My Favorite Rulers

I was teaching at Road to California this past week.  It is a great event and the weather is unbelievable!  Between classes and other events, I have been exposed to hundreds of students – and sold a ton of rulers!

Everyone here loves Creative Grids and have been asking me about them non-stop.  Karla Alexander is here too.  She also designs with Creative Grids – and has sold out as well.  They simply are the Cadillac of rulers.

Many students want to know which rulers will cover their basic needs – and be a good beginning.  Here are my top picks – and why:


This 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler is consistently the top seller.  Here are the reasons why….

The top selling rotary cutter mats are 18″ x 24″.  Therefore, this ruler can span the entire width and length of the mat.  And, since most fabric is 40 usable inches – and we traditionally cut on the fold (or in my case, double fold) – the ruler will span the 20″ width of the fabric.  Fat quarters, for instance, can be cut in both directions.

Most borders are 6 1/2″ wide so it is easy to cut these strips.  It is so versatile, it should be the required ruler for every beginning class.

CGR24  Retail $22.00


This 6 1/2″ square features a diagonal line.  This is my go to ruler to square up half-square triangles and to cut small squares from scraps.

CGR6  Retail $12.75


This 4 1/2″ x 8 1/2″ ruler has quickly become my favorite.  It fits in my notebook so I take it everywhere with me.  It is the perfect size for sub-cutting strips.  It is wide enough that I feel comfortable with it – and my fingers don’t have to be close to the edge.  Yet it is small enough that when I put pressure on it, I have total control of the ruler and it doesn’t slip – every gripper dot is in contact with the fabric.

CGR48  Retail $13.50


Sometimes a 6 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ is just too honking big – and gets in my way.  I love this 3 1/2″ x 12 1/2″ ruler because it is the standard size of many sashings.  As a rule of thumb, sashings look proportional if they are 25% of the size of the finished block.  Since the most popular size of quilt blocks are 12″, the most popular size of sashings are cut 3 1/2″ x 12 1/2″.

This ruler as a defined white line centered horizontally and vertically – which allowed me to fussy cut stripes in the sashings of the cover quilt of my last book.  It was fast and easy.  I also love circles – and the holes in the ruler can be used like a compass for quilters.  Draw circles up to 22″.

CGRMT1  Retail $16.00


I love to applique so when I need a large square, it is always to square up blocks.  I designed these rulers to measure from the center out.  With defined horizontal, vertical, and diagonal lines, it is easy to square up all of my blocks.  The 1/4″ line around the entire outside edge guarantees you won’t chop off your points.  These rulers come in 6 1/2″; 8 1/2″; 9 1/2″; 12 1/2″; 14 1/2″; and 16 1/2″ sizes.  The holes in the ruler allow you to mark your block or fabric through the holes and trim it to the exact size you need.

I actually use the 6 1/2″ version of this every day (CGRSQ6) but I work in miniature and fussy cut a lot so that influenced my pick.  I will tell you that I sold 40 of these rulers in two classes – so I am not alone!!!

CGRSQ12  Retail $28.00


This 8 1/2″ x 24 1/2″ ruler is always a best seller.  I use it to square up borders on my quilts.  When bigger is better, this is definitely it!

CGR824  Retail $26.75

In the next couple of weeks, I will share my favorite specialty rulers – and why I love them.  But for now, quality speaks for itself and you know when you are working with quality.  These rulers are all Made in the USA and that matters to me!  The grippers that stop them from slipping are the icing on the cake.  If you haven’t experienced the difference, it is time….

Promoting Under Our Wings

Last week we ran an article about “Under Our Wings”.   The interest has been great.    If you decide you want to participate in this great project in you shop, below are some ideas to help you prepare for a presentation and where to do them.

Ideas to help you prepare.

