Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Celebrate The End of 2013 With 5 Giveaways

Let's celebrate bringing in the 2014 right with five (5) fantastic giveaways!

Laundry Basket Quilts is giving away 12 bags of scraps. Doesn’t sound like anything special but if you are new to quilting and don’t have tons of your own scraps, these come in very, very handy. I would love to win them. 
 Go here to enter. 
 Giveaway ends January 5, 2014

Christa Quilts is giving away cotton thread and a bunch of pre-wound bobbins. 
Go here to enter
Giveaway ends January 1, 2014

In The Boon Docks is giving away 7 charm packs. 
Go here to enter
Giveaway ends December 31, 2013

Nonnie’s Quilting Dream is giving away a copy of the book “Applique”. You can never have too many sewing books
Go here to enter
Giveaway ends January 1, 2014 

Cindy Woodsmall is giving away an Amish Made Quilt. 

Go here to enter
Giveaway ends December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 is Drawing to a Close

One more day and it will be 2014.  Wow.  What a ride it's been for this year.  I've spent more time with quilting, started this blog, started my business FaceBook page and purchased a domain.  So much progress has been made.  To make it better than ever the blog did about 2,000 pageviews more than expected.  Now that's just cool.

Thanks everyone for your readership.  Look for more dynamic things to happen in 2014!!!

Jillian Grant
The Quilt Orchard

Friday, December 27, 2013

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Giveaway

Fons & Porter is giving away a quilt kit, backing and binding to make the above quilt. Giveaway ends January 1, 2014. 

Click here to enter.

Good luck!!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Holiday Greetings

Christmas Night is my favorite day of the year.  The kids have had a visit from Santa.  Family and friends have gather to share another meal.  People have sent text messages and made phone calls to wish one another Happy Holidays.  And then a peace falls over the earth and all gets so quiet.  No hustle or bustle, just peace.

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quilt Raffle Winner is Announced!

The Winner of the Raffle Quilt is LISA BARR!!!  Congratulations to Lisa.  The quilt will be shipped as soon as we verify the address information.  Way to go, Lisa, you are getting a beautiful quilt.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

History of Quilting--Part 1: The Early Quilt

The Early Quilt
Jillian Grant

Through this series we will explore the origins of quilts and learn more about the forms of quilting through time and look at the evolution of quilts.  We will also take a look at popular types of quilting.  Part 1 is a brief history about the quilt.

A Long History

The quilting has long been favored around the world as a way to decorate clothing, homes, and special places. The art of quilting has been used to decorate garments, make coverlets for beds, and art for walls. While quilting's true foundation and start is unknown, an early example of quilted clothing dates back to approximately 3400 B.C. This was a quilted garment found on a carved ivory likeness of an Egyptian Pharaoh. In 1924 a linen quilted floor covering was discovered in a Mongolian cave by archaeologists. It is believed this floor covering was dated back to somewhere between the first century B.C. to the second century A.D.

It is believed that quilting can be traced back to China and Egypt.  The original quilts were two layers of fabric with a center of padding (like a batting) stitched together.  The stitching, or tying, was to to prevent the center from sliding or lumping.  According to historians, quilting was brought to Europe during the Crusades in the late 11th century. Quilted garments were popular in the Middle Ages and knights would were these under their armor for comfort. Some used the early quilted garments to protect their armor from weather elements. The quilted garments later became doublets--a snug fitting garment.

The earliest known bed quilt still in existence is from Sicily and dates somewhere toward the end of the fourteenth century. This quilt was made from linen padded with wool and measured 122" by 106". The quilt design contained scenes depicting the legend of Tristan. In Southern France during the 17th century in southern France quilting was used to make decorative petticoats and other clothing.  These were a popular folk art.

Why Quilts Matter

Through the ages quilts have told a story of how people lived and about textile resources available over time.  They have been used to express political opinions; given as gifts; worn as garments; created as art forms; and sometimes considered the mainstay of a home.  Quilts have been made from exquisite textiles, created to make quilts, down to a way to recycle pieces of fabric.  The art of quilting is found around the world in Asia, Europe, India and the Americas.  

Regardless of how quilts began they art of quilt making remains alive and very present in many cultures today.  In our future series for this History of Quilts we will look at the types of quilting and explore the evolution of quilts through the ages.


History of Quilting; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_quilting

History in Quilts: Edsitement; National Endowment of the Humanities; http://edsitement.neh.gov/lesson-plan/history-quilts

History of Quilts; Emporia State University; CENTER FOR GREAT PLAINS STUDIES;  http://www.emporia.edu/cgps/tales/quilte~1.html

QUILTS: FROM ANCIENT EGYPT TO AMERICA'S SHORE; Patches From the Past: Scraps of Fabric, Sewing and Quilting History;  http://www.historyofquilts.com/ancient.html

Friday, December 20, 2013

Thursday, December 19, 2013

A Fabulous Giveaway Full of Joy

Your last chance to win is Thursday, December 19th at midnight. One WINNER will be randomly selected and announced this FRIDAY from those who shared and liked the above photo ON FACEBOOK. 
Click on the link: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Moda-Fabrics-United-Notions/336301100246
This will take you to the MODA Facebook Page so you can like and share.
And don't worry, the winner will receive this stocking in time to open it on Christmas morning. *Sorry, limited to U.S. residents only.

