A Year of Quilts!

I won’t mention the fact that it’s been a few weeks (ah-hem….months) since I last blogged.  I’m hoping you will all forgive me. You know how it goes…time gets away from you. In any case, and without further fanfare I’d like to present my grand plan for 2014. A YEAR OF QUILTS LOGOMy PLAN (you all will hold me accountable right?) is to finish a quilt for the shop every month in 2014! I guess this is not an uncommon resolution for quilters, because as I told people of my resolution I got a few “Me too!” replies. I’d LOVE to get your ideas for the kind of quilts you’d like me to do. I told myself that I would push myself to learn something new with as many of the quilts as possible. Here’s a link to my Pinterest Board where I’m collecting inspiration.

pinterest-clickI’ll let you in on a little secret- I’ve actually finished my first quilt for the year! I’m not going to show it to you quite yet but I hope you’ll come back and check it out in my next post. In the mean time I’ll leave you with this sneak peek!  I bet some of you may have seen it up at our East Aurora location.Log Cabin

So…weigh in! What kind of quilts would you like to see done in this great Year of Quilts? Would you like to join me?  Have you ever resolved to do something similar?  I can’t wait to hear…

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Featured Friday- The Sip & Snip

This weeks item is super fun and very handy. It’s a neat product we just got into the store, it’s called the “Sensational Sip & Snip”

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This handy little gadget clamps right onto your sewing table and holds your coffee, bottle of water, tea, or perhaps a tumbler full of wine! (Although at Aurora Sewing Center we do not endorse drinking and sewing…;) ).
ip and Snip The basket is perfect for those threads and scraps that we usually end up tossing on the floor…The best part though is that it’s completely portable- it clamps onto your work surface with a simple screw mechanism, so you can pack it up and bring it to your classes at Aurora Sewing Center! No spilled drinks makes everyone happier!

We’ve been selling these so fast that we can’t keep these in stock, but this week (until Friday March 29th) we are offering them at 15% off! Come and get ‘em!Blog-Sig

 

 

Jacquie Gering samples arrived!

You may know by now that Aurora Sewing Center is going to be hosting Jacquie Gering of Modern Quilt Guild fame at the store for both a Lecture/Trunk Show as well as a full day Hands-On event! A little bit about Jacquie from her bio on the MQG bio:

“Since discovering quilting five years ago, Jacquie has become a passionate quilt maker and designer. She is known for her “out of the box” designs and unique style. Her work has been featured in both national and international publications, and she is the co-author of Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts. Jacquie is a passionate advocate for modern quilting and brings 30 years of teaching, staff development and leadership experience to the Modern Quilt Guild Board. As co-founder and former president of the Kansas City Modern Quilt Guild, she helped build a dynamic, vital guild and her experience in guild structures, membership and programming is an asset to developing the MQG at the national level. She is now a member of the Chicago MQG. Jacquie blogs and shares her quilting knowledge on her popular blog, Tallgrass Prairie Studio and lives in downtown Chicago with her husband and black lab, Bruno.”

 

Jacquie is also the co-author of a great book that we’ve been selling out of at the shop called “Quilting Modern”

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When we met Jacquie at Quilt Market last May, we knew we wanted to have her come teach at the store. Modern Quilting is making such waves all across the country- and Jacquie is such a great ambassador for the movement! If you are unsure about what makes a quilt Modern, here is the definition from the MQG website:

“We define modern quilts as quilts that are functional, include bold colors, and are inspired by modern design. Minimalism, asymmetry expansive negative space, and alternate grid work are often a part of modern quilt compositions, as are improvisational piecing and solid fabrics.” 

A good example of asymmetry and improvisational piecing can be found in the quilt we featured in the Cross It quilt a few posts ago.  Jacquie offered to send us a few of her quilts to display in the shop to help spread the word about her events, and we’ve been waiting with baited breath for the box to arrive….

Jacquie Gering Mail

Today it came!

