Hang ‘Em Small

I love teaching – mainly because I learn more from my students than I could ever teach them!  This gem comes from Kay Bennett.  She is a retired math teacher who “lives” outside the box so her ideas are always great!

Everyone hates to sew sleeves on quilt.  For smaller projects, it is no longer necessary!  Check this out….

Cut four – 5″ squares.

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Fold them in half on the diagonal and press – wrong sides together.

Place these four triangles in each corner of the quilt before attaching the binding.  The raw edges on the straight sides will be caught in the seam allowance when the binding is attached!

I like to use screen molding to hang my quilts.  It is a thin piece of wood with curved sides.  If you are an old farm girl like me, it was nailed into the farmhouse screen doors to hold the screening in place.  I am dating myself now – because that was when screen was metal!  It is cheap, thin, and can be cut with an exacto knife – no power tools required!

Drill a hole in the center of one piece of wood for hanging.

If you place a piece of wood at the top and bottom of the quilt, the two pieces of wood work as stretcher bars.  Cut two pieces of wood the width of the quilt – from inside binding to inside binding.

Now wasn’t THAT easy!!!

So I started nesting…..

I wanted to hang something in my sewing room but it was an odd size so it was going to be expensive to cut a mat – and they didn’t have the color of mat I wanted anyway, sooo……

I got in my scrap bin and found a tone on tone that matched perfectly and used a glue stick to attach it to the cheap backing of the frame.  …..

Then I centered the item on the fabric and it came out great!  The dark blue is the fabric!  And it was free!  Just a note….the picture is straight – but the picture of the picture isn’t!

Since I was on a roll, I decided to hang a queen size quilt above my couch!  I had dreaded this project because the quilt is 99″ square – and I wanted to hang it above a couch under a vaulted ceiling!  This time I used one of the “Hang It Dang It” hangers from Checker because we now carry them in king size!

This quilt is hung using ONE nail!  The magnet in the center of the rod supports and centers the quilt so it hangs perfectly straight!  Simply brilliant!  These hangers come in three different sizes.  Visit our website to see all of the sizes available:  http://www.checkerdist.com/products/search?keywords=hang+it+dang+it&relatedto=

Don’t you love it when you can cross those little projects off your list – and it seems like I turn to my sewing room more and more for the tools that I need to do it!  (I used the Creative Grids yardstick – Item #CGR236 –  to center and mark the walls.)  What quilter needs a tool box???

A Little Light Reading for those Cold Winter Nights

I live in Ohio – and the temperature has ranged from 7 – 46 degrees  – THIS WEEK-END.  The weather may not be that ridiculous in your area, but this is the perfect time of year to curl up with a good book in front of a fire….

I love the Benni Harper mystery series by Earlene Fowler.  If you are “”newbies”, it helps to read this series in order since the story lines interweave the lives of the main characters.  Lucky for you – Checker carries them all!

Fool’s Puzzle

Irish Chain

Kansas Troubles

Goose in the Pond

Dove in the Window

Mariner’s Compass

Seven Sisters

Arkansas Traveler

Steps to the Altar

Sunshine and Shadow

Broken Dishes

Delectable Mountains

Tumbling Blocks

State Fair

Spider Web

Item #24098-4  Retail $25.95

In this latest installment, a sniper terrorizes the town and Benni Harper is once again sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong….

Benni and friends are minor characters in another series.  You may love “Love Mercy”…

Item #22597-4  Retail $24.95

Many of you are fans of Jennifer Chiaverinni and will be happy to know that she has a new book coming out next month – “Sonoma Rose”.  This prohibition tale sounds interesting.

