Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Pressing Issue

Hi everyone:

I don't know about you, but I find that it's sometimes difficult to press my fabrics on my ironing board. It's just the wrong shape. It should be rectangular and long enough so I can open up my fabric and press across the width of fabric, not the funny recta-triangle shape of a typical ironing board. I could, of course, purchase a specialty ironing board, but I really don't want to spend that much money on one. So, I decided to make one myself.

If you'd like to make yourself a portable pressing board, you'll need:

Piece of OSB or melamine in the desired size (I used melamine and it was 24" x 48")
Cotton batting (don't use a poly blend, just good old cotton batting, such as Warm and Natural)
Cotton fabric
Gripper shelf liner
Staple gun

First, I cut out two strips of the gripper shelf liner, wide enough to cover the width of the melamine (24" in my case) and about 10" wide and then stapled one strip to the top part of the melamine, on the back, and the other strip to the bottom of the melamine, on the back. This will help keep the board in place, on your counter, on your cutting table, wherever you decide to put it.
Close up of gripper shelf liner
Gripper shelf liner strips attached to back of melamine board
Next, I laid the melamine on the floor and measured and cut out batting in a size sufficient to cover the right side of the melamine (the side that you'll be ironing on) and wrap around to the back on all sides. You don't need too much overlap, but enough so all the sides will be covered and the batting should overlap the gripper shelf liner slightly. I then flipped the board over so the batting was under it and stapled the batting to the back of the melamine, mitering the corners as I went.

Batting measured and partially stapled to back of melamine board
Note that the batting covers one raw edge of the gripper shelf liner
Detail of mitered batting corner

Okay, so far, so good. I then did the same thing with the cotton fabric. I used an older fabric that I had in my stash and probably was never going to use in a quilt project, but it was perfect for this.
Batting all stapled down; cotton fabric being measured
I wrapped the fabric around the "right" side of the board and then stapled it to the back of the melamine. Make sure that you pull the fabric taut when stapling it.
Cotton fabric stapled to back of melamine board
Detail of mitered fabric corner

Wow, that was easy! Now I had a perfect ironing board: long enough to allow me to iron the fabric across its width and portable so I could iron anywhere in the house. I really liked how the gripper shelf liner kept the board in place without shifting when I was ironing. 
Finished pressing board, already in use!
Notice the sad, not-used-anymore ironing board in the background
If you need a new pressing surface, this project can be completed in less than an hour. The best part - it cost less than $20.00 and cleared out more of my fabric, which is always a good thing!

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Tale of Two Quilts

Hi everyone:

This is a tale of two quilts - one for a celebration and one for healing. 

If you know me, you'll know that I can drag a project out for a very long time (you only have to count my UFO's to know this), but give me a deadline and I'll have a quilt whipped up lickety split. 

A few years ago - 6, to be precise - I started to design an anniversary quilt for my parent's 50th anniversary. I had lots of time - almost a year - to finish it. Piece of cake! Well, the designing took longer than I thought (boy, did I learn a lot during this process!) and then I had to put it together and, well, I think I was actually in over my head on this one. Needless to say, I didn't get it done in time for their 50th anniversary. I did get most of it finished in time for their 53th anniversary, but was stuck on how to quilt it. Again, I was overwhelmed. Finally, I tackled it and it turned out not too bad. Then, I was hung up on doing a continuous bias binding, which I had never done before. Again, I eventually got to it and finally the quilt was done. In time for their 55th wedding anniversary. Well, actually the quilt was finished a couple of months prior to this and I was able to give it to my parents when they were out visiting me this fall.

Mom and Dad with their 50th anniversary quilt
Just after their visit, my father had a heart attack and so another quilt needed to be made. I used my Chock a Block pattern since it's quick and easy. I was under a deadline on this one as I was flying back to Ontario to see my Dad and wanted to take the quilt with me. So, I bought the fabric Thursday afternoon, started cutting and stitching on Friday, finished the top on Saturday and quilted it on Sunday (thanks, Cathy!). 

