Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pillowcase extravaganza!

I tell you, the ladies of 4th Avenue are a fountain of inspiration. No sooner do I finish blogging about Mary's Seuss apron, then Cathy comes in with her Seuss pillowcases!
Cathy made Seuss pillowcases for three wonderful little boys, her grandsons Jamison, Adrian and Julian. Each boy gets his own unique pillowcase to have sweet fantastical dreams of Cats in Hats and Sneetches and other Seuss characters.
But she didn't want the grown-ups to be left out, so she made delightful pairs of pillowcases for her kids, too, in our wonderful Washington and Seattle-themed fabrics! She even made a set in an elegant batik combo. She's got plans to give these to her family for New Year's - I bet it'll be a great one!
If you want to make a custom pillowcase, click here for a free, simple pattern.


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cute, and a Hoot to Boot: Mary's Seuss-ational apron!

Ever since our wonderful Seuss fabric came in, I've been fingering it and puzzling over what to make from it. I've been thinking of a quit for my baby, or something for a friend's kid, but I just  wasn't sure what.
Then today, I walked into our 4th Ave Outlet store and found Mary in this colorful apron, and I was immediately inspired! Seuss for adults! Why not?
Mary used Mary Mulari's Church Lady Apron pattern - a classic, and reversible, too!  Like all of Mary Mulari's apron patterns, it just requires two one-yard cuts of fabric, a little time and you have a FABULOUS apron. I am excited to make my own!

 - Anna-Beth

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Happy Holidays from Evie!

Hello to all of my friends! I've had such a fabulous holiday season - I've seen lots of friends, had adventures, and of course, enjoyed dressing up for fun!
Did you make it to Pacific Fabrics Everett for the Apron Contest?  It was such a great time - there were so many inspiring aprons, although I think mine was the best - It had a banana print that was just mouth-watering. I just love those fruit and veggie fabrics,  and yellow is a great color for my pink-and-white complexion.  I had lots of fun modeling for everyone - you know I'm not a shy girl!
As usual, I've been traveling, although a little closer to home! One Friday, I took a trip up to North Bend to ride the Santa Train to Snoqualmie.  It was a sunny and dry day, thank goodness, since I'm not "wild" about snow - seeing Alaska was enough snow for this domesticated urban monkey! But as it was December, it was a little windy and so cold! Fortunately I had my minky parka and fleece pants from the Alaska cruise, and I layered with the red polar fleece scarf I got from a friend for Christmas, and I was ready to visit Santa.

Visiting Santa with Landon, Austin, and Orin
 The train was pretty crowded, but I made friends quickly - I ran into three little boys who were wearing scarves just like mine!  Their grandma made them - she used just 1/4yd of fleece for each, fringed the ends, and they were done!  She also made them the cute flannel caps they were wearing - she said it was hard to choose from all the great flannels at Pacific Fabrics, but once she saw the caps in Kwik Sew pattern #3833, she knew that plaid would be just the thing.  We sure had fun on that train!
Happy New Year to all! I think I'm going to resolve to make 2011 a year of adventure and fashion (wait...did I resolve that last year, too?)
 - Evie

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Great Gifts to Grab & Give!

Okay - calm down and take a deep breath! There's no need to panic! I know Christmas is just three days away, but we can do this together. Here are some great gifts you can grab and give - all under $25. See, I've got your gifting back and you're going to be fine. Just keep scrolling down until you find the perfect thing!

No time to scroll? Okay - quick - head to your nearest store and look for our nice collection of 2011 Calendars with creative themes and tumblers, notebooks and other goodies that say fun things like Knit Happy. (I have one on my desk and I'm certain that my water tastes better!) But, if you can, keep reading . . .

For your friend who just got, is about to get or has closeted a serger. Ready, Set, Serge will pave the way to serging bliss. Add some cones of Maxi-Lock thread in neutral colors and you've got a whole serging kit! Available at all stores except Everett. $22.99

For EVERY sewist you know! 1,000 Clever Sewing Shortcuts & Tips has loads (seriously!) of tips and shortcuts to make every sewing life easier and more fun. Gathered by the crew at and available at all our stores for just $19.99.

