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Pinned….

A thought occurred to me as I am in the middle of three or four different projects… in everything I have written and taught about quilts and quilting, I have never, not once, discussed the subject of pins.

Pins are one of those sewing items that everyone needs, regardless of what they’re making.  I know quilters, crafters, and seamstresses that declare either they don’t use them or rarely use them.  I’ve never known why they say that with such an air of pride.  In my mind, pins do more than hold the fabric together as you feed it through the machine.  To me, they cut down on any errors you could possibly make.  I always pin my nested seams together before I sew them.  It prevents any slippage, so my corners always meet nicely.  If I’m sewing long, skinny strips together, such as in a log cabin quilt, it keeps the edges together and straight.  So, I’ve never been quite sure why some seamstresses and quilters don’t see the need for pinning their projects.

There are roughly six major types of pins on the market.  The one that’s most widely available are the dressmaker pins.

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Don’t let the name fool you. These can be used just fine in quilting, too, although they aren’t my first choice.  These vary in length from 1 1/16-inches to 1 3/8-inches. Dressmaker pins can be found nearly anywhere – dollar store establishments, grocery stores, big box craft stores…you name it, they’re generally in the same aisle as the laundry supplies or general sewing notions.  They play well with a variety of fabrics.  However, like shoes, you get what you pay for.  While they’re always going to be on the inexpensive end of pins, the cheaper ones are coarser and the business end of the pin may not always be ground to a sharp point.  They are also larger in diameter and may leave a visible hole in some fine cottons or delicate fabrics.

 

My “go-to” pin when I’m piecing are the pins designed specifically for quilting.

 

Quilting pins are longer in shank than other pins, which makes them perfect for paper piecing.  Typically, they are at least 1 ¾-inch long, which means they work well when pinning all three layers of your quilt together.    Some brands have heavier shanks than others, so be sure to test drive several brands before settling on a favorite.  Some have the typical “ball head” but others can have  T-heads or  small plastic disks that are shaped like butterflies, flowers, etc.  I like the ones with the disk because these plastic parts are large enough to write on with a fine-tipped marker, meaning you can use them to indicate such things as row one, block 3 (R1,B3) or left and right. The points are generally very sharp and go through cotton fabric easily.

Silk pins are another pin that quilters may want to consider, especially when piecing fine cotton fabrics, such as Liberty of London.

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These are usually 1 ¼-inch long, so they fall between dressmaker pins and quilting pins.  They were originally designed to use with silk and silk-like fabrics, which means they are smooth and the shank is very slender in diameter and they have super-sharp points.  If you need to use these, make sure you get the nickel plated, hard steel kind that won’t rust.  I love to use these if I’m piecing blocks that have lots of small pieces.

Ballpoint pins are another kind of pin you may want to consider using.

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Like dressmaker pins, they have a larger, coarser shank and they come in several different lengths.  The ball point is the factor for consideration with these pins.  The end is not sharpened to a super-fine point, but is slightly rounded, making them ideal to use with knit fabrics, since they separate the fabric threads instead of piercing them.  I would not use them with fine cotton fabrics because of this fact.  The separation of the fabric threads may cause “runs” in the cotton material. However, like the dressmaker pins, they’re not my favorite to use in quilting. Their saving grace is that they are widely available.  This means if I forget my pins while I’m on vacation, I can find these or the dressmaker pins at the local grocery store.

 

The last two pins are specialty pins, but I seriously could not do without them.  The first specialty pin is the applique pin.

These are easily identifiable, because the shank is smaller both in length and diameter than any other pin.  Applique pins are generally no longer than ½-inch in length and can be smaller in diameter than even the silk pins.  For years applique enthusiasts used sequin pins (small pins used for pinning sequins on to Styrofoam forms to make Christmas ornaments), but these have a large head on them, which meant your applique thread was constantly getting tangled around that end of the pin.  Clover came out with a tapered head on their pins’ heads, which prevented any tangling.  Karen Kay Buckley has also developed an applique pin with an even thinner shank than Clover and is slightly longer, which makes it perfect for larger applique pieces.  If you love applique, but dislike the glue-basting, some of these pins are worth the investment.

The second specialty pin that I absolutely must have on my sewing table and in my sewing basket, are glass head pins.

glass-head-pins

I was introduced to this engineering marvel years ago, when I did a lot of lace-shaping for my daughter’s French Heirloom dresses.  These are long and thin in shank, like the silk pins, but the head is indeed made of glass.  What’s so special about that?  Well, the glass head means that it doesn’t melt under a hot iron.  Some aspects of quilting are like lace-shaping – you pin the fabric down and with lots of steam and a hot iron, you force it to take the shape you need it to take. Specifically, I’m think of Celtic Quilts and vines and stems and basket handles in applique blocks.  If you use a quilting pin with a plastic head, that plastic could melt on the fabric and ruin your work.  Glass head pins won’t.  They’re one of the most expensive pins on the market, but gosh, if you applique, they are more than worth the investment.

