Happy 25th Anniversary Paducah

Each week, we try to publish three different articles that represents a cross section of our industry – but this week is different.  I just returned from Paducah and this was a once in a lifetime experience, so grab a cup of coffee and join me on my first trip to this Mecca for quilters.  This year, life is different for all of us – and especially for the folks in Paducah, Kentucky.

You see, they have dealt with struggles and challenges that most of us will never experience.  The folks at AQS were busy planning a 25th anniversary event in the midst of an uncertain economy when Mother Nature threw them a curve – one of the worst ice storms in history!  Less than three months before opening day the entire area lost power – many for as long as three weeks – and the restoration continues.

    

 

The weight of the ice on these trees literally snapped them into pieces – and the remains were scattered over miles!  Roads were impassable, businesses were without power, and even when electricity was restored to these locations, the employees were enduring blackout conditions!  And the clean-up continues.  Road crews were cutting and clearing trees for miles along the highways as we drove in.  

The population of the town is 26,000 – the county seat of McCracken County – with a population of over 55,000 people.  These citizens love their home and are proud to share it with over 35,000 crazy quilters every year!  And this year – knowing the challenges they faced – I am so proud to have been a part of this event!

Meredith and Bill Schroeder – founders of American Quilter’s Society – have created a venue that can’t be duplicated anywhere!  The first word that comes to mind is charming!  The folks in Paducah are an example of Southern hospitality at its best!  The grace and gentility of the people is heart warming.  Manners have not gone out of style – and it is so refreshing to have doors opened for you, drivers taking your hand as they help you out of a car, policemen on bicycles helping lost pedestrians….and smiles on every face…..

We stayed at a lodge on a beautiful lake approximately 45 miles away so we did have a little commute but there were no traffice jams because the city set up a Park and Ride at the local fairgrounds.  They even have shopping and entertainment there – Eleanor Burns!  She has her famous tent show at this location and two more tents full of books, patterns, and fabrics just for shopping!  What a welcoming committee!!!

 
Eleanor Burns at her Best           One of the Quilt in a Day Tent Store

     

You park your car there and jump on a shuttle – for FREE – to go anywhere you want!  Shuttles run constantly to take you downtown, to the convention center, to the quilt museum, to Hancock’s – they even have shuttles that will drop you off anywhere at absolutely no charge!  How thoughtful is that!


Hancock’s of Paducah

This is a city with a small town feel.  They have preserved the downtown that was built where four rivers converge – the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Cumberland, and the Mississippi.  A quiet walk along the river – and the flood walls painted in murals – leads from downtown to the convention center.

     
The Riverwalk…


The Flood Wall Murals

Quilt shops, antique stores, and privately owned restaurants abound on brick streets in the most beautiful setting with the river as a backdrop. Horse-drawn carriages and trolleys are part of the landscape!  And quilts are displayed everywhere!

 
Downtown….


Brick Streets

And, then there is the Convention Center – the heart of it all!  The shuttle drops you off at the corner where tents are erected so that the people waiting for the shuttles can sit, rest and wait in the shade!  And, the county fair feeling continues because there are tents set up where food vendors are selling fresh squeezed lemonade, homemade potato chips, brats, corn dogs, strawberry shortcake……we were drooling before we even got in the door!

 

The quilt show is right in the middle of the vendor’s mall so there is eye candy wherever you look!  It is simply breathtaking!  They have chairs lining all of the halls so people can take a break when needed.  And sometimes quilters in the making just couldn’t wait for a nap!

   
 Many of the vendors have been participating for years and have become dear friends.  And this sense of friendship spills over into the aisles.  One vendor will recommend another – and even leave their booth to introduce you to their neighbors!  Where else will you see Kaye Wood at the end of one aisle and Rita Fishel and her sidekick, Linda Burton at the end of another!
 
Linda Burton and Rita Fishel                     

Kaye WoodThere are even vendors at the mall – and these booths transform a commercial destination into a taste of home!  And, the vendors made it worth the trip!

 

   
Lisa of Primitive Gatherings

 

There is only one thing missing from this entire event – a sense of commercialism!  There are no long lines for over-priced taxis, no expensive parking garages, no $3.00 bottles of water, no honking horns….just an entire town that opens its arms every year to welcome our entire industry with dignity and grace….and this year, overcame impossible obstacles to make this happen!  And speaking for the entire quilting community,  we thank you!

 

 

Paper-Piecing has Come of Age

Carolyn Cullinan McCormick may not be a household name – but her tools are!  You can thank her for inventing the Add-A-Quarter ruler series.  That’s right – she is the lady that made paper-piecing mainstream!  And Kansas City Star couldn’t find a better person to teach us all how to paper-piece.

