Iron Out the Details

Iron Out the Details


I’ve gained a new appreciation for irons after picking up a few for my mantel. Did you know that thousand year old paintings have documented the Chinese using metal pans filled with hot coals to smooth and prepare silk?

Irons got their name because they were mainly made from the metal iron. Flat Irons or Sad Irons were heavy, simple shapes often weighing 5 – 9 pounds. They were hot to handle, had to be reheated often, and collected soot from the fireplace.  Although using these irons was difficult at best, the name Sad Iron comes from Old English meaning heavy not because of the way they made women feel.


The 1800’s saw new innovations in an effort to improve on the Sad Iron’s flaws. Box Irons came with slugs that could be heated in the fire then inserted inside the iron and Self-heating irons could be filled with coal. Self heating irons are still being produced and used in many countries today.


In 1871, a then 19 year old Mrs. Potts patented the Cold Handle Sad Iron. The simple idea of a removable handle revolutionized the iron industry.


In 1882, Henry Seeley patented the first electric iron. Since most households lacked electricity, these were far from a “hot” item at the time.

By the late 1800’s, irons were being fueled by kerosene, ethanol (alcohol), and natural gas. If that description doesn’t scare you, take a look at the photo below. Yipes!!


Rest for the Weary

All that hard work made the arms tired, and hot irons needed a place to rest. Trivets were originally hand wrought by blacksmiths and later mass produced by casting. They were both functional and decorative.


Photo used with permission from  Carole Meeker,

I’m Feeling “Sew” HOT, HOT, HOT

Today the “hot topic” is traveling with our irons. Our biggest worry is how to get that iron to and from classes and retreats. Why not whip up a handy combination hot iron carrier and ironing mat to impress your friends.

Finished Size: 20” x 28” laying flat (fits all standard and small irons)
Skill Level: Intermediate
Pattern Designed by: Nancy Dill

If you need something more compact, the bootie style hot iron covers might just what you’re looking for.

Hot Iron Holder Pattern KB-16

Pattern Designed by: Kay Buffington

Don’t forget about your hot curling iron!

Finished size: 15” x 7”
Designed by: Kay Buffington

If you want to be the “hottest” guest at the party, make the hostess a handy set of hot pads. They’re a great place to showcase your piecing. Set includes double ended mitts that become a trivet at the table, 8” square and circular hot mitts, and a hot pot handle cover.

Finished Sizes: 
Double-Ended Mitt: 7.75″ x 29″
Pot Handle Cover: 3.5″ x 6.5″
Square Mitt: 8″ Square
Circle Mitt: 8″ Diameter
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner 
Designed by: IJ – Indygo Junction – Amy Barickman

Pressing Spot and Iron Tote

iron cover

Price: $10.00
Product ID : HHQ-7313
Designer: HHQ – Hedgehog Quilts – Terry Albers
Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs
Posted in Helpful Tools, Notions, patterns, Helpful Tips | 1 Comment

Sewing for Tweens with Fat Quarters!

Are you looking to bring new customers into your shop?  Have you considered the Tween sewist?

As a sewing instructor, my students, girls aged 9 – 13  would ask me – “Ms. Ellen, why can’t we find patterns to sew clothes like the ones you teach us?”  I looked around and they were right – there are not many patterns with the simple, clean lines that they want.  My students love how sewing lets them express their own creativity and style.

The new Sewing Guidance for Young Ladies Pattern Series is designed just for Tweens.  They are fun, modern and uncomplicated with lots of illustrations.  Most patterns have only 2 -3 pieces and they stitch up fast.  Girls draft their own pattern pieces based on just a couple of key body measurements.  This means a great, customized fit every time.  All of our patterns are kid tested!  There are a variety of skill levels ranging from absolute beginner to intermediate.  Here are three of my designs.


In 2016, we will include more tops, skirts, pants and shorts along with the hugely popular zakka items for accessories and bedroom like totes, scarves, pillows and of course, quilts with Tween-style.  Parents are happy to spend money on a productive pastime that builds a lifelong skill.

The New Year is a time for re-imagining.  What about including a few amazing Sewing Guidance Tween workshops in your shop’s class offerings? Create a customer that will come back to you for many years!

See all of Ellen’s patterns and products HERE on

Ellen Brown

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pincushion Ponderings

Pincushion Pondering

Photo used with permission from Carol Steely

Pincushions. What is it about them that seem to draw us in? We use them, display them, make them, swap them, and collect them. Do you ever wonder “why a tomato”?

Mello Mushroom Pincushion Pattern AK-164 $6.50
Designed by: AK-Annie’s Keepsakes-Vicki Clontz

 Pincushions have been referenced as far back as the middle ages. The predecessor of today’s pincushion went by strange names like pimpilowes, pyn-pillows, and pin-poppets.  They were made from fine fabrics and often decorated with delicate hand embroidery.

Grandma’s Silver Spoon Pincushion Pattern
DML-182 $12.00
Designed by: DML-Down Memory Lane-Nancy Hughes
Prior to 1835, pins were handmade and very expensive. Husbands would designate a line in the family budget for their wives called “pin money”. This was an allowance
she would use to purchase pins, cloth, and other personal items. As you can
imagine, the pincushion was not only a utilitarian place to store pins but also
a place to put ones pins on display.
In December of 1835, Dr. Robert Howe invented a pin making machine. In no time, the Howe Manufacturing Company was turning out about 70,000 pins a day. Once pins were massed produced pincushions became a commonly purchased trinket and popular sewing necessity.

Ready Pincushion Pattern IJ-856 $8.99
Designed by: Amy Barickman-Indigo Junction

But how does the ever popular tomato pincushion fit into this story?
During the Victorian Era, placing a tomato on the mantel of a new house would repel evil and bring prosperity. Of course, tomatoes weren’t always in season and didn’t last very long.  Being clever and resourceful, ladies would make their own out of cloth. Eventually this powerful mantle trinket became the perfect place to show off their lovely little pins.

Tomato Pincushion Pattern AK-172 $6.50

Designed by: AK-Annie’s Keepsakes-Vicki Clontz

I know you’re thinking, “so how does its companion strawberry play into all this?”
Well, the nickel coating on early mass-produced pins would flake off causing the pins to rust. Creative tailors and seamstresses would use a bag of emery grit to clean their pins. Today we have a cute little strawberry attached to our tomato pincushion that serves that same purpose.

Why not browse the fun pincushion patterns here at and start your own collection or swap party today.
Always sew for fun!
Carol Steely, FunThreads Designs


Posted in Fun!, Gift idea | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Baby it’s Cold Outside so Make it Quick

When the cold weather comes it is time for an indoor project that we can complete quickly.  Some people like to make a snowman or winter scene, others dream of a warm tropical vacation.  No matter where you dream of being, here are some QUICK PROJECTS to fill the cold afternoon or evening when you want something new to do, but don’t want it to take all winter.

First, here are some tips to finding quick and easy quilt project patterns.

  • Squares and rectangles are faster and easier to piece than triangles, and way easier than curves.
  • Choose patterns with large applique pieces that can be fused and machine stitched.  Those will go much faster than traditional applique.
  • Look for small projects such as table runners, placemat, wall quilts, or lap quilts.  They will take much less time than a bed size quilt.
  • Choose a project that has large pieces and less cutting, so you can get right to the fun sewing part.
  • Use your stash – jelly rolls, charm packs, fat quarter bundles, scraps and yardage you already have.  This saves shopping time and gives you a great sense of satisfaction.
  • Finish a UFO.  You already started it so why not finish it?  If you only want to work on it for a little while you can put it away and bring it out next time you want to do a quick project.  As I often say when people complain that they have had a pattern for a long time but haven’t started it, “it won’t go bad in the bag!”

Want a new project?  I have gathered a few ideas you might like to try.

Here is a quick pillow project you could complete in a day or two.  These would look great in any decor and could give you a leg up on Holiday gifts for next year.


Holiday Pillows Pattern LCQ-419 $9.00

Celebrate the season with this appliqued pillow cover pattern. Quick and easy to complete with fusible applique. You will want to make all 4. Makes a great gift giving idea.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: LCQ – Little Quilt Company – Gary/Kim.

Want to use up some of your scraps or stash fabric.  How cute is this quick quilt project?


Little Whirlgigs Quilt Pattern CQ2-174  $6.00

This quick little pattern alternates 3 different triangle blocks with a simple fabric square. Small size pattern; one page front & back instructions. Fabrics are from the Flying Geese Collection by Evonne Cook with P & B Textiles/Washington Street Studio.
Finished Size: 30″ x 30″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: CQ2 – Clothesline Quilts – Evonne Cook.

Here is a project which could use one of those fabulous fat quarter bundles you have been saving for a cold winter day.  Guess what?  That day is here!  Unwrap that baby and cut it up!


Pallette Quilt Pattern BHQ-127  $9.00

Quick and easy baby quilt pattern.
Finished Size: Approximately 50″ x 50″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: BHQ – Bear Hug Quiltworks – Lisa Alley.

I bet you have some beautiful fabric you fell in love with and just can’t bring yourself to cut it up.  Here is a project that lets the fabric do all the talking, and is oh so quick to make.  Now that fabric can be on you wall, table or sofa, instead of hidden in your stash.


Cottage Rose Set Quilt Pattern LR-102

A delightfully quick Cottage Chic quilt pattern that’s low on the piecing and blooming with charm. This quilt pattern features the Bella Fabric Collection designed by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush Studio
Finished Sizes:
Quilt: 80″ x 85″
Hanging Headboard: 55″ x 52″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Designed by: LR – Lacey Hill & Ro Gregg.

Table runners make great quick projects.  And they look fabulous in any setting.  Here is a pair -runner and placemats – that are beginner friendly and very modern.


Running Blocks Quilt Pattern FD-704  $9.00

The Running Blocks quilt pattern includes both a simple and easy to piece table runner, and four placements. This attractive, primarily two-fabric design has a small accent border. These quilts make a fun and quick gift for a house warming or any occasion. This is a great beginner project. Quilt pattern includes easy to follow instructions and helpful diagrams.
Finished Sizes:
Table Runner: 16″ x 41″
Placemats: 12″ x 18″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: FD – Friendship Designs.


Posted in Fun!, patterns, Helpful Tips | 1 Comment

Quilting Resolutions for 2016

As quilters we always make resolutions each year. We want to get all those UFOs completed, or start a new project we have been saving, or even make a quilt for a shelter or Head Start or Project Linus. We have such good intentions.

We are often thwarted from those plans by life’s little priorities which keep us from doing what we planned. This post is dedicated to finding time and resources to help you meet your 2016 quilting goals.

One way is to refresh your skills (or gently remind yourself of what you may have forgotten) by watching some videos. Here are a few to get you started.

Learn about different kinds of quilts.

Learn about quilt fabric.

Learn to make that perfect 1/4″ seam.

Next, you need to find some time in your busy schedule. Here are a few suggestions that other bloggers recommend.

  • give yourself 15 minutes a day to quilt.
  • keep your sewing space tidy so when you have a few minutes to sew you can spend it sewing and not cleaning up your space.
  • if you have favorite shows you like to watch on TV, turn them on while at your machine, or doing handwork you want to complete so you can watch and sew at the same time.
  • plan regular sew days with friends, your local quilt shop, your small group or bee. Sometimes just a few hours of concentrated sew time is all you needed to complete a project.
  • plan to attend a quilt retreat. Guilds and shops offer them at reasonable prices. Look on the internet to find other opportunities. I get more done at a 3-day retreat than a month at home.

Finally here are some great projects to help you get organized, to make the most of your sewing or retreat time.

Every quilter ought to have one (or more) of these handy thread catchers.  Make a second one to keep in your travel bag or to give as a gift to someone you you sew with.  They will thanks you like crazy.


Thread Catcher Plus Pattern MD-CT31 $8.50

Keep yourself organized while working at your sewing machine. The thread catcher plus not only keeps the sewing area free of pesky threads, but has a spot for every notion you need while you create an heirloon quilt. A fun little quilt pattern that can be done in just a few hours.
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Designed by: Marlous Designs – Marlous Carter.

If you need something to carry your machine to class or retreat here is a great project to get you organized.  Make a tote to carry your machine.


Sewing Machine & Extension Table Tote Pattern ABQ-168   On sale for $6.50

Show off your amazing sewing skills and your organizational skills all at the same time! Carry your portable sewing machine to classes and retreats in style. Pack the multiple pockets with your foot pedal, cords, books, fabric, notions and sewing tools. Open the drop pocket to easily access everything. You can even pack your sewing machine extension table in this unique new bag.

Finished Size:

Your bag will carry a machine up to 19″(L) x 13″(H)x 9″ (D). Pack an extension table measuring up to 19″ x 13″ with folding or removable feet. It snaps into place right behind your sewing machine.

Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Pattern Designed by Brenda Miller for Among Brenda’s Quilts

Here is a great way to get organized:  with a Rollie Pollie Organizer.  These will hold all your tools at home or at class.


Rollie Pollie Organizer Pattern CND-119  $9.00

The Rollie Pollie is an all-purpose organizer featuring 4 detachable, zipped pouches that all roll up into a secure little package. Hang it up using your choice of a d-ring or grommet and fold it flat for compact storage when not in use. Hook and loop strips hold the pouches and flap securely in place. A convenient side handle makes for easy carrying. Perfect for cosmetics, sewing and craft supplies, jewelry, toys, and gift giving. The pattern has computer generated illustrations and metric as well as imperial measurements. Pattern includes instructions for 3 sizes.
Finished Sizes:
Small: 8″ x 4 3/4″ x 5″
Medium: 9″ x 5 1/2″ x 5 1/2″
Large: 10″ x 5 3/4″ x 6 1/2″
Skill Level: Intermediate
Designed by: CND – Cozy Nest Designs – Sarah Gido.

Here is a great project to take with you when you are shopping for fabric or project materials.


Clipboard Organizer Pattern NDD-141  $9.00

A big pocket for all the flyers you pick up and places for everything you need to take notes and exchange business cards. Optional shoulder strap.
Use the Quick Fabric Tube Turner for this pattern.
Finished Size: 9 1/2″ x 13″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner
Pattern designed by Nancy Dill for

And how about a tool apron to keep everything within reach wherever you wander.  Longarm quilters will want one of these.  And what a great way to use orphan blocks!


Tool Apron Pattern BS2-278  $9.00

Did you ever say to yourself, “Where did I put my scissors now?” or “Where is my seam ripper?” Well now you can be organized with this great apron pattern and have everything right at your fingertips. Throw in a tape measure, some mints, your phone, and your MP3 player and you’re ready to work!
Finished Size: One size fits all
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Pattern designed by Barb Sackel of Rose Cottage Quilting.

Want more great projects to get you organized. had lots of them.  CLICK HERE to view more great ideas, or type ORGANIZE into the Search box to get started on your journey to make this the best quilting year ever!  Good luck.

Posted in Techniques, Video, organization | Leave a comment

The Easy Binding Winder

It’s binding time! You’re in the home stretch…your quilt is almost finished…if only the binding would behave itself!

How many times has your binding become twisted as you roll it around your hand or a cardboard tube for easy handling? Or come unrolled and then tangle itself around the legs of your chair as you sew it to your quilt? Or become covered in pet hair as it drags on the ground?


We are excited to share a new product, the Easy Binding Winder, created by Peggy Benjamin and Rex Moreland. This gadget does exactly what its name says-it efficiently winds quilt binding into a neat roll, off the ground and ready for use.


The Easy Binding Winder

How does it work?

Secure the winder onto the ironing board edge with the included clamp. Press your long binding strip in half, wrong sides together like usual, and tuck the end under the spool clip. As you press, continue winding the binding strip onto the spool. The result? As Peggy says, “a neat and tidy little roll”-no twisting, no tangling. When you’re ready to stitch the binding to the quilt, it will unroll just as neatly, for frustration-free binding!


Watch a demo video here.

The Easy Binding Winder is made using plastic injection molding in America (Blacklick, Ohio, to be exact) based on a prototype Rex designed for Peggy. The handle turns easily to accommodate physical limitations, and the clamp adjusts to fit virtually any ironing board. Extra spools are available so you can make, roll and store bindings until you need them.


With a tagline of “Don’t get your bindings in a twist!” there’s no question the Easy Binding Winder will simplify finishing your quilt.


Posted in Fun!, Helpful Tools, Notions, Video, Gift idea, Helpful Tips | 1 Comment

Jeanne’s Bags

Extraordinary Bags by Jeanne Nivard

JeanneNivardI grew up in Philadelphia within a creatively-gifted family. My mother was a professional dressmaker and my father was a chef who worked in only the finest establishments. Both were trained in Europe. My sister paints all of the school play sets for her kids. Needless to say, we are an artsy family.

My artistic career started in fine art, I loved working with watercolor. However, I decided against a career in art and kept it as a wonderful avocation. After several moves we landed here in the Adirondack Mountain area of New York, near Lake George. It’s a resort area and a great place to raise a family. However, once the children started to arrive, there wasn’t much time to dabble with my watercolors.

My purses are sold at local craft shows and are available for sale at our regional arts council and other art and artisan-related shops in the area. I also enjoy making custom purses based on my current designs depending on the needs of the client. My clients enjoy coming to my studio and “playing” with my fabrics or choose fabrics and designs on-line through my website, My quilting friends have encouraged me to make patterns of my designs and finally I have taken on the challenge.  You can urchase my patterns at

Some completed bags are available in my ETSY shop along with quilted trivets and coasters.   I hope you enjoy my purse designs and have lots of fun making them!

jb2-004 (1)Emma is a very versatile shoulder bag. Its traditional design fits any occasion. The narrow strap lends a youthful appearance. There is plenty of room inside, owing to the side and bottom gusset. Pockets are all around inside, including a pen pocket. The flap closes with a magnetic snap and provides security for your things. Options for this pattern include length of strap and depth of purse. Perfect for everyday or evening wear.
Click HERE to purchase pattern.

Finished Size: 11 1/4″ Wide x 7 1/2″ Tall x 2″ Deep
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

jb2-001The Diana Shoulder Purse is a small to medium sized purse that is simple to make yet is sophisticated in its design. The diagonal flap with embellishments, such as buttons, and the two fabrics used in the strap takes a simple pattern and makes it special. Pockets inside makes it functional as well as pretty.

Click HERE to purchase pattern.

Finished Size: 11″ x 5 1/2″ x 3″
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner


jb2-002Julia is a satchel purse that can be worn cross-body or on the shoulder because of its adjustable strap. The pattern offers a fixed length strap option as well. This purse offers lots of security in its zippered exterior pocket and zippered closure. Inside, pockets and a key fob helps to keep you organized. Lots of room, security and hands-free use makes Julia very versatile.

Click Here to purchase pattern.

Finished Size: 12.5″ x 10.5″ x 2.5″
Skill Level: Intermediate



jb2-003Karin is your all-purpose, go-to purse that fits all needs. It is large enough to carry all of your things. This purse is organized inside with plenty of pockets (including a pen pocket) with exterior slip pockets on the back. This purse is a comfortable shoulder length. The flap closes with a magnetic snap and provides security while the scalloped edge adds a feminine touch. A great purse pattern that goes from a work day to an evening out.

Click HERE to purchase pattern.

Finished Size: 12″ (bottom) Wide x 9″ Tall x 3″ Deep
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner


jb2-005Veronica purse pattern is designed to hold all of your things in good order while still being fun. It is quilted to add to the purse design, large grommets and decorative button also adds interest. A tab with magnetic snap closes the purse. Plenty of pockets, both inside and outside, organizes your things. There even is a pen pocket. Note the interesting corners, another design feature. Perfect any time of year. A purse not seen around town. Enjoy the uniqueness!

Click Here to purchase pattern.

Finished Size: 9″ tall (center) x 12.5″ wide (bottom) x 3.5″ deep
Skill Level: Advanced Beginner

Posted in Designers, Fabric, Fun!, patterns, Crafts, Gift idea, clothing patterns | 1 Comment

Fall Quilt Market Update

According to Quilts, Quilts eInsider, this year’s Market in Houston drew 2,634 registered attendees, with 1,614 of those people also enrolling for classes and/or events. 1,062 people enrolled for Schoolhouse Series, and 1,169 for Sample Spree.  But the real news about quilt market is on the vendor floor!

As always Fall Quilt Market thrills us with new ideas and products to rock the quilt world. This market was no different. As I wandered around market talking to vendors, taking pictures, and viewing amazing quilt exhibits I noted a few trends I think you will be seeing next year in your local quilt store.

Small woodland animals are still in abundance! Owls and foxes are still very popular, but add other little critters like raccoons, squirrels, and not so small critters: elephants, deer and bears.

2015-10-26 11.19.04

2015-10-26 11.19.17

Laura Heine’s Collage Patterns were amazing, including the bear (above) and my personal favorite: the flamingo.  These patterns are going to be a big hit!  They were flying out of her booth.

2015-11-01 13.53.47Another perennial favorite, the butterfly, was popular at market. This stunner by designer Linda Frost was prominent in Fabri-Quilt’s booth.
IMG_40792015-10-30 10.19.23
This Forest Fairy & Friends quilt by McKay Manor Musers combined small critters, butterflies, fairies and flowers. And the cute bright colors were also everywhere.

2015-10-30 12.51.33

I couldn’t resist this cat, sheep and owl.  And check out the cute puppy and colorful butterfly.  And that heart is adorable!

