Fiesta de Azucar

June 7th, 2017

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Fiesta de Azucar is just about to start…are you ready? (that’s Sugar Party for the non-spanish speakers!) We have assembled 9 of the best quilt designers to each design one block with a sugar skull theme. There will also be two border options available. You can make a fun wall hanging with all nine blocks or maybe just choose 3 for a table runner. Did I mention that there will be prizes? Here’s how it works…

 

Timeline:

Beginning on July 1st through August 26th 2017 each designer will release their skull design. On September 2nd and September 9th there will be two border designs released. Here’s the schedule along with the participants and their blogs.

July 1st – Block 1 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

July 8th – Block 2 – Joanne Hillestad, Fat Quarter Gypsy

July 15th – Block 3 – Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

July 22nd – Block 4 – Cheryl Sleboda, Muppin

July 29th – Block 5 – Penni Domikis, Cabin In The Woods Quilters

August 5th – Block 6 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

August 12th – Block 7 – Kate Colleran, Seams Like A Dream Quilt Designs

August 19th – Block 8 – Susan Emory, Swirly Girls Design

August 26th – Block 9 – Trish Frankland, Persimon Dreams

September 2nd – Border Option #1 – Tammy Silvers, Tamarinis

September 9th – Border Option #2 – Terri Sontra, Purple Moose Designs

October 30th – Prize winner announcements

 

The Blocks:

Each block will be a 9″ X 12″ (9.5″ X 12.5″ unfinished) design with a sugar skull motif. Traditionally sugar skulls are made to honor a loved one who has passed and incorporate things relevant to that person. Some of the designers have chosen to do that, others just made cool skulls. You’ll be able to read each designers story about their skull during their week. Some are already giving sneak peaks on their blogs! Each block and border will be available for download on the specified day. There will be a nominal fee of $3.00 for each download.

 

The Sponsors:

Each designer was provided with a palette of fabrics from the Island Batiks Basics line to make their blocks with. They were also given a whole lot of 12wt spools from Aurifil to use for embellishing.

photo credit, Vicki Hansen, Cranberry Pie Designs

We have extras too! That’s your first clue about prizes…

 

Prizes:

Did someone say prizes? Yup! Simply complete a project using at least one of the sugar skull designs and post a photo on our Facebook group page for a chance to win some great prizes. So far we have a collection of 12wt Aurifil spools and a stack of fat quarters from Island Batik. We’ll be posting more prizes as we get them in. We will draw for prizes on October 30, 2017, the day before Dia De Los Muertos begins.

 

Intrigued? Questions?

Head on over to the Facebook group and join in on the fun. You can ask any questions you may have or just check out what everyone else has been working on. I can’t wait to see what you all do with our designs. The fun is about to begin…don’t you want to join in?

Spring Quilt Market 2017 – Part 2

May 24th, 2017

Here’s the second installment of my trip to Spring Quilt Market in St. Louis. The actual Market is three days. Shop owners get to peruse the booths of fabric companies, notions vendors, pattern designers and a few vendors who sell other items that may interest them. Since I was pretty much by myself in my booth I had a short leash and couldn’t roam around while the show floor was open.

I did see a lot of butterflies in several booths. You’ll be seeing those in your local shops soon no doubt!

The larger companies really go all out with decorations for their booths. Aren’t those cute spool stools?

I loved this chair! In the close up of the seat you can see it’s rolled up wool.

This was my neighbor Amy Walsh of Blue Underground Studios (best neighbor EVER!) and Jackie Kunkel of Canton Village Quiltworks booth. I ran into Jackie every 20 minutes just about every day!

Had a little fun in the Swirly Girls booth with some of Susan Emory’s new fabric line, Hello! Can’t wait to get my hands on some of that!

Market also has a small display of spectacular quilts. This was one of my favorites, Old Denim Square by Noriko Nozawa of Chiba City Japan. I’m sure it weighed a ton!

Another favorite quilt was After The Storm by Ruth Powers. I loved the touch of metallic thread for the lightning!

I sampled some great food too. Tried the Gooey Butter Cake which is a St. Louis specialty. Super sugary, perfect for that afternoon pick-me-up!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I did get to do some roaming around the city a little in the evenings. I saw some great architecture. Some of the details would make neat quilting ideas.

I saw cool plants and more quilting ideas.

I had great dinner companions, saw the arch at night and more quilting ideas (do you see the boo-boo in the floor tile?)

And yes, even got to see the arch during the day. It was under construction and this is as close as we could get… Also saw horses!

