Maendeleo African Imports enlists the help of village women from Kenya and Tanzania to create their unique African fabrics. The mission of Maendeleo African Imports is to empower each female entrepreneur that they work with by creating an environment that fosters opportunity, progress and growth. When a customer purchases any of their items, they are directly supporting each and every woman Maendeleo African Imports works with to feed, clothe, shelter & educate these women and their families. Maendeleo African Imports has a strong sense of social responsibility and works year round to ensure that they are creating lasting opportunities for participating village women. All together, Maendeleo African Imports works with 111 groups of women to create their unique African fabric. Mary began Maendeleo African Imports as a request from her mother to start a business in Kenya where women could come together to make things by hand. It is a community event each time a group of women meet– everyone comes out to set up tables and offer support as the money earned helps the entire village. Women work in organized groups that manage the bookkeeping as well as the production of African fabrics. Working in Tanzania began when Mary met a woman selling papaya. That woman said that she didn’t want to sell papaya any more and asked Mary if she could help her do something else like make fabrics. Mary started out 17 years ago with that one woman and today, there are 100 women in Tanzania dying African fabric. The original woman has been able to buy her own small hut home with her earnings. All African fabric Maendeleo African Imports sells is “unique, handmade, and hand dyed by happy ladies.” The fabric mostly focuses on safari themes as that is what the women are most familiar with. Mary says that special designs can be requested like the horse patterns she sells. Cuts of fabric are made that fit the specific sizes that quilters need and use. Recently, Maendeleo African Imports expanded to Ghana and hired women to make hand woven and beaded traditional baskets to sell. Each basket s made from recycled material and takes about 10 hours to make. Maendeleo African Imports have been at Road to California for over 15 years and will be returning in 2019. To learn more about this innovative and life-altering company, please visit their Facebook Page. ]]>
How did he become such an authority on Singer Featherweight machines? By accident of course. Twenty-five years ago, Lloyd’s wife just wanted a Singer treadle machine for “decoration” for their home. As they hunted for the machine, Lloyd became “hooked” on the history and background of the industrial revolution and the early Singer machines. His interest than evolved in to a business which he started while still working in the corporate world. He has since retired from his corporate job but continues to maintain his Aspire business that includes a Featherweight Museum in his home in Anaheim, California. He has on display over 100 machines dating back to the 1850’s (pre-Civil War) as well as antique cabinets and other early Singer products.
Lloyd enjoys sharing the history of early sewing machines. He related how in the early 1850’s, there were four sewing machine manufacturers: Wheeler and Wilson, Grover and Baker, Howe, and Singer. They were all fighting over patent rights for their machines and ultimately joined forces to form a “patent pool,” creating a monopoly on sewing machine manufacturing. Ultimately, Singer rose to the top and after 1860, they had blown the competition out of the water by not only offering superior machines (they developed an assembly line process before Ford) but also new business concepts like trade-ins and payment plans. Lloyd said, “Their marketing was “incredible.”
The first Singer Featherweight machine was offered on October 3, 1933 during the Great Depression. It weighed 11 pounds and cost $125. Singer Featherweights were produced from 1933 until the late 1960’s. Lloyd often plans his vacations around getting Singer Featherweight “stuff.” He has traveled internationally to Paris, England, and Germany. In the States, he has the best luck in the New England States. Lloyd does not advertise his business nor does he have a website. Customers find out about him by word of mouth or when he has vendor booths at quilt shows like at Road to California. Because Lloyd doesn’t want “to leave my customers without service,” he currently has 2 apprentices that he is training including his grandson-in-law and his neighbor, Mario Ceballos aka “Mr. Featherweight.”
He also works with a painter who helps Lloyd customize Singer Featherweights to customers’ specifications like this beauty:
For collectors or anyone else interested in learning more about Singer Featherweight machines, Lloyd refers people to the International Sewing Machine Collectors Society, of which he is a member. He also likes to refer Featherweightshop.com in Idaho, a family owned business that is very knowledgeable.
Two publications that Lloyd has found that have invaluable information are A Capitalist Romance: Singer and the Sewing Machine
Lloyd says he “enjoys immensely” his fascination and business with Singer Featherweights, helping customers find and maintain this incredible machine that has the “perfect straight stitch” ever made. If you’re interested in Singer Featherweight machines, be sure to visit Lloyd in his Aspire booth at Road 2019.
