Which needle is your favorite for piecing quilts?

Which SCHMETZ needle is your favorite for piecing quilts?

Use SCHMETZ Chrome for smoother stitching.

Why Chrome?

· Less friction on thread passing through eye ·
· Penetrates fabric with less resistance ·
· Smoother stitch creation ·
· Resists hear for improved durability & performance ·
· A premium performance needle ·

SCHMETZ Chrome is available in eight needle types in a variety of sizes.

Available online at www.SCHMETZneedles.com
or at local quilt shops and sewing machine dealers.

 

SCHMETZ Logo

Fotos on Fabric – Val Sjoblom

In 1982, as a divorced single mother, Val wanted a fresh start. She left her small town in Northern Minnesota and moved her four kids and five Arabian horses to the Twin Cities. She had no idea how tough things could get in the big city. She worked all sorts of jobs (usually two or three at a time) just to make ends meet. When she was 36 years old, she went to night school and earned a law enforcement degree. Although it seemed like a good idea at a time, being a rookie police officer would mean working the night shift in downtown Minneapolis. So, she became a correction’s officer instead. When the Mystic Lake Casino opened in Prior Lake, Minnesota, she got hired as a blackjack dealer.

By 2002, Val’s children, Kimberlee, Jeremy, Chad, and Janalee were launched, but her mother wasn’t doing well back home in International Falls. Although she didn’t plan on staying, Val decided to move back for a while. Then — life took one of those unexpected turns. She fell in love, married Larry Sjoblom, and International Falls, MN once again became her home.

A sampling of Val’s antique stoves.

Val was an avid collector of antique stoves, and she wanted to make a quilt featuring photos of her stove collection. She was excited about the project and took some great photos of her stoves. She bought a top-of-the-line home ink-jet printer, figured out the software, and enthusiastically pushed “print.” Her first attempts were using fabric photo sheets, but the fiber content of the sheets made the “fabric” stiff. Finding a way to get these photos transferred to fabric became Val’s obsession. Over the years, she tried everything — bubble jet solutions, butcher paper to carry quality cotton fabric through the printer, special inks — she even bought a heat press. No matter what method she tried, the photos faded after a single test laundering.

During this time, Val started to quilt and she decided to learn how to use a longarm quilt machine. She purchased her “Statler” and started a longarm quilting business, On A Wing And A Prayer Quilting (www.OnaWingQuilting.com). She named her machine “Elvis” because he shakes, rattles and rolls and “returns to sender” quickly.

Bronko Nagurski:  The turning point in Val’s business.

Bronko Nagurski:
The turning point in Val’s business.

International Falls, Minnesota, is known as the “Icebox of the Nation,“ and they have one famous son — Chicago Bears football player “Bronko Nagurski.” His daughter, Jan, came to Val in 2010 and asked if she could put a large portrait of her Dad on fabric so she could use it to make a quilt top.

That moment was a turning point for Val. It was proof that other people wanted what she wanted — the ability to put a large photo on fabric to make a quilt. It became her mission, and she started to research digital fabric printing in earnest. She traveled to several different companies to see their equipment and study the process. She found a large digital printer that could deliver the quality she hoped for . . . but with a large sticker price — $20,000. Every single person in her life told her she was CRAZY, but she bought her first large format printer anyway.

She felt if she could print -— customers would come.

The Fotos On Fabric adventure began in 2010 with the purchase of that first large format digital printer. It could print large photos on 100% Kona cotton. Fotos On Fabric could also do photo editing, including changing photos to black and white, sepia tones or beautiful color. They can print custom designs, including original art onto fabric. Fifty-eight (58) inches is the maximum width with no limit to length. They have the ability to print a very large photo in two pieces which can be sewn together to make a king size project.

Fotos on Fabric finished projects.

Fotos on Fabric finished projects.

In 2012, Fotos On Fabric rented a booth at the International Quilt Market in Houston, Texas. Val displayed many photo quilts, which got everybody’s attention. Every quilt shop owner who came into the booth had a horror story about a customer who invested hundreds of dollars into a memory quilt — only to discover that the water-soluble ink photos washed away the first time they laundered the treasured memory quilt. After that show the Fotos On Fabric business exploded.

