Thursday, September 13, 2018

Got Jelly Rolls? Get Stitching!

Somehow, quilters have a reputation for loving sweet treats (especially chocolate) so it’s probably not surprising that many quilty pre-cuts are named for baked goods, such as layer cakes, turnovers and the well-known jelly rolls. And because Saturday, Sept. 15 is National Sew a Jelly Roll Day, well, we thought you might enjoy knowing the back story.

Jelly Roll Fun Facts
Jelly rolls are a creation of Moda Fabrics, and were “born” in September 2006 in Dallas. This roll of 2 ½” x 45” strips usually contains 40 prints from a single fabric collection, and many say it launched the pre-cut revolution in quilting. Jelly rolls are just one of many pre-cut “sweets” Moda offers; the others include 10” square layer cakes, and 2 ½” square “candy.”  Most fabric manufacturers have followed suit, and have their own line of named pre-cuts, but Jelly Roll is a registered trademark of Moda. Here are a few more facts and tips: 
  • There are about 140 feet of fabric in one jelly roll.
  •  38 jelly rolls end-to-end measure nearly one mile.
  • Leftover jelly roll strips are perfect for English Paper Piecing, string quilts and bindings.
  • Pre-washing is definitely not recommended.
  • Use a sticky lint roller over the raw edge sides of a jelly roll before unrolling it to minimize lint
  •  Pressing with steam and spray starch can help realign fibers in the strips and get them sew-ready.
Sounds like an ideal pre-cut, right? Here’s the thing, though: People often treat jelly rolls as jewels and they sit on a shelf, their strips tightly furled, because people can’t bear to open them. Just. Too. Cute. So Moda decreed National Sew A Jelly Roll Day would be on the third Saturday in September every year, and give people a reason to be brave, untie that jelly roll, and just make something already!
Get Ready to Rumble!
Hip Stitch is participating in all the jelly roll frivolity with a Jelly Roll Race class taught by Bralia Mease at 1:30 pm on Saturday, Sept. 15. (Sign up HERE.) Everybody should do this, at least once! In a timed sewing session, you’ll sew the strips end-to-end, and then lengthwise to eventually form a quickie quilt top that usually takes about 2 ½ hours to stitch. Rumor has it Bralia is bringing real jelly roll treats , plus a prize for the first one to finish.

Of course there are tons of other jelly-roll “recipes” for fun quilts and projects, including in many books and magazines on sale at Hip Stitch. Moda Bake Shop is a website dedicated to free patterns and project ideas for using pre-cuts of any size/shape. And we can’t forget the latest Jelly Roll project craze--Jelly Roll rugs! We’ve had several classes on these and more are planned.(For details, go HERE.) Hip Stitch teacher Cindy Bruner calls these uber-popular rugs the “Cabbage Patch Dolls” of the quilting world. 

So, whether you join in the group Jelly Roll Race fun this Saturday, or choose another project, just unroll one of these babies and let the creative fun begin!

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Defining 'Modern Southwest'

How do you define “modern southwest?”

It can be a line of fabrics, reworked traditional motifs, timeless-yet- fresh color palettes…and so much more. At Hip Stitch, we define “modern southwest” in many ways, including our shelves full of fabric with kitschy and cutting-edge Southwest, Native American and Dia de Los Muertos prints. (Did you know we have the biggest collection of Dia de Los Muertos prints in Albuquerque? Yep. We love our little sugar skulls...)

At Hip Stitch, "modern southwest" is also about connecting with the natural world in New Mexico, with our local mix of traditions and cultures, with bright colors and bold designs. And it’s about the satisfaction of working creatively and helping others tap into their inner artist. Today, we’re sharing the first in an occasional series of mini profiles about our Hip Stitch staff, the real jewels in our modern southwest collection.  