Tags: Aspire, Featherweight, Featherweightshop.com, International Sewing Machine Collectors Society, Lloyd Askew, Road to California Quilt Show, Singer Featherweight
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Did you visit the “Happy Booth” at Road 2018?Sandy and Joe Fitzpatrick, owners of Hissyfitz Designs of North Carolina, says what sets them apart is that their unique applique designs are “so happy,” “whimsical,” and easy to do. The first question many customers ask Sandy and Joe is, “How did you come up with your company name?” Sandy shares that she grew up the youngest of five girls and had a lot of “hissy fits” growing up. Combine that with their last name, and that is how HIssyfitz was born. A quilter for over 20 years, when Sandy began creating her own quilt applique designs, they were quickly noticed – and requested – by members of her quilt guild. Her patterns became so popular that she began selling them at quilt shows. Sandy says that her goal today “is to get as many of the quirky designs, that are spinning around in her head, down on paper” to as many people as possible to enjoy. The Fitzpatrick’s have been married 41 years. A former Air Force soldier, Joe became the CEO (Carry Everything Out) of Hissyfitz when Sandy began selling her patterns at quilt shows. Road to California 2018 was Hissyfitz’s first time at the show. It was also the first time they had ever flown to a quilt show. Because they didn’t want them out of their sight, Sandy and Joe hand carried all of the quilts on display in their booth on the airplane. The quilts took up space in two carry-on luggage pieces and two back packs. The rest of their booth items (the business stuff) was packed in to four checked bags. Both Sandy and Joe had a terrific time at Road 2018. “The sunshine was great, the crowds were good, and the people were friendly.” One of their customers, Mackenna, remarked how because Hissyfitz had previously only been on the East Coast, she liked being introduced to their cute quilt applique patterns at Road. Road 2019 attendees will not only have the chance to visit the show’s “happiest booth “again but can look forward to taking a class from Sandy too. Her class schedule will be announced – along with all the other Road 2019 quilt show teachers – in mid-June, 2018. ]]>
While Kai Scissors are sold in stores, the company enjoys going to a quilt show like Road to California to meet with customers face to face. Jeff Belvill, Director at Kai Scissors, says that they always have an overwhelming response from consumers when they try out in person Kai’s line of scissors, knives, and beauty tools. What are Kai’s most popular quilting scissors? Their Professional 7000 series, especially the 7230. The 7230 is a 9-inch professional scissor, ideal for thicker, more difficult fabrics. Considered a light weight scissor, it is suited for people with smaller hands and is effective for any project. When at Road’s 2018 quilt show, Jeff offered these tips on how to care for your quilting scissors and keep them sharp for optimum use:
Sharpen the Blade all the Way to the TipAny reputable sharpener can sharpen your scissors safely.
Wipe Scissors DownUse a microfiber cloth to wipe the blades when you are done with each cutting project. Start from the underside, pinch and pull the cloth across the blade.
Use a Tip ProtectorWhen not in use, prevents ruining tips from accidental drops on the floor.
Never Run with ScissorsA safety tip that hopefully doesn’t any reminders. To learn more great quilting scissors information, visit the Kai website. Also, you can also listen to Jeff talk in depth about the History of Scissors on a recent podcast he recorded with YurView: ]]>
At Road 2018, the Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild created the beautiful quilt exhibit that rose above everyone’s heads as they entered the venue. The Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild was established in January, 2015 to bring together individuals who are passionate about modern quilting. Their goal is to inspire, educate and develop friendships and they continually strive to use their love of quilting to bridge the needs of our community. Guild Members were active participants with this year’s Quilts from the Ashes, the initiative created to support the Ventura Modern Quilt Guild’s efforts in supplying quilts to the survivor’s of the devastating Thomas Fire in Ventura County, California. Another philanthropy the guild supports is the Memory Pillow program. On the one year anniversary of the passing of a child, the guild makes a memory pillow which is customized to that child and which the hospital presents to the surviving family members. The Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild is also a member of the worldwide Modern Quilt Guild, founded in 2009 as an online community of modern quilters by one of Road 2018’s vendors, Latifah Saafir. Road 2018 was Latifah’s first time hosting a retail booth for her Latifah Saafir Studios. She really enjoyed being in front of customers and putting faces to names. Latifah also hosted a Special Exhibit, Expanding Traditions. One of the quilts included in the exhibit was Latifah’s first free motion quilt. Because it was her first quilt, there were a lot of mistakes. Latifah felt it was important to show this “not perfect” quilt because learning to quilt is a part of the quilting process. Thank you Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild and Expanding Traditions for sharing modern quilting with Road 2018 guests. ]]>
Tags: Latifah Saafir, Latifah Saafir Studios LLC, Long Beach Modern Quilt Guild, Modern Quilt Guild, Modern Quilts, Thomas Fire Quilts, Ventura Modern Quilt Guild
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Joyce Teng, owner of TSC Designs and 2018 Road to California Vendor and Teacher, says not to worry. She has spent the last 30 years developing tools and techniques to create your own, specially designed fabric. When creating your own fabric design, Joyce says you need to first consider 3 important elements:
What are you going to mix with your ink to get the effect you want
What are you going to use to apply your medium to the fabric
Medium: Joyce and TSC Designs sells and uses only one kind of ink: Tsukineko. A high quality ink that has been around for over 1,000 years, it is archive quality and child safe. Tsukineko inks come in a ton of colors and can be used on any fabric.
What is the most popular color ink Joyce uses and sells? Champagne Mist. Joyce says that it makes “all the colors shimmery.”