Fotos on Fabric finished projects.

More Fotos on Fabric finished projects.

Fotos On Fabric has printed orders from all over the world. They have printed thousands of family photos for memory quilts, as well as prayer shawls for Israel, life size pictures of people, pets, horses, and vacation photos. YOU NAME IT! A National Geographic photographer wanted her photos of elephants and reptiles from Zimbabwe, Africa printed on fabric. One of the more unusual orders was from the Brooklyn Museum in New York, a life size photo of “Marie Antoinette.”

Val says, “our customers use their custom photo fabric just like any other yardage. They make quilts, or curtains, pillowcases, stuffed animals, tote bags, shower curtains. You name it and they sew it. People are so creative! And they are delighted that their finished projects will hold up through normal laundering. Fotos On Fabric has been a wild ride for seven years. We’ve purchased additional printers and are currently launching a new option — finished custom tea towels and placemats with your photos on them.”

Studio 53 Fabric and Gifts Quilt Shop, International Falls, MN.

Studio 53 Fabric and Gifts Quilt Shop
International Falls, MN.

Like all over-achievers, Val’s great ideas just keep coming. There was an empty veterinarian clinic on Highway 53, coming into International Falls — and every time Val drove by the building, had a vision. She wanted to open a store where people could come, visit with their neighbors, take some classes, exchange ideas, and make their creative dreams come true. Val and Larry opened Studio 53 Fabric and Gifts Quilt Shop in June of 2015. The first thing she did was hire her mother to be the store “GREETER.” “Mom tells everybody it took her 94 years to find the job of her dreams. She has become an icon, and she is the heart of the store.”

The irony is that Val’s creative journey began because she was an avid lover and collector of antique stoves. After opening Studio 53, a man came into the store, fell in love with the stoves and offered $50,000 for the entire collection. She sold her beloved stoves, paid bills and ordered more fabric!!

After completion of the huge remodel of her new building, Val Sjoblom has three businesses under one roof: On a Wing and A Prayer longarm quilting, Fotos on Fabric, and Studio 53 Fabric and Gifts Quilt Shop.

She says, most days “we’re so busy, we don’t know if we found a rope or lost our horse . . . .”

www.onawingquilting.com
www.FotosOnFabric.com
http://studio53fabricandgifts.com

SCHMETZ Chrome Professional Grade Microtex Needles

SCHMETZ Chrome Professional Grade Microtex Needles

The SCHMETZ Microtex, generically known as a sharp, is available with a chrome finish. The Microtex Needle has a very slim acute point. Yes it’s very sharp! Quilters love piecing & quilting with Microtex & is nearly mandatory when using batiks. Sewists love Microtex for topstitching & general sewing. Both love Microtex for precision stitches. This needle also dulls more quickly than other needle types, so it needs to be replaced more frequently.

Available in sizes 60/8, 70/10 and 80/12.

Why Chrome?

· Less friction on thread passing through eye ·
· Penetrates fabric with less resistance ·
· Smoother stitch creation ·
· Resists heat – improved durability & performance ·
· A premium needle not available in big box stores ·

 

SCHMETZ Logo

Susanne M. Jones – Fly Me to the Moon

SCHMETZ Inspired to SEW is always seeking insight into that moment of inspiration . . . when a woman (or a man) is compelled to create using needle and thread. Everybody takes a different path — and sewing means different things to different people. No two stories are the same. This month, we introduce you to Susanne M. Jones. After teaching elementary school in Maryland and Virginia for 25 years, she launched into a new career as a curator of museum quality quilt exhibits — and nobody could be more surprised than Susanne herself. We’ll let her tell her story . . . .

While I was looking forward to retirement and being free of the demands of full-time work, I knew I would miss my colleagues. My friend, Lisa Ellis, suggested that I consider quilting and join a guild where I would find like-minded, kind people. Since I always had some sort of needle and thread in my hands, it seemed a natural fit. So I started taking classes about a year before retirement. I totally intended to make very traditional baby quilts and lap quilts.