When you win will you keep all the goodies for yourself or
Share the Joy with quilting friends? :)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Quilt Raffle is Ending in Five Days

Just five (5) days left to purchase a chance to win this beautiful quilt. Thank you to those who have donated by purchasing a raffle ticket, or two or eleven. For those who are still wishing to buy a raffle ticket they are available until Sunday, December 22. The raffle will close at midnight and the winner will be chosen on Monday, December 23 and the winner notified at that time. We hope to ship the quilt that day so it will reach the winner just after Christmas.

Remember the funds go to Mercy Covers and are ear marked to help the ladies of Mercy Covers sew waterproof blankets for their local homeless people.

Merry Christmas to all and again Thank You for your generosity.

To see the quilt and or buy a raffle ticket click on the link below:

PayPal is accepted.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Multiple Giveaways

Quarter Incher is giving away a free copy of all their BOM patterns.  You have till December 17, 2013 to register.  Go here.

Open until Tuesday 12/17 til 11:59pm PST

Another Giveaway

McCall’s Quilting is giving away the above fat quarter bundle. Giveaway ends December 31, 2013

To enter click here

And Another

Sew Can Do is giving away a yard each of the above fabric. She is also featuring a tutorial to use. Be sure to check out here site. Giveaway ends December 17, 2013. Click here to register.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 4: Choose Your Fabric Store and Products Wisely

This is the fourth and final installment in our series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The series is about helping quilters make better decisions about choosing quality fabrics. In this segment we will look at how to source quality cotton fabric, make informed choices and learn about avoiding pitfalls in purchasing quilt fabric.

Where to Buy Quilt Fabric

Where you purchase your quilt fabric can have an impact on the type of quilt fabric that is available to you. A true "quilt shop" often understands the need to have top quality goods available to a quilter. This is so the quilter has the best fabric to ensure a higher quality final quilt product. All the things discussed in previous articles would be a concern to most quilt shop owners. They are in the market to assist their customers in making purchases that will yield satisfaction.

Before you can know if your quilt shop of choice is offering good quality product you must first know a little about the fabric lines offered in these types of shops. There are many labels/manufacturers and all are not equal.

Learn more about the manufacturers who make our quilting cottons. View their current fabric lines and read more about their designers. Here is a list of some of the more prominent textile manufacturers. Click on the name to go to the company site.

ArtGallery--Includes Angela Walters
Cloud9 Fabrics
Hoffman Fabrics
Maywood Studio Fabric
Red Rooster Fabrics
SouthSea Imports 
StudioE Fabrics 

  • Free Spirit--Includes Tula Pink and Joel Dewberry 
  • Rowan Fabric--Includes Amy Butler and Kaffe Fasset lines 
  • Ty Pennington 

Ask Questions

Don't be afraid to ask questions of the shop where you plan to purchase your quilt fabric. Some of the questions you might ask are:

1) Are your fabrics all first quality or do you also carry seconds?
  • If they carry seconds or thirds ask where they are located so you will know up front what to avoid. 
2) What fabric lines do you carry?
  • Most store buyers have favorite lines they carry. It's good to know what they are so you can make a decision about whether you like that line. This is especially true if you have found something online you like by a particular manufacturer and you want to find out if it's available to you locally. 
3) Do you ever have sales on your fabrics?

Get Feedback From Others
Every time you speak to a new quilter or visit a new quilt shop ask for clerks, owners, and other quilters' opinions. What are their favorite fabric manufacturers and why? In time you will see several companies emerge as favorites over and over. As a quilter I have my tried and true favorites. Typically, I will look for Westminster Fabric lines, Moda, Timeless Treasures and Hoffman Fabrics. Their lines fit my designer choices and their quality of fabrics are in keeping with my desire to create heirloom quality quilts. By doing your research you will also develop favorites and come to know where to purchase these.

Avoiding Attractive Pitfalls

Sometimes the need to take advantage of a sale or a really catchy print overwhelms the desire to be practical and make quality choices about your quilting cotton. If you favorite store, or any quilt shop, has a sale offering folded flat goods ask if these were shipped from the manufacturer as flat fold goods. They may be bolt ends that a store has flat folded for convenience but often flat folds shipped from the manufacturer are not first quality goods.