When Speaking to a Group or an Individual, You Should Always Be Prepared

* Speak from your Heart. You can never go wrong doing this.
* Know your audience. Are they military or civilians, quilters or service groups, men or women, limited resources or large contributors?
* Tailor your talk to the audience. Make sure you cover points they may not already know not only with words but actual samples if appropriate. For example, when talking about quilt construction, bring a quilt that will show them the three layers. Cover basics like military deployments for quilting groups.
* Know what you need and what they may have to give. If they do not have a million, do not ask. Let everyone know exactly what you would do with the funds you are soliciting.
* Be very specific and do not apologize. “With $100.00 we can make 1 handmade quilt for a service member.” or “The $35.00 I am asking for will cover the shipping for 2 quilts to a hospital in Germany.”
* Handwritten requests are fine, they can be handed to the person in charge before you speak at an event.
* Visual aides are fantastic! Bring quilts as examples, let them feel them.
* Bring a service-member in uniform to accompany you. They can explain what it is to stand down range and why a QOV can make a difference.
* Have plenty of business cards.
* Always send a handwritten thank you note for allowing you to speak.
* When given a donation always give a receipt and a thank you note. You can see an example of one the web.

Groups you might consider talking to.

* American Legion
* VFWs
* Service Clubs like Kiwanis, Lions, Soroptomist
* Women’s Clubs
* Local area businesses

The above was used from with their permission .

Black is Back!

When two of the top twenty books feature a black quilt on the cover, it is time to take notice!  I feel a trend coming on… The “brown” days are behind us – or may be very soon.

Lisa Bongean and Carole Charles have joined forces in “Nine-Patch Gatherings”.  They have created nine-patches from 3 1/2″ and 5″ charms to make a great variety of scrappy designs.  Lisa is also known for her hand dyed wools so it is not a stretch to say that these would look great with a mix of cottons and wools – or appliqued wool borders.

Item #PRI209  Retail $20.00

Gretchen Gibbons charmed everyone at shows across the country when she designed Pennies from Heaven.  The book includes the cover design – as well as nine other patterns.  Gretchen shows just how easy it is to combine cotton, wools, and flannels for maximum effect.  The combination of fabric add such a three-dimensional effect that it is hard to resist touching the cover.  (You know it’s a photo – but it looks trapuntoed!_

Item #B1043T  Retail $26.99

When mixing fabrics, consider using a high quality flannel as the background fabric.  It has more substance to it – and works well with wool – without adding a lot of bulk to the finished product. It also adds another texture which is striking when complete.  If you love to embroider, buttonhole the edges to create an heirloom!  What is not to love???

Choosing Patterns for Your Shop

Visit our website on any given day to see the top 20 sellers – for that day – in any given category.  A few weeks ago, I talked about trends – 80% of the patterns were NOT quilts!  Small projects that can be finished quickly are what is selling.

Today I noticed that Terry Atkinson of Atkinson designs has 5 out of the top 13 patterns!  Terry is an amazing designer – but that is unprecedented from anyone!!!  And, if you take into account that 13 out of the top 20 zippers are also hers, you have to wonder why they aren’t front and center in your store!

Yellow Brick Road is like the energizer bunny – it just keeps going and going and going…..  This quilt has become a right of passage.  So many of us have made it for our first quilt that we want to share that experience with our friends.  When they ask us to show them how to quilt, we pull out a classic.  If there was a pattern Hall of Fame, this would be the star!

Item #ATK126 Retail $8.00

Her Tree Skirt and Table Topper pattern is shown here in Halloween fabric – but looks good in any fabric, for any season. She includes three different sizes – one will be just right for you!

Item #ATK147  Retail $9.00

But, Terry doesn’t just design quilts.  Her purses are fast and easy.  She removes the intimidation factor from zippers too.  I used to skip any pattern that had a zipper – not any more!  At the rate Zippy Stripy is selling, there will be one in every purse in the country!  They are fast, easy and fun.  By adding a few embellishments, you can make them your own.

Item #ATK149  Retail $8.00

Cash and Carry is great for wallets, change purses, glass cases – whenever a “little” is just enough!

Item #ATK148 Retail $8.00

Her pockets to go will fit in a purse or sit on your desk or by your machine.  Don’t we all love to get organized???  Wouldn’t these be great Easter baskets for the girls in your life???

Item #ATK150  Retail $9.00

And, she has made zippers affordable – and easy to display – for everyone.  This rack is simply eye candy – what an effective use of space!

