Ernie’s Belated Birthday Sale

September 26th, 2010

Ernie’s birthday was this past week and we celebrated it by spending 10 hours in the car together! Since this wasn’t exactly what he’d wished for, we’re making up for it today by enjoying a beautiful sunny fall day together! But, we wanted to share our celebration with you by offering two specials this week:

***20% off all Rainbows Threads (both the 500 yard spools as well as the 2000 yard cones)
Rainbows threads are variegated polyester threads in beautiful, vibrant colors that will add a wonderful punch to your quilts. Because they are a trilobal polyester thread, they have a high sheen and because the colors change at 1 inch intervals, they are very dramatic variegated threads! The recommended needle size is a 90/14 Topstitch needle on your home domestic sewing machine.

***20% off all Quilters Dream Batting
We are one of the sponsors for the Quilters Dream Hopes and Dreams Quilt Contest to raise money and awareness for ALS, so if you haven’t heard of this contest or want to download the rules/entry form, go here. ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, is on the rise and I am sad to say that I have cared for many ALS patients and families in my work for hospice. This heartbreaking disease is devastating for patients and their families, so please think of showing your support for more research on ALS by entering your quilt into their contest.

To receive the discount, enter raindream in the discount code box during checkout, and 20% will be deducted from the cost of these items. Sale runs through midnight, eastern time on Saturday, October 10/2/10.

Feathered Wreath Hybrids

September 24th, 2010

Feathered wreath hybrids are really just asymmetric feathers stitched in a circular wreath layout, but they are a special form of an asymmetric feather. For “stand alone feathers,” you can only get away with an asymmetric feather if the plumes are stitched on the convex side of the feather; if you stitch it in reverse, it just won’t work. For feathered wreaths, though, you have more leeway. Here’s a feathered wreath where the “alternate” design is on the inside and the plumes are on the outside:

It’s a cool-looking design and you still recognize it as a feathered wreath. You can still create a cool design if the alternate design is stitched on the outside and the plumes are on the inside, but you no longer see it as an actual “wreath.” Here’s an early form of one I worked on last week:

This began as a design stitched from our stencil PT33, but I added the pearls inside the swags, and stitched an inverted feather spine and then inlined the hearts along the outside:

It still looked like I was missing something, so I hyperquilted the inner plumes with the single curly-cue embellishment:

…and then I added the gold stylized fleur-de-lis designs. Now I think I can let it be:

…or maybe not! I guess I need to sleep on this!

Another Day with Sizzix, 2 More teaching Venues Added, and this Week’s sale

September 20th, 2010

These 4 flowers are sitting on the background that I’m going to use on my next quilt. They were all made with my Sizzix machine, and I have to say, this little machine is starting to grow on me. The more I use it, the more I understand what it can do. For example, do you see all those tiny petals that surround the flower centers? Well, I needed lots more of them, so I learned I could just take tiny pieces from my remnants of the other day and place stacks of them just over the one size of petal and quickly cut many extras of one size only. I’m not throwing anything away, not matter how small, because I believe all these fusible/fabric scraps can be re-used for something.

Now here’s the next flower type I’m working on:

This die actually cuts 3 different sizes of this flower and you have the option of stacking them on top of one another to create a more dimensional/colorful flower. I cut lots of these this afternoon and my one disappointment was that I encountered many of what Kelly calls “a hanging chad.” Most of these came apart easily but a few did not and I fear they may not be useable. I need to get experience with more dies, but my guess is that the hanging chad issue may well be a function of the complexity of the cut. Here are a bunch of the 3 sizes I cut of this type of flower (colors look washed out here but they’re not in real life):

I think most of them will end up as 3-layered flowers. And here’s a bag filled with the flower centers that were punched out…I can use these fusible circles in something down the road, I’m sure:

And on to another topic, I said I’d try to be more on top of updating my schedule and I added 2 new out of town teaching venues this last week: Shipshewanna, IN in June 2011 and Sarasota Florida in December 2010. I’m really trying to keep up with this new web site!

