Monthly Archives: October 2012

My First Quilt Market — Part 1: The Hotel


Hilton Americas-Houston Hotel

Quilt Market is a large trade show, composed of more than 1,100 exhibitors and approximately 3,000 buyers in the quilt industry. It is held every fall in Houston, Texas. I made the decision to attend Quilt Market less than 2 weeks before it started. Being a big researcher (and blog reader), I was looking for information that would help newbies, like myself, navigate this huge show. I didn’t find very much. So I’m going to devote several future blog posts to my Quilt Market experience. Plus I conducted some great interviews and have some pretty cool behind-the-scenes footage to share with y’all (that means “everyone” in Texas talk!).

As most of you already know, my plans were interrupted by Hurricane Sandy. I’d planned to spend all three days (Saturday through Monday) attending the show. Because I took an earlier flight back to Long Island, my only day on the show floor was on Saturday. An additional problem is that my luggage is still in Baltimore, so I don’t have any of my notes. So I’ll start my commentary with something I do remember — the hotel!

The  Hilton Americas-Houston is the only hotel that is connected to the the George R. Brown Convention Center. There are sky bridges on both the 2nd and 3rd floor. This made getting to the convention center extremely convenient.

The hotel was immaculate and the rooms were very nice. Dinner service on Thursday night was extremely slow, despite the fact they had more wait staff than patrons. I was there 90 minutes. It turns out that they had somehow lost my credit card and had to retrieve it at security, but that was just one of the delays. Generously, they did not charge me for that meal. I ate at the same restaurant on Friday and Saturday nights; service was much faster and the food was good. There was a buffet reasonably priced at around $16. I am gluten-free, so ordered from the menu. I was happy to see that they had identified gluten-free choices.

The room cost $222 per night, including tax. This cost did not include internet. There was an additional $19 charge, per night, for parking. (People at the convention told me that the shuttle service from other hotels is extremely good, which — in my experience — is not always the case at conventions. This means that nearby hotels offer a more affordable option for accommodation.)

The left side of our room.

You can’t forget the bathroom!


Safely Surviving Sandy!


Our power and internet just came back on, after more than 24 hours in the dark, so I wanted to let everyone in the blogosphere know we are okay.

We lost two large trees in our backyard. Fortunately they fell away from the house. One crushed part of our back fence. Our next-door neighbors ended up with a large tree uprooting and crashing down on their house. From what I can see, they were not home and haven’t come back yet.

It seems that many of my friends lost trees and/or are dealing with severe flooding. Since I’ve had no access to media, I’m not sure exactly what’s going on. I do appreciate the thoughts and prayers of all my friends across the country.

The winds from this storm were terrifying. We were in real danger of having trees crash onto our house and cars. It is an extreme relief to have this over and to be safe.

Quilt Market, Interrupted


As I mentioned on Thursday, my plan was to spend this week at Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. Quilt Market is the quilting trade show that attracts more than 1,000 vendors and buyers from all parts of the quilting industry. My plan was to return to Long Island on Tuesday.

When I travel to quilt events, I don’t pay attention to news or weather. Except this time. People kept looking at my business name — Long Island Longarm — and saying, in a very concerned voice, “How is your family doing?” After this happened a few times I realized that something big must be happening. That’s when I became aware of Hurricane Sandy. As I watched the news from the hotel room, I could see that Long Island was going to be the epicenter of the storm, and that my Tuesday flight wasn’t going to make it home.

Staying in Houston wasn’t really an option. Houston Quilt Festival — with 50,000+ people — is Houston’s largest event every year. There was no way I could get a hotel room. So the friendly folks at Southwest changed my flight from Tuesday to Sunday, and I was set to come home. I was flying from Houston to Baltimore, and then on to Long Island.

A few minutes before boarding the flight to Baltimore, I received a text that the airports on Long Island were closed. I was advised I would have to stay in Baltimore to wait out the storm (if the flight wasn’t diverted to Detroit). I called the hotel info number that Southwest gave me. No surprise that there were no hotels available in Baltimore.

It turned out there was a gentleman on my flight going to Long Island. We were able to rent a car.  We left Baltimore about 5:00 PM and arrived at Islip Airport around 10:00 PM. He drove, I navigated, and we talked non-stop for 5 hours. He had a very interesting life and great stories about being the oldest of 8 children, going to Vietnam, and many interesting careers. Although we did run into some heavy rain, for the most part driving was good. It was cold and windy when we arrived at the airport, but we made it home safely.

All in all, I am so glad to be here. Yesterday was a long day. I don’t even have the energy to find a cute graphic for this post! However I promise to share my adventures at Quilt Market with you starting on Wednesday.

The airport is closed all day tomorrow, as is pretty much everything else on Long Island. My luggage is still in Baltimore. I pray that everyone will stay safe and that the storm will pass without too much damage.