  • ATK397Z-zipper assortment
  • 01-001- clip it display rack
  • 01-004- clips for display rack

There is a reason that her patterns and notions do so well!  Terry has paid her dues and knows what she is doing.  Her patterns are easy to read, concise, and affordable.  When you notice that a designer is this prominent, carry her stuff!  And go one step further – type in Atkinson Designs or Terry Atkinson and see what else she has created.  Order some of your favorites.  If you haven’t carried them, they will be new to your customers – and you know they are well written and proven winners!

New Customers and National Service

Via a program called “Under Our Wings,” your current customers will bring new customers–their non-quilting friends–into your store for you.

Under Our Wings (UOW) is part of the Quilts of Valor Foundation (QOVF). Since 2003, QOVF has coordinated the presentation of over 34,000 quilts to combat veterans. Those quilts of comfort were all made by, of course, quilters. The new Under Our Wings program pairs experienced quilters, “Coaches”, with non-quilters, “Rookies,” allowing the teams to perform National Service as a two-person team.

In Under Our Wings workshops in your stores, “Coaches” take “Rookies” under their wings to help them make one quilt, a Quilt of Valor. The Coach brings her sewing machine and her tried-and-true tools. Her Rookie buys a kit. Safe under the protective wings and nurturing guidance of an avid quilter, the Rookie learns to sew a 1/4″ seam. She makes a single quilt, a Quilt of Valor for a wounded American. Alongside a capable quilter, she experiences the therapeutic value of stitching.

Quilts of Valor founder Catherine Roberts, her team, and well-known national quilter Marianne Fons created Under Our Wings, and they are shooting for 100% participation by America’s independent quilt shops.

Their goal is lofty, but why shouldn’t it be?

“I am convinced plenty of people would jump at the chance to make a Quilt of Valor for someone touched by war,” says Catherine Roberts, “but they don’t know how. If we quilters simply take them under our wings and help them, think of the benefit to all!”

“Potential Rookies are everywhere,” says Marianne. “They are quilters’ neighbors, co-workers, and family members. I honestly believe that via Under Our Wings, we can grow our industry exponentially! After all, patriotism in the form of the American Bicentennial is what got people started quilting again in 1976. Patriotism can grow it now.”

Under Our Wings was created for independent quilt shops. At, you can read an informative message from Marianne and click on a link to register your shop. Once registered, you’ll be an Official Under Our Wings Quilt Shop, and you’ll have access to many forms of support, including down loadable signage, tips on running workshops, a customizable press release for getting local media attention, and more.

Be sure to read Marianne Fons’ story below about American Valor Fabrics, nine separate, small collections of patriotic fabrics from nine leading fabric vendors designed specifically for Quilts of Valor.

Nine Vendors, Nine Patriotic Collections

by Marianne Fons

When I met Quilts of Valor founder Catherine Roberts in person in Houston in 2009, we struck up a lively conversation. A longtime admirer of the non-profit foundation she heads, I asked what I could do for QOVF. Her eyes lit up as she related her dream of a fabric line with the foundation’s web site information on the selvage. Could I help?

I’ll never forget pitching the idea to Andover Fabrics owner David Weinstein. I thought I’d hand him the project and walk away feeling like a hero. Instead, David tossed it right back in my lap, saying, “Wouldn’t it be better if not just Andover, but several fabric companies, were involved?”

Last April, I sent an invitation to every fabric vendor in our industry. Nine of the best said YES! Those nine–Andover, Clothworks, Marcus, Moda, P&B, Quilting Treasures, Red Rooster, Timeless Treasures, and Windham–each launched its own American Valor Fabrics collection at Fall International Quilt Market. All have reported outstanding sales, both during Market and since, so many of you have already seen the artwork for these gorgeous collections.

Each vendor’s group of red, white, and blue reflects its own special design aesthetic. Each company has designed a Quilt of Valor pattern. Some are available now; others will be available when the fabrics ship this March/April. Click here to link to an overview of the nine lines and for links to each company’s full collection:

Overwhelmed by the generosity and commitment by these outstanding members of our industry, I wracked my brain for a way to help them, and you, succeed with sales. Working with Catherine and other QOVF volunteers, we created the Under Our Wings program, which you can read about in Jenny Stratton’s story .