  • The Quilter’s Apprentice (1999)
  • Round Robin (2000)
  • The Cross-Country Quilters (2001)
  • The Runaway Quilt (2002)
  • The Quilter’s Legacy (2003)
  • The Master Quilter (2004)
  • The Sugar Camp Quilt (2005)
  • The Christmas Quilt (2005)
  • Circle of Quilters (2006)
  • The Quilter’s Homecoming (2007)
  • The New Year’s Quilt (2007)
  • The Winding Ways Quilt (2008)
  • The Quilter’s Kitchen (2008)
  • The Lost Quilter (2009)
  • A Quilter’s Holiday (2009)
  • The Aloha Quilt (2010)
  • The Union Quilters (Feb 2011)
  • The Wedding Quilt (Nov 2011)
  • Sonoma Rose (Feb 2012)

Item #95264-0  Retail $25.95

I am also a big fan of Emilie Richards.  Some of her books have a history of quilts running through them.  Others don’t – but they all feature strong women with remarkable stories.  “Iron Curtain” deals with race issues in Louisiana in the early 1900’s – and the repercussions of decisions made…

Item #MB2825-4  Retail $13.95

Why not start a book club in your shop?  Your customers will love it!

Trading Cards for Quilters

This idea is simply brilliant – and, of course it came from a successful quilt shop owner.  Kathy Seal of The Quilt Patch in Michigan saw a need and filled it!

I love the history of quilting.  The traditional patterns that were shared between quilters is a part of our history and the names of these blocks are legendary.  Part of a shop owner’s “job” is education and our customers need to recognize and appreciate the patterns that make up that history.

Kathy has created a series of laminated cards that feature a 12″ block in one of your favorite patterns.  The cards include yardages for a variety of sizes as well as a variety of settings. There are also examples of the quilt done in a variety of colorways. Since the blocks are all 12″, these cards could be the basis for your next Block of the Month program.  Each block provides an opportunity for a teachable moment.

Bear’s Paw

Why not demonstrate a variety of ways to make half-square triangles?

Item #BQBP  Retail $5.99

Irish Chain

This block(s) provides an opportunity to demonstrate how combining blocks creates the patterns.  Combine piecing with applique by adding a shamrock…

Item #BQIC  Retail $5.99

Jacob’s Ladder

This block provides the perfect opportunity to teach a class in color placement……

Item #BQJL  Retail $5.99

Log Cabin created with 2 1/2″ Strips

This quilt provides a perfect opportunity to teach your customers how to organize their scraps…..

Item #BQLC25  Retail $5.99

Log Cabin created with 1 3/4″ Strips

I love the “narrower” logs that this card provides.  Why not do a sample of both so they can see the difference?

Ohio Star  Retail $5.99

I’m from Ohio, so what can I say???  This is my favorite block because I also love to make quarter-square triangles – another learning opportunity….

Item #BQOS  Retail $5.99

Rail Fence

The perfect beginner quilt – and the perfect opportunity to share tips on rotary cutting, pressing, and sewing an accurate seam allowance…

Item #BQRF  Retail $5.99

Winning Hands

How cute is this???  Every shop has a multitude of tone on tones on the shelves.  This is the perfect pattern to showcase them!

Item #BQWH  Retail $5.99

As a shop owner, I knew that samples sold fabric – but they also ate into the profits.  I would have loved these cards!  Showcasing a new line of fabric by creating a block in less than an hour???  With a minimum amount of fabric????  With an add-on sale that has already calculated yardage requirements????  No matter what size they want to create????

Why not keep a notebook so your customers know which ones they have purchased?  They will want them all so if they are by the register, they will sell!!!

Distributors are your Friends

We came across this article that Rob wrote a few years ago that rings so true today!  Get ready for a good read…

Insight into the Market

Checker handles a very diverse inventory of products from several different craft related areas including quilting, sewing, needle arts and crafting.  This allows Checker to offer Independents “up to date” information on current trends through the new products we purchase.  Checker has a team of buyers and each one provides valuable insights into the market’s direction. This keeps Checker at the forefront of what is happening with new products, trends and ideas. Direct companies are limited to their particular product category.  They do not offer the very broad insight into several different areas like a distributor can.

Product Selection & Saving Time

Many distributors offer extensive product selections.  For example, Checker carries over 80,000 items from 800 different vendors.  Shop owners appreciate the selection distributors offer because they don’t have to deal with several different companies to buy their products.  Keeping track of multiple orders, shipments and invoices from numerous companies is time consuming.  Utilizing distributors for “under one roof” consolidation of purchasing saves time and allows greater choices than could be realized from direct suppliers.

