Friday, December 31, 2010

Another Year is Passing

Its time once again to say good bye to another year. I'm not sure how your year was, but for me 2010 was a wonderful year. Not perfect by any stretch, but positive all the same.

We lost some people dear to us, but made many new friends. I believe that life is a cycle and if we are willing to be open to possibilities, new things come to replace those that we have lost. True, nothing ever replaces a lost loved one, but our hearts are resilient and always waiting and willing to embrace someone new.

My business is growing, pattern sales are slowly increasing and I have all the long arm work that I can handle. I've discovered card making and I am trying to learn how to draw. Don't even ask how it is going, I'm hopeless. Still, I plug along and keep trying. I don't want to be able to do anything fancy, just simple sketches to turn into appliques for my quilts.

My family is happy and healthy. My daughters both have fine men who love them and care for them. Hubby has found a couple of new hobbies to keep him busy. (He is semi-retired.)

All in all, life is good.

Remember to tune in starting in January. I am giving away some fabulous prizes. The first one is an Invisifil Thread collection from Wonderfil Threads. There are several color ways available and the prize may not be the colors shown. Watch this blog for rules on how to enter.


100wt soft polyester
Strong & color fast - lint free - matte finish
Tone on tone - virtually disappears into fabric
when thread does not want to be seen
Can be ironed
5 assorted packs available
Each pack includes 6 assorted colors
400m spools

Stitch in the ditch
Top & bottom thread
Bottom thread for delicate machine embroidery
Use as top and bottom thread for couching
Sew fine fabrics
Digitized lace designs

They say that New Year's is a time for resolutions. I'm not sure I believe in resolutions, but I've decided that this year is Fit, Fabulous Forty-Fine. I turn 49 late in 2011, and have decided to give me best effort at turning my life around before that day comes. I vow here and now, in front of each and every one of you that I will eat better, exercise more and swear less.

Question of the Day: Do you make resolutions? What do you resolve this year?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Very few words coming your way today. Just a few pictures with some commentary.

I'm busy quilting like a fool to get ready for Christmas. Finishing up some older projects for my girls. Working on some new ones for their men. Making pillow cases for friends and family .... the list goes on and you know how it is.
My entry for the Piecemaker's Challenge.
We had to use the pink/purple.
Apparently I can't hang a quilt straight, or aim a camera straight.

Cousin Anne's wall hanging.
Bought enough fabric for a queen size quilt.
She asked for a wall hanging.
Oh well, more fabric for the stash.

Its hard to see in the picture, but the brown border on the right is "flappy".
This was a mistake against the flying geese blocks as they are now lopsided.
Not really noticeable, but something to take note of for later.

Very thick polyester batting. Hard to work with.
The thick poly gave an interesting dimensional effect.

A beautiful wall hanging by one
of my clients.

I love the way this dragons pop out of the background.

Tsk, tsk. Watch your 1/4" seam allowances ladies.
Stay tuned in the new year for some great give aways! We'll giving away Wonderfil Thread, some books, fabric and patterns.
Merry Christmas to everyone. Have a fabulous celebration with your loved ones.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Christmas Rush

Wow! Time flies when you are having fun. That is sooo true. Its the Christmas rush here in the Pine Freckle Forest/Black Bear Quilting studio. It seems that everyone wants a quilt done for Christmas. What is it ladies? Does Christmas come as a surprise or what? How about that lady who called to ask I had time this week to quilt a baby quilt she needs for a Christmas gift? This week? Surely you jest! Not even this year! Babies take nine months my friends. That allows you plenty of time to prepare and get your project to the long arm quilter before the wee bundle of joy arrives. Christmas is even less of a surprise than a new baby. It arrives at the same time every year, and its one of my favorite times of year.

I love the hustle and bustle. I love the shopping and wrapping. I even enjoy the baking. (I love the cookies more!) I decorate the house within an inch of insanity. It drives my husband crazy, but he puts up with it with little more than a few snippy comments. Tina took me shopping yesterday and we got almost all my shopping finished in one trip. Wendy took Dave (hubby) today and they finished all his as well. (Tina and Wendy being our twin daughters.) Everything is wrapped and ready to go.  Now to get started on the baking. I'll do that in the evenings, and save the daytime for quilting.

Rush jobs are part of being a long arm quilter. It interests and confuses me is that people often call up wanting a quilt finished in a week, or worse yet in just days. It's been said to me "Can't you fit me in, it's not like you have a real job. You just stay at home and sew." Why is it that a home business is less valid than a retail or office job?

I've got news for you, I put in eight hour days most days and often work evenings and weekends just to get everything completed. That does NOT include my design time while working on new patterns. And lets not forget writing instructions, testing patterns, billing, pattern printing, answering the phone, teaching and worst of all accounting. Oh yeah, blogging. I apologize, I've been sadly remiss in getting things posted.

