Surprise Times 5!!!

Belle’s done it again! This time she surprised us with five little kittens that are adorable, just like all kittens are supposed to be. As Victoria was heading out the door Sunday afternoon around 4:00 to play at Bridge Street I heard her yell, “Belle has kittens!” She had five little kittens right outside and to the right (as you’re coming in) of the front door. At least she was laying down this time and didn’t have that shell shocked look on her face like she did back in the spring when she had her first batch.

As is par for the course, Victoria had to go on to her gig and Nathanael was left to find a box to put the kittens in and get Belle situated. He’s a good big brother so Belle was fortunate there. They stayed there yesterday, but the door tends to slam shut sometimes so I had the kids move the new family around the corner where they will have a little more peace and quiet. There are two gray kittens, one white and gray spotted one, one black and white, and one that appears to be solid black. I’ve not picked them up yet to check them out completely but at three days old they are so tiny and so cute.

Some of these babies will have to find a new home, Rick has already given the decree. I don’t think there is any amount of eyelash batting that Victoria can do to change his mind this time. She’s going to have to play a lot of gigs to make enough money to have all of her “children” operated on so this will be the last of the kittens…at least for a while anyhow.

The kittens aren’t the only new attraction at the shop, they’re just the sweetest one. Last week we received the latest issue of The Quilt Life, Mary Janes Farm, and the 2012 Patchwork Place Quilt Calendar which includes patterns for each of the quilts featured. Today we received the fall issue of the ever-popular Quilt Sampler magazine. Descriptions of these magazines will be added to the magazine page. If you need me to hold a copy for you just let me know.

Lemon

We also received the remainder of Kaufman’s Urban Zoologie group as well as more of the Fizz group in Lemon, Ice, Chocolate, Raspberry, and Lime. These luscious colors compliment so many of your projects that you’ll want them all. And since I’ve not bought much of late in the black and red category I had to include a couple of selections from their Dress Up group. These would be great additions to your sewing room as curtains, pillows, chair covers, machine covers, you name it. Or, make a great purse and let everyone know that you love to sew, be it quilting or not.

Now, since you’ve been so good at sharing your opinion about the two blocks done in ’30s prints I have another task for you. I would like to know which of the two methods you prefer when it comes to keeping informed about the goings on at the shop between newsletters/updates. Would you prefer this blog, or would you prefer Facebook? I have never played on Facebook so learning how to do so would take a little time, but I have been reading reports that say it is a better method of reaching customers than regular blogs. Do you agree or disagree? If you have an alternative method(s) to these of keeping in the know, what would it be?

Based on the statistics that I’m given regarding this blog, I can see that it has gained readers but nowhere near as many as are on my e-mail listings. Of course, readership goes up after I send out an e-mail update but then falls back down again until the next update goes out. Do you think that’s because I do not post here daily? Would you prefer daily posts to this blog or do you think once a week or so would be sufficient? I ask because I have learned over the years not to assume anything. For example, just because I know what’s in the shop doesn’t mean my customers know what’s in the shop. It’s a rare week when someone doesn’t come in and say, “Oh, I didn’t know you had this!” I’ve had it happen even with items that have been included in the shop newsletters, and by folks who are on our e-mail list no less! I know my newsletters can get long, but are they so long sometimes that folks ignore them or don’t read through them completely? Do you think I need to send them more often so they don’t get so long. What do you think? Yes, I really want to know. I wouldn’t ask otherwise. I’m here to serve you and I will do a much better job of that if I know what your likes and dislikes are. Don’t you agree?

New Stuff!

My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Hardy, would have my hide if she heard me using the word “stuff” to describe something. It was her pet peeve I guess and she used to jump all over us when we said it. You never realize how often you use some words until someone points it out to you. But, since she’s not here to fuss at me I’m going to use it to let you know that we have received more new stuff in the shop.

