Barb Adams and Alma Allen’s Garden is ALWAYS in Full Bloom

I love everything these girls do – and this book is no exception.  They combine textures to create a warm and cozy decorating style that is hard to resist!   Wools, cottons and linens provide the foundation for their beautiful applique designs.

Item #BD137 Retail $25.00

But don’t be intimidated by applique!  The patterns in this book have simple curves and points that are easy to turn.  And, in “Posies in the Valley”, the blocks are set on point and finish to 20″ so just thirteen blocks make an 85″ square.  Add a simple border to turn it into a queen or king size quilt.

And, in every book, they use notions and trims to enhance their designs and add the “awe” factor.  In this case, the stems of the flowers are dyed cotton rick rack.  Baskets are “woven” from it to create that touch of whimsy.  But, remember, the rick racks MUST be cotton to take the dyes and create that natural, muted effect that is the basis of the “Cottage Chic” look.

They expand our horizons – and let us dream of new uses for every pattern and book we own.  Barb and Alma reduce and enlarge their favorite designs so they can be appliqued on a pin cushion, a pillow, a rug, a pillow sham – and, yes, even a quilt!

They will be signing copies of their latest book at the Checker Booth at Houston next month.  Stop by and meet these amazing women.  You’ll be glad you did!

Carol Doak revisits an old Favorite

It has been ten years since Carol Doak inspired us all with her Easy Reversible Vests.  And in that time, this book has sold over 100,000 copies!  But times have changed and it was time to revisit this classic!  While the basic tenants of the original book stand the test of time, she and her students have embellished, accented and expanded them so much that it was time for an update!

Item #B930T
Retail $26.95

This new book includes the foundation patterns for a simple vest.  But that is where simplicity ends!  Carol uses these foundations as a means to teach paper-piecing, Seminole piecing, strip piecing and embellishing.  And, for those of you who would love to try your hand at garment sewing – she teaches you the basics of that too. 

But, PLEASE don’t pass on this book because you don’t sew clothing!  You will be missing her simple, easy to follow instructions – with illustrations galore.  These techniques can easily be incorporated into any of your projects.  Consider teaching a series of classes – each month showcasing a particular technique.  Carol is a wonderful teacher with years of experience.  There are hints and tricks on every page that make this a must read for everyone!

Carol will be signing copies of her book at the Checker booth at Houston next month.  Stop by for a visit and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge she shares in this book!

Everything you wanted to know about quilting but didn’t know to ask…

The Quilter”s Catalog, a comprehensive resource guide by Meg Cox is a must have for EVERY quilter.  Beginners can use it as a dictionary to understand all of the terms and phrases that are exclusive to quilting.  The more experienced among us can explore new avenues of interests – photo transfer, dying fabrics, art quilts, beading, dating quilts, etc.


But, as we all know, quilting is a sub-culture all it’s own!  And Meg spent seven years living in our world.  She attended the national markets and shows, talked to teachers, interviewed manufacturers, sent questionnaires to quilters, and organized all of this information into a concise, understandable, user friendly guide that should be a staple in every quilter’s library!

Think of it as the ultimate “Reader’s Digest” for quilters.  Meg’s background as a writer for the Wall Street Journal shines through.  It is like picking up a 600 page newspaper with 300 articles!  You can open any page and read for 15 minutes – and learn something.  Keep a highlighter handy – you’ll need it!

This book goes way beyond “how to quilt”.  It also covers how to attend national shows, sell a quilt, find shops on-line, arrange to have a teacher come to your area, find a guild, start a stash, subscribe to magazines, the list goes on and on.

And, as a reporter, Meg checks her sources.  Each section was reviewed by an expert in that field.  It is truly an amazing undertaking – and the perfect Christmas present for any quilter!  And, at $18.95, who can resist???

Meg will be signing copies of her book at the Checker booth at Houston International Quilt Market in October, 2008.  Stop by and visit with her.  She is currently researching how to bring quilting into the mainstream.  It is a fascinating topic – and one that should be addressed by every shop owner.  Hope to see you there!


