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Bloggy News {+giveaway winner!}

2016 May 27

I’ve got a few exciting catch-up newsy things to share with you today!

I am thrilled to let you know that I will be speaking at Quilts at the Creek in Toronto this summer. I was fortunate to talk to a few members of the York Heritage Quilters Guild while at the spring Creativ Festival and they have asked if I would present a trunk show once each day. (Yay!) I’ll be showing fun inspiring projects, talking about the background of Thread Riding Hood and how it (and I) have grown over the past 4 years. This huge quilt display happens at Black Creek Pioneer Village once a year. Quilts of all types are displayed around the village, perfect for a fun summer event. (I’m bringing my kids!)

They are accepting applications for quilt submissions until June 15th if you are interested in displaying some of your hard work. They also feature workshops and vendors – some of my lovely sponsors and many more! My trunk show will be at 1:30 each day, July 23rd and 24th. For more details you can find more trunk shows and workshop information on their website. I would love to meet you there!

On to more exciting news! The winner of the above Ellipse Tote from Among Brenda’s Quilts and Bags is Joanne S! I will be putting her bag in the mail today or Monday. SO thrilled! This bag is super fun and I love the colours. Don’t forget that you can find more pre-sewn purses + patterns to make your own Ellipse bag and others on Brenda’s website.

And a little announcement: The above photos are a re-cap of what’s been happening lately on my Instagram feed. Lots of new fabric and projects, with more on the way! Despite the crazy amounts of new things going on around me, I’ve been told (by a reliable source!) that I should take some time off and rest. Unfortunately, I’ve had difficulty doing simple tasks lately, along with exhaustion and new-to-me feelings of anxiety.

I think that I have pushed too hard with too many things on my to-do list for so long that my body has decided it’s time to get me to take a small break. I tend to put “me” on the back burner and I am (so excited) to be taking a tiny bloggy vacation. One week (or so) to just have fun with my kids, sew projects I’ve been wanting to work on, and not “feel bad” for stopping to read a book. Remembering to take it easy is going to be so hard for my go-go-go brain to do! But, as someone reminded me recently – If I don’t take care of me I will be of no use to myself, let alone anyone else!

I’m hoping to share more about my journey to “calm” as I learn how to re-work my life and deal with stress in a more manageable fashion. If you have any tips they would be most appreciated! See you again soon!

How to Lengthen Any Dolman Sleeve!

2016 May 22

I’ve spent the last few weeks slowly getting into gear and planning the next few months of blog posts. So many things to share! I think I could schedule posts until November if I wanted to. I’ve also been cleaning house here – literally – and donating/organizing and re-organizing our spaces.

I’ve been taking stock of things here on the blog as well and doing my best to make good on long-promised tutorials. Today I’ve written a tutorial on how to transition a summer short-sleeved dolman top pattern for spring/fall.

This tutorial will show you how to draft a longer sleeve addition for any dolman top. I LOVE 3/4 length sleeves in the spring and fall – and this tutorial works great for those and for adding length for long sleeves. I’ve seen sleeve additions like this showing up in ready-to-wear dolman sleeve clothing a lot as well. It’s great alternative to cutting long sleeves directly with the bodice of a dolman top, since you can save fabric by cutting the longer sleeve piece separately.

I wear the first Seafarer Top I made with longer sleeves (above) all the time. It is my most-worn handmade top by a long shot. I think the reason is it’s versatile colour (gray!) and also that the fabric is really easy to wash and wear. The silver and cream striped top I made for this post (below) is not likely to get the same treatment. Unfortunately the fabric I purchased washed up scratchy and clingy – not sure it will last long in my closet. I did widen the neckline by cutting two front pieces (on purpose!) instead of a front and a back to make a super comfy larger neck opening. I’m excited to find some better quality fabric and repeat that in my next version.

You can use any dolman sleeve pattern as a base for drafting this sleeve addition. I have used the kid size dolman Skipper Top from Sew Much Ado because the pattern pieces are smaller and easier to photograph. (Find the women’s Seafarer here.) You can also easily draft and sew your own Dolman Sleeve Top using a well fitting tee.

Draft the Dolman Sleeve Length Addition Pattern Piece

  • paper
  • ruler
  • marker
  • pattern weights (or heart shaped rocks!)
  • any dolman sleeve pattern

This tutorial is written for pattern pieces with seam allowances included. The new sleeve addition will have added seam allowances as well, except where noted. Mark and fold back the seam allowance along the sleeve opening of your pattern. Note the seam allowance for your particular pattern and use this throughout this tutorial.

Step 1: Measure the wearer’s arm or an existing tee to find your desired sleeve length. Keep in mind that this method adds to the length of your pre-existing dolman sleeve. The lengthening starts AFTER the sleeve, not at the shoulder where a normal sleeve would start. Also, if your pattern calls for sleeve bands instead of hemming, make sure to shorten your desired additional length accordingly, leaving a seam allowance on end of sleeve where the band will be sewn.

Step 2: Draw a line 90 degrees from top of shoulder/sleeve to your desired length. (A)

Step 3: Decide how wide the end of the sleeve needs to be to fit around your arm. Divide this measurement by 2 and add your seam allowance. Draw this measurement as a line 90 degrees down. (A) to (B).

