July 26, 2012

Packing up the house


Quilters and artist friends of every craft: send me positive vibrations for the next few days... Moving truck is coming tomorrow. I am surrounded by so many boxes! Can you believe I haven't had the heart to pack my quilt room? I guess I'd better tackle it this afternoon...

On the bright side, I have just been commissioned to make a queen size quilt. That is all the motivation I need to get the studio up and running at the new house as soon as possible, as my mom will take it back with her to Brazil by mid-September.

Have a great weekend, and don't forget to join the blog and follow my posts. You never know what I will come up with next!


July 25, 2012

Rose of Sharon block


Last week I purchased The Rose of Sharon Block Book by Sharon Pederson (you can find it here). What wonderful block designs! Although I had already downloaded the designs onto EQ6 a while ago, I am glad I bought the book, which features the 12 winning block designs from their EQ6 challenge, plus other 83 beautiful designs.

One of the reasons I got the book was because they used batiks for the blocks. The amazing, vibrant colors from all the batiks wowed me. As I read the book (I do so, cover to cover, every time I purchased a craft or cooking book...), I was impressed first by the story of how it come about, and secondly, by the fact that it supports the Alzheimer's Art Quilt Initiative.

In the introduction written by a quilter called Ami Simms, we learn of Ami's mother, who suffered and died of Alzheimer's. As I have a neighbor whose husband has had it for the past 7 years, and after having read Making Rounds with Oscar by David Dosa (see my book review here, you can get it here), I am acutely aware of the suffering it causes the patients and their families, and saddened by how people we love can so gradually and involuntarily pull away from their (and our) lives.

One of the many interesting features of this book is called Quilting 101, where Sharon describes her 'quilt as you go' approach to quilting. I only made one table runner using this method, and it was great to see how you can use it even on quilts with sashing and borders. A must read!

One last note: yesterday I was wondering through the Crafts section of Barnes & Noble, and noticed something 'disturbing': I have more quilt books in my library than they do!!!

July 24, 2012

The Gathering Place, Rupert, Idaho


The Gathering Place was the second store I visited during my trip to Idaho last weekend. This store is located in Rupert, about 45 miles east of Twin Falls.

It occupies an impressive 10,500 sq ft of space in a historic building located in the center of the town. With over 10,000 bolts of fabrics, lots of books, patterns, and samples, one can easily spend an entire afternoon browsing!



All that real estate allows them to be very creative with the decor. It is no wonder that The Gathering Place has been featured in Better Homes & Garden Quilt Sampler Magazine and McCall's America Quilts Hometown Favorites.





This part of the store is dedicated to modern quilting, with bold fabrics and samples to match.









Oodles of fabrics... I did not leave the store until it was time for them to close! They also provide long-arm quilting for their customers.

In order to keep peace in my family, I will refrain from posting a picture of the fabrics I purchased at this store!

So, as you can see, Idaho shouldn't necessarily be famous just for its potatoes!



July 23, 2012

The Quilt Barn, Kimberly, Idaho

The Quilt Barn was the first shop on my shop hop around the Twin Falls, ID area. What a wonderful way to start my day!

The shop is located in Kimberly, Idaho, in a 100-year-old building. With 6,000 sq ft and a beautiful collection of over 4,000 bolts, I spent 2.5 hours dancing around the shelves, pattern displays, and drooling at the samples hung around the store.


Heather Cartwright, her husband, and the staff were so friendly! Since I arrived at the store early enough in the day, I had their attention all to myself.

Their machine quilting is top notch, as I saw the quilts their customers were picking up during my visit.

Check out these other pictures:











After exercising an enormous amount of self-restraint, I left the store with this "little pile" of fabrics, plus a kit.

Before I left they took me on a tour of their 1,600 sq ft retreat area. It is perfect for a group of up to 6 people, and has a separate entrance. As you come in, the first room has a long conference-style table for sewing machines, comfortable chairs, ironing boards attached to the wall, and a wall-mounted flat screen TV. The next room has large cutting tables.

The lodging area upstairs includes 2 bedrooms with 2 twin beds each, a sitting area with two fold-out couches, dining and kitchen area, and laundry room. With very affordable rates, it would be an awesome place for a great time with your BQFFs (Best Quilting Friends Forever!). Plus, if you book for a minimum of 2 nights, your group gets 20% off at the store. Now, beat that!!!




July 22, 2012

Shoshone Falls, Kimberly, Idaho




Although the day grew cloudier today and, eventually, the rain came down, I checked out Shoshone Falls in Kimberly, Idaho, located just a few minutes from Twin Falls, where I am staying. Nicknamed "The Niagara of the West", at Shoshone the water drops 212 feet to the canyon floor, "more than 50 feet further than the famous falls on the New York-Ontario border".

The water level was low due to the drought the West has been enduring this year. However, it was a magnificent sight!

The basalt cliffs of the canyon resulted from the Bonneville Flood, which ripped through the land about 15,000 years ago. It is easy to see why this river was named Snake River...


