Friday, July 8, 2016

Introducing One Room Schoolhouse !




It's funny.  Fabric designers work on new lines so far in advance that when it's time for them to finally hit the shops, you are really quite used to them!  My new collection, One Room Schoolhouse is shipping to shops this week!  I've been working on this line for over a year now and I'm REALLY excited that it's finally here!

Just like with Pie Making Day (my first collection with RJR Fabrics) I got inspiration from my vintage fabric collection.  But this time, I really wanted a more late Spring/early Summer feel to the colors.  I still looked for prints that were smaller for quilting.  There are so many great quilting patterns out there that use small pieces and One Room Schoolhouse will work well with those types of patterns.  Samplers like The Farmer's Wife or Pony Club finish at a 6" block!  You can still see some of the pattern on the fabric even at that small of a block with this line.  This is great for bindings too.  Wouldn't the little apples look so cute as a binding?!?  Or even English Paper Piecing!  



Of course the print that everyone has been most excited about is Dictionary in White.  We modeled the print from an old dictionary from the 1800s.  This print makes the best background fabric!  It has a nice white background and the text is a really dark gray (not black) so it isn't too harsh of a contrast.


I hope to be showing off some awesome projects over the next few weeks made with One Room Schoolhouse.  Make sure to tag me (@justabitfrayed) on Instagram to show me what you are making!  #oneroomschoolhousefabric

I have some really great friends who helped me make some amazing projects for my look book and my booth at quilt market!  Check out the digital version of the look book:




We are lucky enough to have an actual one room schoolhouse in town!  This was perfect for some photos!  

Make sure to let your local quilt shop know about my new fabric!  RJR has reprinted Pie Making Day as well (the colors go well together!) so they can pick up more of that line too!

Friday, June 10, 2016

A Chat About Sew Pro! How you can make a living as a Sewing Professional.



We are a part of a very interesting industry.  Sewing and Quilting business are unlike most other industries.  Sewing is a craft and not just a product.  For many people, there is a lot of nostalgia attached to handsewn items.  I think this gives sewing a different feel than other small business categories.  It's also an industry where you can have your hands in many different pots.  There's not just one way to make a living with sewing.  You could be a blogger, pattern designer, author, ghost writer (patterns or blogs), fabric designer, stunt sewer, teacher, pattern tester... the list goes on.  And there are new categories opening up all the time.  Many of the people that are considered "industry professionals" are not just focusing on one of these jobs either, they are making a living by making income from several different places.  

Now let's say you are interested in taking your sewing to a professional level.  Where do you begin?  Maybe you have a blog and are gaining readership but you want to know how to monetize it.  Maybe you have an art degree and you love textile design. Maybe you are an expert sewist and want to write a book about technique.  You could try to get into Quilt Market and make contacts.  Quilt Market is a great event but it's really a place for fabric shop owners to buy fabric from manufacturers.  You aren't going to find classes there geared towards how to get your patterns into the major sewing distributors.  You aren't going to find a meet up for bloggers to create contacts for a blog hop.  You aren't going to get anyone at Quilt Market to tell you how to grow your blog and start selling ad space.  You might get a chance to meet with a new contact and they might tell you this information, but it's a lot of time and money to spend going to Quilt Market on that small chance.

A few years ago Sara Lawson (Sew Sweetness) and I were talking about the difficulties for those men and women who have amazing talent (writing patterns and creating sewn goods) but who have no idea how to start sewing as a small business.  She and I (and a lot of other industry professionals) get email requests for advice all the time.  As much as we want to help everyone who asks to succeed, there just isn't the time.  Everyone's path to success in the sewing industry looks different.  We all have unique talents and interests.  This is when we started talking about the need in the sewing industry for an event like Sew Pro.  A place where you could learn more about the parts of the industry you are interested in and learn from actual people that are actually making a living sewing.  For example, everyone wants to be a fabric designer.  But once you head to Sew Pro and learn how much money you will actually make as a fabric designer (you will not be rich!) you might decide to focus your efforts somewhere that is much more profitable.  