In 2012 I joined the Sacred Threads Committee and helped plan the 2013 show. Sacred Threads conveys the spirituality, healing, and inspirational message that transcends all people. All of the committee members were art quilters except me. I never considered myself an artist, although looking back I can see that color, texture, and composition have always been important to me and have given me pleasure, even during my teaching career. I loved doing bulletin boards and making educational games for the kids.

Seeing Our Stories Clearly with 20/20 Hindsight.

Seeing Our Stories Clearly with 20/20 Hindsight.

I joined Quilters Unlimited in Northern Virginia and became very involved in the Reston Chapter. I served as Program Chair, Vice President, and President. I became involved in the Quilt Alliance (again at Lisa’s suggestion) and made a piece for their TWENTY contest in 2013. It was my first art quilt, Seeing Our Stories Clearly with 20/20 Hindsight. I really had fun making it, and I was floored when it won a Judge’s Choice from Marianne Fons!

That’s Life

That’s Life

As we neared the start of the 2013 Sacred Threads Exhibition, the committee members were asked to make a small piece to hang in the gathering area outside of the exhibit. I made That’s Life, my second art quilt in a game format and it focused on the life transitions that I had gone through in the past 18 months: Retirement, the death of my mom and father-in-law, becoming empty nesters, moving to a condo, and two joint replacement surgeries. It was created using a jigsaw appliqué technique that I learned from Cheryl Almgren Taylor.

During Sacred Threads, I met Donna DeSoto, author, and curator of Inspired by the Beatles. She had a Beatles song that needed an artist, so I took on the challenge. My quilt was Rain, and it was published in Donna’s book and was part of the special exhibit at the 2014 Houston International Quilt Festival.

I was hooked.

Susanne M. Jones and husband Todd.

Susanne M. Jones and husband Todd.

In July of 2014, my husband Todd and I were watching a story about the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing and moonwalk. I commented that the 50th anniversary of that landing would make a cool collection of quilts. My ever-encouraging husband said that I should put out a call for such a collection. Not knowing what to expect, I put out the call. The call was shared via social media and went global. The Fly Me to the Moon (FMTTM) collection juried by Lisa Ellis and Cyndi Souder has 179 quilts by artists from eight countries. It premiered at the Houston International Quilt Festival in 2016, and the book is available on Amazon.

https://smile.amazon.com/Fly-Me-Moon-Quilt-Journey/dp/0764354000/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1521666175&sr=8-1&keywords=fly+me+to+the+moon+and+art+quilt+journey

Fly Me to the Moon has blessed me with experiences I could never have imagined. NASA hung eight of the FMTTM quilts for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 1 tragedy. Space Center Houston had a special exhibit entitled Space for Art. Four of the artists from FMTTM were invited to exhibit their work in that show. I attended the gala opening and renewed my acquaintance with astronaut Nicole Stott who wrote the foreword for Fly Me to the Moon: An Art Quilt Journey. I also met Karen Nyberg, the first astronaut to quilt in space. In between those events I was able to visit Webster Presbyterian Church, the Astronaut Church, where Buzz Aldrin attended at the time of Apollo 11. He took communion on the moon in radio silence, making it the first food or drink consumed there. I got to hold that chalice in my hand. Who could have imagined? From July 10 – September 25, 2017, 61 of the FMTTM quilts were hanging in the sanctuary of Webster Presbyterian Church.

None of this would have been possible without the FMTTM collection, and none of it would have ever happened without my dear husband, Todd. While I may be the CEO of Susanne Miller Jones, LLC, Todd is the CEE — Chief of Everything Else. A retired engineer, he has become a wonderful textile photographer and has taken all of the photos for Fly Me To The Moon. At any exhibit, he is just as excited as I am about the quilts and the artists.

Fly Me To The Moon started me on quite a journey. I now have three calls out there. FMTTM was followed by HERstory: A Celebration of Strong Women. There are 107 art quilts by artists from seven countries in that collection. Fifty-two of the HERstory quilts are premiering at the 2017 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas in November.

