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Archive for September, 2011

Echino Quilt

Catchy title right?

I have seen at least two quilts almost exactly like this one and while I wouldn’t change it I feel the need to own my lack of creativity. I will say that I mixed it up a tiny bit with the pieced tone on tone border but lose any credibility because even the actual quilting is the same as at least one other look alike quilt.

Echino Travel Quilt

I intended to do a free motion floral design and even got it started but I hated the process and stopped after finishing less than one fifth of it. So I ripped it all out and went back to basics. After all I make things as much to enjoy them as to express my own artistic vision. So my quilt may lack originality but it will still keep me warm when I travel!

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I had time to check out a couple fabric stores while traveling the past couple of weeks. All of the above fabrics were found in the sale section of New England Fabrics in Keene, New Hampshire.

The easiest way to describe this fabric shop is an independently owned Jo-Ann Fabrics. It’s not affiliated with Jo-Ann’s in any way that’s just what it reminded me of. The quilting fabric selection had a lot of novelty prints and mostly brightly colored fabrics. There was also a small selection of Michael Miller fabrics. In addition to quilting weight fabric they also stock apparel and home decorator fabric, notions, yarn, and a small book selection. I was excited to finally get to see Block Party in person! I didn’t purchase the book nor had I intended to but I’ve been curious enough to want to flip through it. If you aren’t familiar with the concept the book talks about the modern quilting bee movement and gives instructions on how to make the 12 quilts these ladies made during their bee. It’s a novel concept for a quilting book but none of the patterns really spoke to me.

The only thing I found that I really wanted to purchase at New England Fabrics came from the large sale section. I’ve seen all three of these fabrics online but didn’t want them enough to pay full price. For sale prices from $2.99 to $5.99 a yard I literally could not say no! I have no clue what I will do with them but for the price I’m happy to keep them in my stash.

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For the love of Solids Swap Package

Last week I received this swap package from TrilliumDesign but I couldn’t take pictures since I was literally home for about 8 hours. And in fact I’m only home a couple days this time but that’s long enough to take some pics and then take this fabulous tote with me to the conference I’m attending next week.

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I give Caroline a lot of credit since my description for the tote I wanted was something like “not too large but not too small.” And it turned out perfectly! It wil fit my laptop, notebook, and textbook or library book. It also has a nice large interior pocket for pens, notepads etc. But my favorite feature is the place to hook my keys to on the inside of the bag. I hate tossing my keys in a bag and then trying to root around and find them but this way they can go in my bag but be easy to find.

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For this swap we were supposed to make a large item and a small item so Caroline also sent along this pouch which will fit my change, chapstick and loose cash.

But the icing on the cake was the selection of fabric.

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I’m a big Echino fabric so I love these cars and I’ve been going back and forth about buying the Heather Ross guitars so it was an awesome addition.

If you can’t tell I couldn’t be happier with my swap package :)

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One of my favorite things from Brimfield was the vintage advertising. You could tell it was a popular genre because a large number vendors had at least a couple pieces. My one regret was not purchasing some metal typepress advertisements. How cool would it be to take a plain piece of fabric and press a variety of advertisements on it? I think it would be quite cool.

Unfortunately not only did I fail to purchase any of them I also didn’t take any photos. But I did snap shots of some other gems :)

Metal signs are always fun. And who doesn’t want to know where they can get candy AND cigarettes?

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Honestly this wood box scares me, is “improved butter color” really what “makes butter perfect”? Or perhaps it’s the fact that I imagine that the improved color was coming from additives.

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But my absolute favorite advertising aid was this salesmen’s kitchen display set. I can’t even imagine a time when a door to door salesman would come knocking to sell me a new kitchen using a display set from his briefcase. But it sure does look cool!

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What are you in love with today?

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TH and I went up to MA last weekend to search for vintage finds but I couldn’t resist the opportunity to check out another quilt shop (it’s a sickness I know). The Fabric Stash was only 20 minutes away from Sturbridge, Massachusetts (where we were staying for the night) and is described as

“It is the largest independently owned and operated fabric store in Worcester County (central) Massachusetts. We carry a wide variety of fabrics including cotton, fleece, home d├ęcor (many Waverly in stock), upholstery and clothing (including Silks, Wools and several other clothing fabrics). We also have a selection of notions, buttons, books, patterns, yarn & knitting supplies, trims, gifts and much more!”

I figured the largest independently owned and operated fabric store in central Massachusetts was definitely a must see. I didn’t remember until we got there that I had already been to this particular fabric store before. It is large based on square footage and floor space, much of which is devoted to a sewing/class space (roughly 1/3- 1/2 of the total space). And as advertised they have a large selection of upholstery fabrics which I have no interest in. What was there of regular quilting weight fabric was not my particular style. But I did manage to find one of the Ghastlie prints!

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I realize that the variety of non-quilting fabrics and the amount of space devoted to sewing and classes is an attempt to broaden their profit capabilities. I understand and respect their need to make a living and think the variety of services they offer is cool if unusual for a fabric shop. But as someone that is simply passing through what really matters to me is the type and variety of quilt fabrics.

