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What's New at CQ 4/30/20

"The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind." Albert Einstein

Great for soothing dry, chapped skin!

Get one for the sewing room, one for the living room, one for the kitchen...


Dear Friends,

Tomorrow, May 1, marks the 25th Anniversary of Capital Quilts, when Susan McLaughlin opened her door in 1995 with a few bolts of fabric, one part-time worker named Denise, and a lot of chutzpah. She used to write this newsletter by hand on a yellow lined pad, cutting and scotch-taping along the way, and drive it to an editor who made it print-worthy. It was then driven to the printer, who also took care of getting it bulk-mailed to all of her customers, if I remember correctly. Fifteen years later she had progressed to use of the computer, with some choice language, struggling mightily with technology. Nowadays, of course, I write it in Word and forward it to Kat make it print-worthy (often with her own choice language) and send it on to you.

In 1995, the “look” was very brown, what Susan called the “mud hut” look. There have been other looks in other years, from Carnival Bright to Contemporary to Modern to Cheerfully Colorful. I am glad that the “mud hut” look has not returned during my tenure! Today our fabric tastes are as eclectic as our tastes in clothing, from traditional to geometric to floral to solids. In 1995, batik was not available. By 2010 it was Susan’s best seller, and that hasn’t changed much in the last 10 years.

Susan did not sell sewing machines when she first opened. Eventually she became a Pfaff dealer and later a Janome dealer, which we still are. I find them to be a machine of excellent quality, rarely needing repair if properly cared for, quiet and easy to use. When I bought the shop in 2012, we added Handi Quilter to our machine roster and brought in the longarms.

Susan’s husband, Gary, joined her in the business, and together they grew it to a thriving shop with 16 employees, lots of classes, thousands of bolts of fabric, and a wide variety of quilting-related products. Over the last 8 years I have tried to maintain that level of energy and add new products to our offerings. You, our new and old and ever loyal customers, are our main focus. You are why we are here and, the winds of change willing, will remain.

Susan ended her 15th Year Anniversary newsletter of 2010 with a paragraph that today looks prescient. She wrote:

“When we look back, it’s obvious that most of the things we worry about never occur; some of our careful planning is quite fruitful; but the biggest influences and determinants of events could never have been foreseen. This is humbling, especially for a planner. What really matters after fifteen years are the bonds between us all. We thank you for the times you’ve shared knowledge, purchased merchandise, participated in events, and even set us straight when you felt we needed it. We are connected.”

After 25 years, those bonds between us all are still the most important thing. I look forward to the day when we can have a proper celebration of 25 years in the shop, with cake and ice cream and elbow-bumps all around.

Go ‘n’ Piece,

ps. We have had a few people call to say that they are having trouble getting PayPal to work or to make a selection or are having other issues when they use the Capital Quilts online store. If this happens to you, try refreshing your browser. That often solves the problem. If it does not, please make a note of the SKU or UPC numbers of the item(s) you wish to purchase, and give us a call to process your transaction manually.  We ask that you call us as a last resort; it really is much more efficient for us to process orders placed online.

Please call the shop between 11-4 Monday through Saturday and 1-4 on Sunday if you need to talk with us. That will give us time to fill the online orders that come in overnight and do the other things that need doing.
We prefer that you place your orders through our online shop on our website. We have found this is much easier for us. I understand that not everyone is willing to enter their credit card number into a computer, even on a secure site; don’t hesitate to call or email with your order if this is the case.

Quilting will get us past this Coronavirus Crisis! Sign up for our Corona Challenge! You get a yard of fabric, free shipping, and the chance to express in fabric how you are feeling about this virus. We’ll hang the quilts in the Gallery and/or post them online, depending on how long this crisis lasts. Make them at least 20” x 20” but not larger than 60” x 60”. Use the fabric we send you along with fabric in your stash or that you buy (hopefully from Capital Quilts!). Return them to us by May 17. Go online or call the shop 301-527-0598 to take on the Challenge!

We have all made a mask or two (or 50, or 200, or…), and would like to share our favorite patterns, and some tips and tricks we’ve discovered along the way. (By the way, some of our customers are now offering completed masks for sale on our website, if you aren't interested in sewing one yourself.)

