Four hours north of Melbourne, Australia, heading towards the outback, lies the farming town of Swan Hill. Drive another half hour or more along a small road and in the middle of nowhere you will come to an old church which now serves as the patchwork shop “Miss Sampson’s Drapery”.
The church and a train crossing are basically all that is left of the town of Waitchie. But if you are in the vicinity, be sure to stop by this charming shop. I love the message about shop hours on the website. http://www.misssampsonsdrapery.com.au
Shop Hours :
Tuesday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. unless we are at a show so check the calendar and/or ring before coming!
If I’m home on Saturdays, I’m more than happy to open up as long as I know you’re coming! The same arrangement for Sundays.
We welcome very small, small and large groups for coffee and cake on their first visit, but please let me know in time so I can bake!!
The proprietor, Sue Bennett, has organized many of my teaching trips to Australia and we have become good friends over the years. Sue and her husband Malcolm and a few dogs and other animals live just down the road from the shop and always welcome visitors. If you are in the neighborhood, be sure to stop by.
Last night Sue sent me this photo of the vista she is seeing right now out her back door. Can you guess what it is? I use it for cooking almost every day but never saw it growing.
Sue, here are the colors. Now I’m waiting for the canola quilt!
Every year, along with nine others shops in the area, we hold a shop hop known as Quilter’s Quest. Held each November, the planning starts months earlier. At one of our meetings this spring, we discussed another type of shop hop held during the summer known as the Row by Row Experience. Started in upstate New York just four years ago, participation is spreading across the country and we all decided to join in. We didn’t know what to expect but we have all been thrilled with the fun which has ensued.
We often get quilters from all over but this summer the quilters who have stopped by have been telling us of shops they have visited across the country and it seems that my staff, too, has caught the Row by Row bug. Here, then, are some of the places they have visited and the experiences they’ve had.
Nancy accompanied her husband on a business trip to Groton, Connecticut. Visiting “That’s Sew Debbie!” she was warmly greeted by Alberta H. and delighted to find that the Row by Row patterns were on a table covered with one of my palette fabrics. She was then introduced to one of the instructors, Charlie M. Charlie is currently working on his second Moon Glow quilt (wow!) and is a great “collector” of my fabrics. I love the quilt he’s holding in the picture here and I recognize almost all of those fabrics, Charlie.
Diane went to seven shops in two days while visiting Lancaster County, PA. Even though she has visited the area often, she discovered quilt shops there she never knew existed. One store looked so tiny from the front she normally wouldn’t have bothered to stop but upon entering was thrilled to discover it just went on and on, filled with wonderful fabric. Now it will be a regular stop on her visits there.
Kristi regularly travels between here and Greensboro, NC, and just last week decided to break up the driving with five stops at participating shops. She hadn’t been to some of the shops in years and really enjoyed seeing all the new and different fabrics they held.
Over the weekend, one of our staff, Sharon, while visiting family in Tacoma, Washington, stopped by Calico Threads. Here she is standing with Sandy Pickering and Donna Denman who opened the shop 2 years ago. Having lived in Tacoma in her high school years, Sharon recognized the bridge in the store’s pattern – the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
Barb stopped in at “Running Stitches” in Kent, Washington to pick-up a Row by Row pattern. She had a lovely chat with the staff and found a few fat quarters that had to come home with her (“As if I didn’t already have enough” she said). On her way out, she saw a gentleman on an adult tricycle with a basket mounted between the rear wheels. In that basket ? You guessed it, his sewing machine safely buttoned down inside its case. Too bad you didn’t get a picture of that, Barb.
As my staff visited other shops they asked themselves why they don’t do this more. Every shop carries different fabrics and has a different “feel” to it to inspire and spark your creativity. Row By Row continues through September 2nd. After that, why don’t you consider joining us in November for our Quilter’s Quest?
For three years in a row I taught classes in Ukraine. The students were so diligent and were like sponges for the information I had to give them. The best part was that I was teaching them design ideas and not a specific project.
