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Category: Sewing

Counterpane quilts: L.A. artist goes improvisational

Los Angeles artist Pauline Boyd creates her Counterpane quilts by hand in her Silver Lake studio
The quilts of Los Angeles artist Pauline Boyd stand out not only for their surprising mix of materials -- remnants of Moroccan silk tunics and African wax prints, Balinese sarongs and Mexican embroidered cotton dresses -- but also for their unconventional, freehand style.

"It really is an improvisational thing," she said of the way she assembles her handcrafted quilts using textiles that traditional quilters might find maddening. Boyd said she has long quilted in her spare time, exploring color and form on the bare floors (significant because many quilters like to compose on sheets of flannel hung on the wall).

She began selling her Counterpane quilts online in January, and the business has been gaining momentum ever since. She was a vendor at the Unique L.A. craft fair in February, and was featured in a gallery show last month in Echo Park. She recently shipped quilts to the boutique Beautiful Dreamers in Brooklyn. 

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Portable sewing machine from Husqvarna Viking

Viking sewing machineMore than 20 years ago, I purchased my first Husqvarna Viking sewing machine for $500. Looking back, I remember thinking that was an outrageous amount of money to spend, even for someone who considers herself a good seamstress and quilter. 

Today, Husqvarna Viking machines can run as high as $10,000 as the demand for machines that can tackle major home décor projects such as embroidery has increased, said Carol Ann Williams, a staff member and instructor at Pollard’s Sew Creative in Pasadena.

HClass 100 (2)Husqvarna Viking’s newest sewing machine, the H Class 100Q, is priced for the rest of us: It retails for about $499, although Pollard's is offering an introductory price of $399.

At a demonstration at Pollard's last week, I found the H Class 100Q to be user-friendly. The controls are easy to read, and I liked that it did not have an overwhelming number of bells and whistles. At 15 pounds, this is a manageable machine for beginners and pros alike who want to transport a machine to a sewing class or take it on the road. 

More than 20 quilting and utility stitches are included, and a one-step buttonhole attachment takes the guesswork out of sizing. Simply place the button on the snap-on attachment, and the machine figures it out for you. A "needle up down" function allows for pivoting, a "fix knot" function automatically ties off so there is no need for reverse stitching at the beginning and end of every seam, and a start/stop program allows you to sew without the foot pedal.

The machine also has some pretty decorative stitches if that's your thing, adjustable feed dogs for machine quilting and a detachable arm for sewing sleeves.

But the best new feature for this seamstress, 20 years later? A built-in needle threader. Thank you.

The H Class 100Q comes with a hard cover and an accessory case filled with five presser feet, one-step buttonhole foot, five needles, screwdriver, seam ripper/brush, edge/quilting guide, spool cap, felt pad, second spool pin and bobbins. For more information, visit your local dealer.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo: Husqvarna Viking

The Deal: Oilcloth International yearly warehouse sale sells cuteness by the yard in Highland Park

Ditty Bag (other prints available)
Oilcloth International's warehouse sale of seconds Saturday will include totes, lunch bags, bibs and aprons at wholesale prices. Owner Cardie Molina said the sale will include rolls of oldies -- discontinued or flawed prints -- as well as first-quality, 12-yard rolls of fabric for $60. Tablecloths will be sold for $2 a pound; at that price, Molina estimates that a 48-inch tablecloth would go for about $3.

For those unfamiliar with oilcloth, it's a durable laminated material that is a fun choice for summer entertaining. It's stain-resistant and can be wiped clean with a soft cloth. 

The sale runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Last year buyers arrived early and bought feverishly, leaving latecomers disappointed. So this time Molina said she will put merchandise out every hour, throughout the duration of the sale. All payments must be cash or check.

Oilcloth International is at 134 N. Avenue 61, Unit 101, in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. Information:  (323) 344-3967.