And we’ve just gotten copies of Machine Quilting Unlimited Magazines into the store! This most recent issue is to die for! If you’ve been wondering about the magazine and haven’t yet signed up for a subscription, this is a good way to test it out. This magazine is different from all the others…articles that pertain to MACHINE QUILTING OF ANY KIND, and filled with photos that show clear close-ups of stitching! It’s a treat to read if you know how to machine quilt and a must-have if you’re trying to LEARN how to machine quilt. This magazine is hands-down my favorite quilting magazine!

And what’s on sale in the store this week? 20% off all brands of Hobbs batting. This includes the Hobbs silk batting, which is incredible! It quilts like butter and has a lovely drape to it and it doesn’t leave creases in your quilt if you fold it. Also on special are all spools of The Bottom Line by Superior Threads-all 20% off! This thread is a very strong yet lightweight polyester thread that works really well for many purposes: in the bobbin with tons of other threads in the top, for adding the handwork portion of binding onto the edges of your quilt, and I sometimes use it on top when I’m just trying to create a texture but don’t want to draw attention to my stitching. Overall, very good stuff! To get the discount on either of these lines, type hobot in the discount box at checkout. You won’t see the discount until the end of checkout, just before you pay. Sale prices good until next Monday, September 27th.

Playing Around With The Big Shot Cutting Machine

September 17th, 2010

Today was my first time ever to play with The Big Shot, a fabric cutting machine that’s similar to the Accuquilt Go, except that it cuts many more materials than just fabric and it costs a lot less. Here’s a shot of my machine with the first die I’ve played with (they’re flower petals):

Ironically, I first heard about The Big Shot from Kelly at when she told me about it at Spring Quilt Market, and today I found that Kelly has actually done a really great post about her experience playing with The Big Shot. She has done such an incredible job and given all kinds of great details, so rather than repeat the same info, I’m going to refer you to her excellent post here. My playtime with the machine was spent working with fabrics backed by Wonder Under Fusible web. Here are many petals that it cut really quickly and they are ready for applique:

That one die actually cuts 4 sizes of petals with each round. Here’s a shot of the 4 sizes:

She talks about a “hanging chad” when she cut into plain fabric and I did have that outcome (although it was easily remedied) when I cut just fabric, but I did not have that problem when working with fabric bonded to fusible web. The most layers I could cut in one round was 9 layers of fabric, each bonded to a piece of paper-backed fusible web. If you do the math on that, the machine is cutting 63 petals with each round-that’s a heck of a lot faster than I can work and I don’t have a sore hand/wrist at the end! Here are some of the castoff’s:

I felt kind of badly when I saw all the castoff material, but I’d have at least that same amount of castoff material if I’d cut these by hand, so I’m not going too feel badly about it. I’m saving these scraps because parts of these are large enough to cut into for other shapes down the road.

I went into this with no goal other than to mess around with the machine, so once I had a bunch of petals, I cut a circle of fabric bonded to fusible web and then started to create the center of a fantasy flower. I removed the paper from the circle only and then fused the paper-backed small petals to it, using The Applique Pressing Sheet as my fusing surface:

Here’s what the back looked like, you can see the paper was still on:

I then removed that paper and started adding layers or rows of petals from behind. This was my final fantasy flower:

Not sure what I’ll be doing with this, but I’ll definitely be playing with the machine some more. Because this machine has been around the scrap-booking world for decades, there are thousands of dies to use with it, so there’s a lot to play with. I think my next experiement will be to cut fabric adhered to another material.

And don’t forget, just 2 days left to get in on the sale of King Tut Threads (both the 500 yd spools and the 2000 yd cones), and LAVA thread. Both are 15% off if you write sept15 in the discount code box during checkout!

New Web Site, New Online Store, Same Blog, and a Sale!

