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September 19, 2014

Not So Matchy-Matchy After All

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

By Edie McGinnis

A couple of weeks ago, my friend, Alma Allen called and wanted to know whether we could meet for lunch. And, by the way, did I want an old quilt she wanted to get rid of?

Do I want an old quilt? That’s like asking me if I would like to keep on breathing.

After lunch, she handed me a black trash bag. The quilt was inside and she said, “It’s old, and I want someone to have it that will use it. And it probably needs to be laundered.”

I waited until I got home to look at it. When I pulled the quilt out, I sucked in my breath, because this is what was stuffed inside. quilt

I am not sure of the name of the pattern. At first glance, Hands All Around came to mind but that’s not an exact match so I will have to call it a variation.

The quilter who made this used the same fabric for the center square and two of the diamonds on each corner of the block. The green fabric used surrounding the center square and for the corners is all the same print. For each of the setting blocks, the maker used a white and red print. All the setting blocks are the same.background

When so much of the fabric matches in an antique quilt, you rather expect the rest of the pieces to follow suit. That’s not so with this quilt. The light pieces used in the blocks are as varied as can be. If you don’t look closely, you might miss that point. And that would indeed be sad because that is one of the most endearing features about this quilt.block_3corners_red dots

I think this quilt is one of the best examples I’ve come across that illustrates the point that as long as the fabric used reads the same, or appears to be alike from a distance, the quilt is going to look great. So even though fabrics might not match, it blends well.block2_stripes

I would have enjoyed sitting down and sewing with this quilter. I think I would have learned quite a lot from her. Maybe I would have known early on that it was OK if your pieces didn’t match. It took me quite a long time to learn that lesson.block3_stripes 3 corners

I am more comfortable about using a variety of fabric now then I was when I was a beginning quilter. Now if I make a quilt that is red and white, I will use many different reds and many different whites.

It pays to listen to good advice and to learn the basics. Good workmanship is always important, but each quilter is unique and the quilt should reflect his or her choices no matter whether their best friend, grandmother, mother, kids or husband likes it or not.

One thing I know is true: I stitched with the quilt police for far too long. I sure am glad those days have ended!

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

September 19, 2014

Missouri Shop Owner Q&A: Amy Jackman, Jackman’s Fabrics

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0As our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale continues in Missouri – and at a shop in Illinois and one in Oklahoma – we bring you another interview with a participating shop owner.

Our special sale – with books as much as 75 percent off! – continues through Sept. 28.

Amy Jackman is president of Jackman’s Fabrics, which has stores in the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur, Missouri, and Fairview Heights, Illinois.


What made you decide to open a shop?

Jackman’s Fabrics has been in my family for 111 years. My great-grandfather started this business in 1903.  I am the fourth generation.s pix

What are you most proud of about your shop?

I am proud of our wonderful displays created by a great team of very talented employees. Customers say it is like walking into quilt heaven. I am also proud that we are once again a Top 5 Baby Lock sewing machine dealer in the USA for sales and service.

What trends do you see in quilting today?

Brights remain a big seller with the modern quilt movement really picking up.

page-0Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?

Well, since we opened in 1903, I would say trends have changed drastically! My great-grandfather sold wool and tailoring supplies out of a horse-drawn cart. Then we went from a small storefront in downtown St. Louis to a 30,000-square-foot building in the St. Louis suburb of Creve Coeur in 1968, to additional stores throughout the St. Louis area.

We currently have two locations, Creve Coeur and Fairview Heights, Illinois. We went from wools and tailoring supplies to double knits, polyesters and Ultrasuede. We had a wall of “calicos,” which were polyester/cotton small quilting prints.  We really delved into the world of quilting in 1995. Now you won’t find any quilting fabrics with polyester in them!


Jackman’s Fabrics, 1234 N. Lindbergh, Creve Coeur, Missouri; and 1000 Lincoln Highway, Fairview Heights, Illinois

On Friday: Homestead Hearth, Mexico, Missouri

September 18, 2014

Bobbins’ Bargains Offers a Cornucopia of Ideas

This week, Mrs. Bobbins has an abundance of inspiration for you.

bobbins bargains logo - 200 wideShe is always one to find a good deal out there in the quilt world. Now she brings her amazing talents to you … with her weekly Bobbins’ Bargains!

