If you have followed this space for any length of time, then you know I enjoy doing interviews with folks I like. Most of those folks are writers or publishers. Some of them, like Christy Thornbrugh, is neither. However, she is linked to the writing world that I am a part of. You see, back in January, my book A Stitch of Madness was published by Stitched Smile Publications. A couple of weeks later I received a very unique gift in the mail. It was a patch and it is so totally cool.
After receiving the patch, I wanted to get to know Christy a little better. I found out she is a genuinely nice person who truly enjoys helping people. One evening, we sat, she in her world, me in mine, and we chatted.
AJ: Christy, let’s start with a little bit about you. Tell me who is Christy Thornbrugh?
CT: She is a Wife and a mother. She is family oriented. A horror and zombie lover. I love to read and watch all horror and zombie movies. On Facebook I am admin of Zombie Book of the Month and the Mike Evans Fan Club.
I enjoy helping others when i can.
AJ: You enjoy helping others where you can? How do you help others?
CT: I volunteer at the school once a week for the teachers. I do what I can to help the author community by sharing and talking and buying books. A lot of my daughters’ friends’ moms cannot sew so I am always helping them with things they need fixed. I just volunteer my time when its needed. I baby sit for a friend of mine in the summer so she does not have to pay someone. She is a single mom who needs that money for her family.
AJ: Those are all great things, things that a lot of folks don’t do for others. Sadly, we live in a time where people are only concerned about themselves, so it is refreshing to see someone offer their time and services to others. If you don’t mind, I would like to focus on one of them.
CT: Yes, sir
AJ: You said “I do what I can to help the author community by sharing and talking and buying books.” It’s pretty important for authors to have folks who will do that. Why is it important for you to do it?
CT: I review as well. I did not realize how hard it was for authors to get people to find and buy their work, and then also leave a review. I really thought reviews were not a big deal, until I became friends with a lot of authors and I started to see how important it is for fans and friends to help them by getting the word out and let them know how important it is, as well as to share and review.
AJ: You are absolutely correct–reviews are crucial, and so is telling others about the books, Word of mouth can go a long way. But you do something that I have never seen before. You also incorporate your sewing into promotional items for these authors, correct?
CT: Yes, it is. I started to make embroidery patches as author swag. I made some patches for a friend of mine that he wanted of his grandpa and all his grandkids’ names. Then I got emailed and asked ‘what do you think you can do to make a patch for my book?’ It’s a blast working with everyone on them and working on ideas to create the best patch we can to represent their book. And the fans have loved it.
AJ: Do you get author input on the patches or do you come up with them on your own and run with it?
CT: I like to get author input on them. There have been some that say ‘I trust you. Let me see what you can do.’ They will say zombie something or another and ‘I work my magic.’ If i get a blank and cannot think of anything I will ask them what a major factor is in their book or what the fans love the most. If I had not read it have them tell me a little on it.
AJ: And you have become quite popular with this talent. People want these. Not just the fans but the authors, too. Am I right?
CT: Yes, sir. It seems in the last few months word of mouth has been doing wonders for me. I had a few others say ‘I have heard all about your awesome patches, tell me more.’ I just love it.
AJ: How does it make you feel to hear all this? I know you said you love it, but how does it really make you feel about your work?
CT: Honestly, I get scared and worried with every order that something is not right or it does not look good and that they will hate it. I think it’s an artist thing. But once they get it and say they love it I feel relieved and great. It’s a good feeling that I am making something people love and it makes them happy, so that makes me happy. I have patches now in the UK, Romania and Sweden. I tease my kids and say your mom is worldwide with her patches.
AJ: Worldwide is a great thing. You also just hit on something that I think every author (or artist, for that matter) struggles through: fear that something will not be right and people will not like it. Tell me, for you, what is that like?
CT: It’s a scary feeling, I guess I see imperfections on everything, but everyone else says they are perfect. I think it’s having people judge you and wondering if your work will be accepted
AJ: It is good to see someone who is not a writer understand that aspect. That is what we go through every single time we put something out for someone to read. It is scary. It really is.
Tell me about your favorite patch you made for an author.
CT: That is mean. That’s like asking what your favorite book is that you wrote. Seems like I will make one and it will be my new favorite, and not saying to suck up but i truly loved your patch. I will have to go with the one I made for Mark Tufo, as his was the first author patch that I made.
AJ: Now, you make these for publishers as well, right?
CT: Yes. I already have. I made some for Stitched Smile Publications.
AJ: So, this has become kind of like a side business for you, then?
CT: For some reason I still see it as a working hobby. I do it out of my house. I wanted something to help my family so I can stay home with my kids
AJ: A working hobby is a good thing, as long as you continue to enjoy the hobby.
CT: I do enjoy it a lot.
AJ: Since this is a working hobby, do you take orders?
CT: Yes. I take small or big orders. It does not matter to me. As long as it’s something I can do I will. There is a T-shirt shop in our town and I do embroidery for them. Also here in town, friends or people who hear about me will bring things for me to embroidery for them. I have a Facebook page and a Etsy shop.
I get orders from FB friends as well. They want something special on a hat or shirt or their own patch of some kind.
AJ: What is the largest order you have ever had?
CT: The largest order from Facebook was 100 patches. The largest order from a business in town was about 75 hats and 20 shirts
AJ: Wow. With orders that large, it probably takes a while to do. How long does it take you to do one patch and does it go faster after you’ve done a certain patch a few times?
CT: With it just being me both those took 4 or 5 days each. I am lucky to have understanding customers with things like that. Depending on the size and detail in a patch it can take about 30 mins or so to do one. But if the order is more than one I use a larger hoop and my machine can do more than one. Most of the time I can fit 6 patches in one hoop so that takes out the set up time for it.
I set up stabilizer, get the patch material in in the hoop, then stitch it out. Then I add the iron on backing to it and trim and seal (burn) the edges of each patch so they don’t fray or fall apart.
AJ: That is a lot to do (or it seems like a lot).
CT: It does seem like a lot. it’s steps that need to be done. Just like with your writing. You need your editor and betas and I am sure other steps but it just takes time to make each one great.
AJ: How long have you been doing this and what got you into it?
CT: I have been making patches for authors for a couple of years, but I have been embroidering for twelve. I started sewing when I had my first daughter, who is thirteen now. I started making her clothes and things and I wanted to add more detail so got a small cheap machine. And grew from there
AJ: And you have been doing it ever since.
CT: Yes, I have. I’ve been teaching my girls to sew now.
AJ: And do they enjoy it as much as their mom?
CT: No not really. LOL. But they like the fact that they can make something their selves with help. It was funny, though, when my teen had a home economics class, they did a sewing project this year. Everyone asked her questions and how to do things when the teacher was busy, since she knew how to sew already
AJ: Nice. Christy, we’re going to wrap up here soon, but would you mind telling me how and where we can order your work?
My Etsy page.
AJ: Outstanding, Christy. Before we go, is there anything else you would like to tell everyone about your working hobby?
CT: I would just like everyone to know that I do my best to make what they want. Each item is made by me. I do my best to keep prices affordable. And that they should feel good when ordering for me as it’s not going to a huge company that needs to pay for their three houses. It helps pay for my kid’s lunches, school supplies, clothes they need and things for them.
AJ: Very nice. A small business with small business needs.
CT: Very true
AJ: Thank you, Christy, for your time. I’m going to let you get back to doing what you love to do.
CT: You are welcome. Thank you for your time and allowing me to share my embroidery.
Y’all, give Christy a shout out, a hello, an order or ten. She’s a classy lady with a big heart.
As always, until we meet again my friends, be kind to one another.