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July 30, 2014

It’s a Retro Sort of Thing

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A gentleman quilter friend told me that he was going to start collecting polyester quilts because they’ll never fade, the binding will never wear off, and when he finds them, they are cheap because no one else wants them.

I hope he was serious, because this quilt is going in the mail addressed to him.

I found this quilt at an estate sale in St. Louis. It was the only quilt for sale, so I don’t know the background. The person wasn’t a quilter, but she was a costumer.

Perhaps the quilt was a gift back in the 1970s, when polyester knits were all the rage. I should know. I had to wear white uniforms for my job at that time, and I actually loved polyester knit uniforms. You just threw them in the washer and dryer, and they were ready to put on. No ironing! Of course, there were problems, such as odors that never went away and whites that turned gray before long. But I bet those uniforms would still be wearable today.

poly quilt
Polyester quilts are not that difficult to find, but they are usually just squares sewn together. The fact that this was a bow tie quilt is what made me want to purchase it. That and the fact that it was marked $7. The quilt is also a good example of all the different weaves and patterns you could get in polyester knit, ranging from smooth solids to something resembling smocking or ruching.

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Some fabrics resembled knitted sweaters, but didn’t fool anyone.

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Plaids, houndstooth, checks, dots and stripes. Florals and novelty prints.

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Polyester knits were available in many different textures, too. I recall my dad having several pairs of pants made of textured polyester knits. The crease down the leg was pressed at the factory when the pants were made and was there forever. I’m sure my mother appreciated that they could be tossed in the washing machine and she didn’t have to press them.

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And the colors! Everything from pastels to neon brights.

The quilt is boxed up ready to ship, but its companion piece is staying here with me. Just looking at this forever rug makes me smile.

Donna di Natale is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Wednesday.

July 29, 2014

The Top 10 Reasons to Buy Bobbins’ Bargains

bobbins bargains logo - 200 wide10. Our books are beautiful.  Every single one of them.  A bonus: Most of our books tell a story.

9. Free shipping. You can’t beat that.

8. 75 PERCENT OFF.  Usually that’s on the sale price, so you’re really saving much more.

7. You get a cool title: Bobbins’ Bargaineer.

6. Speaking of which, we sometimes have special secret sales by email for Bobbins’ Bargaineers. Shh, it’s a secret.

5. Five gets you a freebie. Buy five Bobbins Bargains, get any book on our store site free, including new releases.

4. There’s free shipping on that book, too. Such a deal.

3. It’s a quick, inexpensive way to build your quilting library.

2. At these prices, you can spread the love around. Gifts for quilting friends, door prizes at your guild, inspiration for a new quilter.

And the No. 1 reason to buy Bobbins’ Bargains: All the cool quilters are doing it!


Help us celebrate!

It’s hard to believe, but it’s been six months since we’ve launched our successful Bobbins’ Bargains program. To mark the occasion, we’re offering a 20 percent discount on any of the books in our online store, now through Sunday, Aug. 3.  This discount applies to all of our beautiful books, including recent releases and best-sellers.

When ordering, be sure to use this promotion code before checkout:


Please make sure to click the “Apply Promotion Code Now” button after entering the code. The discount won’t apply unless you do so. Please verify that you’ve received the discount before checking out.

Note: These purchases do NOT count toward the “Five Gets You a Freebie” deal.

Hurry! This offer ends Sunday, Aug. 3! To order, click here.

July 29, 2014

Stronger Seams: Quilting and Friendship

By Tricia Lynn Maloney

Quilting has been bringing people together for a very long time. Consider the popularity of friendship quilts through the years. And quilting bees? A lot more went on than just quilting the layers of a quilt together.

Today, we quilters have a lot more options for the social side of quilting than our grandmothers did. Books, magazines, radio and television gave quilters access to information and inspiration, but the Internet has made sharing ideas and reaching out to other quilters so easy. The Internet has influenced an entire new generation of quilters who are involved in blogging, challenges and guilds online.

As fun and exciting as the Internet is, though, there is something to say for a good old-fashioned friendship formed face-to-face.

