Friday, March 30, 2018

Chattanooga area quilt shops and quilters welcome Ben Taphouse from Lewis and Irene fabrics: part 2

During the two-day whirlwind visit with Ben Taphouse, Director of Sales for Lewis and Irene fabrics, we visited four quilt shops in Tennessee and Georgia. After a presentation for the Choo Choo Quilters on Monday evening (see this blog post), we had a full day on Tuesday meeting with shop owners of Chattanooga Quilts, Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More.
Here is Kim Thomas (center), owner of Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah, TN,
with Ben (right) and me.
Our first stop Tuesday morning was at Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah. Here we are with Kim Thomas, the owner. The Lewis and Irene fabrics were well received at Chattanooga Quilts, so be looking for several collections arriving in the upcoming months. You won't lack for project ideas and inspiration at Chattanooga Quilts because Kim has curated fabrics for several projects and kits will be available at her shop. The Lewis and Irene website also has loads of free patterns for downloading. Contact Kim to see what's coming in.

Traveling from Chattanooga Quilts in Ooltewah, Ben and I dropped by Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More. Because of our tight schedule and the flurry of activity that was happening at this store (it was hopping!), I didn't get a photo. But I can say that shop owners, Kyra Rhyne and Josh Flinn were smitten with the collections and have childrenswear and garment sewing projects planned for them. Be watching their class calendar and stop in the shop in the next months.

From Chattanooga Sewing Machines and More, we made a quick stop at 4 Corners Cafe near Collegedale, TN, for paninis. True to the typical antics of a traveling sales rep, Ben took to eating our lunch on-the-fly in the car. [Ben--next time we'll have to make time to enjoy the home made gelato at 4 Corners!]
Ben outside Sew 'n So Quilt Shop in Rocky Face, GA.
On to Sew 'n So Quilt Shop in Rocky Face, GA, where we were greeted by shop owner, Anna Quarles, and a group of her customers.
Ben shows customers at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop a photo of
the glow-in-the-dark inks in the Fairy Lights collection.
Ooohs and ahhhhs filled the shop during Ben's presentation of the upcoming Lewis and Irene fabric collections. Anna took copious notes based on the "Oooh/Aaah Barometer" and reactions to the lines from the attendees. As of the writing of this blog post, the full collection of Lewis and Irene's "Bee Kind" is at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop along with pre-cuts from the Spring/Summer Bumbleberries collection.
Meet and Greet with Ben Taphouse at Sew 'n So Quilt Shop.
Lucky winners of the door prizes were thrilled to be going home with Lewis and Irene fabric goodies.
Anna Quarles, owner of Sew 'n So Quilt Shop and Ben Taphouse.
The final appointment of the day was an evening Meet and Greet at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More in Cleveland, TN, hosted by shop owner, Lana Masengill.
The Bumbleberries fashion blender was used
in this sample.
 While Ben presented the collections, attendees got to examine the fabric strike-offs ...
Examining the strike-offs.
 and pass around the samples.
There were lots of projects and samples on hand for people to see at the Meet and Greet.
The Lewis and Irene door prizes were very much appreciated. (Think she's having a good time?)
A lucky winner of Lewis and Irene charm squares.
Lana already had several bolts of the "So Darling" line in her shop and it was no surprise that these and the Bumbleberries  fashion blender, were leaving with customers in one and two-yard cuts. Fear not! Lana has more Bumbleberries and other upcoming Lewis and Irene collections on order!
Ben Taphouse with shop owner,Lana Masengill, at Lana's Quilts and Sew Much More.
The wrap-up
After hearing the stories behind the company and its fabric designs, I hope the Tennessee and north Georgia quilters and sewers won't be strangers to Lewis and Irene fabric collections that will be making their way to the area's quilt shops. Thank you so much to all the shop owners that allowed us to visit.

So, after:
    2 days,
    4 quilt shops,
    2 Meet and Greets,
    1 guild meeting, and
    168 miles...

... Ben and I did a brain dump and recap of the visits and conversations with shop owners and all the quilters. Believe it or not, Ben recommended Smokey Bones for a great late-evening dish of mac and cheese and deep-fried Oreo cookies (and he claims he does not have a sweet tooth!). One minute it was 9 pm, and the next it was midnight! Time flies when you're talking "fabric."