Step 4: Draw line (C) connecting (B) to the bottom of the original pattern’s sleeve opening.

Step 5:Add the sleeve opening seam allowance.

  • Unfold the seam allowance on your original pattern piece.
  • Mark seam allowances at top and bottom as ((D) and (E)
  • Mark the edges of your drafted sleeve addition as (F) and (G)
  • Place the original pattern right side down on the new sleeve addition matching pints (D) and (F) and points (E) and (G).
  • Trace the bottom seam allowance – from points E and G to the edge – and then trace the sleeve opening as line (H).
  • Remove the pattern piece and connect line A to line H with a 90 degree corner.

Step 6: Label your pattern piece with all the necessary information and mark the “Cut on fold” line.

Determining new sleeve band size (if applicable): Sleeve band width is the same as the hem band width. Measure double the final width of the new sleeve opening (A) to (B). Double this measurement to determine the final width. Remove about 1/4″ of this width to get the new width for the sleeve band. Since all knits stretch differently, this is only a guide. Use your judgement as to how tight you want the final sleeve band to be.

Example : Sleeve Opening = 9″ (includes seam allowance), remove 1″ (1/2″ seam allowance on each side) = 8″ final width. Remove 1/4 of 8 = 6″ width. Add the seam allowances back in 6+ 1″ (1/2″ seam allowance on each side) to get a 7″ final width.

How to Sew the Dolman Sleeve Length Addition 


  • sleeve length addition pattern piece, drafted above
  • dolman tee pattern
  • fabric (you may need extra to account for the longer sleeve)
  • general sewing things

Step 1: Follow your pattern to the step where both shoulders are sewn together.

Step 2: Line up the long sleeve addition right sides together with the original sleeve, matching the sleeve openings.

Step 3: Sew the seam  with the original pattern’s seam allowance. Serge/finish the edges and press the seam allowance towards the new sleeve.

Step 4:Finish your tee as indicated in your pattern.

I hope you enjoy your tee! Check out more tutorials like this on the tutorials tab above, or follow along to keep track of new projects!


How to Sew Leather {a Round Up}

2016 May 13

Happy School PD Day to you! I know it might be a regular school-day in your area, but my kids (and vicariously) I are on vacation today so here’s a quick post with some fun tips for sewing leather, vinyl and faux/vegan leather.

When my oldest was little, I went to a leather shop and bought a huge bag of larger scraps by-the-pound to make her some tiny leather shoes. I got so much experience sewing them, and have gotten back into sewing with leather and vinyl again this year.

After making my Marmalade jacket and Canvas/Leather Forest Glen Satchel, I realized I’ve written 3 tip posts about leather and vinyl. One for this blog, one for Craftsy and one for eHow, so here they are. I hope they help!

If you have any questions about sewing with leather/vinyl please ask them in the comments below and I’d love to do my best to help you out. If you have any tips those are most welcome too!

I’m off to pack a picnic and head to Ann’s Fabric Shop in Hamilton for some bathing suit materials. The kids want to pick their own fabric and have grand plans (with drawings!) of what they want. I made this Scirocco-based bathing suit for my oldest a few years ago and it was so much easier than I thought. The girls are outgrowing their suits right now, so it seemed like a good outing for our day off.

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Creativ Festival – Spring 2016 {+ a giveaway!}

2016 May 10

Be Brave and Sew – a Trunk Show

This year’s Creativ Festival was definitely a different experience. I met with some new amazing shop owners, connected with new friends, met online friends in person and talked to old ones too. (Including Among Brenda’s Quilts and Bags who is providing a giveaway & discount today!)

I realized as I’m pulling photos together, that I didn’t manage very well in all the busyness to take a variety of photos. Unfortunately, most of these are from sponsor booths – something I plan to change at the Fall show! That said, I love my sponsors and have linked the photos to their shops so you can find all the fun stuff in the pictures. This post is an amazing list of great Canadian online resources!

Starting at the beginning…. I went to the show early on Thursday to deliver lots of samples and set my things with Janome. The “Quick on the Draw” Isogram mini-quilt went to Fabric Spark and the original Pretty Floral Divided Tote to Country Clothesline. My girls were thrilled that their tulle Easter Dresses were on display. And I am still so excited that I got to have my Sewing Diariessamples hung up at Janome as well. They even made me posters! *blush*

Friday was a whirlwind for sure, and I mostly concentrated on my Trunk Show and talking to lots of amazing sewers at the Janome booth afterwards. My sponsors provided some amazing prizes for both trunk shows - flannel fat quarter bundles from Fabric Please!, a Herringbone Runner kit from Fabric Spark, a calendar from Meerkat Shweshwe, fat quarter bundles from Country Clothesline and a lovely Carkai bundle from Sew Sisters. I got to give away so much fabric! Totally made my day :)

Pretty things from Country Clothesline.

Leanne from Country Clothesline.