American forces are engaged in the longest protracted conflict since the Revolutionary War. Thousands of service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with many thousands more wounded. Thousands of Viet Nam War veterans have never been thanked for their service. As quilters, we have the ability to stitch pieces of fabric together into a quilt that can comfort and honor fellow Americans touched by war.

Catherine’s dream of Quilts of Valor fabrics is coming true in a far bigger way than either of us imagined. Each vendor is making a financial contribution to the Quilts of Valor Foundation. These funds will be used for postage to ship quilts to hospitals in Germany, to print brochures, and to maintain the QOVF web site. A special scholarship fund is being created to provide kits for Rookies that need help, such as military family members on very tight budgets.

Many thanks to Rob and his team at Checker for inviting me to write about American Valor Fabrics for this newsletter! Thanks as well to those of you who have already ordered from one or more of the vendors! Now, check out Register your shop, and become an Official Under Our Wings Quilt Shop!

Patchwork is Patriotic!

A Few of my NEW Favorite Things

Sometimes I just need to write about an assortment of products that I love – but have no relationship to each other!  This is a hodge podge of products that you need – but didn’t know they existed!

Jennifer Chiaverini

I am a big Jennifer Chiaverini fan.  The soft cover version of her latest book in the Elm Creek Quilt Series will be released the end of February.  Bonnie joins a college friend in the islands to open a Quilting Bed and Breakfast.  Meet all new characters that support Bonnie as she begins a new stage in her life. What a great read for Spring Break at the beach!

Item #3319-1  Retail $15.00

Carol Doak’s foundation paper has been in the top 20 notions for as long as I remember.  Now it is available in a new size – 8 1/2″ x 14″.  Now you can print half of a 12 1/2″ block on one sheet!  What an obvious addition to an already great product!  50 sheets are just $7.95.

Item #20152  Retail $7.95

I love Judy Niemeyer’s quilts – and her newest addition is no exception.  This quilt measures 30″ x 104″.  I picture this as a pillow topper or a throw at the bottom of the bed.  With the resurgence of tone on tone chenille type throws, this would be a tactile combination that would knock any decorator’s socks off!  Can’t you just picture that???  Or why not use this as a headboard???  The pattern includes the paper-piecing foundations.

Item #JNQ85P  Retail $25.00

I used to dread it when someone would come into the shop and say – I just need a little somethin/somethin for 50 people for a luncheon; retreat; class, etc……and I only want to spend $1.00 a piece!  Let’s face it – a spool of thread isn’t even possible!  That’s why I love these nail files.  Put them at the register for those little additions that will add a spark of color to any gift.

Item #1294-01
Pricing on-line for a collection of 48 files

I did an article a few weeks ago on display ideas for your shops.  The response was amazing!  I keep hearing from people who loved the ideas – and are implementing them!  Because of that response, I will continue to watch for ideas and bring them to you after each Market or show.  Susan Emory of Swirly Girls Design sent me a picture of her new display that features the CGRT60.  The display is perfect because it not only features the Creative Grids products; it also has the patterns and fabrics that use the products to their best advantage:

A ruler rack never looked so good!  Many of the stripes are by Timeless Treasures – including the football stripes displayed.  And the stripes are displayed right next to it!  Who could resist just buying one!  All of the patterns on the rack use the CGRT60.

Item #CGRT60  Retail $16.75

Item #TQC272  Retail $8.00

Mini Quilt of the Month Projects I love…

Patch Abilities has a series of charming quilt of the month banners that measure 6″ x 22″.  That is a perfect size to make a splash in any decor.  Everyone has a narrow wall or a grouping that would showcase these quilts month after month.

Here are a few of my favorites:

I love black-eyed Susan’s and sunflowers – so who can resist a Ball jar filled with my favorites.  And she has joined forces with Ackfeld hangers to produce the perfect awe factor for each wall hanging.  What a great Make It/Take It class!  Combine the pattern, fabric and hanger – who could resist the complete package?  These would be perfect for shop hops!  Each shop could focus on a different month.

Item PMM309  Retail $7.00

Item #87467  Retail $8.50

For those of us who love the beach, who can resist “Sand in your Toes”….complete with a Tiki Hut hanger…..

