A Needle Pulling Thread – Review

I think one of the best words in the English language, or in any language for that matter, is the word FREE. In the past, I have shared freebies on Friday that I’ve run across on the internet. As Gomer Pyle would say, “What a dumb thang. What a dumb thang to do.” Here I am trying to sell patterns, you can’t believe how many are here until you actually see for yourself, and I turn around and give you information on freebies. Then I wonder why patterns aren’t selling all that well. Duh…

It seems to be a problem for shops who are trying to sell patterns by great designers while having to compete with all the freebies that are out there online. While I totally understand the giving personality of crafty/creative people, those who consistently give away freebies aren’t doing themselves or their fellow creative person any favors.

Several years ago, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the Martha Pullen School of Art Fashion on a couple of occasions and all of her Quilt Academy events, of which I believe there were five. Loved those Quilt Academy events by the way. They were absolutely awesome!!! Talk about brain overload that very first event! The only person I knew about on the program was Nancy Zieman, and seeing her in person was the only reason I went. Had someone told me then that later on I would own a quilt shop and get to better know some of those big names in quilting that I met at the academies, I would have told them they needed to be committed because that was never going to happen. This is why I told my children when they were growing up to never say never. Yes, some things I have had to learn the hard way.

Anyhow, in one of Miss Martha’s talks on turning your hobby into a business she said something that has stuck with me. It went something like this, “If you don’t charge anything for what you’re giving folks, they won’t place any value on it. If it’s only $5, charge them so they will feel like they’ve gotten something worthwhile.” Over the years since I’ve had the shop I’ve determined that she was right. While we tend to like to get things for free, we don’t always value them as much as we do something that we’ve had to work for or save up in order to purchase. There’s a whole other sermon that could go along with this thought, but I won’t go there right now. That’s not the purpose of this writing.

Mag-Needle Plg Thread-Sprg 2016The purpose of this writing is to share with you something that was sent to me, quite unexpectedly, free of charge. Now, I give lots of “stuff” away at our camps, to guilds for their special events, and during special events that we hold throughout the year here in the shop. Although I greatly enjoy giving, I also like getting just as much as the next person, especially when what I’ve been given comes as a complete surprise. Such is the case with the most recent copy, Spring 2016, of A Needle Pulling Thread magazine. It came one day in a brown envelope with the word SAMPLE on the outside. Surprise!

I have bought this magazine a few times, mainly the holiday issues, at Books-a-Million. The thing I enjoy most about this Canadian publication is that it’s chocked full of all kinds of creativity. Instead of being a one-sided publication, as are the quilting magazines that I tend to peruse, this publication has a little bit of everything, because after all, aren’t most of us who are creative multi-faceted and creative in more than just one arena? I know I am. Of course, there comes a point when we have to choose which creative areas we desire to excel in because there’s just not enough lifetime to do them all, much less do them all well.

So, what’s in this issue I have you wondering? It might be easier to tell you what’s not in this issue. For example, there’s no woodworking or macramé. But I was delighted to see that there are six quilting projects including a table runner, lap quilt, placemats, chair back covers, a bed scarf (we tend to call them bed runners), and a quilt made using denim. Can you say “recycle!”?

One project that really caught my attention and made me giddy was the pattern for making a teapot cozy. Those who know me well know I enjoy having and collecting tea things. Trust me; I have enough tea in the house to float a battle ship! But after all these years of enjoying tea on pretty much a daily basis, I have yet to buy, let alone make, a tea cozy. I’ve bought the patterns for making one but just haven’t gotten around to it yet. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll give the pattern in the magazine a whirl. If/when I do, you’ll be the first to know. The plus with the cozy pattern here is that the handle is not covered. I’ve learned that covering the handle of a good teapot is not a good idea. Not only does the tea stay hot when covered, but the handle gets hot as well. When I say hot, I mean really hot, as in too hot to handle. No pun intended. Since the pattern can be adjusted, I can make a cozy for my large teapot that holds several cups as well as my two-cup teapot that I won from teadog.com. I love that little teapot!

Ok…moving right along…Remember I mentioned how we creative types like to give to others? Well, there’s a pillowcase pattern in this issue that you could make and donate to Junior’s House. Just bring your finished pillowcase to the shop and I’ll pass it along to them. As always, if you have another charity in mind then go for it.

