My Favorite Demo Notions Part One

The Clover Needle Threader

One day I was looking forward to teaching a hand applique class. When I woke up that morning, I envisioned my students coming to class – the project and handouts at every station; scissors and threaded needles within reach….. and then a bus tour pulled up to our door.  Reality check!  

God bless quilters because they are very adaptable!  I set up the supplies like a Chinese buffet and had them pick up their project and handouts as they walked in the door.  But, when it came time to applique, there wasn’t a threaded needle in site!  I got out this needle threader, demoed it, and told them that stuff happens, and they were going to have to thread their own needles! 

Pink – Item #4073CV $14.95 Retail
Green – Item #4072CV
Purple – Item #4071CV

Eight out of ten people in the class bought it!  They were not willing to spend $12 to $15 for a gadget, wrapped in a package, when they didn’t know it works.  But, in this case, when Clover invented a better mousetrap, they all had to have it! 

I learned that sometimes you can spoil your customers TOO much!  By actually USING the needle threader, they knew it worked – and loved it!  They got to play.  And, since they were “playing” under my supervision, I could answer their questions….yes, it does work for straw needles……no, embroidery needles and pearl cotton are too big……and, guess what, if you hold onto the thread when you pull the needle out – you’ve just unthreaded the needle!  We all had a good laugh over that one – but I’m glad she did it in class so she knew how to use it correctly when she got home!

Let’s face it, quilters are tactile people – we like to touch!  At one point, my sales rep checked and said that I had sold over 150 of these needle threaders simply by letting my customers thread their own needles!  Talk about a soft sell..

I even take it on the plane because a cutter is built in – no scissors required!  To view a demonstration, click on the video link below.


The Clover Embroidery Needle Threader 

I have a dear friend who loves to embroider so we had lots of samples in our shop.  Meg Hawkey of Crabapple Designs has single handedly revitalized this art form!  This needle threader works for all embroidery flosses and pearl cottons.  Use it to thread your needle during a demo, and let everyone try it – they will love it! 

One of our sales reps attached it to the handle of her scissors with a fob so it is always available.  What a great idea!

Item #8611CV; Retail $9.95

The Clover Bias Tape Makers

I love to applique so these are a Godsend!  I use them to make all of my vines and stems.  They come in five different widths – ranging from 1/4″ to 2″.  I have used them so often that I can share a couple of tricks with you.  My favorite size is the 3/8″ width, so I’ll use that size for this example.

Item #4012CV
Retail $7.75

Cut bias strips 3/4″ wide.  Then cut the end of the strip at an angle so that it is easy to feed through the tape maker.  I spray it with Mary Ellen’s Spray Starch so the edges are crisp after pressing.  There is a slit cut into the top of it so you can push the fabric through with a pin – they’ve thought of everything! 

Attach the end of the fabric to the ironing board with a T-Pin.  You must keep the tip of the iron against the tip of the bias tape maker so that the fabric doesn’t splay before it’s pressed. 

To see a video, click on the link below:

You can even insert a heat sensitive adhesive tape through the tape maker so the bias tape can be ironed in place on your finished project.  It works well, but I usually don’t bother since I am going to hand-stitch it in place. 

John James Straw Needles

Straw needles are long, fine needles that are very sharp and make it possible for you to applique with ease.  My friend uses them to do exquisite embroidery.  We couldn’t figure out how she could create such tiny stitches – when the eye of our needles was bigger than her stitches!  I asked her to show us one day – and we ALL use them now!

Item #L43129 Retail $2.72

Size nine are my favorite.  The needle is so long that I don’t have to wear a thimble on that finger because the eye of the needle sticks out past my finger tip.  It is no longer jabbing the tip of my finger!  And, the eye of the size nine is big enough so that I know which end to put in the needle threader!  I’m over 50 and sometimes I can’t even SEE the eye!  But I can see these – and use them for applique, embroidery, and attaching bindings. 

Gypsy Gripper

I love any gadget that makes it possible for my friends to continue sewing – at any age.  I noticed that many of my customers were having trouble rotary cutting.  As they aged and were dealing with arthritis, strokes, and tremors, cutting became a challenge.  They just weren’t capable of putting enough pressure on the ruler to hold it in place to cut accurately.

Item #TGQ002; Retail $20.00

This handle has suction cups that make it possible to attach it to any ruler that is at least 4 inches wide.  They can grip it, move it, and apply even pressure with ease.  They love it because it allows them to be independent as long as possible.  There is a reason it is the #1 gadget.     

