I’m Not Going to Market. Here’s Why

It seems as though right now everyone’s headed to Market. While I love attending and seeing what’s new and meeting up with Market buddies, this time around I’m staying behind. Carrie and Lissa thought you might be interested to learn why, and graciously offered to let me share with you my latest project: I’m finishing up a book titled Feed Sacks: A Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric.


A double-page spread from Feed Sacks: A Colourful History of a Frugal Fabric (UPPERCASE is headquartered in Calgary, Canada—thus the “colourful” spelling.)

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Making the Most of Quilt Market: Shop Owners Share Their Strategy

From the outside, Quilt Market looks like one big candy store—all those gorgeous new fabrics, all those fascinating books and notions. What gets lost sometimes is Quilt Market’s reason for being—to help quilt store owners do one-stop shopping, so they can share all that quilty goodness with their customers. And being surrounded by all that goodness can be stressful! So many options, so many choices. I asked a few experienced shop owners how they plan for Quilt Market, and about their strategies for navigating Market’s myriad temptations.


Candice Parker, Fabric Department Manager for Yoder Department Store getting an inside look at Quilt Market. (Candice believes that all work and no play makes her a dull girl..and she is obviously NOT dull!)

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A Note About the Keynote: Gwen Marston

Gwen Marston bio photo

A lot of us have a quilting bucket list–techniques we want to try, quilts we’d like to make, and quilters we’d like to learn from. Tops on my list is taking a class from Gwen Marston—I’ve been in awe of her work for years. It appears I’m not alone, as Gwen was tapped to be the keynote speaker at QuiltCon West this week, where she’ll share her views on Liberated Quiltmaking: It’s About Making It YOUR Way.

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Digging Deep into the Past and Present of Quilting

There are lots of reasons we love quilting—the fabrics, the patterns, the time spent sewing by machine and hand. For most of us, making quilts is enough. But some folks want to dig deep into quilting, to learn more about where quilts come from and where the art of quilting is going.

delaine log cabin coll brackman

Log cabin pieced of challis, delaines, and other mixed wools, circa 1870.

One way to learn more about quilting is to peruse quilting books and magazines. Moda’s very own designer, quilt historian Barbara Brackman, has written many books on quilt history and these are a great place to delve more deeply into quilting’s past. Her Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns, for example, contains more than 4,000 examples from 1830 to 1970. While a number of her books are out of print, you can check her Etsy shop for some of them. (The images in this post are from Barbara’s collection.)

Tree Peony Coll Brackman

Peony Patch tree, circa 1900-1920

Barbara’s blogs are also a terrific source of information. Check out Material Culture and Civil War Quilts. Her reproduction patterns, available in many of her books, would make a great group project—perfect for the shop owner who wants to provide a little historical background along with teaching technical skills.

Pineapple Coll Brackman

Wool Pineapple quilt, circa 1890-1910

If you’re interested in ongoing research and study, check out the American Quilt Study Group. They hold annual national meetings as well as regional meetings, publish the journal Uncoverings, and have a Facebook group where members share their quilt finds and questions.

Hexagon Coll Brackman

Hexagons, circa 1840

Quilters interested in taking things further can study quilting at the university level. The University of Nebraska at Lincoln offers a certificate and degrees in quilt studies. (I confess that this is on my bucket list. Especially because it’s possible to earn the certificate and one of the degrees via distance learning.)

zig-zag Coll Brackman

Orange Zig Zag , circa 1910-1925

Another option for learning more about quilt history is to become a quilt appraiser. Professional appraising certification can be earned through the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky. According to Lori East, one of about 100 appraisers certified by AQS in the U.S. and Canada, professionally trained appraisers must know about quilts, but also fabric styles, dating, and weaves; dye chemistry and history; tax and estate conditions for new and old quilts; social and political history and stay abreast of auctions, market conditions of new and old quilts, and current quiltmaking trends. “Certification is difficult and time-consuming and includes both written and oral examinations,“ says Lori. She notes that most quilt appraisers belong to the Professional Association of Appraisers of Quilts and Quilted Textiles, and she also shared a detailed blog post about appraising. You can find it here. Having a professional appraiser come to your shop or guild is a great way for members to learn about their own quilts, as well as about historic quilting in general.

hexagonpineapple coll Brackman

Hexagonal Pineapple quilt of wools, circa 1880

Did I miss any opportunities for professional certification in the quilting world? (I realize I’ve just touched on those the United States.) If you know of others, leave a comment. I’ve learned so much from your comments and I know others do, too. Thanks!

