As I watch the snow flurries this morning I am glad that I live close to the shoppe, and also glad that I have some great things to be working on right now. If you have ever talked about sewing machines with me you know that I tell beginners on a regular basis that they don’t need the extra bells and whistles to get a machine that will help them learn quilting. That most quilts simply require a machine that makes a good stitch with the proper tension, and everything else is an add on that can cost cash. In this philosophy, there are several of my regular customers who use featherweight machines as their primary machine. I even have one lady who regularly uses her treadle. Not too many people these days think of electricity as an extra.
If you got a new machine for the holidays, or if you have one that has features on it that you haven’t ever used, I urge you to spend some time in the spirit of curiosity and play to get out some extra fabric ( I know that you all have lots of fabric ) and try out those funky decorative stitches. If you use a light colored fabric and a dark colored thread you can even write on the sampler what the settings are so you can use it for real more easily. I do this kind of thing whenever I get a new or new to me machine. It’s how I discovered that the buttonhole attachment that is as big as the featherweight machine it goes with makes the best buttonhole hands down of any machine I have sewn on. Go figure. Those bells and whistles on our machines drive the price up and so many of us don’t use them once we have the machine home. In our Make friends with your Machine class we make a stitched out sampler as the first part of the workshop. It is a workshop designed for beginners, but there is benefit to a stitched out sampler any time you get a new machine. You can see that I have left lots of room on the one pictures because my new to me machine is a Viking Designer One, and it has lots of bells and whistles. Please ignore the date stamp, don’t know where that came from, I took the pictures this morning. Thank you Thank You to the person who gave this machine to me. I am having a great time with it.
Once you have gotten the basics down, don’t hesitate to jump in with a bigger project. There is really no better way to learn than to jump in and do it. So I am quilting a hundred year old quilt top that is queen sized. Drunkards path, hand guided in the ditch. Yes there is a learning curve with any new features, but it is a joy to see something come together so nicely.
So my point today is that when you are ready and you know you will enjoy them, indulge in those bells and whistles for your machine, and be sure to put them through their paces. If you need a project to play with check our offerings for the semester on the showcase page, or even just come in on a Work in progress Wednesday and I will give you all the encouragement you need.
Just quickly I want to remind you that if you are planning on attending the Crazy Quilt Club meeting tomorrow be sure that Diane Johnson knows. If snow becomes an issue she will be contacting you in the morning. Also, regardless of the weather we will be closed on Tuesday to drive my daughter back to school. Lets hope the weather is good that day, it’s a lot of driving to do in the snow.
When it happens that without even trying you have done something 3 times, it is a safe bet to say that you like it. When that thing is a quilt block it is about time we did a workshop so I can share it with you. It is related to our showcase in that it has a very similar geometry, but with slightly different proportions and the inclusion of string piecing. The group lesson on it is January 29, and February 5. At the first session we will do the string piecing and choose colors that set off your own personal scraps and
strings, and we will assemble the rest of the top in session two. The photo is a little dark but the nice glow from the light-colored strings really shows. As shown it finishes at 40 inches square but there are two ways to enlarge the project if desired. Talk to me about it and I’ll adjust the yardages for you. If those days don’t work for you we can do this by appointment too.
Detail of Mountain Star Medallion
So I did mention that I have done this block several times, The other two times I used it very differently. If you put the units together with the skinny point at the center, it makes a stunning alternate block with a snowball. I did one with blues and greens for a quilt called Beautiful Valley, and I did a second version with less blocks in Beautiful Valley in Redwork. Those of you who know me well understand how much I must love a block to make the same quilt twice. But this is how I feel about Kaleidoscopes and their cousins. Having so much fun with this showcase. Details and materials lists are on the Spring Showcase page. Be sure to let me know you are planning to attend.