My final statement about pins:  Don’t sew over them.  That action can break a needle or damage your bobbin case.  Stop before the pin gets under your sewing machine needle and remove it.

I did make two purchases this week and those weren’t fabric!  However, they are quilt-related. From some of my Christmas money I bought these new Kixs….

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Cool, huh?

 

And I ordered Bonnie Sullivan’s new book.

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I know it was published in 2016, but I just got around to buying it.  I looked through it this week and my mouth watered.  Now I want to make all the things….

 

Let me update you on my latest adventure with Santa’s Loading Dock.  My knee is better.  I’m out of my brace, the pain is minimal (except at the end of the day), and I still am using my cane.  I have planned my background and am cutting out my squares.  Hopefully by Sunday evening, I will have the background together.

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I did manage to email the pieces I needed enlarged to my local Office Depot.  In the notes part of my email, I told the nice folks there that I knew that some of the pieces would be on reallllllyyyyy large pieces of paper.  So, a few hours after they received my email, I got a call….

“Ms. Fields, do you know just how large some of those pieces are going to be?”

I assured them I did….sort of.

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Here are the window and the continents.  The sleigh took four….FOUR…pieces of paper the same size as the paper the window is printed on.  This thing is massive.  I came out of Office Depo $38.00 poorer, but it’s well worth it if this quilt works out.  I still think we’re going to have to re-do the timeline and put the floor on sooner than the book calls for just to make sure the whole thing comes together proportionately.

 

Still working on snowmen and Farmer’s Wife blocks….and need to finish the border of my President’s Challenge.  But first I need to make up my mind what I want to do with it.

 

And still Quilting Fearlessly….

 

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

 

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A Hitch in my Gettiup

Oh my, what a week!

 

Let me preface this blog by plainly stating I am a list maker.  Before I go to bed every night, I make a list of the things I need to get done the next day.  It’s the last thing I see when I go to bed at night and the first thing I see when I wake up the next morning.  It keeps me focused and crossing all the items off makes me feel accomplished.

 

I’ve done this for years and this system works for me.  It may stress other people out, but I’ve done this little exercise since I was in middle school.  I like getting things done.  However, this week I’ve been a little hamstrung in more ways than one.  If you’re a regular reader, you will remember that back in August of 2016, I pulled a tendon in my left knee while walking across a perfectly level, dry floor at the Teeter (my local grocery store).  Well, a couple of weeks ago, I pulled the same tendon AGAIN either loading my sewing machine in the car or unloading it at class or at home.  And no, it wasn’t Big Red (my Janome 7700), it was the small Juki I use for teaching, classes, and all day sew-ins.

 

So it’s this….

knee-brace

 

And this…

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For at least three more weeks.  Coupled with ice and heat and not being on my knee more than about 45 minutes at a time.  Needless to say this doesn’t fit into my lifestyle at all.  I’m not getting enough done and what I can do is taking forever. The only thing I’ve got going in this situation is that my cane is leopard print.

 

I did tell you folks about the Snowman Challenge my quilt group is undertaking.  You take a traditional 6-inch block and put a snowman in it somehow.  I did get three of these done this week.  I’m using white wool for my snowmen so that the background fabrics don’t show through.  I think they’re kind of cute and it really is wonderfully creative.

And then there’s the Halo Medallion.  I did get the first floater, the setting triangles, and the second floater put on.  I plan to work on the half-square triangles tonight.

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I’m still working on the Farmer’s Wife Quilt.  I’ve nearly got all the blocks done.

 

Meanwhile, let me give you an update on Santa’s Loading Dock.  I have all my blue fabric picked out for the background.  At some point this weekend, I have to cut them into 6 ½-inch squares and sew them into the background for the globe.  Lisa and Linda have finished theirs, so I’ve got to catch up.

We did discover, after we worked up our timeline, that you really need to make the background and floor, and at least have the sleigh and window printed out so you know where to place the continents.  The struggle has been to enlarge these pieces as much as the pattern calls for (which is sometimes as much as 200%).  Much of my morning was taken up with this battle.

 

I knew that however I decided to enlarge my pattern, it would be easier if I had my book spiral-bound.  So I headed over to my local Office Depo this morning at 10:30, book in one hand and cane in the other.  I hobbled over to the service desk and a nice young man told me he certainly could put the book on a spiral, just stand right there and he’d have it back to me in a few minutes.

 

The key words here are “stand” and “a few minutes.”

 

Right now, neither do very well for me.  I’m not sure what happened in the process, but it took an hour to get that spiral put on the book because one of the machines kept malfunctioning.  I had to stand the entire time because there was nowhere to sit.  When me and my bum knee finally got out of there, the pain was overwhelming.  I didn’t dare ask about enlarging the patterns because I was deathly afraid something else would malfunction and I have to stand another hour.

