Friday, April 28, 2017

Ann's Fabrics, Canton MA

Three times a year for the past three years, Amann-Mettler Group has conducted a drawing for stores who carry the Mettler line of thread to enter a drawing to have me come to their store and do a two day class for their customers. We make a big deal of this! Mettler sends in free thread and door prizes, dealers provide lunch, lots of space and customers who want to learn how to machine quilt. It's a ton of fun for all of us!

Ann's Fabrics was drawn at Quilt Market in Houston last year and so -- here I am! It's a great shop, I'm just loving the customers and 3 BabyLock machines found new homes today. So we're all happy!

Now to the good stuff:

There's a lot of wall space in the classroom with some great quilts. The one above was probably my favorite....

...and I love the way it was kitted! I said something to the manager (or as Andy, the owner, says "the first in charge"; I think he told me he was third...) and Cheryl said that she really doesn't like ZipLocks. That made me laugh because I bought 600 yards of purple grosgrain ribbon printed with my Batts in the Attic logo for that very same reason! So Cheryl and staff of seven are always thinking of fun ways to package kits other than in a plastic bag.

For instance, their rows in the row-by-row experience are presented differently:

Above are their last two rows.

This is the way the top one with the beachy theme was presented; on the back it says, "Contents; 100% cotton fabric, 0% water" -- Andy said that one sentence was his contribution to the whole project!

And do we love the packaging for the snail trail row? How fun is that! Again the red lettering is Andy's work....

Cheryl has been in the fabric and quilting world for a long time and we know a lot of people in common, but one person that she knows well that I'm a great admirer of is not in the sewing world at all -- Diana Gabaldon, author of the Outlander books. I haven't watched the series, but am a huge fan of the books, practically jumping up and down waiting for a new one to be delivered to my local Barnes & Noble. It's the kind of book that I don't want to read on my Kindle; I want to hold it in my hands and savor every single word!

Ann's has three Outlander panels.

And a whole other fixture devoted to quilt making with an Outlander theme.

I liked this panel so much I had to get a bigger better picture -- the emotion on Claire's face as she is torn between Frank and Jamie. Ah, a romance story for the ages! Can't wait for the next book!

So if you need an Outlander fix (or some other fun things to work on!) and are in the Boston area, be sure to stop by Ann's Fabrics, 235 Turnpike St., Canton MA 02021 (781-828-2201).

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Sew Sampler from the Fat Quarter Shop

While poking around the Fat Quarter Shop's website buying Alphabitties a couple of weeks ago, I saw their box of the month called Sew Sampler. I had tried Quilty Box for about a year and was ready for something new.

So what was in the April box?

Many things!

It's Sew Sampler's one year anniversary! Don't know how I missed it for a whole year...

The folding card on the right describes everything:

Two Sweet Treats from Moda (a 42 piece 3-1/2" square addition to their precut offerings) and a cute pattern to use them using the square in a square method.

A handle that attaches to a ruler for added stability while cutting -- that makes me wonder if it could be used to hang onto some of the Westalee quilting rulers I've been using. Note to self: Give that a try!

These wrap around thread spools to prevent tangling of loose ends.

A box of fine pins that you can evidently iron right over without melting. I don't think these are quite as fine as the patchwork pins I reviewed recently, but I'll check that out.

A cute tin box to corral supplies -- it's 5"x7", so could hold portable stuff like clips and needles for binding or thread for a project -- way cuter than a ZipLock! I will warn you, however, not to pack a metal box like this in your suitcase while traveling. It can aquire a career's worth of dents in one outing!

There was also a recipe card for a basket block, first in a series by Lori Holt of Bee in My Bonnet. I took that over to my friend Dawna's yesterday because she LOVES her some baskets! Me, not so much...

Now I can't wait to try all this good stuff! Oh, wait, are there sale coupons???

