September 15, 2014

Warehouse-on-Wheels Sale: Missouri and More

WarehouseOnWheels-page-0A few months ago, we started our Warehouse-on-Wheels sale right in our backyard, the Kansas City, Missouri, area. Now we’re hitting other parts of the state.

In fact, we’re crossing the state line because two of the Missouri shops taking part in the sale also have out-of-state locations. So those of you in Fairview Heights, Illinois, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, are in luck.

Kansas City Star Quilts is working with the shops to bring you great prices on 30 beautiful books during the sale Sept. 15 to 28.  During this special sale, books will be as much as 75 percent off, with prices as low as $5.50.

In the next few days, we will run interviews with the shop owners on this blog site to give you a behind-the-scenes look at these great shops.

The shops are:


The Quilted Cow, 8936 W. Highway 76, Cape Fair, Missouri 417-538-0235


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


Jackman’s Fabrics, 1234 N. Lindbergh, St. Louis, Missouri 314-994-1060


Jackman’s Fabrics, 1000 Lincoln Highway, Fairview Heights, Illinois 618-632-2700


Homestead Hearth, 105 N. Coal St., Mexico, Missouri 573-581-1966


Quilt Sampler, 1802 S. Glenstone Ave., Springfield, Missouri 417-886-5750


Quilt Sampler, 6024 South Sheridan Road, Tulsa, Oklahoma 918-493-3388

For more information and a list of all the sale books, click here. And if you’d like to see our Warehouse-On-Wheels sale come to your state, let us know on our Facebook page!

If you have questions, please call the shops for more information or send email to


September 15, 2014

Mrs. Bobbins



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

September 12, 2014

My New Best Friends

By Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Edie McGinnis

Remember that great big pile of rulers I blogged about not too long ago? Can you believe I’ve added more to the mix? I can hear some of you snickering. But wait, wait until I tell you about them. I wish I had bought these about a thousand years ago, when I first started piecing quilts on my sewing machine.  Oh, but they hadn’t been invented then.

I’m one of those people who thinks if I follow the rules and do what I’m supposed to do, that things ought to work. That doesn’t always follow true for me when I’m sewing, though. I’m certain the reason is simply operator error.

One of the problems I consistently run into is not having my units come out the size they are supposed to be. I’ll use half-square triangles as an example. If I want them to finish at 4 inches, I carefully cut my squares at 4 7/8 inches. Then I draw a line from corner to corner once on the diagonal. I line up that line with my quarter-inch presser foot and sew on either side of the line.sewn

I open them up, press them, take a look and sometimes get out the seam ripper and tear them apart again because they aren’t right. Sometimes, I ignore the wonkiness factor and think, “Well, it’s not all that far off.” I stack the wonky ones in with the good ones and start sewing my block together.

Surprise, surprise, the wonky ones aren’t matching up like they should be.

I’ve had friends tell me that they make their units larger than needed and trim them down. And every time I’ve heard that, I’ve thought, “Well, that’s got to be time-consuming.” And I’m right about that, but I finally figured out that it’s no more time-consuming to trim than it is to rip things out and do it all over again.

So I found these Bloc_Loc rulers and decided to give them a try. They are made specifically for trimming pieced units to the correct size. On the reverse side of the ruler, there is a quarter-inch wide groove etched into the plastic. The edge of the groove lines up with the seam allowance, stabilizing the piece as you trim. That gets rid of the oops factor we run into if we press too hard against the edge of a ruler and have it shift as we cut.helpful groove

ready to trimThe first set of rulers I bought were squares.  A 4 1/2-inch and a 6 1/2-inch came packaged together as a set. Had that not been the case, I would have just bought the larger ruler. I can always use a larger ruler to trim smaller units, but the reverse isn’t true.trimmed to 4 and a half

When I was at Quilt Market in May, I bought a set of the flying geese rulers. There are four sizes in the package. I haven’t been making flying geese lately. so I’ve not opened the package yet. flying geese rulers

And while I was shopping, I picked up the half-rectangle rulers. I haven’t used these, either. But I have plans afoot, and I am going to haul them out of their plastic shrink-wrap very soon.

I wish I didn’t need these rulers, but it’s clear to even the most casual of observers that I do. My sewing time is much more pleasant and productive now that I’ve decided it would be a good idea to change the way I’ve been making things.

There’s only one problem with these rulers: I wasn’t the clever person who invented them. Darn the luck!

