Today we would like to introduce you a personality from BERNINA: Andrea Goddard. Andie works for our product management department and was jointly responsible for the BERNINA Kaffe Edition machines.
How did the cooperation with Kaffe start? How was the collaboration with the famous artist? How does the development of a special edition work at BERNINA? No one could answer such questions better than Andie. She was responsible for many parts of this project. She is also an enthusiastic quilter and a fan of Kaffe Fassett.
In this interview, she shares with you some behind-the-scenes insights at BERNINA. It was even exciting for us at BERNINA to read. Thank you, Andie!
Interview with Andie Goddard
We’ve known each other for a while now. For our readers: Who are you?
I work as a Product Manager at BERNINA International and live in Steckborn, Switzerland. My hobbies include sewing (of course!), knitting, traveling and listening to podcasts while taking long walks.
You first worked for our US subsidiary BERNINA of America, then moved to our Headquarters in Steckborn. What did you do at BoA, what brought you to Switzerland, what is your role at BERNINA International? Do you like it here?
I worked in the Education and Training department at BERNINA of America. I worked to manage the different programs the department puts together in support of the dealer network and consumers. I first came to Switzerland to do some testing on a top-secret project. It was supposed to be temporary, but now I have been here almost five years. I work in the Product Management department at BERNINA International. I can help shape the future BERNINA products based on my experience in the industry. It truly is a dream job and Switzerland is a beautiful place to live. I love it!
How did you get into sewing and how did you develop as a sewist and quilter?
As a child I was always interested in crafting. At some point, I decided I wanted to sew. My mom taught me the basics, but I really became much more interested as a teenager and taught myself above and beyond that. More modern quilting fabrics and techniques were becoming popular in the USA and those fabrics inspired me to really embrace patchwork and quilting. I read a lot of blog posts about tips and techniques, and once I started working at a quilt shop, I was able to learn from those around me every day. I never believe that I cannot make something. I just give it a go – sometimes it works, sometimes not, but I always learn along the way. The best way to develop as a sewist and quilter is to just keep sewing and to always try new things!
You’re one of the driving forces behind the BERNINA Kaffe Edition machines. Tell me, how did the cooperation with Kaffe Fassett come about?
I work a lot with the BERNINA Special Editions and needed to brainstorm some new ideas for the next project. A Kaffe model was proposed by a dealer in New Zealand some years back and Kaffe and Brandon had even inquired about working together with BERNINA in the past. Once I knew that, it was a ‘no brainer’ that this would make a great collaboration. I contacted Kaffe and the rest just came together.
As an enthusiastic quilter, you must have known Kaffe before. What was it like for you to work with such a sewlebrity?
Kaffe has always been one of my favorite fabric designers. I love using bright colors and bold patterns. I almost never make a quilt exactly like the pattern, however with Kaffe I was drawn to mimic the quilts in his books because the colors played together so well.
At the beginning, I was a bit intimidated to approach such a ‘sewlebrity’. In the first meetings (they were all virtual during Covid times) I had on my ‘super professional’ face because I wanted to ensure this collaboration would happen and I was quite nervous. Once Kaffe, Brandon and I really started working on the project we had a lot of fun discussing all the possibilities. Brainstorming ideas together for stitches, embroidery designs and the look of the machines became my favorite part of the work week.
What was the design process like? Was it clear from the beginning what the machines would look like?
The design process was a bit unique for us because Kaffe doesn’t create his artwork digitally. He really is hands-on creating in a tactile way. I emailed the Kaffe team the outline images of the machines we were making, they printed them out at full size and Kaffe cut and pasted bits and pieces from his Paperweight and Guinea Flower designs on the mockup.
From there we had our graphic designer who is familiar with the production restrictions re-create the art to fit the machines. She re-drew all of the art to create the artwork in a digital application – piece by piece!
The most difficult part of the process was the color selection. At the beginning we had an entirely different color scheme complete with spray painted BERNINA 475 QE models to visualize the machine. Something just wasn’t right – and I think we all knew it. After a few additional discussions Kaffe and Brandon had the idea to create the Aqua and Lavender machines that we have today. I love the colors that are on the final product and I am so happy we reconsidered the design, even if it was stressful at the time. The pastels work so well with the BERNINA machines, they are colorful but not in an over-powering way.
Can you describe the final design of the two machines?
The BERNINA 475 QE Kaffe Edition is inspired by the Paperweight Kaffe pattern. These small delightful motifs are spread throughout the face plate and front panel of the machine in bright colors against a complete aqua colored machine. The design is so fun, yet still looks premium. I love it so much I plan to buy it as my ‘at home’ machine. It is so cute and cheery; from the beginning I have pictured it on the shelf in a store just screaming for attention amongst the other machines. It is my favorite.
