Category Archives: local quilt shops

odd bits

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

What have you been up to lately? I recently drove down to Penn Yan with a friend to have my sewing machine serviced. Discovered that Mapquest and Yahoo maps can’t always be trusted. After having a very detailed tour of the Cayuga Lake shore neighborhoods, we eventually ended up at the shop we were aiming for. Fortunately it was a nice day, and the hillsides were gorgeous with fall colors. After dropping the machine off at the shop, we headed further on for some quilty fun. Our first stop was at Quilters’ Corners in Ithaca. I had known of this shop from quilt show venders malls, but had never been to the brick and mortar place. Wow! Lots of eye candy. So many samples to look at, and of course many different fabrics than our local shops. I love seeing the different choices that each shop buyer will make. Saw rayon batiks, voiles and canvas that I haven’t seen in our area. Every shop has its own personality, don’t you agree? We spent quite a bit of time looking at just everything, every nook and cranny. And oh, the sale fabrics… I am proud of myself that I didn’t buy any fabric at all! But I did have quite a haul of patterns and fun gifts.

Second stop was O’Sussanah’s in Watkins Glen. Another shop with a personality very different from my local haunts. Loved seeing the fabrics being used in garments and home dec.   Quite a few samples of Japanese taupes, and books from designers working in the “zakka” style. Again bought some patterns but no fabric!

We were on the clock to get back to Buffalo around dinner time, so were pleased when we got the call that our machines were ready, right around 3:00. We were in the bulk food store down the way from the machine shop when the call came. Great stuff there too. And we had some scrumptious autumn squash soup in the little cafe which is part of the complex.

All in all, a great quilt excursion. It’s definitely worth the ride with some quilting buddies.

Do you know of some fun destinations for a quilting day trip? Share!

BTW, here are a few interesting links I’ve come upon recently in my travels through blogland.

binding an inverted corner: click here

easy quilt for baby or actually for anyone: click here

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Tula who?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Gray and windy today, but spring is coming. Didn’t need a hat today while walking the dog! To me that’s great progress toward warmer weather.

I am intrigued with the work of Tula Pink. She is a fairly new designer on the quilting scene. I first learned of her on a Sewing with Nancy episode and loved her take on some vintage type patterns with very modern looking fabrics and color choices. She designs fabric which makes up into gorgeous quilts (IMHO). I’ve been looking around for a shop carrying her lines without success so far. Does anyone know where I can find a good choice of her fabrics? If you’re on shop hops this spring, keep an eye out for me if you would, please.

Here are a couple of links to help you get to know more of Tula’s work:

Up close views of some of her quilts, with spectacular quilting by Angela Walters: click here

A slide show tour of Tula’s home and workspace: click here

her blog: click here

free Tula patterns: click here

Tell me, do you like Tula’s work as much as I do? Got any other names I ought to check out?

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this and that

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I enjoy looking around the blogosphere at what other quilters do with the old tried and true quilt blocks. You know the ones I mean–the classic half square triangle, log cabin, flying goose (do you say geese when it’s just one block?), four patch, nine patch, and so on. You wouldn’t think you’d see too much new done with those since they’ve been around for so long.    New look (to me anyway) for half square triangles (or friendship stars if you want a bigger unit): click here.

I know many quilters are knitters as well. I just finished some warm mittens for my godsons and a friend, and have some bulky yarns remaining. I was looking around on the internet for an easy cowl neck that I could wear under a coat or perhaps with a turtleneck. Here’s a link to the one I settled on. (click here) If you go to Pinterest and put “cowl free knitting pattern” in the search you’ll find many lovely ones, in a variety of yarn weights.

Valentine’s Day is around the corner (if you have projects to make). At Jenny Doan’s Missouri Star Quilt Company’s YouTube channel she recently posted a cute little Swedish heart project that she made with “scraps” of felted wool. Jenny calls it a Christmas heart, but I think it could be just as cute as a Valentine heart. Perhaps two shades of pink, instead of red and white would make it more “valentine-ish”. You might have some red and white will scraps left from Christmas projects that you could use for this. If you’ve been a crafter for long, I would not be surprised if you already know how to make this. (click here for video) I’m going to use up some odd bits of wool and make some of these for the kids. I plan to put a paper envelope corner, scavenged from discarded junk mail, down inside so the wool doesn’t stretch from the weight of the candies I will be putting in the little pockets. Not all wools or felts will need this, but my scraps are those lovely soft wools from a quilt shop. I also have some wool felt from a red sweater that I bought at the Salvation Army before the holiday that I am going to try for this.