Fabric discussion: We all know that quilting cottons are the way to go! This has been reinforced by a recent study, specifying “high quality quilting cotton”. We love batik for masks, because it is thin, has a dense weave, and holds a crease beautifully (so important if you’re making pleated masks!). However, nearly any of the fabrics we have in the shop are suitable for making masks. If you have any questions as to whether or not a particular fabric we carry is appropriate, just ask! We are more than happy to help you with your needs. Please note: we (and the distributors) are sold out of non-woven interfacing. If you'd like an additional layer of fabric in your mask, consider our fine white batiste.

Ties or elastic: For some, this isn’t an issue as elastic is hard to find these days. Masks with elastic are easier and faster to sew, but if the wearer must have one on all day, can cause irritation and pain behind the ears. If you really want to use elastic and cannot find any, try long hair elastics or hairbands. Ties, however, allow for a better fitting mask. You can make ties from a WOF (width of fabric – selvedge to selvedge) strip, and either run it through a bias tape maker, or fold and press the old fashioned way. Hate all that folding and pressing, and don’t have a bias tape maker? Try jerry-rigging one on your ironing board with a long straight pin, or use the index card trick posted on our FaceBook page! If making ties isn’t your thing (it isn’t ours), here are some alternatives you can use: twill tape (we have some in stock!), shoelaces (they are available super long, too!), grosgrain ribbon, or 1” strips of knit cotton jersey, gently pulled until they roll (nice because they're both stretchy and latex-free!). One of our recommended patterns calls for soft, thin, clothesline. Be creative! Just ensure that what you do is both comfortable and durable.

Nose wires: We all love a nose wire in the top of our mask! It allows you to form the mask around your nose, so that there is no gap between the mask and your cheeks. Many patterns call for a nose wire and have instructions on making them. Our favorite nose wire is the lowly twist tie! Other options: floral wire, pipe cleaners, paper clips, and cut up soda cans (file the edges thoroughly to avoid injury to the wearer.) Gaffer’s tape or duck tape can be used to cover the wire or metal to increase both durability and safety. Rather than sewing a channel or pocket for the wire, you can – very carefully – zigzag/couch it into your seam allowance.

Tips and tricks:
Use your walking foot! It will really help feed multiple layers under your needle more smoothly. Also, sewing more slowly can help ease multiple layers under the needle.

Marianne made a jig to hold her pleats down while sewing, following instructions in this video:

If you’re having trouble stitching through multiple layers, change your needle and lengthen your stitch! We recommend denim needles or topstitch needles for this, and a larger size than you might normally use.

Be sure to brush lint from the bobbincase and feed dogs often. Your machine will thank you later.

Our favorite patterns: There are a TON of patterns out there! These are just a few of what we have found, and like. Some of us are combining elements we like best from different patterns.

Johns Hopkins designed, pleated, ties, pocket for nose wire

Thangles designed (but no triangles, we promise), pleated, one tie, optional nose wire

Craft Passion fitted mask, nose wire, elastic or ties, optional filter pocket, Cricut and Silhouette cut files available

Nurse-designed, no pleats, one tie, nose wire, pocket for removable filter

AccuQuilt has several dies (3 different styles!) available, and patterns to go with them. Unfortunately, due to overwhelming demand, they are not making these dies available to retailers. If you are interested, order directly from AccuQuilt.

Of course, if you are masking masks to donate, please follow the pattern and instructions that they specify. It is also recommended that if you are making masks to donate to a medical facility that you NOT use solid blue or solid white fabrics. This makes it easy to distinguish the fabric masks from the manufactured masks at a glance. You should also use a different fabric for the lining than you do for the outside, so that it is easy to remember which side faces out.

Where do donate:
In addition to healthcare facilities and elder care, think about employees of other essential businesses, too: veterinary offices, grocery stores, convenience stores, gas stations, animal shelters, etc.

Check out the (inter)national database by Deaconess by clicking here.

We recently donated fabric to the Million Mask Challenge (VA/MD/DC). This wonderful group collects fabric and other materials donations, sorts and washes them, then distributes to their "craftivists", who then sew them into masks, and return to the organization for final quality control before sending on to facilities in need.

Mask Kits for personal use:
Kits are currently available! They contain all the materials (pre-cut fabric, twist ties for nose wires, cotton twill tape for fabric ties, and pattern with tips and tricks) required to make either 5 or 10 at a time. These kits are not intended to be used to make masks for donating to medical facilities, but are perfect for the “shoppers’ masks” now required to be worn in public in our area. Click here to order.


