WELCOME WILLARD PEEPS

Hello to everyone popping in from Willard (or wherever you’re popping in from)!  MUSICA (sorry that the Musica doesn’t work unless you can open two screens at a time on your device. If you can, click on the link, then come back to this page while it plays) . . . Welcome to my pink kitchen!

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Well, it’s not really pink. But there’s yesterday’s sunrise . . . see what it did to my kitchen . . .Susan Branch pink-daisy-borderIMG_7067

You can see the reflection of the sunrise from the windows directly across from these . . . turning daffodils, walls, and Beatrix Potter People sunrise pink!

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The stove was splotched in pink too . . .

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Morning sun sent rays across my dishes cupboard . . . had to grab the camera! Such a nice way to start the day! tea cup

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Later on, a breeze came up from the harbor and under blue springtime skies, out went our sheets for . . .

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. . . a little flight in the cool salt air  . . .

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And that reminded me, of a really good idea I had, of the perfect 30th Anniversary Giveaway for some lucky person . . . I thought perhaps a vintage quilt would be just the thing! The Grand Prize I mentioned in WILLARD. . .

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I actually decided to do this way last summer . . . you can tell by the leaves on the trees and the green . . . to give away this quilt, the one closest to us in the picture, white with the patches of color . . . I’m not sure where I got it, I’ve had it for so long. Be sure to sign up for it at the end of this blog. I do this A. because I have lots of quilts and it’s fun to share the wealth. B. It’s the 30th Anniversary of Heart of the Home and that would never have happened without YOU . And C. In honor of my dad who told me to beanelf

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Here I am in 1999,  thrilled because I had just gotten my first collection of fabrics with Springs Industries. They put me on the cover of Giftware Business (which I don’t think exists anymore), wondering, in the headline, “Who the heck is this person?”  So this was an unexpected thrill. I never imagined my cookbooks could lead to designing fabric (I couldn’t even imagine cookbooks!). We won a prize for our booth at the studio 280International Quilt Show in Houston that year. My corner of their huge showroom was set up as a bedroom, furnished in white wicker, a bed (the headboard), chairs, desk, even a hope chest, and the Springs people had made everything in it from my fabric, pillow cases, duvet covers, throw pillows, dolls, dresser scarves, cushions, quilts, book covers, wall hangings, lamp shades, table toppers, you name it. At a time when so many quilting fabrics were tea stained, we stuck out, not like a sore thumb, more like a rainbow on a sunny day. I’ve always loved sewing and quilts and embroidery and every kind of needlework so designing fabric with my watercolors just seemed like a natural to me, and now they were actually letting me do it!  How could it be anything but fun?!

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And it was fun!  After Springs Industries, I was lucky again to be approached by RJR and I designed fabrics and quilts for them for several years. The only thing about fabric designing I didn’t like was that they would print the fabric only once and after it was sold out, that was it, they didn’t make any more. You’d blink and it would be gone. Like everything you see above, all gone. So it wasn’t all roses in that respect.  And it was hard to get the fabric stores to know you existed, because consistency was impossible.

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See those cute little teapots? I was heartbroken when they sold out and no more were made. “Why?” I wailed . . .  But, it was fun while it lasted and I did love having fabric, I loved designing.

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I had so much fun piecing together quilt design ideas with paper on my living room floor.

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I’ve loved quilts ever since my grandma gave me one that her mom made. That was it, I was hooked, and since then I have looked for old quilts wherever I go, antique stores, flea markets, anywhere and everywhere.

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Fairy2I used to quilt a little bit myself, but then I learned that I could paint quilts faster than I could sew them. So when the time came, I was thrilled to design my own fabric. I just wished it could be around longer.

Susan Branch fabrics

But no, I was not in charge, it was all gone, no cupcakes, no blue flowers, no hearts with teacups in them, no flipping tea balls. Months of work, on the parts of so many people, only six months on the market, it was all gone.😳happiness The licensing business has gone topsy turvy in the last 15 years, along with many manufacturers and many fabric houses. Huge wonderful Springs Industries, for all practical purposes, doesn’t exist anymore. So I have waited, still getting letters all the time from you asking for fabric, wishing and hoping and thinking, maybe someone will find me again someday.