Saturday was even more eventful. After the Trunk Show I was excited to get to walk around and actually shop! (My new stash is in this post.) I was thrilled to meet some of my online friends from various Facebook groups. Rachelle from That’s Sew Venice, Michelle Tims from Barabooboo Designs and the amazing Carla from Carla’s Creations.

I got to talk to Berene from Happy Sew Lucky briefly on Friday as well. She designed the amazing Rainbow Mash-Up Quilt below. Isn’t it gorgeous! You can get kits for it here. Monica from Earth Indigo and I met to chat as well. She has a new online shop with eco-friendly and ethical fabrics – some great jerseys (stripes!) and heirloom gorgeous fabrics!

Rainbow Mash-Up Quilt by Happy Sew Lucky. Kits from Fabric Spark.

Gorgeous variety of fat quarters from Fabric Spark!

I wanted to mention two “new-to-me” online Canadian shops as well. Catherine from Distinctive Sewing Supplies has an huge apparel stock, including lots of notions. I got to see some of her presentation on Saturday with the kids, which was fun! I was also introduced to Alma from Sew Fancy – Specialty Sewing Supplies. She gave me a tour of her shop and there are so many amazing unique products there! I can’t even begin to list them here, but once things settle down I’m going to have to go find some of her one-piece Velcro.

I couldn’t resist a photo of these rainbowtized solids from Fabric Please!

Whew… I also got to run around a bit with my kids, and let them choose fabric for some new dresses. They had fun checking out the booths and talking to everyone. Plus, it didn’t hurt that we got them the obligatory giant lemonade and ice cream cone of course!

I love that they can be involved in what I’m doing and they are so cute when they get excited that Mommy is “famous” because I’m in posters. Kids are awesome! It’s fun to show them hobbies other people have as well. Hopefully inspiring them to be all kinds of creative.

Towards the end of the show, I connected with Brenda from Among Brenda’s Quilts and Bags. She provided a giveaway here a few years ago and I’m excited to have her back! Here’s a little bit about this giveaway:

Every year at CreativFestival Brenda has numerous people ask to buy bag samples.  It’s taken some time, but she has begun manufacturing her own unique line of bags.  Today’s giveaway bag is called the Ellipse Bag.  But of course, if you love making your own bags, she carries all the patterns, hardware kits and things needed to sew your own.  Brenda loves to sew and knows that you do too!  

As a thank you Brenda is offering 15% off on all purchases till May 15th.  Use coupon code ILOVEBAGS! when you check out.  

This giveaway is open to readers from the US and Canada! From today (May 10th) until midnight May 16th, 2016. Use the Rafflecopter widget below to enter – and if you don’t have Facebook to sign in with, just use your name and email address. There’s a “click to enter”, no social media login entry too! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Since the Fall Creativ Festival is moving from downtown Toronto to the International Centre, I am curious to see how it affects the show and how it will be different or the same. Either way, I will be there and hope to see you there too!

Finding my passion. (where I didn’t expect it)

2016 May 6

This post was going to be a re-cap of the Spring Creativ Festival (which was amazing!) but instead I’m feeling inclined to talk about why the blog has been so quiet for the past few weeks. I’ve included a few photos of things I got at the show, because this is a sewing blog after all! Aren’t they pretty? I’ll do a proper re-cap (with a fun giveaway!) early next week.

Love these Japanese fabrics from Kallisti Quilts! I’m going to make something for me with them :)

Going backwards first, a few months before the Creativ Festival Janome emailed and asked me if I would like to do a trunk show. I was super excited and honoured that they asked, but also super (super) afraid! I had never talked anywhere before – much less on a stage, with a microphone, for 45 minutes – yikes! It took everything in me to say “Yes” and take the amazing opportunity. All the while trying I was trying to believe that you should do things out of your comfort zone to grow as a person.

In short…. I got the chance to find my passion and prove to myself that I am stronger than I thought!

Long story?

The whole thing began with the idea to name the talk “Be Brave and Sew”. This topic provided an amazing basis for me to discover what I really love to do. I am so grateful to Debbie from Janome for suggesting it. As I thought about what to say about my sample projects I found that a lot of them were beginner-based free tutorials I’d posted. Simple projects – the Fat Quarter Skirt, World’s Fasted Pencil Case, the Super Hero Cape. I wrote my talk around hopefully inspiring everyone to begin with simple things and move on to more complicated projects as they felt ready.

My youngest chose Wrap It Up from Fabric Spark for a new dress that goes “to the floor”!

I don’t have an easy going personality and push myself way too hard to be “perfect” in absolutely everything blog-related that I do. Of course as a result, I pushed too hard on this and spent so much time worrying about the unknown that I am still recovering 2 weeks later! (Hence the quiet blog.) I was absolutely exhausted – emotionally and physically – afterwards.

On the day of I was (quite literally) feeling sick. Thankfully I didn’t actually lose my lunch – but I was pretty much a wreck. I knew I was going to be “ok” once I got up on stage because I needed to be, but before-hand? Yikes… I was so grateful that my husband was there to help, he was able to talk me through my tears and nerves – love him so much for being amazing and supportive.

Aurifil from Fabric Please! as part of her new Thread of the Month Subscription.

