Just Hanging Around…Quilts from Books, by Staff

July 19th, 2013

 To celebrate mid-Summer (what’s a Dog-Day, anyway?) here are snapshots of three amazing quilts that are hanging in the Store — right now. We secretly think they might be even nicer than the original quilts on which they are based… but come see and let us know what you think. Apologies for the quality of the photos, taken with an iPhone today.


“Fire Drill,” by Leah Brown


  This pattern appears in Modern Patch Work, by Elizabeth Hartman.

(Quilting by Kathy Ritter)






“Tic Tac Wall Quilt,” by Kathy Ritter


 from a pattern in Cozy Modern Quilts, by Kim Schaefer.


(The Magic is in the Details)



“Riverbank,” by Kathy Ritter

From a pattern in Modern Blocks,

by Susanne Woods.


Thank you for letting us share with you all!


We Make Mistakes So You Don’t Have To!

July 6th, 2013

This cautionary tale comes from our dear Margaret. When she finishes her quilt top, we’ll ask her to send us an updated picture:

There are a few lessons in life that you “get” to learn the hard way in order to never make the same mistake again:

Forgetting to back up your hard drive

Forgetting to put postage on your tax forms

Forgetting your passport at home on a trip to Ireland

I can add one more to the list….

Recently I started the Pathfinder Quilt that was printed in the Winter 2012/2013 International Quilt Festival magazine. This quilt is to be a baby quilt for my first ever nephew and rightfully I was excited to start. I had carefully gathered my chosen fabric and with rotary cutter in hand I delved into the cutting process.

The pattern has two template pieces included in the magazine. I dutifully followed the direction and enlarged them both to 110%. I then cut out eighty (eighty!!) pieces of each template. Whew! One of the pattern pieces is an arc about an inch wide. I sewed the 80 arcs together in groups of four to make 20 circles. WHEW! I then had to sew each of those circles onto precut circles, forming an outline. I had never sewn curves before but figured that if I followed all the directions as I had so far that easing the seams would be a piece of cake! I pinned about six circles ready for sewing and started my machine.

The first circle looked…funny. I thought that maybe I just needed more practice easing my seams. The 2nd and 3rd did not get better. I kept going, though, determined that I would master this. I started to doubt my abilities though. Maybe I was actually a bad seamstress! Maybe I wasn’t as good as I thought I was! My confidence was eroding away with every seam and pleated circle. It was horrible.

After the six I just KNEW something had to be wrong. One quick Google search later provided the answer:

there was a misprint in the magazine and the arc template was printed incorrectly.

The right circle is smaller than the wrong circle….

Insert frustrated scream of rage here.

I was able to download the correct arc template but damage had already been done. I had lost 2 yards of material and about 7 hours of my time. The pain of the loss was horrible.

The good news is that the correct arc template DOES work and two days later (after the appropriate grieving time) I was able to start cutting and sewing again.

The other good news is that I have learned a VALUABLE lesson and one that hopefully you won’t have to learn the hard way.

When doing a pattern for the first time, especially if it is a new pattern from a magazine or a website, I recommend doing the following steps:
1) VET YOUR PATTERN: Before you start cutting or even buying your fabric do a quick internet search on the pattern to see if there are any notes about a misprint or errors. If it’s from a magazine, check the magazine’s website. If it’s a website, check to see if there are any pattern updates. Spending 20 minutes searching can save you hours in loss time.

2) MAKE A SAMPLE BLOCK: You can do this with scrap material so you don’t waste perfectly good fabric or you can do it with fabric you intend to use. Either way, go through the steps to make ONE block. This will let you know right away if there’s any problems with the instructions and it will also let you know if there’s anything “tricky” that you might not have been prepared for.


The completed squares are now ready to put together. What fun fabrics Margaret chose!

3) NEVER DOUBT YOUR ABILITIES: One of the worst things I did was allow myself to sew six circles before I thought something was wrong with the pattern. I kept thinking that I was the problem, that my lack of skill was what was wrong. If I had stopped after the second circle I would have saved a lot of my time.

The best of luck to all you and I hope you never have to learn this lesson the hard way!