This may be my new favorite quilting box! Thank you, Linda, for introducing me to the Fat Quarter Shop!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Country Traditions Redux

Disclaimer:  The lateness of this post is not in any way reflective of the speed with which Country Traditions got this order to me.  I had the box about a week after I ordered but I've been so busy lately, it's just been sitting right near my machine waiting.  

I finally had time to open the box of yummy things I bought while teaching at Country Traditions!!!

Batik fabric and coordinating strips, a couple of jelly rolls, bat coasters (squeee!), a pattern for the heart quilt that was displayed on a bed near the front window, and a really nice note from Sarah, who helped me pull it all together. Sarah has this infectiously bubbly personality -- she was so fun to be around! One of those women I could totally get into major trouble with if I lived closer!

As I start taking things out, more is revealed:

Two books utilizing precuts -- I love precuts beyond all reason! -- and

This beautiful kit from Jeanie Sumrall-Ajero! Jeannie showed me the finished quilt in her booth at Market last year (you might know her as the designer of the Kaleidoscope quilt software).  She was so excited to show off her new "baby"! If it had been in this spectacular color way, I probably would have ordered it on the spot. But it was in pastels; pretty, but not wallet opening. I saw this at Country Traditions, though, and .....

Is it the same for you? Is it color that pushes your ultimate buying decision? Please share!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

What I'm Working On

I knew I wanted to make this quilt when I first saw it on Pinterest. It was credited to Camille Roskelley; I bought her book "Simplify", but this quilt wasn't there, so I decided that the piecing was simple enough I could probably wing it.

Had a layer cake and a jelly roll of this very pretty line from Wilmington plus a white Moda jelly roll -- totally ready to go!

Each block measures 14" before the sashing to make the plus signs is sewn on; I made 30 blocks to set 5x6 and then decided that would be bigger than I wanted. Picked out my 10 least favorite blocks, set them aside and arranged the 20 keepers 4x5. As it is, with a 1-1/2" finished pink border and a 6" border of the butterfly print it will finish out at about 75"x91".

I'll get the rest of the border on tonight and then finish piecing the back -- started with a panel from the same line and added 8 of the 10 blocks taken from the quilt. I don't love it enough to make it into a standalone quilt, but it will be an interesting back! I tossed it over the stair rail, so here's a pic of the bottom half. I'll take better pictures tomorrow.

Do you love pieced backs? Or is it too much work? I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Have You Tried Alphabitties?

We probably all agree that chain piecing is a fast and easy way to sew our pieces into units, units into blocks and blocks into quilt tops. But what if you lose track and sew the wrong pieces or blocks together? Then out comes the seam ripper!

I have been using a system involving fabric pieces stacked up on a cutting board. When it came to sewing rows together, I didn't chain piece. I would pick up two things, sew them together, then take them out of the machine, put them back where I got them and pick up the next two.

All that changed for the better when I was at my friend Linda Petrik's house and saw a stack similar to this:

I pounced on the stack! What are those? Linda said "They're Alphabitties and I got them from the Fat Quarter Shop!"

I always have two or three quilts in the piecing stage so I ordered three sets. Then I went to Target and bought a bunch of itsy bitsy binder clips.

I use the letters for the rows and the numbers for the blocks in a row. I can clip the numbers on my blocks and sashings for a complete row, gather them up and take them to the machine to sew -- and not get them mixed up!

As I finish the quilt assembly, I put them on my work table in order so I know I have a complete set ready for the next quilt.

I used the Alphabitties while piecing a quilt from the Rainbow Seeds line from Wilmington Prints. It made the whole thing faster and I only had to rip one little seam in the whole thing!

Love these!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Have You Tried This? The Original Thread Cutter!

We love this little goodie!!  It came in a Quilty Box and has become a necessary tool!!

What do you use to make cutting go quickly??

Monday, April 10, 2017

Fall Bundle Giveaway

Now that Spring is officially here, the excitement has worn off and the reality of drizzly, chilly days has set in.  Now don't get us wrong, we LOVE the warm sunny days of spring, just not the cold rainy days so much.  It got us thinking of fall time...  snuggling in a warm cozy house sewing and baking. And hence, the Fall Bundle Giveaway!!