I got miked up (is that a thing?!) a few minutes early and was so excited to see my friend Lisa in the audience. It helped a ton to have a face I recognized in the audience. When I actually walked up on stage and started talking, I realized the mic wasn’t on, and it took a few seconds of inward-panic until I got it working. Despite the crazy start, the time flew by and amazingly ended on-time, even though I could have easily talked for a couple more hours.

After a rush of meeting so many great people that came up to say “Hi” (my favorite!), I got a few minutes to think and realized that I really actually liked speaking. This new revelation was so surprising to me! I started this blog thinking it would be “safe”. Somewhere I could express my introverted self’s love of sewing to the world without fear of interacting and actually talking to other humans. Through the past almost-four years I’ve found that humans are what I really actually want. Looking back I think I’ve become a lot less introverted as a result.

Saturday’s talk was so much easier in comparison. I got to meet a few more online friends in person (Yay!) and felt much more comfortable. I was able to relax a bit, hang out and talk to everyone and my kids even got to come visit as well! It just reinforced what I had learned the day before.

My oldest picked some florals for a summer dress from Country Clothesline.

The passion part? The need to share what I love with others runs so deep. I fount out I am most passionate about doing my best to inspire sewers to sew more, and beginners to start. I want to help others understand that sewing is not scary or hard. That there is a solution to everything, it’s called practice (and a seam ripper!). I want everyone to sew with the next seam (or step) in mind – not the finished project that looks “too hard” – because with enough desire to learn, you can sew anything!

I am so grateful that I have been allowed to realize all of these things. I am already doing something I love to do by writing here, and now I can go farther with it. This blog is so much fun, but I would love to do more – and I’m realizing that I am ok at being a people-person too! I’m hoping a day comes when I’m able to do multiple sewing-related things – talks, workshops, writing here… and whatever else comes my way.

Lacie Zippers from Border Creek Station

Last but not least…. I am so glad that I have been allowed to share space with this amazing creative community. I am so grateful that I’m literally in tears while writing this. You are all so kind to come back post after post. I have so many positive experiences to look back on and I’m so excited for where this is taking me.

I would be remiss not to especially thank Janome for taking a chance on inviting a newbie to speak. They truly have been so supportive, amazing and so nice to work with. Without them I would not have learned all of these things and I will carry that through the rest of my life for sure.

I wanted to write about my experience to hopefully inspire you to go farther in whatever it is that you love – it is never too late or too scary. And I hope all of you are granted the amazing gift I’ve gotten to find your passion in life. I hope I don’t sound high on myself, or sound like I think I’m the best at everything, because I’m not – I have just been allowed to learn about this part of me and I’m excited to see where it goes. Here’s to the future!

What do you think? What is your passion?

My youngest sewist was gifted this super cute fat quarter bundle from Fabric Please! She said Rita wanted to see a picture of her blue sewing machine, so here it is! I’ve got a mommy-daughter project all picked out for it :)

As a little P.S. for you since you are still reading! (Thank you!)  I’ve gotten feedback that I am likely speaking once or twice more this year in the Toronto area. Yay! I’m so excited and hope that if you live in the area that you might be able to come out so I can meet you. :)

Perfectly unPerfect Quiet Book

2016 April 27

I’m a bit embarrassed to show you this project today… I love taking pictures of perfectly sewn products and posting them here. Of course, it’s not a realistic view of how I live – my house looks like I haven’t cleaned in a month right now! (Which might be right – argh!) But it sure is satisfying to make everything look pretty.

I promised everyone at my Creativ Festival Trunk Show over the weekend that I would post the quiet book that started my free 12 page Quiet Book patterns. The one I made my oldest for her first birthday, about 8 years ago now! This Quiet Book is anything but perfect. I had so much to learn about sewing and was working it out as I went along. It has so many things I’d change now, least of which are my fabric choices. Pattern & character overload – wow!

This book’s unperfectness (#itsaword) is exactly what I want to share today. Things don’t have to be perfect to be loved and given away. My oldest was thrilled when I found this book in storage. She spent time looking at each page and laughing at the photos. Her smallest cousin isn’t even in the book, and everyone is 8 years younger. Crazy how fast things change. She doesn’t care about the overuse of the zigzag stitch and fraying edges. She just likes it because I made it just for her.

So here’s my unPerfect Quiet Book. I’m hoping it might inspire you to go ahead and make that project that you’ve been putting off – because you “don’t know enough” or “won’t get it exactly like the Pinterest photos”. Comparing is not allowed when you are doing what you love!

 I’ll be sharing my Creativ Festival re-cap later this week and the lovelies I brought home on Instagram as well. See you again soon!

Isogram Mini Quilt {How to sew with Alphabet Panels}

2016 April 21

So there’s thing called an isogram, which I didn’t know about until my sponsor Fabric Spark emailed to see if I wanted to make a project with a Nature Walk Alphabet Panel. It’s gorgeous, but right away I was worried… my kids are too big for alphabet projects, no matter how amazing the fabric is! Of course, I now *needed* the fabric, so for a couple of days my husband and I thought of things to write with one panel of the alphabet until I Googled it and found out what I needed was an isogram: “a word or phrase without a repeating letter”.

