I love hosting giveaways. It's one of my favourite things to do. Makes me feel like Santa.
Today, Bear Creek Quilt Company is offering you a chance to win a $50 gift certificate!
I asked Shari - the owner - to introduce herself and her company to you. I think you will enjoy reading about how she got started.
"Bear Creek Quilting Company is all about beautiful fabric. It started out easy enough 15 years ago; loving color, loving fabric and loving to make quilts. Before I knew it, I was getting requests for more and more quilts and I needed a source for quality quilting fabric. In the process of quilt making, I had left over odds-n-ends and I immediately developed a following of hobby quilters that were interested in buying these pieces. Before I knew it, they were asking for larger pieces of yardage. My scraps were not enough. So with my husband's support, my business intuition and a deep love of fabric (and time on my hands after being laid-off), we went online with our store in 2012.
I call myself and our business a "little fish" in the big pond of the quilting industry but then I realize every business starts somewhere; with that very first idea and five products on the shelf. Every order that we process is like our kids going off to school for the first day of school. I wonder what they will become. I hope the customer will love it as much as I do. I cut fabric orders with a generous allowance, I process and ship orders the same day whenever possible and I track every order until delivery confirmation. Being an online shop I can't give our customers the touch-n-feel part of fabric but I can bring them realistic pricing, large detailed product images for easy shopping and satisfaction with their orders.
We invite you to come visit our online store, signup for our monthly drawings and follow us on Facebook for product arrival announcements."
To enter this giveaway, go to Bear Creek Quilt Company's shop, find something you like and them come back here and tell me what it is in the comments. If you sign up for their monthly drawings you can leave me two comments. And if you join them on Facebook you can leave me another comment too!
This giveaway closes Sunday evening and I'll announce the lucky winner here on Monday.
Good luck everyone!
I heard all your lovely requests for a "little hexagons" tutorial last week (watch strap tutorial to follow soon!) so here it is. I hope you find it helpful.
I want to start by saying the technique for English paper-piecing (EPP) small hexagons is no different than for larger ones. In fact, EPP is the same regardless of template size or shape.
And there are a few EPP basting variations out there, but I wrote this tutorial to show you how I do it ... with glue.
Step 1 - Cut out a paper template (or buy precut templates) the size you want your hexagon to be when it's finished. Regular computer printer paper works just fine. The precut templates are a lightweight card stock - a little stiffer than regular paper, but still very easy to pierce with a needle.
Then cut out a piece of fabric that is 1/4" larger than the paper template on all sides. Accuracy is not critical for cutting the fabric. You should have at least 1/4" seam allowance, but if it's more don't worry. Unless I'm fussy cutting a hexagon, I usually stack up to 6 scraps of fabric, lay a template hexagon on top and cut my 1/4" allowance - based on the template - with a rotary cutter. You can just as easily use scissors. Some people like to make a fabric cutting template.
My paper hexagon templates here are 1/2" which refers to the length of one side of the hexagon.
Step 2 - Lay the paper template centered on the wrong side of the fabric hexagon.
Step 3 - Using a fabric glue pen (I use Fons & Porter) add a small dot of glue to each side of the paper template. It goes on blue but dries clear.
If you're working with larger hexagons (or any other EPP shape) you may want to use a few dots of glue per side.
Step 4 - Fold two opposite sides of the fabric hexagon onto the paper template (at the same time) and press the seam allowances into the glue to make them stick.
Repeat for the remaining sides.
Step 5 - Make a bunch. (To make a flower you need one center and 6 petals.)
Step 6 - Take a center hexagon and a petal hexagon and hold them right sides together, lining up to edges.
Step 7 - Thread a needle (I use Sharps) with a color that will blend (if using contrasting colors, match the darker fabric) and knot the end.
Starting at one corner, sew the two edges together with a whip stitch. Do not catch the paper template with your needle - just grab a little bit of fabric that is on the fold.
The tinier your stitches are, the better. (Here's an example with a high contrast thread so you can see.)
Step 8 - When one edge is complete, fold the hexagons open and lay a second hexagon onto the center - right sides together.
Sew the next edge of the center to one edge of the second hexagon together with a whip stitch.
Step 9 - Repeat until all 6 petal hexagons are attached to the center hexagon.
Step 10 - On the back side, gently pull the glued seam allowance of the center hexagon away from the paper template. (Remember, you only need a little glue. The more glue you use, the harder it is to separate the fabric from the paper.)
Remove the paper template. Most (if not all?) of the glue seems to stay stuck to the paper, not the fabric.
