Rag Rug

Here’s a way to deplete your stash using up fabrics that have been sitting around for a while. This is my almost completed rag-rug made from 2” strips of batik fabrics.

I use Aunt Philly’s toothbrush needle which is more ergonomically friendly on the wrists than trying to make a fabric rug with a large crotchet hook. You can see the blue plastic needle in the picture. These were originally made from toothbrushes in the days when toothbrushes had holes in the handles. The head of the toothbrush was removed and filed into a point. About 20 years ago, toothbrush manufacturers started making fancy handles and dispensed with the hole, so Aunt Philly now makes these needles. Check out her website for more information. This is a fun fireside project that doesn’t require much effort and can be done in low lighting while watching TV. I made one last year and gave it to a friend as a gift. It turned out that her dog absolutely loves it and it became the hanging out and sleeping place of choice!

Lolly’s Fabric Store, Shipshewana, IN

In May, I had the good fortune to visit the Amish town of Shipshewana while staying with a friend prior to teaching at the Village Quilters of Lake Bluff/Lake Forest. This town is a quilter’s Mecca and boasts two enormous stores selling quilting supplies as well as many other selling gorgeous hand-quilted quilts. Here’s a pictorial tour of Lolly’s Fabric Store. This is a beautiful, well-lit store carrying around 13,000 bolts of fabric, quilting tools, book and patterns. Look at the wonderful quilt samples hanging on the walls too.

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As you can see, this store is well-worth visiting and you will find a wealth of enjoyable places in Shipshewana, the heart of Indiana Amish country.



The Sewing Basket, Prosser, WA

My third stop on the way to Walla Walla, was at The Sewing Basket Quilt Store in the small town of Prosser, just off Interstate 82 between Yakima and the Tri-cities. If you only have time for one store, this is it. Here’s a little tour around this amazing place which boasts carrying in excess of 11.000 bolts of fabric!

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From the outside, it looks like a small shop, but in that little house there are several rooms filled from floor to ceiling with fabric including one devoted to flannels. Next door is the Quilted Country Inn, where as many as a dozen quilters can stay for quilting retreats.

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After perusing the rabbit warren of small rooms stacked with fabric in the little house, you can go out of the back door and follow the path to another building with an enormous room full of more fabric! There’s a huge wall of batiks, shelves and shelves of Christmas fabric, theme fabrics, 30’s and 40’s fabrics, Civil War fabrics and more. The floor even has Flying Geese and Star patterns in the tiles.

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There are many fun theme fabrics. The bacon and eggs caught my eye, along with the chickens and cows. When you plan to visit this place, allow plenty of time!

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Owner, Marilyn Dulstra, knows exactly where everything is, so if you can describe a fabric you would like, she will direct you to the right location. They are about to expand even more! In the past, they have held classes in the Quilted Country Inn, but this has now become so booked up, that there aren’t times when the space is available. They are about to acquire another building where they can have a gallery to display quilts and a classroom. I’m hoping to go back there to teach.



The Quilter’s Cafe, Yakima, WA

Last weekend I drove to Walla Walla to teach at the Walla Walla Valley Quilters’ Guild. I had all day to get there, so made some stops along the way. Who knew, there are five quilting shops in Yakima! I went to two of them and here’s a virtual tour of the first that I visited, The Quilter’s Cafe, which is located at 910 Summitview Avenue, Suite 1A. Here’s the outside and an attempt at a selfie picture of me with the owner, Linda Sutton.

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The store sells a good variety of quilting fabric, notions, embroidery supplies, books and patterns. They are Bernina dealers and Linda’s husband, Mike, services and repairs machines. In the back area there is a long-arm quilting machine which is available for rental after clients have completed a couple of training sessions.

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The store is spacious and light. They run classes, have free sew-in days and host the local hand-embroiderers group. It is well worth stopping by if you are in the vicinity. Linda gave me a warm welcome and I enjoyed looking round.

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The magic of Color Catchers

I made this large Bargello block quilt for my nephew and there was almost a catastrophe.


On my way to quilt it on my friend’s long-arm quilting machine, my water bottle tipped and spilled slightly onto the quilt. When I got to my destination, I discovered to my horror that the red dye from the small red squares had bled. This should not have happened – all the fabrics were pre-washed before I pieced the quilt and the dyes should have been stable.

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We dried the quilt top by ironing it and decided to go ahead and quilt it. After quilting and adding the binding, I washed the quilt. Color Catcher to the rescue!

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The Color Catcher is a white sheet that goes into the washing machine with the laundry load. It traps the loose dyes that are released during the washing cycle. As you can see, it worked its magic when I washed the quilt. The red that had bled onto the surrounding fabrics was released and gathered up by the sheet, which changed color from white to dark pink. Color catchers come in boxes of 24 and are available at grocery stores.

