How To: On Grommets, They Aren’t Just for Shower Curtains

I love the new tote patterns that use grommets – and everyone says they are so easy.  But if you are my age, inserting grommets meant buying special plyers or banging away with a hammer until you either ruined the project or beat it into submission!

Item #44364DH  Retail $10.69

Not any more!  Dritz has made working with grommets quick and easy and FUN!!!  I set aside a block of time to prepare a demo for this product for the Great Lakes Show next month.  An hour later I was done!  And that included hemming the fabric, etc. to make a mock shower curtain.  Unbelievable.

And it is failsafe – since you mark where the grommets are placed before you cut the fabric.  A template comes in the package.

Mark through the slots in the template.  These are the cutting lines.  Fold the fabric in half and clip the “X” to create an opening so you can use scissors to cut the circle.

Cut out the circle.

The grommets are in two different pieces.  One has circular grooves and one has prongs.

Place the circular grooves under the fabric on a flat surface.

And snap on the pronged side.

Each set has an opening so they can be popped on and off at will.  If you don’t want to wash your project with the grommets in place, simply insert a screw driver – or in my case, a pair of scissors – in the opening and pop them apart.  It really is that easy!

I am a believer – and can’t wait to incorporate these into my next project.

Why not make a sample of one of the great totebags that are in the top twenty and add the grommets in a demo day?  The grommets come in a variety of colors and sizes.  Or, you may want to show them how easy it is to make a shower curtain!

A standard shower curtain finishes to 72″ x 72″.  It is sewn out of two – 2 1/3 yard pieces if you are NOT matching a pattern.  If the pattern needs to be matched, adjust yardage requirements accordingly.  Remove the selvages and stitch these two lengths together along the 84″ length.  Press the seam open.  If you have a serger, serge this seam.  If you don’t cut it with pinking shears to stop fraying when washed.

Sew a two inch double hem on each side.  (That just means that you turn over 2″ of fabric and press.  Then you turn over 2″ again and press again.  Straight stitch with a matching thread along the hem fold.  Turn a four inch double hem on the top edge.  Center and sew 12 grommets along this top edge.  How easy is that!

Put the curtain on your rod before hemming the bottom edge.  a 2″ double hem should work but it may need to be adjusted accordingly.  You have a custom made shower curtain and have given your whole bathroom a face lift for less than $50!   What a great way to use stripes and plaids!

The next generation of totes and organizers

I just discovered a line of totes and storage containers by Creative Options that I just love!  They are stylish, practical – and the quality is amazing for the price.  I ordered some right away but they are back ordered.  I knew as soon as you saw them that you would have to order at least one of each for a Mother’s Day display, so the buyer needs to know how many to order so none of your customers will be disappointed!

Did I mention the quality???  It is great.  There are two sizes of rolling totes for those of us who “have machine will travel”.  I couldn’t decide so I ordered both – I have two machines so they BOTH need their own suitcases.  A picture is worth a thousand words…..

Item #700-431  Retail $79.90

Item #700-441  Retail $109.99

For those who need a “purse” to carry their quilting supplies, this one comes in two sizes.  Who could resist all of those pockets???

Item #700-323  Retail $29.99

Item #700-304 Retail $39.99

If any of your customers love beads, buttons, and whimsy, this is the perfect carrying case.

Item #700-704  Retail $24.99

If you are looking for something to carry projects, etc., this one is big enough for everything.

Item #700-112  Retail $15.99

What quilter could resist anything that makes us feel organized???  And, Mother’s Day is the perfect opportunity for them to spoil themselves  – so be a good Girl Scout and Be Prepared!


Table Runners are Learning Opportunities

Runners, Etc. is not just a table runner book – even though we all know those sell like crazy.  Gathering Friends has created a better mousetrap.  They include instructions for great projects – and then add information on how to adjust them to fit your space.  And there are learning opportunities at every turn!

Item #GF128  Retail $19.99

This book could easily be expanded into a wonderful block of the month program.  Teach them how to make flying geese units the traditional way.  Then show them how easy it would be to paper piece this table runner.  Show them how to bind a quilt that has odd angles on outside edges.  Creative Grids Angle Finder (Item #CGRAF) ruler may be just the ticket!

