Last minute gifts in time for Christmas

When seven of the top twenty gifts are from the same vendor, you know you have a winner!  Such is the case with Carol Wilson Fine Arts.  This line of stationary has been flying out the door – and is the perfect impulse buy to place next to your register.

There are dozens to choose from but don’t just pick the quilting themes.  Some of my favorites would be perfect for that gardener in my life too.  And, what quilter doesn’t have a host of hobbies – and friends to go along with it!

The mini portfolio stationary sets include 10 notes and envelopes that are embossed and die cut.  At only $8.96 a set, they will fly off the shelves!


Item #SNP2113 Retail $8.96


Item #SNP2255 Retail $8.96


Item #SNP2133  Retail $8.96


Item #SNP2115  Retail $8.96

Or why not stock some embossed fancy notes?  An embossed box holds 230 die cut notes for just $9.50!


Item #FNB3008  Retail $9.50


Item #FNB3009 Retail $9.50

Or try some gift sets.  These pretty packages include  five note cards, a pack of post it notes, a and pen to match – all wrapped up in a decorative gift bag with a die cut hang tag.  What’s not to love here???


Item #CGS109  Retail $8.98


Item #GSC112 Retail $8.98

To see all of the choices,visit our website:  With over 20 choices, you are sure to find the right match for your shop!

Nancy Halvorsen’s Latest Due this Week

Nancy Halvorsen’s latest book – “Sew Necessary” – is due in this week!  It is the perfect last minute Christmas gift for all of your customers!


Item #ATH5408  Retail $18.00

This latest addition has quick gifts for everyone.  Thread catchers have become a staple gift the last few years – but none are as cute as these babies!  It is hard to choose which one I like best!  Maybe it just depends on the season…after all, who could resist a peppermint this time of year!  But, the pumpkin and Frankenstein are just as cute!  And, check out the pin cushions!


Châtelaines have always been a favorite gift of mine!  What quilter doesn’t want her favorite scissors at her fingertips?  And, Nancy has so many cute ones that you can change them with every season!


And, for those of you who write “cleaning my sewing room” on your list of resolutions each year, check out these little wall organizers that can hold thread, rulers, and all of those small items we loose on a daily basis!


This book is a monthly “Make It/Take It” class ready to happen!  Or kit them!  What quilter wouldn’t rather buy a kit than to go through their stash – or your store – finding just the right fabrics for the embellishments on these projects!

And, yes, we will be getting in all of the button kits and wire hangers to complete them.  The books always arrive before the accessories are ready to ship so we will list them as a companion item as soon as they are available.

This is a perfect case where Print N Fuse could make the sale.  That is the new fusible interfacing that can be run through a copier.  (It is available to shop owners in 100 sheet packs (Item #PNF100).


Item #PNF12; #PNF25; or #PNF100

Simply run the templates they need on the interfacing so your customers don’t have to trace all of the designs.  Don’t we all love being spoiled?  Trace them on the original by color so they can just chop off  the piece of interfacing and iron it on the fabric provided!  What a great way to prep for a class too!  Save class time for what is really important!

And, don’t forget to display some 12 weight threads nearby.  These are the perfect weights to do the decorative buttonhole stitching.

This is the first time that Nancy has done a book with quick and easy projects that span the seasons.  Take advantage of it!  In this case, many of your customers KNOW how to do it – but offering a class guarantees that they set aside the time to actually make it!  And most of these projects can be finished in a few hours so there are no more UFO’s!  What could be sweeter to a quilter’s ear?

Choosing Classes for your Shop

I mentioned last week that I was going to be teaching classes based on the new book, “Farmer’s Wife”.  We got an e-mail asking how I would organize that class – and since my shop offered so many classes – I thought I would share my concepts with you.


Item #Z2991  Retail $27.99

The Farmer’s Wife is a book of 111 – different six inch blocks.  I love books like Dear Jane, Nearly Insane Just Plain Nuts, The Civil War Diary Quilt, The Civil War Love Letter Quilt, etc.  All of these books have from 49 to 225 different blocks.  That means, over the course of one to three years, my students can become Master Quilters!

