2199 4th St., White Bear Lake, MN 55110

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Carmen's Mosaic

there has been a very popular quilt in our class lineup during the fall.  It is Carmen's Mosaic, from this book---

Laurel made our store sample, and you can see part of it in the background of the first picture below--

These 15 people participated in the classes, and have really enjoyed the process.  First, cut lots of little squares.  Keep them organized!  Next, place all the squares on the printed fusible interfacing grid available from Ten Sisters.  There are color layouts for quite a few different quilts.  Use a hot iron to press and fuse all the squares into place.  Sew all the seams!  

The grid is available for 3 different sizes of squares.  Most of these people used the medium size, which yields 1 1/2" squares when finished.  There is a smaller size (1" finished) and a larger size (2" finished).  

Laurel started out the class groups with lots of helpful ideas and tips.  Then she tried to do gymnastics on her stairs, and ended up in a world of hurt!  She's on the road to recovery, but unable to work, sew, knit, teach and do most everything else fun!  Anyway, I'm the lucky on who got to finish out the class sessions, and worked on a sample panel for myself so I would know a little bit more about what I was to teach.  Always a good idea to know what you're talking about!
Well, making up those mosaic panels is fun!  And could easily become an obsession!  Now I understand why I have seen a lot of squares being laid out on the grids on our tables during Open Sewing!  It does take some patience to put all the squares in place, but I found it very enjoyable.  I think it's something like the adult coloring book fad and the relaxation and zen that go with that.  Just laying out little squares in a design that is carried throughout several panels to make the whole quilt.  You might want to try it to help you calm down from all the holiday happenings!

If you want some zen for yourself, just call us and we can package it up for you!


Sunday, November 20, 2016

I'm back!

Wow!  I've been away from the blog much longer than I had thought!  A lot has been happening so I guess I need to catch you up--

We just finished our annual Customer Appreciation Sale and very successful food and toy drive, thanks to our generous and loyal customers!  It was a fun 2-day sale with lots of happy shoppers!  Would you be surprised to know that many quilters came on both days?  Doing the preliminary shopping and reconnaisance on Day 1, then going home to make a list of what they really need to finish a project in progress and/or kick off something new!  Day 2 finds them back at the store with a grip on their lists!  We all had a good time, and it was a new and unusual experience for us in other ways-- both Debbie and Laurel could not be present due to some health problems, so the minions dug in and went to work!  We pretty much pulled it off without a hitch, except for the power outage just a few minutes before closing on Friday.  That really stops everything, including the few customers remaining in the store!  Very hard to match fabrics by the light of your phone!  The whole downtown area went black because of the wintry storm we were having at the time.  When the power came back on later, attention was needed to make sure all the computers (which are our cash registers) were back up and running normally.  And the Friday totals and daily deposit could be accounted for before we were back at it on Saturday morning.  All in a day's work!

Flipping back through the calendar and my pictures, one big thing that happened since I last posted was a trip to Houston for International Quilt Market.  If you watch our Facebook page, we did post some albums of pictures there at the end of October.  So pop over there for all that good stuff!

Since I have an avid interest in longarm quilting, one thing that I look for at events like Quilt Market are examples of interesting quilting that I can take home in pictures.  Here are some selections:

Here's the overall picture of a wallhanging of circling dragonflies.  Look below for a closeup of the quilting.  The straight line quilting in the widening hexagon shape makes a great backdrop for those dragonflies, and would be very do-able on a domestic machine.

The wings in this dragonfly show very close quilting in matching thread colors.  A pretty effect, and, again, very doable on most any machine.

Another great example of creative and basic straight-line quilting:

The lines don't even have to be consistently spaced for this to work.  Just attach/engage that walking foot, and you can try this out for yourself.

Here's a picture of Brigitte Heitland, the designer of Zen Chic for Moda.  
The arrows look like the route that Debbie and I walked all around that convention center!

 Below is another Zen Chic pattern, and very interesting quilting to fill in all that blank space surrounding the colored triangles.  I liked that there were variations in the quilting design in that background, making me re-think my approach to the same sort of situation on my own quilts.

And just for some variety, here's a cute little baby romper that just was irresistable to me.  I'm a sucker for these!  And, with my #3 grandson arriving in March, this is a must-do!

We are still receiving new items almost daily that were ordered during our days at Quilt Market, so there are a lot of great ideas popping up!  Time for new samples!

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Changin' and Rearrangin'

A few more store improvements have appeared within our walls.  In some previous posts, I shared pictures of work-in-progress.  See, it's not just our quilts that are a work in progress!