A fun book for those cozy Winter evenings. Any stitcher will love Redhot Redwork from local designers Two Sisters at Squirrel Hollow. Very pretty stuff for $15.95. Add lots of red DMC floss and the lovely little 100 Embroidery Stitches book ($2.79) from Coats & Clark and you're all set. Available at all our stores.

For your crocheting friends or even someone who wants to learn, Slippers By the Dozen will supply hours and hours of creative pleasure. Add a crochet hook set and a bit of yarn! Just $7.95 at all our stores except Bellevue.

We had such a wonderful time with Debbie Bliss when she was here for Stitch 'n Pitch last August and you can give a little taste of her expertise to your knitting buddies. Tips for Knitters is a fully packed book of tips and tricks to keep their needles clacking happily. $19.95 at all our stores and we have Debbie Bliss yarn you can add into the package, too!

The kids! What about the kids? 100+ No-Sew Fabric Crafts for Kids is a gift that will keep them busily happy now and invest in their creative future. It has to start somewhere and this book is a marvelous place to get those crafty genes brewing. You'll love it! $19.99 at all our stores. Don't forget to add a few fat-quarters and some of your own scraps to get them going!

Even if your female family or friends aren't the crafty types, they'll LOVE these books. Why Girls Love Bags and Why Girls Love Shoes are 'can't miss' delightful little books that girls of any age will enjoy. Just $9.95 each at all stores except Bremerton and Outlet on 4th.

Perfect for the hard-to-buy-for, Weird Washington will have the recipient intrigued and smiling! This is such a cool book and just right for those who live here, those who don't and those who have just arrived. $19.95 at all our stores except Bellevue.

And that's just a few of the things you'll find at our stores! Hope I got your 'grab and give' wheels turning and you're feeling a bit more calm. 'Tis the season of joy and I wanted to gave a bit of that back to you!

Happy Gifting and have a Marvelous Christmas!!!

~ Annette

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tuesday Tip: no-frustration ruffling!

As you can tell from my last couple of posts, I'm in a ruffly mood. And why not?  Ruffles are feminine, flirty, fashionable, and fun.  However, they can also be another "F" word - frustrating!  Here's a super simple technique to take the frustration out of making a ruffle. 

The classic technique has been to make two basting stitches, then pull the loose ends till you have made the ruffle the length and density you want - although I usually found that one or the other of my stitches would snap, and I would have to start over again.  Then Audrey, the brilliant and sweet manager of our Bremerton store, told me this simple technique, and I send her mental thank-yous every time I need to ruffle anything.  

You'll need a spool of strong thread - I like Coats and Clark upholstery thread for this. The color does not matter, as it will be hidden in the seam anyway. Tie it around a pin, then pin to one end of your piece to be ruffled.  Using a thread that matches your project, zig-zag stitch along the edge with the thicker thread in the center of the zig-zag,  being careful not to catch the thread in your stitching.

When you have reached the end of your piece for ruffling, cut off your zig-zag thread, and pull the loose end of the strong thread  till the ruffle is the desired length and density. When you have the right length, place a pin at the end, then wrap your strong thread around it in a figure-eight motion to hold it in place. Do a quick straight stitch over the ruffle, stitching it all in place. Now you have a nice ruffled length for your project, with no broken threads - and no frustration.

 - Anna-Beth

Friday, December 17, 2010

Last Minute 'Uber-Quick-Really-Great' Gifts to Make

Yes, it is almost Christmas, but hang on, I've got some great projects you still have time to make. Scroll through these quickly then head for your nearest store and get going!

Fabulously festive fabric buckets to hold your gifts now and use for years! The Make Life Merry pattern comes with three iron-on lables to finish off your stitching in style. From Sweetwater Designs, it's available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

Gotta Grandma? Or an Aunt or anyone else who loves pictures? The Quilted Brag Book pattern from Hedgehog Quilting is quick to make and delightful to give. You'll find this wonderful pattern and the extra photo inserts you'll want at all our stores except Outlet on 4th. Pattern includes vinyl for front pocket and inserts for one book.

