Wednesday, August 21, 2013

WIP: New Hampshire Fabrics

During our Boston area trip August 7-15 my husband indulged me by adding a jaunt north up to Center Harbor, NH to check out  Keepsake Quilting, on the shore of Lake Winnipesaukee. I have gotten their catalog for many years, since I first got into the quilting hobby and I consider them an icon of the quilting community. When we were in Central California last year my husband wanted to visit the memorial for James Dean. For me, this visit to Keepsake's brick and mortar store was in sort of the same category. My life could still be complete without ever going there but I'd always been very curious.

The store was well within what I expected with no major surprises. I will say though that their sale outlet section of the store was unremarkable. To me ~10% off is no real sale.  Apparently they have a huge summer blowout each year during which it is a real mob scene, but throughout the store discounts are very minimal. Also, although they have many many bolts of fabric, there are very few fat quarters. Their policy is to only cut fat quarters when they are near the end of the bolt. In a way, this is to be commended as not wasting fabric; but somehow, a quilt store without bins or cubbies or baskets or drawers of fat quarters seems a bit weird to me.

I did pick up just a few pieces of fabric. I liked the quasi stripe on the left and found it very unusual.  I bought a half yard, maybe for binding. The central plaid was a brushed cotton and had a very, very soft hand to it. I liked the whimsy of the barbecue bugs on the right.

I also found this adorable animal print, perfect for a certain biology major friend of mine. I just love the variety of critters on the fabric, from many kingdoms, phyla and classes. I have now exhausted  my high school biology terminology.

And just look at all the colors involved! It is impressive that 18 different dyes went into this fabric as you can see by the numbered circles on the selvage. Having just visited the town of Lowell and touring the American Textile History Museum there, I am more appreciative of the effort involved to print this fabric and keep the colors registered correctly.

There were only fat quarters of Animal Alphabet Flash Cards available though. Due to Keepsake's sales methods, if you find a fat quarter, there is no bolt yardage left to purchase. I bought all remaining four fat quarters and have just made them into napkins. I guess by giving this away in my blog my friend may be surprised now instead of when she receives them in the mail in a few days.

It took me a while and a couple dozen tries before I figured out how to fold the napkins into this triangular packaging method for gifting. (All you vendors out there who do this routinely are laughing at me now.) I knew the equilateral triangle had to be folded at 60° but how to do so repeatedly and with only folded edges exposed was a challenge to figure out. I did not grasp the method readily. I had to figure it out each time for every one of the four napkins! I used the markings on my rectangular rule. I could not find the triangular ruler I knew I had. When I was tossing out the trimmings from the ribbon I tied the stack with, I found the triangular ruler. Wouldn't ya know it?

I am looking forward to checking out other folk's projects later this evening at
Here are my stats:

Completed projects since 7/31/13 WIP post:
  1. Critter napkins
  2. Lots of travel and fabric purchases (August 19, 2013 post)
Ongoing projects:  
  1. Firetruck pillowcase (July 24, 2013 post) - need fabric orientation post
  2. Christmas pillowcases - cut out awaiting stitching
  3. Classic Cars strip quilt (August 3, 2013 post)- need to back, quilt, and bind
  4. Grinch quilt (May 22,2013 post) - all borders added, need to back, quilt, and bind
  5. Jack O'Lantern Trio (February 2, 2013 post) - awaiting FMQ
  6. Chicken quilt - awaiting FMQ
  7. Overlapping square wall hanging - awaiting FMQ
  8. Mask quilt (October 19, 2011 post) - hidden away awaiting inspiration for arranging hexagons
New projects since 7/31/13 WIP post:  
  1. Critter napkins
Stats since last WIP:
     Completed  projects - 1
     Currently in progress - too many, ridiculous, but listing them keeps me honest
     New projects - 1 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Boston Trip and Fabric Finds

My husband and I just got back from nine day trip back east to the Boston area and a bit of New Hampshire. We went to visit college friends and share memories of the good old days. Of course I managed to weasel quilting into the trip.

Lowell, Massachusetts was a major textile manufacturing town that grew up and peaked during the Industrial Revolution. On Friday we went to the Lowell Quilt Festival with college friends John and Sue.  They are both novices to the world of quilting and this was their first quilt show. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing how impressed they were with the quilts shown and how surprised they were viewing the changes from the quilts they remember on the beds of their grandmothers. Many displays did not allow photography but this one did and I captured this beauty that caught my eye for color, workmanship, and detail.