Well I’m off to put a binding on a quilt that just came back from the quilter. TTFN. Keep warm on this blustery weekend.

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it’s back…

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

Just finished watching the last bit of Downton Abbey’s first episode of season 4. Won’t say too much specifically since some of you fans might not have seen it yet. Several interesting developments-planting seeds for new story lines obviously. I will say that the dowager was surprisingly nice-for her, I thought.

Have you seen the fabric lines inspired by the ladies of Downton? When they began to appear in ads in magazines, I was not impressed at all. Too dull in color for my taste. But now that they are appearing in stores, and I’m seeing a few projects made with the fabric, I’m starting to change my mind. Here’s a link to the photos over at Andover fabrics, with free project plans. What do you think? The purples hint at the Pantone color of the year, just muted down a bit. (Radiant Orchid images) Perhaps those of you who thought you would never have that color in your house, after reading my earlier blog post about it, might find bits of it creeping in. I found a bit of it on a cereal box while shopping before our blizzard. Those ad executives and packaging designers have amazing ways of controlling the colorful bits in our houses.

Any thoughts about Downton?

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resolutions

Hello all, Mary Ellen back.

It is amazing when I say 2014 out loud. How can I be this old?! I was reminiscing with a friend about a football party when the Bills came back from behind to the great enjoyment of the crowd and the consternation of the dogs in the room. I ended up with a Doberman in my lap who was very upset by all the shouting! Twenty one years ago! How can that be?! Yikes!

Anyway, back to resolutions. Are you like me, resolving every year to work on your UFO stash? (Don’t tell me that you’re one of those quilters who has no UFOs because you always finish a project before moving on to the next one!) I want to actually do something about some of my UFOs this year instead of my usual tactic of just shuffling them. A few days ago I was browsing some free videos at QNNtv. One title intrigued me. Something like “Dealing with PIGS”. (Do you know that acronym? Projects in Grocery Sacks) (click here for the video) Lori Baker, who is creative editor for Quilters Newsletter magazine, was being interviewed and inspired me to do something about a few of my own PIGS.

The first tactic she talked about was deciding if you really WANT to finish the PIGS? If not, she suggested taking the fabrics out of the sack, and redistributing them into your stash to use for other projects. This hint applies mostly to those kits we buy at quilt shows, etc. and never seem to get around to starting. Some of you know that I teach and give demos at a local shop. I usually try to show each project in several colorways or styles of fabrics. A few days ago I finished up a log cabin project in the colors that the shop currently has in stock, in a rather scrappy arrangement of the colors. I know that scrappy is not everyone’s cup of tea. I wanted to also do a more traditional version of the project, having each log cabin exactly the same as all the others. Instead of buying more fabric or going to the stash, I  decided to go to my cache of kits and found one from the days of old. You may remember a quilt shop out on Stone Road near Lockport that was a favorite for many of us. Judy gave so many quilters their start in this addiction we have. She was quite the enabler, if I do say so. The kit was (notice past tense) for a bed size quilt in very traditional creams, blues and reds. A beautiful cabbage rose print with a not quite navy background was the focus fabric for the outer border.  The colors and fabrics are still lovely, IMHO. I had to be honest with myself, that I was never going to make the quilt. So I disassembled the kit and found that I had just what I needed for the log cabin project. Enough lights, enough darks, an inner border, an outer border, and a red for the center square. Perfect! I think this tactic is going to work well for me; I saw other kits hiding in there that I know are not ever going to be made, so those fabrics are going to find other projects to live in.

