Friday, November 29, 2013

Craftsy Black Friday Class Sales

Hi everyone:

Have you been shopping for the holiday yarn and fabric sale at Craftsy? Well, now I have even more exciting news: Craftsy classes are on sale at savings of up to 66% off the regular class prices. You can take advantage of these savings from now until December 2.

If you still haven't tried a Craftsy class, what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time to try a class in fine art or cake decorating or even quilting (my personal favourite!). 

Craftsy Fine Art

Online Cake Decorating Class

Online Quilting Class

Online Quilting Class

There are so many choices and each one comes with Craftsy's money-back guarantee - although I can't imagine anyone being disappointed in one of their classes. Click here to choose from a variety of classes on sale now until December 2, 2013.

Have fun shopping for a class to try at great savings.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Craftsy Pre-Black Friday Yarn and Fabric Sales

Hi everyone:

Just a quick post to let you know about the great sales that are available at Craftsy from now until December 2 (can't believe it's going to be December in a few days!). 

You can save up to 80% off yarn and up to 65% off fabric for these few days. Best part is you don't have to wait until Friday to start shopping! 

These are the best prices of the year on craft supplies, so make sure you don't miss out on these fantastic savings! 

Now I'm off to do some shopping myself before the specials are all gone.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Best Sewing Machine - for you

Hi everyone:

I was visiting my LQS to pick up some accessories for my Bernina and was talking to the owner. She told me that she took exception to my comment in one of my videos that you didn't need a "fancy" machine with "all the bells and whistles" to quilt. 

After some discussion I realized that she had a different slant on the "which machine should I buy" question than I did and as a sewing machine vendor, she had some interesting comments.

She advises her customers to "spend until it almost hurts": buy the best machine you can afford or you may soon outgrow it. Know what you want to do with your machine now and consider what you may want to do with it in the future. 

If machine embroidery looks appealing to you, but you're not quite there yet, consider purchasing a machine that has the ability to add an embroidery module to it. If you don't want to purchase the embroidery module now, you can buy that component in the future without having to purchase a new machine. 
Bernina 830
Photo courtesy of

There's nothing more disappointing than to be on the hunt for a new machine six months after you had just purchased a new one. Think long term, rather than just your current needs.

Thinking of trading in your old machine for a new one? Might want to think again about this one. Always handy to have an extra machine in the house in case you have a problem with yours and it is in the shop for servicing. Can also set one machine up for piecing and another for machine embroidery or for quilting. May want to pass this machine on to a younger quilter just starting out or to a daughter or daughter-in-law. You probably won't get much on a trade-in so it's really more valuable to you. Think of it like an older vehicle that has low mileage: it's worth more to you than you would get for it if you sold it.
Janome 8900 QCP
Photo courtesy of
Do your homework. Shop around and look at various models and what they have to offer. If machines have similar features and the price points are comparable, consider after-sales service. Sure, you can save some money up front, but are you buying from a reputable dealer? Someone who is able to service the machine after purchase and will help you should you have any warranty issues or after-warranty issues? Does the vendor offer classes for new owners? You'll definitely want to take advantage of these to get the most out of your machine. After purchase service is invaluable and should also be a consideration when purchasing a sewing machine.
I also think that there is a difference between "want" and "need". You "need" certain features to quilt efficiently, but there may be other options that you "want". If you've got the $$$, go for the "want" machine. You won't regret it. 
I believe that you don't have to buy the top of the line machine when you're first entering the world of quilting, but… don't buy the cheapest model either. Remember, you get what you pay for, so if you don't pay much for a machine, you probably aren't getting a machine that you'll be happy with for quilting. Have a list of features you definitely want and consider what else may be on various machines. Quilting is different than sewing a garment and you need a machine that will be able to stand up under the repetitive stitching that is quilting. Buy a machine that you can grow into, rather than one that will just work for you now. It's a big decision, so take time to consider the machines you've looked at and make sure you try them out. Go back to the store and look at the machines again. Ask about the after purchase service available and make sure you're comfortable with those answers. Check reviews on-line and ask your friends what type of machine they have and why they like - or don't like - it. Educate yourself and consider your options before making the big decision.

