Monday, March 23, 2015

New Sizzix Machines!

By Liz Holpin

We're very excited to see that Sizzix have launched some new machines and re-coloured the existing Big Shot. New dies will no doubt follow and for those in the know it looks like they might include bunting dies! Now that would have been useful for the Royal Wedding (says the person who made about 100 metres of bunting!)


In this video Beth from Sizzix shows how to run a Bigz L die through the new Big Shot Plus.

Beth's Top Tip - angle the die as you put it through and if you have 6 layers of fabric it will run through beautifully!.

While we were at the show on Sunday it got a bit quiet from time to time as Sundays at shows can do. That's when we filmed the video. So then we got chatting and we had a great idea - we love the new colouration of the Sizzix Big Shot. Why? Because it doesn't have lots of stickers and decals on it so we can PERSONALISE IT!  

That' right - just imagine we can now Pimp our Big Shot! 

A few quick searches of the internet and look what we found - you can Pimp Your Wheelie Bin. I mean who knew!?!

Just check out what you can stick on your Wheelie Bin!

Now just imagine some lovely stickers on your Big Shot! The world is your oyster...back to reality. 

Here's a picture of Beth at the recent Sewing for Pleasure Show - doing an amazing job of demoing as was Angela, Beth's Mum - what a team!!

Beth from Sizzix at Sewing for Pleasure demonstrating the Big Shot Plus

 Check out our videos on our Cotton Patch Channel - here's the link to our channel. 

For more Sizzix dies visit our Cotton Patch website or take a look at our Sizzix e-brochure for inspiration and ideas as well as pictures of the dies and some of the projects that you can create with Sizzix.  You can browse it on a phone, iPad, Kindle, etc, just like a proper catalogue....Sizzix E-Brochure.

Sewing for Pleasure Roundup 2015

By Liz Holpin

For those of you who couldn't make it to the show - here is a roundup of some of the pictures from our stand over the past four days. 

It was lovely to see everyone and for those who visited our stand - don't forget that for the next ten days you can use the special code on the back of our postcards from the show to get a 10% Online Discount!  Yay!

Printing on Fabric and TAP Fabric

Lots of Sizzix dies - not many left by Sunday!!

Notions and Haberdashery

Setup day - time to go home!

Lampshade Kits are now available in 3 sizes - 20, 30 and 40cm

The new Grace Q'nique was revealed for the first time in the UK. A 14" Midarm on a Frame

Lots of Test Driving of Longarm and Midarm Sewing Machines

We even had a solar eclipse!

Stuart Hillard was on the Make It Coats demonstrations

Stuart with his latest quilt quilted on the Handi Quilter HQ18 Avante

It was very busy!

Demonstrations of the Antex mini iron, Gem master and Fabric master

Joy from Pastures New Quilting demonstrating how to cut with a rotary cutter and Omnigrid and Omnigrip rulers

Joy from Pastures New Quilting demonstrating how to cut with a rotary cutter and Omnigrid and Omnigrip rulers

Lynda with the Avante

Geoff demonstrating the Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen Sitdown Longarm

Lynda Jackson our Handi Quilter Educator demoing the Handi Quilter HQ18 Avante

The Grace Q'nique in action - 14" of throat space!

Beautiful gift packs of fat quarters - some were 3 for 2!

Freespirit/Rowan fabrics available by the metre

Bookshelves and Projects

the very lovely Beth from Sizzix demonstrating the Sizzix Big Shot and the new Big Shot Plus

So thank you to everyone who visited our stand - we hope you enjoyed the show and that it inspired you to start a new project (or complete an old one!)  Hope to see you next year :-)

From everyone at The Cotton Patch 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

25th Anniversary...Part Two - The Cotton Patch Photo Album

By Liz Holpin, Director of The Cotton Patch

In Part One of our retrospective focusing on the 25th Anniversary of The Cotton Patch we covered how it all began. Jean had the kernel of an idea and despite some concerns as to whether she was too old to start a business (in her late 50's), amazingly in her early 80s she is still working three days a week. 

And that is just one of the changes that we've seen in the past 25 years that our sterotypes of what we should be doing in her 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or even older is constantly being redefined by those we see and hear. Jean and Geoff Sewell are no exception to this new rule - so if you are thinking about changing what you do - it's never too late. Just love what you do.

New till - Shop Opens May 1990
Here are some of the photos from the album that we would like to share - 

Some of the early shows where we had just one small transit (but it was packed to the gunnels!)