Cross Merchandising

Because we present such varied products we offer cross-merchandising tips on related products to maximize sales.  Checker buyers, sales reps, and customer service reps are very knowledgeable about related products and how they can be merchandised together to maximize sales.

Products Not In CHains

Checker provides our listing of NICHE products.  NICHE stands for products not found in chain stores.  Independent shops should focus on carrying products not found in chains when ever possible. For example, Checker’s Creative Grids Rulers are only sold to independent shops. There are also Independent Only fabric lines produced and sold by distributors.

Products Made in the USA

All products listed on the website that are “Made in the USA” display an icon of a flag.  We support companies who choose to manufacture their products in this country and save jobs.

Fabrics – Variety and Choices

Distributor sales reps allow shop owners to view several different fabric lines at the same time. Direct reps may only show a few lines of fabrics. The access to viewing several different linesof fabric while making their decision is truly an asset.  In most cases distributor pricing on fabric is very close if not the same as direct.  Many times, a distributor is actually closer geographically to the shop, which saves on freight charges. The ease of viewing multiple lines at once, buying smaller quantities, possible savings on freight charges, not having to deal with factors and consolidated billing is often times worth the minor price difference, if one exists.

Best Sellers

Checker’s web site, www.checkerdist.com. displays the top 20 sellers our top categories,   These items are not limited to one brand of product like a direct company, but rather the best-selling items taken from hundreds of different vendors. This gives the independent shop the opportunity to quickly check and see that they are carrying what is selling nationally.

What’s New?

Another unique asset Checker provides customers is the “What’s New” listing.  This is a quarterly publication that keeps shop owners current on new products.  Checker also has a “What’s New” link on their web site which keeps owners updated daily on new products.

Sale Items to Boost Profits

Distributors offer sales throughout the year for their customers.  Shop owners look forward to stocking up on sale products because it gives increased profits.  Most shop owners enjoy the profits of buying promotionally priced fabric to fill in blanks in their fabric selection.

Sales Reps Visiting Shops

Sales reps are an integral part of the distributor’s relationship with storeowners.  Sales reps carry samples of books, notions, patterns and fabric. Storeowners enjoy getting a “hands-on” presentation of these new products before making their purchasing decisions. Travel is expensive for the rep and the distributor but traveling reps are a vital part of our industry. They are indeed a value added attribute of utilizing distributors.

Ease of Ordering – 24/7

Checker and most distributors offer 24 hour ordering via the website, phone, fax or email.  Complete catalogs offer year-round representation of products.  Most shop owners are extremely busy, and do not have time to meet several sales reps.  Ordering from a central resource saves an abundance of time.

Consignment Orders for Special Events

Another unique service Checker offers customers is consignment orders.  For shop hops, county fair kiosks, anniversary, holiday and special sales or introducing a new product to a class, the consignment program allows the shop owner to sell the product without the risk of getting left with what doesn’t all sell out.  This is truly an asset to all shop owners. Call for details.

Shipping

Many distributors offer free freight on non-fabric orders that meet a certain dollar amount minimum.  Checker offers free freight on books and patterns and most notions.

Credit

Distributors manage their own accounts receivables and provide customers with their own line of credit internally. Most direct company’s use outside factors to manage their credit to shops.  Factors can often become an obstacle for stores.  Distributor’s credit departments frequently can react much quicker to credit issues. Distributors also offer credit cards as a payment option.

Distributors are a vital part of our industry. We provide numerable value added services to Independent businesses. Utilizing distributors helps keep the shop owner informed and current with new trends and new products. On a daily basis distributors contribute to the well-being and success of independent businesses.

Special Deliveries by My UPS

I am now the proud owner of an iPhone and an iPad 2 – much to my children’s amazement!  They intuitively know how to use these things because computers and technology have always been a part of their lives.  I, on the other hand, did not own my first computer until I was 40 – so my learning curve coincided with the beginning of menopause!

Although, we did not grow up with the technology, my generation is teachable!  And, we can afford the latest gadgets – so bring it on!!!  Yep – I can now text, take & send pictures, download apps – and last week, I sent my children a video (we won’t mention that I was actually trying to send a picture) – all from my phone!  My son’s response?  “Yep – and I just made a quilt and cross-stitched the Last Supper!”