Moving ahead for a second, this project is the last thing I need to finish before my Trunk Show at the Creativ Festival in 2 days! Wow! I am running around like crazy person over here. If you are in the Toronto area, I will be presenting a Trunk Show – “Be Brave and Sew” on the Fashion Arts stage at 2:30 on Friday and 9:30 am (gulp!) on Saturday. You can also see the original sample projects from the Sewing Diaries, other past projects and the girls’ Easter Dresses. I’m so happy to be working with Janome to present this!

But, back to isograms, it turns out there are tons of these things! I got a few from this website – “Stand By Me”, “Rocket Man” or “Rhapsody in Blue” (plus lots more) if you are a music enthusiast and Playground, Trampoline, Ambidextrous or Subdermatoglyphic (!) according to Wikipedia. I also found a great example of a sewing isogram after I finished my project, from Sherri Noel (great first name, btw!) – she wrote “Sew Crazy” on her sewing machine cover! Of course, you could always think up another phrase and buy two or three alphabet panels.

One last thing still bugged me – cutting up the panel without a use for the leftover letters. But, I’m in luck and know a whole bunch of people with first and last names that start with each of the leftover letters – so, if you know me – you “might” be getting a pillow or zippy pouch (or other sewn something) with a letter on it for your next birthday/Christmas or other random holiday!

This project, however, is for my oldest daughter. I thought the isogram “Quick on the draw” was perfect for her bedroom wall. She does not stop drawing – and you rarely find her without a drawing implement of some kind in her hand. She visits art supply stores like they are candy shops – she needs this mini quilt! Fabric Spark was amazing and sent me the alphabet panel and some of her other fabrics from Tamara Kate’s Nature Walk collection for Michael Miller Fabrics. I love that this Tamara Kate art can inspire my little girl!

I’ve made up a little mini tutorial for the project below, with links to all of the fabrics I used, plus the gorgeous Little World in Amberthat didn’t make it in – vetoed by the fact that after it was pieced in it didn’t really match my daughter’s room so well.

Keep in mind that the amount of fabric you need will drastically change depending on the phrase/word you want to spell! This mini quilt is actually quite large at 35″ x 23″. If you are coming to the Creativ Festival, it will be on display in the Fabric Spark booth, #248!

As a gauge I used this much fabric:

1) Cut alphabet rows apart. Measure the halfway point between the rows, mark first, cut after!

2) Cut letters apart with 1/4″ seam allowance on both sides, making sure to keep the sides parallel. We will trim the top and bottom after sewing each line.

3) Sew the letters together into words with a 1/4″ seam, I pressed my seam allowances open. Make sure to align the letters so they line up side by side before sewing, don’t align the top/bottom of the white space or they will be uneven.

4) Cut and sew 2 1/2″ wide strips for spaces between words and sew words into lines. Trim the top edges, including a 1/4″ seam allowance on each, so everything is square. My letter rows ended up about 7 1/4″ tall each. Make sure each row is the same height.

5) Add 2 1/2″ strips to each row end, then the top and bottom and between your rows. I pressed these seams open as well.

6) Sew all the rows together to make the center of the mini quilt.

7) Cut & sew 2″ strips to the top, bottom and sides to create the border.

8) Piece your backing if desired, make a quilt sandwich and quilt your project. For lack of more experience, I mostly stitched in the ditch around the letters. Then did a few border rows around the edge.

9) Add quilt hanging sleeve if desired.

10) Make enough binding with 2 1/2″ strips to go around project. Then bind with your favorite method.

I hope you love your new mini quilt! My daughter is so excited to hang this in her room.

The Sewing Diaries – Week 6: Quilt on Your Machine!

2016 April 14

  We are talking about quilting on this last Sewing Diary entry. As most of you know, this blog doesn’t talk about quilting as much as I’d like it to! I’ve got grand plans for at least 7 different stacks of coordinated fabric in my stash – and those are only the ones I can think of off the top of my head! Of course, my first love is quick projects and apparel. But I have actually finished the occasional quilt, and will always own a machine with the capability to make quilted projects.

Today I’m sharing tips I’ve found helpful as I learn about piecing and quilting, link to some great quilty tutorials and I’m even going to share a potentially embarrassing mug rug I made. Yikes – taking “professional” photos of something I’m not terribly proud of is hard! #perfectionisoverrated?

Before we head into the post, here’s a re-cap of the Sewing Diaries posts, since, amazingly we are already at week 6 of 6! Each post covers a different topic, by the end you should now know your sewing machine inside and out! Plus I hope you’ve found a few tips and tricks on how to make it sew what you want like a pro.

Week 1: Unboxing Your New Machine Part 1/Part 2 ~ Week 2: Closures ~ Week 3: Heavy/Uncommon FabricsWeek 4: Knits (without a serger!) ~ Week 5: Embellishing your Projects (ie. Stitches and Machine Feet) ~ Week 6: Quilting/Piecing (today’s post!)

Disclaimer: A Skyline S7 has been loaned to me for the purpose of writing this series.  As with all products I write about, I will always tell you my own honest opinion. I purchased and loved Janome machines long before they contacted me. Janome has not asked me to qualify my opinions in any way. Also, the fabric for this post was given to me by Fabric Spark. Thank you for supporting my sponsors!

Today’s main project is “the Herringbone Runner” – a table runner pattern from Carolyn Friedlander – in Carolyn Friedlander-designed fabric no less! The selection of fabrics are from her last few collections and were provided by my lovely sponsor, Fabric Spark. They have also put together kits for this runner so you can make one too! Her well-curated collection is always amazing to browse through, I know you’ll find something you love.

These fabrics play so well together and I’m really pleased with how the table runner turned out. It was a surprisingly fast project – about 6-7 hours. Four of those for the paper piecing alone, but not because it was hard, but because I was thinking way too much about making sure the colours were evenly distributed. My brain likes everything to be super symmetrical, so this was a stretch for me! The pattern includes a really great explanation of how to paper-piece and I love how precise the final product is.

This leads to my first quilting tip: Remember, sewing is your hobby. If it’s not fun, don’t do it! Don’t get hung up worrying about quilt police. Make something you love, following the way you want to do it and it will be perfect! Of course, like anything, if you want to be more knowledgeable about how to do your hobby that’s ok too. Here’s a great article I love from Sew Mama Sew about keeping your hobby fun.

Keeping all of this in mind, here are some important things you should know when learning about how your sewing machine handles piecing and quilting.

Check out your Feet:

Piecing a quilt can be done on any machine but you will need at least one type of special machine foot to quilt a project on your sewing machine. Take a look at the feet that came with your machine. If they are specific to quilting, look them up in the manual. Find out what they do so when you come across quilting lingo you know what it’s talking about!

The Skyline S7 is great for quilters with lots of extras including the AcuFeed Flex, several Free Motion Quilting Feet and a 1/4″ Piecing Foot. I have found that even basic Janome machines (my first SUV1122!) tend to come with an included Walking/Even foot, which is a huge bonus for beginners.

If you happen to have a Dual Feed option like the Skyline S7′s AcuFeed Flex (more about this foot in the Sewing Diaries: Week 4) or an Even/Walking Foot count yourself lucky! These feet are the key to producing an evenly sewn and quilted project. They move the top and bottom fabrics together, keeping all of the layers in line. When quilting, this lets you move the fabric around without accidentally creating  sewing wrinkles in the unseen underneath layer.

Check your Tension:

Tension is especially important when quilting your pieced project because a layer of batting adds a lot of extra thickness.  If you are using different spool and bobbin colours, it is especially important that the tension is set properly. The two threads need to cross in the middle of the quilt layers so they don’t show on the other side. I used cream bobbin thread to match the backing and multiple colours to match the top and the Skyline S7′s automatic tension did a great job. Find out about adjusting your tension in the Sewing Diaries: Week 3.

Have a perfect seam:

Find out how to sew with a super-precise 1/4″ seam allowance. This is so important! Without a precise seam you will not be able to follow most quilt patterns. A piecing foot comes in really handy for making sure you sew your seams accurately. The Sewing Loft has provided a great article about how to simply find your machine’s perfect 1/4″ seam.

Basting your Quilt:
I still find it tricky to figure out how to get large quilt layers straight and basted before quilting them. Generations Quilt Patterns has some great detailed information on how to Successfully Layer and Pin Baste Your Quilt. Of course if you don’t mind watching for the quilt police and your project is smaller you can use straight pins. I have had good luck doing this and am too cheap (so far) to buy curved quilting pins to make the process easier.
Machine Quilting

I generally tend to default to straight line quilting in my projects, just because it is simple and easy to do. Plus, there is little to no learning curve, which helps! Mark straight line on your project, attach a Dual Feed or Walking Foot and start sewing. If your machine happens to have a quilting guide bar attachment, even better. Mark one line on the quilt and follow your seams with the guide bar to continue sewing evenly placed lines. I used it on my table runner to help follow the herringbone lines with my quilting.

I also tried out the included knee bar while quilting as well. It’s works so well it’s disappointing that I sew standing up and can’t really use it properly. You would have laughed! I’m balanced on a bar-stool with my knee in the air working the thing. Great for my abs, though! And so easy to turn pivot at corners, move the bar to the right to lift the presser foot, turn the quilt, let go to release it and lower the foot again.

Free Motion Quilting

Here’s where I “show off” my lovely mug rug.

As you can see free motion is not as yet a skill I pull off easily! It does take practice, and the nice thing about the Skyline S7 is that it sets everything up automatically so a lot of the guess-work is taken out of the process.

Sew Mama Sew has some great Tips on Beginner Free Motion Quilting. One thing I’ve read that is not included in their list is to practice with a pencil and paper. I’ve found this really helpful when figuring out how to get the shape you want. Practice putting your pencil down on the paper and don’t lift it until the shape is finished, just like when your quilt is in the machine!

Clasp Stitches

I used a few of these automatic stitches on my mug rug to try them out. It’s like tying a quilt, only by machine. I can see this being really cute and a great alternative to all-over quilting. I like the star shape best, but couldn’t resist adding a snowflake or 3 since our “springy” April has been full of them!

