Alyssa’s Picks From Market


In our industry, going to Quilt Market is equivalent to attending Fashion Week in New York!  Here I am ready for another day of ordering and inspiration…

I spent the day with Rob and Penny from Checker exploring the Market floor.  Here are some of my favorite things…

Kaleidoscope Kreator 3 software is one of my favorite products.  It allows you to take any photo and turn it in to a kaleidoscope or a pinwheel and in almost any size and print on fabric or paper. You can make quilt blocks, labels, stationary and more.

Ellen Medlock has some of the cutest things I have ever seen, not only does she have really adorable fabric, she also has some of my favorite purses. You can do mother/daughter bags or big sister/little sister bags.  We ordered the Minaudiere Bag kits and chain handles.   They just came in to the shop and I plan on making a sample ASAP for Valentine’s Day.

This cute booth belongs to La Todera.  I love her flowers and ornaments –  I could see myself using these on everything from purses and clothing; to quilts and pillows.  I’ve already made a mushroom pincushion.

Serendipity Studio – Her patterns and books are so fresh and easy. I think she has a bag pattern for everything; a lunch bag, Ipad carrier and purses of course.  We ordered her new book “Media Frenzy Bags & Accessories”.

I love all of these chunky zippers. They come in many colors and you can use them in so many things. I also love to use rick rack in almost everything, it adds another little something to whatever you may be working on.

Clover Yo Yo Makers and Flower Frill Templates are quick and so much fun. To put it mildly I am simply addicted to the Flower Frill Template. You can use it for everything, and I mean everything… it comes in different sizes so you can make what ever size fits your project.

I really loved these vintage-style domed buttons.  Here they are on a pillow I made using the Flower Frill Template…

Here are some pics of some of my other favorite booths:

Next time, you’ll get a glimpse behind the scenes during my recent visit to Checker.  Alyssa

Welcome Home – a Glimpse into Kaffe Fassett’s Studio

This book is quite simply – spectacular!!!  What else can you say about a book filled with hundreds of photographs of the art of one of the top designers of our time???  The cover features Kaffe surrounded by his signature – over-sized roses.

Item #L11259  Retail$27.95

Yes, he is known for his sense of color, but after drooling over the photographs in this book, I love his use of texture and shapes.  Many of the photographs feature his paintings – and my favorites are pictures of pottery – which create the backdrop for a collection of gorgeous dishes displayed on a hutch in front!  The painting adds a three dimensional effect that is breath taking!  In this photo, the curves of the vases and plates are mimicked in the fabric designs.  And the colors of the pottery accent the colors in the fabric.  I guarantee you will fall in love with a room and then spend hours dissecting every element in it to learn from the master!

In this photo from his one man art exhibit at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, check out the geometric patterns reflected in a variety of mediums and textures.

Kaffe is definitely a renaissance man.  He crosses mediums effortlessly – and is famous for his knitting designs; needlepoint; and fabrics; as well as his paintings, hooked rugs, and mosaics.

There are nine patterns included in the book from quilts to hooked rugs – but you will keep returning to the photographs because this is one of those books that will appeal to everyone.  You don’t have to be a quilter to appreciate his work – share it with any friend who has a definite sense of style.  Show them that quilting is not just traditional – expand your horizons today!

Use your Resources to their Greatest Potential

How many of us join organizations – and never read the fine print!  And once we join, we continue to do so – year after year – without ever revisiting why we did it in the first place!  In most cases, there is a very good reason why we became members – and in this economy, take the time to remember why!  You may discover free services have been added or revised since you joined – and all you need to do is pick up a phone to take advantage of them!

FabShop is one such organization.  When I talk to shop owners who are members, they mention the magazine.  This publication is delivered six times a year – and is truly geared to the shop owner.  The articles focus on sales strategies; new products; store displays- anything and everything to make you a successful entrepreneur.

Then there is the forum.  Shop owners can chat on-line and compare notes on what is happening in the industry.  New shop owners can get advice from successful businesses across the country – and it is all a part of the membership fee.

