Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas Convergence

I love Christmas fabrics especially when there is a glint of gold metallic.  I also enjoy trying new projects.  This time my endeavor was based on Ricky Tims Convergence Quilts, a technique based on piecing techniques of two or more fabrics cut into strips, sewn together, then cut and pieced again. 

Two fabrics were used in this piece - giant paisley designs and a red crackle.  I love the flowing movement of the paisley.

Again two fabrics are used, this time a rich green with gold metallic grids and for continuity the beautiful  giant paisley designs. . . . . 

Now the magic begins with the convergence of the three fabrics.  I love how the fabrics are integrated . . .  and it was so easy!

This project began after my husband mentioned that our sofa was boring - an over sized, but comfortable sofa fabricated in a lifeless taupe fabric.  Really I am not certain why I ever agreed to let such a piece of furniture into my house.  He said, "Hey you can sew anything.  Why don't you just reupholster the sofa?"  Hello!  That's labor - at least for me, not a hobby of joy.  So my solution was to  create quiltlets to drape over the sofa - give it some pizazz.  Really I was flattered that he thought I could cover a sofa, but that is a whole new skill set with a lot of tools that I do not have. 

This was a study of colors and movement playing together.  Each quiltlet measures 40" square.  Happily that old bland sofa has been replaced with a beautiful cheery floral sofa, matching chair and ottoman . . . . and the quiltlets gained permanent placement in a hallway. 

In the next posting I will show some Christmas scraps and how I am using them.

SCHMETZ Needle used:  Universal 80

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The SCHMETZ Gift Box

Looking for a way to share your joy of sewing?  Here's the perfect gift!  The SCHMETZ Gift Box.  The packaging of these little gift boxes are ever so cute and reusable.  Plus the are featured in Fon's & Porter's Love of Quilting Jan/Feb 2012 that just arrived in my mailbox.

Quick and easy these little gift boxes sell for less than $25.  Inside you will find needles nestled into a foam insert that will later hold and organize up to 20 packs of needles, a Sulky PolyLite sample thread spool, and the ever popular SCHMETZ ABC Pocket Reference Guide. 

Available in four collections:  Stretch, Quilting, General Sewing and Universal.  Find them at your local quilt or fabric shop or machine dealer.  Visit www.SCHMETZneedles.com for more information.

PS:  The General Sewing collection is especially terrific for the young or returning sewist as it has the widest needle assortment.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!



Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Stitch in Time

In the rush between the holidays, I took a few moments to remember a trip home this summer to Nebraska. My husband and I traveled by star ship - well that's what we call our smooth driving SUV with its elevated view. Throughout the trip there were little stitch surprises.

Mom pulled out a special box of old family quilt blocks made by Aunt Emma. Aunt Emma is long gone, but our memories of her quilting skills remain strong. Mom and I studied the blocks deciding on the best way to assemble them into a wall hanging or small quilt to be sold at our tri-annual family reunion.

At church the local Piecemakers worked on hand quilting Mary Luhr's stunning purple colourwash quilt. Mary quilts with precision. Perfect intersecting seams and every stitch properly placed. 

In Kearney, NE we finally stopped at the Great Platte River Road Archway Monument. How many times we have driven on I-80 under that archway, I don't know, but at last we had some time to explore this informative tribute to the pioneers traveling west.

Unexpectedly as we were exiting the tour this wonderful patriotic quilt hung above the escalator.  The stars and stripes border made the center star eagle soar.

Our final stop on this trip was having lunch with Rita Farro and her husband, John, in their Iowa home near the great Mississippi River.  No doubt Rita loves color... and fabric.  She covered one wall of the special room reserved for her grand daughter with bright and bold fabrics.  Sayings from t-shirts add even more attitude to the wall.

Rita also has a long hallway of cross-stitch treasures.  This was my favorite.  Whether a memory or present or in the future, our love for putting hand or machine needle and thread to fabric is timeless  . . . as a stitch in time. 



Thursday, November 17, 2011

Minneapolis Original Sewing & Quilt Expo

The Northland Inn in Brooklyn Park, MN was host to the final Original Sewing & Quilt Expo of the year.  I saw my first snowflake of the season, but thankfully not many.  The SCHMETZ booth was certainly a buzz with Mary Mulari with her new Stress Free Zipper book and apron patterns and Rita Farro.  Mary and Rita are always a hoot to work with and their humor and quick sewing projects were the focus of their Midwest YaYa Sister performance on Friday night.  Mary and Rita speak to the growing sisterhood of sewing.