Hotel Surplus Outlet parking lot sale

20% to 70% off everything at H.D. Buttercup

Blu Dot opens store in L.A.

A new L.A. boutique called Rummage

-- Lisa Boone

Photo: Oilcloth International


Make your own Marimekko? New book 'Surrur' shows you how

There is much to love at the new Marimekko store-within-a-store at Crate & Barrel at the Grove. Sweet dinnerware inspired by community gardens, rippled glassware whose Finnish name translates to "socks rolled down," and yards and yards of boldly patterned fabric are among the highlights, but the one breakout hit: the colorful patchwork hassocks, above.

"A lot of people have Marimekko in their heart," Crate & Barrel's Gretchen Zuk said, and though that might sound a little funny, she's not kidding. Shoppers have been tossing and hugging the irresistible Surrur_media_01hassocks displayed throughout the store. Kids jump on the bouncy balls. Curious crafters are trying to figure out how the things were pieced together. The biggest disappointment to the new mini-shop just might be that the hassocks are not for sale.

At the press event on Tuesday, though, I learned that detailed instructions for making the hassocks are in the new book "Surrur: Make Your Own Marimekko." ("Surrur" is meant to evoke the sound of a sewing machine.)

Marimekko designers share instructions and patterns for more than 60 projects, such as Aino-Maija Metsola’s ScareOwl, right.

"Surrur" costs about $49. Look for readers' completed projects on the related Facebook page. Representatives from Crate & Barrel said the book should be available at the Grove store by next week. 

 -- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Marimekko


Marimekko shops to open within Crate & Barrels

Times Past: We're sensing a pattern here


From the Los Angeles Times archives: West magazine, April 9, 1972
In fashion, as Heidi Klum reminded us weekly, you're either in or you're out. One day you have a full-page ad in a magazine; another day you get buried in the closet while cheap clothes and busy lives make you as dated as the all-girl Home Ec class.

And now? Who knows. Maybe the craft and DIY craze will lead the sewing machine to a full-page comeback. Prices certainly help. Adjusted for inflation, that $189.95 price tag above would be $992.64 in 2010.

The price today of a Brother "Project Runway" sewing machine at Walmart: $135.

-- Joan Fantazia

Photo credit: Joan Fantazia. Archive source: Huntington Library, Art Collections and Botanical Gardens

The Deal: Diamond Foam & Fabric parking lot sale

Store 004

Diamond Foam & Fabric, a textile resource for designers and DIY decorators, will have a parking lot sale Friday through Sunday with discounts approaching 85%. "The last time we had a sale," owner Jason Asch said, "was in the summer of 2005." 

Diamon Much of the inventory comes from high-end mills in Europe and Asia and is exclusive to the store.

Those who are usually priced out of the authentic embroidered Central Asian textiles known as suzanis, which have become ubiquitous in decorating, take note: One of the best markdowns in the sale will be a woven cotton and rayon version, near right, which is reduced from $97 a yard to $15. A luxe toile print, far right, printed on velvet instead of the traditional cotton, is chopped from $40 a yard to $10.

Other discounted fabrics will include cotton prints for many tastes, below from left: a contemporary floral with faux chain-stitch details, originally $16.75 a yard, now $5; butterflies floating on an English Arts and Crafts print, reduced from $40 a yard to $10; and an Italian seashell print, marked down from $36 a yard to $10. The sale runs 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.

611 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles; (323) 931-8148.

-- David A. Keeps


Photo credits: Diamond Foam & Fabric


Turkish imports at Distant moving sale


The Deal: Henry Road online fabric sale ends Tuesday

HenryroadsaleA selection of textiles by designer Paula Smail are 60% off in Henry Road's first fabric sale, ending Tuesday.

Translation: Fabric that was $50 per yard is now only $20.

I checked in with Smail on Sunday, and she assured me that she has more than 40 yards of fabric left to sell. Some designs are available in increments as small as three yards, but don't let that stop you: Think pillows. Smail's Studio City store is filled with fun accessories -- sachets, pillows, table runners -- that demonstrate what you can do with her colorful prints.

