Archive for the ‘Gifts for Family & Friends’ Category

Why No Patterns?

Tuesday, October 20th, 2015
Dapper skeleton panel

Dapper skeleton panel

I have been sad sometimes that New Pieces doesn’t really carry patterns. We tell customers that there are plenty of patterns available in our books and magazines–which is true.  I think magazines can be a great source of inspiration, and often a wider variety of patterns for your $$ than books.

But the other reason we don’t carry patterns is that there are so many FREE patterns out there on the Internet, that it seems like overkill for us to ask you to purchase patterns.

Evidence: just the other day I found a blog post on Quilt Inspiration that gave a roundup of free Halloween patterns.


And for your Halloween viewing pleasure, we have lots of thematic fabrics in the store: panels and yardage.

Skeletons and Skulls!

Skeletons and Skulls!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that our skull/skeleton selection of fabrics is available year-round, due to Sharona’s not-so-secret love of them.  (Quilt on display in the store currently uses them in a very subtle way.)


Have you looked for free patterns?  Where have you found them?

Cutest. Fabric. Everrr.

Monday, August 31st, 2015

Okay, you already know I am biased, but I am in love with our Sushi Roll fabric packs!


Aren’t they adorable?!  I could just eat them up.  Sizeable chunks of our lovely, textured Asian fabrics (approx. fat eighth size each), thoughtfully curated and color-coordinated into 5-pack or 6-pack bundles.  All ready for you to take home and get to sewin’.

P1080218The process of selecting and bundling these fabrics takes time: sharp eyes look for good coordination of color, scale, and even theme to ensure you have an amazing array of Asian wonders to add to your fabric diet.

I think they are the perfect tidbit to get your feet wet with sewing true, treasured Asian fabrics.


Wondering what you could sew with these?  Well, one of our employees took home a pack and stitched up a pillow, using simple Seminole piecing.



Another employee has her eye on the Sew Together Bag (a class coming up on September 26th) as a way to play with these Asian beauties.

For yet more inspiration, look no further than the classic Bento Box pattern.  Colorful Sushi Roll scraps might be just the flavor you need for the centers of this traditional pattern; you could pair this treasure trove of loveliness with muted fabrics from your stash.  There is a wonderful Bento Box quilt on display in the shop right now–more food for your quilting imagination!


A Word From Our Sponsor….Nature

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

This has been one of those amazing weeks that featured rain, just when we all thought we were done with all that.

I hope that you all found a way to get beyond soaking wet feet and dubious traction for at least a few moments —  to enjoy some of the beauty of these difficult days. I forget sometimes that it’s the dark grey skies that give the most stunning, saturated colors of green and brown, and bring us the suddenly, wildly overgrown spring flowers. It’s not easy, but it is a joyful part of the cycle — and a great time to be inside sewing, or reading, or just looking out the window at the beauty of it all.

And of course, the view from the windows at Craneway Pavilion/the “Voices in Cloth” (EBHQ) Quilt show is spectacular too.

I don’t have pictures of the Show right now, but it really is wonderful. So many quilts, and such a range of talents and experience. It’s almost overwhelming to think that each one is the product of a unique concept, and a different set of hands. It’s like going to a commencement and realizing that every graduate is someone’s baby. Lovely, and almost overwhelming.

You’re likely to encounter old friends at “Voices in Cloth”,  and you might make some new ones. Go now, if you haven’t been yet – today until 4:00pm. Craneway Pavilion, in Richmond.

Have you Made a New (School) Year’s Resolution?

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

There’s a new school year right around the corner — Children are sharpening their pencils and laying out outfits and backpacks for return to the local grade schools. High school students are upgrading their high-techery and scuffing their shoes for an optimal first-day cool.  UC Berkeley is filling up, and classes start on Thursday; many of us have college students long gone for the Fall term. It was 78 degrees (F) in Berkeley today — a sure sign that the cool Summer weather is coming to an end, and a hot Bay Autumn is at hand. It’s time to get started, on something!

Becky Keck showing off a Freshly Quilted Work of Art (FQWA)

What’s your plan? Are you ready to do something new (or get back to doing something you used to love before life got so hectic?) Why not make your New Year’s Resolution NOW, at the beginning of the school year — instead of waiting until January when days are short, veggies are scarce and hibernation beckons?

