Vive la Différence! Sophisticated and Sweet French General

France can be appreciated for its city glamour and country charm. It’s a place where there is respect for both contemporary art and ancient cave paintings, for rustic baguettes and country cheese and for foie gras and champagne. If you’re lucky enough to have visited, you likely have memories of the food, landscapes, and fashions you encountered. And if you haven’t yet traveled to Paris, you’re probably itching to go.

Kaari Meng’s new line of French General fabrics, Pom Pom de Paris, will delight Francophiles, whether or not they’ve been to The City of Lights. From sophisticated large-print toiles to cozy florals, the warm reds, pinks, and yellows evoke the country where lucky Kaari spends time each year. Her trips invigorate her fabric design (many French General fabrics are inspired by pre-1900s French textiles) and provide treasures for her Los Angeles shop, French General.
Kaari started her career as a jeweler, creating necklaces and bracelets from the vintage glass pieces she’d scavenge from old warehouses in New York and Providence. Later, she and her sister had a shop in New York City where they sold beads and baubles in big apothecary jars, along with French ribbons and textiles. But the seven-days-a-week pace was draining and after five years she closed the shop and moved to California. There she opened French General, where she sells carefully collected linens, jewelry, home accessories, notions, and more.
Kaari also is the author of five books, including Home Sewn in 2008. Her most recent, The French-Inspired Home, has just been released.
Each summer Kaari and her husband John take daughter Sophia to France. They scour markets and visit vendors in search of new and vintage items for the shop. John’s family lives in France, where his father was a chef and his uncles are all in the food business, so dining is as important a part of the trip as sourcing shop goods.
For the past three years Kaari’s also led a getaway to the south of France for textile and crafts-lovers. Unfortunately, the summer 2011 tours are already filled. But it’s good to know that even if we won’t be going to France this summer, we can still recreate a little of the look and feel of France with Pom Pom de Paris. Merci, Kaari!

Lily & Will II: Elegance with a Playful Note

“I love satins, ruffles, that posh look,” says Moda designer Anne Sutton. “But I also love whimsy and putting a little smile on people’s faces.”

Elements both debonair and droll are reflected in Lily & Will II, Anne’s new line of fabrics that blends motifs from filigreed Victorian wallpaper with fun-loving plaids, polka dots, and rabbits. That same spirited mix is reflected in the patterns she designs for her 10-year-old company, Bunny Hill.
Anne’s older sister taught her to sew and Anne stitched clothing during her teen years. But it was at a shop near her northern California home that she got her start in the quilting world, first taking classes and eventually teaching and designing. “A quilt shop can be such a center of creativity and the place where so many things start,” says Anne, who notes that Moda designers Joanna Figueroa and Sandy Klop, among others, also developed skills there.
The shop is where Anne kindled her passion for appliqué. “I took one class and knew it was for me: I love the handwork and the idea that you can take a piece of fabric and tell a story—it gives me such joy,” she says.
Anne also takes great pleasure in designing fabric. This is her third line for Moda and she says the opportunity has fulfilled a dream for her.
While Anne imagines new moms using Lilly & Will in sophisticated nurseries, she has more than babies on her mind when it comes to stitching “It kills me to think if we don’t teach our children to sew, a whole generation will miss it,” says Anne, who is passing along sewing skills to her young granddaughters. When her sons were young, they learned to stitch, too. “They sewed sequins onto felt Christmas ornaments and sold them house-to-house,” she says with a laugh.
Although neither son still sews, Anne does sometimes ask for their opinions if she gets stuck on a design. And she loves that those designs inspire others to create.
“To think that people will use the fabric and pattern you’ve designed, and then will treasure it for years, is so gratifying,” Anne says.

You Gotta Have Faith: New Howard Marcus Line Debuts

If your idea of a company president is a serious soul, dressed in a dark suit and fixated on the balance sheet, then Moda’s owner and president will surprise you. Mark Dunn certainly is serious about his business, one he’s grown over the last 36 years. But Mark cares about more than just the business side of things at Moda: he loves quilts and the history embedded in them. (And those dark suits? Let’s just say that when the occasion’s right, he’s not afraid to let his sartorial splendor shine.)

Twice each year Mark’s substantial collection of antique quilts inspires the Howard Marcus fabric lines. A portion of the proceeds from these Collections for a Cause benefit different charitable groups and foundations: the pinks and browns of his newest collection, Faith, will support The Coalition to Support America’s Heroes. The Organization provides aide to severely wounded and disabled veterans who served during Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, helping them and their families rebuild their lives. In the past, Collections for a Cause have benefited organizations helping to fight juvenile diabetes, ovarian cancer, Alzheimer’s, and more.