Mary Mulari and Rita Farro
The Midwest YaYa Sisters!

One of the terrific classes I took at the show was Pattie Otto's Embroidered Cutwork class.  I learned how those little Richelieu bars are created in cutwork using a chiesel.  Plus when visiting her Great Copy Patterns booth, Pattie showed me a cool tool she developed, the Edge Perfect Blade for creating quick and easy handstitching on a variety of fabrics.  http://www.edgeperfectblade.com/

Patti Otto, Great Copy Patterns
Demonstrating the Edge Perfect Blade

The most unusual bag seen on the show floor was this two face Elinor Peace Bailey bag.  The faces look a bit grumpy, yet proud and intriguing.  This bag is coming and going with lots of room for stuff.  There are a couple more pics in the show gallery below.

Pattern by Elinor Peace Bailey
This next pic shows the thrill of finding an exciting new fabric.  You know that feeling?  She just bought yardage from the Treadle Yard Goods' booth.  Rita and I also know that thrill since we had a chance to drive to the Treadle Yard Goods store in St. Paul on Thursday night and found lots of fabric treasures.  We were giddy... and later down the street found the most wonderful urban cafeteria, Cafe Latte.  Fabric, food and friends  . . . What a combo!

The thrill of  finding that special fabric
from Treadle Yard Goods, St Paul MN
 Even kids ages 9 to 18 had a chance to brave a live audience to model their sewing creations in their own fashion show.   Colorful, thoughtful and well stitched, these kids were undaunted by challenging themselves with creative sewing projects.
Sewing's Next Generation
Enjoy these pics of sewing projects seen from the show floor.  Original Sewing and Quilt Expo was a fun and inspirational show.  Take a look... and next year see for yourself how wonderful these sewing shows are.



Tuesday, November 8, 2011

International Quilt Market - Fall 2011

Over 500 fabric, pattern, notion and sewing machine companies filled the wholesale floor of the George R Brown Convention Center last weekend in Houston, TX.  Store owners, designers, media and many more were clamouring to see the newest products soon to be seen in your local quilt and fabric shops.  Here's a quick view of what I saw:

Susan Brubaker Knapp with her regal peacock using Studio eFabrics
 Peacocks are king!  Peacock blue... Peacock green... and peacocks themselves were seen in fabrics and quilts.

The peacock color theme carried over into an exquisite mask made from River Silk ribbon.  It was Halloween after all.

The gentle and ever so popular Karavan elephant was my neighbor from across the aisle.

From fake furs to animal prints to Valori Wells Karavan fabric line, a menagerie of fabrics were seen.

Get Grommetized with Luveta!

Besides being known for her recycled jean projects, Luvetta Nickels, The Junk Jeans People, is the source of wonderful grommets imported from France. 

She never stops.  Now her product line includes 2 color grommets - a perfect and easy embellishment to jeans, tops, bags, belts, hats....

Sarai Mitnick with her newly published book, The Colette Sewing Handbook

At this market there were more garment designers with booths, at least more than I remember from earlier markets.  One of my favorite designers is Sarai, the designer and founder of Colette Patterns.  She has an adorable little figure-skimming top that I am eager to try.  The Jasmine top is cut on the bias so should be flattering and comfortable too.

Mary Mulari shared the SCHMETZ booth with her full line of apron patterns including the newest patterns:  Easy Reversible Aprons - aprons for everyday use that can be reversed and worn with a little black dress.  Mary's newest book is Stress Free Zipper Creations, 12 Easy Projects with Nontraditional Uses.  Mary is quite clever with her thoughtful designs.  She has quite a strong following and was quite a draw to the SCHMETZ booth.  Plus Mary was fun to work with. . . . and isn't this one of he reasons why we love to sew . . . fun with fabrics and friends.  What a combo!



Thursday, October 27, 2011

CreativFestival - Toronto CAN

This was my second year to teach SCHMETZ Needle Education at the CreativFestival.  I love this show!  It is by far one of the most diverse consumer shows.  Inspiration came from a menagerie of vendors and classes - fashion sewing to quilting to fibre arts, knitting, crocheting, beading, jewelry making, home dec, cake decorating and so much more all under one roof.

