Sunday, March 15, 2015

E.E.Schenck Open House

Wow. I had an awesome weekend. Friday my bestie Kathy and I went down to an open house at E.E.Schenck, a wholesale distributor. Kathy has a small home business and I was her chosen companion to keep her awake for the drive to Portland. Lucky me!

I cashed in the last of my Marriott points for a free room and we made it an overnight jaunt. It was the perfect little getaway. We started our adventure on Friday. We headed down to Portland and made a stop on the way.

You just can't pass Chehalis without stopping at Sister's Fabric Shop. It is one of the friendliest shops on the planet! They carry a little bit of everything from holiday fabrics, traditional repros, feedsacks, to modern. And they have tons of bolts just full of color! And like I say they are a very friendly shop. We always leave with a smile (and some fabric).

Sisters is my go-to shop for traditional repro fabrics. Primo selection of colors and prints. They make up the cutest little FQ bundles. It was difficult to choose just one. Their traditional repros are always full of gorgeous color. This one is a good representation of the wonderful colors they put together. Wish I had gotten more, but I needed to save my money for some other stuff. I also got these cute modern feedsack hexies by American Jane.

That was some else's shopping cart.

Then we finally made it to E.E. Schenck's warehouse. This is my second visit to them during their "Trends Shows" I went to one last year and had a blast. While my knees wore out fast on the concrete floors, I did stroll through the aisles to look at all the cool stuff.  This was the main aisle of the warehouse with books patterns and quilts on display. The quilt show theme was color.

Friday's order of business was to fill Kathy's orders (and a bit of shopping for me) so we could get a head start on the Saturday portion of the show. The folks at this place were so friendly. I had a nice time chatting with one of the E.E. Schenck warehouse guys. It's good to see the faces behind the orders. I stocked up on some small assortment boxes of Aurifil thread.

Saturday was the day we were waiting for. Mark Lipinski was the keynote speaker for the event. I adore this man's spirit. And for what it's worth, he gives the best hugs. He spoke about the Slow Stitching Movement. I'm sure he got tired of seeing me in the first row just nodding in agreement and smiling. His talk really hit home with me and what I've been thinking about the last month or so away from my sewing room.

This will be discussed in the next few posts. I didn't realize it, but I've been quietly thinking about what he was talking about the last few months myself without his prompting. I've touched on it myself in this post, as well as a few others. I need to be more mindful with my sewing. I feel like I'm already doing that. I'm glad I'm heading in the right direction.

I sat next to a young lady from Japan who reps for Lecien. She was very nice. I know that many Japanese already practice the slow stitching movement. She seemed to be enjoying the talk as much as I was.

What I loved most about Mark's talk was that he ended it with an touch on what shop owners can do to support the movement, and how it can help increase their growth a profitability. Smart retailers already incorporate some of his principles.
For example -- the LQS that serves as my home base, Gathering Fabric, is a great shop that has built a great reputation for quality, education, and serves as a good "Home-base" to the quilt community. She cherry picks the best of the best lines, patterns and notions. Her staff is friendly, helpful, supportive of the quilt community. Her classes and events are second to none. She firmly believes in educating her customers whether it be through free demos, clubs, or classes. She gives her customers the tools to give "meaning" to their projects. Kudos to Susan, the shop owner for that. She's a good businesswoman. I consider myself blessed to have this shop near me. It is important that we continue to support our brick and mortar businesses.  They are integral to our community and serve as a great home-base for the slow stitching movement.

(I'm totally crushing on the brick-ish floral and the pale grey toile)

Back to the trip... After we left Portland and made our way home, We made one more stop along the way. Kathy said it had been years since she stopped by Ruby Street Quiltworks in Tumwater, WA (this is just outside of Olympia). I fell in love with this shop during the shop hop last year. This trip was no different. I squealed with delight (literally!) when I saw Lecien's Yoko Saito's latest line IN PERSON. So I had to purchase some 1/3 yard cuts for the project I'll be starting soon (more on that in another post). Again, another friendly shop that carries wonderful fabrics and stuff. (Notice a trend?).

So I'm a little bit poorer, money-wise, but much richer idea-wise. Lots of stuff to work with and think about. I call this a productive weekend.

Big huge thanks to E.E.Schenck, Mark Lipinski, and the other folks behind the slow stitching movement for inspiring me. Thanks also to the wonderful local quilts we visited along the way. I'll be talking more about my reflections on Mark's talk in the coming days. and big huge thanks to Kathy for allowing me to tag along!!!!!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Marcia Derse Studio Tour

This weekend I had the distinct pleasure of visiting with Marcia Derse, one of my favorite fabric designers, and one of Windham Fabric's newest designers (Yay!). I became acquainted with her at IQF in Cincinnati back in 2011. I found out our school years were spent in the same area and probably knew a lot of the same folks. So I'm doubly proud of this hometown gal!

