Machine Quilting Projects – for a great cause!

I was inspired by Jenny Stratton’s recent article about the new program “Under Our Wings”.  This new program encourages quilters to become a ‘coach’ and to adopt a non-quilter ‘rookie’, and teach them how to make a quilt top, get the top quilted, and donate it to the Quilts of Valor Foundation(QOVF).

I had heard about this idea at a Quilting Together retreat I attended in Chicago last fall. Marianne Fons was the keynote speaker, and she spoke about the project, which would debut at the Fall Quilt Market in Houston, 2010. “Under Our Wings” was created for independent quilt shops, and there is lots of information about it at  You will have access to information including tips on publicity, marketing, running a workshop, and lots more.

Independent quilt shops will benefit from supporting this initiative because it will bring new quilters into their shops. Since there are nine different fabric companies that have designed an American Valor Fabric collection, surely there are lots of styles to suit your customer base, so choose a collection or two, and prepare some kits! (There are free quilt top patterns on the QOV site). The rookies may start by buying a kit, but with positive encouragement, they might decide to make more quilt tops and start to make some of their own fabric choices. Naturally, the new quilter will be interested in purchasing quilting notions and patterns!

When it comes time to actually quilt the tops that coaches and rookies complete, the team can request a longarm quilter to help. Or, the team can do the quilting themselves. This is all explained on their website.

I would like to suggest a third idea for shops that have access to a quilting system. Why not encourage your coaches and rookies to learn about the quilting process? I have been a ‘longarmer’ for the QOV foundation for many years, and it is very satisfying. However, there is a cost associated with shipping the quilt to the longarmer, and returning it to the maker. Why not save time and postage, and do the quilting locally? The QOV website also offers free quilting patterns (both digital for computerized systems, and paper based for free motion systems).

For shops that sell quilting systems, perhaps you might advertise a demonstration of your quilting system, and use one of the Rookies’ quilt tops. The attendees are potential buyers, and they will be able to see the quilting system functioning, in realtime! You may or may not want to have them try their hand at doing the quilting – that is up to you, the rookie and the demonstrator.

For people who sponsor a longarm quilting club or guild, perhaps you could organize a mini-retreat where the members focus on quilting only the Rookies’ quilt tops. Naturally the rookies and coaches should be invited to attend, so they can learn about the process of finishing a quilt. The quilt top can be returned to the coach and rookie for a binding lesson!

Be sure to visit the QOVF website to register as an official Under Our Wings Quilt Shop. While on their site, check out the free digital and paper patterns. Don’t forget to promote this initiative in your newsletter!

Always “checking” for a better way to quilt!

Pat Barry

Sixty Degree Triangles just got Bigger

Sixty degree triangles are one of Creative Grids most popular rulers – and until recently, your creativity was only limited by the size of the ruler.  The original (Item #CGRT60) cuts triangles up to a finished size of 8″ (this is the height of the ruler from the point to the opposite straight side – not the length of the side).

Item #CGRT60  Retail $16.75

A 12″ version of this top seller will be available next month.  Sometimes, bigger IS better!

Item #CGRT12560  Retail $25.95

These triangles can be cut from strip pieced units to create blocks that look very complicated – very quickly.  This example was created by sewing three 1 1/2″ strips and three 2 1/2″ strips together before cutting the 60 degree triangles.  The 9″ finished triangles create a hexagon that measures 18″.  Six triangles can be cut from one set of strips.

Karen Montgomery’s popular table runner pattern can now be enlarged to a finished width of 24″ by simply changing the ruler!

Item #TQC272  Retail $8.50

Instead of piecing strips, let the stripes work for you!  Timeless Treasures has some great stripes that work beautifully with this pattern.  And, since many stripes have four repeats across the width of the fabric, the larger ruler allows you to cut 10 1/2″ triangles so there is no waste!  Why not think ahead and make a table runner as the focal point of your summer parties?

Item #C6950-BLU

This musical print would look great on the top of a piano – runners aren’t just for tables, after all!

Item #CM6818-CRM

Baseball season is right around the corner….Little League, here we come….

Item #C7853-BLU

Or use the stripes in the new South Seas lines that are due out later this year.  With only six pieces, this table runner can be made in a matter of minutes, so you can celebrate all year round.  This house stripe would be a great house-warming gift!

Item #70155-417

Or celebrate the great outdoors…

Item #81536-472

And, yes, you can celebrate the “major” holidays too….If you don’t have to fix Thanksgiving, a gift for the one that does would be oh so thoughtful….

Item #67438-278

And, who doesn’t need an extra gift at Christmas???

Item #67449-372

Re-visit these popular books and patterns as well.  A larger quilt was never easier!