Mary Mashuta Brings the Art of Machine Quilting to Everyone

When I think of Mary Mashuta, I think of bold colors, striking use of graphic designs such as stripes and plaids, and sharp contrasts.  That’s why I was surprised when I heard that her latest book was on machine quilting.  But, when I read the book – “Foolproof Machine Quilting” – it made perfect sense!  She has applied these same signature visual elements to machine quilting. 

Item #10618
Retail $20.95 

While the simplicity of her techniques will not intimidate the novice, the dramatic effects created by combining the methods will appeal to the experienced quilters as well.  Her matter of fact, step by step approach, makes it easy. 

Frankly, many of the books I see give way too much information!  While that is a good thing for those of you who have already had success quilting your own pieces, it can overwhelm a beginner. 

And, it doesn’t have to be expensive.  Mary keeps the supply list down to a minimum too.  She teaches you how to cut your own templates and start with the basics.  After you have learned them, she shares other templates and products that can expand your design capabilities.  But, you won’t believe what she is able to create by sewing simple, straight lines!    Remember, Mary’s roots and expertise in working with dramatic stripes and plaids?  She has quilted these elements into her projects to add a three-dimensional effect that, while simple, is simply dynamic!

And, it is a good read!  There are hints and tips on every page – with lots if illustrations.  Everyone will learn something from the master!  Take advantage of her 30 plus years of experience – and add her own quirky style to your next project.

To explore her roots, you may also want to read Confetti Quilts.  This book showcases her dramatic sense of color and graphic design – a picture is worth a thousand words…..

Item #10304
Retail $26.95

Mary will be signing copies of her latest book at the Checker booth at International Quilt Market in Houston next month.  Stop by for a visit.  It is not often that you get to meet a legend!


Judie Rothermel and Crabapple Hill Combine for the Perfect Fall Display

Fall is just around the corner – and it is time for you to set up those seasonal displays!  For those of you who procrastinated, Crab Apple Hill had the most beautiful booth at Spring Market.  (Meg assumes that we are always working a few seasons ahead so our projects are done in time for each holiday – oh, if I lived in that perfect world!)

Over the River and through the Woods   Hocuspocusville
Item #CAH316 Retail $9.00                     Item #CAH313 Retail $25.00 

For those of you who prefer to enjoy the seasons as they evolve – and are always working on a project the EVE of that holiday – we have just the ticket! After all, I prefer to think that that unfinished project in my basket is just a part of the decorations.  The colors even coordinate! 

Meg created a whole new line of fall patterns – to add to the favorites we’ve enjoyed in the past.  Just set up a display of these patterns, pull some black and cream fabrics from your shelves, add some pearl cottons – and you are ready for fall!

But, if you don’t have fabrics in these colorways – Judie Rothermel has come to your rescue.  She has a new line of reproduction fabrics called “Ink Well” that are perfect for these projects!  In fact, great minds think alike!  Marcus Brothers sent this line to Meg and she is considering using it for her new Fall patterns – that will be released at Spring Market! 

If you buy this line NOW, it should arrive by the end of September-beginning of October – just in time for this season – and you’ll actually be prepared for next!

Check out this slide show to see ALL of the patterns and fabrics – Instant fall!!!!

Sponsor a Demo Day to Address the Longarm and Machine Quilting Market

Home quilting machines are quickly becoming a market all their own.  Think about it – many of your customers have sewing machines and embroidery machines that cost $5,000 – $7,000.  Now many manufacturers are offering quilting machines in that price range. 

And it is an easy sell.  Just do the math.  A dedicated quilter makes at least 12 quilts a year – and so do her friends!  Machine quilting has become an art form with cottage businesses springing up everywhere.  But, in our area, the best are booked up to a year in advance!   And, custom quilting can start at 2 1/2 cents an inch.  That means that a queen size quilt averages around $250 for just the quilting!  It is not a hard sell to convince dedicated quilters to buy their own when many are paying up to $3,000 a year to have their projects machine quilted!  

As a company, we are looking at new products that you will need to feed this growing market.  Products that were novelties just a few short years ago, are now staples.  Here are some related products that I found on our site that you may want to consider…..

Stitch and Ditch Stabilizer

Debbie Field was at our Open House and sold three cases of Stitch and Ditch Stabilizer!  I had never even heard of it – but she swears it is the greatest thing since sliced bread and had no trouble convincing our customers.  It comes in two different widths – 3″ and 8″ and on rolls that are 70 feet long.  You just tear off the length you need. 

