Saturday, February 27, 2010

Electricity: I has it!

Hi everybody!

Game on!

I came home to a fully-functional neighborhood, and the store will be OPEN for business as usual tomorrow.

I never had such a good shower in all my life.

But go easy on us tomorrow: we have been out of practice for the last coupla days and we have a LOT of orders to catch up on!



No Power at the SHOP!!!

Hey guys,

Alewives has no power, which means I also have no power at my house.

We lost electricity in the big storm on Thursday night and have no idea of when it will be coming back.

Right now I am e-mailing from the parking lot of our little town's coffee shop because the bummer about losing your power (besides the no-heat/no-shower/ no-light thing) is that you can't TELL PEOPLE you have no power.

But, don't cry for me!

It has been (sort of) fun to bust out the candles and go to bed early and take it slow and socialize/commiserate with everyone else in the same position.

I am very grateful for neighbors and friends right now.

And very grateful that the only thing to have gone wrong was to lose power:

Our neighbors just across the street a bit have a big hole in their roof where a tree crashed through.

Thankfully, no one was hurt except the house.

Yes, I would say we got off very lucky, indeed.

I am thankful for everyone's patience and very sorry if you came to the shop and found yourself locked out or if you e-mailed us and thought we were ignoring you!

I will have a lot of catching-up to do when we get our power back.

If everyone can just be patient for a bit longer then in a few days all will be back to normal and I will SMELL a lot better, too!


Rhea at Alewives

PS We still held the Craft Swap last night, but we held it at an "alternative location." I have pictures but they will have to wait for the power, too!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Ah me...

When it rains it pours.

And it is raining AND pouring here like a...

...well, never mind.

We are all going to turn prune-y soon.

I didn't have time during the day to post pictures of our Mystery Quilt Class, but I will try to do it tomorrow.

In the meantime, here are some tidbits to keep you busy.

• I am closing the giveaway for the free spot in my Virtual Turning Twenty class a week from tomorrow on March 5th, so there is still time to enter.

• We have a giveaway coming up on Soulemama this weekend. Be there or be square.

• This is my wedding dress: but you have to click on the champagne color. It came in the mail the other day while I was at the store. I scurried into the bathroom to try it on and I love, love, love it. It is very me and will be fun to accessorize. Now I have begun the pre-wedding ritual of trying it on and prancing around the house when Ollie is not at home. Tell me I am not the only one who does this.

• Unbeknownst to me Jessica ordered her dress from the same place on the same day, but not the same dress. She had to send hers back, though, because apparently she has been a size 2 all along. I know because I measured her chest myself!

Craft Swap is tomorrow night at 6:00. I can't wait to show you what I made this time!

• Made a tablerunner for our coffee table with some of my blocks from the Denyse Schmidt class. When Ollie came home he said he liked the new tablerunner. THEN he pleasantly shocked me when he said "It looks like one of those Denyse Schmidt quilts." I told him that was the sexiest thing he'd ever said to me.

• Got my own personal herd of turtles in the mail today. Will post about them soon(ish).

Okay, must go get my beauty sleep.

Gotta bring my A-game tomorrow night.

Talk to you all again soon!



Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Past, Present and Future

Past: some vintage goodies from my good friend Kay.

(And she sent COOKIES, too!!!)

Present: Some fabric I just got from Nina at SwankySwell.

I don't know what I am going to do with this, but I love, love love it!

Future: Something I am going to tell you about... LATER!

Have a good couple of days.

I will be back on Thursday with pictures from the Mystery Quilt weekend!



Saturday, February 20, 2010

Turning Twenty is full

Hello my ladies,

Virtual Turning Twenty is now full.

Thank you so much to everybody who responded so quickly.

To those of you who did not make it in, I will do it again, I promise!

Interesting tidbit:

The closest person to me who is taking the class lives in Freeport, Maine.

The farthest person from me who is taking the class lives in Tokyo, Japan.

Is the interweb crazy or what?

Anyhoo, just wanted to give you a heads-up.

Now I can start blogging about other things again!



Friday, February 19, 2010

4 spots left!

Wowie- wee-wah!!!

What a 24 hours it has been...

There are only 4 spots left in my Virtual Turning Twenty class.

If you don't plan on winning one of the giveaways it would be advisable to pounce!

I just put up a button in our Turning Twenty section for easy class-purchasing.

Thanks to everyone who has signed up so far!

In other news, I am getting ready to go to bed, having a glass of wine and watching "Hud."

I have a thang for old movies and I am particularly fascinated by Patricia Neal.

(I think she is still alive, too!)

Signing off until after the weekend.

