The Elm Creek Quilts Saga continues…

Jennifer Chiaverini has a new book coming out in April – and I can’t wait.  In this book, the ladies of Elm Creek Quilts find a quilt in the attic that dates back to before the Civil War – and it has a story to tell
about it’s creator.

Item #3316-0 Retail $24.00

A runaway slave took refuge at the Inn in 1859 and this is her story.  Jennifer is at her best when she is writing about times gone by so I can’t wait to read this one!  Remember Sugar Camp Quilts – my personal favorite?

While researching this book, however, I discovered a wonderful surprise – I had missed her previous book – The Quilter’s Kitchen!  This book tells the story of remodeling the antique kitchen in the Inn – a requirement of the new chef!  I love the way that Jennifer introduces us to knew characters by writing a whole novel about them!  No wonder we fall in love with each one – they become a part of our quilting family!

Not only does this book tell a tale and introduce us to a new character, it also includes 100 recipes – many of them have been mentioned in past books.  I can’t wait to try some of the Christmas cookie recipes!  And who could resist Bratwurst with Apples and Onions???  Sally Sampson, a renowned cookbook writer, created these recipes just for this story.

Item #8329-5  Retail $19.95

Why not pre-sell copies of The Lost Quilter –  and throw a party featuring recipes from this book?  But, beware – they could have so much fun that they’ll want to continue and form a book club, make the quilts from the book…

the possibilities go on and on…..

Cook Your Way To A Healthy Diet

Sometimes I forget that Checker has an amazing selection of cookbooks – and what quilter doesn’t love to eat.  And lets face it, most of us love to cook too.  After all, quilters are always looking at ways to nourish the soul – and who can resist a home-cooked meal?

I think at this point, we all are tired of dieting – and are ready to give up on those New Year’s Resolutions.  Comfort food is sounding mighty good.  Well, never fear!  Phyllis Pellman Good has teamed up with the Mayo Clinic in creating her newest cookbook – Fix It and Enjoy It Healthy.  Create great tasting meals that meet all of the requirements of the Mayo Clinic’s Healthy Weight Pyramid”.

Item #GB642-7  Retail $18.95

I’m not sure what that means – I just know that these recipes taste great – and my family won’t even know that they ARE eating healthy!  Don’t you just love it when that happens?

Cooks from all over the country have sent in their favorite recipes.  Phyllis and a team from the Mayo Clinic analyzed all of the recipes and adapted them so they would be good for us – and still taste good!

This is another book that you will refer to again and again!   It is another best seller in the Fix It and Enjoy It series – that means that all of the foods are made on the stove top or the oven.  (Fix It and Forget It are favorites for crock pots).  And, with over 400 recipes, you definitely get your money’s worth!  Now the only thing you have to worry about is portion control!

And, as in all of her cookbooks, these are user friendly.  You don’t need to go to a specialty store to buy exotic ingredients that you may never use again.  Most of them are readily available in your pantry.  Prep and cooking times are included for every recipe – but most of them can be made in a matter of minutes so they will fit into every family’s lifestyle!  Even yours…

fabulous fabric beads By: Kristal Wick Book Review by Debbie Witenski

Debbie Witenski the Jewelry Making Editor at BellaOnline has written this great review of fabulous fabric beads by Kristal Wick.   To read more articles by Debbie click here


When I first picked up this book, I thought, “fabric beads?”. I didn’t think there would be enough to write a book on.

Kristal Wick has opened my eyes to a whole new side of bead making. And the way she has put this book together is very easy to follow. I can’t wait to try some of her techniques. There are many ways to make fabric beads.

This book combines a wide variety of techniques like; beading, quilting, fiber arts scrap booking and mixed media to create some beautiful jewelry.

In the beginning of the book she tells about what kinds of fabrics you can use and a little about them.

She also gives a good list of what you will need to make fabric beads. And a lot of the items you probably already have in your home. Especially if you are already a crafter.

To continue reading the review click here

Ordering information on this product from Checker Distributors

Item IP668-077
Fabulous Fabric Beads: Create Custom Beads and Art Jewelry^

Retail $22.95

Heather Bailey designs for all Generations

Heather Bailey is one of the hot, new designers to take the quilting world by storm.  But let me tell you, this girl has staying power!  Her new patterns are absolutely adorable.  Each and every one has that ahhh factor that you just can’t resist.  Everyone – from 20 to 60 – in our office loved them!  With that kind of wide appeal, Heather is sure to be a success in our industry.

Just Picked Pincushions

Let’s just start at the beginning!  Her first pattern is described as a “fruit salad” of pin cushions.  The pear, apple, tomato and strawberry are all included.  She makes them all out of fun fabrics.  The ahhh factor comes in when she combines wool and her fun fabrics by Free Spirit.  Every other segment of the pear – as well as the leaves and stem – are done in wool.  Not only does this make it more functional (the natural oils in the wool clean the needles), it also provides texture and makes them look like they came from a high end boutique!