Between the 1920's - 1940's textile mills would test their prints on low quality (greige) goods. The products produced on these low quality goods would later become feed sacks. The feed sacks sometimes would be the only cottons available to home quilters, especially during the depression. Today, this first, or test run, is sold to discounters in the form of flat fold goods that you can purchase in discount stores. These may look somewhat like the finished product but they are often produced on lower quality greige goods to save money in the set up for final printing. Sometimes they are printed on good fabric but the colors and design are not up to the manufacturer's specifications. Some flat fold fabrics are deliberate knock-offs of popular designs. Expensive fabric in the form of flat folds have often missed some of the final finishing of good quality fabric. Unless you are purchasing fabric for a craft or product that will not have much use or will be somewhat disposable, avoid flat fold goods whenever you wish to create a quality product. It old adage of "you get what you pay for," rings true over and over in the world of choosing quality cotton fabric.

Last, but not least, avoid box stores for your quality fabric. Many will run sales over and over using pricing from quality yard goods then discounting these to make you feel like you are getting a good deal. In fact, the goods do not compare to what you will find in an established quilt shop. Many box stores are actually selling seconds and lower quality goods but are making these sound like first quality. If you use the field test on fabric (Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 2: Field Check for Fabric Quality) you will quickly discover the difference.


The production of quality cotton goods is complex. Designers and manufacturers work together to create concepts and designs up to a year in advance. Once complete these designs are sent out to the mills where they are test printed and await the final approval. As a rule, almost all fabric is now milled overseas in Korea and Japan. Having the final product milled overseas does not equate to a lower quality fabric. This process has kept the yard goods pricing affordable for quilters. The point is to a quilter, looking for quality goods, do be afraid of textiles printed overseas.

Spend time to know your quilt fabric vendors and stores as well as your manufacturers. This will lead to a higher quality of quilt and one that will withstand time, as we all hope our quilts will. You will ultimately be a great resource to other quilters and have the opportunity to share what you know. Your friends, family, and fellow quilters will appreciate your time spent seeking the best product you can buy for your money as the quality of your product will show.

Happy buying quality cotton for quilting and most of all happy quilting.

To read previous posts in this series, click on each article below:

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Quilt Raffle Update

Posted on 12/12/2013 by Organizer Jillian Grant
Thank you to everyone who has purchased a raffle ticket. Currently Mercy Covers is raising money so they can purchase the supplies necessary to create blankets for the Homeless. These blankets will be waterproof on one side so they can keep out some of the weather elements during the rainy season. We have a way to go to meet the goal to make this happen. If you were thinking about purchasing a raffle ticket now would be the time to do it. Remember you can donate using Paypal if you wish.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Another Giveaway!

Aurifil Quilt Patchwork and Embroidery Threads

An amazing array of rainbow colors offered in this Sew Mama SewGiveaway hosted by Deborah from Simply Miss Luella! Ends 12/13/2013

To read all the details and to enter for your chance for this happy colorful bundle please visit


The Ultimate Giveaway. Longarm Giveaway!

Hurry To Enter The Great APQS Longarm Giveaway

Have you dreamed of owning an APQS longarm quilting machine? What about a longarm machine with an automated quilting system? Here’s your chance at both!

APQS is giving away a Lucey longarm machine equipped with Quilt Path, the computerized quilting system. This is our biggest giveaway yet with a value of $21,900!!!

And that’s not all! Every month, one lucky entrant will receive an APQS Quilting Gift Basket full of thread, patterns and other great APQS goodies.

One grand prize winner will be selected at random during the week of Dec. 16, 2013. The winner will be notified via phone. Enter once a day for your chance to win.

To enter go to: http://www.apqs.com/longarm-giveaway

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Product Giveaway

Enter to win a set of three Clam Shell Accessories Case kits from Clover Needlecraft (the same cases featured on page 61 of our Fall 2013 issue). Each set includes one small, medium, and large kit. These three-sided clamshell cases are perfect for storing small items and make great gifts. We'll select two winners, so enter by December 20, 2013, for your chance to win!

To enter: http://www.quilttrendsmag.com/giveaways/index.shtml

Monday, December 9, 2013

Quilting Classes Coming Soon!

Hello All!  This is the season for magical times and celebrations.  For me its the advent of a new phase in my life.  In February I will start offering quilting classes at Shawn's Sewing Center.  My first class will be on Quality Quilt Materials, Supplies and More.  The second will be a quilted bed runner for the beginning to advanced quilter.  I can hardly wait for this to happen.  Yeah.  This is where I have wanted to be for a long time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Thanksgiving 2013 Remembered--Grant Women Sewing Retreat

Here are pictures of our first annual Grant Women Sewing Retreat, held the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving in Monticello, Illinois.  We had a lot of people stop by to support us.  We are doing it again next year for sure.  Every family that has sewers should try this tradition.  Many photo opportunities got missed.  Next year we will make sure we have a lot more pics to post.

Laura Smith, Wilma Grant and Georgia King
Kiersten Grier

Gaye Grant

Dean Grant, a true gentleman

Georgia Grant

Our projects waiting for us to finish lunch.
Lynnette Grant and Kiss

Friday, December 6, 2013

It's Quilting Time

As the U.S. suffers from a December blast of cold it's time to pull out the quilt projects!  Put on a pair of fuzzy slippers, make a cup of hot cocoa, then sew away.  Before you know it, you'll have a quilt done and be ready for the next cold spell.  Happy sewing, happy quilting.  Stay warm and be happy!