But this time around, Carolyn has brought it to a whole new level.  She devised a method that makes it possible to piece curves.  In her latest book, “Wedding Ring, Pickle Dish & More” quilts that you have avoided for years are now possible.


KCS02-9  Retail $26.95

Once Carolyn figured out how to paper-piece these curves, however, she started looking at all curved quilts differently.  The book also includes paper-pieced instructions for many old favorites that we avoided in the past – Hands All Around; Rob Peter to Pay Paul; Lafayette Orange Peel; The Flower Ring, The Broken Stone, and my favorite – an Interlocked Wedding Ring.

The Interlocked Wedding Ring was designed by a man in Montana in the 1930’s who thought the rings in the traditional quilt should be interlocked.  I had never seen this particular pattern before – and it is stunning!

But this is not just a project book!  Carolyn has included step-by-step instructions for paper-piecing.  They are not only well done, they are illustrated so those of you who are visual learners can pick up the technique quickly and easily.  Why not learn from the master???

If you enjoy this book, why not check out  “Quilts for Rosie – Paper Piecing Patterns from the 40’s”?  She makes piecing vintage blocks fun and doable! 


Item #KCS13923  Retail $25.95But to paper-piece accurately, you need the right tools.  The Add-A-Quarter ruler comes in three lengths – 6″; 12″ and 18″.  Choose the length you need for the particular project you are completing – I have all three.  After all, they are a one time investment. 

 

            
Item #CM6 Retail $6.50   Item #CM12 $9.50


Item #CM18  $12.95She has also invented an Add-an-Eighth ruler for paper-piecing miniatures.  By trimming the seams to 1/8″, you elliminate the bulk when sewing all of those tiny pieces!  And, for those of you who like to work with heavier fabrics, the Add Three-Eighths Ruler will meet your needs.

 

                      
Item #CM1-8 Retail $6.50    Item #CM3-8  Retail $9.50And for those of you who dread paper-piecing because you are never sure how big to cut your fabric pieces, Carolyn has the perfect accesory for you – the Add-Enough Ruler.  It works like a charm!

 


Item #CMAE  Retail $4.95Carolyn will be demonstrating her technique and signing copies of her new book at the Checker Booth at Quilt Market in Pittsburgh.  Stop by and have the expert answer all of your paper-piecing questions and learn how to teach a class in your shop.  Wouldn’t the Add Enough Ruler be a great demo day selection? 

 

Machine Applique is coming to Pittsburgh

The title says it all!  I love applique, but for years, I’ve heard quilters dismiss it immediately because of a bad experience in the past.  “I don’t like handwork” is no longer an excuse!  Sharon Pederson doesn’t either so she has experimented with different techniques to produce heirloom quality applique by machine.  And, what a convert she is – you’ll be so glad that the “A” word is now in her vocabulary!

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Item #B911T
Retail $27.95 

Heirloom quality is the key!  This book is all about the details.  Sharon actually tells you WHY she appliques this way – and WHY it works!  So, don’t skip right to the projects – you’ll be doing yourself a disservice! 

Grab a cup of coffee and read about the different weights of threads – and when and why to use each.  Learn the difference between a 50 weight and 60 weight thread and which one to use in your bobbin. 

Tension issues?  Not a problem!  Learn how to solve them or disguise them so no one will ever know they existed.  There is such a wealth of information in this book, take the time to read every word.  With her help, you will become an educated quilter! 

The Techniques 

Experiment with invisible applique that is so fine, you would need a magnifying glass to tell that it was NOT done by hand. 

But, if you are more comfortable using fusible web, learn the tricks of the trade by trying Sharon’s personal favorite – Steam a Seam 2 (Item #5517WM in 9″ x 12″ sheets, Retail $4.95). 

Then try your hand at reverse applique.  Her step by step instructions for a stained glass floral wall hanging make it simple for even a beginner.   

The Projects – Adding the AHHH Factor

Now that you have perfected the techniques, it is time to play!  This book was not written as a project book – but they are so well done that it could stand on that merit alone.  All of the knowledge and experience that Sharon shares is a bonus. 

There are nine companion projects in the book that focus on different machine applique techniques, but each one also includes a tip or technique that makes it special.  Even if you are not going to make every project, take the time to read the instructions any way – there are gems of wisdom hidden in every page!

In the Rose of Sharon pattern for instance, she uses only two patterns.  The quilt is so stunning that it is hard to believe that she could create such beauty from two simple shapes.