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What I Sewed Last Summer

Carrie’s post yesterday alluded to going back to school, and one of those things you always had to tell when you returned to the classroom was “What I Did on My Summer Vacation.” Unfortunately, in grown-up land, summer isn’t all vacation time. Still, there’s time for a little sewing, and while I was thinking ahead about National Sewing Month and what I might whip up in September, I also thought  about how I spent my summer sewing time.

While I love to quilt, there’s so much to do outside in summer that smaller projects seem best. I also work one day a week in a fabric and yarn shop—Home Ec Workshop in Iowa City—and we’re always on the lookout for projects that make for good classes, so my small projects sometimes translate into classes. Iowa City is a college town and our busy customers enjoy a quick class that can give them the satisfaction of making something without a big time commitment. (At the same time, we find lots who have sewing machines and can’t wait to use them. Our School of Sewing classes, based on the great book by Shea Henderson, always have a waiting list.)


At any rate, my summer sewing consisted of just one baby quilt, along with checkbook covers, bags to carry to the Farmer’s Market, and tops. Yup, I delved into the world of garment sewing.

I started sewing garments again a couple of summers ago. (Like many of us, I really started in junior high, but haven’t done much since high school.) Two years ago I took a class at our shop to make the Sorbetto top from the free pattern available here. The popularity of garment sewing is definitely on the rise and this one, with no zippers and no buttons seemed pretty basic and I thought I could handle it. But my body isn’t so basic, and fit is always a challenge. (I think that’s probably why a lot of us who love sewing turn to quilting—no fitting issues!) My first top just didn’t work, so I spent some time perusing YouTube and came upon a fantastic technique classes on Creativebug. Thanks to the bust adjustment class taught by Liesl Gibson, I figured out how to make a top that fit and went on to make three of them. This summer it was the Sailor Top that struck my fancy—floaty, light, and simple-to-sew. I can’t wait for Moda’s new lawns to be available in January. They’ll be the perfect weight for tops like these. (The fabrics below are from Moda’s previous Regent Street Lawn collection.)



I mentioned my checkbook cover: Check-writing has almost become a thing of the past, but nevertheless I usually write a few each month. I’d hung on to a bit of Janet Clare’s Hearty Good Wishes whale fabric and thought it would be perfect for taking the sting out of paying bills. I lined it with Abi Hall’s On a Wing. It took almost no time at all and makes me happy every time I see it.Version 3Finally, the one quilt I stitched was for a Scottish baby. Little Belle’s parents lived in Iowa City for eighteen months and Belle’s mom, Katie, was fascinated by Iowa quilts. So when I got a bit of Bren Riddle’s Amberside, I knew just what to do with it (along with a few other fabrics from my stash, as I didn’t have quite enough Ambleside). And just for kicks, I decided to use gray sashing, as the baby’s last name is Gray.

Auditioning for Ambleside


Ambleside baby quilt

Belle was born just two weeks before moving back to Scotland with her parents and one morning I offered to watch her so her parents could pack. I actually sewed the label on the quilt while I was holding her—can you imagine anything sweeter? Just last week I got a picture from Katie of Belle on her quilt, which made me a happy woman. The colors aren’t very true, but I thought you’d still like to see this sweet babe.

Baby Belle on Ambleside

What did you stitch this summer? Have you tried any clothing, yet? What are looking forward to stitching this month? Let us know!

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