Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Spotlight Interview with ............. Chix That Stitch

Chix That Stitch allows you to create your own individuality 

I met Judy Levine, owner of Chix That Stitch, at the Batavia Quilt Show where our booths were across from each other. I was thrilled when she agreed to do an interview for my blog about her fun and unique handmade items.  

I bought one of those great Peace-Sign tops and a fabulous infinity scarf! Love them =)

How did you come up with the fabulous name “Chix That Stitch”? How many and who are the other Chix? 
In December 2010, I spent the holidays with my aunt who resides in Providence, RI. As a photographer, she had a picture of a chicken she had photographed above her bed. The name fell into place when I was taught how to knit my first felted bag. Today, I am the only Chix doing the stitching. 

What inspired you to start Chix That Stitch? Was it a long process to get your shop from idea to reality or did it happen quickly?
Chix That Stitch happened quickly. After my first felted purse was completed, I began to create my own designs without patterns. I was not working, and I always had a desire to start my own boutique. It all fell into place, and 3 months later I was participating in my first show. 
First Felted Purse

I could be wrong but it seems to me your items appeal to all age groups, what would you say is your niche?
I do make my items to all age groups. I create my items so Chix ladies can create their own individuality. Just the other day, I had a 7 year old, with her own money, purchase a scarf. Two weeks prior, a middle aged woman had purchased a similar scarf. My items are based on the concept of Chix That Stitch items allow you to create your own individuality. No two handmade pieces are alike. There’s no right or wrong way to wear a Chix item; it’s how you want to wear it. 


Tell us about the items that you make and sell…and if you’re willing to share, how DO you get those peace signs on the shirts!?
I design and create felted purses, fingerless gloves, scarves, ponchos, t-shirts and camis, iPad holders, glasses holders and one of a kind pieces of jewelry. In addition, for summer 2013 I introduced a line of wire wrapped bubble wands and bubbles for kids of all ages.

The peace signs and flowers are created with a “special” Chix mixture to get an ombre effect on the design. No two shirts are exactly alike. “Special” is the secret, but I can tell you to create a t-shirt takes 2 days per shirt or cami due to the entire process. 

(I personally LOVE these--Karen)

What about your process is unique to others in your specialty?
My process is unique as I don’t use a pattern when I knit. I might see a pattern I like, but in the end I always will put my own spin on my design. The pattern is a guide, but a Chix piece is one of a kind. It can never be duplicated. This is why I love my tagline “Chix That Stitch allows you to create your own individuality”.

In addition, for my other products, I will see a design concept I really like, and I will build my items around it. I never duplicate someone else’s work as it allows me to set myself apart from the norm. I also have a crafting partner, Donna Manley of Literary Alterations, who is extraordinary in guiding me along the way when I see something I am interested in creating. Her extraordinary crafting skills have allowed me to use her as my crafting coach. She is the creative side while I am the operational side. If she thinks my idea is not a winner, she tells me upfront. We collaborate on a lot of ideas, and in the end she makes me a better, well rounded, creative artist. 

Do you have a particular piece of which you are most proud?
My first felted messenger bag is the piece I am most proud. It was such an accomplishment to see I was capable of knitting and designing something functional. The greatest reward came when I attended my first summer show in July 2010, and a 13 year old girl told her mom, “I have to have this bag!” I was extremely flattered by the fact this young lady found my bag to be something she wanted. I am so honored when someone purchases a Chix item as they love something I made. That in itself is a proud moment each and every time.

What has been your favorite part of running your shop so far?
The opportunities are endless, and I am reaffirmed I am a good designer when someone tells me, “I love your stuff! I can’t decide which item to get.” I’m a people person. I enjoy the interactions, and I have been very fortunate to meet a lot of extraordinary people. 
Fabulous Hats
Besides making the wonderful items you sell, what else do you do in life?          
I created and moderate a Facebook group Etsy Chicago. It’s a small intimate networking group of women who have their own Etsy shops and/or creative business. I love the group as it gives me an opportunity to meet new people who are experiencing similar situations. The group also provides information to shows, business propositions and best practices.

I also manage the social media for Living Kidney Donor Network. The nonprofit was started by Harvey Mysel a two time kidney recipient. His goal was to get the word out about becoming a living donor. In 3 years, we have gone from 300 friends to 5,100 friends. I engage the members with questions, share information, and recognize those who have donated a kidney or received a kidney.
In addition, I have the love of my life Foster. Foster is an 8 year old black lab mix. She loves having her mom work from home. 

Judy Levine--owner Chix That Stitch

What are your goals for Chix That Stitch?
I would love to get my products in to more boutiques. Currently, I have products in Pzazz Gifts in Woodstock.  

In addition, with the recent addition of themed jewelry, including a make your own necklace charm bar and pocket watches, my goal is to expand into the home party and fundraiser sectors.

A lot of women do not have the time to get to a craft show due to commitments. The idea of getting your group of friends together, creating your own individuality with your jewelry piece and enjoying “me” time is the concept.

The fundraiser sector is rewarding as I love giving back to the community. Bringing people together to make a difference to someone and/or a group of people while having fun doing it is an area I would like to develop and grow to help others. 

Would you please share your website, blog, Facebook, Twitter, Etsy page, etc?

A big thank you to Judy for taking the time to be interviewed. Your work is wonderful and you are enthusiastic and inspiring. It was a pleasure to get to know you and I wish you all the best.  Karen

Thursday, July 25, 2013

2013 Online Summer Book Fair

Not only am I happy to have my book included in the 2013 Online Summer Book Fair, I'm thrilled to be featured in the video trailer.  (My book shows up about 47 seconds into the video).

The link below will take you to the page and then click the video to start playing.

2013 Online Summer Book Fair

As always, thanks for looking!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Recap of the Batavia Quilt Show

Wow--What a fun time at the Batavia Quilt show! 

I had the pleasure of meeting a talented and friendly group of women at the Batavia Quilt Show this past weekend where I reconnecting with some high school friends and had a GREAT visit with some of my quilter peeps!

Attendees viewed the fabulous quilt exhibit and then spilled over into the vendor mall, ready to chat and purchase quilting related items. It was a fun three days and I'm extremely happy with the results of my first attempt as a vendor.

Yep--that's my booth! I had a great location--it was the first booth as people entered or left the vendor area.

Close-up of my booth
Mundelein High School Friends Laurel and Sandy surprised me with a visit! 
Laurel Schultheis Karolczak, Karen, and Sandy Thomson Simonis

 ...And then there are my favorite peeps!
Winnie, Kathy, Karen, Moe, Geri, Gail--always fun to see you!

With my "New Best Friend" and coordinator of the show, Sherry. Thanks for all your hard work!

A peek at some of the quilty beauties in the show:
Don't you love this whimsical quilt? I might add it was very well done!

This was my personal show favorite...WOW! I might just have to make this sometime.

Go Blackhawks!

A lovely Americana look

The vendor mall was full of interesting shops and the booth owners were a friendly and fun group. We were kept busy with purchases and talk of all things quilts!

Judy Levine of CHIX THAT STITCH was a big hit at the quilt show selling her handmade items.

Colleen of HARVEST HOUSE QUILTING in Plainfield gave informative demos of "It's a Wrap".

 PRAIRIE SHOP QUILTS in Batavia is owned by Bonita Deering.

Quilter, Pattern Designer, and Quilt Restoration by Donna Langford, the owner of HEIRLOOM INDUSTRY.

PETALS AND BLOOMS of Crete, a fabulous shop, is owned by Pat Brackman.
This was so much fun I'm already looking forward to the next show!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


Come on out to Batavia and visit my booth this weekend

I've been a little quiet on the Blog front this past week as I've been preparing for my first "Vendor Appearance" with The Bunco Club. I will be at Batavia's Quilt and Textile Show: Threads from Past to Present at the Eastside Community Center, 14 N. Van Buren Street, Batavia, IL this weekend.

Of course my tendency for over-kill slipped into high gear as I started planning the visuals for my booth. Books, check; display stands, check; quilts to cover table, check; signage...this is where I went overboard as I started assembly on a quilted sign to use as an "anchor" for my booth. While it took way longer than I would have ever dreamed, I'm happy with the results and glad I did it!

Quilted sign for my Vendor Booth at the Batavia Quilt Show

Aside from my "eye-catching booth" there will be many fabulous things to see including a special display of quilts using historic Civil War Era patterns, Free Demos, concessions, a vendors hall, raffles, not to mention a lovely quilt show with 160+ contemporary and historical quilts on display.  I have no idea if this little marketing scheme of mine is going to work or be a bust, but I know that anything to do with quilters is always fun and I'm sure to be inspired by the 160+ quilts that will be on display!

Show Hours:
Friday 1 - 6 pm
Saturday 10 am - 5 pm
Sunday 10 am - 5 pm
Admission: $6.00 general / $5.00 seniors


Listen to Chapter 1 from the Audiobook of The Bunco Club!

The contract for the audio book has been signed and I am really and truly thrilled to be working with the talented narrator and producer, Amy Berger. I'm not going to blah, blah my way through this post--I'm just going to let you click on the audio below and listen to it yourself! 

Please leave a comment so Amy and I will know if we're on track (or simply check one of the "Reactions" at the end of the post)--you can be anonymous if you like. 

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Interview with Quilter Moe Baly

I’m very excited to start a new “Spotlight Feature” on my Blog where I hope to intermittently interview Authors, Quilters, Artists, Amazing Home Cooks, and People of Interest. 