I break these books down by technique into manageable portions.  In all of these cases, we meet once a month to learn the new technique and to share the blocks that were made at home!  That’s right – we don’t sew in class.  Many times I will demo a technique but students prefer to sew at home where they can take their time and be as anal as they want!  But, remember, they have to have time to do their homework so I try to group blocks in manageable time frames!

Choosing Fabrics

In the case of The Farmer’s Wife, I chose a Nancy Gere line by Windham.  My students may choose to start with the same color pallette as me and buy a fat quarter of the entire line.  Then, if they have a hard time choosing fabrics – and want to duplicate my original, they have the exact fabrics to do that.

In many cases, however, they will start out “copying” the original, but will branch out and do their own thing after they see what other students have done during show and tell.

You must decide the setting for the quilt at the beginning!  Then, you will still be able to buy the coordinating fabrics to complete the quilt!  Most of the time, I try to design something that fits a queen size bed and isn’t exactly like the book.  In this case, the book has instructions for a “queen size” quilt but it is only 84″ wide.  I am going to work with the setting so it will measure closer to 96″ square.

Dividing Up the Lessons

We will be doing five blocks a month for two years.  Since the book does not have full size drawings, I am drawing them in Electric Quilt.  Then I can write on the drawing to note which color of fabrics were used, the size to cut the pieces, etc.

The first two classes are based on nine-patches made out of 2″ finished squares; 2″ finished triangles; and 2″ finished four-patches.  Aim for teachable moments in each class.  If they don’t believe they are learning something, class attendance will suffer!

For instance, all of my students have made a nine-patch but in the first class, I will “chain” the block aka Eleanor Burns.   Teach it as a Hints from Heloise type class.  After you have chained the block, take it to the ironing board and press it from the wrong side.  By  pressing from the wrong side, you can ensure that the seams in each row will “butt” together when sewn.

Then teach them how to use Triangle Paper on a Roll.  Break open a package and give them enough to make their blocks for that class.  Include it in the class fee.  Let them try products without having to buy a whole package at $10 a pop!  They will love you for it – and buy the products they like the next time they are sewing triangles.


Item #QRH200 Retail $10.37

In class two, we will learn how to make four-patches a quick and easy way.  We will also learn how to fussy cut fabrics for their blocks.  We will use the Fussy Cut rulers by Creative Grids – CGRSQ6 and the CGRST65 to fussy cut squares and triangles in their blocks.


Item #CGRSQ6  Retail $16.50


Item #CGRST65  Retail $20.50

In this case, we will use Thangles so they can compare the products and learn the advantages of each.   This is a great way to get feedback from your customers.  Next month, they can tell you which product they prefer – and why.  You have your very own test marketing group!

In future classes, we will teach how to make half-square triangles the traditional way – by drawing a line across the diagonal and sewing a 1/4″ seam on each side.  We will also show how to use Inklingo to print the half-square triangles – on paper and fabric.  And, we will try all of the brands of triangle paper out there.  Since the blocks chosen for each lesson all use the same size triangles, I can buy a package of the correct size for that class.  Just visit our website and type in triangle paper.  All of the brands – in all of the sizes available – will appear!  It’s magic!  Just remember, not all sizes come in all brands so choose accordingly!

Let them “Play before they Pay”!  We all love to try new products but in many cases, aren’t willing to spend the money to try something unless we know it works.  By opening a package for the class to share, you are allowing them to try it for about a $1.00 a class – and they will love you for it!

In future classes, we will be doing paper-piecing.  Again, we will share all of the different foundation papers so they can try each one.

By the end of this class, your students will have their “Masters in Quilting” and be able to make anything they want!  If the blocks in a certain lesson do not have a teachable moment, use those classes as an opportunity to teach them about battings, backings, marking pens, bias edges, bindings, proper ways to hang quilts, etc.

Remember, this book is not just a quilt – it is 111 block patterns!  That means that your students can take any of their favorites and plug them into a pattern for a six inch block to make a gift.  If you do that with some of your favorites, that gives you the teachable moment to show how to bind a quilt, etc.

Coincidentally, I just wrote a book of 12 projects that can be made using six inch blocks – blatant plug, I know – but it doesn’t make it any less true!  And the methods I use to teach the different foundations are all in my first two books – Penny Haren’s Pieced Applique and Penny Haren’s More Pieced Applique.  If I don’t believe in my own books and products, why would I even write or design them???