Mary Ellen’s Spray Starch

I love this stuff!  Spray the fabric and iron before rotary cutting.  The added sizing stabilizes any stretch in the fabric and eliminates distortion when cutting and pressing.  Spray and iron completed blocks for crisp, wrinkle-free projects.  I even got crazy one night – and actually ironed my clothes!  

Item #560032 Retail $3.99

It comes in four scents – Citrus Grove, Caribbean Beach, Cherry Blssom, Lavendar, or No-Scent at all – you’ll feel like you’re back in your grandmother’s kitchen.  And, choose from three sizes – 8 ounce, 16 ounce, and a gallon refill size.

Several customers said that they iron their pillow cases – they feel like they are at a five star hotel in their own bedroom!  I’ll probably only experience that if they invite me over, but it’s a nice idea…..

Next week, I’ll share six more.  If you aren’t carrying these in your store, you may want to consider it! 




Nancy Halvorsen counts down the “12 Days of Christmas” in Style!

A picture is worth a thousand words – and this picture explains why Nancy’s books are best sellers year after year after year!  She combines a beautiful, traditional fabric line which fits into any decor with patterns that are clever – and always have that “awe” factor! 

This book – and all of the companion items – were hot sellers at our After Market show.  Shop owners loved it because there are several patterns included that are great for Make-It/Take-It classes. 

12 Days of Christmas
$18.00 Retail

My Favorite Things!

Gift Bags

In these days of “Going Green” buying all of that wrapping paper just doesn’t appeal to me.  Nestled on the shelves in the picture above, notice the gift bags with the little Ackfeld wrought iron hanger handles!  How clever is that???  One of the blocks from the panel is used to decorate the bag!  What could be simpler.  Make a set of 12 and give them to your friendship group.  Fill them with chex mix or other homemade goodies.  In this case, the packaging IS the gift.  Just picture them as favors on your Christmas table. 

Everyone will love them and use them over and over again!  I have some friends who trade the same gift bags – back and forth – year after year.  It has become part of their Christmas tradition.  Why not make it a part of yours?

Countdown to Christmas

Nancy has joined forces with the folks at Ackfeld to make the cutest Christmas decoration ever!  This wrought iron stand (Item #87377) holds panels that are changed every day so those little ones will know just when Santa is coming!  Make one for every child you know – this will surely become a family tradition.  What a great project to kit!


Aprons are really popular this year – and Nancy makes it even easier!  The foundation for the aprons are tea towels in fun and festive polka dots!  Fold over a corner, add an applique, and you have a great hostess gift. 
Or, better yet, invite a group of friends over to make cookies and candies.  Have them each bring a batch of dough.  You provide the oven, sprinkles – and of course, the aprons!  AND, the towels are so reasonably priced that you can make them by the dozen for hostess gifts!  Oh, you may actually want to use them as towels – but add the cute embellishments….or turn them into the ivy or pear oven mitts pictured below. 

There is a reason that Christmas fabrics come out now!  Quilters are always stitching about three holidays ahead!  This book is so good that you’ll want to start classes now so everyone has time to finish all of their projects!  After all, there are just 184 sewing days until Christmas….. 

The 12 Days of Christmas Fabric Line

           The 12 Days of Christmas Panel 
         Item #3750-10


Incorporating other Fabrics into your Quilts and Backings Part 1

Flurr; Oh So Soft; Minkee; and Cuddle

Oh So Soft by Avlyn; Minkee by Benartex; and Cuddle & Flurr by Baum are plush, polyester fabrics that can be incorporated into all of your quilting projects.  Cottage chic is all the rage because textures add a whole new dimension in decorating.  And, in the case of these fabrics, they are so plush that you just have to touch them!  They feel and look like velvet – and your family will love them! 

Flurr by Baum                           Avlyn Oh So Soft

Minkee                                      Minkee Dotted Fleece                  

Baum Cuddle Bubble               Baum Cuddle

Quilt Backings

Since they are 58″ – 60″ wide, they are perfect for quilt backings.  In fact, I design all lap throws so that they are around 55″ wide so that these plushes don’t need to be pieced.  And, they come in a wide range of colors and textures.

Cost Comparisons

Even though these fabrics average $14.00 – $16.00 a yard, they are 60″ wide so the price differential is inconsequential.  A standard lap throw that measures 56″ x 70″ requires 3 1/2 yards of 40″ wide fabric for a backing.  At $9.00 a yard, it would cost $31.50. 

