Today I’d like to introduce you to Robin and her design company, Nestlings by Robin. She has a great story on how her business got started. She’s full of passion and creativity and will truly give you inspiration for the end of the summer! Her traditional style mixes beautifully with whimsical touches for a look that is all her own. That’s enough from me, let’s hear it from her.
How did you get started with sewing?
Robin got her start, like many in HomeEc class. In addition, her mother encouraged learning crafts like beading and cross stitch, which Robin really enjoyed. Robin remembers, “In high school, I really didn’t enjoy sewing so the deal was I would cut the patterns out and mom would sew the clothes. Then, as a new mom I attempted clothing again for my little girls but still did not enjoy it. Quilting didn’t come into my life until I was 30. I sometimes wonder if the enjoyment of sewing a quilt vs. clothing is all in the creative aspect that I didn’t feel with clothes.”
When I asked Robin who taught her to hand sew, she told me that she learned machine piecing and applique from another military spouse when her and her husband were stationed overseas. She recalls, “It wasn’t until I had moved and found Simply Quilts that I then taught myself the hand work components which really brought me back to the feel of cross stitching that I loved.”
How did you get started with Nestlings by Robin?
“I had considered starting other craft businesses before Nestlings (stationery and children’s murals) but with our military life it never felt right. There is so much word of mouth to build a business like that and the internet was not viable then. I honestly never thought about quilting as a career but a guild presenter encouraged me to submit a design to a magazine. After a failed attempt at being published in 2002 (the magazine was changing its format so bad timing), I moved again. In my new area the local quilt shop owner encouraged me to start teaching.”
For Robin, quilting was the first craft business the she felt that she could move with. “I was so overcome with passion for the art that it made sense and so NESTLINGS by Robin became official in 2004.”
Where did that adorable business name come from?
“Thank you, glad you like it!” Robin exclaimed. “In hindsight I might not have chosen this name but I do love it. The obvious reason is that it goes well with my name and I had hoped it would help people remember it. More than that, it encompasses my love for my baby girls whom I call “chicks” and the feel of moving every 2-4 years and having to re-nest a home. I love those girls and they have helped shape who I am and therefore my company.”
How did you get started in pattern design?
Robin explained, “I have come at most things in my life backwards or without much fore thought. In high school I had a very strong plan for my life and when that got blown up I kind of started winging things and hoping for the best. It doesn’t always work and then I can build upon the beginning idea. Getting older and wiser and more patient helps immensely with the courage to wing it.”
Design was the same. After the failed magazine attempt, we moved again. When the local shop suggested teaching, I thought, “Why not! How hard could that be??” I loved it and realized that the doodles I had been collecting for years might lead somewhere so I bought the book, Publish Your Patterns! (affiliate link) by Nancy Restuccia and found the quilt designer list on Yahoo. “How hard could it be?” is also the name of my first and most popular trunk show for guilds talking about my quilting journey.
Tell me about your whimsical style.
I love a little whimsy, so I had to ask, I also wanted to know what inspiration and techniques Robin uses to make these designs happen.
Robin told me “A funny thing happens as you go through life and this is why you should, ‘never say never’
I was not all hearts and feminine growing up. I was the tomboy and NJROTC (very military) but as I
have aged and become happier in myself, look what started popping up! The first time I stepped
back and saw a bunch of hearts in my design I almost gasped. It was so not me! Or was it now?
I just revel in designs that are swirly and flowery and I have no explanation for that other than it
makes me very happy!
My favorite flower to design with is a tulip. Then I play with changing the shape and adding leaves
and swirls and other elements until it seems fun. Thankfully applique makes all my ideas possible
whether hand needle turn or fusible.
I like to describe my style as Whimsical Traditional because I appreciate the traditions of this industry
but like to add my own swirly spin on it. Of the few pieced blocks I use, the pinwheel is my favorite so far. It also has a “swirly” quality to it though. All these elements can be found in the 2018 AQ Magazine series quilt, “Robin’s Wreaths”. There is a distinctive traditional look to it but updated a bit.”
Do I have to be an expert in that/those techniques to achieve one of your patterns?
