Velcro has just made your life easier

Velcro has been around for years.  The packages include two different strips – one of the strips is made of loops and the other strip is made of hooks.  When these two strips are flattened together, the “hooks” catch the loops to hold the strips in place.

But, now they have created a new product that combines the loops and hooks in the same strip!  Life just got easier for everyone!

See how the hooks are nestled just below the loops?  This design also stops the lint and thread from accumulating on these strips – simply brilliant!

Remember that this strip “sticks” to itself so you need twice as much as the width of the opening.  The velcro comes in white and black.  The 3/4″ wide strips are prepackaged in 36″ lengths – which create 18″ of usable product.

Item #90666V  Retail $3.49

Item #90667V  Retail $3.49

This product does not have that industrial strength holding power that some of their other tapes create – but for a quilter’s needs, this has plenty of hold – and will work beautifully in your next tote bag project!

Paper-Piece your way to an Heirloom

Judy Niemeyer is the queen of paper-piecing and all of her quilts are heirloom quality masterpieces.  These foundation pieced marvels are time consuming – and frankly intimidating!  We all love them – but turning these awe inspiring quilts into reality is what a quilt shop is for!

Stepping Stones offers the perfect introduction into her techniques.  This quilt is paper-pieced with 2 1/2″ strips – and the blocks are made in a variety of colors.  That makes it the perfect choice for a beginning class AND block of the month.  Twelve rectangular blocks can be kitted out of an assortment of batiks so that your customers can learn the technique – but divide the work over a year.  The wide assortment of fabrics will keep them interested – and add to the anticipation each month.  And, the stitching is simple straight seams that create perfect, fine points for even beginners.

Item #JNQ72P  Retail $20.00

This quilt measures 60″ x 68″ and is a nice size throw.  But, additional foundation packages can be purchased to turn this lap throw into an 86″ x 87″ quilt (24 blocks) or a king size – 99″ x 107″ (36 blocks).  Offer these choices as alternatives in your block of the month program.  They will simply buy multiple kits if they want it to be larger.

Item #JNQ72E  Retail $11.oo

Once your customers have fallen in love with this technique, why not move on to some more complicated patterns and introduce curves?  Every quilter wants to make a Wedding Ring quilt – but the intricate piecing and curves are intimidating.  Judy has designed a tablerunner that would be a perfect wedding gift – and give your customers the opportunity to try the technique without commiting to a king size quilt!  This pattern will not be available until the end of February, but I wanted you to be aware of it so you can add it to your class schedule before wedding season is upon us!

Item #JNQ74P  Retail $18.00

Wouldn’t this be gorgeous on the bride’s table at the reception???  The bridal party could sign the rings for an instant family heirloom!  Additional foundation packs are available that include enough papers to make two additional table runners.

Item #JNQ74E  Retail $10.00

But, if you want to create a true family heirloom, why not consider making a tree skirt?  Just think – a tree skirt is only used a month a year, is the showcase of the holiday, and doesn’t get slept on.  It will last a lifetime!  And Judy’s tree skirts are spectacular!  Christmas Celebration is 60″ around and incorporates some flying geese units pieced in a circle.  These tree skirts are the perfect gift for even your non-quilt loving friends and family!  Batiks work up beautifully in these designs.  They are thinner than other fabrics and because of the dye process, do not fray like other fabrics.

Item #JNQ61P  Retail $25.00

If you prefer a more “artsy” look, consider this Twisted Star tree skirt that is 54″ wide.  It is dramatic and has a more whimsical feel.

Item #JNQ16P  Retail $12.00

The trick is to make these quilts doable – for ALL of your customers.  Personally, I love the finished result, but don’t like the paper-piecing process.  But, by breaking her designs down into monthly assignments, I could actually finish one of these projects!  And, in the case of the tree skirts, you may want to start those classes now!  After all, your customers will have to make one for every member of their family!  But why wait until Christmas?  Wouldn’t this be a great wedding gift for a special bride and groom?

Who knows…..your customers may even decide to make one for themselves!!!

Jelly Rolls are not for Breakfast

This book is simply a good read!  Jelly Roll Quilts & More by Kimberly Einmo is a pleasant surprise.  After all, who would think someone could come up with ANYTHING new and creative with 2 1/2″ strips – let alone a baker’s dozen – but she does!  They are not only creative, they utilize the fabric to its full potential.  And, if you want to use your stash, there are cutting instructions for that too.