"Out of the Rough" from
Chatterbox Quilts' "Chock a Block" pattern
Back of the quilt flipped to the front to show pieced top
So, what did I learn from these two quilts? Well, a few things. First, most projects aren't really as difficult as I think they are. Second, I can finish a quilt in just a few days when I put my mind to it. And third, I need to spend more time quilting and less time thinking about the quilting!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Media Excitement

Hi everyone:

There have been so many things happening lately that I almost forgot to tell you my exciting news. I'm doing a happy jig about this one! I've had another pattern published in a magazine! This time, it's my wall hanging, "Baaack in Black" and it's featured in the fall issue (issue 15) of Irish Quilting.

My inspiration for this project came from the AC/DC song of the same name (although spelled a little differently) combined with the image of the "black sheep" of the group. This quilt features fusible web appliqué with a little hand embroidery thrown in for embellishment. A black sheep, some fluffy white friends and a few shamrocks thrown in with one four leaf clover, and you have "Baaack in Black". 

I have to tell you that I was sweating a bit about this project as I had a narrow timeline on it and there was a postal strike going on by the time I completed it. This would normally not affect me too much, however, as I had to send the quilt to Ireland for quilting and photography, I was a bit worried that it wouldn't make it there on time. Thanks to Purolator, it arrived before the deadline and all was well. It's now safely back in my studio and has the distinction of travelling to a country that I have not (yet) visited. It wouldn't say if it kissed the Blarney stone while there, but I have a suspicion that it did!

There are many other beautiful projects in this issue, so I hope you have a chance to pick one up at your local quilt shop or bookstore and give it a browse.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

I'm back!

Hi everyone:

Wow, it seems like forever since I've published a blog post - or at least a few weeks! I must apologize for disappearing for awhile, but sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and throws you off your regular routine. I have lots of quilting items to share with you in a future post, but this one is personal, so I beg your indulgence while I explain what's been happening in my family's lives.

This September was busy with the start of a new school year for me (September and June are the busiest months for school office staff) and new schools for both of my children: Jamie in junior high and Sarah in high school. Throw in a visit from my parents, who live 2,000 miles away from us and it made for a busy September. 
Mom and Dad September 2011
My parents love to drive and drove from Ontario to Calgary to visit for a few weeks and then left on my Dad's birthday, September 19, for home. Rather than the 3 days that they usually take to drive home, they took an extra day, arriving home in Bracebridge on September 22 - I suppose that the fact that my Dad was a bit more tired than usual should've been a warning of what later happened. 
Dad celebrating his 78th birthday September 19, 2011
On September 26 - a week after his 78th birthday - after washing the car and only 3 holes into his regular game of golf, my Dad went into complete cardiac arrest. Fortunately, one of the grounds crew was trained in CPR and the course had a defibrillator, which he used to restore my Dad's heartbeat before the ambulance came. By the time my Mother arrived at the local hospital, he had already been put into a medically induced coma, cooled down and was being prepped to be taken to a facility in Newmarket, Ontario (two hours south of their home). 

I was on the way out the door to work when the phone rang that morning. I can't describe the shock and fright I felt when I heard my Mom's voice on the other end of the phone telling me what had happened. I don't wish that feeling on anyone. Several phone calls later, I was able to determine that my Dad had arrived at the Southlake Regional Health Centre and was in the Cardiac Care Unit there. Over the course of the next few days, he was gradually warmed up and brought out of the coma. Thankfully, due to the immediate attention that he received at the golf course and the care he received in the hospital, he didn't suffer any brain damage. Next came an angiogram, where it was determined that he had several blocked arteries and needed a cardiac bypass - or CABG - as it's called. He underwent a quadruple bypass on October 11 and was released from the hospital on October 18.

My brother lives in Ontario and had been looking after my Mom, visiting my Dad in the hospital and generally handling things, while still working (thanks, John), so I flew out a few days prior to Dad's release date so I could drive him home and help my Mom with household items. It was a busy week, but we managed to take care of many items and I left them with a frig and freezer full of healthy food. Dad's doing well - walking and eating lots to regain his strength. 
John, Mom and Dad October 23, 2011
I flew back home on Sunday night and am now back into my "normal" routine. I'm grateful that my Dad is still with us - things could've been so different - and appreciate the excellent care he received in the hospital. The nursing staff were very caring with Dad (who had never been in the hospital and really didn't want to be there) and always took the time to speak with me when I called from Calgary to update me on his condition. I'm also grateful to the staff at South Muskoka Curling and Golf Club who helped my Dad when he needed it the most. Dad works there part-time in the summer and I know how concerned everyone there was about him. My parents are fortunate to have many close friends and I appreciate their visits to him in the hospital (often driving several hours to see him), their calls to the house and the cards we received. 