Rushin’ Tailor’s Quilt Alaska, Skagway, AK

During my quilting cruise to Alaska, we visited the Rushin’ Tailor’s Quilt Alaska store in Skagway. Oh my, what a treasure trove! If you are in Skagway, it’s well worth a visit. The store is located in downtown historic Skagway, an easy walk from the cruise ship dock, at 370 Third Avenue. Here’s a visual tour.

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The ceiling of the store is high and every space on the wall is covered in quilts, most of which are Alaska themed. The space is tight because there’s so much crammed in. There are Alaskan wild flowers and animals, scenes, Native American art style animal appliques to name a few, and a whole section of patterns. It was a bit of a zoo when all of us quilters descended!

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They are well-know for their Alaskan themed batiks. Here are some wonderful examples. How can you resist…..?!

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Rain Tree Quilting, Juneau, AK

Our first port of call on the cruise to Alaska was Juneau. Several of us opted for a whale-watching boat trip with a stop at the quilt shop on the way back into town. Rain Tree Quilting is on the outskirts of Juneau at 2213 Dunn Street (off Old Glacier Highway across from Frontier Streets). The premises are spacious including a large classroom. They are Bernina dealers and have a wide selection of quilting fabrics. They stayed open late for us and gave us a warm welcome including some nice refreshments much appreciated after the excitement of the hump-backed whales. Our group was eager to shop, so it was win win all round!

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The class room featured several colorful quilts made from Kaffe Fassett fabrics and there was nice little section with felt for those interested in wool applique. The store should be part of your bucket list if you make it to Juneau!

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Visit to Hoffman Fabrics – Part II, fabrics

Last week I shared pictures of the Hoffman Fabrics facility in Mission Viejo, Southern California. In this blog, I’m writing about the fabrics produced by Hoffman. We began our tour with an interesting presentation from Michelle Flores, Marketing and Media Coordinator, who introduced us to the fabric manufacturing process and showed us some examples of the recently designed fabrics that were launched at Spring Quilt Market a few weeks ago. They are very excited to have recently acquired the capability of printing digitally which enables the printing of hundreds of colors in one piece of fabric and the use of much finer lines in the design. The color chip fabric has 374 different colors!

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In traditional screen printing, there are usually no more than 12 colors in a fabric. Here are examples of digitally printed fabrics which illustrate the enormous array of colors. The Christmas tree quilt is made using the poinsettia fabric. These fabrics are digitally printed in Pakistan.

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Hoffman cotton comes from a variety of sources, including the United States. All the cotton is woven overseas mostly in Pakistan, Indonesia and Java. The Hoffman prints with metallics are manufactured in Japan and 3,000 yards are printed on each run. These have as many as 10 colors which are all screen-printed by a machine, printing each color in turn onto the cloth. The metallic gold, silver or copper is applied as a paste after the rest of the printing is completed. Non-metallic prints are produced in Korea, Indonesia and Pakistan. The batiks are made in Bali and here are two recent designs.

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The cotton for batiks has to be of high quality to withstand the harsh process of dyeing and hand stamping with a metal chop. Each piece of fabric is 18-20 yards long and its production goes through several steps of dyeing and over-dyeing as well as hand stamping with the chop and the application of wax to achieve the patterns. After this process the fabric is carefully checked for holes.The pictures show both sides of the chop, (one side with a handle), which is used for creating the patterns.

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The chops measure 6-1/2″ x 6-1/2″ and are created from strips of copper in a steel frame fashioned in patterns copied from black and white drawings.They are dipped in wax which is stamped onto the fabric by hand. Then the fabric is immersed in a vat of dye, and later the wax is removed by boiling the fabric so that the melted wax comes up to the top of the vat and may be skimmed off. Each piece of fabric is unique.

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The packs of Bali-pops are popular. Each pack contains 40 strips. There is a large cutting machine that can cut through all 40 layers at once, but each piece of fabric must be ironed by hand on a huge table and the layers neatly stacked before being sliced into strips. This attractive basket was made from one of Bali-pop packs.

All in all, a fascinating tour which I highly recommend if you have the opportunity.

Visit to Hoffman Fabrics – Part 1, the facility

On my recent trip to teach at Beach Cities Quilt Guild in Mission Viejo, Southern California, I was fortunate that on the afternoon of my lecture, the guild had an organized tour of Hoffman Fabrics. About 20 of us assembled in the warehouse and Michelle Flores, Marketing and Media Coordinator, gave us an informative presentation and showed us around.

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Hoffman Fabrics is a major manufacturer and wholesaler of printed cottons. They are well known for their luscious prints and Bali batiks. There are numerous distributors in USA, Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Europe. Their on-line retailers include E-Quilter, Batiks Plus and Hancock’s of Paducah.

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The fabric arrives from their overseas manufacturers in long rolls. The picture shows the fabric folding machine that folds the fabric in half and winds it into bolts. Most bolts have 15-16 yards of fabric. The newly wound bolts are then wrapped in plastic ready to be shipped to the distributors.

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Next week in Part II, I’ll tell you about the fabric production and show you some examples of the new lines recently launched at Spring Quilt Market.