Not into quilting or sewing? How about knitting, cross-stitch, punchneedle, rug hooking, crochet, embroidery – either hand or machine, purse making, or beading? If you enjoy any of these needlearts then you need to give this magazine some serious consideration. Of course, there are more than just projects to do amidst the pages. There are book reviews for new books in each of these disciplines, an article on a great looking quilt shop in Oshawa, Ontario you can visit next time you’re in the area, and an informative article on the history of knitting tools in Canada.

I am so grateful to whoever it was that so kindly sent me this copy of A Needle Pulling Thread. It’s a great publication and one that I hope will continue enticing us with multiple needlearts to enjoy in each issue for many years to come.  Be sure to visit their website where they have photos of all the projects contained in this issue. You can also enjoy looking through a free issue there as well.  While I do not have copies of the magazine for sell at the shop, you can order online if you’re unable to visit or find a copy at your local Books-a-Million store.

Enjoy!

There’s Still Time!

Proj-2015-RudyNeed a really quick and cute project to make before Christmas Day? We have just the thing for you then. This little stuffed reindeer can be made in just a few hours, and you probably already have everything you need on hand.  Is he not the cutest thing?!  And at about 6-1/2″ tall he’s small enough to fit into a little a little basket or on the branches of your tree.

As with most projects I do using someone’s pattern, I don’t follow it to the letter. In this case, rather than using freezer paper to make my template I just made a copy of the pattern and cut the reindeer out on the outside edge of the black line. I placed my fabric with right sides together (or print sides together for those who know there is no wrong side to any piece of fabric as both can be used equally well by those who are willing to do so) and pinned the pattern to my fabric. I then sewed along the edge of the paper pattern, cut away the excess fabric ¼” from the stitching, and snipped the curves so it would lay well once turned inside out. There were a couple of places where I stitched through the pattern, but I was able to pull the edge of the pattern out from under those stitches and can use it again to make more reindeer if I so desire.

I gave my little reindeer button eyes and a ribbon that was a bit narrower than the one specified by the designer. The designer by the way is none other than Miss Anne of Bunny Hill Designs. The little snowman in the mitten that I shared in a previous post is also from Bunny Hill Designs. Yes, you might say we like her designs quite well and have lots of her patterns in the shop. Not all have been made into samples mind, but we do love her work.

Proj-Snowman Candle MatWhile I was stitching my little reindeer by machine, Miss Martha was stitching a candle mat in wool felt by hand. It turned out quite nicely, but I’m not sure I want to hide the snowman’s face in the Proj-Snowman Candle Mat CUmiddle by actually putting a candle on it. It might just have to lie around and decorate instead of making itself useful being what it’s supposed to be.  I mean, look at him, would you want to cover up that cute, cute, cute smiling face?   This mat is a nice size, around 11″ give or take.  It still needs three little buttons going down the front of the center snowman according to the pattern by Penny Lane Primitives… or does it?  Our wool felt is the good kind and comes from National Nonwovens.  We love this product so well that we have close to 50 different colors on the bolt.

We will be making kits for the snowman candle mat and could easily put one together for the reindeer as well if you need it.  Patterns at present are limited, so let me know if you want one, or both.  Since you’re coming down to the wire where making handmade gifts is concerned, a kit will make it much quicker to accomplish your goal of giving nothing store boughten, as the old folks around here use to say.

 

 

New Projects and Giveaway Winner!

First, I’d like to announce the winner of the sweet sixteens set I used to make the first block of Moda’s Sampler Block Shuffle. Now the winner can make one just like mine, or some variation thereof. The winner is…Janet! Congratulations Janet! While I didn’t say you had to use your new fabrics to make this first block, I do hope to see something that you’ve used them in…eventually.

Now, on to our projects. Miss Martha has been keeping herself busy making new samples for the shop. The latest two are both geared to winter which is fast approaching. The first project I’d like to share with you is actually the last of 12 in the With Thy Needle series that we’ve been doing this year. These are made from wool felt, and we do have kits for each month available if you didn’t participate but would like to. Just give me a call and I’ll put a set aside for you.
Pic-December
This last installment showcases a boot which has been filled with holly, greenery, and candy canes. It can hang from a background designed to be changed out each month, made into a wall hanging, or framed. It could also be turned into a small pillow or hung from a wire hanger. At only 8″ square you won’t need much room to display your handiwork once finished.

