Inchie Quilts: On the Road and YouTube

This weekend, I’m deep in preparations for my trip to the US in October, as well as a couple of events that are on the calendar for September. Next weekend, I’ll be in Schönaich (near Stuttgart, about an hour south of where I live) for Patchcom’s 9th Annual Quiltfestle on Saturday. Birgit asked me to come to the Quiltfestle and bring my Inchie Quilts, talk about my book, and present some Inchie demos (more on the Quiltfestle later in the week!). I’m also scheduled to demo in the AQS booth at Quilt Market, and will probably need all of these step-by-step materials for workshops, lectures, etc.

So today I prepared step-by-step samples for making Inchies to use for demos, and then as I was edge stitching the Inchies, I got this crazy idea to make a video tutorial of the process! Talk about a complete derailment! Shooting the video was a piece of cake that took less time than writing this post will (despite the fact that it’s a brand new camcorder that I’d never used before), but the whole “how do I put this video on the web” thing took five hours! Seriously! Sheesh! Continue reading “Inchie Quilts: On the Road and YouTube”

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!

Exciting News!

AQSI’m packing like a mad woman getting ready to fly to Houston for Quilt Market, and at the last minute, I’ve received some super exciting news! While I was in Des Moines, I submitted a book proposal to the executive book editor for AQS, and I was excited to read What a Great Show on the AQS Publishing Blog. The pertinent part of that post was this:

My week was spent meeting authors old, new and wanna-be, and every single one was delightful. We received interesting proposals and scoured the vendors for what’s hot and what will be The Next Big Thing. Too much fun to call it work!

I spent the time since Des Moines, and especially since reading that blog post, hoping that my proposal was one of the “interesting” ones. The editor really seemed very receptive to my proposal and ideas when I met with her, and very friendly and easy to work with. I left our meeting feeling pretty good about it all, but you know how things like this are; sometimes you have the utmost confidence that it will all go your way, and other days are the exact opposite! Writing a book is a lot of work (and a lot of quilting!), but it’s something I’ve been working on and toward for a number of years now.

After what has seemed the longest week and a half ever, the editor emailed me this evening to say that AQS wants to publish my book!!! OMG! Can you believe it? I almost can’t! We were out for a family dinner at Wingers when I got the email, and I was so excited, I almost bounced out of my chair! I don’t know when it will be out (it’s not even ready to submit completely yet, of course), and I don’t know what they’ll decide the title will be or anything yet, but I couldn’t wait to share the news! The editor wrote in her email:

Congratulations! Bet you fly to Houston on your own steam!

She’s sure right about that! I’m off to finish packing now, and then go to bed since I have to be up soooo early for the flight, but I just know I won’t be able to sleep at all tonight! I won’t promise to blog from Houston (though I will try), but I will try to take lots of pics and notes to share when I get back…See you on the other side!

IQA Quilt Show: Poor Mailing Practices

Material Marquetry

Some shows will treat your precious quilts like you do and some won’t. Last week I received my quilt, Material Marquetry, back from the folks at Quilts, Inc., producers of the IQA Quilt Show in Houston, where it has been since August last year as part of the In the American Tradition VI special exhibit. So begins the promised rant about why IQA and Quilts Inc. are no longer on my list of “happy quilt shows.” First, a bit of background:

I’ve exhibited four quilts with Quilts Inc., either as finalists in the IQA Quilt Show, or through special traveling exhibits. The problems always begin when it comes time for them to return the quilts to me at my APO address. The standard process is for Quilts Inc. to ship the quilts back to exhibitors via Federal Express, using dimensional weighting, which means that they cram the quilt into the smallest box possible so that it costs less to ship. The bigger problem though, is that Federal Express doesn’t deliver to APO addresses, so I’ve had to ask them to return ship my quilts via US Postal Service Registered Mail which is where the problems start.

The first quilt I sent in, I decided to have return shipped to my mother in Utah, after speaking with the show personnel about the return shipping process, and having them tell me that they could do USPS Registered Mail, but they didn’t really know how, and couldn’t estimate the cost, etc., etc., etc. Since it just seemed too hard for them to handle the USPS thing, and I was going to be visiting my mother anyway that year, I just said fine, ship it there via the usual practice. This is how I know about the dimensional weighting/smallest box possible issue.

The second quilt I exhibited in Houston was returned to me via US Postal Service, but without any insurance or tracking information, and it was shipped Parcel Post, which takes 6-8 weeks to be delivered. I can tell you there were many phone calls to Quilts, Inc. about that quilt, and much worrying about whether it would ever show up at all. Without tracking information, if it was lost, it’s just lost with no way to find it, ever, and of course shipping without insurance is unacceptable in the extreme. And honestly, they weren’t even all that apologetic, and they acted like I was the one with the problem, since I had asked them to do something so totally out of their norm, and was then unhappy with the result.

