Thursday, January 27, 2011

"This time of year..."

This time of year, the phrase "this time of year" comes up a LOT.

As in, "I don't know about you, but I could totally use a trip to some place sunny and warm right about this time of year."

And I think "this time of year" came a little earlier in 2011 than it has in the past.

Sometimes you need a little something extra to make you happy when you live in Maine at this time of year.

Sewing often fits the bill, but Zumba class (with the girlfriends, of course!), Prosecco (with girlfriends), Hot Yoga (also with girlfriends), enormous sticky buns and a good cup of tea will often do the trick as well.

But since this is (mostly) a sewing blog, we'll focus on that.

My friend Lynne stopped by the shop the other day to show off her finished "Pockets-to-Go" that she made in class with Barbara the other day. I think these are so pretty and I can think of all kinds of places I would use them in my house.

The fabrics are just what the doctor called for: un-apologetically bright and cheerful.

(Since I know someone will ask, that is our version of Amy Butler's "Sexy Hexy" quilt in the background)

Don't you just love the late-afternoon sun this time of year?

For us, late-afternoon sun happens at about 3:30pm, if it happens at all.

Sometimes I forget how lucky we are to work with all these gorgeous, saturated colors, but this time of year in Maine when everything is kind of monotone and grey outside, customers will come in the shop and exclaim how we must never get depressed with all these bright colors to look at.

Most of the time that is true.

Especially when we get in a shipment like the Carmen collection from Anna Griffin... just look at these beauties:

Anna has recently struck out on her own, producing fabrics under her own brand name, instead of working for one of the larger manuacturers.

I am a big fan of women owning their own businesses, so thought it only fitting that we give Anna her own page on our website.

We have a little joke here at the shop that you know you've made it big when you win an Olympic medal, get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, or get your own page on the Alewives Fabrics website.

This is just the type of dorky thing that we say to each other to get through this time of year.

But seriously, are these not the most sunshine-infused luscious lovelies you ever saw?

(*I love*)

While the next few weeks might be a bit rough, conditions are ideal for some "This time of year" sewing.

Stop by if you need a fix!



Monday, January 24, 2011

The Winslow Market Tote Chronicles: Episode IV (A New Hope)

(Ha ha ha... I've been waiting for weeks to make that Star Wars joke!)

Well, on this absolutely frigid day here in Maine (12 below when we woke up this morning: I feel like 'm living in Siberia!) I thought it only appropriate to take my Mom and her Winslow Market Tote (it was one of her Christmas presents from me) and do a little photo shoot with the fourth of these little babies I have made...

Don't you love how different the bag looks depending on which fabrics you use?

This particular Winslow Market Tote is my favorite I have made so far: it was really hard to stay the course and give it to Mom, but I did. (Most unlike me, I assure you!)

I made this from a Nani Iro remnant we had at the shop... this fabric is therefore gone, but I bet you can find it elsewhere and it is similar to this one. The rest of the bag was made of fabrics from Amy Butler's August Fields collection (they are out of print, too: I was using up my stash!).

It was a bit of a challenge to use the home-dec prints with the double-gauze print, because the double-gauze is definitely a bit wiggly, but I backed all of the double-gauze with good old 931TD (our go-to medium weight fusible-interfacing) and then everything behaved quite nicely.

I lined the bag with some of our organic canvas and added a pocket that I made out of some leftovers (Moms always need pockets. Especially my Mom with her tissues that she keeps forever and ever.) and then I was all done.

I have one more Winslow Market Tote to share with you (well, at press time I only had one more to share: who knows what will happen in the next couple of days...). That last one is my little sister's Tote that I made her for a Christmas present and I really like it a lot, but you will have to wait until I nab her for a photo shoot to show you.

As always, thanks so much to Kathy Mack for designing the pattern, which you can find for free here.



While I think of it, you should hop over to Iris' blog and see the gorgeous Winslow Market Tote that she made with some of our fabrics. I love how it looks so Scandinavian-chic!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Hear ye, hear ye...

I love this book and I am dying to make this quilt from it:

I haven't been this excited since yesterday when I had a snow day.

Also, Whip It is a very good movie.

That is all.



Friday, January 21, 2011

Snow Day (Again)!

Yes, we are battening down the hatches once again and Alewives Fabrics is closed up tight for the day.

No Sewing Lounge tonight, but we will be back first thing tomorrow morning.

Enjoy the storm!



Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Winslow Market Tote Chronicles: Episode Three

Well, here I am back again with my third Winslow Market Tote to share with you.

This Winslow Market Tote was made with a mix of voile and home-dec weight Anna Maria Horner fabrics, which may sound a bit scary at first (it was not), but I tried some "experiments" that made the two work together seamlessly (no pun intended, ha ha ha....).

The two side panels are made from this fabric, which I have always love, love, loved.

And now I am going to let you in on one of the dark, seedy, underbelly-type things you never hear about the fabric world, and I promise I have a point, so please stick with me here.