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Rotary Cutting Basics

McCalls Quilting Tutorial: Rotary Cutting Basics

Picture from McCalls Quilting 
Click following link for a FREE video lesson offered by McCalls Quilting

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 3: Judging the Color, Pattern and Finish

This is the third installment in our series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The series is about helping quilters make better decisions about choosing quality fabrics. In this segment we will look at how to judge the color, printing and finish of quality fabric.

Colorfast Fabric

In Part 2: Field Check for Fabric Quality we talked about The Rub or the process of rubbing the fabric between your fingers to check for separation of threads. The Rub can also be used to check color. When you "Rub" the fabric between your thumb and forefinger if you have color come off on your fingers this means the fabric color is not sealed. This typically is a sign of inferior fabric or processing. It also means the fabric is not colorfast meaning when you wash the fabric the color will bleed. Check for the word "colorfast" on the label.

Another color check process is to wrap a small piece of white cotton around your finger then rub it back and forth across the fabric. Look to see if color has transferred from the fabric you are testing onto the white cotton. Even if the color found on the white fabric is slight it is better to avoid purchasing this fabric. The color will not remain bright and vibrant when washed over and over.

Color or Pattern Overlap

Unfold the fabric so you can see a yard or so. Look at the pattern to see if there are overlapping points of image in the fabric. Check to see if the design skips or if there is ghosting of the pattern meaning the pattern looks like there is a slight shift in the pattern away from the rest of the print. Do the patterns overlap one another? Or do you see where the pattern skips from time to time? Does the color fade or disappear? These are all signs that the manufacturer may be using an inferior process to apply the color and pattern to the fabric. Your colors and pattern should be crisp and free from unintended shifts during the process of applying the design to the fabric.

The Finishing

Another test for the quality of the fabric you are considering for purchase is the feel or "hand" of the fabric. In the final process of applying color and design to fabric goods the manufacturer often applies a final finish that seals the dyes and makes the fabric softer. Cheap or inexpensive fabrics don't get the final finish. This makes the cost of manufacturing of the fabric less expensive but also cheapens the quality as the fabric will be stiffer and will not hold it's color well. This would be a fabric you want to avoid. To test the finish you simply need to feel the fabric and crumple it a bit. If the fabric feels stiff and when crumpled remains wrinkled then this is a fabric that has not finished. Don't waste your time using this type of fabric.

Why Color and Finish Matter

When spending the many hours required to make a quilt you don't want to be disappointed with the end product. You don't want to get your blocks or pieces together and discover flat points in the colors or skips in patterns. This lessens the beauty of your quilt. You also don't want to have your quilt bleed during it's first, second and/or third wash. The results will be a lackluster quilt. Checking the quality of your fabric choice and ensuring it is free of process defects and finished properly will help ensure you are pleased with your choice when finished.

A good quality cotton quilt fabric should be soft, with vibrant or distinct coloring. The pattern should never skip, ghost or disappear and the color should be colorfast.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Don't Forget--$5 Will Buy You a Chance to Win This Quilt

This quilt is available for an online raffle to raise money for Mercy Covers, an organization in Costa Rica that is working with indigenous women to teach them sewing skills. They are making quilts and other products to give to other needy people as well as learn skills to grow their own ability to support themselves. Sewing is a skill that can be vital in helping women support themselves and their families. We are working toward gaining more funds to help ship supplies and sewing machines for this effort. Watch for more news to come.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Day of Thanksgiving--Two Fabulous Giveaways

McCall's Quilting Vin du Jour Giveaway

Beginning November 1 and continuing through December 31, 2013, you may click on the Enter Contest tab above and enter your name in our random drawing. One McCall's Quilting reader will win this bundle of fat quarters from the Vin du Jour collection by 3 Sisters for Moda. Enter to win!

Click on link to enter:  http://www.mccallsquilting.com/contests/Vin_du_Jour_Giveaway.html

Winner will be selected on January 2, 2014 and notified within 24 hours by e-mail.

Sulky Petites
The gorgeous boxed collection of Sulky Cotton Petites pictured above is being given away to one lucky winner! Sulky’s new collection of 12 wt. Cotton Petites threads includes 66 solid and 14 variegated threads. To enter just leave a comment at:


Click here for official rules*; contest ends midnight MST December 2, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from comments below and notified by email on December 3, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ultimate Giveaway. Longarm Giveaway!

Hurry To Enter The Great APQS Longarm Giveaway

Have you dreamed of owning an APQS longarm quilting machine? What about a longarm machine with an automated quilting system? Here’s your chance at both!

APQS is giving away a Lucey longarm machine equipped with Quilt Path, the computerized quilting system. This is our biggest giveaway yet with a value of $21,900!!!

