Wednesday, April 27, 2011

E-Jay's Fabrics & Quilting in Taylor, TX

Our first quilting stop occurred as we were driving up to Inks Lake.  I had hoped to stop at quilt shops as we went about our road trip but hadn't really planned anything out.

As we were headed north on Hwy 95, my husband was the one who spotted this shop.  Nestled in the downtown district of Taylor, you will find E-Jay's situated across the street from Taylor city hall and a park full of benches and shade trees.

When I walked up to the store, it really reminded me of the town I grew up in.  We had so many shops on the square, that had the same feel.  Original historic buildings.  Large window displays.  I really felt like I was home.

And that feeling of home grew, when I walked in the door.

When you first walk in you see bolts of fabrics and a fair amount of them.  On the front and left side of the store, you will find fabrics from Moda, Clothworks and more.  They had a great selection of Texas material and helped me start a Texas fabric collection.  More about that in another post.  Towards the back of the front room, you will find various quilting notions.  Just past the front, you travel down a small hallway that connects to a room with a long arm and space for classes. 

The walls of the store are covered in finished projects.  Down the hallway hangs a few quilts.  One is a very old, beautiful feed sack quilt.  You must stop in and see it.  Feed sack quilts are my favorite.

The staff was exactly what I expected.  Friendly, knowledgeable and really had an interest in quilting and helping me with my project.  The clearance section along the left wall was plentiful and had a wide variety.  Besides fabric and notions, the store also offered premade items, quilt kits and quilt patterns. 

And there was a store cat.  My kids had a great time looking for the kitty.  It was hiding in the front window, probably eyeing the birds across the street, in the park.  Maybe the cat wanted an up close view of the impressive Carpenter's Star that is displayed in the front window.

Overall, it was definitely worth the stop.  In the store next door my husband found a new piece of art for our home.  Next time you're in the area, make sure you stop by.

E-Jay's is located on Main Street.  About 30 minutes east of Round Rock.  US Route 79 or State Highway 95 will take you into the heart of Taylor, Texas.

You can get more information about E-Jay's from their website:

A few notes:
  • I'm going to do 5 of these shop reviews total.  My goal, dream, hope is that this will encourage you to seek out either these shops or YOUR local quilt shop.  Please, head out and meet the people who share your passion for quilting.  They are the only ones who will truly get you!  ;)
  • E-Jay's did not in anyway ask me or compensate me for this blog post.  These are purely my thoughts and feelings, free from coercion.  Though I am forever grateful for the whimsical Texas material they pointed out to me.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter and Passover to everyone! 

What happens in SLBY's house, when the kids are left alone for literally seconds:

(Excuse the bad iPhone photo)


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Our Hill Country Adventure

We started off at Inks Lake State Park and camped for 2 nights.  If you ever find yourself in that area of Texas, you must stop by Inks Lake.  It is absolutely gorgeous.  Unfortunately, it was also windy and dry.  So, campfires were small, quickly used and slightly panic inducing.  We did get to eat some great campfire food, fish in our PJs and go on a lovely hike.

A little PJ fishing

View from our hike

 View of the ducks during sunset from our campsite

 We left Inks Lake and headed to Fredericksburg for the VW show and a night in a hotel. 

The plan after that was to head out to Perdenales State Park to camp for two more nights.  Due to the dry weather and burn ban, we decided to stay in our Fredericksburg hotel another night.  We did head out to Perdenales for a day trip of swimming and fishing.  Then went back to Fredericksburg for good food, drinks and some play.

Perdenales River

Then we headed the long way home.  We tend to hit back roads as much as we can.  There is so much beautiful countryside in the Hill Country. 

I was able to hit 5 quilt shops along the way.  One I knew about but wasn't able to previously visit, one I had been to before and 3 that were surprises for me.  I'm going to dedicate a posting to each store, so that if you find yourself in one of these towns, you can stop by too!

It was a wonderful, much needed vacation.  The kids did great camping and better than I expected them to do. 

