For the Quilter on the Go….

Serious quilters aren’t content to stay home and work by themselves. No, we love to pack up all of our belongings and travel to classes and retreats and workshops. Well, I’m not sure we *love* the PACKING and HAULING part. But attending a quilting related event with other like-minded souls is worth the inconvenience. Of course we do try to find easy ways to tote our entire sewing rooms with us – rolling bags for sewing machines, oversized tote bags for mats and rulers, tool boxes for cutters and rippers and other notions.

One age-old dilemma is how to pack up your iron to go home at the end of the day while it’s still warm. Do you realize it only takes about 90 seconds for your iron to heat up, but about 3 days to cool off???? (Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating with the 3 day thing. But it does seem to take forever when the only thing you have left to pack in your car is the iron, and you’re afraid of leaving a triangle shaped mark in the upholstery…….or your leg. If it’s winter time you can put it outside and it will cool faster that way……Unless you live in Florida. Then I don’t think it would help……but I’m not sure – I’ve never lived in Florida in the winter…..but I’m sure willing to try if anyone needs a roommate!)

Ah, but I digress. So, back to how to solve the problem of the warm iron when traveling? Wouldn’t you know some clever quilter figured that out. And no, it wasn’t me. I’m not THAT clever. This is what they came up with – it’s called the Caddy Pad Ironing Caddy:

It looks like a cute little purse. But see that little bit of silvery gray peeking out from the inside? That’s actually heat-resistant fabric!

Here you can see the iron is nestled all snug in it’s bed, while visions of sugarplums…….oh, wait, wrong story.

And the Caddy Pad lies flat so you can press on it when you’re at your workshop! How clever is that????

I whipped up one of these at retreat in pretty much no time! Fast, fun project, and makes a great gift for a quilty friend. The patterns come with the heat-resistant fabric included. I also have kits that include insulated batting and the fabric shown. All you add is buttons, elastic and thread. (Sorry, I no longer sell these.)

Your iron works hard for you pressing all those seams nice and flat. Doesn’t it deserve a nice little place to call it’s own?

What gifts are you sewing for people this year?


Quilter’s Heaven!

Last weekend 16 of us found quilter’s heaven on earth in Gary, SD – the Buffalo Ridge Resort Quilting Retreat!

We all had a WONDERFUL time! Buffalo Ridge was the South Dakota School for the Blind in the first half of the 1900s. After it was closed in the 1960s it fell into disrepair. A few years ago a business man bought and restored it, and turned it into a resort and convention center. The grounds and buildings are beautiful. Below is Woodbury Hall, which was the girl’s dormitory, gymnasium and music rooms.

The ground floor is now the Sundance Ballroom, which was where we sewed.

Roger took us on a very informative tour of the grounds:

We had a nametag decorating contest, winners were: 1st – Elisa, 2nd – Betsy, and 3rd – Sandy

And Chef Steve fed us EXTREMELY well:

Thanks to all the staff at Buffalo Ridge Resort for making our stay so wonderful. And thanks to the participants who took a chance and signed up for this first retreat. I think it turned out great, and hope you feel the same way!

Quilting Season has Arrived!

While the end of summer always makes me sad, the shorter days and less time in the out-of-doors means there is more time for sewing and quilting – YAY!! September and October are always filled with quilting events – shows, retreats, classes, etc. Now that I have my Studio, I can’t attend as many of these as I used to. Just this month, for instance, are several events I’ve attended in the past. Last weekend was the Hill City Quilt Show and The Great Black Hills Quilt Escape in the Black Hills of S. Dakota. This weekend the South Dakota Quilter’s Guild is holding their Fall Quilting Retreat in Huron. Next weekend is the Indian Summer Quilt Show & Conference held in Fargo ND.

The first weekend in October is our local show, the Watertown Quilt Festival hosted by the Magic Needlers Quilt Guild. This is this year’s raffle quilt:

If you want to know more about how the raffle quilt was made, you can read this post.

The second weekend in October is the AQS Show in DesMoines, IA. A friend and I were planning on going but decided we had too much else going on to attend. However, the last weekend in Oct. we will be attending a three day quilting retreat not too far from home.

I enjoy attending both shows and retreats.

Shows energize and excite me.

The quilts inspire me to try new things, consider different color combinations, strive to improve my techniques. The vending booths contain all sorts of fabrics and patterns and notions and doodads just crying out to be taken home and given a whirl. (And those demonstrators make everything look so easy – I can be proficient and artistic and efficient if I just buy their product!!) Spending time with the bigwigs and stars of the quilting industry, in a class or a lecture, keeps me amazed at how inventive and creative some people can be. I’m never sure if I should feel inspired by what they’ve achieved or depressed that I’ll never produce something half as beautiful!

Some retreats are similar to a show, with the whirlwind of running to this and that event, but the ones I like best are more relaxed.

We arrive when we want, with most of the contents of our sewing room in tow. There is no real schedule other than when to eat. Otherwise, we do what we want. Sleep late, or get up early. Spend time during the day napping, or reading or walking in between sewing, or sew the entire time. Finish an old project or start something new. This is the time I can be most productive. All those projects I’ve started in a class, and never had time to finish, can get completed. Those items I bought at the vendor mall at a show can be tested and tried. And although we don’t have formal classes during this retreat, I’ve always learned something. Someone shows a new ruler or gadget. Another shares a different way to applique. Look at the great pattern someone found at the last show they attended. Did you see this method of doing binding?….or mitered corners?….or…….the possibilities are endless. And the easy companionship of spending time with like-minded individuals is good for the soul – who else will “ooh and aah” over your latest creation?

So are you attending any shows or retreats this fall? Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday Tip – MacGyver to the Rescue

Do you remember the 1980’s TV show MacGyver? Richard Dean Anderson played the title character, a resourceful secret agent who could get out of any sticky or dangerous situation with little more than a Swiss Army knife and a roll of duct tape.

I attend a quilting retreat twice a year. While the 16 or so participants generally bring almost everything in their sewing rooms, occasionally someone will forget one or two little items. Usually you can borrow that item from someone else, but once in a while it requires a bit of ‘MacGyvering’ to accomplish a task.

I took these photos at last October’s retreat. I don’t quite remember who came up with this idea, but I think it was Melissa. She had some thread on large cones that she wanted to sew with, but had forgotten her cone thread holder. No Swiss Army knife was involved here, but it DID require duct tape, a drinking glass and a safety pin:

Duct tape the safety pin to the handle of your sewing machine. Set the cone of thread in a drinking glass, feed it through the small circular end of the safety pin before following your normal thread path, and you’re ready to sew!

The duct tape also comes in handy for taping power cords down to the floor so you don’t trip over them. So every well stocked sewing kit should now include duct tape. Hmmm, they make it in lots of different colors now, including clear, tie dye, zebra and camouflage – do you think we could convince them to team up with Moda or Timeless Treasures to print it in the latest fabric designs???? I know I would buy more duct tape if they did!!

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