We are holding our first ever "Mystery Class" tomorrow and Sunday.

I promise to document!


Rhea at Alewives

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Virtual Turning Twenty Class!

She is up on the site!

Go take a look (scroll down to the bottom of the page: classes are listed in chronological order) and let me know if I have left anything out!

(And wish me luck!)



PS I will leave the giveaway for the free seat in the Virtual Turning Twenty class up for a few more days, then choose a winner!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Alrighty Then!

(Any Sex and the City fans out there know to which I am referring? Stick with me, we will come back to that...)

It looks like I am going to teach a virtual Turning Twenty class!

I am sooo excited!!!

Thanks for all the great feedback on my last post... it was just what I needed to kick-start this idea...

Here are some things you should know if you are interested in taking the class:

• This class is aimed at the absolute beginner! Don't be shy if you have never made a quilt before: I like 'em that way because then I can teach you all of my good habits before you get "corrupted." You will need to be familiar with your own sewing machine, though, and know how to thread the machine, wind and thread the bobbin, etc. Each machine is so different that a virtual class will never be able to help you as much as some quality time with your machine and your manual will!!! If you are a little uncomfortable with these functions on your machine, I recommend setting your manual out beside you and threading the top of the machine ten times in a row and stitching a little on a piece of practice fabric. I know it sounds a bit boring- and it is - but it's the only way to learn it good!

• The class will begin in early April, giving me about a month to prepare. I will nail down the exact date and time for the start of class in a few days and list it on our class page, but of course I will keep you updated via this space as well.

• All students will be required to purchase the Turning Twenty pattern booklet. I would love it if you purchased your copy from us, but you are not required to do so. You will need to buy or borrow a copy from somewhere, though, as it would be super-duper illegal for me to provide you with a copy free of charge and I am way too pretty to go to jail! However, we will be able to offer students a 10% discount on the pattern booklet!

• All students will be required to sign up ahead of time and pay a class fee. I don't yet know how much this fee will be, but I will confer with my esteemed colleague (Mom) and get back to you as soon as possible with that figure.

• I will set up a space on the website to purchase the virtual class: look for it on the class page. Once you have purchased the class you will be e-mailed the materials list for the class and the address for a top-secret website containing the virtual lessons. I am very confident that I can translate the process into a series of photos and written instructions, but I am a first timer so I will count on you all to point out where my instructions need improvement. The website will be in blog format, so you will be able to comment with your questions and please do speak up, because everyone will learn from your curiosity.

• Class size will be limited... I have never done this before and most of me is very excited but part of me feels cautious not to bite off more than I can chew! I want it to feel intimate like a "class," too, and I want us to get to know each other via the internet as much as we can, so let's say that this time around we will only be taking 10 students (not including the 2 lucky students who will win free seats in the class... keep reading for more info on that!). Hopefully this experiment will be a huge success and once I have recorded the lesson plans I will be able to do it again much more easily. For now, you are all my guinea pigs!!!

• I will also be setting up a Flickr group for the virtual Turning Twenty class so we can all post pictures of our progress and more importantly of our fabric choices!!! I get such a thrill from seeing so many different versions of the same project and I think you will, too!!!

• The class will be divided up into "lessons" and each week I will post a new lesson. Most lessons will only require about 2 1/2 hours of "homework" ... that's just 30 minutes of sewing a day over the course of five days! And the beauty of doing this at home is that you can divide that 2 1/2 hours however you like. And if you aren't quite done by the time the next lesson rolls around it probably won't matter at all.

• The class will cover the following (some of these will be their own lessons and some will be grouped together into one lesson):

1) Purchasing and preparing your fabrics, including how to calculate how much fabric you need for the Turning Twenty size you want to create. You can make any size from baby to king!
*Alewives will offer a 10% discount to anyone taking the class who purchases their fabrics from our site/shop. Again, you don't have to buy your fabrics from us, but we would love it if you did! We will gladly hold your hand and work with you on an individual basis to get your combo right... that is our job, after-all!

2) Learning how to cut your pieces with a rotary cutter, mat and ruler.
*Alewives will soon be adding these items to our online store, again with a 10% discount offered to anyone taking the class. So, if you do not live near a store that carries these supplies, we will be your one-stop shop!

3) Learning to "Assembly Line" piece your blocks (this is a great technique! It will blow ya mind and save you time and make your thread last longer!).

4) Proper pressing and pinning techniques (In my opinion the most under-utilized part of the sewing process!).

5) Sewing the blocks into a quilt top (Again, I have some great tricks for this step that ensure even the most novice-y of novices will have perfectly matching seams!).