Book Review: Defeat Chronic Pain Now: Groundbreaking Strategies for Elimination the Pain of …


I realize that this may seem like an odd book to review in a quilting blog, however most of the quilters I know experience some level of pain every day. I live with the pain of herniated disks in my neck, as well as sciatica, so I was curious if this book offered anything new in the world of pain management. When I saw that this book covered arthritis, back and neck conditions, migraines, diabetic neuropathy, and chronic illness — I knew it was worth a read.

Written by two specialists in pain management (Dr. Bradley Galer and Dr. Charles Argoff), the book begins by admitting they’ve seen a lot of bad pain management doctors. In this book, they strive to present information in layman’s terms and to give recommendations for various kinds of pain.

The book begins with seven chapters that cover specific types of pain — back pain, neck pain, arthritis, neuropathic pain, headaches, fibromyalgia and cancer pain. In each chapter, they give specific recommendations for medications and modalities that work. With few exceptions, they recommend active physical therapy where the patient is building muscle strength, not just laying under hot packs and having some gentle stretching. For back and neck pain, they do not recommend surgery for the majority of patients.

Having spent the last two years in pain management, I was very interested in their recommendations for medications. Turns out that I had been on most of them, with varying degrees of success.  The section about neck pain says that “nerve blocks are not the answer.” This was my experience after 3 unsuccessful nerve blocks.

For me, the two helpful suggestions from the book were:

1. Patients should do the same amount of activity each day. You do not lay on the couch for two days in pain, then feel better and clean the entire house, and then lay on the couch for two more days. You do a reasonable amount of activity each day regardless of pain level.

2. Yoga is beneficial for pain management.

The second part of the book talks about effective treatments for chronic pain — medications, nerve blocks, physical therapy, and psychological treatments. As I said earlier, the authors recommend active physical therapy, where you are doing more than resting under hot packs and having some gentle stretching. The authors are also encourage readers to seek psychological help concerning  pain management.

The third section of the book talks about lab tests for pain, as well as the (significant) role that stress plays in pain management.

This is definitely the best book that I’ve read about pain management. The authors clearly know what they’re talking about. The descriptions about treatments and medications are clear and helpful.

You can read more about this book at Defeat Chronic Pain Now!

Off to Houston!


My bags are packed and I’m heading off to the airport in a few minutes to catch a Southwest flight to Houston, Texas. There, I will be attending my first Quilt Market, which is the quilt industry’s semi-annual trade show.

I made a last-minute decision to attend Quilt Market, so was unable to sign up for any events. I’m hoping that there will still be openings when I arrive, since there is a lot that I want to see and do.

I will continue posting my blog while I am away, but will not likely report on Quilt Market till I return at the end of October.

Visit to Dye-Namix Wholesale Fabric Dyeing Office


My quilt guild, Empire Quilters, arranges some amazing field trips in New York City. Monday was no exception with the visit to Dye-Namix, located on Grand Street in Manhattan. I was excited to visit their open, airy offices that are responsible for many custom-designed fabrics for designers, costumers, and performers.

Dye-Namix’s all white lobby

The president of Dye-Namix is Raylene Marasco. Raylene began her career as a sculptor and learned a little about fabric dyeing during her studies. She had no interest in sewing (still doesn’t!) or dyeing until got a job dyeing fabric for a large New York costume shop. She admits that she knew little about how to dye fabric and learned by experimenting. After less than 2 years with the costume shop, she started Dye-Namix in 1991. Raylene still maintains the “I don’t know the right way, so let’s just find a way” attitude toward dyeing, and it shows as she develops innovative techniques every season.

Dye-Namix president Raylene Marasco tells us about her company.

The clients of Dye-Namix read like a “Who’s Who” in fashion — including Ann Taylor, Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren — as well as actresses, movie directors, costume makers, and more. Raylene had some great stories about the need to match fabric in order to fix dresses before the Oscars, as well as last-minute changes that were required for runway shows. She also passed around many of their portfolio books, containing examples of their silk screening, hand dying, and digitally printed textiles, as well as the models who wore the finished garments.

Dye-Namix has several large printers for digitally printing fabric.

I found it interesting to learn that designers rely on Dye-Namix to create new and innovative fabric choices for each season. Raylene showed us many of their “experiments” where they chemically manipulate (and use other techniques) fabric  to change its look and feel. Designers then use these innovative fabrics in their shows.

Members of our group looking through Dye-Namix portfolio books.

My blog readers know that I am a huge fan of Project Runway. Over the last four seasons, contestants have designed their own fabrics. It turns out that Dye-Namix actually produced that fabric. They had large swatches in a design book and it was thrilling to see the fabric I was introduced to on television. By the way, the fabric looked far more vibrant in person than it did on television.