Margaret Bridge

Threads for Your Machine Quilting

June 10th, 2013

blendables_spoolThe question came up again this week about the difference between 30wt and 12wt thread, and which is better for machine quilting. Our initial search was based on a well dispersed but yet unproved rumor that thread weight is a measure of “miles of thread per mile.” [Note: An easily distracted person should not Google “miles of thread per pound” as every noun in the phrase has multiple meaning that call up dozens of hits – very entertaining, but not very enlightening].


We went looking for information again, and found lots of it. Mary Mashuta’s book Foolproof Machine Quilting has a good section on threads and needles for machine quilting, as do several other books on our shelf. From there we went to the thread manufacturers. Some of what we found was facts and some was opinions, of course. Sulky.com had lots of information on these two weights, including suggestions to use the heavier thread in the bobbin, to use the heavier thread in the top, and to use the lighter thread instead. There’s also a link about parallel weights in cotton, rayon and blends

Superior Threads (King Tut) offered a thoughtful essay  on the differences and how you can make an informed choice.
At the risk of spoiling the suspense, we think the last point of the Superior Threads essay is the best suggestion:

“Ignore the weight number on the label. Choose thread based on the type of fiber, look, feel, and thickness and not by the printed weight size. Trust your eyes and fingers more than the label. You’ll get better results and be much happier with your selection. Choose fine threads to blend and medium and heavier threads to show.



Top thread broken, bobbin thread through needle. How?

We’d love to hear from you about your experience with these threads and others. You can comment here, or post your thoughts on the “New Pieces – Get it Done” Group*. We’re all in this together — and there is no philosophy that says that we can’t share each others experience and learn from each others’ mistakes.


*The “Get it Done” Group is an unstructured place to ask advice and show off your product AND your process. Come play with us!

New Pieces for New Pieces Blog

May 28th, 2013

Good things come in pieces!

The blog is back after a few months away!

A lot is happening at New Pieces * and in the local quilting world. We’d like to use the blog as another way to reinforce the New Pieces Quilt community. I will be looking for items to post about gadgets and techniques, to alternate with  stories about the quilts and quilters in our midst, and other stuff of interest to you all. You are invited to send  your ideas for blog entries to New Pieces, or to write something yourself and send it to me. Pictures are welcome too!

*Many of you will notice that this amazing 360 degree picture of the store is filled with quilts by staff emeritae. We are rebuilding our teaching program as you read this. Please ask about the changes underway, and feel free to suggest great teachers and classes to us!

December 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge – “Star”

January 30th, 2013

December marks the end of the 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge (for 2012). The theme was “Star” and the entries were delightful. For those who asked, we WILL  do a challenge like this again, but not in 2013. The consensus is that folks were getting worn out by the end of the year.

Please feel free to send your suggestions for new challenges to Heather (rags1927@gmail.com) or post them on the Facebook Page for the 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge.

Now, the quiltlets for December were:


“Christmas Cheer”, by Jane Voytek


“Star Quilt”, by Lissa Miner


“The Starry Room”, by Judith Schon


(The back of Judith’s quiltlet – irresistible!)


“Fresh Starred”, by Heather Jacobsen


“Solstice Star Heralds Return of the Sun”, by Judith Baker


“Dancing with Stars”, by Kathy Ritter


“Our Shining Star: The Sun”, by Kristen Takakuwa


“Stars!”, by Sharona Fischrup

And the winner is: (Drum Roll, Please!)


“Starry Sky on New Year’s Eve”, by Pat Dicker

Congratulations Pat Dicker, and congratulations to Everyone who played with us this month, or any month this year. What a lot of fun we’ve had!