On top of the awesome classes that Sara and I have lined up at Sew Pro (see the class list here) the most important thing at our event are the contacts.  Not just the folks teaching.  Sure, we would all benefit from being best friends with Alison Glass or Tula Pink (they are awesome friends as well as talented businesswomen!) but the other attendees are really the goldmine at Sew Pro.  When I started my business (Pink Castle Fabrics) I was able to make friends with some bloggers that were just starting out.  I was able to help them by sponsoring their blogs ($$$$!) and they were able to help me with advertising my new shop!  Over the last six years we have all benefited and now have much bigger businesses than we did when we all met.  All the attendees at Sew Pro are just like you.  They have the drive and the talent to become industry professionals in the next few years.  Bring business cards.  Have your "elevator pitch" ready.  And take notes.  Lots of notes!  You will get ideas.  Big ideas.  And in a few years maybe you will be one of the industry professionals that I ask to speak at Sew Pro.

 Modern Sewciety Poscast all about Sew Pro Convention!

I had a chance to chat with Stephanie over at Modern Sewciety about Sew Pro.  You should hop over to her blog and listen to the podcast.  I hope to see you all in just a few short months in Chicago for our first event!  

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Winter Quilting Book Recommendations 2016

Hello friends!

Owning a quilting shop has a lot of perks.  I get to choose pretty fabrics to sell and see all the great projects that people are making at Quilt Market and meet fabric designers and other awesome folks who work in the industry.  But I think above all that fun stuff, it's great to just help quilters when they come into my shop.  I don't get to work on the floor every day (or else the bills would never get sent out) but when I do I get a chance to connect with our customers.  It's a lot of fun to help someone choose fabrics for a project or give great recommendations to someone who has an issue with a quilt. 

I get a lot of customers ask me for book recommendations as well.  I can't carry everything at Pink Castle Fabrics and one of the things we don't carry a lot of are books.  So, I decided that every few months I will tell you about a few of my new favorite books of the season.  This will help those of you out there who are trying to wade through the crazy amount of sewing books that are being published now.  Here are my top choices for quilting books!

Every Last Piece by Lynn Harris  - Lynn is an amazing quilter.  I'm lucky enough to be in the same quilt guild (Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild)!  I love seeing Lynn's quilts.  Lynn really does use "every last piece".  She saves small scraps and then turns them into something wonderful.  The cover quilt on her book is incredible in person.  The stars are tiny and the quilt is huge.  But, this book is great for projects that you can make over time with your small scraps.  You can make a star or two after a project and then save them until you have enough for a quilt.  We all have scraps and I know I hate to see them go to waste!  http://thelittleredhen.typepad.com/

Lines by Design Quilts by Debbie Grifka - Debbie is also a quilter that I'm lucky enough to share a quilt guild with!  Debbie has the most calming style.  I am really impressed with her book!  She has a really modern style that really matches a lot of people's style and decor.  I can see these projects in my living room!  And Debbie really knows how to use solids in a quilt to give a nice impact.  It's daunting for some people to choose just a few colors for a project.
I also want to point out that this book has 17 projects in it!  That's more than the usual quilt book so you are getting each project pattern for less than $2! http://eschhousequilts.com/

Patchwork Essentials: The Half Square Triangle by Jeni Baker - Who doesn't love a half square triangle?  It's such a versatile block!  Jeni has put together 12 awesome quilts using this one technique!  We have sold out of this book in our shop twice now. That is saying a lot.  The quilts in this book look original (you know sometimes things just look like you've seen them before) and adorable!  If you are a beginner and you want a starter book, this is a great choice!  Jeni teaches you some great ways to create perfect triangles.  I even picked up a few tips and I have been making HSTs for years!  http://www.incolororder.com/

Quilt Local by Heather Jones - Heather is another one of those quilters who has a calm style.  She uses such fun and bright colors and has a great grasp of how to use solids in a quilt for a big impact.  Quilt local takes a look at local inspiration and how to put that into a project.  Heather talks about colors and how to choose and shows you how the look of a project can change based on the colors you choose.  If you love modern art (like Ani Albers) you will love the projects in this book!
Talk about value!  There are 40 projects in this book!!  http://www.heatherjonesstudio.com/


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Sister Sampler Quilts - A new book from Gen X Quilters!

 Sister Sampler Quilts Book Review

I'm pretty excited about a new book by my friend AnneMarie from Gen X Quilters!  Sister Sampler Quilts: 3 Modern Sampler Quilts with Paired Sister Blocks is a really cool concept.  AnneMarie shows you how to make 25 blocks (which have a modern flair to them) and then 3 different layouts for the blocks.  Of course you can use these blocks in any way that you would like (pillows, quilts on their own, your own layout) but I really like that AnneMarie has given us some non-traditional  quilt layouts.  We ran her Moccasin block of the month at our shop, Pink Castle Fabrics, for 2015 and it got a great turnout and good reviews!  It's inspiring to see quilts that aren't just blocks all lined up in a row with sashing.