 

Needless to say, the pain medication has been my best friend this afternoon.

 

If all goes well, I’m heading back to Office Depot tomorrow or Sunday and get what I need enlarged and continue to work on the Loading Dock.  If this is a precursor to my Year of Fearless Quilting, it should be a wild 365-day trip around the sun.

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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My Biggest Challenge?

So yesterday I met with my support group for this little project.

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We all know that challenging quilts are more fun when you have someone who is going to be just as confused as you are at any given point by your side.  With that in mind, Linda, Lisa, and I met yesterday to plan our strategy for Santa’s Load Dock.  We all had read the book, Lisa had drawn out the globe, and Linda had her background already complete.

Let me mention at this point (least you feel that I was not keeping up my end of the deal) that Lisa and Linda do not work.  Please feel free to contact my husband if you feel I need to retire in order to properly support my fellow quilters.

 

It’s going to take about 27 months to complete this project.  Keep in mind that all three of us have other quilts under progress during this time, so SLD (Santa’s Loading Dock) will not be the only quilt under construction.  Mary Buvia, the quilt designer, only took a year to make her masterpiece, but I have a feeling that SLD was the only project she was working on during that trip around the sun.

I have decided that this is going to be another one of my stash busters. I may have to purchase more red fabric for the left side of the quilt with the reindeer names, but I think I have enough of everything else to seriously deplete my fabric supply.  I love this quilt because it does use so many colors, yet it fits together seamlessly.

 

In this year of “Fearless Quilting,” I feel that SLD will be my biggest challenge. If it works out well, it will also be one of my biggest rewards.  I plan on blogging about the progress of the quilt and my support group.

 

In the meanwhile, I have the second set of directions for The Halo Medallion.

 

I have some great ideas for my Snowman Challenge, but  haven’t had the time to execute them.

 

Here’s to Fearless Quilting!

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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Fearlessly Starting

I had two starts this week.

 

For those of you who may not understand the quilting terminology “start,” let me explain.  A quilter purchases fabric for a quilt and/or pulls material for a quilt from her stash to begin a new quilt top.  A “start” in quilting-land is when you take said-referenced fabric and actually construct the first block – hence a “start.”

 

The first start was this:

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For those of you who are members of thequiltshow.com or have followed the life and blogs of Sue Garman, you will immediately recognize this as the center medallion of the last  — or at least one of the last – quilts she designed called Halo Medallion.  Sue lost her battle to lung cancer a couple of weeks ago.  She was a non-smoker who managed to succumb to this horrible disease that has taken far too many wonderful people from us.  She was an incredibly talented quilter and quilt designer and so very gracious.  When my guild wanted to make her pattern, Ruffled Roses, for a raffle quilt, she generously gave her permission and encouraged us to send pictures after it was complete.  Her loss will be profoundly felt in the quilting world.

The second start was this:

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This is the first block of the mystery quilt my guild’s quilt club is making.  I am not crazy about the quality of the picture – it makes the star point’s fabric look orange, when in fact it’s coral.  This Martha Washington’s Star is constructed from the fabric I featured in last week’s blog.  I swear it’s a love/hate relationship with my new camera.

 

I’ve really have a third start – a quilt I’m entering in a show this August, but again, I can’t put it on social media, as it’s against the rules.  In due time I will show this, but it won’t be until next fall.  But to give you an idea, it has a dozen Ohio Star blocks in it that are 1-inch, finished.

 

These small pieces are another component in my “Year of Quilting Fearlessly.”  The smallest blocks I have ever made at this point are 4-inches, finished.  I’ve loved miniature quilts for a long time but have never thought I had the skill level to complete them, or at least complete them well.  In fact, I’ve always been a little daunted at the thought of anything smaller than the blocks I did for Dear Jane.

So again, I would like to challenge you…in 2017, quilt fearlessly.  Don’t be intimidated by a pattern, a designer, or a color.  Let each of these challenge you, but not intimidate or overwhelm you.  Let them teach you a different skill set or improve a skill set you have.  You can do this!  It will stretch you as a quilter and improve your work.

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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Fearlessly Progressing….

Happy Weekend!

I have been stitching my fingers off this week.  I finished my entry for The Applique Society’s Postcard to Placemat contest.  I think I’ve quilted that thing to an inch of its life, but as soon as I finish binding it, it will be photographed and shipped out.  I wish I could show it to you, but the rules state it can’t be shown on social media until the winners are chosen.  The top ten entries will be shown all over the country in different quilt shows.  My fingers are crossed and time will tell.

Meanwhile, a quilt group I belong to has started a mystery quilt.  According to the person that’s leading the bee, this one has a patriotic theme. However, since the last mystery quilt I did with this group was red, blue, and cream, I opted for other colors.  Remember what I said in last week’s blog that this year my creed was “Quilting Fearlessly?”  I backed up my words with action this week and chose colors that were totally out of my comfort zone.

