Lori Marquette & Beth Wheeler – Altered Photo Artistry

Altered Photo Artistry
Item #10556
Retail $25.95

Lori Marquette and Beth Wheeler are best friends who have combined their love of photography and quilting.  They create unique art quilts that have unbelievable texture and dimension.  And, now they have written a book to share their techniques with you!

They start with a favorite photo and transfer it to fabric.  In many cases, a beautiful rose is manipulated – enlarged, reduced or multiplied to make a striking image – but they don’t stop there.  Then, it is all in the details!  By using different weights and colors of threads, they bring the pictures to life. 

And, the best part is, you don’t need anything fancy.  Any machine that has a straight stitch and allows you to drop the feed dogs will work.  If you love machine quilting, you will love the “free motion” detailing that this technique adds to your work.

They have experimented with different threads, interfacings and photo transferring techniques so that you don’t have to!  And, they share step by step instructions – with pictures – so that you can re-create their techniques – with confidence – from the very beginning!

And, don’t think that you are limited to an 8 1/2″ x 11″ canvas!  They show you how to combine several pictures to create a large work of art – we will be hanging one that is 30″ x 40″!

The photography in this book is absolutely beautiful, but Beth says that they do not compare to the real thing!  So, if you are attending the Checker Open House on August 27th, be prepared!  Lori and Beth are going to share their techniques with you.  You will literally see their photographs come to life before your eyes!  Let the magic begin….

Oldie but Goodie – Reinvented

Clover Pincushion

Clover Pin Cushions
Assortment #4101CV
Green #4103CV
Purple #4102CV
Pink #4104CV

Clover has managed to design a better mousetrap!  This company constantly re-makes classics – always with an eye for the details.  In this case, they added a groove to the classic magnetic pin cushion. 

THEN, they placed the magnets in the base so that the pins ALWAYS are perpendicular to the groove.  You will never get “stuck” again!  The best inventions are also the simplest – and make you wonder why we didn’t think of that before!


Amy Bradley Creates Lovable Characters For Your Next Quilt

Amy Bradley has such a unique sense of style that her quilts are instantly recognizable!  Her designs feature lovable, cartoon like characters that run the gamut – dogs, cats, insects, monsters – and yes, even quilting divas!  But each one is dressed to evoke its very own personality.  They look like critters you would love to see come to life in the next Disney movie!

When was the last time you treated yourself and worked in bright, happy and fun fabrics.  Experiment with color and textures.  How can you possibly go wrong when you are dressing a monster called Noshunz!!!

If you have been “traditional” way too long – it is time to play again – remember when you broke open your first box of crayons?  Now, you’re a big girl – and you get to “color” in fabric!

If you are lucky enough to come to the Checker Open House on August 27th, many of Amy Bradley Designs quilts will be on display.  Many are even hand-quilted – a woman after my own heart.  Just look for the quilts that make you laugh….. If you can’t attend, enjoy the slide show!

Ellen Highsmith Silver – Floor Quilts

Floorquilts by Ellen HighsmithSilver
Item #10542 – Retail – $23.95

I have been around long enough to remember when floor cloths were popular 25 years ago!  Remember when everyone was painting and stenciling canvas to decorate “a la Williamsburg”?  I always thought they were pretty but never quite got the hang of it.  But that’s before I talked to Ellen – my new best friend!  She has figured out a way to “treat” fabric so that it has the best properties of paper AND fabric. 

In effect, she has combined the instant gratification of scrapbooking with the permanence and durability of fabric!  We now have the best of both worlds!  After the fabric is treated, it can be cut with rotary cutters, circle cutters, paper punches – pretty much anything you use for paper – into any shape you want!  Then, you “glue” it to the canvas foundation! 

The designs – and sizes – are limitless.  And, the pictures in the book will get your creative juices flowing!  Some of the examples have a very contemporary feel – squares within squares, rectangles within rectangles – in the hottest colors such as turquoise and brown.  Others are more traditional and have the feel of quilts.

My daughter will love them – I feel a mother/daughter project coming on!  This would be perfect for her dorm room – we can take the scraps of the Bohemian print we used in her quilt to make a matching floor cloth that will actually fit the space.  Since fabric is “thin”, you can layer it to your heart’s content!  I can’t wait to “fussy cut” some of those large medallions  and florals. 

