Thursday, August 25, 2016

Did you watch some of the Rio Olympics? I found that I couldn't tear myself away from some of the competitions. The athletes inspire me with their dedication to being the best they can be. I even moved my sewing machine into our family room so I could watch some of the events.I didn't really accomplish a lot of sewing!

I did have a quick teaching trip to Illinois just after the Games began. I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with the Hearts & Hands Quilt Guild in O'Fallon. I presented a lecture and students joined me the next day for my Improvisational Curves workshop. Here are several new samples that I shared with the guild.

Improv Chains

Creative Curve Runner

Curves & Wedges

I will be teaching this workshop in Lethbridge in mid-September for the
Lethbridge Centennial Quilt Guild. Will I see you there?

Do check my teaching schedule to see if I will be in your area this fall or in 2017.  If your guild or shop would like me to visit, please get in touch.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

New Pattern

I'm pleased to announce another new pattern - The Pond.

The branches of a weeping willow drift down over a tranquil pond filled with lily pads in this restful wall quilt. This quilt uses strip piecing and appliqué.

Quilt Size: 45" x 53"

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Artisan Spirit - Shimmer Echoes
by Northcott

The pattern includes 
5 different colour options. 

The picture to the right is the
Earth & Ebony colourway. 

The other options are shown below.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Product Review - Marti Michell Templates and MORE!

A couple of years ago I taught the Stonehenge Woodland Block of the Month at a local quilt shop. This quilt was designed to use the Perfect Patchwork Templates by Marti Michell. Her company (From Marti Michell – has a wide range of templates, specialty rulers, patterns and books. The Block of the Month used two sets of templates to make the 12 blocks in the quilt and the pieced sashing.

The wonderful thing about Marti's templates is that the extra 'corners' have been removed. You know what happens when you sew patchwork; you often have little 'ears' of fabric that need to be trimmed off. These are already removed with the templates. And some shapes are very difficult to piece since you may not be sure where to position the two fabric pieces.


I used two other tools along with the templates when demonstrating the monthly blocks to my students.

Quilter's Slip-n-Grips are sandpaper 'dots' with adhesive backing. I put a few of these on the wrong side of each template to prevent slipping as I cut. They are effective and inexpensive insurance.

The other product I used when cutting around the templates is Olfa's 12-inch square Rotating Cutting Mat. It is easy to hold the template in place with one hand, cut one side and then turn the mat with my other hand to cut around the rest of the template accurately.

Look closely at the photographs of the isosceles triangle and side triangles. You will see that the corners are precision designed so the cut edges match perfectly. You just need to match and sew. Since the corners are trimmed away there is less bulk in your seams and with sharp angles you are eliminating the pointed end of a triangle that is most likely to get knotted up in the throat plate of your sewing machine.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

New Patterns

Baker Street

This distinctly masculine flannel quilt
will keep you cozy all winter!

Easy cutting and sewing makes this a fun, fast design.

Quilt Size: 45" x 63"

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Fabric: Haberdashery by Northcott

A picture of the SUPPLY LIST is included online - so you can easily gather your fabrics.

Flourish Monograms

Soft colours, blended textures and subtle alphabet panels
are combined for these simple-to-make quilts.

Use remaining 'letters' for fun Soft Blocks.

Quilt Sizes: 56" x 69" and 34" x 47"

Skill Level: Confident Beginner

Fabric: Stonehenge Monogram by Northcott


Select fabrics from your stash and use a substitute for the 'alphabets'. This is a fun basic pattern that includes my easy method to make Quarter-Square Triangles.

PS - the Soft Blocks can be made in ANY fabric.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Embellishing - Working with Fluffy and Fuzzy Threads

Welcome back!  Did you miss my previous 2 posts about Embellishing my Old Growth quilt?

First instalment about Bobbin Quilting is here.

Second instalment about Couching Thick Threads is here.

Here again is the completed quilt.

In this final post I will be sharing how I use fuzzy threads - they can't go in the bobbin and if I use them in my Free Motion Couching foot they just get 'squashed down' and all the fluffy-ness is gone.

The left edge of this photograph shows the fuzzy threads.

This picture shows the type of threads I'm talking about toda.

It s the wonderful texture of these threads that made me buy them in the first place!  Notice how the top thread and the third thread have an area of fairly even thread and then there is an amazing thread hanging from that thread!  That's the part I LOVE and I was determined to figure out how to use them.  These are knitting yarns - yes, check out your local yarn store for some amazing embellishment threads!