Detail, Beautiful Valley
Beautiful Valley in Rework
Before I forget let me remind you that the BOM meets tomorrow, and today I will be in an out of the shoppe for some meetings and appointments. Call if you are coming from a distance so you are sure I’ll be here. ( 845) 758-8541
Ok so now, multi tasking. I really dislike purchasing expensive gadgets that only do one thing. True in my kitchen, and my studio. So when I find a ruler that makes a shape that has fascinating geometry and goes together in a few ways that are all pretty simple to sew and can still make complex looking quilts I want one. Thing is, I already have it, several versions even, and you probably do too. If not we have good ones available. SO what is it? the Old fashioned Kaleidoscope. In its most traditional form it uses two fabrics and every block only has 12 pieces, in 2 shapes. It uses 8 triangles that arrange like 8 slices of pizza with four half square triangles at the corners to make it square. Pretty straight forward? yes, but oh the variations.
A great Kaleidoscope from The First Dutchess Show. see label for info.
My version of the traditional uses scraps from the thousand pyramids quilt and has four different colors. When I set them you will see undulating lines going in four directions. Exploiting these lines can help you make medallions, stripes, and even a design for a christening quilt with a large cross on it. This block is one of my favorite to play with in design software or markers because of this. The workshop for The traditional Kaleidoscope comes with a coloring page that I encourage you to play with before making your fabric choices. The workshop itself is a single three hour session. Crib size like mine takes only 12 blocks.
Also still in the showcase is thousand pyramids, because it is also the same slice of pizza shaped triangle. Love this too. This amazing triangle is used for the so called Ice Cream Cone border, and it turns the corner beautifully. The hard part of this is doing the math for it, so that is what the Ice Cream Cone Border workshop centers on. I used an improvisational pieced border of this type on the 8 point star. You also see it in a pieced version on Dear Jane Quilts, and in historical quilts from the late 18th century. It is so pretty that you could simply put it around a lovely piece of fabric and call it done.
When you start piecing or fussy cutting this triangle you can add complexity fast and get a result like Paula Nadelstern ( who will be in our area this spring) or more traditionally the Rocky Road to Kansas. The last of our new showcase workshops is the string pieced classic. Watch for my sample coming soon.
I have been exceptionally busy outside of the shoppe this season and will post the rest of the sample photos and workshop details as soon as I can. I am very excited for this showcase, and I’m so glad that I can finally dig in to getting the samples and write ups done. In the meantime if you know you are interested in any of the things I have mentioned today let me know. Have a wonderful New Year. May it be filled with fabric fun and friends, and a new project or two.
Yesterday, as I was thinking about writing the post for today a wonderful quilt came in for a short visit. One of the members of the Red Hook Historical Society just wanted to show me and ask what I thought. First I told her I was happy to see it folded with a well washed cotton sheet and in an acid free box. Then we started looking at it in earnest. Hard to see, but there are signatures in the center of every block. There is also a single signature in one bit of the sashing that records a date of 1850. You can also see a note attached to the corner that shows the little bit of provenance. Name of the donor etc. It is stitched on and made of some kind of cardstock weight paper.
Some of the signatures are in better condition than others, the ones that have maintained their black color were done with india ink and possibly even dip pens at that time. The bottom one in this photo is one of them. Others, like the top signature have faded and \or disintegrated the fabrics, and it is likely that these were signed with a lesser quality ink made from black walnut hulls that was common and less expensive at the time. The Historical society has researched some of the legible names and they are all from Red Hook Residents. How awesome that this quilt made it way home again. It was originally made for the rector of the Methodist Church in Tivoli. The quilt was found in Virginia and gifted back to the church, who in turn gifted it to the Historical Society because they couldn’t care for it or store it well. The Historical Society will occasionally display it in their soon to open new building on Cherry Street. I will be sure to let you know when that happens.
Also notice how nice the points are, and the use of fussy cutting in the diamonds. The delicacy of the printing in some of the fabrics is just stunning. The preservation of the color is mostly excellent too. There are a few blocks that have simply wild color combinations, but the overall impression is just beautiful. The hands that stitched this were all of a high level of skill and the quilting is quite uniform leading to speculation that the project was actually sewn by a single individual who collected signatures. The quilting is not fancy, but well planned and executed. The bottom photo allows you to see some of it more clearly. The back is a muslin, and the binding is simply the back brought around to the front. The whole thing was about 74 x 85.