Nature always inspires me to quilt.  I have more inspiration that I know what to do with, right now.  I think I might finally take the plunge into a landscape quilt.  I haven't had the nerve to try but have been wanting to.  I think I'm ready to try it.


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Stash Organization - Folding

Stash organization is really a hard thing for a lot of quilters.  I know for me, I tend to want to quilt.  I don't want to clean, straighten, organization, etc.  There are as many ways to organize and store your fabric as there are quilters. 

The main thing for me is that I want to see my fabrics.  I want them out in the open.  I want to be able to easily pull them out and throw them back on the shelf, as I compare, plan and think my way through a new project.

I want a fabric store look.

I have found that some quilters use various materials the same as quilt shops use cardboard to wrap material.  For me, I have found that corrugated plastic works the best.  Here is a quick tutorial on how I fold my stash.

Start with the corrugated plastic:

You will have to find a sign company in your area that will sell this to you.  I can get an 8 foot by 4 foot piece.  They will cut it down for me.  If you can't get them to cut this down for you, the plastic easily cuts with a box cutter.  I'm able to cut my down into 64 6in by 12in rectangles.  These easily hold a couple yards of your standard width quilting fabric.  You may need to adjust this to meet the needs of your stash.

Now it's time to start folding.

I fold selvage to selvage.  Then I fold that in half, selvages to midline.  Then lay this flat and grab a piece of plastic.

Leave a bit hanging and then hold that bit up onto the plastic.

Then start folding.  Keep it snug, flat and neat.  Fold until you have the last bit hanging over.

(I seem to have left out the frog material.)

Then fold the flap as you want.  You can do a point, like above.  You can fold one corner all the way down and wrap around.  I do both, depending on where my brain is and how much fabric I have left over.

Secure the flap of fabric as you wish.  You can buy special clips for this or tuck.  I admit that I prefer using pins.  Especially, pretty pastel ones. 

Then line them up:

Isn't that gorgeous?  I'm not finished with all my fabrics but I'm about 2/3 rds of the way there and it really has made a difference.  I can see my fabrics.  I am using what I have.  I love it.

The small boards really only work well for 2 yards or less.  If you have something larger.  Like say 4 yards of something you got cheap at Hobby Lobby:

I know.  I need a 12 step program.

You can cut the plastic longer.  That will work.  But I like to ask JoAnn's for empty fabric boards.  I have yet run across a JoAnn's over 3 different states that won't give them to me, for free, willingly.  You use the same method as above.

A perfectly folded bolt!

Prefolding, you can go ahead and square up your fabrics.  You can wash your fabrics.  Prepare them however you want.  I put the fabric straight from the store to my shelf.  Take this and make it your own, to fit your needs.

Go out and clean your stash!  Make your fabrics seen!

And let me know how you fold your fabrics.  I'm always wanting new ideas and suggestions.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

We're back!

I have so much to tell you all. 

I visited 5 different quilt shops throughout the Texas Hill Country.

I bought more fabric because I'm an addict.

There were dirt roads, winding roads, fishing in PJs, campfires, smores, wind, swimming and so much more.

Once I get through the mountains of laundry and unpacking, I plan to tell you all every last detail.

For now I'm going to do this:

(For the record, this was before we even set out on the hike.)

Then I will share my adventures with you.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Off we go...

SLBY and family will be spending the next week fishing, camping, cooking over open (but very small due to fire conditions) fires, and chasing small kids from the edges of cliffs, lakes and rivers. 

I will be back next week with all sorts of stories, I'm sure.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Land of Misfit Fabrics

I always hunt the clearance section of Joann's.  For whatever reason, as the price of a fabric goes down the prettier the fabric can become.  A price goggles phenomenon, I guess.  During one of their last sales, I bought this for about $2 and got a total of 2 1/4 yards:

It isn't the prettiest of fabrics, in my opinion, but it had potential.  I could think of people in my life that would like it.  And I like having random busy fabrics to back quilts. 

