good friend Natalie {
http://beyondthereefpatterns.blogspot.com/} in her booth.  Many people have that “aha” look on their face once you show them how simple a project really is… and I love that moment!  Another favorite of mine is walking around and seeing all of the beautiful displays.  It takes a lot of work, but shops transform a small space into a beautiful store that you just want to spend time in

What techniques do you think are the hardest to learn as a young quilter?

Personally one of the hardest things for me to learn was patience.  My generation is used to things being instant and that is not the case with quilting! Taking your time to cut pieces accurately and knowing when to use a seam ripper is important! Patience and practice really do result in better work!

I think for any quilter learning the basics is the most important part. Unfortunately many quilters… of all ages are taught that there is only one way to do something… and that is not the case!  I’m all for learning as many ways to do something as possible and then picking the method that works best for you.

I learn new things all the time.  At the Long Beach show I was working on some hand appliqué and Jane {
http://quiltwithjane.blogspot.com/} pointed out to me that there was another way I could be doing it and that it would hide my stitches better. Switching directions felt funny to me but she was right!

Who helped you become a great quilter? Influences?
Lots of people actually have helped me to grow along the way.  Initially it was the people who I worked with at a local quilt shop. One person in particular from that shop believed in me from day 1 and constantly pushes me to try new things. {Thank you Allison!} Now it is my online community of quilters and the ones in my guild!

Influences?... does math count as an influence?  After art class math was always my favorite. One high school math teacher in particular, Ms. Fricker, was incredibly supportive and nurturing of my creative side. The geometry involved in quilting is fascinating to me. I love the technical challenge of figuring out the best way to assemble a block.

Also I can’t forget to mention the teachers and fellow designers at Drexel University. My four years of formal education in design has become an invaluable resource in my day to day quilt design.

Where do you draw your inspiration for new projects?

Everywhere! I keep a camera and a small sketch book with me at all times. My work is mostly bold and constructed from simple shapes with hard lines… often inspired by buildings and sometimes a parking garage!

What challenges have you encountered using Social Media? How have you adapted to those challenges?
Each “form” is its own network and has pros and cons. Learning how to manage each one best is an ongoing process for me.  In my case my blog is my number one. I don’t spend a huge amount of time on facebook, twitter, flickr etc.  Instead I focus my energy on the content in my blog and use social media to help me share that content.

Here are some google analytics statistics from the last month. These six methods are in the top ten for “Traffic Sources” for my blog and they account for more than 50% of my traffic.   

Direct                   14.00%
Feedburner        12.20%
Google                 8.58%

Flickr.com            4.44%
Facebook.com
   3.53%
Twitter.com          2.51%

While social media doesn’t account for huge numbers in my traffic, it is still a very significant portion in the overall picture.

Is there one RK line that you absolutely can't live without?
Kona Crush! I adore the texture and have been putting it into every project I can since I discovered it!