The CreativFestival takes place in the huge Metro Toronto Convention Centre.  Signage, as above, is especially important because it is very easy to get lost with sky walks, bridges and a variety of escalators.  I know it is odd to have a picture of a show poster in the blog, but I find this one a bit amusing.  Look closely and you will find a woodpecker - a giant woodpecker - in the background - part of an art installation from the front of the south entrance. 

Thanks Dawn for helping in my class.
One of my favorite garments from the show is Dawn in this wonderful jacket made from a recycled wool blanket that she dyed. 
She used a variety of machine stitches to create textural leaves and stems and with needle punching and applique created vibrant poppies.  She even created the front button by weaving beautiful threads through a curtain ring.  Dawn's jacket was quite stunning.

In the teachers' lounge I ran into Ron Collins with his wonderful rack of perfect menswear.
Ron's workmanship is skillful along with impeccable fit.  I was sorry to miss taking one of his classes, but he did point out a few sewing techniques that he enjoys including top stitching not only with 2 threads in a topstitch needle, but with 2 threads in the bobbin.  This topstitch method certainly is handy when topstitching lapels and jacket fronts.  The above jacket was topstitched using a sashiko stitch.  So refined......

Every trip should include good food and friends.  Linda McGehee, Ghee's, and I  found a very special Thai restaurant, Khao San Road.  Fried squash fritters with a red curry sauce, Pai Thai and the most delicate Tapioca Pearls in sweet coconut milk .... well every bite was a worldly delight.

Toronto was energized all weekend with visual delights that only a vibrant urban setting can provide.  My camera could not snap all the sights quick enough -  The CN Tower Climb, Toronto Zombie Walk, Fashion Week, and the CreativFestival.   Thanks CreativFestival and Toronto for a very special trip.

http://www.flyerporter.com/ - My all time favorite airline!


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Original Sewing & Quilt Expo - Kansas City, MO

"Kansas City Here I Come!"  Last weekend with my colleague, Rita Farro, we marveled at the delightful examples of sewing. From multi-media to garment construction to machine embroidery, we saw a wide array of sewing projects. In my opinion, the most creative fabrication for machine embroidery was a screen door. Yes!  How adorable and creative! I'm thinking every screen door in America should have a personalized screen door with embroidery.

Thanks Betty!
Another sewing project that stood out was the raincoat ensemble created by a young talent! Look at the fabric - oilcloth with a comfy purple contrasting lining. This project continues with the cap sleeve blouse, skirt and even a wonderful wallet.

Macy, you are an inspiration to all of us!

Another few standout projects are Florilegium multi-media postcards and fabrics, the ruffled handbags, choi fish and the list goes on.  Enjoy the pics . . . .

No trip to Kansas City could be complete without a few good meals. Thanks to Virginia from the local American Sewing Guild for introducing Rita and I to fried chicken at Stroud's and the best BBQ around at Ricky's Pit Bar-B-Que. Delicious!

Those port ribs do not stand a chance with Virgina and Rita!
See Rita's interview with Ricky at www.Ritassewfun.blogspot.com 
Thanks Kansas City . . .  and special thanks to the best tour guide and sewing enthusiasts, Virginia!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Original Sewing and Quilt Expo 2011 - Chantilly, VA

I love the word C.h.a.n.t.i.l.l.y..... as it rolls off my tongue.  I know it is silly but sometimes words amuse me.  When I hear Chantilly I think of beautiful fine lace and . . . . Jerry Lee Lewis - Chantilly Lace.   Chantilly, VA is actually named after a Civil War battle - Battle of Chantilly.  The area is rich with history and located only 24 miles from Washington DC and home to Dulles International Airport.  Last weekend I gave two lectures, SCHMETZ Machine Needle Education,  in Chantilly for the Original Sewing and Quilt Expo.     

Rita on the right with class participants
My colleague Rita Farro taught two classes - Quick Gifts That Are Faster Than A Speeding Bullet and Life Is Not a Dress Size.  Rita's classes are always full of great doable ideas - plus students leave class feeling good with a few laughs.

I am always scouting for beautiful sewing and embroidery.  Above I found Barbara Jones, Brother National Product Training Specialist, wearing this dynamite and finely detailed embroidered butterfly on the back of her jacket.  The workmanship was really breathtaking - no puckers, every stitch in its place.

Here is a gallery of wearables seen in Chantilly.  I love the variety of ideas, garments and the final design execution.  Rita and I are now off to the next Original Sewing and Quilt Expo in Kansas City, MO.  We get quite giddy when we talk to sewists about their sewing projects. . . . and I love to take pictures!  Drop by to say hi! 