Bonnie and I tore into the box, and we were not disappointed! Here are some shots of the beautiful things Jacquie sent…

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Lilac Crush

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Not Lost in the Woods

Not Lost in the Woods Back

Not Lost in the Woods Back

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Improv Log Cabin Samples

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Improv Log Cabin Samples

Here’s a shot of the display we created at Williamsville

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Jacquie will be giving a Lecture and Trunk Show (in Williamsville) entitled “Quilting Modern: Honoring Tradition” on Friday April 26th, from 10am- 1pm or 6pm- 9pm $29.99. In this lecture, Jacquie will share her journey to find her voice as a modern quilter. The lecture is illustrated with more than 30 quilts.

The hands on event  is called “Log Cabin: Modern Makeover Through Improvisation”  and is on Saturday April 27th, from 10am-5pm. The cost is $69 and includes lunch and a $20 voucher for supplies. We’re still working on finding the prefect location, but we will announce that soon.  In the Hands On class you will learn how to take the traditional log cabin block and give it a modern twist through improvisation. Choose to make one of these three quilts or take the technique where you want to go and make your own version of a modern log cabin quilt. Ten variations of the log cabin block will be shared in class.

3 of the quilts you can make during the hands-on

3 of the quilts you can make during the hands-on

We hope you won’t miss out on this opportunity to learn something new…it’s going to be a great time. Please call 716.204.8350 to sign up today! Blog-Sig

Featured Friday…Let’s talk Stabilizers.

Doesn’t everyone need a little more stability in their lives? (Sorry for the terrible joke) but we’re going to talk Embroidery Stabilizer today!  Aurora Sewing Center is currently offering an awesome coupon for some big savings on Stabilizers this month- I’ve attached it down below, but I thought it might be a good idea to talk a little bit about WHY we use stabilizers, and touch on the different kinds.

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When you are new to embroidering, (or even if you aren’t) all of the different kinds of stabilizers can be really overwhelming…there’s cut away, tear away, wash away, heat away, wish away…( ok no wish away) but there sure are a ton of options! Stabilizer is often a neglected aspect of machine embroidery, the fin part is picking out your design and choosing all the beautiful thread colors, but selecting the correct kind of stabilizer is certainly one of the most important parts of the embroidery process. It’s kind of like building a house without the proper foundation. You can build the most beautiful house anyone has ever seen but if it doesn’t have firm ground to stand on…it’s not going to last very long.

Let’s talk about why we stabilize embroidery. Embroidery stabilizer serves 2 main functions, 1) to stabilize the item while you are embroidering, and 2) to continue to stabilize it if needed after you are done embroidering, and throughout the life of the item. When you are embroidering your project you need to be sure your item won’t shift or stretch or fall out of the hoop- and selecting the proper stabilizer can help reduce or eliminate those scary situations, and then after you’ve completed your project- you want to be sure that your design does not distort or pull with washing or wearing.

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We are privileged to be a Floriani Stabilizer dealer and feel very strongly that they manufacture some of the best stabilizers on the market! Floriani also provides a TON of information on all of the different kinds of stabilizers they offer. They’ve put together a great “Stabilizer Workbook” that explains why/how you should use each and every kind of stabilizer they sell, you can find that HERE. It’s definitely something you should download and keep with you in your sewing room.

 Threads magazine also has a great article on stabilizers, you can read that by clicking HERE. But here are a few key pieces of advice on stabilizing from them:

  • The four basic types of stabilizers— cut-away, tear-away, heat-away, and wash-away— are defined by the method used to remove them from the fabric once the embroidery is complete.
  • The stabilizer you choose will depend on your fabric, the nature of the embroidery design, and the end use. For example, natural fibers and thicker, softer fabrics are more likely to relax around the stitching and lie flatter after embroidery, so a tear-away stabilizer would be a good choice. And thin fabrics, knits, or synthetics would do better with a cut-away stabilizer. You also need to consider the stitch density of the design when choosing a weight of stabilizer, regardless of the type of stabilizer you select. The denser the stitch count, the sturdier the stabilizer needs to be.
  • When embroidering on knits, use a permanent cut-away stabilizer (at left) to keep the fabric smooth during stitching and prevent stretching during wear.
  • For fabrics like leather or velvet that could be permanently marked by hooping, use an adhesive-backed cut- or tear-away stabilizer

You can read up on your own, but your best bet when you have questions about stabilizing is to ask us! We are always here to answer your questions on the proper way to stabilize your projects, and we love to talk embroidery with you! Also, for those of you who have purchased your embroidery machines from Aurora Sewing Center you are entitled to FREE lifetime guide classes, one of which is “New to Embroidery” which is a great class that goes over all of the “lingo” of machine embroidery and what it all means.