Recently I celebrated my birthday and two of my Ukranian students, Lena Koroleva and Miri Tsoi gathered together several of their quilts and took these wonderful photographs and sent then to me along with birthday wishes. I remember with joy each of the classes I taught in Ukraine and it makes me so proud to see that they have taken the design ideas and turned them into their own quilts.
It is also wonderful to see that they are passing those skills on. A few days earlier, Lena also sent me photographs of students in classes they are teaching. This was the message she attached with the photos:
“Ukraine is experiencing hard times, but people rallied around our common disaster, all helping each other, to help the army and refugees from areas captured. In occupied by terrorists city of Donetsk live almost all my relatives (Donetsk is a city in which I was born and lived for more than 30 years). I am very worried about them.
Yesterday I and Miri Tsoi organized for refugee children from the Donetsk region free master classes on patchwork.”
With all the strife going on in that country right now it is great to see that Patchwork is still going on and brings some measure of joy to the people.
Many of you may not know that in the early years of our married life my husband, John, and I spent several years living outside the United States. First it was Sarawak (a part of the Federation of Malaysia) on the island of Borneo, then Colombia in South America, next Nepal and finally India.
When we left India to return back to the U.S., we decided to take a side trip to Kenya to see some of the game reserves and visit that beautiful country. By then we had three children, ages 8, 6 and 2. This was in 1972 and there were not a lot of restrictions when traveling to the game parks. Back then we rented a Volkswagen Beetle, loaded it with our family of five, and toured the game parks on our own. We saw incredible wildlife, were chased by a rogue elephant, stayed in humble accommodations, and had quite some adventures.
I’m so excited that I will return to Kenya in February for the first time since 1972. I will be going on another Sew Many Places Adventure with Jim West. This time there will be luxury accommodations along with trips to the parks very well supervised by an expert guide for every four-person safari vehicle. In addition to all the wildlife we will see, other highlights of the trip include a visit to the Kazuri Bead factory, Karen Blixen’s home from Out of Africa fame, an elephant orphanage, a Samburu village and a giraffe sanctuary. It will be fun to revisit my first trip and share new experiences with people on the tour.
One of my favorite YouTube videos is this one. Watch the whole thing…..it is pretty amazing and has a surprise (and happy) ending. We may not quite experience this kind of sight……but you never know.
There are still a few places left on the expedition. Jim West always does a wonderful job with his tours and I feel comfortable knowing I am safe with everything is taken care of from start to finish. I hope some of you will be inspired to join me and Jim on this once in a lifetime experience (fortunately for me, I get two chances.)
Thank you to Jim West for allowing us to use his beautiful photographs.
Living in the Washington D.C. area certainly has its advantages. There are so many cultural opportunities available. An annual event that occurs for two weeks every summer on the National Mall is the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The festival celebrates several US and foreign cultures each year with music, crafts, food and demonstrations. This year Kenya and China were the featured nations.
Last Thursday, Jin Yuanshan, a patchwork artist and one of the participants in the Festival, visited our shop hoping to have the chance to meet me. Unfortunately, I was out of town but she delighted the entire staff and shared some of her beautiful creations. When I returned, I learned that she would be demonstrating at the Festival on Saturday, July 5th. So I went into Washington with Barb Hollinger, one of our Studio staff members.
Jin Yuanshan had so many of her beautiful creations with her and was sharing her techniques. I am so pleased that I had the chance to meet this truly inspirational and prolific artist.
Ms. Jin works almost entirely in silk and does all of her work by hand (a woman after my own heart). I would describe many of her pieces as organized crazy patch. She never throws any scraps away but just makes smaller pieces with the leftovers. The pieces are joined together with silk thread with an over-cast stitch similar to the stitch used to connect English paper piecing.
She also does dimensional pieces where she rolls or folds scraps of silk to create beautiful layered medallions. She carries small squares with her everywhere she goes and in spare moments folds them, runs a needle through them and strings them for use later.