And that’s not all! Every month, one lucky entrant will receive an APQS Quilting Gift Basket full of thread, patterns and other great APQS goodies.
One grand prize winner will be selected at random during the week of Dec. 16, 2013. The winner will be notified via phone. Enter once a day for your chance to win.

To enter go to: http://www.apqs.com/longarm-giveaway

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another Giveaway--This Ends November 27th

Sew Fresh Quilts is giving away 40 fat quarters, a marking pen and a quilt pattern.  Giveaway ends November 27th.  Go here to register to win.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 2: Field Check for Fabric Quality

This is the second installment in our series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The series is about helping quilters make better decisions about the fabrics by providing information about fabric.

Field Check for Quality

We've all heard the comments: "All fabric is the same"; "Fabric is fabric"; and "Some companies just charge more!"  Some of us have even made those comments--including me.  In fabric none of these statements are valid.  The quality of one fabric is not the quality of another.  Fabric has different weights (as we learned in the first installment entitled Know Your Thread Count).  The cost of fabric is directly related to thread count and the manufacturers process.

So how does a quilter choose the right quilt fabric?  One way is to conduct a field check for fabric quality!  Sounds complicated but it's in fact quite easy.  You may get a few looks for fellow shoppers and clerks but don't panic!  Others may be curious enough to ask questions giving you the opportunity to provide them with a fabulous education.

The Crumple and Wrinkle

The first field test on quilt fabric should be to take a corner of the fabric you are looking at and crumple a bit in your hand.  Hold it there for about 15 seconds then release the fabric.  Does the fabric stay hopelessly crumpled or does it slowly regain it's shape with minimal wrinkling?   This is important as a good quality fabric should retain it's original shape after being crumpled.  If it remains a wrinkled mess in the yardage then walk away.  Can you imagine what a 15 second crumple can become in a quilt that is made to be used by others?  Do you want that to be the signature of something you painstakingly made either as a gift, a commission, or a show piece? Remember that there may be a small amount of wrinkling in making this test but significant wrinkling is not a good earmark for a quality fabric.

The Sniff Test

Yes, you read this right...the sniff test is next.  Hold the fabric to your nose and inhale.  Does the fabric have a distinct or strong chemical odor?  This signals that the fabric has been chemically treated with stabilizers or sizing to make it appear to heavier and more stable.  If you smell heavy chemicals beware.  Once you wash this fabric it will possibly go limp and reveal a very thin fabric. To field test a "smelly" fabric grab a corner and place a hand on each side of the fabric and rub it with a rapid scrubbing motion between both hands.  If the fabric loses it's luster and stiffness once smoothed back out it is a poor quality fabric the manufacturer has tried to disguise as quality yard goods.

The Rub

As mentioned in the first installment of this series, Know Your Thread Count, thread count matters. You can field test for thread count, since this is not generally listed on the bolt end. Simply place a spot of the fabric you are considering between your thumb and index finger and rub the two back and forth together. Now check the spot where you rubbed. Does the fabric fibers appear to be separating? Does the fabric fibers appear to have separated and now the spot looks then? If you answer "yes" to these questions then the fabric is probably a low thread count and would not make the cut as a good quality quilt fabric that would yield and long lasting quilt.

The Wrong Side

Open the fabric you are considering for purchase just enough to look at the grain running both length-wise and cross-wise. Do the length-wise threads appear to be running from one edge to the other in a straight line? Do the cross-wise threads running up and down appear to be running straight? This will tell if the fabric in "on grain" or not. Also, look at the selvages. The threads should be running parallel to the selvage. A good quality fabric will have the threads at perfect right angles. If the fabric is "off-grain" and this can be spotted on the wrong side of the fabric then the fabric is not a good candidate to produce a top-quality quilt.

The Results of a Field Check for Quality

Checking your potential fabric purchase by doing a field check for quality may appear strange to other shoppers and clerks. Those who understand what it takes to create a quilt will also understand that the quality of the textile goods is the first step. Ignore the stares and giggle to yourself as you rub, smell, crumple and inspect the yard goods you are considering purchasing. Giggle even louder when you observe someone else doing the same. It's become like a secret society in which you hold membership. It's the club of knowing how to make quality wise decisions about the quilt fabric you are purchasing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Remembering our History--The Day President Kennedy Died

There are some memorable moments in history that are undeniably life changing. For those of us who were alive the day our nation lost John F Kennedy we still ask almost yearly, "Where were you the day President Kennedy was shot?"

