Tuesday, April 28, 2015


How many of you out there participate in quilt shop hops? Have you ever joined in the fun? where you able to complete the entire list of shops during the timeframe allotted? Have you tried a drive to shop hop either by car or bus? Or was your shop hop online? What did you like about them and what did you not enjoy?

I ask these questions and hope you will share with me your feedback. The reason I make this inquiry is that I just found out the quilt shops in NJ are participating in a shop hop later this month. There are 11 shops participating between April 24th and May 3rd 2015. Details about the upcoming hop can be found at www.NJShopHop.com

Two of these shops are in North Jersey, Aardvark in Morris Plains and Rock Paper Scissors in Montclair. I frequent both when I can since they are both within 30 minutes drive to where I live. Aardvark is owned by Sally. She has many traditional, novelty and bali fabrics, good books and notions. RPS is a modern quilt shop that also carries paper rafting and jewelry making supplies. It is owned by Beth Rowan and her staff are the nicest and most fun in the state.

Three of the participating locations are in central NJ between 60-90 minutes drive for me to each. Pennington Quiltworks is a lovely shop close to where my sister used to live in Lawrenceville. They always have beautiful fabrics, kits, a myriad of notions to peruse and Bernina parts. Fabric Inspirations is a newer shop located in Manalpalan with loads of floral, batiks and big bright fabrics. Both are definitely worth the drive in my humble opinion. The third shop is in a new location since I visited them last. It's called Mouse Creek Quilts and I remember them as a friendly place with awesome FQs, fabrics, and nicely done samples. I will go there again for sure to visit them.

The southern most shop, called The Pin Cushion is found in in Vineland. I guess I am going to have to check it out Even though it's very far south as I have never crossed their threshold. I believe I will also hit up the shop in Swedesboro, which I have attempted to visit several times but never managed to make it to during their business hours. My fault, not theirs. When I spoke with them on the phone they were quite helpful and sounded lovely. I would likely just stop by The Little Shop in Haddonfield to get my passport stamped. It's my least favorite place on the list. I found the staff rather unfriendly and the shop very small. The fabrics they carry are not to my linking, however, if Martha or any knitters were with me there is a cute wool shop around the corner in that same town. it's really on the way between two others on the list. Another shop in Collingswood, NJ would be on my travel for that day since its in the Southern Hemisphere of NJ and nearby the other three and Mt. Holly.
Whether I make it to Fabric Inspirations in Forked River or not really depends on if we have time and if we can fit it in with the others. It's the east most shop on the list and requires a drive through the pine barrens of NJ. I am always on the look out for Janet Evonovich's character Stephanie Plum when in that area. It's a great shop and I hope to make it there to see what they might have that the other places do not.

I love The Village Quilter in Mt. Holly. It's a tiny place, jam packed with fun, modern quilt fabrics patterns, great rulers, and a friendly staff. I will usually stop in there when I go to Burlington to shop at Olde City Quilts. I was surprised that this huge shop was not on the shop hop list, but would likely stop in there anyway when close by because they always have something with my name on it. There are also some nice eateries nearby and Judy and her staff are wonderful.

There are some wonderful prizes up for grabs for those that complete the entire hop. They include two sewing machines, a quilt with blocks from each shop, some serious fat quarter bundles to increase your stash and even gift cards to spend.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Extreme Quilting

I recently had the opportunity to quilt a 6 pointed star quilt made from Kaffe Fassett fabrics. The quilt top was wall hanging size and had been created lovingly by a NJMQG member named Judy Josephson. When Judy brought the quilt to me to quilt it for her, she just wanted it finished. She told me she had struggled with the pattern and finishing the quilt top. It wasn't until after she had made the quilt that she re-read the pattern and saw an accuracy disclaimer in the book. I saw such beauty in this quilt, I set out to make it something that she absolutely loved when she got it back. We discussed how to quilt it and because it had a black background and was made almost entirely from Diamond shapes, it made sense to use some straight line quilting in the black area. The quilt wasn't flat, there were some minor problem areas because of the issues with the pattern directions and all those point intersections commonly found in 6 point stars. I love a good challenge.

