Monday, March 25, 2013

5 Quilting Mistakes You Don't Want to Make

Hi everyone:

Ever been in a hurry to start a project? Just so excited to get going and see it through that you rush right in and run into problems partway through? We've all done this, so I thought it might be helpful to provide you with a list so you don't make these quilting mistakes.

  • Not reading the pattern thoroughly before starting a project. Ensure that you understand the construction process and have all the necessary materials before you start the project. You don't want to run out of fabric in the middle of the quilt or not have sufficient fusible web to trace all your appliqués.

Read the entire pattern and ensure you have all the necessary supplies

  • Not taking the time to construct and check the size of one block. Okay, I hate to do this, but isn't it better to take that little bit of time to check one block, than to have made 100 of them and they don't fit together right? Yes, it is - take the time!

Measure and make any adjustments before you make the rest of the blocks

  • Not preparing your sewing machine before you start. Clean the machine, oil it, if necessary, put in a new needle in the appropriate size and check all your settings. Were you quilting the last time you used the machine? Make sure to bring those feed dogs back up and adjust your tension (top and bobbin). Wind a bobbin full of the appropriate thread and you're ready to go! 

Oil your machine and insert a new needle
Wind up some bobbins
    Clean the bobbin area

  • Not closing your rotary cutter between cuts. Okay, this is a safety issue and you may not think that this is an important part of quilting construction, but... just think of how much time you'll lose if you have to go to the emergency room to get stitches in that finger you cut because you FORGOT TO CLOSE YOUR ROTARY CUTTER AFTER EACH CUT! This is a pet peeve of mine, so you'll have to forgive me, but start a new habit now and close the rotary cutter after each cut. A new mantra: cut, close, cut, close, cut, close - I think you've got it!

  • Not having enough snacks. Yes, it is sad, but true, some quilters skip this crucial step and run out of snacks partway through the quilting process. The drop in blood sugar can result in being too tired to keep going and that WIP becomes a UFO. Keep the momentum going and ensure you have enough chocolate chocolate snacks to last you for the duration of your project. 

You can never have too much chocolate!
Hopefully these tips will help you the next time you start a new project. If you have any tips to avoid quilting mistakes, please let me know.

Off to accumulate chocolate snacks!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

International Quilting Day

Hi everyone:

I'm sure most of you know by now that it is International Quilting Day. As if each day isn't already our own Quilting Day for those of us who are addicted to this hobby craft lifestyle! At least we have a valid excuse today to forego house cleaning, cooking, laundry, ...

If you are looking for some quilty things to do today, why not check out some of the fun things that I've found on the internet?

Maybe you'd like to work on some mystery quilt projects. I'm currently following two of these: one is Plenty of Fish from the gals at Prairie Quilt Mercantile 

Image courtesy of
and the other is The Case of the Secret Garden from Linda Franz of Inklingo. This new project from Linda uses her new New York Wheel collection available from Inklingo.

Image courtesy of

I'm especially excited about these mystery projects as they are both from Canadian companies. 

You may want to learn some new techniques and I'm sure you could find at least one class on Craftsy (or two or three, if you're like me!). One I haven't yet signed up for is Sarah Fielke's class on making quilts from scraps. Maybe you would like to try out this class and let me know what you think.
Online Quilting Class

Another class that I haven't yet taken is Machine Finished Hand Appliqué by Beth Ferrier. I think it's the "hand appliqué" part that is stopping me as I prefer to do machine appliqué, but who knows, maybe Beth can convert me!

If you are a fan of The Quilt Show with Ricky Tims and Alex Anderson, you can enjoy their shows for free this week-end. Yup, a whole day spent watching quilting experts educate and entertain you.
Image courtesy of
So, you have a few choices of how you'll spend your time today. Whatever you decide to do, I hope you enjoy your quilting time today and would love to hear what you accomplished.

Oh, I almost forgot: Make sure you click on the links above to access the Craftsy classes and enjoy a 25% off discount from me to you to celebrate International Quilting Day.

Happy quilting, all!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Flash Dance, I mean, Sale!

