Thanks for the Memories…..Open House

We threw a party – you came – and had a ball!  Thanks to all of you who have made this an annual event on your calendar.  Your positive comments and support made our day.

nd so it begins – the showroom at Checker!

How could you not have fun – twenty designers, demonstrators, and inventors; thirty trunk shows; thousands of bolts of fabric – many of it specially priced; great food; and hundreds of quilters in one room!

Granted it is a BIG room – not everyone has a 125,000 square foot warehouse at their disposal – and that wasn’t even big enough!  This is why I love this place!  When we found out we were having a record attendance, we knew that it was going to be tight quarters.  Rob arranged to have semis brought in!  These trucks held all of the merchandise – in alphabetical order – that was pre-ordered.  Another held the equipment, tables, and forklifts for the receiving department – for just one day!

he receiving department on Thursday

Receiving Friday night – see the bays behind the curtains???

When you don’t have enough parking spaces, you put a door in from an adjoining parking lot – and put in steps!  Oh, did I mention Rob decided to make some repairs to said parking lot two weeks before the event – and have it striped that week-end????

Just a few minor repairs…….

And why not replace the retaining wall while we’re at it!!!!

And when the phone keeps ringing, you shuttle the vendors and employees from hotels and parking lots across the street!  When floor space is a premium and there is not enough room for the carts, you remove some lower shelves so you have cart corals….talk about reinventing the wheel!

AND what do you do when you have to FEED a group that would rival “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”???  You transform the space that is used to design our booth at Markets – and organize sales reps samples into a lunchroom.  And why not carpet it for the day????

The “lunchroom” before the transformation

The day of the show!

It’s all about the food…..

But first and foremost, this is an opportunity to provide a showcase to educate our customers.  After all, if you don’t know how to use the products, you can’t sell them!  And, participants could even take the merchandise with them – often signed by the designer or author – so they could share it with THEIR customers as soon as they returned!  In many cases, we premiered new products, books, and patterns that will not be launched until Fall Quilt Market.  These sneak peaks are invaluable for those shops who want to stay ahead of the curve!

Shop owners talking to the vendors

We even let in a man or two…..

The vendors were like visiting the who’s who of the quilting world:  Nancy Zieman and Louis Carson of Clover; Orion Burns of Quilt in a Day; authors and designers such as McKenna Ryan (Pine Needles), Donna Babylon (More Splash than Cash), Jan Kornfiend (Country Appliques), Linda Franz (Inklingo), Pat Sloan, Susan Knapp and Mary Jane Mattingly (Quilt Branch), Susan Nelson (Prairie Sky Quilting), Karen Montgomery (The Quilt Company), Renae Allen (RGA Designs), Rita Fishel (Creative Grids demonstrator), Jodi Barrows (Square in a Square) and me (Penny Haren’s Pieced Applique); and demonstrators Art Garabedian (Reliable), Jen Bartelt (AccuQuilt); Steve Butler (A & E); Pat Barry (By Design Quilting), Mimi Shimp (Simplicity), and John Brady (Guidelines 4 Quilting).

With that kind of talent in one room, how can you go wrong?  And the shop owners took full advantage of the opportunity to pick the brains of some of the most inventive and creative minds in the industry!  These people were simply amazing!  They shared class ideas, demonstrated, and talked and talked – and talked some more…..and loved every minute of it!

Orion Burns – he did Eleanor proud – and became an uncle
for the second time the day of the event!

Nancy Zieman always draws a crowd!

Jen Bartelt from Accuquilt and Brooke – the book buyer
the next generation doing us proud!

The vendors were done at 4:00 – and by 5:15, it was all gone!!!!  The semi was unloaded – and receiving was back in business!  Orion, Nancy, Louis, Jenn and Jodi were on their way to the airport!

5:00 the day of the show

The booths were packed up and ready to be returned the next day.

This is where the food had been served just hours ago!

And the lunchroom – and carpet – are gone!  Within ten minutes, the tables were back in place so the sales rep samples could go out Tuesday morning!

By 5:30, we were at dinner celebrating a great day with new friends – and all too soon had to say good-bye….until next year……Rob already sent us a five page spreadsheet with possible improvements …… and so it begins!  See you next year…….

The party has begun…..and we are having a ball…..

And so it begins….today we were open on Sunday and this only happens once a year – the day before our official Anniversary Open House.  Gail Wadley, a teacher for Electric Quilt, taught 48 students the nuances of EQ6 and showed more advanced applications that had the participants standing at attention.  She was nice enough to stay after class and answer questions in the lounge so everyone had a chance to spend some one on one time with her and ask individual questions.  It was a great success.  She had so much fun she spent the afternoon with us and spent some time with the vendors.