My most recent call for entries was OURstory: Human Rights Stories in Fabric, telling the stories of disenfranchised people and their fights for equal rights. All groups and issues were welcomed in this collection. Artists were invited to make a 25” x 40” quilt about any discrimination or violation of human rights.

http://www.susannemjones.com/ourstory-collection-announced/

When people ask how I decided to start my own business, I say I didn’t mean to do it. But as the calls kept coming and exhibitions needed to be shipped and written about, a business was needed to corral it all. Every step along this journey has been accompanied by huge learning curves. Building a business is no exception. Even though making money would be great, my mission statement has much more to do with the human components.

My goal is to highlight the work of the artists who have trusted me with their work. When I’m putting together an exhibition, I find myself wearing the hats of artist, cheerleader, curator, author, and marketer. Some weeks I only work to spread the call for entries. Facebook has been a wonderful tool for that. As each call goes out, I start a SECRET Facebook page for the artists. It is a place where the artists get to know each other, run ideas by each other and share progress on their pieces. I lurk in the background and watch the art happen. Other weeks, I’m editing books, looking for venues or promoting the exhibits. Whatever I do, only one thing is on my mind: Make the artists and their work shine!

Although I did not think it was possible, I am busier now than I was when I was working full-time. It often feels like there are not enough hours in the day. It is a wonderful thing to feel like the work you do is making a difference. My life verse is, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) My church, Floris United Methodist Church, in Herndon, VA (which is where Sacred Threads holds its bi-annual exhibit) has a partnership with the Child Rescue Center in Sierra Leone. Several times a year we send a mission team to work with the children, who are in residence there. The children live in family units with an “auntie” in charge of each family home. Last year I was selected to go on the Drama, Music and Art team which we named CREATE. My assignment was to teach Bible stories to the younger children. I was introduced to the aunties as a quilter, and their eyes lit up.

Imagine my surprise when they asked me to fix their sewing machines. They were treadle machines! I emailed Todd, asking him to research the manuals for these Butterfly treadles. Eventually, we were able to get the machines in working order and I taught basic maintenance: How to change a needle, how to change the tension, how to wind and insert a bobbin, and how to thread the machine. The kids brought in stacks of mending. Recently they posted a photo of one of those kids getting a sewing award!

What is most inspiring about Susanne’s story is how open she was to a new chapter in her life. She brought her teaching experience, combined it with her love of sewing and crafting, then dove, head first, into the world of art quilt exhibitions. She met new people, experimented with new techniques, saw a need, then filled it. Her natural ability as a problem solver combined with her creative side to create something beyond her wildest retirement dreams.

Rob Appell – One of the Hottest Tickets Around

Rob Appell, Boy Wonder of the Quilting World

One of the hottest tickets in the sewing and quilting world is Rob Appell of www.Mansewing.com. A YouTube sensation, he travels all over the country, speaking at the biggest events in the industry. His classes are always sold out, and his students look and act like fans attending a rock concert. In only two years, he has built www.ManSewing.com to almost 100,000 subscribers.

Rob Appell with his wife Jenny, his daughter Ruby, and his son Brayden.

Rob with Jenny, Ruby, and Brayden.

Rob is a handsome, outdoorsy guy who loves hiking with his family, surfing and snowboarding. He looks like he would be more comfortable playing his guitar in a rock band, instead of presenting a seminar on landscape quilting. Rob has been married to his wife, Jenny for 20 years. Jenny is a reading intervention teacher in elementary school. They have a 14 year old son, Brayden, and a 12-year old daughter, Ruby.

With his rugged good looks, long hair and tattoos — Rob is a most unlikely “sewing star.” So where did this unicorn come from?

Rob Appell grew up surrounded by textiles, fabrics and quilts. An only child, his father was a banker and his mother, Judi Appell, owned the popular fabric shop, The Cotton Ball in Morro Bay, California. In his early twenties, Rob worked in his mother’s store, but he didn’t think it was his life’s calling. When he finished school, he was eager to see the world — so he traveled around the western United States, playing his guitar, and living out of a VW bus. He picked up odd jobs but mostly, the point was surfing and/or snowboarding (depending on the location).

When he decided he needed a real job, Rob trained as an assistant chef (he is quick to say that calling himself a chef would be an insult to the profession). He was also a certified sewing machine technician.

The Wedding Quilt that inspired Man Sewing.

The Wedding Quilt that inspired Man Sewing.

