Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Superior customer service

Since we've all been shopping lately (online or in person) we have many stories about customer service. I have a Superior one!
If you don't know Superior Threads, you should. They are sold through many businesses, as well as their own website. They have booths at large quilt shows, too. Their products are very quilter-oriented, for hand, home and longarm machines.

                                 Just a few of my Superior threads 

I purchased a collection from the Superior booth at the Mancuso show in West Palm Beach last month, and finally got around to using some...only to discover it wasn't working on my machine!
I haven't a problem with any of their products before, so I sent an email to ask about my new threads.
Well, I heard back in less than 4 hours!
I am so glad I took the time to ask and not just assume I was stuck with an expensive purchase. They acknowledged there had been a production problem with one batch of my collection, and offered to immediately send a replacement...which arrived in exactly 4 days!
Now that is what I call real customer service!
I expected to get a response, because Superior is very interested in educating quilters about how to best use their various threads. Shipments come with a paper describing the thread and suggestions about needles and thread tension settings...just in case you aren't near your computer to take advantage of the HUGE amount of information on their website (really, check it out:  ).
I was delighted that they wanted to correct the problem, and did it so quickly!
My favorite product is the pre-wound cotton bobbins in mass quantities...such a bargain! You can share with friends or supply a bobbin in class if needed. The cotton is "linty" (all cotton is!) but I like to brush out my bobbin area every time I'm in there anyway! And there are other bobbins with no lint at all, too.
They also have a highly amusing and informative monthly newsletter.

If only all businesses would remember that the customer they have is worth keeping!
I wish the "big box" stores would learn from these vendors. Just because they can offer discount pricing due to large volume doesn't mean they should cut customer service. Or offer phony "service"....when when the cashier asks if I found "everything", I have already decided to go home and order online (or live without) what I could not get help with out there on the floor somewhere.
(NOTE to Cashiers...this is NOT your fault! I am amazed at what The Company Office demands of you, pushing special offers etc etc when the customer just wants to pay and get going! I salute you for managing to be pleasant at all, let alone remainining upright!).

For Shayla fans:
Where's Shayla? I could not find her anywhere. But she was nearby, just being amused by my efforts to see if she was under the futon.

Yes, that IS the basket of batiks that I keep in my office! Usually I have something on top so she can't get in this was an opportunity not to be missed!
How do cats know these things? (that was a rhetorical question, Dear Readers!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Catalogue Quilt II: Mrs. Starbucks saves the day!

Meanwhile, back at the Catalogue Quilt....
I completed 32 blocks before running out of catalogue pages. That gave me 5 x 6 for the top and 2 extra to put on the back.....and a way out of including that one block that goes in the opposite direction!
In a burst of non-creativity, I decided that the sashing should match the diagonal strip in all the blocks (the consequences to be revealed later!).
Continuing in the brainless sewing mode, I put 5 blocks up on my design wall, and then 5 more below that. All I cared about was if there were two fabrics the same next to each other.

And, quite frankly, after awhile I cared less and less!
But the point is that all you really have to do is work out two rows at a time. When I got to the third row, all I looked at was the second one. Etc. etc. etc.!

I took the blocks off the design wall in pairs, and sewed them along a strip of fabric...usually in the same order I intended.
It's better to sew with the narrower fabric on top (not always possible) and anything with bias on the bottom, so here is how I sewed the sashing to the blocks:

It's one of those "duh!" moments when you realize yes! you can add new pieces by putting them under the strip on top!

This gives you a nice chain of blocks. It's better to press the sashing strip away from the blocks (or open or however you like your seams) and then trim the blocks apart. It keeps them squared.
I know, it looks like you can just cut the sashing even with the edge of the block right after you sew it, but it never comes out right. I bet we have all made that mistake with Log Cabin blocks sometime!

I decided to put the sashing on the right side of the block, which means the last one in the row (left to right) does not get a sash. Yes, you may add the sash on the left and not do the first block in the row!

Here's the first row all sashed and that last block in the second row just hanging around waiting while the others are at the machine being sewn onto a strip.
For this quilt, nothing really mattered much....but on others, this can be a real life saver. Well, until the block falls on the floor, but I have finally learned where to look for anything that goes missing.
After I had two rows done, I went ahead and did the horizontal sashing:

Pretty nice, but after I had four rows together, suddenly it struck me: I was going to run out of purple fabric!
Well, there was none at the store where I thought I had bought it. And nothing I liked to take its place.
I usually don't worry about running out of fabric. Once I get over the shock, I replace it with something and the quilt often benefits from that slight variation. Sometimes it turns out to be a BIG change and that's good, too!. But I was already past the point of changing colors or values.
The next day I was headed down state to visit with Mrs. Starbucks. You already know what happened when we went to her local quilt shop! But also while there, I looked for purple fabric, and actually found one I liked.
Mrs. Starbucks liked it, too, but when she saw my swatch (I can hardly believe I remembered to bring it along!) she said she thought she might have that fabric at home.
And she did!
And she gave it to me, even though it turned out it was a Moda Marble, not the cheapy fabric I thought!
What do you think?