Item #SGD014  Retail $9.00

Item #ANK292  Retail $14.00

Item #ANK293  Retail $10.00

Increase the size of any pattern by up to 30% by simply using the new larger size ruler.  The math has never been easier!

Th Elm Creek Quilters go Back in Time

Yes, I am a fan.  I have read all of the Elm Creek quilt series – and look forward to every new installment!  My favorite book in the series is Sugar Camp Quilts – a story about the underground railroad in Pennsylvania.  The Union Quilts is a continuation of this story – and begins in 1862 when the men of Water’s Ford, Pennsylvania enlist in the Civil War.

Item #5203-9 Retail $24.95

Jennifer Chiaverini weaves a story that follows the experiences of the men on the front – and the women who support them.  Along the way, she explores the rights and privileges of women and free blacks during this time in our history – a truly fascinating story line!  She explores the birth of the equal rights movement – another historic book in the Elm Creek series?  We can only hope!

The women of Elm Creek make a quilt – in red, white, and blue fabrics – to raise money for the war effort.  Guilds across the country could follow their lead.  Anneke’s Fabric Collection by Red Rooster features the colors and fabrics that would have been beautiful in this quilt.  This red color way showcases the fabric.  Most of them are also available in blue.  Check out our website to see the complete collection:

Item #21273-RED1

Item #21274-RED1

Item #21277-RED1

Item #21276-ROS1

Item #21280-RED

Item #21277-ROS1

Why not host a book club in your shop – and start your own quilt?

‘Tis the Season for Shamrocks

As shop owners, we all do a great job of preparing for the major holidays – but the “minor” ones tend to fall through the cracks.  But, one day a year, everyone is Irish – and you still have time to put together a great display, a demo, and even a class!  It is easier than you think.

This is a great time to showcase your “greens”!  Create a special display of your green fabrics where everyone will see them.  What a great way to highlight fabrics that have been relegated to the generic section…

But don’t stop there.  Check out your books, patterns, and buttons.  Any books on Double Irish Chain quilts; Celtic designs; or shamrocks are fair game.  You will be surprised at what you already have on hand.

Item #1072QD  Retail $14.95

In the book department, there are several great books based on the single; double and triple Irish Chain quilts – one of my all time favorite patterns.  A single Irish Chain is simply nine-patch blocks, set with plain squares of the same size – how easy is that!  A double Irish chain alternates 25 patch blocks and a triple Irish Chain alternates 36 blocks.  Squares are added to the corners of the plain squares to continue the pattern.  These quilts are fun to make and very impressive.  Eleanor Burns wrote a classic – Irish Chain in a Day – which shows the simplest way to make these quilts – and followed it up with a book on Triple Irish Chains.

Item #1039QD  Retail $18.95

Lynda Milligan and Nancy Smith have a book that shows these quilts in unexpected color ways.  What a great way to showcase some beautiful fabrics!

Item #POS66  Retail $17.95

Why not offer a demo on celtic quilting?  There are several patterns available – or teach a class on a pieced version of this favorite…

Item #AQS7014  Retail $24.95

There is still time to offer a Make It/Take It class.  There are several patterns that are simply adorable – and can be finished in plenty of time to set a table before the corned beef and cabbage is done!

Item #DPC213  Retail $9.00

The “Hanging on a Star” series offers this adorable wall hanging which is sure to make everyone smile.

Item #HOS43  Retail $8.00

This little “Monthly Mini” is quick, easy, and adorable – and definitely can be finished in two hours or less!

Item #PMM03  Retail $7.00

For those of you who love paper-piecing, Judy has designed the perfect quilt!

Item #JNQ81P  Retail $30.00

But many of us have Irish friends and are looking for just a little something to give as a surprise gift.

Item #SNP2361  Retail $8.96

When you are pulling items for this display, Think Spring!  What could be better than getting rid of those winter doldrums with pastels – two displays are always better than one, but that is a topic for next week!

Lazy Girl Design’s Lazy Angle ruler joins Creative Grids Ruler Family

I am soooo excited to announce that the Lazy Angle ruler -designed by our favorite “Lazy Girl”, Joan Hawley – is now a Creative Grids product!  And that transition means that this ruler now showcases the best features CGR has to offer:  The solid black lines allow you to cut blocks that finish up to 6″.  The dashed, white lines show the seam lines.  The black numbers are printed on white ink circles so they are easy to read – without my reading glasses!  And, the gripper dots hold the fabric in place so there is no slipping during cutting.  I love the changes so much, that I got another one!  They are that good!!!

