Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Quilting gods?

If there are quilting gods that we must pay homage to, I’m going to have to sacrifice a bolt of fabric in the parking lot at midnight to get back in their good graces. I certainly haven’t been in their favor this week.

Remember that Jacobs Ladder project that had a deadline looming? I let it go until the very last minute. (not unusual for me). In the planning stages I had decided on a diagonal set and solid triangles around the edge, no border. Once I had it on the design wall I HATED the solid setting triangles. They needed to be pieced. I whipped up the segments before I left for Florida, still confident that it would not be a problem to get it stitched together.

When I started to assemble the top I realized that the stripe in my 4 patch “spun” to the LEFT in the quilt blocks and to the RIGHT in the setting triangles.
Quilting gods 1, Karen 0.

I grumbled and tried to convince myself that it didn’t matter, but those setting triangles were no longer an accent, they finished the pattern. I had to replace them. Now it needed a border. Very early yesterday (thank heaven I started early) I remade the setting triangle pieces, only to discover that I made them wrong A SECOND TIME.
Quilting gods 2, Karen 0

Over the weekend, working at the Heinz History Center, I took the tools I would need to assemble blocks. Amy Baughman, Debby LeDonne and I met our husbands for dinner Sunday evening and I left my supplies in Amy’s car. I knew we would see each other at the Shop Hop meeting on Monday – no problem, except that I forgot to get them from her after the meeting. I had to do all the sewing/ripping without all my favorite supplies. It was like working with one hand tied behind my back.

At 8:30 last evening as I was putting the borders on –again- for what I though was the last time. I started to miter the corners I noticed that the large daisy flower in the outer border was running around the quilt in one direction on 3 sides and the opposite direction on the 4th side……
Quilting gods 3, Karen 0.

Here is a photo of the finished project. It was a struggle – but I do like the final results. Now it’s off to the quilter. I have to write the instructions – proper instructions – and the kits will be ready by the time McCalls Quilting hits the newsstand sometime mid March.


Monday, January 28, 2008

Heinz History Center

If you missed the weekend event at the Heinz History Center, you missed a good time! The weekend was such a great success that the center has already decided to make it an annual event.

This originally started as an idea from the North Pittsburgh Quilt Guild, then as they say, it “grew legs” of its own. I think I became involved because they needed some fabric donations, or maybe it was because a dear sweet woman named Millie asked me to. If you know Millie, you know what I mean. She is one of those people that you just can’t say “no” to. Not that you would want to, she is always involved in something fascinating. It is worth the investment of your time, just to see things evolve.

The photo shows just one little peek at the children’s portion of the event. The kids drew pictures on prepared muslin squares of “Pittsburgh Firsts” to help celebrate the cities 250th birthday. Then they selected batik squares to set together in a 9 patch that will make up the alternating blocks in the finished quilt. The kids did a great job. They drew KDKA, ketchup bottles, sports teams and groundhogs. My personal favorite was a blueberry pie under the 6th Street bridge. When I questioned the little girl, she explained that homeless people have to eat too!

The kids table was the center attraction, but it was surrounded with Guilds selling raffle tickets, a great display of antique sewing machines, tables to shop, information on Hartwood Acres, top of the line sewing machines, and lots of quilts made by Pittsburgh quilters of all ages. Next year there will be even MORE quilts, hopefully more demonstrations and I’m suggesting they have a certified quilt appraiser there to value your quilts. The museum liked the idea. If it begins to look like it won’t happen – I’ll sic Millie on them!


Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Girls Day Out

Shop Hopping is FUN!!! Especially if you have one of those Garmin navigator systems (it also helps if someone else drives!). Bernie and I hit 3 stores in just a few hours and had a great time doing it. First we stopped for lunch at a tea room in Mount Dora then hiked up the hill to the quilt shop, past antique, craft and cute little specialty stores. Remember, this is Florida, so the hike up the hill was probably all of 100 feet above sea level, and it was "sweater" weather and I enjoyed every minute of it.
Next we ventured over to Fireside Quilts. This is a new store, just a few months old. They are off to a nice start and the owner certainly has her own way of doing things. Nothing in the store was priced, .....nothing. When I questioned them about it, they said that was because all of the fabrics were the same price. Interestingly, the owner said they were $8.60 and later when I questioned one of the employees, she said the price was $8.40, but thought the batiks were more than that. Hmmmmm? It made me feel a bit better about the screw-ups we make sometimes! The patterns weren't priced either, which seemed odd to me. As a consumer, I want to know what I'm buying, as an owner, I know some of them should be $6 and some of them $10. The store was beautiful, bright, well lit, with gorgeous wood cabinetry, so I didn't understand the "dollar store" pricing strategy.
Our last stop was the shop in Deland. We wandered around the store for a few minutes before I heard Judy, the owner say "Karen Montgomery, what are you doing in my store"? So much for working incognito.
We explained the visit and Judy gave me a tour of her new location and a sneak peek behind the scenes at the work she does for Bennartex and the block of the month books that she publishes. I have to say that her finished projects are beautiful in person. We had originally talked at Quilt Market about her first book with a tropical theme. I thought it would be a tough sell in Pittsburgh, but now she has added 2 more, and one of them is a Christmas theme. I brought copies home so that Debby and I can take a more detailed look. You may see Judy's projects offered in Pittsburgh in the near future!

Monday, January 21, 2008

Sunny Florida

When the weatherman posts single digits, who would not want to head for “sunny Florida”? I was fortunate to be invited to teach in central Florida this week. We planned the trip around some college visits for Lindsay and a long overdue visit to my in-laws. As you can see, we squeezed in a not-so-sunny trip to Disney. Yep, that’s fog and a slight drizzle surrounding Cinderella’s castle. You wont see that photo in the brochure!
The deep freeze that most of the country is feeling has definitely reached this far south! Lucky for me, the outlook is better for the next few days. Unfortunately for the rest of the family, I sent them home early this morning!

Now I’m off to meet my best friend, Bernie to tour quilt shops and spend the day being the “customer” instead of the “owner”! I love being able to shop a quilt store without the responsibility of having all the answers. It’s also nice to see things from the consumer point of view, pick up some display tips and see what’s selling in other parts of the country. I’m sure that lunch will be something special, include dessert and the evening will involve a glass of wine (or two) and lots of laughing! Days like this are what best friends are for!


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

It's getting deep in here!

Earlier this year I joined forces with 10 other fantastic shop owners to create a group called Quilt Gallery Shops. We challenged each other to create a quilt and kit using a specific block for each issue of McCalls Quilting magazine. There are 6 issues of McCalls Quilting, I make far more than 6 quilts per year (ok, I have quilting help). This should not be a problem.

This group is made up of some pretty heavy hitters in the quilting world. Sandy Brawner, owner of Quilt Country in Texas has designed for Moda and is almost single handedly responsible for creating the rag quilting craze. Karen Snyder, owner of Anna Leana’s in Washington (state that is) is the author of “Bundles of Fun” (and very soon “More Bundles of Fun”) also designs fabrics for Andover. Jerry Stube in Kansas and Deb Luttrel in Texas both have amazing block-of-the-month programs. Mary Wilberg’s name appears on many patterns published in a variety of magazines…… and that is only half the group!

The first block was Martha Washington’s Star. Everyone had their quilt finished before the deadline, quilted, bound and photographed. The second was “any” basket block. My top was finished, but the quilting lines don’t show in the ad, so I photographed it before it was quilted and photographed it again for the pattern front. The third one was Corn and Beans. The photo was taken, but it still isn’t quilted (I’m thinking of adding borders to mine and the fabric hasn’t arrived. That is my story and I’m sticking to it!) The Jacobs Ladder project on the design wall in the photo is the next project and it needs to be completed by January 28th!
The mess on my sewing center is a small part of what I have to do something with before I can sew that piece together! Normally I would swoop all of that mess into a bin and hide it under the sewing center, but most of that mess has to have something done with it to meet deadlines BEFORE the 28th.

Did I mention that I have a 5 day trip to Florida planned? Yep, I’m leaving Friday morning for the sunshine state. I’ll be doing some teaching while I’m there, visiting family and looking at colleges with Lindsay. Too bad they haven’t perfected that cloning process, I sure could use a copy of “me” to stay home and get some work done!

