Pink Castle Blog

My First Camp Stitchalot

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Jul 14, 2014 2:57:00 PM

A guest post by Jacqueline Sava, Director of Possibilities for Soak. 

It started over a Soakbox manicure, as it often does. Whitney (of Pink Castle) was having a manicure in our booth at Quilt Market, the tradeshow for all things quilting, and she kept saying, “Brenda will be over soon, we have to have these products”. Fast forward a few days and a few emails and Brenda had invited me to bring my manicure station and a case of Flatter to Camp Stitchalot

I was excited to wake up early and head to camp Saturday morning. I came for the weekend and the drive to Michigan (from Toronto) was easy.

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Arriving at Camp!


When I arrived, there were a few early risers mulling about and the sewing room filled slowly as others woke up. Flatter bottles were scattered around the ironing stations and sewing machines were whizzing along. I was particularly pleased to see that not only were Flatter bottles on the ironing stations but a few campers had also brought their own personal stash. 
I was equally pleased to meet the many campers who prepped their hands for early morning manicure. Now that’s planning! 

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
A perfect manicure


Highlights from the weekend included meeting new people, sharing new products and of course, enjoying a sunny weekend in the country. Okay, well, it rained Sunday morning, but it was sunny inside.
Fun things happen both when you participate in an event (exploring the Accuquilt cutter) and when you observe (checking out peoples projects) and I did both over the weekend. Learning how Katy plans the colorways for her new magazine, Quilt Now, over breakfast was indeed a treat. Watching Tula show ribbon strike offs and listening as she talked about what worked and what didn't in tests was fascinating. It’s not often that we get glimpses into the production of magazines and ribbon. 

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Playing with the Accuquilt


Moving throughout the space, from table to table, I learned about paper piecing, paper piecing templates, handstitching, fussy cutting, apparel, knitwear, and saw everyone’s great Sew Together Bag projects which were created Friday night, led by Kristi of Schnitzel And Boo.  And I really enjoyed watching what projects the guest designers brought to work on. Katy worked on a great project with the new Cotton and Steel fabric and John Adams completed a stunning king-size quilt top. Meanwhile,Tula was hand-stitching her way from room to room.
I'm pretty excited that between manicures and talking about Flatter I was able to get a little sewing time in for myself. That doesn't happen too often so it's a real treat. I worked on the back of my Liberty quilt, inspired by Tula’s Modern Alphabet

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Finished quilts on display


An array of finished quilts accumulated over the weekend, above the kitchen on the mezzanine. Apparently this is a typical occurrence but it was new and exciting to me. 
I really enjoyed the late-night conversations that took place when people decided it was too late to sew, or switched to hand-sewing/stitching projects and comfy sofas. I personally have a ‘no rotary cutters after 10pm’ rule, so I’m good with late night chatter.
Attending events is one of the favorite parts of my job. As a product developer, great products are only useful if people find them useful.  At Camp Stitachalot it was confirmed that quilters find Flatter useful (and a great matching manicure is always a bonus). 

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
The Flatter Collection
We’ve had great follow-up since the even - I’ve made new sewing friends and have been able to guide curious minds over to Pink Castle Fabrics to purchase our new products. We will be at the fall and winter camps again with Flatter and manicures. I highly recommend you get on board. If you’re a camp regular, it was lovely to meet you. If you’re new, you’ll make memories and projects to last a lifetime. 

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Visiting Pink Castle for the first time


Oh, and I take full responsibility for the images of Katy Jones eating cheese balls with a seam ripper. I was telling stories of knitters who eat ‘cheetos’ with chopsticks to keep their hands clean…and the rest, as they say, is history.
Want to see more? Head over to Instagram and search hashtag gives you all the visuals you need from the weekend, in chronological order. You can follow me @jacqueline_soak and explore the feeds of other like-minded sewists. Make yourself a cup of tea (Katy educated us on proper English tea making over the weekend), or grab a cocktail (if you were there, you know what your friends would prefer), as you’ll be looking at great pictures for a while.

If you'd like to visit Camp Stitchalot, there are still openings for Fall and Winter 2014. And we'll have more news regarding 2015 camps coming soon!

Topics: Camp Stitchalot, Events

Planning Projects for a Retreat

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Jun 4, 2014 10:56:00 AM

As you may know, there's another Camp Stitchalot this weekend! I wish I could attend, as I know it will be lots of fun.

I thought it might be fun to talk about the types of projects that you might pack for a weekend retreat.

I'm currently working on some English Paper Piecing, and this would be a great, portable project for Camp. If you'd like to start your own EPP project, just make sure you pack a pile of scraps (or maybe a Fat-Eighth Bundle, some paper pieces, small scissors, a needle and thread. That's all you'll need!
Embroidery would be another great idea!