PS:  There are even more pictures from the Chantilly Dancing Ladies Challenge that can be seen on the home page of Creative DRAWings.



Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quilting Around Chautauqua 2011

Two weeks ago the roar of Niagara Falls reminded me of the beauty of sewing. Like a little droplet of water each creative sewing project begins with a single stitch on a journey that is sometimes unknown, yet can converge into a roaring display of creative magnificence. 

Niagara Falls USA
Thanks to Judy Fenton for inviting me to Quilting Around Chautauqua 2011 in upstate New York and only 70 miles from Niagara Falls. Judy is the owner of Millcreek Sewing and Fabric in Erie, PA and organizer of one of the most glorious quilt shows I have ever attended or lectured. Held on the beautiful Chautauqua Institute campus with winding brick trails, majestic full grown shade trees and quaint cottages, all roads led to the Athenaeum Hotel overlooking Lake Chautauqua. Well, there were so many twisting roads that once I found a route to my campus destinations, deviation was out of question since being lost could take a huge chunk of time to recalculate. Judy took over the lobby of the Anthenaeum with other vendors in the salons and sprinkled among other historic buildings on campus. My SCHMETZ table was located perfectly between the waiting line for the picturesque dining room and Judy's Baby Lock and Jinny Beyer's displays. 

The Athenaeum Hotel, Chautauqua Institution
Besides giving 3 lectures on SCHMETZ needle education, my mission was to answer machine needle questions, sell needles and showcase the new and very cute SCHMETZ Gift Box. I enjoy meeting fellow sewists and take great delight in learning about their sewing adventures. Check out a few inspirational sewists and their creative projects. 

Thanks Judy and your staff - especially Eveyln and Sandi - for a special sewing experience!



Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sewing Machine Madness

Anticipation has been high with announcements of new sewing machines.  Machines that stitch a medley of designs while humming at the touch of a button.  Sewing machines have certainly evolved with technology.  I recently returned from two major shows - Baby Lock Tech and Janome Institute.  These were wholesale shows.  Dealers from around the world marveled at the newest machines that soon will be in our local stores. 

Here are a few friends I met along the way in the machine vendor malls:

Check out Eileen's wonderful embroidered neckline.
One of my favorite embroidery magazines is Designs in Machine Embroidery which just happened to be my booth neighbor.  Eileen Roche, the fabulous and inspirational editor, taught many embroidery techniques.   In fact you should visit her blog for clever tips.  I am especially intrigued by her recent posting on how to install a zipper using an embroidery hoop.   Really!  How very clever..........

Yes, this necklace is made entirely of zippers!
Speaking of zippers Linda McGhee at Ghee's also has a clever way of using zippers in non-traditional ways.  This necklace was stunning.  Who knew that zippers could be manipulated into masterful necklaces, bangles and brooches.  Linda has sourced beautiful zippers with rhinestones, lace and neon, iridescent and unusual colors.  I just will never look at a zipper the same way. 
The HoopSisters with their 2011 and 2012 EmbroideraBlock Quilts.
Annie and Lynda, The HoopSisters, were another neighbor.   They create exquisite quilt blocks in embroidery hoops.  That's right!  Let your embroidery machine do the quilt work!  Their technique is so successful that they developed Battlilizer, a batting and stabilizer in one, that is easy to hoop and provides a great foundation for quilt blocks.  Really love Annie and Lynda's traditional quilting with a 21st century twist!

Doug showing a trio pack of Hot-Wire Kreinik threads.
Love beautiful threads?  Kreinik has exquisite threads for a variety of uses, including fly fishing!  Doesn't every fish deserve an alluring line?  Whether you fish or not, Doug, owner of Kreinik, has a thread for your special projects.  An adhesive thread for use in scrapbooking and on multi-media postcards, and luscious metallic, silk and embroidery threads.

Just in time for the holidays ...
The SCHMETZ Gift Tin
  ....... and what was new with SCHMETZ at these two shows?  The new SCHMETZ Gift Tin was presented just in time for the holidays.  One tin holds up to 20 packs of needles and contain that ever handy SCHMETZ ABC Pocket Guide for easy reference.  More details coming, but as the holiday approaches look for this tin in your favorite sewing store.  The SCHMETZ Gift Tin is the perfect stocking stuffer!   




Friday, September 9, 2011

IPCA Midnight Magic Contest

What do these 8 great design companies have in common?