 

This is the new collection from Connecting Threads.  It’s called Firenze and the colors are darker than I typically gravitate towards.  I’m anxious to see how this one comes out – both in the choice of blocks and how the colors work together.

 

I’m off to the Statesville Quilt Show next weekend with a busload of my closest quilting friends.  Stay tuned…

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and  Sam

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Quilt Fearlessly

Well I survived the 2017 Snow Apocalypse.  According to my trusty quilting ruler, there was 10-inches of the fluffy, white stuff on top of my car by last Saturday afternoon – which meant I spent much of the weekend in my quilt studio.  I accomplished a lot, but never as much as I want to.  I’m starting three new quilt tops this year, and my challenge was to find the fabric and see if I needed to order anything else.  Which brings me to the first point of this blog…

Always Shop Your Stash First

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I only had to order some background fabric (11 yards – I rarely keep that much of the same kind of fabric in my stash) and two greens.  Greens are kind of funny.  I don’t care how many greens you have in your stash, the right shade or tone isn’t there.  Remember what I wrote about several blogs ago:  the average stash is worth $6,000.00.  Use it and use it well.  That way you feel much less guilty about purchasing more fabric.

Which brings me to my second point of this blog…

When you must purchase fabric, shop your local quilt shop or small, on-line business first

I know I sound like a broken record, but yes, this needs to be done as much as possible. Since my LQS is shuttered and Pineapple Fabric’s next warehouse sale isn’t until February, I did shop on-line for fabric for the first time in years.

The last point of this week’s blog is this – life is short.  It’s way too short to drink bad coffee, wear ugly shoes, or put up with people that are continuously pains in the backside.  And it’s way too short to keep making the same kind of quilt over and over again.  I mean, all of us quilters are guilty of this.  We get used to the same kind of pattern.  We’re comfortable with the execution of the skill set and the technical difficulties of the same kinds of quilts.  We can pick color palates in our heads when we’re doing something as mundane as flossing our teeth.  In my opinion, at this point, quilters break into three categories:

Those that like to almost exclusively piece.

Those that like to almost exclusively applique.

Those that piece and applique in the same quilt, and the piecing is fairly simple.

You don’t believe me?  Okay, take this challenge.  Go to your quilting space.  Pull out your patterns.  Put all the pieced patterns in one pile, all the applique patterns in one pile, and the patterns that mix both techniques in another.  The pile with the greatest number of patterns will tell you what type of quilter you are.

I have three challenges to my readers this year:  First, look at that largest pile of patterns and vow not to do more than one of those types this year.  We all need something we’re comfortable with to grab and work on when we’re too tired to think or when we just want to be pushing fabric under the needle.  But this year, try a pattern you normally wouldn’t even dream about making.  Whether that means an intricately pieced quilt, a paper-pieced quilt, an applique quilt, or a hand-pieced quilt, don’t be afraid to try something different.  Personally, I don’t grow as a quilter unless I’m challenged – given something new and harder than I’ve ever tried before.  I may not always be pleased as punch at the end result, but I learn a lot of lessons along the way that serve to make me a better quilter.  I’ve got a couple of these on my table right now and will be sharing the lessons learned as I go along.

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One of my challenges this year and probably next….

Second, work with a color either you don’t like or doesn’t play well with other fabric.  Why?  Because it expands your color vision and makes you play with colors that normally you wouldn’t give a second glance at.  I know I tend to get locked into color schemes that I’m very comfortable with (purple/green, pink/brown, blue/green.  And due to this, I have a lot of those colors in my stash please do not ask me how many purples are in my stash—it’s almost embarrassing. Which means when I need a yellow or an orange or a black, I’m scrambling to try to find some on my shelf.  It also pushes you out of your comfort zone and dares you to almost fly by the seat of your pants.  Don’t be afraid of orange or lime green or whatever color it is that makes you nearly cringe.  All the crayons belong in our quilting box.

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Remember this jewel from the “This Spoke to Me” blog?  While I love it dearly, it does not play well with a lot of fabric.

Last, find organizations that need quilts and try to make at least one to donate to them.  It could be a national organization such as Project Linus or Quilts of Valor, or a local hospital that needs small quilts for preemies or cancer patients.  It could be the local police that would like to have a quilt or two in the trunk of their police cars to shelter and comfort victims of domestic abuse as they’re removed from dangerous situations.  It could be a nursing home or Alzheimer’s unit that needs fidget blankets.  The point here is that our kids and other family members can only inherit so many quilts.  At some point, we need to quilt to give them away.  The love and warmth and prayers that are in so many of our quilts go a long way to comfort folks that are in a horrible situation.  Don’t be afraid to get involved.

Don’t be afraid, fellow quilters.  This year – quilt fearlessly. 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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Nothing Like a Little Honesty

I have a lot of great quilting friends.

