Etsy Treasuries #66 to 74

30 03 2011

More pieces from my Etsy store have featured in Etsy Treasuries over the past month or two.

Click on a small image to show it in full size.

Hilton Del Mar, California

22 03 2011

I stayed at the Hilton Del Mar, near San Diego, California for the Eleanor Burns Quilting Academy in March this year.  Here are some pictures of my room at the Hilton when I first opened the door (it never stays like this!) — click on a small image to see it full size.

Quilting Academy: Wrap-up

20 03 2011

Over the past three days, I’ve attended the Eleanor Burns Quilting Academy in southern California. My blog posts for specific days and activities are listed below. This post is about my general impressions of the 3 days. These notes are MY opinion only and do not represent anyone else’s opinion. They are in no particular order.

Venue and food

  • The Hilton Del Mar near San Diego was a perfect location. It was far enough away from the usual tourist spots that there was no temptation to venture further afield. It was also super easy to find (right off the I-5), had plenty of parking (which was free for attendees), and we seemed to have the hotel pretty much to ourselves — at least, the main function areas were ours alone.
  • Breakfast and lunch were part of the deal. There was plenty to eat and it was all very fresh. My only complaint about the food was that neither meal varied much in its selections from day to day — e.g. lunch was the same every day. Breakfast was ‘continental’ but there were plenty of options, including warmish hard boiled eggs, cheeses, masses of fresh fruit and yoghurts as well as several varieties of bagels and spreads, and several varieties of muffins and other sweet goodies. Lunch was light but plentiful — beef and salad sandwich, a turkey croissant, or a vegetarian roll, plus potato crisps, fresh fruit, sodas, water etc. On the first afternoon, we were served icecream, though on the other afternoons the offerings were more pedestrian — a variety of cookies, mostly.
  • The rooms were good, but if you had a room on the I-5 side of the hotel, you had a really long hike between the lobby/restaurant/bar and function areas to the room. There was no traffic noise from the I-5 as the windows were double glazed. I only found one (tiny) elevator and it was an awfully long way from my room. The hotel only has three floors, so instead of a narrow high-rise hotel, this is a low-rise LONG hotel that wraps around the central pool and terrace. I had a couple of issues with my room — I reported them on Day 1 and they were fixed by the time I returned to the room that evening.
  • Internet connection was $9.95 per day or 44.95 for a week. It was promoted as ‘high speed broadband’ but that was a lie. After monitoring the speeds (using, and trying both a wired and wireless connection, I called the front desk to find out if the approximately 1 Mbps download speed was normal. After they put me through to someone else ‘in IT’, I was told it was normal! That is NOT ‘high speed broadband’ in my book!
  • Option for no daily service of the room, with a $5 food and beverage voucher for each day that you don’t require daily service. I’ve blogged about this separately.

Quilt Academy

  • Quality of the presenters and helpers: Except for the long-arm quilting session on Day 1, the quality of the teachers was exceptional. They all knew their stuff and they all knew how to teach. They were all really helpful with the newbies, as well as the old hands. Having helpers in the room really helped the teachers get through their content. Even after three days of teaching the same stuff, the presenters were still fresh and passionate.
  • Sessions: The sessions were pretty much the right length. We could have done with an extra 30 mins in the embroidery machine session, but that was the only one where it was a rush to get finished. I’ve already blogged about the long-arm session that was almost all talk and little practical hands-on stuff, so I won’t mention that here. Every other session was very practical and very productive. And we learnt LOTS.
  • Market place: One function room was set aside as a store where you could buy notions needed in the classes (in case you forgot to bring the required items), as well as other goodies from the Quilt in a Day and the Sewing Machines Plus stores. Each person had a number and a bag was kept behind the counter with your number. If you wanted to buy something, you either got it put in your bag for payment and collection on the last day, or, if you needed it right now, they tore off the price tag and stuck that on the bag instead. A great system.
  • Plenary sessions: To me this was the biggest disappointment of the whole three days. There was no general get together at the beginning of Day 1, even just to go over housekeeping details and how we were divided up (and to let us know that there was a room change!), and nothing to say goodbye at the end of Day 3. Also, in the first sessions on Day 1, the teacher didn’t quickly go around the room to at least get people to say their names and where they were from. As we were divided into groups that we stayed with the whole 3 days, I think this would’ve been valuable and would only have taken a couple of minutes. Likewise, there were no general announcements at lunchtimes, and no ‘door prizes’ or similar. Many people didn’t know each other and while we did get to know others by the end of the three days purely by sitting with strangers at lunch tables etc., there was no opportunity to develop a shared camaraderie as a group.
  • Trunk Shows: The Trunk Shows and the opportunity to check out the Quilt in a Day and the Sewing Machines Plus stores were great. I’m sure the stores did well out of our visits, but that’s fine — that’s what these after hours visits were for, as well as hosting Eleanor’s Trunk Shows where she exhibited some absolutely wonderful quilts. The only disappointment was that it wasn’t clear as to how car pooling and shared rides would be done — when we registered, we were asked if we wanted a ride or could offer a ride, but there was no announcement as to how that would occur or if there was a meet-up in the lobby at a certain time etc. I know of at least one lady who missed out on the first night — she went to the lobby hoping for a ride but there was no-one there. That needed better organisation.

