Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Las Vegas in the Rear View Mirror

This time last week I was sewing like a crazy person with 53 others in a ballroom of a Las Vegas casino and loving every minute of it. I was attending the Kaye England Seminar for Shop Owners. This seminar is part fabulous creative retreat with a little expensive Boot Camp mixed in. Kaye is wonderful, gracious and hysterically funny. If ever you have the opportunity to enjoy her in person, jump at the chance. You will learn much and laugh lots. My customers will have that very special opportunity next December and I hope each and every one of them squeezes into the room so that nobody misses out on a really good time.

Although the schedule is casual, the chance to sew, get samples made and be the student instead of the teacher is rare in a shop owners world. Kaye fills us with fresh coffee and inspiration each morning and lets us do our thing. That might not sound to inspiring, unless you consider that the 53 others working around you are doing some pretty cool stuff - and you want to see and share what they are doing too.

These are my tablemates. Deb from New Jersey and Sue and Lori from Canada. Sue is chatting with one of the other Canadian dealers and one of the owners of Quiltique the shop in Henderson NV. The 5 of us managed to get away one evening for dinner on the strip but other than that, we sewed.... and laughed and tested our skills.
Others might not have considered it much of a test, but Kaye and I have polar opposite opinions on just about everything. Kaye is into reproductions. I'm not. Kaye never presses as she pieces. I press every seam as I sew - sometimes twice. Kaye loves scrappy everything. I plan. I design for Creative Grids, Kaye designs the Nifty Notions ruler line. Neither of us are wrong, we just do things differently.

When in Kaye's playground, I play by Kaye's rules..... for the most part. I work scrappier, I try-out her rulers. I learn from her color sense and I attempted to avoid pressing.  To be honest, I can't do it - the pressing thing. To quote Kaye "Quilting is like sex. If you aren't enjoying it, you are doing it wrong." If quilting is like sex then I see nothing wrong with making it hot and steamy.

Doing something differently, even something as simple as working outside your comfort zone is good for the soul. It expands your perspective and helps you confirm your beliefs. One of the things we laughed about last week were the comments on this photo I posted on the shops Facebook page. I wondered if I should add another border.  The pattern for this quilt is in Kaye's Hens and Chicks book.  In the book it is done in 30's green and reproduction style prints.  Several people that I know own the book wondered where the pattern was from.  Mine looks so entirely different, but we still found that amusing. 

Kaye appreciated my batik selection and helped me decide on the sashing fabric.  I really think it needs another border and I've decided it will be black, but I didn't have the fabric with me, so I moved on to another project. 99% of the Facebook comments were favorable until comment 31 which said:  "A black border would make side cornerstones not match. I would not have used that fabric for the sashing. Just my opinion, one out of 30 ain't bad !"  What made that comment funny?  It came from my Mother.

You can design fabrics and rulers, run a successful quilt shop, be the author of one of the top 20 best selling patterns and have your work featured on the cover of magazines and still not make your Mother happy.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Oh Those Frenchmen

Can you guess what this is?

It's a pattern in the snow made by a man walking in snowshoes.

No kidding!

He does this for exercise.

The finished designs are often the size of 3 soccer fields.

We still have plenty of winter left here in the north east.
Anyone want to go for a walk?

You can read more about him here:

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Need A Little Mystery In Your Life?

Are you ready for some winter fun?  How about a winter sewing project that will keep you guessing?
I know that you have plenty of fabric. I hear that from customers all the time. "I probably have as much fabric as you do" or "I can't buy another piece of fabric until I use some of it up". Well here is your chance.

I have designed a project we are calling WINTER MYSTERY. It measures 63" by 72" when finished, without borders. That makes it a comfy sized throw or twin comorter. You can feel free to add borders later if you would like a larger size.

This project is designed to help you use up your scraps! Before cutting, sort your fabrics into color groups. Arrange at least 6 different groups, think of them as red, yellow, green, blue, purple and brown. Your groups may actually be pink, teal, gold, green, blue and taupe (you get the idea). You may have as many different groups as you like as long as it is more than six. You may divide one or two colors into light, medium and darks. For example, if you choose to work with all blues and greens, you can separated into light blue, medium blue, dark blue, etc.

If you have an exceptionally large stash, you might want to use all of your fabrics from a certain "style" or category, like 30's Reproductions or Civil War prints. I've decided to use my Kaffe style prints. I might need to wear my sun glasses for this one!

• Select scraps that are large enough to cut a 2 1/2 by 4 1/2 inch rectangle and 2 1/2 inch square from the same piece of fabric.

• You may have several rectangle/square sets cut from the same fabric.

• If you prefer that all of your sets are different you will need 224 different fabrics.

• Set smaller scraps aside to cut the 448 smaller squares. (these can be 1 1/2 inch strips that are sub-cut later)

• You will also need an accent color that is NOT one of your color groups. Black, white or cream is an easy choice for this fabric. BUT if you prefer to use a color, like red, eliminate the red scraps from your color groups.

This Mystery is broken down into 4 parts. The plan is to upload one clue each Friday in February. That gives you the entire month of January to get your fabrics together and get everything cut out so that you are ready to sew starting February 1.

Here is the materials list and cutting instructions to get you started:


2 yards accent fabric for blocks and binding. I'm using school bus yellow!

1 1/3 yards for blocks only

Assorted scraps, lots of them!

4 yard backing

twin batting, unless you are planning borders.


From the sashing fabric cut:

5 strips 5 1/2 inches by the width of the fabric

Cross cut these strips into 112 rectangles measuring 1 1/2 by 5 1/2 inches

5 strips 3 1/2 inches by the width of the fabric

Cross cut these strips into 112 rectangles measuring 1 1/2 by 3 1/2 inches

9 strips 2 1/2 by the width of the fabric

Cross cut these strips into 224 rectangles measuring 1 1/2 by 2 1/2 inches

2 strips 1 1/2 inches by the width of the fabric

*Cross cut these strips into 56 squares measuring 1 1/2 inches

From an assortment of scraps cut:

224 sets of 1 rectangle measuring 2 1/2 inches by 4 1/2 inches


1 square measuring 2 1/2 inches from the same fabric

448* assorted squares measuring 1 1/2 inches

That's all you need, just those 1400 pieces!

.........Take a rest, we will cut the binding when we are finished
* If you prefer, cut 1 1/2 inch strips for these pieces. We will sew them together and then cross cut them into squares. The scrappy pieces can be any length - we will make it work!