The Kick Off Dinner at Quilt Market is an event that grows every year.  Shop owners meet the night before School House begins for a wonderful dinner; great speakers; and a chance to find out what is happening outside of their shop.  Let’s face it – if you own a quilt shop, you don’t get out very often!!!

But, FabShop offers many other services as well.  One of my favorites is the continuing education classes that are offered throughout the year.  For a nominal fee, you can spend an hour learning from the pros. In January, for instance, Karen Montgomery is teaching a class titled “1%….a small number in pricing, 1% can bring big returns!

Many of you have attended Karen’s lectures at Quilt Market and the Checker Open Houses.  She has experience as a shop owner, a sewing machine dealer, a pattern and fabric designer, and just designed her first ruler with Creative Grids.  When Karen speaks, it is always to a packed house – but in most of these cases, you don’t get to interact!  But now you do!  Listen to all of Karen’s great ideas and then feel free to ask questions.  She is a wealth of information and is always willing to share.

In this lecture, Karen explains how to find hidden profits to grow your business.  She will cover pricing strategies for fabrics, kits, notions, books and patterns.

This 60 minute class is available Tuesday, January 11 at four different times. Continuing education is just a click or a phone call away:

FabShop has other programs as well. did you know that every member gets a one time, 30 minute consultation with Laurie Harsh?  Use this as an opportunity to have Laurie explain the other opportunities available.  They offer:

  • Group discounts for health insurance and business insurance
  • Discounts on merchant credit card processing
  • Web hosting and a shopping cart system
  • Discounts on Point of Sale Software and Quickbooks
  • FedEx discounts
  • A variety of advertising opportunites
  • Website design

The list goes on and on…..So why not revisit your membership benefits today – and start the New Year off with new possibilities…..

Holidays throughout the Year by the Month

These patterns by Wooden Bear are so cute they will fly off your shelves.  At just $6.00 a piece, they are reasonably priced – which makes them perfect for kits and classes.  Your customers will love actually finishing something in class – but have extra available for those who want to sew them at home.   These are such perfect gifts, they won’t be able to stop at just one.

Item #TWBS03  Retail $6.00
All Bundled Up

Item #TWBS04  Retail $6.00
Be My Honey

Item #TWBS05  Retail $6.00

Item #TWBS06  Retail $6.00
Spring Bunny

Item #TWBS07  Retail $6.00
May Flowers

Item #TWBS08  Retail $6.00
June Bugs

Item #TWBS09  Retail $6.00
July Blooms

Item #TWBS10  Retail $6.00
August Beach

Item #TWBS11  Retail $6.00
Apple Harvest

Item #TWBS12  Retail $6.00
October Scare

Item #TWBS01  Retail $6.00
Who Me?

Item #TWBS02  Retail $6.00
Ho, Ho, The Mistletoe

Why not print the shapes on Print n Fuse – and include it in the kits?  Then they simply have to iron it on the wrong side of the fabrics, cut them out, and fuse them in place…..spoil them rotten – and they will come.

Item #PNF12      Retail $11.99  12 Sheet Pack
Item #PNF25     Retail $18.99  25 Sheet Pack
Item #PNF100  Retail $55.99  100 Sheet Pack

Don’t forget to order the frames and plenty of embellishments.  They add that awe factor that we all love….

Item #87747  Retail $22.00

“Udderly” Fantastic Skin Care

Udder cream has been a favorite among quilters for years.  So how do you breathe new life into a classic – and increase your customer base???  Come up with the most clever packaging to hit the market in a very long time!!!  The same Udder Cream that you know and love is now available in one quart milk bottles.  They look just like the originals but are not breakable.  How cute is this!!!

Item #REDEX32  Retail $15.00

This product is still available in your favorite sizes: the 2 oz. tube (Item #Redex-2 Retail $3.00); the 4 oz. tube (Item #Redex-4 Retail $4.50); and the 12 0z. jar (Item #Redex-10 Retail $8.00).

I live in Ohio.  Winter is very hard on everyone’ skin so you may want to add their other products as well.  The Udderly Smooth Foot Cream includes shea butter to moisturize and smooth dry, calloused feet.