And back here in Great Falls…..The reason I wasn’t here when Ms Jin stopped by the Studio was that we were visiting our grandchildren (and their parents). We were only gone four days. I swear that before I left I picked every single zucchini on the plants in our garden (except for the ones that were only two inches long). I came home to this. Thank goodness there are several women in my husband’s office who love giant zucchini. Five of them were very happy.
Oh, I noticed that I am wearing my “Nats” shirt…….In case you didn’t know, I am a huge baseball fan….and either go to, watch, or listen to every Washington Nationals game that I can.
If you are in the quilt business, you know to save a few days each May for the Spring Quilt Market. This industry trade show gives me the opportunity to meet shop owners and show them my new fabrics and quilt designs. As a shop owner myself, I’m able to meet the vendors with whom I do business, to discover new products to carry in the Studio, to see old friends and make new ones.
Before market begins is something called “Schoolhouse” where manufacturers, publishers and designers like me get to present our latest products. Shop owners can hear first-hand about the merchandise they will be selling from the people who created them. I spoke about my Palette Pixie Strips and their accompanying quilts, my new calipers and, most exciting, my next fabric collection, Bedfordshire.
Once Market begins, retailers have the opportunity to visit hundreds of booths with every kind of product which could possibly be of interest to quilters. I shopped for interesting patterns and new notions to carry in the Studio and online. Much of my time, though, is spent in the RJR booth meeting shop owners and learning about their customers’ interests.
What I probably enjoy most are the wonderful people I get to meet, those whose products I sell (and use!) and other designers.
Of course, one of my favorite things to do is looking at all the quilts. Even though I have been designing fabric for many years, I still get a thrill when I come across quilts in other booths which have my fabrics in them. Here are two I spotted. Didn’t these quilters do a wonderful job?
Inspiring. That’s the word I would use to sum up Market. The room was filled with a creative spirit. Handwork seems to be celebrating a resurgence. It was exciting to see this interest in a skill you and I have loved for years.
Also, I was so encouraged to see the number of young people there who have entered the business presenting their designs and products. They give the industry a sense of vitality and reminded that quilting should be FUN. Yes, market is always inspiring and I’ve brought back some new products and ideas I can’t wait to share with you in the coming months.
I recently returned from a fabulous trip to Indonesia. The trip was in two parts. First I visited the company in Solo that is printing my batik collections. I was able to see the entire process from start to finish. Everything is done by hand and it is amazing to watch the process. I came away in awe that we pay so little per yard for the amount of labor that goes into each pattern.
The second part of my journey was spent in Bali. Jim West the founder of the tour company “Sew Many Places” asked me to be the guest quilter on his Bali tour. It was spectacular. Jim certainly knows how to run a tour. We stayed in a first class resort and took day trips from there. We did lots of sight seeing, sewing and eating the delicious Indonesian food! Here are a few photos I’d like to share from my trip.
Did you know?
Indonesia is made up of a series of islands. Each Island has it own language and many sub languages and dialects. In fact there are more than 700 living languages spoken in the country. Other than Indonesian (the official language) the next most used is Javanese and then Sudanese.
The art of batik making in Indonesia was developed on the island of Java. When selecting the name for my batik collection, I chose the word malam, the Javanese word for wax. This was confusing to some people because malam is also a word in the Indonesian language that means night.
In the process of batik making:
The cloth is dyed one or more colors.
Next the cap (pronounced chop) is dipped into melted wax and then pressed onto the fabric. The cap is made from copper and it takes anywhere from 10 days to a month to create the cap.
After the wax is stamped onto the fabric, the cloth is bleached. The places where there is wax will not bleach and will retain the color of the original dye.
Then the cloth is again dyed the desired color for the background to the cap design.
The fabric is then boiled to melt and remove the wax.
Finally it will be sent to the “finishing” facility to go through the process of setting the dyes.