The large old box shelves that housed our batting supply have been removed.  Carpenter Bob built some much improved cubby box shelves for our batting in another spot.

In place of the old batting storage, we have a nice new clean wall and all our our thread has been moved across the store to that spot.  
This is just a few feet away from all of the hand embroidery threads, so it can now be called the "Thread Department".  
Some of these stackable thread shelving units will still undergo some changes, as we get new units and get our selection more organized.  We love the Mettler and Aurifil brands!

Over where the thread racks used to be, Bob has built and installed some more shelving for fabrics.  The picture below was taken before even more units were added to that wall.  Our dream is to have the right balance of shelving and bolts so none of the bolts have to be on the floor!  Never gonna' happen!  And we would be so sad if it did!

We have some new space created for our extra-wide Cuddle fabric bolts--  it's 88-90" wide, so makes a fabulous back for many quilts and doesn't need a seam!

And on the flip side of that shelf unit we have--

All of our wonderful cozy Cuddle bolts (58-60")!
Most of the Cuddle that we sell is destined to be quilt backs, but there are lots of other things that you can make with this soft plush fabric.  Click on this link to the numerous free patterns on the website that use Cuddle fabric.

Here's something else fun for you--
A group of new Moda Grunge fabrics on our shelves!

Come in to see the wonderful shades and tones at your fingertips!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

It's Already Time To Vote!

Are you ready to vote?!
No more freaky debates, no more Twitter anything, no more lies and innuendos?!

Just a throwback to the time when you simply get to vote on what you like, and you can even have a do-over every time you visit Bear Patch from now through November 1.  How great is that?

First, let me explain the beginning.  Our Bear Patch Circle of Quilters meets every other month on a Saturday morning.  (Next meeting is December 3.)  Attendees get a chance to sit back, learn about what's happening and what's new at the store.  There is talk about rulers, notions, patterns and books, including some demonstrations and tutorials.  And there's always a sweet treat to share, plus the coffee pot is close at hand!

The group was offered a chance to participate in a challenge.  They were given a piece of fabric from fabric "headers" donated by our Moda representative, Julie.  These are large swatches of fabrics shown to shop owners to make buying decisions.  Each participant received a different fabric.  The challenge then was to make something from that fabric and bring it back to display.  The possibility of winning super duper prizes was an added incentive!  Three Viewer's Choice prizes will be awarded, plus one more favorite picked by employees.

We received 15 projects from the group, and I have to say, they have really hit the mark with variety and creativity!  Now, any of our customers can view the projects and cast a ballot for their favorite.  And you can vote again every day you visit!

I had intended to compile a nice little slide show here for you.  But there seems to be a little war going on between Smilebox, Adobe Flash Player and my MacBook!  So we can skip the slide show and just enjoy the pictures below!  I have added pattern information as far as I am able to determine, and I will add more as it becomes known.  Some of these are originals, others are adaptations of existing patterns.  They are presented in random order numerically.  A swatch of the original challenge fabric is attached to each, so you know what the starting point is.  
So get ready for a load of pictures--

Our autumnal view on the hub of White Bear Lake.
Collage pup designed by Laura Heine

Bowtucks Tote

The little pyramid opens into a sweet sewing box!

Mini Pop Up

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Our 50 States

In the Beginning Fabrics has produced a new line of fabric that fits into the "collectors" category.  I personally collect a few fabric categories:  typography (words and numbers), solids, Kokka, certain designers, etc.  I am going out on a limb and guessing you do some collecting, too!  It all becomes part of the gallery that is my retirement plan!  The fabric I am talking about today is Deco States.  It includes the state flower of each of our 50 states.  They are designed in an art deco style, and the flower graphics are tiled in rows across the fabric.

We didn't purchase all 50 bolts of this, due to space restrictions.  But we do have some good choices if you have an interest in owning all of the state flowers.  In The Beginning has packaged up 10" square bundles and rolls of 5" x 40" strips, so you will get each different flower.  The pack of squares contains all 50 flowers.  The rolls of 5" strips contain 25 flowers, so you would have to purchase Set A (Alabama-Missouri) and Set B (Montana- Wyoming) to have the entire collection.  In addition, there are 7 pin dot fabrics that are coordinated to complement  the colors used in the floral prints.  We have bolts of those dots on hand, as well as our own flower, the Lady's Slipper.