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And it seems (Ghastlie print aside) that my taste in fabric is not the same as the person buying for the shop.

Price:

I had sticker shock when the lady rang up my half yard of fabric at over $6 with taxes. That makes a yard of quilting cotton $12! I used to buy strictly online when the cost of a yard of fabric was about $8 then the price slowly crept up to $9-$10 a yard which was what I was paying at brick and mortar shops. So I stopped purchasing online and spent most of my money at local quilt shops. But now that prices at local quilt shops are $11-$12 a yard the $8-$9.50 a yard online seems like a steal!

Fat Quarters:

A somewhat sad selection, it was reasonably sized by consisted of prints that I don’t particularly care for.

Customer Service:

There were a lot of people in the shop working on various projects and it took the woman working the counter a minute to stop what she was doing and help me. She was friendly though and even gave me a small handsewn fabric bag to take my fabric home in. I thought that was a great touch and the perfect use for a fabric that they had small pieces of or wasn’t selling particularly well.

I doubt I will stop by here again. It just didn’t carry my style of quilting fabric and while they have a wide selection of other items I don’t have a need for them. I don’t know about you but I prefer to buy notions, batting, thread, and even books during a Joann Fabric sale or with one of their easy to find 40% coupons.

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Imagine my surprise and joy at seeing that sign! While I’m not generally a vintage fabric lover I knew I had to at least stop and look. I quickly fell in love and while they were $18 a yard that’s really not that bad since today’s fabric is $12 a yard! Plus I saved 20% for spending over $25.

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The purple/gray plaid is going to go in the bed quilt I’m making for TH and myself. I love the idea of including something vintage that we found on a weekend away together and the colors couldn’t be more perfect. But since I’ll only need a 1/2 yard for the quilt I decided I “needed” another coordinating fabric and some trim for “future projects.”

I also came home with these giant wooden spools.They were $4-$6 a piece and (despite having a HUGE collection of them that no one else seemed to be buying)the woman was not willing to negotiate. In fact she rolled her eyes at me when I asked. If there had been another vendor with these spools I would have gone elsewhere but I didn’t have a choice about where to purchase so I simply purchased less. I understand she has to make a living and if she had simply said the prices were not negotiable then it would have been one thing. But we were at a show, on the second to last day, and everyone else was slashing prices up to 50% so it shouldn’t come as a surprise to her that I asked about a discount. Oh well.

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Anyway, how awesome are they? I plan on winding homemade bias tape around them! And now that we have a few TH can see if he can replicate some for me.

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TH and I drove up to Massachusetts yesterday to attend the Brimfield Antique Show which is considered one of the (if not the) largest outdoor antique show in the United States. There are 21 fields (of varying sizes) holding thousands of vendors. I suspect that this year was a little smaller and a little slower because of the general economy and recent onslaught of inclement weather throughout New England. But I could be wrong, after all this was our first year attending.

Before we came I expected to find some really cool mid century modern furniture, Fisher Price toys, typewriters, and sewing machines. Since we attended the second to last day of the show those things may have been readily available earlier in the show but I don’t think so. There were only three vendors selling mid century modern furniture- in a show of thousands! As for the typewriters and sewing machines well they just didn’t seem to be the “in thing” to buy or sell.

That’s not to say we didn’t find some cool stuff. We still managed to spend almost $200 (which was our budget), we just spent it on a number of small items as opposed to one large item. We found so much cool stuff that I’m going to break the items we saw (not necessarily purchased) into a series of themed posts. We will start with my favorite- the sewing and sewing related items.

I LOVE vintage advertising displays, I’ve never purchased any because they are so expensive! Both of these were over $80 and since I have no real purpose for them it’s not worth the money. Now if I had a fabric or sewing shop it would be a different story!

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And speaking of potential fabric shop displays how awesome are these-

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I seriously considering buying this and having a new insert built to fit modern spools. How awesome would your thread collection look in here?

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And while I was disappointed by the lack of vintage sewing machines I did spot a couple cool ones.

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Finally how crazy was it to see this displaying having recently seen these giant wooden spools online and asking TH if he thought he could make them for me.

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In addition to the spools they are carried these beauties

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Obviously there were still some really cool items to be found even on the second to last day! And the added bonus was that by the time lunch came around vendors were already offering steep discounts to clear their inventory before they had to pack it up and haul it home.

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I seem to have a recent obsession with one inch hexagons…. It started with this sewing machine cover

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I made it for my partner in the “For the Love of Solids” swap on Flickr. The color scheme was a little mellower than I think she would prefer so I added bit more pop on the back (sans hexagons)

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And because she commented on a lot of rainbow items in the pool I made this little mug rug.

Rainbow Mug Rug

Finally I made this from my Modern Meadow scraps. It’s handsewn onto linen and is intended as a present for someone else.

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Eventually I guess I’ll need to make something for myself!

I’m thinking about something like this

PTS5 Experiment

or this

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What are you in love with today?

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In celebration of my recent birthday I’ve decided to clean out the WIP (work in progress) pile. I’m someone that prefers to finish a project before moving on to the next but for a variety of reasons these projects all got set aside.

