Wednesday, June 25, 2014

6 Tips On How To Do Girl’s Day Out Like A Pro

It’s that time of year again - the time when your favorite fabrics are reduced to unbelievable prices, when professional demonstrations are free to all and when you can tenderly caress fabrics in public and not be judged; it’s Girl’s Day Out at Mary Jo’s! 

After such a phenomenal response last year, Girl’s Day Out is returning for a second time. If you weren’t able to join in the fun last year, don’t sweat it. We have compiled the top 6 tips on how you can get the most out of our one day extravaganza that is Girl’s Day Out.

1. Arrive early
- Doors opening at 9 a.m. didn’t stop our fabulous fans from arriving in the wee hours of the morning to camp out in a line that wrapped around the store last year.  The same goes for this year, if you want to be one of the first 100 shoppers in line to receive a free gift we recommend grabbing some chairs and claiming your spot in line, early! Plus one lucky winner will win FREE FABRIC for a year!

2. Be prepared
- With only so many hours in the day and plenty of demonstrations to see, fabrics to purchase and prizes to win, having a plan of attack can make all the difference. Plan ahead, and know which fabrics you can’t leave without and what time your demonstration is starting. The best way to do that? Join the Girl’s Day Out Facebook page  for all of the latest event details and information! And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter - we’ll release the final sale items!

3. Use the buddy system
- Girl’s Day Out is all about the girls! Bring a friend and enjoy the ultimate ‘shop til you drop’ experience. Better yet, you can even have your partner in crime help scope out the next sale section while you finish getting your fabric cut. Team work!

4. Treat yourself
- At Mary Jo’s, we love our customers! That is why our entire Girl’s Day Out event is centered on you. It’s our own personal way of saying thank you for the love. How are we doing that? Not only have we worked with vendors to negotiate specialty pricing on fabric, but we have secured amazing prizes that we will be giving away every 30 minutes all day long!

5. Boys are allowed
- While we do love our ladies at Mary Jo’s, the fellas are just as fun! Everyone is welcome, from hubbies to male sewing aficionados. Featuring home décor demos, giveaways and even a designated husband lounging space, everyone can find something to enjoy at our Girl’s Day Out event.

6. No excuses
- Don’t live nearby? No sweat! We have partnered with Hampton Inn (1859 Remount Road, Gastonia NC 28054) for a $69 a night rate for all Mary Jo’s customers. Call 704.866.9090 to book your room today. Still can’t make it? Guess what, the sale will be offered online too! Shop your favorites with one click of the mouse at 

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Classic Little Girls Dress

Welcome Carmen Baugh, co-owner of Three Maria Designs, an on-line clothing boutique offering quality, hand sewn designs for children. Carmen is a sewing instructor at Mary Jo’sCloth Store and shares her favorite style dress for little girls; the A-Line dress.

I was fortunate to be the recipient of my mother-in-law’s vintage patterns.  They were neatly stored in a closet along with her fabric stash.  Inside the box were two patterns for an A-Line jumper that dated back to the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The patterns were priced 25 cents and 45 cents respectively.  I knew then that the A-Line jumper was a true classic.  I have sewn hundreds of them for my daughters, nieces, great nieces, granddaughter, friends, and with students in sewing classes, and now for Three Maria Designs. 

My favorite pattern, which I have used for the past 5 years, is “Lucy” by Children’s Corner. I like this pattern because it is not stacked; with each size as a separate piece.  This means you do not have to trace the size you need.  The directions are clear and easy to follow and the pattern is true to size.

The A-Line dress is a simple and I look at it as a blank canvas.  It is perfect for monograms, appliqué, ric rac, lace, ruffles and piping. I have embellished A-Line dresses with a variety of themes such as birthday cakes, pumpkins, ghosts, Christmas trees, flowers, crabs, alligators, a jester hat and more.  You can be very creative! 

It is a fun dress that is easy to make and the fit is very forgiving.  It can be made as a summer jumper using seersucker fabric (my favorite) and for winter using corduroy and worn with a blouse or turtleneck.   I make my dresses fully lined with matching covered buttons and that is what students learn in my class.

If you are interested in learning how to make an A-Line dress, I will be teaching a class at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store on August 14 and August 21, 2014.  We will be making the A-Line Pumpkin Dress. I hope to see you there! Click here for more information.

Maria Carmen Baugh
Three Maria Designs

Visit Three Maria Designs to see more clothing for the best-dressed child at and on Etsy at

Park Bench Club

Learn how to quilt in a hands on, personalized classroom setting with one of Mary Jo's top instructors, all while making a beautiful quilt to call your own. Starting August 16, try something new, and join Mary Jo's Park Bench Club! Space is limited, so call today and reserve your spot. Also be sure to take advantage of our 10% discount when you book with a friend.

Monday, June 16, 2014

A quick and easy patriotic DIY for the 4th of July

Banners and pennants make festive decorations for inside or outside your home. If you are planning a July 4th or Labor Day party, the red, white and blue banners are the perfect accent for a patriotic theme!

You can easily make banners using Riley Blake fabric panels available from Mary Jo’s Cloth Store. Each 24 x 44 inch panel is printed with seasonal colors and patterns on cotton fabric and is ready to cut and sew. Complimentary fabrics are available for making tablecloths, napkins, placemats and other decorations.

Follow the steps below to make banners for your next celebration!

Each panel will make a banner that is about 60 inches long. Purchase additional panels for larger banners. You can tie them together, or make them as one long piece. Two panels were used for the banner shown here.