The same size lap throw requires 2 1/8 yards of 60″ wide backing – for a total cost of $34.00.   When the average quilt lasts 15 years, It is SOOOO worth it!

Machine Quilting on a Longarm

This fabric is like velvet on one side and is smooth like lingerie fabric on the other.  Flurr is an exception – it has texture on both sides.  They are very stretchy in one direction – and not at all in the other.  But don’t worry.  I have talked to several machine quilters, and once they become familiar with it, it quilts like a dream. 

All of the machine quilters I talked to preferred using a light weight cotton batting such as White Rose or Cream Rose by Mountain Mist.  The fabric stretches from selvage to selvage – but not at all in the other direction.  Attach the selvage edge to the stretcher bars so that the tension is even the entire width of the fabric.  And do not stretch the fabric!  Most choose not to clamp the sides of the quilt.  And, that’s it – not so hard, is it!

Machine Quilting on a Home Sewing Machine

If you choose to machine quilt your own quilt and aren’t using a long-arm machine, use a basting spray, such as Sullivan’s to stop the fabric from stretching and puckering when you are pushing and pulling it while quilting.

Stabilizing the Plush so it can be Mixed with Other Fabrics

These fabrics are 100% polyester knit so they have to be stabilized before they can be mixed with 100% cotton fabrics.  But, it is definitely worth it!  Once you have ironed a stabilizer such as Easy Knit to the back of it, you can cut it up and use it in anything.  It can be mixed with 100% cotton fabrics, chenilles, etc.  And, this tricot interfacing is so light weight, that you don’t even know it is there!  But, remember, this is a polyester knit so turn the setting down on your iron.  This is a time for moderation – not the hotter the better!

Some of these fabrics have textures stamped into the design – such as dots.  These designs add interest and dimension to the project and are always fun.  But, if you are ironing an interfacing to the back, these patterns may “iron out”. 

Using the Scraps

But when you are paying $14 to $16 a yard, I want to use every single scrap!  Once these fabrics are stabilized, you can also cut them up to make any of the adorable stuffed animal patterns that are so popular today.  Or, try using scraps to make some of the slipper patterns by Favorite Things.   Once the stretch is stabilized, the possibilities are endless!

Item #FT053 – Retail $14.00

I love to make a burp towel to match a baby quilt – and back it with plush!  What baby wouldn’t love to lay their head on this fabric – and fall right to sleep!  And, a burp towel is approximately 7″ x 20″ so it doesn’t take a lot of fabric.  These little touches take less than an hour and add the “awe” factor to any gift.

Pre-Washing the Fabrics

Remember, polyester does not shrink like cotton.  Therefore, if you are going to mix them, it may be best to pre-wash the cotton fabrics so shrinkage is not an issue.  If I am cutting the plush fabrics to incorporate them into a pieced top, I wash all of the fabrics to elliminate any problems.

If I am using the plush as a backing, I don’t bother washing the cottons used on the top.  Since the entire quilt incorporates the polyester fabric, the fabrics will shrink at the same rate over the entire quilt.  The backing puckers a little because of the shrinkage of the top.  I like this look because it brings the quilting design to life and gives the quilt the look of an old fashioned quilt. 

Additional Possibilities of Flurr

Since Flurr has the plush texture on BOTH sides, you can cut a throw from this fabric, add an applique, bind it, and enjoy.  It can truly be an afternoon project or class!  At market, some women were crocheting an edging around the entire otuside edge of the fabric.  A fine crochet hook went right through.  Or add a binding to make a scarf that anyone would love!  What a great way to use up scraps. 

But, if you are using this fabric for a scarf or throw, it is best to bind it!  If not, the stretch of the fabric will cause the edges to curl.  This is NOT a problem if the flurr is sewn to cotton fabrics.  And, since the Flurr has so much stretch, you need to bind it with a bias binding.  Sewing a bias to a stretch fabric eliminates that dreaded “wavy edge.”

How to Host a Gadget Demonstration

Hosting a gadget demonstration for your guild, shop hop, or shop is always a big hit with quilters!  And, there are so many great notions to choose from – so how DO you choose?

Notice Trends

Take a few minutes to view the Checker website:,  in a different way.  There is a wealth of information there to make your job easier!  If you click on any of the tabs such as “notions”; “needlearts”; and “crafts”, the top 20 selling items in that category are pictured.