Marcia recently relocated up here to the Seattle area. Believe you me, I was so excited when I heard the news! A mutual acquaintance of ours arranged a studio visit for Saturday and I was invited. Lucky me! A you well remember, in 2011 I got a chance to visit her Ohio studio. So you know I'd jump at a chance to do it again up here.

The view from her studio

We all had a lovely afternoon. We brought our lunches with us and we ate together. The view of Puget Sound from her lovely home was breathtaking! She is so blessed to be in such beautiful surroundings! I can't wait to see how this area inspires new designs.

After lots of chatting and lunch, we headed downstairs to her studio. You know you're in an artist's home when you're greeted at the front door with this beautiful artwork, done by Marcia herself.

I love her new studio. It's slightly smaller than her previous one, but is still spectacular.

I had fun looking at the bits and pieces of ephemera that surround her. One piece that caught my eye was this journal filled with photographs, hand made paper, and fabric. In another corner were vintage lead painted figures all lined up on a piece of wall-mounted moulding. I wish I got a photo of that. They were in a wee little nook that had a table full of cool stuff.

While we were chatting and learning about her design process, we listened to music on her vintage hifi! Talk about memories! Yep. Pure vinyl -- Herb Alert and Dusty Springfield, of course!

Besides studio gawking we did have to learn something. LOL! She talked about her design process. She starts out with a single yard of dyed fabric (she dyes using plastic baggies). In this example, a blue fabric. She then cuts it into fat quarters, and continues to play with it, over-dyeing each fat quarter different shades and using a resist medium to create line, shape or texture. She then sends it to Windham to translate the beautiful fabric into what you buy at your local quilt shop. It's a very detailed and tedious process, but when you get such a pretty fabric line, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.

Here are some of her fabrics -- this is from her Mosaic line.

I'm quite fond of this line, her Black & White line. In fact, You'll see a few familiar pieces in my stash. LOL!

Her Botanical line. (love that aqua print! -- I'm now kicking myself for not buying some). And (not shown) her Palette line, which is a soft blended "not so solid" kind of look. It's almost as if color has three dimensions. You will love the hand of her fabric. It's very soft and substantial. Excellent quality. The colors are saturated -- nothing wimpy here! 

One of the things I loved were the nooks and crannies filled with her beautiful fabric. Little pockets of color. This is her official archive closet, jam-packed with three yard cuts of every fabric she created. Also filled with various and scraps and archival strips. As you can see, she is very moved by color. You will remember those scrap baskets from the Ohio tour. 

This series of glass cased shelves hold her beautiful hand dyed fabrics. Again... look at all that color. (and the thread!) Can I take that home with me? 

One could not help but come home inspired. I made a small purchase for me, and some for a friend. This was what I got. I looked at my stash and noticed I needed some lighter tones. If I had my druthers/funds, I would have purchased a bundle of her entire Palette line. I started with these 1/2 yard cuts, as well as the one yard cuts of the black and white. 

This is what I bought for my friend. She's a purple girl. 

It was the best afternoon! The weather was perfect, the company was perfect, and inspiration was overflowing. Now to put this inspiration to work. LOL!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Back in the studio

I need a good day to get back in the studio. My houseguest left a bit of a mess and I need to clean up some "picky" things. So that's a full day task.

I ordered a free motion quilting table from the Sew Steady folks while I was on foot rest, and it came in. It looks awesome and is just what I want! I purchased my Juki for quilting and wanted a quilting table/platform that uses the machine head-on. Couldn't ask for anything better! Yay! I can't wait to use it. 

This weekend or next week will find me taking the big machine in for some routine maintenance. I'm sure it got some rough handling away from my view. Plus I know it'll need some good cleaning. 

I'm back on two feet now. Well, somewhat. I'm still shaky on two legs, but that will pass with time. This is my third day and it gets better each day. 

This weekend is a sew day with my guild ladies. I'll be toting my hand project. I'll be honest, I'm really finding my mojo with English paper piecing. Who knows? Maybe I found my groove. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Two Good Days

This week I had two really good days so far... Yesterday and today. Yesterday I made my final payment on Tim Gunn Quattro, my big fancy machine, and  now he's all mine.

Today I ordered a Sew Steady table for Trixie Belden Juki. It's one in which the head of the machine faces you head-on versus the usual side configuration for the machine. I can't wait until that comes in! Yay!

I went to the doc for follow-up. He said two more weeks of being good on one foot, then I can wear the long walking cast and start back on two feet. I also got Ok"d for being able to take a shower. That got a triple yay from me. I'll be taking a long one tonight. LOL!

I also finally got my special parking placard, so I can now get out much easier with my live in helper. She has been such a blessing! She needed a job, and I needed help. Hubby and I have officially adopted her. We celebrated with Teriyaki and a Target visit today. Needed a few things.

I'll hit the studio when I'm more ambulatory. Lots of fall hazards in there (grin). So for now I'll stick to my handwork. Then I can get some backings made and projects off to quilters to finish.

Life is looking up!