Item #CGR3754  Retail $21.95

This is the FIRST ruler that features an “MS Tag”.  These Tags are going to revolutionize advertising.  These tags are a little larger than a bar code and now appear on our packaging,  You can scan it with a Smart Phone and view a video of how the ruler is used – before you buy it!  We will even be showing these Tags in magazine advertisements – and, that’s right – you scan them with your phone and can see how to use the ruler!  How fun is that – and when you get home, you can scan the Tag at any time for your own tutorial!  For more information on the possibilities – and do download the application that will allow you to take advantage of this service, visit:

It is simply amazing!  Because of this new technology, we have decided to expand our videos.  Every ruler, going forward, will have a short and a long version of a video.  One version will show a short and sweet version of how to use the ruler.  The other one will feature that information – as well as samples of the patterns and books available to support it.

Check it out:

Now, we know you all aren’t going to run out and buy a Smart Phone so we are revamping the Creative Grids USA website.  This website will be launched in the near future – and will include information on the designers; the patterns and books that support them; and the videos!

But, let’s get back to the ruler!  It is so easy to use – just cut an “A” piece and a “B” piece.  The possibilities are endless because the “A” piece can be cut from a pieced or strip-pieced block!  There is a reason there are so many patterns – and even a book – to support it!

Just in time for summer, pull out some batiks, and create an aquarium with Carolyn Griffin of Far Flung Quilts fame.  “Up the Lazy River” is so impressive, but is actually a beginning quilt!

Item #FFQ013  Retail $8.00

Joan designed “Fanfare Log Cabin” by sashing an easy Lazy Angle block to create a spectacular medallion quilt!

Item #LGD224  Retail $8.00

In “Fiesta”, Joan created a design that features a secondary pattern when the blocks are sewn together – no sashings required – fast, easy AND impressive!

Item #LGD223  Retail $8.00

“Starry Night” is a great, easy scrappy quilt – again with no sashing!

Item #LGD218  Retail $8.00

“Galaxy” is dramatic in these marbles and black – an adult version of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star….

Item #LGD226  Retail $8.00

“Rhapsody” combines two different blocks to create a secondary design…

Item #LGD225  Retail $8.00

But, this ruler has so much potential!  I love it when the same ruler appeals to beginners and experienced quilters alike.  These patterns look more complicated – but that only means that there is usually just one or two additional cuts.  The results are spectacular!!!

Item #FFQ015  Retail $8.00

Some patterns feature the Lazy Angle ruler as well as Joan’s Flying Geese ruler.

Item #FGX4  Retail $24.00

When you combine these two rulers, the results are twice as impressive – and gives you the opportunity to demo and teach two methods!

Item #FFQ003  Retail $8.00

These quilts feature “pieced” circles – simply amazing!

Item #FFQ011  Retail $8.00

Item #FFQ009 Retail $8.00

These quilts just tap the surface of the possibilities of this ruler!  For more inspiration, check out the book – which showcases 250 different blocks, all cut with one ruler!

Item #LGD901  Retail $24.95

Welcome our newest member to the family – we are so proud of this latest addition!

Undercover CEO – Fabshop Style

Laurie Harsh of FabShop fame, approached several CEO’s before Fall Market and asked them to spend a day with a shop owner.  These CEO’s then participated in a panel discussion at the dinner.  In my opinion, it was the best program FabShop has ever presented.

I hope Laurie does an article to follow up with the participants and see if they made any significant changes in their company based on their observations.

Rob Krieger, President of Checker, took this assignment very seriously.  He partnered with Kathy Seal of The Quilt Patch in Tecumseh, Michigan.  Kathy’s shop offers over 6,500 bolts of fabrics and a complete line of classes.

You will be thrilled to know that Kathy put him through his paces!  She put him right to work – and had him check in her Checker order!  How brilliant is that!!!

Now, on any given day, Rob can tell you how many orders were shipped; the percentage of items in stock; the average monthly sales for over 80,000 items, etc.  But, I think this is the first time he ever opened a “Checker” box after it arrived at its destination!  What a difference hands-on experience makes!  He immediately started looking at innovative ways that Checker could streamline the process – and save the shop owner time!!!

After that experience, the packing slips have been changed forever.  The items are now listed by order of category:  books, patterns, notions, etc. are all listed together.  A color thumbnail of each item appears next to the item number for ease of viewing.  All items that are shipped are listed on one sheet under a blue header.  Any unfulfilled items are listed on a separate sheet.  The response from our shop owners has been amazing!

More ideas are on the drawing board.  And you will love those as well – promise!  At some point, Kathy is going to come down and shadow Rob for a day.  It will be interesting to see the result of THAT experience!  Stay tuned….

Books that will Premiere at Market

In the book world, there is sometimes a three month lag between putting a project to bed and having for sale on your shelves.  That means that many of the books that will be showcased in Salt Lake City are already listed on or website.  Why not pre-order them now to guarantee that they will be gracing YOUR shelves as soon as they are available!