After that debacle, I picked up the third quilt in person, since I was attending the show that year. But another interesting thing occurred at the show while I was there. That year, Quilts Inc. was providing a shipping service, so that you could mail all the loot you bought back home instead of cramming it in your suitcase. That would have been wonderful, especially considering the fact that I was carrying my quilt back home with me in my suitcase to be sure it arrived safely. I arrived at the booth with my goods in hand ready to have them packed up, and was told that, you guessed it, they would only ship the loot back to your home address via FedEx! They wouldn’t even begin to think about alternative shipping methods, that just might be cheaper as well.

Fast forward to the current issue: I mailed off Material Marquetry last August with special written instructions for return shipping the quilt via USPS Registered Mail, which they promised to honor. The quilt was exhibited at five or six Quilts Inc. produced venues over the last year, and it showed up at our APO box last week, without insurance or a tracking method, having been sent via Priority Mail. I was just astounded really. What happened to the instructions that I sent in with the quilt?

I emailed the special exhibits coordinator and her assistant to let them know that the quilt arrived safely, but that there were some issues that needed to be addressed. Why was the quilt not insured, and how could they send it without a tracking method? Their answer was that the quilt is insured under their Chubb Fine Arts Insurance Policy from the time it leaves my door until the time it’s returned. Okay, my bad, I didn’t see that in the original letter that I received about this exhibit. I am glad to know that if the quilt went missing, somebody would pay me the appraised value. (But that does beg the question, does that policy also cover quilts sent in for the regular show every year in Houston, and if so, why wasn’t I told about this policy when the other quilt went astray for six weeks without postal insurance? Interesting.)

As to the tracking method and the Registered Mail issue on this quilt, they insisted that they followed my request about Registered Mail (:?:), completed all the forms required by USPS for an APO address, Registered Mail, spent over an hour online with USPS shipping my quilt, and that it was shipped with a tracking method. First, they couldn’t possibly have followed my request or completed all the forms required by the USPS for Registered Mail, since there was no Registered Service on the box. We didn’t have to sign for the box to pick it up from the mail room (which we would have had to do had it been a registered mail package), and the tracking number they provided was the number off of the customs form attached to the box. When I put that number into the tracking system on the USPS website, the answer was “There is no record of this item.” Gee, I guess that’s not really a tracking number, is it, since if it was, it would show that the package was delivered to my APO and on which date it was delivered.

Actually, as I found out after a call to the Postal Service to check the facts, that number is able to be used to track the package if it is mailed to a true international destination, but not if the package is mailed to an APO Military address. In other words, if the package was lost, the only thing the Post Office could do is file a report, but there would be no way to find the lost quilt, ever. APO addresses are a grey area; mail is shipped to APO addresses as domestic service, but it requires a customs form because it’s technically an international destination.

I wrote them back and explained all that, and how the Registered Mail process really works and what forms are needed, again. I had provided all the Registered Mail information and instructions before when I sent the quilt to them last year. I do realize that shipping via USPS to APO addresses is outside the norm for Quilts, Inc., and I respect the time and extra effort it requires, which is why I included full written instructions as to how this should be done and what forms are required by the US Postal Service for Registered Mail, to make it as easy as possible for them to do.

You may be wondering why I don’t just use FedEx for all this, and have the quilts return shipped to my actual German address. Yes, I could do that, however, the last time I was investigating that method, I think it was going to cost me nearly $100 to have my quilt returned that way, as opposed to less than $40 to use USPS Registered Mail to my APO address, and that was for a not-even-twin-size quilt (not to mention that “dimensional weighting/smallest box possible” issue. Can you say “squished and wrinkled beyond recognition”?). Why should I spend $100 when I can spend $40? At just two shows a year, that’s $120 in fabric, or a trip out to dinner with the family, and some years, I send quilts to 4-6 shows. Other shows and museums don’t have this problem, and are happy to ship via USPS Registered Mail when I ask it of them. (There is one other notable exception, Quilters Heritage Celebration, and I don’t exhibit with them anymore either, after the first go round.) Heck, AQS even has “Registered Mail” as a return shipping option on their forms now, you don’t even have to write it in, or call ahead to ask if they’ll consider doing it for you as a favor.