Product DetailsWith all that going on all year, it seems like late November and December as especially hectic. Don't get me wrong I enjoy the extra work the holidays bring, but its easy to over commit ones self. So, I've made a decision. Each and everyday between now and Christmas I'm going to take some time for myself. I'm going to relax and regroup and do what ever moves me. It might be making cookies, or maybe making a Christmas card for a special friend. Maybe I'll work on my Zentangles. (A new obsession sparked by the latest book. Zentangle: Fabric Arts Quilting Embroidery, by Suzanne McNeil.) I'm going to make time for me, and make time to have coffee with the special people in my life.

Question of the Day: How do you relax during this busy time? What's your favorite part of Christmas?

Monday, November 15, 2010

Guild Day

Well, my friend Colleen was here and is gone again. We had a great visit. It’s a new week, and today was guild day. I belong to Piecemaker’s Quilt Guild of Calgary and I always enjoy guild day. We get together, do a little business, visit some friends, but best of all is Show and Tell. I’m never more inspired than I am after a quilt guild meeting. There are always such wonderful things. Bright bold colors, subtle patterns, geometrics, florals … so many projects to delight the eye and rev up the mind.

So this afternoon, it will be back into the studio to work on a few projects. Sandra, your quilt goes on the machine next and I’ll fetch it over to you as soon as it is finished. Those of you who are thinking of calling me about booking your holiday project in had better call soon. I have nearly twenty drop-offs this week and the schedule is filling fast.

Bali Briefcase by
Aunties Two

But first, I’m going to putter away on some of my own things. Maybe my cat quilts, maybe my fish applique quilt. Nope, better get my Bali Briefcase finished. I took a class from Marge Tucker at My Sewing Room. Fabulous store and Marge is a great teacher. She is knowledgeable and patient. Especially with those of us who simply cannot make a pattern as it stands. I can’t help myself I alter everything I make. Maybe an extra pocket, an extra row, a different border…

The briefcase is for my sister and I should try to finish it before I see her again. The pattern is by Aunties Two and is fabulous. The instructions are easy to follow, but man oh man does it ever use a lot of thread. I used nearly two full 1000-meter spools of cotton. Now, mine won’t look like the picture here, mine is purple. A purple briefcase… I can just see your shudders. But, sister-mine loves purple. When I give a gift, I want you to love what you get. My other sister wanted a black and pink quilt and that’s what I made her, it just took some time.

I am looking forward to Friday evening. My good friend Allison of Needleworks here in Calgary is having her open house to celebrate their new location. They are now at #10B - 6219 Centre Street N. (just south of 64th Avenue and Centre Street.) The open house runs from 6 to 8. Cake, coffee, prizes and I am guessing maybe some specials too. I can’t wait to be there to visit with my old quilting friends and to meet some new ones. Curious about the new Elna sewing machines too. Stop by on Friday night and see what’s happening.

 QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are you working on? Is your Christmas sewing finished yet?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Displaying Your Quilts

My (as yet un-quilted)
Gordian Knot Quilt.
I’m curious about how you display your quilts. There is always the usual layout flat on the bed. But what about quilts that aren’t meant for beds? What about wall hangings and lap quilts?

I have a few quilts simply pinned to the walls, but they are small and aren’t going anywhere. There are two lap quilts in the living room. One hangs on the back of the couch and the other on hubby’s recliner when they aren’t in use. I store customer quilts that are completed and waiting to go home on top of a lovely antique trunk I picked up in Herbert, Saskatchewan at the Trading Post.

I’ve got lovely shelves with rods under them in my studio that hold quilts. The advantage of these is that it is easy to change out the quilt. You can extend the rod if the quilt is longer than the shelf and center the quilt if it is smaller than the shelf. I’ve even got two quilts on one hangar, side by side. I have a cute quilt rack that my friend Colleen gave me. There are quilts on shelves and quilts on cupboards, quilts hanging on the walls of local shops and don’t even get me started on the piles of table runners.                                                                                            

The Rack Colleen Gave me.
With my rack of quilts to do
for customers behind it.

What I am thinking here is that I may need a better system for storage of those not on display. Maybe a ladder-type rack that holds six or seven quilts all at the same time. Clearly, I need to get after nagging Darling Hubby. He should be busy making me a quilt stand, a ladder stand, another one of the shelf racks for by the front door …. Well, you get my point.

Its funny, all these quilts and not one that fits MY bed. Hmmm.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your favorite way to store quilts? Do you have a favorite rack? E-mail me a picture and I’ll post it on my blog (and maybe show it to DH to inspire him.)

Friday, October 29, 2010


Chris Moose.
I appliqued this little fella as
part of my Calendar Critters

When I do machine applique, I like to back the project with a stabilizer to keep it from shrinking up and puckering. For most applications my favorite is a heavy weight tear away stabilizer. For this, I’m not brand fussy. I simply check to ensure that it will tear away nicely and if it does that’s good enough for me. Because it is not remaining in the project, often a generic or cheaper version will serve as well as the top end products.

