Saturday, April 24, 2010


Friday, April 16th at last! Raymond and I left for Chicago. Chicago is known for a lot of things… deep dish pizza, Al Capone, the mob and prohibition, site of the World’s Fair … and so much more…But this trip, Chicago is all about International Quilt Show. 
One the way down, we made a few stops.    I’ve heard from lots of people that I should get to Newmarket to see Evelyn’s Sewing Centre, so we took the opportunity to go.  Evelyn’s was something to see with tons of fabric and quilts and notions and embroidery stuff etc, etc...  From there, we headed Birch Run in Michigan. Why you ask? One word: Outlets!  On Saturday, we stopped at the Lighthouse in Michigan City for some more shopping.
Finally, to Chicago!  Getting to our hotel was the first step – driving in Chicago isn’t at all like Ottawa, but we made it!  And who did we meet as we were about to check in? Johanne Batchelor with the news that we crossed time zones and gained an hour with our travels, so off we went to the Show!
We had big plans to make sure that we saw everything.  There were about 150 merchants in the exhibition hall so we had lots to see in addition to the quilts. Time was short on Saturday; there was so much fabric, notions… my goodness, just tons of stuff!  Good news was that we had all day Sunday to look at everything and have the time to take it all in. 
On Sunday, we got to the show early, before opening – I was eager to get there and see it all! The exhibited quilts were so fantastic and varied in techniques and styles that I took a ton of photos and bought a book of the quilts we were not allowed to photograph.  Pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’m sharing lots from this trip (primarily of the Show).  Then we went back to revisit the merchants.  There was so much to see!  From a section of Canadian themed quilts to still life subjects (that did not look still at all!) to traditional heirloom quilts to more sublime works of abstract art there was a lot to appreciate.
Monday, we visited Chicago. We took the train to downtown and then started walking.  One of the attractions of Chicago is the Magnificent Mile. It is basically a mile of stores with famous names – a must see (but you can’t buy… way out of my league)!   Chicago is a huge and vibrant city with loads to see and do.  It was fun!  We like to visit a city by taking some kind of tour, and Chicago has a get-on, get-off tour on a Double Decker or trolley bus.   We got on the Double Decker and decided to enjoy the sun – oh boy! Hold on to your hat!  Here I thought Chicago was the Windy City in the metaphorical sense to insinuate that Chicagoans were braggarts because of all the boasting Chicago politicians had done to best their rivals in Cincinnati in the 1960s, but it turns out that the wind off Lake Michigan has got some zip of its own. 
We stopped at The Art Institute of Chicago to visit the incredible Impressionist collection. I have never seen so many Impressionist paintings in one room.  There was an extraordinary Matisse exposition.  Check out George Seurat’s «Un dimanche après-midi à l'Ile de la Grande Jatte». The website for the museum is:
It’s nice to be back in Ottawa, and I sure am inspired by the phenomenal quilts that we saw in Chicago hopefully this will be reflected in the store in the months to come. 

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Fat Quarter Frenzy FUN!

What a fantastic day it was!  Celebrating the beginning of Spring (even thought it feels much more like summer right now... no complaints!) always makes me think of Easter and the Easter parade in New York.  
And that got me thinking: we should have our own parade here in the store.  So, if you wore an Easter Bonnet to the Fat Quarter Frenzy, there were in-store coupons up for grabs.  

Even thought I have a personal no-hats policy, it was great fun to see other people's creativity and how they got into the spirit of it!

Congratulations to the winner of the best bonnet designer... Paulette Sanderson!  Also, a big thank you to everyone who came by in their bonnets. Hats off to you! 


The Tiffany Exhibition: A Passion for Colour

Quilters know how we can get when we are entrenched in a project.  My husband felt that I should get out of the house, so he offered to go to Montréal and see the Tiffany exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

First, let’s differentiate between America's famous jeweler Tiffany & Co., in New York, founded by Louis's father, Charles L. Tiffany, and the glass and decorating companies of his son, Louis C. Tiffany.
Tiffany set out to become a painter, training in New York and Paris.  Tiffany exhibited his paintings and watercolours in international exhibitions, where he gained great acclaim. 

Eventually, Tiffany’s interests evolved, and he established his own decorating company and began receiving commissions from prominent Americans.  His company offered everything the imagination could desire …and then Tiffany discovered glass.    
Tiffany began to integrate glass in many forms in these interiors, including leaded-glass windows and lamps.  With glass, Tiffany was curious to experiment with the colours and brilliance as they changed under natural or artificial light, and he was captivated by the effects that could be captured by craftsmen.  New techniques were honed, using a combination of traditional glass techniques and an original, free approach.

Tiffany developed the making of stained-glass windows into an enormous business, using different types of glasses (2 which he patented himself), techniques and embellishments to create never-seen before works of art. 

The Montréal exhibition is breathtaking, and it is both varied and interesting.  Tiffany’s most famous designs are being displayed and they are nothing short of awe-inspiring.   Also a part of the exhibition is Tiffany stained glass windows originally made more than a century ago for the American Presbyterian Church.  That Church and its windows were acquired by the Montreal Museum in 2008.   

Some of Tiffany’s windows on display would make tremendous quilts, and I am surprised that we have not yet seen an adaptation of his work from glass to fabric. The colors and richness of subject would make for very challenging and beautiful quilts.

If you get a chance to see this exhibition, I encourage you to do it.  Tiffany’s work is fantastic and revolutionary.  The show is on in Montreal until May 2nd, 2010, and it’s sure to inspire you. 


If you’ve ever been in the store and asked my opinion about thread, you’ve probably been treated to a rave review of Aurifil thread.  It is fantastic, absolutely second to none in my opinion.  I thought that I would do a little digging to see if I could validate my opinion.  Low and behold… there are very real reasons why Aurifil is great.

Established in 1983 by an Italian based company, Aurifil was born with the goal of quality thread always looking to become more refined and advanced.  The base reason for Aurifil’s success is the origin of the raw materials.  Egyptian cotton called Makò is used – taking into account staple length, fiber thickness and maturity.  While this might not sound terribly exciting, it’s critical for the final product.  Aurifil’s unique process continues through the Twist: the force that consolidates the fibers and flies of thread after the spinning process to create a balance of tension.  Too tightly twisted creates lively snarling thread and too lightly twisted creates fraying and breaking.  There are different weights of Aurifil thread available to suit your specific purpose – machine piecing, hand piecing, appliquéing, top stitching… Finally, in the dying process the thread undergoes a special process to be mercerized in addition to being dyed to give the thread the lustrous look associated with Aurifil. 
All of this means that Aurifil is strong, smooth and leaves little lint in your sewing machine which keeps it clean and running smoothly.  There are currently 216 colours on the market (and growing!).  All to say that I love how it sews and it gives me great pleasure to see the rack of Aurifil in the store. 
We have the polyester Aurifil specifically for embroidery as well as the variegated in addition to the cotton (36 and 50 weight) in small and big sizes.   Come check it out – you’re sure to love it.  
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