Some of my quilting friends do not like glue basting. They would rather spend a little more time thread-basting because it's cleaner to pull out than to peel glued fabric off of paper. And sometimes the seam allowance will fray a bit - which is not a problem because the fabric is already sewn in. But for me, I really like the speed of glue basting. It's a personal choice.
Step 10 - Fold the center hexagon to stitch the petals together.
You can join together as many hexagons as you like. Remove a template when all sides of the shape have been whip-stitched to another piece.
Get creative and make beautiful designs with fabric placement.
It's not at all complicated. It just takes time. You will find that one little flower goes together very quickly and you can have a bunch made in an afternoon.
EPP is the perfect hand sewing activity to do when you don't want to think or do anything that requires much concentration, but you just want to keep your hands busy. It's portable too. Just prep a bunch of hexies, toss them in a container with a needle, thread & scissors and you're good to go!
But this one was done without a scalpel or collagen injections.
My daughter loves it.
Maybe I'll be allowed to borrow it once in a while.
If you're interested in a tutorial on how I made this watch strap, let me know with a comment. If there's enough interest, I'll put one together.
Many, many (many) moons ago - when the first number in my age was a one and I could remove all my gray hairs with a few tugs instead of a bottleful of chemicals - my sister gave me this watch for Christmas. (At the risk of stating the obvious, I used to play. Can barely bang out a scale now ... sorry mom.)
I loved this watch but it came with an ugly, boring strap. So I made this pretty one with elastic and a scrap of fabric. I was very proud of my custom watch strap and wore it for years.
Rewind to about 10 years ago ... I gave this watch to my sister for Christmas. Cute little Piglet flies around as the seconds tick by.
Rewind to a few months ago ... my sister gave it to my 11 year old.
Rewind to last week ... the strap broke.
Well, talk about good timing (pardon the pun), look what came in the mail just a few days later ...
... these lovely liberty-inspired Japanese lawns I'd ordered from Sew Deerly Loved.
I'm sure you know where this is headed ...
I need to get some elastic. Hopefully today.
I heard a large vehicle with squeaky brakes park in front of my house because my sewing room window was open. I took a quick peek. It was the postman. I had the front door open before he even got to the steps. He may have thought I was a little weird ... like I'd been sitting by the window all morning just watching and waiting for him to arrive with my package. Clearly he doesn't understand what it's like to get a highly anticipated fabric order delivered.
Here's what he brought ...
Kerri always has an amazing selection of imported Japanese fabrics in really pretty colours.
I didn't have plans for these fat quarters when I bought them. But a delightful opportunity has since come my way and now I know exactly what I'm going to make.
Two years ago (wow, already?) I joined the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along Flickr Group.
It was great fun to sew along with so many amazing quilters. I do love this online community.
Now, the FW blocks in the book finish at 6". But I prefer working with smaller scale designs so I tried making 3" blocks.
I soon realized, however, that the fabrics I'd chosen - Lecien's Flower Sugar - had more medium/large scale prints and the tiny pieces required for a 3" block weren't working out. So I ended up making mine 4.5" ... and had these 5 little ones left over.
They've been shuffled around my sewing room a lot for the past two years because I didn't know what to do with them. So many times I had them in my hand as I eyed the garbage bin. But I could never bring myself to toss them ... they were just too cute to throw out.
Am I ever glad I kept them.
One rainy afternoon last week I found them ... yet again ... under a pile of stuff ... and I'd finally found the inspiration I needed to turn them into something thanks to this free pattern by Heather Bailey.
Five somethings, actually ...
Now I know I'm not the first quilter to turn an orphaned block into a pincushion ... not exactly revolutionary.
But it's a personal first ... and can I just say how remarkably satisfying it is to turn a "mistake" into something so gosh darned cute & fabulously useful?
As with my strawberry pincushions, these are stuffed with ground walnut shells. They are firm and weighty. Love them.
(My 10 year old left me a message in the walnut shells bin ... love that kid.)
With the exception of the first pincushion I made (bottom right in the photo below), all the bottoms are quilted too.
So from these ...
And they only took me a day to make.
Plus two years. ;)
* * * Warning: Today's post contains a little potty humour * * *
My girls - 10 & (almost) 12 - have this "game" where they ask if you'd rather do gross/embarrassing thing #1 or gross/embarrassing thing #2. For example, "Would you rather eat a handful of worms or poop your pants in class?"
It's very entertaining for kids. I get it. Although I thought being a mom of only girls would have spared me from being asked these sorts of questions. Apparently I was wrong. Oh so very wrong. And wow do they ever get creative with their scenarios.
How does this relate to quilting, you're probably wondering?
Well, it got me thinking about what I'd rather do than pin a quilt sandwich together.
I could probably come up with at least a million things.
However, I would definitely rather pin a quilt than eat a handful of worms or poop my pants in public.
Children sure do have a way of helping me put things into perspecitve.
Here's the ballerina I enlarged by 200% for the baby quilt I'm working on. She's 2" tall x 4" wide and 3 shades of blue.
The original design is small enough (1" x 2") that each "petal" of the tutu can be made with a single, elongated lazy daisy stitch.
But enlarged, lazy daisies simply won't work. The threads would be too long and loose ... little finger and toes would get caught in them and they'd get pulled out of shape in no time. (Unless I couched them ... but I don't particularly enjoy couch stitching and avoid it whenever possible.) So I altered the design by making the skirt petals with my favourite stem stitch.
And then I added a few lazy daisy flowers and squiggly lines to frame the block.
I was going for "twirly" ...
I'm a little embarrassed to admit the thought of adding some embroidery to this baby quilt for my girlfriend's granddaughter didn't occur to me until I'd already started cutting my fabric. Then I realized - uh, hello - I could stitch something from the embroidery book I wrote. Silly me!
The designs in my book are small - no bigger than 2" x 2". But I'm making this quilt with 6" squares so I just enlarged the ballerina by 200%.
How fantastic is it that I have a ballerina embroidery design to go with the ballet script fabric I'd already bought for this quilt? :)
I'm going to omit the letters and words from the original design. And maybe add some sort of decorative border to the block. Not entirely sure yet. I'm just making this up as I go.
And now I've got some stitching to do this weekend ... couldn't be happier.
Have a good one!
Sorry, couldn't resist the Star Trek reference. ;)
My best friend from high school recently became a grandmother of a darling sweet little girl.
Oy yoy YOY!
I remember - like it was yesterday - the moment we met, way back in the summer of '82. I remember zipping around town in the passenger seat of her "vintage" blue Pinto - standard shift with a hand brake. I remember us cutting class to go shopping ... for dress patterns & fabric, of course. I remember us cutting class to see An Officer & a Gentleman. (Please don't tell my kids.) I remember us laughing so hard while trying to put up a tent ... in the dark ... in the rain ... after a 2 hour drive to the lake. I remember walking down the aisle as her bridesmaid. I remember writing letters when she moved away. I remember her girls' baby showers.
If only I could remember where I put my embroidery scissors the other day ...
Anyhow, this means I get to make a baby quilt! So.much.fun. I haven't made one in ages, it seems. Of all my baby quilt gifts, however, this one is going to have an extra special place in my heart. There have been so many babies for my in-laws, friends, aquaintances & neighbors. But this little girl is the first of the next generation for me.
The nursery is decorated with a Wedgwood blue & chocolate brown colour scheme. After making these pillowcases, I took another look at Tanya Whelan's Petal collection and decided the blues & taupes are perfect for this quilt.
While I was wandering around the quilt shop waiting for my fabric to be cut this print also caught my eye - from Verna Mosquera's Pirouette collection ...
Then it suddenly occured to me that my friend's daughter was an accomplished dancer ... and this apropo script of ballet terminology would make the perfect personal touch for the quilt.
So now you know what I'll be doing this coming weekend. What are you working on? Have you made a baby quilt for a special little someone lately?
It's been a long time since I've done any English paper piecing.
My quilting life began in 1986 with an English paper pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt.
Twenty seven years later and I still love this classic design.
The hexagon will forever be my sentimental favorite quilt shape.
I don't know that I will ever manage a large English paper pieced quilt again. But a little project with only about 100 of these? Totally doable.
Although couldn't you just picture a huge quilt made with thousands of these little half-inchers?
PS: I'm glue-basting.
If you're a gardener, you understand what I mean when I say Zone 3 is finally awake.
If you're not a gardener, Zones refer to the coldest extreme of a climate and the corresponding hardiness required by plants to survive that cold. In reference to North America, Zone 1 starts at the North Pole. Here in Zone 3, plants have to tolerate -40C (same as -40F).
I tried for many years to be a Zone 3 gardener.
I was defeated.
This sweet little harbinger of Spring is one of only a few surviving remnants of my early attempts to conquer this climate in pursuit of a lush and bountiful English Cottage garden. Among countless other ill-fated species - everything from foxglove to lavender - I planted 100 of these muscari bulbs. (See? I even remember the Latin term for "grape hyacinth".) If you drove by my house today you'd be hard pressed to believe a gardener had ever lived here, except for this one week in May when these tiny clusters of periwinkle blue pop up to say, "Congratulations, you survived another Canadian winter!"
