Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sleepover in Seattle: Quilt Shops in the Skagit County Area

Blessed with beautiful scenery and fertile soil for growing spectacular flowers and produce, this area (about 60-90 minutes north of Seattle) also caters to quilters with an abundance of charming, well-stocked quilt and fabric stores. I’ll list them alphabetically by city. (That’s five of the Mother's Day Quilters in the photo, ogling fabric in Aunt Mary’s Quilt Shop during my recent visit to this area.) Be sure to call ahead for hours and driving directions if you plan to visit.
Fabrics Plus, Anacortes, WA (360) 293-7641
The Quilt Shop, Anacortes, WA (360) 293-2146
Sewer’s Dream Fabric Outlet, Burlington, WA (360) 757-1812
The Needle & I, Everett, WA (425) 259-3013
Pacific Fabrics & Crafts, Everett, WA (425) 353-8866
Boomer’s Sewing & Vac, Mt. Vernon, WA (360) 336-3127
Calico Creations, Mt. Vernon, WA (360) 336-3241
Aunt Mary’s Quilt Shop, Smokey Point, WA (360) 657-1116
Cotton Pickins’, Stanwood, WA (360) 629-4771
Many thanks to quilter and Mt. Vernon resident Pat Thompson for her help in assembling this list!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Spring Market fabric trends

Big! Big prints, big patterns, big quilts. That’s what hit me when I walked inside the exhibit hall at the International Quilt Market trade show held in Pittsburgh last week. Beautiful floral fabrics were everywhere, in bigger prints than I’ve ever seen before. And what better way to show off those gorgeous fabrics than big-block patterns! Almost every booth I visited displayed large-scale patterns showing off those colorful floral prints.

If you are a tote bag lover like me, you would have been in heaven. Beautiful tote bag patterns were everywhere. One that caught my eye was made with separating zippers on both sides. But when you opened it up and flattened it out, it turned into a picnic mat, complete with pockets for your knife and fork. Very clever!

Did I mention the silks? Dupioni and silk taffeta in every color imaginable abounded. Had I not seen the actual quilts made with these luscious fabrics, I would not have believed it possible. So, yes, I had to buy some. (Be sure to read Della Quimby's article on sewing with silk in the next issue of American Quilter magazine.) But to me, the piece de resistance was the hand-dyed wool. I salivated over beautiful mottled reds, purples, blues, oranges, and greens. One exhibitor had made up spectacular display pieces - pillows, throws, and table runners.

As you can tell, the spring market weekend was a terrific experience. There was so much to see, so many wonderful people to meet, and so many opportunities for learning. Virginia Robertson of and I had a nice discussion about patterns and quiIting trends (that's Virginia on the left and me on the right in the photo). Then I discovered some really neat ways to use foil and fusible thread. And the Flip Flop Block Template by Kathie Alyce of Waterfall Quilts created some very interesting quilt designs. I bought one and can’t wait to try it. Upon chatting in the booth with Kathie, the friendly and energetic creator of the Flip Flop template, I learned she’ll be publishing an AQS book soon featuring 12 clever new ways to design quilts using the template. Be sure to visit the AQS Web site and publishing blog for updates on this book - you won't want to miss it!
Submitted by Vivian Benton, contributing editor for American Quilter magazine

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sleepover in Seattle

Last week was the 28th annual retreat for my Georgia quilt group, the eight friends of the Mother's Day Quilters. Since two of us have since moved away from Georgia, we now meet in different locations around the country - this time it was at Pat's home in Mount Vernon, Washington, about an hour north of Seattle. Hitting the weather jackpot with four sunny days in a row, we did some sightseeing in the area, in addition to working on individual projects (and lots of great eating, of course). If you're coming to this area, don't miss the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum, located in La Conner in the Skagit Valley, one of the most scenic areas of Washington state. This charming quilt museum is housed in the Gaches mansion, restored to retain the flavor and decor of the Victorian era in which it was built. Whether your taste in quilts favors the traditional, contemporary, or just eclectic, one of the three exhibits currrently on display through June 28 will capture your heart. Longtime La Conner resident Siddy Knopf made amazing quilts and tops entirely by hand, and they're artistically displayed on the first floor of the museum (see photo). "Visions in Fibers" showcases the work of Arizona quilter Sheila Groman in the main gallery on the second floor. You'll love her fanciful crazy quilts with spectacular embroidery. Textile artist Karin Franzen is the invited artist for the third floor exhibition called Birdscapes, and even though some of her creations can't be technically called quilts, their ethereal beauty is mesmorizing. The museum is open 11-5 Wednesday through Sunday. After visiting the museum, you'll find lots of interesting shops and restaurants just a short walk away.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Calling all Arizona quilters

Arizona is a large state, covering 114,006 square miles, the sixth largest in the United States. We’re a pretty independent bunch, the last territory to become a state in the lower 48.

Arizona will celebrate its statehood centennial on February 14, 2012. Although this sounds like the distant future, quilt projects take time, so it’s not too early to plan. Quilters from around the state are working hard on the Arizona Centennial Quilt Project. Plans are underway to update our state’s quilt documentation project, stage a centennial quilt challenge that will tour our state’s many quilt shows, and construct a large quilt depicting our state’s history. Many of the quilters involved are well-known, both locally and through the pages of American Quilter magazine, but there will be something for everyone.

Organizers are working to have quilters from every part of our large state included. The project is being organized under the umbrella of the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame. If you’re interested in watching our progress, visit often.
(Submitted by Barbara Polston, AQ Contributing Editor from Phoenix, AZ)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Fun with Taupe

Taupe is not everyone's favorite color. In fact, some quilters wouldn't consider it a color at all. But for the last few years I've been collecting taupe fabrics - mostly Japanese - and studying the photos in Japanese quilt magazines to learn the subtleties of using taupe effectively. My first attempt consisted of these 6-inch Sawtooth Star blocks, made from a combination of taupe prints, plaids, textured and embroidered fabrics, and a couple batiks thrown in. I'd forgotten how much fun it is to make scrap quilts. Each block is unique but hopefully harmonizes with its neighbor. Most of the blocks are rotary cut, though some I fussy cut with templates. Contrary to most quilt book instructions, I pressed the last two seams (joining the rows) of each block open to make it flat and precise.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Running with Scissors

If you love to bring hand work along when you travel by air, you probably know that scissors with blades less than 4" long are currently permitted in carry-on luggage if you are boarding in the United States. However, other countries may have different regulations and you should check with your airline for guidance. We learned this from an AQ reader, who told us that she lost a very nice pair of small scissors when returning from a trip to Canada. Security regulations in Canada currently do not allow scissors with pointed blades, regardless of the length.