I stick to my statement that "the best machine for you is one that has the features you need and fits within your budget". After all, you'll want to make sure there is some money left to buy fabric to use in that new machine!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Deck the halls in Ikea

Hi everyone:

Table Setting Detail at Ikea
We were out shopping at Ikea recently looking for some bedding for the wall beds that we had installed a few weeks ago. Of course all of the Christmas trimmings were out in the store which distracted me from my original list, but I was still able to pick up some plates and napkins for our upcoming Christmas party. Yay! They are usually sold out fairly quickly so I was glad to get my hands on them and it's one less thing I have to pick up in the next few weeks. 

Ikea's displays also reflected the upcoming holiday season and I had to snap a few photos of this gorgeous table setting. 
Festive table setting at Ikea
Wow! This greeted us at the top of the stairs. Very elegant and luxe. I could certainly set my table this way for the holiday meal - if I had six sets of plates! I think the stools would be for the designated drivers as I couldn't imagine sitting on these after a few glasses of wine!
Deck the Halls Ikea style
I also noticed other displays around the store which gave me some ideas. I could visualize three embroidered framed signs with "Deck the halls" on them surrounded by fabric. Sarah also noticed "Let it snow", but I'm not sure I want to encourage that type of thing :)

Here's another idea for some of those doilies that I've been accumulating collecting. Doily in the background and appliqué on top. Will definitely have to try this idea.

After getting all the items on my list (and a few extra things), I had to browse around and ended up checking out chairs. While Gary liked the cream Tullsta chair, I was more tempted by the red version. That's just kind of me.

Tullsta in humdrum cream
Tullsta in red - now you're talking!
I was enjoying our Ikea excursion, but I'm not sure that I could say the same for Gary. Guess it was time to go.

Are we through yet?
The post-Ikea collapse
Now to design a few embroidery designs for the Christmas season.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

You Know it's Winter When …

Hi everyone:
Manga Puppy appliqué template by Jamie Hirst for Chatterbox Quilts

WARNING: This post contains pictures and descriptions of kitties. Dog lovers might want to skip this one.

I think winter has finally arrived in Calgary: there is lots of white stuff on the ground and sandals have given way to winter boots. When the temps outside start to drop, the gas fireplace starts coming on more frequently. While I love to sit in front of the fireplace with a cup of tea and a good quilting book, it's sometimes difficult to find the time to do so. If I do have a few minutes to do this, you can be sure that I don't leave it or the interlopers, AKA Charlie and Teeka, move in.

Sarah was recently working on some homework while basking in the warm glow of the fireplace, but then she made just such an error: yes, she got up and left her place empty. It wasn't long before the two furry cohorts laid claim to her spot – and her homework.

I hope you learn from Sarah's mistake and aren't left out in the cold as she was.

Now it's back to working on a new hand embroidery stitchery in front of the fireplace.
Don't tell Charlie and Teeka!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Branding, Featherweights and me - more experiences from Quilt Market 2013

Hi everyone:

I took several classes while I was at International Quilt Market, one of which had to do with branding.

No, not as in cattle branding, but as in how to create your own recognizable business image and prescence. The panel of experts included Kelly Wilkinson of Creativebug, Michele Muska from Simplicity Creative Group, Linda Nitzen of Sizzix/Ellison, Nancy Soriano of F & W Media, Hope Gibbs of Inkandescent Public Relations and was moderated by Jo Packham, editor of Where Women Create.  These women all had amazing ideas and I was furiously writing them down in my journal so I could act on their ideas after the class. Check out their websites to see what I mean. 

Speaking of after the class, I was waiting to talk to Linda Nitzen and found myself staring at the sign on one of the attendee's rolling cart. Could it be? Yes, it was Nova Montgomery of Nova's Featherweights & Quilting. 

Nova Montgomery of Nova's Featherweights & Quilting
If you are a featherweight junkie, as I am, and you want to learn more about them or need a part, you'll definitely want to visit Nova's website. I've ordered parts and accessories from Nova and been very pleased with the products. She has developed a sew straight guide to use with your Singer Featherweight that doesn't permanently affix to, nor does it mar the finish of the machine bed. It is adjustable and helps you maintain that perfect quarter inch seam allowance. I highly recommend it and was even more pleased to discover that it also fits on my Singer 99 sewing machine. Nova also publishes a monthly Featherweight tip and is available for workshops.

