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.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

End of an Era

At the end of June we said our 'goodbyes' to a local Sidney, BC institution - Theo's Place restaurant. The owners, Theo and his wife Penelope, have retired and we will miss them. While we didn't 'eat in' all that often, this was a favourite 'take out' restaurant for our family for over 20 years. My husband would do the 'pick up' and he and Theo always spent a few minutes discussing life (and sometimes hockey if there was a game on the small television near the entrance.)

Theo and Penelope are part of a larger family and close friends who came to the Sidney area over 30 years ago. In Greece their families were all in the restaurant business. This continued for many of them here. We have some of the best Greek restaurants right here in our small town. 

I wanted to thank them and immediately thought of a quilt. The newspaper notice was published only a week before the closing date so no time to make something new. I have a large stack (many stacks in fact) of pattern quilts that need new homes. My Mykonos Marble quilt was a perfect choice. 

So the quilt got a new label, our entire family had dinner at the restaurant on the Wednesday before the closing and I gave the quilt to Theo after our meal.

There were hugs all round from Theo - we had to drag him from the kitchen since the restaurant was so busy!  

Wonder how I make labels for my quilts? Come back tomorrow and I'll describe my process.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Happy Canada Day!

Today is Canada's 149th Birthday!

Happy Canada Day

I'll be celebrating with my whole family at the
Sidney Lions Pancake Breakfast in Sidney, BC this morning. 

Perhaps we'll stay for the PARADE too!

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

New pattern for Fall 2016

My work days are usually filled with 2 sorts of tasks - computer work (mainly designing and writing patterns) and studio time. The studio time often takes a 'back seat' to the design and writing time unfortunately. I tell myself each Spring that 'this will be the summer to sew' but progress is often slow. Don't you sometimes wish there were more hours in a day.

I have made progress on a new pattern to be released this fall. I was asked by Island Batik to create a pattern using their upcoming fabrics. I selected a holiday red and green collection (Holly Jolly) and a winter blue collection (Frost) to make an updated version of a Give & Take Applique pattern.

Here's a sneak peak at the banners for the Holiday Bells pattern that will be available in October. They are on their way to California to be photographed for the Island Batik Fall wholesale catalog.

I always announce publication of new patterns first in my FREE newsletter (and newsletter subscribers always get 10% off all pattern orders).
So....why not subscribe to the newsletter while you are here. The place to subscribe is on the right, at the top of this page.  I never share your email address with anyone and you won't be flooded with emails from me. Just once every couple of weeks you'll get a brief note about what's happening in my studio and my life. I often include product reviews and other informative information.

As a BONUS, you'll receive a free pattern as my thank you right away.

What are you working on for the summer?  Any large projects or some of your UFOs?  Have you made a quilt using a Patchworks Studio pattern or a project in a workshop with me?  I'd love to share your photos so email your pictures to me.

Happy Summer Sewing everyone!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Where will your travels take you this summer?

Have you started collecting Row by Row Home Sweet Home patterns yet?  What about kits for each shop's row?

I've been following the buzz and excitement in several Facebook groups and I am amazed at the diversity of the designs I have seen so far.  The quilts that will be made using these patterns will be wonderful. And they are a great way to remember your travels.

If you are travelling throughout British Columbia you can visit 57 shops to collect your Row by Row patterns!

To make it easy to find these shops, there is a Google Map with each shop marked on the map.

This is what the map looks like:

Here is the LINK to the Google Map.  You can 'zoom in and out' with your mouse to more detail. And if you click on a 'red teardrop' you will see the Name, Address, Phone number and Website for that shop.

If your travels will take you to other provinces or anywhere in the US or Europe there is a map for that too.

Here's the LINK so you an ZOOM IN!

So, plan your route, have fun collecting and safe travels everyone!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Row, row, row....

Are you ready to 'start your engines'?  Row by Row Experience® 2016 starts NEXT WEEK - on Tuesday to be precise.

This amazing event is in every Canadian province, all US states and Europe too. So, no matter where your travels take you, you can collect free row patterns from the quilt shops you visit.

I have designed rows for 5 shops this year, 3 here on Vancouver Island, 1 in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia and 1 in New York state.

This year's theme is 'Home Sweet Home' so all the rows reflect the local shop's vision of what 'home' means to them.

Here are a pictures of the rows I have designed. Shops will be handing out the FREE patterns and they'll also have kits available for purchase so you can make your row just like the 'in store' sample. Happy ROWING everyone!

Bib 'n' Tucker, Victoria, BC

Black Sheep Quilt Shop, Duncan, BC

Snip & Stitch Sewing Centre, Nanaimo, BC
Hamels Fabrics & Quilting, Chilliwack, BC
Fabric Mart NY, Yorktown Heights, NY