I like the tear away stabilizer because I rarely wash my finished projects immediately. (I believe that my studio is clean and neat and that the project is not getting dirty while I work.) The advantage of tear away is that I can tear away it off, add the blocks to the quilt and finish up. Viola. It is done. When tearing away, if you are having trouble tearing, place the tip of your finger against the edge of the stitching and tear with your other hand. This will support the stitches enough to get the ripping started. Tiny bits that are left behind in tight spaces can be pulled away with tweezers or left behind.

Some projects require different types of stabilizers. There are wash away, iron away, cut away, and fusible stabilizers. Fusibles stay in place when the project is completed, adding stability to the finished project. This is fabulous for embroidery on very lightweight fabrics. The fusible helps support the embroidery and prevents distortion of the item.

Iron away turns into a fine ash when heated with the iron and brushes off. I’m not sure what the application for this would be. Cut away can be cut away from behind an applique and the remainder will soften in the wash. It allows you to add a lot of stitching and trim away the excess, but leave the stabilizer behind your work. Wash away will wash away in the laundry. It is great for projects you plan to shape. Instead of washing it away fully, you rinse lightly and shape the object while still sticky. It dries like a starched object.

Now, go and applique or embroider something. I want to hear about what you are working on.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Today I want to discuss the role of quilting in your life.

For me, quilting is my business. It is my bread and butter. It puts food on the table and gas in the furnace. Most importantly, it pays for my addictions. Yes, I’ve said it. I am addicted to fabric. And, silly me, I just tried out a new craft, card making and I think I could become addicted to that too, but more on that another day.

As you know, I am a long arm quilter. I stitch the layers of quilts together for other people. There is a real satisfaction when someone gasps in happy astonishment when I layout their newly quilted project for their viewing. Occasionally they tell me that they hated the quilt before dropping it off, but love it now. I guess that means I must have done something right.

This week, one customer told me that she hated the quilt when she dropped it off, but doesn’t hate it as much now that it was quilted. I’m damned with faint praise. Actually, she was quite pleased, but like all of us, simply had a project whose results didn’t quite rise to its expectations. I am glad that she felt it improved. She’s gone from throwing it away, to giving it away. That’s a huge jump.

I am also a pattern designer. When I finally admitted to myself that I was incapable of finishing a pattern without altering the layout, borders, or entire design, I decided that maybe I should just do my own thing. Sometimes I can create without a pattern. I just pick out the fabrics and make it up as I go along. Usually, I sketch something out and go from there. Occasionally, I design in EQ7. It’s a fabulous program. But usually I have a basic image in my head before I hit the computer. If I don’t, I end up with dozens of variations on a theme, none of them quite right.

But to me, the most important part of this whole quilting thing is the quilting itself. Now by that I don’t mean the stitching of the layers together. I mean the whole deal. Choosing fabrics, stroking fabrics, designing layouts, selecting colors, cutting, piecing and quilting. Yup, I even enjoy binding now that I have it figured out. The whole thing is like breathing to me. Rarely does a day go by without me working on one project or another. It might be cutting, or a little sewing. On vacation, I wasn’t able to quilt at all, but that didn’t stop me from taking pictures of floors, woodwork, tiling, and other things which might translate into a quilt design. You should see the floors in the Louvre!

Lately, its been mostly hand work. I’ve got a couple of hand applique projects on the go and I like puttering away on them while resting in the evening.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What drives your quilting? What motivates and inspires you?

Friday, October 22, 2010


Congratulations to my quilting friend Heather McArthur of QUILTERS CONNECTION Magazine. She was awarded the City of Coquitlam sponsored Entrepreneur of the Year Award. That's just so exciting.

I first met Heather at Quilt Canada 2010 in Calgary. She's bubbly vivacious and a whole lot of fun. Her knowledge of quilting is astounding and she always has something interesting to say. She is the brains and brawn behind Quilter's Connection Magazine.

Have you ever read her magazine? It is one of only two that I subscribe to. I love it. Its one of the few magazines I read cover to cover. It has articles, patterns, tips and information galore. And its CANADIAN too. Does it get any better than that?

Check out the magazines web page at When you sign up, you also get her e-mail newsletter. Its FREE!! And is chock full of patterns and information.

Check her out. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Congratulations once again to the winners of the Fall into Fall Blog Hop. A special thanks to to everyone who entered. Yes Colleen, you were a winner. I sent you an e-mail, but it must have gone astray. Drop me an e-mail with your address and I'll send your prize out. (


Yup. Its a must for all quilters. No quilt is complete without it. Personally, I always finish my bindings by hand. I don't like the look of a binding that is finished by machine. It seems, somehow, like cheating. Mayb that's just me. I sew the binding onto the front of the quilt by machine and hand stitch it down on the back. I love hand work and can stitch a queen sized binding down in two nights. Sometimes even in one if I'm in a particular hurry.