After a somewhat strange Holiday it was wonderful to come back to the shoppe and have a jewel like this brighten my day. It felt like a sign that the new year will be a good one. Well that and the tag from my tea bag said, “Peace or mind comes Piece by Piece” Hard to beat that for me.
I know I have workshops being scheduled that I am really excited about, the next showcase theme is Kaleidoscope. The structure of this simple block gives it a dynamic quality that makes it look more difficult than it is, and when you start to add things like basic fussy cutting, and string piecing to it you have a whole world of exciting quilts to have fun making. I’ll tell you more very soon.
We will be closed on New Years Day, and for a while on Friday afternoon, from 1:45 so I can attend a meeting of the Red Hook Historical Society and talk about quilts. The Block of the Month will meet on Saturday the fifth. Come on in and get that winter project going, for your Piece of Mind.
Due to some necessary travel and the Holidays, The Village Fabric Shoppe will be closing on Thursday December 20. Plans are to re open on December 27. We will also be closed on New Years Day.
Yesterday, one of my private students was working on a project that was to become a gift for a good friend. She had learned some new skills and was working on a brand new machine that was vastly more advanced than her previous one. It was snowy out and quiet, and she quietly said out loud, but mostly to herself, that this was alot like meditating. I let her sew on, and when she was ready for the next step we had a conversation about mediation, mindfulness, prayer and stress relief.
Don’t stress, pet me!!!!
The fact that sewing can be all of these things is a huge part of why so many of us are drawn to sew, quilt and stitch. I know that it is for me too. As we sit in the darkest part of the year and for many the most stressful please remember to keep your stitching lights on and burning bright. It’s better for your eyes, and better for your soul.
I am working today to ease my soul too, my Nan, the incredible woman I recently posted about, had a stroke Tuesday morning and has gone downhill quickly. I could be called to my family on Long Island at any moment, so if you come for a visit at the shoppe and find the lights off and door locked please send some love. It has me in a weird mix of emotions as I am also working on the baby quilt for a new nephew who could arrive any day between now and mid January. This holiday, I NEED to be stitching. I am so thankful to have a large pile of projects to keep my hands and mind busy. ( Just wait till you see the goodies I have planned for 2019 )
Nan Dec. 2, 2018 age 103
I can tell you for certain that we will be closed on Tuesday the 18th so I can go get my daughter from college. Can’t believe that a whole semester is done already. She has made the adjustment very well, found some good friends, found some new exciting interests and her light is burning brighter than ever.
Wishing everyone a piece-ful holiday and time with those you love. Keep the lights shining!!
This past Sunday I was happy to celebrate my Nan’s 103 birthday. She is an amazing woman, matriarch of the family, and part of where my love of stitching came from. You can see on the table a blue and white embroidered table cloth ( under plastic for use ) She made one for each of her children and female grandchildren.
She has been an inspiration to so many of us, and as we sat at the table and played Cooties with my nephew and aunt I realized just how lucky we all were. Tea and cold milk in the good cups, home-made cookies, and four generations playing a silly game all together. What a blessing.
Quilting can cross generations too. In fact I encourage you to share your craft with the young people in your life. Small hand projects that are finished quickly will reel them in, and then when they are ready, let them use a real machine ( not a toy please ) and make a small pillow or bag. If your little girl likes dolls, American Girl Doll sized clothes or quilts are great too. If you want help with projects for kids, tell me about them and I can help with a project they will get excited about.
For older students, consider a sewing machine, fabric, or notions as a gift. I have several beginner friendly workshops that can be done, some with a machine, some all by hand. I can make out gift certificates for them and we can present them wrapped in the fabrics needed, with a nice bow of course. You could even take the class together so you can spend some time together. For the classes on offer check the Skillbuilders page. Take the time now to reach out to the next generation or two and share. It is time spent that you wont regret, and memories that will stay with them forever.
Tuesday is our Handstitchers club day, We will be working on the leaf sampler from Laura Wasiloski. Here is the link in case you didn’t get it. http://artfabrik.com/tutorials-2/leaf-stitch-along/ Materials are also listed on our Club News Page. Stumpwork will be working on UFO’s. If the Red Hook Schools are closed or delayed due to snow we will just skip and do our projects in January. Have a great weekend!!