When we received the Sister Sampler quilt book I was so excited that the girls and the shop and I went to work and made up an entire quilt top!


We used Cotton and Steel Basics and some RJR Cotton Supreme Solids for the background!  I think it turned out really great!  I can't wait to see what it looks like all quilted up!  We will be running this as a block of the month at Pink Castle Fabrics for 2016!  We used the Vice Versa pattern in the book for this quilt. I really love the striped blocks on the edges!  Head over to Pink Castle to join the Block of the Month and you will get the book your first month!

I hope you all love the book as much as I do!  Thanks AnneMarie for sending me a copy!




Thursday, October 15, 2015

Janome Skyline S7 Sewing Machine Review and FREE Mini Quilt Pattern!

Hi everyone!

I don't think I've ever been this excited about a sewing machine.  Oh sure, I get excited about new sewing tools.  But a new machine is really the most exciting, isn't it?  When I was asked to review the new Janome Skyline S7 I was all for it!  I got a chance before agreeing to test drive one of these babies at Janome Impact Institute, a convention for Janome Dealers (we are now Janome dealers at Pink Castle Fabrics!), and I really love this machine.  It has ALL the features that I personally want in a sewing machine.  SO, from my quilting point of view I want to tell you why you also need a Skyline S7.


Who is the Janome S7 for ?
This machine has a power needed for a sewist who likes to create bags, garments or quilts.  It really is a versatile machine.  You will have no problem going through several layers of fabric and interfacing if you are making a bag.  The S7 will also be gentle enough to sew light and delicate fabrics for garment sewing.  I'm a quilter primarily so I will be focusing on the awesome features for quilting but know that it's not just a quilter's machine!

If you are a quilter, the S7 is a nice mid-priced machine (MSRP $2999) that has all the features of the $10,000+ machines without the embroidery and the crazy price tag.  It has 8" of throat space on the right of the needle and 4" to the left.  This is going to be a great machine for piecing and quilting but it is still mobile enough to travel with you to a retreat or sewing event.

What comes with the S7?
One of the many things I love about Janome is that I don't have to buy a lot of extra feet and accessories for my machine.  This machine comes with all the accessories you see in this photo!  For quilters, it already comes with the 1/4" piecing foot and the Accufeed Flex walking foot you need for quilting.  

The foot pedal that comes with this machine is huge (you can see it in the photo above)!  I love that this actually stays put under my sewing table and I don't have to chase it around with my foot.  And I do a lot of traveling with my machine to sewing events and the cord actually wraps up into the bottom of the pedal for storage!


Here's a photo of all the accessories that come with the machine. There are also 5 Janome branded bobbins that come with the machine as well that aren't in the photo.  For quilting, you are already going to have the straight stitch plate, the 1/4" foot for piecing, the Accufeed Flex walking foot for quilting and the darning foot for free motion quilting.  There is also a knee lift bar that comes with the machine for lifting the presser foot with no hands but the S7 also comes with and automatic presser foot button so you don't even need the knee lift bar!  This is one of those features I didn't know I needed until I used it!

Janome Apps:
The apps are a feature that aren't on all the Janome machines.  These are typically only on the high-end super pricey machines.  What are apps and why do you care?  Apps make it easy to work on a specific project by automating settings on your machine.  Here are the photos of the two pages of the apps menu:




So, let's say you are sitting down to do some patchwork.  You open the apps menu (the T-shirt button) and then choose the Patchwork app!  All of this is done with the LCD touchscreen.  There's a little stylus that comes with the machine but I just use my fingers.  Here is what you see in the Patchwork app:


The machine will automatically put the needle position in place for a 1/4" seam and it will shorten the stitch length to 1.8mm!  You don't have to remember to do any of that.  Also see in the bottom left corner, the machine tells you that you should put on the O foot, which is the 1/4" piecing foot.  Instantly, a perfect 1/4" seam!  All these settings can be adjusted and saved to your personal specifications as well.  

In this Patchwork app, the S7 will also memorize how far you are stitching and ask you if you want to repeat that length if you are chain piecing.  It will automatically sew the length you need and then stop and raise the presser foot (automatically!) ready for your next piece!  Easy chain piecing!  This was really the feature that sold me on this machine.  I do a LOT of chain piecing with the type of quilts I like to make and this was really easy to pick up and learn.  