Item #P122  Retail $ 7.00

Item #87987  Retail $7.56

The wording on this pattern is simple when you use paintstiks – which also gives you an opportunity to demo a great technique!  Everything you need is packaged together….

Item #PAINTP122 Retail $8.90

My children love Halloween (and my children are 18 to 30)!  This holiday is no longer for children – it is for the child in all of us.  AND, it is the second most decorated holiday of the year – very close behind Christmas.

Item #P125  Retail $7.00

And who couldn’t resist this adorable hanger???

Item #89267  Retail $8.85

These are so easy to kit with Print N Fuse.  Your customers will be able to just get to the fun stuff!

Item #PNF12 Retail $ 11.99

Check out our website to see all of the choices available – they will make you smile!

Crab Apple Hill will make you Smile

The only thing I DON’T like about CrabApple Hill patterns is that the pictures never do them justice!  A photograph just can’t capture the detail and texture of hand embroidery.  So, in this case, you are going to have to let your imagination – and your faith in Meg, a designer who has a proven success record – guide you!

Her latest embroidery line – called Penny Candy – are little patterns packaged in a vellum envelope.  These embroideries can be framed; used as gift tags or enclosure cards; or quilt labels.  At just $2.50 each, who could resist – and buy just one???

Item #CAH708P  Retail $2.50

Item #CAH709P  Retail $2.50

Item #CAH707P  Retail $2.50

Item #CAH711P  Retail $2.50

Item #CAH712P  Retail $2.50

These patterns are basically frames for whatever you want to print.  I love to embroider, but words drive me crazy – it’s just too hard to make them readable.  If you are like me, why not do a demo.  Show your customers how easy it is to print the wording in any size and font on their computer – and trace it onto the center of the label with a permanent pigma or jelly roll pen?

Meg suggests using crayons to add the color to these designs – another great demo which adds another dimension!

A demo wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t include everything else they need – which includes my favorite little Pocket Guide to embroidery stitches.  This little laminated number has step by step instructions to all of your favorite designs.  At only $4.95, it is a great buy!

Item #LA56019  Retail $4.95
The Clover needle threader is a must have for anyone who is re-visiting embroidery…
Item #8611CV  Retail $9.95
Use the demo as an opportunity to explain the different weights of pearl cotton – my favorite embroidery thread!  A number 3 is the heaviest – and great for tying quilts.  A number 12 is the lightest weight.  My favorite – and I have baskets full of it in every color imaginable – is Size 8.  It is twisted from two strands so it is easy to thread – and I love it in balls which contain approximately 90 yards.  What a bargain!  It does not have to be separated and doesn’t fray like traditional floss.  If your customers haven’t embroidered for awhile, they may not be aware of the multitude of colors now available.
But Meg always offers heirloom quality patterns as well – and these project bags are definitely classics!
Item #CAH1010  Retail $8.00
Item #CAH1011  Retail $8.00
Embroidery is a great travel project for Spring and Summer so why not get your customers started today???

Light Up your Sewing World

Bottom line, you will LOVE these lights!  This wafer thin strip of LED lights comes in two sizes to fit any machine.  Stick the adhesive strip to the throat of your machine and plug it in.  50,000 hours of amazing lighting is at your fingertips!  And, the strip is so flat, you will never know it is there.  It will never get in the way of your sewing – and never has to be removed from your machine.  Attach the switch and plug it into the power cord.  The Complete Kit includes the plug; the on/off switch; and the light strip.

This three light version is perfect for your travel or a smaller machine.

Item #900162  Retail $66.99

The five light version works on all of your other machines.

Item #900163 Retail $74.99

The light strip never has to be removed.  If you have more than one sewing machine, there are light strips available separately.  The same plug and on/off switch can be used for each – just plug it into the light strip on the machine that is in use!  What could be easier?

Item #900167  Retail $25.99

Item #900168  Retail $32.99

A friend of mine was at a retreat where these lights were being sold – and the designer sold out.  She sent me an e-mail right away and said she was in love with these lights – and we simply had to carry them!  With a testimonial like that, how could we refuse???  Try the next generation of lighting – but hide it from your husband or you will find it out in his workshop on some power tool!