Instructions for Perfect Bindings
Click the text above to go to my website for printable binding instructions. Don't forget, if you share these instructions, please tell people where you found them. I would put them here, but technology is not my friend, and I cannot get the images to appear in this blog.

Tip of the Day: Never ever cut fabric after ten p.m. Those nasty gremlins will come in after you go to bed and when you wake up in the morning you’ll discover that they have re-cut your blocks and half of them are crooked.

Keep your fingers nimble. Cath

Saturday, October 16, 2010


First, I would like to thank all the little people .... oh wait, this isn't an awards show, its a prize draw.
Seriously, I would like to thank everyone for stopping by to visit my blog during the contest. I'm touched that you all took time out of your lives to see what was happening in mine. Thanks too for taking the time to comment on my musings.

I've spent some time putting all the entries into a hat (don't even ask how long that took me!) And, the winners are:
Quilting Nana, and Colleen. They each win a fat quarter pack.
And Gill wins two patterns from my website.
I've sent you all e-mails. Send me your mailing addresses and I'll get your prizes off to you.

I hope to see you all again soon! For now, its family day. Gonna spend some time with the rellies. Can't wait to see my neice and nephews.


QUESTION OF THE DAY: What's your next family event and what makes it special in your heart?

Friday, October 15, 2010


Okay, this one is for Gill.

A woodchuck is a North American mammal that
  • is sometimes completely black or completely white 
  • is one of Canada’s largest true hibernators and the subject of a great deal of medical research 
  • spends much of its time eating and sunning when not hibernating or caring for young
  • is the major hole-digging mammal over much of eastern North America, and in some places in the west, providing all sorts of animals with shelter
Woodchucks are stocky little animals with a flattened head. They commonly weigh 2 to 4 kg, and large ones may be heavier in the autumn. They measure 40 to 65 cm total length, including a short bushy tail about 15 cm long. Fur colour varies from place to place and between individual animals. It ranges from yellowish to dark reddish brown, with an intermediate brown colour being the most common shade. The fur is usually grizzled in appearance because of light-coloured tips on the hairs. The belly fur is commonly straw-coloured and the feet black.

What that has to do with "chucking wood" is anybody's guess. Just a cute tongue twister?

To learn more about the woodchuck visit:

The End is Nigh!

This is it! No, not Y2K or 2012 and the world ending crisis. It is the last day to enter the Fall into Fall Blog Hop and win some great prizes. I’ve got three prizes lined up and I am making the draw first thing in the morning tomorrow.

I have to say that I love all the comments I’ve been getting about my posts. I wish I could reply to them all, but I don’t have that kind of time. But let me say, I’ve learned a lot about organization, and am delighted to discover that I’m not the only quilter who works best in a slightly untidy space. What is it that makes it so hard to clean up after myself? Am I just lazy? No, that can’t be it, I’m pretty sure that the mess just inspires me. Well, at least that’s the excuse I am using. Now if only the sweeping fairy would show up and get rid of those dust bunnies for me. Are dust bunnies and endangered species?

Rulers: Just a few words about rulers today. We all have them, they are a vital tool of quilting. Pull out your favorite ruler. Look closely at it. Is it all chipped and dinged? Are the lines fading? Are they gone? Did you drop that ruler on the way to class and chip off a corner? Yikes. You had better consider replacing that old thing. Those missing lines are what help you get accurate cuts and if your edges are rounded, how can you possibly cut correctly. And, tell me how in the world you expect to get a nice clean cut at the corner if you have to pretend that the ruler is not missing a chunk. Tsk. Tsk. Tsk.

Ruler care is quite easy really. If you find it is getting a little harder to see the lines, try washing it in nice warm water with a bit of dish soap. Rinse and dry well.

Is it slipping when you try to cut? Try putting some Wonder Tape or Invisigrip on the back to help it adhere to the fabric better. Both of these are thin plastic films that add gription. (Yeah, I know that’s not a word, but I love it anyway.) I’ve tried those little sticky dots and the sandpaper dots, but find that they add gription where they are, but raise the ruler in other places and the fabric can slip where the ruler is not tight against it.

I store my rulers laying flat in the drawer. I have one drawer for big rulers and one drawer for wee rulers. This works well for me as I am not constantly knocking them off the table. Because my studio is always a mess, I find that those ruler stands don’t work well for me. All they do is allow me to knock all the rulers off the desk at once. I have a friend with one and she loves it, but then again her studio is spotless. If you have lots of wall space, consider hanging your rulers on the wall to keep them from getting damaged.