November 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge – “Bounty”

December 21st, 2012

I thought we’d gone too far on this one. The theme was “Bounty”, perhaps in reference to Autumn or Thanksgiving, perhaps to the recent loss of the HMS Bounty amid Hurricane Sandy. The fabric was a tricky to use in such a small piece… or so I thought. We received 7 delightful interpretations — lo


“Bountiful Transition”, by Lizzie Leininger


“Mr. Bown T. Full”, by Fern Royce


“Dogs and Bounty Hunters”, by Heather Marshall Jacobsen


“No Bounty $”, by Kathy Ritter


“A Big Dipper Full-o-Wishes”, by Joyce Schon

And for the first time we ended up with a tie for “favorite”quiltlet among those voting. Jane Voytek and Lissa Miner share the limelight, with two very different interpretations of the theme. Jane handled the produce, and Lissa contributed a turkey:


Quilter’s Bounty”, by Jane Voytek


For the turkey this is the question: “To be or not to be, …whether ’tis nobler to be pardoned or to be Thanksgiving’s Bounty?”, by Lissa Miner

Thanks to all who played in November. We have one more challenge to come – December – the theme is “Star”.  Stay tuned for more amazing, bite-sized beauties from our quilt community! The deadline for entries is 6:00pm, January 2nd, 2013, (delayed by the holidays!).  Additional information is available on the 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge page on Facebook!

October 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge — “Fall”

November 15th, 2012

Another amazing month, another collection of 12″ x 12″ quiltlets on the wall at New Pieces. October’s theme was “Fall”, which could have been pretty straight forward for a lesser group of quilters.  The theme fabric was a yellow with a wood-grain pattern (sort of).  The results follow – the description is below each picture.

“The Fall”, by j. schon

This piece, based on Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, illustrates Satan being thrown out of Heaven, and falling into the depths of Hell. The Angels are screen-printed on an appliqued background.

“Fall”, by Judith Baker

Judith used fused applique and pieced borders to catch fall leaves in mid-air.

“Autumn”, by Candy Simonen

“Autumn” is log-cabin pieced, with machine quilting that accentuates the single-point perspective.

“Five Second Rule”, by Heather Jacobsen

Heather used the theme fabric in over-sized candy corn, which is displayed as if it has fallen on the damp pavement, but hasn’t been on the ground long enough to collect germs — it’s still good!

“Rain”, by Jane Voytek

“Rain” combines piecing and machine stitching to make a dynamic, almost visceral piece.

“New Englander Fall”, by Kathy Ritter

Kathy presents leaves familiar to many of us who started on the East Coast. Oak, Maple, Tulip Poplar….

“Yellow Falls”, by Lissa Miner

Lissa’s piece has a third dimension made from stones and “fog”, and a llama, on a pieced and heavily hand-embroidered representation of  a fantasy waterfall.

And the Winner is:

“Fall – Or Summer Takes a Trip”, by Pat Mitchnick

Log-cabin piecing, with a three-dimensional “Summer” tumbling down the stairs. Delightful and whimsical. Congratulations Pat, and thank you all for Playing!

The November Challenge has now begun. The theme is “Bounty”, and the fabric can be seen on our Facebook Page and “kits” are available at New Pieces. Deadline for November is 6:00pm on Friday, November 30, 2012. Have Fun!

About “Licensed” Fabrics

October 22nd, 2012

From V.I.P.’s Countryside – Hautman Collection

New Pieces has received a few bolts of fabric over the last few months with this statement (or similar) on the selvedge.  It turns out the debate over control of the design of fabric that goes into your project is again warming up.

Here’s the history:  There has always been an issue regarding the use of commercially licensed fabrics in quilts and other textile-based crafts.  A few years ago there was a frou-frou about Amy Butler designed fabrics and others that were re-worked designs from a vintage collection, or from unknown vintage designers. The link above is to a summary blog post on that issue which includes many useful links about fair use and copyright. (The blog is called “True Up” and the blogger is listed as “Kim” – more information when I have it!)

So here’s the new issue:  We are receiving fabric  — currently from only one or two sources — that isn’t licensed or even very singular in design. Sharona has been asking our distributors for clarification, and I have been doing some research. For us it’s not sufficient that the manufacturers and reps  “think” the statement is not a problem our customers need to worry about. The definition of “individual consumption” is unclear.  It may be that personal use, or a gift given to a family member is not a problem — or that a few items on Etsy.com, or a few dozen for the church craft-fair. My personal belief is that it’s an unenforceable standard just intended as a warning or threat, and that a few years from now the issue will be clear and settled…

In the meantime:  New Pieces has taken the position that we will not currently order fabric with this statement (or similar) because of the confusion surrounding this issue. If fabric so marked arrives in the store we will return it to the manufacturer.  We confess to having a handful of bolts on the shelves already, and we can’t send them back. We trust in the intelligence and discernment of our customers to make informed decisions about what constitutes fair use, and will point out the warning when we see it.