Every Thursday, Mrs. Bobbins will select one of our books and offer it to you at a very special price … 75% off the current listed price!

Better yet, your shipping is FREE in the continental U.S.

Better, better yet, “Five Gets You a Freebie!” If you order a Bobbins’ Bargain just five times (from five different sales), you get a free copy of any of our books! Take your pick. We’ll contact you by email once you’ve qualified for a free book and take your order.  Plus your shipping on that one is free as well. Easy as pie!

This week’s Bobbins’ Bargain is Horn of Plenty for a New Century, by Kathy Delaney.HornOfPlentyMed

Step inside and discover a new twist on an old favorite. Kathy Delaney has revised and updated Eveline Foland’s Horn of Plenty series quilt. The patterns have been taken straight from the archives of The Kansas City Star and reprinted in their original form. Kathy then redrafted the patterns and dressed them up with new techniques, dynamite fabrics and appliqué tips for today.

Make this stunning quilt or one of the many delightful projects offered by best-selling author and award-winning appliqué artist Kathy Delaney.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $21.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $5.49, plus your shipping on this book is free in the continental U.S.!

(SHIPPING NOTE! Please allow 14 business days for delivery after Wednesday, Sept. 24, the last day of this week’s sale.)

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.

Click here to order. And remember  …  your shipping of this book is free in the continental U.S.!

September 17, 2014

The Results Are In

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Last week, I told you that my friend Jackie and I were going to dye fabric using the pokeberries growing in my backyard. Well, the big dying adventure happened yesterday, and here is what we discovered.

We approached this project strictly as an experiment, not knowing what the results would be. We did our research online and at the library and bookstore. I bought an interesting book, Harvesting Color: How to Find Plants and Make Natural Dyes, by Rebecca Burgess. I chose this book mainly because it had a small, two-page section on dying with pokeberries. Jackie downloaded an e-book that mentioned pokeberry dying. The instructions were a bit different in each resource, so we chose a middle-of-the-road recipe. What the heck, it was an experiment with a capital E.

Most recipes said to cook the pokeberries, but I’m not very good at following instructions. Instead of cooking them, I froze them in Ziploc bags for a few days, then set them out for a day to thaw. I cut off one small corner of the bags and squeezed as much of the juice out of the berries as I could into a jar. Two 1-gallon bags of berries equaled 12 ounces of juice. I then rinsed the berries and bags with a bit of water and drained that water into another jar.

pokeberry juice

To prepare the fabric for dying, we used soda ash in cool water to mordant the cotton and alum in hot water for the wool. The wool was fat quarters of white wool fabric and a skein of Merino Superwash wool yarn. For cotton, we used unbleached muslin and bleached supreme muslin, plus some old white T-shirts just for the heck of it. I had also bought a yard of rayon challis. If it took the dye well, it would make some nice scarves. Because it was a synthetic fiber and neither plant nor animal, we weren’t sure how to treat it but decided to mordant it with soda ash.

wool soaking

After soaking the fabric for an hour, we placed them in the dyes baths. Half of each jar went into the dye pots. We added vinegar to the wool bath but nothing to the cotton bath. We added enough water to each to cover the fibers. We heated the water to about 180 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. As you can see, in the pots the color was fabulous.

dye pots on the stove

wool pot

cotton pot

Jackie also had some blueberries she wanted to try. At first, the cotton turned a blue-gray. Not bad, but she decided to add vinegar to the dye pot. The blue-gray turned to yucky pinkish gray, not an attractive color, so it went into a pile to be overdyed some other day.

after vinegar

The time had come to rinse and reveal. First the cotton. The T-shirt soaked up a lot of dye, but when everything was rinsed, everything came out equally white. None of the fabric took the dye. A couple pieces had a very light pink spot here and there, but even those came out in the wash. At first, the rayon looked like it was going to be a lovely pale pink, but the more we rinsed, the lighter it got. What a disappointment.