Yes, the quilt is here, so all is good in the end, but I really think they need to understand that the method by which they shipped the quilt wasn’t “Registered Mail” or trackable either one. I’m afraid that I won’t be sharing my work through any venues sponsored or produced by Quilts Inc. in future. It’s fairly obvious that they just don’t care to do any little bit of extra work, no matter how easy and clear-cut you make it for them. Their system must be so finely honed that any minor deviation puts an instant nick in the blade. Seems like they like people because we all keep sending in fabulous quilts and spending our money at their shows, but they hate people when they actually have to deal with them or stoop to do anything out of the ordinary for anyone. I’m sorry, but they can’t give away enough prize money to make me take a chance with their mailing practices again.

Update: I received another reply from Quilts Inc. about this issue. They have acknowledged that they shipped the quilt incorrectly. Quilts Inc. has incorporated my instructions regarding Registered Mail shipping to APO addresses into their return shipping policies and disseminated the information to all staff involved in the return shipping process. They have also changed their contact policies and will email exhibit participants if Quilts Inc. has held the participant’s quilt longer than six months, to remind them of the return shipping schedule and check for address updates (I had that issue as well with my quilt, since I didn’t know it was time for return shipping and it was shipped to my old address). It’s been a seven year, three quilt battle, but perhaps it’s finally a victory.

Quilt shows and the fall of traditional quilting

During my travels on the Internet this morning, I thought I’d stop in at IQA and see if the entry form for the 2008 show was available yet, thinking I might be able to finish up The Misery Quilt in time to enter, and wondering in the back of my mind what category I’d enter it in. It’s beyond “traditional,” what with the embroidery already there, the original layout, the mixed techniques, and the embellishments that I plan to add later.

…there were only two lonely categories for traditional quilts, one for appliquéd quilts and one for pieced quilts…

The entry form wasn’t there yet, but I looked at the page with the winning quilts from the 2007 show, and I was quite surprised when the categories for art quilts just went on and on and on, in multiple (but seemingly) minuscule variations for different sizes, types, and styles, and then way down at the bottom, there were only two lonely categories for traditional quilts, one for appliquéd quilts and one for pieced quilts which were not even further divided into “small” and “large.”

I didn’t enter the IQA show last year, but seeing the winners page reminded me that I’d been meaning to go on about this very issue for quite some time, ever since I read Paula’s post that referred to Jeanna Kimball’s post about judging the Houston Show in late September, 2007. Jeanna Kimball is a traditional quilter, obviously a good one since she’s out there judging, and she made some interesting observations about the number of traditional quilts that were entered in the Houston show:

One element of the contest, however, surprised me a great deal—I still can’t get over it. The last time I paid attention to quilt contests, the categories with the most quilts seemed to be traditional quilts.

It is not so any longer. The entries have dropped so low in traditional pieced and traditional appliqué that there is only one category for each—no longer are there two categories with one being large quilts and the other being small. What happened!? Where are all of the traditional quilts?

I have to second that question, but I’m afraid I know what happened to the traditional quilts. The quilters who enter the larger shows have discovered that traditional doesn’t win big. Oh sure, if you have the best traditional quilt in the show, you get the first place award in the traditional category, but when was the last time a quilt from the traditional category was awarded “Best of Show” with the big money attached? Truthfully, I don’t know the answer to that, but I’ve watched (and entered) the major shows since 2001, and my overall feeling about it just from what I’ve seen and experienced is that it’s been many years. Continue reading “Quilt shows and the fall of traditional quilting”

In the American Tradition VI

Material Marquetry

Remember the artist’s statement for Material Marquetry? Evidently, what I wrote was okay, since I had an email this morning that the quilt has been accepted for the In the American Tradition VI exhibit! I entered a quilt in this exhibit four or five years ago, and it wasn’t accepted, so I’m pretty excited that my quilt was accepted this time around. It’s a small exhibit, with only 25 quilts chosen, though they didn’t say how many entries there were. The exhibit will premier at International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston October 27 –November 4, 2007 (the public viewing dates for this exhibit are November 1-4, 2007), and will also travel in 2008 to various International Quilt Festival and Market sponsored shows.

Of course, this does mean that after I get the quilt back from the NQA Quilt Show in Columbus, Ohio, I’ll have to move the hanging sleeve, again. *sigh* The NQA show wanted the sleeve placed 90″ from the bottom of the quilt, but for the exhibit it has to be at the top of the quilt. Well, at least I’ll have this in mind (hopefully), so there won’t be any of this last-minute-before-shipping emergency hand sewing to move the darn thing! Hmm, wish I could get to one of those shows to see the other quilts in the exhibit, since I don’t think they do any sort of book or publication for this one. Going to have to think on that one…