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Susan Branch fabric

But so far I’m still waiting. And while they were not finding me, wonderful things were happening on the Internet. New ways of doing things were being invented. Even our small studio could give you free bookmarks and stationery to quiltprint out. We could send you patterns, via email. A new world was opening. And somewhere else, genius people were learning how to print fabric on demand. ON demand!!!  Which meant a designer could put a fabric design onto their website, a customer could find it there, and get just what she needed, a quarter of a yard, 10 yards, whatever. The customer had a choice of  designs that were available in no other place. And those print-on-demand sites have just been getting better and better.

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And now, in case you haven’t heard of them, I’d like to introduce you to Spoonflower.com.  Because all by myself, with no contract to sign and nothing standing between me and you, I can upload any fabric designs I want to this site, and you can get them there, in a magnificent almost unbelievable choice of 20 (twenty!) different fabrics. And you know what else? Not only can I do this, YOU can do it too! You can design your own fabric, and they will make it! Anyone can! Your child’s drawing could be fabric!  They will send you one of their little swatch books for $1 (like the one above and below) so you can see all the different fabrics, check the quality, touch it and feel it. Too good to be true.get-attachment.aspx

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 Not only can you provide your own designs, but you can shop Independent Designers from all over the world. And they have twill, they have organic cotton, they have silk Crepe de Chine, they have poplin, they have stretchy! You choose the fabric you like, and then you choose what weight you would like it in. You Fairy2can cover chairs in their fabric! You can line picnic baskets! And you know what else?  Let’s say you like a fabric so much you wish it was wallpaper. Guess what? You can have any of the fabric designs in wallpaper!  AND in wrapping paper!!!!  I am beside myself.

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So I asked them to send me a fat quarter sample of my Martha’s Vineyard Toile in “Linen-cotton canvas”  so I could check the quality, and this is what they sent. I wish you could feel it. It’s gorgeous. Digitally printed, eco friendly. You could make a bag out of it, or heavy drapes, or thick pillow covers.  But you can also get this design in quilt fabric, you could make poplin jammie bottoms, it could be curtains, it could be wrapping paper. It could be wallpaper. And you can do this with any fabric on their site. All of it designer, all of it one of a kind.easyaspieIMG_6942

My samples came fast too. Took maybe a week.

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I asked for samples of my birthday fabric designs . . . and here’s what they sent. I thought it was wonderful. And this is a new design for me, it was never made! So we’ve decided to go ahead and let this fabric make its debut on Spoonflower! I see napkins, I see pillow cases, I see an apron. I see wrapping paper! I even see wallpaper used as drawer paper, polka dot drawer paper!domestic blissSept 2010 245

I’m a pros and cons person, so I really thought about it ~ the pros for doing fabric this way far outweighed the cons: Spoonflower fabric is made in America! No one can discontinue my fabric but me.  I could wallpaper, make drapes, cover a chair, and make a duvet all in the same pattern. It ships internationally so my Australian and German and Japanese Girlfriends can get some if they want!
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(Does anyone recognize those shoes on the window sill in my sewing room! Agnes!)

The other thing is that Spoonflower isn’t my business. They will sell my designs, but Spoonflower is responsible for the business side, not me. They take care of the customers, answer questions and are responsible for quality control.  Once I upload the designs, they take over. And they carry so many choices of fabrics, they even have patterns you can buy that come with the pieces all cut out for sewing. And believe it or not, there is no minimum order! The Pros go on all day. I think they offer an amazing service. And they started their business the same way I started mine, at their dining room table. So I get to support a small business.thou-shalt@SameliasMum

My wheels keep turning  . . . I can have a line of Baby fabric again! My Teds! Lamb wallpaper! Lamb wrapping paper! Lamb curtains!creativityBaby Love fabric line

There is only one con that I can see, better known as a drawback . . . but even that has a pro side.  It’s the price. Print on demand and “made in America” doesn’t come cheap.  And their fabric isn’t available anywhere else! But prices aren’t really as bad as you might think, especially for the heavier weight fabrics ~ compared to other designer prices, it’s IMG_5682affordable. And the bright side of this “con” is that Spoonflower does not compete with all the wonderful little quilt stores that we love and want to stay around forever, because for all of this amazing service, they really can’t compete with quilt-store prices. The good side of that is that the shops don’t carry Spoonflower fabrics, and Spoonflower doesn’t carry the shop’s fabrics.  They are the same yet entirely different.

studio 537And you can make a lot of pretty things with just a little bit of fabric. You can edge pillowcases, and make tiny quilt squares . . .pins border

studio 051You can have sweet little appliquéd dish towels with way less than a quarter of a yard.pins border

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You can appliqué cupcakes for almost nothing. You can line a bread basket or make a window valance, or a scarf  (because they also have 100% silk). You can cover boxes or line your shelves in the peel and stick wallpaper. You can use the wrapping paper as scrapbook paper. And I’m sure, with your kind of creativity, you can think of a jillion other things to do with it.pins borderIMG_6901

A little fabric goes a long way . . . someday I’ll design an I Love England collection. I’ve been playing with paper ever since I learned about this. I love the birds, that will be next.

