Winding Down from Market, the Final Pictures

The last time I wrote, I was on my way to the last day of Market – what a blur!  Everyone is multi-tasking.  Remember, we are there first and foremost to serve our customers.  But, to do that, the buyers also have to seek out the latest and the greatest and add those items to the Checker inventory.  And the sales reps have to learn how to use those products so they can show the customers who don’t make it to market how they work.

The vendors that we already have accounts with are continually delivering new products and fabrics to the booth.  Therefore, the inventory changes daily throughout Market.  You can’t attend Market without coming away with a whole new appreciation for our industry.

As far as trends….children’s clothing and aprons were everywhere!  I just became a grandmother so I can’t wait to get my hands on these new patterns – they are cute, fun and trendy.  Sewing for children is fun – after all, they never ask “do these pants make my butt look big!” 

Trendy and stylish aprons – including ones for children – were everywhere.  Consider having a class when all of those new Christmas fabrics arrive.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to make your entire family matching aprons when you get together to make Christmas cookies this year?  And, if you don’t have that tradition – why not start it?  Talk about a Kodak moment!!

Machine quilting is also big!  Technology has caught up with the needs of the industry.  Quilting machines have now become affordable and the sewing machine companies have come out with models that make it possible for the home quilter to achieve professional results.  Books, videos, and threads were everywhere.  Patsy Thompson even did a commercial for her new quilting video in our booth.  She has just released some patterns for machine quilting – revolutionary!

Remember, our After Market Show is Friday, May 30th.  Our entire booth will be set up in the warehouse.  Rita will be demoing all of the new Creative Grid rulers – all eight of them.  We were thrilled that they were the talk of Market and will be featured as THE new gadget in some magazines in the near future.

And, I will be demonstrating my Pieced Applique technique.  We will also be demonstrating our new program with EQ6 where you can download entire collections of fabrics from our website into your own EQ6. 

The buyers also cleared out all kinds of inventory to make room for the new so take advantage of this opportunity.  There are literally thousands of discounted patterns and books to choose from – perfect for those of you who are getting ready for shop hops this summer.  And, don’t forget to look in the Fabric Frenzy – Brad has been really busy.  And, lunch is served – so stop by for a visit!  You’ll be glad you did.  But, remember, this is a wholesale show – you can only attend if you have an account with Checker!

Or, join us at the TNNA show in Columbus June 7th – 9th.  This is The National NeedleArt’s show that happens to be in our backyard.  Please check on-line  at  to pre-register.  This is also a wholesale show with over 300 vendors.  If you are considering adding the needlearts to your shop, this is the place to be! 

Enjoy the slide show – if you hover your cursor over the picture, the descriptions will be displayed.  Remember – many of these are new items and have not yet been entered into our system.  And, many of the new items were entered before we got to market.  Check the new products entered since April 1st to get a more realistic view of all of the new products.  But check back often.  We are adding new items and vendors literally every day – and will be for the next couple of months.  Don’t miss out on anything!

Enjoy the slide show………

New Creative Grid Rulers were the Talk of the Town

Creative Grid released so many new rulers that it will take two posts to tell you all about them!  Four of them are all used the same way – but are just different sizes.  We’ll focus on the Square it Up and Fussy Cut Ruler in this post.

Square It Up & Fussy Cut Ruler

The Square It Up & Fussy Cut Ruler is a dual purpose tool available in 6 1/2″ (CGRSQ6); 8 ½” (CGRSQ8); 9 ½” (CGRSQ9) and 12 ½” (CGRSQ12) sizes. Use the vertical, horizontal and diagonal lines to square up any pieced, appliquéd or embroidered block. To fussy cut, center a design in the solid squares – printed in 1″ increments. The drilled holes at the ½” markings between the squares let you mark and add the seam allowance to your fussy cut piece.

This ruler includes centered horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines. The ¼” seam allowance is marked on the entire outside edge of the ruler. Center the ruler over any appliquéd or embroidered block and trim. It is that easy.