Mask fabric ideas: Need to make a fun mask for someone?  We have a wide range of novelty prints that make mask-wearing a fun, personal statement!  Pricing varies.

In addition to Aurifil, Presencia, and MasterPiece, we also carry 50wt organic cotton thread from Colonial!  $6.19 for a spool of 300 yards.

LIMITED QUANTITY AVAILABLE:  Aluminum nose pieces for face masks.  Measuring just under 3 1/2" x 1/4", these flexible yet sturdy nose pieces have rounded ends, and are adhesive backed for easy placement.  Package of 10 for $2.50.

Quilts & More magazine, from Better Homes & Gardens. $7.99 each.

Do you need a variety of prints to make masks with?  We have bundles of 10 half yard cuts for only $65.00.  You will get a usable mix of novelty, blenders, batiks, and current lines. For the first 40 bundles sold, we're throwing in twenty 3 1/4" long aluminum nose pieces thoughtfully provided by the SMART, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail and Transportation Workers, while supplies last. (These free nose pieces are not the same as the ones sold above, and will need to be sanded or taped to blunt sharp corners for safety and comfort.)

White 1/4" elastic arrived today.  $.059/yard.


May 1-9 Save $100 on the Ready. Set. GO! cutting machines.

May 4-13 Get $20 off for every $100 spent on GO! dies. Please contact the shop to make this purchase (you won’t be able to take the discount through our online shop).

Face Mask dies are available on the AccuQuilt website. Retailers are not being given any supply to sell in shops.

Handi Quilter ProStitcher owners: Handi Quilter is replacing the Art & Stitch software with their own Pro-Stitcher Designer software. If you are already a Pro-Stitcher owner, you can take advantage of a limited-time offer and save almost $400. Until June 30, 2020, purchase your digital copy of Pro-Stitcher Designer for just $199.95. Visit the new to learn more. While Art & Stitch is still in existence, Handi Quilter will no longer support it.

We are able to accept your sewing machines for cleaning and tune-ups. Go to our website and sign up for machine repair. Bring your machine to the shop. We will take it in and wipe it down with a disinfectant (safe for sewing machines). Our tech will pick it up here and take it home to work on it, then bring it back to the shop. We will let you know it is ready for pick-up and wipe it down again before we give it to you.

If you would like to buy a new Janome sewing machine, Janome will ship the new machine directly to your home so you don’t have to come out to pick it up. The shipping fee varies according to which machine you buy.

Highlighting the Janome Sewist 780DC This is a computerized free arm machine with direct pattern selection. It has a Superior Plus Feed system, a unique needle plate with degree markings, built in needle threader, needle up/down, lock stitch, start/stop button, and an automatic thread cutter. Wide angle LED lighting and a large extension table are included. Regularly $1099, get it at Capital Quilts for just $699 through May 31, 2020. We have 1 in stock.

Computerized free arm with 80 stitches, including 3 buttonholes. Speed control slider, memorized needle up/down, one-hand needle threader, locking stitch button. Backlit LCD screen ,drop feed dog, convenient needle plate markings, Instruction Book in English. Wide-angle LED lighting. Large extension table included.

All Capital Quilts Cares events in the shop are cancelled until further notice.

That said, we have free pillowcase kits available that you can sew at home. They are a wonderful beginner project to do with children. The kiddos will learn some sewing skills and stay busy, too! We can mail them to you or you can pick them up curbside. Return the finished pillowcases to the shop (when you can; there is no rush), and we will donate them to Ryan’s Case for Smiles.

Small Kennel Quilts are also still being shipped out, most recently to southern states affected by tornadoes. If you're making them, we are happy to accept them here at the shop to send to shelters and rescues in need.

All classes, clubs, and events are cancelled until further notice.

When we begin to reschedule classes, those of you who had registered before will be given the first opportunity to sign up for the new class.

The Blue Bag Bonanza program is suspended until further notice.

SAVE THE DATE: To the best of our knowledge, these events have not been cancelled.

October 2-3: NeedleChasers of Chevy Chase Quilt Show, “2020 Vision”, at Kensington Town Hall/Armory

 October 8 - 12: Quilter's Quest

Click to visit the
Capital Quilts website

Monday-Saturday, 11-5
Sunday 12-5


  • Tel: 301-527-0598
  • 15926 Luanne Drive
  • Gaithersburg, MD 20877