Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Thanks and The Quilt Show and umm, oh yeah... A SALE!!!

First of all, let me say Thank You for all your well wishes on my last post.

I am sooo ridiculously happy and your kind words are a BIG part of that happiness.


We are going to get married in the Fall of next year, which means the coming year will be a very full one, indeed.

Here are some better pictures of the ring...

I've discovered that my limbs are simply too short to photograph each other so these were taken by Ollie.

He does good work, no?

Both as a photographer and as a purchaser of rings.

The ring is vintage, from the 1930's.

Ollie bought it at Stars and there is a sweet, funny story behind it...

If you're good maybe I will tell you someday.

Second of all, let me say Thank You to everyone who came and said Hi at the Quilt Show.

It was so nice to meet some of you in person (especially my new BFF and Summer Peonies Octet winner Jayne!).

I also wanted to let you know that we had our most successful Quilt Show EVER.

Thanks to everybody who supports our "Funkiness..."

...Both at the Quilt Show and at the store.

We are very lucky indeed.

Thanks to Jessica and Jessie and Rina who cut a BILLION vinyl rolls for Grocery Totes (which we sold out of, by the way!).

It was not the world's most glamorous job, but you did it and you did it well.

Muh! I KISS you!

Here are some pictures of our booth that I FINALLY remembered to snap on Sunday (phew!)

It was a LOT of work and I am pretty zonked but I do love going to the show every year and I am pretty happy.

And finally, I get to the part about the SALE!

The Midsummer's Clearance Sale starts this Thursday July 30th.

The sale will run through Sunday August 2nd.

Certain fabrics will be on sale for just $5 a yard and certain books and patterns will be on sale for 50% off.

Sound good?

I thought so.

Here's how it's gonna go down...

Sale fabrics will be in the classroom and they CANNOT LEAVE the classroom (we have to keep them separate from the full-priced goods, you see).

We will cut for you in the classroom.

All sale fabrics must be purchased in half-yard increments.

That means you can buy a half yard, a whole yard, a yard and a half, two yards, etc... but you WON'T be able to buy five eighths of a yard or fat quarters, etc.

We will write you up a slip and then you can pop out of the classroom and proceed to the register as usual.

And there is going to be some good stuff in there, too.

Just you wait and see.

So, I do believe that is all, my dearies...

Thanks again and I will be back soon (ish).


Rhea at Alewives


Don't forget that the Craft Swap is coming up on August 14th. You can still sign up and get some super-great swag!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

It's really hard to photgraph your hand...

... when your heart is beating a mile a minute.

Ollie asked me to marry him last night.

And I said YES!!!

I truly am the happiest ( and LUCKIEST!) girl in the world.


(the future MRS. BUTLER)

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amy Butler's Field Bag and Tote

I'm reporting from the Field...

...Bag and Tote, that is.

I've just finished making one of Amy Butler's newest patterns - just in time for the really big shooow, too- and I thought I'd do a little pattern review.

First of all, if I am being honest, this is probably not a good choice for a beginner.

There are a lot of layers, so the going is slow.

The stab-ability quotient is very high on this one.

I had a few war wounds and a few sailor words.

This is a good bag for somebody with a few bags under her belt and someone who wanted a bit of a challenge.

I hope I'm not making this bag sound impossible (far from...) but I do believe you should know what you're getting yourself into.

I did all of my cutting in one session (If you know me at ALL you know that cutting is my least favorite part of any project) and then set the bag aside for a few hours.

Later on that night, I picked it up again for the "FUSING of the LAYERS."

Like the Birdie Sling, this bag uses many, many layers of one type of interfacing.

If I hate cutting I REALLY hate cutting out interfacing.

Over and over and over again.

So I didn't.

Instead of using many layers of fusible woven interfacing I took a tip from my good friend (and fellow fabric shop owner) Peggy Anne and I used canvas.

I just cut out one canvas piece for every three woven interfacing pieces and called it a day.

I also wanted the bag to stand up on it's own so I added a layer of Craft Fuse.

I fused the Craft Fuse to the canvas and then basted everything to the cut fabric pieces.

It was around this point that I realized I was probably my own worst enemy, but I kept on trucking anyway.

If you are making this bag I wouldn't strictly recommend following my canvas v. interfacing lead.

What I ended up doing was probably just as time consuming as cutting out three layers of interfacing.

Perhaps even more so.