These fibres must be 'couched' just like the thick threads but I don't want to zigzag over them. That pulls all those fibres connected to the main thread to the center and the beauty of the fibres is lost. I went back to the definition of couching from hand embroidery:

"In hand embroidery, couching is a technique in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn."

Laid across .... and ..... small stitches of the same or different yarn........ 
That's what I needed to do. Fasten the fibres at intervals with some sort of stitches!

I set my machine for a zigzag stitch, wide enough to cover the main part of the fibre. This is fairly narrow for the 'hanging thread' type fibres. If you use wider threads you need to set the machine to cover the main part of your fibre. In some cases it might be fairly wide.

I dropped the feed dogs which meant that the zigzag would just stitch on top of itself - like a 'BAR TACK'. That's exactly what I needed to do.  

This is a slower process but very effective. I used a machine sewing thread that would blend with the fibres, placed the fibres where I wanted them and stitched a 'bar tack zigzag' over the threads. Then I just moved to the next place without cutting my top and bobbin thread and tacked the fibres in place again.

Here's a closeup picture. I held 2 threads together for this thread so I could get more of the hanging part onto the quilt.

And this is the area of sky where I wanted to show moss hanging from my trees.
You can't easily see where I tacked this thread

In several areas I left the threads hanging loose. 
That's my hand under the threads so you can see what this looks like. 
There is a bar tack above my hand, but no tacking below.

That's the final instalment for my Embellishment series....until I make some more discoveries!  

I hope you have learned how you can use thick, fuzzy and fluffy threads to embellish your quilts. I'd love to share pictures of YOUR quilts. Click 'Contact' at the top of the page to send them to me.

Have a great rest of your week!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Need to make a QUICK Baby Quilt?

Here's the quick baby quilt I made for my son's friend and his wife. I thought you might like to make one too.

I decided to make 9" finished blocks using a variety of bright prints and solids to see what I could come up with. I didn't plan this quilt in the same way as I do for my published patterns. I just worked on my design wall as I made the blocks. 

My main motivation was 'QUICK' so I added some plain blocks the same size as the pieced blocks. 

I didn't want a normal 'straight set' for this quilt. I wanted the blocks to appear more scattered across the quilt. I decided to add 'spacers' the same size as the frames used for the pieced blocks.

As I worked on the wall I realized that all the rows would end up the same vertical length if I included the same number of 9" blocks (pieced or plain) and the same number of  'spacers' in every row.

My decisions became the 'rules' for this quilt:
  1. All the pieced blocks would be EASY and all the same size.

  2. To make it faster I would use plain blocks, the same size as the pieced blocks.

  3. To make my blocks go 'further' I would add 'spacers' the same size as the frame used in the blocks.

  4. I would include the same number of squares (pieced or plain) and the same number of spacers in each vertical row so each row be the same length.
After I made the quilt I re-created it in Electric Quilt software so I have a way to permanently keep my design in case I want to make it again. 

I also thought this idea would work for a larger quilt too. This quilt is 65" x 82". The outer border is 5-1/2" wide (finished).  The fabrics I used in this quilt are Northcott's Artisan Shimmer Echoes (Earth Colourway).  This fabric will be delivering to stores in October.

Here are the instructions for the parts of these quilts.

 If you prefer larger blocks (or have a group of blocks in your stash), just make the plain squares the same size as your blocks and make spacers that match the width of the blocks.

Send me a picture if you make one of these quilts.  The really are fun to make.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016


Prickly Paws 
Only 2 kits available

This quilt uses
Northcott's Cuddle Comfort Flannel  

Quilt size: 52" x 75"

This is a Fat Quarter project!

Fabric for quilt top & binding PLUS pattern is less than $100 Canadian!
(That's less than $80 US!)

Monday, July 25, 2016

Embellishments - Couching for my Old Growth quilt

How do the weeks get away from us?  Last week was so busy I didn't have time to tell you about the other embellishments I used for my Old Growth quilt. Read my first instalment all about Bobbin Quilting here.

Here's a small image of the final quilt.

There are so many wonderful threads and fibres we can use to add texture to our work. I'm talking about the ones that will not work in your bobbin.....they are too thick or they are too 'fluffy'.  Here are a couple of pictures of the sorts of fibres I have collected over the years.

This week I'm going to talk about how I use THICK threads. Here are some close-up pictures showing where I used them on my quilt.