Another tip the guest Lori shared was how she gets so much done in 15-30 minute blocks of time. She used to get up early to quilt for a half hour in the morning before her family was up. She shared how in that short time of peace and quiet each day, she was able to accomplish so much at her machine. The key was making the rule for herself, and having the materials for her projects at the ready. Now that her kids are older she has modified the rule–but still she finds that by making a new rule for herself she is able to get a lot done, in small bites. I think I can make this work for me. I have a pile of project samples from my demos at the shop that are in various stages of completion. I make up samples to show the steps along the way to the end project and often end up with 4-8 versions of the same project, all partially complete. The samples will range from “just begun” to “just needs one last thing”. I’m going to start putting all the versions of a particular project in some sort of box or case, next to my machine, and work on them for a few minutes each time I sit down. Just reducing the stack down to one project to look at will be less intimidating than the mountain of all of them. My first one is going to be the pile of incomplete Christmas stockings. Each one only needs a little bit to bring it to completion. I think 15 minutes per session will work for me-the first 15 minutes of each time at my machine will be spent on finishing up those stockings. Of course the first hurdle is to find the box or case, and to go through the mountain of PIGS to get those stockings out and organized. I feel like a general gearing up for a battle!

So how about you? What are you going to do with all of those PIGS at your house?

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what goes on in our heads?

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

I’ve been sitting here with my coffee watching the rain come down. It’s such a rarity these days. (NOT!) Actually I think I’m watching my grass grow. I missed my opportunity to mow yesterday and will now pay the price for procrastinating. That lawn will be too heavy to mulch it, so I’ll be emptying the mower bag repeatedly whenever I am able to get out there. I only have only garbage can which I dedicate to yard waste and my lawn will over fill it. I either need to mow more often, or buy another can. The compost bin is full so that will not be an option til I use more of it.  Oh well..this makes for a great day to sew!

I’m working on some fabric scarves from an Amy Butler pattern. She calls for voile but I’m using some regular quilting cotton from Art Gallery Fabrics. Their fabrics are luscious, in design and texture, but they are heavier than voile. So far I have adapted the pattern by making my scarves narrower. I wish our local shops would carry more of the unusual fabrics, such as the voile and home dec fabrics from these new designers. And way up at the top of my fabric wish list would be some Liberty cottons. I’m sure the owners have the dilemma that their customers don’t ask for them so they don’t carry them. But my response would be-how will your customers learn how superb those fabrics are to use if no one sells them? Hmmph! I guess that is where the internet comes in. Sadly there is little demand for our brick and mortar retailers to add those “unusual” fabrics to their inventories. In the “old days”, when I did quite a bit of garment sewing, I loved to purchase fabric off the beaten path. Raw silks, cashmere wools, Pendleton wools, rayon batiks, …  They made for great garments that no one else had. Often I could get them at sale prices, because not many sewers used them. Do you remember those days when sewing your own clothes was actually cheaper than buying them? Particularly for folks like me who had “champagne taste and a beer pocketbook” as my mom used to say.

I think I’m aging myself. Saw a great book at my local quilt shop yesterday full of funky garment patterns with very cute design elements. The fabric choices were so much fun. Sadly I think they would look much better on a younger woman who either has the body or the attitude to carry them off. I know I’ll be going back to that book every time I visit the shop. I’m going to keep thinking until I come up with a fabric combination that I think a woman of a certain age (my age!) could wear. Almost all of them require zipper insertions! It has been many moons since I’ve dealt with a zipper in a close fitting garment. I don’t wear close fitting any more. How about you? I subscribe to Gilda Radner’s fashion philosophy. Here are two of my favorite quotes from Gilda on this topic: I base my fashion taste on what doesn’t itch.” and “I sometimes stand in front of a mirror and change a million times because I know I really want to wear my nightgown.
A student shared this visual of what goes on in our heads that I think you’ll enjoy. I recognized most of the areas as being in my quilter’s brain. You too?

quilters brain

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Moda School house

Hello all, Mary Ellen here.

If you frequent your local fabric shop on a regular basis, you may have noticed that the owner was missing for a few days last week. International Quilt Marker for spring of 2013 was going on in Portland, Oregon. For those of us who wish we could go to Quilt Market each season, here is a treat. The folks from Fat Quarter Shop video taped the entire Moda School House presentation and posted it at YouTube. You’ll get a sneak peek at the newest fabrics coming from Moda, and their designers. Our fall seminar guest, Pat Sloan, makes an appearance at 15:36 in the video. I’ll warn you the “show” is about 45 minutes long. You might want to watch it in segments, or just treat yourself to a cup of your favorite beverage and sit down to watch the entire thing. I loved getting to see what will be in our stores before too long!   click here for video.

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