It was easy for me to follow my own particular brand of madness, but I don't expect other people to be dragged down with me.

I just REALLY hate cutting out interfacing.

So, anyways, next up (after the cutting and the fusing) was the CORDING!

Cording is super-fun.

Very easy and great pay-off.

Be not intimidated by the cording.

Just get thee to a zipper foot!

Don't even THANK about tackling this bag sans zipper foot.


The hardest part of this bag (for Moi) was sewing the bag gusset (more commonly referred to in the pattern as the "bottom panel").

This was probably because I didn't cut the cording away like Amy told me to.

I have a super-heavy duty old machine and I thought it would sew through the cording like butter but I buh-ROKE two (count 'em two) needles.

That was dumb of me.

It probably would have gone in as smooth as silk if I had done what Amy says but that's no fun, right?

Live and learn.

This area where the cording meets up kept reminding me of when I was reading the book Memoirs of a Geisha.

(Stick with me here).

In the book, they describe the hair-do of the apprentice Geisha (the Maiko, I believe she is called) as the "Split Peach."

It is supposed to be a very suggestive hair-do and for some reason the shape of the bag where the bottom panel joins to the cording reminds me of the Split Peach hair-do.

Other than that the bag was not hard at all.

I would love to make another one and I'm so glad I have this one to take with me to the quilt show.

The deets:

I did the Field TOTE, which is the Field BAG only without the zippered panel on top.

The tote has no closure but if you wanted to you could put one of those magnetic closures in there slick as a whistle.

I used Amy Butler home decorator weight from the Nigella collection for the exterior and MODA quilting weight from the Neptune collection for the interior lining (good call, Jessica!).

I am going to try my next Field Tote WITHOUT the bottom panel.

This would not only be super cute, but super quick and easy as well.

I am really congratulating myself on that particular breakthrough, as it means I only need to sew in ONE layer of cording.

It will not stand up on it's own, but DANG it will look good draped across my shoulder.

This is a BIG bag.

I LIKE big bags... and I cannot lie.

Oooh, sorry about that.

Alright, pattern review is over.

Hope this was helpful and I will see you again soon!



Thursday, July 16, 2009

Crazy days and Anyways

It has been a ZOO around here lately.

And my brain has things escaping from it.

I om officially one of those people who bought a magazine they ALREADY HAD.

Can you believe that?

Tell me I am not the only person who has done this.

But anyways,

we are getting ready for Maine Quilts 09 which is this super-huge gigantic quilt show in Augusta.

Every year it takes place during the last full weekend of July and this year the last full weekend is the 24th, 25th and 26th...

So, this year's show is almost a whole week earlier than it normally is, and right on the heels of the Denyse Schmidt workshop.

What I'm trying to tell you (in my own roundabout, rambly-rambly way) is that I may be a little bit scarce these next coupla weeks.

There is a LOT to get ready for.

Certain other quilt shops who shall remain nameless go to many, many, many shows a year and God bless 'em.

We go to one show a year and it just about kills me.

Call me crazy but I like it when the customers come to us...

(Not the other way around.)

We drag the best of the best and the newest of the newest to the show and set up a booth for three days and sell, sell, sell and then we come home EXHAUSTED.

It takes me WEEKS (not days) to get everything back in ship-shape again, and if you know anything about me you know that I get wicked... um, shall we say ..."upset".... if the store looks messy.

So, I have been taking my down-time very seriously.

I spent hours on the dock at the lake yesterday.

I finished Twilight and now I am a couple of hundred pages into New Moon.

I love, love, love having a big 'ol book to read.

And Ollie and I are looking forward to vacationing in Vermont at the end of August.

Any suggestions?

We are thinking Stowe because it came highly suggested by my friend Barbara and her husband Donovan.

They said it was near the Ben&Jerry's factory and a bunch of other stuff, too, but the truth was, they had me at Ben&Jerry's.

The picture is from my Grandmother's place in Sprucehead.

It is lovely and right on the ocean.

How could you not be relaxed there?

I am very spoiled indeed to have the choice of a private ocean-front or lake-front property from which to enjoy my days off.

And I love my job...

(Even though running a business can sometimes be stressful.)

Anyhow, just wanted to touch base.

Hope you are able to set aside some relaxi-cab time this summer, too!