In my mind, the BERNINA 770 QE PLUS Kaffe Edition is like the adult grown up version of the B 475 Kaffe Edition. The lavender color is so soft and graceful against the white. The additional features of this machine and the ability to add embroidery really makes it a machine that you can grow into and love for a long, long time.
How does BERNINA actually determine when a design is final – who decides and on what basis? Was everyone happy all of a sudden and said: that’s exactly it? Or is there resistance that has to be overcome?
A design is never final. I have learned working in product management that it is always a give and take between what you really want the product to be, what the product can be in terms of production, costs, etc., and most importantly, when does the product have to be complete. To discuss and weigh all the pros and cons of such decisions we have management meetings three times a year where the progress is monitored, and decisions are made. Sticking to the family business mentality, decisions are made as a group at BERNINA.
There was resistance to overcome, as there always is. With this project it was all about color. The colored B 475 QE Kaffe Edition is a huge step outside of the box for BERNINA. As color is such an emotional topic, we were a bit nervous about the acceptance by the consumers. But we trusted our gut and Kaffe’s suggestions to move forward with the final designs.
Surely, the production is extremely complex. What were the biggest challenges? Are you satisfied with the result?
When Kaffe mentioned he would love to have a machine that was all color, I knew we had to make this happen somehow, but I doubted it would come to fruition. When we suggested it to management, they gave us a chance to try it, but I think they also doubted the outcome.
My boss, Henri, worked very hard with the procurement team here to go above and beyond to make this happen. We had to color over 25 parts in the aqua material amongst different suppliers. We had no idea how the colored material would work with our molds and production restrictions.
When I saw the first mockup I was in love, but nervous it wouldn’t be accepted. It was so different from our other models. After approval from Kaffe we also shared with a few staff members and key BERNINA insiders. Most were either ecstatic about the machine or shocked, both of which I found as very positive reactions.
The team here at BI was amazing and without them this would not have happened. All of us were working on many other projects and this was our bright, colorful, fun project to work on during Covid. I think we all enjoyed working on it and that comes through in the final project.
Part of the machines are exclusive decorative stitches based on drawings by Kaffe. How are such decorative stitches created and how did it work in Kaffe’s case, what was the process?
I wanted to include decorative stitches made by Kaffe because it is something truly unique and I knew he had some great patterns that just needed to be stitches. I explained to him what we wanted, the size they would be, that they need to be continuous, and in a couple of days I had a PDF of Kaffe’s drawings. We have an internal stitch designer who creates all our great decorative stitches. I gave him the sketch from Kaffe, and he made them into stitches exactly as Kaffe had drawn them. We tested them a lot and tweaked them so that they really work as a sewing stitch but left the character that came from the hand drawn stitches. The stitches are then tested in our Sewing Lab to adjust and make the perfect stitch.
The B 770 QE PLUS Kaffe Edition also offers wonderful embroidery motifs, again based on Kaffe’s designs. Can you describe those embroidery designs?
Included on the machine are the Guinea flowers from the face plate, additional flowers from Kaffe’s Bold Blooms pattern, some of the Paperweight motifs, quilting designs and cross stitch patterns based on Kaffe’s Needlepoint.
How were the designs selected? And what steps have to be taken before a finished embroidery design is available on a machine?
This was my favorite part of the project. I worked with Kaffe and a few other colleagues to pull out ideas from his fabrics, needlepoint and knitting patterns. I went through all the Kaffe fabrics (there are a lot!) and tried to imagine how they could be turned into embroidery, and what types of projects they could be used with. Once we had a large selection, we worked with OESD to digitize and make the designs come to life as embroidery.
The flowers were digitized using long embroidered stitches to make them look like hand embroidery. This is my favorite technique and I love how they capture the feel of Kaffe’s art. I have stitched them out on quilt blocks, garments, on wash away as appliqués and on small projects. They are very versatile.
One thing I really wanted to include was quilting designs. Computerized quilting can be so easy on the embroidery machines. I was also working on our new Medium Clamp Embroidery Hoop and knowing the hoop would launch the same time as the machines, I ensured the designs fit well with this hoop. I don’t think Kaffe and Brandon really understood what I was doing with these quilt designs until I stitched them out and they saw them in person.
Kaffe has many needlepoint patterns and I really wanted to be able to bring them to machine embroidery. We had the idea to make them multi-hooped cross stitch designs to keep the original size of the needlepoint designs. On the BERNINA machines with Pinpoint Placement it is so easy to re-align the designs. The Medium Clamp Hoop supports the very dense stitching perfectly, so the designs are made to fit that hoop. If you have a lot of time for stitching (still much less than handwork) you can make these beautiful designs on your own.
Does Kaffe like the embroidery patterns and decorative stitches? Does he have a favorite pattern? Do you have a favorite pattern or decorative stitch?