Item #L11244  Retail $24.95

Hope this helps turn that classroom space into a viable part of your business!

Last Minute Stocking Stuffers make the Perfect Counter Displays

Let’s face it!  By this time of year, our customers are busy making sure everyone in their life has the perfect holiday season so they don’t have much time to sew!  They aren’t starting new projects.  They are stopping in to get thread, buttons, backings and battings to finish those projects that are almost done!

But, they are also looking for those little extras to round out their gift giving so counter sales are more important than ever.  Here are a few of my favorites – they are all reasonably priced, adorable, and many of them can be great package decorations!


These little decorative scissors  are enameled metal and measure just 3 1/2″.  The quality of these scissors normally sells for twice the price!  And, they are simply adorable!


Item #40080075 Retail $64.25 for a set of 18

Sewing Kits

These little leather sewing kits are perfect to throw in your purse for those little emergencies.  Doesn’t everyone expect a quilter to be a perpetual Girl Scout – we should ALWAYS be prepared!


Item #L0520 Retail $8.99 (Green)
Item #L0521 (Yellow)


Item #L0546 Retail $8.99 (Red); #L0547 (Burgundy); #L0548 (Pink)
Item #L0542 (Brown); #L0543 (Green); #L0544 (Black); #L0545 (Navy)

This little emergency repair kit includes a safety pin, 2 pre-threaded needles with black and white thread, 6 shirt buttons, 3 sets of hooks and eyes, 3 yards of Res-Q-Tape, fold up scissors, Snag Nab-It, and six lint sheets.


Item #653102 Retail $5.00

Nail Files and Tweezers

These little files and tweezers are adorable and would fit in any stocking!


Item #LADYFILE Retail $5.95


Item #LADYTWEEZ Retail $5.95


These ornaments are arriving just in time for Christmas.  They are laser cut out of birch wood and are finished with a beautiful gold shine.  Wouldn’t they be lovely tied on a napkin as hostess gifts or to a fabric bundle.  The color would show through – absolutely beautiful….


Item #SLBK05 Retail $5.95


Item #SLST04 Retail $5.95


Item #SLMS02 Retail $5.95

Check out our website to see all of the ornaments that are available.

Quick and Easy Christmas Displays

Oops!!!  While we were all busy writing newsletters, teaching classes, and preparing for those fall shop hops – Thanksgiving and Christmas just snuck up on us!  AND, Thanksgiving is late this year so there is less than a month between the two holidays.

What is a quilt shop to do???  Decorate and embrace it – of course!!!  But that does not mean this has to take days and weeks – if that were the case, we would have had to be prepared weeks ago – and who had time for that????

So in the lull that always happens the week before Thanksgiving while all of our customers are busy cooking and cleaning for the big family holiday, lets do some redecorating!  It is easier than you think!


Place all of your Christmas fabrics front and center.  Pull coordinating red, green, and gold fabrics from your shelves to supplement the dwindling supply of holiday fabrics.  After all, a little bit of bright, bold poinsettia fabric goes a long way!  And don’t forget to pull those fat quarters too!  Bundle them with ribbons, add an ornament as a gift tag – and you have an instant gift for someone!

Charm Packets

Many of those bolts may be a little lean at this point – and while you have a little time, why not cut up these ends of bolts into five inch squares – and still get full retail value for every inch!  Again, supplement these assortments with neutrals, golds, greens, and reds.  56 – five inch squares can be cut out of each yard.  Coincidentally, we have packages so you can make your own gift bags!  Again, what great last minute gifts – or an accompaniment to those gift certificates!


Item #Charmbag  Retail $1.00

Buttons and Beads

Don’t stop at fabrics!  Pull assortments of buttons and beads  – in reds, greens, golds, and blues – to place on the shelf above the fabric display.  And, why not order more?  These items are great stocking stuffers, last minute gifts for quilting friends, and go to gifts when that occasional husband walks in on Christmas Eve.  (They are great to put with a Gift Certificate!)  AND, they aren’t going to be half price the day after Christmas!  The reds can be a part of a Valentine’s display the day after Christmas!  The greens will be ready for St. Patrick’s Day…..


