Saturday, March 10, 2018

Lewis & Irene VIP is visiting Chattanooga!

Have you heard about Lewis & Irene, a fresh, new face in the quilting fabric arena? If not, let's make an acquaintance...
"Enchanted Forest" from Lewis & Irene fabrics.
Lewis & Irene is a family-run business that offers quality 100% cotton fabrics. Their unique designs have quickly become "fan favorites" with quilters and sewers in the UK and across Europe. In October 2017, the way was paved to bring these collections to US quilt shops and independent sewing centers so all of us American quiltmakers can get our hands on these lovelies.

Are you intrigued?
I hope so, because in about a week, Ben Taphouse, the Director of Sales in the UK for Lewis & Irene, is making a trip to the USA and will be traveling with me in Chattanooga for 2 days. 
Up and coming to USA quilt shops: Lewis and Irene fabrics
A few Chattanooga area quilt shop owners have graciously made time to meet with Ben and me. And happily, his visit coincides with my quilt guild's monthly meeting, so Ben will be our guest presenter at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting.

Interested in hearing the Lewis & Irene story?
If you are interested in hearing the story of the Lewis & Irene fabric company, and what inspires the designs of their fabric collections come to the guild meeting or a Meet and Greet. Here's our travel agenda:

Monday, March 19: Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting, Hixson, TN, 6:30 pm

Tuesday, March 20:
Visiting Chattanooga Quilts and Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More early in the day.
3:00 pm: Meet and Greet at Sew N So Quilt Shop, Rocky Face, GA.
6:30 pm: Meet and Greet at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More, Cleveland, TN

If you live in the Chattanooga area, be on the lookout for Lewis & Irene fabric collections. Please support your local quilt shop and ask them to carry these fabrics. You can also email me or let me know if your local quilt shop is interested in this fabric line—I'm happy to contact them.

Oh, yeah... and there might be some fabric goodies available for event attendees.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Fussy cutting Australian aboriginal prints for EPP

The Dreamtime aboriginal designs from M&S Textiles are full of graphic symbols, geometric textures and organic shapes. I was recently discussing the possibilities for these Australian fabrics with Jennifer, the owner of  Busy Lady Quilt Shop, and she reminded me that they would be ideal for fussy cutting English paper piecing [EPP] shapes. She is so right!
M&S Textiles aboriginal Australian fabric designs.
A few years ago, some rep friends and I were on the EPP bandwagon when Paper Pieces launched the Glorious Hexagons stitch-along using Katja Marek’s "The New Hexagon" book. I’m not sure why I didn’t think of the EPP technique for these fabrics sooner... because it's perfect.
English paper pieced hexagon blocks.
So, I’m rekindling my relationship with this slow stitching technique—English paper piecing—using fabrics with aboriginal designs. The acrylic templates from Paper Pieces make fussy cutting motifs easy and accurate.
Fussy cutting swirl motifs using an acrylic template and rotary cutter.
Paper Pieces now offers the acrylics with 3/8" or 1/4" seam allowances built in. (My preference is still the 3/8" inch.)
English paper piecing with aboriginal fabrics from M&S Textiles.
The diamond shaped papers I'm using here are 1-3/4 inch card stock papers (also from Paper Pieces.) This shape can be combined to make hexagons, stars, the Tumbling Block and other designs. My 8 must-have tools for English paper piecing are detailed in this blog post.
Shapes ready for hand piecing.
If you need a portable, take-along project, EPP is the answer. Thanks for the insight and reminder, Jennifer! Can't wait to see what you make with the Australian fabrics that are coming to your shop.
English paper piecing [EPP] is very portable.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Adding color flavor to 4-patches with decorative stitches and 12 wt. thread

Notes to self: "A little spice goes a long way," "Less is more," and "It's all in the details."
4 patch blocks with decorative machine stitching.
Yarn-dyed wovens from Diamond Textiles. 12 wt. Spaghetti by WonderFil Threads.
These 4-patch blocks were pieced with squares from a charm pack from Diamond Textiles and leftovers from jackets I made with these fabrics. These yarn-dyed cotton fabrics are rich with texture. Some have a pronounced plaid or check while others have a more subtle pattern. A few have a brushed surface. They all whisper, "comfort."

My original ideas was to combine the 4-patches with wool appliqué blocks.
Auditioning the 4-patch blocks with wool appliqué.
But there needed to be a better dialog between the brighter colors of the wool and the 4-patch blocks.

Enter: 12 wt. thread (Spaghetti from WonderFil Threads) and decorative stitches!
Sewing across the seams with decorative stitches.
Putting my sewing machine's built-in decorative stitches to work not only started the "color conversation" but it was fun to experiment with fabric pattern and stitch combinations.
Decorative machine stitches using 12 wt. thread.
WonderFil's 12 wt. cotton thread holds its own. The decorative stitches add detail and color to the blocks. I do like to "spin" the seam allowances at the intersection of the 4-patch blocks (see photo below). This makes a flatter seam and easier sewing of the decorative stitches across the intersection. You will be thankful you used this seam allowance technique when you get to the quilting step, too.
Spinning the seam allowances on the 4-patch blocks.

I am pleased with how this sprinkling of decorative stitches is adding a wonderful new flavor to my 4-patch blocks. 
4-patch blocks with decorative machine stitches in 12 wt. threads.

Hey there, blog stalker: do you add decorative stitches to your patchwork or appliqué?

Sunday, February 18, 2018

"From Field to Fabric" presentation at the Choo Choo Quilters guild

As a fabric strategist and sales representative, I often find myself digging deeper into various aspects of the fabric industry to either answer a question from a fellow quilter, student or a shop owner, or to just gain a better understanding of this field for myself.
"From Field to Fabric," a presentation about cotton fabric production.
My slide presentation, "From Field to Fabric," is a compilation of the research I did to address the question, "Is there a difference between "quilt-shop quality" fabric and that "stuff" from the big box stores?" After some research, an examination of the production processes, and embarking on an undercover mission to test the theory (which I tell about in my presentation), I can provide a heartfelt and resounding, "YES, there is!"

I'll be presenting "From Field to Fabric" at the Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting on Monday. The presentation covers a brief history of cotton, the fabric manufacturing processes—from weaving through printing and finishing—and I point out things that can affect quality. This weekend, I also updated the presentation to include the digitally printed fabrics that have entered the quilting market.

Ever wonder how cotton fibers are magically transformed into the lovely quilting fabrics we find at the quilt shops? I'm sharing findings from my investigation at the next guild meeting.

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