A Mystery for you

This week,  in between snow delays and cancellations I had a conversation with a quilter who was having trouble,  her blocks came out all different wrong sizes.      We checked her cutting,  accurate,   we checked that she had sewn things in the right order and pressed carefully.    We talked through her entire process.     She said she had even put a new needle and re threaded in desperation.  So I showed her on one of my machines how to mark the bed of the machine with painters tape as a larger and more visible guide for the edges of the fabric.    She said she has marked her machine.       Ok.   Is your lighting good enough to see it clearly?    Yes.    ( Deep breath here )    Sounds like she was doing everything right, but the results were still inaccurate.      I finally asked her to describe her process when she sits down to sew.    She needed 42 blocks for her project.   She said she takes the first 2 pieces,  pins them together and repeats for every block, then sews them together chain piecing.    She said,  it goes “Lickety Split”  this way.      Then she would press them and repeat the process for the next step, easing in or trimming any issues until the blocks were done.        Sounds ok,   but can you guess what I suggested to her?

growth rings

Growth Rings,  workshop FEBRUARY 7.  

I told her to slow down.    42 of anything in a row is mind numbing.  You lose focus,  sew too quickly and get lazy.  Instead, do no more than a dozen at a time,  press carefully and measure the results.  If they are correct do another bunch.   If they are wrong,  fix them now.    Every time you ease it in or trim excess to make it work you are compounding the problem,  and inconsistency adds up fast.    You can still make quick progress this way,  but it is broken up enough for you to stay focused.       And by checking as you go you get better results.

Another thing to do is to choose a block/method that includes some checks and balances.    Growth Rings is one of those, and the workshop is coming up on February 7.     By pre-cutting the strips to exact length you know immediately if your seam allowance is wandering.    This also makes the piecing go quickly.      Join us and make one for yourself,  and then one for someone else, and maybe four together to cover the bed.        See our showcase page for dIMG_6985etails and supply lists.

Tomorrow is Crazy Quilt Club, the first meeting for the year.

Tuesday I may be late opening as I have an early appointment,   If you are planning to come in before 11 that day call to check I got in to work first.     It’s nothing medical so please don’t worry.     See you all in the slow lane!!!!



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Happy Sewing, Sew Happy!!!

Since I last wrote to you some new things have arrived here at the shoppe,  and a new old one is underway.    These are the supporting fabrics from the Sew Happy Line and I especially love the safety pins.    I know exacIMG_7063tly the projects that will be made with them as soon as I have time.      The first uses the focus print,  a big bold large-scale print with old-fashioned needle books on it.    I bet you can guess that I am going to make a needle book.   Add some felt or batting and you can finally organize your needles so you know what you have.     It may turn into a workshop.     I am often asked about which needle to use for what purpose.   IMG_7062The other new arrival that I am excited about is foundation by the yard from Benartex that makes courthouse steps blocks.     This stuff is wonderful,  can be used to sew by hand or machine,  and since Courthouse steps is a log cabin variation it is right in synch with our current showcase.    Watch for the sample coming as soon as I can make it!!!   IMG_7061  While I am thinking about our showcase,    the first session for the Log cabin cushion is next Friday,   10:30.     It is a 20 inch square as shown,   but if you wish to make more blocks I can share numbers you would need to make for whatever size quilt you want.     These blocks are one of the kinds that you can just keep making while you are enjoying the process and use in so many ways that they will always find a home.     They are one of the blocks that I sew when I don’t know what I want to sew,  just that I want to sew.    They are just so versatile you can use them for all sorts of good things.      The finished blocks  can be put together log cabin cushion in so many patterns too.    There is fun at every step with a good log cabin.

You can call and register,  or comment on this blog,  or come on in.     You don’t even need to pick fabrics,  just come in with your machine and basic sewing supplies,  class comes with enough scraps from the shoppe collections to do four blocks.    Isn’t that fun??   Details are on the showacse page.

Lastly, but not least I wanted to share a few  shots of the quilt I am repairing at the moment,   It has so many fun fabrics in it that I know you will all enjoy.       It  will probably be done in IMG_7065

the next couple of days so if you want to see it in person hurry in!!  ( but be careful in the rain )      Aren’t these cheerful?    I particularly like that shirts print in the bar at the top of the detail shot.    It would be a great addition to the new line of fabrics that has arrived.    Happy Sewing!!!  IMG_7064



