Monday, August 27, 2012

Birthday Wishes

I had a birthday last week.  A big, divisible by 5 birthday. 
I'm really more of an "Age is a mind over matter thing, if you don't mind, it doesn't matter" kind of person.  The older I get, the less it matters.  I also could never figure out why people over 40 would lie to make themselves younger.  Heck, I would be happy to admit that I am 60!  Hopefully you would walk away thinking "Wow she looks good for her age".  If I tried to tell you I was 40 you would wonder what had gone wrong in my life that caused all these wrinkles.  Forget 39, I'm fessing up to 60 - or better yet, 65.  That would make me 8 years older than my husband.  Does that qualify for "cougar" status?

This year to celebrate the big day, I sent an email to all of my customers asking for presents in the form of school supplies that we could then donate to a worthy cause.  I can't take credit for coming up with the idea, I stole it - ok, borrowed it with permission, from another quilt shop owner friend of mine.  Sandy Brawner owns Quilt Country in Texas.  Sandy has a July birthday and she has been collecting and donating school supplies for several years.  With a birthday that often falls on the first day of school in our area it seemed like a perfect way to celebrate.

Once again our customers came through above and beyond what we expected!  This is a photo of the "loot" that I had the privledge of delivering to the Mars Home For Youth earlier today and today was the first day of school for the kids that live there.  Needless to say they were thrilled to have a stash of supplies to fill their closet and meet the needs of the kids.  Such a simple thing, a new binder, some cool pens or a funky pencil box can make a kid feel like they fit in when other areas of their life are a little bumpy.  Thanks to everyone that donated.  It made for a very Happy Birthday indeed.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Checker Open House

First let me make it perfectly clear that the Checker Open House is a wholesale event, for shop owners ONLY.  The general public is NOT allowed to attend.  Checker is a wholesale supplier to independent shop owners, they never sell to chain stores, and they are located near Toledo, Ohio.  They also own the U.S. distribution for Creative Grids Rulers.  Don't write me and ask me how you can attend next year.  If you are a Checker Customer, you already know.

Other than International Quilt Market, I consider this Open House the most fun a shop owner can have while spending money.  Checker invites an assortment of vendors to this 2 day event, host lectures from industry icons (although they ask me to do one too) and open the warehouse for shopping. 

Shop owners generally look through swatch samples to order fabric and then wait weeks or months for the bolts to arrive.  This is a grab a cart and pick-up bolts shopping experience.  And pick-up bolts they do! 

In addition to fabric overload, the warehouse is ringed with vendors, including The Quilt Company, that are there to demonstrate their products, answer questions, provide class or project ideas, etc.  The shop owners can move from booth to booth and fill their heads and shopping carts with everything they need for the fall season.  The vendor line-up is impressive!

Alex Anderson was there with her books.

Swirly Girls sharred their newest patterns

Smith Street Designs - Always one of my favorites

This is Daniela Stout's booth from Cozy Cottage, we tease Daniela about being short, but I'm pretty sure if she was in the booth you should be able to see her over the table.......

Checker takes these wonderful photos of all of the events and provides us with a CD to take home.  Not ALL of the photos are wonderful.  For the last 4 years I hold the record for the most unflattering photos possible. 

Exhibit A.  This is last years photo.

Exhibit B. This years photo.  

I could go on, but why embarrass myself?  Normally sharring horrible photos of myself with the industry would upset me, but when you are part of the Checker team, they treat you like family, and you know how family can be. 

While I was there I also shot demo videos for my ruler..... did I mention that they have a display of the top selling rulers?  Well would you look at that! The Quick Trim Ruler is right there in the upper right hand corner!  If you don't have a Quick Trim Ruler, then you NEED one!  Not convinced?  Click this link to watch the current video.  VIDEO LINK  Click here to order your very own Quick Trim from our website ORDER RULER

This is Craig, he is in charge of making me look good on video.  I gave him strict orders to shave a few years off my age and make me sound intelligent.  As for the still photos.  I give up - I'm there to explain product, so I never shut up, which is why they usually catch me with my mouth open. 

Do you want to know what the silver lining in the whole situation is as far as I am concerned?  See those red pants that I am wearing during my lecture?  They are a size 8!  YEA!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Design Wall Wednesday, Again

Did you ever stop to wonder how many mistakes a designer makes before pulling together a project that is ready to share in the form of a pattern?  The answer is LOTS.