The Cash 'n Carry pattern from Atkinson Designs is a great way to give a bit of handmade re-usable love along with cash or a gift card. Best of all, we've made up 'ready-to-grab' kits of just the right amount of coordinated fabric ready for you. You can buy one kit and a pattern for under $15! Look for Cash 'n Carry, the kits and a 'sister' pattern (Snap Happy) at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

Here's another easy-peasy way to stitch up a handmade package for a gift card! Little Wallet Sewing Card from Valori Wells is just $2.99 and so much fun, you'll want to make one for everyone. The Card, a little fabric and the promise of a sewing lesson would make a great gift, too! Available at all our stores except Bremerton and Outlet on 4th.

Purses, Bags and Totes are easy to make and a great solution for the 'problem child' on your gift list. You know - the one that's REALLY hard to shop for?!  Style Stiches from the always fabulous Amy Butler offers you 12 basic patterns and enough variations to make 26 unique looks. Something for everyone and the book on it's own would make a great gift, too! Available at all our stores.

Okay, Elfin Stitchers - ready, set, sew!!!

~ Annette

Really Rapid Ruffles!

The holidays are looming ever closer, and whether you are looking for a quick gift or a bit of feminine fabulousness for holiday parties, I have just the thing for you!

Rizos makes neat rows of ruffles

Triana is lacy, loopy, and lovely!

Arriving today in our stores are two amazing new novelty scarf yarns from Katia.  Triana knits up into a frothy boa of lace - it's fun to work with and lovely to feel.  Rizos knits up into dense layers of ruffles, a little warmer and equally fun to explore. Both could be used for trims on garments, but are really designed to be scarves  - one ball makes a generous scarf, and each comes with a free pattern sheet showing you just how to knit them up. Best of all, they knit fast, and at only $12.99 apiece, these could be the answers to your holiday gifting woes! I snuck a ball of Triana in white from Bremerton last night, and my scarf is already almost finished and truly spectacular.  These yarns are to be found at all stores but the 4th Ave Outlet - some colors were sold out, so we'll have even more choices come February!

ChaChaCha! Even the selvages are pretty!
 Want to wrap your friends (or yourself) in ruffles, but not into knitting?  Never fear, ChaChaCha is here!  Remember Dianne's awesome flapper dress for her granddaughter?  It was made from the ChaChaCha ruffle, which comes in red with black stitching, white with black stitiching, and black with white stitching.  Ellen, the Block of the Month leader and quilter extraordinaire at our Everett store, made the cutest skirt from the red one - it shimmies in the most delightful way, is totally adorable on her, and she said making it was a cinch - one width of fabric, a bit of elastic, and NO hemming, and it 's a sweet skirt!  If that's too complex, though, ChaChaCha makes scarfmaking even simpler - just get 1/2 yard, fold it in half lengthwise, sew the cut edges together, trying not to catch any of the ruffles in your stitches,  and it is a flirtatious and fashionable scarf - we have seen scarves at certain upscale department stores that begin with N that are identical - and retail for $60.  ChaChaCha is available at our Everett, Bellevue, Northgate and Puyallup stores, and is only $12.99 a yard. 

 - Anna-Beth

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Explore the Pleasures of Pleather - and Leather!

Pacific Fabrics just got an amazing new shipment of fun vinyls in textures, colors, and more, perfect for purses, pillows, seatcovers, accessories, or whatever you can dream up. We also sometimes get in shipments of wonderful soft genuine leather hides. I was excited to experiment with my first leather project (little baby shoes for my Annika) but first I wanted to be sure I had everything I needed, and understood sewing with leathers, so here's some tips I found and wanted to share with you!

1. Use a leather needle.  We carry these from Schmetz or Classe - they have sharp bladelike points that cut a neat little hole, letting your thread go through the fiber without shredding.

2. Use a larger stitch length- each hole in the leather weakens the fabric slightly, so less holes is preferable.

3. Instead of pins, try mini-clothespins. We sell these in our craft basics aisle, and they prevent pin holes and creases in your leather and vinyl textiles.  Instead of basting, try Wondertape, a double-sided tape that can be sewn through.

4. If you find your project is not moving easily along your feed plate or presser foot, try using a layer of tissue paper on the side or sides it is sticking on. Easy to tear away when you are finished stitching!  We sell Golden Threads quilting paper, designed to tear easily out of stitches in our quilting aisle, and it works just perfectly for this.  A Teflon presser foot, available from your sewing machine dealer, can also help.