Using a rotary cutter and mat, or scissors, cut apart the pieces, cutting along the edge of the printed triangles, and the long strips. You will have matching front and back pieces.

Attach medium weight fusible interfacing to the back of half of the triangle pieces using an iron. Make sure to keep the pieces in matching pairs, adding interfacing to one piece of each pair.

Place each matching triangle piece face to face and sew around the long edges using a ¼-inch seam allowance.  Turn right sides out and press the edges.

Sew together the long strips and sew the top edge of each banner to the strip, using a ¼-inch seam allowance. Leave a tail at each end, and sew all the banners in a row, alternating the colors and patterns.

Press the strip from the front, fold over and topstitch. Your banner is finished and ready to hang. Welcome to the party!

To purchase your own banners, or for more information click here.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Quilting Basics: Selecting Fabrics

Are you new to quilting?  You are probably very excited about starting a quilt project, but do you feel confused by all the different colors and styles of fabric?  How do you know what to choose and where to start?  You are not alone, even experienced quilters can be overwhelmed by the enormous selection of quilting fabrics at our store!
We asked Aimee Griffin, owner of Overall Quilter and Sewing Director at Mary Jo’s Cloth Store to share some tips for selecting fabrics for quilts. Aimee has been quilting, and teaching for many years and has easily picked out hundreds of fabric collections for quilts. Here are Aimee’s tips for narrowing down the choices.
Our first example is a quilt made in one of the beginning quilting classes at Mary Jo’s; the Window Boxes pattern. This quilt has large blocks, medium sized blocks and vertical and horizontal lines.
1. Begin by selecting a “focus print”. This will be the fabric used for the biggest areas and largest pieces in the quilt. In the quilt below, the white background fabric with the red motif is the focus print, used in the 12 ½- inch squares and around the border. This is also where you can use a large scale print: larger blocks = larger prints.
2. Next, select “secondary fabrics” for the next largest sized blocks to tie in with the focus print. On this quilt, the 6 ½-inch blocks are where the secondary fabric will be used. Note that the scale of the print is not as large of a pattern motif but still a pretty design.  For this quilt Aimee chose a gray background fabric that is not “matchy” and is a little unexpected – this makes it pop or float over the other colors.
3. Last are the tertiary fabrics, used for the horizontal and vertical lines. This is a place for the eye to rest. Aimee recommends using small-scale prints and tone-on-tone fabrics for this part of the quilt. 
Aimee put together a collection of fabrics to illustrate the three rules above. Primary fabric = large floral print
Secondary fabric = coral swirl print
Tertiary fabrics = small blue floral and lime green tone-on-tone
Here is an example of the same quilt in different fabrics, shared by students in a recent class.  The same three steps were used but with eye-catching red and green fabrics. 
Can you identify the primary, secondary and tertiary fabrics in this quilt?
To learn more about how you can join us for beginning quilting classes, click here:
Another popular style of quilt is a monochromatic design, where fabrics from one color family are combined together.  An example is the “Twilight Stars” pattern from Wilmington Prints.  This design comes in a kit with the fabrics included so you are ready to go!  But you can use the same idea with other quilt patterns. 

To replicate this monochromatic look, select fabrics that are all the same scale and colors.  Batik fabrics work great for this because they are subtle and blended, and often have hints of other colors within the design.  For monochromatic quilts choose fabrics from color families such as purple, blue and green or red, orange and yellow or create a quilt with neutral fabrics such as tan, cream, and ivory.  Many of our quilting fabrics are grouped together by color, this makes selecting fabrics for monochromatic quilts easy! 
We have discussed the fronts of quilts, but what about the back? Aimee suggests having fun with the backing material, “it doesn’t need to match the front”. For new quilters she recommends choosing a busy, all over pattern for the back, which doesn’t require precise stitches – the stitches will be hidden in the pattern. Aimee’s last piece of advice for choosing fabrics, “of course there are not rules”! 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Ten Tips for Ironing and Pressing

Next to the sewing machine, the iron is one of the most used tools when making quilts, garments or home décor. If you are doing anything with fabric, you are going to use an iron. 
Here are our favorite basic ironing and pressing tips:
1.    Iron with straight, back and forth strokes. Ironing with a circular motion can stretch out your fabrics.
2.    Wait for the iron to heat up completely before you use the steam feature. If the iron is not heated it could drip water on your materials.
3.    To iron embroidery, applique or other raised designs, cover your ironing board with a towel and lay the fabric face down, then iron.
4.    Regularly clean your iron to prevent marks on your materials, and for better performance. You can find hot iron cleaners in the notions department.

5.    Pressing is different than ironing. When ironing you are moving the iron back and forth, to press you will lift the iron up and put it back down. Pressing will prevent the fabrics from stretching.
6.    Use a press cloth to prevent creating shiny spots on the material.
7.    Press seams in garments from the right side of the fabric, with the iron running parallel to the straight of grain to avoid pressing tucks into the seam.
8.    Press bias seams with the iron at an angle to the seam so that you are pressing along the straight of grain. This will help to prevent stretching.
9.    To hold pleats in place while ironing or pressing, use paper clips or clothespins.
10.  Test your iron settings on a small scrap of fabric, or in an inconspicuous place to make sure the fabric can accept heat and steam.
      If you would like to learn more about irons, and ironing equipment we recommend this video from Threads Magazine “Pressing Equipment 101”