I think Kaffe was pleasantly surprised by the outcome of the embroidery patterns and stitches. When we went to his house for the marketing filming, he was really amazed to see them stitched out and in final projects. It adds such an additional layer to a sewing project and is something he probably doesn’t see a lot in his patchwork quilts. I am not sure if he has a favorite pattern, but I think he was quite impressed by the outcome of the needlepoint designs.
My favorite decorative stitch is probably the clouds. I love these little cloud stitches and think they would be great on projects for babies and toddlers.
My favorite embroidery pattern is the Cat in the Ruff needlepoint. I love everything that is a bit quirky, and this is quirky and a cat! Couldn’t be better! I also love the quilting designs. Quilt these designs on Kaffe’s soft Shot Cottons and you will have amazing texture and feel.
I think you made a Kaffe quilt, didn’t you? 😊 Could you describe it?
I made two Kaffe quilts during this project. I have made other Kaffe quilts in the past, but let’s not talk about all of those. 😊
I made the ‘Hot Steps’ from the Quilts in Burano book by Kaffe. When this collaboration first began, I was having a discussion with Mrs. Ueltschi, wife of our rock star H.P. Ueltschi, owner and chairman of BERNINA, about Kaffe’s work and what he does. I showed her this book and she said she really loved the quilt on the cover. I had discussed with her before that we should hang some new quilts around the BI offices, so I emailed the Kaffe team and they generously sent me all of the fabrics to complete the quilt. I worked on it while ‘stuck in Steckborn’ during the Covid lockdowns to keep me busy. We presented it to Mrs. Ueltschi when Kaffe was here at the BERNINA Creative Center and it now hangs in the front entrance stairwell.
The other quilt I made incorporates the Kaffe embroidery designs and can be seen in different trade shows with BERNINA USA. The quilt is from the same book, the ‘Dark Garden’ quilt. For half of the small squares, I embroidered the Big Blooms flowers and used the blue paperweight print that was the inspiration for the colors on the B 475 QE Kaffe Edition. I really wanted to use the embroidery designs in a quilt, and this was an easy way to do so.
Both machines come with BERNINA trolleys in Kaffe design and with an embroidered Kaffe logo, and there is also an embroidery module bag for the B 770 QE PLUS Kaffe Edition. The dust covers are also in the Kaffe design. Why all this effort?
In the USA it is very common for sewers and quilters to travel with their machines to their local stores for classes, or guild retreats etc. I wanted to make sure this project included a special trolley design because these bright colorful machines couldn’t just go in the standard black and red bags. I think when you see the trolley with the bright print you know right away it is unique and special just like the machines.
The dust covers were made for the same reason. I didn’t want customers covering such fun machines with the standard cover in their sewing room. I love how the dust covers turned out. I can picture a sewing room equipped with the machine under its dust cover, Kaffe themed project baskets, cupboards of Kaffe fabrics, some cushions made from the needlepoint embroidery designs – it all comes together in my head. Oh! And don’t forget there are now even Kaffe notions from Brewer sewing to complete the package.
Please tell us something about the fabric kit that comes with the B 770 QE PLUS Kaffe Edition. What was the idea behind it, and what criteria were used to put the bundle together?
Of course, if you are buying a Kaffe machine you need some Kaffe fabric to sew with! While I assume a lot of customers buying this machine already have a Kaffe stash, we have a lot of international markets that struggle to find these fabrics. We wanted to give them some fabric in the machine so they can begin creating with Kaffe instantly so we decided on a bundle that was 15 pieces of ½ yard cuts.
Working with Free Spirit Fabrics, the supplier, Kaffe hand selected the fabrics to include in the bundle. The 15 pieces include the face plate Guinea Flower fabric in lavender and the Big Blooms in pastel that coordinates with the embroidered flowers on the machine. Again, it goes back to my vision of the Kaffe/BERNINA sewing room. You can now make a project bag or accessory tote that matches your machine. Or, of course you can make the darling Hat Box Quilt or Wrap Jacket…the possibilities are endless.
The last few years have been marked by Corona and, among other things, by major global logistics problems. Did that influence the process? Were there also moments when you thought: Oh, God, we’ll never get this done in time? Or did everything go smoothly?
Corona highly influenced this process for me personally. This project really gave me something fun and positive to work on during a time that was quite dark and odd. I spent a lot of personal time thinking of embroidery design ideas and additional potential.
It did present some issues in production times as the entire global market has been impacted with shortage of supplies, shipping times etc. We dealt with a lot of the suppliers being in lockdowns but somehow it all came together.
Was there a moment when you thought: Yes, now we’ve done it?
I think I knew the project was complete when we filmed with Kaffe and Brandon in their home. It was such a great experience finally being able to travel a bit and to see the machines come to life in Kaffe’s studio.
Seeing the machine launch in Zurich and in the USA was also a great experience. Now the next step is to see photos of customers receiving and using their machines on social media. So, please post so I can see what you do with these great machines! You can use the Hashtag #BERNINAKaffeEdition!