Item #BGBB27  Retail $6.20


Item #BGBB31  Retail $6.20


Item #BDSP2  Retail $11.48


Item #BDSP4  Retail $11.48


Item #BDSP8 Retail $11.48


There are many Christmas patterns that are simple and fast to kit – and at Christmas, what could be better than redwork?  Bird Brain Designs has some adorable patterns perfect for the holidays.  Why not combine a pattern with a fat quarter of Kona Cotton Snow (a soft white – Item #Kona-Snow); and a skein of Dark Christmas Red Embroidery Floss (117UA-498).  These kits are reasonably priced and will fly off the shelves.

Don’t forget to display embroidery needles, the embroidery needle threader from Clover (Item #8611CV), and wool for the finishing kits nearby!


Item #BBD146 Retail $9.00


Item #BBD145  Retail $9.00

Books, Patterns, and Quilts

Pull all of the quilts on display that have stars, reds or greens and use these as a backdrop!  How easy was that???

A Perfect Holiday Demo

In this age of “Go Green”, what could be better than reusable wrappings for all of those holiday packages!  Not only are they beautiful, they are a great way to use up that stash.  And, it is the gift that keeps on giving.  The recipient can use it to wrap future gifts – or use it in a future quilting project.  This is a perfect case of a win/win for everyone.


You can’t get any prettier – or classier – than this!

Gift Wrapping with Textiles by Chizuko Morita is a gift in itself!  Morita shares over 40 different ways to fold and tie your way to breathtaking packaging – and in most cases, it takes less than a yard of fabric!


Item #OUP2736-2
Retail $19.95

If you sell machines, these squares offer the perfect opportunity to use that serger to finish the edges.  Just combine two of your favorite fabrics – wrong side together – and serge around the outside edges!  Or stick with one layer of fabric that is beautiful on both sides – like a batik – and pink the edges.  Why not use a pinking rotary cutter blade to make your life easier – and add to the demo!

With a few moments practice, you can just sit a gift by the register and demo the wrapping while you are waiting for the credit card to clear!  Better yet – choose several gift items that would be perfect for the holidays – and let them buy them along with the fabric needed to wrap them!

My personal favorite is a wrap for two bottles of wine that are wrapped in one yard of fabric – and then the fabric is formed into a handle!  I will definitely be sharing that one with gourmet club!  Talk about impressive!

Or if you have a friend who has that dash of panache – she always wears a scarf just right – and looks like a million dollars when working twelve hour days, wrap the book in a beautiful scarf for Christmas.  It IS the perfect gift!

Enjoy an early Christmas Present from Checker!

If you have not visited the Checker Distributors website lately you are in for a wonderful surprise!  The folks at Checker took the best website in the industry – and made it spectacular!  I had read all of the literature, heard about the improvements, and even got to play with the prototype – but I wasn’t prepared for this!  Grab a cup of coffee, because once you visit, you won’t want to leave!

Gina Krieger, the I.T. Director, is amazing.  She wrote a user guide that is available for our customers under the Information tab once you are logged in.  But, this site is so intuitive, you will just start pushing buttons – and be able to do everything you do now immediately.  But take the time to read the guide so you can take advantage of everything this version has to offer!

Preferences – My Favorites

When you log in as a customer, you can choose your individual preferences.  It takes just a few minutes, but can save you time – EVERY time – you use the website.  You can choose to keep the site open up to eight hours a day.  That means that you can minimize the Checker site during your business day and add to it as needed between customers and classes.

Choose whether you want to view 24, 48, or 100 items at one time.  I chose 100 so when I am looking at a fabric line, I can see the whole line at once – simply amazing!

Multiple Baskets

It is now possible for you to have multiple baskets.  That means if you have more than one store, you can organize your purchases.  The manager of each store can have their own shopping cart!  In my case, I can have a cart for those items that I order over and over again.  The other baskets have the items I need to teach particular classes.  AND, these items are never deleted unless I want to – even when I order them.  Therefore I have the information available when I teach the next class without starting all over again.


You will know immediately if the item you NEED for that class is in stock (as long as you put it in your basket and view your basket)!  If it isn’t, you can substitute a similar product immediately.  You no longer have to call the warehouse and talk to a sales rep to find out availability – it is at your fingertips 24 hours a day!  Shopping in your jammies has never been easier!