My muscari forgive me every year for my horticultural failings. I feel like they're reassuring me that not everyone is born to garden, but they appreciate how hard I tried and continue to reward me for my efforts, however misguided they may have been.
If you garden - in any zone - you have my deepest admiration and respect.
If you have an English Cottage garden, please consider inviting me over for a cup of tea some time. ;)
I love pulling fabrics for a new project, especially when the pile ends up looking like this ...
I started out with pink & green in mind. But my quilting muse had other plans for me and I ended up with this dreamy assortment of powdery pinks, muted creams & silver grays.
I have big plans for these fabrics.
Or rather little plans.
Half inch hexagon plans, to be exact. :)
I finished the "still-not-for-my-sister" project ... a pinch purse!
This doesn't always happen to me - where the finished product looks even better than it did in my imagination. But I'm really happy with this one.
I've been wanting to try my hand at a pinch purse ever since I picked up a few of these metal frames at Quilt Market last year.
This embroidered scrolly motif was just enough to satisfy my craving to do some pretty little hand stitching.
A polka dot lining - my homage to Kate Spade.
The lace trim hides the seam nicely. And the bow? Almost too much.
Almost ... but not quite. ;)
"Ok, sister. Please do not expect this little purse to find its way into your mailbox. Okay? I'd hate for you to be disappointed."
(Being a blogger with a sister who likes surprises is not without it's challenges.)
I have an idea for my "this-is-not-for-you-sister" project.
But do you ever have those moments when you can see something finished in your head and it looks fantastic ... and then worry that it won't meet your expectations when it's done? That's where I'm at right now.
I really hope it turns out ok ... not like it's a gift or anything.
"If your name is Jillien and you are my sister, stop reading. Kay?"
* * * * *
Not my usual offering here, I know ... all this red. And it's not even Christmas or Valentines.
Or strawberries. ;)
But I happen to know someone who adores red toile.
"Sister, if you're still reading this, no you are NOT the someone I just mentioned and no this is NOT for you. This is NOT your late birthday present that I promised you a few months ago ... even though this red toile fabric looks EXACTLY like the one I asked if you liked when you were here visiting ... just sayin'."
I've been sitting on some happy news for what seems like an eternity and I'm very excited to finally say it out loud. "Stitch Zakka" is a compilation embroidery book coming out next month and it's filled with lovely projects and plenty of stitching inspiration.
You will recognize many of the designers in this book, like Anne Sutton, Yoko Saito, my home girl Amy Sinibaldi, Natalie Lymer ... and somehow I ended up in the Table of Contents too.
I'll have more to share with you in the coming weeks, but for now I'll just exhale.
(It's available for pre-order in all the usual places ... you can have a look inside here on Amazon.)
How was your weekend? Mine started with a sick child who generated a LOT of extra laundry ... she's not as practiced as her younger sister at aiming for "the bucket". However, that little bit of yucky didn't last long and we're finally enjoying signs of Spring. Robins & chickadees are very chatty ... and the grass is doing its best to turn green ... I even opened a window in the house! I have missed watching my curtains gently move with the breeze.
Speaking of Spring, that is exactly what my latest sewing project reminds me of ... fresh & new & pretty and oh so welcomed! I think my old/new pillowcases made with reclaimed vintage lace and some brand new fabric turned out pretty well.
It's rare I use such beautiful fabric within days of purchasing it. I usually buy fabric because I love it, not because I know what I'm going to do with it. But this was different. I knew the moment I laid eyes on this dreamy ticking stripe that it would become pillowcases. And it feels really good to have finally found a way to give this vintage lace a new purpose ... after sitting in my cupboard for nearly a decade.
My idea to hide the damage on the lace worked like a charm.
I lost a bit of detail on the lace, but none of the prettiness.
Happily, the fabric was about 4" wider than I needed. So when I cut that excess off the entire length of my yardage, I had this lovely stripe left over.
I was careful not to cut the lace anywhere - it's still intact under that trim, just in case I (or someone else in the distant future) need to salvage it again.
The first pillowcase went together easily. The second, however, offered me a few challenges.
A) One piece of lace was too short. I had another small bit that I thought would make up the difference ...
B) but even together the joined pieces were still not quite long enough (short by less than an inch!) So I used the fabric's stripe again to span the gap (and cover the raw edges) while appearing to be an intentional "decorative detail". I quite like how it looks.
and C) I was about 2" shy from the border I cut off the entire length of yardage ... but I was able to piece it too.
This right here explains exactly why so many of us quilters buy "too much" fabric ... because we've been caught too many times with just a few inches short of enough. Sometimes ... oftentimes ... we can make do, improvise, change direction, etc. But sometimes it's a real heartbreaker.