I like the one I found at the quilt shop (on the left), but Mrs. Starbucks" fabric is the better one!
So I was happy to be able to finish the quilt, even though at this point it seems really dark to me.

If I were doing it with my own fabrics, it would have been much brighter, but you may recall these were strips donated to my quilt guild in a big batch of assorted stuff.
This will make a nice quilt to give away, maybe even for the Wounded Warriors project, which we'll be doing next year.
Here are Cherry-Cherry & Rita holding up the top:

Another quilt top done...thanks to Mrs. Starbucks!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Snap Happy bags

It's good to have a friend to blame things on...this is Mrs. Starbuck's "fault".
We saw the cutest little set of  bags in a quilt shop, and she said she had the pattern at off we went and started cutting & sewing!
Yesterday morning I innocently started making a simple needle case to include in a gift, and the next thing I knew, I was digging in my batiks and making these:
This is the Snap Happy bag, and I can't tell you exactly how to make it , as there is a pattern (with 3 sizes). The Stitchin' Sisters in Fall Creek, WI, are the authors, but there is no website....probbaly you can find it in a quilt shop, it's been out for at least a year. NOTE: please find this pattern at
The "snap" part is that the top edge is held together with pieces of metal carpenter's measuring tape inside the casings. Chances are good your husband or someone has a broken one in the garage!
I used up one my husband gave me, and actually bought another!
The instructions warn you to lock the tape as you cut it, or it will retract inside forever.
I just cut to the chase and opened the thing up...guess what?
There is a big metal spring inside that just might pop right out in your face.
I'm just sayin'......

Anyway, these were tons of fun and can really be made any size you like. I made the small size, which is about 4" x 6" as you see them. The directions have a handle loop coming from the casing, but I just added a loop inside as I sewed them. That way, the handle can come out to go over your wrist, or be tucked inside if you just want a change purse.

Tomorrow I really will have a picture of the finished top from the Catalogue Quilt, and tell you how Mrs. Starbucks saved the day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Bit of Holiday Cheer

Today I went to see the Festival of Trees at the World Golf Village, which is a fund-raising silent auction. There were trees, wreaths, and other creations, and yes...even one quilt!
So here it is right away, and  the rest is tree stuff...just in case you don't have time to look at all of it!

The St. Augustine Piecemakers provided this charming retro-style Santa.
I was amused by the fact that a sign was needed so the people placing bids would know the stand is NOT included! Ah, the things we quilters have to go through...

This is a close-up of the very cute continuous-line quilting design of a train. I am sorry I don't have more details on this quilt to share!
And that's the last of the quilting in this post. For those readers who may be too busy with holiday plans to have time for any non-quilt related reading, you may be excused!
For the rest, here a couple of fun ideas:

Why not use up all those bits & pieces from the junk, I mean the Embellishments Collection, and glue them down in the shape of a tree? A Bible study group did!

Here's another done in a similar idea, made with some great vintage rhinestone jewelry!
What I was really there to see was the tree from Woodcraft, because my husband's woodturning club made most of the ornaments.

Really pretty...and plenty of catalogues to pick up! I did not check out the paper quality to see if these would make good Catalogue Quilts.

Personally I am not a big fan of the white Christmas tree, but it does show off the wooden ornaments very well! Some are made with a sea urchin shell in place of the wood globe. My husband makes the wood globe ones with hollow forms, so they are very light weight.

These are two of his favorite small ornaments: a little angel and a spiral tree, each about 2" tall.
Of course we voted forthis one as the favorite tree, but there were many more!
Most had a theme like Seashells or something traditional. There was one with motorcycles all over. This one was truly different:

A real estate office provided this....Santa (as a tree) taking his leisure on the chaise lounge, Florida style!
And then there was something many of us could use....

A tree that is OK for the cat to climb! No doubt the people from this vet clinic have many fond holiday memories of a kitty going right up to the top!
Now this last one...well, all I can say is, I hope you also enjoy the fact that it was sponsored by the La Leche League!

I haven't done a speck of decorating yet this year, so this weekend I'd better get out the Christmas Quilts and toss them around.
It works like a dream...Instant Decoration!

I hope to be back soon with Catalogue Quilt Part II: How Mrs. Starbucks Came to the Rescue!