We have eight new bolts of ’30s prints from RJR’s Everything but the Kitchen Sink group. There are both conversational prints, i.e. Sunbonnet Sue, lions, bunnies, as well as leaves, vines, and flowers. These bolts added to the six we recieved a couple of weeks ago make for a nice new grouping. Saying no to a new 6″ block quilt just got harder when I opened that box.

We have six new Australian magazines as well. Most of these have been added to the Magazine page so you’ll want to take a look there for a brief description and photo of the cover. Choosing which one issue I like best would be a very difficult task, but if I had to do it for money I’d probalby pick the Homespun issue because it has so many great Christmas projects inside. If I could get all my other projects done and out of the way I might just begin on a couple. Knowing me though I doubt they will be ready for hanging this Christmas season. Even if they aren’t, I’ll still have a great time choosing fabrics and creating my own version of what the designer had in mind.

We also received some new Sulky stabilizers should you need them. Since the Homespun issue I just mentioned has redwork and stitchery in some of the projects I will probably be using the Fabri-Solvy stabilizer to run through the printer so I don’t have to draw off the designs. The drawing off part of an embroidery design is what tends to take the longest amount of time and quite frankly is the least fun part of the whole project. Fabri-Solvy takes care of that problem quite nicely.

Then again, I might use the Transfer-Eze since I already have a pack of it sitting beside the printer. It is a similar product and Miss Janice says it is wonderful to work with. After printing the design on either the Fabri-Solvy or Transfer-Eze you just peel off the backing and smooth the design onto your background with your hands, no iron needed. I love it when companies come up with products to make my life easier.

We have several new patterns including two new X-Block patterns that look like they’ll be lots of fun, and easy, to make. There’s a new flag pattern that has instructions for a table runner, placemats, and a wallhanging. These projects would make nice companions to the original flag pattern that we have as well.

The other new X-Block pattern is for a Santa tree skirt or table topper and stocking. This Santa is so cute! I would have never thought of using the X-Block tool to make a Santa. I guess that’s why Patricia is the designer and not me. She does such a great job!

While we’re in the Christmas mode I’ll tell you about a new-for-us book entitled Fa La La La Felt by Amanda Carestio. This book contains 45 holiday decorations from several different designers that can be made by hand, no machine needed. Many are easy enough that children can make them, with or without help depending on age and skill level. My favorite out of the whole book would have to be the pincushion that can be turned into ornaments. Then again, the little Matryoshka dolls call my name because of my Russian daughter. I’m so glad we have a nice selection of wool felt. It looks like I’m just going to have to go shopping in my own store.

Speaking of projects for children, the Doodle Stitching book by Aimee Ray is a perfect place to start a child, or even adult, in the art of embroidery. This edition contains over 400 easy designs as well as a CD with 17 projects. There are diagrams of stitches used, information on getting started, and lots of pictures for those who are visual learners. We have floss and we have hoops if you need them. A BIG thanks to Suzanne for bringing this book to our attention. If you go to www.larkcrafts.com and put “doodle” in the search box you will find a great little free project that will give you an idea of how doable these designs are.

Brooklyn’s Dress by Maw-Bell Designs is another new-for-us pattern that is just so sweet. It comes in sizes 1-3 and gives you three for the price of one. You can have a little puffy sleeved dress, a sleeveless jumper, or put the jumper over the dress and it becomes a pinafore. Too cute!

Another cute pattern for those little ones in your life is [The Little Flower] Pocket Top by Jackie Clark Designs. It fits newborn to 4T and includes a pattern for a cute little purse. Children love hiding things in pockets and dropping things into holes. (I know this because there’s still a drum stick in the base of the Little Tykes basketball goal that Nathanael couldn’t help but drop in there to see where it would go.) This little top uses wide ric-rac, which we have in various colors, for the flower stem but a chenille stem would be cute too. Always dare to make a change or two to any pattern so you can call it your own.