I loved the thunderous sound of the falls, and if it weren't for the rain I would have stayed longer.


I am told Spring is the best season to visit Shoshone Falls as the snow melt swells the Snake River, magnifying this beautiful display. This was the icing on the cake of my trip! [I am trying to cut down on sugar, but it pops up even on my writing!]


July 21, 2012

Flowers when you need them most...


My husband took a couple of days off from work and so did I! Since packing the house is just about done and my brain is fried, I hopped in the car and headed north to Idaho. I arrived in Twin Falls Friday evening.

Why Twin Falls? Because I wanted to visit two quilt stores in this area (more about them on another post), and this was the closest place to those stores where hotels weren't sold out (Really? I thought Chris Isaak's show was far away from here.)

Although this break is supposed to give me a breather from the boys in my life, all I can do is think of them. I did "manage" to have a fun day shopping for my favorite item - FABRIC - and talking to random quilters. As I am finally in my hotel room with my feet up, the room phone rings:

"Hi, this is Patrick, are you in your room?" [Who IS Patrick, and if I answered the room phone, where in the world am I? Anyway...]  
"Yes, I am in my room. Why?"
"I have something for you."  
"What is it?"
"It is a surprise. I am coming to your room."  [!!!]

I run to the peep hole hoping that this Patrick person is in a hotel uniform... and he is. The young (and prankester) man is holding a vase of flowers.

"This is from me! Nah, just kidding. It was at the front desk for you. Enjoy your evening."

My husband has no idea how scared and happy I was to receive his flowers! How sweet... He just won 1,000 points with me (plus the points he got for each dollar I spent on fabric today!!!) :-)

July 19, 2012

Interview with Teri Christopherson


Hello, everyone! I am happy to introduce you to one of my heroes in the quilting world:

Teri Christopherson
Black Mountain Quilts 
Quilt and Pattern Designer
Author of 24 books


Denise: When and how did you start making quilts?

Teri: I learned to sew when I was about 5 years old. I have five sisters, and we all love to sew. By high school, I was sewing my own clothes, including jeans and tailored jackets. I even won the home economics award at my high school! While in college, I came across a quilting show on TV and decided to give it a try . . . and was immediately hooked! I made a dozen quilted pillows, then my first quilt. 
 
D: When did you decide to start your successful business? What did it entail?
T: I always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, but I hated the super tight budget, so I knew I wanted a home business. At first, I sewed quilts and sold them in country tourist shops, but it was very labor intensive. Then I met a couple of people who published their own quilt patterns, and I knew that was the way to go. I loved designing new things, not following existing patterns. I convinced my husband to invest about $1,200 to publish my first 4 patterns -- which was a small fortune for us. I rented a booth at the wholesale trade show to sell them. Fortunately, the patterns sold well and my business grew.


D: Where does inspiration for your patterns come from?
T: I keep a folder of good ideas, but honestly, I rarely look in it. An idea usually just pops into my head, and I start drafting and sewing. I tend to have months of intense creativity, where I can't sew fast enough, and months where nothing seems to turn out right.
 
D: What is (are) the best thing (s) about your decision to start your business?
T: Without question, the best thing is the ability to earn money at home while raising four children. My oldest child was born severely handicapped, so it's been nice to have that flexibility. The other thing I love is the creative outlet. It's great to have a productive use for all those wacky ideas! I'm a rather high energy person and love keeping busy.

D: What are the drawbacks, if any?
T: The drawback of having a home business is that the work is always there, just a few steps away, so it's hard to get away from it all, especially when things are busy. I've worked some crazy long hours over the years -- meeting print deadlines, preparing for trade shows, etc. It's also hard when I have a great design in my head, but it just doesn't turn out -- when I rework a quilt a dozen times and it's still ugly. Those are the days when it isn't so much fun!

D: Please introduce us to your family.
T: My greatest blessing is a happy marriage. My husband, Mark, is a very practical engineer and doesn't really get the whole cutting-up-fabric-just-to-sew-it-all-back-together-again thing, but he's wonderfully supportive of my business. And loves the income! I have four children -- Kelsi, 22, Connor, 18, Maia, 15, and Max, 12. Kelsi was born severely mentally handicapped, so she's actually still my sweet baby, requiring a lot of care.

D: How do you juggle your family commitments and your business?
 

T: It was harder when my children were young -- lots of sewing at 2 o'clock in the morning and dragging toddlers through the fabric store and post office. Looking back, it was pretty crazy, but I tend to thrive on a little chaos. Now, I work while they're in school and focus on them when they're home. Much easier!
 
D: What do you do for relaxation?
T: I go running almost every day -- at an embarrassingly slow pace, but I still love it. I also love to read and belong to a book club. I love baking cookies. And I love to shop for just about anything -- shoes, clothes, dish scrubber, computer -- I don't care, I get into it!