modern southwest: Claudia Reyes   

Claudia has been in the U.S. more than 25 years, but she was born in Mexico and lived there the first half of her life. She is a lifelong creative, doing “all kinds of artsy fartsy stuff,” she says, including ceramics, silk printing and stained glass. She earned her B.A. in Visual Arts and had the rare privilege of working for a time at the Museum of Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico City. It was a one-year professional development requirement for her degree, but it was thrilling! She and other students catalogued photographs and other works by Rivera, Kahlo and other surrealist painters and photographers of the time, and assembled archives.  (“I touched photos and paintings that had not been on exhibition before,” she marvels.) After earning her degree, she owned a stained glass shop and studio in Mexico City, designing and making stained glass and etched glass creations. Quilting, in fact, reminds her of stained glass because you cut and assemble pieces, choosing colors that will pop, but not really quite knowing what the final composition will really look like until you’re finished.
profession: 4th/5th grade bilingual teacher in Albuquerque Public Schools
hobbies: quilting, sewing and cooking. (“Cooking is number 1! I love to eat food…that’s my hobby!”)
fave fabric style/color: modern prints, Kaffe Fassett
local food love: “Definitely I love green chile! I’m a foodie.”
known for: Her brutal honesty and sense of humor.
Hip Stitch claim to fame: Claudia loves helping teach the kids’ summer sewing camps. During the school year, she works the front counter on various Saturdays. and Sundays.
life goal: To have a big sewing room with lots of windows! And a mid-arm.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

It’s Metro Quilt Stroll Time, Baby!

UPDATE: The earlier posted version of this gave incorrect dates for the Metro Shop Stroll. The event is Aug. 17 and 18. We apologize for being so excited that we mis-read the calendar. 

Where are the pumpkin spice lattes? Fall is right around the corner, yes?

Well, in New Mexico, it’s not exactly right around the corner. However, it’s close enough that we can all dream about falling leaves and sweaters with actual sleeves. And we can celebrate this upcoming delicious season with this weekend’s Metro Quilt Stroll, Aug. 17 and 18.

For the uninitiated, the annual Metro Quilt Stroll brings together five shops in Moriarty, Albuquerque and Corrales into one great event. Our fellow participating shops are The Quilt Works, Quilts Ole, Busy Bee Quilt Shop and Southwest Decoratives. Each shop creates a thematic block—this year, the theme is Autumn Harvest—and then each shop creates a quilt using all the shops' blocks. Got it? Our block was designed by Hip Stitch staffer Beth Trujillo, and it draws on two key colors in New Mexico’s autumn landscapes.

Hip Stitch's Metro Shop Stroll 2018 block, designed by Beth Trujillo
“My inspiration was when the leaves start turning in the fall in New Mexico. The mountain become a beautiful gold color from the aspens and the sky is still a crisp bright blue,” says Beth.

Beth’s aspen block becomes the centerpiece of our Metro Quilt Stroll quilt, which she also designed, surrounded by the blocks from the other participating shops: 
Hip Stitch's Metro Shop Stroll quilt, featuring blocks from all participating shops. Designed by
Beth Trujillo and quilted by Tisha Cavanaugh of Quilt Icing.
And you, too, can make our block and this quilt! In fact, you can make every shop’s block or quilt. Block kits and finishing kits for our creation will be available at Hip Stitch all weekend, beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, and you’ll find the other shops’ block kits at their stores.

But wait, there’s more! The Metro Quilt Stroll includes free patterns, demos and lots of door prizes at each shop. “Strollers” also have a chance to earn more loot. Get your “passport” stamped at each participating shop, and you’ll be entered for yet more prize drawings.

See you this weekend! (We’ll be the ones wearing sweaters….just kidding!)

P.S. Here’s our fave crockpot recipe for pumpkin spice lattes. You’re welcome!
Crockpot Pumpkin Spice Lattes
8 tablespoons pumpkin puree
8 tablespoons vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
8 whole cinnamon sticks (or more cinnamon)
4 cups strongly brewed coffee
6 cups milk (at least 2%)
8 tablespoons sugar
Whipped cream (optional, but who passes this up??)

Combine the milk and coffee, and pour into the crockpot. Whip together the other ingredients (minus the cinnamon sticks and whipping cream) and pour into the crockpot. Mix together well. Cover and cook on high for 2 hours. Meanwhile, whip and lightly sweeten cream into soft peaks. Ladle coffee mixture into mugs. Generously dollop whipped cream on top, and add a cinnamon stick or a sprinkle of ground cinnamon for extra flavor.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Art Quilts Tell Fiber Art 'Stories'

Cottonwood by Gale Oppenheim is one of the art quilts that will be on
 exhibit Aug. 3 at Hip Stitch, as part of the ARTSCrawl program. 

