Quilt Expo Day 3

I got up early and sped from the hotel to the Lakeland Center for my last 2 classes. Crazy for Quilting with Kathy Stachowicz and Cathy Gandy had the class make a quilt top in 3 hours, using a Babylock serger. I didn’t finish in the three-hour session, but I sure learned a lot of amazing techniques. The Tossed Nine-Patch was an Eleanor Burns pattern. The pre-cut fabrics were from art gallery and were a jumble of very vibrant hues and patterns. One class member said to me out of the corner of her mouth, as we ironed our seam allowances flat, “I would have never put these colors together! Never!” I looked at mine and agreed. Here is a pic of the finished quilt top that was made with the same art gallery fabric squares in our kits.

quilt top from Crazy class

At the beginning of class, when they were trying to tape this quilt top to the partition wall so everyone could see what it was supposed to look like, I stopped to lend a hand, and they mistook me for a friend and fellow quilter, Kay Capps Cross of Cross Cuts Quilting. They even showed me this you tube pic of her–check it out and see my Sewing Personality doppelganger!

Did I mention this session was in the Babylock salon? I was laughing with my tablemate about something teacher Pam Crosby said in class the previous day, that no one ever unthreads their serger, and my neighbor said she’s got one of those Babylock sergers, and you don’t have to worry about threading it. “What?” I said. Here’s what the inside thread panel looks like:

threading panel popped on Babylock serger

This machine also makes the exciting “wave” stitch I’d heard talked about in various classes. Ooooh, I’m telling you, it was sweet; I love to test-drive a great machine! At the end of class they offered the machines (not the wave-sewing ones, of which the class only had 4) to us for a classroom model discount, even though they were all brand-new out of the box, but alas, I didn’t have a deuce and a half thousand dollars! Actually by this point in the Expo I was getting pretty low on cash.

The 3-hour class ended with my assessment that I’ve still got a lot to do at home to get this thing finished, but it will be a breeze with the serger techniques they taught. In a couple more hours, it will be all done.

close up of blue-green Wave-stitched sashing insert at corner

It was Saturday, and when I got out of class, lunch time, and lots more people had come. The faces in the crowd had morphed from predominantly wrinkled and gray to a younger, more buxom cohort, and the shopping venues were suffocatingly crammed with all manner of folks. I overhead one old man talking to another in the hallway, “Women, women, and more women! I’ve never seen so many women in one place!” I was wearing a jaunty scarf I’d bought the day before at a vendor booth, and I was getting compliments right and left!

I did see some yarn this year at the Expo. Some Art Fabric had a big rack of repurposed yarn (–the result of someone patiently unraveling sweaters?), which was beautiful, but didn’t seem to be selling like hotcakes. I love this store to the point of swooning! I also found lots of yarn at a vendor booth for the Sew & Quilt Shop in Bunnell. They were holding Make & Take workshops teaching how to knit ruffle scarves, and loads of people were standing around learning like mad. And they had piles of savory fabrics and a long-arm quilting machine in the booth. The proprietress explained to me the other day that when their local yarn shop went out of business, they took on the obligation of stocking yarn in the local area. I mean, “good” yarn, like Rosetti and Berocco, not the generic stuff like you see in JoAnn’s (which is still ok but not as plushy).

I had a fun time in the Vogue Fabrics booth, searching through buttons in the “1 Pound 5 Dollars” display. And I took advantage of the 6 blank hem-stitched hand towels for $20 special at All About Blanks. Heavenly linens, all ready to be embellished.

