Tuesday, January 28, 2014

New Toys in the ...

Hi everyone:

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter! I have some new toys in my quilt studio (not some other room in the house!). 

I was fortunate enough (after ordering it myself) to get a new Brother Scan N Cut for Christmas. It was actually in the house before Christmas, but hubby wrapped it up and under the tree it went, where it sat until Christmas morning when I could finally unwrap it. 

Photo courtesy of brother-usa
Then I had to read the manual to learn about it. Now I'm working on transferring my pattern files to the appropriate file format so the Scan N Cut can read it and cut out my appliqué designs for me. I have cut out some of the pre-loaded designs and it worked great! I'm looking forward to using it for printing out appliqué shapes that are difficult to cut out crisply by hand, such as circles. I'll keep you posted on my progress. 

Then, just a week ago, I sold my mid-arm frame, Juki sewing machine and Quilter's Cruise Control package, so definitely needed to replace my Juki (no longer any room for a long-arm, mid-arm or small-arm frame in my renovated studio). 
Bye, bye B-Line frame and Juki
I was going to purchase the newer model of this machine, but thought that maybe I should investigate what features were available on new machines that I might not currently have on my Bernina Virtuosa 153QE (yes, I have more than one sewing machine). I was looking for a large throat space for quilting, good lighting, start/stop button, speed control and a few other features. A machine that fit into my budget would also be good!

After much research on-line, I decided to look at the Janome Horizon 8900 QCP, which just happened to be on sale. Wow! Sewing machines have certainly changed in the past few years! After spending some time at my local Janome dealer, putting this machine through its paces, I decided to get it. And came home with it the same day! 
It's "Teeka approved"
Besides an excellent price, I also received a promotional package of Iris 50 wt. cotton thread and a rolling tote for the machine. 
Nice to receive thread with the new sewing machine

A free box of bobbins and I was on my way home. 
Pretty blue bobbins - they come in pink too
I've already quilted with it and have done some piecing as well. I love the start/stop button and the speed control - it makes such a difference when I'm quilting. 

While I was reluctant to let the Juki go (I feel so disloyal), I am really enjoying my new Janome. 
At home in the sewing cabinet
Look forward to more information about the Janome as I learn about its her other features.

Friday, January 24, 2014

Empty Spaces in Your Fabric Stash?

Hi everyone:
I'm sure you made lots of Christmas gifts for friends and family this year and your fabric stash is looking a bit depleted. Don't fret, Craftsy is having another sale - on fabric and yarn. 

This Friday and Saturday, save on fantastic fabric and yarn from the Craftsy Flash Sale ! For 48 hours only(1/24 - 1/25), get great deals on supplies from your favorite designers and brands. Save up to 65% off fabric and up to to 80% off yarn. Need inspiration? Craftsy's project kits are also on sale up to 60% off. (I've already found several kits that I'd love to have at great prices, such as the Squared Up quilt kit or maybe the Sweet Treats one). 

The sale expires this Saturday at midnight, so when you find something you love, don't wait! Click on the links below to go to the Fabric or Yarn pages:

Craftsy Fabric Flash Sale 1/24 - 1/25 Only!
Craftsy Yarn Flash Sale 1/24 - 1/25 Only!

**I'm a Craftsy affiliate and am compensated if you purchase items through my links. It helps to pay for the many Craftsy classes that I'm enrolled in.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Cat out of the Bag?

Hi everyone:

In my last post I was discussing the problem in keeping Charlie out of my fabric stash. Little did I know that this annoying cute habit of hiding in fabric is becoming a fetish for Charlie. I may have to take him to the kitty psychologist if this continues. Have a look at where he likes to sleep during the day. Thank goodness he actually meows when we call his name or we'd never find him. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cats in Fabric

Hi everyone:

I'm enjoying working in my renovated quilt studio and it really helps to have things organized so I can find them when I need to without spending an hour just hunting down that specific fabric that I need for my current project. You know that I put in some new Ikea Billy bookcases to use for fabric storage and I'm proud to say that my fabric is still nicely folded and in its appropriate category. There's just one problem...
Billy bookcases housing fabric stash -
note the partially open door
the doors operate on a magnetic catch where you just have to push them to open. This makes it very easy to open them for me … and also for Charlie. I thought that having the doors on my fabric storage units would keep the cats and their associated fur out of my fabric. Well, while this is true for Teeka, I can't say the same for Charlie. 
Tell me that isn't a cat in there! Charlie!!
Yes, it appears that cats also find magnetic catches easy to operate!
I thought this was my new snuggle place.

