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.)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What Goes Under the Turkey? Top Your Table With Peace & Safety

Do you fear gouges in your heirloom wooden dining table? Are you tired of trying to figure out how to get cranberry and who knows what out of your best tablecloth? Pacific Fabrics to the rescue! You'll find these terrific products at all our stores.

We have wonderful Table Felt or Table Padding (above - left side & middle) to protect that special table and Clear Vinyl to go over the holiday table cloth. Think of it as an investment in your peace of mind and the peace of your Thanksgiving gathering. Or you may want to pick up some Vinyl Lace or Oilcloth (shown above on the right) for the table. Let the kids (big and small) spill and pound all they like - you've got it covered!

 And if your silver looks a wee bit tarnished when you bring it out, plan to stitch up some Pacific Silvercloth (above) covers before you pack it up again. This fabulous fabric is impregnated with a solution that keeps your silver shiny and you can easily make storage bags for those seldom used serving pieces. Another peace of mind investment!
So there you go - now you can relax!  ~ Annette

Adventures with Evie: My European Grand Tour

Hey there human buddies -  I'm just in from a FABULOUS European cruise and a bit breathless, but I know you're all dieing to hear about my latest adventure!

Tracy knit me this incredibly continental Debbie Bliss sweater coat and matching beret. I was SO in style as we left Barcelona on the Norwegian Jade and met new sock friends at the so-fab Bon Voyage party. Their outfits were nowhere near as chic as mine, though.

Sydney, my traveling companion and personal couturier, brought me out on deck to sip my morning coffee. A little caffeine and some brisk morning air really perked up my stuffing before we docked in Monte Carlo. I do think I look a tad bit like Princess Grace here, don't you? Her aura was everywhere and I thought the rakish tilt of the hat over my ear was very, very Grace.

The darling ship crew delivered a clever towel animal to my room every night. Mr.White Elephant, my new sock friends and I attended dinner together. He was such a party animal and quite handsome in his formal whiteness. I, of course, looked ravishing in my lace edged silk chemise.

I aired out on deck then visited Pisa wearing my adorable pink quilted jacket with the heart shaped button. I look so fabulous in pink - it really brings out my button eyes! It was comfortable, yet stylish with my black fleece pants when I went shopping with my friends in Rome the next day. I heard quite a few fluffy whistles from the Italian sock boys! Sydney made me a little purse, too, and I shopped 'til my tail dropped.

Traveling can be exhausting, my sock was stretched to the limit and I wasn't feeling quite in the 'pink'. So I enjoyed relaxing in the cabin with my new towel friend Mr. White Rabbit while I was in Naples. He's a bit bland for my taste, but he was a good friend to lean on.

As the cruise wound down, I 'hung' out on my deck before our last stop at Palma, Mallorca.  I loved my Grand Tour, but really missed my home girls back in Everett. I've made so many friends and my Christmas gift list is now as long as a sock tail! After I rest up, maybe I'll take some classes so I can make gifts. I wonder if there's a staff primate discount?

Best to everyone  ~ Evie
(Evie is a pink sock monkey who lives at our Everett store - when she's not traveling. Sydney is one of Everett's extraordinary quilters, teachers and staff members. Tracy leads the Everett Knitalong, teaches knitting and is rarely found without needles and yarn in her hands.)

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Tuesday Tip: Knitting in the round - closing the gap!

(If you did Leah's Warm for Winter hat, you might have noticed this little trick - one of my favorites, and so easy!)

Whether using a circular needle or a set of double-points, when you join your stitches so you can knit in the round, there is often an ugly gap that appears where the stitches have been joined.  To prevent this, try this easy step:
1. Cast on one more stitch than called for.
2. Slip this stitch from the end to the beginning of the round.
3. Knit together the stitch you slipped and the one that should have been the first stitch on the needle.
That's it! No more gap! So simple, and so much nicer looking!

 - Anna-Beth