I saw these all around the city…not sure what they recycle cigarette butts into…

Loved this photo in my hotel. The close-up shows it’s a book!

My flight home got delayed so I had a chance to roam around the airport. Found a bathroom for service dogs!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And a final look at the arch before heading home…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh yeah…I sold some stuff too…

Spring Quilt Market 2017 – Part 1

May 23rd, 2017

I just got back from Spring Quilt Market and thought I would share some of what I saw with you guys. I have lots of photos so I’ll do it in two blog posts. For those that don’t know…Market is held twice a year, Houston in the fall and changing cities in the spring. This year was St. Louis and next spring is in Portland OR. This is a trade show for quilting businesses. Quilt shops come to see what is the newest and latest items from fabric companies, notion peddlers and pattern designers. It’s sort of like a large (VERY large!) quilt show but on steroids. This show was held in a convention center that was four blocks long. My hotel was at one end and my booth at the other…I got lots and lots of walking done! There were 32 aisles of vendors. I was in aisle 29 right next to the networking lounge. Here’s what my booth looked like when I arrived and the finished product.

 

My booth was a little skimpy compared to most of the others because everything I needed had to fit into the two suitcases that I flew with and they couldn’t weigh more than 50 lbs. It was an engineering feat.  I had to bring carpet, drapes, quilts, patterns, lots of flyers, table cover, chair cover, decorations, etc. I also had to squeeze some clothes in there somewhere…and deodorant, everyone was glad I could fit the deodorant! It was also a little skimpy because I’m not a large corporation with deep pockets…

 

The first day is set-up of the booth areas. There are dozens of fork-lifts whizzing around, huge crates in the aisles, litter and debris from unpacking everywhere…it’s controlled chaos. Very exciting. This poor lift driver had to maneuver through our aisle. Once all the fork-lift work is complete then they lay the red carpet in the aisles. It’s amazing how everything gets done.

Day two is Schoolhouse all day and Sample Spree at night. Schoolhouse is 15-30 minute classes all day. You get the program in the morning and have to choose your classes. Each time slot has about a dozen classes to choose from. Here are all the shop owners looking over their schedules waiting for the first classes to start. Some of the classes are companies or designers showing off their newest items, others are how-to classes for all the business things we need to know.

I helped out a few friends during their schoolhouse sessions. Here’s Tammy Silvers of Tamarini’s showing off quilts made with her new line Batiks Go Retro from Island Batik. Also a shot of her booth on the Market floor. The purple and orange bag on the floor is one I made in her fabrics!

Here’s Ebony Love showing off her new block of the month program made with her new line Sakura, also by Island Batik. Also a shot of her booth on the Market floor.

 

Here’s my friend Penni Domikis of Cabin In The Woods Quilters showing off her new EPP templates along with her Vanna White Kelly Ann Richardson of Kelly Ann’s Quilting. I’m very excited that Penni will be a special guest celebrity in my booth during Maine Quilts in July! You’ll get to see her in action and check out her really cool new EPP templates.

Sample Spree is two hours of madness. Think day-after-Thanksgiving shopping for quilters but you only get two hours. Some of the tables are piled high with thread, fabric, pattern kits…all kinds of stuff. The shop owners swarm in and start grabbing.

   Tomorrow I’ll share some photos of the Market floor and some sights around the city.

Binding Tips

March 10th, 2017

I was putting the binding on a quilt the other day and thought of a couple of tips to pass along to make it a little easier!

Binding Tip #1

Once you’ve attached your binding to the quilt by machine, the next step is to flip it to the back and hand stitch it down (unless you do it all by machine but that’s another blog post!) Take a few moments and press the binding in the correct direction first. It’s kind of like pressing a seam to one side, pressing the binding away from the quilt top. It will make it much easier to flip around to the back during the hand stitching part. You will also get a more uniform appearance on the front of the quilt.

Press Your Binding

Binding Tip #2

Save all the extra binding pieces. I put all mine in a big glass jar. That way they’re a pretty decoration until I’m in need of a scrappy binding. Sew ’em all together and it’s like free fabric!

Binding Collection

Binding Tip #3

Start the hand sewing portion with a new needle. Just like machine needles, hand needles don’t last forever. They can bend, get burrs and get their points worn down from use. The price of an individual needle is not all that much, get a new one. My favorite for doing binding work is the John James Milliners needles. They are long and thin and I can get a good bit of stitches on before having to pull up the thread. The less I have to pull up the thread, the less it may tangle. The come in various sizes and also have the option of the Gold ‘n Glide coating. I love Gold ‘n Glide! The needles are dipped in a magic solution that makes it glide through the fabric with ease. The eye is also dipped in gold to make it easier to see. Seriously, who are they kidding…I still can’t see it…a needle threader is a must!