Item #SDS8 $9.87
Item #SDS3 $7.12

You can mark a quilting pattern on the paper and stitch right through it.  It tears away easily and doesn’t leave any of those “whispies” in the seam that we used to have to try to brush out. Or, place it under your piece as a stabilizer for machine embroidery.

 You can also use it to stabilize difficult fabrics.  Just sandwich vinyl, for instance, between two layers of this product and sew.  You can stitch even the slipperiest, stretchiest fabrics quickly and easily! Use it for rolled hems on a serger – no puckers!  I can’t wait to try it on the plush backings that are so popular now – this could be just the answer for stitching Minkee!

505 Temporary Adhesive Spray

Many machine quilters are using this spray on their plastic templates to hold them in place while they are machine quilting around the shapes.  It is like making a “Post It” note out of your template.  You can also use it to hold the Stitch and Ditch in place or baste layers together for quilting.   It does not gum up needles or create a gummy residue. 

Item #505
Retail $12.69

DK5300 Spray and Fix Cleaning Agent

When we get a little carried away with the adhesive spray, the “over spray” may accumulate on hoops, needles, frames, table tops AND the stencils.  This product cleans it off quickly and easily.  Do NOT use it on fabrics!

Item #DK5300
Retail $8.79

Marking Pencil Remover

This is a phosphate based product that quickly and easily removes markings from quilts.  This is NOT just for machine quilters.  How many times have you had customers ask how to remove pencil marks on quilts that were hand quilted?

Item #MPR
Retail $7.25

Machine Quilting Templates

We also carry a line of quilting templates by Quilters Rule.  These templates come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  They are all cut from 1/4″ thick acrylic so that they can be used with a hopping foot.  Simply place them on the quilt and stitch around them – no marking required.

But, if you want to get fancy, you can use them as the foundation to create your own quilting designs.  Turning the heart template 90 degrees, for instance, creates an interlocking heart design that is just beautiful.  Draw it on the Stitch and Ditch and quilt away!

All of these templates are etched with centering and registration lines to make your life easier.  But, remember, they can be used for marking quilts for hand quilting too.  And, many of them could be translated into beautiful appliques. 

Retail $9.75

Fabric GripsIf you do not like using an adhesive spray, just stick some of these sandpaper dots on the back of your templates so they do not slip while marking or sewing.  These have been around for years – they are just now more useful than ever!


Item #18C
Retail $2.69 – minimum 6
One of the hottest sellers right now is a marking pencil by Bohin.  It comes in white – with refills that can be purchased separately in green, yellow, and gray.  All marks are water soluble and remove easily.  So, if you want to mark your quilts, go for it!

Chalk Mechanical Pencil


Item #91473
Retail $11.49

Most of these products are cross-over items.  They can be used for machine quilting – but have traditional uses as well.  Why not stock them, do a demo, and see what the market is in your area?  The risk is minimal since they all have a dual purpose anyway.  And, before doing that demo – read the packaging!  You will be surprised what you learn! 


Memories and Photos of Our Open House

Out 60th Anniversary was such a success, that I couldn’t resist sharing some more pictures!  We spend months preparing for this event – and it is all over so quickly….but this is what happens behind the scenes!

You may have noticed that the showroom looked spectacular.  That is because Beth and Pat spent months replacing and re-stickering the samples.  With over 80,000 items in inventory, merchandise is added and discontinued every day so we can meet the current needs of our customers.

Pat and Beth checked every item to verify that it was still in stock, priced correctly, and packaged beautifully.  In some cases, the same packaging had been in the showroom since it had been entered into our system.  A “spring cleaning” was in order – and they did a magnificent job!



From start to finish, we had a great time – and since most of you pre-registered, lines were kept down to a minimum!

It’s not ALL about the food, but the food WAS great!  Who can resist good barbecue???  During all of that shopping, it is nice to take a break and get off of your feet!  George should be your new best friend!  He was the one in charge of breakfast, drinks, snacks, and the lunch room.  He kept you fed and hydrated all day – which is no easy task!  Having four different lunch times cut down on lines and made everything run smoothly!