Item #AQS8146  Retail $26.95

This book is for everyone – but has added features that make it the perfect choice for beginners!  Kimberly offers a “Try This!” section that offers suggestions and design ideas so you can turn thirteen patterns into even more projects.  Let your creative juices flow.

Quilting is also social – and what could be more fun than cutting up your stash and making a quilt with friends.  After all, they could have just the strip you need…..  Kimberly has included party ideas and recipes – all you have to do is set the date.  But the best part of the book is the helpful hints that every quilter loves.  This “Hints from Heloise” feature – quilter’s style, makes this a must read for every quilter!

Consider teaching a series of classes from this book.  Choose your four favorites – and believe me, that will be hard to do – and offer a different quilt each quarter.  Many of these quilts can be made in 6 to 9 hours.  Offer a monthly two or three hour class so your customers actually have TIME to finish a quilt!  By the end of the year, they will have four quilts completed! This gives you an opportunity to teach a class from start to finish.  At a demo day, show them how to cut up their stash into the 2 1/2″ strips using the Creative Grids Stashbuster Ruler – or buy a pre-cut bundle.  Then, in the first class, teach them how to make the individual blocks.  In lesson two, share how to square up blocks, chain a quilt, and press it properly.  In lesson three, show how to add borders, sew a backing, prepare a quilt for machine or hand quilting, and make binding.  There are teaching opportunities on every page!

Winter is the Time for Rag Quilts

I read many blogs and newsletters written by shops all over the country.  This month, most of you have a sale on flannels.  And, why not!  Flannels are most popular in the winter, and if you don’t sell them soon, they will be sitting on your shelves until the first snow storm next fall.

But, it occurred to me that there may be a better way.  Instead of putting these fabrics on sale, why not teach classes that feature these fabrics?  Consider adding a rag quilt to your class schedule!  The inventory will be gone in no time!

A rag quilt is a quilt that is quilted as you go.  In it’s simplest form, squares of fabric are cut 2″ larger than a square of batting.  The batting is centered between two squares of fabric – placed wrong sides together.  Then, a simple straight stitch is sewn across these squares – usually in the shape of an “X” – to hold the layers together.

These squares are then sewn together with a 1″ seam.  This exposed seam is clipped approximately every 1/4″.  When the quilt is washed, these clipped seams fray and add interest to the quilt.

Because these quilts are quilted as you go, it is the perfect beginning project.  If you would like a quick mother/daughter class, why not do a 24″ floor pillow?  Cut 8″ squares so you can cut five squares across the width of the fabric. You will need 32 squares – 64 if you are making it reversible.  (1 3/4 Yards of two different fabrics).

This project does not even have to be bound.  The pillow front and back can be sewn together with a 1″ seam and then clipped so the pillow will have a ragged finish.

We have several books and patterns on our website that takes this simple concept to a whole new level – but the result is the same.  Instant gratification!

Item #HPC212 Retail $7.50

This quilt is reversible – which means all of the seams show on the same side.  The back is totally flat like a traditional quilt.  Notice that, again, there is no binding.  The outside edge is clipped.  All your customer needs to know is how to sew a straight seam!

Item #SB122 Retail $7.00

This quilt takes it one step further.  The blocks are strip pieced – and then sewn together with a seam that is then shagged.

These quilts – which are quilted as you go – are the perfect beginning quilt.  They are at their best when they are made out of woven flannels.  Since woven flannels look the same on both sides, the fabrics look great when they are washed to create the “raggy” look. And, it is a great way to use up scraps of batting that are laying around in your shop!  Just cut them down to 6″ squares and “kit” them for your customers!

There are at least three different scissors designed to clip these quilts.  They all have a spring in the handles to make it much easier to clip without the wear and tear on your hands!  My favorite – and the cheapest – is this pair by Tooltron.  They have a very comfortable rubber grip and easily cut through several layers of fabric.  You won’t find a better pair of scissors for twice the price!

Item #TT0588  Retail $14.95

If your shop sells the Go! machines, they make a die that “snips” the outside edges of these squares for you.  You simply run the fabric through the machine – and it cuts it into 8 1/2″ squares that are clipped around the outside edges.

Item #ACQ55013  Retail $49.99

You could even kit some simple quilts or pillows for a Mother/Daughter demo day.  This is the perfect way to get tweens into quilting!  And, what mother can resist a daughter’s enthusiasm???

If you sell embroidery machines, you could even embroider a design through the fabric and batting instead of quilting it.  What a great way to “quilt” it – and show off your machines!  Those flannels are gold!!!