Squaring Up Appliquéd and Embroidered Blocks

To square up a pieced block, place the correct size of the ruler over the block to be trimmed. To trim a four-patch, for instance, place the horizontal and vertical lines of the ruler on the seam lines of the four-patch. Trim the outside edge of the block. 

Squaring Up Pieced Blocks:



To trim a quarter-square triangle, place the diagonal lines on the seam lines and trim.


 To Fussy Cut:

Cutting the fabric to showcase a particular design in the fabric is called fussy cutting. This technique adds drama and eye appeal to any project. The Creative Grid Square It Up & Fussy Cut Ruler makes the process quick and easy.

To fussy cut, center a design in the solid squares – printed in 1″ increments. The drilled holes at the ½” markings between the squares lets you mark & add the seam allowance to your fussy cut piece.

The foundation for this block is a nine-patch.  The sunflowers were fussy cut from the fabric and centered on the corner squares of the nine-patch.  The V-shaped appliques were then fussy cut and added.  (The pattern for this block is in the book Penny Haren’s Pieced Applique – Item #L11222).

Center and place the ruler over the design you would like to fussy cut. Use a water soluble pen to mark the corners of the square”. The Square It Up & Fussy Cut ruler has holes that fit the tip of a water soluble marker so that you can mark the fabric quickly and easily. When pieced, the design will be centered in the block.

Adding drama to any block is quick and easy.  Just think how easy it would be to square up T-Shirts for that graduation quilts!  You won’t know how you lived without them!

Guideline 4 Quilting Ruler

Enjoy this video clip of the Guideline 4 Quilting Rulers. The item number is GL612 and retails for $17.95. I don’t think Spielberg will feel threatened if he views this..but I think it lets you see the features of this ruler system

We’ll bring you additional videos on their use in the future.

To learn more about Guidelines click here

The Whirl of Market

When you have to open your computer to see what day it is, you know you’re having a successful Market!  The days never end – and when you are over 50, by the time you walk from one end of the booth to the other, you forget what you were doing anyway.  Our customers are simply the best. 

This is my third Market with Checker and it just gets more and more fun.  Our day starts between 5:30 and 6:00 and sometimes doesn’t end until the wee hours of the morning.  Not only do we get to spend a lot of time talking to our customers, we also try to touch base with all of our vendors.  When you carry 80,000 products, that means the buyers have their running shoes on!

The buyers also are scoping out all of the new products and trends in the Market – they are the eyes and ears for all of you that couldn’t be here.  And, for those of you who did make it, we provide you with the opportunity for one stop shopping.  And that means one stop shipping which has become so important with the cost of shipping these days. And, you don’t have to monitor accounts with all 535 exhibitors.  It is truly amazing!

Pat is the true jewel in the Checker crown!  She is the showroom manager in her other life – but here she is the product expert.  When you walk into our booth and want to know if we carry that “little flat stainless thing with a hook on the end that now comes with handles” we run for Pat – and she always knows!  She not only sees every product that Checker  carries, she sews so she knows exactly how to use it!  If we had to vote a most valuable player today, Pat wins hands down!

Yesterday, QNN asked if they could video tape two commercials in our booth.  Welcome to Hollywood!  So at 8:00, our own Rita was doing a commercial for my new favorite gadget – the USA Sharp – an orbital rotary blade sharpener that really works.  Trust me, I didn’t believe it either until I saw Rita smooth out a nick from a pin and turn a trash blade into a new one! 

At the fabric table, Patsy Thompson was interviewed and did a demonstration of her machine quilting technique.  She and her husband are SOOO nice!  And, she is such a talented lady.  She took some of the bamboo crochet cotton that Aunt Lydia just released and dyed it to make the most exquisite thread!  We showed it to the people at Coats and Clark and she may be working with them on product development. 

And Market hasn’t even opened yet and we still haven’t had time to run the sweeper!

