Happy New Year!

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Greetings for the New Year! As I review the events of 2013, the year included some wonderful experiences. I love traveling to teach and sharing my quilting passion took me afield to TX, NM, CA, OR and South Africa. Quilters all over the world are such welcoming and kind people. Next year’s plans already include TX, PA, CA, CO and Mongolia. On the home front, I’m expecting my first grandchild in late June so there is much excitement!

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? The start of another year gives us a good incentive to think about our goals large and small. One of my resolutions is to spend time quilting every day when I’m at home. Hours are easily swallowed up with administrative tasks ranging from negotiating teaching contracts and making travel arrangements to handling my business accounting. Not to mention writing blogs and newsletters and succumbing to computer distractions. It’s a matter of discipline and I need to deliberately apportion my time each day to include time for quilting and designing quilts as well as making sure I complete all the essential business tasks. The intention is there, let’s see how I do…..

May you have a happy and productive 2014!

Quilt Market Spring 2013 – Sample Spree

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I’ve just returned from three days in Portland where I attended International Quilt Market. It’s four years since I’ve been to this trade show which is held every spring and fall, so I was excited to re-establish contacts in the quilting business and check out all the wonderful new products. As a preview to the exhibition halls opening there was an evening Sample Spree. 120 of the trade show vendors had tables and were selling their wares at wholesale prices. This is an extremely popular event and always oversubscribed. The queue to get in was insane and people began lining up two hours before the doors opened! It is an opportunity for Market attendees, (quilt shop owners and employees, long-arm quilters, teachers etc), to buy fabric (mostly bundles of fat-quarters), tools, books etc., very cheaply for their personal use.

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It’s very crowded and you are only allowed to take in bags (no wheely suitcases). People race around loading up their bags and the vendors are usually swamped for the first half hour. I waited until the doors had been open for about 20 minutes before joining the stampede. After a while, some exhausted attendees parked themselves on the floor and rested while guarding their loot!

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I chatted with this lady, Pam Johnson, from California, who assured “It’s not all mine, some of it is my friend’s!” Okay, I’ll admit it, I succumbed too and bought two large bundles of fat-quarters from Henry Glass & Co. $25 for 17 fat-quarters was too good a bargain to resist!

Quilting with friends again!

Our small Block of the Month group recently met at Joanne’s house, near Port Townsend in a beautiful spot overlooking Discovery Bay. This is the view from the window of Joanne’s quilting studio – Bald Eagles fly by and the Steller’s Jays are always busy.


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Joanne shares her studio with her resident feline friend, Lucy. Lucy made herself very comfortable and was oblivious to our activities. Barbara was working on a Disappearing 9-patch quilt for charity. Her church has an active group that makes quilts to send to Africa. Joanne finished machine quilting her quilt and was trimming it up and making the binding. I worked on piecing some Sawtooth Stars.

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Joanne made made these quilt tops using an Eleanor Burns pattern. One jelly-roll makes three quilt tops. After making the ones on the left, she decided that she would like to make one large quilt using the blocks from all three in batik fabrics. Joanne is prolific and always has projects to share and inspire us. She also participates in a group that makes Quilts of Valor for wounded servicemen. Here are three of these quilts ready for binding.



To wash or not to wash your fabric

Do you pre-wash your fabrics before making a quilt? I always do. When I first began quilting in 1986, that was what I was instructed to do and I’ve done it ever since.

20130417_165301Cotton fabrics shrink a little and they don’t necessarily all shrink by the same amount since the quality and the thread count varies. Some people don’t pre-wash fabrics because they like the crinkled antique look their quilt gets when it is washed and the fabrics shrink. Sometimes people buy fabric at a store or a conference where they are taking a class, They want to use the fabric immediately and don’t have access to a washing machine. My advice would be to not to mix the washed and non-washed fabrics. Apart from the shrinkage factor, the sizing/chemicals in unwashed fabrics makes them stiffer and less pliable which may cause minor problems when piecing them with washed fabrics.

Another issue is whether or not the fabric will bleed. All fabrics should be color-fast, but some shed excess dye the first time they are washed. If unwashed fabrics are stitched into a quilt and they lose some dye, the dye will be picked up by adjacent pieces in the quilt and damage will be done, e.g. red bleeding onto a white background. Putting a color-catcher sheet into the washing machine with the quilt to pick up any excess dye will help to overcome this problem.

These days, the general quality of quilting cottons sold at quilting shops is high, and shrinkage and dye loss are not the problems that they once were. However, it’s still advisable to be cautious and aware of these issues.