On a mission

Today, I visited the Original Sewing & Craft Expo @ Gwinnett Center for one reason only:  to look at sewing room furniture. I made two rounds of the Exhibit Floor and came away basically empty-handed. (Okay, so I purchased one small ruler!)  I did accomplish my mission however.   I was able to get my hands on the exact Horn rolling cart that matches my Quilter’s Dream cabinet.  My local dealer didn’t have one in stock – even in the “wrong” color.  I got excited when I read the sign that said all of the show samples were for sale.  Just my luck that the cart I wanted was already spoken for.  Not to worry, my local dealer had quoted a lower price than the show price, so I stopped by the shop on the way home to place my order.  Said #16 cabinet in oak with white trim will be arrive on Thursday or Friday.  The shop is close by work, so they’ll load it in my SUV and I’ll drive it home.  Hubs can help me unload it when he gets home.

UPDATE:  Cabinet arrived today (Thursday) and I helped the older ladies at the sewing shop load the cabinet in my SUV.  It must weigh 100+ pounds.  Hubs did help me unload and wanted us to carry the box down to my sewing room.  Nope!  I unpacked it in the garage and carried the drawers down first.  THEN, we carried the cabinet down.  Took a little more time, but it saved my back and having to haul packing materials upstairs again.

Grandmother’s Flower Garden – Binding Options


Before Christmas, a coworker asked me to finish a Grandmother’s Flower Garden Quilt that had been quilted at least three decades earlier, but had never been bound because the family didn’t know how to handle the hexie edges of the quilt.  I was handed a rolled up quilt sandwich exactly as it was taken from the quilt rack or when it left the quilter ages ago. Neither the backing, nor the batting had been trimmed away. The story goes that the quilt top was a wedding gift to the current owner’s great grandmother. The quilt was quilted at a later date and stored away. The current owner remembers the bundle sitting on a shelf in the closet when she was a small child  (owner is now in her 30’s).  My AQS fabric dating books pegged the majority of the fabrics to be 1930’s-1940’s with a few from the 50-60’s perhaps. After binding the quilt, I have a strong suspicion that at least two different people made the blocks for the quilt. The “curves” of the quilt are noticeably deeper in some places than others.

Here’s a picture of the back with the finished facing:

My first task was to figure out how to bind the darned thing.  I took it to a quilt guild meeting to garner the collective wisdom of those much more experienced than me. A quilt appraiser happened to be there that evening and STRONGLY urged me to maintain the integrity of the quilt, including leaving the stains and the hexie edges (if at all possible) since the quilt was in such good shape.

    • This meant doing a traditional bias binding on the edges, a facing or a knife edge finish.
    • The next option was to “round” the hexie edges on the inner curves and do a pseudo scallop binding.
    • The least desirable option was to trim whack the quilt to a rectangular shape and bind the edges the usual way.

I tried the traditional bias binding with inner and outer mitered corners.  I dutifully cut the binding on the bias at 2″.  I machine stitched and took that out.  I hand stitched. It looked like  $%^ awful.  A quilting board suggested using this video as a guide to make a facing for the quilt.  Thank goodness for YouTube.  This is the method I used.  I won’t kid you in that it was as tedious as all get out to pivot & turn every 1-1/2″ but I think the results were well worth it.  It is simply a wider traditional French fold binding. You measure the depth from the outermost point to the innermost curve.  Add 1-2″ to this measurement plus desired seam allowances.  Double this measurement.  Cut strips this width and prepare just as you would traditional 2-1/2″ binding strips.  My strips were cut 8 1/2″ wide and folded in half.  I sewed the wider strip exactly as I would a traditional binding strip, following the edges of the hexagons.  I did not miter the corners the traditional way.  I did a version of a mitered border (looks like a picture frame with 45 degree angles in the orders).  Snip, trim, fold and poke out.  Press lightly along the edge. Stitch by hand. The picture below shows the stitching process.  It looks weird, yet you line up the raw edges with the outermost points and pin securely.  Then stitch 1/4″ away from the raw edge of the quilt.  I had to watch the video 3x before I finally understood.  It does work and my friend was so happy to finally have her family heirloom in a usable condition.

Handmade versus “mass” pricing


Pricing is a challenge for any business.  Period.  Quilters and fiber artists especially as we often undervalue what we do.

Today, we had a guest speaker at our quilt guild who talked about valuing quilts and quilted textiles. The most commonly used valuation is the “reconstruction” price, which essentially takes into account the cost of materials and the time it would take to make an exact replica of the subject quilt. The price she gave for the queen size pineapple quilt she had in her hand ($1800) blew me away. No one I know would pay that kind of money for a quilt, perhaps 1/3 to 1/2 of that amount…but regardless of how gorgeous the quilt was…it was way out of my budget.

It’s hard to compete when you can buy a “handmade” king size quilt at the local discount or linen store for $50.00. People are starting to valued handcrafted items more and are willing to pay for fine workmanship, but only to a certain point. Unfortunately, these folks are still the exception, rather than the rule.

I have a friend who would like to remake an existing item into something more useful and truly more her style. It doesn’t sound like a difficult task to accomplish, but it will probably take me 2-3 hours, plus the cost of materials. This is the second time she’s asked me about the project, so I know it’s something she really wants to do. I quoted a price range I thought was reasonable, but she’s not said anything more about it.  I know money’s tight for everyone, so I also offered to let her borrow a sewing machine and told her I was willing to coach her through the process. We’ll see what she does.

FWIW, people are willing to pay for kids’ instruction.  So far, I’ve only received one complaint about the cost of the kids’ sewing class (this from a super cheapskate coworker) and on the first day of registration, the class met my minimum enrollment to hold the class.  Hopefully, I hit the sweet spot on price/value because I labored over what to charge for a couple of weeks and in the end, charged what it would take to cover supplies, shop fees and what I needed to make per hour of instruction.


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