Included in the bundle are 5 Fat Quarters of Crossroads Denim, a Sulky Petite Pack of thread, a Quilted Kitchen Patterns packet, and a Quilted Cook and Carry Pattern.  Total value is over $65!

To be entered in the giveaway simply like our Facebook Page and share this post on Facebook!  ***Double entry if you comment and tell us what you'll make with these fat quarters!!***

Good luck!! 

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Leaders? Enders? Am I Always the Last Quilter to Hear About This Stuff?

Warning: Tip to make piecing better that, while I hadn't heard of it, you probably already know all about it and have made your last 20 quilts this way!

When I was teaching at Calla Lily Quilts in Greensboro NC, I was happy to be able to stay with my friends Karen & Graham in Reidsville. Karen is an avid quilter, owned a quilt shop at one time, and knows just about everybody! So as I was leafing through some of her back issues of Quilt Moderne (yes, of course I subscribed -- those quilts are killer!!!), Karen asked me if I used the leaders-enders technique, to which I intelligently responded, "The What??"

Well, she explained, we've all been using leaders for the whole time we've been piecing our quilts -- those little scraps of fabric that we fold in half, feeding the creased edge into the presser foot to prevent thread barf at the very beginning of sewing. Straight edge = possible thread barf; folded edge = much less chance of said TB. I knew about the leader method and have been doing it practically forever. But now there seems to be a variation on that theme that results in a more productively piecing you -- and still no barf!

Goes like this: Basically you cut the pieces for two quilts, the one you are actually working on and another one that is fairly mindless, like sewing a bunch of squares together for something that turns out like this:

This is from a book called "Moda All-Stars - Lucky Charm Quilts". All of the quilts in the book are based on charm squares and the quilts are arranged by how many charm packs it takes to make them -- one, two or three. This was a three charm pack design, so I purchased three Kaffe Fassett charm packs and a coordinating solid from Calla Lily Quilts when I was there. It's just a bunch of little squares, so I should be able to get a good start on it using the leader-ender method, right? This is kind of a long name and spellcheck keeps trying to correct it, so I'm calling it the L-E method from now on!

So I started by cutting a charm pack into fourths, yielding 168 2-1/2" squares. Stacked them into piles on a cutting mat and took them to the machine.

First a pair of squares from my L-E quilt...

..then as many pieces of the "real" quilt, the one that I'm actually doing on purpose, as I need to run through before taking them out and going to the iron. In this case, 4. So I sewed the four, and then...

...another pair of squares from the L-E quilt. (Actually, I should call this the Dividend Quilt because you get a second finished quilt as a extra added bonus from working on the first!) Then I cut the others off, go to the ironing board, come back to the machine and that sewn square is just waiting patiently for me to start on my next group of pieces for the primary quilt.

The way I see it, I'm doing pretty much what I've always done, while getting another project done at the same time. If you used small projects for the L-E quilt, like table runners and baby quilts, I think you could get a bunch of bonus projects done.

Do you use this method? If not, do you think it's worth trying? I'm going to keep track and see how long it takes me to get the bonus quilt done this way.

Monday, April 3, 2017

All Finished! The Presents Quilt

Seems like I've been working on this forever -- started cutting and piecing the blocks at the Pieceful Hearts retreat in South Carolina in January and was hoping to have it finished by end of February. But end of March is pretty close, right? 

All the hearts were done using pink Mettler PolySheen 40 weight polyester embroidery thread in the 24 blocks with pink sashing and red PolySheen in the 6 red sashed blocks.

Drew in a few to see how it was going to look and then freehand quilted the bows and ribbons with the same pink and red PolySheen threads.

It was already bound so that quilting was the last step before being washed and dried.

And there we go -- all done! Just in time for NEXT Valentine's Day. So am I two months late or ten months early?

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