Category Archives: Quilt stores

Not according to plan …

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Sampler quilt 1

My unfinished sampler quilt!

I have a love-hate relationship with sampler quilts.

I love samplers because it’s a way to develop my skills and try some new techniques. Plus it’s always very fun getting a new pattern and some fabric in the mail!

The downside is when I don’t do the blocks for almost a year and screw up, then recognize it’s too late to contact the shop for more fabric. I think that its some kind of quilting law that you have to do this at least once in a Sampler Quilt. Yesterday was my day.

I’d be planning to finish this quilt for awhile. It was a block of the week from Summer 2013, created by Stitchin’ Heaven Quilt Shop in Texas. My first big problem was that the remaining four blocks require Tri Recs acrylic templates to make the triangles. I knew that I’d purchased these at least twice (probably three times) and could not find a single set in my sewing room. Over the weekend, I was determined to hunt ’em down and finally found two sets in the drawer under my cutting table.

I love the color of the blocks. The instructions are wonderfully clear and I’ve enjoyed making them. However, I don’t like the directions for half-square triangles. They recommend cutting squares in half on the diagonal, thus creating two right-angle triangles, and then sewing the longest sides together. I prefer to create half-square triangles by sewing two squares together and then cutting them apart along the diagonal. As a result, I make my squares a little bit larger then the instructions suggest and am always mucking around with the directions. The short story is that I screwed up and cut some of the blocks two small.

Although I have a hefty stash, of course I didn’t have any equivalent fabric, so knew I couldn’t complete one of the blocks. I was so frustrated that I decided to change course and do some computer work instead of sewing. So much for my plan to finish the blocks and show them off in today’s blog!

In (the) Mood: A Visit to One of New York City’s Best Known Fabric Stores

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Any of us who are fans of Project Runway will be familiar with Mood — the huge fabric warehouse contestants visit each week as they search for their challenge fabric. Since the only sewing I do is quilts — and I’ve never found quilter’s cotton at Mood — it’s not a place that I visit often. But I had some time yesterday for a quick visit.

Mood is located at 225 West 37th Street, in the heart of New York’s Garment District. The first thing visitors need to know is Mood it is NOT visible from the street. Not even a little bit. All you see is a lobby with some elevators along the side.  And there are no signs to indicate you are in the right place. However there is usually lots of chatter in the lobby as confused tourists ask each other, “Is this Mood?” (The first time I visited Mood, I spent quilt a while wandering around on the street in front of where the store should be. Finally a kind New Yorker asked me if I was looking for Mood and directed me to the elevators. It is not easy to find!)

The next interesting fact about Mood is that the elevators are manned by attendants. You don’t see that very much any more.  Yesterday, as I was searching for an address in my purse, I overheard the two elevator attendants talking about their wives’ experiences at the twin towers during 9-11. This sad day is not far from any New Yorkers’ memory.

Mood is three floors of rolled fabrics, stacked on shelves that I guess are 8 feet high. Price tags are hidden in the cardboard tube. There always seem to be plenty of Mood employees to help you. If you want to sound really cool, walk up to an employee and say: “Can you swatch this for me?”

The Monday morning shoppers were a mix of tourists, fashion students, and — I’m guessing here — designers. Several people (mainly the “can you swatch this for me” crowd) were carrying sketch books.

I’m sure Mood is a great store for fashion designers, but I don’t think it suits a quilter. We are used to having our fabrics displayed on 15 yard bolts, artfully arranged by color or collection. In our quilt stores, it’s always easy to figure out where fabric is cut, and you don’t have to carry long, heavy rolls of fabric to the cutting table. Plus there’s usually a lot of natural light and some great quilts on the wall. None of this occurs at Mood.

We shop the garment district quite frequently, as my daughter is an amateur costume designer. My daughter is always armed with sketches and specific color/fabric needs, and she loves the hunt for the perfect fabric and trim. For anyone with this kind of attitude, Mood will be a treasure trove of fabric. Not me. However I still think that Mood deserves a visit, so you can experience it for yourself. If you’re lucky — as I was — you will even seen the little black and white dog that has become famous from Project Runway visits.

You can check out Mood online at  http://www.moodfabrics.com/

They also have a great blog at http://www.moodfabrics.com/blog/

You can watch episodes of Project Runway at http://www.mylifetime.com/shows/project-runway

(If you can’t see the photos, please check my blog at quiltnotes.wordpress.com)

The aisles at Mood.

Great selection.

Just as it looks on Project Runway.

Lots of selection!

Hancocks of Paducah Catalog

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When I was a kid, I remember my father getting a catalog of fishing supplies. He would study this catalog throughout the winter months, wishing and planning for the tackle “needed”  for the following summer. Forty years later I can still remember this store name and the catalog’s place of prominence on our living room end table.

I’d planned yesterday to be Paperwork Day. The stacks of mail had overtaken our kitchen table and it was time to pay some bills. Unfortunately the first piece of mail I came across was Hancocks of Paducah’s summer catalog. This is 168 pages of eye candy … truthfully better than most quilt magazines. I immediately had to take an hour break and go through this catalog, page by page.

Like my father, I study this catalog. I save it. I re-examine pages. I drool over the beautiful quilt kits. I dream about what I could make. I place orders. I keep it in the family room beside my reading chair.

The catalog is incredibly well organized by color and theme. There are 2″ swatches of each fabric design. There are lots of kits and patterns, as well as great fabrics. Their selection of batiks is particularly amazing.