So, would I do it again? Yes! Not this curriculum (been there, done that), but another one for sure.

See also:

Quilting Academy: Day 3, March 2011

20 03 2011

Last day today… And it was time to be let loose on the overlockers (or sergers as they call them in the US). This time the task was to make a complete quilt top out of a Jelly Roll of Moda fabric, with enough left over to make two more smaller quilts (though only one quilt top was the aim of the day). Oh, and we were to make it ALL on an overlocker — no sewing machines were to be seen in the classroom.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a Jelly Roll is a set of around 40 two and half inch strips of pre-cut fabric. The fabric usually follows a theme — typically a colorway (e.g. all fall tones) or a set of coordinating fabrics from a manufacturer. We had a choice of two Jelly Rolls — either the muted, more ‘country’, more ‘adult’ fabrics from Moda (creams, teals, terracottas, greens,  paisleys, florals etc.), or the brighter, ‘juvenile’, colorful fabrics also from Moda. I’m fond of brights, so that’s what I chose (though I have to say that after working with those fabrics all day and combining them like we did, I did find them a little nauseating to look at by the end of the day!).

Our teacher Suzie took us through some of the basics of the Babylock Evolution sergers (I have an old Bernina FunLock at home and it’s pretty much the same except I have to thread the thing by hand — which is mighty painful. These sergers had auto threaders… and a price to match!).

Then she let us loose on the fabrics! We followed one of Eleanor Burns’ patterns for a Jelly Roll quilt, but as we were using sergers instead of sewing machines, many of the stitching and cutting techniques didn’t apply.

And yes, we made an entire quilt top in 6 hours (well, probably 5 hours by the time we got started, had some breaks, etc.). It was quick and easy and using an serger would be a great idea for knocking out charity quilts quickly.

Here are some pictures; click on a small picture to show it full size.

See also:

Quilting Academy: Day 2, March 2011

19 03 2011

It’s been a 13-hour day! Day 2 saw my group taking Eleanor Burns’ all-day class, where we used Babylock Symphony sewing machines to make a table runner  following Eleanor’s pattern. The actual class time was 6 hours, and we had a ball! This 65-year old lady is a barrel of laughs and such a hoot! Update: You can see the finished piece here: and it’s now for sale on my Etsy store too:

After the class was over, I drove Jane from Virginia and myself to the Sewing Machines Plus store in San Marcos, where the staff  plied us with pizza and other goodies (and 20% off everything in the store). This was followed by Eleanor’s Radiant Star Trunk Show, which promoted her new Radiant Star book and showcased some of the quilts made from the patterns in the book.

Below are some photos from today; click on a small image to see it full size.

See also:

Eleanor Burns: American Barns Trunk Show

18 03 2011

After the first day of the Quilting Academy, we were invited to Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day store, and attend her 90 minute American Barns Trunk Show.

She was just like she appears on TV, except even more personable. The American Barns Trunk Show was full of information and techniques  and some history of the barns , the quilt blocks, and the project to get quilt blocks painted onto barns (some 3000 barns now have them). The evening was full of fun, laughter, song and dance (yes, really!). Her whole family is involved, with her son, brand new daughter-in-law and granddaughter all performing or being featured in some way.

While she may try to come across as a little hokey, behind that facade is a very bright and astute businesswoman!

Some pictures from the Trunk Show; click on a small image to see it full size.

