Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just a smattering

I love the sound of the word "smattering".  It puts me in mind of the sound of bacon frying in a pan and the smokey-yummy flavor it leaves on my tongue.
At any rate, here is a smattering of the colors I managed to bring home after my recent expedition with Jean.  These are all obviously yardage and/or FQs.... and therefore does not represent those lovely bits of fabric scrap finds from Bay City.

And YES, I have already used a good many of these new recruits in row number two!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Those lil' expeditions

I hinted at this particular entry in my other blog - - sharing that Jean and I had driven to a handful of quilt shops on Friday, and that I hoped to be able to elaborate with our assessments of each of these new material destinations in short order.

So, I am about 12 hours later than I wanted to be, but who cares - right?

I understand all-too-well that small business owners spend their every waking moment either being at their place of business or thinking about something regarding the business.  Proprietors are never off duty. Never!  I know this because I once owned and operated a children's bookshop, and it was heaven fringed in hell.

I didn't hate any of it...not a bit, and I thought it only fringed at one end.  However, I did completely abhor the time it took away from my sons (at their young-ish ages).  That was my own ONLY personal, less-than-bright-spot of business ownership.

At any rate, I brought up that little crumb to illustrate my total understanding of the time-sucking aspects of business owning and operation.  And yet, I don't get why most quilt shops are not open past four or five in the afternoon!  It's confounding, since I would think many of their would-be consumers are at work during the same hours of operation, making it impossible to spend time shopping as they would like.

That all being said, we found ourselves visiting only five shops Friday, from the opening bell to the closing gong.  We had only originally planned to see three shops, the farthest flung being in Bay City, but ended up adding two additional names to the list - one of which came to us from the sales staff at The Fabric Fair.

"Ooo-o-o-o-h-h-h-h-h," I hear you MI quilters sighing with envy.  "The Fabric Fair."  [heads nodding with approval]

That is where we began our shop hop, and boy, what a gem!  It was like waking up in Oz. 

From the large basket of find-it-yourself scrap grab to the rooms and aisles of material [squeals of delight].  They live in a lovely old store (two, really, because they went through a wall into an adjoining business) with LOTS of fabulous daylight streaming in the large front windows.  Glorious shopping environment!

We arrived bright and early and began ooo-ing and aww-ing over the collection of mini-bolts nearest the door (their layout needs a bit of retooling to make it more shopper-friendly), until we encountered the basket of scrap goodies laying in wait at the end of a cutting counter.  Holy gobstopper!  Must have spent half an hour just sorting through each and every piece in it making three piles - "yours, mine and no thank you."  We divided and conquered a monstrous mound and left there with a sack each of exciting possibilities.

Personally, I walked away from The Fabric Fair with a lovely assortment of (mostly) large-ish scraps and about eleven eighth yard cuts in new colors for the current project.  Out of the heavy bag of scraps I've identified thirty-nine (yes! 39), new colors to use in my insane project alone!  AND, we found enough strips of other groups of colors to make an entire laprobe - at least!

Definitely a destination store to re-visit.  Jean and I agreed that TFF in Bay City is nearly equal to the wonderfully stuffed CQK in Brighton.  You just can't have a limited budget when you visit either one because there aren't many/any discounts or frequent buyer cards/clubs to make multiple full-priced purchases at either one a commonplace event.

From there we hit Bittersweet Quilt Shop in Pinconning.  It's a sweet old church across the street from a local school, and it was unassuming as we drove past it.  An innocuous sign pointed to the building, but left us quite confused as to whether the actual perish building was the quilt shop or if it was around the back.  We ended up driving around the block and coming up alongside the parking area, finally convincing ourselves we needed to enter the old church itself. 

Once inside, we were charmed with the decor - but not with the overall lighting.  I took issue with the stained glass (lovely as it is) casting a very heavy yellow pallor over the material.  Spotty indirect incandescents were of little help with all of the dark corners, shadow-heavy shelving, and low shelves, so I fixated on the interruptions and additions of all of the antique-y and crafty 'stuff' sprinkled everywhere throughout the space. 

Their website photos of the "retreat" space downstairs give the impression that the lighting may be better there, but I like to see my material in a more natural (and well lit) way before I make a purchase.

Cute idea, but the material selection was pretty well a copy of everything seen everywhere else, with the exception of a few more children-oriented prints in a couple of collections I have seen in other locales. 

However, I do have to admit to being pleased with the selection of white-on-whites I'd not encountered anywhere else, and had I the capital I would have purchased a bit of each.  Otherwise, no big shakes - but a lot of wit and charm....just not a quilt shop per se'.  If you're in the area, check them out.

Stop number three found us at one of the three originally scheduled destinations: Quilted Cottage in Saginaw.  It was neither a "cottage" nor very 'quilty.'  A very dated strip mall and tacky window display signalled what was to meet our eyes on the other side of the door.

Very little to offer in the way of fabric, and the selection is dated for the most part.  Lots of space at the front of the store for a haphazard notions area with [eh] patterns thrown in for good measure.  To the rear of the store (which equalled more than half of the depth) there were more tables and ironing boards filled with very opinionated women bitching (rarely stitching) than bolts of material, and apparently more time put into Christmas decorations on a shelf containing a scant seasonal selection.

Not worth the drive.  NOT worth the drive.  NOT.

The Front Porch Quilt Shop was another adorable, older Victorian-style building (a brick home), and this one is located in Frankenmuth.  One or two blocks off the main drag of that delightful town, it was the last of the 'planned' shops for our Friday hop.  This little shop was stuffed nearly full and had fresh arrivals piled around the door!  A fun little local haunt for those who don't drive too far from home, I suspect.

