Friday, May 20, 2011

LQS Love: Bear's Quilt Shop in Garden Grove

I first entered Bear's Quilt Shop for a dyeing workshop put on by the Flying Geese Quilters Guild. The Guild doesn't usually hold workshops at Bear's so I was a little surprised. But then I saw the classroom. I can't imagine a classroom better designed for a dyeing class.

I dyed with Daren Pitts Redman in an almost brand new quilt shop with pristine white tables and floors, one sink, no washer, and no dryer. We all had dyed fabric at the end of the day, but the floor and tables had a little dye too. And we were all super anxious about getting dye anywhere. We also didn't properly rinse and dry our fabrics, so we didn't really get to see the final product until we were home . . . to be brutally honest, I air dried those pieces of fabric without rinsing them, folded them up, popped them into a ziploc bag, and they're still in that bag as I type . . . three years later. In fact, the reason I stopped by Bear's last week was to pick up some synthrapol to finally rinse those fabrics so I could use them to finish the project I started in the workshop I took at Bear's.

I also took a dyeing workshop at IQF Chicago, so that was in a hotel conference room . . . using the sinks in the ladies' room at the other end of the hall. Similarly, no one really got to see the fully rinse, fully dried results. And we were all having strokes out of fear that we'd ruin the carpet and get quilters banned from Chicago for life.
Now, if you cannot work in a space that isn't pretty, Bear's is not for you. Bear's whole space is practical. First, like a lot of LQSs in this area, they're in a office park/warehouse with low overhead. They've got the usual amenities like individual tables for each student and super comfy rolly chairs.

Second, unlike a lot of LQSs in office parks, they didn't cover the concrete floors. Not conventionally pretty, but totally functional. Whether mopping up dye drips or sweeping up thread clippings, this polished cement floor is easier to clean than any flooring I've ever seen in a quilt shop. That seems like it would only benefit the people who have to clean it, but I've taken some workshops in some otherwise posh shops, whose floors were totally gross. When I picked up my sewing machine's bag off the floor, a layer of dust bunnies had stuck to it. That's not going to happen at Bear's. Also, while I was in my dyeing class at Bear's I could focus on my project and not worry about whether I was dripping dye on the floor. Amazing what a little anxiety reduction can do for your creative process.

Third, Bear's invested in a stack of cutting mats so each student can use one at their station. This is handy because students don't have to bring mats, which tend to warp in hot cars, from home, nor do they have to wait in line for one shared cutting table. Bear's also has a counter-height cutting table for those so inclined.

Fourth, Bear's installed a serious pressing station. Instead of two irons on an ironing board for a whole class to share, Bear's has a counter covered with heat proof pressing mats with multiple irons. There are at least four outlets and each outlet is on its own fuse. This is important because I recall IQF Chicago blowing the fuses at every ironing station in the conference center.

Fifth, they have a full-sized washing machine and dryer in addition to two deep work sinks. None of this "go rinse and dry this at home . . . I'm sure it will turn out great!"
This is the place to go for dyeing and long-arm quilting. They've also got a lot of 108" fabric for quilt backs at INSANELY good prices. But this isn't a shop with hours and hours of browsing potential. Still, they fill their niche perfectly.

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Monday, May 16, 2011

LQS Love: Sewing Party in Laguna Hills

Sewing Party, my favorite LQS for hip modern fabrics, recently moved into a larger space including this gorgeous new classroom. [Click on the picture to see it a bit larger]

Edited 5/16/2011 to add:
Their new address is 23561 Ridge Route Rd., Suite F, Laguna Hills, CA 92653.

The classroom has individual tables for each student, ergonomic chairs, plenty of design wall space, and the neat little feature pictured above. It's a rail for a room divider, so if more than one group wants to work in this GIGANTIC space at a time, they each have a bit of privacy. I can't wait to see this classroom in action when I attend Malka Dubrawsky's Color Your Cloth workshop there on Sunday, May 21st.

The owner has an excellent eye for color and fresh designs. As before the move, the shop is filled with gorgeous fabrics including quilting cottons, home dec, voile, woven wool felt, and even some laminated cottons.

She also keeps it stocked with notions to make bags and accessories in addition to quilts.

They've also added a sweet little kiddo play area, appropriately colorful in the Kaffe Fasset section.

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Saturday, May 7, 2011

Quilt Guild Blocks of the Month

May's Flying Geese Quilters Guild Block of the Month is a sawtooth star. Click here for a PDF with the instructions. As the instructions suggested I went to Quilter's Cache for the comprehensive tutorial on piecing flying geese.

I followed Quilter's Cache instructions for Speed Piecing Method B. Not my best work. Pretty challenging to get the geese blocks the correct size and to not cut off any points. As you can see, some of these outside points are going to be a challenge to not cut off.
And the crazy stuff I did to get this to come out even . . . well, I'm glad this one wasn't for the block exchange at guild because I would be embarrassed by the jacked up seam allowances on the back of this one. But in the end the inside points are good and the overall block size is correct. Also, the nice thing about following Quilter's Cache instructions for Speed Piecing Method B is that my directional background fabric (i.e., the mushroom print) stayed heads up without much effort on my part.
Last month I mistakenly attributed the gnome print to Heather Bailey for FreeSpirit. Actually the gnome print and this mushroom print are both by Heather Ross for FreeSpirit. The rest of the fabrics in this block and last month's block for my brother and sister-in-law is from Flea Market Fancy and Katie Jump Rope by Denyse Schmidt for FreeSpirit.

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