John James Milliners

Do you have a binding tip that you can share?

Retreats are…

February 12th, 2017

Have you ever been on a retreat? Ever wonder what really goes on at one? I have run retreats and/or been entertainment at them for years now but had only been a complete guest once before (no business obligations at all)…and it was a very long time ago. I recently had the pleasure of being a complete guest and it was such a wonderful time. Can’t wait to do it all again!

 

Retreats come in all shapes and sizes. They can have guest teachers or just do-your-own-thing, guests can know each other previously or not, there can be lots of people or just a few, catered food or cook your own…you get the idea. There is bound to be a retreat out there that fits the bill for what you want. If not, make up your own rules and host one! Our retreat was held at Sew-clusion Retreats in Sebago Maine with our Hostess Patty Sawyer. If you need a place to have a retreat I highly recommend Patty’s place. It’s right on a lake, beautiful scenery, shopping nearby (quilty and otherwise), our rooms were well appointed (I had the purple room!) and everything was comfy cozy. The photos above are the views in the summertime and winter. Below is a view looking back from the beach during the summertime.

Why so few pictures from my visit? Well, ya know…ya get to relaxing and forget to take pictures… My fellow retreaters were equally relaxed. They snapped a couple of photos on their way there and then that was that. Here they are picking up some quilting wine at the store.

 

That would be, from left to right, Kris Poor of Poorhouse Quilt Designs, Penni Domikis of Cabin In The Woods Quilters, Susan Emory of Swirly Girls Design and Joanne Hillestad of The Fat Quarter Gypsy. Our hostess Patty is from Maine (obviously), Kris and I are both from New Hampshire and the other three flew in from their corners of the country. Kris had chauffeur duty to and from the airport. Ask a group of quilters to pack a car while leaving room for 4 people and they will get it done!

Our retreat was a cook-your-own-meals arrangement and we had all worked out ahead of time what we were going to fix, making sure our fly-ins didn’t have to fill their suitcases with food. So how much food does it take to feed 6 ladies for a long weekend? Apparently a lot!

 And this didn’t include what I brought. We did have a well stocked bar too…not that any of us drank any of it… no really, quilters don’t drink! That’s the rumor at least…I never listen to rumors…

  

So what did we all work on? Well, I can’t give you specifics or show you pictures (whew…’cause I didn’t take any!) but we all worked on new patterns coming out later this year, did some marketing strategy, shared insights and generally had a great time. We stayed up late, got up early, ate meals at odd times…there’s something to be said for spending time with people who understand the ins and outs of your particular business. More so since we all tend to work alone the majority of the time. A sounding board is a wonderful thing.

It wasn’t all business though. I did have the pleasure of escorting Penni out onto the ice. She had never been on a frozen lake before. Penni walked on water! We got a ways out and the lake made a gurgle…then there were lots of gurgles…did I mention we were standing near a fishing hole cut into the ice? That was followed by words not fit for print and some name calling directed towards lil ‘ol me. She still loves me though…I think…

 

I think everyone should have the retreat experience. Look around for one that looks good to you. You can start right here and check out the retreats I offer! Not to brag but I hear that I put on a pretty fun time at my retreats…

 

Fabric Extravaganza

January 31st, 2017

As this show quickly approaches I thought I would take a few minutes to tell you a little about it. If you’ve never been before then it’s high time you came. It’s unlike any other quilt show. There are no fancy displays of quilts, you’re more likely to find post-it note signs instead of nice ones, workers are dressed in their finest denim while standing for hours cutting fabric and ringing sales.

Nothing is full price, everything is discounted. Oh, I hear ya…it must be all junk stuff, right? WRONG! Every shop (brick/mortar & online) ends up with a collection of fabrics where too many of the “stars” have sold out and the “bit players” are languishing on the shelf. Or those last couple of yards on a bolt always seem to take forever to disappear (kind of like the last cinnamon roll, no one wants to take it!) or perhaps a notions packaging is looking a little tired from being hauled around. I will also admit to bringing items simply because I’m tired of looking at them! And we can’t forget that sure-to-be-a-hit that we bought way too much of or the supplies for that class that got cancelled because of a big snow storm. And most sad of all…the last few years (this year included) we have had vendors who had recently closed their shop and are looking to get rid of the last of their inventory. Whatever the reason, there are bargains to be had.