I almost hated to rinse the wool. Everything was such a beautiful magenta, and I was afraid it would all rinse out, as with the cotton. But I took a deep breath and began rinsing. A lot but not all of the dye rinsed out. The yarn especially kept its color. Pokeberry dye is known to fade over time, so I soaked the yarn in Retayne color fixative after the last rinse, hoping that keep the yarn from fading. Only time will tell.

ready to rinse

yarn in Retane

You may recall my mentioning that allowing the pokeberry dye bath to boil would turn the fabric brown. As part of the experiment, we left a couple pieces of wool in the pot and turned the heat up to boil. The dye bath turned a golden brown, and so did the wool.

all fibers

So here are the results after rinsing, washing and drying. All of the dye washed out of the cotton. The boiled wool turned mostly a light golden brown. The other wool turned a nice shade of pink, but evidently we didn’t use a large enough pot or didn’t stir the pot enough. The pink was mottled with gold, which we think indicated that those spots were hotter than the rest of the fabric. The yarn is a beautiful magenta – exactly what we hoped everything would be – but even it has a few gold-tinged areas, if you look closely.

boiled wool


dyed wool

dyed yarn.pdf

What’s next? I’m going to use the wool for appliqué. I can see some two-tone flowers in the mottled pink wool and maybe a pot or vines in the golden brown. The yarn will be knit into a lacey scarf.

But don’t hold your breath for photos of either of these projects. The dying adventure was fun and definitely a learning experience, but now it’s time to get ready for International Quilt Market in Houston. So the wool will have to wait, and the pokeberry plant is going to be chopped down for another season, and perhaps another experiment in dying.

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

September 17, 2014

Missouri Shop Owner Q&A: Marilyn Wine, Quilt 4 U

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0As our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale continues in Missouri, we bring you another interview with a participating shop owner.

Our special sale at five quilts shops in Missouri (and one in Illinois and another in Oklahoma) continues through Sept. 28, with books as much as 75 percent off!

Marilyn Wine owns Quilt 4 U in Columbia, Missouri.


What made you decide to open a shop?

I retired two years ago from State Farm Insurance but knew I needed something to do to stay busy.  My sister had owned a quilt shop in Columbia until her death six years ago. I had helped her in my spare time and also purchased two long-arm quilting machines and did quilting for many of her customers. I thought opening my own shop and quilting would be a great way to continue with my hobby and stay busy.

Marilyn Wine and Ms. Angel, shop dog.

Marilyn Wine and Ms. Angel, shop dog.

What are you most proud of about your shop?

My customers tell me the shop is warm and inviting. They often bring their husbands, who sit by the fireplace and watch the football games or read the paper. (Plus, they are distracted, which allows their wives to shop longer.)  I wanted Quilt 4 U to feel like your home, surrounded by your fabric stash. I think I have accomplished that goal! I smile each time a quilter comes in and says they “just need to feel some fabric.”

What trends do you see in quilting today? Have tastes changed since you opened your shop?

I have only been open two years, but there seems to be a new excitement about quilting. Quilt 4 U hopes to attract more young quilters and will be offering beginning classes very soon. We want the hobby to carry on through the generations.

My shop is very traditional (a reflection on the owner’s style).  I plan to add more bright, contemporary, fun fabrics to attract the young quilters.  This is a step out of my comfort zone but an exciting direction that I am looking forward to.

Retail storefronts need to compete with the large online shops to stay in business. I have a sign displayed at the counter that says: “YOU are here. So is OUR STORE – thanks to local shoppers like you!”

We need to attract both new and old quilters to show them the value of a local shop that offers classes, quality fabrics, stays on top of the local quilting trends and provides great customer service. We treat each of our customers like family and friends – not just another sale. By providing good service and meeting their needs, the trend to return to the local storefronts will grow.


Quilt 4 U, 908 Rain Forest Parkway, Suite E, Columbia, Missouri 573-443-7858

On Wednesday: Jackman’s Fabrics, Creve Coeur, Missouri; and Fairview Heights, Illinois