Bind your project:
Ideally it is best to hand sew your quilt binding. And it does look nicer – but I usually don’t want to take the time to do it, so I machine bind my projects. So far I’ve been happy with the results, but I can see it being really relaxing to sit and hand-bind a quilt. I always use Cluck Cluck Sew’s Machine Binding tutorial. It is well explained and easy to follow.
I hope you have enjoyed the Janome Sewing Diaries series! I have (of course) been spoiled rotten using the amazing Janome SKyline S7. It really is a fantastic machine. Great for advanced sewers and beginners alike. If you have any questions about your machine, please let me know and I’d be happy to help find answers for you!

Happy Sewing!

Creativ Festival News + 2 Giveaway Winners!

2016 April 11

Hi, how are you doing? Well, I hope? I feel like it’s been a rollercoaster of prep-work over here since I started the Janome Sewing Diaries. Can you believe it’s already the last week of the six weeks?! That means next week is the Spring Creativ Festival in Toronto!

I’ve been going to the Creativ Festival for quite a few years now. This year I was thrilled when Janome Canada asked me to present a Trunk Show once each day! I’m excited to pull out old and new favorite projects to show you and I’ve got a list of tips and tricks to share (and some sneaky things I do to save time!). My amazing sponsors have provided giveaways and exclusive discounts for show attendees! Plus, anyone attending the show can enter for their chance to win a Janome Skyline S7! Woo Hoo!

Best of all, I am really excited to get to meet Thread Riding Hood readers and say “Hi”. If you see me, please introduce yourself – I’d love to meet you. (Just look for the pink hair!) Now that it’s so close I’m ready – but so nervous! Normal-nervous, but nervous just the same. Getting up on a stage is not as natural for me as I’d love it to be! I’m so fortunate that the sewing community is full of lovely people – that makes it so much easier!

If you are in the Toronto area. I will be on the Fashion Arts stage starting at 2:30 pm on Friday and 9:30 am on Saturday. I can’t say enough about how fun it is to walk around these fabric-full Creativ booths with so many like-minded people. Plus, I’ve got “a few” things on my shopping list to look for!

Before I go back to Creativ prep… We have two giveaways that need some winners!  Have a wonderful week. :)  

Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to both of our fabric bundle winners! I can’t wait to see what they will make with their new fabric. And a huge thanks to both my sponsors’ Canadian online fabric shops for providing these giveaways! 

The winner of this lovely Acorn Trail organic canvas from Birch and Carolyn Friedlander Architextures Cross Hatch in Poppy combo from Mad about Patchwork is…

#518: Erin! Who won by visiting Mad About Patchwork on Facebook.


The winner of this 9 Fat Quarter bundle of Michael Miller Cotton Couture Solids + a $25 Shop Credit from Zoey & Bean Fabrics is….

Entry #308: Michele! “I love the Sashing Stash fabrics in all the colourways! This fabric would be fun to play with!! Thanks!”

Don’t miss out! The Zoey & Bean discount code expires tomorrow, April 12th at midnight. Make sure you get 15% off your purchase with code: TRD15

The Sewing Diaries – Week 5: 9 Ways to Embellish & Label Your Projects

2016 April 7

This past week I have been busy organizing, labeling and embellishing my projects. I’ve collected 9 ideas you can use with your sewing projects to make them more useful, or more fun! I’ve used the alphabet feature on the Janome Skyline S7 a lot for this week’s content. But I made sure to include several ideas that don’t require any special stitches at all – I hope you like them!

For my main project this week I wanted to make a couple of Fat Quarter Skirts. This tutorial is a few years old now and is so easy to make (and so cute to wear!) – a great beginner project. Perfect for embellishing, and using up any “spare” fat quarters you might have lying around! I added permanent shorties underneath these as well using this Add Shorts to the Fat Quarter Skirt follow-up post from last year.

Each skirt uses just 2 fat quarters, and my sponsor Country Clothesline was kind enough to provide this week’s fabric. These fabrics are just gorgeous together. They almost look like the came from the same fabric line! Country Clothesline curates a lovely country-inspired shop full of fresh and pretty fabrics. The butterfly skirt is a mixture of  Kate Spain’s Aria in Begonia Butterfly and Bonnie & Camille’s Vintage Picnic Check in Coral. The floral one (my favorite!) is from Colette – Floral Leaf Paisley mixed with Tanya Whelan - Barefoot Roses in Pink Dot. The extra green on shown in the photos is from Tanya Whelan as well – Rosey in Green Plaid.

I thought it would be fun to add a book quote to one of the Fat Quarter Skirts using the Skyline S7 alphabet feature. It turned out so cute! Check out Idea #9 below for more details. (P.S. Do you know which book it is?!)

 Disclaimer: A Skyline S7 has been loaned to me for the purpose of writing this series.  As with all products I write about, I will always tell you my own honest opinion. I purchased and loved Janome machines long before they contacted me. Janome has not asked me to qualify my opinions in any way. Also, the fabric for this post was given to me by my sponsor Country Clothesline. Thank you for supporting my sponsors!