A bonus when using Tsukineko inks is that the fabrics don’t have to be pre-treated. Just follow the care labels on the fabric and heat set the ink when you are done. Her favorite fabric to use is White Kona Cotton.
Joyce touts to “Never use just ink alone.” As she says, “Play with it.” Experiment with mixing different colors together. Then, try different mediums to mix along with the ink to create different textures. Some of her favorites are rubbing alcohol and shaving cream.
With the rubbing alcohol, always use 90% Proof, spraying small amounts directly on the fabric before applying the ink to enhance the colors.
Shaving cream can be mixed with the ink and a little water to create a collage pattern. Joyce recommends the Barbasol brand. It is inexpensive and has “never” failed her.
Tools: Joyce and TSC Designs has a large line of brushes to help you get the look and texture you desire. For instance, she carries an alcohol brush that retains both ink and water together to create water color designs. A batik brush has bristles made from man-made leather to create a realistic batik-like overall background. TSC Designs also carries nine different shapes of marbeling tools to help you achieve the precise look you envisioned.
Other common tools can be found at your local Dollar Store like soft paint brushes. Sea sponges also add a nice texture. And Joyce reminds, “Don’t forget about your sewing machine’s brush!!”
Pattern: There are many sources of pattern designs: fabric, nature, textiles and stencils. As with the inks, Joyce encourages playing around with stencils: “Don’t use them as is.” To prevent bleeding when using stencils, apply shaving cream directly to fabric by dabbing it lightly before applying ink to the stencil.
Why does Joyce spend so much time developing new techniques? Because she firmly believes that everyone needs to “share their passion with the next generation. We have a responsibility to teach the next generation.” She wishes there were “48 hours in a day” to create all the new patterns she has in her mind to share.
To learn more about how to use ink, tools and patterns, you can use Joyce’s book (with a new edition coming out soon) or go to her website.
Bohin France has been a popular vendor at Road to California for several years.Founded in 1833, Bohin is France’s last manufacturer of needles and pins. The company’s high standards, knowledge, and experience, have made it a leader in its field. Authentic Murano glass used for their glass-head pins comes from Italy. In addition to needles and pins, Bohin also manufactures Dussaussay Gallier specialty scissors made from stainless steel. Recently, President and Chairman Didier Vrac, sold the company to Fabien Regnier and his wife, Audrey. This young, dynamic couple are thrilled to take on this new adventure and grow the company. Why would a 33-year-old banker and a 31-year-old employee at Bohin’s Museum want to buy the Bohin factory? Because they both love French products and wanted to promote a brand they were familiar with. They feel lucky to own a company that has such a good reputation with consumers. Since investing in Bohin at the end of December, 2017, Fabien and Audrey have poured all their energies into learning the business. They work from 8:30 AM until 6:00 PM every day and then put in an additional 1-2 hours each night. They confer often with Mr. Vrac who is staying on with the company until June, 2018. Fabien is responsible for the day to day details of the company. Audrey’s role is with communication and marketing, developing the brand. In addition to running their new business venture, Fabien and Audrey are also very busy with their young family. They have three sons, ages 4 years, 21 months and 9 months old!! Even though he had only owned the company for two weeks, it was important to Fabien to be at Road 2018. He wanted to talk to customers face-to-face and hear their comments, both good and bad, so that he can get to work on improving Bohin’s products and services. He had only been to California once before when he was a 15-year-old exchange student. Fabien really enjoyed meeting people as he worked in the Bohin booth. At the end of the four days, he felt Road was “a very good first show for me.” Fabien said he will definitely be bringing Bohin back to Road in 2019. What does Fabien see for the future of Bohin? He is looking forward to improving their current line and adding innovative products based on their customer input. We wish Fabien and Audrey Regnier the best of luck as the new owners of Bohin France. ]]>
Marie also has a strong love for America. It stems from her father’s experience of meeting a U.S. soldier during World War II. Her father was just 13 years old, living in South Africa. The soldier gave her father a ring to remember him and America by. Knowing the story, Marie had wanted to come to the U.S. ever since she was a little girl. In all, she has visited America 20 times. Quilt Market in October, 2017 was Marie-Claude’s first foray into the United States retail quilting community. After that successful show, she sent her fabrics and quilts back to France. Then, she found out six weeks before Road to California, that a booth was available. It would have been too expensive to ship everything back to the States, so she had to become creative in introducing her product line at the show. That’s when she came up with the idea to have miniature versions of her projects, packaging them in small wooden boxes. Her clever idea soon proved extremely popular and was a real hit with conference goers. Marie personally made everything in her booth. All of the materials contained in the Les Secrets de Marie boxes featured French artisans and French products. In addition to her business selling and showing French Farmhouse quilts and designs, Marie also organizes tours for French quilters. Her first book, French Farmhouse-Quilts with Rustic Simplicity, will be available from Martingale Press in May, 2018. Marie thoroughly enjoyed her time at Road 2018 and thought the experience was “just wonderful.” ]]>