In May, Kaffe was a guest at BERNINA in Zurich and Steckborn. What was on the agenda and how did you experience the events?
This was the first time we launched a product like this to our European markets here in Zurich. It was great to get together again with people and celebrate a product. The marketing team created an amazing experience complete with Kaffe balloons and stage in our flagship store. I loved being able to attend and just feel the excitement in the atmosphere from our European markets and to celebrate the collaboration with my co-workers and Kaffe and Brandon.
You showed him a couple of tourist highlights after the official part. Where have you been? And how did Kaffe like it here in Switzerland?
I met up with Kaffe and Brandon in Zurich and we went to the Kunsthaus Zurich (art museum). Kaffe and Brandon knew almost every painter without looking at the plate on the wall. It was a great experience to see them interact with the art. I think Kaffe enjoyed Switzerland, he plans to come back so it must have been enjoyable.
Kaffe is such an inspiring person and an outstanding speaker. Of the things he has said, which is the most important message to you?
I love how he teaches people to not be afraid of color and how he describes his love of color. He is truly an inspiration and an amazing artist, and I hope with this collaboration we inspire our customers to also be a bit bolder.
Which of his artworks are particularly inspiring to you?
When we were filming at this house, I was so inspired by his artwork spread throughout the house. Seeing his aesthetic throughout the house, in every nook and cranny was amazing. So, I would say his house as a whole is truly inspiring.
For us Swiss and also for our German colleagues, the correct pronunciation of the name Kaffe can be a challenge. Do you know where the name Kaffe comes from?
I heard Kaffe mention in the podcast Sew&So that he selected this name for himself as a child. During the project I was constantly telling everyone here it is Kaffe like ‘safe’ not Kaffee (the German word for coffee). But it was funny seeing the reactions of people who thought we were making a BERNINA Coffee Edition. Maybe not a bad idea…😊
The USA is by far the most important sales market for BERNINA. In the USA, products are usually presented for the first time to retail partners, i.e. BERNINA dealers, at the so-called BERNINA University (BU). What was that like in the case of the Kaffe Edition?
BERNINA University 2022 was in Palm Springs and the launch of the Kaffe Editions was VIBRANT!
I was only there for the opening day, but seeing so many of our dealers and staff dressed in Kaffe fabrics – it was amazing. When I see the machines on stage at BU I always get a bit emotional – even before I was working on the projects when I was just an attendee. It was such a rewarding experience to see something I had so much input on being launched on that stage. It makes me excited to see the future products come to life.
Thank you very much for all the insights! Finally, the last question: The Kaffe Edition is offered in limited quantities, isn’t it? How can our readers make sure they get one of the special models?
Go to bernina.com and contact your local dealer! Please share your experiences on social media so we can see the customer excitement from behind the scenes. You can use the Hashtag #BERNINAKaffeEdition!
Do you have an unusual habit you do while sewing?
Singing along while quilting
Soundtrack for sewing?
All my favorite playlists played very loud in my AirPods
It’s only fabric and thread – don’t be afraid to try it!
Berner Oberland (Switzerland)/ England Lake District
Favorite clothing / fabric / pattern label?
Favorite sewing gadget?
Favorite BERNINA accessory?
Edgestitch Foot #10D
What is missing in Switzerland?
What do you like most about Switzerland?
The scenery (mountains, lakes, forests, rivers, architecture)
Can you correctly pronounce Chuchichäschtli?
No, I say it like a choo choo train…
Coolest department at BERNINA – and why 😊?
Of course, Product Management – we get to make all of the innovations and ideas into reality.
A crazy secret from everyday life at BERNINA?
There are Nespresso machines in almost every office
Shopping tip for sewing enthusiasts (offline or online)?
When buying quilting fabric online, stick to a fabric collection to ensure the fabrics match.
I definitely want to go there one day:
This is overrated in sewing:
Do you wash fabrics before sewing?
Quilting – no, Garments – yes
Current favorite fabric? All-time Favorite?
Kaffe – I am still on the Kaffe high, no favorites
Biggest sewing disaster so far?
I once cut a hole in a finished quilt block.
What would you get up in the middle of the night for?
To catch a plane
Do you talk to your sewing machine? What do you say to it?
No, more to myself while sewing than the machine.
Do your sewing machines have names? What are their names?
I switch my machines a lot as I am testing so much for work so they are nameless…
Your superhero / superheroine?
Is there a sewing technique you don’t like?
Undo seams or “oh, never mind”?
Depends how bad it is…
Where to put all the fabrics?
Wrapped on cardboard in the bookshelf
Order in the sewing room or organized chaos?
I am all about order
Favorite swear word for sewing mishaps?
I will never make this sewing mistake again:
Using incorrect tools
Interviews on the BERNINA Blog
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