Gone, but not forgotten. ↓

'08 May, Vineyard 045Just so you know, this is not paid advertising, or even unpaid . . . I have never spoken to anyone at Spoonflower, we’re not connected in any way. They don’t know me from Adam. I just like them and knew that if you didn’t already know about them, you would want to. You can follow them on Twitter, along with their 33,000 other followers, of which I am one, at @spoonflower. So NOW:

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As of today, we’ve put up three collections, 15 designs, HERE. And we’re just beginning . . . The first is called “They Say It’s Your Birthday” ~ the second is the “Martha’s Vineyard Watercolor Collection” ~ and, lastly, just in time for the think-July 08 Vineyard 247ahead people, our “Christmas Watercolor Collection.”  And we will just keep adding on . . . we’d love to hear what you want, you want the big Santa face that looks like Joe? No problem! We will always do our best. Slowly, over time, when we are not crazy with new books or on the road traveling the country, we will add more collections and build up a nice little store where the fabric designs  stay up forever and ever and ever.  Ahhh, the Internet, how I love thee, let me count the ways.sb borderIMG_7160

And here are a few more reasons to love the Internet ↑ Giveaways! And we can connect in a way we never could before. This back and forth we have together is just amazing.  When I was in my twenties, I had to have my wisdom teeth pulled, and they gave me some sort of knock-out drug. While they were waiting for it to go into full effect, I started talking to my mom in a drugged-up-loony-bin-way about how someday, la-la-la . . . I wanted to have a knitting store, la-la-la, Mommy, where all my girlfriends could come and we could sit around and knit and embroider and drink tea from a tea pot and watch soap operas and teach each other things. The idyllic world.  And guess what? If you count Downton Abbey as a soap opera, which I do, I got my dream! Pretty darn close, anyway!pink-flowers  So Girlfriends, Happy my Anniversary! Please be sure to leave a comment at the end of this blog.  Just any little comment will enter you in the drawing . . . there will be three winners, three names drawn in a week or so, each getting a set of books (the trilogy) PLUS a well-used paintbrush, a pencil stub, a blotter bookmark, and a seed package from my own driveway . . . And then, ONE MORE name will be drawn, for the Grand Prize . . .

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This gorgeous old quilt ~ and of course, a package of wisteria seeds.  Because I know you. Happy Almost Mother’s Day! See you at the bookstores! ♥ Lots to look forward to in 2016!get-attachment.aspxDig and be dug Girlfriends! Wob you!Love

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LET’S DO OUR DRAWING TODAY

Well, there is SO much going on around here ~ I thought I better do our drawing today! Strike while the iron is hot! But first, let’s see, let’s go hang out in 1928 for a while . . . MUSICA!

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I’ve almost finished writing us a new WILLARD!  It will start going out on Tuesday morning and I hope you will love it! Is everyone is signed up? If not, and you’d like my newsletter delivered to your email box, just go HERE and sign up. And while you’re at it, sign up your mom and your sister too, and your kitty movesBFF, because it’s going to be chock full of good and fun stuff.  I’m also updating the blog on Tuesday! Very exciting! Love it when everything happens at once! Between the blog and Willard, us packing to go away on our two-month Book Tour, and the constant Kitty Kissing, there is A LOT going on . . . including, in this new Willard, more Giveaways, and even a Grand Prize Giveaway. Oh yeah. We’re doin’ it up big.🎉pink-flowers

So I thought I better step in now and announce the winners of the SIX books, with paintbrushes and bookmarks . . . so I can get them in the mail to the Lucky Winners on Monday and not get everything all mixed up with Tuesday! Hate it when that happens! Can’t believe how many people we have entered in this drawing. Wild eh, and what fun! Have you read any of the comments? Only the nicest people in the world! 💏 That’s all. You really don’t know how often you make me cry! Sometimes I can’t even answer because I don’t know what to say! That’s how nice you are.