Take a moment to notice trends.  Eight of the top 20 crafts, for instance, are yo-yo makers by Clover.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if you aren’t carrying these, demoing these, and carrying books and patterns that incorporate them into projects, you have missed the boat! 

And, they are listed in order of popularity so you know which ones are the best sellers!  This website is truly amazing – but it gets better! 

Small Yo-Yo Maker
Item #8700CV

Publicize it!

If you click on that item, the small yo-yo maker #8700CV for instance, additional information about the product will appear.  You can use this information to write your newsletter or use it in hand-outs – you can even copy and paste it right from the site.  Then if you click on the “view larger” icon – and right click, you can copy and paste a picture of this item to include in your article.  How easy is that!

Educate Yourself

Now, for my favorite part……there is another icon on this page that says “view video”.  If you click on this icon, a video will show you exactly how to USE the product – your own tutorial!  Now that you know how to use the product, what are you going to do with it???

Create a Display

Yo-yo makers came out a year or two ago and everybody loved them.  The problem was that they had a great product – but the designers needed a little time to catch up.  They had to buy the product – just like you – and have some time to play with it, design projects, and get them published.  That time has arrived and those patterns and books are easy to find.  Just type in yo-yo under “Search for” as a description at the top of the page and over 20 patterns will appear. 

Yo-Yo Bear
Item #IJ787 

You now have all of the products you need to create a display – and host a demonstration in your store.  But quilters love to touch and feel everything, so they are much more likely to buy the product if they actually get to use it.  This is a case of “it takes money to make money” – but not much!  Open a package and let people use it.  If only one person buys it, you have paid for the demo model.  The math is as simple as that!

Don’t forget the Fabric!

Many of these patterns are very nostalgic and tie in perfectly with 30’s and 40’s fabrics.  Have fat quarter packets available that coordinate with the patterns.

BUT, if you don’t carry reproduction fabrics, adjust!  I made nine large, green yo-yos and one brown one.  I sewed them together into a Christmas tree shape and tacked them onto the end of a tablerunner we already had as a sample.  I added little red buttons in the center (the ornaments) – and everyone loved it.  They could have their yo-yo fix without having to make 100’s of them.  And, I could have a sample done in two hours or less!

Brand Loyalty

Next, click on the “Notions” tab.  Seven of the top twenty notions are Creative Grid rulers!  No other brand has even ONE in the top twenty.  There is a reason for this – they are the cadillac of rulers and are a “niche” item.  That means they are only available to independent stores and are not sold through the chains. 

I know I’m a little prejudice here because they produce my rulers – but there is a reason I went to them first.  They are simply the best!  The gripper dots stop the ruler from sliding on the fabric when pressure is applied.  If you aren’t carrying this brand, that boat is sailing to China without you!

Item Numbers and What they Mean

Once you are familiar with our site and have ordered for awhile, you will notice that most vendors have a recognizable item number.  All Creative Grid products, for instance, begin with CGR.  If you type those letters into the “Search for” box at the top of the page, all of the Creative Grid products will appear.  That is my favorite ruler manufacturer, so if I am working on a project that requires a 60 degree ruler, for instance, I look through these pages, and find the one that meets my needs (CGRT60).

Terry Atkinson’s new table runner book – Let’s Do Lunch – is in the top 20 AND uses the CGRT60.  Combine the two for a perfect demo and class.  Or demo the ruler, have a sample of the table runner, and kit it!  Once you show them how to use the ruler, they can make the runner in no time flat!  And, guess what – there is a video to show you how to use this specialty ruler! 

Choosing which ruler to Demonstrate

You already know that these rulers are top sellers – and there are 54 to choose from.  So look at the ones in the top 20 and choose the ones that you are not familiar with.  In this case, I just noticed that my Square It Up and Fussy Cut ruler is now in the top 20, and the 60 degree ruler made the list.

Creative Grid Square it Up and Fussy Cut Ruler
Item #CGRSQ6

These are specialty rulers that sell well – once customers know what to do with them!  That makes them the perfect choice for a demo!

Get Everyone Involved

I know what you’re thinking, this all sounds great, but I have to get the newsletter out, teach three classes this week, and my son just graduated!  Well, it is time to delegate!  Ask each employee to choose their favorite notion – and then let THEM demo it!  They will be enthusiastic about the product and will do a great job.