Today is my first Blog Interview and I'm lucky to have it with a truly talented quilter, Maureen (Moe) Baly. I met Moe about ten years ago at a quilt retreat. She is an enthusiastic quilter and a master of woolen applique. I’ve always said that no one can be in the same room as Moe and not be smiling…hopefully you will feel that way after seeing her work. 

If you have enjoyed a peek at this talented woman’s quilts—please leave a comment for her or simply mark one of the “reactions” at the end of this post. 

Who or what started you on the path to quilting?
I learned to make French knots when I was 6 years old and have had a needle in my hand ever since. I started sewing polyester clothing in the 70s when my sister loaned me a sewing machine. Around 1984 I took a quilting class and then spent the next two years learning the basics of quilting. About 5 years later I attended my first quilt guild meeting where I was amazed and happy to find a room full of women who also loved to quilt!
Moe made the above quilt in memory of a friend who died from breast cancer in 1997. The squares are all from her friend's "stash".  Words about Lauretta's two year cancer experience run around the border of the quilt with words about her family and quilting in the body of the quilt.  . 

Do you have a favorite style of quilting?
Yes, I love to do wool applique by hand. I started in 1992 and realized I had found my niche! I do most of my hand sewing on my daily commute to and from work—I like to call it “Car Art” rather than Folk Art.

Do you own a longarm machine? If so what type and do you quilt tops for others?
Yes, I own a Handi-Quilter Sit-Down Quilting Machine http://www.handiquilter.com (see picture). I quilt for myself and my sisters.

Moe at her Handi-Quilter Quilt Machine

What type of sewing machine(s) do you have?
I started out hand piecing and hand quilting. Then my husband inherited a 1901 Marshall Field’s Treadle Machine which I used for 7 years. Finally in 1994 I purchased my Pfaff machine while in Paducah, Kentucky at the AQS Quilt Show. When the machine arrived, I was actually afraid to sew with it! My husband sat down with me and went through the manual page by page until I learned how to use it. I am still doing all my piecing work and sometime quilting on that same Pfaff which still purrs like a kitten.

Featuring Mary Englebreit's Fabrics

Do you belong to any guilds, groups, or organizations?
I’m a member of Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild (NSQG) and Heritage Quilters of South Holland Heritage Quilters of South Holland and attend monthly meetings. I belong to the BAQS group where we go on five day quilting retreats twice a year, and another group known as the LMNOPQ (Ladies Night Out for Piecing and Quilting) Bee.

Any tools you can't live without? 
I love pin cushions, I have quite a collection which I actually use, too! I love the applique pins by Clover, they have a small white head. Kwik KlipPin Basting Tool is a finger saver when pin basting a quilt. Fons & Porter's Thread Snips because they are neon colored so easy to find among the mess while I sew. Valdani Threads, size 8, are the most beautiful perle cotton threads out there; I love to see my thread work so that's why I use the thicker size 8s. I have my thread sorted in "thread garages", normally used to house little boy's toy cars, it's a perfect fit for my thread. Of course there are plenty of other gadgets I love to use, but those are what I can think of right off the top of my head.
One of Moe's "Thread Garages"

Do you have a blog, website, FB, Twitter, etc that you’d like to share?
My Blog is http://moequiltz.blogspot.com/

A Beautiful Red and White
A Quilt in Honor of P.D. the Pet Dog
Please share with us your favorite quilt shop(s).
Here are links to shops for wool supplies:

Primitive Gatherings Quilt Shop—A full service quilt shop specializing in hand-dyed wool www.primitivegatherings.us 

Wooly Lady-- an independent, artisan wool dye studio located in Eagle River, Wisconsin www.woolylady.com

Mary Flanagan’s Woolens—offers high quality woolens for textile crafts www.Mfwoolens.com

Wool, Wool, and More Wool

If there is anything you’d like to comment on about quilting, hand sewing, or anything else, please post here.
In 2005, I was Featured Artist at a Northwest Suburban Quilters Guild (NSQG) bi-annual quilt show. I was excited to share 65 hand-sewn wool creations and a dozen machine pieced and machine quilted quilts with the guild members. It was an honor that I’ll never forget.  
I’d also like to say that my sisters and all of my quilting friends are a great inspiration to my creativity, and that my husband is my biggest supporter.

Recently my queen-sized hand appliqu├ęd wool quilt, “My Wool Garden Expedition” (see photo) hung at the Quilt Expo in Madison Wisconsin, and also won ribbons at the NSQG quilt guild, and Heritage of South Suburbia Quilt Guild Show. This quilt was all hand sewn over 18 months in the car going to and from work every day (while my husband drove).    
My Wool Garden Expedition-Woolen Hand Applique and Prize Winner

Detail of My Wool Garden Expedition

Detail of My Wool Garden Expedition

Detail of My Wool Garden Expedition

Detail of My Wool Garden Expedition

Thank you, Moe, for the opportunity to share your story and beautiful work on my Blog.