For me it is still a vivid memory. It was lunch time, maybe shortly, after when the teacher opened the classroom door to a visitor. The person whispered something in her ear. Her hand went to her mouth as she gasped. When she turned around to us there were tears running down her face. She told us in between her sobs that our president was dead. All we knew was that he had been shot by an unknown assassin and we were still in the middle of the "Cold War" with Russia. Classes were dismissed and everyone in the hallways were crying and looked numb. When I got home my mother was crying. My mother, my siblings and I sat in front of the TV waiting for news and hoping the assassin was caught.   We were supposed to go see the movie PT 109 that night with our father but the movie theater on our base closed (maybe because of the alert status). We were a military family (USAF) stationed at Ellsworth Air Base outside Rapid City, South Dakota. We all wanted to see the movie about Kennedy's war experiences. It was a sad time for our home and for our country. The base was on alert and people were on edge. The news coverage went around the clock, something quite unusual in 1963. We sat glued to the set and watched the coverage over and over. Our nation watched as they announced the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald.  Perhaps we all breathed a sigh of relief until the news announced his link to Russia.  On November 24, I was sitting in front of the TV when Jack Ruby stepped out of a crowd at the jail and shot Oswald.  Jack Ruby became somewhat a hero for many since it was perceived that he killed the man responsible for killing our beloved president.  

We continued watching the coverage for days.  We saw Lyndon B Johnson take the oath of office on the plane heading back to Washington DC with the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, at his side.  She was still wearing the blood spattered suit she had worn while sitting in the car with her husband when he was shot.  And later we watched as precious John John, the president's son, saluted his father's coffin as it passed by in the funeral procession.

Our nation mourned the death of our president!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another Opportunity to Win--$100 Brother Gift Card

Watch & Win! Don’t forget to enter our Always Good Times Watch & Win Sweepstakes for your chance to win a $100 Brother Visa® Pre-Paid Card! No Purchase Necessary. See Official Rules. Click here to enter now: http://bit.ly/1alPmcM.

Note:  This works best when watched from a PC.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thank you!

Thank you to my blog readers for your continuing support.  Yesterday I reached 3,000 page views since I opened this blog in mid-August.  I hope you continue to enjoy this blog and find useful information in each post.

Jillian Grant
Owner of The Quilt Orchard

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Another Fabulous Giveaway

From the Fluffy Sheep Quilting we have two opportunities to win fat quarters. To enter, leave one comment below telling the Fluffy Sheep Quilting blog which is your favorite print or your favorite color in a new line. While at the Fluffy Sheep Quilting Blog you get a bonus entry blog, by sending an instagram or FB message about this giveaway and leave a bit of evidence that you did so in a comment.   You must click on the link to enter your comments:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Never Arrive Empty Handed

It's never too late to sew up a little something special for a hostess.  This is especially true if  you are going to someone else's house for a holiday meal.  Sew a simple set of cotton coasters, a quilted table runner in your hostess' favorite colors, or even a pretty wine bag for that bottle of wine you are gifting.  An item can take minutes to sew, or a couple of hours.  Regardless of the time spent something sewn by you will leave a lasting impression.  The time invested will be small compared to the memories made when you show up with something truly special in hand.

Happy creating for the holidays.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quilt Raffle Update

Raffle Quilt--approximately 65" x 75"--Tickets $5
The quilt raffle has begun to move along.  We have 45 days left to raise our goal of $5,000. The raffle money will go to help with the cost of purchasing supplies, materials, tools and to pay for the shipping/transportation of these items and donated machines and fabric to Costa Rica.  These items will be used by Mercy Covers in their continued effort to teach sustaining sewing skills to women in areas of Costa Rica.  Mercy Covers is involved in several projects including having indigenous women sew quilts for charities and sew craft items they can sell to help pay for their children's education needs.

You can purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win this lovely quilt for as little as $5.  You can't win if you don't enter.  Your donation will be a great help for a very worthy organization.

To give: http://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/quilt-raffle-to-help-mercy-covers-help-others/87822

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another Chance to Win!

Direct from Angela Walters blog: Machine Quilting by Angela

See a fun quilt designed by Vanessa Christenson of V & Co, and have a chance to win the pattern for free! http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com/2013/11/15/handmade/

Quilter's Prayer

Lord forgive me when I sew
There is so much that I don't know
Gadgets, rulers, and special tools
Sometimes make us feel like fools
When I acheive that special look
Then I will write a nice big book
But for now I continue to grow
My ever changing talents as I sew

Original poem by Jillian Grant
I am re-posting this poem by request

Friday, November 15, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 1: Know Your Thread Count

This is the beginning of a series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The purpose of this series is to help quilters make solid decisions when choosing their fabrics by being better educated about the quality of fabric available.

Know Your Thread Count

Is thread count of a quilt fabric important? To be able to answer that question you much first understand what thread count means. The term "thread count" refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch. If you have 50 threads lengthwise (known as the warp) and 50 threads width wise (known as the weft) the total thread count per square inch is 100.

Quality quilting fabrics have higher thread counts--with the average being between 68 and 78 (weft and warp). Quilting fabrics in this range are thicker and more durable, shrink less, and sew better. A good quilting fabric has a thread count of approximately 60 x 60 square (thread count of 120 threads per square inch) or more. Finer quality fabrics with a higher thread count will feel softer and finer to the touch. They are smoother and will last longer.

