Monday, March 9, 2015

Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival

Earlier this month we, along with Mother Nature, were vending at the Mid Atlantic Quilt Festival in Hampton VA.  Despite the wicked weather, ice and 7+ inches of snow, the show was wonderful.  The crowds were lighter than expected, but sales were up.  Customers kept commenting on how much they enjoyed being able to shop every booth, see every demo and not have to wait in line to have fabric cut.  Those that braved the elements really did have a wonderful time.
As a vendor we arrive early each day.  That gives us time to freshen the booth, restock and get ready for the day.  It also gives me time to sneak away and look at the quilt show!  Every show has inspiring quilts.  I rarely have time to study them, so I just focus on the ones that catch my eye.  Here are a few of my favorites.
I posted this one on The Quilt Company Facebook page.  Not only is it a fun subject, but this quilt was made by 4 different people.  It is one of those challenge projects where you select a photo, enlarge it and then cut it into sections.  Each person in the group creates one section without consulting the others.  Once the sections are finished they are joined together to make the finished project.  If you look closely you can see some of the division lines.  Up close you can even see that the fabrics that join are different prints even though they are very close in color.  The subject made me smile and I appreciate the work that this group did to make the project come together.  Fun!
I wanted to walk up to this quilt and pick up one of the balls.  It looked that dimensional!  Notice how it is a simple Irish Chain that the circles were added to.  Not only did the quilter add the circles, they are larger in the center and get smaller toward the edges creating a unique optical illusion.  I found it to be an excellent use of the blue and white fabrics.  I am rarely fond of painting on quilts – traditional quilts.  Art quilts are a different category.  This is a very traditional quilt and the dimension given to the balls was done with paint – or fabric dye, but the white looked too opaque to be a dye.  The effect was stunning.
Here is a close-up of what the balls looked like.  A dark shadow was given to the bottom left side of each one.  A simple white brushstroke provided a highlight on the top right.  Art class 101, but it created an amazing effect!  Those white brush strokes really look like a reflection of light.  The dark shadows on the balls and the background finish the illusion.
I took a photo of this next one especially for my First Friday/First Saturday group that meets at the store.  We are currently working on 6 inch blocks in a wide variety of different techniques.  Foundation Paper Piecing was not everyone’s favorite technique.  You should have heard the moaning! These blocks finish at just 5 inches.  The half square triangle borders measure ½ inch and the pieced blocks are only 4 inches.  Somebody loves foundation paper piecing, because this is the entire quilt!
And this is a close up of another quilt that was done in the English Paper Piecing technique.  See, people really DO have those skills to be proud of! … I can hear the moaning now.  Those hexagons are about the size of a quarter.
That brings us to the jaw dropping quilts.  I love to look at the quilting designs that transform an average quilt top into a show stopper.  I have plenty of creative talent, but not in that area.  I can design patterns, write instructions, publish books and even design fabric and notions, but I leave the award winning quilting to the professionals.  This ribbon winner is a very nice quilt, but it’s the quilting that makes it a ribbon winner!
Don’t get me wrong, the person that made the quilt top definitely had some talent.  Check out the interesting fabrics in those tiny squares in the border.  Black and tan check is something I wouldn’t have thought of.  Make sure you check out that tiny pink piping in the wavy border – beautiful.  Still it is the quilting that makes this quilt.  I love what the quilter did to create a mirror image of the border triangles in that inner green border….. never would have thought of that.
And in honor of spring – which had better be right around the corner or I am going to lose it – here is a photo of my favorite daffodil quilt.
The weather is getting nicer here in the northeast, get out and visit your favorite quilt shop.  Get inspired to make something beautiful!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Social Media

As you can see, it's been awhile since my last post.  That has something to do with the fact that I was unable to get at least 25 of you to comment on my last post in over a year.  Yep, a whole year.  Feeling a little like Rip Van Winkle over here. zzzzzzzzz.  It also has plenty to do with the industry advisors that were busy telling us that blogs are not the way to go, Facebook is where all of our customers are hanging out.  Good business people should have a business page, an Instagram account and we shouldn't forget to Tweet at least once per day.

Add those chores to getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking 8 glasses of water, walking at least 10,000 steps a day and oh yes, I have a job too.  Something had to give.  Sleep was the first thing to go.  Then I moved my social media efforts over to Facebook.  Despite the fact that everyone wants to be friends with ME and not The Quilt Company, not that The Quilt Company can have friends.  It's a business page and those deal in "likes" and accumulate "followers" not friends.  I use our shop Facebook page to post, well... facebooky things.  Things I like what is happening in the store, fun things I get to do with famous people, etc.  I don't really use the page to sell anything, although I do let you know about SALES that we have throughout the year. 