Strip Rulers allow you to think outside of the Square

I have been playing with the Creative Grids Strip Rulers and Double Strip Rulers with amazing results.  This is a case of a demo that is worth a thousand words – but when you saw the demos at Market – and got back to the store, you didn’t quite remember how to use them!

Checker to the rescue!  They have posted the storyboards that we used at Market which showed how to use these rulers, on their website under Free Resources. You can now download an 8 1/2″ x 11″ color copy of step by step instructions.  Laminate them in your store and hang them next to the rulers so that your customers can be educated immediately.

But, since that time, I have figured out even more blocks that can be created with these rulers.  This week I will focus on the 90 Degree Strip and Double Strip Ruler.

Item #CGRSR90  Retail $22.50

If you cut a 2 1/2″ strip – and then cut this into triangles, these can be pieced into a quarter-square triangle that measures 4 1/2″.

If you sew two 1 1/2″ strips together – which will then measure 2 1/2″ – and then cut this into triangles, these can be pieced into a quarter-square triangle that measures 4 1/2″.

These two blocks can be combined with any 4 1/2″ squares or 4 1/2″ pieced blocks.  Look how easy and fast a complicated looking block can be!  Now consider the possibilities of the Double Strip Ruler!

Item #CGRDBS90  Retail $25.00

If you sew together two 2 1/2″ strips – which will then measure 4 1/2″ – and cut them into triangles, you can create a finished block that measures 8 1/2″.

Four of the blocks made with the Single Strip ruler can be sewn together to create a block that is the same size as the 8 1/2″ square created with the Double Strip Ruler.  Bigger may not necessarily be better – but it sure is faster and easier!

Then, I sewed two 1 1/2″ strips to a 2 1/2″ strips.  Make two sets that alternate fabrics.  Combining two triangles cut from each strip set will create the 8 1/2″ block on the right.  The seams match beautifully!

When cutting triangles from these strip sets, you will not be using the mirror images of these triangles, so save them to create the block below!  In the block above, the point of the triangle is cut from the 2 1/2″ strip.  In the block below, the point of the triangle is cut from the 1 1/2″ strip sets.

Now look what happens when you sew the SAME type of triangles together.  It looks like you cut all of these tiny pieces – and mitered the corners!  Only I know you didn’t!

Now look what happens when we sew 4 – 1 1/2″ strips together!

When you cut triangles from this pieced set,  the results are amazing!

Remember – the double strip ruler makes blocks that finish to 8″ which can be combined with the strip ruler 4″ finished blocks.  The potential when combining these blocks is simply limitless!  See what you can design!  Why not do a demo and sponsor a design contest.  Let me know what they create!  Share the possibilities…

I see these books in your future!

There are two new books coming out next month that you need to order now – hands down!  They are both guaranteed sales – so you will be ahead of the game!

Judy Martin is a legend.  Her books are classics that continue to sell – and never go out of print.  Her newest book will be no exception.

Item #JM222  Retail $27.95

Judy just doesn’t design great blocks, she design great quilts!  That means she doesn’t stop at the blocks, she coordinates sashings and borders that enhance her designs.  The mouth watering quilts on the cover show what I mean!  Look at these settings – truly spectacular!  And, on a personal note, Judy is an original!  She is quality through and through – and I love it when the goods guys shine!!!

It’s a Wrap

This book has been in the top 20 since it’s release, and the long awaited sequel will arrive next month – so be prepared!  Remember the craze this book created when you couldn’t find clothesline anywhere?  Our buyers are already buying in anticipation of the demand this book will create!  Memories….This book will have all of your students revisiting this technique – and enjoy every minute of it.  Talk about a stash buster!

Item #B1001T  Retail $24.99

Use the June Taylor Shape Cut for Strips to cut your strips quickly and easily.  You can cut out all of the strips for a standard size basket in 15 minutes!  Get right to the fun stuff – and take the tedium out of the whole process.

Item #796J  Retail $33.49

But, don’t forget the clothesline!  This is a case of planning ahead that will pay off.

Item #WDLINE  Retail $4.59

Start wrapping!

Bias Binding has never been easier

Sometimes, the right fabric – cut on the bias – can add that awe factor to your finished quilt.  But cutting that bias binding was sometimes difficult at best.  Bit, this new ruler by Simplicity has made cutting bias strips in any width – from 1/4″ to 2 1/2″ – child’s play.