But these gadgets really didn’t come with owner’s manuals!  There’s an app for that — but first I have to know what an app IS and how to download it!!!  So I reverted back to my generation and bought “iPhone 4S by Guy Hart-Davis”.  This 300 page book covers what this phone can do – REALLY!!!  Then I bought iPad 2 for Dummies – another book with over 300 pages that was written to help my generation.  There is nothing “intuitive” about us!

And, my generation is busier than ever so we just want to know what we can use so I am going to do a series of articles on why you need an iPhone – and why it will make your life easier.  I bought mine so I could scan the MS Tags on Creative Grids rulers and watch the demonstrations.  And, Checker has their own App so you can now order right from your phone!  You can literally walk around your store and order right from your iPhone!

I will share more about these apps in the future, but today I am going to talk about a service that is available on any computer as well!  My UPS:  http://www.ups.com/content/us/en/register/reasons/myups.html

My son told me about this one.  If you go to the link above and register, they will notify you the day before a package is going to arrive – and the notification includes the tracking number!

And then they confirm the delivery!  It is free and took me less than five minutes to set up.  (They have a pay version that narrows the delivery time within four hours – but lets face it, my deliveries always come around the same time!)

So now, if you know you are getting in a large Checker order, you can call in additional staff to process it.  If you order C.O.D., you can make arrangements for payment.  And, if you are like me – and travel, you can let someone know, who is closer to home, so they pick up the package for you.  OR you can let UPS know that you are not there and they will delay the delivery!  You can also process orders – and if you ship to the same addresses regularly, the shipping information is stored for you.  You can even arrange for pick ups!

I signed up just for the notification feature – but am excited about the other possibilities.  In fact, when I ship this week, I am going to try to do everything on-line.  If I have any problems, I’ll take my laptop right into the UPS center.   They have great customer service – and are willing to help!  They want you to succeed!

Inspiration in Every Quilt

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In this case, you can judge a book by its cover – and the cover is gorgeous thanks to Cheryl Almgren Taylor’s wonderful projects!

Item #B1093T  Retail $26.99

I have five children 19 – 32, so there are a lot of weddings in our future!  The cover quilt features “Faith”; “Hope” and “Love” but Pat Berry (the showroom manager) immediately pictured it with the bride’s name, the groom’s name, and the wedding day.  What a great wedding gift.  Make it in the wedding colors and it would be a great addition to the reception.  You could even have the attendees sign in the open areas – or the back.

But the great projects do not stop at the cover.  Take a peak inside….

This would also make a great gift.  Add the name to the house or on the gate for an instant family heirloom…

Or start their own family tree…add names to the leaves…

I have several friends who love wine.  Wouldn’t this be a great gift – and include the names of their favorite vineyards?  You could even copy the labels of their favorite wines and piece them as a backing.

I live in the Midwest.  This wall hanging brings a whole new meaning to the “amber waves of grain”…

This table runner would be a beautiful Mother’s Day gift.

Not only are these gorgeous projects, they also would be a great basis for a class.  Teach applique; bias tape for vines; photo transfer; mitered corners – the possibilities will make you smile…

Get a Grip!

“Get a Grip” should be the new advertising slogan for Creative Grids!  We started shipping the new rulers January 2nd and the response has been amazing!  10 out of the top 20 notions have been CGR since that date – and that includes ALL notions, not just rulers!!!

Item #CGR6  Retail $12.95

Here are the Top 10 reasons why I love Creative Grids – and your customers will too…

1.  They are not sold in chains.  The company does it’s best to support independent businesses because we are one!

2.  They are made in the USA – yep, every single one!  We brought jobs to this country instead of exporting them!

3.  They have the largest selection of products in the industry!  With over 100 rulers to choose from, they have the ruler in the size you need or will consider “creating” it.

4.  They listen to their customers!  The recent changes to the squares and rectangles were a direct result of conversations with you – and they keep a runnning excel spreadsheet with your thoughts and suggestions.