Educate your Staff

Have the current notion sitting by the register so your customers can play with it – and you can talk about it – while they are waiting in line.  But, in order to do this, your staff has to know how to use it too.  And, an edcated staff is what separates us from the chains!  If your employees aren’t keeping up with the latest techniques, your customers never will!

Alternatives to Demo Days

If you teach a lot of classes in your shop, you already have a captive audience!  While people are arriving for class – and waiting for everyone to get organized – demo the latest and greatest notion that just came in!  They will love it, not be bored, and it gives you an opportunity to teach them that little something extra – a win/win for everyone.

Timing is Everything

Consider hosting a demo three different times during the month – a Saturday morning, a week-day morning, and an evening.  That way all of your customers can fit it into their schedules.  Most demonstrations can be done in fifteen minutes or less.  Then allow time for “hands on” experimentation.

You may want to follow the class with a “Make It – Take It”.  For a kit fee, they can stay and make a project that incorporates what they just learned.  If you have the items and project displayed in advance, they can sign up ahead of time – or take their chances.  If they like the project, the class is usually filled way in advance of the class so you know how much product to order – and how many kits to cut!


Now that you have prepared everything for your demo, why just reap the rewards of it just one time!  You have all of the information, made samples, etc.  Why not mount all of the information on a piece of foam core for a permanent display?  Our customers are pretty savy and are perfectly willing to be self-taught if given a little guidance.  In the case of the yo-yo maker, for instance, just have some circles cut from scraps and a needle and thread in a basket so they can go to town!

If you have room in your classroom, why not mount them on the walls with a little basket holding the supplies underneath?  If they miss a demo, they can stop in at any time and catch up!  And, these boards come in really handy!

If you are asked to put on a program for a guild, you are already prepared!  Need quick and fun ideas for a retreat?  No problem!  In fact, offer to lend the boards to your local quilt guild for a program.  Print off a wishlist of the items to pass out to the members.  After the program is complete, the members can bring in their wishlists and you can order what they need!  How easy is that! 

Or, run copies of these hand-outs and stuff them in every bag.  All quilters love to go home, grab a cup of coffee, “pet” their fabric; and play with their new notion or gadget.  Why not give them some reading material too?  Next week, I’ll list the top 12 notions I would choose for demos – and why.  Use these methods to choose your favorites – and see if we match!  Better yet, let us know what your favorite notions are – and why.  Knowledge is power – and we can all learn from each other!







A Crochet Hook that is a Quilter’s Dream

I got to attend the TNNA (The National Needle arts Association) show in Columbus, Ohio last week-end.  It is a trade show that is only open to shop owners – their version of Quilt Market.  Many of you may not know that Checker has a presence in this market as well because we carry books, patterns, notions, threads,   gift items, and yarns as well.

At this point, the lines between quilt shops and needle art shops are becoming blurred.  Many of you are adding knitting, cross-stitching and needlepoint so each year more and more of the vendors that are at the quilt shows are also at this one.

Not your Grandmother’s Crochet Hook

Soft Touch Steel Crochet Hook
Item #1027CV
Retail $6.95

Clover has released a new line of crochet hooks with an ergonomic handle that is easy to grasp and has a sharp, smooth hook.  These hooks come in all sizes and are great for anyone – especially for any of you with arthritis.  Any of your customers who crochet will love it – and want to replace every hook in their collection.  But, in the quilting world, all of the buzz is about #14!

The tiniest of all of the hooks is traditionally not a top seller.  After all, a crocheter would have to be using tatting thread because the hook is so fine.  But a machine quilter has determined that it is the PERFECT size to bury threads in her quilt!

The hook is so tiny that it slips easily between the threads of the fabric without damaging any of the fibers.  It is possible to bury any thread tails quickly and easily between the layers of your quilt!  This tool is an absolute Godsend for longarmers.  After all, when you are making a living at it – time is money. 

But more and more of you are machine quilting your own projects at home so you will love it too.    Hand-quilters can use it as well.  Have you ever finished a quilt and noticed that a dark thread is now visible through your white background?  That’s no longer a problem because the fine point on this hook allows you to penetrate the fibers and manipulate that thread so it is buried under a dark fabric!  Don’t you love it when a gadget multi-tasks???

An Added Bonus

You can actually crochet with it too!  Checker sells more flannel in Utah than any other state.  Our national sales manager wondered why.  It turns out that they crochet an edging around two layers of flannel to make receiving blankets.  Every baby in Utah has a stack of these cozy, cuddly blankets to love!

