Monday, February 6, 2017

Janome NQM2016! Best travel sewing machine at a NEW discounted price!

I've been meaning to write a post and review of the Janome NQM2016 for months now.  And of course, now they just dropped the price so there's a fire under my butt.

Each year Janome puts out a limited edition sewing machine and donates part of the proceeds to a charity.  This is one of those machines.  It's in the DC series (so it's similar to the DC2015 and the DC2014) which is Janome's yearly series.  The year corresponds to the model number.  This is one of my FAVORITE lines that Janome carries.  Okay let me break some of this down for you.

The yearly DC series is my favorite for travel machines.  The machines typically come with a hard case and they are lightweight (13-18lbs).  The machines are still made in a Janome factory (as are all machines with the Janome name on them) and have a metal interior and quality parts.  So you are still getting a nice machine (with about 40-50 stitches including button holes and all normal utility stitches) in a smaller package.

The NQM2016 stepped it up a few notches.  THIS machine has all the amazing features that I love in this series PLUS that fancy sewing table you see in the photo (with fold up legs for travel or to put away) AND a thread cutter.  This is a major plus for me.  Now that I have a thread cutter on my sewing machine (you just push that little button with scissors on it and it cuts your top and bottom threads for you!) I don't ever want to go back.  It saves me thread and there's a lot less clean up and thread clipping when I'm finished with a project.

All the machines in this line come with a needle up/needle down function and speed control too.  They all have a TON of accessories available too.  And of course, money is being sent to the National Quilt Museum as a donation with every purchase!

Okay now the price.  $599.  Yep.  That's an awesome deal.  It's the SAME price as other Janome machines with less features.  If you are comparing to other brands, this machine has more features for less cost with a lot of similar models.  AND Pink Castle Fabrics is giving you a $60 gift certificate to the shop (which is great to add on accessories!) while supplies last.  Here's the catch.  This is the 2016 model and it's now the year 2017.  This means they are no longer going to make this machine. Make sure you go and buy it now!

Janome NQM2016 Details and Review:

Overall Rating:  9.5/10
Price: $599 (+ $60 Gift)

Best Features: 

  • Thread cutter
  • Extension table
  • Easy stitch selection
  • Lightweight
Worst Features:
  • Smaller throat space
Types of Sewing:  patchwork, garment sewing, home decor.  You can quilt small quilts up to about lap size on this machine.  It's sturdy enough to sew bags.  Has a lot of great stitches for garments!

Who is this machine for?  Easy enough for a beginner.  Still a lot of features that an intermediate or advanced sewist would use.  This is perfect for the sewer who has a huge expensive machine and needs a lightweight travel machine (without skimping on features).  This is also perfect for someone ready to move up from a cheap big box machine or is a beginner. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Geogram by Samarra Khaja! Blog tour stop #1!

Hello!  I'm so excited to be the first person to introduce you to my friend Samarra Khaja's new collection Geogram with Lecien fabrics!  Starting off the blog hop is kind of a big deal... :)

First, here's a photo of Samarra and the pretty rainbow of fabrics that she created!

While this alone is most likely enough to get you to run out and BUY this fabric, I suppose I could show you a project made with it too.  You know, to really seal the deal.  

When I was asked if I wanted to make something with a charm pack of Geogram, I immediately said, "yes!"  I had this idea that I was thinking about using machine applique and orange peels and this line would work perfectly!  I had originally thought about making this into a baby quilt, but I have no babies.  I do have this huge floor pillow that needs a cover.  My son has a new habit of reading or playing Minecraft on the iPad in the middle of the floor on one of the small couch cushions.  This, I think will be much more comfortable for him.

For those of you who aren't familiar with Samarra, you should acquaint yourself with her.  I have been a fan of her fabrics for a long time, even before I knew who she was in person.  She is funny and passionate and really artistic.  And she's a quilter!  This means that she is going to be able to create a line of fabric that makes a really nice quilt.  For example, look at the prints and colors that she chose for this collection.  There's a lot of variety even within the colors.  Like there's green in the collection but it is broken up into several coordinating greens.  And Samarra has chosen to create a lot of stash builders.  You can see that even though there are multiple colors within just one print, they still read as one color.  This will make this collection great for mixing with the rest of your stash. There are 30 prints in Geogram by the way.  Samarra also just published a book, a coloring book and a tattoo book.  You know, in her spare time....

Last Quilt Market, I just happened to sit next to Sue Pelland and lunch.  I have been thinking a lot about machine applique and learning everything that I can about it to step up my game.  What a crazy coincidence that she's like the machine applique queen.  (Seriously, her rulers are genius!)  One of the things I don't love with applique is the stiff look you get with most  fusables like Wonder Under.  But you need something to glue the fabric down.  Sue had mentioned to me to try out Mistyfuse.  It all looks very confusing.  There's no paper.  So how do you iron it?  Well, you have to have a Goddess Sheet.  Okay, that sounds confusing but it's really not.  I watched a YouTube video and it took me about 15 minutes to figure it out.

I had some Mistyfuse, my Goddess Sheet,  a handy new Creative Grids Round Up Tool (which also has a great video tutorial) and a charm pack of Geogram.  I set to work making some orange peels with the Mistyfuse attached to the back.  This stuff is really nice.  It's soft and flexible even with the glue on the back!

I cut out way too many of the little orange peels but that's okay.  I have enough for a second big floor pillow now.  I want the edges to fray (just a bit!) over time and give the pillow a little texture and so I just sewed close to the edge of the orange peels.  I did this with the batting behind it to kill two birds with one stone.  After pressing the peels down, they stayed put really well and I just "quilted" them onto the pillow top!  Done.

I used SOTAK Handmade's zipper closure tutorial and then I had my pillow completed!  It looks really cool with the Geogram doesn't it?  I think the fabric looks great against the bright white.  The pillow finishes at 24" x 24".  Really big and fluffy for the floor.

Before I let you go, I want to show you something.  At Quilt Market, Samarra had this really awesome Home Sweet Home quilt hanging at the Lecien booth with her collection projects.  The font matches the print in Geogram with the text on it.  This is a FREE quilt pattern that Samarra has made, just for us!  If you click on the photo it will take you to the free pattern!

We will have Geogram in stock soon at Pink Castle Fabrics :)

If you don't want to take my word for it that Geogram is awesome. A bunch of other awesome people are going to show you projects too:

Feb 1, Wed
Brenda Ratliff  *that's me!*

Feb 3, Fri

Feb 6, Mon

Feb 8, Wed

Feb 10, Fri
Jessee Maloney

Feb 13, Mon
Nicole Daksiewicz

Feb 15, Wed
Kristi McDonough

Feb 17, Fri
Laura McDowell Hopper

Feb 20, Mon

Feb 22, Wed

Feb 24, Fri

Feb 27, Mon
Rebecca Greco

March 1, Wed

March 2, Thu

March 3, Fri
Samarra Khaja  *last but not least*

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

My Favorite Fabric Finds! #1

Sometimes it's hard to see all the cool fabrics that come into the shop.  And shopping online makes that even harder.  I am going to choose my favorite fabric finds from around Pink Castle each week and tell you more about them.  It's what I would do if you were here in my shop walking around with me!  Hopefully, you get some fun inspiration and see something great you might have missed before!
Cat's Cradle in Metallic and Natural
by Erin Michael from Meow or Never

Okay.  It's geometric metallic cats.  So, I don't think I need to do a hard sell on this one.  But let's chat.  First of all, the metallic on this fabric isn't too sparkly.  So it will add a little bit of interest without being to flashy.  Also the white background pushes this toward the Low Volume category (LOL cat-egory...).  This is something that I would sneak in a quilt with a lot of other prints.  You look at the quilt and then BAM tiny cats.  You didn't even notice until you were up close.  OH! and it comes in two other colors.
Sweet Strawberries in Green
by Atsuko Matsuyama from 30s Collection
I have this thing for cute fabric.  I'm not sure if it's something from my childhood or what but I really love them.  This is cute.  I don't know if you can see it but in one of the green squares there are little jam jars (strawberry jam, obviously).  Each of the squares is 4" x 4" in this patchwork print.  This is what we call in the biz a cheater print.  So, you can quilt this right up for place mats, mixer cover, hot pads...  It's quilting weight cotton so it's also a great backing or whole cloth quilt.  Really easy baby quilt! Buy one yard. quilt right on the lines! DONE!  Also comes in three colors!
Quilt Labels in Gray
by Kathy Hall for Andover Fabrics
I had a lot of people coming into the shop asking me for quilt label fabric. Finally, I found one that I love.  This has SO many cute labels.  So, you cut them out, write on them with a permanent acid free pen (I love the Sakura Micron Pens pens for this!) and sew it onto your project.  We should be labeling quilts ladies and gents...right?  The bigger squares are about 5" x 5" (yes, that's an octopus on the one.  And a fox on that other one.).  There are also smaller labels which I think will be perfect for inside of a pouch or purse!  Comes in two colors!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pat Sloan's Book Tour! Teach Me to Machine Quilt!

See that smiling face on the cover?  That's my friend Pat Sloan!  AND I'm really excited that she asked me to be a part of her book tour for her awesome new book Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt: Learn the Basics of Walking Foot and Free-Motion Quilting.

This book is the third in a new "Teach Me" to quilt series that Pat is putting together.  The other two books in the series, Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Applique: Fusible Applique That's Soft and Simple and Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Sew Triangles: 13 Easy Techniques Plus 12 Fun Quilts are still available so make sure you grab those too so you can have them all!  As a quilt shop owner, I think this is a great idea.  I have customers that will come into the shop and see a quilt and say, "Oh, I could never do that.  I don't know how to _______."  I can just hand them a book with Pat's smiling face on it and say, "Now you can!"

Machine quilting on a home machine is is the most requested class in my shop.  It seems scary at first to quilters.  Here's a quilt top that took hours and hours to finish and they don't want to ruin it.  Or they don't know where to start.  AND you see all these folks who have been quilting for years (or who send their quilts out to a professional) and you compare yourself.  "My quilting could never look like that!"  Of course it can!  Get Pat's book and get practicing!

Teach Me to Machine Quilt has a lot of information.  Some quilting books you see just have a few ages of introductory quilt information and then some projects.  Not so on this book.  It's really meant to dive deep into the subject of machine quilting.  And it really does.  Pat goes over the entire process from start to finish.  She highlights different methods too.  For example, pin basting vs. spray basting. This way you can try both out and decide for yourself which you prefer.  That makes Pat's book one that you can keep as a reference and go back to over and over again.  AND it includes information for BOTH free motion quilting AND walking foot quilting!

One of my favorite things about Teach Me to Machine Quilt are the visual references.  There are a lot of pictures in this book.  Including visual references on thread weights and what that looks like quilted, different ways to piece the back of the quilt, and what your quilting should look like and how to fix issues.  PLUS there are 8 bonus videos that you can watch (information on how to see them is in the book!) so you can really get a good idea of what Pat is talking about.  That is very valuable.

The sample projects at the end of the book are great for practicing what you just learned.  Pat has included both small (nice to start with something more manageable) and larger (lap size) projects.  She also has some applique to practice after you have learned everything from Teach Me to Applique.  I fell in love with the Cherry Pie project from the book and I started a few blocks.

Pretty cool blocks huh?  My plan is to make two more (smaller than the version in Pat's book) and then quilt the baby quilt myself.  These blocks finish at 15" so they are just the right size to make a quick baby quilt.  And I'm pretty sure I can handle quilting that myself .  Especially now that I have Pat's book to walk me through it... get it, walk me... you know because of the walking foot..   Okay, bad joke.

Make sure you go to Pat's Blog and enter to win a copy of her book!  Thanks Pat for including me :)

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Listen to me on Crafty Planner's Podcast!

Are you finishing up your stars and 4 patches for the Stargyle quilt?  I worked on mine last night.  Having Quilt Market and a Glamp Stitchalot a few weeks apart really kept me from my sewing room!  Don't get me wrong, I love my job but I also love to sew and quilt.  And sometimes I just don't get enough time in the sewing room.

A few weeks ago I chatted with Sandi from the Crafty Planner about the industry and a little about Sew Pro.  I felt like I could have chatted with her for hours!  It was a lot of fun, Sandi is really easy to talk to.  

Give a listen to my episode when you get the chance!  I will be on Pat Sloan's radio show next Monday too (November 21, 2016!).  You can listen live!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Bust Yo Scraps - Stargyle Quilt Along - Step 4: Creating Your Sawtooth Stars


Making Stars!  I love quilts with stars in them.  Especially Sawtooth Stars like we have in this quilt!  These are stars are so easy to make. And instead of a plain square in the middle (which you could do if you wanted) we are going to use some of the four patches that we already have completed.  

The finished Star Block size for this quilt is 8".
Queen Size = 41 Stars
Lap Size = 25 Stars

The Sawtooth Star is a 9 patch block created with four flying geese and some squares.  Easy right?  There are a lot of tutorials online on how to create a flying geese block.  If you have a favorite tutorial that you want to use note that you will need  2" x 4" finished flying geese.  My friend over at SuzyQuilts has a great tutorial on how to make a sawtooth star without a ruler:

For each 8" Sawtooth Star you will need:
One 4" finished 4 patch (or a 4.5" sqaure)
Four 2.5" squares of background
Four 2" x 4" finished flying geese (the Goose is the background fabric)

Making the Flying Geese

There are so many tutorials online already for making flying geese.  My favorite method uses the Quilt in a Day Flying Geese ruler by Elenor Burns.  I've been using this ruler for years now.  It creates 4 geese blocks at a time perfectly with just two squares of fabric!  There is very little waste and they come out accurately so your points don't get lost in your seams!  There are several sizes of these rulers.  You will need the Large Flying Geese Ruler for this quilt (this is also the size ruler you need to create the Sparkling Cider quilt too FYI).

Seeing is believing!  Watch this video and be amazed :)

It's easy to cut up all your squares at one time and chain piece each part of creating your Sawtooth stars.  I'm really liking the way the mixed backgrounds look using up some low volume scraps.  Like a chef has their mise en place  it really does make quilting easier to have your fabrics cut and ready.  I usually do this in small groups because I get bored and want to sew :D  But it still helps to do several of the same blocks at a time instead of just one.  

You will need a 5.5" square of background fabric and a 7" square of "star point" fabric using this ruler to create all four of your flying geese!

Now you can easily sew your sawtooth star pieces together! Add in your background squares for the corners and use a 4 patch for the inside square.  

These blocks look really great!  I love seeing all the other fabric choices on Instagram!  Make sure to use the #stargylequilt !  Next week we will learn about sashing and sewing all the blocks together!

Monday, October 10, 2016

Bust Yo Scraps - Stargyle Quilt Along - Step 3: Creating Your 4 Patches


Finally!  Let's get to the sewing!  This weekend I started to cut up my scraps and get started creating some 4 patch blocks.  A four patch block is an easy and quick block to create.  There are SO many tutorials online on how to create them.  So, I will skip the tutorial but I will talk about some of my favorite ways to create them easily and quickly. 

In choosing the fabrics that you will create your four patches remember to look for some contrast between the colors.  This will help the pattern to stand out.  You can create 4 patches that look like a checkerboard (with just two fabrics) OR you can go super scrappy and choose four different fabrics for each block.

The finished 4 patch size for this quilt is 4"

Queen Size = 81 four patches
Lap Size = 49 four patches

The most traditional method of creating a 4 patch block is just sewing four squares together. To create the blocks for this quilt you need to start with 2.5" squares.  You can easily chain piece the squares together to finish your blocks faster.  April Rosenthal has a great tutorial on how to create a perfect four patch this way:

I'm going to be using this awesome new ruler from Creative Grids.  It's called the Turbo 4 Patch Template.  As a shop owner I get links and videos all the time to new notions and tools to help us sew things faster.  When I saw this video on the Turbo 4 Patch ruler, I had to get one to try it out.  The video (or the ruler) doesn't give you an ideal size square to start out with.  You can easily just choose whatever sizes you have already in your stash and you might have extra in the middle (like in the video).  But, I have found that if you start with two 5.5" squares (one light and one dark) you have two finished 4 patch blocks (finished size 4") with little waste.

It is easy enough to chain piece these blocks!  I am using low volume fabrics for my background and some bright colors for contrast on my four patches.  This way I'm able to use up even more scrap fabrics!  I decided to rewatch the Veronica Mars series (again) and I had all these (and some more for the stars) cut out in just one episode.  These are all 5.5" squares.  Each pair (one light and one dark) create two 4 patches!

Easy peasy!  It doesn't matter what method you decide to use to create your 4 patch blocks.  Just remember that you will want your blocks to finish at 4" square (4.5" x 4.5" before you sew them together) for this pattern.

Don't forget to add #stargylequilt on your Instagram posts! I can't wait to see everyone's 4 patch blocks!