I have been wanting to work on a few different projects but this week has just been crazy.  I never made it out to get various fabrics I need to start these projects.  I have a small collection of quilt books and magazines that my MIL gave to me many years ago.  Occasionally, I try to go through them and get new ideas and inspiration.  Today, the Magic Stack N Whack Quilts book caught my attention.  After refreshing my memory on what fabrics work best for this technique, I looked through my stash and saw this fabric.  While the pattern repeat is on the small side, it was sufficient enough and cheap enough for me to take the plunge.

The process is fairly simple.  While I wouldn't attempt this as my first quilt, most quilters with a few quilts under their belt can handle this.  You cut the length of the vertical repeat and continue to match the vertical repeat for the number of repeats needed for your pattern.  Then you take the repeats, stack them on top of each other making sure the patterns line up and then cut as needed for your pattern.

I needed 2 1/2 inch strips.

I then cut those strips into diamonds, using a template in the book for a size guide.

And then you make some beautiful kaleidoscope stars.

These two are my favorite so far:

When I started out to make these, I didn't have enough material for the pattern.  So, I was just going to make 8 stars.  Well, I didn't follow directions.  I just looked at some pictures and then I just ran with it.  I ended up making 20 stars. 

I have no clue what I will do with 20 stars.  I'm going to work on the table runner the first 8 were planned for.  Then I might do some pillows. 

I have to say, this is a pretty addictive method.  And far more forgiving and way easier, than I originally gave it credit for.  There is another quilt in the book I want to try, that follows this method but ends up with a "diamond ring" look.

Definitely give it a try.  And use the less expensive fabric.  It is far less painful, when you make a mistake!

One last thing, I have to say a big THANK YOU to my friend Tara.  She gave me a few hints on taking better indoor pictures.  I am really happy with how much pictures came out tonight under the worst of lighting conditions.  Without her, this post wouldn't have happened!


Monday, April 4, 2011

This week's projects

First and foremost, I am going to clean my quilting area. It is pretty scary in there, after last week's show preparations.

I'm going to work on some summer and 4th of July items. I, also, have an idea for a religious wall hanging that involves gold glitter material and a cross. I do love anything that sparkles!

I'll take some WIP pictures and share as I go this week.

My Etsy shop will be back up soon. I have to rearrange, since I did a show over the weekend. Expect to see it back open by the end of the week.

Have a great Monday!


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The show *MUST* go on...

I think this may be one of the slightly emotional, vomit of words blog posts.  You have been warned.

I worked my first booth on Saturday.  I spent so much time getting everything together.  It looked perfect.  Exactly the atmosphere I was going for. 

I was nervous, anxious, excited. 

I went, I saw...

I did not conquer. 

If the rate of success was solely measured from a monetary stand point, I failed.  Miserably.  I sold nothing.  I could go through a list of excuses as to why.  The economy, the audience was definitely NOT my target, and on and on and on.  At the end of the day, none of them make me feel better.  You question if you just suck and don't know it.  What if people are just being nice and everything you make really just looks like crap?  In fact, at one point in my dramatic, adult size tantrum, I decided that I was going to sell all of my fabrics and machine and call it a day. 

Then I had a drink, lots of chocolate and wonderful people around me who helped to set my head straight.  No one hits a home run, their first time up to bat.  In fact, many people strike out their first time.

I definitely did.

I'm going to suck it up and do the next show in May.  There is a Saturday market in Montgomery that I've been told is more my target.  I'm also going to focus on the good things that came from yesterday.  The cards I handed out, the contacts I made, the compliments on how beautiful my work is, the custom orders I received, the email addresses I got, the couple of repair requests, and the two ladies who asked me for lessons.

My only goal for Saturday was just to show up.  I did that.  Anything beyond that was just the icing on the badly needed chocolate cake.

Just keep swimming, I think can, I think can and all that jazz.

Thank you for letting me spill that into the Internet.  I never realized how truly personal making quilts is for me, until yesterday.  It really is important that this somehow manifests itself it a bigger part of my life. 

I'm just not ready to admit defeat.