Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kitty quilts are loved at Chattanooga's Cat Clinic

Jennifer at the Cat Clinic made my day! She emailed me this picture of Jesse the Wonder Cat who is having a picnic on a kitty cuddle quilt I made. 
Jesse on his picnic quilt at the Cat Clinic.
Visit Jesse the Wonder Cat on Facebook.
Need a little quilty pick-me-up and some instant gratification? Grab a pile of scraps and stitch up a couple kitty cuddle quilts. Approximately 25" x 27" in size, these quilts fit into the crates at the Cat Clinic where the kitties recuperate after a surgery or a procedure. I donated these two quilts in January. I'm happy that Jesse has approved them. [You can follow Jesse's cat capers on his Facebook page—Jesse the Wonder Cat.]
Kitty quilts, 25" x 27".
Flannel goes on the back so the quilt is soft and warm. The kitties can sit or lay on either side. I found this cat and dog flannel print and purchased it specifically for the kitty cuddle quilts. Purrrr-fect, don't ya think?
Flannel backing for kitty cuddle quilts.
If you're a quilter, a few side benefits for making these little quilty gems:
  • practice your free-motion or straight line quilting,
  • try out a new quilting design,
  • experiment with a new technique (I was working with free-motion ruler work),
  • use up odds and ends—fabric and batting scraps,
  • have fun with improv piecing,
  • practice machine binding.
But best of all, they provide comfort and warmth for the kitties! So if you need a lift, make some little cuddle quilts for the furry ones. Or if you can, go a step further and give a kitty (or doggy) a forever home.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Freezing weather calls for hot artisan teas

Blizzard-y conditions, nor'easter, accumulation, wintery mix or wintery mess… whatever you call what's been happening in your area, many of us have "stayed put" because of the weather this week. With wings clipped, I resorted to catching up on paperwork, tidying up files (I quickly tired of this activity) and keeping warm with several varieties of organic artisan teas I picked up on recent travels.
Organic artisan teas from The Switch House, Huntsville, AL
My friend Sherri, from Huntsville Sew and Vac, knows all the cool places and unique restaurants in town. You may recall me raving about Granville's Gourmet Ribs and BBQ and Sam and Greg's Pizzaria Gelateria in this post. In January we went to Dallas Mill Deli (gotta try the strawberry pretzel salad and a Southern ruben), the Sandwich Farm, and The Village Cafe.
The Sandwich Farm, Huntsville, AL
Quilters from my classes joined us for lunch at the Sandwich Farm. It was difficult to choose from the enticing menu or from the chalkboard, so Ms. "are you up for an adventure?" Sherri and I ordered and split two sandwiches. The avocado LT was excellent as well as the ciabatta (if you like smoked fish). Gisele, one of my students from class, mentioned the Sunday Brunch is absolutely fabulous, too. So check out the Sandwich Farm if you are in Huntsville on a Sunday.
Sandwich Farm chalkboard menu.
Down the sidewalk from the Sandwich Farm is the Switch House. Yes, the actual building where the controls for switching the train tracks were once housed and operated. Inside this little building was a multi-artist retail shop [which was unfortunately relocating at the end of the month] that had specialty teas from locally grown ingredients. I snagged a 3 oz. sampling of each tea she had and a hand sewn blank book for sketching (great souvies!).
The Switch House, Huntsville, AL
Breakfast on my last day in Huntsville was at the Village Cafe in Owens Cross Roads, AL with Sherri and her husband, Reggie.
The Village Cafe, Owens Cross Roads, AL.
Inside with Sherri and Reggie.
This place offers artisan brewed coffees, savory breakfast bakery, and a lunch menu with sandwiches, ice cream and smoothies (for days when it's not so cold). It also carries fabulous artisan teas by Piper and Leaf. These teas are specially blended from flavors grown by local farmers.

Lemon Berry Blush, Sassafras Strawberry and Monk's Meditation came home with me along with this nifty tea-brewing gadget—an IngenuiTEA (quite ingenious!). See how it operates on this YouTube video.
IngenuiTEA at the Village Cafe.
Upon arriving home in Chattanooga, I decided to check out a local tearoom, The English Rose Tearoom on Market Street. Located in the foyer of the original 1890s Grand Hotel, across from the Choo Choo, the tearoom's gift shop carries some lovely imported teas. I bought a sampling of these teas to send to Sherri and a package of Duchess Delight for myself. This place is also open for lunch or you can plan a special event with them. Be sure to check the English Rose website for coupons before you go.
Dutchess Delight loose tea from The English Rose, Chattanooga, TN
So now the bread in the breadbox has been shoved to one side to make room for my collection of little aromatic pouches. Honey, sugar, milk and my IngenuiTEA are at the ready and have been quite active during these below-freezing temperatures of late.
Artisan teas from my travels.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Two days of Free-Motion Quilting

Intro to Free-motion Quilting class
Absolutely Fun Sewing and Embroidery
Murfreesboro, TN
Remember those Doublemint Gum commercials? "It's 2… 2… 2 mints in one," was the jingle.