The layout leaves a lot to be desired, since walking space is at a premium - especially when more than three shoppers are in the store at one time.  Their working sewing table should be up near the register, in the dead space there.  HINT: Leave the floor space (where the sewing table currently resides) available for more display; better organization.  Too much wanna-be-cutesy-like-other-quaint-shops-and-use-cupboards-and-the-like-to-display-sh*t takes up space better used for getting bolts up off the limited floor space and for ease of shopping.

If I can't get next to the shelves and really look at a bolt, I won't bother.  I don't like leaning over leaning bolts, stacked on the floor, to get close to something that intrigues me. 

Another downer is that I never checked my receipt before walking out - DARN IT ALL!!!  I was overcharged a dollar for a clearly marked scrap bag.  Not cool, since the overcharge takes away from the "sale" price given for the pre-cut FQs they were offering for the holiday shopping.  Could have simply been an error on the part of the woman ringing things/cutting things (since she was a bit flustered with the growing line, and since she was the only person there in the store to service customers). 

Just be diligent at the point of sale, that's all I'm saying - everywhere.  Even in the excitement of the moment - CHECK YOUR RECEIPTS!!!

Otherwise, this shop had some neat offerings - materials I haven't seen elsewhere, or have only found online.  It was nice to have a fresh assortment of fabric candy to fondle and drool over.

Our last shop stop was also in Frankenmuth, in fact, at the Woolen Mill.  It lists itself as a quilt shop, and so we eagerly traversed the store until Jean happened upon the actual selection.

Oh, well.

While they do have the least expensive selection of FQs we've ever found, the whole assortment of cottons they offer for sale could fit inside a small walk-in closet.  Not really a go-to location if you are on a time budget, so no recommendation for this so-called quilt shop, either.

So, there you have it.  My (our) reviews of Friday's efforts.  I hope they are of some help in one way or another.  Have fun out there, and let me know if you have any shop recommendations or comments you'd like to add pertaining to these shops, or any others written in the past.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nothing to say beyond -

Thinking of the people of Moore, OK, today.

My thoughts and prayers are with you.


Friday, May 17, 2013

Holy Moses!

Row A (or, row number one) is officially complete and hanging off to the side; and as excited (and eager) as I am to begin laying out and sewing together Row B, I see that I absolutely need to cut piles of new colors to add to the working palette before I can get started.

Yes....I must

AB-solutely must!  Can't lay out the first square (or the second, for that matter) of the second row unless I add color to the color selection.  Without a wider variety of creamy peaches, pinkish tans, greyed-up flesh tones and taupes, I am going to end up wasting more time trying to find things than actually assembling - as I did on the first row.

I've learned my lesson!

Besides - despite the fact that I just spent a good deal of time sorting and straightening and neat'n-ing up the joint just to find the ironing board surface, I still need to bring some necessary order to the remaining chaos once again.  If I do it every so often with this project, I find I am better able to maintain a little bit of calm in laying out multiple 100-piece blocks.  And, it's always faster (and more fun) to have as many of the color pieces cut and at the ready instead of searching out the right little something-something just to make a few inches of progress.

Who knows, it may make my daylight hours more productive overall.  I'll let you know in a day or two.  Oh, and I'll add a few photos next time to show you what else I've been up to.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Ugh, uh-oh, ummmm

Hello, friends.

Hello, acquaintances.

Hello, family.

I have yet to sign myself into an asylum as I am not quite screaming bonkers (to this point).   Signs to the contrary are - well....they're contrary.

The first one-thousand pieces are together, and (hopefully) Row A will be complete by nightfall. 

Yes, I am still working on the 16K monstrosity.  Computations show I've managed to cut nearly 400 different materials (grammar police, do your thing) to get to this milestone!

=^. .^

There is no sun today so I will be assembling the final square-and-1/3 using overhead lights.  I find that tends to muck with the color values to some degree, so I end up comparing each piece with previous color choices from earlier blocks to keep the quilt even and true to itself.  It's a bother and takes more time, but I need to finish this first row today.  I have to have this progress for myself.

Each row consists of 1,130 pieces; those are sewn into 11.3 blocks (yup, that last 1/3 block is really a strip block of 3x10).  With the completion each row I will have assembled the equivalent of approximately one-quarter of PQ1!  By the time I finish with this 'masterpiece' I will have sewn through the equivalent of more than three-and-three-quarters PQ1s!!  3.9 PQ1s to be more precise.  That quilt is 4,225 pieces, not including the back and binding.

Hhmmm....maybe a whole cloth quilt wouldn't be a bad idea, eh?

Thursday, May 2, 2013

When your cat decides she can help with the layout

If your kitty is demanding attention, JUST GIVE IT TO HER!
This is the result of hours of work undone when my persistant cat decided to get my attention one way or another. 

It took an hour to undo the damage from Hurricane Hobbes.

Many tears, a bit of searching, and the good sense to have taken photographs all along the way.  Sadly, the changes I had made to the completely laid out block had to be fudged (no photos of the changes made), but I think it's about as good as it's gonna get - and I suppose I am satisfied.

Next time, 'Beana,' I will not ignore you for the sake of cutting one more necessary fussy-cut piece! I can't afford to.

I need a drink!

Just as an example

So, you know each block is 100 pieces, and I think I've said there are a LOT of blocks in this one (equating to an insane amout of pieces/piecing).

Here are the first few blocks together just so you can get a small idea of what's happening.

Above is a snap of the first three blocks alongside the portion of the pixelated image they correspond to.  Below is a close-up of block number four and the image I am matching to.  Well, actually, the image is to the left, and the piecing is to the right...but you get the idea.
Now, maybe, this will help to illustrate the enormity of the scale.

M a y b e.