In 1997, when Rob married Jenny, she was a teacher and he was working nights at a restaurant and days at his Mom’s store. As a wedding present, the women who worked for The Cotton Ball gave Rob and Jenny a quilt they had designed and created specifically for them. That quilt was a work of art — with blocks representing both Rob and Jenny and their life together. Each block was custom quilted. One day, Rob took a close look at the quilt and as he followed the stitching, he thought, “Wait, the stitches change with every block. I wonder how they did that . . . .”

Rob loved to draw, and he wanted to see if he could draw with a sewing machine. He had a printer and an old computer, so he made a quilt pattern and started to experiment with free-motion quilting. Although he barely knew it at the time, Rob was creating landscape quilts. He became obsessed with designing and creating “Seascapes.”

In the beginning, Rob got interested in machine quilting because he wanted to understand exactly what The Cotton Ball customers were doing with their sewing machines. He believed it would make him a better sewing machine repairman. But things took an unexpected turn when the customers saw his finished landscape quilts. They were so curious about his free-motion quilting and the techniques he was using — Rob started to teach classes.

Rob Appell, Endangered Species, Bengal Tiger. Rawedge appliqué and freemotion machine quilting.

Endangered Species, Bengal Tiger.
Rawedge appliqué and freemotion machine quilting.

Rob was an enthusiastic teacher and as his reputation grew, he was invited to teach at local guilds and other stores. He created www.RobAppell.com to provide a gallery of his work to promote his classes, workshops and retreats.

In 2010, Rob Appell and Michael Miller Fabrics teamed up to build awareness about our planet and her Endangered Species. Rob created twelve “up-close and personal” quilts featuring these special creatures . . . focusing on the eyes of the creature.

But Rob’s success in the sewing world was not a straight meteoric shot. In 2013, Island Batiks sponsored an event to raise awareness for Operation Homefront — to provide support for returning veterans. They put together 40 different red, white and blue fabrics. Rob was asked to create a pattern for the collection. Here’s a link to Rob’s video about that pattern, “Coming Home.” http://robappell.com/node/327

Rob Appell, Coming Home. Quilted in Honor by Island Batik Benefitting Operation Homefront.

Coming Home.
Quilted in Honor by Island Batik
Benefitting Operation Homefront.

Working on that patriotic project, Rob had a vision of the iconic Iwo Jima Memorial, with the six Marines raising the flag. A recovering alcoholic, at that time he was five years sober and struggling to be creative. He wanted his finished quilt to be 5’ x 8’ . . . and he pictured an enormous appliqué. But his vision wasn’t coming to life. He was frustrated. Nothing was working, and he almost gave up. One day, he went into his studio and a voice in his head said “you’ve got to finish that quilt so it can be auctioned off.” So, he went back in. When he finished the quilt, “And The Flag Was Still There,” it hung at the 2013 Sisters Quilt Show in Portland, Oregon. Alex Anderson urged Rob to value the quilt at $25,000 for insurance purposes.

Rob Appell, And The Flag Was Still There. Quilted in Honor.

And The Flag Was Still There.
Quilted in Honor.

The quilt traveled to the American Quilter’s Society shows the following year, but it eventually ended up on a shelf in Portland at the Operation Homefront office. Rob wasn’t sure why the quilt was never auctioned — but he made that quilt to benefit Operation Homefront, and he was determined to make that happen. When he asked if he could buy it back, he was told the price was $25,000. Rob was determined to find a way to use the quilt to raise money for Operation Homefront. He signed a contract to raise the $25K to buy the quilt back from OH, and started a GoFundMe campaign. https://www.gofundme.com/flagquilt

Once the goal has been met, the quilt will be back in Rob’s possession permanently, so he can continue to tell its story and raise awareness about the mission of Operation Homefront. He’s raised over $15,000 so far. Recently, he had the opportunity to make a $14,000 donation from the money he’d raised on a day that was a match donation from a big sponsor.