Some people care very passionately about cutting fabric on the straight of the grain (myself being one of them), but let me tell you, whomever is making the cuts in our manufacturer's warehouses does NOT care about cutting on the straight of the grain. Nor do they care about making cuts right in the middle of a perfectly good panel, like this Square Dance panel from Anna Maria Horner. It is not uncommon for me to receive bolts and bundles that are just plain dirty, that have huge seams in the middle of a bolt (so that you may think there are 9 continuous yards left on a bolt, only to find when you unroll it that you have a 4 yard piece and a 5 yard piece with a giant zig-zag stitch connecting the two), or that have messy, jagged cuts that run right through the middle of a panel.

It's a frustrating situation, but that's the reality of owning a fabric store.

As a retailer, I am obviously not going to begin measuring yardage for a customer from the middle of a panel, nor am I going to give a customer a cut with a raggedy edge on it, so oftentimes when a fabric arrives I have to "neaten it up" a bit before I can sell it to customers.

And I will now make that point I promised...

This is exactly what happened with the panels I used in this bag.

I unwrapped the bolt, found a super-messy cut that ran smack-dab through the middle of the panel and had to cut off that extra half a panel before I could sell it to my customers. I stashed the remnant aside for later use, thinking to myself "Self, there HAS to be something you can do with that half a panel there."

Turns out, there was!

I was very lucky indeed, because there were just enough half-squares in this messed-up panel that I could make the side panels for the Winslow Market Tote.

Quite the Phoenix from the ashes, n'est-ce pas?

Fussy-cutting at it's finest, I'd say, and I was proud to have turned this less-than-ideal situation into something useful and pretty.

Now, next I know you are going to ask me how I was able to work with voile and home-dec at the same time.

Turns out, that was quite easy as well.

The Voile is so light and buttery and the home-dec is so thick and sturdy that I knew I would need to find some common ground there, so I used some fusible interfacing (a medium weight, Pellon 931TD) on the back of the voile to give it a little more integrity.

Once I did that, the voile didn't wiggle around so much as it usually does, but stayed quite nice and stiff and flat, making it very easy to stitch to the home-dec.

Since the entire Winslow Market Tote is lined with interfacing (I like to use Decor-Bond, to give it lots of body), the bag really stands up straight and tall: not floppy like some bags can be.

To that end, I chose for my lining an Innocent Crush home-dec print (one of my faves) and called it a day.

This particular Winslow Market Tote went home with Jessica.

I made it for our "Alewives Fabrics Employees Only Christmas Party Craft Swap" and this is what she nabbed, which is very funny because I ended up with her gift as well, which was a handmade garland of wool felt Christmas trees (*love*).

I believe that wraps things up for episode three of the Winslow Market Tote Chronicles.

As usual, the pattern can be found for free here.

Thanks very much to the pattern's designer, Kathy Mack, for making the pattern available.

I'll be back soon with more Winslow Market Tote goodness...



Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Future Fashion-Makers of America

It's Winter-in-Maine-chic, for the 12 and under set!

Today I bring you the lovely Miss Izzy (all of 5 1/2 years old, ladies) wearing her Alewives-Fabrics-meets-Oliver+S-meets-her-mama's-sewing-machine-finest.

Miss Izzy is sporting an Oliver+S design on top: the Hopscotch Top in the Downtown Turquoise Park Ramble interlock knit by Liesl Gibson for Moda Fabrics.

On the bottom Miss Izzy is sporting a Hilary P creation: her Mama's own skirt design. Note the matching orange knit underlayer and the fabulous pink boots.

Thank you, Mademoiselle Izzy, for showing the country- the WORLD - that Maine girls can be stylish and fashionable and fierce (and warm!) even in Maine, even in the middle of the winter.

I'm expecting BIG things from this girl in the future!



Saturday, January 15, 2011

Goodnight (Winter) Moon

(This one goes out to all the young mothers out there...)

Goodnight (Winter) Moon,
You won't be back soon.

We sent you away,
So that quilters could play.

You've been sent to Seattle,
New Jersey, Illinois,

You've been sent to some girls,
you've been sent to some boys.

You've been sent to Colorado, New Hampshire and such,
and to little old ladies who were whispering "hush."

Goodnight (Winter) Moon,
You won't be back soon.

(In other words, our "Winter Moon" fat quarter sets have sold out. But don't worry 'bout it none... I've got LOTS of tricks up my sleeve...)



Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Winslow Market Tote Chronicles: Episode Two

If you read this blog regularly you will know that in the weeks leading up to Christmas I made a lot of Winslow Market Totes.

Something about this pattern has struck a chord with me, and despite having made no less than five Winslow Market Totes in the past month and a half, I'm still not tired of making them!

I wrote about the first Winslow Market Tote I ever made here (when we did our Holiday Craft Swap), but thought that it might be fun to share all of the Winslow Market Totes, so today you are getting Winslow Market Tote number two.

Besides the overall composition and construction of the bag, one of the things I like about this pattern is how it makes use of fat quarters. 5 fat quarters will make the bag's exterior, but if you want your bag to look symmetrical, like mine, then 2 of your 5 fat quarters will have to be the same (so you could look at it as needing 3 fat quarters and 1/2 yard for the bag exterior).