Jim McDonald and Gail Wadley – smiling AFTER the class – and that’s always a good thing!  Jim is operations manager for Checker and is in charge of all of the electrical needs of the show.  When you have to provide power to 48 computers and a projector – and then tear it all down in 15 minutes so the next class can begin – it is no mean feat!  And he makes it all look so easy!

Then Karen Montgomery lectured a room full of shop owners on how to run a successful business.  Karen owns a quilt shop, designs patterns under “The Quilt Company” name and designs fabric for Timeless Treasures.  She was gracious enough to share her expertise in all areas of business – and a good time was had by all!

The classroom……

Rob – the owner of Checker, Karen – and Jim – and they are still smilin……and that is a very good thing!

McKenna Ryan then gave a talk on her journey as a quilter and artist.  She shared all of her original artworks with us – and they are dynamic!  Every piece is an heirloom quality work of art – what’s not to love????

These are just some of her framed pieces that she is famous for……more to follow next week!

While all of this was going on, Pat Berry was in the showroom demonstrating her new Creative Grids quilting machine templates.  Pat is an expert in the field and has designed 15 new quilting machine products for Creative Grids.  Pay attention – because you ain’t seen nothing yet!!!  Checker will have two booths at market totally dedicated to the growing market of machine quilters and are backing it up with a quality product at a reasonable price!  These rulers are all 1/4″ thick so that a hopping foot can run around the edge of the ruler to make truly amazing patterns – the possibilities are endless!  These products will not be available until October – but everyone is loving getting a sneak peak at what is new before Quilt Market even arrives!

Rob taking the machine for a test run – could it be he found his true vocation?????  Pat has another satisfied customer!  I will do a complete article on these rulers next week, but for now this teaser will have to do!

Tomorrow is the big event so it is time to go to bed – but if the “preview” is anything like tomorrow, we won’t be able to sleep tonight.  We are just having too much fun!  Tomorrow we have 30 trunk shows displayed, 20 booths set up with products for 20 vendors who are ready and willing to share their knowledge, and 500 customers coming to visit – it’s all good……..  Checker knows how to throw a party and we are having a ball!

Try the new Simplicity Bias Tape Makers, Rulers, and Cutters

Mimi Shimp of Simplicity will be demonstrating their latest products at the Checker Open House.  The new electric bias tape maker has been very popular – and the new tips are now available.  You can make bias tape in a wide range of widths by simply changing the tip and cutting the fabric to a different width.  And Mimi will be glad to show you how!

Item #881925  Retail $99.99

This machine has a built-in iron that makes it possible to make 25 feet of bias tape in just a few minutes.

The rotary cutting machine works much like a wool cutter.  Run the fabric through and it cuts it to the specified width.  And now, they have added blades so you can cut large and small waves.  Mimi has ideas for those too!

Item #881950  Retail $79.99

She will also be demonstrating how to cut a double wedding ring quilt quickly and easily.  This special ruler includes ALL of the pieces needed to make this intricate quilt!

Item #8829419  Retail $17.99

And, check out their new bias ruler.  This ruler makes it easy to cut bias strips from 1/4″ – 2 1/2″.

Item #8829420
Retail $19.99

But my favorite products are these scissors!  They come in a variety of sizes, are lightweight and incredibly sharp. The blades are thin enough to slide under stitches so they are great as seam rippers too – even though you probably never need one!  These 4″ straight scissors are the perfect pair to trim mini appliques.

Item #881584  Retail $17.99

These clippers have a sort of spring action that makes them easy to use and have a curved tip to protect your quilt.  They are great for trimming those random threads.

Item #881587  Retail $17.99

Join us at the Open House and let Mimi show you how to use all of these products – any of which would be great for your next demo day!

Diamonds are a Girls Best Friend – Just ask Linda Franz

Linda came to international attention when she created Inklingo – an innovative technique that allows you to print shapes for piecing directly onto the wrong side of fabric.  By printing the cutting line – and the stitching line – even the tiniest shapes can be pieced with accuracy.

Item #ISC3  Retail $45.00

Recently, Linda wrote a book that explains how to take advantage of the full potential of this program.

Item #LFHHHAND  Retail $29.95

I first discovered Linda when she wrote Quilted Diamonds – her stylized version of a Dear Jane quilt.  Linda suggests that beginners start with the second book because it includes a DVD with instructions and hints to make the whole process easier.