My last class was with Emma Seabrooke, Constructing Contemporary Knits. It was all theory, not a hands-on workshop, but was excellent. No power-point, no hand-outs, just face time with her and looking at her wonderful wardrobe items. I especially loved that she has her own line of stay tapes for sewing with knits. They are in different widths for seams and hems and necklines, and some are of knit and others of woven material. Seeing her stay tapes and learning how she applies them for different purposes, to magnificent effects, satisfies a searching feeling that I’ve always had. I know in my heart that seams and hems and necklines on knits need to be stabilized, but the commercial patterns don’t fill you in on any methods that seem to be satisfactory. Sure, you can buy Steam-a-Seam at the local fabric store, or order some Vilene from overseas, but they’ve been agonizing to apply. I’m so glad I went to this class and took notes. Seabrooke specializes in hard-to-fit patterns. She says that even though she is in the business of selling patterns, and she has 33 patterns, that you should only have one or two basic patterns that fit you, and you can make every garment as a variation of those specialized, fit-to-you patterns. She said that patterns fit to your shoulder dimensions, which you’ve had since you were about 16 years old.

Last year, I didn’t take any classes, stayed only a few hours, and just wandered around shopping and watching the crowd for trends. This Expo, I didn’t catch a single demonstration, although there were many scheduled. I signed up for seven classes, and allowed only a few hours in between for shopping. I had a good mix of hands-on classes and one-hour lectures. It was easy to see that in this Expo, big money changed hands! Business in the Sewing and Crafting universe is alive and well.


Day 2 of Quilt Expo

Whew! End of day 2 of my trip to the Original Quilting & Sewing Expo in Lakeland. I was able to spend the first part of the day loving it up with 2 grandsons and their dad and mom (who celebrated her birthday lunch with us at Hurricane Wings). And, I am happy that Fabric Warehouse kept my purchase (the one I lost by walking off and leaving it) and I was able to retrieve that cute Pul and Dr Suess print package.

My first class was after lunch, with Pam Crosby from The Sewing Workshop about Sewing Stretch Knits. I loved the outfit she wore, made from the patterns they sell for $22 apiece (with a price break if you buy more at the same time) in various analogous colors of linen: gold, yellow and green. I especially liked the Nine Lives vest with the asymmetrical hem. But the focus here was on stretch tshirts, vests, cardis and shrugs. I got lots of good ideas. The Sewing Workshop.
My evening class was with June Colburn called Dyeing by the Yard. This one was my “impulse buy” of all the classes, and it was such a departure from the usual. The first hour, she gave us a fashion show of some of her fabulous silk garments. The second hour, we broke into groups of four and dyed a yard of plain white silk. Here are the results of our table, with Marie, Shirley, Sue, and me (and I apologize for the deplorable iPhone 3 photos).




20120225-054632.jpg The 3rd hour of class we did silk screen printing on panels of discarded kimono linings. I did not know whether the brownish antiqued appearance of the silk was from dye or DNA transfer, but the results were nice! We were allowed to choose from many Asian themed stencils and several colors of dye. My project ended up as a dresser scarf. Here is a pic of one June had made with a liner that was less stained.

20120225-055330.jpg we had great fun with this! Thanks to the innovative instructor and my very congenial table mates!

Quilting Expo in Lakeland

Aargh! I’ve been at the Original Sewing & Quilt Expo in Lakeland all afternoon and I have to admit I’m tired! So much to see and do!

Last year I went on a bus trip sponsored by A1Sewing: we got a great value package, a class, all the shopping and demonstrations you could take in, and best of all, they took care of the driving and parking. I didn’t take a class last year and only caught one demo. Mostly I shopped.

Today I shopped a little between the 3 classes I took. Unfortunately I lost some of the stuff I bought, so if I don’t find it tomorrow, well, grrr.

I took a class on quilt binding from Karen Grof, the proprietress of www.happyapplequilts.com She told us she has an identical twin, who does the left-brain thinking. The class was excellent, with lots of individual attention for each of the 20 pupils.


I loved working on the newest model Designer Diamond by Husqvarna Viking, and seeing them all lined up together was truly inspiring: cha-ching! Wow!

20120223-225157.jpg this pic shows the sample binding, the quilted project, and a package of batting that was included in the materials we paid extra for.

Next, I attended a class called Breaking down the borders by Kim Montagnese. She gave us a power point presentation and showed some real quilts she had made. It was a short class, but she allowed us to take pics of her unbelievably beautiful works of fiber art. A charming storyteller, Kim showed how she (and WE) can take our liking of ordinary, everyday colors and patterns, and incorporate them into meaningful and memorable quilts.