Item #8829420
Retail $19.99

It is designed to fit the diagonal of a half yard cut of fabric or a fat quarter but since the ruler actually”folds”, it is not awkward to work with – or store.  Both ends have diagonal angles so when these angles are placed on the straight edges of the fabric, you simply cut strips to that width.  Narrow strips can be used to make bias tape for appliqued stems, etc.  The wider widths are great for bindings.

A half yard cut of fabric makes enough 2 1/2″ bias binding to bind a 60″ square quilt!  Because the ends of each piece are already angled, you simply piece the strips together along this angle and stitch.  Press the seams open to alleviate the bulk in the seams.

Stripes, plaids, and checks make gorgeous bias bindings.  In effect, turning these designs on point adds drama to any quilt.  And, there are some instances when a bias binding is the only acceptable option.  If you are binding scallops, you must use a bias binding so that the “stretch” of the fabric will form itself to the inside and outside curves of the scallop.

In the case of scallops, I suggest that you use a single bias strip. That means that cut your strips 1 1/4″ wide instead of the standard 2 1/2″ width.  Piece the individual strips together and press a 1/4″ hem on one side.  Attach the other raw edge to the quilt.  This single fold eliminates the bulk in the inside points of the scallops so the quilt will lay flat and smooth.

But, this ruler allows you to cut bias strips in ANY width.  Why not cut one of those great stripes or plaids on the bias, fold it right sides together, and insert it in a border seam.  Sometimes, a 1/2″ lip of fabric can add a dramatic effect to any quilt!   Why not demo this ruler and combine it with one of the great books we have on binding.

Darlene Zimmerman’s book, “The Quilter’s Edge”, would be a perfect supplement for this demo.  She not only shows how to bind scalloped edges, she showcases prairie points – and shows the process from start to finish.

Item #979-4  Retail $22.99

Happy Endings by Mimi Dietrich also has great instructions and great ideas!

Item #B616T  Retail $19.95

But, one of my favorite binding tools is a laminated page from Alicia’s Attic that shows step by step how to make – and attach a bias binding.  And, at this price, every quilter should have one by their sewing machine!

Item #KBB-006  Retail $5.95

It shows how to turn perfect corners and makes the whole process simple as pie!  I see a demo day in your future!

PBQ Tips – Scissors

So much attention has been given to scissors with razor-like edges and ultra-sharp points that it is hard to find a good blunt tipped scissors. Rotary cutting tools are great for cutting fabrics, and sharp points are great for trimming trapunto batting, but neither type is useful when running a quilting machine.

Safety is important and a blunt tip scissors is very safe. Keeping the scissors off of the quilting surface is a good (safe) habit. Some people have a hook or post on their machines where they can hang a scissors. Some use a magnetic device attached to the machine and some use a retractable ‘leash’ that can be clipped to their clothing. I use them all.

Convenience is a key element when choosing scissors. I prefer a blunt tip folding scissors for travel. Mine is attached to a retractable leash, and always clipped to my clothing. (Some retractable holders even have a button that will stop the cord from retracting if you need it to.) I often forget to remove my scissors when going out into public so I prefer clips that have a quilting design or other decorative element – why not make it look like jewelry?

Folding Scissors – great for travel.
Blunt point – Checker item 5C ( shown in picture )  
Retractable Holder – Decorative, Checker item 1415-GC ( shown in picture )
Other choices include:
Sharp point folding scissors- Checker item 177 (not shown)

Another convenience is a snip scissors that I can use one-handed. Before I start to quilt, I trim stray threads from the back of a quilt. I want a scissors that is lightweight with a pointed tip so I can cut threads and smooth seams. One hand holds the threads or seams and the other clips – without juggling the scissors to fit my fingers.

Snips – sharp tip, great for trimming. Checker Item # C33010

Similarly, I use a nipper when quilting. After I have secured the thread tails with a few tie-off stitches, I have the threads in one hand and can grab the nippers and clip them with the other. Again, I prefer a blunt tip when cutting threads because I can get close to the tie-off knot without the risk of puncturing a hole in the quilt top.

Nipper – blunt tip, can be used 1-handed. Checker item # GTNKE

When I make a quilting mistake, I often keep quilting, knowing I can remove the quilt from the table later, and sit down when I remove the bad stitches. This time my scissors of choice has a rounded tip, and has a curved hook on one side of the blade. I can use this hook to isolate a single stitch. If I pull the stitch in one direction, the inside edge of the hook cuts the thread, If I pull the stitch in the other direction, the outside edge pulls the thread up. Very handy for reverse quilting!