D: Do you have any advice for someone contemplating starting their own quilt-related, or craft, business?
T: Having a creative home business has obviously been a great blessing in my life, so I highly recommend it. But it isn't the sort of thing that just happens on its own. It takes a lot of focused attention, great ideas, hard work, and probably some financial risk. It can even be technical at times, when you have to learn new computer programs, how to run a website, etc. But if someone has the creative drive and energy to keep at it, ask a lot of questions, and ignore some rejection, it is well worth it!


Thank you, Teri!

July 17, 2012

Blooming Bag Tutorial


I needed a quick project to work on this weekend, and turned it into a tutorial - be prepared as I am posting many pictures to help you. This one is quick, and the possibilities for embellishment are endless. In my case, since I chose a busy pattern, I did not add any other decorations.

Using free-motion quilting, I outlined the flowers and used stippling on the brown background, but you can just as easily use straight lines, too.

No pockets, to keep it simple. Here is what you will need:

Supplies
Outside fabric: 1/2 yd X width of fabric
Liner fabric: 1/2 yd X width of fabric
Batting: 1/2 yd X width of the fabrics you are using
1 strip of a contrasting fabric for handles: 3-1/2" X width of fabric
Rotary cutter, mat
Matching Thread for sewing, contrasting thread for top stitching
Monofilament for quilting, or other quilting thread
Rulers
Scissors


Remove selvage of fabrics. Set liner fabric aside. Place outside fabric over batting, right side up, and trim batting if necessary. 
Pin outside fabric and batting together. Quilt using your favorite quilting thread or monofilament. In my case, I used monofilament as I did not want to add more color to the fabric.
Before you start quilting, remember to practice for a couple of minutes on a quilt sandwich to check your thread and bobbin tensions. Also, if your bobbin case has a 'thumb', remember to run the bobbin thread through it - it will prevent problems as you free-motion (such as the little thread dots you see on the center of this flower: that is when I realized I had forgotten to thread the thumb).

Cut in half (lengthwise) the strip of fabric for the handles.

Take the strips to the ironing board, fold up 1/4" on one side, then press it.
Fold down 3/4" from the top, and press it.
Fold up the 1/4" side over the 3/4" side.
Now you won't have edges fraying under the handle, and you did not have to sew a tube and turn it inside out. The handle should be 1-1/2" wide. Next...
Take the strip to your sewing machine and sew it.
Flip the strip to the 'right' side and top stitch it, using contrasting thread so the strip will have two lines of stitches. Do the same for the other strip.
Now, you will pin the handles to the outside fabric/batting sandwich you quilted. Measure 5-3/4" from the left side, position and pin one end of the handle, with wrong side of handle facing you.
Measure 5 inches, and pin the other end of same handle.
Measure 12" from this last pinned end, and pin one end of the second handle. Again, with five inches in between, pin the other end of this second handle.
There should be 6-1/2" left to the right of this sandwich. The extra 1/2" on the right side will be used as a seam allowance. Another way to do it: fold the sandwich in half, mark six inches to the right of the fold, pin one end of the handle there. Mark 5 inches to the right of that end, and pin  the other end of the handle. Now, measure six inches to the left of the fold, and do the same thing with the other handle strip.

Place lining fabric onto quilt sandwich, right sides together. Pin along the edge to which you attached the handles.
Sew the lining and outside fabric together (I used a walking foot, to easily sew over the thickness of two fabrics, batting, and handle) - 1/2" seam.
This is what it looks like on the right side when you are done sewing them together.
Press it well.
You are almost done! Now, fold the bag with right sides together (make sure you fold it so the main fabric folds over itself, and the lining folds over itself as shown above), pin, and sew around the three sides of the bag (the fourth side is the fold). When sewing the short end of the lining fabric, you will need to leave an opening (about 5 inches) so you can flip the bag inside out later.
Be sure to match the middle seams well.
When you get to the stopping point at the bottom of the liner (i.e., close to the section you will leave open), back stitch a couple of times on both sides of the opening so it won't rip when you are flipping the bag inside out through it.

To square the bottom of the bag, pull the sides apart, smooth them so you can measure 2" inches on both sides of the seam line (well, the 12 on the ruler 'was' on the seam line before...). Mark it with a pen. Do the same on the other point.
Repeat it with the lining fabric, mark it with the pen, and...
... sew on the line marked on all corners. Then...
... trim the corner 1/4" away from the seam line, repeating for all corners.
Pull bag through the opening on the lining fabric...
Check out the pretty corners...
On the ironing board, press all the seams, stuff lining inside the bag and...
...press the edge of the bag, leaving maybe 1/8" of the lining fabric showing on the outside of the bag because on the next step you will...
... fold the edge down 1-1/2" and pin all around.
Bring the handle up over the folded edge and pin it, too.
Top stitch all around twice using contrasting thread if you like.
Pull liner out of bag and sew the opening shut. Stuff it back inside the bag, and you are done!
What do you think? Easy peasy... You can opt to add pockets inside and/or outside, and make the handles longer. But for a quick project, this one should do!

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