20120223-230827.jpg The first, a broken dishes pattern, was inspired by her nephew’s breaking a piece of her wedding china. She always adds a whimsical visual item with notes to the backs of her finished quilts.
Hope Yoder
My last class of the day was Hope Yoder’s eReader wristlet. It was held In the same salon with the Viking Diamonds. I worked on a little “purse” for an iPad , a pouch with a strap so’s you can dangle it on your wrist–or just wrap up your eReader and put it in your purse. unfortunately, I got my lining a bit crooked, so I stopped everything and opted to rip it out and finish it later at home. Here it is so far:

The kit was $39, wow, but it did have a lot of cool stuff: an embroidered, covered button in matching fabric, Pre-cut strips of Michael Miller desginer fabric that we quilted onto a piece of heavy stabilizer, a charm, hardware for attaching the strap, Velcro closures, and a pattern that can be reused and adapted.

Was I a pansy?

Your opinion, please:

I was standing in the cutting line at Joann Fabric, watching the lady in front of me have her fabrics cut from the bolts. The first was a gorgeously colored pansy print–possibly this Keepsake Calico? Then came a silky fabric in a brilliantly coordinating purple shade. The purchaser was elderly and extremely stooped over a walker. I mentally admired her choice and loved that she put those two items together for the stunning effect they produced. I noticed there wasn’t much left on the bolt of the pansy fabric (“remnant project” neon light started pulsing on and off in my brain), and the clerk shoved it under the cutting table when she was finished, unlike the bolt of purple, which she placed in a wire bin. When I got up next, I asked to see the remainder of the bolt of pansy fabric. The clerk told me, haltingly, “Actually, I wanted that.”

“Oh,” I said.

I completely understand that people who work at a fabric store probably have a great love of fabric, themselves.

And it’s not like someone was stealing from me, something that was not at all even in my cart yet. But I know if I’d been the clerk, I would have offered it to the customer. I am not saying I am better; I’m not better. I am just old-school enough to know that the customer should prevail in a contest such as that. Do you agree?

But I didn’t challenge her. I have run into many little scenes at various Joann stores, where clerks think they have a special power over the discounts (or maybe just an inability to ring up sale items correctly) and can wield it at their own, in my opinion, flawed, discretion. And, sigh, of material, I have plenty plenty, so I shouldn’t even be writing this–except that it seemed so unique, that a fabric store clerk, someone who is paid to enable people to trade their food, gas, and electricity money for fabric, would put the kabosh on another attempt, however small, for the fabric addict to score.

And so I hereby fling away to the four winds, any feelings of having been slighted, any residual emotion of regret that the Great American Novel was not written nor the Great Remnant Project of the Ages produced, and acknowledge that the Heavenly Father of all of us is the great source of all love, compassion, beauty and spiritual experience, and say, “I have enough fabric! I am free!” And to the clerk at the cutting table with the beady, darting, rodent-like eyes, I give you, along with your prize pansy-motif end-of-bolt fabric stashed under the counter, a dozen virtual roses and my wish to be prosperous and happy in your creative pursuits!

beautiful roses

Green eggs and garden greens

Middle of February in Central Florida: time to think about gardening! I attended a wonderful discussion group where we listened to Joann Allen talk about the basics: soil testing, improving the soil, companion planting, ways to deal with pests. She says the time to plant is the week after Easter; that’s when (most of the time) plants will be safe from frost. Of course, you can start plants from seed now, and keep them indoors until then. And you could be working on preparing the seed beds, and getting a compost bin started. It’s easy to think about gardening with the 80-degree days we’ve been having, but what about that night last week when it was below freezing? We’re really still in the pondering stage.