One of my Featherweight babies
The theme of Featherweights continued when I discovered the following pattern at Cynthia England's booth. 

Gotta love a Featherweight pattern!
I was fascinated by Cynthia's "picture piecing" technique and watched her demonstrate it several times. I had to buy one of her books so I could use this technique to create designs from my own photos. And I had to buy the Featherweight pattern of course!
Hoping this will help me create my own "picture pieced" design
While at market I went in search of The Pattern Peddlers. They distribute my patterns in the U.S. and although I have talked and emailed with them, I had never actually met the owner, Penel Jensen. I found her husband, Rollie, in the booth and was pleased to see my patterns and sample prominently displayed in the booth. 
One of the versions of Tweet-Heart 
Several of my designs in posters
Note the butterfly design behind me by Castilleja Cotton
Look for more of my Quilt Market and Festival experiences in upcoming posts along with book reviews. And I know that you're just dying to find out what I brought back!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Quilt Market and Festival 2013 - Thoughts from a Quilt Market Virgin

Hi everyone:

I bet you thought I'd gotten lost at an estate sale, didn't you?! Actually I've been at International Quilt Market and Festival in Houston for the first time and although I'm back, I'm still recovering. All that fabric, all that walking, all those celebrities! 
The entrance at the George R. Brown Convention Centre
Lee of Lala's Lovelys Quilting and I had a great time with hardly a second to spare. When I wasn't oohing and ahhing over the fabric and notions, I was starstruck from meeting the quilting celebrities, who seemed to be everywhere. I'm sure they are used to total strangers rushing up to them, camera or iPhone in hand, begging to have a photo taken with them, but I'm not sure if I would be as gracious if I were in their position. 

Here are a few of the quilting royalty who were kind enough to allow me to photograph them - with me in the picture, of course. Thanks, ladies and gentleman!
Pat Sloan, whose husband was kind enough to take our photo.
Pat Sloan was one of the first people I ran into when I entered the Market floor. She and her husband were on their way somewhere and they were kind enough to stop for photos. I continued to see Pat at various booths throughout Market and Festival. I'm sure she has clones: it's really not humanly possible to be so many places in one week, is it?
Ebony Love of LoveBug Studios
The Queen of Die Cutting
One of the quilters I hoped to see at Market or Festival was Ebony Love. We've been Facebook friends for some time and email back and forth, but had never met in person. I ran into Ebony on the Market floor, while looking for her booth. Ebony was at both Market and Festival and I caught up with her again at the Friday Sampler at Festival where she was demonstrating sashiko techniques. She has just published a new book, Cut it, Sew it, Stow It: Organizers for Your Home, which I picked up while I was in Houston. Look for her upcoming mystery quilt using the Downton Abbey fabric line by Andover Fabrics. Yup, she's one busy lady!
The Downton Abbey line of fabrics by Andover Fabrics
Anne Sutton of Bunny Hill Designs
I've always admired Bunny Hill Designs' patterns, as I love hand embroidery, and was pleased to get the chance to see some of the actual quilts. I managed to get a photo of some of the designs with Anne Sutton, who was sharing a booth with Barb and Mary of Me and My Sister Designs. I'm not in this photo, but that's okay!

Stuart Hillard of The Great British Sewing Bee
You may not know the gentleman in the above photo, but I recognized him right away. It could've been the British accent or perhaps the natty bow tie and pocket square (in American colours, no less), but I instantly recognized Stuart Hillard. If you're an anglophile, you have probably already watched The Great British Sewing Bee and know that Stuart was a contestant in Season 1 on BBC Two. If you haven't watched this reality series yet, you must check it out. The creativity, the craftsmanship, the tension - it has it all. And if you're wondering, Stuart does his quilting on a HQ 18 Avante.

As you can see, I was busy snapping celebrity photos, but I also did check out the new fabrics and the quilt exhibit. I'll be sharing my experiences in future posts, so check back with me in a few days for more Market and Festival photos.