Charlie pushes at the door until it pops open slightly and then paws it open so he can club in and enjoy hiding in the fabric cubby.
You're not going to make me leave, are you?
Okay, so I can deal with one of them in the fabric, but not when this happens:
What are you doing in there? Can I join you?
Yes, Charlie is now encouraging Teeka to join him for some snuggle time in the quilt fabric.
Check it out - it's warm and soft, you'll love it!
So far Teeka hasn't been very enthusiastic and I'm hoping this continues, but I may soon be looking for some new latches for these bookcases to keep the purry assistants out of my stash. 

How do you keep your pets out of your fabrics?

Friday, January 17, 2014

Don't Miss the Craftsy Flash Sale

Hi everyone:


Craftsy will be having a 48 hour Flash Sale this week-end with classes up to 50% off.

This year, turn your resolutions into reality with Craftsy! On January 18 and 19 you can choose from over 50 classes in 14 categories that are up to 50% off and start learning from the comfort of your own home. Categories include cooking, photography, sewing, quilting, fine art, knitting, and more! Check out the flash sale here:


Have fun choosing your classes and learning this week-end!

Now I'm off to do some more work on my Stitch and Slash project (maybe this class will be on sale this week-end - it's so much fun!).

Craftsy Stitch and Slash class

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Do You Need a Little Help with That?

Hi everyone:

I've been spending quite a bit of time in my studio lately, mostly working on my computer. I do take breaks every so often to do some actual quilting, but I typically have my head down completely immersed in Photoshop, Illustrator or Blogger (like now!). It can get rather lonely by myself downstairs, so I'm glad that my furry assistants like to be with me in my studio to keep me company. 
Teeka sometimes prefers to be in the project bin

While Teeka is content to sleep quietly on my cutting table or sewing machine cabinet (everything is covered with sheets to keep the fur off my tools), Charlie insists on more attention. How can you resist those gorgeous green eyes?

Can you see me? I need some attention.
Still not aware that I'm here? Meow!

Hey, I need someone to play with. That means you!
See what happens when you don't pay attention to me!
I guess I need to take more breaks to pay attention to Charlie. I hate to think what he might do to my stash if he's feeling neglected!

Do you have purry assistants who like to "help" you with your quilting? I'd love to hear about them.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Tutorial - Seasonal Mug Rug

Hi everyone:
Charlie is still recovering from the Christmas holidays
In a previous post I showed you some of the Christmas gifts that I made this year, but there were more. Yes, I made gifts for my office co-workers at school. I made something I've never attempted before - mug rugs! Easy and simple, right? I could whip these up quickly since they were small. But … I had to make 4 (I ended up making 6 so we could have 2 at home) and … I wasn't content to just use Christmas fabric since that would be practical and easy. Yes, I can complicate any project - and I usually do! 
I had some seasonal charm pack fabric in my stash and while I could've just used a different charm square for each tree, which would be the quick and easy method, I decided to piece them together to make the design more interesting. Remember that complication thing I mentioned? Well, you can see how this project started to "snowball" and took me a bit longer than I thought it would. 

Here's how I made them.*

Seasonal Mug Rug Tutorial

  • Choose your charm squares and cut them in 4 - you'll have 4 - 1¼" x 5" strips from each charm square. You'll need 8 charm squares for each "tree" (8 - 1¼" x 5" strips).

  • Piece 8 strips together to create a rectangle for 1 tree. Piece the extra strips together to create 3 more rectangles. 

  • Cut a long triangular shape approximately 6½" x 3" from freezer paper. Ensure that the height of the triangle is shorter than the height of the pieced charm square rectangle and that the width of the triangle is less than the width of the charm square rectangle. Centre and press the freezer paper triangle to the charm square rectangle.

  • Cut a rectangle from background fabric to the desired size. My background fabric was 10" x 8", which gave me extra fabric so I could trim it later.  
  • Place the charm square rectangle with the freezer paper triangle onto the background fabric, arranging it where desired. I put mine on the right side of the background fabric, about ½" in from the edges.