This photo is of the generous size table runner that I planned to make for my kitchen island.  I make lots of runners, but they are on the skimpy side for an island that can handle a 5 burner cook top and still have room for 4 extra large pizza boxes.  We hosted a ton of parties when our youngest was in high school and that island has seen a mountain of pizza.  Now that the kids are out of the house I decided that a generous size runner that could double as placemats for the 2 chairs that sit at that island was in order.

It seemed like the perfect project for the Triangle in a Square projects that I have been working on.  I decided that I would use batik scraps from Timeless Treasures - who wouldn't want to have breakfast on a batik runner?  I chopped up the scraps and arranged the triangles and half rectangles like this.

Then the sewing began.  I had another project to finish, and being the super efficient person that I am (no snickering), I decide that I would sew them both at the same time.  I used the table runner units as "thread bunnies", stitching one seam after I completed each row for the other project so that something was always under my needle.  That way I could finish the required project and have my table runner well underway when the required project was finished.

Probably not a good idea.

The table runner pieces are stitched into blocks, then those blocks are cut into strips and re-assembled.  The re-assembly process flips the block around.  I had to remember to swap the colors on each side so that they reversed themselves into the proper position and would be where I wanted them in the final assembly.  Confusing?  You bet'cha!  It could have been the riveting finale to Design Star that I was watching on my laptop that had me distracted, but whoa-baby were there mistakes!

The first 2 rows went together with minor mistakes. I caught those before slicing the blocks apart.  Row three was a disaster!  That is when I decided that having all of the rectangles the same color was a much better idea.  If I am totally confused by row three and I am writing the instructions, how can I expect those of you that buy the pattern to figure it out?  I do have to consider that you won't be distracted by Vern Yip falling in love with an ugly yurt and selecting the wrong person to have her own show on HGTV, but you could be subject to other distractions.  Seriously, we sew for fun and relaxation, not because we are studying to be brain surgeons - unless you are currently in med school.....

I did manage to "fix" the disjointed issue that I normally see in this Magic Lantern block and create a table runner that is sized to make a statement.  Once I didn't have to flip, reverse, rotate and stand on my head to get the fabrics in the right place it was a lot of fun too!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Quilt Company is on vacation this week. We made the decision years ago to annually close the shop for the week closest to the beginning of August each year. Our regular customers are use to it. Out of town visitors plan around it. We tell everyone on our website, we publish it in our newsletter, we remind everyone in Email Updates, but there are always one or two people that are absolutely shocked when they find out we are closed. My apologies, but the truth is, we need the break.

So what does a quilt shop owner do with a whole week off? I SEW!

I couldn't show you my design wall last week because I was on double secret probation. I was working on a snowflake quilt for my favorite quilting magazine. The project will be featured in their winter issue. Naturally I will let you know as soon as it hits the newsstands later this fall. Meanwhile this is a sneak peek of the prototype flakes I was busy stitching all week. I used some beautiful paisley prints from Timeless Treasures for the quilt. The quilting was finished in record time by the wonderful Mary Thomas, binding has been applied and hand stitched. It goes in the mail tomorrow. Whew!

That doesn't mean that the design wall is empty! Having a whole week to get caught up on projects I planned to work on the log cabin blocks on the right. Then I got news from the Creative Grids team that after about 2 years of listening to me whine they are finally going to produce the rulers that I have been asking for! That means that the zillion ideas I have on paper to use those rulers can become quilts!

There is nothing like a new project to spur me into action! Those whopping big stars in the center of the design wall are made with half square rectangles. I use to dread half square rectangles, but like our shop tag line says, "It is all in having the right tools!" This new ruler isn't the first half square rectangle tool on the market, but I wanted a bigger one - a MUCH bigger one. I have a king size bed and making a quilt for it requires a thousand pieces, unless you can find a large block pattern that uses large pieces and still looks like you put some effort into it. I think this pattern hits the mark!

Further down the wall in the corner are a few Magic Lantern blocks that will use both new rulers. Once again, larger pieces means less work and better proportion on a large queen or king size bed. I am loving these "new" rulers even though they don't really exist yet (I'm playing with a prototype). Experimenting allows me the opportunity to work out the placement of lines on the ruler, see how they work with different fabric cuts and make sure we have included everything you will need so that you will love them too. Once I am finished experimenting they will go into production and be ready for fall Quilt Market. I can hardly wait to get my hands on the real thing!