5. Choose your pattern wisely! Patterns designed for vinyl and leather materials are the best, but other simple patterns can be used with a little adjusting. Avoid ruffles,  pleats, small pieces and topstitiching.

6. Stitch slowly and carefully - if you have to take out stitches, there will be holes, which are both ugly and weaken your leather or pleather. Plan carefully, go slowly, and only stitch once!

Now, which baby shoes to make?

 - Anna-Beth

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Quilted Wreaths - Deck Your Walls!

Just a couple of quick ideas for your Christmas quilting - take a look!

Isn't this lovely? Vintage Wreath from Buttermilk Basin Patterns has a great nostalgic feel done in traditional red and green, but I can see it in something bright and fun, too. Lime green and hot pink anyone? Easy piecing make this one you can still get done in time for Christmas gifting or Christmas Day decor! Available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th and Puyallup.

Yes, I know this is a lot to get done in time for the big day, but it's SO beautiful! So, how about one motif on a pillow or three in a row for a table runner or four in a square for a smaller wall hanging? See - you do have time! Poinsettia Wreaths from Black Mountain Quilting is available at all our stores. You'll find yourself using this one year after year. Enjoy!

~ Annette

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Fusible Piping - a speedy way to create!

File this under 'what will Nancy Zieman think of next'!
I enjoyed the Northwest Quilt, Craft & Sewing Festival last weekend and found our dear Chris Claus demonstrating this incredibly cool stuff! Wrap 'n Fuse Piping designed by Nancy Zieman for Clover makes piping and gifts super quick and easy!

Chris used a Bias Tape Maker, another of our favorite Clover tools, to make the bias strips she used to cover the piping. How did she put it all together? Watch my little video below!

See - easy! And just to round out our list of Clover products we love, Chris uses Clover's Mini-Iron to do the pressing because it fits the small space so well. Thank you, Clover! And when you're done fusing your piping . . .
You can coil and stitch it into these cute coasters or hot pads! You'll find all of these wonderful Clover products at all of our stores - just in time for Thanksgiving hot pads and great for gifts. (Watch for more videos. I had great fun 'filming' Chris at our booth at the show!)

~ Annette
(Chris "Claus" is well known for her part in our Christmas in July events and being the queen of demos at our Sewing & Stitchery Expo booth. In between demo engagements, you'll find her at our Everett store where she is the Assistant Manager.)

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Stock up for weather emergencies!

Oh I love a snowday!

I'm not saying I like snow - I might have been born in Buffalo, but I live in Seattle for a reason.   I dislike extreme weather, and am totally chicken - when my car slides instead of stopping when I brake, I stay home.

Hence the love - as a crafty girl, I am never happier than when I have a full day of nothing but creative time.
Today I woke up to three things to be very grateful for in the Thanksgiving season: power, a well-stocked pantry, and a really well-stocked craft room.  I was at the Northgate store yesterday, and after seeing the forecast, I made sure that I had plenty of Steam-a-Seam 2, batting, and thread.  There's nothing worse than getting started on a project and finding that you are out of a basic you would assume you have. 

Which brings me to this Tuesday Tip: Stock up on your basics without a project in mind - we all have things we go through a ton of - from fusible interfacings to black Kona cotton to template plastic. You know what you use again and again - rather than just getting a project's worth at a time, buy enough that you will have some supplies on hand when you are inspired - even if you are snowed in.  They might not be glamorous and fun, but when you get started, it's nice to be able get your project finished!

You have a terrific opportunity to stock up this weekend! At all our stores, we are having our Best Sale Of The Year, Nov. 26-28th: three days of joy - a great time to get supplies for handmade presents and holiday decor, of course, but also a good time to stock up your craft room on those basics that make your crafting time fun and productive.

What did you make on your snowday? 


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Dreams & Celebrations - New Fabrics from Laurel Burch & Dr. Seuss

Click on the pictures to see a larger image, then click here to find the store nearest you.