Using color, shapes, textiles and surface treatments, art quilts express a diverse range of emotions, opinions and stories. See some of those art quilt “stories” in a display from 5 pm to 8 pm on Friday, Aug. 3, at Hip Stitch, 2320 Wisconsin NE, as part of the ARTSCrawl program. The art quilts were created by members of the local Studio Art Quilt Associates (SAQA) chapter, and include selections from the recent SAQA show, Life Along the Rio Grande.

Bird land by Lynn  Welsch

Oasis by Ginny McVickar

Art quilts emerged from the chaotic 1960s and 70s, as young people rebelled against mainstream industrial culture. They share a connection with folk art quilts and modern art, using a wide range of visual arts techniques and media to explore ideas and visions. SAQA is a non-profit, worldwide organization founded in 1989 to be a source of information on art quilts and the artists who create them. Learn more at Some works on display are available for sale. Refreshments will be served.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Last Chance! (Really!)

If you had daydreams about adding some great quilting fabric to your stash at summer clearance prices, then it’s time to WAKE UP! This weekend is your last chance to grab some premium Hip Stitch yardage, tools, patterns and books at 25%, 50% and even 75% off!

Final markdowns in our Semi-Annual Clearance Sale will be posted on Friday, July 27 (that’s tomorrow). If you shopped the sale earlier this month, you might want to take a second look. Fabrics are being added daily, and we’re deepening the discounts, so maybe this is your chance to pick up some backing fabric for, oh, next to nothing.

Can we name-drop a little? The clearance includes fabric by Art Gallery, Alexander Henry, Andover Blank, Cotton + Steel, Free Spirit, Ink & Arrow, Frond, Moda, Marcus, Quilting Treasures, Red Rooster, Studio E, Windham and more!

Here’s the main message, though: Buy the clearance fabric you love now. It may still be available later, such as some of our regional prints, but it won’t ever be at these prices again.

See ya soon!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Your. Lucky. Day.

Friday the 13th is no longer an unlucky day for the superstitious or a classic slasher movie. (Sorry, Jason!) It’s THE day we launch our Semi-Annual Clearance Sale at Hip Stitch!

Beginning July 13, selected fabrics, patterns, books and sewing machines are all on sale—from 25% to 75% off! It’s unprecedented and unmatched.

Now, there are sales and then there are SALES. Grunges, solids, batiks, designer fabrics from major names like Tula Pink, Victoria Findlay Wolfe, Latifah Safir and more.


You count on Hip Stitch to bring you the freshest fabrics and latest designs. And we’ll do what it takes to deliver on that promise. That means we will not be undersold -- this inventory must be turned into cash to keep up our forward momentum and keep the best and newest fabrics coming in the door. 

We've hinted a couple of times already in our Hip Stitch newsletters about the amazing depth and variety of goods that are marked down. And in just a few hours, you can see the bounty for yourself. This is the sale to wait for.

See you Friday!

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Hip Stitch Turns 10; Here’s the Backstory!

Never underestimate PTA moms.
Suzanne Kelly with her mother, Pat Kauffman, on opening day in 2008.

They can do just about anything. Such as open a sewing-related business that has weathered the marketplace storms over 10 years to become one of Albuquerque’s most popular spots for fabric, fiber art, sewing know-how and creative inspiration.

That’s how Hip Stitch happened. Ten years ago, the buzz phrase in the DIY world was “sewing lounge,” as in a place where (mostly young) people could come together and sew, use a machine and/or iron if they did not own one, maybe take a few classes. 

Albuquerque mom Suzanne Kelly and her friends Jen Dean and Heather Gordon—all PTA-ers—decided to capitalize on this groundswell of interest and open a sewing lounge/fabric store.

