C&T Publishing, a three-decade-old stalwart in quilting books, is carving new terrain with the spring launch of FunStitch Studio. The imprint aims to entice 8- to 14-year-olds to trade in their personal technology gizmos for some fabric, thread, and a sewing machine.

“Kids need to do things where they are moving around, where they are making things, and this gives them that opportunity,” says C&T publisher Amy Marson. “Life is about being creative and exploring, and our goal is to teach kids how to be creative in a way that makes them feel successful.”

The imprint, which will offer six new titles a year beginning in March, is the Northern California-based publisher’s first foray into children’s books, and that has required some rethinking where marketing and packaging are concerned. The house will partner with Creativebug, a company that produces online educational videos, to establish a FunStitch Studio channel at Creativebug.com, which will feature authors’ how-to videos and kids’ testimony. “Today’s 8- to 14-year-olds are used to interactive, online experiences,” says publicity manager Megan Scott. “We’ve had to research new online and print media outlets that reach this demographic, and are creating new relationships with them.”

The decision to launch FunStitch Studio in uncertain economic times was driven by the success of Stash Books, C&T’s modern quilting imprint, which was launched in 2010 and which continues to surprise the house with its success. According to Marson, Stash Books routinely outsells other C&T titles by 2,000 to 3,000 copies and is largely responsible for the company’s growth of at least five percent a year since its launch. “When we launched Stash Books there was a conversation that these people [who bought Stash titles] had kids and were interested in teaching their kids how to sew,” Marson says. “So we really felt there was a demographic for [FunStitch Studio].”

The imprint’s authors share one thing in common – they all have hands-on experience teaching children to sew, many of them in their local sewing studio businesses. First up will be We Love to Sew: 28 Pretty Things to Make by Annabel Wrigley (March), Forest Fairy Crafts: Enchanting Fairies & Felt Friends from Simple Supplies by Lenka Vodicka-Paredes and Asia Curie (May) and Fabric, Paper, Thread: 26 Projects to Stitch with Friends by Kristen Sutcliffe (June). Those will be followed by A Kid’s Guide to Sewing: 16 Projects You’ll Love to Make & Use by Sophie Kerr (July), daughter of renowned modern quilters Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr; Creature Camp by Wendi and Jo Gratz (Oct.), a mother-daughter team; and Girls Get Stitching by Shirley McLaughlan (Sept.). Quilting-oriented coloring books will also be part of the line.

Currently, C&T has no staff exclusively dedicated to FunStitch Studio. The new imprint will officially launch at BookExpo America, where the publisher will feature it prominently within its booth. “We feel these books will travel really well, with lots of opportunities to sell the rights,” Marson says, adding that C&T already has commitments from major national craft store chains to carry the entire line.