Facebook figured out that most business pages WERE selling to the consumer and they wanted a piece of the action.  They started limiting who gets to see your post.  For example if The Quilt Company has 500 followers any post that I might write will go to about 125 of them.  UNLESS I choose to "boost" that post and pay a fee.  Really?  Pay a fee so that more people, that chose to follow my page, can see a photo of what I made at the Kaye England Retreat? 

Facebook is also not the place for detailed explanations of things (read that as long rants) which I tend to do.  There have been several times that I have wanted to "explain" something to the world in a format that is better suited to the blog.  I just let it drop.  Truthfully because I was pouting over that 25 comment thing - but I'm getting over it.

This all brings me to the fact that I'm coming back to the blog.  I can say what I want.  Show you how to do things in pictures and not have to pay for you to see it.  Seems like a good idea to me.  Now I just have to make friends with Windows 8.1.

Watch for a fresh blog face coming soon.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Would you like to win a set of Scrap Crazy Templates?

Are you wondering where I have been?

Care to take a guess?  Come on, just guess!  Your wild and crazy imagination can't be more ridiculous than some of the rumors that are going around!  Rumors are part of our business.  It's natural for women to talk.  We hear lots of things we don't repeat and I'm not surprised to find out that sometimes we are the subject of talk.  We just try to keep it to a minimum.  Every few years someone comes into the shop to tell me that they "heard" that we are closing (wouldn't I be the first to know?).  For years I laughed it off and my standard response was "Did they also
tell you that I am sleeping with Mel Gibson?".  That was fun until Mel went off the deep end and became a bit of a nut case.  It was after his crazy tirade that I decided to break things off with Mel and take up with Hugh Jackman.  You read that correctly, I am no longer sleeping with Mel Gibson. 

Do you really want to know where I've been?  Working, working hard!  Although I am always working on new ideas, October is the kick-off month for all of the club programs in our shop.  I rarely do something "off the shelf" so that means creating new projects, writing new patterns and test sewing everything before we start.  I will be the first to admit that I normally work down to the wire - if I don't need it until tomorrow my usual attitude is that I still have plenty of time!  This year is different. I happen to have
selected projects that need to be completed before anything can begin.  Because they are monthly clubs, I'm working on things that my club members won't see until next JUNE!  Working that far ahead I should have some free time between now and then.... right?  I'm going to have to let Hugh know.......

I have also been out of the shop ... a lot.  We did the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Monroeville PA at the end of August, Mancuso Show in Oaks PA in mid September and a personal appearance at the Aurora Sewing Centers near Buffalo New York last week.  At the speaking engagement in New York one of the attendees reminded me of one of my favorite rumors.  I'm known as the Tattooed Lady to a busload of women from near Syracuse. 

Several years ago for our "Spooktacular Bus Tour" I "dressed up" by wearing a pair of sheer nylon sleeves that make it look like you have tattoos on your arms.  It was Halloween day. They were $1.98.  I thought it was fun.  What I didn't realize was that most of the women on the bus thought those tats were real.  Some were offended, a few finally put two and two together and asked me about them then laughed.  The youngest girl on the bus told me she was proud of me for showing off my "art".  I crushed her opinion of me when I show her they were fake.  Honestly, who would think that 2 bucks worth of nylon stocking would be taken for real body art on Halloween day?  It's been years since that bus trip and I still have people asking if I am the shop owner with the tattoos (even when I am standing right in front of them).
This past weekend was the kick-off weekend for our clubs.  I joked with the group that I would be staying home for awhile, so they would see me in the shop.  "I will be chained to my desk".  At least until Quilt Market at the end of the month and I'm going to squeeze in a quick trip to see the grandkids too.  Perfectly normal right?  I thought so, except that I was wearing THIS when I said it:

 Does that look like a monitoring device to you?  It is - sort of - it is a Fitbit.  It tracks how many steps I take.  It is a fancy schmancy pedometer.  It is NOT a security device that tracks the whereabouts of criminals. I am NOT under house arrest.  I don't get zapped if I leave the parking lot....... but that is kinda funny.  I hope the woman that thinks I'm under house arrest is also telling everyone that it is the Quilt Police that put me there because I need to stay home and SEW more!  I wouldn't mind being sentenced to a few dozen more quilts!

Let's have some fun with this!  Leave me a comment on why you think I am under house arrest - the funnier the better - and when I get 25 or more comments I will select one to win a set of Scrap Crazy templates!  If you don't comment you can't win!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Have You Gone Scrap Crazy Yet?

