The Free Motion Quilting Project: Running Two Quilt Shops with Amy Johnson

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Running Two Quilt Shops with Amy Johnson

Hello My Quilting Friends! I have a very fun interview for you today with Amy Johnson from Amy's Free Motion Quilting Adventures. Amy runs TWO quilt shops - her online quilt store and a brick and mortar sewing machine dealership in Lynchburg, VA.

We have new video versions of the podcast where you get to see what I'm working on through the beginning of the podcast. The interview section will just be a still image of Amy and I, but soon the entire podcast will be video!

Note: I have included affiliate links in this post that helps support this podcast.

Amy is well known for sharing tutorials for quilting with rulers. She's was one of the first quilters to try longarm rulers on her home machine and she's taught two Craftsy classes on this topic as well: Quilting with Rulers on a Home Machine and Creative Quilting with Rulers.

She started by simply blogging her quilting adventures, then taught the Craftsy class and opened an online store to carry the tools, rulers, and feet that support the classes. I send everyone to Amy's website for ruler feet because she will know what foot will fit your machine the best.

Amy was a stay at home mom, but then her husband was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer and this changed their lives completely. Now he works repairing the sewing machines at Sew Simple, the machine dealership they own in Lynchburg, VA. They've just recently moved the shop to a new building that has a separate classroom so Amy has space for teaching and machines.

We worked together last year on the Tunic Challenge. Each week we shared our progress on a tunic from The Tunic Bible in blog posts. Come to think of it, I need to make another tunic for the summer!

We talked a bit about the challenges brick and mortar quilt shops are going through with competition from online stores. Many store owners feel like people are "show rooming" the shop and looking and checking things out, but then buying online to get a better deal. That trend is driving brick and mortar shops out of business because it is VERY expensive to run a physical quilt shop.

Amy is working so hard to manage her two businesses and we talked a bit about burnout. Working super long days, taking care of three kids, a household, and a storefront is so much to manage. I've struggled with burnout myself and I know there's only so long you can run fast and hard before something breaks.

Moving forward, Amy wants to focus more on her online business, be able to spend more time quilting and be able to step away from cutting fabric in the quilt shop. I keep telling her she needs to write a book, but as you'll see from the intro - that's a lot of work too!

Sponsor for the show:

The sponsor for the show this week is April Wells from Sew Darn Cute Quilting! April is a long arm quilter and she can finish your projects with simple edge to edge quilting or spice it up with full custom work. Her favorite thing to do is mid custom quilting that allows your piecing to shine. Click here to check out April's website and learn more about her long-term quilting services.

April has also been a guest on the show. Click Here to find her podcast episode so you can learn more about her.

Now for news around the house:

It's been a very busy two weeks as I finished the text of the book, gotten edits back from my editor Creative Girlfriends Press, made lots of corrections, and now I'm neck deep in photography.

If you watch the video intro you can see how I am shooting photographs in my backyard by pinning the quilt to the back of my house. I've learned so much about photography in the last two weeks as I shoot the photos for this book.

But along the way I've been struggling with feeling like I don't know what I'm doing or I'm doing it all wrong. I realized I need a new word for the second half of this year and that is trust. I have to trust that I'm doing a good job and it will be good enough for this book.

I'm using the Nikon 3400 camera and cheap tripod from Walmart. Dad screwed polystyrene boards to the back of the house and I've pinned a white sheet on top, then used a level to pin the quilt straight and square to the wall.

I also mentioned some ways that I'm speeding up my writing and working process. I'm writing using dictation with the Dragon Naturally Speaking app and also walking and writing on my makeshift treadmill desk.

What I hope you can see from this intro and sharing these photos is that my setup is not perfect, but I'm still able to get the job done even if I get a few bug bites along the way! I have to trust that it's going to be good enough.

I hope you enjoyed the podcast please go check out Amy Johnson's website and learn more about ruler for quilting and her awesome tutorials.

Also don't forget to check out April Wells's website and contact her for her long arm quilting services.

Let's go quilt,

Leah Day


  1. Check out - they have tons of photography classes.

  2. As a long time photographer (and quilter) you are doing the right thing. Just keep taking those pics - test various settings, assess your pictures, try other settings & keep trying. That's the WONDERFUL thing about digital. The preview & delete button make it easy. Throw away the awful pictures and keep the good ones. As you grow, you'll become aware of lighting & shadows - the best natural lighting is mid morning & mid/late afternoon when the sun is lower in the sky. I love your set up with the quilt on the wall w/ no shadows.
    Photoshop Elements is also helpful in tweaking those keeper pictures...cropping, squaring up, boosting the colors or softening them and just ENHANCING - without over doing it & making it look photoshopped/fake.
    The Nikon D3400 is a great little camera. Good Luck!!


Help us create more quilting tutorials! Check out our quilt shop at