These are my picks.  I have not gotten to see the books – but have seen pictures of the projects inside – and can’t wait to get them in my hot little hands!

Red, White, and Sometimes Blue

Who doesn’t love red and white quilts – and their popularity seems to be growing with the renewed interest in redwork!  This book features the best examples from the pages of McCall’s Quilting magazine.  This one should be available by May 30th.

Item #CB1091T  Retail $24.99

Quilting those Flirty ’30s

Cynthia Tomaszewski has acquired a reputation for being an innovative designer.  She combines piecing and applique to create gorgeous quilts in bright and happy fabrics.  Available the end of May, this book features 11 different patterns that feature piecing and applique.

Item #B1020T  Retail $ 28.99

Just Around the Corner – Quilts with Easy Mitered Borders

This book takes the math out of mitering corners and features a new technique to make it easy!  Add the scallop choices – and everyone will love it.  I see a demo in your future!

Item #B1078T  Retail $ 24.99

Farm Girl Quilts Celebrating the Country Life

While the authors of this book embrace traditional country designs, they infuse them with color and non-traditional fabrics to make quilts that will transition into any decor.

Item #B1102T  Retail $ 24.99

Why not order them now to guarantee that you will be the first to receive them?

New Books Available before Market

Here are some books – due to be released this month – that will give your customers a taste of “new” by the end of the month!

I have not SEEN any of these books – just the covers and some inside shots – but these are the ones that tweaked my interest – and are sure to tweak the interests of your customers:

Oilcloth Inspirations

If you carry any of the oilcloth fabrics – which have become so popular – and available from several manufacturers, you will want Oilcloth Inspirations by Sophie Bester.  There is finally support for these fabrics!  Enjoy!  This one will be available by the end of the month.

Item #Z2625  Retail $ 18.99

3 Times the Charm!

Me and My Sisters designs have done what they do best – designed seven different little quilts.  Each of these quilts is done in three different color ways.  And at this price, how can you resist!  This one will also be available by the end of the month!

Item #LA5276  Retail $9.95

Herbs, Spices & Fruits of the Bible

Many of you have block of the month programs that feature quilt blocks from the bible – or have churches in your area sponsoring them.  This book can be the perfect companion.  It features the five spices; 6 herbs; and 4 fruits in embroidery designs.  The plants are also depicted as appliques.  Again, this is a reasonably priced book that is due out by the end of the month.

Item #141319  Retail $9.95
Stars Unlimited
This book by Dereck Lockwood features five star designs in a variety of settings.  This book will be available the end of April.
Item #141320  $14.95
Who says you have to wait until Market to feature new products?  Your customers won’t mind!

Kanzashi comes to Quilting

The art of folding and sewing fabric flowers is called Kanzashi.  This ancient Japanese art – dating back to the 1600’s – has been revived using modern techniques and supplies.  Hot glue guns have replaced rice starch, but the beauty remains the same.

Item #8481-4  Retail $21.95

The book includes 20 projects featuring different fabric folding techniques to create different petal shapes.  These petals are then strung together to create works of art.  The projects vary greatly – from jewelery to Christmas Tree ornaments.

My favorite project is an embellished wallet – made from a silk tie.  Ties are readily available at thrift shops – or raid the closet of your favorite man over 50!  You won’t be able to stop at making just one. These would be great projects for quick gifts.  You’ll have to buy the book to see a picture of it – but, believe me, it is worth it!

I love it when I find projects that span generations.  My 21 year-old daughter loved it as much as I did.  That is rare – and when I know I have something spectacular!

Embellishments are very popular these days.  The Clover flower makers and the new zipper flowers by Indygo Junction are popular additions to this trend.  Combine them all to make a great display.  Handwork is a great summer pastime – collect your supplies, and create your vignette today!

Over 40 Fat Quarter Projects for under 20 Bucks

5-10-15+ Fat Quarters is the #1 selling book today.  And, it is easy to see why – over 45 projects for less than 20 bucks!  What is not to love???

Item #1440611  Retail $19.95

Over 20 designers contributed to this book so there is a wide variety of projects – in a multitude of colorways.  There definitely is something for everyone.  Whether you love black and whites; Asian prints; or country colors – there is a design that will get your creative juices flowing!

The book is divided by the number of fat quarters required to make the finished project.  All but 1 take from 2 – 18 fat quarters; but one of my favorite takes 50.  Of course that one is a full sized quilt!  The majority of the projects are not quilts.  Tote bags; wall hangings; organizers; pillows; and holiday decorations abound.

And, when is the last time you paid less than $2 a pattern???  What is not to love????