Fran is the demo goddess at Clover.  She says that she “rolls” a hem as she adds a single crocheted foundation edging.  The point of this crochet hook is so fine that it goes right through the fabric so she can create a foundation row for the lace easily.  She uses a finer thread for her foundation row and then switches to a heavier crochet thread or Pearl Cotton for the lace trim.

For those of you – like me – who are not coordinated enough to roll a hem and crochet an edging at the same time, I’m going to sew two layers of flannel – right sides together – around the outer edge, and then turn it right side out.  Then, I can add my lace edging quickly and easily.  I’m going to make it even easier by curving the corners so I don’t have to deal with points!  The Creative Grid curved corner cutter ruler is perfect for this – I no longer have to use my kitchen plates!

Retail $17.00

Fran says that this same technique works for fleece too.  What a quick, inexpensive baby gift!  You can even add an applique to the corner for a personal touch!  These projects are just screaming to be kitted! 

And, as always the quality is there!  It even comes with a metal sheath to protect the hook.  That is why I love Clover – their products stand the test of time.  But, they are always looking for a better mousetrap – and this is one of them!

After Market Show- Spring 2008

May 30th we hosted an after market open house for those of you who couldn’t attend market!  But, in the future, even if you attended market, it is still a good time!  After all, at the Open House – in some cases –  you can actually take the product with you. 

A picture is worth a thousand words, so take a few minutes to “enjoy the view”…..



This is also an opportunity for us to clear our shelves and make room for all of the new stuff that is arriving every day after market.  The sales have truly become doorbuster events. 

We literally set up the displays that are in our booth at Market in the warehouse so you can check out all of the new notions, gadgets and threads.  The new books are displayed in separate racks so you can browse to your heart’s content.  And, all of the new patterns are together so you can sit at your leisure – in air-conditioned comfort, and browse to your heart’s content.

But, let’s face it, fabric is always the star – and this market featured the best selection that I have seen in years!  The manufacturers are taking notice and not producing as many groups – but are producing QUALITY collections!   

Two of the lines off of the top of my head that were truly amazing were Paisley Party by Red Rooster.  I’ve mentioned it before because it was designed by our own Liz Lois in conjunction with Terry Atkinson.  The first printing already sold out so if you don’t want to miss out on the SECOND printing, order now! 

 In the Pink 2 designed by Buggy Barn for Henry Glass was also really popular and is being reprinted already!  This line of pinks and browns has great neutrals and blends with everything!

Taxi by Timeless Treasures – a line of yellow and blacks – is also really hot.  Those are the HOT fashion colors and this fabric line is perfect.  When I first heard the name, I thought it was a juvenile line of Hot Wheel cars – think again!  It is the newest, trendiest line out there! 

When the male sales reps are noticing that these colors are also a fashion trend, you know you’ve got something!

We really love these Open Houses because it gives us an opportunity to visit with all of our customers – these shows are only open to wholesale customers.  For those of you who frequent quilt shops – and don’t own one, you’ll have to live vicariously through your favorite shop owner!

We are already gearing up for our August Open House on August 25th.  This will be the biggest and best open house we have ever hosted.  After all, Checker only turns 60 once – and we are going to celebrate it in style!  We already are working with over 20 demonstrators who are going to come and teach you how to use their products.  The advanced copy library is back by popular demand.  We will also be offering some classes by some of the top people in the industry.  And, the entire showroom is getting a facelift! 

There will be special sales, special hours, advance order pick-up, no waiting in line, additional parking, breakfast and lunch – it is truly an organizational marvel!  Rob has it down to a science!  But to make all of this run smoothly, you have to pre-register!  Mark your calendars now so you don’t miss out on the biggest event of the year.  We will send updates and e-mails to let you know who is coming – and when you can register. 

I guarantee that it is going to be the best show in town! 

See The Light!

This review is brought to you from Patsy Thompson Designs.  Patsy has wonderful DVD’s on Machine Quilting which you can view at  Checker Distributors also handles the Bendable Light which Patsy is talking about (BBL Retail $49.95 and the replacement mounting BR-BBL for $9.95 Retail).


Here is what Patsy Thompson has to say:

I have been busy in my sewing room, stitching up a storm, and man, is it ever reminding me just how much I LOVE to sew!! There is nothing like it and I am forever grateful to my mom for sending me to that 6 week sewing school at the local Singer store to learn the basics! My machine is smokin’ this week!