I liked using the Fall 2010 Echino collection to make up this bag, because some of the Echino prints are so fun to fussy cut. I used this fabric for the bag's side panels and made sure to cut the pattern pieces so that I would get an interesting detail in each panel. I love using larger scale prints in smaller applications, because they always make you focus on those little details in the print that you might otherwise have missed... like this hot orange spiderweb!

I must have been drinking when I made this bag, or sleepy, or tired, or something similar, because I somehow made the straps a bit more narrow than the pattern calls for. I definitely prefer the wider straps, but by the time I realized my mistake I was past The Point of No Return, so this bag is stuck with narrow straps for all eternity.

I still think it looks fine, though.

I will share my other Winslow Market Totes with you in the next few days.

In the meantime, the pattern can be found for free here.

(Thanks so much to the pattern's designer, Kathy Mack of Pink Chalk Studios and to Interweave Press for making this great pattern available to the masses!)

See you soon...



Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Snow Day!

(This is an old picture, but you get the idea.)

Due to the snowstorm we are closing the shop today.

It's my day off and we have told the other gals not to risk life and limb to come to the shop.

Hopefully you're all stocked up on crafty projects and you can stay home and get some sewing done today.

(I know I will.)

See you bright and early tomorrow!



Monday, January 10, 2011

Winter/Spring 2011 Stitch Mag is here!

It just came in today and the girls are gobbling this issue up!

Subtitled "The Technique Issue," the Winter/Spring 2011 Stitch magazine is chock-a-block full of tutorials and techniques that will give your projects that couture-feel, that boutique-look, that professional finish... that certain je ne sais quoi!

We have re-ordered all of the back issues that are still in print, and those will be arriving soon.

In the meantime, enjoy the new issue!



Saturday, January 8, 2011

Wedding Pictures

I have been meaning to post some photos from the wedding for a long, long while now and finally have gotten around to doing so now that the Holidays are over.

Here are the photos... thanks for peeking!

Many, many thanks to my good friend Erin over at Freya photography and/or Bluebirdbaby (take your pick). You got some great shots, Erin, I can't thank you enough.

Thank you Jill (Lil' Jibby), for making my hair look so pretty.

Thank you Pam, for making our gorgeous (and delicious!) carrot cake.

A multitude of thanks to everyone at the Jordan Pond House, especially Gabrielle, for hosting our wedding and reception.

Thanks to Kristine for being the most amazing and classy and thoughtful M-O-H ever.

And finally, thanks to all of YOU for your support and well-wishes... how lucky am I to have you in my life?



Monday, January 3, 2011

Why I don't own a hamburger store

I'll bet that some of you who are hot and heavy into the whole fabric/blogland/quilting world have heard that the cost of cotton is going up very, very soon.

As in, prices increased as of January 1st, 2011.

This is in fact true and I wanted to weigh in with my two cents.

Deb over at Whipstitch wrote an excellent post about the reality of the cost increase, as it relates to the failed cotton crop in China.

I cannot recommend strongly enough that you read her article, as I am (quote/unquote) "in the business" and she absolutely taught me a thing or two.

I wanted to add some more info that my dear sweet Moda Rep shared with me.

I will give you the crib notes version.

In 1990 the cost of a loaf of bread was 70 cents.

Today the average cost of a loaf of bread is $2.69.

That's a price increase of 284%.

In 1990 the cost of a postage stamp was 25 cents.

Today the cost is 44 cents.

That's a cost increase of 76%.

In 1990 the average cost of a pound of hamburger was 89 cents.

Today the cost is $3.29.

That's a cost increase of 270%.

In 1990 the cost of a an ounce of gold was $398.00.

Today the cost is $1,338.00.

That's a cost increase of 236%.

In 1990 the average cost of a gallon of gasoline was $1.42.

Today the cost is $2.97.

That's a cost increase of 109%.

What does all this tell me?

(Besides that I should have invested in gold?)

Prices go up.

Prices rarely, if ever, go down.

And unfortunately this is one of the years that fabric is going to become more expensive... for the manufacturers, for me and for my customers.

Nobody is happy about that, believe me.

But here's something for you to ponder:

In 1990 the cost of one yard of premium 45" wide quilting weight cotton was $6.99.

Today the cost is $9.29.

That's a cost increase of 33%.

The moral of the story: It could always be worse.

(Thank GOD I didn't start a hamburger store!)



Saturday, January 1, 2011

2011: so far, so good

Want to know what Ollie and I did last night?

We went over to The Cancer Wife's house (whose husband recently found out that he is cancer-free... hooray!) and we sent our wishes into the air in the form of wish lanterns.

Miraculously, we didn't set anything on fire that wasn't supposed to be set on fire.

We did have some good laughs, though.

I made a wish or two last night... how about you?

Welcome home, 2011!

(And thanks in advance, M, for letting me steal your photo!)