Item #71408  Retail $8.25

Udderly Smooth works so well that the medical community wanted a fragrance free version with additional Urea to moisturize extremely dry skin.  A new product was developed to meet their needs – but the rest of us will love it as well.

Item #76008  Retail $ 8.75

Country Cream is a six ounce tube of hand lotion that has a light fragrance and absorbs into the skin without leaving a greasy residue.

Item #80452 Retail $4.50
Why not pull out some “cow” fabrics and apron patterns as a backdrop for an instant display?

Rescued by Heat Press Batting Together

This is a busy time of year for everyone, especially professional quilters who are trying their best to complete many customer quilts in time for the holidays. I am a professional quilter too, and I know first-hand how little spare time is available for fixing any unexpected problems. I made my deadlines, but must give credit to a couple products that made it possible. First is a relatively new product called “Heat Press Batting Together”, Checker Item # HPBT. List $7.99 (picture)

Heat Press Batting Together

It does exactly what it says – uses heat (carefully of course) to join two pieces of batting together. The product is a roll of fusible cloth tape that looks and feels like tricot – nice and soft and pliable. It has an adhesive on one side that is activated with heat. I first learned of this product at the Checker Open House last August.

If you are a quilter too, you know the sinking feeling when you are approaching the bottom of the quilt and the batting is too short. Although you know you measured correctly, something happened and you need to add another piece. Don’t waste time worrying, just cut another piece of batting and fix it using Heat Press Batting Together.

I didn’t even remove the quilt from the table – I just put my ironing board in front of the quilt table, flipped the quilt top up and out of the way, positioned the batting pieces on the ironing board and aligned the edges. Trim the batting edges as needed to be sure there are no gaps or overlaps. Use straight pins if needed to secure the batting pieces to the ironing board cover so they stay still while you press the tape on. Place the fusible tape on the batting, centered over the ‘join’. Cover this with the “Amazing Sheet Teflon Craft Sheet” from BoNash. I like the larger one for this application. Checker item # BO1007, List $19.99.

Amazing Sheet Teflon Craft sheet

Follow the instructions to be sure your iron is on the correct setting. Press gently – you can always go back and add a bit extra pressure and/or heat if it didn’t fuse together completely the first time. Secure one section at a time, then remove the straight pins and reposition the ironging board as needed to do the next section.

It took me about 20 minutes total to fix my problem, which is sure a lot better than how I used to do it! Since then, I have tried this product on several types of batting, including cotton, blend, wool and a lofty polyester, and it works great!

So, for the shops that do a lot of charity quilting, it may now be possible to save your batting leftovers, piece them together, and use them in a charity quilt. I bet you won’t be able to tell the difference!

Happy Holidays to all –
Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!
Pat Barry

Market Through the Eyes of a 20 Year Old

While we were in Houston, a young woman struck up a conversation with Rob. At the age of 20, Alyssa McCoy is a sixth generation quilter. Her mother, Susan, owns a quilt shop and designs patterns and quilts under the Swirly Girls name. She is personable, articulate – and more importantly, was able to tell us what she liked – and why! Since we are all trying to figure out how to attract that segment of the market, we thought you might enjoy hearing about her first Market. In the next few weeks, she will “walk” Market with you and give you her perspective through a photo montage. Enjoy…..

I knew attending the International Quilt Market in Houston would be fun, exciting and educational. I DIDN’T know it would open my eyes to so many new ideas and possibilities. Growing up in a quilt shop, I was exposed to the joy of fabric and what you can do with it – but going to Market opened my eyes to so many new products and techniques that I didn’t know where to start!

I had the opportunity to go to Market when my mom and her partner from Swirly Girls Design asked if I would come and work in their booth. Of course I jumped at the chance to go! We flew in to Houston on Wednesday, Oct. 27th and spent most of the day lost in the area looking for fun things to decorate the booth.

The next morning, we woke up early and started getting things ready to set up the booth. I was surprised to see how big the Convention Center was. We were only there a few minutes before running into Amy Butler – yay! It was like watching a ballet when the convention staff and vendors quickly and seamlessly unloaded their trucks and loaded their booths. I enjoyed being able to watch as the vendors setup their booths and turned them into beautiful spaces. Then the real work started. As the truck was unloaded we had boxes and boxes to unload and organize. We made a bed from plastic totes, an air mattress and a headboard that was zip tied to the booth poles.

