Category Archives: Quilt Shops

A Few Things to Love About Maine

We are winding up our summer vacation in Maine. The boys left yesterday so they could be ready to get back to their work routines on Monday. We stayed for another couple of days and fly back tomorrow. I feel like we got a good taste of Maine while we were here. We saw a great deal of the southern coastline, spent time in Portland which was very pretty and today we walked Ocean Avenue in Kennebunkport. Luckily we took our walk nice and early before the traffic got to be an issue. While walking the coastal road in Kennebunkport we passed St. Anne’s Chapel. It was  just breathtaking. (We also saw the Bush compound which was pretty, but not as much as the Chapel.)


Tonight we plan to finish up the trip seeing the Finding Nemo sequel, Finding Dory. Julia and I feel this is an appropriate choice considering we are on a beach vacation.

While we made our way up and down the costal highways I noticed a couple of things that one doesn’t see in California. 

  1. First of all, there are many road signs along the highway advertising what are fairly small businesses at the upcoming exits. We saw signs for little antique shops, one sign that advertised ‘used bookshop, next exit’, tons of signs advertising small art studios (especially pottery studios) along the way. California is huge and even when touring back roads and smaller towns, one doesn’t find signs like these. It felt welcoming to me – more personal.  
  2. Several times as we drove through neighborhoods, we saw signs that said ‘Deaf Person Area’ and one that said ‘Autism Child Area’. This was really interesting. I haven’t ever seen signs like this anywhere else. It certainly makes sense to let drivers know. (Do any of you have this sort of signage in your area?)
  3. Another difference with highway travel here, as compared to California, is that the signs on the highway showed the distance to the next exit in miles and kilometers. No need for that on the west coast as we don’t really know what a kilometer equals in distance. ? 
  4. A warning sign for ‘Moose Crossing’ made me smile. I only saw the one and I was driving at the time so I didn’t get a picture of it. I wish a moose would have peeked out from the trees though. That would have been a treat. 
  5. Driving along the highway, some speed limit signs showed both the maximum limit and a minimum. That struck me as odd. ‘Speed limit of 70 mph and minimum speed of 45 mph.’ 
  6. There were a few times that we drove through areas where road work was being done. In California there would be a bajillion orange cones delineating the work area, starting far from the actual work area. When one approaches the area, there would be guys managing the traffic with walkies, letting cars go through very systematically. It b comes such a production. Much the opposite here, there might be a sign saying road work ahead with a few cones nearby. It seemed so loosely managed (and maybe not quite as safe?) Where California goes overboard, the road work areas in Maine might be too far to the other extreme.

During our travels I had the good fortune to visit a couple of quilt shops. The personality of one shop was quite different from the next. I mentioned the Portsmouth Quilt shop in last week’s post. After that, I went to Whipper Snappers in Hallowell, Maine with my quilty friend Mari but I still haven’t taken pictures of the treasures that I picked up there so I will save that for another post. The third shop was called Attic Heirlooms, located in Damariscotta. This shop was exquisite. I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with the owner and the woman she worked with. The emphasis was wool; for quilting,  needle punch, knitting, felting, and embroidery. With regard to quilting, her expertise is with appliqué. She dyes quite a bit of the wool and felts it before putting it in the shop for sale.


Did you notice the ceiling? It was so pretty. Also, that amazing selection of buttons. Yikes! I have not done any qulting with wool before but I felt like something with an Americana look would be a fun project to remind me of our trip to Maine. I didn’t want to do a full quilt using wool appliqué but then I saw this shop’s Row by Row project for this summer. (It was actually the third Row by Row project I had seen during our trip and, as with the quilt shops, each row had a very different feel to it.)  I bought the pattern and kit for the Attic Heirlooms row which I will use as a runner or a small wall quilt for the winter months. (I don’t think I have ever bought a kit before. It was sort of fun to have everything picked out and put together for me.)


The fabrics are very traditional. I love the log cabin blocks that flank the appliqued house in the center. My very first quilt was a log cabin and I haven’t made one since then. This project will be a quick one to piece but I do plan to spend a bit of time doing some hand work on it. I took advantage of an amazing selection of Perle cotton and bought a few that work with this project. Aren’t these gorgeous?


While I was there I saw a selection of Christmas ornament kits. We almost always buy an ornament for our tree when we travel. This year I will make our souvenir ornament.

