As Spring days draw near, we find ourselves thinking more and more about bright colors, blooming flowers, and days filled with sunshine, punctuated with blue skies and warm breezes. Can’t you just picture it? One Room Schoolhouse by Brenda Ratliff for RJR Fabrics brings this image to mind. It is a collection that heralds the shift to Spring, featuring a lovely combination of bright blenders, florals, and text prints. Brenda’s coordinating thread collection features 12 stunning colors of our 50wt, selected for perfect piecing, binding, quilting, and appliqué. One Room Schoolhouse has us simply buzzing with project possibilities!
THREAD COLLECTION DETAILS
One Room Schoolhouse
12 Large Spools, 50wt (1422yds/spool), 100% Aurifil Cotton
1135 – 1147 – 1148 – 2135 – 2220 – 2225
2615 – 2625 – 2630 – 2887 – 4093 – 5006
To view this info on our website, click the images above. For purchasing, please contact your local Aurifil Dealer.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you first got started in the world of sewing and quilting?
I am definitely one of those lucky people who grew up with a sewing machine in my house. My mom made clothes for us when we were little and I was always around “crafty” things. I didn’t start sewing for myself until I was much older but I loved to cross stitch and my grandma taught me how to knit. After my son was born I had no job for the first time since I was 16. I dusted off my sewing machine and decided I was going to finally learn how to really sew. I was never really interested in quilting until I saw a friend of mine post her first quilt on Facebook. I was like, “wow! I’ve never seen a quilt like that before! It’s so cool!” It was modern and geometric. So different than the quilts I saw in antique shops or at our house that were all vintage. I learned everything I could about modern quilting after that!
Did you have another career prior to this one?
Before my quilting career I was in sales. I studied Sociology and Marketing in college. I worked a lot of waitressing jobs in school and then helped a friend run his small business. I learned a lot about how tough it is to own your own business and that sometimes even a good business doesn’t work out. I did mortgages for a while after that before being accepted into a business incubator in Detroit. I think I’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I spent a few years in the incubator working on some other businesses. But the things I learned there helped me to start a fabric store. I really wanted those modern fabrics that I saw in the quilts online but couldn’t find them locally or very easily at the time.
Do you remember the process of making your first quilt and how you felt once it was complete?
I’m sure I had no idea what I was doing when I made my first quilt. My seams were definitely not all 1/4” ! I started with a baby quilt and it ended up being more of a trapezoid than a rectangle. I was already addicted to quilting before the end. I’m pretty sure I had 2 more quilts ready to start at that point.
Who or what has been your greatest creative inspiration?
SO many people have inspired me over the years. The first designer that I loved was Tula Pink. I know I’m not the only one who loves Tula’s fabric. It’s just so cool. I love the hidden designs that she draws into the prints. And she just knows what to design. She knows it will work in a quilt because she has that same passion. And I think that translates into her fabrics. Back in the days of Google Reader I had over 200 quilting blogs that I read regularly. Now Instagram and Pinterest feed my inspiration these days. I also love everything that Carolyn Friedlander and Alison Glass have done. They are so talented!
How long have you been running Pink Castle Fabrics?
I can’t believe it’s been 6 years now that we have had Pink Castle. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago!
What do you love most about being an online shop owner?
I really love buying! Seeing all the fabrics and machines and threads and notions and then I get to pick what to carry in the shop. I can see things to make out of the fabric when I look at it. If I had unlimited sewing time… It’s really cool when I love a fabric and then my customers love it too.
How does your role as shop owner help to direct you within other areas, like designing, hosting retreats, etc.?
Being a shop owner really helps with designing fabric. I know what sells well in my shop and what doesn’t. I also hear what the customers who walk into the shop are asking for frequently. So if there’s something that folks ask for that just isn’t on the market, I can design something to fill that need. I’ve also learned a lot about the way fabric is designed and printed so it helps me as a shop owner to educate my customers.
It’s sort of the same with hosting the retreats. I can hear from customers what they liked and didn’t like about another retreat that they went to. Then I can customize our Stitchalot retreats to give the attendees the best experience! It also helps that I can supply kits and notions to the attendees as a shop owner. I can have a pop up shop with things like thread and extra needles to make it easy on the campers who might have used theirs up or forgotten them.
Pattern design too. It’s really invaluable to get that direct one on one feedback from the customer. As much as I might love something, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to sell or that customers are looking for it! Business is all about filling a need and I’m hoping to do that for my customers.
What inspired the creation of One Room Schoolhouse and what did you love most about putting the collection together?