Item #HBSP001  Retail $12.95

I would love to host a luncheon for my sewing friends and have a “fruit bowl” as the centerpiece.  Let your friends decide which one they take home as a memory.  Don’t forget to date and sign the bottom as a lasting memory of the day.  Martha Stewart would be so proud! 

Happy Stacker 

Who would have ever thought to make the most popular children’s toy out of fabric?  Heather not only made it soft and cuddly, she added “taggies” to the rings.  What toddler could resist – and what a great shower gift!  Scrappy, fun and inventive – who could ask for anything more!!!


Item #HBSP003  Retail $12.95

Marlo Bloom Handbag

This bag is not only versatile – it is reversible!  And, it is a nice size so you can use it to carry your projects as well.  It features hidden  magnets in the handles so the bag is a “snap” to reverse.  I’d like to take credit for that play on words – but it came directly from the pattern.


Item #HBSP004  Retail $12.95

Daily Spice

This cute little halter apron is a fashion statement all on its own.  Aprons are always popular – but this one has some shape and style to it.  What a great way to ease people into sewing – and fitting – clothes.  It includes patterns in three sizes – for real people – not a size 0 among them!  I told you this girl was smart!


Retail #HBSP002 Retail $12.95And, Heather’s sense of style – and background in the scrapbooking industry – shows through in the packaging.  It is eye catching, appealing and professionally done – and no plastic bags or sleeves to contend with. 


These samples were all made with fabrics from her “Pop Garden”; “Bijoux” and “Freshcut” fabric lines by Free Spirit.  These lines were released in 2007 and 2008 so they may not all be available – but with her sense of style, I’m sure there will be more lines to come!





Stray Sock Sewing – what’s not to love!

This book will just make you laugh – plain and simple!  This isn’t some cutsie little craft book – these socks are a work of art.  And, the only negative thing I can say about it is the cover doesn’t do it justice!  I wish I could share the hundred or so photos inside – but they are all so clever, I wouldn’t be able to choose more anyway!

Daniel, the author, has created make believe characters with so much personality that you wish they could come to life.  A rabbit may have a duck’s bill.  A dog may be standing up  with his hands in his pockets and sporting the cutest pot belly – and that’s all part of the fun.

Item #Z2799  Retail $19.99

The author says to use up those stray socks that have lost their mate and are laying around in your laundry room – but I couldn’t resist going to the stores and looking at socks in a whole new way!  I now shop for ribbing because it makes a perfect pig’s snout.  The heal could be the face of a lion.  Gripper dots can be fish scales – or spots on a leopard.  Who says they can’t change their spots?

Personally, I don’t care if I ever actually make one of these creatures.  But, they are very doable.  He gives great directions and helpful hints every step of the way.  So, if I don’t get them done, it is just because I didn’t give myself permission to play – because these are just too much fun!  I’m thinking Easter baskets….

I’m telling you, if you have a copy of this by your register, your customers will eat it up!  I know I’m gushing – and I don’t care!  They will leave your store laughing – with a song in their heart – and who could ask for anything more!  Thank you David!!!

My Grandmother would be amazed….

I celebrated a birthday this week -and when you are over 50 – and healthy, you might as well embrace it and enjoy it!  But what I have noticed in this latest “Vintage” craze, is that “Vintage” is now my childhood!!!  The first time I felt old was when I saw my deviled egg plate in an antique store.  When did the dishes that I got for wedding gifts – and are still in my cupboards – antiques?  And what does that say about the owner?

But now that I have become a grandmother, I have become nostalgic too.  I remember moments at MY grandma’s house when she taught me how to embroider.  I remember her taking me to the local Ben Franklin store to buy a towel and pick out a transfer.  Well, guess what – they’re back – and popular to a whole new generation!

Item #PKSTR Retail $3.50     Item #PKSTG  Retail $3.50
Item #PKSTM  Retail $3.50

And, at $3.50  they are the perfect foundation for your next embroidery or applique class.  Or demo your machine embroidery designs on these classic towels.  What could be cuter!  And talk about cute and reasonably priced gifts….

A set of towels and iron on transfers can be gift boxed for around $5.00 – the price is even nostalgic!

Item #HIT101 $33.60 Retail for 24 Patterns
Days of the Week and Tea Towels

Have these on hand the next time that Girl Scout leader comes in asking for a project for her troop.  Who knows, your customers may actually buy them simply to use as dishtowels – just the way they are.