Celestial Dreams featuring the artwork of Laurel Burch has arrived! This astronomically exciting collection from local fabric company, Clothworks, features an array of suns, moons, stars and all things seen skyward. Laurel's trademark bright colors and gold accents will coordinate well with any past collections you may own. Available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th. (Look below for a free quilt pattern, too.)

A striking quilt to stitch and enjoy on your way to your own Celestial Dreams! Click here for the free pattern PDF from Clothworks.

Let's Celebrate Seuss!!! This charming bright and cheery collection from Robert Kaufman is flying off our shelves, so hurry!  Fans of Theodore Geisel's wonderful, whimsical, rhyming stories would love a holiday gift stitched from their favorite friends. Maybe the quilt below? Available at most of our stores now and coming soon to Outlet on 4th.

Use your Celebrate Seuss fabrics in this free pattern from Robert Kaufman - aptly named Let's Party! Click here to download the PDF.

Home 'Baked' Bread Baskets for Your Table

Stitch up a handmade bread basket, fill it with your favorite buns, biscuits or muffins and add a creative touch to your holiday table! Here are two of my favorites:

Aunties Two patterns are designed to use those beautiful batik strips we all love and you'll have a great time making this Biscuit Basket. Pick out your favorite combo of pre-cut 2-1/2" batik strips, add a package of Craftex to your shopping cart and your home 'baked' bread basket will be practically done! What's Craftex? Just the best foundation for super-fab baskets and purses ever! Think super stiff, heavy interfacing. You'll find this fun basket pattern for $8.99 and packages of Craftex for just $5.99 at all our stores.

And for those pre-cut 2-1/2" batik strips take a look at our selection of Tonga Treats from Timeless Treasures. Yummy colors and I love the names -Sugarplum, Coffee Cake and Hard Candy are shown here. You'll find these and more at all our stores, too.

You'll love this! Ba-Da-Bing . . . Ba-Da-Boom . . . It's a Basket is a seriously quick and easy basket pattern from Tiger Lily Press. Adorn your own table and make a few to use as hostess gifts throughout the season. They're great filled with muffins, little loaves of bread, cookies or soaps and handknit washcloths and simply gorgeous in holiday fabrics! Available at all our stores except Bellevue.

Have fun!  ~ Annette

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A handmade hat makes an amazing present!

Last May, when I was 14 months pregnant (ok, it was only nine, but it felt like at least fourteen) I waddled into my office to find the most glorious gift basket. The amazing staff of our 4th Ave store had pooled their handiwork, and made me a massive basket full of handmade toys, hats, booties, bibs, blankets, and even a whole quilt! It made me cry, it was so nice (and when you are that pregnant, you cry at everything anyway.)  

Now my little Annika is 5 months old, and is enjoying the fruits of their labor. With the recent chill in the air, she is wearing hats on her bald little head, and this one, made by the truly wonderful Mary, is one of my favorites.

Annika with her lovely handmade  hat

Mary used the "Three Times a Delight" pattern from the Tops & Toes book, a terrific treasury of patterns for heads and feet.  The pattern is great - not only does it include directions for Annika's heart version, but also the flower one on the book cover, as well as a sweet little star pattern. Mary just finished making one of those for a little boy she's expecting to meet soon, and it came out adorable!  The book even includes patterns for matching booties.

Mary is using one of my favorite yarns for these darling hats - Bamboo Baby by Patons. This yarn comes in a sweet range of pastels, is machine washable, and is wonderfully soft! At only $5.99 for a 95yd ball, it is totally affordable for hats, blankets, and more.

With the holiday season looming, hats are fabulous gifts to make - warm and personal for them, easy and fun for you!
 - Anna-Beth 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Placemats, Runners & Napkins - oh my!

I LOVE table runners and placemats. They're fun to make and you can have a set for every occasion. Which brings me to the point of this post. Thanksgiving is coming and it's time to brighten up the table! Here are my suggestions:

Valori Wells designs sweet little pattern cards and Placemat & Napkin is one of the best. Use playful colors to make these zing, then add a little big stitch embroidery to make them artful. Available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th. Just $2.95 for the pattern card!