5.  Creative Grids is the BEST at keeping up with technology.  You can visit:  http://www.checkerdist.com/products/search?keywords=creative+grids&relatedto= or http://www.creativegridsusa.com/ to watch videos that show how to use all of the rulers.

6.  You can go to the Creative Grids USA website to download a hard copy of the instructions that you may have misplaced when you purchased the ruler.  We all do it, so lets just make it easy for everyone!

7.  Most rulers now come with MS Tags.  You can download an App to your iPhone and watch a demonstration on how to use the ruler right in your sewing room – while you are in your jammies!

8.  The size of the numbers has increased – no reading glasses required!

9.  An impressive list of designers work with the Creative Grids design team so these are created by quilters – for quilters – and tested by quilters!

10. Get a Grip!!!  The gripper strips and dots on the back of the rulers easily slides when positioning them on the fabric, but stay in place when pressure is applied so everything is accurate!

What other company puts the needs of Independent businesses first???  They have even implemented a MAP (manufactured advertised pricing) policy so you can compete on an even playing field!  Our goal is to offer quality products that are not available in chains….You’ve got to love it!

Item #CGR612  Retail $17.45

Don’t worry – Lint Happy!

I can not be the only quilter who constantly leaves the house with threads hanging from every nook and crannie!  Yes, I am a quilter over 50 – so I have lots of nooks and crannies!  And, I usually have enough threads attached to finish my UFO’s!  My friends are used to de-threading me when I am out in public.  But, now the folks at Quilt Happy have come up with a Lint Sticky Book – a packet of 50 disposable lint sheets that fit in your purse or sewing basket or glove compartment or pocket….(you might need more than one)!

Item #QH987  Retail $4.00

But if Quilting isn’t your passion, Stitch Happy or Knit Happy may be just right for you!

Item #ST987  Retail $4.00

Item #KH987  Retail $4.00

When ordering, don’t forget the pet lovers who frequent your store!  Pet hair is always a problem too….

The Quilter’s Coaster

How many times have you been in the midst of a project – and spilled a drink all over your work surface?  I have done it so often, that I now cover my tables with quilts!  Not only are they pretty tablecloths, they are also very absorbent!   I learned this trick when the kids were small – spilled milk?  No problem!  The kids just picked up their plates, I pulled off the quilt and threw it in the washer – problem solved!

While I still cover my work surface with quilts, I cover that quilt with fabric, paper-piecing foundations, templates, etc. – and have ruined them more than once when I got careless.

That is why I love this gadget:

Item #DCLIP  Retail $4.95

This product clips to the edge of any table with a lip up to 1 1/4″ – and holds a standard water bottle or pop can.

Don’t you just love it?  It comes in three colors – sorry you don’t get to choose – but at this price, can you afford to just buy one???

I’ll “Chalk the Line”

It’s about time that women reverse the trend!  How often have you found your quilting tools in the garage???  Unless that is where your sewing machine resides, this is a problem!  Enter Sue Pelland.  She turned the tables – and realized that an old fashioned chalk line would be just the ticket for so many quilting projects.

Item #SPD201  List: $18.99

But, leave it to a woman to improve a classic!  Sue changed the shape of the tool so it would fit comfortably in the palm of a woman’s hand.  She increased the thickness of the string so it would hold more chalk.  (This simple improvement means that you can snap the string up to 15 times before rewinding.)  And, she added a rubber stopper so the chalk stays in the container – neat and clean!

The string extends to 30 feet – long enough to snap a chalk line on even the largest quilt, bedskirt, or curtains.  Lets face it, the maximum length of a ruler is 36″ – and sometimes that is not long enough to do the job.  Now, marking cross hatching on a king size quilt is a breeze!  Placing the appliques on a full size quilt?  No problem!  And while it works great for those big jobs, it works for small ones as well.  Machine (and hand) quilters will love it!

A bottle of white, iron-off chalk is included.  Refills are available.

Item #SPD202  Refill –Retail: $6.99

You may want to buy two – one for brush off chalk, one for iron-on.  A quilter’s motto:  Be prepared with the best tool for the job!