6) The proper way to add borders (Yes, there is a "proper" way!)

7) Sewing your backing (Including how much to buy for your quilt size).

8) Choosing a batting.
*Alewives will be putting battings online soon, as well! You will have many different options to choose from, and I will guide you ad-nauseum through all the different choices! And of course, if you choose to purchase your batting from us, you will receive that 10% discount.

9) Sandwiching your backing, batting and quilt top (no matter how big your quilt is, I have some great tips for doing this at home... and at no point will you need to crawl around on your kitchen floor!).

10) Machine quilting your quilt (We will be learning simple, straight line quilting with a walking foot, which looks great on a Turning Twenty quilt!).
*A note to anyone who does NOT want to machine quilt their own quilt: Alewives has an arrangement with a local long-arm machine quilter. This gal is very affordable: as a frame of reference, she can quilt a Queen-size for about $80. She offers a variety of different quilting patterns and she has an excellent turn-around time, too. It may be a great investment to send her your finished quilt top and let her do that step for you, particularly if you are making a larger-size quilt, which can be bulky and difficult for a first-timer (this is due to the fact that the larger your quilt is, the harder it will be to fit it under the throat of your machine). Machine quilting a larger size is possible, but it may not be the most "encouraging" process for your first time. I know a lot of you want to make a quilt that is large enough to use on your bed and would prefer your first quilt be a larger one... because that is exactly how I was when I made my first quilt! Should you go this route, you would also skip the "sandwiching" of the three layers, as machine quilters need the three layers separate. I admit that machine quilting is not my favorite step: I hand my quilt over to this lady any chance I get and so do lots of our students and customers at the store. I know she would be happy to have some "mail order" customers, as well, and will work with you on an individual basis to come up with something perfect for your quilt!

11) Making and applying binding. There will be some hand-sewing required at the very last step, but I find this step so relaxing and "full circle" that I have never minded doing it and it goes by quite fast in the end. Good "in front of the TV" work.

I believe that is it... it will be very interesting to see how our business changes with the addition of virtual classes and the offering of quilting tools and battings as well.

Let me know if you have any questions and look for the class listing on the website soon.

I have one last tidbit for any of you who are still with me...

We have a giveaway coming up with SouleMama the weekend of February 27th where we will be debuting a brand new Turning Twenty kit (assembled by yours truly!) and as part of the giveaway we will include one free "seat" in our virtual Turning Twenty class!

Look for it on Amanda's site next weekend (not this coming weekend) and good luck!




Here's another deal for you... I will provide one free seat in the class for anyone who leaves me a comment and correctly tells me what "Alrighty Then!" refers to... If you are a "Sex and the City" fan like me you will have no problem remembering this one! I will have Ollie randomly pick one of the correct responses to receive the virtual seat in my class! Good luck, ladies! Make me proud!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Back to Basics: For the Beginner

I've been at Alewives for 11 years now, and I have seen a lot of beginners come through our doors.

It's very important to me that the beginning sewer have an encouraging and positive first experience, because if you do, you are that much more likely to come back!

It breaks my heart when someone comes into the shop for a button or a bit of ribbon and they look around at all of the beautiful fabrics and say "Oh, this makes me wish I knew how to sew!"

Because anyone can sew, really.

A lot of times, these very people have had what I like to call a B.S.E.

A Bad Sewing Experience.

They tried to teach themselves how to sew (or had their parent teach them how to sew... almost as bad an idea as having a parent teach you how to drive!) and things didn't turn out well.

They botched a step or two and ended up with a half-finished project in their closets, reminding them of how frustrated they were and of the money they wasted.

Nobody wins with a Bad Sewing Experience.

With that in mind, here are my tried and true projects for all of the first-timers out there.

These projects are encouraging, well-written and attainable for a beginner.

Best book for beginners:

Seams to Me
by Anna Maria Horner.

The reasons I recommend this book:

What makes Seams to Me such a great choice for beginners is it's super-thorough introduction.

Anna Maria is your own personal Mr. Miyagi, making you wax-on, wax-off as she guides you through setting up your sewing space, how to use a machine and the different parts and functions on a machine, how to select fabrics and colors that work well together, different needles, different cutting tools, and much more.

No stone is left unturned.

Finally, once you have finished reading the introduction (which is even FUN to read!), the projects in this book are modern, contemporary, appealing to today's sewer and cover a wide range of uses, from a small pin-cushion caddy to a simple quilt.

There are even some projects that don't involve any sewing at all!

And the gorgeous photography doesn't hurt none, either.