Thanks for a wonderful visit and hope you enjoyed your trip to Chattanooga, Ben! 

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Chattanooga area quilt shops and quilters welcome
Ben Taphouse from Lewis and Irene fabrics: part 1

This week, I had a wonderful opportunity to host a visit and travel with Ben Taphouse, the Sales Director of Lewis and Irene, a young and enterprising fabric company based in England.
Ben Taphouse, Director of Sales for Lewis and Irene fabrics, speaking at the
Choo Choo Quilters guild meeting. The "Lindos" collection was a guild favorite.
Lewis and Irene is a family-owned fabric company serving the sewing, quilting and crafting businesses across Europe and is now introducing their "sophisticated cute" fabric collections and fashion blenders to quilt shops in the United States. I am one of the direct fabric reps in the US.

The "Kimmeridge Bay" collection features prehistoric
sea creatures, rock rubbings and a design based on an actual
fossil found at the site.
Visiting with the Choo Choo Quilters
Ben's visit coincided with my quilt guild's monthly meeting, so the Choo Choo Quilters gave Ben a warm, enthusiastic welcome to Chattanooga on his first evening in town. 

Guild members got an up-close-and-personal preview of all the new Lewis and Irene fabric collection as Ben presented them along with the inspiration and personal story behind each collection. Strike-offs (printed fabric swatches of the designs) were available for attendees to feel and inspect.

Lewis and Irene's fabrics are made from grade A1 cotton and the company vetted several mills before choosing the one to print its fabrics. The Lewis and Irene team keeps attentive watch on design execution and print quality and is pushing boundaries with metallic, opaque pearlescent and specialty fabric inks. Be on the lookout in September 2018 for the "Fairy Lights" collection that incorporates glow-in-the-dark inks as a focal point of the designs in the collection. Note that "Fairy Lights" was voted a "guild favorite" during the presentation.

Choo Choo Quilters previewed new fabric collections
from Lewis and Irene.
Other upcoming collections feature geometrics, stylized city skylines with British taxis and a map of the "tube" [Americans might call it the "subway"], winter and holiday themes with tomtes, and a host of other themes inspired by travels near and far--from the Greek islands to local villages and Ben's backyard. Guild members provided feedback on their "most likely will buy" with these as the top vote-getters:

:: Lindos
:: Snow Days and Hygge Christmas
:: Bumbleberries fashion blenders
:: Geometrix
:: Fairy Lights
:: City Lights
:: The Water Meadow

followed closely by:
:: Love Me, Love Me Not
:: Small Things, Country Creatures
:: Winter Garden
:: Bear Hug
:: Celtic Reflections
:: Kimmeridge Bay
:: Scarecrow Acres

Quilters: Be watching for these fabrics to arrive in Chattanooga area quilt shops and other quilt shops across the country.

Projects and inspiration
At the guild meeting, there was an array of samples--quilts, pillows, tote bags--made from the free patterns available from the company's website. 
Quilts and samples of projects made with Lewis and Irene fabrics.
Ben encouraged the guild members to post their own projects made with Lewis and Irene fabrics to the Lewis and Irene Facebook page. The company loves sharing the accomplishments and creativity of quilters, sewists and crafters!
Detail of a quilt featuring hexagons cut from "Enchanted Forest."
During the presentation, Ben relayed the story surrounding the forming and naming of the company--which was named after his grandparents--and endeared attendees even more to the fabrics, the company and the company's core values. The brand's tagline is "threaded with love."
Hand-crafted ceramic mug by local artist.
"Chattanooga Quilts"
Ben's Thank You gift from the Choo Choo Quilters was a Chattanooga Quilts ceramic mug. I've heard on good authority that Ben and the mug made it safely back to England and Ben has already put the mug to good use. Thanks for visiting the USA and spending time with the Choo Choo Quilters, Ben!

Several quilt shop owners, shop associates, and area quilters from Tennessee and Georgia also had the pleasure of meeting my guest from England and hearing the Lewis and Irene story. Stay tuned for part 2 of my travels with Ben.

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.
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