The show is held at the Holiday Inn, 9 Northeastern Blvd. in Nashua NH, exit 4 off route 3

February 16-18, 2017 – Thursday & Friday 10-6, Saturday 10-3

As of this moment the vendors will be: Vintage & Vogue, Purple Moose Designs, Fabritique, A Notion To Quilt, Bittersweet Fabrics, Dragonfly, Bits & Pieces and Heart In Hand

Over the years (this is my 4th or 5th year, I’ve lost count) I have discovered the secret strategies of the power shoppers…

*Come early on Thursday for best selection,

*Come on Saturday just after lunch for best prices. We don’t want to haul it back home…

*Bring a friend or three and enjoy a great lunch at the on-site cafe.

*Please bring a shopping bag or tote. You can bring several and put the filled ones in the car before lunch!

*Wear comfy shoes, skip the perfume (lots of people, close quarters) but put on deodorant (lots of people, close quarters!)

*Elbow and knee pads are not generally needed, quilters are typically polite. If you wear the pads, we’ll know you mean business.

*Work out a plan with your friends to tag-team the line. One person stands in line for cutting/paying while the other flits around looking for more bargains, then switch places.

*Come with a list of backings needed, charity quilts requirements, guild raffle quilt requirements, 2017 Christmas present list (it will come, be prepared!)

 

Hope to see ya there!

Last Minute Gifts For Quilters

December 14th, 2016

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The holidays are almost here…how ya doing on your gift list??? If there are still some holes in it we may have just the thing. Feel free to forward this to your secret Santa too! Or you can just skip the middleman and buy yourself what you really want. You know the old saying “If you want it done right, do it yourself!”

 

You have until the 20th of December to ensure delivery by Christmas if you choose Priority Mail. If you live in New England…we can probably go until the 21st…hopefully…

 

Lighting!

LED lightLED lamp

I have sold hundreds of the little portable lights in the first photo. They’re a great light. Now they have a big brother! They both have 3 levels of brightness and are both powered by either 4 AA batteries (not included) or a USB cord (included) with just the touch of a finger. Now you can take your light where you need it most…in the living room while watching tv…while traveling, in dark hotel rooms…during class or retreat…at your sewing area at home…or all of them since they move easily with no cord!

 

Both lights can be maneuvered around to get the light exactly where you need it. The little one folds/unfolds to point light where you need it. The larger one has a flexible neck to get the light in just the right spot.

 

The little one can be found here. It sells for $14.95

 

The larger one can be found here. It sells for $19.95

 

Quick To Finish Projects!

Have you ever looked at your gift list and thought…oh crap, I forgot Penelope and we’re going to her house tomorrow! Perhaps you need a quick gift to give or you need a little something for a secret sister…Mini Projects may be just the answer. It’s always good to keep one or two on hand for emergencies! You can whip one of these out in an afternoon (no really, you can!) or just give them the pattern and let them have all the fun. We have LOTS to choose from! Check ’em out here.

Bloomin' Poinsettia My Love Bad Hare Day A Spot Of Tea

 

Tea Towels Are NOT Just For Tea!

Is your honey like mine and forgets to tell you things? “Oh, did I forget to tell you that we’re going to the Smith’s for dinner tonight?”…sigh…it’s a good thing I love him…

 

I don’t like to go to someone’s home empty handed but I don’t have a lot of time or money either so don’t expect any fine china or expensive wine if you have me over! A tea towel made for the host/hostess is just perfect. If I want to do a little more then I’ll put the towel as a liner in a basket or other container and add some homemade goodies. Oh heck, buy the homemade looking ones from the store and transfer them to the basket. No one will ever know. Just remember…it’s an old family recipe and Great Aunt Hilda would never allow you to divulge the family secret…

 

You really can make these in a blink of an eye. If you hurry you can get one done in about an hour…really…yes, even you! If I can do it, so can you. These are also good to keep on hand for emergencies. Especially if you have a forgetful honey like I do!

 

You can find the tea towels here and the tea towel patterns here.

Cuppa The Six'Teas

Good luck with those gift lists!

 

 

Want to name a quilt pattern?

November 3rd, 2016

Naming patterns is not always an easy task. Sometimes I know the name before the pattern has fully become clear. Other times (like now…) I struggle with it.

I have two new pre-cut, pre-fused kits that will be making their debut next week at Pinwheels & Friends quilt show in Sturbridge MA. All the cutting is done, fusing is done, instructions are almost done…all they need are names! Leave a comment with your name suggestions. If I end up using the one you suggest then you will receive a complete kit of that runner.