So as promised here’s the coupon- if you can’t print it just mention it at checkout and we’ll make sure you can still save!

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Now you tell me, what’s your favorite Floriani Stabilizer? (mine is no-show mesh)

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Featured Item Friday- Rotary Cutter Blades!

Confucius said, “The path to true bliss is a fresh rotary cutter blade”.

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Ok, so maybe he never said that…but any sewer knows that it’s the truth. There is nothing better than that 1st cut with a fresh blade. Unfortunately many of us are guilty of pushing those blades WAY past the point of dullness. A dull blade is not only annoying, it can be very unsafe.

urlAs most of you know, the cost of rotary cutter blades can be very prohibitive- and is the main reason that most of us use our blades way longer than we should. Cutting kits and store samples means that we go through a LOT of blades here at the shop and we’ve been pushing Barb for a long time to find us a cheaper option, and in September she finally found it!

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Single blades retail anywhere from $8-$10 a piece! We are now offering a 10 pack of 45mm blades for an Everyday Low Price of $26, that’s $2.60 a blade, which is an AWESOME deal. They are packaged in a re-usable plastic case, which is perfect for safely storing your used blades.

This is one awesome deal, one that we are so happy to offer to you- again, it’s a 10 pack of 45mm (yes they will fit into your Olfa Cutters) for only $26! Come and get ‘em…

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Featured Friday, Repair Department Edition

Happy Friday once again! This week I wanted to mix things up a bit, and also make sure you all took advantage of a great coupon that we are offering for $15 off a Sewing Machine, Serger, or Embroidery Machine tune-up.

repair_serviceMost of you know that both of our locations have in-house repair departments, but did you know what sets us apart from the other repair departments around town? Our technicians have a combined 50+ years of hands on repair experience, and are trained by BERNINA and Baby Lock 2 times a year to be up to date on the latest updates and changes in all machines. Sewing machine repair is not the same as it was 10 years ago, not longer are machines driven solely by belts and gears, machine repair is equal parts mechanical and electrical,  and finding a trained service person is critical to ensuring the longevity of your machine.

You might think, “my machine is 30 years old, and has never been serviced, why bring it in now?” Well, we also hear from people all the time that they have never changed their needle either (!)…but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t!

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Machine not feeding your fabric quite the way it should? Perhaps you might have a little “fuzz” built up around your feed dogs? Even if you keep your machine clean, there can be any sort of interesting things lurking deep inside the casings. I won’t get into the gory details, but let’s just say that a nice warm place like the inside of a sewing machine has been known to attract a certain small fuzzy creature… especially if your machine has been sitting in your basement for a long time.

We clean and repair ALL makes and models, it does not matter how old, or how strange. We have people bringing in “grandma’s machine” cabinet and all. We also offer free estimates, so if you aren’t sure if your machine is broken or just in need of a spa day- bring her in and we will let you know for free!

Take advantage of this savings for the most highly trained service department around,  you won’t be disappointed!

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If you can’t print this coupon, don’t worry- just mention this post and we will make sure you receive your savings! See you soon…

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Professional Tote Review

CTT105 I’ve been wanting to make this bag for a long time. I keep pulling it off the pattern wall and wandering around with it at the store trying to figure out what fabric to use, but up until now, nothing had inspired me, so back on the wall the pattern went. Last week we got a small collection of fabric in at our Williamsville location from fabric designer Julia Rothman called “Type”.type2
This little collection of fabric lit the fire under me to finally get my professional tote made! When I told Barb my plan- she asked if I would be willing to make one for the store at the same time..”Making two won’t be any harder than making one” she said. I had always heard that the Professional Tote was a bit tedious to make, so needless to say I looked at her like she was nuts, but as she so often does- Barb convinced me!