Use these patterns as a basis to teach your students how to use triangle paper, flying geese paper, paper-piecing, etc.  Change the fabrics to incorporate the up-coming holidays and your classes will be full every time.

“Celebrate” is absolutely gorgeous and would be a great focal point on any table.  A treasured collection of angels or Santas would look great centered on this piece.  “Just for Fun” could be an opportunity to demonstrate how easy photo transfers to fabric can be.  What grandma could resist a table runner that highlights pictures of her grandchildren?

“Family Heirlooms” would be gorgeous in greens for St. Paddy’s Day.  It also would be a great table runner for families to sign at the holidays.  Incorporate pigma pens or paints into this class.

Not only does bringing in different products to demo in your classes provide teachable moments, it also gives your shop an identity.  You have taken the project to the next level – and made it your own – and shown your students how to think outside of the box!  That is always a good thing!

New Yo-Yos in all shapes and sizes

Clover has just added butterflies, shamrocks, and an oval to their yo-yo inventory. I played with the oval yo-yo maker this week – and will have samples of all three at the Great Lakes Show.  The shamrocks and butterflies are available in two sizes.

Item #8711CV  Large $8.75
Item #8710CV Small $6.75

Item #8712CV Small $6.75
Item #8713CV Large $8.75

These latest additions to their line work just like your favorites.  We don’t have a picture on the website for the oval so I used that one in my demonstration.  (Item #8709CV Large $8.75)  The pen shows how large the actual yo- yo maker is.  These are a great way to use up a lot of fabric!

Cut a piece of fabric approximately 1/4″ beyond the template.

Snap the fabric between the templates and stitch through the slots in the template to create the yo-yo shape.

It is that easy!  Many of you wanted a yo-yo garland at Christmas.  This size would be great!  It would go much quicker with this longer length – and it would be a great way to use up all of those scraps of Christmas fabric!  But remember, whites and ivories are great for Christmas too so you could use up all of those scraps of neutrals and trim the tree in white and ivory.  Adding a gold bead or button to the center would add a little sparkle!  That way you can showcase your button collection as well!

Pat’s Picks for favorite Long arm Supplies

We had so many request for what Pat’s favorite long arm supplies, that we are sharing them with you.  Click on this: PatsPicks.  Those of you that are Checker customers can print this , fill it out and fax to us to place an order.  Those that are consumers can print it out, take it to your local independent Quilt Shop and see what items they carry, many will even special order them for you.

The Perfect Country Baltimore Album

I can’t believe I missed this one when looking for Block of the Months.  Luckily I may start a new one in April – after all, who said ALL block of the months have to start in January!  Buggy Barn designed it – and what a difference from their customary pieced projects.  All I can say is WOW!!!  The blocks are finished to 20″ so the pieces are a nice size, easy to turn, and are absolutely gorgeous!

Folk Art Blooms has a country feel because they mixed plaids with prints – and showcased them on a variety of black fabrics.  Breathtaking!!!!  And thanks to the folks at Henry Glass, these fabrics are readily available.  They have a great collection of Buggy Barn basics – along with other lines that will give your quilt the same feel as this one. Check out some of their fabrics on our website by following this link: http://www.checkerdist.com/products/fabrics/?page=1&f_d=31399&f_l=4183.

I love to applique so this is a dream project for me.  The only thing that makes me nervous is those gorgeous five pointed stars – they are the only shapes in this entire quilt that are not a piece of cake.  Solution:  Do those pieces in wool!  Perfect answer to a perfect quilt!  Felted wool washes beautifully, will add texture to this project, and doesn’t need to be turned.  It makes this quilt easy for everyone, is a great way to introduce your customers to wool and is a great way to teach buttonhole stitching.  Number 8 pearl cotton is the best way to hold the wool in place.

Minor changes in sashings and borders can turn this into a queen size quilt.  It is already 88″ square!  Why not start enjoying this one today!