I have many things to show and tell tonight! First, I had my first experience this week with a brand new product that has me singing! Are you feeling like the world is becoming a darker place? No, I don’t mean figuratively, I mean LITERALLY! This is because as we age, less and less light gets back to the retina, so things seem dimmer and you find yourself needing brighter and brighter light. I have sure been feeling this, and doing fine work, like sewing, is getting harder because of it. Enter the Bendable Bright Light, a new product that fits on ANY SEWING MACHINE! (Actually, you can put it on anything, as my husband Ernie is finding out, as he is putting it on his power tools). To give you an idea of just how bright this baby shines, check out the picture below that shows the machine bed with my normal sewing machine light:


Now compare that shot with the next one, that has the bendable bright light shining:


The light comes with a mounting bracket that adheres to your machine, and then the light itself clips into the mounting bracket. You can buy extra mounting brackets if you want to transfer the light to more than one machine. Here’s my light mounted to the side of my Pfaff:


It retails for $49.95, a bit pricey, but so worth it to be able to see once again!

New Creative Grid Rulers Hit a Home Run at Market continued – done

Creative Grid rulers were the talk of Market for a good reason – they are simply the best!  The powers that be actually listen to quilters and incorporate their improvements and ideas into the rulers.  All three of these rulers were added to the line because they were requested by you.  How cool is that – talk about customer service!

New CGR812 – $19.00


One of the top selling rulers of all time is the 8 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler.  It is wide enough to cut just about any border and you can place your entire hand on it without getting close to the edge.  It is a safe, multi-purpose ruler for every beginner. 

But, it’s size isn’t conducive to traveling – it’s like owning an SUV when you need the gas mileage of a VW bug on the road!  Now there is a 12 1/2″ version – it fits in a tote bag, is easy to manipulate and can perform the same functions as the original. 

And, since this ruler is used so often to cut borders, we have added a vertical white line right down through the center of the ruler.  You can now fussy cut borders to your heart’s content.  You’ll never know how you got along without it.

New CGR312 – $13.00

3 1/2″ sashing stips are the most popular size for any 12″ block.  As a rule of thumb,  sashings that are 25% of the block size are appealing to the eye.  That proportion just seems to work. 

This ruler also incorporates that new vertical white line so you can fussy cut these sashing strips to add real drama to your quilt.  Cut the sashings from a border print; add cornerposts so you don’t have to match anything – and you’ve turned an ordinary quilt into something special! 

Since this ruler is 12 1/2″ long, you can center the design horizontally as well as vertically for perfect placement.  What could be easier!

But, this feature is just a bonus.  It still has all of the other features incorporated into the design that you have come to rely on – 30 degree, 45 degree and 60 degree angles; gripper dots so the ruler does not slide on the fabric, and the added 1/2 inch with the turn around feature that is their signature design.

New CGR48 – $13.00

Frankly, I can not believe how much I like this ruler – and how right all of you were in requesting it!  I thought it would be a short, stubby ruler – and what was the point?  Well, I learned very quickly that it is my favorite ruler!  It fits in a notebook and day planner so I take it everywhere with me. 

It is the length of a sheet of graph paper so I use it when I’m designing all of the time.  I knew it was a winner when I got up in the middle of an episode of Desparate Housewives to go upstairs and get it!  That is the true test for any quilter.  And, since it is 4 1/2″ wide, I can use it for rotary cutting too.  It is wide enough that I don’t worry about cutting something other than the fabric!  You will love it too – I guarantee it!

New CGRMSS – $22.00

I am a “math brain” person – and this ruler is just plain brilliant!  It allows you to cut all of your side and corner setting triangles for a quilt set on point from strips.  This can save you a ton of fabric – which also saves you money.

The ruler incorporates all of the math into the design.  You don’t have to figure out anything on your own – in fact you could have skipped that geometry class all together!  The rectangle side of the ruler is marked with lines that show you how wide to cut the strips.  The triangule side of the ruler is marked with lines that show you how to cut the triangles.  It is so easy and intelligently designed!

This ruler was originally designed for blocks from 6″ to 12″ – but I work in miniature.  Therefore, I asked Creative Grid to design a smaller version that would not be as cumbersome for those of us who like “little”.  It is the perfect size to set those baby quilts on point.  But, be warned – once you see how easy it is, you’ll have to have them both.  After all a great design is a great design – in any size!  If you would like the larger version, ask for CGRSS!