This book sells itself and I am so glad Anna Maria wrote it and so glad I have a go-to book when a beginner walks through our doors asking for my advice.

Best quilt pattern for beginners:

Turning Twenty by Tricia Cribbs.

The reasons I recommend this pattern:

You've heard the expression don't judge a book by its cover, right?

Never more true than with the Turning Twenty pattern.

Depending on the fabrics you choose, this quilt reflects anybody's taste!

It's easy for a beginning sewer to pick out fabric for a Turning Twenty quilt: you just need twenty fat quarters...

or get yourself ten half yards... it's the same thing!

(I just blew your mind there, didn't I?)

Of course, for those of you who are absolutely terrified of choosing your own fabrics, you are not alone and you could always order one of our Turning Twenty kits... that's a sure-fire route to success!

The Turning Twenty quilt makes use of four simple shapes, so it is very easy to cut out.

Because the shapes are so large ("inexcusably large" is how my friend Nicole describes it), there are less seams and your fabric goes a long way, meaning this project costs less than a more traditional bed-sized quilt would.

The other great thing about these large pieces of fabric is that you really get to see the designs.

A lot of today's fabric doesn't need to be cut into teeny, tiny little pieces to look good.

You can get away with a simpler pattern that lets the fabric be the star of the show.

I also find that this style of quilt appeals to the more modern quilter.

And this quilt is quick!

The cutting goes relatively quickly and you can "assembly line" sew your blocks, saving time and thread along the way.

(Interesting side-note: I have been thinking about teaching a "virtual" Turning Twenty class one of these days... if you are interested, let me know and I will think about it a little more seriously!)

Best garment pattern for beginners:

The Anna Tunic by Amy Butler.

The reasons I recommend this pattern:

I wish Amy Butler were here right now so I could give her a big smooch.

Not only do we make oodles of money when she puts out a new fabric collection, not only did she single-handedly make sewing sexy again, not only does she write sewing patterns that are clear and concise and thoroughly modern, she did something even more profound to me...

She writes sewing patterns that include larger sizes as well.

As someone who will always struggle with weight and who is in the pre-wedding uber-struggle right now, I have been so grateful to Amy for writing patterns that include my size and that look good on any body type (even though I suspect that Ms. Butler has probably never had to worry about that herself!).

The Anna Tunic is the perfect example of this.

If you have Michelle Obama arms you can wear the tunic "al fresco," but if you are a little shy about letting your arms hang out you can wear this number under a cardigan or over a shirt.

The shape of the Tunic flares from the hips, skimming those "wobbly bits" (as Bridget Jones would say) and is universally flattering.

There are no buttonholes or zippers to fear with this pattern, and a minimum of pattern pieces (basically a front, back and 2 neck yoke pieces) mean you don't need to spend your whole life cutting.

The sewing instructions are very well written, like all of Amy's patterns, and I have found that the garment comes together quickly and easily with very pleasing results.

My only words of wisdom for this pattern is to take your measurements carefully and choose your size according to the corresponding measurements on the back of the pattern.

I also like to line mine with a coordinating solid or a fun little print instead of muslin ( I like those little details!).

And I wear my Anna Tunics over jeans.

Love the tunic-over-jeans-look, even though I may or may not be "getting away with" said look.

And that is all for tonight.

I hope this is helpful to all of you first-timers out there.

Believe it or not, I was once a first-timer myself, and I was most certainly NOT someone to whom sewing came naturally.

But I loved sewing and fabrics, and I kept at it.

And I had a lot of really great teachers.

It would be fabulous if everyone's road to sewing success was like mine, but even if you are not someone to whom it comes naturally, you can at least surround yourself with friendly projects, and avoid the dreaded B.S.E.

Have a nice evening and I will be back again soon!


Rhea at Alewives

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tokyo Quilt Show

No, I didn't go...

But sit back and enjoy this fabulous slide show.

Just click right here.

It's like watching Quilt TV.

I like to play the "See if I can find any fabric that I recognize" game.

So far, no luck.

But, about five minutes in, there is a really cool "town scene" quilt and if you look closely, you will see two little mice getting married on one of the roof rafters.

See if you can find them!

Thanks so much to the lovely Miss Iris for sending me the link!



PS I apologize for the lack of photos and more in depth posts lately... I am a busy girl!

As I write this it is 3:05 and I am just now shoveling some lunch into my mouth...

It's so glamorous running your own fabric store!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

The best laid plans

Well, I had big plans for you all tonight, but they did not pan out, unfortunately.

I am putting the binding on a very special quilt that I cannot show you yet but that I will show you very soon and I had every intention of documenting the binding and posting a tutorial in my sidebar.