Set up a display featuring your 30’s and 40’s fabrics; vintage apron patterns; some embroidery patterns by Aunt Martha; Bird Brain Designs; Crab Apple Hill; or Pattern Central – and you have a vignette that no one will be able to resist!  Don’t forget to sprinkle in some red floss or pearl cotton and take a step back in time….

Item #BBD266 Retail $9.00
Item #CAH239 Retail $8.00

Item #PTC119 Retail $8.00

Revisit the Clothesline Basket Craze with these New Additions

Aunties Two has come up with a series of basket and bowl patterns that are every quilter’s (and shop owners) dream!  Talk about a stash buster – the average basket takes 3 yards of fabric – or approximately thirty-five to forty 2 1/2″ strips.  And, the patterns warn you that you go through a boatload of thread.  They suggest you wind two full bobbins before you even start.  And, the projects are absolutely adorable.

Item #AT102 Retail $9.00
Bali Bags – 12″ wide and 11″ high

The designers suggest using Bali Pops – the 2 1/2″ strips that you can buy pre-cut, but you can cut your own and use up your stash.  You simply wrap the strips around clothesline and stitch the wrapped clothesline together with a zigzag stitch.  And, guess what, we carry the clothesline too!  Most of these large projects take 125 feet of clothesline, so you will need two.

Item #WDLINE Retail $4.59
100 ft. of Poly Reinforced Cotton
Batiks are a great choice for these projects because it doesn’t fray, but I’ve made them out of other fabrics and they are just as cute.  And, it is a great way to use up all of those odds and ends of threads – on spools and bobbins.  I just kept changing threads as I finished up spools and bobbins – and since the fabrics were scrappy, you couldn’t even tell.  The threads just blended right in.


Item #AT103  Retail $9.00
Bali Boxes  10″ wide; 5″ high; and 10″ deep
I like that these containers have substance!  They are big enough to make a decorating statement in any room – but when stitched together, they really are stable – and functional!


Item #AT101  Retail $9.00
Bali Bowls – includes three projects

These really are fun and easy to do – and a great class.  They suggest that it is also a great way to use up scraps of binding.  It doesn’t matter if the fabric is cut on the bias or straight of grain; 2 1/2″ or 2 1/4″ side; etc. – it is very forgiving.

But there are a few tricks that might make your life easier.  Use a Microtex needle such as a 14/90 (Item #1731 Retail $4.39).  These needles are very sharp and penetrate the fibers easily.

And, have your sewing machine in a cabinet or use a Plexiglass extension table to support the bottom of the project so it will be flat after it is stitched.

If you are planning to do one of these projects as a class, show your students how to wrap the clothesline – and have that part done when they come to class. Thay can do it while they are sitting in front of the T.V.  Then, when they come to class you can focus on teaching them how to make the bottom of the project and turn the sides.  Once they get that much done, the intimidating part is over and they can easily finish the rest of it on their own.

Don’t forget to add the “ahhh” factor!  The Dill buttons used to attach the handles add a touch of class to all of the projects.  We carry all kinds of buttons that would be great for this.

And, if you are setting up a display in your shop, don’t forget the book that started it all – It’s a Wrap by Susan Breier.  This book has been in the top 20 since it was released and is still going strong!  Susan suggests cutting your strips into different widths, etc., but the technique is still the same.

Item #B772T  Retail $19.95

Remember, this is a great way to use up ends of bolts, sale fabrics, etc.  You are really only choosing colors when picking out fabric – the design isn’t going to show at all.  You’ll be surprised how different they look when sewn into a basket.  But, that’s half of the fun!



Green Promotion

Joan Hawley of Lazy Girl Designs forwarded an Oklahoma Quiltworks newsletter. I love this promotion and it is now a permanent fixture at the store according to Barbara Stanfield the owner.  Here is an excerpt from her newsletter

Thanks to all of you who participated in our newest “green” project. Hundreds of you chose to bring your own bag to the shop or otherwise not take one of our sacks for your purchases. Each time you did that, you got a chance to win a $30.00 gift certificate. Our first drawing was held September 15th and Carolyn Hendricks of Guthrie was the lucky winner. Subsequent drawings will be held the 15th of each month. We hope you’re soon a winner.

Store owners, Checker offers many wonderful tote patterns, consider going one step further and say if they come in with a bag they made they qualify for a perk, a drawing, small discount, free fat quarter, etc.

Market Totes-Stylish and sturdy grocery bag totes fold flat for easy storage.
Vendor: Brookshier Design Studio
Item# 07752  Retail $9.00
Market Bag
Vendor: Country Quilter
Item# CQ212 Retail $7.00

Dharma Eco Bag-Complete instructions for foldable bag. 3 Sizes

Vendor: Serendipity Studio
Item# SDG96  Retails $9.00
Or you can purchase paper bags from Checker. These bags are made from recycled paper.  The paper which they are made from was used to collect excess dye during the printing of some drapery and upholstery fabrics.   Because of this, the prints are constantly changing and often have several prints in each case.