The owner of Attic Heirlooms has an ornament of the month kit that can be purchased in the shop or online. She had a handful of leftover kits from previous months in 2015 that could be purchased. This one was from May, 2015. The bird looks like a nuthatch which we see on our feeders at home quite frequently so I chose him. (I made a tiny art quilt featuring a nuthatch some time ago.) This project will have a very rustic feel to it and, luckily, the Pearle cottons I bought will work on this as well as the row by row project.
Finally, I want to share these amazing miniatures that were for sale in the shop. Made by a local woman, they are paper pieced and measure about 1.5 inches finished. My jaw dropped when I looked at them.

Check out the pattern on the back.

I can’t even imagine. They were very, very small and ever so precise. Judging by the many on display in this shop, the artist is quite prolific.

Let’s leave the talk about the other two quilt shops for another post.  I don’t want to overwhelm you with quilt shop excitement! ? As much as I have enjoyed our vacation, it will be good to head back to California tomorrow to our home sweet home!

Linking to a few of my usuals. Please check out some of the links found at the top of the page, under Link Ups!

The Time I Went to a Quilt Shop and Didn’t Buy Anything

My family and I are on summer vacation. We are all having a lovely time visiting southern Maine, staying in a  vacation home on the coast. Ray and I started our vacation by touring a bit of Massachusetts and New Hampshire on our way up to the house in Maine.

We made a stop in Portsmouth and spent an afternoon wandering around the city. Guess what we stumbled across? I’m not sure why, but it surprised me to find this shop right in the middle of the city. Unsurprisingly, I was eager to take a look inside. Ray went off to wander and Julia stayed with me, as I promised Ray- ‘I’ll only be ten minutes’. (Famous last words.)


The shop was a crazy riot of color. It is the second largest seller of Kaffe Fasset fabrics in the United States so that is probably enough for you to envision what it looked like. Here is some help, should you need it.

It was vivid color, wall to wall. Really gorgeous fabric everywhere, making it so much fun to walk through and drool over all that color.


It was kind of funny though; because I was there without intention, I couldn’t decide on a single thing to buy. These fabrics are not ones that I would buy without a plan. They are bold, large focus fabrics that are deeply saturated and don’t easily work into a project unplanned.  

The two women that were working that afternoon were a delight. They were preparing their kits for the Row by Row challenge. I noticed that they were ripping, rather than rotary cutting, the fat quarters. She explained that they don’t cut hardly at all. Ripping is more accurate (and watching her, it seemed to be much faster.) She snipped the fabric at the top and tore straight down. Worked every time.

Browsing was just as good. It was good to see familiar designers being stocked in a shop like this. Go Amanda Jean!


There was plenty of inspiration to be had. I thought this maple leaf table runner was very pretty and it seems like a fairly simple project to create for the fall.


So, while I didn’t adhere to my promised quick ten minute visit, I did feel very satisfied to have browsed this amazing shop. I watched them rip precise fat quarters, drooled a bit over all of the lovelies they had, and came away with another possible project in the works; all the while not spending a dime.

Lest you think I am always this disciplined (and actually, if you have been reading my blog for long, you know I am not) you should know that I have a list of quilt shops to visit while in Maine. I need to do a bit of thinking first so I have an idea of what I will actually buy though.  I feel better when I shop for fabric mindfully. It is just too easy to go crazy otherwise!

Linking to Main Crush Monday. Find the link at the top of the page, under Link Ups.

No Easy Solution

Have you been reading the on-going debate about Craftsy and their (possible) decision to release a privately owned fabric and/or yarn line? People are getting a bit heated about this and I am curious what you think.  I am a loyal follower of Abby Glassenberg, blogger at While She Naps. Abby has built a successful blog, has a fantastic weekly newsletter and a lovely Etsy shop where she sells patterns to make childrens’ stuffed toys. She inspires me and I have learned a huge amount from her informative newsletters. (If you haven’t checked out her blog and newsletters, I highly recommend both.)

Last week she blogged about the fact that Craftsy has registered two new trademarks to (possibly) begin manufacturing and selling a line of fabric and a line of yarn. Because Craftsy has such a huge customer base, they sell a great deal of fabric and supplies at below retail pricing. People are in somewhat of an uproar because they are upset about yet another bigbox retailer squashing the smaller retailers.  After Abby’s post, in which Craftsy declined to comment, there was a bit of conversation – most of it on the negative side. However, much of the arguments commented on this post centered around Craftsy’s treatment of pattern designers and teachers. I am not going to go into the specifics because Abby laid it out clearly in her post already.