  • Lay your ruler along the right edge of the freezer paper triangle and cut through both the charm square rectangle and the background fabric. Ensure that you cut from the top to the bottom of the background fabric.

  • Repeat for the left side of the freezer paper triangle. 

  •  The background fabric will now be cut apart and there will be a triangle of background fabric as well as a triangle from the charm square rectangle. Remove the freezer paper from the charm square triangle (notice how it has gone from a rectangle to a triangle - that's higher math!). You can reuse this freezer paper to cut out the rest of the "trees" for the other mug rugs. I haven't yet decided how I'm going to use the background fabric triangle - lots of possibilities there. You won't need it for the mug rug, so put this aside for another project.

  •  Now to start stitching things back together! Place the charm square triangle right sides together with one of the background fabric pieces. Ensure that you have these the right orientation and piece them together. The tip (narrowest part) of the triangle will be with the widest edge of the background fabric piece and the bottom (widest part) of the triangle will be with the narrowest edge of the background fabric piece. Press to the background fabric. Stitch the opposite side of the triangle to the remaining piece of background fabric and press.

  •  You should now have a raw mug rug that looks something like this. You can now trim it up so all edges are even.

  • Layer the mug rug as follows: batting; top, right side up; and backing, wrong side up and then stitch around, leaving an opening to turn the mug rug. Turn the mug rug right side out, pushing out all the corners. Stitch the opening closed with a whip stitch. The mug rugs are looking pretty good, but they still need a little more interest.
  • Now it's time for the fun part - adding embellishment to the mug rug. As I was running behind on mine, I decided to keep it simple (a surprise, I know!) and I stitched in the ditch around the tree on each mug rug and then added a decorative feather stitch around the outside edge. If you wanted, you could add words, such as "Joy" or "Noel" on the background fabric with fusible web appliqué. I would caution against using many 3-D embellishments, such as buttons as you want these flat so they can be used for - a mug and goodies. 

This is a great project for last minute gifts and the perfect time to try using out some of those decorative machine stitches that you have on your machine and have never tried. I know I can't be the only one who doesn't use these very often! Another embellishment idea would be to stitch rick rack along the edge or couch decorative threads in a design. You could do some quilting in the background area, but these are so small that I don't think you need more than the stitch in the ditch around the tree and some decorative machine stitching, but I'll leave that decision to you.

Have you ever made mug rugs? What is your favourite pattern for these?

*These were inspired by a video for a tree table runner that I saw from Missouri Quilt Company

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Free 2014 Block of the Month class from Craftsy

Hi everyone:

FREE Block of the Month class at Craftsy.com
Looking for a new quilt project to start off 2014? Well, you're in luck! Craftsy just announced their Block of the Month class for 2014 and the best part - it's free! Yup, no money out of your pocket for lots of learning. Janine Burke and Amy Walsh will help you choose colour for your quilts and you will end up with a lovely sampler quilt at the end of this free mini-class.
FREE Block of the Month class at Craftsy.com

Not a Craftsy member? No problem! Registration is free - and the class is too, but I mentioned that already, didn't I? Just click here to sign up for the Craftsy 2014 Block of the Month class and start learning and creating today. You can also purchase a kit (currently on sale) of the Michael Miller fabrics needed for this class. Really makes it easy!

Okay, there might be one problem - you're not a quilter. Yes, I now it's hard to believe, but there are some people out there who aren't. Again, no problem! Craftsy offers other free classes where you can learn about sewing, making a pizza at home or even how to take beautiful family portraits. Remember, these classes are all free too! Check out your other, non-quilting options in Craftsy Free Classes. And if you are a quilter, you can still register for these classes tooand learn a new skill.