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In the case of the double wedding ring, she has taken a complicated pattern and made it simple.  The wall hanging size would be a perfect class for any shop.  And, the finished project would make an excellent gift for a wedding, anniversary party, or engagement.  Adding names, dates, and pictures would make it extra special.

The striking contrast of black and white is dramatic – and, remember, these are all appliqued so there are no curved seams! 

Sharon loves Sashiko quilts and for those of you who loved her previous book on that subject, you will be drawn to the cover quilt which features an appliqued version of this technique.  In fact, this may be a good time to re-visit ALL of Sharon’s previous books.  You will learn something in every one.

After all, it is all about the details…..and Sharon knows how to make a sewing machine sing!

She will be signing copies of her new DVD that compliments the book at the Checker Booth at Spring Market in Pittsburgh, PA.  We look forward to seeing you!

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Item #B534T                                          Item #B668T
Retail $26.95                                          Retail $24.95

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Retail $27.95

A Touch of Felt

Lynne Farris chose the perfect title for her new book – “A Touch of Felt” – but don’t let the word”felt” fool you.  Dont’ just skip to the projects – take the time to read about the different materials available!  Learn about wool roving, felted wool, and fooling.  This may be the perfect time to consider adding felt and wool to your inventory.

  
Item #10609  Retail $26.95This book includes 22 fresh and fun projects that gives you an opportunity to work with different mediums and try different techniques.  Most of the projects can be completed in an afternoon.  So let yourself play and see what happens.

 

And, check out Lynne’s other books on working with felt.  Fresh Felt Flowers created a sensation at Quilt Market last year – and her embellishing techniques were truly amazing.  Fast Fun & Easy Needle Felting is a great beginning guide to this growing medium.

   
Item #10527  Retail $24.95               Item #10508  Retail $14.95

Many of Lynne’s projects use Fast2Fuse Heavyweight Interfacing.  It has an adhesive on both sides and is easy to sew through.  It is the perfect thickness to add just the right amount of body to your projects.


Item #20057  Retail $6.99

All of these techniques can be incorporated into your next quilting project and it is easier than you think.  Lynne has written three books on the subject so learn from the best.  She is a wealth if information and can show you how to start a successful program in your shop.

Stop by and visit with Lynne in the Checker Booth at Quilt Market in Pittsburgh.  She will be signing copies of her latest book and sharing her techniques with you.  Come see the projects from the book and expand your horizons – you’ll be glad you did! 

Machine Quilting One Line at a Time

Charlotte Warr Andersen is best known for her portrait quilts.  She has taught thousands how to turn their photos into works of art – not by transferring the images – but by creating faces out of innumerable shades of fabrics.  So imagine my surprise when I opened “One Line at a Time”!  And, yes, I had to read her bio to know that it was one and the same woman!

Who would have thought that this artist had a math brain – a woman after my own heart!  I LOVE this book!  I had decided that machine quilting was not my cup of tea – I can’t doodle to save my soul – let alone do it with a sewing machine….


Item #10642  Retail $21.95

But this book is totally different – I’ve never seen anything like it!  All of us have done simple line machine quilting, stitch in the ditch, and even cross-hatching.  But you ain’t seen nothing yet!  Charlotte has devised 24 geometric quilting designs that will add zing to any of your quilting projects!

And don’t let the word geometric fool you – there are plenty of curves and circles to soften the lines of any quilt.  Wait until you see what happens when you quilt a foundation of 60 degree triangles – and then doodle in each one – in opposite directions.  Or why not take the same foundation and sew simple curves over the straight lines.  Or stitch zigzags over the same foundations.  You will not believe how a straight line foundation can be transformed again and again into infinite patterns.

Charlotte invented Inchie Ruler Tape to make it even easier – no complicated marking required!  She has manufactured this blue tape that can be repositioned – and is a true 1″ wide.   She actually marks this tape so it is possible to easily machine quilt triangles, diamonds, plaids, clamshells – the geometric possibilities will get your creative juices flowing.


Item #20110  Retail $10.95

She will be demonstrating how to use this tape at the Checker Booth at International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh in May.  This is a wholesale show where shop owners come to learn about new products and plan classes for the next year.  And I can’t wait for them to see this!

50 Designs in 5 Sizes for all your Applique Needs

The computer age meets applique – and you will be thrilled with the results!  In “Easy Applique Blocks”, Kay Mackenzie has combined 50 shapes in a variety of sizes that you will refer to again and again.  Put away those coloring books, girls.  You won’t need them any more!


