Lancaster 2016- Sauder Fabrics/Zooks

March 2016-In just a few weeks I'll be off to the AQS Lancaster 2016 Show!  I am very much looking forward to returning!  I've been attending this show for about 18 years and Its always fun.  I look forward to seeing the quilts and looking at all the vendors. I especially love the excursions to Sauders (now closed and merged with Zooks),  Zooks, Dutchland Quilt Patch (my favorite) and the huge indoor farmers market across the street.

 Sauders Fabrics ( somewhere near Lancaster)-Karen (left) and Me (right).  It was such a windy day as we just arrived.

Sauders Fabrics ( somewhere near Lancaster)-Karen (left) and Me (right).  It was such a windy day as we just arrived.

The first stop is Sauders Fabrics. Located in Pennsylvania, off a highway and on our way to downtown Lancaster. This quilt shop is such a find. I have spent hours among the bolts of quilting fabric. As we arrive and turn into the parking lot  we first scope out if there is a tour bus visiting because then we know right away it will be tight as we maneuver through the bolts. As we get out of our vehicle, happy to stretch our legs after a long drive, we take in the surrounding "fertile" farmland aroma. 

The shop, which is in the basement level of a house, and situated on farmland, is owned by a Mennonite family. The outhouse "port-a-potty" is available outside the building, and the indoor family bathroom is available to the public as well.  

The shop has many fabric cutting stations setup throughout with extremely efficient Mennonite women/girls cutting fabric at top speed as tour buses keep coming during this busy quilt week. As you wait on line to have your fabric cut, figure out in advance how much your want from each bolt so are ready when its your turn.

The fabrics include every vendor and are priced at a discount. They carry a delightful assortment of Moda and Hoffman batiks, which are among my favorites. Before you leave check out the hand packaged bulk food section which includes items  such as corn flakes, sugar, cookies, candy, spices and sprinkles and so much more.


All About Thread For Hand Sewing


  There are different threads for different jobs. Select lighter weights (50 – 100) for appliqué and piecing, heavier weight (30) for hand quilting.  Traditionally, change your quilt thread color to match the background fabric.  If you want to showcase the quilting stitch to stand out, then use a contrasting quilting thread.  To prevent the frustration of knotting, fraying and breakage always use the best quality threads and fibers.

Hand Piecing/ Appliqué

Cotton Thread

For sewing your patches into blocks and blocks into rows, select a medium weight 50/3 ( 50 weight so it’s a thicker fiber strand and 3 plys twisted together), 50/2  or  40/3.  If the twist is correct, an “S”, not over twisted and the weight, ply, material and finish all work well together then you will eliminate the frustrating tangles and breaks seen with inferior threads.  Double mercerized, 100% mercerized, long staple cotton, silk finish all indicate a better quality hand piecing/ appliqué thread. Choosing a lighter weight for appliqué will allow your stitches to melt into the background, 50/2 long staple Egyptian cotton, mercerized, works very well.  Aurifil, orange spool, is  my favorite. See Aurifil for the best piecing thread.

Silk Thread

 YLI Silk Thread for Applique

YLI Silk Thread for Applique

I have to mention 100% Silk Threads because they are, hands down, my top choice for appliqué.  These seemingly delicate threads blend and melt effortlessly into your appliqué fabric.  They are very strong, come in assortment of beautiful colors and withstand the sharp eye of the straw needle. 

Hand Quilting Thread

 Hand Quilting Thread

Hand Quilting Thread

The purpose of quilting thread is to keep all your quilt’s layers together, forever.  For this, select a heavier weight 30/3, 100% cotton thread.   My favorite is the YLI glazed finish.  

Quilters Take Manhattan Fundraiser for Quilt Alliance

Quilters Take Manhattan is Saturday, September 26, 9:00 – 5:00 pm (doors open at 9am)
at the Fashion Institute of Technology, 227 W. 27th Street at 7th Avenue, NYC

I never knew this event existed. Which makes me wonder how  many other quilting  events and companies get their word out to the quilters who want to know! ( like me )


Quilt Alliance is a nonprofit 501c3 organization established in 1993 whose mission is to document, preserve, and share our American quilt heritage by collecting the rich stories that historic and contemporary quilts, and their makers, tell about our nation’s diverse peoples and their communities.

In support of this mission, the Alliance brings together quilt makers and designers, the quilt industry, quilt scholars and teachers, and quilt collectors to further the following goals:

  • to promote the understanding of the quilt as an important American grassroots art form
  • to make information about quilts available to a broad public
  • to educate Americans about the importance of documenting quilts and quiltmakers so that their stories will not be lost


Quilts: Personal History Keepers

Quilts are great reminders of the history of our lives.  So many of my quilts remind me of the people in my life at the time the quilt was made. They remind me who I was with when I bought the fabrics or threads.  They remind me where I was living and events in my life.  Each quilt inherits a little bit of my life into it.  As a hand quilter, my quilts spend a lot of time with me. It can take a year or two to get the quilt from graph paper to quilt show.  A lot of life can happen in that time.

One of my early quilts (1995) always reminds me of my first quilting instructor. I envision how we would meet every week. She would arrive at my house just as I finished nursing my youngest child.  Carrying two large plastic bins into my house with all her supplies we would gather around the living room, too small to accommodate our group, and get to work. 

My daughter’s quilt (1998) was created when the internet was young and using it to search for patterns was quite the challenge and very different from today.  This quilt is an excellent reminder of how quickly technology changes.

One of the great things about making quilts by hand is that the piecing is portable.  A great consequence of this portability is, however, that the location becomes engrained in the quilt. I spent most of the summer of 2003 piecing hexagons together at the beach.  They were autumn colors, purple, gold, green and rust.  I can recall just how the sand would get into my little box of pre-cut hexagons. As the summer rolled on I ultimately completed many hexagon “flowers”.  Looking at the finished quilt today reminds me of the heat of August summers. But this is not the only thing I remember as I look into this quilt.  I clearly remember running out of fabric for the sashing diamonds as well as the binding.  The backing fabric for the hexagon quilt required a search like never before.  Nothing seemed right.  I searched up and down the aisles of vendors until the “right” fabric was finally found.  That quilt can bring me right back to quilt show where I bought the backing fabric.

When I think of “Partly Cloudy”, a quilt I made of my horse in 2006, the location of working on him is sewn right into the quilt top.  I was part of a group of hand quilters and we would get together each week to work on our projects.  I have a strong memory of sitting in one of the woman’s dining room thinking how great it was that I was working on “Cloudy”, a project I have wanted to start for so long. I no longer quilt with that group of women, but the quilt reminds me of wonderful memories and friendship we shared.

Since the history behind the making of the quilt can be so interesting, it’s a good idea to include those events, locations or people that have impacted the creative process or are directly sewn into the quilt, on your quilt’s label.  

Wonder Clips for Binding and Socks?

Wonder Clips are finally in the quilt shop. My favorite use is clipping my socks together before I throw them in the washer and dryer.  I am always missing a few matches to my socks.  Now I clip before washing and the pair is always together. Yay!!! Thanks Wonder Clips! But really I use them for holding my binding in place as I sew and applique in in place.