Tomorrow is the day I spend in her class — after tonight’s performance, I’m really looking forward to it.

Behind the scenes at Quilt in a Day

18 03 2011

After the first day of the Quilting Academy, we were invited to travel to San Marcos (about 30 minutes away, but maybe less if we had taken the right turn!) to see Eleanor Burns’ Quilt in a Day store, and attend her 90 minute American Barns Trunk Show.

The store was like many others, though it did have quite a lot of fabric on sale (Yes, I bought some! At sale prices of $4 and $5 a yard, who wouldn’t? especially as fabric in Australia is upwards of $20 a metre.)

The highlight though was the ‘backlot’ tour conducted by Eleanor herself. This is a MAJOR one-woman brand industry! Most of her sales are via the internet and the back area is HUGE. Even at close to 7 pm, many staff were still working, packing orders, cutting fabric for packs, testing new designs, etc. They even have their own art department (for magazines, books, and web), and their own digital printing press for short-run books on demand. Oh, and she has her own recording studio, which is where she held the Trunk Show (and I suspect it was video’d as the full studio lighting was turned on when she came out to perform.)

Some ‘backlot’ pictures; click on a small image to see it full size.

Quilting Academy: Day 1, March 2011

18 03 2011

Today was the first day of the 3-day Eleanor Burns Quilting Academy in Del Mar, California. I’m not sure how many women attended but I suspect somewhere around 70 to 100. We were split into six groups (I was in a group of around 15 others) and allocated session times. Each group gets to spend one day with Eleanor working on one of her projects. And the other two days are spent with other trainers working on other projects or learning about other techniques and equipment. The whole Academy is being run by the people and Eleanor’s Quilt in a Day people.

The group I was in spent the first day in two separate 3-hour sessions.

The morning session was conducted by the lovely Debi from Babylock.  Under Debi’s  expert guidance, we made a project that allowed us to learn how to use some of the features of the Babylock Ellisimo embroidery machines.  These are really high-end machines that cost some US$9000. I’d never used a computerised embroidery machine before, so it was a great opportunity to try one out first hand. While it was a pretty spectacular machine, I doubt I’d ever buy one as I couldn’t see myself using many of the high-end features that make these machines so expensive.

The photos below show the room, the machine and part of the piece we worked on (yes, this is mine); click on a small photo to show it full size.

At lunch I met a few people, in addition to those I met at the continental breakfast and at registration. Ages ranges of those attending appear to vary from early-mid twenties to mid-seventies. Nearly all are from the local area, though there are a few from out of state — Michigan, Virginia, etc. and me, of course, from Australia.

The afternoon session was disappointing. We were meant to learn about long-arm quilting machines and get to play on them.  When we walked into the room, three machines were set up — two big ones and a HQ Sweet Sixteen. This was going to be good! The presenter then spoke to us AT LENGTH (two hours out of the three) on how to choose a long-arm quilting machine. She didn’t do a single demonstration in all that time. Then, when it was time for us to play, she had difficulty rolling up the previous group’s work (she was introduced as an expert in all types of these machines). Once one machine was ready to go,  it wouldn’t run as the bobbin had run out and no-one from the two stores had thought to put in a spare or two!  So we all moved over to the second big machine (except those who heard that icecream was being served for the afternoon break!). She took ages to roll that one too, and had to get help. Then after about 1 minute, its bobbin ran out too! So now BOTH large long-arm machines are out of action! Many left at this stage, particularly after the lady from SewingMachinesPlus said that she’d open the doors to that room at 8 am tomorrow to let us play for an hour. Problem is: 8 am is when they serve breakfast. I don’t know why the presenter didn’t prepare the machines BEFORE the class (there was an hour’s break between classes), or even as she was talking for TWO hours (she could’ve then demo’d how to roll a quilt further on the machine). Instead she spent an inordinate amount of time on her favourite threads!

I did get to play on the HQ Sweet Sixteen — and it was wonderful. The motion for free motion quilting was really smooth and even, and I was very impressed with its small ‘footprint’ (the table it sits in is about 30 x 36 inches) as well as its ease of use. I want one!! Fortunately, a friend of mine in Perth sells them, so it’s not out of the realms of possibility 😉

After the day was over, we were all invited to go to Eleanor’s Quilt in a Day store, then stay on to attend her American Barns Trunk Show.