My son  who attends Ohio State even said that if I designed one with a block “O”, he would use it in his apartment – after all, although Maumee is close to Michigan – we are still in Buckeye country!  And, Ellen assures me that, once treated, these things are indestructible.  This should put THAT to the test – any floor quilt that survives a year in a college apartment with six guys….

 And, don’t be intimidated by the supply list!  Ellen includes all the manufacturers and product names.  What you can’t buy at your local quilt shop, is available at the hardware store!  You may even be able to get your hubby involved!

 She has made 200 samples for the August Open House in Maumee!  She wanted the attendees to be able to take a piece with them.  Since the book won’t be out for a few months, Ellen is going to sign bookplates for everyone.  You will be able to check it out in the advanced copy library. 

What’s New

 Sew Taxi 12 in 1 Sewing Multi Tool

 5977F Retails $12.99

This could be called a Swiss Army  knife for sewers.  It includes 12 handy tools in one compact package. Included are 2 needle threaders, magnifying glass, measuring tape, seam ripper, stuffing tool, thread cutter, tweezers, safety pin, punch needle, piercing punch and knit picker.  Every sewer/quilter needs one!

Rita Fishel – Mystery Quilt – Revised



Mystery Quilts by Rita Fishel (Item #AQS7079)

We at Checker are fortunate enough to call Rita a friend – and after you read her book, you will see why. That’s right – I said “read” – because her personality shines through on each and every page! Not only does she share patterns for over a dozen quilts, she also provides recipes, sewing tips and personal anecdotes. So, grab a cup of coffee and prepare to be entertained.

In our neck of the woods, her mystery quilt classes have become legendary. For each event, she designs a quilt simple enough for a beginner, kits and cuts the fabrics, and provides food, fun and wenches – assistants who press, encourage, and rip out seams if necessary. Her goal is to create successful first time quilters – but they return again and again to socialize, share, and finish a quilt top in an afternoon.

Now, she has written the instructions for 15 of these quilts so that you can host your own event. You don’t have to own a shop – just get together with a group of friends and have some fun. Or, sew solo – this is the perfect set of patterns for those times when you need to make a quilt fast! We all tend to procrastinate, don’t we!

If you are a shop owner and attending the Checker Open House on August 27th, stop by and see her.  She will be glad to sign a copy for you.  If you pre-register, she will even sign multiple copies so you can host your own Mystery class.  The first students to sign up get copies signed by the Super Sleuth herself! 

Rita is multi-talented and will also be demonstrating the new Creative Grid rulers.  She also travels extensively, so if your shop or guild would like to host a “Mystery Quilt” event, contact her at http://www.creationssewclever.com/.

Rita was kind enough to share a Tip and recipe with all of you.

Tip from a Super Sleuth:

When cutting multiple layers of fabric, stack the fabrics, place your ruler to cut, reach across the ruler with your rotary cutter, and cut the last inch of your strip. This will anchor you fabrics so they won’t scoot. Now cut through all the layers, as usual.

Rita’s Fast Fake Cheesecake

1 ready-made angel food cake
1 – 8 oz. Pkg. Cream Cheese, softened
1 large can fruit pie filling
1 – 8 oz. Container whipped topping, thawed

Tear the angel food cake into bite sized pieces and put into a very large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the softened cream cheese, gradually adding the whipped topping. Mix thoroughly. Pour over the torn angel food cake pieces and fold gently until mixed well. Spread evenly into 9” x 13” casserole and top with fruit. Chill before serving. This tastes remarkably like a light, fruity cheesecake and guests will want to lick the bottom of the pan. Serves 6 to 8.

Lynne Farris


Fresh Felt Flowers – Item #10527
Retail $24.95

Fresh Felt Flowers is a new book showcasing techniques created by Lynne Farris to make three-dimensional flowers.  That’s right – she shows you step by step how to make your own floral arrangements!

Lynne traces the shapes onto wool felt and then uses her sewing machine to add fine detailing.  They come to life when she adds texture by sewing the veins in the leaves and petals.  In most cases, you don’t cut the final shapes until the detailing is added so you don’t have to worry about getting daisy petals stuck in your sewing machine!  She has thought of everything!  AND, you don’t need anything fancy – just a basic machine with a straight and zigzag stitch!