They range in sizes 6×9 to 17x4x21.  To view all the sizes you must be logged into the website.  Then visit the tab marked ‘supplies’.

The bags can also be recycled after the consumer is done with them.

Meg Cox, Part Two: How to Host a Learn to Quilt Party

Last week, Meg Cox was nice enough to share some of the ideas she talked about in her Schoolhouse presentation at Houston.  This week, she is sharing the specifics – how to host a how-to-quilt party at a different location and then encourage those customers to come to your store.  Thanks, Meg

For Checker Newsletter
By Meg Cox, author of The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide 

Item #13881 Retail $18.95

Hosting a Learn-to-Quilt Party to Build New Customers

People who don’t know how to quilt now aren’t coming to your shop. But if you can get them started on a quilt, however simple, they’ll need what you’re selling. 

My advice is to find a bookstore in your area with a flair for community events. Tell them that you’ll host this free Learn to Quilt Party in their space and they can sell The Quilter’s Catalog: A Comprehensive Resource Guide, along with other good quilt books for beginners.

A local library is another possible venue, as long at the staff are energetic promoters.  Here are some tips based on what worked for the two events I produced at a local independent bookstore in Princeton, N.J.:


Because you want to attract new customers, the bookstore needs to lead on this, putting signs up in the store, alerting the local media, and most important, sending e-mails to their customer list. What you can do to help is to provide at least one stunning quilt for them to hang in a prominent place, next to a sign about the quilt party.   This should be a beginner quilt, but not look like one. Give the store some information to help sell the event about how the newly cool craft of quilting has doubled in a decade — and is a perfect
new hobby during a recession.

Preparing for the Quilt Party:

The two most important things we did were to actually get people started on a quilt, and to make the event fun, a real party, with refreshments, raffle prizes and time to chat. We wanted guests to see the rich resources for quilters within their own community, so members from the local quilt guild were invited to make a short presentation and stayed to help people start their quilts. Fabric was pre-cut in 10 and a half inch squares (the bookstore needs to keep a sign-up sheet, so you’ll know how much fabric to cut. Our event for adults drew more than 30). You’ll cut squares according to the pattern you use, but make sure the fabric squares come from fabric in stock, so people can finish what they start!

How the Party Works:

Grab the crowd with great show-and-tell quilts from the quilt shop. Show your sample quilts from beginner classes, easy kit quilts, and Block of the Month quilts (this will be a fascinating new concept to most non-quilters).

Explain how quilting has changed to become faster, high tech and more personal and share the ways your shop supports quilters. Then pass out fabric and have them sew at least two blocks together, by hand or machine: at our events, local guild members brought machines to help those who wanted to sew by machine. Some people milled around and drank quiltinis (mocktails with cranberry and pineapple juice) and ate cookies with “patchwork” frosting while others sewed.

Use what pattern you wish, but we used the easy tied quilt from The Quilter’s Catalog, and during the party, demonstrated the easy technique of tying, letting guests do practice ties on a sample quilt. (Note: if you want to use this pattern, it’s available free on my website, and advertised on the homepage. Feel free to copy and print.)

Prizes to Give:

The Pennington Quilt Works put together a lovely basket full of fat quarters. Each party guest picked a fat quarter and tied to it was a business card from the shop, complete with address, hours and the website. Participants also got a coupon for a free box of quilter’s pins the first time they come to the shop. Raffle prizes consisted of a few big fabric bundles.  Being the creative shop-owner you are, add your own flourishes. I’d love to hear how it goes! Contact me at meg@www.checkernewsletter.commegcox.comand I’ll send you the quiltini mocktail recipe.

Organizing your Serger and Cone Threads

ArtBin has come to the rescue once again!  Now that so many of you sell sewing machines; sergers; longarm and mid-arm quilting machines, the days of a shop carrying one 50 weight thread rack are over!  Threads is the fastest growing segment of our business.  These machines USE threads – and 100 yard spools just don’t cut it!

That means that your customers have accumulated cone threads and serger threads that are awkward and bulky – and have no way to store them.  ArtBin just released pictures of a new product that is coming out in March.  I know this is jumping the gun – but if you order now, our buyer will have some idea of how many to order – and you will receive yours from the first shipment. 

This is actually two products.  They have produced an extra deep container that is over 5″ deep so you can store charm squares and fat quarters vertically.  It comes with dividers so you can customize the container to meet your needs.

Item #6990AB Retail $28.99

For those of you who have cone threads, ArtBin is producing a thread tray that will fit into this container and hold up to 25 cones or 50 serger thread spools.  The rods that hold the spool can be adapted to fit your needs.  What a great idea!

Item #6901AB Retail $18.99