Maybe the cold here in Michigan was getting to me when I was thinking about One Room Schoolhouse. I kept thinking about late Spring when choosing colors. I have a collection of vintage fabrics and I use them for a lot of inspiration for my fabrics. I love modern fabrics and colors but I also grew up learning to love the vintage quilts. The quilts from the 1930s and 1940s are so great, especially the quilts made with a lot of scrap fabrics. I draw a lot of inspiration from those designs when I’m thinking about the size of the prints. Like, “What would go well in this type of quilt pattern?” I want to take those vintage ideas and bring them up to date with new colors. I am always thinking about my collections try to make sure that the prints are ones that can be used with other fabrics. Really stash workhorse prints. It’s nice to have customers like your fabrics but it’s even better to see them using the fabrics and liking the way they work in the project.
Do you have a favorite project made with the fabrics & threads?
I use Aurifil 50wt in color #2024 for all my piecing. Every once in a while I mix it up and use color #2600 or #2021. The thread is thin and strong and I love having really flat quilt blocks. I really loved the Sunset Strip quilt that I made with the One Room Schoolhouse collection. It’s a really simple pattern and quick to put together but it looks so nice. It’s scrappy but the blue strips in between calm everything down.
What is your favorite quilting technique and why?
I love strip piecing. Anything that saves me time! I have to make quilts sometimes on a tight deadline so I am always trying to find the most efficient way to make a quilt. I’ve got quite a collection of Accuquilt dies to help make piecing faster as well. With strip piecing you do all the sewing in long lines and then subcut your blocks. It’s fast. Much faster and much less tedious than cutting out smaller pieces.
When did you first discover Aurifil threads and what do you love most about them
When I first started to get into quilting I went into a local quilt shop. They handed me a spool of Aurifil 50 wt and explained a little bit about the quality of the thread and why it matters. I really loved it. I was still a beginner but I could see that it was making a difference in my sewing. The blocks were laying more flat when I pressed and the thread wasn’t linting up my machine as much. Over the years I’ve learned about the different weights and when to use them and I’ve learned a lot more about the process of making thread and what things like “mercerization” mean. It really solidified my love for Aurifil. I know the care and quality put into the threads are going to help my quilts stay together over time.
Do you have a favorite color/weight and why?
#2024 50 wt! I have it on all the Janome machines on the floor at Pink Castle too! It just blends right in! I’ve even used the white color when I’m hand binding a quilt and you can barely see it. Even if the fabric color is really dark! I use the same color and weight for English Paper Piecing as well. I buy it in packs of 6 for my sewing room!
How did you go about selecting threads for your latest Aurifil collection?
I wanted to choose colors of threads that would blend in best for any hand binding, applique or quilting. The Aurifil color card is really handy for this. The colors from the collection blend in flawlessly!
What’s in store for 2017? Where can we find you throughout year?
Lots of new projects for this year! We have two Stitchalot retreats already scheduled (you can get tickets and info at Stitchalot.com), one in June and one in November. Those are always a highlight for me! I have a new black and white text fabric collection called Fine Print that will be shown at Spring Quilt Market in May (in shops July 2017) and I’m finishing up another collection for RJR that you can see hopefully this Fall!
I’m also a part of the Aurifil Design Team this year! I’m really excited about my block. I’m hoping to quilt along and make the whole rainbow of blocks. My month is August!
I’m working on another Sew Pro convention with my friend Sara Lawson and we hope to be announcing that in a few months. We had such a good time last year at our inaugural event!
Personally, I have a reading goal of one book a month. So far I’m ahead of my goal. I love to read and I’m glad that I’m making more time for it. I’ve also started taking Karate lessons this year. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m glad that I found a great Dojo in town. I’m feeling a lot better about myself now that I’m scheduling time to work out.
It’s a lot of great stuff but I love being busy! I’m sure I will make time for sewing too ! You can find me most days at Pink Castle Fabrics or on social media!
To enter-to-win 1 Large One Room Schoolhouse Thread Collection and one FQ Bundle of One Room Schoolhouse by Brenda Ratliff for RJR Fabrics, click here to head to the Rafflecopter entry page, or simply click on the image above. You do not have to complete all the options to be entered but the more options you choose, the more entries you have! Entries will be accepted from now through 11:59pm Eastern Time on Friday, March 10! Winner will be randomly selected and announced here on Saturday, March 11. Good luck!
Brenda Ratliff is the proud owner of Pink Castle Fabrics (www.pinkcastlefabrics.com). She also coordinates the popular Camp Stitchalot retreats (stitchalot.com), Sew Pro (sewproconvention.com) and designs fabrics for RJR. Keep up to date with Brenda at her blog www.justabitfrayed.com.