Now Open Saturdays 10-2

Now Open on Saturdays
for your shopping convenience

Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10-3 and Saturday 10-2
Other days/hours by telephone call

Our snowbird season is winding down rapidly.  The hand quilters will all be going north by Easter.  They have done a fantastic job this season.  We had several new quilters and most of the time had two frames set up and busy at the same time, finishing at least 2 quilts each week and sometimes 3 or 4 depending on the size.  Hand quilting slows down in the summer since there is only one quilter who lives in Sarasota.  I get to pitch in and do some hand stitching in the summer, at least on our own quilt tops, most of them are crib quilts.  Right now our wait time is about 8-12 months for hand quilting, at least until the snowbirds return in November.

Teresa is whittling away at the longarm list.  We still provide both batting and thread at no charge when doing your quilt on the longarm.  Your choice of batting, we have nearly every type possible, all made in the USA of domestic fibers and origin.  We use no batting that contains adhesives or scrim.  Scrim is a cheesecloth-like material used in some batting products to keep the batting from separating.  Some brands with scrim can be stitched up to 10 inches apart.  The downside is that the scrim is hard to needle - the hand quilters simply go on strike and won't stitch on this batting.  The batting in a quilt sandwich needs to "float" so a fusible batt ironed onto the top defeats this purpose, plus the adhesive again makes this batting very hard to stitch.  Things you learn after doing about 3,000 quilts.  

NEW CLASS Friday, April 16, 10-4
Attic Windows by Faye
Level:  Confident beginner or intermediate
Must be comfortable using a ruler and rotary cutter
Price includes kit, a second practice panel, goody bag, PPE, door prizes, box lunch from Der Dutchman
The kit is a bay window from Northcott's Windswept collection.  Photo on website and on Facebook.  You also receive a second panel and instructions on how to make a 20-window top from a panel.  Good social distancing with your own 8-foot table for cutting and sewing.  Bring own supplies for cutting, ironing, and sewing.  Community supplies not available for use.
Call 941-330-0993 for a seat.  Or send a FB message (Alma Sues Quilt Shop)

New crib quilt kit "Little Critters" from a P&B collection.  "Gender neutral" in tones of grey and ecru featuring woodland baby animals; fox, bear, owl, deer, with the words "Be wide, Be brave, Be kind, Be curious" one on each block  Easy, suitable for beginner.  The framing strips are precut so its a quick quilt that requires only a scissors and sewing machine, no rotary cutting except for the binding.  An experienced sewer, oops, sewist, can stitch it, quilt it and finish easily in a day.  Great kit if you need a baby quilt in a hurry for a shower.  Can purchase on Etsy, or $48.00  Photo online and on FB.  Also available in the store packed in a cute sand pail with sand shovel.

New fabric - continually increasing the inventory of Prisma Dyes batiks by Robert Kaufman, a collection of tone on tone more solid looking batiks.  Hoffman panels Cityscape by day and by night, a gorgeous 108 wideback spring garden.  A 3-yd cut backed with a nice sateen makes a beautiful spring/summer wholecloth quilt.  Several more bolts arriving next week - the first bolt gone in a week.  Would love to see this one made up in a one block wonder technique.  
New wideback colors green and purple, a Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit panel with some coordinates, some new Kaffe Fassett prints, can't think of what else was in the boxes this week.  Constantly restocking the reproduction 20s/30s which sell briskly online.  

A new batch of commercially made masks arrived in many colors (black, navy, green, red, yellow, royal blue), very soft knitted fabric.  If you need one or more, just stop in and select several.  We do not sell masks, simply give them away and ask for a modest donation if you can.  These masks make a good foundation if you want to stitch a piece of fashion fabric over the solid color without having to make a mask from scratch.  They have strips of knit loops on the side instead of elastic, making them more comfortable behind ears.  They are just a bit smaller so are great for children.  Also good as an extra layer if you want to wear 2 or more masks together.     

New fun notions, a lipstick tube when opened and scrolled up becomes a needle case.  Already filled with needles.  More small size tomato pin cushion with strawberry needle sharpener attached, just like grandma had and the strawberry really works to sharpen needles.  I periodically sharpen my needle on the strawberry when hand quilting, makes the stitching through layers much easier.