As soon as the doors opened, Karen Snyder signed copies of her new book.  She is a local girl so she drew quite a crowd.  Then Marguerita McManus and Sarah Raffuse – a mother/daughter team – shared techniques for their new book Crazy Shortcut Quilts.  They are brilliant and fun!  Rayna Gillman stopped by and showed us how to paint our own fabric.  She showed how to take the ugly fabric in your shop and make it spectacular.  Then I got to demonstrate my new book techniques and how the Square It Up and Fussy Cut Ruler works.  Frankly, everywhere I go, people want to see how it works, so I just started carrying one of the sizes with me.  I should just velcro it to my hip! 

By now it is 4:00 and we are just getting started!  At 4:00, Liz Lois joined us for a book and fabric signing.  Her new fabric line with Red Rooster has been really successful.  And during her book signing, people were bringing blocks from her first book to share – how much fun is that!  Pat Sloan was demoing and signing books at the other corner.  And, since I still had an audience, I moved my dog and pony show to the fabric tables!  Rita said she tried to take my picture 150 times, but could never get me with my mouth shut! 

At this point they were announcing that Market was closing but our booth was still full of people – and we had a sales meeting!  Then, the after Market meetings begin.  And since so many people are leaving today, last night was our last chance to see all of our friends and finalize all of the business that needed to be dealt with.  I went out with the authors from Landauer.  We had so much fun and laughed so hard – for so many hours – that our jaws ached!  The only work that got done was that we decided that we definitely have to do a cruise or something together.

The bottom line is that the quilting industry is different.  We are working in this industry because we love it.  Every day we get to hang out with people that love the same things we do and have a passion for life. 
People outside of the industry don’t understand the social and support that we all get from our “hobby”.  It is what makes life fun.  We are all so fortunate to be making a living doing what we love!  And, on the red eye tonight I will take the time to count my blessings – but for now, I’m going to jump in the shower and head out to Market.  On the way there, we’ll all compare notes and try to fit in every last thing that needs to be done.  Today flip flops are the order of the day!  Life is too short for tired feet!

Talk to you tomorrow…..

Opening for Market

This post is going to be a little different – an insider’s view to Market.  For most of you, Market is a four day event that happens twice a year.  But, for the vendors, this is the culmination of months of work and planning!  In fact, as soon as one Market closes, there is a meeting to see how we can improve the next….and so it goes….

This is my third market working with Checker and I am still amazed at how organized everyone is and how they can move a 1,200 square foot “store” across country and rebuild it in a day!  Our entire booth is set up in the warehouse in Maumee exactly as it is in Portland.  Then, everything is torn down, bubble wrapped and packaged in crates to be shipped to Market.  In this case, the crates had to be packed and shipped last Tuesday – over a week in advance.  So if we carry your products, that is why we were nagging you for information and pictures so far in advance!

Once the initial packing is complete – and shipped – there is always more!  It seems everyone takes a second suitcase for the last minute additions that just couldn’t be done by Market.  And, by the way, everything in our booth is shipped in!  The carpet, the shelving units, the signs, the waste baskets, the power cords – it is truly amazing!

Jenny Stratton is the mother hen who makes all of our airline reservations, orders us lunch, arranges for transportation to the convention site, and arranges dinner every night.  She is the queen of “Excel” and has us all neatly categorized on a spreadsheet.  She is an organizational whirlwind!  It is so much fun to travel when all you have to do is show up at the airport!  She even left me a voice mail telling me where my luggage would be!  She is the one behind the scenes who makes it possible for all of us to focus on what we do best!

But the best part of Market is getting to talk to you!  Wednesday night Rob and I went to the Fab Shop dinner and had a wonderful evening relaxing and talking to shop owners from all over the country.  This year they had an apron contest.  The top three prizes were sets of Creative Grid rulers – and Rob was the judge!  That poor man – not a lot of testosterone in that room!  One woman took off her apron, started swirling it in the air and doing a little dance.  It was worth the price of admission to see the look on Rob’s face – until he realized that she was showing off that her apron was reversible – and that was ALL she was taking off!  She had the whole room howling!  But, in the end, he just couldn’t choose between them – so they ALL got a complete set of all 54 rulers.  What a way to end the evening! 