Search Results

You can now search by category – and fine tune the results.  If you want scissors, for instance, 441 items will appear.  But, if you are looking for the curved scissors by Clover,  simply click on Vendor under “Narrow your Results” and nine items will appear!  It takes less than five seconds to find the curved pointed scissors that you wanted!  I told you this site is amazing!

Share with Customers

Tell your customers about this site!  It is such an easy sale for you!  Checker has over 80,000 items on their website and it is impossible for a shop to carry all of them.  They can shop to their hearts content, bring you the list, and you can order it for them!  That brings them into your shop twice!  Use it to your advantage!  All you have to add is thatpersonal touch!

PBQ Tips – Quilting Machines

Pat Barry Quilts – Tips on Quilting Machines

This is the first of a series of articles on products designed for people who use quilting machines. So, I would like to devote this to a definition of terms.

This a growing segment, as witnessed by the increasing number of sewing machine companies that now offer a quilting machine. It is important to note that quilting systems come in multiple sizes and configurations. There is no single ‘best’ system for quilters – there are many ‘best’ systems because the configurations change depending on the quilter’s needs and resources.

Quilters are notoriously clever and creative (it seems to be part of the quilting heritage to take scraps and create something wonderful). So, many machine configurations are a mix-n-match combination of pieces that ultimately become a quilting machine. The combinations use equipment intended for quilting, and some that was intended for other purposes. “Necessity is the mother of invention” my mother used to say, and I think we all have experienced re-purposing household items to fill a need. However, there are some features that all quilting systems have.

When I talk about quilting machines, I am referring to a system that includes a table or frame that holds the fabric like a stretcher, and a machine that can freely float (and stitch) the fabric being held by the table.

Machine – aka sewing head

Machine Size – throat space

Platform – aka crosstrack
Table – aka frame

The machine (sometimes called a sewing head) sits on a platform (sometimes called a crosstrack) that is attached to the table (sometimes called a frame). Both the machine and the platform have wheels which work together to make the machine capable of moving in all directions. The machine size is measured in inches, from the needle to the back of the throat space. The table is usually large enough to hold bed quilts, so the quilter stands up to operate the machine.

The industry has categorized the machines as longarm (throat size 18”+), midarm (12” to 18”) and shortarm (less than 12”). The size is important when choosing patterns and planning the quilting designs, but size does not impact the use of other products as much as the shape of the hopping foot – but more about that when we talk about using quilting machine templates.

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!

Pat Barry

The Farmer’s Wife – Getting in Touch with Our Roots

In 1922, “The Farmer’s Wife” – a magazine for farm women, sponsored a contest.  They asked women if they wanted their daughters to marry farmers and write a letter and to explain why.  At this time in our history, farmer’s wives were pitied by more sophisticated city dwellers, and the magazine felt that these women would want the best for their daughters.  By speaking for their daughters, the magazine would get a more accurate description of farm life.  Ninety-two percent of the wives were happy and loved their lives!


Item #Z2991  Retail $27.95

This was an interesting time in our history.  World War One was over and the Great Depression wouldn’t happen until 1929.  While this period may be considered the calm before the storm, the times, they were a changing!  In 1919, Prohibition became a reality and just a year later, women won the right to vote!

In 1922, the magazine had a circulation of 750,000 subscribers.  To put that in perspective, there were 2.5 million cars on the road – and that number would grow to 22 million by the end of the decade.  This was a time of growth in technology and Henry Ford was king!

The letters are fascinating – and the strength and values that these women hold dear, are heart warming.  Each letter is printed with the writer’s name and home town.  Laurie chose two blocks that were inspired by each letter.  The book includes 111 – six inch blocks set on point to create a beautiful heirloom quality quilt.

A CD is included that has all of the templates needed to sew the blocks.  But in my case, the fun is figuring out new and creative ways to duplicate these blocks.  I will be teaching this book as a Block of the Month program over a two year period.  We are doing 5 blocks a month for 22 months – and taking off Decembers.

I get to divide the blocks by type for each class.  We will do four-patches one month; half-square triangles another, etc.  This gives me an opportunity to teach every aspect of quilting.  By the end of two years, my students will have the equivalent of their masters in quilting.  Consider teaching this class in your shop.  Wouldn’t the farmer’s wives be proud????