Houston Quilt Market Report

I’m back from Quilt Market in Houston, and what a wild ride it was! Kimberly and I had a great time traveling and rooming together, with much laughter and fun, even during the rotten flight over. The flight on Lufthansa was just plain painful, and not nearly as nice or comfortable as the one to Des Moines on Northwest. The only thing that made the flight to Houston even sort of okay was this:

Lufthansa freebies

Lufthansa serves either Cognac or Bailey’s Irish Cream after the main meal during the flight, and it truly was the only good part aside from good company!

meerkatThe best part: watching Kimberly perk up like a curious meerkat when the cart with the Bailey’s came into view! 😉 She’s just so funny! The main meal on the flight was some weird pasta thing that was barely even passable as “food” in my book, and my thought was “This is really not very good, is it?”, but Kimberly, being the “glass is half full” person that she is, says “Boy, we’re really going to enjoy dinner tonight!” 😀 We kept each other laughing.

I can’t begin to tell you about all of the new things I saw (and in some cases, bought!), but I’ll try to touch on some of the “new and notable” highlights, things I thought were just plain cool and other fun happenings.

Everything in the quilting world is “foody” right now. Jelly Rolls, Layer Cakes, and new Sweet Rolls (like Jelly Rolls but with 1 1/2″ strips) and Turnovers (5″ x 5″ stacks of fabric like charm packs, cut diagonally into a turnover shape) from Moda. It’s not just Moda with the food thing either; the other manufacturers are on that bandwagon too, I just can’t remember the names of all the other foody things I saw. I visited the Moda Bake Shop, and ordered charm packs for the DreamWeaver’s Quilts Studio (eeek! I actually ordered stuff for my online shop, which was a little scary!). The Moda rep gave me the most adorable little box with two teeny tiny “Sweet Roll” fabric rolls, each about 2″ across. I think they’re just too cute to use!

Mini Sweet Rolls from Moda

I played cards with Ricky Tims and won the deck, including his autograph:

Ricky Tims Playing Cards

Hmmm. Maybe pictures of my quilts will be on a pack of playing cards one day, but I’m not sure I want my face on the Joker cards. As for other celebs, I did see the winner of Season One of Project Runway, Jay McCarroll (though because I don’t watch TV at all, I’m clueless and I didn’t even know who he was until I read Kimberly’s blog just now. I do remember seeing his hair at the show though! ;)), but I missed seeing Marie Osmond at the show by two minutes. C’est la Vie!

And one other notable celeb sighting: Kimberly invited me to accompany her to the Robert Kaufman reception on Saturday evening (which was very nice) where I met Mark Lipinski, who is just as real in person as he is in the pages of Quilter’s Home magazine. Of course I couldn’t come up with a witty response (or any response at all for that matter) when he said “I know your name! Why do I know your name??” I can’t imagine why Mark Lipinski thinks he knows who I am. Not a clue. Who knows? Maybe I’m an “It Girl” and I don’t even know it.

I bought lots of embellishments; beads, fibers, hand dyed floss, threads, micro beads. You name it, it was there at Quilt Market, and I sampled heavily for both the book and the DWQ Studio. I viewed new fabrics from Hoffman, RJR and Robert Kaufman Fabrics, with an eye toward including some of the newest fabrics in my book, and let me tell you, the newest fabric lines are awesome! The batiks in particular from Hoffman and Robert Kaufman are really wonderful! I also met the folks who should probably be held responsible for my bead addiction, Edward and Ruthmarie Hofmann, creators of Hofmann Originals Bead Mixes. I brought home some of the newest additions to their Bead Soup Starter lineup, and a few totally new, limited edition mixes called Soup du Jour. See, more of that foody stuff, yummy!

Here are some of the other goodies I brought back with me:

Houston goodies

Notable faves: Hot Ribbon Art fusible ribbon (bottom center), Valdani 3-strand hand-dyed floss (top left), Kaleidoscope Kreator 2.0 software (bottom left), Diva Cord Maker (top center), Yazzi organizer tote (top right).

