abbey's house, New & Featured Summer Market Artisan, Puts a Whole New Look on Baby Quilts
Abbey Pattison, the creative force behind abbey's house, shares her story of entrepreneurship, quilt making and designing her own fabrics. It all began by taking a class and finding her bliss.
FF: How did you begin your handmade journey?
ah: I have always had a love of creating and working with my hands, but this business basically started by accident. In the fall of 2010 my mom asked me if I wanted to take a beginners quilting class. I hadn’t touched a sewing machine since middle school home economics class but it sounded like fun. I was in grad school and in the middle of an internship but I thought it would be nice to do something creative and relaxing. I remember going to the fabric store and having no idea what type of fabric I needed but I immediately fell in love with all the prints and colors and the process of pairing fabrics together. After that class, I was hooked. Eventually I ran out of closet space and friends to give quilts to so the business was born.
FF: What lead you to your current line of goods?
ah: I think a lot of different factors play into this. A lot is trial and error. I’ve definitely made things that I thought would be great sellers that were a total flop, and vice versa. Time is also a factor. I have plenty of ideas of things I would like to make and people are always giving me suggestions, but there are only so many hours in a day. I am a wife and a mom and also a director at a preschool, so my hours to devote to my business are finite and I have to be smart about what I make.
One consistent rule I also follow is that I have to like what I’m making, in terms of the creative process. I remember the first craft show I ever did and I made a lot of bags and purses. I had just gotten back from my honeymoon and I was frantically trying to get all of these bags made and I just didn’t like it. It was fun to pick out the fabric and a pattern of a bag I really liked, but the actual making felt a lot more like work and it just wasn’t a good fit. All businesses have their stressful times, but overall this endeavor has been fun and I enjoy it, so it’s really important that it stays that way.
The less behind-the-scenes answer to this question is that I was just naturally drawn to baby items. I love babies and kids and it’s just a fun market to work in. I have very modern taste and I enjoy putting a modern spin on a traditional market. It’s also incredibly rewarding to know that something I made will be a gift for a new baby, or a focal point of a nursery, or that a mom to be chose something of mine out of all of the available items on the market. It’s humbling.
FF: What materials do you work with & why?
ah: Obviously all of my work is with fabric. Before I got into sewing I did a lot of scrapbooking. I loved picking out paper and looking at all of the patterns and colors. I was definitely the person that would buy paper and then have a really hard time cutting into it, so my stash would just grow and grow. Let’s be honest, I’m still that person, just with fabric. As life went on I had less and less time to scrapbook and when sewing came along I was so excited to be able to have something that took me through that same basic creative process.
I spend a ton of time choosing the prints I work with, mostly because I’m really picky. I try to choose things that I think will sell well but I mostly just choose things that I like. I have to make a conscious effort to remember how different everyone’s taste is so I do sometimes choose fabrics that I don’t love if I think someone else really will. I try to find a balance between brand consistency and having something for everyone.
Things have really taken a turn recently with custom fabrics. I am from Minnesota and we are all about state pride and Minnesota-shaped everything. A few years ago I told my husband it would be so fun if we could do MN-themed fabric. He is a graphic designer so he was also really excited about this idea and wanted to help. We talked about some ideas and what we wanted it to be like and then he actually surprised me and had the designs all ready to go as a Christmas gift. We were able to find a printer and it’s been a whirlwind ever since.
This year we are starting to do a lot more custom prints, including Colorado fabric. It’s really fun to start doing my own designs and I definitely plan to pursue that more as the business grows.
FF: What inspires your work?
ah: I’m really inspired by the community I live in. As I said, Minnesotans have so much state pride and we celebrate the things that are good about this state. I love that I can capture that spirit in my fabrics. I lived in Colorado for a summer while I was in grad school and it was an amazing experience. It came at a time in my life when I really needed it and I immediately fell in love. When we decided to branch out into fabric for other states Colorado was at the top of my list. There is a special place in my heart for Colorado and it was so fun to relive all of my memories while designing the fabric.
I’m also really inspired by other makers. I’m starting to get to know other people in my local maker community and they are all amazing! Everyone is so different and has different reasons why they do what they do and it pushes me to be better.
FF: What excites you for the future?
ah: The future is so unknown right now and that is exciting in itself! It’s a big deal for me to say that because I am an ultra-planner and I’m usually not comfortable with the unknown. As I mentioned, I’m also a director at a preschool. I’ve worked there for many years and I love it with my whole being. It is meaningful work and I love the children and families, but the time has come to make some hard choices.
I had a moment about a year ago when I realized I needed to decide what my goals were for this business. I was getting to the point where I couldn’t grow anymore unless my goal was for it to become my full time job. It was incredibly hard to decide but after many conversations my husband and I decided that the freedom I would have working for myself and the availability I would have for our family was the right choice for us right now. So this is my year to go big or go home. I’m pushing my business harder than I ever have and it’s chaos, but in a good way! It’s still not for sure that I would leave my other job, and I have no idea what I will do if at the end of the year it’s not feasible, but I’ll cross that bridge if I come to it. Right now I am just excited about the potential and the uncertainty.
FF: Any advice for makers and biz entrepreneurs new to our creative community?
ah: I think one soapbox I tend to find myself on is that of community over competition. I see several people in different entrepreneur groups I’m in get upset when someone asks them about their process or how they do what they do. I get it. I really do. I worked really hard to get where I am today and I didn’t have a lot of help. I know the feeling of being protective of your work. I just think there’s room for everyone at the table. I was incredibly grateful to the people who did help me and I want to be that person for someone else. So my advice would be to be gracious and work hard to build community with other makers. The more you create a relationship of support over competition the more successful you will all be.
FF: Let us know if/where you sell your work other than online and at markets.
ah: I sell in a handful of stores in Minnesota and I’m hoping to meet with some stores in Colorado while I’m there. If you have recommendations for awesome baby stores that I should reach out to let me know!
FF: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
ah: I am so thrilled to be joining Firefly Handmade for the summer market and I can’t wait to get back out to Colorado! My heart needs mountains! I’m looking forward to connecting with other amazing vendors and getting to know some awesome customers. See you in July!
Visit and shop with Abbey Pattison of abbey's house at Firefly Handmade Summer Market, July 15-16, 10am-4pm, Twenty Ninth Street shopping district, 29th Street (between Canyon & Walnut) Boulder, CO!