Maybe this is the year you join a quilt guild; you can choose from the likes of  EBHQ , a venerable and powerful local group that meets in Kensington, the last Monday evening of the month (August 29th), or East Bay Modern Quilt Guild, a smaller newer group that meets at New Pieces on the last Tuesday (August 30). Here’s a list of other Quilt Guilds in the area, if you’re from farther out. You could finally take that class you’ve been meaning to at New Pieces. Maybe you can just make a promise to make yourself, and your sewing, a higher priority than it may have been lately.

Now is a perfect time to think about sharing a quilt or your skill with others:

You can make something for a loved one. You can teach a loved one, or an acquaintance, or a a classroom full of children to make something.

You can donate a quilt to either Quilts4Japan or Children’s Quilts/EBHQ . Q4J has collected hundreds of quilts to send to those in need; Children’s Quilts has packets of pre-selected, pre-cut fabrics available (free!) for you to assemble. You can pick one up at New Pieces Quilt Store; you can also drop off donations for either group at the Store, any time we are open.

EBHQ members can show off a quilt at the November meeting (“Show-and-Tell”) or start planning to display one in Voices in Cloth 2012 a sensational biennial quilt show to be held on St. Patrick’s Day weekend, at the Craneway Pavilion in Richmond.

There are so many other ways you can share your skills and knowledge. We just want to give you a little nudge, and encourage you to get started on what’s next. We’re living in challenging times. Sewing something is a calming, reassuring, affirming way to deal with uncertain times. Quilting is good for us and for everyone.

Happy New Year!

Amateur Hour…

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

This one’s personal: Last week I was getting ready to visit my family and wanted to take a present to my lovely mother-in-law. I found a pattern for a simple, reversible bag and decided to make a practice bag or two before using the fabric I’d been saving for her. Each bag was made from two pieces of fabric, each piece was almost 1/2 yard x 42″.

The directions are simple when you know the tricks… but, I had to learn every trick the hard way. I kicked myself several times for being such an amateur.

Over the course of two afternoons I made 8 different bags (there’s just a smidge of the 8th one on the left side of the picture above). While making them I made almost as many mistakes. On two I miss-read the directions for seaming the bottom corners, so those ones don’t stand flat. On two others I forgot to leave an opening in a side seam so the bag could be turned right side out. That problem was solved two different ways – once I seam-ripped an opening, once I put the opening in the bottom seam.  On one bag I sewed the bottom seam without re-orienting the bag; I fixed that by cutting the seam off and re-sewing it. My favorite mistake resulted in:

I forgot to cut the “handle” along the fold of the fabric, and solved that by cutting the pieces and re-arranging them, so this bag has both fabrics on both sides… (The bag is actually the same size and shape as the others, though the picture looks different.)

Somewhere in there I made the originally planned bag – with birds on one side and geranium leaves on the other  (my mother-in-law is both a birder and a gardener).

As far as I know her bag has none of the “mistakes” the other bags did — but here’s the thing — All the bags turned out nicely, and all the people I gave them to liked them. I learned lots from making them, but I learned even more from making and fixing my  mistakes without worrying about them. Each bag ended up looking perfect, with seams and boo boos sealed up inside. I hadn’t planned to make so many bags, or to give them all away, but have now done so joyfully.

Several times I accused myself of being an amateur  — but then remembered that the term “amateur” has nothing to do with perfection — it means “one who is a lover of”. I had a blast working on this non-quilt project, and it turned out well.  There was no mistake there!

Back soon, Heather!

Nancy Wohl – Mystery Quilter!

Thursday, May 19th, 2011

Nancy Wohl first came to our store while it was still on Solano Avenue and her daughter was first a student at U.C. Berkeley. After that visit Nancy was hooked on the New Pieces way of color and quiltmaking.




Nancy is an English teacher at a girl’s Catholic school in New Orleans. She was inspired to make quilts for each senior in her homeroom, each year. Although the system has now changed, until this year her homeroom girls stayed with her for the whole 4 years of high school.  Nancy got to know each girl over those years, and she made quilts to suit them individually.


Imagine being sent off into the world with a quilt, a THOUGHTFUL quilt, made just for YOU, by your homeroom teacher.





So, you have a WONDERFULLY funny teacher, Nancy, a crazy project (make the girls quilts) and a friendship with New Pieces…we’ve  done whatever it takes to get those quilts back to Nancy before graduation… what an amazing experience.

Many folks who came to see Nancy yesterday were rolling in the aisle, telling her she has to do stand up comedy.

We are so lucky to know you Nancy… Even though your own daughter has now graduated from U.C. Berkeley (Go Bears!), we hope you will come back and see us often. You’re part of our community.