The catalog sells for $2.00, although it’s sent free to customers. I’d highly recommend getting a copy. You can see their fabric on the link below. Catalog requests are on the top right side of the screen.

www.hancocks-paducah.com

Friday and Saturday at MQX East

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Taking classes is tiring. We longarmers have a very active job. Sitting for a 2-hour class gets tiring. It is VERY tiring for those of us taking 3 or 4 classes every day, even with engaging instructors and relevant topics. I am very sensitive to caffeine and have had a mid-day coffee to try and get a burst of energy. I’ve paid the price at night with trouble sleeping.

I will review my classes and purchases in future blogs. I will say that yesterday”s teachers were all fantastic. I learned a great deal and can’t wait to get home to my longarm!

Here are my classes for today and tomorrow:

E312: “What Does it Take to Win, Place or Show” with Cathy Wiggins

Each quilt show is different and each judge is different. In this lecture Cathy will share how to create a quilt that wins ribbons based on information she has learned over the years of showing quilts. She will use evaluations and feedback forms that she has received to demonstrate how shows vary greatly and how  the industry and expectations have changed over the past five years. Students will see that what is important at one show might not be as important at another and how to average out all of f the feedback to determine what is important and where you can get the most return from your efforts.

I attend a lot of quilt shows. Sometimes I agree with the judges’ opinions and sometimes I wonder what they were thinking. I am looking forward to learning more about how a quilt show is judged, both to enhance my chances of winning (someday!) and to help me look at quilts with a more educated eye.

E342: Blocking 101 with Cathy Wiggins

Description: One of the first things judges look at when judging a quilt is, “Does it lay flat” or “Does it hang straight?” Have no more wavy quilts. Come learn how to make any quilt lay flat, hang straight and look the best it can for judging and hanging in quilt shows.

Since I’ve become a longarmer, I have become obsessed with making sure quilts hang straight. Even in shows, I often see award-winning quilts that are wavy. I know that blocking is an important step in award-winning quilts and am eager to learn more about this process.

E364:”Quilting Efficient” with Angela Walters

Description: When running a machine quilting business, as with any other business, time is money. The goal is to quilt each customer’s quilt the best in the shortest time possible. More completed quilts translates into more money. Learn how to develop a routine to finish quilts in less time with lots of tips an pointers on speeding up the quilting process.

I will overlook the grammar error in the title — which I believe should be “Quilting Efficiently” — with the hope that I can learn some tips. While I enjoy every second of the quilting, I’m not so fond of loading the quilt. Hopefully Angela will have some great ideas to share.

E424: “Quilting Art Quilts” with Cathy Wiggins

Description: Art quilts can be challenging with their complex compositions and their unconventional constructions. Come learn how to enhance landscapes, portraits, pictorials and more. Students will learn how to use the top design as inspiration. Learn how to quilt wood, sky, water, clouds, trees and grass for landscapes. Cathy will show how to use quilting to add dimension to faces and fur to animals. Add movement to flat areas and learn to use quilting to unify the design. And yes, Cathy will cover creative ways to quilt through fusible applique efficiently.

I can’t wait for this class! Art quilts are my most favorite quilting projects! In addition, I have a self-portrait that I’ve been putting off quilting because I’m not sure how. This class was the one that enticed me to MQX this year.

E440: “Practical Guides for a Machine Quilting Business” with Deloa Jones

Description: In this class DeLoa wants to instill in the student the joys of the machine quilting business, the ups and downs, and how to deal with problems. She will cover: dealing with customers; how to fix or quilt some of the problem quilts; batting; and thread. Other services such as  piecing backs, bindings, fixing quilts, pressing, how to set up a work area efficiently, and how to work efficiently. Deloa will explore how to price different kinds of quilting and how to make pricing distinctions.

This class was my second choice for the time slot, after my first class was canceled. However I’ve taken from Deloa before and she is excellent. While I think this is a more introductory class, I think that I can benefit from her wisdom as I continue my journey as a professional machine quilter.

To learn more about MQX East, check out

http://www.mqxshow.com/MQX/East/Home/index.cfm

Log Cabin Quilt Shop, Bird In Hand, PA

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I came across this store by accident at the end of my day of quilt shop hopping. It was supposed to be closed, but the traffic from AQS people had kept her too busy to shut to shop.

“Charming” would be the word for this store. Lots of gifts, crafts, fabrics, panels, quilts for sale — Amish quilt country at its best!

Burkholder’s Fabrics (Denver, PA)

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If I ever got trapped in a fabric store and had to live there — this would be the store I’d choose. It’s absolutely beautiful and the selection is amazing. The website says more than 12,000 bolts.

The front room had a lot of blenders (fusions, that kind of thing) where you had a multitude of tones to choose front. It was overwhelming and I wanted to buy everything. My mind was spinning with ideas, especially with their vast selections of grays and taupes.

The back of the store had a great selection of novelties and flannels.

I’m embarrassed to say that I left without making a purchase. But I thought about what I was going to buy, during the entire week I was in Lancaster, and was determined to make a stop on my way home. (That was until I got food poisoning and could barely drive the 5 hours back to Long Island — and even then I had to talk myself out of a quick stop for fabric.) I promise that I will get back to this store as soon as I can make it.

Sauder’s Fabrics (Denver, PA)

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I pulled up at this modest, ranch brick home and thought I was in the wrong place. Other than a parking lot  on  one side and the sign on the front lawn, there was no evidence of the “more than 25,000 bolts of fabric” advertised in my Quilter’s Travel Companion.

But look for the sign! It leads down a set of concrete steps to this huge underground quilt shop. I’m sure there are 25,000 bolts of fabric … plus notions, batting, patterns, books — and a general store with lots of food. Best of all, the fabric was about $6.49 a yard! Plus there were tables of remnants in 2.5 and 5 yard packages for much better prices.

The store is very low-tech. All of the women I saw working there were Mennonite. They measured the fabric, wrote the cost on a piece of masking tape which they affixed to the fabric, and then you went to the front to pay. No scanners in sight.