We drew up some ideas on how to quilt the printed stars and background. Judy always does a fun pieced backing and had given me specific instructions on where to place the piecing and that it needed to be centered near the top. Because it was a wall hanging quilt, I made sure that the back piecing would fall well below the top of the quilt, allowing for placement of a sleeve to hang it and still be visible.

Initially, I set out to quilt the black background with black thread top and bottom. I used a ruler to start off quilting on the inside edges of the black diamonds and then did a free-hand greek key design to fill them in. To finish I added a diagonal stop in the center of each diamond. I liked the effect.

Once all of the black diamonds were done, I then did a curved quilting line inside all of the outer border printed squares. This is fairly easy a technique to do, you just bounce corner to corner down the squares and then around and up the other side. Then I decided that these needed more quilting into the outer most black border. So I quilted additional curves in a rainbow type of effect. It really turned out nicely.

Next I set off to quilt the floral fabric stars. I changed the threads to match the background color of each star. Because the stars merge with 6 seams set into the center, I decided that I needed to quilt from the center of the star and used a swirl. This morphed into a squiggly swirl to form the center of a flower like pattern. It also served the purpose of ensuring that the star centers laid perfect flat. Then I quilted around the outside of each of the 6 pointed star sections creating a free form leaf pattern with flowing veins in each leaf. I quilted all of the like colors at the same time before changing to the next color thread.

The little squares themselves spoke to me and told me that I needed to quilt something inside each one. As I finished up the lightest color stars, I decided to quilt a little tiny sprout, a 3 leaf shape into each one. I set them so most of them pointed up around the perimeter. Then just for fun and whimsy I quilted several of them in different directions.

Finally, the outermost border needed some quilting. I decided to quilt it in all black thread. I used rules and my channel locks to quilt straight line sections in each piece. I broke them up to give it a more modern look, by ending the stitching in different places and taking a few stitches across the section before reversing in the other direction.

The best surprise of this finished quilt was how well the back turned out with my quilting choices. Judy had provided a mostly solid black background. The leaf and flower patterns with colored threads offset by the black greek key sections made for an amazing back. I am extremely proud of this quilt and Judy was very happy with the end result. She plans on entering it to be judged in a few weeks in a local show.


The quilt still needs binding, a name, label and sleeve, but I think its a real winner.

#6pointstars #extremequilting #kaffefassettfabrics #beautifulquilt

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Hope Springs Eternal...what's for dinner

Tonight's dinner is in the oven. We need something hot and filling on this rather blustery Spring day. I decided meatloaf and garlic smashed potatoes would do the trick.

Cheezit Meatloaf
You will need
3 lb package of lean ground turkey
1 - 7 oz box of cheesy crackers, any variety will do
1 package of dry onion soup mix
2 eggs
BBQ sauce
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 tsp dried Italian herbs

Reheat oven TP 375 degrees.
In a large bowl, crush the crackers with the back of a soup ladle until well crumbled. Place ground turkey into the bowl. Sprinkle with the pepper, herbs,,soup mix and add the eggs. Toss gently until well blended. Form into a loaf and place into a baking dish that has been sprayed with non stick spray.

Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and brush with the BBQ sauce until well coated on top, sides and ends. Place back into oven and bake another 40 minutes Or until cooked all the way through. remove from the oven and allow to rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Smashed Garlic Roasted potatoes
6-8 medium scrubbed and pricked red skin potatoes.
Micro wave the pototes until done in two batches.

Place potatoes in a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper.
Meanwhile, combine in a small bowl
2 TSBP grated cheese of your choice
Freshly ground pepper
freshly crushed garlic cloves (I use one clove elephant garlic and squeeze it through my garlic press)
1/2 tsp italian seasoning

smash the cooked potatoes with the skin on with a potato masher to flatten and open them up.
drizzle with the garlic, cheese and oil mixture, brushing it over the potatoes. Drizzle with more EVOO if desired.

Place in preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes.