Friday, January 31, 2020

New Home for Sewcations

Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Sturbridge MA New Home of Sewcations

The best part of being the owner of Sturbridge Quilting and Sewing Center was hosting Sewcations. An original concept, Sewcations are Sewing Vacations! For many years sewcations have been the place where stitchers can spend time with others that share their interest in all things fabric and fun. Sewcations are retreats where you can stitch for days but still sleep in your own bed. But some of my stitching friends live in New York and Connecticut so they stay at one of Sturbridge’s many hotels. Meals and lodging are on your own making sewcations a great value.

With the shop closed sewcation fans would not let it go. We did a test sewcation in July 2019. I hoped that I would get at least 15 attendees to meet expenses. After a few days of selling spots to my first sewcation at Holiday Inn Sturbridge I started to get nervous when my notifications from my website shop were blowing up my phone!  How exciting! I had to close registration at 30 attendees. Some were left out and others had so much fun they told their friends all about the fun. When I opened registration for January 2020 a made sure I reserved the whole Gateway Ballroom - just over 3,000 square feet! Again, I had to close registration after 45 stitchers made reservations. The hotel gives us a really great group rate on rooms so lots of the attendees stay at the hotel and make it a fantastic retreat. The picture above shows most of the sewing room setup for 49 stitching stations. Lots of elbow room, cutting and ironing stations and space to enjoy sewing away the weekend.

My schedule for Sewcations this year are posted on my website were you can purchase your seat and join in on the fun. Maybe I’ll see you there!

Here are a few more pictures from January 2020 Sewcation.

Friday, January 24, 2020

Reflecting Back on 2019 and Dreams for 2020

My Name is Abby

It’s hard to believe that in a week or so it will be 6 months that I’ve been doing the hardest job with the best benefits, Nanny-Granny.  After 10 years as the stay-at-home parent my son is back at school pursing his degrees. I closed my retail store with plans of continuing my online wool business and spending more time with my live-in grand babies but....I still get to do those things but I am also running a household of 5 kids, 3 adults, one dog (very cute dog) and doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and driving the kiddos where they need to be. In my parents day the job was called “Chief Cook and Bottle Washer”! My dad was Navy. Well I’m not washing bottles but I am washing about 12-15 loads of laundry a week. Hubby and I used to find it difficult to cook for two after having a large family. Now I shop at BJ’s where the carts are almost double to size of the regular grocery stores and the food bill is way up there! Hubby was the cook for many years when it was just the two of us but now I’m back at the stove and let me just say this....I don’t cook well after such a long break. It was an adjustment but I’m proud to say that today I’m making chicken pot pie with crust from scratch.  And it’s good! After a very bad pie crust experience when baking my son’s birthday pie in October (a funny story for another time) I’m proud to say “I’m good at pie crust”! My banana cream pie is amazing!

So why am I sharing my non-stitching story on my Stitching With Gina blog? Because like all stitchers I am many things. We all have so many other responsibilities in life but we are all still stitchers.  We just can’t stop finding small amounts of time during the day, week or sometimes month to stitch something. Days do pass with out even a thought of stitching. I have times when I just sit at my sewing machine and smile. Dreaming up projects and planning quilts gives my a sense of joy to carry me through the day to day chores. My best me is grandma and I’m still a stitcher with days of fabric joy. Balance. Right?

For the new year so many of us make plans for the year to come. Some stitchers promise to finish up UFO’s and some say they will reduce their stash while others plan to find more time to sew. For me this year I said that I will “live” more. More in the moment without life feeling like work. Slow down and find the joy. That’s a new year promise I won’t have a problem achieving. I stitch slower and enjoy the journey not pushing to finish. And I’ve taken up Line Dancing. Yup, dancing, moving and laughing at my missteps. Lots of fun.

Last year I started a scrap challenge to make 12 scrap quilts in one year. They didn’t need to be quilted, just tops measuring at least 60” x 70”. I posted some of them in this blog and almost finished 12 tops but I lost steam around August/September coincidently when my new role of Nanny-Granny started! I planned my 2020 challenge to be to quilt them. I have my longarm and it’s ready for me to get back to quilting and without a computer...I do miss having my Pro-Stitcher :( I used to do well with custom quilting but wow! If you don’t use it you do get really rusty.  Really! But I’m looking forward to getting back to machine quilting soon. I’m good with free-hand designs so I’ll prioritize my 50 or so tops and reduce the stack a little. Maybe over the summer I’ll give custom quilting a go. If not then, maybe when the youngest starts all-day kindergarten in September. Woohoo! I’ll have 6 full hours a day to find time to quilt more.I’ll missing seeing Frozen 4 times a day followed by Trolls and Trolls II a few dozen times but I’ll push through.

Whatever you plan for your new year, do it with joy and live in the moment. Sometimes we need a reminder of that.

I’ll try to post my scrap quilts soon. I have a few more tops that I haven’t shown you.

Friday, September 6, 2019

 Hello All!

If you're keeping up with my Scrap Quilt Challenge for 2019 you probable noticed that I haven't posted a scrap quilt for August. I have a quilt started but not finished. I also have a quilt started for September.  It's really difficult to stick to the challenge when there are so many other sewing projects I like doing. So that you know I've at least been sewing this summer I thought I'd show a few of the projects I've stitched.

I'm not just a quilter, I also sew garments. I've been collecting patterns from a few Indie Designers. I started with collecting 100 Acts of Sewing patterns and that put me on the path of other designers.   I stitched 2 Aprons, 1 Dress, 2 skirts and a top. My latest Apron was Debby Brown's Reversible Cross-Back Cutie Apron Pattern. Click here to see her pattern for purchase. She also has kits available. this Apron is the most comfortable to wear and was very easy to sew.  I use one side for cooking and the other for sewing.  I used fabric from my stash but the pattern is made to use Cutie Packs. Cuties are 16 - Fat 1/8 pre-cuts. Check out the home of Cuties Packs at The Quilt Basket located in New York.

I've been stitching up samples for upcoming releases for Grab 'N Go Kits, my wool felt product line. I have also been working on my new products and patterns.  Stay tuned for new product releases and expanded product exciting!

I promise I will get back to stitching my scrap quilts. I won't let this challenge get the better of me!
What have you been stitching this summer? I'd love to hear from you. Leave a comment or email me at

Enjoy the last few days of summer.

Reversible Cross-Back Cutie Apron by Debby Brown

Elizabeth Shannon Apron by Ellen Mason Designs

Ruby by RAE Sewing Patterns

Child's Apron and Boys Tool Belt - No Pattern - I made them for the Jersey Grandkids

100 Acts of Sewing Skirt No. 1

Ruby Dress as a top - I used a white knit and the top yoke is made to match my skirt

100 Acts of Sewing Skirt No. 1 - I added side-seam pockets and changed to A-line to a straight skirt

Monday, June 24, 2019

July Scrap Quilt

I am posting my July Scrap quilt a few days early because I will be out of town for a few days. G.M. and I are going to the Vermont Quilt Festival! We will be making a few stops tomorrow before getting to our hotel. Wednesday and Thursday we have classes and then it will be a slow ride home Friday with a few more stops as we travel through Vermont, my favorite state in New England.

So about the scrap quilt for July. I made this quilt using scrap strings and foundation fabric that partially shows on the front of the block.  It was a fun quilt to make but the challenge came when I joined the blocks into rows. I have a lot of bulk in the centers of the Spider Web block.  I spun the seams to eliminate some of the bulk but it is going to be tricky to machine quilt around those "lumps". 

Here is a single block
 My scrap quilt for August is made using string from my Batik bucket. I am sewing small strip sets, then using a template to cut my shapes. I don't want to give too much of it away but it is going to be a quilt you will want to make using scraps or using your stash. It's that fabulous!  I will be working on it at July sewcation and hope to have it done by the time sewcation ends. That will leave 4 quilts left to make to meet my challenge of 1 quilt a month. I am starting to run out of ideas so if you have a favorite scrap quilt let me know what it is. 

I better get packing for Vermont!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Ta-da! My Scrap Quilt for June 2019

Made from my Batik scrape, I call it "Pineapple....NOT". It almost looks like the Pineapple log cabin block but this quilt was made using Deb Tucker's technique sheet -  Geese On The Edge.
This challenge is one of my better ideas. At first I thought I was a bit crazy thinking I would be able to make 12 quilts in one year but as I go along each month it feels like I just might do it.

For July I'm making a Spider Web String Quilt and for August I'm planning another string quilt using Batik strings. That will leave September, October, November and December. I'm going to have to see what else I can make from my scraps.

What are "strings"?
Strings are strips of fabric in varying widths from 3/4" to 2". String can also be selvege edges from your fabric. I started to include the selveges in a few of my blocks for my July quilt. They give the quilt a little pop of fun.

What is a string quilt? 
 String quilts start with a foundation since stitching thin strips together would be difficult. String blocks can be stitched with a paper foundation that is removed after stitching. Or muslin can be used as the foundation for string blocks but the fabric would remain as part of the quilt. Fabric foundation can be used in string blocks where some of the fabric shows as part of the block front. There are so many ways to make a string quilt. I'll put together a quick video showing some of my string quilts and some of the basics of stitching a string block. I'll let you know when it is posted. Until then keep stitching those scrap quilts!

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Scrap Quilt Challenge for May 2019

As I'm getting ready to blog to you about my June scrap quilt I realize I didn't reveal the quilt for May. I really thought I did but... Here it is! I created this quilt inspired by Bonie Hunter's Scrappy Mountain Majesties. I used the Batik fabric samples I mentioned in my last blog post. Those along with my scrap stash of Batiks, I made this month's quilt. Visit Bonnie's site and see how many different layouts you can create for this one block. Another one of my favorites is Weed Wacker.

While I had the Batik scrap buckets out I stared to plan for my next scrap quilt. The quilt for June uses one of Deb Tucker's Technique Sheets along with the Wing Clipper and Tucker Trimmer tools.
I'll post the finished quilt in a few days.

How have you been doing with your scrap quilts? Have you done any quilts using up your scraps or your stash? Last week I was at a retreat with my girls out in Woodstock Connecticut. It was fabulous. My quilt for July uses strings. Lots of fabric string. I'm almost finished with the blocks and the buckets still look as full of strings as they did when I started.
For August I'm going to do a string quilt using my Batik strings. I'm getting ahead of myself....
Stringing along in Woodstock CT

Spider Web String Block

Monday, April 29, 2019

That's a lotta wool!
Well I'm finally done moving my Grab 'N Go Kits operation to my home.  I had a little help with getting everything moved in. I'm so grateful to my littles for all their help.  The husband is priceless too. My longarm is setup at full size and ready for my first quilt. I'm going to get some of these scrap challenge quilts done and get the binding attached.

My April Scrap Quilt Challenge is ready for viewing. Take a look.

April Scrap Quilt Challenge

Last month my quilt was made using 2-inch strips cut from my many orphan fat quarters.  I got a bit carried away cutting and had (still have) lots of strips left after a couple of quilts. I did this quilt using the Jellyroll Race technique.  I miscalculated the number of strips to use and I had a large section left over. It measured 27" x 40'ish". My friend said make a bag! so I did! I layered some batting and lining fabric and added some simple machine quilting. Then I added straps, sewed up the sides and boxed out the bottom. To cover the seams on the inside I added binding. Done! I was very surprised to learn the my new bag holds 2 plastic project boxes perfectly. Love it!

May's quilt is made using Batik scraps. Here's some of the fabric I started with. These are sample cards fabric companies use to show shop owners what the latest fabric designs for ordering. I didn't order these fabric by the bolt but I did use these samples in my quilt. You'll have to wait until next month to see what I did with them.  After getting all my Batik scraps together for May's scrap quilt starting June's easy.  I'll show you that quilt soon.

Batik Fabric Samples
That's all for now. Keep stitching!