I also appreciated the phone calls I received from my friends who were concerned about Dad, and me, as well. I have to thank my quilting buddy, Cathy Keevill, who generously let me use her machine to quilt my dad's quilt on a Saturday afternoon (he loved it, Cath). You truly discover who your real friends are when an event like this occurs. 
"Out of the Rough", the quilt I whipped up in 3 days for Dad
Thanks to Cathy Keevill for the use of her machine to quilt it.
The pattern is "Chock a Block" by Chatterbox Quilts.
The quilt is folded back at the top to show the pieced top of the backing.
Most of all, I have to thank my husband, Gary, and my two children, Jamie and Sarah, for managing the household while I was back east. Between the three of them, the house was clean, laundry was done, food was made and in the freezer and they even managed to put up all the Halloween decorations - indoors and out. Did I also mention that they all came to pick me up at the airport on Sunday night? I'm not sure what I've done right in my life to have such a wonderful, caring family, but I'm truly a lucky girl to have them. Thanks, guys, you are the best part of my life!
Sarah and Jamie September 2011

Gary on his birthday October 13, 2011
So that's I've been up to over the past few weeks. I'm gradually getting back to my quilting and blogging, which has been on hold since September, and have lots of exciting quilty-related items to tell you about next time.

Hope that you're enjoying a good fall and all is well with your family.
Fall in Muskoka 2011

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Winner of the My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software

Hi everyone:

Just a quick note to let you know that the winner of the FREE My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software is Pam (comment #3). 

Congratulations, Pam! I'll soon be sending this wonderful prize off to you.

For those of you who didn't win, remember that you can still use coupon code STMMMS64292 (copy and paste it to use it) to get a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite version 2 scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - a $20 value! What a great deal!

Thanks so much to My Memories for providing this software to me as a giveaway to one of my blog readers. 

Pam, I know you'll enjoy using this software and I'd love to see what you create with it.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Free giveaway - My Memories Suite Digital Scrapbooking Software

Hi everyone:

I was recently approached by My Memories to try out their digital scrapbooking software. Now, as you know, I'm a quilter, not a scrapbooker, but digital scrapbooking appealed to me, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I could play with my photos, without having to purchase card stock and embellishments (as if I'd actually have anywhere to store scrapbooking items in addition to my quilting stash!). Not only did My Memories provide me with my own review software, they were generous enough to give me another one for one of my blog readers. Yes, you could win your own copy of My Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software! But before we get to the "how to win" part, let's take a look to see what this software can do.

Using My Memories Suite you create digital photo albums. You choose a theme, the desired number of pages and then personalize your album by importing your own photographs. You can leave the pages as they are or change the backgrounds, add embellishments and add text before you put your selected photos in the placeholders. In addition to photos, you can create slideshows, videos and add narration to your album. You can export your finished album as a Quicktime movie, burn it to a DVD or actually print it out (how old school!).
Toil and Trouble kit by Just So Scrappy available at My Memories
Photo courtesy of My Memories
I wanted to see how easy it would be to use this digital scrapbooking software, so I decided to make an album of my daughter's recent birthday. I chose a theme, deleted a few of the pages, added text, changed the background slightly and imported my photos. Bang! There was my album. Done and ready to be emailed out to the grandparents. I could've played around a little more with it - changed colours or added embellishments, but I really wanted to see how quickly I could create an album. I found My Memories Suite to be very easy and quick. Here's the album I created.
Word art, embellishments and text added to the photograph 

Added embellishments, text and the photograph

A few more flowers and a photo, of course!

One more photo, some text and a couple more flowers and it's done!
Memories Suite digital scrapbooking software provides many options to allow you to personalize your album. If the embellishments and backgrounds included in the program aren't enough (and there are lots of them), you can download more FREE items from the My Memories website. Digital scrapbook pages can also be purchased to use with this software. 