Our perennial favorite, Take 4 Placemats from Quilt Woman makes uber-great placemats from any 4 fat quaters you choose. So easy - cut, re-position, stitch and you're done. You gotta have this pattern! Perfect for everyday tables, wonderful for gifts and marvelous for the holiday. Available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

So cool and the picture just doesn't say it all. Easy Striped Table Runner from The Quilt Company is amazingly quick, easy and fun to use with all sorts of fabrics. Five seams and no binding combined with a magical 60 degree ruler (sold separately) will make this your new fave for your own tables and to pop into gift boxes for every occasion. Gorgeous in quilting cotton prints, but think about batiks, dupioni silks or linens, too. Yum! Available at all our stores.

Stunning! That's what your guests will say when you stitch up the Simply a Pleasure Table Runner & Placemats pattern from Tiger Lily Press. Choose a fabulous bold print, a charming coordinate and a just right solid for this terrific design. Gorgeous in holiday fabrics! Available at all our stores except Bellevue (coming soon!) and on our web site, too - click here.

~ Annette

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Nutmeg - a Spicy Little Collection to Enjoy

Click on the picture to see a larger image, then click here to find the store nearest you!

Wow - I really love this! Nutmeg from Robert Kaufman isn't brand new, but it's leafy goodness was calling to me, so I'm sharing it with you. The retro feel of these geo style prints in russet, orange and foliage green hues are ready to warm your home. Selection will vary by store (available at all but Bremerton & Outlet on 4th), but you'll find lots of other yummy fabrics to combine with these. Leaf up your tables, sofas and beds and enjoy the wonders of Autumn!

~ Annette

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Tuesday Tip - Perfect (and EASY) square corners on your quilts!

I picked up this great tip for making the corners of your binding square at a SewExpo class, taught by Kaye Woods. (If you haven't been to the Sew Expo in Puyallup, you must go this year - it is such a fabulous opportunity to learn great techniques and see all the latest in sewing. We are so lucky to have one of the largest and most exciting sewing events of the year in our backyard! And be sure to sign up for seminars - we are going to have great ones!)  Kaye is the host of Kaye's Quilting Friends on public television, and I loved this simple tip!

 When you stitch your binding on, stop with needle down just before you reach the end of your quilt - if you are using a 1/2" seam allowance, stop 1/2" before the end.  Rotate your project 45 degrees, so your stitching is now pointed to the corner. Stitch to the corner.

Take the loose end of your binding and fold it away from your quilt, so that it follows the little angle you have just added, and the raw edge of the loose end is even with the next edge that you will be sewing the binding onto.

Keeping the little crease you just made, fold the loose end down and into place along the edge to be stitched, raw wedge matched with the edge of your quilt. Begin stitching right at the upper edge. 

Your corners will look like this...

Until you whipstitch the loose edge onto the back - you will find you have perfect, neat, square corners - like they just want to be square!

Thanks Kaye Woods, for the great tip!

- Anna-Beth

Friday, November 5, 2010

Outlet Staff Spotlight: Sew Easy Fat Quarter Gifts

From time to time at the Outlet on 4th, we pick a book, product or pattern, all make our own projects and put them up for display. It's really cool to see what everyone does and it always inspires me to make more things when I see someone else's ideas.
Right now our display focuses on the Sew Easy Fat Quarter Gifts book. Stuffed full of 64 projects, at $19.95 it's just right for holiday present making. I'd like to share our results with you! 

Our Manager, Janice chose the Petite Purse from page 100 and the Sew Special Gift Bag from page 109. On the right you can see the Color My World crayon apron from page 36 made by our sewing teacher Ann.

Loretta made the On The Go Bag from page 96 and added amazing button bouquets to it! Be sure to come into the store to see the Mini Gift Boxes that Brenda made from page 167, too.

I stitched up the Baby Announcement Board (left) from page 16 and used it to announce the birth of Annika, our buyer, Anna-Beth's new baby girl. Then I made a boy and girl version of the Sweet Baby Quilt (right) from page 13.

There's more, too and they were all so quick to make using fat quarters. Come on into the Outlet on 4th and look for this display! It will be up for a couple more weeks. You'll find the book at all our stores (except Northgate) right now, too.

~ Mary
(Mary works at the Outlet on 4th and leads the Block of the Month Club. She is a skilled, avid quilter and kntter.)