For the older child on your sewing list we have Kyoko by Patty Young for MODKID. With this size 2T-7 pattern you can make a shirt or dress with two sleeve lengths. There are no buttons or zippers to fool with as the obi-style sash holds the top in place. Creating unique designs from this pattern looks like an unending endeavour. I wish there was a pattern for my size. I also wish my size wasn’t so big but that discussion is best left for another day.

The last pattern I’ll tell you about (yes, there are more) is Gabby’s Sleepover Jammies by Izzy & Ivy. These don’t look like any jammies I ever slept in as a child. In fact, this little outfit could be worn any time, day or night. The designer says you could pair leggings with the top and have a perfectly fine outfit for cooler months. Sizes for this pattern are 2-10 so you will get a lot of mileage out of this one.

How’s that for something to keep you busy?! Even though I no longer have a little one to sew for I would love to make some of these cute little outfits. Some ladies have grandmother’s hope chests so if you too would like to make something different for a change why not start a hope chest and fill it with quilts, booties, and little outfits for the children to come. Actually, nothing says you have to know or be related to the person for whom you sew. You can sew just because you enjoy it and then find someone who could benefit from what gives you pleasure. Sharing that pleasure will make the project all the more special.

I know it isn’t inexpensive to buy quality fabrics to work with, and I had a lady tell me once that she wasn’t about to spend money making things for others that weren’t related to her. Personally, I feel that if you enjoy doing something, and have made more items than you’ll ever be able to use or display, why quit making things just because you’ve run out of room at your house. The joy is in the making for sure, but it could also be in the giving. Not everyone can create what you can create, either because they don’t know how or they don’t have the means. Sharing a part of yourself with someone else, regardless of the cost, is one way of leaving a legacy behind…leaving a part of you to continue on long after you are gone. What’s wrong with that?

Busy Hands are Happy Hands

Where has the time gone!? I started this missive last week but didn’t get it finished. Here it is a week later and I am just now getting around to trying again to let you know of some of the new things that have come into the shop. Of course, since I told you about getting a few new patterns several other things have arrived that I thought you might like to know about. It’s never ending…

18 Stitch Sampler

So many of our ladies like redwork. It’s easy, it keeps their hands busy while they watch TV, it’s portable, etc., etc. One of the two new ones I’ll tell you about (the second one has already come and gone so I’ll have to order more) is A Redwork Stitch Sampler by Bird Brain Designs. Once you stitch this sampler you will have a handy reference of 18 of the most popular stitches used in embroidery work. The finished wall hanging measures 13″x20″, that includes the borders. There’s also a pattern for a 7″ square pincushion included.

Beautiful Baskets

Then there’s Picnic Baskets by Jan Patek and Jenny Doan. This 80″x80″ quilt uses a Turnover pack from the Lilac Hill fabrics but would also make a good scrap quilt. The design includes both piecing and applique work. The blocks are big, almost 30″ square, and the half-square triangles are about 4″ square. If you wanted to use up some of those half-square triangles that you have been so frugally making this would be a good time to do so (Pam), provided you have any that large. I would classify this at an intermediate level because the instructions are pretty short and sweet.

While I hate rain, I know I’ve told you that before, I love umbrellas for some reason and just fell in love with this pattern from Joined at the Hip. Rainy Day Welcome measures 18″x38″ and will brighten any day, especially the rainy ones. Whether you pull bright scraps from your stash or purchase new fabrics you will have fun making this project. Looking for a great gift for a new couple? This banner would be a most welcomed gift.

Gear up for Christmas!

Now for the new book by Art to Heart, Jingle all the Way. This is the latest in a host of wonderful books by Nancy Halvorsen. Projects include a “candy” garland for your mantel, a fireplace screen, several pillows, gift bags, a stitched banner, and more. It uses her new line of fabric from Benartex. I’ve not seen it up close and in person yet but will try to do so soon.