I picked up so much stuff, including a small mountain of literature from many different companies, that it almost didn’t all fit in the suitcases to get it home. I’ll get to play with some of it while I work on my book, but a lot of what I was after at Quilt Market was for the DWQ Studio, and I have to put that on the back burner for a month or two. In fact, I have to put everything on the back burner for a month or two, and work on nothing but the book, so I can get the manuscript done asap. I hope to have it done and to the publisher by mid-January at the latest, so if things are a bit quiet here until then, that’s why. I’m just going to have to ask forgiveness ahead of time for being too busy to write much here! Exciting times ahead!

AQS Show Des Moines–More Loot

One more stack of loot to share from the AQS Quilt Show in Des Moines:

More loot from the AQS Show

Here we have a very mixed bag. From the top center:

  • Beads! Couldn’t pass up the Miyuki beads since I’ve been wanting to see what all the fuss is about. Interestingly enough, though Miyuki beads are purported to be the “be all and end all” of high quality seed beads, I’ve kind of decided that I like plain old average seed beads just as well for my purposes. The Miyuki beads are TINY, as well as being more cylindrical and uniform, and while the uniformity doesn’t bother me, sometimes they’re too small (though maybe that’s just the combination of the colors that I have with the fabrics that I’m using them on at the moment), and the more rounded edges of a regular seed bead work better for what I’m trying to do than the cylindrical shape of the Miyuki beads. So now I know.
  • Next are some hand printed fabric panels from Block Party Studios. These are really fun printed panels with sayings on them like
  • The fabric is four fat quarters of Halloween type prints with holographic or iridescent overprinting which was just too unusual and fun to resist!
  • The bundle in the middle is a few bits of hand punched, hand dyed wool fabric, and the curly stuff below it is also wool, hand dyed but more “au naturale” just as it came off the sheep. There was a booth that had all kinds of wools and other things for needle punch, and they had these overflowing bins of curly, colorful wool that you just grabbed what you wanted out of, and they sold it by weight. Think embellishments…
  • The packets in the lower left corner are Painters Potpourri from Tentakulum, a German manufacturer. Each packet contains a paper-like background card, silk cocoons, a bit of silk fiber fabric stuff, and a hank of different fibers, all hand dyed in a coordinated colorway. These were too unique to pass up when I came across them in the YLI booth. I’m sure that any of you who are into the altered art or mixed media thing would know just what to do with these, but so far, I’m just admiring them. Their day will come though.
  • Last we have the Bo-Nash bonanza bag. Bo-Nash was at the show with their newest products, a line of super fine glitters, Tonertex foils, glue pens and fabric adhesive in a fabulous squeeze bottle. I bought some of everything, and can’t wait to try it all out. I’m not sure it’ll be as “no-mess” as they claimed though. 🙂

Even that’s not quite all the loot from Des Moines, since we did spend one day at the local mall where I found the leather coat I’ve been searching for for years, and a pair of Anne Klein brown patent leather boots to die for. The boots were quietly waiting for me to discover them in the giant shoe department at Von Maur, but the coat positively screamed my name from across the store, and what could I do but answer the call? Everything else I bought is cool, but the coat was the best buy of the entire trip!

Believe it or not, I’m getting on the plane again on Thursday morning (yes, just 10 days after returning from Des Moines) for a super quick, four-day trip to Houston. Kimberly and I are going to Quilt Market to see whats new and news in the retail quilting world. I’m planning to make connections with distributors in preparation for stocking my new online shop which should be opening by the second quarter of 2009. My head is already spinning with products and plans, but I’m sure it’ll be doing a negative 4-g rolling dive by the time I get back!

Friends and Connections

Despite the “what not to do” list in the previous post, I really did have a great time at the show. AQS usually puts on a wonderful show, and this one was no exception. I saw (and bought) so many new things in the vendor mall, and made great connections with a number of vendors. I test-drove a couple of longarm machines, even though I’m not really in the market for one at the moment. I think I found the one I want, if I ever do buy one though!