Packing for the Harrogate Quilt Show

Geoff, Jean and Nik

There were Cabot Conferences around the country with Christine Porter who brought over top teachers like Caryl Bryer Fallert, Marianne Fons, Harriet Hargrave, Margaret Miller, Darra Duffy Williamson, Sharon Squier Craig and Carole Leibzeit to name just a few. 

Liz Holpin with Caryl Bryer Fallert and the quilt The Cotton Patch purchased from Caryl.

Liz Holpin and Christine Porter with the quilt that Marianne Fons taught in class.

Jean Sewel, Christine Porter and the winner of the Quilt Block Challenge in Waterford, Ireland

Liz Holpin, Louise Glover and Sally Ablett

Christine Porter with Margaret Miller and Class

Margaret Miller teaching colour theory and value

Sally Ablett, Darra Williamson,?, Christine Porter and Margaret Miller

Some of Carole Leibzeit's Quilts

The class in Waterford, Ireland

Class in Progress

Catharine Millar

Louise Glover and Janet - manning The Cotton Patch stand in the classroom

Harriet Hargrave, Christine Porter and Carole Leibzeit

Louise Glover and Carole Leibzeit Class

Carole, Sharon Craig and Harriet Hargrave

In the first ten years our employees grew with each year and in 1994 when I returned to the UK after living in the Caribbean for a few years Val Richards joined The Cotton Patch as well. Val and the others who were there then - Jean, Geoff, Margaret and Cherrie are all still working here. Louise Glover taught many of the classes in the late 1990s but after many years struggling with Multiple Sclerosis Louise was forced to retire at a very young age. We missed her knowledge, enthusiasm and joy of patchwork and quilting. Louise now lives in a Leonard Cheshire home in Wales. 

These were photos of The Cotton Patch staff in around 1999 at the annual Christmas Party. Penny, Shirley and Louise are the only ones who don't still work at The Cotton Patch!

Denise and Jean

Denise, Jean, Val, Pat, Margaret, Ken, Cherrie, Anne, Geoff, Penny, Shirley, Louise

Louise and Liz

Pat, Margaret, Ken and Penny.

 In the next installment we'll share some photos of the enlargement of the shop in 2000-2001 and some of the last 15 years trips and shows. Plus we have some of those old catalogues...some of you may even still have them too!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Omnigrid Rulers - Right First Time

Posted by Liz Holpin Director of The Cotton Patch

When I was learning patchwork I remember Louise Glover who taught our Cotton Patch classes in the 1990s always emphasising that we should "Measure Twice and Cut Once". 

Accurate Cutting + Accurate Piecing = Happy Quilters!
We really need to get it right first time - sometimes it's because we have a certain amount of fabric to play with and we know the shop doesn't have any more!  Pressure!!!

Not only that but accurate cutting is essential for accurate piecing and that makes EVERYTHING so much easier especially for quilts like these. Joy Edgington does excellent Introduction and Lap Quilt Classes that give you a firm foundation in how to cut accurately. You can see the schedule of Joy's Classes at Pastures New Quilting - they are held at the Cadet Training Centre in Shirley, Solihull, England.

So, here are some Rotary Cutting Tips and Techniques and Introduction to the Basic Rotary Cutting Rulers from Omnigrid. Thank you to Prym Consumer USA for the photos.

We've been stocking Omnigrid Rulers and Mats since we started The Cotton Patch in 1990. The reasons we really like this brand are as follows:

  • Consistent measurements from ruler to ruler - they are laser cut to within .002 inch accuracy
  • The grid lines show up on light and dark fabrics
  • They feature uniquely patented double site lines in yellow or green and black
  • Printing on their underside eliminates viewing distortion
  • They’re made of durable, premium quality acrylic
  • They feature smooth laser cut edges

Omnigrid rulers come in many different sizes and I’ll focus on some of the most popular ones and how they’re used.  
The first one that we recommend you get for Patchwork and Quilting is the 6” x 24” which is a basic all-purpose ruler, perfect for beginners. It’s great for cutting long strips, borders and bias pieces. 