Hi everyone:

Just a quick post today to tell you about a Flash sale that Craftsy is offering for one day only. Several of Craftsy's most popular classes will be on sale, but only for 12 hours, from 12:01 am until 11:59 pm on March 8, 2013. Yup, this sale will be over in a flash (pardon the pun!). 

If you've been waiting for great prices to try out some of their classes, now is the time. 
For only $14.99 (U.S. funds), you can learn to knit with the Knit Sock Workshop
Online Knitting Class

Perhaps fabric is more your thing, so why not enrol in Sewing with Texture 
Online Sewing Class

or learn how to create your own fabric wonders with The Art of Cloth Dyeing? 
Online Quilting Class

Maybe you are into jewellery making, and Craftsy offers Epoxy Clay Artistry for those who would like to make fun, funky jewellery. 

Online Jewelry Making Classes

When you've finished with these classes, you'll be ready to treat yourself with a little chocolate, so Decadent Chocolate Cakes may be just the thing!

Online Food Craft Class

There are several more classes on sale, but don't hesitate, these prices will be gone in a flash (sorry, just can't help myself). 

I hope you'll take advantage of these great prices and would love to know which class(es) you enrolled in.

Happy crafting!

Book Review - Stitched for Fun

Hi everyone:

March is here and I'm not sure if it arrived like a lamb or a lion here in Calgary. How do you go from +6 celsius one day to below zero temperatures and a foot of snow two days later? That's life in Calgary, always switching from one extreme to another, and the reason why the weather is always a topic of conversation. 

Much like the weather, I've been switching back and forth between embroidery and quilting this month. Some of the work is for upcoming patterns and some is just for pure enjoyment. I'm finding lots of sources of fun embroidery designs in my extensive collection of needlecraft books.

am currently stitching up a design from Darcy Ashton's Papercut Valentines book (this is for pure enjoyment!). It is actually an appliqué design, but I traced it on pink linen (perfect for heartsy designs) and am embroidering it using a backstitch. 
Design from Papercut Valentines by Darcy Ashton
Another book in my collection is Stitched for Fun: 35 Easy and Adorable Embroidery Projects by Fiona Goble from Martingale & Company . 
Stitched for Fun by Fiona Goble
Photo courtesy of Martingale & Company
I think they had me at "easy and adorable". I'm always looking for quick and easy patterns that I can whip up before I become distracted by another idea or project. I also enjoy whimsical designs and this book had me hooked from the first page which features a little "beastie" - definitely my type of design.

If you haven't tried hand embroidery before, don't worry, Fiona has information on everything from the supplies you'll need to how to transfer the designs to your fabric. She also includes great instructions on how to achieve the simple stitches used in the projects. Each project includes a detailed material list and complete instructions as well as clear photos of the project. The patterns are for a variety of fabrics, such as fleece, cotton and felt, as well as paper (cards and tags).

Cool Robot from Stitched for Fun
Photo courtesy of Martingale & Company
There are a variety of projects in the book and it is broken into sections, such as Eat, Sleep, Play, Celebrate, etc. Each section includes several different types of patterns, such as a pencil case, a baby's bib or an embroidered lampshade, to name just a few.
Sweetest Little Baby Face from Stitched for Fun
Photo courtesy of Martingale & Company
I love the whimsical nature of these patterns and appreciate the practicality of the projects. If you're looking for a quick gift for a baby shower, you'll find several ideas in Stitched for Fun. Need a card for a birthday or a gift tag? You'll find patterns for these in the book too.
The Long and Short of it from Stitched for Fun
Photo courtesy of Martingale & Company
One of the things that I look for in a collection of designs is to see how transferable they are: that is, could I use these designs in other ways, in other projects. I would definitely be able to use Fiona's designs on other projects, such as stitched onto a jacket or on the collar of a blouse or even on placemats or a table runner (always looking for a quilting angle). 
Wise Old Owl from Stitched for Fun
Photo courtesy of Martingale & Company
These sweet and charming patterns would be perfect for gifts for children and babies. Even teens would enjoy adding these designs to a card or pencil case - or they could make the cell phone case design included in the book. 

Quick to make, appealing and practical, Stitched for Fun has it all.

Monday, March 4, 2013

5 Steps for Choosing Fabric for Your Next Project - Part 2

Hi everyone:

Another Monday - yay, March already - and time for the final episode with Diane McGregor of Castilleja Cotton

In the previous videos we had discussed fabric value - what it is and why it's important when choosing fabric. In this episode, Diane and I now use this information to explain the 5 steps you can use to choose fabric for a quilt project. 

I found this method very helpful and am using it when I choose fabrics for a new project. It definitely gives more interest and depth to my designs. 

I'm sure you'll find this video very information as well and would like to thank Diane for sharing her advice with me and my readers.

If you're having trouble viewing the video on the blog, you can always click to view it.

Have a great Monday!

Friday, March 1, 2013

DaGMT Update

Hi everyone:

Wow! February is now over and so is the Drop and Give me Twenty challenge. I wasn't sure if I could keep up with doing at least 20 minutes of quilting a day and hesitated to sign up for this, but decided to commit to doing 30 minutes of quilting per day during the month of February. I'm sure glad that I did! I've been able to work on many of my UFO's and also focus on new pattern ideas.

To give you an idea of what I've accomplished this month, here are a few photos.

I was able to finish and publish three patterns this month. Candy Hearts, a stuffed ornament/pincushion or shelf sitter, is a FREE pattern available on my website.

Candy Hearts by Chatterbox Quilts
Another pattern that was completed before Valentine's Day was Sweet Sayings, which combines easy hand embroidery stitches to create a lovely pillow.

Sweet Sayings by Chatterbox Quilts

I also completed Hearts Abloom, a fusible web appliqué wall hanging which features a bouquet of hearts.

Hearts Abloom by Chatterbox Quilts
Now, for the UFO's that I've been working on. I had this sweet cat embroidery completed, but hadn't yet added any borders to it. So, I added some borders. I believe that I was going to cut down the background fabric, but neglected to do this before adding the borders, so... I think I'll stitch these little mice on. This is a Darcy Ashton pattern from her Claire's Cats Volume 1 book.

"Caught You" from Claire's Cats Volume 1 by Darcy Ashton
This wall hanging has been (not) hanging around my quilt studio for several years. I loved the antique letter and stamp fabrics, but was stuck on how to finish quilting it. Since I've recently been watching Cindy Needhan's Craftsy class on free motion quilting, I thought that this would be the perfect project to try out some of her quilting designs. It's almost finished - I just need to quilt the outer border. May try to do some feathers here.

Okay, this is more a WIP than a UFO. I finished the hand embroidery on this pattern and will now need to finish off the appliqué pieces. Hopefully I'll have this pattern ready in time for Halloween!

Black Cat by Chatterbox Quilts
I've recently been experimenting with different uses for my appliqué templates. I traced the Large Peacock appliqué template onto some background fabric and then coloured it in with pencil crayons and then stitched around the individual areas with matching embroidery floss. A few borders and I can now finish quilt it for a small wall hanging - or maybe I'll add a few more blocks and make a larger project. Still thinking about this one.
Large Peacock appliqué template by Chatterbox Quilts
Our guild provides neonatal quilts to one of the local hospitals. I've completed one already, but here is a second one using the slab technique described in Sunday Morning Quilts by Cheryl Arkison and Amanda Jean Nyberg. Just need to quilt this baby up!
Neonatal quilt top
I've also been doing some stitching - I figure anything using a needle and thread can be lumped under "quilting" - and have started (yes, something new) a stitch sampler to try out various stitches, some familiar and some new. Will continue to add to this one and then decide what I want to do with it.
Hand embroidery stitch sampler
In addition to these projects I've been working on other quilty-related items, such as upcoming patterns and other projects. 

Now that February is at a close, I'm hoping to continue this trend through the rest of the year. It's really surprising what you can accomplish when you decide that you're going to do it!

Hope you had a great February too!