My opinion is this. We live in a world of huge on-line retailing. Amazon and the like make it nearly impossible for smaller brick and mortar shops to compete. This makes it a big struggle for those shops to be profitable. I am a frequent on-line shopper (Craftsy included) and also a loyal supporter of my local quilt shop. There are benefits to each. With on-line shopping, I don’t have to make the twenty mile round trip to the LQS and can shop whenever I want. With on-line shopping, I usually get a good deal on fabric but there is a price to be paid for shipping.  At my LQS, I can touch the fabric and get a better look at the colorways. I have a really hard time with color – it isn’t my strong suit and I have purchased on-line several times, only to be disappointed that the colors weren’t what I thought they would be. The added benefit of expertise, advice and a social experience offered at the LQS is not to be matched by shopping somewhere like Craftsy. There is a place for both in my fabric budget (and it is entirely possible the budget needs to be reduced!)

As far as pattern designers and paid bloggers, I am of the opinion they should work for a fair wage. If a corporation such as Craftsy or Moda (think Moda Bakeshop) isn’t offering a fair wage, don’t take them up on the opportunities offered. It is the decision of the designer.  Personally, I love the patterns that are individually designed and offered on Craftsy. Many a quilt blogger/designer has their paid and free patterns posted on Craftsy which provides some exposure for the designer and a huge benefit to us, the crafting community, But again, if the designer doesn’t think the pay is commensurate, don’t go there.

In response to all of this hub bub, John Levisay, CEO of Craftsy, wrote an open letter to Abby for our community of makers. You can read it here. Nothing earth shattering is contained in his response. It is what I might write, were I in his position. They are a large, for profit, corporation. They sells on-line classes, patterns and supplies – for PROFIT. Just as Amazon, Jo-Ann Fabrics, and Fabric.com aren’t overly concerned about the profitability of the brick and mortar shops, I don’t think Craftsy is terribly worried. Is this the right thing? Who knows. It isn’t really a question of right and wrong to me. It is just the way things are and will continue to be. Overall, I thought the letter was respectful and it made sense to me.  Things are forever changing as the world of technology grows and allows businesses to develop in new ways.

Finally, this is the first time I have written a post without pictures. Kind of strange so I am going to add one here for your viewing enjoyment!!  What a huge mess. I have decided that it is time to clean this place up. My sewing room has become a huge disaster. Like beyond ridiculous.  OK – how about you? Do you take issue with the Craftsy decision to market their own lines? Should they be able to sell below retail? Do I have to clean my room? Is your room messier than mine? Is a blog post without pictures acceptable? Do tell.

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Have a wonderfully creative day all.  🙂

 

Sunday Stitching

Ahhhh….. what a great Sunday. Never got in the car once. That is the best sort of day. After a little bit of housekeeping in the morning, I spent the majority of the afternoon in my sewing room. Life is good.

I finished the sixth row for my Classic Stitches BOM quilt (hosted by Mari over at Academic Quilter). The color for RSC15 in June is light blue. Mari wisely chose the water wheel block (what is better for light blue?) The block was very simple once I got the pieces cut. The previous five rows that I made consist of 6″ blocks. This month I made 7 1/2″ blocks. Kind of fun to see the difference in size. I need to vary the sizes a bit. Maybe I will make a row of tiny blocks next month and some oversized blocks in a later month.  Here is my row for June.

IMG_20150628_3489Somehow this row is a bit longer than 60″ so I may have a challenge on my hands when I stitch the rows together. But that won’t be for months, so why worry about it now?? It was too hot out to really hang all of the other rows, but here it is with two others.

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This is going to be such a fun quilt to finish up. Looking forward to seeing what color and block are on tap for July.

Last week I spent most of the week in Sacramento with my daughter. While she was in class I did what any other self-respecting quilter would do and hit up a few quilt shops. Actually of the three stores I went to, only one was a true quilt shop. The other was a huge sewing machine store that sells fabric along with machines and long arms. The third was Hobby Lobby, only because I had never been to one before. Visiting these three businesses confirmed the fact that this obsession has turned me into a fabric snob of the worst sort.

Hobby Lobby was exactly what I expected. Low end fabric and so many novelty prints. I suppose this is the right place for moms that are sewing clothes for their littles. The fabric is of a lower quality and I wouldn’t put it into a quilt but for an outfit that will be outgrown by summer’s end, it is probably just fine. Didn’t buy a single thing there.