So are you with it and understand the modern quilt speak?  First it was "sewist" ok, it may be confusing to see the word "sewer" in print and out of context, so as not to be think we work for the sanitation department.
"Negative space" is a fancy word for that space around and between the image or main subject - such as the space around quilt blocks, or the space around a grouping of colored fabric pieces, perhaps you know it as the background fabric.  Wikipedia defines space in art as either positive or negative.  The positive space is the main object or colorful image, the negative space is around or in between the main object or image.  New quilters like to combine solid colors and prints with lots of negative space to allow for beautiful fancy stitching.  Negative space can be white or black, often solids.  Negative space can also be a "low volume" fabric which we used to call a tone on tone print, or a background fabric, a "neutral" fabric, a subdued print that from a distance reads as a solid, or how about the old word "blender?"  These are words that have gravitated over from the visual arts vocabulary.  Quilting is no longer considered a craft, it is a textile or visual art.

The first place I look for a definition of newly used words is Wikipedia or Wictionary.  Low volume is defined as a quantity in a 3 dimensional space of an enclosed surface, a solid, liquid, gas, etc.  An example would be 1/4 cup of water in a larger vessel.  It also refers to sound, such as a horn blasting on high which is called "tutto volume."  No word in Wikipedia for a more quiet horn. 
How does this apply to fabric?  Volume can be measured by a unit of length - take the length times the width of a piece of fabric, one yard for example 36" x 44" = 1,584 square inches.  A low volume fabric would have less print in this space than a high volume fabric such as a calico or a packed floral or a busy print.  A related term is "density."  When we talk about the quilt stitching we do refer to density.  Hand quilting or longarm quilting can be either very dense or less dense, depending on how many stitches are sewed per square inch.  High density stitching makes a quilt more stiff with less draping ability.  We haven't yet incorporated "low volume" into stitching, say for example, "Do you want low volume or high volume stitching in your quilt?"  And we probably will just continue to use the word density.

So a low volume fabric would have a less dense overall print with some space between the lines, maybe more, maybe less.  A new collection of "low volume" prints from one company shows samples of chicken wire, subdued dots or circles, lines, etc.  My grandmother probably called many of these fabrics "shirtings" which were fabrics used to make mens daytime and nighttime shirts.  Old time quilters know that the nicest quilts are not made from just a handful of colorful prints or florals.  These ladies may not have had access to all the educational techniques on YouTube or the internet or in dozens of quilt books.  They learned from one another in quilting bees and sewing circles and yes, from the Kansas City Star weekly quilt patterns, on how to use the plain flour and sugar sacks to showcase their prints from the chicken feed sacks.  Some of the prints from the 20s and 30s look very much like today's "modern" fabrics! 
The "low volume" or tone on tones or background or blender fabrics allow the beautiful quilting stitches to show on a quilt.  When hand stitching we preferentially do the elaborate quilting on those background or light colored or tone on tone fabrics where it will show the beautiful pattern.  Chicken wire, tone on tone dots, swirls, little leaves - if you are familiar with P&Bs ramblings or apple cider, then you know what these look like.  I guess in the shop we should collect all the shelves of backgrounds and tone on tones and put them together in a new "low volume" section.  Alma Sue's has always carried a large number of backgrounds because we make custom quilts and are well aware of how often we pull from these bolts to balance the colorful prints in a quilt. 

Ok so much for low volume.  What about the word "substrate?"  Some shops are using this word to describe the fabric type.  Instead of saying cotton, linen, silk, cotton blend, corduroy, etc. the comment is made that the shop carries fabric in many substrates.  Wikipedia says this is the "base material onto which images will be printed" then gives examples of substrates as plastic films, plastic containers, paper, parchment, and textiles, using a print process such as silk screening, photolithography (would this be like digital printing?)  So - many different substrates are many different textiles.  To keep things simple and old fashioned, we will just continue to just use the words for the specific fibers used, like cotton, silk, wool, and so forth.

Wonder what the rest of 2021 holds in store.  Some are comparing this year with the time following the Spanish flu epidemic from 1918 which blossomed into the "roaring 20's."  One hundred years later we again are in the 20's.  Hopefully the quilting industry will continue to thrive.  Sewing is good therapy.