I was thrilled to visit this company. It is wonderful to see a successful, woman-owned business that partners with designers and costumers. It sounds like Dye-Namix’s ability to provide fabulous service and innovative fabric choices has made them a winner.

You can learn more about Dye-Namix at their website.

Color Theory for Quilters: Hue, Tint, Shades and Tones


Color theory has a language all of its own. The words used to describe colors are known as the “properties of color.” These properties include hue, tint, shades, and tones.

Hue is pure color. It is any color on the color wheel — either a primary color or some mixture of primary colors. Hue is shown on the outside of this color wheel.

A tint is formed by adding white to a pure color. A shade is formed by adding black to a pure color. And, to get a tone, you add grey to a pure color.

Although there are no rules in quilting, understanding how tints, tones and shades are made can help you make better decisions. If you are making a monochromatic (single color) quilt, you may want to include many tones, tints and shades to provide depth and contrast. Or you may discover that the tones (with grey added) distract from a quilt made of hues, tints and shades. In addition, you can choose complimentary colors (colors that are opposite on the color wheel) that include more than just the hue (pure color).

It is also interesting to look at your stash of fabric. Many of us love buying pure colors and tints, but have very few tones and shades. Adding these to your fabric stash can give your quilts more visual interest.

This website shows an example of how to mix tones, tints and shades.

This short video contains some good information about mixing colors and color theory. I’ll admit that she is not the most engaging speaker, but there’s some great information — if you can make it through the 4 minutes

Free Halloween Quilt Patterns


There is just over a week until Halloween. If you’re looking for a way to keep your hands out of the Halloween candy, ’tis the season to  keep your hands busy by quilting. This site offers some great free patterns for Halloween quilts. Just try to keep the chocolate off of the fabric!

Free Halloween quilt patterns

Book Review: We Love Color: 16 Iconic Quilt Designers Create with Kona Solids (Compiled by Susanne Woods)


This is an interesting book in that it only uses Kona color solids in its designs. It also gives you a color chart showing the names of the colors used in each quilt, so you can exactly duplicate each project. This is a bonus for people who are frustrated when they want to duplicate quilts in books that use long out-of-stock fabrics.

We Love Color contains 16 different quilts, designed by 16 different quilters. There is great variety in the quilts — pieced, appliqued, and improvisational. None of the projects appeared to be too difficult.  They are all modern in design but range from more traditional to very unconventional. What I like most — as a longarmer — is that there are great pictures of the quilting.

At the beginning of each chapter, the designer talks about their inspiration for the quilt. I found this very interesting, since it’s often hard to tell what inspires modern quilts. At the end of the book are biographies of each of the designers, so you can learn more about them.

Overall I found this to be a great inspiration on how to work with solid fabrics.

You can see more images of this book at We Love Color.

Part 2: Quilting with Minkee on Both Sides of Quilt


Yesterday we talked about quilting with Minkee as a quilt backing. As I said, this beautifully soft fabric makes a lovely backing. However Minkee can be a challenge because it is stretchy, slippery fuzzy, and can be quite thick.

A few weeks ago,  Rita H. brought me a beautiful quilt top that she’d made for her son. The quilt was absolutely stunning! By using Minkee on the top, it made me just want to pet the quilt.

The top used Stonehenge fabrics for flying geese interspersed with Minkee. The bottom was Minkee. In quilter’s lingo, that meant that the top had a bias stretch from the flying geese plus the stretch from the Minkee. The bottom had stretch. And the quilt was very thick where we had Minkee on the top and bottom.

Beautiful quilt by Rita H. Note the leopard Minkee fabric in the body of the quilt, as well as the plush chocolate brown Minkee border

However every quilt comes with a story — and this one was heartbreaking. Her son’s home had been destroyed in a fire. He had begged her to re-make his favorite quilt. What mother could say “no” to that?

Because this quilt was so technically challenging, I did something that I’d never done before — I made a practice quilt. My initial plan was to use a simple pantograph, but I quickly discovered two things:

1. There was such a height difference between the Minkee fabric (thick) and the cotton (thin), that the hopping foot was getting caught in the Minkee.

2. Quilting through double Minkee is like quilting through mud. I needed to use freestyle quilting, and only in a very simple design.

As a result, I ended up using a large meander on this quilt. I chose a tan color thread that would blend with the background of the flying geese.

Speaking of blending … here’s another “joy” of working with Minkee. I could not see where I’d quilted. The quilting blended into the furry fabric so well that I was using shadows to tell where the stitches were. Yet another challenge. However the upside is that the quilting does not diminish the softness of the Minkee; it just adds texture.

Overall I would not recommend using Minkee on both the top and bottom of the quilt — especially on a home machine. However the result is an absolutely stunning quilt with great texture, so at least the challenges result in a fabulous quilt.

Photo shows the height difference between Minkee (pink) and cotton (floral). This meant that I had to be careful not to have the hopping foot get caught under the Minkee fabric.