Except for the quilt tops which needs to be quilted (those are completely out of hand) the pile isn’t really too bad.

Starting from the oldest I have this quilt top from Bee Modern 1 (I bowed out 2/3 of the way through but some of the other ladies went on to finish a second round) which still needs a back. I started piecing the middle strip but couldn’t decide how I wanted to piece the navy blue sections. I thought about piecing a variety of blues in a variety of widths and lengths (the same way I did the border on the front) but that just feels like too much. So this weekend I went a purchased yardage of basic navy blue and I’m going to use that.

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Next up is the Amy Butler Weekender Bag. I started this before we moved! I originally got frustrated with the cording and then put it away “for the move.” My new goal is to have this finished and use it on my upcoming trip to Denver. I got quite a bit done on it this weekend but it certainly involved a lot of four letter words! Me and my sewing machine were made for quilting not luggage making.

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Third is this quilt made from the Echino bird print. Since it’s small I thought it would be a good time to try my hand at free motion quilting on my regular machine. I made it through three flowers and while I was certainly getting better it was not an enjoyable experience for me and this quilt has sat for months waiting to have the quilting finished. This weekend I admitted that I will never finish free motion quilting it so I ripped out all of the quilting and plan to do random straight lines.

Finally I have

1)

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2)

Lush Rubik's Cube [expored!]

3)

Kona Curry and Modern Meadow

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4)

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Quilt tops that I paired with quilt backs and now need to take some time on the longarm to complete.

Once all these projects get done the only outstanding work in progress I will have is the hand quilting on my Single Girl but I’m not planning on rushing my way through that.

I’m trying to make myself finish all this before I start anything new but it’s hard! TH got me a framed purse kit for my birthday and since it’s such a quick project I could definitely finish it before Denver. And those quilts…. considering my work travel schedule it will take me weeks to finish longarming them. Do I really want to wait? Of course if I don’t and I do start another quilt I’ll just have that many more to get through. Hmmm… Maybe I’ll try to stick to non quilt projects until I work through my pile. We shall see.

What’s on your worktable today?

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Since I travel so frequently for work I have the opportunity to check out fabric shops all over the northeastern United States but I’ve been remiss in posting about them. This week I went to Quilted Threads in Henniker, New Hampshire. It was about an hour out of my way but I had seen it mentioned in a recent quilt magazine as a place to find “modern fabrics.” I had actually stopped trying to find quilt shops during my travels because so many of the ones I had gone out of my way to check out had been full of “traditional fabrics” that I would never use. The magazine article (and I must apologize I don’t remember which one it was) included some photos of the inside of the store and it looked pretty promising.

Selection:

I was astounded when I first walked in by the selection of Japanese craft and sewing books (about a dozen of them, some translated to English and some in Japanese) as well as the Sashiko kits and sashiko thread. The fabric selection was nicely varied. While there was a large selection of what I consider more “traditional” fabric motifs and manufacturers there was also a wide variety of modern designers and a variety of types of fabric. I was thrilled to see a nice selection of new and old Echino prints and five or six solids. They also had a number of voiles- Tula Pink and Anna Maria Horner. They had a decent selection of solids- as large or larger than most brick and mortar fabric shops. I guess the one thing that I thought was a bit lacking was their selection of home decorator weight fabrics. They did have lamininated cottons and suprisingly they had three of the new super wide Melody Miller prints. Unfortunately they didn’t have the large bee print which I’ve been dying to see in person…

Pricing:

Pricing was varied because they carried so many different types of fabric. I didn’t look at the solids so I’m not sure what they cost but the standard quilting weight fabrics were around $10 a yard and voiles, Echino, and the few home decorator weights went up to almost $20 a yard.

Fat Quarters:

In some sections there were baskets of fat quarters and along one wall there were shelves of them. I prefer my fat quarters to be organized all by color or all by collection but they seemed to organize the fat quarters differently on different parts of the shelves. It also looked like the fat quarters were mostly prints they no longer carried yardage of.

Customer Service:

I didn’t buy anything (shocking I know) but a couple of ladies asked me if they could help. The only thing that suprised me a bit was when a lady asked if she could put a stack of bolts down on the cutting table and at first the woman working there wasn’t going to let her. Allowing customers to stack fabric is a pretty common practice for fabric shops as it encourages customers to buy more. If you have to schlep three bolts of fabric around you aren’t likely to keep shopping or want to pick up and carry around more. The worker did eventually make room and allow the customer to leave the stack but it was still odd.

What I like about brick and mortar fabric shops is that they often have fabrics in stock that have long since sold out of the online shops. The downside is that their inventory is much slower to turn over so I doubt I’ll go back again any time soon. I didn’t buy anything because I didn’t see any “must haves” and what with the economy being what it is I’m trying to restrict my buying. But I did see plenty of “like to haves” and if I was making more in commission I certainly would have purchased a few yards if for no other reason than to support a local quilt shop that is so obviously trying to cater to “modern” quilters.

If you are going to be in the area it’s definitely worth a bit of a drive.

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