There you have it, ruler care in a nutshell. Keep them clean, unbroken and keep them put away. And don’t forget they break when you drop them, but they shatter when you drop them in extreme cold. Just ask me how I know! And people, if your ruler is trashed, suck it up and go by a new one. Your accuracy can't help but get better.

Think how slow things would be if we were back in the "good old" days of quilting and had to hand trace templates and scissor cut everything. I would NEVER get anything finished.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: How much would would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Best answer gets an extra draw entry.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Final Days To Win

Okay everyone. Time is running short. Friday is the final day to enter to win in the FALL INTO FALL BLOG HOP. I'll be making the prize draws first thing Saturday morning. Get your entries in now.

Just to recap, here are the "rules" ...
I am going to give you at least 3 prizes and 5 ways to win. I’ll add another prize for every 25 entries I receive.
Sign up for my blog. (3 entries) If you are already a member and want to enter, make a comment and let me know you have already signed up.
  1. Become my friend on face book. When you send your friend request, mention the blog in the comments. Or, after I have accepted your request, tell me that you have entered the contest. (1 entry)
  2. Sign up for my mailing list on my pattern website by sending me an e-mail and mentioning this blog. (2 entries)
  3. Comment on my blog. (1 entry)
  4. Answer today’s blog question. (2 entries)
Remember that you can receive an entry for each comment you leave so check back tomorrow and comment on tomorrow’s topic.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What kind of topics would you like to see me cover in the future?

(I admit, I stole todays question from my friend Kim at She's in the contest too, so check her out. And, don't forget to click the scarecrow on the left for more great blogs to visit and win.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Word About Thread

I am Cathy Keevill, and I am a thread-aholic. I love thread. At last count I had over 1000 spools in my studio. Every color under the sun, and many, many kinds.
The most important thing to know about thread is how thread weight works. The large the number, the finer the thread. A 12-weight thread is thick and heavy. A 100-weight thread is very, very fine.

Now, I admit to being partial, but I love Wonderfil threads. They are by far my favorite. With only one exception, I piece exclusively with Konfetti. It is a double-gassed 50-weight cotton thread. Double gassed means it has been passed through a flame (very quickly) twice to burn off those pesky little hairs and fluffs that end up trapped in your bobbin case. I have never found a knot or a slub and I have used literally hundreds of miles of the stuff. I use it for piecing and I love it on the long arm. I leaves almost no lint behind and it runs clean and smooth.

Jan Krentz: Quick Star Quilts

The only time I use anything other than Konfetti for piecing is when working on projects that have many seams coming together at once. For this I use Wonderfil’s Decobob. It is an 80 weight-polyester. My quick star project is an example. I made my own version of the cover quilt on Jan Krentz’s Quick Star Quilts. This quilt has 16 seams coming together in the center. That means 32 threads! Gather up 32 threads of your usual type and see what kind of bulk that is. It is huge. So, I choose to use Decobob or Invisifil, which are much finer and reduced the bulk considerably. I cannot believe the difference it made. The center of this quilt lays virtually flat. Impressive!

Before I talk about the quilting of a project, let me say that I don’t make heirloom quilts. I don’t expect my quilts to last for all eternity. I want them to be loved, and used up so I can replace them. So, I don’t worry much about that old adage that "anything but cotton will cut through your fabrics and destroy your quilt." I have quilts here that were quilted ten years ago with no signs of wear and that’s good enough for me.

So for quilting, I will use anything that will run well on my long arm machine. I love Konfetti, Tutti, Fruity, Decobob and Invisifil. Invisifil is a 100 weight polyester. In my studio, it has replaced monofilament threads completely. It is wonderful for stitch in the ditch as is disappears completely into the seams and is hard to detect even when you miss by a bit. It is great for add shadows when quilting. I love to use a color that matches my background fabrics as it adds depth without making it look too busy. I choose patterns that enhance the blocks and the Invisifil add shadows without adding busy-ness. Invisifil runs much easier than monfilaments and does not deteriorate in sunlight as many of them do. It also withstands the heat of the dryer better.

I also find that the cost of Wonderfil threads suits my budget quite nicely. But don't take my word for it, try them for yourself!

Question of the Day: What is your favorite piecing thread and why?

Saturday, October 9, 2010


Ostensibly this blog is about quilting. But how can you write about quilting when you haven’t set foot inside your studio for three weeks? (Okay I snuck in there yesterday for a black licorice and some Mike and Ikes.)

Hit a couple of local quilt shops yesterday with my friend Deb. We hit Needleworks in the north. Allison has a great new store. I can’t wait until she finishes hanging all those quilts and unpacks all those new fabrics. Then, we hit My Sewing Room in the south. Anne has a great staff and a huge selection of fabric. Can you believe I didn’t buy anything? Not even a coffee. I hate being on a tight budget, but until my machine is up and running again disposable income is nil.

On the plus side of having one’s machine down is that you get to spend more time outside in the lovely fall air. It’s been warm here. Hot enough for shorts and a sleeveless top. I’ve got a TAN. Yup its true. I have a lovely tan now, and I didn’t have even a hint of one all year. Gotta love Indian Summer. (Or whatever those of you who are politically correct call it now.) And, the fencing is getting close to completion.

It is Thanksgiving Weekend here in Canada. Spent last night at home with hubby. Tonight the girls come over with their men. For those of you who don’t know I have 23 year old twin daughters. Tomorrow is drinks with friends and Monday is Thanksgiving dinner. We’re going to be radical this year and not have turkey. Yup, I said it. NO TURKEY! Superstore has prime rib on sale. So, Dave shall barbeque a prime rib roast. Mmmmm. I’m drooling already.

I have to tell you I am indeed thankful this year. I have a great life, a wonderful family, a terrific extended family, and am happy and healthy. To the universe I say "thanks for all you have given me."

Don't forget to visit my website and check out my patterns. Sign up for my website mailing list and recieve two entries to the Fall into Fall Blog Hop prize draw.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What are you thankful for?
Still need pickets, headers and
footers on our side.

The hideous slope in our back yard.
It drops about six feet in about 30 feet.

The final two sections are still to
be finished, but we are almost
done. All the pickets are on this part.
Just headers and footers left.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


I love applique. I don’t care if it is hand applique, freezer paper, needle turn, fusible machine or anything else. I just love the pictures you can create. Don’t get me wrong I love traditional piecing and foundation/paper piecing, but I really love applique. About the only quilty thing I don’t care for is art quilting. I love looking at those art quilts, but they are so far out of my box that I can’t seem to do them.

I took an art quilt technique class once. Yikes! It was a two-day seminar at a local store. Great teacher! Betty Blais from Embellishment Village teaches a fabulous class and is very entertaining and informative. Worst weekend I ever spent. I loved Betty, but the painting and stenciling and working with Angelina, eeks, I shudder just to remember it. Everyone else had a great time, but it was all I could do not to run screaming from the store.

Don’t ask me why, I just felt like someone was shoving splinters under my nails. I stuck it out and really learned a lot of new techniques. That said, I don’t think art quilting is for me. I’m much more traditional than that. Of course, I am trying to teach myself thread painting right now, but don’t hold your breath waiting for huge successes in that avenue. I enjoy doing it, but man do I suck. I’ll plug away and see what I can come up with. They say practice makes perfect, but I’m not sure it doesn’t make for plain old irritation.

Calendar Critters

I think what I really need here is a drawing class. If I could learn to draw what is in my head, maybe I could transfer those images into fabric. It takes me hours and hours to create the images for my applique patterns. Calendar Critters was a long time coming. Drawing those animals was very difficult for me. Which brings me back to applique …

When I do fusible machine applique, I prefer Wonder Under for my fusible web. It is lightweight, flexible, simple to use, and doesn’t gum up my needle.

Things to consider when choosing your fusible web include, flexibility, melting point, cost and final usage. Steam a Seam Light is great. It is flexible and does not gum up your needle, but here in Calgary, it is costly. I don’t like the heat and bond products for things I plan to stitch on, but love them for crafty purposes. Heat and bond is great for fusing fabric onto plain craft paper bags to make Christmas gift bags, but it is low temperature melt and when your sewing machine needle gets hot, it gums up really badly.

Remember that these are heat-activated products and your dryer produces heat. So, if you EVER plan to wash that project, you must stitch around the appliques or they’ll come off in the dryer. Just ask me how I know! Oh yeah, one more thing. Read the fusible web’s directions carefully. If you overheat them, most webs will lose their grip and will not ever stick on.

My advice to you is to purchase a small amount of as many fusible webs as you can find and test drive each one. I found about 10 to try. One had no label and no instructions. It was plastic backed and it was almost impossible to get that plastic off. Some don’t have backings such as Misty Fuse, but I prefer a product I can trace my shapes onto.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you have a favorite fusible web? Why do you prefer it?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fall into Fall

So the blog hop continues. It is great to have you all popping in, and wonderful to hear from new visitors and from old subscribers alike.

Check out the last two postings for September for details on how to enter to win! Fat quarter bundles, patterns and …

Love those fall colors.

Fish Creek Park
Hubby and I try to walk in the local park a couple times every week. I love the fall. I find the pretty colors, the crunching of leaves and the rustle of dry tree branches very peaceful. I’m busy blanket stitching a fall table runner. It is fairly small, but then my coffee table is small. And, I don’t want anything too large on the kitchen table as that just encourages the cats to sleep there.