This Market is special to some of us because we are multi-tasking.  Liz Lois also works for Checker and we both have books that are being released at this Market.  This is Liz’s second book (Just Plain Nuts) that is a sequel to Nearly Insane.  I taught and made her first quilt so I was thrilled to actually meet her.  She also has a line of fabric out with Red Rooster that she designed with Terry Atkinson – and it is gorgeous!  We’ll share pictures of that too as soon as we have images.  I designed some rulers with Creative Grid that were inspired by my book – but I’ve been using them on every project so they are incredibly versatile!  I knew I was hooked when I drove twenty minutes to get it when  I left it at the shop instead of doing it the old way!  It is called the Square it Up and Fussy Cut Ruler – and it will make your life soooo much simpler! 

This is the first time I taught at Schoolhouse and it was so much fun!  I taught two sessions for my book and one with Rit Fishel about the Creative Grid rulers.  Liz did one on her fabric line too.  We had a ball!  I was so excited – and talked so fast – that one woman asked Rita if I was an auctioneer!  I’m sure I’ll hear that one for awhile!  Schoolhouse is a series of 15 to 30 minute classes that go on all day Thursday so that shop owners can be introduced to all of the new products here.  When you come to Market, it definitely is a must!  You get to meet everyone up close and personal – and it is fun as well as educational – promise!

Friday morning Market officially opens at 9:30 – but if you have an appointment with a sales rep you can get in early, so our day really starts at 8:00.  Don’t be surprised if you have an early appointment and we are sweeping the booth!  We have book signings and demos going on all day.  Just yesterday we had Rita demonstrating Creative Grid, me demonstrating the techniques used in my book, Liz signing fabric, Debbie demonstrating the Jenny Haskins lines of products, Patsy Thompson demoing machine quilting, Eileen Roche signing books and demoing her Magna Hoop, Melinda Bula demonstrating her Cutting Garden Quilts, Sharon Pederson showed how to “Machine Applique for the Terrified Quilter” and the One Block Wonders ladies shared the techniques and signed their new book “One Block Wonder Encores”!  And that was just the first day!

After Market closed at 6:00, we have a sales meeting so the buyers can tell everyone the new products they picked up from Market.  Don’t forget that they are shopping too!  We all went out to dinner at 7:00 – that’s 10:00 Ohio time!  We got back to our hotel and were serenaded until 1:00 in the morning by a Sweet Adelaids convention and were awakened at 5:30 this morning when they began practicing for today’s performances!  That explains why this is so lengthy –



Cottage Romance by Maywood Studios

We finished the first day of market and my feet are hurting.  The WillowBerry booth was so much fun.  The scalloped stripe is the length of the fabric with 4 or 5 repeats…perfect for borders.  Here are some pictures of their booth


Notice the great cuff on this pillow case made with the scallop stripe

  Close up of quilt with scallop stripe as border

New Fabric At Quilt Market

There is so much new exciting fabrics at this Spring’s International Quilt Market. 

LakeHouse Direct has 3 new lines plus additions to their La Belle Rose.  We are sharing their new line La Grand Jardin.  I think it would make a stunning blue and white quilt.



Here are some projects made with these goods.

Chubby Charmer PS024  Chubby Charmer PS024 Retail $9.00

Mini Bow Tucks ps026 Retail $9.00

Circle of Friends LH08001  Retail $10.00


Off to Quilt Market We Go

As in the past, we will be posting daily during Spring Quilt Market in Portland.  Please join us to see the latest in  patterns, fabric and notions.  We’ll bring you slide shows and maybe some videos.  Penny will be busy walking the floor, taking pictures and interviewing people.  Join us daily to feel as if you are there with us…only you won’t have sore feet!


How I got to Write a Book(s)

Ten year ago, a couple of friends of mine started collecting books of miniature blocks.  There were a lot of them on the market, but they all had one thing in common – no instructions!  When they started accumulating books and didn’t know how to make them, it somehow became MY problem. 

