Thursday, November 21, 2013

All in the Family: Sisters' Common Thread

With the holidays approaching many people are preparing to spend time with family, whether for a meal or a few days. It's often the best part of the holidays (though you can argue that the food is a close second!). 

We started thinking about families we know who sew together and wanted to focus on some talented dynamic duos who create patterns using our fabric—related by blood and sewing together by choice. We'll be sharing their stories over the next week. 

First up: Yvonne Cabell and Angie Mueller of Sisters' Common Thread
Yvonne and Angie

Tell us about how/when you learned to quilt.
Angie: I never was a seamstress other than making an apron in Home Ec Class. Mom sewed almost all of our clothes when we were young. I didn’t have to sew. When we were older I’d drive by Yvonne’s home on the way to work and drop off a pattern and some fabric  – and on the way home I’d stop back for a fitting.  So there was no need for me to learn! A friend who ran the church quilt group asked if I would join them for a ''mystery project'' and mentioned we'd go out to eat afterwards. She grabbed my attention with the going out to eat part, and I got hooked on the quilting too.

Yvonne: Heck, I was probably 5 when mom let me sit in her lap and sew up a doll dress with no pattern. Sewing and designing just came naturally to me.  Back in the 70’s, when my kids were little, my term for quilting was “recycling.”  Quilting was not an art then and it certainly wasn’t an industry like it is now.

Why did you start quilting together?
Angie: After my first project I made a king-size rail fence quilt as a gift but couldn’t quilt it. Soon after that Yvonne and I were shopping together and I remember we were sitting in the parking lot of a mall talking about what we had always wanted to do in life – I wanted to own a Laundromat and a mini-storage. Surprisingly she said a mini-storage was on her list too. We talked about the quilts she was making and the one that I could not get under my machine to quilt and started talking about long-arm machines – well, to cut the story short, within a month we were driving to Iowa to pick up our new Millennium by APQS. We long-armed together for a few years.

In 2004 we ran into a mitten that just simply was not put together well – the thumb just wasn’t good and we thought “we can do better than that” so we created the Toastie Mitten pattern. We sold that single pattern and taught classes until 2010, when Yvonne came up with the Caddy Pad idea. 
Caddy Pad

Eight patterns and two Quilt Markets later, our company started to take off.
Yvonne and Angie in their booth at Market

How do you divide up the work?
Angie: It didn’t take me very long to realize that I was not a pattern designer and designing was always in Yvonne’s blood. Yvonne is absolutely brilliant.  Company duties just naturally divided themselves, we didn’t even need to talk about it. I started the number crunching end of the business and Yvonne had time to design. 

Yvonne: Angie’s a natural on the phones and interfacing with customers and distributors. She keeps track of the sales, website, invoicing, shipping etc. I, on the other hand, stammer when the phone rings and say really inappropriate things that Angie has to apologize for later so I only pick up a phone in an emergency.   

We have a lovely studio in Angie’s home, and Yvonne drives over once a week. We spend our time working/playing/planning and Yvonne spends the night and goes home the next afternoon – these are the two best – absolute best – days of the week for us both. We kick the patterns back and forth via email, me writing and Angie formatting and making pretty. Decisions just seem to fall into place; we did enough fighting as kids that it’s pretty much out of our systems by now.

Any good stories about getting your business started?
Angie: Funny thing happened to us on the way to market: Kansas City, 2012, first market, HUGE deal. We had this adorable little 8’ trailer, with a picture of Mona Lisa on the side, holding a Caddy Pad. 
Mona Lisa needs a Caddy Pad!

Our trailer was pulled by a little blue Jeep Liberty, filled to the brim with precious market booth cargo – fixtures, inventory, brochures, models, booth drapes,  everything. Oh my goodness were we ever excited and so very, very important!! We were just flying on cloud 9!! We stopped at a rest stop along I35 – typical pit stop – and as we came out of the building and proceeded across the parking lot to the parking area this was what we saw.

That’s us on the right if you didn’t guess.  Wow, what a reality check.  We were so humbled.  After standing in the middle of the lot laughing hysterically at the sight of us we realized we’re just a small fish in a very big pond, and ever so glad to be part of the greatest industry in the world with the greatest people.   

How did you get involved with Benartex?
Angie: We were walking around Quilt Market in Portland and were absolutely DRAWN to the Benartex booth. We sat down and ordered the entire Moon Shadows line by Michele D'Amore. We absolutely LOVED it, could not take our eyes off it. Our intent is to make an entire line of bags using Moonshadows.

Can we see some of your patterns made with Moon Shadows?
The 990: We saw a designer bag that we absolutely loved, but it was selling for $990 (outrageous!) and the fabric really wasn't very attractive.  Yvonne took inspiration from that and created The 990 pattern.
The 990

The Quick Change (garment bag) and New York Style (huge tote that the Quick Change can slip into) are two upcoming patterns--watch for their release soon! The New York Style and Quick Change Garment bag are items that can get you through a little weekend trip in great style, just big enough to hold a couple changes of clothes and other necessities.

New York Style
Quick Change

The name says it all for this purse or makeup bag; it'll hold what you need!
My Essentials

Running a business probably isn’t supposed to be this much fun – we are INCREDIBLY BLESSED – and having the time of our lives.

p.s. We did, by the way, buy that mini-storage together, but that’s another story for another day!!!

Find more about Angie and Yvonne and their patterns here.
See the entire Moon Shadows collection here.
Love It? Share It! Facebook Twitter Google Pinterest Email


  1. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview--went to the website and signed up for their newsletter.

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Actually self storage is not as sexy as most people think. It is all about location. If the location is far from major highway, you will have hard time finding any customer