The second little project is just too cute! Made from wool felt, and measuring around 4″x7″, you can whip this up in no time. Not only is it quick, but it is a very versatile project as well. So, just how versatile is it? Well, let me clue you in.
Pic-BHill-Snowman in Mitten
The original intent is of course as a tree ornament. However, you don’t have to just hang it on a tree because you could just as easily hang it on the door knob of a kitchen or bathroom cabinet, or the knob on a dresser in a child’s bedroom. Anywhere you’d like to put a little color and cute into your décor would work.

Maybe you’re not one to buy lots of presents and have gotten into the habit of buying gift cards instead. Let’s face it, when you have teenagers on your list it’s usually the best way to go these days. If that’s the case, you could make just the mitten and put the gift card inside. That way they get two gifts in one. They can still hang the mitten on the tree to enjoy long after the gift card has been used up. You could even include the date on the back of the cuff or stitch the recipients name to the front of the cuff in the event you make multiple mittens for the same family. You could also include the snowman if you’d like depending on how much time you have to work with and whether or not you think the recipient would appreciate your efforts. A gift card could easily slid in behind him.

The snowman isn’t attached to the mitten. This means that he can be made as a stand alone ornament by attaching a small loop to the back of his head. Better yet, why not make him into a pin that can be worn all winter long on a coat, toboggan, or purse. Snowmen can be displayed and enjoyed for several months you know.

Maybe you have smaller folks for which to make gifts. This little snowman would make a great finger puppet by leaving the bottom open. With a little imagination you could make a whole snowman family. Make two snowmen the size given in the pattern for a mom and a dad and then shrink the pattern just a bit and make a brother and sister, or maybe one for each member of the family that you gift the puppets to depending on the family’s configuration. What better way to foster a child’s imagination than with finger puppets?

We have a couple of kits ready to go with plans on making more as soon as we get more patterns. If you think you need help making this project, we can set up a time for you to work one-on-one with Miss Martha at no extra charge. While this project is something you could do in an evening or two, especially with all the fabrics on hand, you don’t want to wait too long to get started. I mean, who’d of thought it would be November already!? That means December is fast approaching and will be here before we’re ready. I know that for a fact because it always does. Agreed?

Another Cute Spider!

Oct Spider
We’ve never celebrated Halloween as a family. No, our poor, poor deprived children never went trick-or-treating, but they also never lacked for candy because I would go the day after and buy candy I knew they actually liked for half price. They had a lot more candy and it was all eaten as opposed to being thrown away. Of course, since we homeschooled, our children could dress up any day of the year that they liked. They didn’t need a special holiday for that either. Personally, I think they came out much better than their peers in the long run.

When you own a quilt shop you don’t always have the luxury of skipping some holidays. That’s because we sometimes pick a set of patterns by a designer who likes holidays that we the owners might not put too much emphasis on, if any. Because of that, you invariably end up with a project that has icons of a holiday that you’re not keen on. Such is usually the case with Halloween and Christmas especially.

This year we did Buttermilk Basin’s With Thy Needle series when Miss Martha came back to work in February. While the designer used wool for these 8” square projects, we used the much less costly wool felt. After all, we have 50 colors from which to choose. Anyhow, Miss Martha took off like a shot with these little projects and we found it difficult to keep up with her. You’d think she missed stitching while she was retired for one year. She should be finishing up the projects for the last two months here before long. In truth, it’s been a joint effort between her and Victoria, with Victoria packing the kits and doing some of the embroidery work while Miss Martha stitched down all the big pieces.
With Thy Needle Base
The base pattern for this group gives you three alternatives for displaying your handwork. You can frame it in a wooden frame, stitch it into the center of a wall hanging, or make a hanging that allows you to change out the project each month while also keeping track of your needles, pins, and scissors. My plans were to do the latter because I liked the idea of hang the larger piece from a yardstick. Notice that I said “plans”. I’m sure you’re not surprised when I tell you that I’ve not made the background that these projects are supposed to hang on yet. No, I knew you wouldn’t be.
With Thy Needle-Oct
The project for October has a jack-o-lantern wearing a witch’s hat. While we don’t push either of these symbols we can’t dictate what others choose to do. After some debating, we went ahead and made the project as it was designed. Well, we sort of made the project as it was designed. I thought that there should be more light shinning through, so our pumpkin’s eyes and mouth are reversed and have more yellow than black. The kits are packed so that you could do whichever way you prefer. After all, flexibility is a good thing when it comes to stitching. I do have to admit to liking the little spider hanging from the hat though, along with his web in the corner. Being a crazy quilt fanatic I relate those two things with good luck, which I need heaps of these days. It appears our spider has lost a couple of his legs though, so some of his luck may have run out. I sense a fix in the near future.
With Thy Needle-Oct
This is how our version turned out. Didn’t they do a great job!