The best way to use these types of threads, yarns and fibres is to 'couch' them.  So what is COUCHING?  In hand embroidery, couching is a technique in which yarn or other materials are laid across the surface of and fastened in place with small stitches of the same or a different yarn. No, I didn't attach these fibres by hand! I used my sewing machine. 

I have a 'Braiding' foot for my Bernina 440 (#21).

There is an angled hole in the front of the foot. You feed your thick thread through the hole and set your machine to stitch OVER the thread (normally with a zigzag stitch). This is not a 'free motion' foot so it works best for straight lines.

Of course, I didn't want straight lines for this quilt so I turned to another foot - Bernina's 'Free Motion Couching' foot (#43). This foot is designed for a straight stitch, with the feed dogs lowered.

There is a 'thread path channel' built into this foot. 
The pin in the picture below shows you where this channel is.


You feed your thick thread through the channel and the thread
magically travels the path you sew!

As long as it is a fairly thick thread, the straight stitching 
will anchor the thread to your work.

I can sew in any direction, any pattern - 
you can see swirls and lots of curves in the picture below.

Here is another area where I used this foot for couching.

Next time I'll talk about how I use those 'fluffy' threads for embellishing. 

I hope you are enjoying learning how I use lots of interesting threads and fibres in my work. Have you tried any of these?  I'd love to hear about your experiences and discoveries!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Embellishments - Old Growth Quilt

I have had a lot of questions about how I embellished my Old Growth quilt.

Here is a close-up showing the bobbin quilting and couching in more detail.

Today I will talk about the basic tools you will need for bobbin work. Next week I'll talk about couching.

I recommend you have a second bobbin case for your sewing machine. You will be adjusting the bobbin tension to accommodate a wide range of thick threads. Having a second case means you will not have to re-set the tension for your normal sewing threads. Keep this bobbin case in a separate place, perhaps in a zipper bag like I do.

You will need a range of threads to put in the bobbin, so empty bobbins are required too. I think you can never have too many bobbins!

Feeding in the 'ends' of threads to bury them is best done with these specialty needles. On the left is a an Easy Threading needle and the one on the right has a large eye.

I did my 'bobbin work' after I quilted Old Growth because I had very little time in which to complete it. Because the quilt was stabilized with batting and backing I did not need to use a stabilizer. If you do the 'bobbin work' before quilting you will need a stabilizer on the wrong side of your work. One that I like to use is Stable Stuff. It does not need to be removed after stitching.

And the threads for bobbin work....anything that is not 'fuzzy' will work.  Here are some examples of what I use and the results on my quilt. All the stitching is done 'free motion' with my feed dogs lowered and from the wrong side of the quilt.

Perle Cotton
(DMC and Prescencia)
I like size 8 and size 5

From a distance this looks like thousands of French knots.

Hand-dyed Crochet Cotton and Perle Cotton

Hand-dyed threads - stack stitches to add texture,
I used mid-green upper thread.

6-strand Embroidery Floss

Very loose bobbin tension adds more texture with these threads.

Next week I'll talk about how I use fuzzy threads.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Quilt Labels - My process

Do you label all your quilts? I always label mine. 

My labels start with 2 things: Electric Quilt Printable fabric and Microsoft Word.

Sometimes it is as simple as my name, contact info and the date the quilt was made.

Sometimes I like to add colour and interesting shapes to my label. If I use MS Draw (inside Word) or add ClipArt I put the text inside a 'text box' and place that on top of the drawn shape or the ClipArt image. That is how both these labels were made.

When I sewed this label to the quilt, I framed it with strips of fabric used in the quilt.

I can add pictures to my document like I did for these wedding quilt labels for my children. 

And sometimes I put a picture of the quilt on the front or, in the case of the Old Growth quilt, I added the picture that inspired the quilt.

And I've used 'extra blocks' for labels too.

I save my document often as I go along. And I always print a test on paper to see what the label will look like. Have I made any typos? Is the font easy to read? Do I like the colours? Have I allowed a seam allowance around my label?

When I am happy with the design I print the document on the prepared fabric sheet. 

If I am making only 1 label, I fill the rest of the sheet with 'generic' style labels with my name and contact information.  I can use these labels for other quilts and add the quilt name and any other information I want to add using a permanent marker.

I hope my labels have given you ideas for ways to label your quilts. 
I'd love to see pictures of the labels you have added to yours.