Item #BUG613  Retail $24.00

And what is the best way to trim those large blocks? Use the 20 1/2″ Creative Grids square of course!  After all of that work, now is not the time for a mis-cut!  My version of measure twice/cut once is to draw around the square with a water soluble pen.  Then I measure from the outside edge of the applique to the line to verify that everything is centered – then cut!

Item #CGR20  Retail $49.99

PBQ Tips – Dedicated Display Space Attracts New Customers

I have been planning my 2010 quilt show schedule for months it seems, and now that the new year is upon us, I am revising my classes and choosing new products to put into my vendor booth. Naturally my attention is focused on Quilting Machines and the new products used with them. I have designed a line of quilting machine templates and I can’t wait to get to my first show and begin my demonstrations! These templates are a new product line for Creative Grids® called Sweet Set™, designed for use with quilting machines and just introduced at Quilt Market in the fall of 2009. But I digress . . . .

I am also excited about the coming quilt show season because I will be able to see what new products are on the market. It seems a shame that I can only learn about these at major quilt shows. I would love to have a local quilt shop carry the products I want and need for my machine quilting. Don’t you think your customers would appreciate being able to see the longarm quilting thread colors before they own 5,000 yards of each color? I bet they would appreciate looking at your stencils and knowing they were all continuous line designs! And, it would be great for them to look at the Sweet Set™ templates from Creative Grids®, and understand what makes them unique and valuable.

I have gotten used to buying products on the internet because that has been my only source. I don’t like it though, and I have made plenty of mistakes because I couldn’t examine a product before I bought it. And, I probably could return it, but the shipping cost, wasted time and hassle outweigh the benefit, so I don’t. I would love to have a place to go to buy my longarm quilting supplies, and I would travel hours to go there if there was a place to go! Especially if I read about a new product in a post on one of the internet discussion groups I belong to!

Think about all the new products that you saw at Quilt Market and how they are part of your product mix for 2010. Many products are crossovers – appealing to more than one customer segment. Do you have separate areas that display products together based on the customer interest? This may not work for all product categories, but it sure would work for sewing notions.

For instance, a simple crochet hook is used by people to knit, crochet, appliqué and machine quilt!

I use a tiny crochet hook to remove stray threads when they are caught in the batting and visible through the quilt top. The blunt end separates the fabric threads instead of tearing them, and the tiny hook can catch the stray thread, and extract it safely. I recently tried the Clover Soft Touch Thread Pic (4910CV) and I like that better. I wasn’t looking for a tool to remove threads, but I was told about it, and I tried it, and I like it! So, now I am telling people about it!

So what if you told your machine quilting customers about cool tools that will help them? Better yet, what if you had a separate area of your shop that displayed quilting machine products together? Best yet, Checker has a stand-alone display rack that could be used for this (MQD4RACKBLK), and it even comes with the sign “Machine Quilting Products” to draw the attention of your quilting customers. Fill it with products that they need – many of them you may already have in stock. By having them together on one rack you can see where there are voids, and you can fill them (with products from Checker of course!). And seriously think about sharing free additional information which educates your customers – what a value!

When you create a dedicated area for machine quilting products, tell everyone within a hundred mile radius! Send mailings to quilt guilds – did you know there are quilt guilds just for machine quilters? Put flyers on the information tables at local & regional quilt / craft / hobby / art shows. If you sell any type of quilting system, run pre-ownership classes and be sure to include a visit to the “Machine Quilting Product” area of your shop so they know you offer everything they need. Quilters love road trips, so don’t worry about distance. Offer lectures (instead of hands-on classes) on machine quilting techniques and encourage people to bring a friend, do lunch, and make it an ‘event’. Seriously, it would be worth a road trip! And, very few quilters can visit a shop without buying something. I bet you will be surprized at how many of your customers already own a quilting machine!

Let me know if you would like a copy of ‘My Favorite Products’ for quilting machine owners. Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!