Cathey  Laird (left), Leslie Lattner and Tricia Lynn Maloney took a workshop in 2010 with Mark Lipinski, host of the "Creative Mojo" radio show.

Cathey Laird (left), Leslie Lattner and Tricia Lynn Maloney took a workshop in 2010 with Mark Lipinski, host of the “Creative Mojo” Internet radio show.

After admiring quilts and textiles for many years and even collecting a few along the way, I decided to finally teach myself to quilt in 1996, after graduating from college.  My first quilt, although not the loveliest piece – I fondly call it “Big Ugly” – was finally completed and I found myself eager to begin another project, and another, until I was well and truly hooked on quilting.

In my early quilting days, I quilted in isolation. I read a lot of books. I tried a lot of different techniques. I made a lot of mistakes. Then I began visiting a few local quilt shops, and I began talking to people about quilting. Before long, I had worked up enough courage to inquire about working at one of the local shops, and I was hired. There was a different person for each day of the week, and I became the “Saturday Girl.”

When I worked at the quilt shop, I learned so much about quilting. I happily immersed myself in “quilt culture” by taking a few quilt classes, going to local quilt shows and teaching myself new skills, such as free-motion quilting. It wasn’t very long before I found myself learning to use Electric Quilt computer software, and I began designing quilts.

Then I finally went on my very first shop hop. On that bus trip to many area shops, some of which I had never been to, I met two other quilters, Cathey Laird and Leslie Lattner, who were new to quilting and also on their first shop hop. We hit it off.

Cathey and Tricia in what Tricia calls "our first (and last) modeling experience" in 2010 at Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

Cathey and Tricia in what Tricia calls “our first (and last) modeling experience” in 2010 at Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York.

A few months later, we found ourselves on another bus trip, to Quilting Around Chautauqua at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. After this trip, we began calling each other and making plans to go to quilt shows, visit quilt shops and take many other fun excursions. We became the Three Musketeers.

It’s amazing how having a couple of close quilting friends made my quilting experience richer and even more rewarding because I now had someone – make that two someones — to share it with. Sure, before Cathey and Leslie, I talked about quilting to my family and other friends, but they just didn’t get it like my quilting friends did.

A photo with the bus driver is a memento of a 2008 trip to  Lancaster, Pennsylvania. The  friends, (from left) Cathey Laird, Tricia Lynn Maloney, Leslie Lattner and and Mary Lee Minnis,

A photo with the bus driver is a memento of a trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Cathey (left), Tricia, Leslie and and Mary Lee Minnis took in 2008.

But our friendship wasn’t just about quilting. We supported and helped each other, too.  Quilting was at the heart of our friendship, though, and made everything else more meaningful. Cathey ended up getting a job at the children’s center where I worked.  Leslie’s daughter visited my classroom when she was crowned Harvest Queen. We went on a quilting bus trip to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and even began renting a cottage at Quilting Around Chautauqua. We added a fourth friend to the group, Mary Lee Minnis, who was my teaching partner at a monthly quilt class. Mary Lee became D’Artagnan to our Three Musketeers.russian_cover_LR

When I wrote my first quilt book, Orphan Block Quilts: Making a Home for Antique, Vintage, Collectible, and Leftover Quilt Blocks, Cathey, Leslie and Mary Lee were there every step of the way. They helped with projects, read instructions and provided a lot of moral support. They did the same thing when I wrote my second book, A Russian Journey in Quilts: The Story of Nicholas and Nina Filatoff. I like to tell people when I lecture that it takes many friends to write a quilt book, not just the person whose name is on the  cover.

As I began to get more involved in professional quilting opportunities, so did my friends. I still find it really fascinating how we all found our own niches in the quilt world. Leslie eventually began helping out at one the local quilt shops, started teaching classes and did a little quilt designing. Cathey began working at another local shop, taught classes, and began designing and marketing her line of patterns. Cathey then encouraged Leslie and me to teach more quilt classes at the shop she was working at. Mary Lee and I still teach our monthly class, and Mary Lee has added a few other classes to her repertoire. As for me, I teach, lecture, write, design for magazines and continue to work on new ideas for quilting books.