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It seems that every place I look this week someone is talkingpineapple a about new years resolutions.      What they should be,  how to keep them,  why not to make them and what to do instead.      The most popular ones seem to be health and exercise related,  but shouldn’t we be improving ourselves in that department year round?     Quilters often state that they are going to finish all their UFO’s,  or organize and declutter the sewing studio and stash.     That is all fine if that is what you can truly do.   The problem with most resolutions is that we rarely keep them.     I used to try to finish my UFO’s,  I made lists,  re purposed half-finished projects,  made justifications and well,  I finally gave up.     I also stopped calling them unfinished,   they are now works in progress.     It’s a much more hopeful term,  and it has allowed me to be much more at ease at the size of the pile of them.    The scrap pineapple block is part of my Works in Progress collection,  and I am savoring the process.    I enjoy making these blocks by hand and have a half-dozen done.     Because this block is one of our showcase workshops this semester they are all on the design wall at the Shoppe.     I love that they are made from scraps of other projects and use fabrics from the shoppe and my personal collection that I love.   And yes,  it is beginning to eat into the scrap collection.   ( I am being disciplined about using only scraps – because that is the key )        I do have a few other hand projects that I am happy to have as works in progress for however long it takes,   I enjoy the process and I will still enjoy it next year too.       IMG_7060

Another work in progress here at the Shoppe is the Block of the Month.     It is our plan to meet tomorrow morning as scheduled,   it is toasty warm in the shoppe,  and the lot has been cleared,  but if the cold or snow makes it hard for you to come in,   the kits are ready for you,  come in when you can.   The photo shows blocks 16, 17 and 18 our blocks for this month, all from squares and half square triangle units.          Stay warm, be safe, keep quilting and we will see you soon.

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New Semester Now Underway

On a super cold day like this I can’t think of anything better than putting up a nice pot of soup to simmer on the stove and settling in under a nice quilt to get inspired for a new project.      I hope that is what today’s post will do for you,   for our new semester showcase is now revealed.    The page is published,  the signs are on the samples in the shoppe,   my vintage examples are on display,   and my imagination is running wild on the possibilities.     Our showcase for this semester is Log Cabin.    It is one of the most versatile blocks around.    I have heard it said that you could do nothing but log cabins for the rest of your quilting life and not make the same quilt twice.    So how did we

log cabin cushion

log cabin 4 block cushion or table mat

decide on the best couple of workshops??      Well, it wasn’t easy,  but we settled on a classic log cabin version in a four block project,  a pineapple you can do by hand or machine,  and a very contemporary and a bit unusual baby quilt that is a single block in an uncommon color arrangement.    There is hardly a book on piecing that does not contain some form of log cabin,  and if you find one you absolutely must make we can always make an appointment with you to get you going.

pineapple a

Pineapple in scrappy colors- this one hand pieced

The four block traditional and the pineapple both use the same size strips,  ( 1 1/2 inch wide )   and are traditionally scrappy.    As a time saver we have a large selection of pre cut strips from our collections that we will share with you during these two workshops –  enough for four traditional, or one pineapple,  so you can learn how without having to cut into your stash.     Of course if you want to use your own fabrics and coordinate in a particular way  or clean out some of your own stash,  we wont stop you.      I think that once you have made one of these projects you will want to keep playing with these amazing blocks.

growth rings

Growth Rings,  a log cabin baby quilt.  

The third project is a baby quilt.   This one is great to work on your cutting skills,  and will help you to perfect and stabilize your seam allowance.    These long strips are pre cut to length,  giving you instant feedback if your allowances are off.    It is amazing how quickly that skill improves when you have this kind of checks and balances.     It sews up quickly,  and it is a perfect project top for our Machine quilting workshop if you are inspired to quilt it with a little extra flair.

Dates and materials lists are on the Spring Showcase page,  and as always if these don’t work for you we can schedule by appointment.     The actual samples are in the shoppe,  along with some wonderful vintage examples.    Sign up for your favorite version today,  and watch our Facebook page for more examples as we post them throughout the semester.

We will be closed on Tuesday January 2,  but I’d love to see you on our first Work in Progress Wednesday,  on the 3rd.      Our Block of the Month will meet on the 6th.

So now you have some inspiration to keep you warm.

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Like a kid on Christmas Morning

That’s how I feel about our new semester that is soon starting.    The showcase is Log Cabins,  and they are such fun to make.     Easy enough for beginners, but with design possibilities that will excite more advanced and even art quilters,


Can you spot the Log cabin Blocks in this shot of an art quilt in progress???

this may be about as close to a perfect block that you can make.      It originated in the 1860’s and was originally called Lincoln’s Log Cabin, so it is right at home being made from reproduction fabrics.    The center block was traditionally done in Red,  or Yellow,  or Black,  symbolizing the hearth at the center of the home.

Log Cabin is almost more of a construction technique than a single block pattern because there is so much you can do to make your project personal.    You really could make quilts for the rest of your life,  make only log cabin and variations,  and still not make the same quilt twice.       I am so excited to unveil the new workshops that I am having trouble doing some of the other things I know I should be doing,   like wrapping Christmas gifts.     I keep wanting to make more blocks.      Every quilter should make at least one Log cabin quilt.  —  but like potato chips,  or Holiday cookies,  it is hard to stop at just one.      If you have some time and want to get inspired go to http://www.quiltstudy.org    and search Log Cabin.     Its a great way to spend some time if we get snowed in at a relative’s home this weekend!!!   ( I hope that doesn’t happen )

The other thing that I love is that this class of blocks will eat through your stash of scraps and small cuts of fabric.   You can coordinate your colors and create some wonderful effects, but you know how I feel about scraps.    I have been enjoying cutting strip after strip of leftover fabrics to Linguini size,   1   1/2 inch wide.    Each fabric bit has a story,  and I am going to share my linguini with you.     Two of our workshops use this size strip and I will be making my collection of them available to you to use during these classes.      You will see in the materials lists for the new workshops that use them that fabric is optional.    How fun is that?