I also made some great connections with the AQS folks while I was there; Kimberly introduced me to Bonnie Browning and Meredith Schroeder, and a whole host of others in the company that I’ve emailed back and forth with over the years when I’ve sent quilts to the show or the Quilt Museum in Paducah. It’s great to be able to put faces with the names I already know. I had a couple of really good meetings, and I hope to be able to share some super exciting news with you very shortly!

But the better part of the show was growing a friendship with Kimberly. We were great friends already, but spending so much time together made it even better I think. People couldn’t believe we’ve only really known each other for a couple of months, I guess because we are so comfortable and get along so well.

Kimberly and I are really good traveling partners. Our internal thermostats are very close most of the time, and we find ourselves reaching for the temperature control in the car to adjust it at about the same moment again and again to keep things within our 3 degree comfort zone. We both love to shop though not necessarily for the same things, but are perfectly happy to separate and shop alone for a bit, and then meet up for a drink or snack later. We tend to like the same kinds of foods and restaurants as well.

Kimberly and Nadine at Des Moines

And don’t get me started on how much time we spend dissolved in laughter when we’re together. Kimberly is “incessantly cheerful” (as one of the other instructors at the show put it), and, well, I’m anything but cheerful, incessantly or otherwise. Being the eternal pessimist that I am, I have a pretty dry and sarcastic sense of humor which cracks her up, and then I’m cracking up too. We seem to balance each other nicely.

Here’s another “what not to do”: never underestimate what an instructor goes through just to show up and teach at one of those shows. I got the inside look at it all hanging out with Kimberly. It’s damn hard work, from hauling all the quilts, books, rulers, class handouts, etc., to being on your feet and “in teaching mode” 8-10 hours per day for classes, and that’s after all the prep work at home. You’re lucky to get lunch, and it’s not like there’s anyone there to help you schlep all the stuff, so you really need the food!

I really enjoyed the time I spent in a couple of Kimberly’s classes watching her teach. She’s so professional and so good at it! She’s much better at it all than I am, and all her students loved her. Despite all the hard work and preparation, she makes it look effortless. I should have been taking notes…

Patchwork Times: Is that smoke I smell?

I think my hair is on fire. I feel like I’m running around in circles, and I think I smell smoke, so that must be my hair. I looked at my blog today, just like I’ve done for the past two or three days when I’ve meant to post something, and thought “Where did the time go since I last posted?” I’ve been wildly busy, but not with anything necessarily “shareable” in the quilting department at the moment. I’m striving to finish a huge project before I catch the flight to Des Moines next Monday for the AQS show, which has meant long hours that turn into long days at the computer, mostly.

Paisley Pavane

My quilt, Paisley Pavane, did get accepted into the Des Moines show, and it’s arrived at the AQS offices safely and on time! I’m really looking forward to the show, and the vendors mall (and having a quilt in the show while I’m there will be completely awesome!). And I can’t wait for an entire day at the big mall in Des Moines with Von Maur and Younkers. I’m sorely in need of some Stateside shopping for clothes and the like, and some American style restaurants. Kimberly and I are of the same mind on these things (as on a lot of other things), and plan to shop and eat our fill in the short time we have on the ground.

I’m signed up to take two classes at the show, but I’m now having second (and maybe third and fourth) thoughts about both of them. Too late to cancel out and get a refund, unfortunately. I’m taking a class called Come PLAY with Me! with Dianne S. Hire, who I like immensely already and I’ve not even met her. Her supply list was written in such a fun, “I’m right here talking with you” voice, that I just know she’ll be a completely lovely person. The class looks like it will be some fun, outside the box cutting and sewing techniques, but I have to gather mass amounts of fabric, as well as rulers, rotary cutter, thread, etc., and lug it all to Des Moines in my suitcase. What was I thinking?

