Saturday, May 3, 2008

MegRNC featured in News and Observer!!

I was super excited this morning to see a note from Megan letting us know that she's been featured in an article in the News&Observer! In case you've not seen it yet...

Who & Ware:
Customers meet their match in artist's play quilts
By Diane Daniel, Correspondent

Megan Risley took her first quilting class after moving to Carrboro from Massachusetts a decade ago, and she hasn't stopped since.
"My mom taught me how to sew, but I really started sewing in college, when I started making things for friends," said Risley, 34, who now lives in Durham.
Something else Risley carried on through her childhood was an affinity for playthings that didn't require electricity or batteries.
"Those were the toys I grew up on," she said.
Now she makes and sells her own, in the form of interactive play quilts under the name Batteries Not Required. Based on the classic memory game Concentration, or Memory, Risley's popular quilts feature sets of pictures hidden under colorful flaps of fabric, which can be lifted to match the pictures.
Needle and geometry: Risley, who has a master's degree in social work, was drawn to quilting because of her love of sewing, math and geometry, which in turn has led to her making such accessories as handbags, coin purses, wallets and box-shaped totes. She works out of a room in the north Durham home she shares with her husband, a rare-book collector. His work room is filled with books, while hers is lined with "shelves, and shelves and shelves of fabric," which the couple's four cats are not allowed to enjoy.
Fantastic fabrics: Like most who sew, Risley is a fabric fanatic. "I get excited every spring when new fabrics come out. I like to use bright eye-catching colors. There's a few designers I follow -- Amy Butler, Heather Bailey, Joel Dewberry, Ana Maria Horner. I get fabric online, at Joann's and The Scrap Exchange," she said of the Durham nonprofit re-use center, where she is a new board member. "They've gotten some big fabric donations recently."
A play quilt was born: "When my friends here started having children, I wanted to get a present for them that didn't require batteries or electricity," she said. "A friend and I designed the interactive play quilt. We sat down with a piece of graph paper and I drew out the design." The smaller quilts have 16 panels of eight sets of matching pictures, and the larger ones have 36 panels of 18 matching pictures. "They're quite time-consuming to make," Risley said. "I pick out all the fabrics individually, and each quilt is different. They're mostly done by machine, and the hand part is I sew the border on the backing. I've done themes, like ocean life, or a stars and planets, animals and sports."
Live and virtual: Risley sells the quilts online and at craft fairs, including this weekend's Art Makes a Difference show in Durham and at Crafts on the Green at Southern Village in Chapel Hill. A former resident of the Watts-Hillandale neighborhood of Durham, she figures dozens of families there own an interactive quilt after participating in their annual art walk for several years. But what has changed Risley's life in terms of sales and the creation of more accessories is, a craft site that allows artists and crafters to set up individual online shops for their handmade work.
In the beginning: "I came across Etsy in 2005 when it started," Risley said. "I was the 209th shop. Now there are thousands. My first item was a purse. Another crafter from Clayton ended up buying it totally randomly. I was so excited. The trick about Etsy is people shop in categories, so the more different kinds of items you have, the more visible you are. If you haven't listed something in a year, your product is going to be buried." So she makes a variety of items, including totes, coin purses and aprons. "Coin pouches have been a draw from the beginning, as well as tote bags and handbags," she said. One of her newest items to go up online is an eye-catching box-shaped fabric pouch. Risley is particularly proud of her wallets, which sell quickly. "Each piece I make is unique," she said. "I'd get bored if I had to make everything the same."
Crafting community: One of the unexpected benefits of Etsy has been meeting other crafters. "There are forums and workshops. I could easily spend eight hours a day on the Etsy site," Risley said. A few months ago, area residents who connected at Etsy formed the NC Triangle Etsy Street Team, online at "There are about 100 of us. We have meetings, monthly craft nights, a Flickr [photo-sharing] group. It's an extremely inspiring community."

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Artisan at a Glance

Who: Megan Risley
Ware: Interactive play quilts, handbags and other handmade fabric accessoriesLocation: Durham
Contact: 491-2681,
Price: Small play quilts (2.5-by-2.5 feet) $45; large (3.5-by-3.5 feet) $75; accessories $7 to $40
Where to buy: Quilts online at, accessories online at This weekend at 2008 Art Makes a Difference: The Sixth Annual MOMart Show, Carolina Outreach Building, 2670 Durham-Chapel Hill Blvd., Durham, today 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, and Sunday noon to 4 p.m., On Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. at 2PawsUp Craft Show, Village Green at Southern Village, Chapel Hill, May 10 and May 17 at Durham Craft Market across from Durham Farmers' Market, Foster Street, 8 a.m. to noon,


  1. That is so cool, other Meg!! What a fun thing to have happen. Hope it brings you tons of traffic!