First Cut - Straightening the raw edges
First Cut – straighten raw edges

  1. Fold fabric in half lengthwise.
  2. Place ruler on right-hand edge of fabric (use opposite side for left handers).
  3. Line up grid lines on the width of the ruler with fold in fabric.
  4. Rotary cut along edge of ruler, walking your fingers and thumb across ruler as you cut – apply firm pressure as you go.
Cutting Strips using the 6" x 24" Omnigrid Ruler
Cutting Strips

  1. Turn cutting mat so fabric is on right-hand side (opposite for left handers).
  2. Place ruler over cut edge of fabric at desired width. Make sure vertical lines of ruler are parallel to the cut edge of fabric.
  3. Horizontal lines of ruler should be parallel to fold of fabric.
  4. Cut fabric strip
Tip: if you find that you have a "V" shape where the fold is, you probably didn't have the line parallel (Point 3 above).

6" x 24" Rulers are available from Omnigrid in either the original yellow Omnigrid version or the Omnigrip version. The Omnigrip has a special surface on the underside which helps prevent slipping. It is useful if you are new to rotary cutting, especially when you are first learning the technique. Some people prefer the Omnigrid. It's your choice.

If the 6" x 24" Ruler is purchased with the Medium Omnimat (24" x 18") you can cut patchwork fabrics, which are normally double-folded, straight off the bolt; most patchwork fabrics are 42-44" wide.  The 24" x 18" mat is a great size for giving as a gift to a new quilter. Also, you can get some good starter set offers on Mat,Cutter, Ruler sets. 

The 6” x 12” ruler is a very handy size for classes. It’s ideal for cutting folded fat quarters into strips or making secondary cuts on strips. You can easily turn it for making quick short cuts.
Cutting Squares from Strips using the 6" x 12" Omnigrid Ruler

Cutting Half Square Triangles using the 45 Degree Angle on the 6" x 12" Omnigrid Ruler
Making a Pinwheel Block

  1. Cut strips of fabric in two colours.
  2. Layer strips together and subcut into squares the same width as strips.
  3. To cut half-square triangles, place 45° angle line of ruler along edge of square. Cut diagonally through centre of each.
  4. Sew one triangle of each colour together, on long sides, to create a square. Arrange squares so colours are alternating to create a pinwheel design and stitch together.

3" x 18"

The 3” x 18” ruler is portable, with extra length for versatility. Great for cutting sashing with ease! A useful ruler for taking to classes.
Cross-cutting with the Omnigrid 3" x 18" Ruler
Making a Four-Patch Block

  1. Cut two strips of fabric in two different colours.
  2. Stitch together on long edge, and press seams.
  3. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  4. Sew together two of the subcut pieces, rotating one piece 180° to form a four-patch square.
Using the 3" x 18" Ruler to cut Diamonds

Making Strip-Pieced Diamonds

  1. Cut two strips of fabric in two different colours.
  2. Stitch together on the long edge and press seams.
  3. Place 45° angle line on ruler along the edge of your fabric.
  4. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  5. Sew together two of the subcut pieces, rotating one piece 180° to form diamond.

The 4” x 14” ruler is quick and easy to manipulate. Cut folded fat quarters into strips.
Using the 4" x 14" on the Omngrid Foldaway

Making a Simple Seminole Design

  1. Cut four strips in four different fabrics.
  2. Stitch strips together on long edge, and press seams.
  3. Subcut strips into pieces same width as the original strip.
  4. Position strips to create a multi-colour diamond effect. Stitch together.

12 1/2" Square

The 12-1/2” square ruler squares up blocks 12-1/2” and smaller. It’s one of the most common block sizes and usually we recommend that this is the second ruler you buy.

 Squaring up Blocks - an essential quilt-making skill!
So, now we've gone through the basic Omnigrid rulers, let’s talk about some of the accessories for rulers such as InvisiGrip and the Double Patchwork Ruler Grip.
Invisigrip is a clear, non-slip material that you apply to your rulers to prevent slipping when rotary cutting. It is easy to apply and does not obscure the markings. When you want to apply pressure it prevents rulers from slipping but slides easily when no pressure is applied.

Double Patchwork Ruler Grip

If you find holding the ruler difficult for whatever reason you may find it makes things easier to have a large handle to hold onto. This is a great addition to your tools cupboard.
Its for smooth rulers like the Omnigrid and Omnigrip and attaches in seconds.
Instructions for using the Double Patchwork Ruler Grip:

1. Flip up both black levers to release suction cups. 
2. Place Ruler Grip against surface. 
3. Gently press down on Grip while flipping down both levers. 
4. Position ruler or template for cutting and press down on Grip to keep ruler in place. 
To remove Ruler Grip, flip up both levers and slide finger under suction cups to break the seal.
Well we hope that you found this useful - Happy Cutting!