I'll be enjoying 2 days of Free-motion Quilting fun with the quilters in Murfreesboro at Absolutely Fun Sewing and Embroidery next week!

Judy Winters, the shop owner, is pulling out all the stops for this 2-day event. Anyone signing up for either of my "Intro to Free-motion Quilting" classes will have a chance to win a Baby Lock sewing machine!

I also have it on good authority (wink, wink) that two long-arm sit-down quilting machines and a Janome 1600P high-speed professional quilting and sewing machine will be available in the classroom for students to "test drive." How cool is that?

Wanna "kick the tires" and see how fun and easy it is to free-motion on these bigger, professional model machines? This is a fabulous opportunity! Don't miss out.

Call today [615] 295-2998 and sign up for the Friday or Saturday (February 20/21) Intro to Free-motion Quilting class—and be entered for the sewing machine drawing, too. "Two, two, two treats in one!"

Here is some free-motion inspiration to whet your whistle—or your quilting needle:

Saturday, February 7, 2015

"A" is for Applique

Learn appliqué! It's not as scary as you might have heard.
My pattern for these sweet funky flowers is included in the class.
[Fabrics used in this piece are all by Blank Quilting Corp.]
Many quilters say they don't do "the A word."

"A" stands for "Appliqué" and it's really not the scarlet letter that some make it out to be.

Look at these cheery flowers. They don't look intimidating, do they? Applique is a wonderful complement to patchwork and quilters can achieve some amazing results in their compositions with this technique.

I'm teaching a Beginning Appliqué class this coming Tuesday, February 10 at Pins and Needles Quilt Shop.

Join me for this class and I'll tell you the reasons why I like this particular method of appliqué and I'll show you how you can do it by hand and by machine. 

Options are always a good thing!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Breaking free at The Fabric Shop with free-motion quilting

Nestled between the CPA and law offices on South Main Street across from the Robertson County Courthouse in Springfield, Tennessee is The Fabric Shop. I find this is an amusing juxtaposition—balance sheets, tax forms, regulations, and the black-or-white absolutes of the surrounding businesses versus the fluid, creative and colorful aspects of textiles and stitch. But, it's good to have diversity, right? And no doubt the courthouse has its share of "colorful" characters cross its threshold as well.
The Fabric Shop, 508 S. Main, Springfield, TN

Miss Donna talks with a customer.
The Fabric Shop's owner, Donna Sandidge—or Miss Donna as she is called at the shop—has a degree in textiles, a background in sewing and fitting, and extensive experience in garment making. Donna invited me to her shop this past weekend to teach a free-motion quilting class to her quilting customers so they could "Break free and get out of the ditch!"

The Fabric Shop is located in a historic 1900s building off the courthouse square. The soft, textural fabrics and trims are a lovely complement the exposed brick walls and high ceilings of this older building. In the store, Donna blends several "stitching disciplines" through the products offered in her shop—woven and knit textiles and fashion and specialty fabrics for sewing garments as well as quilters cottons for quilting.

Here is a little shop tour…

Scattered throughout the store, styled vignettes such as this one feature garments, fabrics, supplies and kits.
Garments and aprons are displayed with baskets of fat quarters.
A comfy, oversized upolstered chair shares space with zippers, buttons, ribbons, thread and spooled and packaged trims.
Sewing notions, zippers and trims.
A wall of notions (left) and a cupboard with various trims and lace.
Spinner racks display books on sewing, patchwork and continuous line quilting designs. Patterns include quilts, bags, totes, aprons and other projects.
Books and patterns.
For the free-motion class, Donna asked me to bring samples of my work to hang in the classroom area. I love this juxtaposition too—the exposed brick walls with the vivid colors and tactile qualities of the quilts. The classroom is ready for tomorrow's class… warm and inviting.
We set up a gallery of my quilts in the classroom.
The students in the class were very inquisitive and their questions ignited good discussions and learning opportunities. 
Drawing continuous line patterns.
They made great progress learning continuous line quilting motifs and quickly got up to speed at their sewing machines.
Free-motion quilting.
Sew what ya know!
At the end of the class, I asked the students what their light-bulb moments and take-aways were. Here are a few comments:
  • Free-motion quilting is not as hard as I thought it would be.
  • The drawing and watching you draw the designs really helped.
  • I have a direction and know what to do now.
  • I'm happy to get out of the ditch.
  • Seeing your [Show and Tell] quilts and the discussion on how to find quilting inspiration was so helpful.
Do you know the secret to successful free-motion quilting?
Donna (left) and students in the free-motion quilting class.
Thanks to everyone for coming out and dropping the feed dogs with me! I had a great time.
Intro to Free-motion Quilting class, January 2015
at The Fabric Shop, Springfield, TN
The Fabric Shop will be participating in the Row by Row Experience, a nation-wide shop hop, again this year. I was able to score their 2014 fabric license plate—to add to my collection.
2014 Row by Row collectors plate from The Fabric Shop.
So, if you're on the road this summer for Row by Row (or any time!), drive to the revitalized historic area of Springfield and stop-and-shop at this quaint fabric shop. You can't miss the courthouse on the square—and The Fabric Shop is directly across from it.