There’s the group of women I sew with on Tuesday nights.  On any given Tuesday night, anywhere between 8 and 20 of us get together and sew and quilt.  This Sit and Sew started at Dragonfly and now that the store has closed, we are continuing to sit and sew at Karen’s house.  This tightly knit group of women were the core that started the High Point Quilt Guild.

Which brings me to my next group of quilting pals – my local guild.  This group of women and men have an “official meeting” once a month, but a good number of us end up together once or twice a month to quilt, too.  We’re a small and fairly new guild, so this too, is a great group of friends.

These folks are my rock…my support group…my therapy session…

However, there is one group of women that I have quilted with since 2001.  This is a bee that sprang from Hancock’s Block of the Month Club.  We call ourselves the Quilting Cuties. Once Hancock’s disbanded the BOM, we continued to meet to quilt and chat.  This is the group of ladies I have known the longest.  Since Hancock’s closed, we’ve gone down in number from seven to four, but this group is the group that knows me best.

And this is the group that is probably the most honest with me.  Always.

So when Lisa, a member in good standing of the Quilting Cuties, called me out on last week’s blog, well…I had to listen.  Because Lisa may be blunt, but she is always the most honest.  Concerning last week’s blog, she commented, “Well, that was cheery.”

I went back and read it.  And she was right.  It wasn’t sunshine and roses and unicorns.  But at the time, it did reflect my raw feelings about our present quilt world.  It has collectively been turned upside down and inside out in many ways.  However, perhaps I shouldn’t have reflected that on my readers.

So I do apologize and hope I didn’t discourage or offend anyone because that certainly wasn’t my intent.  I just needed to regroup, reorganize, and re-orient myself.  And I did.  I finished a quilt top this week, but I can’t show it because it’s a present for someone that regularly reads my blog.  I ordered the backing today and as soon as it gets in, it’s going on my long arm and will be quilted.

Speaking of which, I’m no professional at it at all, but learning how to deal with Loretta has been tons of fun and I’m getting better.  I’m learning what thread she likes and which kind she spits back at me.  I’ve learned to pantograph reasonably well, but find it rather boring.  I am loving freehand work.  I’ve yet to try rulers, but have purchased a few several and as soon as I can book another class with Shelle and/or Janet, I want to learn these.  This is my latest pantograph work, although it’s kind of hard to see in this picture.

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And I’m almost through with all my Farmer’s Wife blocks!

These were fun…

These were a bit more challenging…

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And I fell in love with the colors on these…

These blocks are 6.-inches unfinished.  But after working on Jane for so many years, they feel huge.  And anytime I work with a 12.5-inch unfinished block — it’s ginormous to me. I’ve only got 15 more blocks to go and I can start putting this together.  I love the Fig Tree fabrics and a huge thank you goes to Jill for “plumping” my stash with her leftover Fig Tree scraps.

The weather folks are calling for 6 to 8 inches of snow here tomorrow and Saturday.  I’ve done my milk/bread/toilet paper/wine/coffee run, so after I finish some household chores (because I really need to clean the house since the Christmas tree is down and packed away), it looks like it’s quilting all weekend!  Hooray!

 

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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The State of the Quilt

Today is December 29, 2016.  In two days, we will ring in a New Year.  It’s a time to turn over a new leaf, set some goals, make some plans.  It’s also a time to think about the past year and decide what, if anything, you would do differently.  It likewise is a time to look back at what has happened on a larger stage and try to determine how that is going to affect the time-line continuum of the future.

 

With that in mind, Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to address The State of The Quilt 2016.

 

And to be honest, in many ways 2016 has been brutal to quilts and quilters.  Let me recap briefly:

The National Quilt  Association closed.  This was the granddaddy on the quilting block – the organization that begat AQS, the National Teacher Certification Program, and the National Judges Certification Program.

Quilters Newsletter, the granddaddy of quilt publications, ceased publication in October.

The International Machine Quilters Association, which has been around for 20 years, shuttered.

The Applique Society came very, very close to disbanding and has only survived by going completely electronic and changing membership due dates.

City Quilter in New York City – a major shopping destination for quilters both in person and on line – closed.

Hancock Fabrics closed all of their stores.

And finally AQS announced  that they will no longer publish books.

 

Add to this several Mom and Pop quilt stores have either closed completely or shuttered their brick and mortar stores but have maintained a web presence, and 2016 looks particularly dismal for quilts and quilters.  I could not find the actual number of quilt shops that closed this year or in 2015, but a quick Google search produced four pages of quilt shops that are for sale – if you’re willing to take the risk.

The only thing I can even remotely relate this experience to is a patient waking up from plastic surgery – you know they’re probably going to survive, but you’re not quite sure what they’re going to look like when they wake up.