Item #LFQD02  Retail $29.95

Item #LFQD29  Retail $29.95

In her first diamonds book, she shows a picture of the Jane Austin quilt which was her inspiration for this setting.  She has now produced a book featuring this quilt with pictures of her trip to England to research the quilt made by the author we know and love.

Item #JAPM  Retail $19.95

Her love of English literature and patchwork continues with Lucy Boston’s Patchwork of the Crosses – 56 blocks made with an elongated hexagon.

Item #POTC  Retail $19.95

Come visit with Linda and let her explain how you can incorporate Inklingo into all of your quilting projects!

Square in a Square goes Mini

Jodi Barrows – creator of the Square in a Square technique – has done it again.  She will be at the Checker Open House demonstrating her new Mini version of the classic Square in a Square ruler!

Item #QNSNS-R5
Retail $28.95

This ruler includes a pattern book which includes instructions for four different blocks and eight patterns. The new ruler has features to create the “Trumpet” block – which is just spectacular!

This ruler makes it possible to make the blocks and patterns in her newest book – Megan’s Miniatures.  This pattern book will be followed shortly by her fourth novel that features a story based on these quilts.

Item #QYSNS-B19
Retail $19.95

If miniatures are not your style, the same technique translates in larger blocks – and was the basis of her first ruler – and books.

Item #QYSNS-R1
Retail $19.95

Explore the potential of this ruler while producing the quilts showcased in Advancing On.  Go from simple to spectacular!

Item #QYSNS-B12
Retail $29.95

Then, check out the third in her series of books and patterns.  The story of the women who make the quilts are interwoven into charming tales that you will love.  Then, make the quilts described in the books – who could ask for anything more!

Item #QYSNS-N3
The Novel – $12.95
Item #QYSNS-B18
The Pattern Book – $24.95

Come and meet the author in person and consider starting a book club in your shop!  How fun!

Snippets – Gifts

David Holt has designed a series of birch and fabric quilt blocks that are absolutely beautiful!  The quality is so good that you will want to collect them all so you can devote an entire Christmas tree to showcase them!  The one color designs retail for $6.95.  Two color designs are a dollar more.

Now here is the best part!  We talked to David this week and he has agreed to laser engrave the back of the ornaments with your store name!  Talk to your favorite Checker sales rep for the details.  They will have all of the information they need by next week!  They will still be reasonably priced – and the minimum is affordable.

If you are planning a Christmas Open House, this would be a hit – and a great stocking stuffer.  I foresee shops personalizing them so customers could collect them as souvenirs from every shop they visit!  With all of the designs to choose from, there will be one to reflect the interests of your shop!

Why not use them for your next shop hop?  Each shop could sell a different design and the participants could collect the whole set?  The possibilities are endless……

Bear’s Paw  Item #BP09-G

Item #BK13-R  Retail $6.95

Item #MS04-r-g  Retail $7.95

Just type in David Holt as the designer to see all of the designs – and colors – available!

Another popular item has been these totes designed from Paula Nadelstern.  They are made from recycled tires and plastic bottles.  So think green – your customers will be glad you did – and at this price, they will buy several!

Item #20118  Retail $5.95

The size is generous – 15″ x 15″ x 8″ deep.  That is big enough to hold almost anything!  It even has a zippered top.  What’s not to love????

Snippets – The Latest Books

There are some wonderful new books out that cover a gamut of topics!  And you need to check out ALL of them!

Need’l Love has a new book out that includes 8 quilts and two pillows – and they are all gorgeous.  Cottage Garden is a must see/ must have for every quilt shop.  And Cottage Garden showcases their style to a “T”!  This is the perfect “beach” read!

Item #QG1  Retail $25.00

Karin Hellaby has two booklets out that will make you look at log cabins and pineapple blocks in a whole new way.  Her color sense is impeccable and showcases the dynamic geometric effect of these all time favorite patterns.

Sew Simple Pineapples
Item #L2856  Retail $13.95

Sew Simple Logs
Item #L2849  Retail $13.95

Lynne Garner’s new book from Krause is a class waiting to happen!  She shows you how to create your own patterns from muslin that will actually fit your body!  After you create the perfect garment in muslin, you transfer it to paper – and these patterns become the basis for everything you sew!!!  It makes clothing construction fun again – and you will no longer have to alter your final creation!

Item #Z5433  Retail $24.99

Quilt shops offer some of the best quality fabrics in the industry – why not market it to an ever growing customer base who are fans of Project Runway???