Meanwhile, in another part of the country — Hamilton, Missouri — Jenny Doan was turning the quilt world upside down. Her weekly YouTube videos for Missouri Star Quilt Company were attracting a very large audience, and she was also traveling all over the country, doing quilt guilds, retreats and seminars. Jenny says, “at every trunk show, I’d have two or three men in the room. They’d come up to me afterwards and ask, ‘Are there others like me?’ They told me they were learning to quilt from watching videos on the internet. They were not comfortable walking into a traditional quilt store, intimidated by the fact that they’d be surrounded by accomplished women quilters who knew more than they did. But, with the internet, they were free to learn, experiment — and FAIL in the comfort and privacy of their own home. It was a light bulb moment for me. I went back to the office and said, ‘We need to do some videos that appeal to these guys!’ That’s how ‘Man Sewing’ was born.”

Jenny Doan and Rob Appell. Missouri Star Quilt Company

Jenny Doan and Rob.
Missouri Star Quilt Company

When Nancy Rosenberger (a mutual friend) heard MSQC was looking for a guy who could do sewing videos — she called Rob and said, “This is going to blow up — it will change your life.” Nancy introduced Rob to the Doan family and they met at International Quilt Market. It was 10:30 at night . . . in the lobby of the hotel . . . and they started talking (everybody at once, the way Jenny remembers it). After two hours of non-stop conversation, they offered him the job. Jenny said, “I knew he would be a good fit. He is high energy, just like me, and the minute we were in the same room, we were both bubbling over, sharing ideas, and telling each other what the videos should look like — we were both talking so fast, we were fighting for air. His mind goes a mile a minute . . . and it was like this job was made for him.”

Rob flew to Missouri and they built a set for “Man Sewing.” He goes there every eight weeks, stays for a week and tapes ten tutorials. He sews all the step-outs at his studio in California. And it isn’t just men who love his YouTube videos. Man Sewing has gained nearly 100,000 subscribers in only two years. The viewers are primarily non-sewing men and women who were not comfortable walking into a traditional quilt shop, but once they’ve built up their confidence — they’re eager to go! Nowadays, when Rob and Jenny attend Quilt Market, they hear from stores all over the country that they have customers coming in every week who have learned their basic quilting skills on the internet . . . and they’re ready to take it to the next level.

Jenny Doan says, “Rob’s mind NEVER STOPS . . . and he has more ideas than we could film in a lifetime. From the first day he came to Hamilton, he impressed us with his ability to take a project from start to finish, and break it down in clear, understandable steps. His step-outs were spot-on, and he made it look easy. Believe me — IT IS NOT EASY. None of the ManSewing videos are scripted — but they look so natural because of Rob’s conversational style. Rob is the real deal — he knows what he’s talking about and he genuinely wants the audience to ‘get it’.”

Rob Appell and The Shark Applicutter.

Rob and The Shark Applicutter.

Working with MSQC gave Rob the opportunity to develop and bring to market his sewing-tool invention, The Shark Applicutter, a mini-rotary cutter, designed for free cutting. With a precise 14mm blade that slices with incredible accuracy, this tool has a soft grip for comfort, a safety fin for your finger, and it’s adaptable for the left or right hand.

Jenny Doan says, “It was a lucky day for us when we met Rob. He brings a huge personality to ManSewing, of course, and rock-solid sewing skills. But I’d like to say he is one of the best men I know. He is simply a good, genuine, person who is honest and hard-working. I think that comes across on camera — and he has a wonderful appeal to all those people out there who were too afraid to try. He makes them believe they CAN DO IT!”

Learn with Rob Appell on YouTube.

Learn with Rob on YouTube.

By his own estimate, Rob has made over 120 quilts in his life. His zen moment is when he actually becomes focused on the project. He puts on his headphones, listens to music, and gets into the zone; the vibration and rhythm of free-motion quilting. He compares it to riding a wave . . . being on the inside of that huge curl of water. Those are the moments he craves. His second favorite moment is when a project is finished — that feeling of accomplishment and sheer exaltation.

Rob Appell’s energy level is OFF THE CHARTS. Recently, he was trying to help a customer in a quilt shop find a certain bolt of fabric. Rob was sure he’d seen it . . . but after a frustrating search, he said, “I’m sorry. We’ve been walking in circles for almost an hour. One of the problems with being a creative person is that I’m always imagining stuff.”

Lucky for us . . . .