The I’m Falling for You Combo Pack from designer Meredith Cardall includes 15 different background papers, 61 page elements,and monogram set of 46 characters (a total of 107 digital embellishments)and, 
best of all, it's FREE to download from My Memories
Photo courtesy of My Memories

Now for the part you've been waiting for - how to win your own copy of My Memories Suite Scrapbook softwareThere are just three simple steps:

  1. Go to My Memories website
  2. Browse through their digital scrapbooking kits 
  3. Tell me which one is your favourite in a comment to this post. 

See, I told you it was simple!

The contest starts today and will run until September 27 at 8:00 p.m. MST. I'll be announcing the winner on September 28.

Even if you don't win the free software, you can use this code STMMMS64292 (copy and paste it to use it) to get a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite version 2 scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the store - a $20 value! Just go to My Memories and enter the code when you're checking out.

Good luck to everyone and don't forget to check back on September 28 to see if you're the winner!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Let's Get GO!-ing

Hi everyone:

In a previous post I mentioned that I would be teaching a class, Let's Get GO!-ing, about the AccuQuilt GO! cutter at Bow Bench Retreat in October. I'm so excited about this class and I know it's going to be lots of fun. In case you aren't on Facebook and haven't seen all the details, here is what you need to know.

WHAT:  Let's Get GO!-ing class

WHERE:  Bow Bench Retreat, Carseland, AB, Canada

WHEN:  October 15, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m.

One of the pattern choices you'll have at the class.

WHAT'S INCLUDED: Instruction, Chatterbox Quilts pattern, use of GO! cutter and dies, 
lunch, refreshments and fun!
WHY: Because we're GO!-ing to have a great time!

In this class, you'll:
  • Learn about the AccuQuilt GO! cutter
  • Use the AccuQuilt GO! cutter and dies
  • Make a fusible web appliqué table runner and personalize it by cutting appliqués with the GO!
AccuQuilt GO! cutter, die and mat

If you've always been curious about this fabric die cutter, this will be a great opportunity to find out all about it. I'll answer all your questions and you'll have the opportunity to try out the machine yourself. But be careful - once you try it, you'll be addicted and the fabric in your stash won't be safe! 

I hope you'll join me this fall for a great day of instruction and fun.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Where is Chatterbox Quilts?

Hi everyone:

I was recently reflecting on how many fellow quilters and fabric enthusiasts I've met through my blog and my Facebook page. I've enjoyed making new friends on-line and appreciate the support that you've given me. I've also found that it's a great way to keep in touch with existing friends across the country. 

It occurred to me that while some of you may know where I am on-line, there are probably others who aren't aware of all the places Chatterbox Quilts is on the web. So I thought I'd bring you up to date. Are you ready? Here goes:

You're already following my blog, so you know I'm here.
Manga Kitty appliqué template by Jamie Hirst for Chatterbox Quilts
Did you know that I have a personal Facebook page, as well as a Chatterbox Quilts fan page? I try to keep my fan page for quilt related items.

I'm on Twitter as CBQuilts, if you like to tweet.

I have a Youtube channel, although there is only one video there - yet!
Learn how to make Vintage Hearts from my Youtube video
I also have an Etsy store, where you can find both my epatterns and my paper patterns. I also have appliqué templates, embroidery patterns and stuffie patterns there. 
Frog face appliqué template available at my Etsy store

I have a website where you can find out more about me as well as listen to some of my earlier podcasts. 
Hoot appliqué template available at my Etsy store

If you're a quilt shop owner, you should know that you an order my patterns wholesale from The Pattern Peddlers

You do know that I have some free projects available, don't you? You can find them on my blog and on my website.
FREE Flourishing Hearts pattern - available on my blog
Whew! I think that's it - at least for now. 

I hope that you find something entertaining, interesting or educational wherever you find me on-line:)

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

WIWOW - August 24, 2011

Hi everyone:

Can you believe that it's already August 24? Wow, where has the summer gone? While I always have high expectations of accomplishing many quilting related items - such as actually quilting, the reality is that life often intrudes and sometimes I don't get as much accomplished as I had hoped to. I did get to go on vacation, visit with friends, spend time with my children and organize my quilting studio, so I guess it wasn't such a bad summer after all!