We left the booth unfinished and went to the Fab Shop Dinner which was chocolate themed – yum!

Friday morning we got to the Hilton early to host a breakfast for Michael Miller Clubhouse. I saved the day when my mom didn’t know how to work the slide projector – LOL… After breakfast I went to Schoolhouse (short classes on new products and ways to market them). Every room was packed! Next we went to Sample Spree. There were hundreds of people lined up waiting to get in, it reminded me of going shopping on Black Friday. I was able to get a signed copy of “Sew Serendipity” by Kay Whitt – love it!!

Saturday the Market floor opened and it was a whirlwind. Ty Pennington was showing his new fabric line with Westminster (another Black Friday moment). I loved the zipper accessories from Indygo Junction – so cute! I have to make that spider…

Sunday, after buying fabric with our sales rep, Bob, I had a conversation with Rob Krieger from Checker about social networking and technology. It was great to see how he was so interested in keeping up with the times so we don’t lose the art of quilting. Checker has a fantastic new Ipad system for ordering and I was really glad to see that they were using it as an option for going green.

I spent Monday exploring Quilt Market with Rob and Penny Haren which you can read about in my next blog post.

The Swirly Girls “NEW” Designs

The gals at Swirly Girls have really been busy!  They have designed a new Block of the Month program that uses Fairy Frosts from Michael Miller.  check out the wide variety of colors available on our website:

It’s amazing how striking a quilt can be when it is totally created from tone on tones!  You have two color options – warm colors and cool colors – and each has it’s own setting.  Mix or match to your heart’s content!

Sea of Tranquility uses cool colors to their best advantage!

Super Nova showcases the warm colors that we all love!

A shop’s sample kit is available so you can make your quilt NOW!

Item #SGDBOMSN Retail $65.00

They are best known for striking designs that are simple to make – and their latest patterns are no exception.  Twinkle is made with half-square triangles and squares.  Who would have thought that two shapes could produce such a spectacular display???

Item SGD018  Retail $9.00

Big Ten is simple – but effective – and provides perfect backdrops for fussy cutting.  Fast, fun and easy…..

Item #SGD017  Retail $9.00

Superstar includes instructions for four different sizes – don’t you love it when they do the math for you???

Item #SGD016  Retail $9.00

PDQ is a great quilt to showcase the spectacular large prints that are so popular today – and can be completed in an afternoon.  What is not to love.  This is a great beginner quilt.

Item #SGD015  Retail $9.00

But one of my favorites is Grand Central – what a great way to show off a spectacular print that you absolutely don’t have the heart to cut up!  And then add some pinwheels for the awe factor – and you won’t be able to keep kits on the shelves!

Item #SGD012  Retail $9.00

Christine and Susan design patterns with shop owners in mind – easy to kit, easy to sell, and easy to sew.  Why not order and kit them today????

Technology is a shop’s best friend

Times they are a changin’…..and faster than we ever imagined.  If we, as businesses, want to be successful – we need to stay on top of technology.  Consider the following:

Checker installed personal computers in their offices in 1993 – just 17 years ago!  That means that the children graduating from high school this year did not know of a time when computers weren’t readily available!

Checker decided to include Bar Codes on all products in 1996.  In less than 15 years, we can not imagine shopping without them!

In 1999, E-mail was installed!  That’s right – businesses have only been using e-mail for 11 years!  And, now it is such a part of daily life that you literally can’t do business without it.

In 2004, Facebook was created – and as of July of this year, 500 million people use it!

In 2006 our website was dramatically improved – and is an amazing work in progress.  Frankly, this will never be done because ideas are being explored every day – and improvements are made constantly.

I now have two laptops; two e-mail accounts; two Facebook accounts; a Smart Phone; and write this blog!  I text my children, take pictures and videos on my phone, and can access the internet 24 hours a day!  Who would have thought!

Simply put, we all need to keep up – or we will be left behind!  That is why Checker is always on the cutting edge of technology – and 2010 is no exception.