We’ve lost a lot in 2016 – from quilting organizations, to quilting publications, to quilt shops.  And as I’ve stated before, I’m not quite sure where exactly this all is taking us.  At this point in my life, I’ve quilted 27 years and I’ve never seen the quilting horizon look quite like this.  The need, the necessity to have a good fabric store within reasonable driving distance has always been there for me.  And now it is not.  I currently must drive 20 minutes or longer to purchase quality fabric and thread.  With my crazy work schedule I know I will be purchasing more on line than ever.  This will drive me nuts, as I am one of “those” quilters that has to touch and feel what I’m buying.  I can’t help but wonder how many other quilters are faced with this same situation.

On the other hand, the fact that quilters are extremely generous folks has been once again proven in 2016.  There are more than 20 national/international organizations that make quilts for kids, patients, shelter animals, etc.  And they all have reported either a steady influx of quilts, or more than received in 2015.

According to the latest statistics available for quilters, there are 16 million active quilters.  If you do the math, that means one out of every 20 people quilt regularly.  We collectively spend about 3.75 billion dollars to support and foster our habit craft. This means that 22.2% of American households have at least one quilter and that household spends an average of $3,296 annually on quilting needs.  Each of these quilters has an average of $13,000 in quilting supplies (machines, rulers, notions, and tools), and these quilters’ stash is worth an average of $6,000. Approximately 87% of these quilters own an Ipad, tablet, laptop, or e-reader and they use that in their quilting either through purchasing notions and fabrics, researching projects, connecting with other quilters, or taking on-line quilting classes.

So despite the fact that the quilting landscape is drastically changing, quilting remains a healthy, viable art.  But like I stated earlier, we’re just not so sure what it’s going to look like when things settle  down a bit.  However with 2017 peeking around the corner, I would like look into my quilting crystal ball and make a few quilting predictions.

crystal-ball

 

  1. There will be fewer large shows.  They’re just not cost effective.
  2. Fewer guilds will have shows with vendors, too.  They can’t find the people to organize them and they’re not particularly cost effective.  I do think they will continue to have judged shows for their members’ quilts, though.
  3. More and more publications will go to e-versions only. They are now offering deep discounts to people that want an e-subscription.  Publishing a paper magazine or newsletter is costly, not to mention the postage will eat a budget alive.
  4. More local quilt shops will continue to either close or go to on-line sales only. Rent is high, and on-line sales lowers costs all the way around.
  5. There will continue to be more and better on-line classes available for quilters and the cost of these will remain reasonable.
  6. Instead of quilt shops, I see a rise in the number of “Quilt Studios.” These studios will be space where several quilters may split the cost of the rent and use it for teaching classes and keeping a small inventory on hand for use in their classes.  The studios will be open only for classes and at other times by appointment.

I keep reminding myself that not all change is bad and that it’s necessary for the art to continue to thrive.  Out of all the art forms, quilting is among the most flexible and has bent with the winds of change for hundreds of years and it will continue to do so.  We may not recognize the quilting world of tomorrow any more than we can imagine cutting out a quilt with cardboard templates and scissors the way our great-grandmothers did, but the quilt will survive and thrive.  As long as we don’t begin to quilt in isolation without the support and fellowship of other quilters, 2017 and beyond will work out quite well for our quilts and quilters.

We, and our quilts, are survivors.

 

Love and Stitches,

 

Sherri and Sam

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SONY DSC
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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas Everyone~

 

Despite the fact that my shopping and wrapping has been over with for  weeks, I am still in the middle of a thousand Christmas-y things, tonight’s being my Guild’s Christmas Party, an event where much fun, food, and merriment will be had.

 

So, to lighten your holiday spirit, instead of my regularly scheduled blog, here’s a little Christmas poem to hopefully make you giggle just a little.  Next week’s blog will return to all things quilty, starting 2017 out with my annual “State of The Quilt” address – similar to the “State of the Union” address, only funnier and much better.

 santa-claus

 A Politically Correct Christmas 
Anon

Twas the night before Christmas and Santa’s a wreck…
How to live in a world that’s politically correct?
His workers no longer would answer to “Elves”,
“Vertically Challenged” they were calling themselves.
And labor conditions at the North Pole,
were alleged by the union, to stifle the soul.

Four reindeer had vanished without much propriety,
released to the wilds, by the Humane Society.
And equal employment had made it quite clear,
that Santa had better not use just reindeer.
So Dancer and Donner, Comet and Cupid,
were replaced with 4 pigs, and you know that looked stupid!

The runners had been removed from his beautiful sleigh,
because the ruts were deemed dangerous by the EPA,
And millions of people were calling the Cops,
when they heard sled noises upon their roof tops.
Second-hand smoke from his pipe, had his workers quite frightened,
and his fur trimmed red suit was called “unenlightened”.

To show you the strangeness of today’s ebbs and flows,
Rudolf was suing over unauthorized use of his nose.
He went to Geraldo, in front of the Nation,
demanding millions in over-due workers compensation.

So…half of the reindeer were gone, and his wife
who suddenly said she’d had enough of this life,
joined a self help group, packed and left in a whiz,
demanding from now on that her title was Ms.