This past week I've been shopping with my children to get new clothes and items for school. I've also been busy cleaning getting ready for a visit from my parents next week. 

In my organizing and cleaning frenzy, I've come across a few projects that weren't quite done. I made some binding strips for several quilts that needed them. They're not actually sewn onto the quilts yet, but hey, you can't do everything at once, can you?
Cute Circus Cat fabric
I also re-discovered a small quilt that I had made using a pattern in Pat Sloan's Favorite Techniques book. The pattern looked fast and easy (it was) and I thought it would be perfect  to showcase some cute fabric that I had in my stash. I quilted it using free form stars and circles, which suited the central fabric. In addition to showcasing the novelty fabric, this pattern would allow me to try a single fold, machine binding technique. The binding is stitched to the back of the quilt on each side one at a time. You then fold it over to the front and machine stitch it down. It sounded pretty straight forward and I wanted to see if this would be quicker than my usual double fold binding technique. 

Of course I also had to add a sleeve to the quilt and this took a little bit of time. 

I also thought that it would be nice to zigzag the binding down, rather than just using a straight stitch. Really, so much more interesting.

I discovered that it really takes a bit more time and effort to use a zigzag stitch for this technique.
Front side of quilt showing zigzag stitches to hold the binding down
I also realized that this technique wasn't quite as quick and easy as I had thought it would be - at least not for me. I think that the stitches were supposed to catch the binding seam on the back of the quilt - mine didn't. Perhaps if I'd chosen the straight stitch instead, that might've been better.
Back side of quilt showing how the zigzag stitches
don't overlap the binding as it should - oops!
Sorry, Pat, but I think I'll be sticking to my double-fold-stitched-on-the-front-folded-to-the-back-and-hand-sewn-down-binding technique. It might take me a bit longer, but I like the finished product better and that's really what it's all about.
Portion of the quilt all done and ready to be hung
Do you ever machine stitch your bindings down or are you a hand-sewn-binding type of quilter?

Monday, August 22, 2011

WIWOW - August 17, 2011

Hi everyone:

Sorry I missed my Wednesday post, but I have a good reason. Really, I do! I was working on a gift for my daughter's birthday. I couldn't show you what I was working on or it would ruin the surprise. Since it was her birthday on Friday (Happy Birthday, Sarah!) and she has received her gift, I can now post it.

Since Sarah is a huge Harry Potter fan, I made her a Harry Potter doll. Here's a quick tutorial on how I did it.

I used the Harry Potter design from her embroidery pattern (you can find it here - FREE!) and increased it to 140% before embroidering it on muslin. 

I then selected some appropriately wizardly fabric for the back of the stuffie and cut out a rectangle approximately 11" x 5".

I created a template for the back of the stuffie by tracing about 1/2" outside the embroidery lines on the embroidery pattern. 

I then traced this back template on medical paper (see through, sort of like onionskin paper - for those of us who are old enough to know what that was). 

I centered this traced template over the wrong side of the embroidered design - it's transparent enough to do this - and then placed the rectangle of back fabric, right side up, underneath it all. The sandwich was: back template, embroidered design, wrong side up and then the backing fabric, right side up.

I stitched on the traced line of the back template, leaving an opening at one side for turning. I used pinking shears to trim about 1/4" away from the seam allowance, ripped off the paper template, turned the stuffie right side out and then stuffed it firmly. When it was plump enough, I hand stitched the opening closed. 

Here's the result!

Sarah was quite pleased with the doll and it was very quick to do. You can see how well Harry fits in with Sarah's other Harry Potter paraphernalia. 

I have also used a similar technique to create my FREE Flourishing Heart pattern
Flourishing Hearts in two colourways
I am also working on a pattern for a family of owl stuffies, which will be published in a few weeks.
Hoot - the dad

Screech, the mom and Whoobie, the baby

Do you like to create stuffies for those special little people in your life - or even for yourself? I'd love to hear about your creations.