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First up is this table runner with a rooster and hen and all their eggs on a barn red background. I don’t want to use the word basket in the name since there is no basket on the runner. One of the ladies in my guild suggested Laying Around which is growing on me…

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Second we have this table runner with a couple of clusters of grapes. I’m drawing a complete blank on this one… I don’t really want to have a “wine” name since they’re just grapes, not wine. Unless it could somehow be a “pre-wine” name…sigh…still nothing comes to me…

 

Can ya help a gal out? Leave a comment with your thoughts and suggestions.

 

How Did You Become A Quilter?

October 3rd, 2016

I’m doing a business challenge and today’s question is “What drew you to your art?” I did not have a mother or grandmother that quilted, it’s something I found on my own. I was always crafty growing up and took the obligatory Home Ec classes in middle school. Thankfully there is no photographic evidence of the hideous bright blue plaid shorts I made and wore until they fell apart! There was never money for “extra” things so crafting was a way to get those little luxuries for little to no money. I dabbled in all manner of crafts. In the early 80’s when I was a newlywed with our first house to decorate I started making curtains, tablecloths, pillows…anything to make our home nice without spending a lot of money. One day I saw a magazine with a quilt on the cover. I looked at it and thought…it was just squares, I could totally do that! I would later learn that it was a Trip Around The World pattern. I stuck to my middle school Home Ec training and made all the seams 5/16″ and back stitched at the beginning and end of each square. I then proceeded to press all the seams open. I used the tried and true cardboard template method to make my squares. Each one was traced with an ink pen and cut out with my trusty scissors. Since I started in the middle…that square is much bigger than the outer ring of squares because the cardboard got mushy edges as I went!

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Here we are over 30 years later…is the quilt finished? Nope. We had a full sized bed when I started. I was nearly done with the top and we got a queen size bed so borders had to be added. They’re all cut out and ready to apply…still! During this mid-80’s era the popular colors were Country Blue and Mauve so my quilt is mauve. The more I worked on it the more I realized that I don’t like pink in large quantities…and it’s really pink! Hubby was also not too keen on having this large amount of pink in HIS bedroom. So, my first quilting project is my lifetime UFO. While it may not be finished it did spark a passion that I hope will last until my dying breath. I am also thankful for having the opportunity to create a job that lets me enjoy all the aspects of quilting every day. I’ve toyed a time or two with finishing the quilt but I kind of like having it the way it is. It reminds me of how far I’ve grown in my quilting.

How about you, how did you start quilting?

How I cover eastern New England in one weekend!

August 16th, 2016

I put a fair amount of miles on Mabel The Moose Mobile this past weekend. First up was Comic-con in Boston. Moosette didn’t dress up this year because time got away from us and we couldn’t get her costume finished. She did invite 3 friends along who were Comic-con virgins and weren’t dressing up so she also didn’t want to be the only one. Guess we have a head start on next years costume! In past years I would look around a bit then park my hiney in the food court and people watch as everyone passes by. The food court was right in the middle of the main floor so it was a great time for me. This year the Capitalist Show Organizers decided to add several more vendors where the food court used to be and moved it to a remote location. There were about 20 chairs there…for the thousands of people attending. I discovered that I’m too old to sit for long periods on the floor and it’s not a pretty site when I finally try to get up. I did get to answer one of those age-old questions…where’s Waldo? He was in line at the food court!

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I really enjoyed the collection of cars they had.

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I even spotted a quilt hanging in one of the vendor booths!

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Next up was a trip to Bangor Maine for the annual gathering of my treadle friends. I missed the Friday evening festivities due to Comic-con and arrived late on Saturday due to a business meeting. Why do all the fun activities all happen on the same weekend? Anyhoo, it was great to see everyone (if only briefly) and catch up on everyone’s lives. We were at the Cotton Cupboard quilt shop in Bangor. If only this shop was much, much closer. I would be in there all the time. Super friendly staff, great selection and you get a warm welcome everytime you walk through the door from Gracie the shop dog. She hears the bell on the door and goes running to greet whoever just came in. She takes her job seriously and does it very well. Yes, a picture would be nice…

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At our annual gathering we have a block exchange. This years seemed to involve a very complex mathematical equation to spread the blocks around. Here’s some of the folks looking over their stacks. We were challenged to use the weird attachments on our machines (underbraiders, tuckers, rufflers, etc). Yes, pictures would have been nice…

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I did score some teal fabrics for my upcoming Two For Teal exchange. Cotton Cupboard had a great variety to choose some. I also had a great fat quarter of Singer fabric in my goodie bag! Next year I hope these two events aren’t on the same weekend so I can enjoy them more fully.  And I should take more/better pictures…