The Professional Tote when finished is 18″Wide x 15″ Tall x 5″ Deep and has a zipper closure at the top. I bring my laptop to work everyday, and traveling between our Williamsville and East Aurora locations means that all of my files and  reference material has to travel with me. I am always hauling bags full of stuff back and forth, so I had high hopes that this pattern would be the perfect size for all of my stuff! (It did not disappoint).

The pattern calls for Decor-bond as the interfacing, but I already knew that I wanted to use Soft and Stable to stabilize the outside of the bag as well as the center zipper pocket so that my laptop would have a nice cushy home.

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The Soft and Stable is PERFECT for this tote. It stands up on its own without being too heavy, and my BERNINA sewed through 3 layers of decor bond and 2 layers of Soft and Stable like a champ. I used a Shmetz jeans needle once I got to the steps that involved that many layers, and lengthened my stitch length to 2.7 on the really thick stuff, but overall I had no issues sewing through all of the layers. I just took it slow.

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Most people who have made this bag say the same thing, it has MANY pieces, but the designer provides you with numbered labels for all of the pieces, and  the instructions are very clear and well written. Once you get through the cutting, the sewing is not difficult, but if you are afraid of zippers, there are 3 in this pattern…so…GET OVER YOUR ZIPPER FEAR:).photo 2-1

On each outer side of the tote there is a pleated pocket  to hold a bottle of water, of maybe your coffee mug, or and umbrella The pattern calls for store bought cording for the drawstring, I know people who have used elastic in the place of cording in this step, but I decided to just make my own coordinating “cording”. I just took 2- 1″xWOF strips and folded them like bias binding and cut them to size. I like the way it looks…what do you think?

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Inside there is a pleated pocket with a velcro secured flap, as well as patch pockets- plenty of organizing space  for people who are always losing thing deep inside their bags (like me).

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The back of the bag has a large pocket that runs the whole length of the back which also has a velcro closure, great for a newspaper, or the folder that you know you’ll need to access quickly.

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I am so happy that I decided to make this bag, and (as usual) Barb was right- making two at the same time was no big deal, and I’m glad I did, because although I might make another one someday, I think it might be a while till i do.

This bag will be great for travel, and a perfect everyday bag- I would highly recommend making one (or two)!

photo 3So have any of you made this bag? I’d love to hear what you thought…let me know in the comments!

 

**Due to customer interest, we’ve added this tote as a class! Find out more HERE**
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Featured Friday…”Soft and Stable”

If you’ve ever been disappointed after spending hours making a purse, just to have it look a little…lifeless when it’s completed, Soft and Stable is the product for you.  Soft and Stable is a firm yet resilient 100% polyester foam with a soft fabric lining on each side, Soft and Stable is  lightweight and very easy to sew through but it gives great lasting body and stability to projects. Look what a difference it makes in the samples below.

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More than a few customers have said that it gives their bags the feel of a “Vera Bradley” bag. This versatile  stabilizer can also be washed and ironed with no problem- which makes is perfect for use in your everyday bags.Soft and Stable has a soft, slightly napped fabric on each side of the foam, so it hugs your fabric, preventing it from slipping and sliding as you sew. The fabric facing on the Soft and Stable also moves easily against your feed dogs, preventing the problems of the foam catching on the feed dogs. And because Soft and Stable is made of a fairly dense foam, it doesn’t stretch or get wavy as you stitch. You’ll love using it for placemats and table runners. They will hold their shape and look new wash after wash. In purses and bags, use Soft and Stable as you would batting, though you only have to use it in one layer (outer or lining) and can eliminate any other interfacings. If you have several seams together, you may want to trim the Soft and Stable in the seams. Using Soft and Stable in a purse gives me a bag that holds it shape beautifully. It has with clean, smooth lines and isn’t wrinkly or slouchy. Yet, it is very lightweight. The bag is also soft and comfortable to touch — not hard and stiff as it would be if made using some of the other products designed to give stability to projects. Try using Soft and Stable in your purse or bag handles, too — that soft, cushiony feeling is wonderful for shoulder straps or handles.

Doreen has been making the popular “Charming Plus Sized Tote” with Soft and Stable instead of the multiple layers of fusible fleece that the pattern calls for, and she likes it so much that Janet the purse designer is considering re writing the pattern to include this great product!

plus sized tote

Come pick up some of this fabulous product, now through Friday February 15th , all forms of in stock Soft and Stable are 15% off!