While you were on your way home, the entire staff was tearing down the show!  What took two days and months of planning to create, was down in less than two hours!  After all, it is back to business first thing Tuesday morning – and the receiving and shipping departments have to be up and running!

Over 150 quilts had to be taken down, inventoried, insured, and shipped back to their owners.  And, we are so grateful to our vendors for sharing their work with you!  These quilts transformed our warehouse into a colorful and inviting venue overnight!  Everywhere you looked there was eye candy for the soul…

The demonstrators had to get home too.  We helped them tear down their booths, pack their samples, go out to one last dinner to say good-bye, and in some cases, took them back to the airport.  Thank God for excel spreadsheets.  Rob has spreadsheets for everything – and everyone!

We have one day and night to enjoy all of you and the event – and by Tuesday morning, it is back to business!  The buyers are buying, merchandise is being received, orders are being shipped, and all of the orders you all placed that you didn’t take with you are being entered! 

And, we are all asked to give Rob ideas on how to improve this event for next year!  That is the great part about working at Checker – there is always room for improvement – and we are always striving to be better.  Rob examines what worked and what needs tweaked, what improvements from last year should be implemented in the future, and what we heard from our customers that can improve our business 24/7 – not just for this one day.  There have already been two meetings about next year’s event!

Here is a slide show of the displays and advance placement libraries. 

But now it is time to look forward to Fall Market!  We are in the process of picking authors for book signings, preparing Schoolhouse programs, coordinating displays, etc.  Next week, I will be letting you know how to make appointments, etc. for Houston….let the good times roll…..

Create Classic Children’s Clothing for a Fraction of the Cost

I admit that I became a grandmother this year – so I may be slightly prejudice!  But a new line of patterns by Oliver + S has everything going for it!  Classic styles and creative packaging will appeal to everyone.  It is now possible to sew boutique clothing that looks like it walked right off the pages of a Talbot’s catalog – at a fraction of the cost!

Sunday Brunch Jacket & A-Line Skirt      Swingset Tunic and Skirt
Item #OS009SB1 – Size NB – 24 mo.      Item #OS004SS1 – Size NB – 24 mo.
Item #OS009SB2 – Size 2T – 5T             Item #OS004SS2 – Size 2T – 5T
Retail $15.95                                         Retail $15.95

The Sunday Brunch pattern is a perfect example of the detail and quality of design that are showcased in these patterns.  The double breasted, long sleeved jacket with the matching A-line skirt would be gorgeous in cotton velveteen – just in time for the holidays.  The tunic and gathered skirt are great for back to school!

They even have patterns for boys!  And, they are just as cute.  Check out these pajamas – basic and functional!

Bedtime Story Pajamas                              Sandbox Paint and Starfish Stencil
Item #OS008BT1 – 6 months to 3              Item #OS009SB1 – 6 months to 3
Item #OS008BT2 – 4 – 8                             Item #OS009SB2 – 4 – 8
Retail $15.95                                              Retail $15.95

 But my favorite is the play clothes and little dresses.  After all, it may be the last time you will see these little ones in dresses – once they start picking out their own clothes – until their wedding day!  In many cases, such as the puppet show pattern – the dress can be shortened to a tunic length.  How can you resist?

Puppet Show Tunic, Dress & Shorts
Item #OS002PS1 – NB – 24 month
Item #OS002pS2 – 2T – 5 

Bubble Dress
Item #OS003BB1 – NB – 24 Month
Item #OS003BB2 – 2T – 5T

 Each pattern is available in two sets of sizes.  With the fabrics available today, you can make heirloom quality clothing for your favorite little ones.  And, if you have embroidery machines – add monograms.  You can’t get any more classic than that!


Coldplay’s Chris Martin reveals sewing is key to their success

Chris Martin (Getty Images)

Coldplay’s thrifty habit has us in stitches…

We couldn’t help cracking up when we heard Coldplay secret to their success – sewing.

They’ve sold 34.6 million albums and top the rock rich list, but the thrifty lot don’t care about their image or waste their wonga on designer threads.

Instead, the millionaire rock stars like nothing better than getting behind their sewing machines for a good stitch and bitch.

To read rest of the story click here