Sadly, I’ve noticed that life has been getting in the way of our friendship lately, and we’ve begun to drift apart a bit because of jobs, family and everyday stresses. But underneath it all, I know it’s quilting that still holds us together. The seams of our friendship might strain a bit at times, but quilting is a strong thread.

July 28, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins



For more quilty laughter from Mrs. Bobbins, get The Big Book of Bobbins by clicking here! Just $16.95!

July 25, 2014

Fresh Air and Sunshine

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

About a month ago, I purchased a quilt top that was offered on eBay. The pattern is called Mill Wheel, and it is a beauty. The seller said the quilt is from the late 1800s. Judging from the mourning prints, neons and shirtings that were used, I think that could be about right. But then I’m no fabric-dating expert by a long shot.

I didn’t buy the quilt because of the advertised date anyway. I bought it because I love the pattern Mill Wheeland the wide array of fabrics used. I am drawn to the shirtings and the plaids especially. And it didn’t hurt that the quilter did an exquisite job on the piecing, either. She used such tiny stitches – about 12 to the inch.

The fabrics are still crisp to the touch and don’t have that faded appearance that tops  often get when they have been left out in the light too long. It had to have been carefully tucked away. And whoever cared for it did her job well because it is also missing the brown age spots that so often appear on antique quilt tops that have been stored on wooden shelves or in cedar chests.

Tiny little stitches!

Tiny little stitches!

I look at this quilt top and I can’t help but wonder why it was never quilted. There are no lumps, bumps or puckers, and it lies as flat as a flitter. I find no places where a best friend might comfort the quilter maker with that all-too-common comment, “Don’t worry, Madge, it will all quilt out.”

quilt_shirtingsI love this top, but she and I are not getting along at the moment. I want to sit down and examine every piece of fabric used, but instead of doing that, I am carting her outside every day and hanging her on a linen rack in the fresh air. It’s times like this that I would give just about anything for a clothesline.

It’s also times like this that I wish I wasn’t allergic to perfume and to fabric freshener in particular. When I first opened the box and pulled the quilt out, the perfumy aroma was overwhelming. I wasn’t expecting that because the eBay description specifically said, “There is a no odor to this quilt top and it does not appear to have been exposed to smoke, pets or abuse.”

I find not being able to breathe very annoying, so I needed to find a way to get rid of the smell. I sure didn’t want to send the top back! I didn’t want to wash it and risk having all the seams fray, but I wasn’t sure how to resolve the issue. It seemed to me that it was time to ask for advice.plaids_neons

You know what they say, “Ask and you shall receive.”  Here are some of the tips I got from other quilters:

Several said to sprinkle the quilt with baking soda and shake it out the next morning. One said to put it in a bin with a dish of baking soda, snap the lid on the bin and let the baking soda do its job.

One person suggested that I use the trick guilds often use of placing the quilt in a plastic bag and tying a strip of Odor-Eaters into the top of the bag. I needed to make sure the quilt never touched the deodorizing strip, though.

A couple of people suggested that I wrap either a bar of Safeguard or yellow Dial soap in a paper towel and put the quilt and the soap into a plastic bag and give it a few days. The soap is supposed to absorb the aromas and leave the quilt top smelling fresh.

Others suggested that I put fabric softener sheets in with the quilt top. They had had good luck with that, and it even worked to get bad smells out of cars.

The majority of the people who commented said I needed to take the quilt outside and let it air. The methods of airing the quilt quilt on rackvaried – hang it on a clothesline, spread it on the grass, cover it with a sheet, don’t cover it with a sheet, put it in the sunshine, don’t put it in the sunshine.

quilt coveredSo I am trying to let common sense rule. I take my quilt outside and put it on my linen rack after covering the wooden rungs with old pillowcases. I drape the quilt through the second set of rungs and cover the whole affair with a sheet to keep the bird droppings and sun off of the top. The fresh air can still flow around the quilt and do its job.

I think this is going to be successful and, best of all, I’m not going to damage the top. I just wish I could hurry the process along. And as long as I’m doing some wishing, maybe I ought to wish for patience, too.

Edie McGinnis is an author and editor for Kansas City Star Quilts. She writes every Friday.