The sewing machine shop, Meisner’s, had a smaller selection but the fabrics were good quality. They had a 40-60% off section which sucked me right in. I found the backing that I will use for the 1940’s vintage double nine patch quilt that I am just starting. It was a steal which is nice because I needed 4 1/2 yards.

IMG_20150628_3495I had the most fun at a little shop called Quilter’s Corner. I had been here once before during a Shop Hop. Their selection is fairly extensive so I had fun looking through the shop.

I found a piece of Kaffe Fassett that I wanted to go along with a jelly roll that has been sitting on my shelf for a while. I have an idea for a quilt but that is on the back burner for a bit while I get the double nine patch going. It is going to be so pretty tho! Love Fassett’s shot cottons and these colors are wonderful.

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Also from Quilter’s Corner, are these two pieces. The print is from American Jane’s newest line. Several months ago (maybe last fall?) Sandy Klop, the designer of American Jane fabrics came to speak at a guild meeting. It was interesting to listen to her and even more fun to look at the quilts she brought to show us. After the meeting, I purchased a set of 1/2 yard cuts and started a quilt with them. It is maybe 1/3 of the way complete. Looking at it coming together, I thought it lacked yellow so I was happy to find these pieces.

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The nice thing about the American Jane line is that pieces from different collections work so well together. These will fit right in. Again though, this needs to wait a bit. I want to get going on the vintage blues quilt and if I pull any of these other projects out I will only distract myself.

Hope everyone had a great Sunday. I am so glad I found time to sew today because tomorrow we are headed back to Sacramento. When my daughter had her birthday in May we didn’t have time to celebrate it with her friends. She invited three girls and I am taking them to a water park tomorrow. For them, it will be a day of bikinis and squealing which she is really looking forward to. I plan to find a bit of shade and bring a good book to pass the time while they do their thing.

Linking to Molli Sparkles’ Sunday Stash and Monday Makers over at Hug-a-Bit Quilts.

 

 

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day to Me

Last year I got such a cool Mother’s Day gift. It may strike you as odd that I am writing about it 10 months later, but bear with me. In April of last year, my son and daughter-in-law were home for a weekend to attend a wedding. Andrew overheard me talking about wanting to learn to use a long arm. There is a shop about 40 miles from my house (everything is 40 miles from my house) and when I was there I found out that a person could take a class on their long arm and then rent it for $20 per hour. This sounded great to me. Just seemed like a fun thing to learn and a nice way to see if I would like to work on a long arm. Being a thoughtful guy, Andrew decided to send me a gift certificate to cover the cost of taking the initial class. I was so surprised to get this in the mail the following month at Mother’s Day.

In theory, this was such a great idea. I just could not get it to happen. Certainly not for a lack of trying however.  This shop is more than a bit flaky. I won’t mention any names, but it is basically the only LQS in the Marysville/Yuba City area. There, now you can avoid it if you are ever in the area. When I got the certificate I scheduled the class. I called them at the end of May and was told I would have to wait until August for the class. Ok, no big deal.  Come August, they call me and tell me they are so very busy that they have to reschedule to October. A bit frustrating but I am nothing if not patient (ha!). So I schedule for October 22nd. October rolls around, and guess what? I get a call on October 21st telling me that they have just returned from a huge show and the long arms aren’t set up and blah, blah, blah.  They cannot actually reschedule me during this phone call and could they please call me back? Fine I huff at them, call me back. Are you surprised that I never got that phone call.  Five months have now gone by and no call.  I did leave a message or two between then and now, but I am fairly certain I am not going to get to take a class.

Now there I was holding on to this gift certificate to a quilt shop. Hmmm…. what to do, what to do? I called a quilty girlfriend last week and asked if she wanted to come along to this oh-so-poorly run LQS. Always up for a quilt shop trip, she agreed.  My mission was to splurge on a pile of 1/2 yard cuts of solids.  My stash is woefully low on any solid fabrics.  I was pretty darn excited. I told myself I could not go over the amount of the gift certificate though. (Remember, I have incredible will power when it comes to fabric shopping.)

Here is a one (Kaufmann) collection that I purchased.

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I love the texture in these pieces. The colors are so deep. Look at the violet piece on the right. Gorgeous.

imageOn to another aisle for more traditional solids. These are all Kona solids. Since I don’t have projects lined up for these, I just selected colors that I like to use. I have no doubt that I will find lots of fun quilts that will include these hues.