Mark’s love of fabric developed when he worked with his father in the notions industry. Together they sold zippers, thread, and fabric in Atlanta. When his dad retired Mark moved to Texas, where he opened United Notions and Moda.
Although he’s in the fabric business, neither Mark nor his wife is a quilter. “I do sew the buttons on at home,” he says. “And I used to be able to put in a zipper!”
While he leaves the actual stitching to others, he thoroughly appreciates their efforts. “I enjoy quilts from the art standpoint, the creativity that comes through the designs and the way they’re put together,” he says. “It’s a fun industry—we make beautiful products and I’m happy to be a part of it and to preserve some of our history and times in fabric.”
Mark remembers a group of World War II quilts he recently examined. “They told the story of what was going on at the time—the textiles, the patterns, even the problems that existed were reflected in them,” he says. “People’s feelings, both abroad and at home, came through in those quilts.”

On the Road…with Moda

If you need any more proof that the Twister Tool is one of the hottest notions around right now you are in luck! In the past few weeks I’ve found an abundant supply of Twister displays in many of the quilt shops I have visited. Each store selected a different charm pack to make their sample. They are all wonderful!

The Quilters’ Fix Sheridan, WY

Kaleidoscope Quilt Shop Whitesboro, TX
Thanks to Moda Gene in Texas for sharing.

Rae-Bon Sewing Center Fargo, ND

Common Threads Quilt Shop Garfield, MN

Anderson Fabrics Blackduck, MN

The ideas below have been shared by Kathy Skomp a Moda Sales Professional in Tennessee.

Merchandising Tip: Arranging a quilt with all it coordinates (fabric, patterns, cut- goods, etc) on a single bed can make a very attractive display. But the full size beds can take up a lot of space. Solution: Make “mini-beds”. (see attached photo). These beds are cheaply constructed with a piece of plywood that is 2′ wide by 4′ long on 4 wooden legs cut from 2 by 4’s.. A small mattress topper is used for the mattress. The “headboard” (a quick shelving unit simply made of plywood) is used to house the fabrics and props, cut goods, fat quarters, patterns, etc are placed around the display. This just takes up a small amount of space and can make a very interesting vignette.

Display Idea: Benches make great units to display collections. Benches are relatively inexpensive and do not take up a lot of space.

Class Option: Host a “mystery quilt” night using a pattern that utilizes pre-cuts. When customers purchase a pack of pre-cuts they can be sure the fabrics will blend, taking out a lot of the fear that their fabrics will not co-ordinate. Pick a pattern that uses a pack or two of precuts and maybe 1 or 2 coordinating fabrics. They will sew up fast and students can leave with a completed top.

Photos shared by Lavendar Lime Quilting in Chattanooga, TN

Perfect for Precuts

Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publications has done it again.
Perfect for Precuts is their newest “bookazine” and it is filled with moda. imagine that?!
Some iconic quilt designers along with a few new kids on the block have used precuts to create projects including tote bags, quilts, throws, baby quilts, place mats and more.
Here is the line up of talented designers with a project in this issue.
(you will have to take a look at the issue to see the actual projects)
Flower Show by Bill Kerr and Weeks Ringle of
Hot Tamale by Emily Owens of Tessuti Zoo
Lincoln’s Platform by Amy Walsh of Blue Underground Studios
Mixed Bouquet by Mabeth Oxenreider
It’s a Wrap by Tari Colby
Star Power by The gals at Buggy Barn
Optical Illusion by Alison Jane Smith
B.Y.O.P. by Emily Herrick of Crazy Old Ladies
A Place for Everything by Julie Herman
Bird’s Eye View by Cherry Delight
the Main Event by Kathie Holland
Daisy Duo and Rough Around the Edges by Lynne Hagmeier of Kansas Troubles
Linked Together by Monique Dillard of Open Gate Quilts
On a Roll by Marti Michell
Fly into Spring by Eleanor Burns of Quilt in a Day
Mini Make Do by Debra L. Roberts of the Quilted Moose
Bay Breeze by Monica Solorio-Snow of Happy Zombie
Friendship Album by Jo Morton
Sweet & Simple by Brenda Hawkes of Basic Grey
And last but certainly not least is Anna Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts.
Yes, the talent runs in the family. Edyta’s daughter, Anna has a layer cake quilt featured.
Sew Easy by Anna Sitar of Laundry Basket Quilts
(see issue for pictures of the projects)
Plan some fun summer classes from this issue.
Debbie Outlaw’s grand daughter was even eyeing some of the projects.
(thank you to both “Outlaws” for modeling for me)
You may order this publication for your store by emailing
or by calling 866-378-1064.
Sewline is featured in the publication,  so have plenty on hand for demos.
Perfect for Precuts will be on bookshelves through August.
Moda’s newest designer Lily Ashbury is
also featured. Her line Summer House will be in stores July. See your sales
rep to order the collection.
Fantastic Christmas line up this year. Take preorders for
Christmas bundles in stores in May and June.
Looking for more precut designs to use in classes and demos, check out for online tutorials.