So tell me, have you used Soft and Stable? Are you as big of a fan as we are?

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We’re on PInterest, are you?

urlYou’ve heard your daughter, your friends or the TV talking about Pinterest, and thought to yourself, what IS that? Well today is the day- you are going to join us there! If you are already a member of this on-line community then you know how inspiring (and addicting) it can be. Remember the days of tearing pages out of magazines and pinning them onto your walls? Pinterest takes that same idea and makes it digital, and social!

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This article on Sheknows.com says it very well: “You know when you’re browsing online and see something you love and don’t want to forget? What do you do — email it to yourself? Print it out and put it in a binder? Bookmark it on your computer? Now there’s a simple way to compile all of the great things you find online.”

So lets say you were looking for inspiration for a quilt. Maybe you are thinking of making a Double Wedding Ring Quilt, head to Pinterest, and search “Double Wedding Ring Quilt”…here’s what you’d get:

Screen shot 2013-02-05 at 4.22.05 PMand the best part? If you clicked on any one of those beautiful images of quilts, it will take you back to where they came from originally! So that means each one of those images can lead  you to a website with a tutorial, a pattern for sale, a photo gallery, or maybe just someone’s blog- but inspiration is sure to follow!

Lets look at it from the other side. Maybe you are out there on the internet searching for “Double Wedding Ring” quilts, and you find a website with a gorgeous quilt you like. Normally you might bookmark the page, and then as often happens…out of sight, out of mind! If you could “Pin” the image of that quilt on your “Sewing Projects” board ( you can create boards for sewing projects, recipes, remodeling ideas ect ect ect….) then it will never be far from your thoughts!

Trust me on this one, if you are looking for inspiration…Pinterest is the place to be! You can “Follow” other peoples boards. So you can follow Terry Atkinson, Alex Anderson, Donna Babylon, Linda Lee, Alex Vronelli from Aurifl or  Baby Locks pins, and see what they are currently inspired by. or working on….how often do you get to get into the head of your favorite sewing folks!

So, join us- Sign up for Pinterest by clicking HERE. You can use your Facebook info to sign up, or your email address, it’s up to you! HERE is the link to our page.

Read THIS article if you are still lost.

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Can a desk lamp change your life?

Another Friday is here! Is anyone else shocked with how fast time goes sometimes? (It can’t be just me…) Anyhow, today’s “Featured Item” may just change your life. ( Well…that’s pretty dramatic, but it could change your sewing  life anyhow).

Stella Lighting Home Stella-Light-300x300

We’ve recently started carrying a simple little desk lamp from the Stella company- and it is quickly developing quite the reputation. This lamp has the clean lines of an apple product and produces gorgeous  light in 3 color spectrums! Why is that exciting?  Stella’s website says it best…

“Being able to distinguish colors, and match thread colors has always been difficult in the sewing and quilting community- but not anymore! 

With the touch of a button you can choose from Stella’s three different colors of light output: warm, natural, and cool white- making the Stella lamp  like nothing else on the market.

The ‘Natural’ setting provides the purest form of white light, making it the most effective way to pick and match thread colors, while the ‘Cool’ and ‘Warm’ settings offer a more inviting light while working for longer periods of time, or while working late on a special project.

Combined with a full-range flex neck, dimming integration down to 10%, and additional features designed to provide value for the artistic user, the Stella Lamp has quickly become the ultimate lighting tool.

So no more dragging your fabric and thread to the window or waiting for a sunny day (we have those in WNY?) to insure true color matching….amazing!  Viewing the same color fabric in 3 different spectrums is eye opening, the same shade of red can look totally different in each lighting type.

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In addition to all of that, Stella has the cool feature of being able to dim your lighting choice- So if bright daylight is a little too bright, just dim the brightness! Did I mention that this light doesn’t get hot? I’m not sure how this one could get better…

Here’s Stella’s video all about the awesomeness of it’s desk lamp:

cool right? This lamp is regularly $220, but It’s on sale for $199…you won’t be sorry!

See you next week….

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