Sewlong,

Pat Barry

Great Lakes Show – March 4, 2010

The Great Lakes Show is a regional wholesale show that will be held in Maumee, Ohio on March 4, 2010.  This is one of several regional shows that are held around the country.  Regional shows offer several advantages for quilt shop owners.  Sales reps from several different companies set up shop in the same place so that you can have one stop shopping.  But, in the case of the Great Lakes Show, let’s make that “two stop shopping” – because, this time, the Checker warehouse is two blocks away!

That means that not only can you see all of the latest fabrics from the best designers in the world, you can also see the most diverse collection of notions, books and patterns in one place!  I will also be demonstrating and playing with a host of new notions – and you can play with them too!

Clover Oval Yo-Yo Maker #8709CV – Retail $8.75

Stop by and see this newest addition to the ever popular Yo-Yo family.

Clover Heart Shaped Pom-Pom Maker #3171C – Retail $11.95

See an actual sample so you can see the size and proportion of this new addition.  It might be just what you need for a children’s class.

Simplicity Bias Binding Ruler #8829420 – Retail $19.99

Check out how much bias binding you can make out of a half yard of fabric – a great demo tool.  Choose a fabric that coordinates with one of your kits – and “sell” the demo sample!

Rag Quilting Snips #00588 – Retail $14.95

These quilting snips are a bargain compared to the other brands – and the quality is great!

Dritz Grommets #44368DH – Retail $10.69

See how easy it is to incorporate these grommets into your latest project.  It is simpler than you think!

Creative Grids Strip and Double Strip Ruler

Look what happens when you combine 1 1/2″; 2 1/2″ and 4 1/2″ strips – and then cut them with these rulers.  Once I started playing, I made dozens of blocks with these combinations.  Come and see what happens when you “cut” outside of the block!

Snag Free Velcro #90666V – Retail $3.49

Feel the difference between this new addition to the velcro line – and our old favorites.

Wash Away Applique Paper #20122 – Retail $15.95

See if this alternative to freezer paper is for you!

So, how do you shop?  Stop by the warehouse first and look at any sale merchandise.  Many of these fabrics may be just the coordinates you need to blend with the focal fabric of a new line.  While they are checking out your order, stop by and play with the notions.  Check out the books and patterns while you are there so you can look for fabric lines that will complete a project that you already have in mind – instead of buying fabric that you don’t know what you are going to do with!

Then, go to the show with a game plan.  A little bit of prep work will make your day a success.  Stop by the warehouse on the way home to pick up or order anything else you need!  Placing more than one order is not a problem!!!  To register for this show, contact Janis Plomaritis at 1.800.537.1060 orjplomaritis@52.45.64.86checkerdist.co. Registering isn’t required, but it gives us some idea of how many registers and sales reps to have available (and how many cookies to buy!)

To put these regional shows on your calendar, check out the events and shows tab on our website.

Gifts Just in Time for Travel Season

Check out these new products by Quilt Happy – they are the perfect counter display.  The 16 ounce travel mug has a steel interior to keep warm drinks warm and cold drinks cold!  It comes in four fashion colors – pink; lime; blue and purple.  Fill them with M&M’s or kisses for a perfect Valentine’s Day or Easter Gift for that secret sis or quilting friend.

Item #QH4506PI (pink)         Retail $15.00
Item #QH4506PU (purple)   Retail $15.00
Item #QH4506BL (blue)        Retail $15.00
Item #QH4506LI (lime)         Retail $15.00

These purse sized notebooks come in three colorful colors – red, orange and purple.  The translucent vinyl cover contains 100 unlined pages – perfect to sketch that latest quilt idea.  A matching pen is included!

Item #QH345-PU  (purple)  Retail $6.50
Item #QH345-RE (red)           Retail $6.50
Item #QH345-OR (orange)  Retail $6.50

My favorite of all of these products is the Sticky Note Organizer.  This packet should be in every purse, sewing basket, and sewing room – not just one will do!  It includes 3 sizes of sticky notes and five different colors of flags – the perfect way to make notes or mark your place in any book or pattern!  And, at just $3.99, they are an excellent gift to put in a birthday card – or any card!  Sometimes a little gift is all you need!

Item #QH326-BA  Retail $3.99