New Soldier Quilt Patterns are a Big Hit and are now Partnered with EQ6

Rita Fishel designed a series of 12 quilt patterns that are approximately 40″ x 60″ – a perfect size for a soldier’s cot. The response to these patterns has been heart warming!  Patriotism is alive and well in the good old USA!

We now have all 12 patterns available under the “Free Resource” tab of our website:  When you click on this tab, several patterns will appear – including the 12 designed by Rita Fishel that uses the Creative Grid Stashbuster Ruler. (Item #CGRCSS).

Opening these Patterns as a Word Document

If you click on the Word document logo, the free pattern will open in Word.  You can download the pattern – as is – and start sewing.  But, you also have several options.

Personalizing the Patterns for your Group

Feel free to replace the Checker logo with your own.  You can simply insert your business card in this space and print copies to give away to your customers.  But please don’t remove Rita’s name as the designer – that just wouldn’t be fair!

Kitting the Patterns

Many of you are working with groups who are kitting these quilts and passing them out to members who do the actual sewing.  To make your lives easier, we have included labels at the end of each pattern.  This page can be printed on Avery #5163 computer labels.  Then, you can literally label every fabric in the kit so they won’t accidentally cut into the wrong fabric.  How user friendly is that!!!

Customizing the Patterns for your Shop

Once you have opened the quilt as a word document, you can make any changes you like – add borders, increase the number of blocks, etc.  Just be sure that any changes you make are incorporated into the entire pattern!  Most of these quilts were designed so that adding an outer border is fast and simple for those of you who would like a larger throw.

Opening these Patterns as an Electric Quilt 6 Document

If you have Electric Quilt 6, click on the EQ6 logo to open this pattern in your copy of Electric Quilt.  You can then make any changes you wish to the picture and replace the picture in the original pattern.  If you want to change the fabrics just import the desired fabrics from our website.  We have thousands of fabrics to choose from.  Increase the number of blocks, add borders, and play with the original design.  Make it a true original.

Isn’t technology amazing?

Electric Quilt 6 (Item #A-600EQ) – State of the Art technology

Electric Quilt has literally made hundreds of improvements to this version of their program.  I have been using it for a year and haven’t tapped it’s potential! 

Most of the time, I am drawing quilt blocks to insert in lesson plans.  This program allows me to create my own graph paper.  I can draw any block quickly and easily – and then print it off in any size I want.  That feature alone is worth buying the program.

But if you want to utilize the fabric library, you can import fabrics that are scanned to size.  All of the fabrics on the Checker site are scanned in at 100% so they work perfectly.  The program inserts the fabric pictures into your design – in the correct scale.  It is truly amazing.

60th Anniversary Open House – August 25th

We are very excited about the potential of this program and want to give all of our shops a chance to get comfortable with the technology.  Electric Quilt has agreed to come to our Open House and teach you how to use this program.  We may even offer classes the day before – for beginners and more advanced classes for those of you who are already hooked.  Just don’t be surprised if I’m sitting right there with you!

Adapting the patterns for other programs

While these quilts were originally designed for the Quilts of Valor program, they would all work just as well for other programs such as Quilts for Kids.  Just change the fabrics for a whole new look!  With EQ6, it is literally three clicks away!  Look at what happens when we change the fabrics in the Pinwheel quilt to fabrics from the Little LuLu line by Maywood Studios – instant baby quilt!

Use these quilts as a starting off point – the possibilities are endless!



New Fabrics and Patterns by Terry Atkinson and Liz Lois

These ladies have teamed up to create another winning fabric line.  And, Terry wrote two new books that showcase the new fabric.  Wait until you see the results – you’ll be thrilled!  The cover of her new book – Time Out Quilts – shows off her great fabric line but  I have included a slide show so you can savor each fabric.

Terry has used shortcuts to take the “Time Out” of piecing traditional designs – and you’ll be glad she did.  Even a beginner can achieve spectacular results the very first time. 

In “Let’s Do Lunch”, Terry shares 16 patterns for table runners and totes that you can easily finish in an afternoon.  Why not “Do Lunch” every month with your friends and spend the afternoon creating one of these projects?  Make memories and a keepsake – all in one day!

The focal fabric in Paisley Party designed by Liz Lois and Terry features bright, cheerful colors in Paisley Party.


Call your sales rep to order the books and fabric today.  The order numbers will be entered on the website very soon – but until then, your sales rep can take care of you! 

Enjoy the Slide Show: