Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Stack, Cut and Sew Quilt - Easy Baby Quilt

I haven't really talked a whole lot online about this but I bought another quilt shop in November (2018). It has been a whirlwind of paperwork and cleaning and getting used to a whole new routine. My two shops are about 30 minutes apart (Pink Castle Fabrics and The Stitchery) and they have different inventories. I could go on and on about all the little details that you don't think about before you decide to buy an established business but I won't bore you with all those details right now. One of the side effects of this new business for me is a lot less free time in my schedule. And unfortunately, sewing gets pushed to the back burner when there's more work to be done. I know that sewing for even just a little while each day will help reduce my stress levels so I attempted to schedule in some time last week to sew.

Well, I tried it and I did it. It wasn't a whole week off to reorganize my stash (which would be amazing) or anything but I made sure that I sewed a little bit a few times during the week. As I was sewing I kept thinking about prep work and other small things I can do ahead of time to optimize the little time that I do have to enjoy my hobby. I mean it is my hobby. Sure, I've built my career around sewing. But that's because it's something that I enjoy. It's hard to think about being creative and getting excited to use the fabrics that you have in your stash when you see fabric all day. Especially when your stress levels are high and you are running your life on little sleep. Getting back to the sewing room and just doing a small amount of creative thinking and sewing really did help me to de-stress. I'm hoping that I can continue this trend until it becomes more of a habit again. 

I really wanted to find a pattern that would give me a quick and easy win. It's always encouraging when you complete a project. It's so satisfying to have a finish and I knew it would help me to get excited about starting the next one. A finish that I could do in small chunks of time and that was simple enough for late night sewing (after a full day of work when my brain is mush). Luckily, I keep an extensive quilting Pinterest board with thousands of quilts that I think are beautiful. It has taken me years of browsing and repinning quilts when I'm supposed to be sleeping to grow such an amazing collection😅. I had Pinned a  photo of a beautiful quilt by Allison from Cluck Cluck Sew a while back, and it just so happened to be a photo from her Easy Stack, Cut and Sew Tutorial. This is a simple stack and whack technique and it doesn't require a lot of math or precision (all the blocks are squared up before they are sewn together). If you are looking to try something a little more improvisational, this is a good tutorial to start with. Have you ever tried improv quilting? I personally find it enjoyable to take my time and choose just the right fabric to use in my project and I like to do things a little different or outside of the box sometimes. I see customers that really get uncomfortable doing improv or anything that really deviates from a pattern. It's like they are afraid to take the risk. Maybe the fabric is expensive and they worry about wasting money? Or maybe it's choosing the colors and the quilter is afraid that her choices are going to look terrible? I think that it's a struggle to get past the idea that you might fail. This is something I believe in a much broader sense but also with quilting. We've been taught that it's wrong to fail or that you are somehow a bad person because you might have shortcomings. And that's not true. Failing is part of the whole process. We have all abandoned a project that wasn't as magical as the initial concept. And that is something to learn to be okay with. It's also okay to not want to work on a project that pushes you creatively every time you sit down at your sewing machine. There's something so satisfying about just sewing random squares together. It's totally acceptable to buy a quilt kit and just follow the instructions. You will still get the therapeutic benefits of sewing without all the picking of the fabrics or pesky quilt math. 

The Easy Stack, Cut and Sew method is perfect for a layer cake! I know a lot of you have purchased a layer cake you couldn't live without and then it sits in your stash while you try to find the perfect pattern. This is a great pattern to bring out those layer cakes and put them to good use!

I decided to go through my stash and cut fabrics that I love from scraps and fat quarters. I even allowed myself to use some precious fabrics for this little baby quilt. These Pezzy prints and the woodgrain fabric from Joel Dewberry have been in my stash for years. They are hard to find now (obviously out of print by this time!) and I have a tendency to try to save these and other fabrics that are hard to find even if they are a good fit for the project I'm working on.

I really need to get some more lighting for my sewing space. It's in my finished basement (and I'm sure a lot of you have the same sewing set up) and I'm generally sewing at night when it's really dark down there. You can see (hopefully the photo isn't too dark) how the block pairs match up. It's kind of fun to find all the mates in the quilt.

Now that the top is complete I'm going to take it to Pink Castle and quilt it on my Janome Quilt Maker Pro 18 longarm. We started taking in quilts for longarming at the shop! It was a learning curve figuring out all the details of a longarm but it was all worth it. I can't wait to show you the finished project!

On a completely different note but still, on the topic of improv quilting, I was sad to see that Gwen Marston passed away recently. Her Liberated Medallion and Liberated Quilts books are two of my favorites in my personal library. If you have never read any of her books I highly recommend them.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Sewing Machine Accessories - Janome Specialty Spool Holder

I know spool caps might not be the height of conversation at dinner parties but selecting the wrong size  to use on your sewing machine may cause tension issues. As the owner of two sewing machine dealerships, I hear about tension issues on sewing machines a lot. You want to choose a spool cap that is the same size or smaller than the spool of thread that you are using.

Maybe you bought a Janome machine and it came with some of these little guys. Most people have no idea what they are or when to use them. These are the Specialty Spool Caps from Janome. These are the perfect size to use with Aurifil large spools and Mettler Metrosene threads.

You can see in the photo just how nice these fit on the end of the spool. This is perfect for making sure that the thread comes off the spool smoothly all the way to the very end! If these didn't come with your machine you can pick them up here at Pink Castle Fabrics

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Liberty of London Patchwork Linen Zipper Pouch

This month our Modern Quilt Guild is doing a zipper pouch swap. Apparently I had pinned this Zipper Pouch Tutorial by the Sewing Chick more than one time on my Pinterest boards so I'm glad I had a reason to make it.

Instead of leaving a hole in the lining of the bag and pulling it through like I have done every other time I've made a zipper pouch, she has you make a small bindings for the linings. It ends up looking nice but it was a bit tedious. I'm sure it didn't help that I was finishing the bag at 11:00 at night.

I used some Liberty of London tana lawn scraps and some Cotton+Steel sparkle linen for the outside. And my favorite Add it Up print from Cotton+Steel for the lining. I used fusible fleece for the interfacing instead of ShapeFlex 101. I wanted it to stand up and have some body. 

I really like the way this turned out! I really like the Liberty scraps too.  They are the perfect scale for a little pouch.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tutorial: How to Patch a Hole in Your Jeans with a Janome Buttonhole Foot

How to Mend Your Denim:

I love wearing jeans. I wear them almost every day. I am lucky enough that I don't have to wear dress casual to work, I can just wear some blue jeans. They are comfortable and look great with everything. Easy! But wearing jeans every day means that eventually, they get a hole. Look, I know it's cool to have holes in your jeans and I know visible mending is all the rage these days but some holes are in spots that are in areas that you don't want to draw attention too if you catch my drift... 

So this tutorial will show you how to mend your jeans in a much less visible way. You can always use a contrasting color of thread to darn if you want it to stand out.

What is darning?

Darning describes a way of mending a hole in a woven fabric using threads or yarns in an interwoven fabric. I always think about darning socks or other knitted things but it can mean any woven fabric. You will want to stabilize the back of the hole and then go over the hole in two different directions. A lot of times when people think of darning they think about stitching by hand but it can also be done with a sewing machine.

I'm going to show you how to use the darning stitch on your sewing machine to mend your jeans but you can also go back and forth over your hole with a straight stitch if you don't have a darning stitch on your sewing machine. 

How to darn your jeans on your sewing machine:

Choose a thread color that is close to the denim wash.
1. Choose a thread color that is a close match to your denim wash. My jeans that needed a repair are a medium wash and I used Aurifil color #1158 in 50 weight thread. I used 100% cotton thread but any thread should work. 

2. Setting up the sewing machine. I used the Janome 9400 to repair my jeans but the darning stitch can be found on many sewing machines. I circled the stitch in red on the photo, it's stitch #13 under buttonholes. You can see what it looks like below. On the Janome machines you use the one step buttonhole foot for this stitch. I took the metal stabilizing plate off my buttonhole foot to do this repair.

3. Stabilize the hole. I keep small pieces of Pellon Shape Flex 101 (SF101) left over from other projects and that works really well for mending. Shape Flex is a cotton fabric with glue on one side that you fuse onto fabric to stabilize with an iron. 

Once you cut out a piece of SF101 (make sure it is bigger than the hole with extra!) fuse it to the wrong side (inside) your jeans. Be careful to try to pull the hole closed a bit.


4.  Darn the hole. I made a video for you to see how the darning stitch works on the Janome machines. You will most likely (depending on where the hole is in your jeans) need to use the free arm on your machine. I stitched on the right side of my fabric directly over the hole.  I had to restart the stitch several times to cover the entire hole. 

Then you want to go over the hole and your stitches in a perpendicular direction. You will want to turn your jeans 90 degrees and go over everything again. This interweave of stitches will look like the photo below.

That's it! Now your jeans are mended! The whole process is quick and easy (especially once you learn how to use the darning stitch on your machine!) and you will get a lot more wear out of your favorite jeans! 

*extra note* after a few washings the glue on the Shape Flex might come off and the cotton fabric won't be attached anymore on the inside of your jeans. I just cut the SF101 around the darning once this happens. It won't hurt your repair!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Using Machine Embroidery in a Quilted Pillow - Janome Skyline S9

I know it's been a while since I've blogged regularly. I have been so busy with my shop, Pink Castle Fabrics. And, I recently purchased another quilting shop in Howell, Michigan called The Stitchery Sewing center. I have to say that it was a longer process than I had anticipated, buying someone else's existing business. Of course, now I have the challenge of bringing the shop back up to speed and full inventory. And just like any process, there are bumps in the road and unexpected complications. But I'm getting there and I'm hoping that both shops will be running smoothly soon enough.

It's been ages since I was able to set foot in my sewing room.  I finally got a chance this weekend to clean up a little bit and put together a project. I had this machine embroidery that I made with the Janome Skyline S9 at work and I finally made it into a quilted pillow.

The Janome S9 has some built in exclusive embroidery patterns by Anna Maria Horner (this is my favorite one!). It's really a great machine and I think the embroidery looks beautiful. This design took about an hour to stitch out and it has something like 13 thread changes. Worth it! And I really like the way it looks stitched up on the Essex linen with sparkles. I'm not sure if you can see that in the photo but the Metallic Essex linens from Robert Kaufman have a slight sparkle to them without being to glittery. They are a linen/cotton blend and not too heavy so they work nicely with quilting weight cottons.

I've been thinking a lot about machine embroidery. There are a lot of ladies at my new shop that are really into it and come up with some lovely projects. I'm hoping to start coming up with ways to incorporate the machine embroidery in projects that look more modern. I've learned so much about stabilizer and threads for machine embroidery over the last few years but I know there's a lot more to learn!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Splendid Sampler 2: My Flock, and a Garden Club giveaway!

My Flock - Splendid Sampler 2 Block!

I'm very excited that today my pattern for the Splendid Sampler 2 is released! I'm very honored that Pat and Jane asked me to be a part of this collaboration. There are a lot of amazing quilters that are involved in this book! Speaking of the book, it will be released in October but it is available for pre-order now! And of course you can get a head start on some blocks like mine ;)

I wanted to create a block that featured flying geese, they are one of my favorites! There are so many ways to make them and rulers out there to help make them quickly and easily. If you have never tried to make flying geese today is the day to start!  

I made up a second version of the this block in my brand new Garden Club fabric collection for RJR! This is perfectly timed because my new fabrics are shipping to shops right now!

AND I'm also going to give away a Fat Quarter bundle of Garden Club to you as well! Just leave me a comment on this post and I will choose a winner on Monday, August 6, 2018!

Happy sewing friends! Hope you have fun making my block! Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Splendid Sampler 2 - Block #1 from Alex Veronelli

It's the kickoff day for the Splendid Sampler 2!  The first featured block is by Alex Veronelli of Aurifil thread fame. And of course I added some of my favorite Aurifil threads to my photo for you. I have been using these Italian threads now for 8 years! See the little wooden spool in the photo? That is the new 80 weight thread! It's sooo thin! You can use it in your sewing machine (I still used the 50 weight for this block) but I'm excited to try using the thinner weight for some hand stitching on some of these blocks. 

To download today's free block pattern head to The Spendid Sampler website:

I'm sure this block could have gone together faster if I wasn't so particular about colors. It was still quick and I used ALL scraps! You know I love a good scrap quilt! I'm hoping these blocks help me use up my massive scrap collection.

After stitching this block I added a line of stay stitching around the edges. It's just a straight line stitch around the edge of the entire block. With this many seams and some being on the bias it will help my block hold it's shape until it gets sewn up into a quilt!

Don't forget to link up your finished block on the Splendid Sampler website!