When is the last time that you purchased a product that put your creative thinking in high gear?  I'm thrilled to say that my Scrap Crazy Template Set from Creative Grids has reached the Top 10 Best Selling Notions!  YEA!!!
Earlier this year I shared with you the introduction of my Scrap Crazy Template Set.  I have to admit that I knew in the design process that we were creating something special.  Each time I looked at the templates I had another idea for how to use them. 
Once I had prototypes in my hand I started to work through the math and cutting instructions.  A whole world of possibilities opened up when I realized that I could cut all of the pieces I need for one block from one ten inch square.  That means that every Layer Cake that you own is now a Scrap Crazy kit - with little or no waste!
Timeless Treasures then introduced new "6 Packs", six inch strips of batik fabrics that also work perfectly with the template set.  Suddenly I couldn't sew fast enough to get all of my ideas into patterns to share with you!  It doesn't matter if you are sewing with pre-cut fabrics or from your overflowing scrap basket, there are a multitude of ways to combine the templates into beautiful quilts.  I think that versatility is the ultimate key to their success.
Creative Grids has a "rule" that they won't introduce a new product until they have at least 3 support patterns to go along with it.  No problem!  I quickly created a Minky backed baby quilt using a pack of batik 10 inch squares.  Next came a Keepsake Pillow, all done in white, with ribbons, lace inserts and lots of decorative stitching.  Then I ventured into block projects, partial blocks, rectangles and creating tessellated, diamond, chevron and pinwheel designs.
Each pattern offers you the opportunity to learn something special.  Working with partial blocks, cutting from purchased fabrics rather than scraps, using mirror image pieces, something other than the basic block instructions.  But how many individual patterns do you really need? 
I expected you to get creative!  You don't have to play with the templates for long before you realize that you can cut the shapes from anything, including smaller scraps and strips that you have sewn together to make a larger sheet of fabric.
Still, the number one question that I get from customers is "Do you have a pattern for that"?
Enter the Scrap Crazy Playbook!  I've been busy writing and sewing seven new projects to include in one 12 page booklet that has all of the basic information, finishing instructions, charts and requirements. For some of the projects I have included several sizes.  Whew!  I'm down to the home stretch in editing and the new Scrap Crazy Playbook should be available to purchase at the end of August.
Then, just when I thought I had covered everything another idea popped into my head.  Scrap Crazy blocks are 8 1/2 inches (8" when finished)  Erin Underwood's new Diamond Ruler is 8 1/2 inches.......  I think there is a Scrap Crazy Lone Star in my future!
From time to time I get an email with a photo attached from someone that has used one of my patterns or rulers to make something special.  I LOVE to get those emails.  I'm sending this shout-out to all Scrap Crazy fans!  I want to see - so that I can share the photos here - pictures of what you are making.  Large, small, finished or in-the-works, you can email the photos to:


Thanks for voting!
Our Gone Scrap Crazy quilt knocked it out of the park in our first MLQ match up.  We have won the first round, but there are plenty more to go.  We will be competing against Suzanne's Quilt Shop in round 2 in September.  I will keep you posted and make sure I extend a personal invitation to the game.  Meanwhile keep logging in to vote for your favorite quilt on the MLQ website.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Major League Quilting

Are you ready for some BASEBALL... um..... QUILTBALL? 

How about some Major League Quilting FUN?

The Major League Quilting season is underway!  Thirty of the finest quilt shops you will ever find have formed "teams" and their chosen quilts are competing for the World Series of Quilting title.   Unlike a normal baseball game, YOU the fan are in charge of who wins this illustrious event.  All you have to do is log on to the MLQ website, sign in and cast your vote for your favorite of the two competing quilts.  No fee, nothing to buy.  Games are held each Monday and Thursday. 
Being the true-to-my-heart Pittsburgh girl that I am, my quilt represents the Pittsburgh Buccaneers.  Starting today we are competing against the St. Louis Redbirds and we really want to WIN!  The 'burgh is the known as the City of Champions and we take our competition seriously. 

My "Gone Scrap Crazy" quilt is up against The Quilt Asylum's "1000 Pyramid".

While the Asylum has brought a heavy hitter to the competition, claiming that the triangles resemble baseball pennants, I think the Scrap Crazy project should win this round hands down.  After all, if you should make both quilts, when you are finished with Gone Scrap Crazy you will have a beautiful quilt.  AND you will have cleaned out over 400 scraps (does that mean I'm batting 400?) AND you will have the coolest, most versatile, creative template set you have ever owned left to use to make a million more quilts.  If you make The Quilt Asylum's 1000 Pyramid quilt you will have a beautiful quilt.... and your fill of triangles.  Ask me how I know.