Thanks for being SO GREAT.

Sharona, and the New Pieces Staff


Tuesday, May 10th, 2011

On Tuesday, May 17th (10:30-11:30am) New Pieces welcomes our third MYSTERY QUILTER to share her amazing (and we believe unique) quilter’s quest with all comers. This month’s guest is well known to the Staff at New Pieces, but will be coming from a great distance to the Bay Area. We have had to move the time for this talk to 10:30AM, as Her Royal Mysteriousness will be attending a graduation at a nearby University, in the afternoon.

As always, the Mystery Quilter talk is free, and starts promptly on the half-hour. There’s plenty of room, but seating is first-come, first-served. You may want to bring your mid-morning coffee with you, or plan to meet a friend for lunch after the talk.

Join us, please, for a talk that may inspire you to think about  your own quilting in a different way, and will certainly leave you feeling warm and fuzzy like a quilter should.

And Now – For Something Completely Different!

Tuesday, May 3rd, 2011


with Pat Dicker — May 15th at Noon

These “Sistas” are just plain fun. Each one is 14″ tall, with limbs you can position and has an exuberant personality that can’t be measured. Dancing Sistas prove the old adage that one can never be too thin, or too richly colored and textured. Pat is a great teacher, and  a lot of fun, even without her Sistas.

As of May 3rd there are spaces for two or three more students in this workshop. Maybe its time you made yourself a “doppelganger” or totem figure — Sistas are also flat enough to mail to a love one.




Thursday, April 21st, 2011

ART TO MAIL  –  May 1, 2011

12:00 – 3:00pm

Priscilla Read

Mother’s Day is May 8th this year. Art To Mail on May 1st is a perfectly timed adventure for anyone who has a mother, or is one, or married one or hopes someday to be one. It’s also perfect for anyone who just wants to learn to make stunning, mailable fabric post-cards.

Postcards have always been a way to remember friends, share good times and make art personal. Using your sewing machine and scraps of your favorite fabrics you will construct and embellish a mini-masterpiece, and take with you the skills to make more postcards at home. Why let Hallmark express your sentiments, when you can do better yourself, and have such fun!

A Quilt Like a Magic Carpet…

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011


Sometimes the magic begins with something as simple as an email:

June 3rd, 2010 at 07:17AM (EDT), an email from Madrid, Spain:


Jun 3, 2010, at 5:41 PM, Sharona responded:

Yes, we would love to make your daughter a quilt for her high school graduation. How wonderful that you found us, and that you would ask us to make your daughter’s quilt. Your brother would be most welcome as he delivers the “future” quilt goods.
In some of the quilts we have made, people have included a favorite poem or photo – perhaps of a dear pet or a beloved friend or family…we can transfer those onto fabric and include them in the quilt…I also like to know if there is a color your daughter does NOT like. These are as important as colors she DOES like.
I would like to know the approximate size of the quilt you would like. Any size is fine, I just need to know that. Our website has quilt sizes listed, so that may be helpful to you. (they are in inches, sorry)
You have given us plenty of time Gladys, to be finished next year…thank you for that. We need at least 3 months to design your quilt, prepare your daughter’s fabrics, sew, then quilt, and bind AND get it back to you.
I ask a $300 deposit when your brother brings in the fabrics, then I can give you an estimate of cost, when we see what we are working with, what, if anything, we need to add, etc. The remainder would be due when the quilt is done.
On another note, I just finished reading “Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafon. Do you know the book? It is set in Barcelona, not so close to you but closer than to me.

Thank you again

Later that same night:

Hi Sharona
I saw New Pieces in an Oprah program about 16 years ago and thought, one day when my daughter graduates from High School I will have a quilt made for her. And now we are almost there, time flies!!!
Good to hear from you so quickly. And yes I have read the Shadow of the Wind, one of the best books I have ever read. I also lived in Barcelona for a while and it is a wonderful city, quaint, beautiful modernist  architecture and a city by the sea, which is always magical.
I recommend you read another of my favorites The Sum of All Days written by chilean author Isabel Allende.
My daughter Gabriella, does not like pink or yellow. Loves blue and purple.
At this moment I have accumulated her actual dresses throughout her life, do I need to cut a piece of each fabric I would like to have included, if so, what size should the square be?
I was thinking the size should be for a twin bed. I dont know if you put the squares of fabric on both sides (I have lot of them) or only on one side.

Thank you for the information, let me know the other details so I can give my brother what you need.

April, 2011

Magic Happens!