Item #B967T  Retail $21.99

These shapes make applique fun again.  Let the fabrics speak for a change.  Add a buttonhole stitch in pearl cotton as an embellishment.  It’s that easy to add the ahhh factor to any project.  Just follow one of the methods of applique covered in the book – or use your favorite.  I’m sure Kay won’t mind – she just wants you to enjoy th process again!

And, she chose a wide variety of designs that will translate into all of your projects.  Choose a variety of vase or bowl shapes, add your choice of flowers and fruits, and embellish to your hearts content!  But what if you need a country rooster…a scottie…..a bird…..a cat or even a fish…….they are all here too.  There are hearts and stars – well – enough to make your heart sing!   Who could ask for anything more!

Kay will be signing copies of her book at International Quilt Market in Pittsburgh in May, 2009.  Stop and see how she can turn even the most ardent piecer into an appliquer!  And, check out her other books – you will love them too.


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Art quilts at Play

The title says it all – let’s put the fun back into quilting!  “Art Quilts at Play” reminds me of every quilter’s favorite session at camp – arts and crafts!  This book is the basis for the perfect summer camp for adults!  Get together a group of friends and have each one choose a different technique – and be in charge of getting the materials together for that session.


Item #10641  Retail $29.95

How fun is that?  When is the last time you gave yourself permission to just play????  Why not teach it as a series of summer classes in your shop?  Take advantage of the summer weather to get outside and make a mess!  You may even want to invite the kids….or host a kid’s camp.  Let them teach the adults how to relax and enjoy the process.

This is above and beyond fabric dyeing – but that is a good place to start!  Experiment with screen printing, nature printing, stamp making, bleach discharging – peaked your interest yet???

Then move on and try Paintstiks, Fabric Inks, Art Glitter, Angelina Fibers and polymer clays.  Make your own buttons and beads!  Remember how fun it was to just simply learn something new?  But, don’t be surprised if you love the results so much that they become works of art in your own house.

Jane Davila and Elin Waterson also share ways to participate in challenges, trades, and colloborations.  Learn how to make fabric post cards – that can actually be mailed.  Remember sending post cards from camp???  Well, they never looked like this!


Item #DVD10678  Retail $20.95


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Enjoy this book and DVD also produced by this great team and learn how to enjoy the process – and not just the product – once again!

Come see this dynamic duo at the Checker Booth at Spring Quilt Market in Pittsburgh.  They will be signing copies of their book – but more importantly, they will be demonstrating their techniques and sharing class ideas with all of the shop owners!  Don’t miss it!

Hop to It just in time for Easter

It is absolutely my favorite time of year – six weeks to Market, and all of the new books are arriving!  For a geek who spent every Saturday growing up in the library – this is a little piece of heaven!

Many of these authors are doing book signings at the Checker booth so  I not only get to read their books, I get to visit with the authors as well!  And, guess what – you can too.  Later this month, I will give you the author signing and demonstration schedule.  It is one impressive line up!

And, we are kicking this off with one of my favorite designers – Edyta Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.  She made her mark as a pattern designer – and I bought and loved them all!  And, if you drool over her applique block designs, you will love her first book – Hop To It!


Hop To It Item #L11232
Retail $27.95

The book includes 12 – 12 1/2″ applique block designs that are truly spectacular!  Not only do you get the patterns and instructions for the cover quilt, the book also includes eight projects that are inspiring too!

This is not just a pattern book.  Edyta shares three different methods of applique so it is a great teaching tool.  Why not offer a series of classes – trying each method – and finishing each block as suggested in one of the projects!  And, guess what – she squares them all up with the Creative Grids Square It Up and Fussy Cut Square!


Item #CGRSQ12  Retail $27.00

I have always loved Edyta’s sense of color so I was thrilled when she included a chapter on how to choose fabrics for your quilts – and why I love hers!  When you read her “rule of five” it will make perfect sense – and you’ll wonder why you didn’t think of it!  Stop by our booth at Market – and she’ll tell you all about it.  Promise!

My favorite is the Fleur Delight Throw.  This quilt looks like a color wash – completed in large squares.  Edyta shows you how to take one applique block and showcase it in a stunning 73″ throw – talk about getting a lot of bang from one applique block!

As quilters – nice matters!  And, in this case, Edyta is one of the sweetest women I have ever met!  She is simply a delight through and through.  That joy for life and enthusiasm for everything she loves shows through in her designs.  If these quilts were any happier they would literally glow!