Even though this series is quickly coming to an end, we do have some kits left if you’d like to claim a set for yourself and get started. Miss Martha is especially pleased with the colors of the one for November and should be bringing the one for December in soon. I’ll try to remember to post those as well, but in the event that I forget, or find something else to post, you’ll just have to come in and see them in person. Trust me, they’re much better in person than they are in a photo.

We Have a Winner!

BlueRibbonBefore I could even get the shop door opened this morning, I had someone parked out front waiting on me. That someone wasn’t here just to shop either. No! That someone brought her finished quilt for the Row by Row Experience contest. Yes! Now we have a WINNER!!! And yes, our row was amongst the eight that she included in the quilt. Super! Who is our winner? Her name is Stacy Houk. She’s a local supporter of the shop and has been ever since we bought it back in 2004.

Stacy had help from her daughter in obtaining rows from outside of our area and in deciding which rows to put into this quilt. The quilt will eventually make its way to her daughter’s house, but for now it will be on display here for all who visit us to see and marvel over. Then I think she needs to enter it into our local county fair, or better yet into the Tennessee State Fair.

One of the criticisms that has cropped up with regards to some of the first quilts to be submitted to participating shops is that the quilts haven’t been completely complete. While the quilts are quilted, bound, and do have a label per the contest rules, many of the appliqué elements aren’t necessarily stitched into place. Sometimes none of them are. They’re just ironed on with a fusible webbing product. Anyone who’s worked with raw-edge appliqué knows that if it’s not stitched down it will eventually release from the project and might even fall off completley. Ask me how I know this. If you don’t believe me I can show you an example of what happens to a quilt when the appliqué elements are not stitched in place.

MermaidBubblesI can honestly say that every element on Stacy’s quilt was stitched in place as it should be. In fact, not only were all the appliquéd pieces stitched down, she even added quite a few extras. For example, the mermaid has some lovely golden tresses thanks to the Razzle Dazzle thread that has been couched down. Even her eye and lips are stitched around as are all the little bubbles.
LemonadeH2O Bottle
Then there’s the sugar bowl. It has “sugar” beads pouring out of it and into the lemonade pitcher. The pitcher looks like glass because Stacy used a clear plastic for the pitcher. The bottle of water that helps to make the lemonade was also made using that plastic. Look at all those little drops of water pouring out of it that were stitched around, not to mention the stitching done on the lemons to make them look like they’ve been sliced. Makes my fingers tired just thinking about it.

The first row had lots of raindrops. All those raindrops were pieced! It would have been much easier to make each raindrop from one fabric, but I love the effect of the pieced raindrops much much more. In fact, I love that technique so much that I’ve been working on a project that does something similar with a couple of the appliquéd pieces. That will be show-n-tell probably when the snows of winter are falling.
HOQ SunbrellasStacy even got extra creative with our row. The designer had used a blue fabric for the background and we had suggested you could also use tan to simulate sand thanks to a suggestion from Jo. The first weekend of the RxR hop a lady came in and suggested that the row could be split in half lengthwise with tan (sand) on the bottom and blue (water) on top. What a great idea! I wish I’d of thought of that. Stacy took that idea a bit further and split the row into three parts – sand, water, and sky. I love it! She said she carried out my idea of using scraps in the sunbrellas and pointed to a bright piece of fabric with jungle animals that had been used in a special quilt that she’d made. You can see it in the circle on the sunbrella as well as in the section on the right of the photo.

There was another row with pieced umbrellas and she hand embroidered the handles on each one of them. The more I looked over her quilt the more I wondered if she’d even been sleeping for the past several weeks.
Pic-Winning Quilt-Label
Last, but not least, her label listed the name of each row, the shop it came from, and the city and state of the shop. The edges of the border around the label were stitched down by hand with a blanket stitch. I told her Miss Martha would be proud of her because I know for a fact she would.

You can tell Stacy put a lot of time and effort into her quilt. She’d hoped to get it further along with the rows she had on hand before her daughter and grandson visited in July but said she spent too much time cleaning house. Why do we do that for our children? It’s not like they’re real company or anything. But I digress… Amazingly, even with the welcomed distraction she managed to get her rows put together, embellished, and quilted before anyone else around here. Yes, I am impressed to say the least. Can you tell?

