Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Designer Spotlight - Janet Nesbitt and One Sister Designs

Janet Rae Nesbitt is the creative force behind One Sister Designs.

Janet Rae Nesbitt of One Sister Designs
We caught up with Janet in a crazy afternoon as she was preparing for quilt market, and putting finishing touches on her latest book.  We got a little glimpse into where she’s from and what’s going on with her now.

Janet on the farm as a little girl
Janet grew up in Western Washington, in the tiny town of Reardan, the daughter of a dry land wheat farmer. One of four girls, she grew up helping out on the farm with harvest and haying, whatever needed doing! 

She says she was an “oops” baby, born years after the other girls, so she spent a lot of her younger days tagging along with her father, doing chores, feeding cows, etc.  She says, “Even as a little girl, I’d go out with my dad to milk the cow, and my “job” was to hold her tail to keep her from swishing Dad in the face as he milked! So I learned from a very young age the value and benefits of hard work. Dad also taught important lessons about integrity, honesty, and perseverance, while my mom taught me kindness and to have a joyful and willing heart.”

Some of Janet's One Sister Design Quilts
Janet always enjoyed sewing and crafting and got some mentoring by participating in her local 4-H club. While in 4-H she made her first quilt using a McCall’s pattern with a 4-point star.  She even entered the quilt in the local county fair! “Even way back then I liked star patterns!” she said.

As a young mother, Janet took a hand appliqué class from Sue Linker who was teaching her Sun Bonnet Sue Throughout the Year (Martingale/That Patchwork Place) and that was probably the first time the designing bug hit. Janet started changing Sue’s patterns, with her permission, to Overall Bill, and began drafting blocks of her own. Janet and Sue met once a month for 6 months and Janet got her foot strongly planted in the quilt design world.  Janet even designed a quilt with Overall Bill holding the cow’s tail during milking time! 

In 1993, Janet, her husband and their two small boys moved back home to Reardan. Her husband had a great opportunity in nearby Spokane for work, and since Janet’s dad had recently passed, her mother needed more family around.   The downside of this move is that Janet was now out of work. It did however, afford her the opportunity to volunteer at school and church, and to continue quilting and trying a more serious go at designing quilts. Janet says, “I didn’t think of it as “designing”, I was just sketching something and appliquéing it down to make a quilt! And yes, I do still have the patterns!”

The beginning of the Buggy Barn

The Buggy Barn on the Nesbitt's property.
Then in 1996, her youngest son was heading off to kindergarten and Janet’s sister Pam’s youngest was headed to college, so the two decided to open a quilt store in the Janet and her husband’s barn! The realtor had called the barn a ‘carriage house, but an elderly woman in the area told them that it was always called the ‘buggy barn.’  And that became the name of the quilt store. 

Since the Buggy Barn was about 25 miles from the nearest city, Janet and her sister were looking for a marketing angle that gave a reason for customers to make the drive out to shop. One day, a very dear customer came in and was explaining a method she’d seen for making scrappy pockets for a vest. Janet drafted a pattern a transferred the concept to a pieced quilt, and Buggy Barn Crazies was born! This is a technique of stacking fat quarters, cutting on the lines, shuffling the fabric so there are no two fabric pieces alike in the same block, and then stitching it all back together again. It is a nice systematic process and only requires squaring it up once you’re done! What everyone seems to like about the technique of crazy quilting is that the cutting is fast and easy and then you’re done and sewing.

Initially, Buggy Barn Crazies was the marketing angle that would get customers to the remote location to take a class at the shop, but people had conflicts and began asking to just buy the pattern.  So this is how Janet, the pattern designer, began. Since that first pattern, she has designed and produced over two dozen patterns, and has her designs as the basis of 30 books!

The continued success of One Sister Designs

Now her brand is One Sister Designs and she is publishing her fifth book under her new name. Her latest book came out in August (2016) and was published by Martingale. (Yes, she will be a quilt market in the Henry Glass booth signing her new book and giving several copies away).

So from pattern designer, the next step was fabric designer. That’s when Henry Glass comes into the picture. About 2003, Henry Glass & Co. approached Janet and her sister about designing fabric under the Buggy Barn name. Since those early days, Janet has continued to design fabric under the One Sister Designs name.
Showing off the colors Janet loves most, at a recent quilt market

“For me fabric design is all about the color! Then I have to have a variety of scales in the patterns in each line. I really like word prints, stripes, and dots, I love stars and I have to have plaids! I can’t sew with just a few fabrics! I’m a scrap-piecer at heart, and I love to hand appliqué,” she says, “but I’m probably best known for the crazy technique of piecing. It is so much fun! Once someone tries it, they usually get hooked.”

With her two grown boys, Ross and Zack, and husband, Tom.
Janet’s inspired by the things around her; houses, barns, country roads, gardens and color! She loves to garden, bike, kayak and paddle board with her husband and the two grown boys. And, of course, quilt! She also still has her hand in teaching both the crazy piecing technique and needle turn applique.

Here is Janet’s book list in order of publication: Down This Country Road, Completely Crazy, Crazy Favorites, Crazy at the Cabin, published by Martingale and the newest book, to be released at Quilt Market; Back Porch Quilts.

Janet's books under the One Sister brand (not shown; Back Porch Quilts)

This latest book will be released at Quilt Market

 The feature quilt from her newest book; Back Porch Quilts. 

Actually hung on the back porch! 

Close up of the quilt


allthingzsewn said...

She is one talented and blessed young lady, being a farmgirl myself I can identify with her. The quilt shown here is a beauty. Would love to get this book.

Anonymous said...

Sure miss the Buggy Barn quilt store! I love your patterns/books. Look forward to your new book "Back Porch Quilts". I too took Sue Linker's class back in the day. Had to travel to Seattle to take her class. Wishing you all the best!

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Unknown said...

I live in Ontario Canada in a county with the nickname "Lake Country" and we are next to "Cottage Country". As you can imagine it is full of lakes and cottages and tourists especially in those warm summer months. I must have the better at the lake fat quarter with some extra yardage of course. This will be my paycheck purchase this coming Friday to myself. I have been drooling over it for almost 3 weeks now and can not wait to hit the purchase button. Janet has a very beautiful style that I can easily relate to, admire and learn from. This has been the best " Designer Spotlight" for me by far!!!! Great work Janet and please, please keep it up!!!!