And did I mention hearts?  These paper folded birds and hearts were an amazing display in RJR fabrics booth.

2015-10-26 15.06.09
Still on the quasi-critter theme, there was a boat load of mermaids and other fishy things!  Those mermaid tail patterns were very popular, as was this amazing dress:

BOOTH_DRESS_2_LR INTOTHEDEEP_COVER_NAVYInto the Deep fabric line by Patty Sloninger was showcased by this over the top amazing mermaid dress! Whew!  Can’t you picture that at the “Under the Sea” prom?
Another critter to watch for this year is the swan.  Quilts, Inc. insist this is a new and coming trend.  These two fabric samples were posted on their blog. I especially like the little legs on the swans from Cloud9 Fabrics.


Another huge trend this fall was TUFFETS!  Tuffets, pillows, poofs, and cushions.  Oh yea, they were everywhere!  Check out these by Kaffe Fassett. (Photos by


And check out these colorful fabrics and tuffet in the Jaybird Quilts booth. (Photos by
fall-festival-houston-market-2015-boothsEven Quilts, included Tuffets among the big trends at this market.  They posted these pictures in their blog. (Photos by Quilts,


There was no shortage of bright colors in both solids and prints.

Some other trends I noticed. . . wool was everywhere!  Lots of primitives, as you would expect.  LOTS of primitive designs and quilts in cotton and wool.  But also wool in bright colors and mixed with cottons, trims, buttons, and oodles of bling!  BTW, bling seemed to be slowing down a bit but if you stayed for Festival, bling was everywhere.  It may not be new but it is still way popular.

Reproductions were still in evidence.  Moda had a new line of 30’s Playtime favorites and Paintbrush Studio features an impressive new line of Civil War shirtings by Barb Eikmeier along with a block of the month that is gorgeous.  Red Crinoline Quilts featured lots of patterns for CW repros, and there were plenty of other vendors showing gorgeous fabrics and patterns featuring these unstoppable repros.

Hoffman batiks and Susan Claire Mayfield (The Gourmet Quilter) teamed up to offer Susan Claire’s amazing Block of the Day Town and Country Quilt.

That_Town_and_Country_Quilt_-_whole_largeKits will be available from Hoffman and from your favorite retailer.  Get the patterns from Susan Claire’s website: The Gourmet

One last trend I should mention. Modern quilts are still very popular but I was surprised by the number of traditional fabrics and patterns being featured.  Modern and art quilts dominated the quilt exhibition, but the vendors of fabric and patterns were selling traditional fabrics and patterns, with a big dose of whimsical thrown in for flavor.  2015-10-26 11.20.25


And what’s not to love about these cakes featuring these quilt fabrics.  Very clever!


2015-10-26 11.45.07

Hexagons and diamonds were still popular, but less so than at last fall’s market.

Most of the store owners and buyers I spoke to were looking for pieced patterns, saying applique didn’t sell as well as traditional pieced designs.  Small projects and projects featuring pre-cut were still very popular with buyers.  And the truism never fails:  Samples sell!



Posted in Uncategorized, Quilt Market, Trends | 4 Comments

Designers Retreat 2016: Florida and New York

Quiltwoman Designers Retreat 2016

What a great way to learn, relax, re-energize and engage in networking with other designers just like you. 5 days just for pattern/quilt/craft designers.  Here is what you can expect:

  • Brainstorming about YOUR business
  • Open designing time and sharing – work on your own projects
  • Networking with other designer entrepreneurs
  • Marketing workshops
  • Speakers on business/marketing topics
  • New designer breakout sessions
  • Established business breakout sessions
  • Optional software classes: EQ7, Adobe Illustrator
  • Private-one-on-one business consulting sessions available with Nancy Dill (limited time slots)

The retreat package includes lodging, meals, snacks, swag bags, door prizes, retreat notebook and handouts, free wifi, and nearby shopping!

Space is limited so apply right away.

gunesin-nagiliSpring Retreat: February 16-20, 2016 in Sebring, Florida

At Historic Kenilworth lodge

Download application form Here for FL Retreat

campFall Retreat: August 3-7, 2016 in Silver Lake, NY

At Historic Camp Asbury

Download application form Here for NY Retreat

Here is what other designer (who attended last year) are saying:

Carol Steely

I got so much usable information from Barb Sackel’s Designing for the Market workshop my head is still spinning.  She broke all the aspects of pattern design down into bite size pieces of information. We learned about quilting styles, brainstormed how they cross over, looked at the demographics of the industry, learned creative ways to find design opportunities, and so much more. We discussed what makes a good pattern by dissecting it into all its individual parts. I’ve been able to implement so many things learned in this workshop on my own patterns.