I loved the Calla Lily but Lynne’s personal favorite is the Bird of Paradise.  I’m not surprised – anyone who created these techniques thinks so far outside of the box that she had to fall into the “exotic” category! 

Don’t dismiss this as a “craft” book!  If you do, you have missed the whole genius behind her methods!  Take the time to see how she uses thread to add depth to each piece.  Then, take what you have learned and transfer these methods to a “flat” quilt!  And, machine quilters – take note – her methods could add just the right touch to make a quilt “heirloom” quality. 

I predict that the art quilters will embrace these techniques and use them to add three-dimensional effects to their pieces.  It is a perfect cross-over!  Lynne’s influence will be felt at the national shows in a year or two.  Paducah, watch out – these floral arrangements are going to be “jumping” onto quilts near you real soon!

Lynne will be demonstrating her techniques at the Checker Open House on August 27th.  I can’t wait to see them in real life – the photos are amazing!  But remember – look but don’t touch!  That may be a temptation to hard to resist…..     


Oldie but Goodie



Clover Needle Threader 

Clover Needle Threader
Item #4055CV
Retail $9.95

This gets my vote for the best invention of all time!  If you need more than one try to thread a needle, this is a necessity!  Drop the eye of the needle in the opening, place the thread in the groove, push the button – and you’re ready to sew!  First try – every time!!!  They even label everything so you don’t need an instruction manual.  This is a Clover product so you KNOW it is quality!

When I teach an appliqué class, I pass around a pack of needles, a spool of thread, and a needle threader.  It’s one of those products that you don’t know you can’t live without – until you actually try it!  Now I have several- I keep one in my sewing basket, one with my traveling project, and one upstairs – just in case!      

Since the threading mechanism is enclosed in the base, it doesn’t break.  We have been using the same ones in the classroom for almost five years now!  And, they will thread sharps, betweens, and even most straw needles – I’ve threaded up to  size eleven and it worked just fine.

Now if they just designed one for embroidery needles, flosses and pearl cotton….

Fran – the ultimate Clover demonstrator – will be bringing many of their notions to the Checker Open House on Monday, August 27th.  Stop by and see her.  She’s so nice, she’ll even let you play with ‘em!     

Valori Wells

Valori Wells is a talented photographer who turned her talents to fabric when she made the decision to join her mother, Jean, in the family business – The Stitchin’ Post in Sisters, Oregon.  And, the quilting world will never be the same!

Valori has collaborated with her mother on several books.  But whether this dynamic duo is designing individually or together, their work is spectacular!  And, of course the photography is amazing!

Valori debuted several new patterns at quilt market – all which showcase her new fabric line by Free Spirit.  These vivid prints are gorgeous – and are available in all of the newest colors.  Her quilts and designs are so bright and cheerful, you can’t help but smile!

I fell in love with her “sewing cards”.  These high-quality printed cards retail for $3.00!  These affordable patterns include instructions for phone totes, pillow cases, journal covers, and an adorable purse – basics that you will use again and again!  They are quick, easy projects than can be completed in a few hours!  Include some fabric, and you have a great gift.  


Edyta Sitar – Laundry Basket Quilts

I got to chat with Edyta Sitar this week – and, I am telling you – this woman leaves an impression!  She is coming to the Checker Open House August 27th, and I can’t wait to meet her.  You will have to check out the slide show to fully visualize the scope of her work – she is so multi-faceted that you won’t believe all of these quilts were created bythe same person!

Edyta fell in love with miniatures when she made a Dear Jane Quilt. – that’s right – she not only finished one – it won first prize in piecing, hand-quilting, and Best of Show!  That was all the inspiration she needed to come out with a series of patterns based on miniature blocks called “Dear Mom”.  They have been so popular that some shops out West designed their Shop Hop around them!

 Then, Edyta has this artistic side – she has developed a method of applique that makes it possible for the novice – including me – to create beautiful wall hangings that look like paintings!  You will swear when you look at the patterns that they are hanging in a museum.  And, her color sense is incredible – the flowers look so realistic that you want to pick them.  Just choose your favorite flower – tulips, daffodils, geraniums, chrysanthemums, iris, peonies….

Continue reading