We received three new magazines this week. First, there was Quiltmaker’s 100 Blocks Volume 3 from today’s top designers. In addition to 100 great blocks, there’s a contest for you to enter. You could be one of 25 to win four of the blocks shown in the magazine. There is a good mix of block styles from which to choose. If you prefer traditional blocks, they’re in there. If you like applique, they’re in there too. If you like easy blocks or if you’re ready for more challenging ones you’ll find something that’s just right for your next project.

Our second new magazine was McCall’s America Quilts for the Home. This magazine contains 23 quilts which includes a sampler quilt that would be great for a guild project or sewing circle. Along with patterns there are several decorating ideas for living with quilts. So far, the favorite quilt has been the one with appliqued chickens, three of them, and one rooster.

Lastly, we received Quilts for Kids by Fon’s & Porter. There are 19 quilts that should fit any need you might have for a special child’s quilt. Not only are there options for young children, but there are quilts that would work for the older child on your quilt making list.

Last fall I bought a pattern by Bloomin’ Minds. Then I got a new fabric catalog from Moda with their Trick or Treat fabric. Once I saw the fabric I knew I had to buy it to make that pattern for my sister. Now all I have to do is decide if I want to use the black background or the green background. Which one do you think I should use?

I’ll leave it at that for the time being. If I don’t it might be another week before I get this posted for you. What will next week bring? Wait and see…

Happy New Year!

Okay, okay, okay…I’m late again.  If you know me well you’re used to it by now.  My great intentions rarely, if ever, turn in to great renditions.  If only there was a way to plug something into my brain that would allow words to be typed into this blog as I thought them, then you wouldn’t have to wait forever and a day to find out what all is going on at the shop.  Of course, you could always drop in a little more often and then you’d be up to date for sure.

2011 Limited Edition Charm

If you got the last newsletter you learned about our charm giveaway.  If you didn’t get our newsletter then you need to e-mail me with your address and I’ll send you a copy.  Until then, you need to know that you can receive a free charm when you shop and spend $50 after discount and before tax.  The charms are not only fun to collect, they’re cute as well.  Besides, if you’re going to spend $50 anyhow you might as well get something free for having done so.  Right?  There will be different charms each month so coming once just won’t do.  In fact, you have the opportunity to collect as many as 24 charms between now and the end of the year.  That’s a lot of jingle jangle on your wrist if you put your charms on our sterling silver charm bracelet or on your shirt if you choose the barn pin or the wild and crazy colored one.

Northern Lights Colorway

 Thimbleberries Club for 2011 has begun.  If you didn’t sign up we can still fit you in if you hurry.  There’s a one time fee for club dues which is $25.  The kit is $25 each month and that will get you everything you need to complete the exclusive club quilt top.  Backing and batting are extra.  In addition to the pattern and fabric each month you will receive a newsletter from Lynette Jensen, a monthly meeting project, 20% off Thimbleberries products all year long, a charm pack of your chosen colorway, and more.  We have a free sewing day each month in addition to our club meeting which is on the third Saturday of each month from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m.  Come on, join the club!

23 Great Projects!

One of your favorite magazines has just come in!  Quilts and More for Spring is here and it’s full of great projects to keep you busy.  I’m chompin’ at the bit to make the clutch shown on the front cover.  I read over the directions yesterday and it looks like it will be very easy to do.  The hard part will be deciding which fabric scraps and embellishments to use.  Then there’s the pincushions, one of which doubles as a sewing kit.  There is a pattern for a cute headband that you’ll want to make mulitiples of as well as quilts of various styles.  Don’t wait too long to come in though, supplies are limited and once we sell them all we won’t be getting any more.

We have several new books for you to look through.  One of particular interest is The Civil War Sewing Circle by Kathleen Tracy.  In addition to history and diary entries, this book has numerous projects for you to sink your teeth into.  Most of the quilts are small with several of them being doll quilts.  You’ll want to check out the gallery at www.martingale-pub.com and see just what you can create with this great book.  It’s another of those from which you’ll want to do several, if not all, of the projects.