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So, just a little reminder . . . our six winners will get a personalized copy of my new book, Martha’s Vineyard, Isle of Dreams, that one  up there, PLUS

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Each book will come with one of the worn-out paintbrushes I used to paint the watercolors in the new book AND these messy bits made into bookmarks from the blotters where I test colors and try to figure out what is wrong when my pen starts acting up. Little bits of book DNA from the construction site.from me to you with loveBut before I announce the winners, I thought you might enjoy a bit of Morning Science. For any of you with a Wisteria, this may be old news, but I find it endlessly fascinating, what a Wisteria does in the springtime, so I thought I’d show you one of my favorite harbingers of spring.🌞

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You know what a wisteria looks like in bloom, right?  And the smell? Floral heaven. Like the inside of a flower store ~ Ours were planted a long time ago, by the woman who owned our house from 1940 to 1980, the very much appreciated Mrs. Bowditch. They hang on an arbor over the kitchen-porch side of our house and the fragrance goes up through the second story windows (where I am taking this photo) and into the bedrooms, thank you very much.💛

IMG_7649They make May . . . in May the Island air smells like ocean mixed with lilac and wisteria.

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Here’s how our wisteria looks right now, not quite as lovely, despite the fabulous blue sky . . . but see all those dangling bean-like things? That’s what I wanted to show you.

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Here they are up-close. They are fuzzy like pussy willows.Inlovewithnature

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They drop in the spring in the first days of warmth from the sun ~ the porch and the driveway are covered in them. They make the most delightful cracking noise when you step on them because they are very hard. I go out of my way to step on as many as I possibly can. From what I saw on the driveway this morning, I’m about to be in crunch heaven.

IMG_7181They don’t really drop actually, they kind of split apart and explode . . .

IMG_7186The pods hit our windows, we can hear it happening, little ticks against the glass . . . A few of them get all they way across the driveway onto the lawn . . . they really do explode. We think it might be from happiness.happy?

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The daffodils watch intently, as you can see.  And see the little black dots on the driveway around them . . .?

IMG_7182The by-product! Free wisteria seeds!  Isn’t that fabulous?miracles

                                                   It’s our springtime miracle!Fairy2

And you might wonder, but is there anything actually blooming in your yard now? And I would have to say, Oh, yes there is!IMG_7138

Our Magnolia is in bloom.

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The weeping cherry trees too, and the forsythia . . .

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And our pear tree . . .touch-quote

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Alright, that’s the end of Morning Science for today 🌷 . . . so here we go dear ones, I do so hope you win!!!!! But if you don’t, remember, there will be more chances in Willard, more chances in the next post, and lots of fun surprises coming. It’s spring, I have a new book, we’re going for a long ride, hill and dale across the country to meet all our Girlfriends, and we’re here to

celebrate!So here we go!

Vanna . . . darling . . . climb up there and dive into the vat won’t you? (Remember when it was only a basket she had to draw from? Now it’s a vat!  Filled with teeny weeny slips of paper, each with a tiny name on it!  So exciting! We are gaining Girlfriends, Girlfriends!)

THE WINNERS of the SIX BOOKS AND ETC. ARE:

I hate this part. Up till now everyone is a winner, as well it should be, since that is the bottom-line truth, but now all of a sudden, it’s narrowed down considerably. I always say this when Vanna is diving into the vat, and I always feel it. Oh well. Must. do. my. job. She’s UP!!! Handful of names are flapping in the wind.  Here we go . . .

Happiness abounds, joy bells ring, honking horns dinning, awesomeness reigns for:

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Janet Johnson!

Celia Reusch!

Sylvie from France! 

Diane P. from Northern California

Rachael Anna

Kenna Morris!

I’ll send you each an email and you can write me back with your address and who you would like the book inscribed to . . . you, or perhaps you have someone else in mind! I will love to do it, and Joe will get them in the mail to you on Monday (or as soon as I hear back from you). We have our first French Person winner! How exciting!🌎We are the world, Girlfriends! 💞

Off I go, but I’ll be back so soon it’s almost ridiculous. Please don’t get sick of me!  Have a wonderful day, a wonderful weekend, breathe in some of that fresh spring air and know you are loved.  XOXO

love thee like pudding

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