Found this detail of a mini on Pinterest.   

I will be travelling for Christmas,  and so the shoppe will be closed next Tuesday and Wednesday.       The weather looks questionable so I am planning for travel delays,  and a bit of recover time.         May you all have a warm and wonderful Holiday.

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Don’t give them Toys

Twice this week I was asked about giving sewing machines as gifts for the holidays.   My advice is always the same.   First, don’t give them a toy.    Get a real machine that works.  Go to a sewing machine shop where you know that if they have an issue they can get someone to help them out.      Second,  don’t get them more machine than they can


Will Santa bring ME something??  I try to be good!!! 


handle.    A beginner will be intimidated by 159 decorative stitches and a complicated and sensitive computer interface.       A simple machine that does a good reliable stitch is a much better investment.   Save the bells and whistles, including the self threaders that often break,  for the trade in and upgrade when they fall in love with sewing.      The basic, beginner machine I have in the shoppe is a Janome and I have worked it hard for at least 5 years now.   It is rare that I need more than this machine offers.  ( I have no affiliation )   It is simple to thread and wind bobbins –  just follow the numbers and little pictures right on the machine.      I have handed it to students from age 5 to 85 if they need to use it during class for some reason and nobody have ever had trouble with it.

Of course once they have the machine they will need some fabric and notions.   Once again,   it is much better to give them quality over quantity.      Good threads, fabrics that behave themselves,  pins needles and scissors that are sharp,   wool pincushionsand of course some instruction.     We have several how to books in the shoppe that are geared to younger sewers,   and we run beginner classes that we would be happy to write a gift certificate for.       Make friends with your sewing Machine is the ideal workshop to go with a new machine,  and we can do it with any age student.    The resulting project is a bed size pillowcase and everyone needs those.    See the Skill builders page for details and more options.

Sharing the love of sewing and fabric is excellent,  but it is easy to forget what it was like to be a true beginner.    Keep it simple,  use quality equipment and materials and you may just introduce your loved one to a lifetime hobby.

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it’s in the fabric!!

If you have seen our Facebook page,  you know that I am bIMG_0920usy the last day or so making holiday gifts.      Here is one I made for a dog lover on my list.   The fabrics are from the Faithful Friends line by Blank,   and I made 6 others that I can’t show yet.    The pattern is perfect for production line sewing, which is a very good thing at this point in time.    It is our Five Fab Fats,   and it is one of our skill builders.   This means you can schedule it by appointment any time, and yes I do still have slots so you can do it before the holiday.    This is the basic model, but you can dress it up with all manner of interior pockets,   button loop closure at the top,  and the bottom can be boxed.     Call or stop by to schedule.    ( If you didn’t guess from the title,  it uses five fat quarters of fabric,   two for outside, two for inside,  and one for handles. )    s I was working I noticed a super cute detimg_0919-1.jpgail in this fabric line,   check out the selvedges!!  How fun are these???

It actually  brings me to a subject that I’d like to address with you all, as we scramble to finish all the things we are supposed to do this time of year.  And that is the value of  a well designed fabric.

Projects that are good for production line sewing are often simple to sew, with large pieces.   In the finished project,  the actual sewing is generally only noticed if there is an issue with it or you have purposely made it prominent by doing some decorative stitches.  This means that fabric choice is the major factor that the recipient will react to.   Themed fabrics,  like dogs,  or say music,  or whatever they are into make a big impression.      No matter how young or old,  some of my favorite gift items to make work well with the theme fabrics.   Totes,  bed size pillowcases, throw pillows, and even smaller project bags all benefit from the right fabric choice for the right person.     Making gifts of this type even makes holiday shopping fun, because you can do it at your favorite fabric shoppe!!    And if your gift list includes someone who might like to make their own, a gift certificate for a skillbuilder workshop for you to take together is the perfect thing.     You could give them a gift they can make themselves!!   Hee Hee.    Sorry, the real gift is spending time with you and learning a new skill so they can make you a gift next year.

Tonight is the winter concert at the High School.  This may be one of the last in the gym,  the auditorium vote passed.    Thank you.      At any rate it is the last winter concert for my daughter,  she is a senior.      I think I had better remember the kleenex.

One last bit,  since there is a bit of snow in the forecast,  I should remind you of our policy.   If the Red Hook Central Schools are closed or delayed we will postpone.    Clubs will meet the following week,  and classes and workshops will be rescheduled.     I hope we don’t need this info,  but Tuesday is handstitchers and stump-work clubs so I figure that if I tell you we wont need it.     Have a happy day!!!

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