I finally heard from APQS. The computer boards from my longarm are finally back in the mail. It is only two weeks late. I guess there was some trouble with the servicing of them. But I am glad they are coming back. I’ve got stacks of customer quilts to get finished. The Christmas quilting rush is due to start any day and I want to fit in the projects I finished while the machine was down. I might be putting in some long days in the studio. But, that’s okay. I love my work. It is time consuming, occasionally frustrating, the pay isn’t all that I would like it to be, but I love it. It allows me to be creative, to set my own hours. I can work early or late as I choose. Really, it doesn’t get much better than this.

Tonight I shall hit the studio (after a day of fence building) and work on my fall table runner.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: Do you like applique? What is your favorite technique? Hand? Machine? What is your favorite edge stitch method? If you had to choose a season, what season would you choose and what types of things would you applique onto a table runner to celebrate that time of year?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Late Summer Flowers and Fencing

Wow. I cannot believe the great suggestions for organizing my studio. Jars, plastic bins, shoe-boxes, hangars to hold partially completed quilts and fabric. They are all such wonderful ideas. I love that so many of you have the dedication to clean every day, or after every project. I don’t even clean my house that often. Is it bad that I bought a new mop and it took me four months to get around to using it. I was using the dirty dish-rag, dropping it on the floor and ‘foot scrubbing’. This in is part because I have a lot of irons in the fire and keep pretty busy, but mostly its because I’m lazy. You will be pleased to know that I’m back in the groove and scrubbing about once a week. There’s only my hubby and I living here, and we generally can clean up after ourselves.
The fencing continues. It rained yesterday, so I baked a birthday cake for hubby. I’ll ice it today. Dinner with the kids tonight. Gonna paint some more pickets in the garage, as it is still raining this morning. With luck, it will dry out soon and we can get back at it. We don’t dare take too much time off from the fence building, as one of the pitfalls of living in the north is that snow often comes early. We would like to get this infernal fence finished before the snow flies. That could be days, hours or weeks.

I love winter. It’s the perfect season for my favorite sport. Quilting! I can spend as much time at it as I want and the only yard work worry is an occasional shoveling of the sidewalks. I would be inclined to skip that if I could, but the snow police would give me a ticket and my clients might slip when they stop by to pick up their quilts.

Look at this last little flower of summer. Found this ‘volunteer’ pansy growing along side the garage in a crack in the sidewalk. Doesn’t it look like a wee little face?

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your favorite winter ‘sport’? And, why do you love it?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Quilting Weakness

Fall into Fall Blog Hop Continues. Wecome all you new readers. Good to have you with me.

My weakness is quilting. I love it, I live for it and I can’t live without it. A day doesn’t go by without me stitching away at something. A couple of years ago I even burned the potatoes on Christmas day. The family was busy playing games and I was puttering away in the kitchen. I decided that I had a few minutes while I waited for the spuds to start boiling. So, I snuck into my studio. My studio door is beside the kitchen as my studio is the old formal living and dining rooms of our house. I popped into my room and resumed stitching on my current project. I was sewing away, listening to the ruckus sounds of everyone playing and before I knew it I could smell something hot. A flew back into the kitchen and darned if the potatoes hadn’t boiled dry. I caught them in time that they were usable, but it was a real close call.

I love when I get lost in my work like that. Time flies away and I’m having nothing but fun. And really, is there a better sound than your family having fun and playing together? I’ve learned to be more disciplined now, and don’t allow myself to sneak into the studio while I am cooking. Well, unless the timer is set anyway.
Even over the past few days I’ve found time for a bit of hand-work. We’re building a fence between us and the neighbors. We’ve had a fence on two sides ever since we moved in eight years ago. The final piece of fence had never been built. But, as the neighbors (three different ones) didn’t really care, we didn’t either. Our new neighbors are great, but they have two wee little dogs. They don’t like chasing them to keep them in their yard, and we don’t like the puppy presents they leave behind. As much as we like the dogs, the compromise seemed to be a new fence.

Our fence is much more complicted
than this one. But, I'm too lazy
to haul out the camera. I'll
post pictures when it
is finished.
 This fence is the most complicated fence in the universe. Holes and grooves, pickets, cross stringers, headers, caps, pickets and more. We wanted to match the existing fence, but underestimated how complicated it is. It took a full day to build the first section. We’re faster now and hope to have all but two sections finished today. These sections will require some engineering as we have to go around a transformer and a window box.

Back to the point of this. Hand stitching. I love it! I’ve managed to slip in a few minutes of work each evening after it is too dark to fence. I am working on a hand applique wall hanging. Its about 36 inches square and all Baltimore album style blocks. I’m hand stitching the appliques onto the borders now. It’s slow work, but relaxing. It relaxes me and helps me unwind. I think I might even hand quilt this one.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What is your favorite type of quilting?
Don't forget that you get one entry for our prize draw for every comment you post.
See my September 30th posting for details on how to enter the draws.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Storage and Distractions

Plastic Storage Bins, the two stacked
closely togethe with no lids
are full of batik scraps. Mmmmm.
I talked briefly about organization yesterday. I loved the idea one reader posted yesterday about an over the door shoe organizer. Sadly, I have French doors and they wouldn’t work for me. I would be worried about breaking the glass if I closed the door too hard.