Sign up today and start off 2014 with a new Block of the Month project - for free. Oh yeah, I did mention that, once or twice, didn't I?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Snazzy Stitched Portrait class from Craftsy

Hi everyone:

Did you know that there are 36 quilting classes currently on sale on Craftsy? If you haven't yet taken one of their classes or have several on your wish list (yes, you can wish list their classes), now is the time to enrol in some.
Online Quilting Classes

I've just added yet another Craftsy class to my ever expanding library. I enrolled in Snazzy Stitched Portraits with Carol Ann Waugh and am really looking forward to these lessons. 
Online Stupendous Stitching Class

Why did I choose this class? Well, I've enrolled in both of Carol Ann's other classes, Stupendous Stitching and Stitch and Slash and am currently working on a project for the Stitch and Slash class. 
Online Quilting Class

It's such fun to use a seam ripper for a constructive purpose! It's an easy technique with awesome results. You only need 4 fabrics for this project, so I chose 4 batik fat quarters from my stash (using fabrics from my stash again instead of purchasing more fabric - yay!), then drew up a design and stitched it and then the slashing began. Sounds rather violent, doesn't it? Actually it was very freeing to get that seam ripper in there and start subtracting fabric. 
Here are the batik fabrics that I chose - no pastels for this girl!
I thought that I might have problems only ripping through one layer of fabric, but I didn't have any difficulties at all. The only thing that caused me concern was deciding how much fabric subtraction (ie. slashing) to do. As Carol Ann says, "There are no mistakes", so this really took the stress out of this decision making. I just kept slashing until I liked the look of the piece. 
Here is how the top looks - see all the fabrics?
Detail of top
Next I have to add some texture by couching on some ribbon or yarn.  I'm liking the look of the sari ribbon that I purchased from The Steam Trunk Craftworks, just because I liked the colour (see, using up what I already have again!).
I think this sari ribbon goes very well
 I may even add some small doilies or beads - the sky is really the limit here. 
These doilies really pick up the colours in the fabrics
Then of course I'll get to use some of my decorative machine stitches and practice my free motion quilting to finish off the project.

Maybe I'll use one or more of these variegated King Tut threads
This thread might be nice for some
hand embroidery embellishment
Once I finish this project, I'll have to work on the Stupendous Stitching one. I bought the book that accompanies this class as well as a project kit with embroidery threads in it. Although Craftsy no longer offers this kit (it was a great deal!), you can purchase the book and other supplies directly from Carol Ann's store on her website (if you are outside the U.S., you can purchase her book and supplies from Blue Twig Studio).

I highly recommend Carol Ann's classes - she is a great teacher and has a sense of humour, which I think is so important when teaching.
Another part of my Stitch and Slash project
Have you taken one of Carol Ann Waugh's classes or another Craftsy class? I'd love to see what you created.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Quilt Gifts for Christmas 2013

Hi everyone:

It's another cold winter day in Calgary today - I'm beginning to think that we're entering another ice age! What better to do when it's too cold to go outside but to blog about quilting?

Zoolights at the Calgary Zoo
I was busy making several quilty Christmas gifts this year and since the day has now passed I can share these with you. I got a late start on making these, but managed to get them all done on time and mailed out. It's amazing what you can do with a tight deadline - and that seems to be the only way I actually get projects finished!
Christmas table runner made for my parents. 
I made a table runner for my Mom and Dad and have one for myself in similar, but slightly different, fabrics. I still have to quilt this one, but why rush it since I won't need to use it until next Christmas. 
I used the Peace and Joy table runner pattern from Linda Lum DeBono's book, Sew Merry and Bright, (I added different appliqués to it) and a bundle of fat quarters from Connecting Threads that I had in my stash (didn't even need to buy new fabric - yay!).
Table runner detail
The snowflake and reindeer appliqués are cut from AccuQuilt GO! dies and I edged them with a narrow zigzag stitch and used gold metallic thread. I used different quilting motifs in the various fabrics and was pleased with the end result. This project took me a few days, mostly due to the intense quilting on it.
Quilting detail
Table runner back showing quilting detail
Look at those snowballs!
I made a wall hanging for my brother and his girlfriend for their new cottage. This panel and fabric were in my stash too - another yay! 
Wall hanging for my brother
This project did go together quickly and the quilting wasn't as intense on this one, so it was completed in a couple of days. 
Wall hanging detail showing quilting
I made a few more Christmas gifts for close girlfriends. They were a big hit. 
Something to keep you warm at night
Merry Christmas, girls!

I don't think any words are needed for these - a picture is worth a thousand words!

Have you ever made any "controversial" gifts as Christmas presents? I'd love to hear your stories.