PS Please, if you are at Maine Quilts come and say "Hi" to me. I will be demo-ing the Vinyl Grocery Tote Saturday morning at 10:30 and I'll be in the booth the rest of the time...

Unless I make a Coolatta-run : )

Sunday, July 12, 2009


She is lovely... inside and out!

We had such a good time in the Denyse Schmidt workshop yesterday.

I didn't really know what to expect.

I mean, I had my pre-conceived notions about what an "improvisational patchwork" workshop might entail, but when Denyse arrived and we actually started going at it, I found myself in a state of sewing induced bliss.

My one disappointment with the day was that it all went by so quickly.

Denyse's technique hit such a chord with me.

I think the problem a lot of quilters have these days it that we are all so strapped for time.

Denyse's improv patchwork solves this problem: in a few minutes, you can create a block and in a day (or over the course of a few spare moments each day for a week or so), you could easily create an entire quilt top.

A lot of quilters also "feel the pinch" these days.

In Denyse's workshop, we learned the value that even the smallest little smidgeon of fabric can add to a quilt.

Often times, these small slivers were the BEST parts of the block.

I will never, ever, ever look at my scraps the same way again.

Now I know why I should save them, how I should save them, and what I can do with them afterwards.

And the most important thing I am taking away with me is the "permission" Denyse gave all of us to break the rules.

This was a biggie for me because I have had such a traditional quilting background (for which I am super-grateful), but many of the people in my little area are "purists."

You wouldn't think that there would be a lot of prejudism in the quilting community but there can be.

I've had a lady tell me before that my quilt wasn't "real" because it wasn't done completely by hand.

I've had someone make me cut the selvadge edge off of my fabric because she said it wouldn't "perform" the same way the other fabrics would.

Lots of people have it etched in their brains that you cannot use a large scale print in small pieces or that you have to have a "light, medium and dark" in every composition or that every color has to "match."

I am waaay too busy/sensitive for these shenanigans.

As long as my quilt stays together and I like the way it looks that is all that matters.

Denyse's improv class gave every one permission to walk away from those pre-conceived notions.

All we had to do was just reach our hands into a paper bag (no peeking, mind you) and grab a couple of scraps and sew them together.

No looking, no planning... no pinning!

(And we got to pull from Denyse's stash, too!)

We were working with a time limit, too, so that took away the urge to over-think the composition of our blocks.

If two pieces fit together, they got sewed together.

Did you use the wrong side of the fabric by accident?

Go with the flow, baby!

Did you just pull out two pieces of the same fabric?

Sew them together, why not?

Crazy, I know... but so liberating.

Some people found it easier than others to "let go."

Personally, I loved it.

And I loved the finished results.

These blocks may not be everyone's cup of tea, but they are my cup of tea with milk...

... AND sugar.

At the end of the workshop we got to see one of Denyse's finished quilts.

This particular quilt was made using some of the leftover blocks from the workshops she holds at her studio.

Students are given the option to donate their blocks to be made into a quilt and that quilt is then auctioned off to benefit local charities.

We were all given the option of donating our blocks and I am sorry to admit that I TOTALLY kept my blocks, which are well on their way to becoming a big ol' quilt top and I will be happily squirreled away in my sewing room whenever I get the chance.

Of course, I will keep you all updated.

Thanks again, Denyse for coming up here to spread the word and thanks also to everyone who took the workshop.

You came from far and wide and I think a big part of what made the class so fun was our great group of ladies.

Hopefully we can do this again someday and in the meantime I am scheming and dreaming about going down to Denyse's studio in Bridgeport for the Advanced Improv class.

So I will leave you now... a happy quilter who met one of her design idols and was so pleased to find her everything I had hoped she would be and more.

See you again soon,




Denyse was kind enough to sign four copies of her book for us... they are on the website here or for all of you local gals come on in and snag one for yourself while they are still here!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Craft Swap is coming!!!

Here's a shout to all the local girls...

The second-ever Craft Swap is just a little bit more than a month away.

For those of you who don't know, the Craft Swap is

A) Just like a yankee swap, only with handmade items

B) A great chance to unleash your inner craft-diva

C) A surefire way to go home with something great


D) Insanely FUN!

And we would love to have you join.

There were almost thirty ladies swapping the last time we did this.

I think that any of them would say this is an event that is not to be missed.

There's a lot of swapping and stealing and I encourage that kind of thing.

Half the fun is stealing from each other, so NO BEING NICE!!!