You can view the fabrics in the online sale. All of them measure 58 inches wide and are 100% cotton duck, so be sure to preshrink any purchase by washing it in warm water before you start sewing.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Henry Road


Environment Furniture's bed promotion

Henry Road designs new glass tiles for Modwalls

Half-off on Hollywood glam furniture and Indian textiles at Pat McGann

Missoni Home on sale at Allmodern.com

Renegade Craft Fair in Los Angeles this weekend


DIYers, get your hand-bound idea books ready: An impressive lineup of more than 200 crafters from around the country will be converging on downtown L.A. for this weekend's Renegade Craft Fair.

The event won't be short on locals either. L.A.-based artists and vendors will be offering free workshops on everything from kite-building to button-making. Designer Tanya Aguiñiga will demonstrate her felting and knotting processes; the Urban Craft Center of Santa Monica will lead classes on yarn-spinning, Japanese gocco-printing and book-binding; and Sew L.A. will host demonstrations in needlecraft and sewing. The complete list of Renegade workshops is varied. 

SOIL_09 (3)With the profile of craft fairs such as Felt Club and Unique L.A. on the rise, artists say they can be overwhelmed at such events (in a good way). When Orange County-based floral designer Chandra Abel attended the Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco during the holidays, she sold out of her Planted terrariums, above left and at right, in just three hours. "I had to close down," she says, laughing.  "One of the best things about fairs like this is looking around and seeing all the products you would never think to make. It's very inspiring."

Abel's striking succulent terrariums begin at $25 and go all the way to $200. "They will last six to eight months as long as you water them once or twice a month," she says

The Renegade Craft Fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Los Angeles State Historic Park, better known as the Cornfield, at 1245 N. Spring St., Los Angeles, near Chinatown. Admission is free.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits, clockwise from top: Chandra Abel, Flock Home, Rae Dunn, Chandra Abel

Free Scottie Dog quilt pattern from Denyse Schmidt

In honor of this weekend's California Quilter's Conference and Showcase in Ontario, we'd like to share this free pattern from quilting goddess Denyse Schmidt, who will be showing her latest creations at the design exhibit space Ralph Pucci in New York on Jan. 28.

Schmidt fell in love with her first quilted scottie dog at the Elephant's Trunk flea market in Connecticut many years ago and has been collecting vintage patchwork pooches ever since.

Now you, too, can have the perfect pet. Click here for the free download which includes pattern and sewing instructions.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credit: Denyse Schmidt Quilts

DIY baby costume for next year? Cupcake head!


It's never too early to start thinking about your newborn's first Halloween costume. And that goes double if you're one of those crazy, crafty people who insists that every costume will be hand made. (We'll see how far you go with that.) So, if you've got a little one fresh out of the oven -- or even in utero -- I recommend that you check out "Wacky Baby Knits: 20 Knitted Designs for the Fashion-Conscious Toddler" published this year by Perigee. The book is filled with kooky projects like a Mohawk hat, bear feet socks and the most insane colorful robot knitted suit I've ever seen, all for babies up to a year old.

The patterns, mostly beginner level, are by Alison Jenkins, who also brought us "The Knitting Directory" and "The Lost Art of Towel Origami." I can vouch for the simplicity of at least one of the projects: I made the cupcake hat complete with cherry on top for my niece Eloise (pictured above) in about three days of on-the-beach knitting last summer. (There's nothing like knitting for a newborn. The projects are so teeny that they knit-up in hours.)

Of course, the patterns and projects in "Wacky Baby Knits" aren't just for Halloween. Babies can get away with wearing frog suits, pirate outfits and cupcakes on their head any day of the year.

Baby collage

-- Deborah Netburn

Photo credits: Top is by Michael Polizzi; bottom three are courtesy of Penguin Group.


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