Snippets – The Latest Patterns

August is not just the Checker Open House – it is also when many of the interim books, patterns, fabrics and notions are released.  Here are my favorites – of your favorites……..

Aunt Rosie has three new releases that showcase her scrappy style.  Emma’s Legacy has the wonderful fee of a braided rug.

Item #RQC103  Retail $8.50
Emma’s Legacy

Summer rental is a gorgeous setting for these blocks. The choice of fabrics make the blocks look totally different offering a great opportunity to play with color.  Why not substitute your own sampler blocks into this setting?  It is simply striking!

Item #RQC101  Retail $8.50
Summer Rental

Sweet Tea is set on point – what is not to love????  Have a stash busting party today and use up those scraps!!!

Item #RQC105  Retail $8.50
Sweet Tea

Little Charmer by Annie Unrein is an adorable cuddle quilt with lots of texture.  She used Texture Magic to create the tactile interest in this quilt.  And what child could resist the ribbons???

Little Charmers Item #PBA115
Retail $8.95

There are several new ribbon assortments that would are affordable and would be a great combination to display with this pattern.  Kids and Today’s Youth is a perfect example.

Item #RE1639 for Assortment

This would be a great class – and a perfect way to use up scraps of those specialty fabrics such as Minkee, chenille, etc.  Why not kit them for a Make It Take It?

Tote Bags are Hotter than Ever and Should be in Every Quilt Shop

When over half of the Top 20 patterns are tote bags and purses on any given day, it is time to do an inventory of your shop and see if your selections represent the national trend!  Enter Paradiso Designs.  These bags are easy to make in just a few hours.  They are uncomplicated and charming – the perfect beginning class!

Item #PD006  Retail $13.00
Xine Basket Bag

Adding a bamboo handle and a polka dot cuff turns this simple purse into a designer original.

Item #PD003  Retail $11.00
Every Day Bag

By adding a band of color, this every day bag will stand out from the crowd!

Item #PD007  Retail $9.00
Be Green Market Bag

Go Green never looked so good!  Why not make some of these bags for everyone on your Christmas list?  What a great way to use up your fabric stash – and play with color!

Item #PD004  Retail $13.00
Okashi Courier Bag

The strap and top treatment showcase the beautiful fabrics in this courier bag.  Cheryl Kuczek takes the ordinary and turns it into extraordinary by adding her decorative touches and sense of style.  Check them out at our Open House and add some to your pattern inventory today!

We’ve opened the covers on three new books!

Melinda Bula is best known for her beautiful floral quilts – and the applique technique that she has perfected to create them.  Her first book – Cutting Garden Quilts – taught us how to take a photograph and break it down into manageable segments like the old fashioned paint by number sets.  She is one of those people who is so enthusiastic about what she does, that she convinces you that you can do it too!

When I heard that she was sending quilts from her new book – Candy Cane Lane – to our Open House next month, I assumed it would be in a similar vein!  Wrong!  Melinda is full of surprises!  This book -and the projects in it – are whimsical, charming, and just plain fun.  It is a happy book that is guaranteed to make you smile!

Item #B988T  Retail $14.99

Turn the page – blog style – and see the treats that await you inside!  We all love polka dots – and who could resist this little charmer???

Who can resist candy canes, pinwheels and yo yos – and throw in some snowflakes – just for good measure!

And who can resist snowmen????

Cynthia Tomaszewski is sending some of her latest designs from her new book Quilts from Paradise.  Anyone who loves the beach, will love this book!  Her sense of color and the distinctive appliques give her her own sense of style!

Item #B974T  Retail $28.99

I love her quirky flower designs that are showcased so beautifully in this quilt.

Since I just returned from Flagstaff, this quilt has a desert feel.  The sand and Terra cotta colors are the perfect backdrop for her appliques.

And, then there is just charming!  Who can resist a blue and rose quilt – that is the perfect project to showcase your batiks!

Lorraine Olsen’s new book – Little Lone Star Quilts features seven different projects showcasing one of quilting’s all time favorite patterns.  And, you don’t have to be from Texas to enjoy it!

Item #10668  Retail $19.95

I love minis – and these definitely make an impact – no matter what colorway you choose!

Check out what happens when she adds dramatic color to these designs!  Breathtaking!

Don’t you just love the border treatment on this one???  And the diamonds in each segment are not the same color – what a difference????

I can’t wait to hang these quilts at the Open House and transform it for one magical moment into a quilter’s delight!