Then there’s Scrap-Basket Sensations by Kim Brackett.  This book has great ideas for using those 2-1/2″ strips you’ve been collecting.  Deciding which one to do first will probably take you as long, if not longer, than the actual stitching.  I’ve looked through this book half a dozen times and have narrowed it down to maybe four that I could live without doing, but the rest of the eighteen are callin’ my name…LOUDLY!

Then there’s Quilt Fiesta by Cheryl Lynch.  The quilts and other projects in this book are based on designs taken from Mexican tiles.  The variations will make for a refreshingly different look than what you might normally do.  Since variety is the spice of life you’ll need to get your hands on this book ASAP!

Those books are just the tip of the iceburg.  We have several others that I couldn’t resist bringing into the shop.  It’s the usual reason, you know.  I want to make the quilts or projects so I buy the books.  I have too many other things going on so I don’t get to make anything, but you can benefit from my ambition which lacks ample time to come to fruition (sniff! sniff!).   

One of the popular things to make lately seems to be the potato baker that allows you to bake your potatoes quickly and completely in the microwave.  We now have the pre-quilted fabric complete with cotton batting so you can knock these great little bags out in no time flat.  We have the pattern as well so there’s no guess work, or much effort, on your part.

Dragonfly Summer

We have also just received the charm squares for Dragonfly Summer by Moda.  This is the group from which we hope to be doing Moda’s basket quilt BOM starting in April.  The purples, greens, creams, and beige fabrics are lovely and rich.  We will be getting the whole group eventually.  You’ll love it!

We have some really cute patterns to share with you too.  Miss Janice has stitched up a couple of great offerings that you need to come by and take a look at.  We’ll have kits on one of the monthly projects because it incorporates small amounts of wool felt.  She made our sample into a wallhanging but for herself she made a pillow to sit in one of her chairs.  I’ll have to get a photo and share it with you next time.

Until then…keep on stitchin’!

Catchin’ Up!

It’s been a busy week with trying to catch up from being gone to NYC all of last week.  I’ve yet to catch up on my sleep but everything else is pretty much done.  The only thing left to do is to get you up to date on what has come into the shop over the last couple of weeks.  Get a nice cup of tea, or maybe some hot chocolate.  That’s what I have, Godiva hot chocolate to be exact, with marshmallows.  Mmmmm…now get comfortable because this might take a while.

Confederate Generals Panel

The only new fabric of note is our Confederate Generals panel by Windham. For those in your family who are history buffs this panel will make a wonderful wall hanging with a little help from you. We did receive a couple more Civil War era prints, but I won’t bother putting the photos here. You just need to drop in and check them out for yourself.
 
Last night I opened a box of new books from Martingale. There are four new offerings this month and you’re going to love most, if not all, of them. To view the contents of a particular book go to http://www.martingale-pub.com, find the book you’re interested in, click on the photo and it will take you to another page where you can scroll through a gallery that shows many of the projects inside. I love this new feature on their website! 

20 Quilt Projects!

The first book I looked through was Fast Favorites from McCall’s Quilting.  There are 20 projects in this book.  As I was looking at the photos of the quilts I came to one and thought it looked awfully familiar.  Then I looked to see who the designer was and it turned out to be our very own Elaine McGarry!  I called her up and asked if she knew her Pathway to Nowhere quilt had been published in a book.  The answer to my question was, “No, I didn’t know that!”  I love sharing nice surprises with special people.

A little bit of everything!

The second book I looked through was Simple Graces by Kim Diehl.  The projects in this book run the gamut.  In addition to quilts she has a super pillowcase, pillows, coasters, and a door hanger that I know Miss Martha is going to want to do once she gets her Critter Christmas finished becaue the hanger has Yo-Yos on it.  There’s a framed French Knot miniature, wool pincushion, glasses holder, a tea towel, etc.  You’re definitely going to enjoy this book.  I know I am!