If you are in the mood to add this collection to your gallery, 
just call us (651-429-1039) and we will set you up!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Quilts and Sweden

Are you looking for a special treat for your group of quilting friends?  There is a current quilt exhibition still showing until October 23 at our very own American Swedish Institute.  Just visiting the Institute itself is a fun and unique excursion.  But with the bonus of the quilt exhibition, you really should be planning a visit soon!

Quilting Art Today and The Nordic Quilts at the American Swedish Institute is a combination of works of local and internationally known quilters.  It covers everything from traditional designs on through contemporary art quilts, and there are a few clothing pieces included, too.  There are designs that are uniquely individual in some cases, as well as wonderfully crafted designs that are not uncommon in the quilting world.  You might not fall in love with all of them, but I'm sure there is something that will appeal to you and trigger a creative idea in your brain!

To make the most of your visit, you might want to try to go on a Tuesday or Thursday to get the benefit of a guided tour of the quilts.  You can use this link to get the times and details.  The Minnesota Quilters plays a big role in bringing this exhibit to us.  There are "live quilters" on hand at some designated times on Wednesday evenings and weekends, details in this link.

I have visited the American Swedish Institute (ASI) numerous times over the years, but hadn't been back since the addition of a beautiful new wing.  Now the beautiful old mansion is made even better with this new section in the modern Scandinavian style.  The Swedish gift shop and Fika, the tiny little coffee shop in the mansion, have been moved to the new addition and are open and bright. They serve really tasty coffee and cookies!  I visited about 3 weeks ago with my daughter, who is the person that started my trips to ASI when she was pretty young.  She went to classes and activities for children, and she loved it!  I guess having ancestors with the names of Hansen, Hanson and Larson, plus my own history of living in Sweden, plus blonde hair and blue eyes all worked in her favor!  She went on to go to Concordia College Swedish Language Camps, took Swedish classes at Gustavus Adolphus College, and returned to ASI as an adult to take more language classes and then took her first baby son there to ride the Dala horse!

Getting to ASI isn't hard, it's not far from the major interstates.  It's on the corner of 26th Street and Park Avenue, and a parking lot was added with the new addition, so that makes it much easier for visitors.  There is a small admission fee ($10) and you can find all the important visitor details at this link.

So, if you can take a few ideas to soak up some quilting and Swedish culture, you better plan your visit soon before the quilts go away!

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Putting the Pizzazz in the Paper!

The art of hand sewing is not fading away for this group of women!
Each month, on the 2nd Tuesday, you will find them sitting down with needle and thread and an English paper piecing project.  Our Paper Pizzazz group has such talent and varied skills.  Some have known how to do the stitching for English paper piecing for a long time, some are newcomers to this.  Some like traditional, some like a little more whimsy and bright colors.  Some stitch fast, some stitch slowly, and there's no expiration date for how long a project can be "in the works"!

We enjoy the inspiration gained from each other, resurrecting old ideas and creating new ones.   Stitching by hand is such a fundamental form of the craft of quilting.  It's a very tactile aspect of what we do, very "in touch with" the fabric, thread, needle and the paper shapes.  We are always learning a little something new, whether it's how to combine shapes differently, how to baste the quickest and neatest way, what needles feel the best in our hand, what threads pull through the fabric smoothly, and how to keep it all organized!

Here are some examples of individual projects that are underway--

Jean's block partially assembled.
Lynette's hexagon medallion that keeps growing!

Deb's carefully planned and partially stitched hexies.

Pam's collection of hexagon "flowers" made from the remains of other quilts.

Andrea's nearly finished hexagons, which was the subject of much admiration
and discussion on finishing techniques.

Mary's "wheels" made of reproduction 1930's fabrics.
Our group is casual and open to anyone interested, no matter your skill level.  When Lynette started her medallion project shown above, she was a rookie at this.  But she was game to learn something new, and committed to using fabrics she already had on hand.  And look how far she's come!  That could be you!

So next time we get together, October 11 at 1 pm, maybe you can be there to pull up a chair and join us!  Last week we sampled a new recipe I had for a dip that is near and dear to my heart.  It's made with Cookie Butter, and if you haven't yet tasted Cookie Butter, just get yourself over to Trader Joe's and pick up a jar!  I am not kidding when I say that my day starts out best when I have Cookie Butter on my toast!  We sampled this dip on apples, pretzels and Bugles.  The Bugles make a good little scooper for the dip and still pop in the mouth in one bite!  Here's the recipe, which I found on this blog.

1/2 cup cookie butter
8 oz. cream cheese, warmed to room temp
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 T. powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Whip it all up with a mixer so it gets some fluffiness.  And eat!  How simple is that!?