If you want to see the entire selection of Quilt Gallery quilts, you can log on to the site at .


Sunday, January 13, 2008


I’m having a good weekend!

My copy of the Keepsake Quilting Catalog arrived on Friday and I was surprised to find that they picked up the Dimes project that I designed for Timeless Treasures. Yes, even I am sometimes surprized to see my name in print! The 40 by 48 inch project is made with 10 inch squares of 30 different Tonga Batiks. The funny thing is, if a customer would like to make the project, they will need to order the kit from Keepsake. Believe it or not, we don’t have them in the store! The project is part of a 30 bolt collection promotion. I select the fabrics, design the project, make the quilt and write the instructions, but if you’ve seen our batik section in the store, we OBVIOUSLY order more than 30 bolts! It appears that Keepsake worked a deal to buy the collection in pre-cut 10 inch squares. Timeless won’t do that for me! Still, its nice to see my name in a catalog that I both respect and enjoy.

Today I checked my email and found a message from Jill, the editor of Quilts and More magazine. The magazine is running one of my projects in the spring issue! The layout looks great and I am thrilled with the 4 page spread! I submitted the fabric folder project several months ago and had no idea when or if they planned to run it. I’ve made several of these as gifts for different people. They are large enough to hold file folders, zip closed, have an outside pocket and are easy to personalize with the fabric selection. The outside pocket is a great place to feature a novelty fabric. I’ve used a music print for the ones I’ve made for Lindsay’s choral conductors, house prints for real estate agents, assorted fabrics for teachers… you get the idea. It's a great I-can't-believe-the-zipper-was-that-easy project! I've always had a great response to my projects that have been featured in Quilts and More, I certainly hope this one is a winner too!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Like Mother / Like Daughter

Our daughter Lindsay will be 17 this month. She is a very creative kid, she designs her own jewelry and hand makes gifts for her friends. She also LOVES books. Not library books. She wants to OWN books. She considers Borders her library and my Visa her library card. One trip not to long ago, she picked up a book on restyling t-shirts. I probably could have told her everything in the book, and more, but you know how kids are. As her mother, I can’t possibly know ANYTHING. I was just intrigued that she wanted to sew.

While I was making the crafty tray shown below, Lindsay was busy reworking some old t-shirts into some interesting new looks using my sewing machine. She is much happier if I stay out of her way and only consult on thread, how to change the needle and where she can find a supply she needs. Her first finished project was pretty cute! She arrived in the kitchen wearing a scoop neck fitted T with interesting sleeves. When I asked her about the construction, she whipped out her digital camera and proceeded to show me the step-by-step photos she had taken as she went along. I asked why she took the photos and she looked surprise, and said “Don’t YOU always take photos”? It never occurred to me that she thought it was part of the normal sewing process! She may be a little more like her Mother than she cares to admit!
Lindsay's Mom

Crafting 101

As promised, here are the photos of my craft project! It’s nice to do a little something different every now and then. The “pennies” for this project are cut from fabric that is stiffened with diluted Mod Podge. They were layered, coated and applied to the tray that I painted. The tray was a bargain bin find at TJ Max. Originally it was cream color with pink tulips! We used it for fat quarters at the store; it’s chipped, nicked and perfect for this folk art look. I sanded and painted the inside black and the outside a dull red with some inexpensive acrylic paints. The fabrics were applied to the painted surface and covered with several more coats of Mod Podge (that’s the cloudy looking stuff in the “in process” photo. It dries clear). Then the whole thing was covered in acrylic, sanded, buffed with steel wool and finally a coat of wax was applied.

I know what you are thinking, a lot of work for a silly tray, but I enjoyed the process. The floor covering book details the method as it is applied to a canvas backing to create actual floor coverings that you can use in your home. They are beautiful! The stiffened fabric can easily be cut with scissors or a rotary cutter. Any quilt block could be cut and used. I’m looking around for some trash cans in basic shapes that I can decorate for my sewing room at home. There are a few wooden boxes lying around that are definitely in danger of being embellished………

Have some fun!