Dana Marie Design Co.
Fashion Patterns by Coni
Great Copy Patterns
Islander Sewing Systems
Kayla Kennington Pattern Collection
L.J. Designs
Petite Plus Patterns
Saf-T-Pockets Patterns

They are members of the IPCA, Independent Pattern Company Alliance.  If you are looking for a creative, well drafted, professionally graded pattern with illustrated pattern guides, look to IPCA for wonderful wearable patterns.  IPCA has just announced a fashion sewing competition.

Choose a pattern from any of the above 8 IPCA member pattern collections, then let your imagination create a mystical, magical, marvelous wearable.  The theme is "Midnight Magic".  Submit a photo of your creation by January 26, 2012.  The semi-finalist entries will travel to the fabulous Sewing and Stitchery Expo in Puyallup, WA, where expo attendees will vote for their favorite wearable.  The semi-finalists will also be presented in a slide show on BurdaStyle.com where an international audience will vote on-line.   ... and that's not all!  The semi-finalists will be presented in Las Vegas at the exclusive International Textile Expo in the IPCA fashion show.

What a great opportunity to create a marvelous garment for viewing by an international audience. . . . and of course there are great prizes including SCHMETZ needles!

Go to http://www.patterncompanies.com/ to view the contest rules and to download the entry form. 
What needle will YOU use for your entry?


Friday, August 26, 2011

RTW Suit Taunts Until Machine Embroidered

For a while now a lovely rose coral suit has hung in my closet . . . really taunting me for embroidery.  At last it became a summer sewing project.  This suit was a steal when I bought it - a $200 suit for only $19.99 with the bonus that it is fully lined and fits perfectly.  

My first step was auditioning embroidery thread colors.  I wanted cheery colors.

Then I played with a few different designs and created a few stitch-outs.

This design is one of 2000 in Creative DRAWings.  I had seen it seemingly a million times on my laptop and never really liked the design, yet remained curious about it.  So after stitching a sample I realized that for this suit project, the design would be quite nice mirror imaged on the center lower back jacket above a soft gathering line.  By the way I had to rip out the jacket hem to release the lining.

The embroidery stitched out easily.  To add more interest the little floral design was replicated and centered between the horizontal design.  Seemingly I thought this project was finished, but now I am wondering if a few little orange dots in the empty design area might finish the design better. 

I will be wearing this suit at a variety of consumer shows this fall.  If you see me vending or teaching, look for the orange dots.  If I decide to add them, I need to do so this afternoon as I will be wearing it tomorrow at Baby Lock Tech.  A SCHMETZ Embroidery 90/14 was used.



Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Curtain Ties

A while back when my husband and I moved into our new house, we found ready-made floral print curtains that were not too boisterous and were insulated.  We really like these curtains for the protection they provide from the weather extremes in Chicago land.  Time has past and dust was settling noticeably on the curtains, plus there seemed to be a smudge mark on the coordinating sheers that I just happen to know was from chocolate ice cream.  :)  Anyway, I dust the house quarterly, but I admit the curtains had never been vacuumed nor cleaned.   Yes, this was a summer project.  I tell this story not because of my valent cleaning spree, but because sewing was involved.

One whole weekend was devoted to curtains - washing, tumble drying and although I really wanted to just hang those curtains with just a hint of wrinkles, I just could not do it, so ironing - lots of ironing was involved.  Although I discovered a certain zen to the process, the sun was shining through the very clean windows that my husband washed inside and out.  Yes, he scored huge points with window washing!  ... and I had a chance to watch a few old black and white movies that I had never seen in their entirety on TCM including Spartacus and Mutiny on the Bounty. 

Even ceramic wildlife were recruited to keep valance corners from rolling until I had a chance to iron.
When the curtains were purchased all fit the windows perfectly, full length to the floor except for one over the sliding glass doors.  I really hated having to alter the curtains, but only one length was available.  About 8 inches were trimmed from the curtains, then I remembered in my stash were a couple different upholstery trims - perfect for curtain ties.  Yeap!  My sewing machine was soon purring away making the 5 ties needed.  A Jeans 110/18 was used with upholstery thread.  An old pair of khaki slacks were cut up as lining for the ties and two plastic rings were hand stitched to the back side.

 My curtain cleaning spree is over for about another 6 years, while dusting around the house will get done again in the fourth quarter... unless chocolate ice cream is involved!