This is MY version of the 1000 Pyramid quilt that I created for Timeless Treasures.  It features their new "Six Pack" in the Sugar colorway.  Six Packs are twenty 6 inch strips by the width of the fabric that come packed like bricks.  Think of them as super sized Jelly Rolls.  The same length but much wider. The instructions for my quilt are a FREE HANDOUT on the Timeless Treasures website.  You can download them here:

I'm swinging for the fence here and asking for your vote!  Log-on, join in the fun and help Gone Scrap Crazy and the 'burgh make it all the way to the Quilting World Series!   If you are wondering what fabulous prize will be awarded to the winning quilt, the answer is..... bragging rights.  That doesn't mean that we aren't all in-it-to-win-it.  Quilting Treasures in Rogers MN even has a video scouting report.  After you have voted, check out the Bracket page to see who will be competing against whom.  Once we tromp the Redbirds we will be facing some stiff competition in the Atlanta Raves!


Monday, July 8, 2013

Back to Work

Hi!  Remember me?  I write this blog. 
It's been many weeks since my last post and the days have been whizzing by with good intensions, but very little productivity.  Not that I have been laying around doing nothing.  Far from it! 

Mid June we participated in the Western Pennsylvania Shop Hop.  Smack in the middle of that we hosted Alex Anderson for a wonderful event co-sponsored by BERNINA.  Mixing those two events was quite the experience!  The theme for the Shop Hop was "Into the Forest".  As part of our decorations to create the "forest" theme our front porch was turned into a campsite, complete with tent, sleeping bag, campfire and coffee pot.  When Alex arrived she played right along, making herself at home!  What a good sport, sharing the spotlight with all of the hop activity.  Alex and almost 600 traveling hoppers in 4 days makes for long busy days!

Immediately after the hop my husband and I headed for Shipshewana Indiana to vend at the annual Quilt Festival.  I would like to think of it as a relaxing 5 days in Amish country, but the truth is it is a very busy show and I spend all 4 of the show days demonstrating.  This year the featured product was my new Scrap Crazy Template Set from Creative Grids.  I'm sure that I did that demo more than 500 times and I am looking forward to seeing what all of those happy customers create!  That doesn't mean that I didn't find time to sneak away and get a good look at the amazing quilts on display.  These photos are of the quilt show - but not the grand prize winners.  Those were in the Hudson Museum and I forgot to take my camera with me when I went to view those.

After Shipshewana we head to Cincinnati to pick up our grandkids and bring them home for the week.  Having twin two year olds in your house without their parents for 5 days is exhausting, but I wouldn't miss a minute of it!  After they left yesterday I sat down to a quiet cup of tea.  My tea bags have words of wisdom on the tag and mine read "Children tend to make their parents feel old and their grandparents feel young".  That and the joy of random, sticky, unsolicited kisses, pretty much sums up my last week.


With absolutely no rest in between we jumped right into the Pennsylvania Row-by-Row Shop Hop that started July 1st.  You can stop by any of the participating Pennsylvania or New York shops and simply ask for a FREE pattern.  No participation fees, no passports to keep track of.  Just collect the patterns, make a quilt and win prizes.  Many of us have kits available to purchase for our rows to make your job even easier.  Ours retails for only $8! Follow the fun on the Facebook page by clicking here:

If that isn't enough excitement for you, starting July 15th we are also participating in Major League Quilting!  Just like Major League Baseball, two quilts will compete against each other.  Your votes determine the winner.  There is nothing to buy, no fee to play along.  Kits for the featured quilts are available, but all you have to do is vote for your favorite on the Major League Quilting website to keep it moving along.  I know you will all want to support the Pittsburgh Buccaneers and their Gone Scrap Crazy entry.  So vote early and vote often to keep us in the game!!!!!

Does it sound like I need a rest?  Thankfully I have one planned for Thursday and Friday in the form of a 1 day cruise!  MJ our Travel Agent that is making the arrangements for our Quilting Cruise next May has invited me to spend the night on the very ship we will be sailing on, leaving out of Baltimore.  This is the perfect chance to check out the ships facilities, see our sewing room, make plans and arrangements so that everything goes smoothly.  It is only one night onboard, but it is still a cruise, there will still be a deck chair available and possibly a dip in the hot tub after a nice glass of wine..... ahhhh.  I know you can't join me Thursday but there are still some spaces available for next May.  The new prices are even lower than we first announced and if you book this weekend MJ is offering a special onboard gift!  If you are in the area, stop by the shop on Saturday morning to meet MJ and allow her to answer any questions you might have.

Right after that I will be getting ready for Christmas in July.... but let's not get ahead of ourselves!