Meanwhile, Joann sent me over a Vicks Vaporizer and this magnificent bunch of collard greens from her garden. Earlier in the week, she had given me a dozen green eggs, from her Ameraucana, AKA Easter Egg chickens.

green eggs

Ameraucana egg next to a white egg

We had green eggs and bacon for breakfast, and the eggs were delicious, as Joann said they would be! Add to that some free grapefruit from the Langfords’ tree, and we felt very blessed with nourishment!

a gift of grapefruit

Now, Joann has a huge garden, and when she’s in the planning stages, she’s looking at seed catalogs for some new and novel seeds to try, and going with the heirloom seeds that are tried and true for our region. Our garden may simply be a few very short rows. Last year we started out great but didn’t keep up very well. Now is the critical time, the pondering stage. What will we do for a garden this year?

The Faire

In lieu of slaving away at a remnant project, I went to the 26th Annual Hoggetowne Medieval Faire this weekend with my fellow crafty friend.

Faire Programme

We saw sights, bought swag, and enjoyed lots of music, dance, and entertainment.

Entrance to Hoggetowne Faire

I was surprised that the Faire was so well-attended: it took us over an hour after arriving to finally park and ride a shuttle to the grounds. We went in the first weekend of February; it was overcast and about 75 – 80 degrees, the best weather possible. (should we thank Younge Lady La Niña for that?)

First off, at the Gate Theatre, we saw the acrobats of Barely Balanced.

Barely Balanced (and a hapless member of the audience) juggling

Acrobats, actors and comedians all!

Their act was funny, death-defying, and fresh!

soothing harp music

Gypsy Guerilla Band at Royal Theatre

Elephant and Camel rides for sale

A passing glimpse of Him who doth walke among us...? Shiver, shiver

savory clothing

Armaments at The Compleat Knight

Creations in Glass artisan

The Harper and the Minstrel

One of many musical groups and artists roving through the grounds was The Harper and the Minstrel, playing lovely Celtic airs. I also appreciated the local group Musica Vera Consort and the Gypsy Guerilla Band‘s dulcimer and zither.
While making our way up the way, we happened upon a public flogging: a tall, handsome rogue wearing leather and lots of jewelry, assisted by a grizzled little blagguard and another dim-witted bloke, announced the commencement of the punishment by oh-so-softly swishing their cats-o-nine-tails across the ample bumme of a woman tied to a post. As their blows began to get stronger and her shrieks began to get louder, the crowd carried us away so I never did see what happened, whether the flogg-ee was an actress or a volunteer!

Knightly apparel

Make way, royalty coming through

Society for Creative Anachronism armoured combat demo


faire folk

Foole's Corner performance


Musica Vera Consort

Ethel and that tall bloke

an audience with the King and Queen of Hoggetowne

Tribal Circus

What Ales him?

Juggling Foole

Fare thee well til next time

For my collection, from Ye Old Wizards & Dragons boothe

Struan Bread

Irish Brown Bread

I must say, the provisions I secured from the House of Douglas Bakery booth were mmmmedievally marvellous. The two loaves of bread were delicious, and very fresh-tasting. They were even better, sliced and toasted, the next day. While at the faire, we traded monies for shortbread in the form of cookies with vanilla icing and a candied cherry for me, and for Ethel, a slab of shortbread the size of a salad bowl filled in the middle with chocolate fudge. Any sort of food (except for fried bread, alas) was to be found here at a booth, amongst the jewelry, fox tails, costumes, leather goods, statuary, drawings, paintings, music CD’s, toys, horned or cat-eared or elf-eared hair-bands, glassware, dyed cloth, metal-works of art, furry animals that sit on your shoulder and nod when you pull their leashes, belly-dancing apparel, kilts, herbs, soap, plants, and all sorts of gewgaws.

It was interesting to look into the eyes of the merchants and the performers, to run one’s hands over their touchable wares before deciding whether to buy, to inhale the sharp aromas of the frying and baking foods or the herbal soaps, to appreciate the guests’ character costumes as they played along and bobbed in the frothy sea of drama! Makes one ponder the things we choose to view for entertainment, whether tonight at the Superbowl half-time show (high-tech rehash of pop hits from decades ago) or a low-tech rehash from a 15th century minstrel group….

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