A Little Video for You!
Please ignore the fact that I am sick and exhausted in this video and just fix your eyes to the machine.  I can tell you all about all the features but really, it's easier to see them.  You can see the functionality of Janome machines by looking at where everything is placed on the machine.  Janome takes the time to make quality sewing machines that are MADE with the sewist in mind.  


Conclusions and Benefits:
All in all, I recommend this machine.  I now have 3 Janome machines and I'm always impressed with the quality of the machines.  They are easy to use right out of the box.  

The S7 is going to last you a long time.  You are getting cutting edge features with this machine so you aren't going to need to buy something else in a few years.  It has an all metal body on the inside and is sturdy enough to last for years and years.  I know that I don't have the time and money to be looking for a new sewing machine every few years.  

You won't feel like you are "cheaping out" on a machine.  Again, you are getting all the cool features  and accessories on the S7.  You aren't going to need to buy some extra foot or accessory right away to start quilting (even though there are some cool specialty feet you can buy in the future).  There's hidden cost with other brands that don't include enough accessories with the machine.  It's all in one package. 

You are getting a quality stitch.  Really, that is what you need in a sewing machine.  You aren't going to have to wrestle with the tension (auto tension is amazing) or worry that you can't make a certain project on this machine.  There's no problem going through layers of fabric or quilting and you don't have to sit there and adjust everything when you want to make a different project.  Just click the app to help and sew.  I don't want to mess around with the machine, I want to sew!

Okay, now I need a Skyline S7!
I knew you would. We have these machines in stock at Pink Castle Fabrics if you live in the Ann Arbor, Michigan area.  Please, feel free to ask any questions you have in the comments and I will get the answer for you!

***  We have some open box S7 Machines left over from our Glamp Stitchalot event! Please call us at 877-808-8695 for pricing!  ***

Seeing is Believing.
To really test the Janome Skyline S7 I made this Welcome Home mini quilt!  I wanted to test all the features that I would use regularly when I quilt.  Here is the result!  This turned out great and I was happy with the Accufeed Flex walking foot for quilting, the stitches look great!

 Welcome Home mini quilt pattern


This mini finishes at 24" x 24" and I made mine with all RJR Cotton Supreme Solids. You need 10 Fat Eighths for the blocks (they finish at 8" square).  And I used the January 2016 bundle from the  RJR Color Inspirations Club.  


Happy Quilting!
Brenda






Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Modern Sewciety Podcast #69 - Featuring Me!



Hi everyone!

Check it out!  I'm on the Modern Sewciety podcast!  I was lucky enough to meet Stephanie at Quilt Market last year and we got to talking about everything I have going on. I apparently talk a lot because I'm the only one on this episode!  So you can hop over to her blog and hear me talk for an hour about me, my fabric line Pie Making Day, Pink Castle Fabrics, Sew Pro, and Camp Stitchlaot and just quilting in general.  

This is the first time that I've really talked about Sew Pro.  I will have a post soon with a lot more details but I spill the beans about this new venture that Sara from Sew Sweetness and I are putting together.


Anyway, go over and listen to me chat with Stephanie!  Let me know what you think!

Brenda

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Bento Box Quilt for Modern Patchwork Summer 2015

 Modern Patchwork Magazine


I can finally show off a quilt that I have been holding onto a while!  The new Summer edition of Modern Patchwork is on newsstands now.  I have my new Bento Box quilt pattern in this issue!  This finishes at lap size and is a great way to use up your scraps if you wanted.  



I really love the way this quilt turned out!  Teal is one of my favorite colors and I love the texty-low volume prints too.  This quilt incorporates both!  This is a beginner friendly quilt and it has a unique way to put the blocks together.

We have some magazines for sale at Pink Castle if you can't find it locally.  This will look great using the Word Up bundles and Low Volume bundles that we have in stock as well.  And of course we have all the aqua and teal stash builders in stock that will work with this pattern too.

I'm glad to finally be able to hang this quilt up in the shop!  It's nice and bright hanging up on the wall.  I've been so busy lately at Pink Castle.  We are participating in the Row by Row this summer.  I've been really pleased with the turnout so far!  It's fun having folks stop in from other states while they are on vacation.  And so many women have been telling me that their husbands have been mapping out all the quilt shops to stop at on their road trips...what great husbands!  If you find yourself in Ann Arbor, MI this summer make sure to stop in at Pink Castle!