It's not easy to find out the thread count of quilt fabric as not all quilt cotton manufacturers will reveal this magical number. You can, however, look at a quilting fabric and make a decision on it's quality on your own by examining the weave. Do the threads appear loosely woven? Can you pull the threads apart easily? Can you see your hand outline through a single layer of fabric? Does the fabric look thin? If these questions are answered with a "yes" then this is not a quality fabric and has a low thread count that will not produce a quality quilt that will stand up to use.The better quality quilt cotton manufacturers will have a higher thread count, but this means the fabric will cost more. The higher the thread count the higher the price. What does that means in terms of creating a top quality quilt? The higher quality, higher thread count cotton will yield a quilt that is much more durable, will not wrinkle as quickly, and is made to be used.

Two things to remember if you do find the thread count for your favorite quilt cotton manufacturer (and yes some are not afraid to let you know what it is):

1) Do not confuse quilt cotton thread counts with the thread count of cotton sheets.

2) Know that the higher the thread count the more pressure has to be put on a needle to penetrate the cotton when quilting. For machine quilting this is generally not an issue but when making a quilt that will be hand quilted this can matter.

Thread count is just one of many things to consider when purchasing cotton fabric for your next quilt project. The next article in this series, Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric, will be How to Identify Quality Quilt Fabric.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doing Your Own Thing

Maybe this should be entitled doing my own thing.  Whichever it is I highly encourage everyone to take the freedom to do what pleases them when it comes to creating and sewing.  For me it's finding that perfect  match of doing what comes to me and doing what makes others go "oooh and aaah."  Nonetheless, it's still self directed.

I like to work on designs for machine quilting that don't look cookie cutter.  I buy patterns and read the directions then never use the pattern but instead prefer to make it up as I go along (I learn by doing).  Sometimes I watch videos and walk away wondering why the presenter bothered then set about creating something completely different from what they did.

Maybe it's rebellion and maybe it's just me being me.  Regardless of which it is I encourage people to find their inspiration inside then go make happy sewing experiences for yourself.  You don't need Pinterest or magazines to show you how, let your spirit and talents guide you there.

Happy doing your own thing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Another Chance to Win

McCall's Quilting Fabric Giveaway Contest! 
Enter to win this wonderful pack of fat quarters from the Midwinter Reds collection by Minick & Simpson for Moda! Go to: http://www.mccallsquilting.com/mccallsquilting/articles/Midwinter_Reds_Fabric_Giveaway_Contest

Contest is open from October 1 through November 30, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from entries on December 2, 2013 and notified within 24 hours by email.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Don't Miss a Chance to Win A Quilt

Many of you know that I have a quilt that is being raffled off to support Mercy Covers in Costa Rica.  Help me help these wonderful women by making it possible for us to send sewing machines and supplies to them as they grown and learn to sew and support others.

Buy your raffle tickets at: https://www.youcaring.com/nonprofits/quilt-raffle-to-help-mercy-covers-help-others/87822

To learn more about Mercy Covers, visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/MercyCovers

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Announcing a Quilt Raffle to Benefit Mercy Covers

This quilt measures approx. 65" x 75"
Close-up of custom free hand longarm quilting
This one-of-kind quilt has been created for the purpose of raising money for Mercy Covers, an organization started by the St. Bryce Foundation, a non-profit group. The quilt is being raffled as a means to raise money to send sewing machines, fabric, supplies and other needs to the women who are working with Mercy Covers to create sustainable goods such as quilts for the needy and crafts that can be sold as a way these women can support themselves while learning a useful and self-supporting trade in sewing. Shipping even fully donated goods to Costa Rica is astoundingly expensive.

Colleen Connell Mitchell, the founder of Mercy Covers, has created a network of missionaries willing to bring supplies to the organization but it takes money to ship these items to those travelling to Costa Rica. It also take money to repair and make ready machines and other tools that are donated. That is where the quilt comes in. We are working toward raising $5,000 to take us through the next few shipments of goods to Mercy Covers.

Raffle tickets come from your donations. They are $5 for 1 ticket; 3 for $14; 5 for $24; 6 for $28; 8 for $37; 11 for $50; 17 for $75; and 25 for $100. All entries will be entered into the raffle and the prize winner will be drawn on December 31, 2013. Upon verification of winner the quilt will be shipped no later than January 6, 2014. The quilt is valued at $400. Shipping of the quilt to the winner will be free of charge.

To learn more about Mercy Covers, visit their FaceBook page at https://www.facebook.com/MercyCovers

Counting Blessings

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this is truly a month we Americans count our blessings.  I keep thinking of all the things I am grateful for:  an incredible family, wonderful friends, a good job, a nice place to live and freedom.  We often don't take the time to sit back and "count our blessings."  As we move through the month I challenge each reader of my blog to find one thing you are grateful for each day through the rest of the month.  If you have the ability to read this blog it's a guarantee that you have many, many blessings in your life.  Count as many as you can find!!  You don't have to be American to be blessed.  It happens around the world.

On a creative note, I am thankful for my ability to create, sew and make QUILTS.  Bringing joy to others is so rewarding and truly a blessing!!