“Not at all! I write most of my patterns for confident beginners. How many beginners tackle a double wedding ring?”
Robins patterns are written for fusible applique since she has found that this seems to be what the majority of quilters like. Robin and I agree when she said, “Applique is completely rewarding once you grasp the concept and it opens up a world of creativity.”
Talk to me about handwork. Why do you like it so much?
“I do realize it isn’t for everyone but for me it is the closest to zen I will ever get!” Robin and I share a similar trait, where it is almost painful to sit still and do nothing. We both need something to do with our hands. In addition to the calming effect it has for Robin, there is an overwhelming sense of
accomplishment to have created something from beginning to end purely with her own creativity and two hands.
In our busy non-stop world those 10-20 minutes a day of quiet reflection can calm your
heart rate and let you lose yourself in whatever thoughts necessary (self-talk to avoid the negative is a must!!). Many a design problem or other situation gets worked through in those quiet moments. Since this is my job though, I get to do this for much more than 10-20 minutes a day. My hand quilting commissions allow every evening to be quilting time and that has helped me grow as a designer in puzzling out how to fill those empty spaces.
What is a heritage architect?
In doing these interviews, I do a lot of prep work and research. I stumbled upon a line in Robin’s web site that used the words “heritage architect” this piqued my curiosity, so I asked her about it:
“This is very exciting!! When you look up the definitions of those 2 words it translates to “building the story of the past.” Most of the quilting commissions I receive are from people who found a grandma’s or other family member’s quilt top/blocks and would like to see it finished. This is where I come in to build/complete that family’s story (Heritage) for future generations. It is my absolute pleasure to learn the story of that person both orally and through their stitch work while I am working on it. Every project is different just as every person and their story is different. We need these stories for the future because we grow as a people by learning from and feeling connected to the past.”
What a neat mission! I’m so glad I asked!
Can you tell me a little about quilt appraisals?
Quilt appraisals assign a monetary value to a quilt for the purposes of insurance coverage against loss, fair market to sell a quilt or donation. Robin knows a thing or two about all of this, so I was excited to learn more! Robin explains, “In my view, quilt appraisals are important for more than just the value that gets assigned to a quilt. Certified appraisers study all aspects of antique, vintage, and modern quilts and techniques as well as tracking the economy at any given time in our history. This means that appraisals, although not an actual documentation, do document aspects of our industry and craft through time.” Robin has been in training with an AQS Certified Appraiser for a year and a half. She attends shows with and assist with in measuring, photographing, and scribing. Her book collection of quilting history has grown beyond her bookshelf space she finds it all truly fascinating.
Robin reflects, “My start in quilting was design and I have now circled back to learn the traditions of this very American craft.”
Robin explained a few important points for anyone who is interested in having a quilt appraised. She also reminded me that having a quilt appraised isn’t just for ‘older’ quilts. It is something every quilter should consider from these aspects:
- How many quilts do you now own and how much have you invested in them?
- If there was a fire or tornado or hurricane, would they be covered by insurance? The answer
here is usually no unless you have a specific rider on your policy to cover them. The company
will probably want proof that they are worth what you say they are. An appraisal by a certified
appraiser is a legal document for the quilter.
- Giving the quilt as a gift? How much more would this mean to the non-quilting recipient when
there is an appraisal included for $1200? I bet the dog won’t be getting it now!!
- Will you be shipping your quilt to a large quilt show? Large shipping carriers will Not reimburse
you the value of that quilt without a certified appraisal. Now your possible $1800 quilt is only
worth the $2-300 of fabric you have in it and only if you saved those receipts.
- Would you like to sell your quilt? An appraisal gives you a good idea of the value going in.
Does this mean that is what it will sell for? Not necessarily but you won’t undercut yourself
If you’d like more information on why you should have your quilts appraised, Robin shared a great video with me. Here is a link from the AQS Certified Appraisal program.
If you want to find more information about Robin and her quilt designs, make sure to pay a visit to her site: www.nestlingsbyrobin.com There you can find all of her designs, lectures, and workshops as well!
Another inspiring way to start off the week! Thanks so much for joining Robin and I. Make sure you pop in next week as we chat with another awesome designer!