I know that with the advent of the internet most fabrics are available online and so geographic location is not a real constraint.  However, going to shows in another part of the country tends to feature the tastes of that area and so you do see more fabric variety when you are out and about. Of course there were vendors at the show and I want to showcase my purchases from the Boston area.

These are Kaffe Fasset prints that I bought from Waterwheel House.  They packaged their fat quarters in a very enticing manner and had the many bright colors and the polka dots that I gravitate to.

And with a ten-month old granddaughter, whooo could pass up these three color ways of mini-print OWL FAT quarters; or should I say mini-print FAT OWL quarters? Either fits, they are so chubby and adorable, especially with those big, round, pin-dot pupil eyes!

Waterwheel House also had these adorable fox prints but only in a prepackaged bundle of fat quarters.  They agreed to ship a yard of each to my home in California directly from their shop and did not charge me shipping.  Not only did I save money but I saved weight.  After this trip I brought back 15 pounds of fabric combined from this quilt Festival and a visit to Keepsake Quilting in New Hampshire a fews day later!

Also at the Lowell Quilt Festival I bought a yard each of these quirky stripes at $5 / yard at clearance because the store was changing its image and re-prioritizing the product lines it carried. I think they were changing their store to feature more sedate heritage and somber civil war era tones. These wavy bands definitely would not have fit in. The store owners probably think they were lucky to find a crazy Californian to buy them. I, on the other hand, think they will make hecka-cute cute bindings or filler blocks in a baby quilt. Definitely a win-win situation...

I thought these prints were just plain cute and intend them possibly for little girls dresses or pinafores.

I also bought this three yard combo for $15 and just love the whimsy of the dotted/striped birds/pumpkins and the jaunty curli-qued hats on the cute spooks.

After the quilt show we went on to the American Textile History Museum located in Lowell, Massachusetts. I was fascinated with the way flax, cotton, wool, and silk are processed into the thread that is woven or knitted into the cloth we buy today. Considering all that goes into getting the fibers from the plant or animal, and not even counting the weaving and dying and printing, I began to appreciate that maybe the price we pay for fabric these days is not so bad after all.

And for you knitters out there, there is a very well dressed scarecrow in the American Textile History Museum.  The children from school tours there had named him Oz.

Later in the week we toured other museums in Lowell, Massachusetts where they weave and print the cloth. We did this with college friends Joe and Margaret. We also drove up north to visit Keepsake Quilting on the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire and met up with other college friends Linda and Richard. To me Keepsake Quilting represents an icon in the quilting world. I wanted to visit it just like one wants to read a classic novel. Our Lowell and Lake Winnipesaukee visits are a tale for another post.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Classic Cars Assembly Line

I completed piecing the front of the cars quilt I started earlier this week and here it is with edges all trimmed even.  I get a kick out of seeing that fire chief, hands on hips, in the top section and that little fireman running with the hose in the bottom section. It reminds me of the Find Waldo pictures. The dimensions are tweaked a bit to best show off the classic car and transportation symbol fabrics, but basically the quilt is from the Check Me Out pattern by It's So Emma. I'm naming this quilt Classic Cars.

I pieced some large remainder strips of the car, transportation, and grid fabrics for the back. It is evening time here when I took the picture so a bit of sunlight in filtering into the room through the trees. The lighting is far from optimal but you get the idea.

I kept a 10" length of the car fabric instead of using it up on the back with the chance of using it on the border of a matching pillowcase. I also trimmed off and kept a couple strips of the transportation fabric to perhaps use as an accent strip in a pillowcase.  I wish I'd had more of the grid to use as a pillow case but I did not.  The body of the pillowcase may just need to be white or a color close to one of the check sections on the front of the quilt.

This is now going into my TBFMQ pile (to be free motion quilted). The FMQ at the checks will just be stitch-in-the-ditch. To keep it simple, I will outline the cars or meander among them in that wide section. Because I am not going to get carried away with the FMQ, it may go quickly, so I think I will put it at the top of the pile. At this point I plan to bind Classic Cars in this orangish red toned mini-print. Stay tuned.

If anyone is interested here are the fabrics I used as printed on their selvages.  They may still be around on eBay. I find it fun to look up information from the selvages of the fabric. Since I am not a graphic designer or art school major at all, this is an intriguing way to learn who thinks up the ideas for the fabrics I love. It also helps me keep an eye out for other fabrics by that designer. It is, in a way, like remembering the author of a book and using that info to choose your future selections.

Johnny Yanok has done work for Disney and Fisher Price. Per his website he "draws everything from adorable teddy bears to snot-filled zombies." Google his images. They are really cute. Jackie Shapiro has done work for Mattel for their Barbie line. No wonder I find these fabrics fun to play with!