September 12th, 2010

Just like this Dresden plate “sunburst-like” design, our business has kind of been “busting at the seams” for the last several months. What began in our basement with my husband shooting video of me doing some free motion quilting has blossomed into a full-fledged business that is more than full time work for both of us. It has been very fun, but also very exhausting! Months ago, we made the decision to move our business into much larger and more suitable accommodations, and to also hire a full time warehouse manager. Then we got to thinking, “Well, if we’re going to do all that, then why not REALLY expand the online store into something far grander, with all kinds of quilting supplies?” That’s what has been happening behind the scenes and late last week, we began moving into our new space and launched our new web site. There will be some ongoing revisions in the web site, so please bear with us as we make those changes.

If you’ve taken any of my classes or follow my blog, then you know I’m hooked on free motion quilting and I get a real kick out of getting other quilters excited about it! Along those lines, one of the goals of this new web site is to put a better focus on education. If you click on the “education” button on the home page of the web site, you’ll see “free video tutorials” as one of the options. These are tutorials on various quilting techniques that are just plain fun! There are many more to come, so keep checking back! There is also a topic under “education” that lists my current classes and class schedule. I’ll be honest…I’m terrible about keeping that current (that’s why I deleted that portion from the blog a couple years ago) but I’ll work hard to keep that up to date!

As far as the online store goes, take some time to explore. We’ve gone from 50-some items in the store to over 1000 items and we will be adding hundreds of new items each month. Fabric is on the way! Notice that there are some books and CDs/DVDs by other authors; this section will continue to grow! If you haven’t already seen Kimmy Brunner’s “Twirly Whirly Feathers” DVD, now is the time to snatch up this DVD/workbook combo! The demos are all done on a long arm machine but this is information that’s great for both long armers as well as quilters who use home domestic sewing machines! Looking for a great book that demystifies all kinds of thread work? Check out Sarah Ann Smith’s “Threadwork Unraveled.” Thread is a passion of mine (I can’t tell you how thrilling it is to open box after box of hundreds of beautiful threads!), so know that more and more threads are on their way. To celebrate, we are having a sale on a couple of really great lines of thread. Through 12:01 am on Monday, 9/20/10, all King Tut Threads (both the 500 yard spools as well as the 2000 yard cones) are 15% off regular price. King Tut is a long staple Egyptian cotton thread that comes in countless beautifully variegated colors. It is the easiest, most carefree thread I have ever quilted with! Also included in this sale is LAVA thread, also at 15% off. LAVA is a line of very strong variegated thread that also comes in gorgeous colors. If you haven’t tried any of these Superior Threads yet, this is a time to see what wonderful products this company makes. If you’ve already used Superior Threads, this is a good time to stock up! To get the 15% off discount for all of these threads, be sure to write sept15 in the discount code box at checkout. (Don’t worry that you don’t see the discounted price right away; this shows up at the end of checkout, but before you purchase the items.)

If you’re having trouble locating a specific product on our site, try entering the name in the store search engine, located in the upper right side of the home page. If there are products that you’d like to see us carry in the shop, please email us! We want to hear about the products you’d like us to offer. Once we’ve gotten settled, I’m hoping to do some blog posts about some of these products so you’ll see how they might help you in your quilting endeavors. If there are parts to our new web site that you find confusing or difficult to navigate, please email us; our goal is to create a user-friendly site that’s a fun place to go to learn about quilting techniques and products!

I know that when I am surfing to blogs that I’ve grown to love, it strikes a bit of fear in me when the layout of the blog changes. Don’t let the layout designs worry you-the same old blog is here (just click on the “blog” button on the homepage of the web site), and you’ll read and see the same types of posts as you have all along. Once the dust has settled from all this moving and unpacking of new products, my goal in all this is to have more time to sew, to create, to revel in the joys of quilting, and then to post about it! I hope you enjoy the changes…now back to unpacking boxes!