Carol steely patterns

Reeze Hanson

ReezeThe Designers Retreat was an invaluable experience I think all designers should experience.  The marketing and networking information was especially beneficial to me as a relatively new business woman.  I really enjoyed the camaraderie and the beautiful setting, and there was a good balance of structured workshops and activities, and free time for designing, collaborating, or just enjoying the lake-side scenery.  The retreat was exceptionally well organized by Nancy Dill and Barb Sackel, and included a great mix of topics from a variety of perspectives including publishing, marketing, creativity, social media, working with video, working with fabric companies, wholesale, retail, and quilt market.  Of the three business and marketing workshops I attended this past year, this one was by far the best.  I took away lots of information and strategy I could use, and felt like I went home reinvigorated and ready to move forward in my business.  It’s a great value for the money.

Reeze L. Hanson,  Morning Glory Designs




Tina Dillard

logo-QuiltingAffectionThe Designer Retreat, was an amazing experience for me.  The networking with other designers was one of the biggest gains for me. When I came to the retreat, the only people I knew were Nancy Dill and Barb Sackel, which I briefly met at the Spring Market in Minneapolis. By the end of the retreat I had 16 other designers I could network back and forth with.  I also gained a few new friends that I can communicate with all the time.  We bounce Ideas off one another and help each other grow our businesses.  As for the workshops, I gained the most from the Marketing, where I learned to find the One Big Thing (my niche in the market) and set it as my goals to meet it.  For me, I feel my big thing in business is the combination of Piecing and Applique Patterns.  Also in the Marketing workshop, we learned how to market ourselves, by building Email lists, blogs and Social Media.  I’m currently working on strengthening these areas. I know this will take time.  I look forward to the 2016 retreat to see how far I have gone from what I learned from this retreat.

Tina Dillard


tina dillard

Trisha Dellavella and Mary Eeg

DSC_7565The most beneficial part of the retreat for us was Networking with Nancy as well as Barb and all the participants. We were particularly inspired by Nancy’s personal story and journey and how she took risks, expanded and followed her dreams with courage and stamina to overcome many obstacles. The emphasis on finding your own niche made us realize that when designing you must always consider your target audience rather than just your own personal preferences. What may appeal to you may not always please potential customers. Sharing ideas and experiences with a diverse talented group of pattern designers was most rewarding. Overall, Nancy was a huge inspiration to us.

Trisha Dellavella and Mary Eeg

Website: Hairbrained Happenings




Posted in Designers, Video, Quilt Retreats, workshops | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Washable Lady Products

And Now for Something A Bit Different – Washable Lady Products

Available at

Femininewear is probably not what you normally think about when looking for wearable patterns. BUT sanitary pads are essentially teeny tiny quilts, right?! And, making them is both fun and empowering.

Just think: it’s an easy way to help the environment by reducing what you send to the landfill; it’s a lot cheaper over time than buying disposable pads and underwear; they feel great, they’re pretty and they work! And, contrary to popular belief, washing them is not gross – it’s actually kinda liberating!
See how quickly they stitch together:

1. Make the Inside Core and sew it to the top fabric

2. Sew the top and bottom together and cut out

3. Turn Right Sides Out. Close. Add a snap.


There is a pad for every stage of a woman’s life from her first period to light bladder leakage protection.


They make up in a snap. You’ll want a drawer full!

1. Circle Pad, sized for early years – ages 9 – 14
pic52. Thong pad (to be used with another type of menstrual protection)pic6
3. Regular/Maxi Padspic7
4. Light Bladder Leakage Protection Pads

And they all come with a bonus panty liner pattern for everyday freshness too.
It only takes a fat quarter of your top and bottom fabrics to make 3 – 5 pads. The absorbent core can be flannel, cotton batting, old towels, etc. And, for light bladder leakage or extra protection for menstrual flow, add a layer of poly urethane laminate which is easy to buy in many big box stores or online if your quilt shop doesn’t carry it.

It’s a new day! Down with white, scratchy, papery disposable pads that no one really knows what they are made of! Give this eco-friendly option a try!

Click HERE to get the pattern.

Posted in Uncategorized, Techniques, Tutorials, Helpful Tips, clothing patterns | 2 Comments