It's always nice to feel like you finish something when you're on a retreat. So pick a WIP that you are nearly done with, or maybe something you've been avoiding (picking out stitches, binding, HST trimming) that you can do that as you chat with your friends. The task you're dreading will probably fly by when you're in good company!

Something New

It's likely that you will feel inspired to start something new, and I say give in to that desire! It's nice to have a new project already cut before you arrive so you can quickly piece it together (or at least start).

Something challenging

You may have a project that is challenging you, and bringing it to a room full of sewists is a smart idea. You can probably find some assistance from one of your fellow campers!

I like to bring at least three projects to a weekend retreat. It's important to have options, and also, you might be surprised at your productivity level!

In case you're interested, there are two more Camp Stitchalot sessions planned for later this year: Fall 2014 and Winter 2014!

Topics: bundles, Camp Stitchalot, English Paper Piecing, Events, precuts

Camp Stitchalot Spring!

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Feb 26, 2014 12:14:00 AM

Camp Stitchalot is just around the corner!

  Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

There are still tickets available for Camp Stitchalot Spring!

It is being held in lovely Pleasant Lake, Michigan the weekend of March 21-23, 2014. There is additional sewing time available on Thursday, if you buy a Thursday night ticket. Camp is held at the Hankerd Inn, a bed and breakfast run by a quilter! So, there's lots of sewing space. The owner is very accommodating of special diets, and we have a kitchen that we can access at all hours. The bedrooms are large and comfortable, and most have a private bathroom with shower.

There is also lots of space to sit and chat!

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

This one is very exciting! It's all about bags! You use them, you make them, you love to put stuff in them. Now come and make bags with bag making experts Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness and Kristin Link of Sew Mama Sew.

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

Sara Lawson is a bag maker, quilter, pattern writer, and blogger who has just published her first book, Big-City Bags: Sew Handbags with Style, Sass, and Sophistication. She is working on a second book, and is the seamstress behind many amazing quilt themed dresses.

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

Kristin Link is a former educator who has adapted her love of teaching and training to focus on the wonderful world of sewing. Her favorite things to sew are bags, clothes and gifts for family and friends. She is the founder and owner of the online collaborative sewing community Sew Mama Sew. She teaches classes through Craftsy called Bag Making Basics.

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

Sara Lawson will be talking about interfacing, sewing with vinyl, installing magnetic clasps and zippers, and bias tape, all while making the Camp Stitchalot bag! You don't need to be an expert to make this bag, and with help, any confident beginner can make this bag. It's a large bag for toting your crafting supplies in - with an outer pocket that will fit a 12x18" cutting mat!

Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!

Kristin Link will be teaching us her new, designed specifically for this camp, Tackle Bag! Not only is it versatile, but you will learn several techniques for installing a zipper, including making a welt pocket on the inside.

What else is great about Camp Stitchalot? Your ticket is all inclusive! For one low price, your meals, room, and classes are all included. And after classes are over, you still have your counselors and hostesses (Brenda Ratliff of Just a Bit Frayed and Pink Castle Fabrics and Rossie Hutchinson of Fresh Modern Quilts) there to help you through anything you get stuck on during open sew (the sewing room never closes!)

Tickets are limited to 30 people, so order yours today!

We hope you can make it to Camp Stitchalot next month! We have sewing machines you can rent, and Accuquilt Go cutters will be available for use during the retreat.