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

September 11, 2014

Bobbins’ Bargains in Bloom

With this week’s offer, Mrs. Bobbins has a garden of delights 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 Backyard Blooms: A Month by Month Garden Sampler, by Barbara Jones.BackyardBloomsFrontCovMed

Join us on a garden tour through some delightful backyard blooms. Quilt artist Barbara Jones of QuiltSoup presents this new six-month appliqué sampler quilt that takes you through the joys of flower gardening. It’s made up in fresh, lovely fabrics from Barbara’s Simply Sweet line by Henry Glass & Co. Barbara guides you along the way, providing tips for needle-turn appliqué and clear, simple instructions for making this gorgeous quilt.

40 pages, 8 1/2 x 11 inches, softcover.

Click here to see a YouTube video of the book.

The book is on sale for $14.95. Your price using our Bobbins’ Bargains promotion code is just $3.74, 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. 17, 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 10, 2014

The Dye Plant That Wouldn’t Die

By Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

Donna di Natale

A pokeberry plant has been growing in my backyard for at least three years now. The first year, we didn’t know what it was and tried to pull it. We obviously weren’t very successful, because it came up again last year, bigger than ever. We’ve since learned that the plant has a big taproot that is nearly impossible to kill.

Last year, we let it grow to see what it would become. A small tree was the result, with dangling bunches of deep purple berries. I checked my reference books and found that it was a pokeberry bush. I also read that the berries were poisonous, so I cut it down and threw it away. We didn’t even put it in the compost pile.

This year, the plant popped out of the ground again in early spring. Before trying to get rid of it, I decided to do a little research and learned that the berries can be used for dying fibers such as wool and cotton. That fact alone saved the plant from death by Roundup. pokeberry bush

American pokeberry, Phytolacca americana to those serious gardeners out there, is an herbaceous perennial native to North America. It can grow up to 10 feet high, but 6 feet is fairly typical. It has several common names: Virginia poke, American nightshade, potherb, pigeon berry, pokeweed and red ink plant, just to name a few. There are rumors on the Internet that the U.S. Constitution was written with pokeberry ink. While that is probably not true, it is true that pokeberry ink was used by Civil War soldiers to write notes in their diaries. Pokeberries and a stick were all that some had.

pokeberry flowers
The simple leaves grow on stems that start out green, but turn a lovely shade of deep pink as they grow and mature. In spring, the plant has small white flowers that attract butterflies. The white flowers turn into green berries that ripen to a deep purple. If you look closely at the bottom of a berry, it has a small indentation, as if someone had poked it. Songbirds especially enjoy the berries and are immune to the toxin. If a pokeberry bush suddenly appears in your yard, it was probably “planted” there by a bird.

pokeberry bunch

As I said, the berries are poisonous to humans and other mammals. Farmers view the plant as a nuisance, but the plant has some redeeming qualities. The leaves are said to be edible when “boiled twice or thrice,” depending on the source. I’m sorry, but any plant that needs to be boiled that much to get rid of the poison just isn’t worth the trouble or risk. However, I know at least one person who ate it as a child and is still alive today.

The toxins induce vomiting and diarrhea, among other unpleasant maladies, which may explain why American Indians used the berries as an emetic and laxative. If you read further about all the ailments it supposedly has been used for in the past, it will make you wonder whether people died from the ailment or the treatment.

Pokeberry, as with some other poisons, used in small, carefully prepared quantities, can be a helpful medicinal. According to the American Cancer Society website, proponents of pokeberries claim it cures everything from arthritis to hemorrhoids. It also says that the protein in pokeberries (pokeweed antiviral antibody, or PAP) is being researched as a treatment for some cancers.

ripe berries
But that is not why I’m writing about pokeberries today. I’m writing because next weekend my friend Jackie and I are going to do some experiments of our own. We are going to try dying wool and cotton fabrics using pokeberries, with white vinegar as a mordant. Our experiments won’t be very scientific, but we have done our research and have decided on a few tests. I want to dye my wool a nice pink and a deep red. To do this, we need to simmer the fabric in the dye pot for varying lengths of time. We’ll repeat this experiment with cotton, too.

Supposedly, if you let the dye pot boil, the fabric will turn brown instead of pink or red. So when we’ve achieved the pink or red that we want, we’ll turn the heat up and see whether this is true. Check back again next week to see the results. Will I have pink wool for floral appliqué? I certainly hope so.

If you have any experience dying with pokeberries, I would love to hear from you.

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