Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Movies

Part of my customer base at is costumers...TV, movies, television, opera and theater companies plus Living History Museums and re enactors from around the world.

My introduction to movie costume shops...came during the filming of
A River Runs Through It on the Boulder River in Montana. I had a brick and mortar quilt shop in near by Bozeman, MT at the time.  When the production crew sets up to film...they often bring along the 'sewing shop'....costume and set designers as well as seamstresses.  Depending on the work load...they may hire local sewers.

One day...a costume designer mentioned needing a 40's style cotton print for an apron for Mrs. Mclean. One of the local sewers mentioned my store and assured them there would be a good selection. The sale was modest (1 apron!) but it opened the door to the possibilities of the movie industry.

I have sold fabric to numerous movies since then...including Return to Lonesome Dove, Cold Mountain, Appaloosa and Cowboys and Aliens and am currently working with the costume designers for a new Quentin Tarantino movie...The Hateful 8.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dargate--down memory lane

Last week I had 2 delightful house guests from Australia....Michelle Yeo and Virginia Pascall. We spent hours looking at Michelle's quilts and my fabric sample books! I now have a total of 9. Six from the 19th century and 3 from the 20th.

Dargate Book c. 1830

We all sorted through a drawer of Dargate scraps. Both Michelle and Virginia...were better than I at identifying the Dargate ranges for each print.

Dargate Doubles (1st line) with center from Illuminations

I have a little 'flutter' of pieced hexes using just Dargate prints for a 'someday' quilt.

Dargate Doubles (center) + Botanicals

I will have a new Dargate line printed by Andover this coming spring!
Dargate Treasury...Yes! 


Monday, September 22, 2014


A few years ago...I received a flutter of orders from Estonia. I thought I knew where that was...but did look it the Baltic region of Northern Europe.
Flashy Turkey Red

Over the following 4-5 months I continued to receive orders from various groups for the same 2 or 3 prints, similar to the lovely T Red above. Once that line was were the orders. I came to realize that I had probably hit on the correct fabric design for their native costumes. The orders were from a variety of organizations...singers, re enactors, historians.

Turkey Reds are a very colorfast version of Madder dyeing. The early designs were white motifs (either resist or later discharge) with an over print of black as a high light. In the 1820s a printer in Mulhouse developed a technique to add blue to the design. This plus the mineral dyes for yellow/orange gave him a new palette....Polychrome Turkey Reds! These fabrics, colorfast and lively, were popular throughout Europe and America.

I am planning to begin posting some of my previous essays on historic fabric dyes and printing techniques. My goal is to publish, here at Cottonopia, my Textile History Crossword Puzzles! Prizes for a correctly completed puzzle will be Fabric!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fringe Benefits

I had the good fortune to attend a meeting of the Land 'o Lakes Quilt Study Group in Minneapolis yesterday. (Traffic on the Expressway was reasonable and I did not get lost!) The presentation was by Greg Winter (photographer for Minnesota Quilts). He happened onto the Pilgrim/Roy quilt exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston this summer. His pictures and commentary were just wonderful.

My friend, Peg, who lives in Boston visited 7 times while the exhibit was open. I was prepared to see some great quilts...and was not disappointed.

Afterwards members showed their favorite quilt..and explained why it had that status.

Machine quilted on the diagonal

Chintz Applique by Gail Bakkon

Delightful Cathedral Windows Variation

I have never seen anything like this..for sure not in MT! More ears than I can count.


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Open for business

With the help of some new friends here in Northfield, I was able to be Open for Business for walk ins on Wednesday Aug 6.  Customers were excited about the space and the fabrics!

Coming in the door

Lots of 1930s
Big Civil War Era Selection
A college student at Carleton College here in Northfield is scanning for me! New Dutch Heritage Chintzes

It has been a long long road since we left Bozeman on June 17th. We are now geographically closer to our daughter and her family. She will be 40 on Tuesday August 12!

Friday, August 1, 2014

Fabric Emergency

Today I got a call from a costume designer in NYC. They had a 'fabric emergency' and could I get 6 yards of FS312P out today with a Saturday am delivery in Brooklyn? I got it cut and shipped..and loved the idea of a fabric emergency. I think we have all been there!

My recent relocation of the store from Bozeman, MT to Northfield, MN started out well. We visited Northfield over Easter and found a great space for our business,, and on the last day a house! Our Bozeman house sold very quickly...and we found ourselves on the road in just 6 crazy weeks. My great crew in BZ ran the store until June 27th..packed everything up, loaded a U Haul truck and friends of Ron drove the store to Northfield on June 30. We had a crew of strong young men ready for the truck's arrival on July 1. Suddenly we were surrounded with lots and lots of boxes!

Not much has worked since! I have struggled with setting up support services...UPS, Fed Ex, US Postal Service...and basics like a working business phone ( the tech that installed the internet and phone services mislabeled the 2 phone lines..switching the phone and fax numbers. It took a long time with technical help to get that challenge figured out) and a scanner.

Then Ron became very ill and the local ER shipped him off to University of Minnesota 11 at night. I followed the ambulance in with our 90 # dog in back. Ron is doing much better...he was released after 5 days. I drove in to pick him up...took a wrong exit and got really really lost in rush hour traffic.

We are all back in Northfield and some of the support services are now working. I still have a wonky business phone and no scanner but some PEO sisters of mine here in Northfield heard of my situation. The very next day the Cavalry arrived. The space now looks like a real quilt shop...not much blank wall showing...and I should be ready to open to the public on Wednesday Aug 6th.

So having been through a very difficult month I loved that I could solve someone else's fabric emergency!!


ps Sunday we are invited to our youngest grandson's second birthday party...just 50 miles away. This makes it worth all the troubles.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Wood Block prints

Winter's Work....Broken Dishes using Wood Block prints combined with Essex in Linen (the color). I prewashed both the Wood Blocks which are printed with vegetable dyes and the Essex which is a cotton/linen blend and does shrink a touch resulting in a great texture!

I really enjoy working with the Wood Blocks but have had some customer resistance....'they don't go with my stash'. So...the next project will combine 'regular' prints and Wood Block ones.

The Move

We are going to do this in three stages. Not as young as we were when we moved West! Ron and I are leaving next Sunday with some racks and computers to begin set up in the new store. We close on the NF house June 24, the moving van arrives on the 25th.  Thanks to our wonderful employees the store will continue operating in Bozeman until late June. Friends of Ron's have offered to drive the loaded U Haul truck across South Dakota to Northfield. We hope to have 'the wires twisted back together'...and begin shipping July 8-10.

 Yes I started blogging again because of something else going on in my life. Last winter I signed a contract with Andover Fabrics and made my first presentation to the Art Director this May at Quilt Market in Pittsburgh. I hope to keep you informed about progress...Northfield and new Dargate prints!!