People are always coming into the store and they have their quilts all quilted or tied and they look at me and say "What do I do now? How do you put on the binding?"

I know these people are expecting a quick and easy answer: a five minute jobby, but anyone who has ever actually put a binding on their quilt knows that this is not a five minute endeavor.

There are special folds and special stitches and a couple of very important steps to remember and while binding is not hard (I repeat: binding is not hard!) you have to go in the right order and you have to know the tricks.

My friends May and Kristine have both taken binding pictures on their I-phones and made their very own tutorials and I always thought that a good binding tutorial would save a lot of time and heartbreak for some of you out there (including me!) and I thought that today was the day that the tutorial was gonna happen.


But the batteries died in my camera (and I was too lazy to find new ones).

But I realized I could not find my rotary cutter (and was too lazy to go over to the store to get another one).

But I happened to find some leftover binding from another project that was already made and the perfect amount and the perfect color for this particular quilt (rendering the making of new binding unnecessary).

So there is the story of how you missed out on a binding tutorial tonight.

It is my day off, after all.


But I have every intention of posting a binding tutorial here very, very soon.

But I had a great time putting the binding on while I watched Sense and Sensibility (which never gets old and it was a beautiful day outside and I probably should have gone for a walk or done something healthy like that instead of watching a movie and eating popcorn and drinking chocolate milk).

But I have now boiled the potatoes dry so I've really got to go (knew I shouldn't have had that glass of wine before dinner!)

Thanks and I will be back again soon!


Rhea at Alewives

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Post Super Bowl Post

So... I don't know the first thang about Football.

But I do like the Super Bowl.

I like the commercials.

And I like the halftime show.

I really liked when Bruce Springsteen was the halftime show.

And Tom Petty.

But my favorite halftime show of all time, ever, hands-down, no contest was U2.

(I do believe the Edge is the cutest thing to ever wear a skull cap.)

And I thought the Who were pretty good this year.

They didn't rock my world, but they were pretty good.

And Pete Townshend reminds me of my Uncle Paul.

(Dad, tell me you don't see a resemblance: the two were separated at birth!)


So far this year my favorite commercial was the one for Dodge where the men say that they will do all of these girly things for their lady-friends, including "watching all of your vampire tv shows."

That smacked of reality.

Wahbout you???

What were your favorite parts of the Super Bowl this year?

(I don't even mind if they are Football related!)


Rhea at Alewives

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pina Coladas and the Travel Channel

We have gotten some seriously cool new Japanese fabrics in today.

Not Koi and not Cranes and there is no metallic in sight.

Not that kind of Japanese, but contemporary Japanese.

I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love these new fabrics.

Expensive as all get out?


But a little goes a long way.

Except with the Nani Iro prints.

They are so beautiful they break my heart.

There's no way to control yourself with those fabrics: they are begging to be made in to a garment or two or three.

What a GORgeous Liverpool dress this print would make.

In other news, Ollie and I needed a little pick-me-up tonight (February blahs), so we went to the Yellowfront Store and bought ingredients to make Pina Coladas.

Now we are chillin' like a villain, sipping the fruits of our labors and watching the Travel Channel.

"Most Extreme Water Parks."

I do believe we're gonna make it.

See you again soon!



Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Checking in: "L" style

Loving: our new Liverpool Dress sample (GREAT job, Tammy! You really stepped up and this has been getting SO SO SO much attention: people love the voile!)

Listening: to Gaby Moreno (she opened for Ani last weekend and they were both, ahhh, how do you say... amazing!)

Looking: forward to this fabric coming in (It's Nani Iro and it's fabulous and I have BIG plans for this, reader, BIG plans!)

Linking: to this (because I just think it is so darn cool.)

Liking: my new earrings and scarf from Darling&Delisle (Note to self: make sure my friends and family know that I want the words "Crazy Scarf Lady" on my epitaph).

Laughing: at this preview with Ollie (Whatever you do, just leave it at the preview. Under no circumstances are you to rent the movie... heed my warning and learn from our mistakes.)

Longing: for Spring and Summer to get here sooner rather than later (What did the Groundhog say???).

Looking: at this while I fold my laundry (almost sorta kinda makes it fun-ish! I have to admit that it won't be as entertaining without Ping around!)

Learning: all about Asian textiles when I went to Intara Wut today (they have just opened a gorgeous new shop on Main St. in Wiscasset and the husband/wife team who own the place are our new neighbors here in the Mills, too! Cannot recommend it highly enough!)

Leaving: the blog now to eat some garlicky mashed potatoes that Ollie made (bad-breath-ville, here I come!)