Ikea bins.
I store each of my projects in clear plastic tubs. They stack neatly on my shelves and I can see what is inside. I'm not saying that inspires me to work on old projects, but I can see what I’m not doing. I have IKEA bins in my cutting table that are easy to pull out and dump allowing me to find that perfect piece easily. I have them color coordinated.

I find that I have "Magpie Syndrome" and am easily distracted by bright, shiny or colorful objects. I hop from one project to another and back. I’ll be busy working away on a project and I’ll see the perfect fabric for someone I know, and I’ll snatch it up and start designing their quilt. Last week I went shopping with a friend and found the perfect fabric for Cousin Anne. I know she has at least a double bed, so being wise I bought enough fabric to make her a queen size quilt. Yes, there is logic there; I hate getting half finished and discovering I’m six inches short of something. Anyway, Anne stopped by for hubby’s 50th birthday. She loves the fabric, but only wants a wall hanging. She wants something small that she can easily show off. While I’m flattered that she thinks my work is worth showing off, what am I going to do with all the leftovers? I’m trying to reduce my stash, not build it. Maybe she’ll get both ... Ha ha ha, like I would ever get both finished. I would be distracted first.

Sometimes, I’ll see something I love and in almost no time it has a new home in my studio, just waiting for me to use it. Worst of all are new designs. I’ll see something and it will flash into my brain as a new idea for a quilt. First chance, I’m on EQ7 planning a new design. That design in turn morphs into half a dozen more before I now it, its time to cook dinner and I haven’t accomplished a darned thing.
My project bins are slowly being emptied, but when I get frustrated, I’ll drop a project sometimes for an extended period. Eventually I get back to them. Sometimes I’ll trade UFO’s with a friend. It’s like a whole new project. My Magpie likes that!

My queue for quilting.

Now, if only someone would quilt all the tops I have hanging in my studio waiting to be quilted. I always have great plans to fit one or two of my tops (or my daughters’ tops) into the queue each week, but it never seems to work that way. A client top will take longer than I expected, I’ll get lost in EQ or someone will invite me for coffee or fabric shopping. My discipline isn’t all it has cracked up to be.

QUESTION OF THE DAY: What distracts you the most? And how to you inspire yourself to get back to quilting?

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Welcome to the Fall into Fall Blog Hop.

This is your chance to find some great new inspirational quilting blogs and maybe win some prizes. Check out the host site Quilting with Debi ( You can do this by clicking on her link, or by clicking the scarecrow picture. On her site, you’ll find a full list of the particiapating blogs. Be sure to check them out. I know I’ll be reading at them all.
As for the contest, I am going to give you at least 3 prizes and 5 ways to win. I’ll add another prize for every 25 entries I receive.
  1. Sign up for my blog. (3 entries) If you are already a member and want to enter, make a comment and let me know you have already signed up.
  2. Become my friend on face book. When you send your friend request, mention the blog in the comments. Or, after I have accepted your request, tell me that you have entered the contest. (1 entry)
  3. Sign up for my mailing list on my pattern website by sending me an e-mail and mentioning this blog. (2 entries)
  4. Comment on my blog. (1 entry)
  5. Answer today’s blog question. (2 entries)
Remember that you can receive an entry for each comment you leave so check back tomorrow and comment on tomorrow’s topic.

As for me, I’ve been busy cleaning out my studio. In the interest of making room for new fabric and patterns, I am going to give away some of the patterns I have published, and some that I have purchased and never used (occasionally I like a pattern so much that I accidentally buy two copies.) I’ve got a couple of small fat quarter bundles as well.

With my longarm machine down for maintenance, I’ve found a lot of time for other things. I’ve been finishing up old projects and tidying things up a bit. So far, I’ve finished six UFO’s and spent two days mucking out bins. There is a lot of fabric going to Piecemakers for their charity projects. Piecemakers is the guild I belong to here in Calgary. The guild will make great use of it, and I’ll have space to put things away. Some of the fabric is quite dated, some of it is just small bits great for a scrap quilt and some of it is "what the heck was I thinking" fabric.

It is my goal to only purchase what I need for a fabric, but still I can’t help but purchase wonderful, inspiring fabrics that I see, even if I don’t yet have a use for them. How can I resist those pretty angels and fairies. And I think I’m addicted to Alexander Henry’s nearly naked men. Mmmmmmm. Some day I’ll turn those buff men into a quilt that will give a friend the best dreams she’s ever had.

Today’s question: How often do you clean out your studio or sewing space and what organizational method works best for you? Give me your top five organization tips.