Topics: Bags, Camp Stitchalot, Events, Techniques

Meet and Greet Camp Stitchalot Counselors Jeni Baker and Anna Graham

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Dec 6, 2013 3:01:00 AM
Next up are the fantastic Jeni Baker of In Color Order and Anna Graham of Noodlehead.  
We had to wait a little bit to interview these two as they were driving in all the way from Wisconsin!
I know you will enjoy getting to know these talented young women as much as I did so here we go.
First up Jeni Baker
Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Question 1:  Pattern designer, fabric designer what's next on your to do list?  
Who inspired you to begin designing?
Jeni told me she would like to write a book. 
 She is having so much fun designing fabric right now too that the book may be on hold for a bit. 
 She is one busy woman!  
She began working with Art Gallery fabric on her blog and was surprised and thrilled when they approached her about designing fabric for them.
Jeni could not point to a specific person for inspiration but 
credited the online community for inspiration and support.  
She also has a huge love of vintage quilts.  
She finds inspiration in many of the vintage quilts and fabrics she sees and 
is always on the look out for new to her vintage quilts!
Question 2:  What about designing do you find the easiest and what do you struggle with?
No surprise here the easiest thing for Jeni is COLOR!  
She is very good at that as we all know. 
 Something she struggles with is naming things, like her fabrics and her patterns. 
 Her gleeful confession was that she is the world's worst namer! 
Some of her original names were things like "pink floral" and "geometric print".  
She is taking suggestions!
Now for the thing I was most curious about, how did you come to own George? 
 Tell us about him.
Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Jenni decided when she graduated that she was not going to get a roommate she was going to get a bunny!
She chose George, who is a Netherland Dwarf rabbit. 
 He is litter trained but not much 
of a snuggle bunny.
She went to the county fair in Ohio and bought him for $20. 
 His favorite foods include bananas and carrots.  
He is now 4 years old now and Jeni wishes him to live forever!. 
Jeni has more costumes and photo shoots planned for him. 
 His new pillow panel is adorable, maybe she can incorporate him into an upcoming fabric line!
Jeni's random fact is that she and Brenda grew up only 15 minutes away from each other!
It really is a small world.
Not the best photo (iphone, sorry) but here are Anna, Brenda and Jeni.  Thanks for posing ladies!!
Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
On to Anna Graham of Noodlehead
Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
Question 1:  You are the queen of bags! 
 How do your ideas for new bag designs come to you?
Anna likes useful items.  
She designs bags that she would like to use or that she thinks others would like to use. 
 She incorporates ideas from garments in some of the things she puts in her bag designs. 
 I asked her how she got started and she was telling me that when her girls were little and 
she finally got out of the house she went to Barnes and Noble to look around. 
 She found the books Sew Darn Cute by Jenny Ryan and took her cue from that book. 
 Some of the others that inspire her are Made By Rae and Dana of Made.  
Question 2:  How do you find the time for designing along with managing family and your home? 
I did not realize but Anna has a full time job in marketing for a contractor.  
So I guess she really is the busy bee. 
 She shared that sometimes her life is a little stressful.  (I bet it is).
  She finds that having small amounts of design time make her more efficeint
when she does find the time to do it. 
 Although she did confess to sketching and daydreaming at work sometimes, but shhhhh don't tell her boss!
Question 3:  Your bags are amazing,, do you enjoy making them for others as much as designing new patterns for us to make? 
 Do you have a favorite pattern?
Anna likes to make for others. 
 She finds it easiest to design for someone specific.  
She likes to know that what she makes will make others happy too. 
 Of course she has made bags for her girls! 
 Her favoirte is the "Go Anywhere bag"
 She loves that it has lots of pockets on the outside and no zippers!
Anna's random fact is that when she was 4/5 she was Little Miss Apple of La Crescent, MN. 
 They drew her name out of a fish bowl. 
 Her mom reminds her that when it was time to give the crown back she threw a crying fit! 
 At 4/5 none of us would have wanted to give up that crown!
Thank you Jeni and Anna for letting us have a peek into your lives!
Have fun at Camp Stitchalot!

Topics: Camp Stitchalot, Events, In Color Order, Jeni Baker, Noodlehead

Meet and Greet Camp Stitchalot Counselor Debbie Grifka

Posted by Brenda Ratliff on Dec 5, 2013 9:11:00 PM
I went to the Pink Castle Fabrics Meet and Greet of the Camp Stitchalot teachers this week. 
 I brought some questions and my friend Stephanie with me and 
we got some great candid info for you on each of the 3 teachers.
First up was our own Debbie Grifka of Esch House Quilts
Debbie is also a member of the AAMQG so I get to see her quite frequently but
 this was the first time I got to spend some one on one time getting to know her.  
I managed to snap a great pic of Debbie and Brenda before I got to sit down with Debbie.
Camp Stitchalot is the best quilting retreat!
First question: How do you find inspiration for the quilts you make and who is your biggest inspiration?
Debbie finds a lot of her inspiration from  Amish quilts. architechure, and graphic designs.
Some of her earliest inspiration came from the work of Gwen Marsden. 
 She also found a lot of things to admire in the works of Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr. 
 Their book  The Modern Quilt Workshop provided her with a lot of great quilts containing negative space before people began calling it negative space! 
 Debbie is drawn to shapes and lots of negative space.
Question number 2:  What advice do you have for others interested in designing?
Debbie told me that when designing for yourself you need to figure out what you like. 
 Most people spend a lot of time making other's patterns and don't often take the time to ind their own voice.  She felt like it took her a little while to find her own style but now is comfortable with her work.  
Negative space is IT for Debbie!
If you are looking to design for publication she suggests that submitting to magazines is a good way to begin.  Magazines, Debbie said, are always looking for new designs so just submit, submit, submit!
Guidelines can be found online so don't be afraid to try.
Question 3:  What drew you into the Modern Quilt Movement?
Debbie told me that as her style evolved it just seemed to fit with the modern quilt movement.  
She loves the clean lines of the modern quilts.
  Debbie loves clean and simple!
Then I asked for one random fact.!
Debbie said that most people would never guess that she is a first generation American! 
She was born in England of Australian parents.
She became a citizen when she was 25.
Thanks for all the info Debbie!
Next up will be Jeni Baker and Anna Graham

Topics: Camp Stitchalot, Debbie Grifka, Events

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