Stitch Cutting scissors – rounded tip with a hook. Checker item #C30015 Retractable Holder – Plain black, Checker item 1415-BP

Finally, I recommend a separate scissors for batting. It has been my experience that batting can dull a scissors very quickly. Getting the scissors sharpened is not quick, easy or convenient, so I use inexpensive scissors which are practically disposable! Ask your Checker Sales Rep for a recommendation.

Shop owners can do their customers a favor by carrying these specialty scissors. Each one of these products is reasonably priced and has a distinct purpose which means great value for the customer.

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!

Pat Barry

Clothing with Style – that Fits!

I was thrilled to see that Karen Nye’s “A Little Somethin’ Jacket” has broken into the top 20 patterns.  And this jacket has style – and is flattering for anyone.  It comes in two sleeve lengths – 3/4″ and full length.  A clothing designer told me that three quarter length sleeves had the same effect as loosing 10 pounds – without going on a diet – so you know which one I’m going to choose!  The luscious fabrics you already carry would drape beautifully in this jacket.

Item #CNT2501  Retail $10.00

It also comes in two different lengths –  a short version and a longer version which is just long enough to cover the hips for those of us who are over 50!  The slightly fitted jacket even gives the impression of a waist – whether we have one or not.  But the simple construction of this jacket in sizes from 8 to 24 can be sewn successfully by even a beginner!  There are no zippers or buttonholes so success is guaranteed!

Indygo Junction’s Midtown Trench would be a great follow-up class.  This jacket comes in two different lengths – upper and mid-thigh – both are absolutely adorable!  The back features three deep pleats to add swing and style – and a little bit of room if you need it!  This unlined jacket is simple because it features princess seams.  I was not familiar with that term, so I looked it up!

Princess seams are long shaped seams which can be found on the front or back of a garment. They are usually used specifically in women’s fashion, since princess seams are designed to make a garment fit smoothly and snugly. Many form fitting garments such as formal gowns are made with princess seams. As a general rule, princess seams are used instead of darts, although the two may sometimes be found on the same garment.

So, removing darts from this pattern makes it even easier.  And, with the gorgeous buttons available these days, this jacket can showcase your favorites.  A class featuring this jacket would be the perfect project to teach collars, buttonholes, and pleats.  The flowing style makes fitting a breeze. The pattern includes sizes from Small to 2X.

Item #IJ866 Retail #14.99

Favorite Things is also one of my favorite designers.  This Uptown Coat Jacket  would be a great follow up class.  This jacket has it all – a collar, pleats, and buttons – teaching opportunities at every turn.  But, look at the results!  Billy Joel couldn’t resist this “Uptown Girl” – and either will your customers!

Item #IJ866 Retail #V037

Bareroots Creates a Gift for all Seasons

Barri Gaudet is one of my favorite designers – and certainly has her own sense of style!  She designs all of our favorite things – using all of our favorite techniques:  piecing, applique, and accents of embroidery – that make  her Cottage Chic projects shine.

Item #Z5011  Retail $24.99

This book offers 25 projects for every gift giving occasion.  Some are quick and simple and can be made in an afternoon.  Other projects are heirloom quality.  You will cherish the finished project as well as the journey.  Who doesn’t love curling up for an evening of handwork?  My blood pressure is dropping just thinking about it!  Maybe there is a reason that hearts are so predominately featured in many of her designs!

Why not consider making Barri Sue a monthly fixture in your shop.  She has two different lines of “Stitchies” that are great block of the month programs.  The patterns are just $5.00 so they are very affordable – which also means the kits are affordable too.  And, who could resist just making one???

Her candlemat series has been so popular that there are more than 12 to choose from – there just aren’t enough months in the year to celebrate!  Check out this assortment – which may be the perfect touch for the upcoming holidays!  These little beauties are around 6″  – a little bit that makes a big impact!

Item #BR131  Retail $5.00

Item #BR134  Retail $5.00

Item #BR158  Retail $5.00

But if you are looking for one project that will last the whole year, consider offering her house Block of the Month program.  Each house is accented with details that reflect the seasons.  The 12 – 12″ blocks can be put together to make a beautiful quilt.  At just $5.00 a month per pattern, who could resist?  What a great take along project.  Her whimsical style can be a hit in your shop too!

Item #BR171  Retail $5.00