Many of our sales reps are now using iPads.  The IT department of Checker has developed a program that is the best in the industry.  There is nothing like it anywhere – because we created it!!!

Version one offers many features:

A copy of your order is e-mailed to you immediately – with thumbnail pictures of everything you ordered.

Your sales rep can show you the top 20 items in each category based on your orders over the past year.

Your pre-ordered items, such as fabric, can be grouped by delivery date to help you budget.

Companion items are no longer limited to five.  We are in the process of up-dating all of these.  That means when you need to know all of the accessories that go with a Nancy Halvorsen book, you will literally be able to buy them with a touch of your fingertips (O.K. several touches!)!

Your sales rep can set the date of each visit so they will only show you fabrics that are added after their last visit (no more wondering if you have seen – or ordered that before).

Accuracy is greatly improved – nobody has to be able to read handwriting – and the pictures guarantee that you are getting exactly what you want!

So join in the twenty-first century and call your sales rep to see if he is testing this latest innovation from Checker.  Your life has just gotten a whole lot easier!

Attracting New Customers to our Stores

Grab a cup of coffee, because this one is about education – a lot of information without any pictures….but it is worth the read!  We had a meeting this week on how to attract new business to our stores.  You may notice that I didn’t say new “quilters”!  After all, the majority of inventory in our stores is fabric that works just as well for other projects as it does for quilts. Just look at the distribution of the top 20 patterns today:

Purses: 45%
Kitchen: 15%
Table Runners: 15%
Clothing: 5%
Quilts: 20%

That means that 80% of our most popular patterns have nothing to do with quilting!!!  They use quality fabrics that work well in ANY sewing project!  So why do so many of our shops have names that are geared toward 20% of our Market…and what can we do to attract those people who sew – but think quilting is an old fashioned hobby for little old ladies with time on their hands???

Why not try reaching out into your community?  There are many organizations in your area that are always looking for speakers – and would love for you to provide a program for them.  All you have to do is ask!

Now is the time to get over your fear of public speaking!  Practice makes perfect – and it doesn’t have to be difficult – just pull projects from your shop and talk about them like you would to a customer.  Don’t forget to take lots of samples that can be made in two hours or less.  Now is the time to remove that intimidation factor.  Keep it simple – fill a couple laundry baskets full of samples from your shop, business cards, newsletters, and any other information you have readily available.  You already know your topic so give it a try!

With the age of the Internet, finding these groups is easier than ever!

Chamber of Commerce

Contact your local Chamber of Commerce.  Find out what services they offer that might be good for your business.  That does not mean that you have to join!  When you are considering membership, ask for the information they give new businesses moving to town.  Find the Chamber of Commerce nearest you:

Newcomers Clubs

Contact your local Newcomers Club.  Not only do they host get togethers for people moving into the area, they also help organize members who have like interests. Offer to speak at a meeting and possibly organize a sewing group.  Visit:

LaLeche League

This organization is a support group for new moms who are breast feeding.  What a great way to meet this segment of our Market – young Mom’s who could be sewing clothing for their wee ones and decorating nurseries. Find the group closest to you by visiting:

Senior Citizen Centers

In most cases, our core customers are women who are empty nesters or retirees.  They finally have time to do something that THEY enjoy!  These women have all taken Home Economics classes so they are not intimidated by the idea of sewing – they just need to learn that they no longer have to stick to aprons and locker caddies!  Just do a google search  for a Senior Citizen Center in your county and state.

Adult Education Classes

Google is a girl’s best friend .  In our area these classes are offered in the evenings at our local vocational school.  If they already have quilting classes, see if you can add sewing classes.  Or work with the present instructor – offer the students a discount if they buy their supplies through your store.

Mommy and Me

There are organized play groups for stay at homes Moms all across the country.  To find the one nearest you, visit:


Remember – you are trying to let people know that your shop exists, but use this as an opportunity to find out what they would like from you!  What kind of classes would they be interested in taking?  What hours work best for them? Where do they go to find information on what interests them?  You may be surprised by the answers.  Let them tell you how to use your advertising dollars more effectively!  Go in with an open mind and you may be surprised at the results!