Take a Walk Down Willowberry Lane

If you are not familiar with Vicki and Sonja, you should be!  They are the funniest and most creative twosome in the industry!  Their fabric lines with Maywood Fabrics are always top sellers.  Full Sun, Cottage Romance, and now Return to Romance are some of my favorites.  They are masters at producing lines of fabric that combine stripes, backgrounds, tone on tones, plaids, and dots that mix and match beautifully!

And, their new book – Gorgeous Quilts for Gracious Living – is a must have for every quilter.  These ladies take their sense of style off the bed and into every room in the house.  See how to showcase a quilt by adding pillow shams, bed skirts, chair covers, curtains….


Item #L11228  $27.95

For those of you who thought you were done quilting because you had one for every bed – think again!  Now you need a quilt for every shower, every table, every chair in your house.  This is the ultimate “Cottage Chic” feel good book – complete with beautiful photography that is to “dye” for!  Country Living, move over – the girls have come to town!

Vicki and Sonja will show you how to add that ahhh factor to every one of your projects.  And, guess what!  They are also signing their books at Market – so come and meet the girls who made North Dakota famous – and they aren’t from Fargo!

More Pieced Applique….multi-tasking at it’s best

Quilters are multi-taskers.  Who else sews in the dinette and has their ironing board set up in the kitchen so they can stir the pasta and check on the sauce while they are on their way to press open seams?  And, how many of you have unloaded the dishwasher while you were waiting for the iron to heat up?  If we didn’t break our lives down into fifteen minute increments, we’d never get anything done!

Most writers and designers are multi-taskers too.  I’m not sure how many of you are aware that I work for a contract basis for Checker Distributors.  I write most of this newsletter every week; handle special events such as author signings at Market and Open Houses at the warehouse; and represent them at national shows.

And when Laurie at Fab Shop read the newsletter, she asked me to write a notions column for the Fab Shop magazine.  It has turned out to be the perfect match!  I see all of the new notions – sometimes even prototypes when I visit the Checker showroom each month – so I get to play with everything.

Which brings me to my other love – Pieced Applique!  I have teamed up with the ladies of Landauer (sounds like it should be a mini-series, doesn’t it) to write a series of books on my technique.  You can piece very intricate blocks by layering straight and simple curved appliques on simple foundation blocks.


Item #L11226  Retail $27.95     Item #L11222  Retail $27.95

I got to play with some new fabrics by Lakehouse over the week-end – and look what I created from two nine-patch foundations.  These patterns are in the second book!

In this Weathervane block, I used my Creative Grids Square It Up and Fussy Cut Ruler to center a rose in the middle of the four-patch.  (Did I tell you that I also design rulers for Creative Grids?)


Item #CGRSQ6  Retail $16.00

The light triangles and squares around the outside of the block are all appliqued on the nine-patch foundation.  You just use a glue stick to turn the fabric over a template, glue the templates to the foundation block, and applique them in place!

I totally eliminated all the Y-seams and inset points.  And if you would have pieced this block using the traditional method, you would have been sewing half-square triangles – and had to match all of those seams!  Since these pieces are appliqued on top, matching seams perfectly is no longer a problem.

In this Cornerstone block, I again fussy cut the blue fabric so my roses were right where I wanted them to be (the pink dot and the blue roses are the nine-patch, the stripe is appliqued on top).  By cutting the appliques from the same line in a stripe, the corners are automatically mitered when the appliques are turned!

You get to play with stripes and plaids – and will look at your stash in a whole different way!  And all you need is freezer paper and a glue stick – the quilter’s version of duct tape and WD40!

The book is great for beginners because they can learn the tricks to piecing ten blocks that are the foundations of most all quilting projects.  The more experienced quilters are drawn in by the applique – so it works for everyone.

And, to make your life easier, I have written a series of lesson plans that are on the Landauer Corporation website – and these aren’t cliff notes!  I think by the time I was done, they were 26 pages long – and that was BEFORE the publishers added pictures and everything to make me look good!

They also included patterns for three alternate settings for the quilt and all of the templates for both books on their site.  They can be downloaded for free so you don’t have to waste your time tracing templates – and can get right to the fun stuff!

One of the patterns is even a setting for a King Size quilt that requires 49 blocks – or all of the blocks from both books!  We try to think of everything.

I will be demonstrating my technique and teaching schoolhouses at Spring Market every day.  My home base will be the Checker booth, but I will be demonstrating an hour every day in the Landauer booth and doing a book signing for Checker.  But frankly, if you see me, I will be glad to show you what it’s all about ANYTIME I’m free!  I can also show you all of the new Creative Grids rulers!  Wait until you see what we have in store for you!