14 Great Quilts!

Now for number three…More Loose Change by Claudia Plett and Le Ann Weaver gives you 14 quilt to make using nickels, dimes, and fat quarters.  While I drooled over the quilts throughout the book, the dedication caught my attention more than anything.  Who would have thought that I, along with my fellow local quilt shop owners, would be classified as an unsung hero.  I’ve always called myself an enabler.  I like their description much better.

Awesome Applique!

The fourth book to come out of the box was Flower Show by Lynn Ann Majidimehr.  When the cover says it contains stunning applique on a patchwork canvas, it’s not kidding.  I get the feeling that the photos of these quilts, wonderful as they are, do not do justice to the real things.  The one word that kept coming to my mind when I was looking at them was, “Awesome!!!”  If you like applique and you’re looking for something different to do with the technique this book is a must have for you.

Now we come to the new magazines.  I seem to have opened a can of worms when I agreed to carry some new magazines in the shop.  Apparently, I wasn’t listening too well to the sales lady when she called.  Imagine that…

If you have someone with which you wish to share your love of quilting Fons & Porter has a Learn to Quilt magazine that comes with an instructional DVD as well.  This would be especially great for those who do not have a quilt shop close by where they can take classes.  It would also work well for someone who has taken a break from quilting and would like to get back into it without much in the way of cost.  There are at least ten quilt designs in the magazine, all of which a beginner would enjoy doing.  Even experienced quilters could use the patterns for making quick and easy quilts when the occasion calls for one.  Use the simple designs as a background and you can jazz them up anyhow you please.

26 Projects!

Another interesting magazine that just came in is the premiere issue of Best Weekend Quilts from Quilters Newsletter.  It contains 26 easy projects that cover just about any reason you’d ever need to make a quilt – from babies to holidays and even includes keepsake or memory quilts.   This one magazine alone will keep you busy for a very long time.
Another interesting magazine that we’ve never carried before is Quiltmaker’s Quilting & Embroidery.  Embroidery is being incorporated with quilting more and more.  One of the projects is a redwork quilt done on the machine.  Can you imagine the time that will save?  There’s a cute purse pattern, a wonderful update on a traditional applique quilt, a crossword puzzle quilt, and more.  It’s hard to pick a favorite out of this magazine, but I’d have to give my vote to the Boo Crew quilt whose embroidery elements are candy corn fellows all dressed up for Halloween.  I’m not big on that holiday myself, but I love candy corn and these guys are some of the cutest I’ve seen in a long time. 

Don't Miss It!

McCall’s America Quilts for Christmas is one magazine you do not want to pass up.  It is loaded with great quilt patterns including a super sampler quilt that is calling my name.  In fact, one of our ladies who bought the magazine this past weekend thinks we need to do this as a BOM.  Hmmm…where do we fit that in I wonder… 

2 for the price of 1!

Someone, somewhere  is always having a baby, and making a quilt for a new baby is probably one of the most fun things we quilters get to do.  If a baby quilt is looming in your future you’ll want to drop in and pick up Fons & Porters baby Quilts magazine.  There are so many cute, and easy, quilts inside that you need extra time just to figure out which one you want to do.  Not only do you get 16 designs for either babies or toddlers, you get to learn how to make gathered borders and deal with directional diagonal seams.  But wait, there’s more!  You also get a disc with all the patterns from the 2009 issue.  Now that’s what I call getting the most bang for your buck!
As you can see we have enough inspiration around here to keep us busy from now ’till the cows come home.  If we were equally blessed with time and energy we could crank out more quilts than the world would know what to do with.  I’ve just about decided that the easiest way to figure out which project to do first is to write each one that I like on a slip of paper, fold it up and put it in a hat, draw one and begin from there.  Of course, you know what will happen don’t you.  There will be a different project that I like just a little better than the one I draw out so I’ll put that one back and draw again in hopes of getting one that I like even better.  Yes, I can see myself doing that…I really, really can.

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