Not only that, the class is all day, and right over the top of the awards ceremony for the show. How dumb is that to schedule the awards ceremony in the afternoon when there are classes going on? With a quilt in the show, I don’t want to miss the ceremony; my quilt probably won’t win a ribbon, but sure as I’m not there it might, and that wouldn’t be any fun at all. 😦

I’ve also signed up for Quilts of a Different Color with Irena Bluhm, which will probably be okay, but I bought the book in anticipation of the class, and to be honest, there were about two tidbits of info in the book that I needed to know about the technique, and the rest of the book was “just okay.” I’m not sure how much more I’ll really get out of three hours with the author in person but there it is. At least this class comes with a complete kit and I don’t have to carry anything special with me.

So, before I can even leave for the airport, I have to plan and pull fabric for that class, shop for last minute stuff probably, look for new music (a must when I travel), shop for some trashy Regency romances (another traveling must-have), do all the regular “before packing” stuff (where’s my passport?!?), get the laptop ready to go with all the programs I need to handle any crises that may come up involving web programming, make ITMan’s “appointment calendar” and “meal calendar” so that he can be both Mom and Dad while I’m gone, make my own Stateside shopping lists, and actually pack the suitcases. And none of that can get done until the super big project gets done, and that gets worked on in and around all the regular “stuff” like all the Taxi Mom duties, etc.

Hopefully I’ll have some hair left when I get on the plane, though if not, then I guess I won’t have to carry all the hair care products and the straightener, which actually might be a blessing. 😉 What I’m saying is that it’s probably going to be pretty quiet around the blog this week, but I do plan to update from the show, with pics! Note to self: pack the camera…

Let’s Talk Machine Quilting (and a Giveaway!)

I treated myself today, and spent a little while machine quilting on a small quilt. Many of my projects these days are small-ish, and I’m really enjoying the machine quilting breaks that come along every few days. (If you’ve been following along, you’ll probably be able to figure out why most of my projects these days are on the small side… 🙂 ) I’ve spent years making these huge, long and involved show quilts, where they take forever to piece, then forever to mark for quilting, and then when I finally get to the quilting part, it’s just so huge that it’s daunting. That’s not to say that it’s not enjoyable (mostly), but making smaller projects, where I can piece a little, mark a little, and then quilt the thing is just a really nice change.

And I do mean “treat myself” when I talk about machine quilting. It’s my favorite part of quilting, hands down. It’s just so cool to see a flat piece of fabric take on texture and dimension and life when it’s quilted. I love playing with all the cool threads I’ve collected over the years, like this variegated one:

Rainbows thread from Superior Threads

Which looks like this when quilted:

Quilted with Superior Threads Rainbows Thread

How fun is this? For the curious, the thread is Superior Threads Rainbows, which is a Trilobal Polyester, 40wt., color #801, with 50 wt. Mettler Silk Finish in a blue that matches the fabric in the bobbin; the fabric is an old Nancy Crow design that looks like crushed suede, with a scene from a Laurel Burch Fanciful Felines panel; batting is Quilter’s Dream Poly Request Loft; the quilting stencil is the continuous line 4″ Dancing Flowers by Judy Allen.

Quilted with Superior Threads Rainbows Thread

Another thing I like about small quilts is that I can quickly pin-baste on the cutting table with flower head pins and they don’t get caught up in the free motion foot since the heads are flat against the quilt. With large quilts, I spend hours crawling around on the floor basting with the basting gun, and then I’m just wiped out for the rest of the day when it’s done. You can pin-baste just about anything up to a certain size, as long as it’s not so big that you become a human pincushion while trying to push it through the machine. Heck, if you’ve been sewing all your life and a few pinpricks don’t even faze you anymore, you could pin-baste even larger quilts this way. 😉

I realize that not everyone feels this way about machine quilting, and some folks don’t find free motion quilting to be relaxing at all. So let’s have a chat about that, shall we? What don’t you like about machine quilting? What’s the part that you feel like you just can’t get right? If you do like machine quilting, and you have wisdom or a fabulous tip to share, let’s hear about that too!

I’m going to send a copy of the Machine Quilting—Master the Basics Workshop on CD to one lucky reader. To enter the drawing leave a comment on this post and share some of your machine quilting wisdom and great tips, or if you need help with machine quilting, leave a question that you’d like me to discuss in a future post. A winner will be chosen by random drawing this Saturday. Luck to all!