“I’ve always had a love of sewing,” says Suzanne. “I was a stay-at-home mom with two young daughters and wanted to work again, but use my creativity. We wanted to fill a void by opening a sewing lounge for Albuquerque.”

Opening day was July 7, 2008, and boy have things changed! Shelves were stocked with about 50 bolts of fabric that first day; now, Hip Stitch has about 3,000 bolts, including the area’s freshest, most fashionable fabrics for quilting and sewing. We're also the area's premier provider of Southwest and regional fabrics such as Frida Kahlo, Dia de los Muertos and Route 66 prints, and the ever-popular balloon and chile pepper prints. The shop also has the state’s largest collection of Grunge near-solids.

Heather and Jen each moved on to other 
The original Hip Stitch sewing lounge, circa 2008
business activities, and current co-partner Steve Hamlin joined the team in 2014. Fueled by a seven-day sales week, bigger inventory and an ever-growing customer community, Hip Stitch relocated in 2017 to its location at 2320 Wisconsin NE. It is a part of the local Shop Stroll each August, which attracts thousands of stitchers, and it’s a regular stop for families who flock to Albuquerque for local Native American ceremonial dances.
Designer Jen Fox, who lives in Albuquerque, shared her interior design skills to help develop ideas for the build-out at the 2320 Wisconsin NE location.

Suzanne, far left standing, and Steve Hamlin, center standing, gathered with Hip Stitch staff and friends to discuss plans  for the new location.
Co-owner Steve Hamlin and staffer Susan Fahkrai answer questions about construction plans.

The new digs seemed cavernous when Hip Stitch staffers met there in late 2016 to see the space and hear about build-out plans. Now, use of its 3,000 square feet of selling floor and class lounge is a crazy dance as the staff juggles multiple classes, events, meetings of community fiber arts groups and the various fabric collections, with more new prints coming in every week.  
Steve and Suzanne on opening day at the 2320 Wisconsin St NE location. (P.S. Those blades really cut!)

There are many unforgettable stories or people in Hip Stitch’s first 10 years.  Suzanne remembers one customer in particular.

“Tom was the most unlikely typical customer,” Suzanne recalls. “He had lived a hard life, battled heroin addiction, but he had the sweetest demeanor and wanted to learn to sew a hat.”

So she taught him.

“That grew into a friendship where he'd come to the lounge and sew a little, then sit in an armchair and fall asleep for a bit.  When I heard of his death, it was like I had lost a sibling.  I still have the funny homemade Christmas card he gave me one year, made out of a paper grocery sack,” she says.

There were more than a few challenges along the way, too! Such as the original location, where the rapidly expanding inventory gobbled up space.

In the old location, there was a wall that separated the lounge from the sales floor. When fabric bolts reached critical mass, that wall came tumbling down. It created much needed display space, but it meant classes—
and privacy—went on hiatus.

“There was no office space, no classroom, and towards the end of our time there—and before we found our current location--I would have some stressful days trying to get back-office work down with no back office!” Suzanne says.

At a time when quilt shops nationwide are frankly struggling to compete against on-line shops, shop owner retirement, changes in stitcher buying habits and changes in the fabric manufacturing economy that feeds inspiration and yard goods to the creative stitching world, Hip Stitch is bucking the trend. And community is the key.

Hip Stitch staffers--including Suzanne's daughters Jane and Claire, who have grown up working behind the shop counter--have played a huge part of building that community. All told, the staff and teachers have more than 300 years of sewing/quilting experience, but it's how they interact with the sewing public that has made the difference.

“Customer service has always been my number one priority - providing a warm, nurturing atmosphere to create,” says Suzanne.

“It's not about how many bolts we have, or how experienced we all are.  If we at Hip Stitch don't provide a great shopping experience, I've failed at what I set out to do. And nothing beats face-to-face service and a fun atmosphere where we gather as a community with our shared passion.”
It sounds trite, she continues, but there’s more that connects the Hip Stitch community than mere fabric or thread.

“I've cried with customers who've lost spouses, who've gone through divorces, who have battled life threatening illness.  I've cried happy tears with customers who have new babies in their lives, who've beat life-threatening illnesses, who've found love.  This has been a wonderful journey.”