Friday, December 6, 2013

Book Review - Christmas is Coming

Hi everyone:

I promised I'd tell you about the other Christmas/holiday/seasonal book that I added to my library this year. Here it is: Christmas is Coming: Appliqué Quilt Patterns to Celebrate the Season by Cheryl Almgren Taylor

While I didn't actually meet Cheryl at International Quilt Market, I did see her signing copies of this book at the Martingale booth. I've always been a fan of Cheryl's designs and find her style instantly recognizable. I don't know how she does it, but Cheryl makes even holly and Christmas ornaments her own.
Christmas is Coming by Cheryl Almgren Taylor
Photo courtesy of Martingale
There are 13 projects in the book and it is divided into 3 sections: Home for the Holidays, Celebrate the Season and Rejoice and Be Glad! The projects in the book are for fusible web appliqué, so the designs are already reversed for you. Cheryl includes basic quilt making instructions for piecing, fusible web appliqué and foundation piecing. Christmas is Coming includes a variety of designs great for gift giving from quick table runners to more elaborate wall hangings and even a bed runner, if you don't have time to create an entire quilt.
Welcome Wall Hanging from Christmas is Coming
The Welcome Wall Hanging reminds of Christmas Eve service with its traditional church appliqué and the snow-covered fir trees. 
Christmas Bouquet Wall Hanging from Christmas is Coming
For something which would take a little more time to create, but would be treasured forever, Cheryl has included the Christmas Bouquet Wall Hanging. At 36 ½" square, it would also be lovely as a table topper. I think I would add some hot-fix crystals to this project for some holiday bling.
Home for Christmas Bed Runner from Christmas is Coming
If you want to add some holiday cheer to your bedroom, the Home for Christmas Bed Runner is perfect. You could change the fabric on one of these houses to mimic your own home. 
Christmas Pageant Wall Hanging from Christmas is Coming
I love the touch of whimsy in the Christmas Pageant Wall Hanging! As Cheryl describes it, "This small wall hanging brings back memories of holiday plays at school and Christmas pageants at church." You could use fabric from your children's clothing or even your own to personalize this delightful project. 

I added Christmas is Coming to my quilting library as I liked the variety of designs and the "traditional" feel of the book, and of course, fusible web appliqué is my favourite technique!

Do you have holiday or Christmas quilting books in your library? Leave me a comment to tell me which book is your favourite.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Book Review - Modern Holiday

Hi everyone:

Can you believe that we're already in December? I think that the holiday season creeps up quicker each year and every year I'm determined to create at least one new Christmas quilted item. I'm not talking about a whole quilt, mind you; a table runner or a pillow would be just fine. 

I have many Christmas quilting books and magazines and enjoy adding to my collection. This year I have added two new books to my quilting library, one of which I'll be reviewing today: Modern Holiday : Deck the Halls with 18 Sewing Projects - Quilts, Stockings, Decorations and More by Amanda Murphy.

I met Amanda Murphy at International Quilt Festival in Houston this year and she was kind enough to spend some time talking to myself and Lee of Lala's Lovelys. I had recently acquired her Modern Holiday book so was especially pleased to talk with her. 

Modern Holiday by Amanda Murphy
Photo courtesy of C & T Publishing
There's a project for everyone in Amanda's book. She uses fresh, modern fabrics for the designs in Modern Holiday, which range from full-size quilts to wall hangings and table decorations. 

I love Advent calendars - we have two in our house that we put up every year - so I was pleased to see one in Modern Holiday. While we fill our Advent calendars with chocolate treats, I think I prefer the presents in Amanda's version. The yo-yo bows on the gifts are a nice embellishment which adds texture to the project.
Countdown to Christmas from Modern Holiday
Snowfall is a full-size pieced quilt which uses the connector corner technique to create an intricate design. I enjoy projects that use simple techniques to create complex designs and Snowfall "falls" into this category. The contemporary fabrics against the white background give this quilt a fresh, crisp appeal.
Snowfall from Modern Holiday
If you don't have the time to make a quilt, how about some seasonal pillows? These Snowflake Pillows are only one of the pillow patterns in Modern Holiday that can be used to decorate your home during the winter season. Amanda uses fusible web appliqué to create these quick designs.
Snowflake Pillows from Modern Holiday
One of the more complex patterns in Modern Holiday is Trimming the Tree with its quilty ornaments. I appreciate the fact that the ornaments were pieced and did not require specialty fabric to achieve their look. While this project might take a little longer to make, the result would definitely be worth it.
Trimming the Tree by Amanda Murphy
I liked the use of traditional blocks, such as Flying Geese and Hexagons, to create fresh new holiday designs. Complete instructions, colourful photos and a great variety of projects make Modern Holiday a "must buy" for your Christmas quilting library.

In my next post, I'll be reviewing the other holiday book that I had to add to my collection. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

New Christmas Pattern

Hi everyone:

I'm excited to release my latest pattern, Christmas Lanterns. This is a pieced design using half-square triangles and squares. I used a modern Christmas fabric for the sample, which is a real departure for me! 
Christmas Lanterns designed in Electric Quilt 7
I liked the combination of deep red, aqua and white, rather than the traditional green and red that I would usually use.
Christmas Lanterns in modern fabrics
In addition to Christmas lanterns, you can also find other seasonal patterns, such as Bundle Up and Snowflakes a' Fallin' in my website store. 
Bundle Up table runner
Snowflakes a' Fallin' table runner
These are all easy patterns to create and make excellent gifts - Christmas is coming, you know!

Now I'm off to work on some Christmas gifts of my own. 

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!