If nothing else, we have the makings of an interesting discussion — We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you, and admit to the inconvenience it has caused us.

September 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge: Totem

October 8th, 2012

Another month, another amazing set of 12 x 12s.  The theme was “totem” and we received a wide range of images reflecting personal imagery and iconography. Enjoy! There were remembrances, commemorations, a play on words or two, and an ironic comparison. Every single piece was thoughtfully designed and well executed. It was blissful to be at New Pieces as this group of quiltlets arrived one or two at a time towards the end of September.

“Kipling and the Moon”, by Judith Baker


“Goodbye, Kitty”, by Kathy Ritter


“crow totem”, by j.shon


“Penguin Chic”, by Heather Marshall Jacobsen


“Cross of St. Brigid”, by Margaret Bridge


“Bears in the Woods”, by Lois Helmbold


“Family Totems: Trillium and Jack-in-the-Pulpit”, by Lissa Miner


“Fish”, by Sharona Fischrup

This month’s “Favorite” totem was Jane Voytek’s “Owl”.  It is a very powerful image, and a brilliant use of the theme fabric. Jane’s piece will be displayed at New Pieces throughout the month of October, and she wins a $10 New Pieces Gift Certificate, and an authentic homemade ribbon. This is the second time Jane as had a 12 x 12″ “Favorite”.  Congratulations, Jane, and thank you everyone who played in the September challenge, or cast a vote in early October!

“Owl”, by Jane Voytek


The October theme is “Fall”. Additional information on the Challenge is available on our Facebook page. Come play with us!


August “Night” – 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge

September 23rd, 2012

The August Challenge Theme was “Night”. We received fewer  quiltlets than in earlier months, but the creativity was everything we could have wanted, and more. Take a look!

“A Cornish Prayer”, By Kathy Ritter

“From Ghoulies and Ghosties, and long-leggety Beasties, and things that go BUMP in the night… Good Lord Deliver Us!”

“The Bunny in the Moon”, by Roxanne Fiscella

“30 years ago my best friend nicknamed me “Bunny” and told me there was a bunny in the moon. We subsequently found an artist in Provincetown who did this interpretation. I have imitated it in fabric.”

“Night Sky in Summer”, by Claire Adams

“The constellations are Cygnus, Pisces, Hercules, Viego, Bootes and Cassiopiea”

“Night and Day”, by Lissa Miner

“Between two worlds life hovers like a star, twixt night and morn, upon the horizon’s verge” – Lord Byron

“Night into Day”, by Heather Jacobsen

“Day reveals Night, which then reveals Day again”

“Good Night, Moon”, by Jane Voytek


A twist on a favorite children’s story

“Space Owl Will Eat Your Soul”, by Margaret Bridge


And this month’s Viewer’s Favorite, “Fire at Midnight”, by Gail Hynes Shea.

Sometimes a Picture Really is Worth a Thousand Words!

Stay tuned here for results of the September challenge – The September’s theme is “Totem”.

To participate in any month’s challenge, come pick up a $3.00 theme “kit” (word & fat 1/8 of theme fabric) on or after the first day of the month (not before!)  The deadline for each month is close of business on the last day of the month (4:00pm on September 30th — a Sunday — 6:00pm on the last day of October, November and December).  Voting for the “favorite” takes place through the 5th of the following month — we ask everyone who comes into the Store to vote. The winner receives a $10 New Pieces Gift Certificate and a handsome, homemade ribbon, and we display that quiltlet in the Store for the following month.  If you have been looking for a fun, low-stakes competition to help spark your creativity, come play with us!

You can also follow the 12 x 12″ x 12″ Challenge on Facebook, and check out every piece from every month this year. Enjoy!