(I assure you I will be cut-throat myself.)

Watch out for this lady in the picture above: she is RUTHLESS!!!

In order to participate, you MUST SIGN UP IN ADVANCE and receive a copy of the craft swap guidelines.

No craft swap crashing!

And, your craft does not need to be sewing-related.

It can be knit, crocheted, appliqued, decoupaged, felted, beaded, bangled, spangled, tatted, bedazzled, cooked, baked, or all of the above...

As long as it is handmade by you and FABULOUS, it is up for swapping.

(Okay, so bedazzling is probably out then.)

We will also have some food and drinks and the craft swap just happens to be the day after Mom's birthday so I think a little birthday cake is in order. She will probably try to use the birthday thing to her advantage and I can't blame her... it is a pretty good strategy.

So put your game/craft-diva face on and SIGN UP!!!

(You can do that by e-mailing me at rhea@alewivesfabrics.com, or calling us at 207-563-5002 OR you can stop in the shop and sign up in person.)

I hope to see you there!



Monday, July 6, 2009

Denyse Schmidt countdown and movie reviews and crying hard

It is a mere 5 days before Denyse will be at the shop to teach her Improvisational Patchwork workshop and I couldn't be more excited.

I am taking the workshop so not only do I get to hang out with a bunch of very cool ladies and sew all day long, but I also have the day off!!!

That's two Saturdays in a row for me and I do believe that is some sort of personal record.

Ollie and I have been getting the house in ship-shape. The sun has been out the last 2 or 3 days which does wonders for your "get up and go."

We took a break Saturday night to watch "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."

First of all, let me say it is a very good movie.

Second of all, let me say it is a very long movie.

Third of all, let me say that I cried.


I must have had some pent up tears because the movie triggered about two hours worth of sniveling and sobbing and a LOT of tissues were needed for the nose situation.

Just when I thought it was all out of my system I would be hit with a wave of sobbing.

And I mean truly "Boo-Hoo-Hoo-ing."

Ollie rubbed my back and looked very confused.

I was just glad I wasn't in public.

Sometimes I think you just get tears stored up and they've gotta get out of you somehow.

If it takes a sad movie to trigger that kind of reaction then you are probably very lucky, indeed.

I think the last time I was triggered by a movie was a few boyfriends and many moons ago when I went to see "Life is Beautiful."

Only that time I WAS in public.

I had to keep it together until we got to the car at which point I let it rip and the tears kept coming and my then-boyfriend had a similar reaction to Ollie's: supportive, but confused.

Anyways, Mom saw me the next day and I told her I had seen "Benjamin Button" and for some reason she had it in her head that it was a comedy.

"Oh, was that funny?" she asked.

Ummm... no.

To cleanse the "Movie Palate" we watched M. Night Shyamalan's (or M. Night Shyamalan-a-ding-dong, as I like to call him) new movie, "The Happening."

Let me save you a couple of hours of your life and tell you the REAL title of this movie should be "The Boring-ing."

WHAT a let-down.

Not his best work.

And I was a BIG fan of "The Village," I'll have you know.

Next on the agenda: more prep for Denyse Day, a couple of days off, some time in Sprucehead and hopefully some new, good movies.

Any sure-fire suggestions?

Nothing that will make me snivel, though, please.



PS I have no idea what the situation is with the header of my blog but I assure you I am on top of this and it shall get better. Sometimes the computer and I we are not the bestest of BFF's.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Closed for the Holiday

We will be closed tomorrow for Independence Day.

See you again on Sunday!



Wednesday, July 1, 2009

They're here and they're spectacular

Look what arrived this morning!

UPS guy I have never been so happy to see you and I promise not to tackle you again.

These fabrics (the "Far Far Away" collection by Heather Ross for Kokka fabrics) will be in the shop tomorrow (Thursday 7/2) on the Heather Ross page...

...except for 2 1/2 yards which has already gone home with me and is in the spin cycle as we speak (I took the peach-colored Frogs... betcha can't guess what I'm gonna make out of it!)

They are 45" wide and 100% cotton double gauze (which is sooo neat) and they are $17.50 a yard.

I have a feeling these are going to go quickly (they only come on 10 yard bolts, as opposed to the standard 15 yards), BUT, I am happy to report that we have more of these prints on their way in lots of different colors, too!

We're going to be Far, Far Away for a Long, Long Time!


Rhea at Alewives