And as for gifts…why, he’d never had the notion
that making a choice could cause such commotion.
Nothing of leather, nothing of fur…
Which meant nothing for him or nothing for her.
Nothing to aim, Nothing to shoot,
Nothing that clamored or made lots of noise.
Nothing for just girls and nothing for just boys.
Nothing that claimed to be gender specific,
Nothing that’s warlike or non-pacifistic.

No candy or sweets…they were bad for the tooth.
Nothing that seemed to embellish upon the truth.
And fairy tales…while not yet forbidden,
were like Ken and Barbie, better off hidden,
for they raised the hackles of those psychological,
who claimed the only good gift was one ecological.

No baseball, no football…someone might get hurt,
besides – playing sports exposed kids to dirt.
Dolls were said to be sexist and should be passe.
and Nintendo would rot your entire brain away.

So Santa just stood there, disheveled and perplexed,
he just couldn’t figure out what to do next?
He tried to be merry, he tried to be gay,
but you must have to admit he was having a very bad day.
His sack was quite empty, it was flat on the ground,
nothing fully acceptable was anywhere to be found.

Something special was needed, a gift that he might,
give to us all, without angering the left or the right.
A gift that would satisfy – with no indecision,
each group of people in every religion.
Every race, every hue,
everyone, everywhere…even you!
So here is that gift, it’s price beyond worth…
“May you and your loved ones enjoy peace on Earth.”

Merry Christmas!

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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SONY DSC

 

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The Last Stand and the Unfiltered Truth

dresdan-plate-quilt

 

I promise you this is the last (for the time being, anyway) word I will have about local quilt shops, nationally renowned teachers, and on-line stores.  I promise.

The internet is a wonderful tool for any artist or crafty-minded person.  Countless numbers of YouTube videos are out there on almost any subject any quilter could think of.  Machine quilting with a domestic machine, loading a long arm, machine applique with invisible thread, piecing tricks – they are all out there and available with a point of the cursor and a click of the mouse.  And many of these videos aren’t made by just any quilter.  A lot of these videos are produced by nationally renowned instructors such as Jenny Doan, Eleanor Burns, Jodi Barrows, Karen Kay Buckley – the list is endless.

And they’re free on YouTube.  Which means anyone with Wi-Fi access and a phone can watch and learn from the Master Quilters.  That’s a good thing, right?  It levels the quilting field so that everyone and not just a select few can obtain great quilty truths from truly great quilters.  It’s the democracy of quilting, correct?

 

Well… yes and no.

The “Yes” part is that it is indeed a wonderful concept that everyone can watch these videos, whether they’re on YouTube or any other website and learn new concepts.  This makes everyone a better quilter.  There are several women I quilt with that I know would love to take lessons from a nationally-known teacher, but the price is so far out of their budget, there’s just no way it will ever happen.  These videos make those teachers available to these women.  And that is a good thing.

But here’s the “No” part – nothing is ever really free.  

Let’s look at this a little closer.  We all use YouTube.  Admit it.  You’re having a tension issue and can’t make heads or tails out of your sewing machine manual?  Chances are there is a video out there that explains it a lot better than the mechanical engineer who wrote the darn handbook.  Need a little, quick inspiration?  Jenny Doan has a new tutorial out there and she is absolutely darling.  Want to take a class from Mary Sorenson, Leah Day, Jinny Beyer, or Beth Ferrier?  You don’t need to look any further than Craftsy.  Love Bethanne Nemesh’s long arm techniques and want to learn from her?  Iquilt can hook you up in a clicky minute.

So what’s so bad about that?  Sure, on YouTube the video is free.  On sites like Craftsy and Iquilt, you pay a fee.  So the teacher is earning some kind of profit, right?

 

Yes.  On that point you’re absolutely right.  And the nationally-known teacher reaches so many more quilters this way than he or she ever could on the quilt show and teaching circuit.  It’s easier in some ways, too.  The traveling is more limited – they may have to travel to the studios where the video class is produced instead of all over the United States.  They prep for the class one time instead of hundreds.  So it’s a win-win.  Why on earth should a renowned teacher ever offer actual classes again, and why on earth should anyone pay out a couple of hundred bucks to take an actual class?

I’ve taken classes with some of these nationally-known teachers and it would be really easy for me to flip out this excuse:  Take the class for the experience.  And that reason would be partially correct.  But the “experience” can be a flimsy reason to shell out a few hundred bucks for a class.

The teachers I have taken classes from have been very thoughtful about making the experience a once-in-a-life time opportunity for their students.  They take the fact that you’ve paid out major bucks very seriously and make sure you’re getting your money’s worth.  They will limit class size, make sure the room is prepped, and everything is ready to go the minute class is ready to begin.  And they cover everything in the syllabus.

However, in a video class, there are no opportunities to ask questions, laugh with the instructor, and get to know them personally.  Like most other quilters, they seem to long for the quilty fellowship as much as anyone.  But this still begs the question I asked earlier: Why on earth should a renowned teacher ever offer actual classes again, and why on earth should anyone pay out a couple of hundred bucks to take an actual class?

The answer is, there really isn’t a good reason.  And a part of me is afraid that if we all purchase the on-line classes and forgo attending the real ones, more and more instructors will stop offering them.  Then another part of our quilting culture will be lost, just like the local quilt shops are disappearing one by one.

Now hold that thought and let’s move on to the next sticky quilting issue – on line shopping.

No quilter can dispute the ease of shopping on the internet.  Want a fabric that’s hard to find, in a color that’s impossible to match?  That’s no longer an obstacle.  A google search can yield hundreds of results in a matter of seconds.  Inspiration hits you at 2 a.m. and you’ve just got to have five yards of orange fabric delivered to your door in no less than 24-hours?  Not a problem.  Point, click and it’s shipped.  See a pattern you just have to have?  Sometimes it’s just a download away.

It’s all very, very convenient.  There is no disputing that.  But remember what I said in the first blog about this (the one where I was channeling Kathleen Kelly)—that we must begin to carefully cultivate our stash and purge ourselves of the notion that “She who dies with the most fabric wins?”  We also need to begin to change the way we purchase items on line.

Like most of you, I get tons of emails.  And a great deal of these emails are quilt or fabric related.  Which means, yes, I get notices from MassDrop and Fabric.com.  Do I order from them?  Yes.

But not until I’ve considered other options.  When Dragonfly was open, it was my go-to store because it was my local quilt shop.  I would have rather paid a little more and thrown my dollars Gerald’s and Patty’s direction for a couple of reasons.  First, I wanted them to stay open as long as possible.  And second, I got to touch the fabric and see it in reality and not on a screen.  I purchased as much as I could from my LQS.  However, inevitably, there were some pieces of fabric they didn’t have and I would have to make a decision about where to purchase them.  This is where I had to begin to change my consumerism and train myself to avoid the “big box” fabric warehouses.

So some things begin to come into play here.  Like a lot of quilters, I go to quilt shows.  I tend to pick up the vendor’s business cards and keep them.  My DH and I also travel a bit and he always takes me to a quilt shop or two in the area we’re visiting.  I get business cards from these shops, too.  So now, at this juncture, I pull those cards out.  The vendors and shops on most of these cards are truly Mom and Pop operations that are either LQS’s or are small business ventures that sell quality products, offer superior customer service, and like most quilting entrepreneurs these days,  struggle to keep their heads above water.  These are companies I go to first to do my on-line shopping.  And my reasons behind this deal with more than just to help keep the doors open for these business owners. It has to do with the fact that most of the time our business principles, work ethics, and values are similar.  It’s important to me that I support that.

I would encourage you to do the same.  I know Amazon and the larger websites are easy to navigate and easy to order from – believe me, I know.  However, behind every small vendor website exists real people who very, very much want to make a difference in our quilting world.  And they want to stay open.

And we want them to stay open.

Change is inevitable in any art or craft.  There are new influences, new inventions, and new technology that inexorably alter the way craftsmen do things.  Just think about the rotary cutter.  That item was introduced to the quilt world in the mid-70’s and by the late ‘80’s it was impossible to find a quilt pattern that didn’t offer rotary cutting instructions.  It  changed rulers, templates, and the amount of time we spent cutting our fabric.  We rarely ever think about not picking up a rotary cutter to cut out our quilts.

However, quilting is more than new fabric, new inventions, and new technology.  Quilting is an art, but it’s also a culture.  You don’t think so?  The definition of culture is “The arts and other manifestations of human intellectual achievement regarded collectively.”  And part of our quilting culture has always been that intersection where the art meets artists (plural).  The declination of the number of local quilt shops has the potential of directly limiting the opportunities for quilters to meet other quilters, exchange ideas, techniques, and inspire each other.  The fewer the number of quilt classes taught by nationally known teachers means even fewer opportunities for the quilter to step out of her local quilt realm and experience that exchange on an even wider level.

And we have yet to see what that impact will be. While we know quilting has always been one of the more “flexible” arts, adapting to whatever fabric and tools are available to it;  it has, however, remained one of the arts that was often done as a group – it was social interaction as well as creative output.  With the opportunities of that collaboration dwindling in number, there is the danger that quilting will become a socially isolated event linked only by Facebook groups, blogs, and on-line chat rooms.

It is important that we not become so focused on the act and art of quilting that we lose sight of the culture of the craft, because it’s not all about the quilts.  It’s about the quilters – the fellowship that we have with each other.  It’s about sharing the good times and the bad.  It’s about multiplying the joys and dividing the sorrows.  It’s about taking the scraps that life hands you and sticking your finger in fate’s eye when you make something beautiful out of it.

That’s what quilting is all about. And that’s the unfiltered  truth.

Love and Stitches,

Sherri and Sam

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