You see, everyone in my family is a math geek, so we think we’re perfectly normal.  My friends think differently.  If they need someone to figure a quilt, I get a phone call.  Frankly, make me lunch and serve me coke in a frosted glass, and I’m yours!  So, they sucked me in and I started writing instructions and figuring out ways that anyone could make these 4 1/2″ – 6″ blocks.  And, I do mean anyone – we started it as a beginner class and have never looked back!

Pieced by Jan Creekmore, Quilted by Cheryl Lorence

 Jeramy Landauer approached me after Spring Market last year and asked me to write a book on the techniques I created to make it possible to obtain perfect results when piecing “little”.  “Penny Haren’s Pieced Applique was born!” 

I am first and foremost a teacher and believe that if we don’t teach the basics, we are turning every frustrated quilter into a knitter.  They must know why they are doing something so they can transfer that knowledge to their next project! 

Therefore, the book consists of twelve different chapters.  Each chapter focuses on a different technique and presents a new learning opportunity. Over 200 pictures show how to sew 24 blocks quickly, easily, and perfectly! 

Learn to create perfect blocks by combining piecing with layered appliqués that make it possible to sew perfect points and curves – by eliminating them!  Don’t let the “A” word intimidate you!  In this freezer paper method, straight sides and gentle curves can be turned by even a beginner after a five minute demonstration! 

No longer avoid blocks that have inset points such as five and eight-pointed stars.  Indiana Puzzle (a form of Drunkard’s Path) and True Lover’s Knot will be a piece of cake – or actually a “piece of four-patch”!   Learn how even a simple four-patch can be pieced – and then appliquéd – to create stunning results!  Just wait until you see what happens to a nine-patch…. a half-square triangle…a pinwheel…the possibilities are truly endless!

And, don’t think that appliqué means handwork.  Many of my students chose to appliqué these pieces by machine using a tiny zigzag stitch and invisible thread.  When we were getting out our magnifying glasses to see the stitches, I knew they were hooked.  Most of these blocks can be appliquéd by machine in less than ten minutes!

The Creative Grid “Square It Up and Fussy Cut Ruler” was designed for this quilt.  It is printed with solid squares every inch and drilled holes at 1/2″ increments. 

The horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines make it quick and simple to square up any block.  You never have to look for the center of the ruler – and the seam allowance is clearly marked around the entire perimeter of the ruler so you don’t accidentally trim off points!  

These 24 blocks include “fudge factors” – tricks that make it possible for even a true beginner to create heirloom quality quilts with no frustration!  Every block is set with a sashing that is larger than needed.  After sewing, the blocks are then trimmed down to size.

In most cases, triangles and squares are appliquéd on the foundation blocks to create intricate designs.  When these appliqués are fussy cut, you can achieve spectacular results. 

Center a fabric design within a square, mark the fabric through the holes at the 1/2″ increments to add the seam allowance, and cut.  The design will be centered perfectly when incorporated into your quilt!  You will be shocked at the results – and the possibilities are endless.  Wait until you see what happens when you start playing with stripes and plaids!  Look at the fussy cutting in this quilt – even the borders are fussy cut!

Pieced by Jeanie Downey, Quilted by Cheryl Lorence

Close ups of each block are shown in three different color ways: a traditional Civil War reproduction line by Wyndham; LaBelle Rose by Lakehouse in yellows, pinks and blacks; and Full Sun by Maywood in deep, rich country colors.  Many times, you won’t recognize them as the same block.   

Once you start creating blocks using these techniques, you will never quilt the same way again!  In fact, my friends at Landauer are already working on books two and three!  A book with instructions for twenty-four more blocks will be out this fall, and book three will follow as fast as I can sew!  They are already designed – in fact, there is a picture of all 72 blocks in the first book so you can see the versatility of these techniques!  Make a block in a half-hour or less – you won’t believe how easy it is!