Monday, February 2, 2015


I've been going through my scrap bin and cutting my leftovers into usable pieces. I have to admit, I've got a lot of scraps. Three days worth of work and I finally see a dent in my big blue IKEA bag of scraps. How's that for tons of 5" squares, 4.5" squares, 2.5" and more strips, and 2.5" squares.

Everything but the 2.5" squares will be bagged up and donated to the guild to raise money for the activities committee. The 2.5" squares I'm keeping for hexies. My plan is to make a hexie scrap quilt out of 1" hexies.

I still have a long way to go in getting to the bottom of my bag, but I can do it. I have some incentives I can work for... Yes, I scrap for cupcakes!

Rumor has it that a friend is coming over today to sew with me. I'm excited. If it doesn't happen, that's okay too. I have more than enough to keep me busy. Have a great day and an awesome week, y'all!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Behind the Scenes Update -- You heard it here:)

A lot of stuff is going on behind the scenes right now. Not a lot of sewing is going on. I had my foot surgery almost a week ago. By mid-day three I was off the pain pills. I'm now able to get around with the help of my knee scooter (for downstairs and getting out) and a rolling walker (for upstairs).

Most of my time has been spent on the sofa. While I love my relaxation moments, there are certain moments I go absolutely nuts. That's temporary and normal. But I do know for sure that I'll never take my mobility for granted. I've got three weeks to go for non-weight bearing (I hope) and can get the go-ahead for the boot (I lovingly call my "telephone pole").

I got my bandages changed yesterday at the doc's office and it all looks fine. Just some bruising at the heel and a 1.5 inch incision on the side of my foot where he inserted the screw. Swelling isn't too bad. I know that will take a few months to go away.

I have been working on my Diamonds in the Sky english paper piecing (EPP) kit. I'm in the middle of row #9. Getting into the homestretch on this project. It has 13 rows of stars and hexies, and two rows of just diamonds. So I've got 9-13 rows to complete, along with the one row of diamonds. Not too shabby!

I'm really finding a zen in this piecing method. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if/when we decide to retire and move, I may just keep a small machine for general use and concentrate on EPP. I am really digging the portability of it.

Yes, you heard it here.

For this row I started using a fabric glue stick to secure the fabric to the papers. I'm really liking that. it's much quicker than sewing. It's really helping me assemble things much faster. I'll be using this going forward and adding the stapler on my next project (for the yarn dyed/homespun stuff).

Speaking of next...

Actually hubby and I have been talking a lot about what's next in our lives. Nothing earth shattering is happening, but it is something that came up when we explored the "what ifs" about my broken foot/losing mobility, and all. Plus, every now and then you need to revisit that discussion as a couple to make sure you both are on the same page.

We absolutely love it here in Washington. If I had my druthers I'd move my entire family up here and live on a huge farm compound in the Skagit Valley. But alas, the land is expensive, my savings aren't that great, and I don't play the lottery. So it's just a dream.

I miss my silver baby!

Isn't this just peaceful? 

We've been exploring hubby's "retirement".  To know my hubby is to know that retirement is just working on a much lighter level. I think we've both decided that as of now, we will head back to TN.  And if the kids still want us, we will live on the farm in our RV. Yes, that involves selling stuff here -- lock, stock, and barrel and living the minimal life.

(If my fiends that knew me during the 1980s-90s heard me say this out loud, they'd think I flipped my noodle).

You heard it here.

I'll check in again when I finish the row. That will give me some accountability. In the meantime enjoy the week and the blessings it brings.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Feedsack Dreams

This morning had me dreaming about feedsack prints from the 1930s-50s. I had a quilt made from them. It was made by a relative from a kit she received over fifty years ago. Funny part was that most of the dream was true. I do own two quilts likely made by my great aunts. Both from either old feedsack prints, or an old feedsack kit from long ago.

In the dream one of my cousins was looking at this quilt and pulling out the quilting on it much to my chagrin. Evidently in the dream, the quilting was done with a clear thread (not like my old quilts) and the backing was some sort of foam. The muslin and the fabrics were deteriorating ahd she was slashing the top in various places (yes, somewhat of a nightmare)

I was explaining to my cousin, who was obviously not aware of the treasure she was destroying, about the history and value of vintage feedsack quilts. I was explaining to her that flour, sugar, other staples came in printed cotton sacks, and that these sacks were used for dresses, quilts, and other home-sewn items.

I explained to her that I'd be restoring this vintage quilt carefully by using the correct batting/backing, and redoing the quilting with cotton thread to keep the fabric and the whole sandwich stable. I explained to her how much it costs to have this done professionally and how much I could save by doing it myself.

When I dream about quilting, I have piles and piles of finished projects ready to be gifted (versus the same amount in UFOs). I also dream about owning several unique sewing machines, this one fancy  sewing machine being inoperable from the moment I got it. I also dream about that elusive quilt shop I cannot visit because I can't get across town.

Does quilting invade your sleep world?