Now, before you get the impression that Stacy is Wonder Woman, I must tell you that the quilt was actually quilted by someone else. Yes, Stacy had it longarm quilted by Rhonda Griner who did a great job, as always, and got it done in record time. I don’t even want to think how much more difficult it was for Rhonda to quilt given all the little extras Stacy added, but she rose to the challenge and did a fantastic job. Well done Miss Rhonda!

So, put your hands together and join me in a big round of applause and a heartfelt congratulations to Stacy! Oh, yes. Feel free to give a long and loud whistle while clapping if you know how. If you don’t know how I’ll be glad to teach you next time you visit.

Winning QuiltWinning Quilt-Stacy

Gotta Stitch

Since I missed blogging over all the holidays at the end of last year I thought I’d wish you a Happy Groundhog Day this past Monday, but that didn’t happen either. My plans were to do that as well as share a little project that Victoria stitched and call it a “Make it Monday” thingy. But, the day came and went, and I didn’t get around to it. So, here’s her little project and we’ll call it a Work in Progress (because it doesn’t have a backing or hanging tabs yet) in order to qualify for the linky party of the same name, but I haven’t a clue as to how to link to others who show off their works in progress on Wednesday so this will just be between us. One of these days I’ll get better at this technology stuff and we can link up all over the place.

The Mittens Were Hung by Blueberry Backroads

The Mittens Were Hung by Blueberry Backroads

Weekend before last, Victoria went to a dance competition up in Nashville. She didn’t compete herself but went to watch her friends compete and play cheerleader for them. She also ended up buckling shoes, zipping dresses, going for coffee, and mending holes in garments. She said she didn’t know how they could have managed without her. I’m sure they would have, but I’m equally sure it was nice to have someone that young and energetic to do the running, especially since some of the dancers did multiple dances over the three day event. I think she said one of the instructors who took his students to compete ended up doing over 100 dances! I could have misunderstood but think about doing half that many dances. It’ll make your feet hurt out of sympathy if nothing else.

Anyhow, before she left she asked me to put something together for her to work on. She already had the November Li’l Woolies turkey to finish up but knew that wouldn’t be enough. I think she took some crochet as well. She wanted something small and something that she could stitch. I had already printed the snowman onto Transfer Eze so al I had to do was add the borders, stitch in the ditch between the white background and inner border so it would stay attached to the batting that she HAS to stitch through. Yes, she will only stitch through batting. She won’t just use a petticoat behind her stitchery like normal folks. It has to be batting because she doesn’t want to have to fool with a hoop. Needless to say, she does beautiful work and has stitches so tiny that over the years folks have been fooled into thinking that the project was done on a machine rather than by hand. The plus of doing it through the batting is that the piece looks like it’s been quilted without having to actually quilt around or through the stitchery. I hate it when folks stitch over their handwork in an effort to quilt their project. I know. To each his own, but it makes no sense to me to take the time to hand stitch a piece and then machine stitch over top of the stitches, oftentimes distorting the design.

I tried counting her stitches, she does backstitching by the way, to see how many she had per inch. On one side of the snowman it looked like she had 13 stitches per inch, but I was measuring on a curve. Her stitches were so tiny and so close together on the red brim of the hat and the green edge of the scarf, that it was almost impossible to see where the stitches started and ended. It was like they are one smooth continuous line. But, with determination, and the aid of my reading glasses, I finally decided that it looked like she had 14 or 15 stitches per inch. I could say she’s so good because she’s extremely nearsighted, however, in all honesty I think it’s because she had some good teachers as she was growing up and soaked up all their tips and tricks.

Li'l Woolies - November by The Wooden Bear

Li’l Woolies – November by The Wooden Bear


She did get the turkey finished but not in Nashville because she ran out of floss. That she finished this past weekend. Miss Martha was our blanket stitch person, but when she retired at the beginning of last year Victoria had to take over and finish the samples for Li’l Woolies. She didn’t really care for blanket stitch, but I think she did a great job in Miss Martha’s stead. Even Miss Martha complimented her work when she was here this past Saturday. Since Miss Martha is picky it was high praise indeed coming from her.

Now that Miss Martha is back part of Saturday, the two of them will no doubt be sitting down for some serious stitching together just as they did when Victoria was much younger. There never seemed to be a generation gap between the two of them when they were stitching together. Miss Martha might be old enough to be her grandmother, but you’d think there were two teenagers sitting together chatting and laughing when they put their needles to fabric. It’s a very comfortable togetherness.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 92 other followers