Happy month of blessings and thanksgiving to each of you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Selecting the Right Sewing Machine Needle for Your Project

Selecting the right sewing machine needle for your project is just as important as selecting the fabric.  There are different sizes and types of needles for different types of fabric. The European metric sizing system for sewing machine needles is numbered from 60 to 110 and the American sizing system is numbered from 8 to 18. Regardless of which system you are using the lower the number the finer the needle and the higher the number the larger the needle. 
Typically the lighter the fabric the smaller the needle size and the heavier the fabric the larger the needle size. The thread you use will also determine the type of needle you choose--a fine, delicate thread would require a smaller needle size.
Fabric Type                                               Machine Needle Type           Machine Needle Size
Sheer to lightweight                                       Regular Point                           9/70 or 11/80
Lightweight                                                   Regular Point                           11/80
Medium-weight                                              Regular Point                          14/90
Medium to Heavy-weight                                Regular Point                          16/100 or 18/110
Denim and Canvas                                        Denim/Jeans                           16/100
Sheer to Lightweight Knits                             Ball Point                                10/70 or 12/80
Medium to Heavy-weight Knits                       Ball Point                                14/90
Specialty Fabrics (Leather, Suede)                Wedge Point                            14/90 or 16/100
Quilting Needles                                          Slightly rounded                        11/75,12/80, 4/90

Using the wrong needle on the right fabric type can have devastating results on your project. You may see skipped stitching, poor tension, and pulling of threads just to name a few of the issues that may result.  For your quilting projects 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Announcing An Upcoming Raffle of a Quilt Orchard Quilt

Lily is designed by Jillian Grant for The Quilt Orchard
Great news!  This quilt will soon be available for an online raffle to raise money for Mercy Covers, an organization in Costa Rica that is working with indigenous women to teach them sewing skills.  They are making quilts and other products to give to other needy people as well as learn skills to grow their own ability to support themselves.  Sewing is a skill that can be vital in helping women support themselves and their families.  We are working toward gaining more funds to help ship supplies and sewing machines for this effort.  Watch for more news to come.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday Is Here Again


Another fabulous fabric giveaway.  Enter to have a chance to win a gift certificate for $40
They are generously giving away a gift certificate for $40 to Southern Fabric.  You must enter through the blog link listed below:  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Family That Sews Together

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Illinois.  My cousin got married for the first time, and he's 50+. Better late than never.  Congratulations to Brian and Beth Graham.  I know your union will bring you many blessings.

In the meantime the women of our family are all planning a sewing retreat yet this month where we have hired a meeting hall for two days.  We women and the young girls are all going to sew together.  The goal is to bring our current quilt project or anything else we want to work on and we will sew away.  What a good way for we women to enjoy one another.  Of course, we have decided the men will cook for us and deliver the food.  Now how's that for a good way to enjoy time together.  We will also be honoring our matriarch, Alma Dye Grant, my salt-of-the-earth grandmother.  She was a quilter and a sewer and she has handed down the gene to  we "girls."  We can hope this will become an annual event.

Happy beginning of the month of Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for my family, friends, a great job, and the talents bestowed on me to create.

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Giveaways--From McCalls Quilting

When we reach 50,000 fans, we'll be giving away this gorgeous fat quarter pack of 40 fabrics from the Avalon collection by Fig Tree & Co for Moda.

Go to: https://www.facebook.com/McCallsQuilting to see details

Watch & Win Contest 
Each of the FREE Surf & Sand Quilt Along episodes features a word of the week—click here to enter to win! Contest is open from October 25 through November 24, 2013. Three random winners will be selected November 25, 2013, and notified by email.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Happy Halloween

Hope all my readers are having a fun-filled Halloween.  Mine has been spent sewing and studying...my next quilt design.  There's nothing like an evening of sewing to brighten up any holiday, is there?!

If you bagged a bunch of candy or have a lot left over from the ghosties and goblins at your door, please eat responsibility.  Always keep a little of the good stuff set aside to mix with the candy you don't like so you can savor the experience.


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Another Chance to Win Stuff

Quilt Trends Giveaway

Fabric giveaway!

Enter for a chance to win 12 fat quarters from Benartex's Floral Philosophy collection (the same fabrics used for the Moonflower quilt in our Fall 2013 issue), a truly elegant group of contemporary florals, paisleys, vines, and stripes in a vibrant deep fuchsia/teal color combination.
Enter by November 8th, 2013. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Aqua Velva has arrived!

Aqua Velva went for her unveiling and preliminary check-up today with Dr. Shawn at Shawn's Center Center here in Springfield, MO.  The initial prognosis is that she's a healthy girl in good shape for her age.  She just needs a new leather belt and a bit of oil to spruce her up.  Thanks Dr. Shawn for verifying that my girl Aqua Velva is a good match for me and fit for the final adoption.  I'm pretty proud of her and will start looking into her history very soon.  

Isn't she beautiful!!!