Robertson County Courthouse, Springfield, TN.
And for your noshing pleasure? A few doors down from The Fabric Shop you'll find Burdette's Tea Shop & Trading Company from where our lunch was catered. 
Take-out menu from Burdett's Tea Shop.
I had the Salad Jumble Plate and can highly recommend the ham and cheese scones and the frozen strawberry salad. Word has it the brownies are also yummy and one of my students told me they have a vast, must-try selection of unique Rosehaven Gourmet Loose Tea. Unfortunately, the shop was closed by the time my class was over. I'm putting it on the agenda for next time...

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers in Huntsville

"Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers"
free-motion quilting class
"What do you want to learn next after taking a beginning free-motion quilting?"

I've asked students this in many of my Intro to Free-motion Quilting classes and created "Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers" based on their feedback, ideas and requests. I taught this class in Huntsville at Huntsville Sew and Vac mid-January in addition to the Intro to Free-Motion class and the students did amazing work.

We did a little drawing...
Student work from my "Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers" class.

Student work from my "Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers" class.
then determined a layout...
Sara does her layout for free-motion background fillers
on the floor.
Areas on the quilt top were prepped for the background fillers.
Terri (left) and Brandy prepare their layouts for background fillers..
The Elements and Principles of Design were discussed as they related to free-motion quilting motifs.
Gisele (left) and Denise in my"Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers"
free-motion quilting class at Huntsville Sew and Vac.
Several students even used the "Circle in a Square" table runner they made in the reverse appliqué class. Talk about productivity!
Maureen quilts the "Circle in a Square" table runner.
Thanks for letting me hang out with you for 3 days in Huntsville! I had a great time.
Students from "Circle in a Square" and "Fillers, Spillers and Thrillers" classes
Huntsville Sew and Vac, Huntsville, AL

ATCs: Three Words of Advice

"Support Our Troops"
by Debbie Joyner
After several days on the road that concluded with me teaching a full-day Free-motion Quilting class at The Fabric Shop, it was nice to get back home. Since it was after midnight when I pulled into the driveway, it was not until this morning—with a hot cup of tea at hand—that I was able to open the "squishy" envelopes containing the ATCs [Artist Trading Cards] for the first FiberAntics ATC swap of 2015. The theme for the January swap was "Three Words of Advice."

I didn't intentionally plan to kick off the new year with inspirational quotes or philosophical devotions, but I was both uplifted and calmed while reading the "three words" that were depicted on each batch of cards that spilled from its envelope. (Hmmm. Maybe I should be more cognizant of which themes are slated for different times of the year.) Or maybe I am still on my weekend "teaching high." Likely both.

Take a look and see what you think.

"Praise the Lord!"
by Elizabeth Armstrong

"Live to Love"
by Lisa Howard

"Believe in Yourself"
by Sharon Joyner Griffith

"Always Be Yourself!"
by Diane Pineschi

"3 Wise Words"
by Karen Downer

"Let it go…"
by Carlene Jacobsen
Oh, I need to find more time for this...
"Read more books"
by Bonnie Stevens
This ATC artist is the dream of every quilt shop owner and fabric rep!
"Buy More Fabric!"
by Cathy Dillon
Can you hear your mother saying this?
"Eat your vegetables."
by Veronica Hofman-Ortega
And this?
"Don't Eat That"
by Marilyn League
Traders also got a thoughtful gift that accompanied Bonnie's "Read more books" ATC. Here is the note she sent me: 

A magnetic bookmark to keep your place in the fabulous book
you are now reading.

Sharon included a Thank You note with her cards along with this little gem. As a fabric rep whose virtual "office" is a briefcase and a car, this is going to be so useful and handy! (Sharon, how did you know? This little desk-mate is perfect.)
Desk-mate: Sticky notes, paper clips and a built-in ruler
in a see-through compact.

2015 begins the 7th year of my Artist Trading Card swaps. My ATC collection—and my heart—overfloweth! Thanks to all the ATC traders who have shared their Art and Heart with us. Happy February to everyone.
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