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Sooo pretty. I just love the way they look all stacked up. I don’t really need to sew with them, I can just look at them sitting there in my sewing room and it brings me pure joy.  😉

Now another funny thing about this shop is that their pricing was wildly erratic. The first batch of textured cottons were all the same price and they were a bit spendy. But the selection of Kona solids varied in price from $4.00 per yard to $9.99 (crazy high, in my opinion) per yard. When the owner was cutting the fabrics I pointed out the price differences to him and asked why Kona solids would vary like that. He had no real answer. He said, “I guess the cheaper ones have been around the shop for a while.” What? It made no sense to me. But really, it didn’t surprise me considering my experience with this guy over the past ten months.

No matter, I got to indulge in a stack of gorgeous fabric and celebrate Mother’s Day 2014 all over again!  And get this, I nailed the cost! I was over by eight cents! Thank you Andrew.  🙂

Linking to Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash (even though it’s already Monday!)

 

Experiencing Obie’s

We are in the middle of a vacation, visiting my son and daughter-in-law. They live in Delaware and we live in California so we don’t see each other too often. We are having a blast.  So far, we have checked out Chesapeake Bay, the Longwood Gardens (the DuPont family), Philadelphia, and – best of all – Lancaster County for my own personal quilt shop hop!

Before our Lancaster day I posted a query on Facebook. I belong to a group called the Nighttime Quilters which has the nicest people in it. I asked which quilt shops I should check out and was given several suggestions. I also checked out some forums on line which gave additional suggestions. Armed with a list of places we headed out.  My son was the chauffeur and my daughter came along for the trip. (My husband conveniently caught a horrible cold the night before. Coincidence? I think not! He stayed behind for the day.) It was a gorgeous drive. I lived in Pennsylvania for a couple of years in the early 1990’s and had forgotten how pretty the rolling hills of PA are. With the colors turning it was just spectacular.

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First place on my list was Obies’s  Country Store in Goodville, PA.  I had read a few sites that claimed it was ‘jammed with fabric’. When we pulled up to it I couldn’t believe what I saw. After checking out the front of the shop we decided to go to the next place on the list. It didn’t look particularly inviting.  See?

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After seeing the front we moved on to the Goodville Fabric Outlet which was just around the corner from Obie’s. This store was quite large and had all sorts of fabrics, not just quilting fabric. However much of it was not first run fabric. It was interesting to see the variety though.

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I dug around a bit and did find a few choice pieces though.  I collected several neutrals for a quilt that will be shades of cream, tan and brown.  This photo shows the pure joy of purchasing fabric for $4.99/yard which is petty much unheard of in Northern CA. (Photo credit to my daughter, Julia.)

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When I was paying for these little treasures, I asked the clerk about Obie’s. She smiled and said that ‘while it wasn’t necessarily safe, it was a sight to see.’ That intrigued me. We went back around the corner to Obie’s. Oh my gosh!! It was incredible. Fabric was stacked along the walls from floor to ceiling in this tiny shop. You can see by the floor tiles that the aisles were maybe two feet wide and it made it hard for two people to pass each other.  The fabric was somewhat organized by color and theme (for the novelty fabrics at least.)image

We went upstairs which was crazy. There were quilts everywhere. They were definitely hand quilted but I think some were machine pieced.  The quantity of quilts was overwhelming. They were hanging over the stair railing and folded up and stacked on the shelves along the wall. Digging through the flat folds proved to be fruitful. I found two prints that I loved and both were a mere $3.99/yard! Loved the bargains!

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After this experience there was still one place left on the list.  I wanted to go to Weavers Dry Goods in Lilitz, PA. This shop was amazing! The selection and the prices were over the top.  It was really well organized and she carried all the best brands (Moda, Michael Miller, Benartex, Henry Glass, Alexander Henry and Hoffman to name just a few).

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She had a large room full of novelty fabrics and they were beautifully sorted and labeled by theme. Lots of really cute lines.

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I found a lot of fabric here – A pile of fat eighths and three different pieces of yardage. Again, the prices were great. California pricing is just ridiculous. I was happy to discover that Weaver’s has an on-line shop as well. I will definitely use them in the future. This was a top notch quilt shop.

Three quilt shops, three totally different experiences. It was a great day. Have you been to any of these quilt shops?

Linking to Freemotion by the River, Let’s Bee Social, Needle and Thread Thursday. All of these wonderful sites have links listed up at the top of the page under Link Ups.