9 Ways to Embellish & Label Your Projects

Idea #1: Twill Tape Size Label – Three Ways!

  1. Cut twill tape to about 3″ long. Write the size using a fine tip fabric marker. Heat set the marker ink on high heat for about 30 seconds. Use pinking shears and/or Fray Check to seal the raw ends. Fold the ribbon in half. Sew into the back of your project.
  2. Follow the first method, but use your machine to embroider the size onto your twill tape. Make sure to use a stabilizer under your ribbon for a clean finish.
  3. Use your machine to write the size and any other embellishments (like a super-cute clothesline!) parallel to the ribbon edge. Remove excess stabilizer. Use pinking shears and/or Fray Check to seal the ends. Fold the ends under 1/2″ or so – I use a school glue stick to hold the ends in place. Sew across each short end to attach it to your project. You can also attach these over the side seam! Tip: Use bobbin thread that matches the outer fabric so the stitching is less visible. (Check out the blue Soleil Dress pictured + 12 tips for sewing knits in Week 4 of the Sewing Diaries.)

Idea #2: Decorative Ribbon Loop

Little ribbon tags are so cute and add a little extra to the side seam of your project.

Cut decorative ribbon to an appropriate length, depending on the ribbon pattern. Fold the ribbon in half. Insert the ribbon along the side seam of your project as it is being sewn. Be sure to allow for the seam allowance when you are aligning it – Ex. for a 1/4″ seam allowance, make sure the ribbon design is at least 1/4″ over from the raw edge of the ribbon.

 Idea #3: Fancy Top-Stitching

Use a zigzag stitch (or another decorative stitch on your machine) to top-stitch, instead of always using a straight stitch. I chose a medium width zigzag for the Butterfly skirt.

Idea #4: Leather Labels

I could have made these for days! I used one in the Forest Glen Mini Satchel a few weeks ago and it was so easy. I didn’t even need stabilizer – and they look so professional. Plus it helps that the Skyline S7 went through this leather like butter! Remember that any holes you make are permanent, and use a leather needle for your stitching. Check out these tips for sewing thicker fabrics from Week 3 of the Sewing Diaries.

Idea #5: Custom Stitches

The Skyline S7 comes with a really fun feature – you can build your own stitches! The Stitch Composer loads onto your home computer and allows you to build the stitch, save it, and transfer it to the sewing machine through its USB port. I found a butterfly picture to use as a template and then traced my own butterfly stitch. Woo Hoo! I would love to try to make a Little Red and the Wolf using my logo when I get more time to play with it.

My first butterfly had something like 175 stitches in it, and only came out about a 1/2″ wide! Oops! You can see what this tiny butterfly looked like on Instagram.

I can’t get WordPress to upload the file directly. So if you have a machine that can accept .stx Stitch Composer files and would like the butterfly file, please send me an email and I’ll send it over to you! 

Idea #6: Add Ribbon

An easy way to make a zigzag stitch a bit fancier is to zigzag over ribbon! Cut ribbon to the width of the panel you are making. Glue baste or pin the ribbon in place before stitching a wide zigzag stitch over it. Start and end your stitching with 3 or 4 straight stitches to hold the ribbon in place. I also sewed ribbon on with a straight stitch in an embellished skirt tutorial a few months ago.

Idea #7: Quick & Dirty Camp/School Name Labels

Create quick fusible name labels for everything your kids own!

Stitch names onto twill tape, I didn’t use stabilizer for this one because I wanted these to be super-fast. You can see they are slightly wonky but not too bad! Attach fusible web to the back. I love to use Steam-A-Seam (#notanad) because it is tacky and allows for easy placement and trimming. Press the fusible lightly to adhere it permanently to the label. Cut the labels apart and store them until needed. Then just iron them on! You can Fray Check the ends if desired – but the fusible should be enough to stop them from fraying. (The shirt is my oldest’s well-loved Extraordinary Girl shirt. Pattern  from Filles à Maman.)

Idea #8: Printed Fabric Labels

Design and send a file to Spoonflower and have your labels printed! I ordereded these a few years ago on a knit fabric. This way they are easy to cut out with no need to hem because they won’t fray. You could apply fusible web to the back of these (as per Idea #7) and have simple- to-make fusible labels with your own design! Or you can buy a pre-made design and support a designer. #goodforyou!

Idea #9: Adding Text

I love the idea of personalizing a project with a fun quote and this floral paisley skirt just needed something from “The Secret Garden” on it! My kids love to plant flowers in the spring, water them (too much!) and watch them grow. I re-found my grandmother’s Ladybird Book copy of the book to go with the skirt so now we can read the abridged version together as well!

“However many years she lived, Mary always felt that ‘she should never forget that first morning when her garden began to grow’.” ― Frances Hodgson BurnettThe Secret Garden

  1. Type in a few words and test the width of your lettering. This is very general, since spacing depends a bit on how fast you are stitching! My machine works out to 5 or 6 letters/spaces per inch. So I would need about 22-27 inches for the quote + the length of my test text.
  2. Cut some twill tape double the width of the skirt panel. Enter the quote into your sewing machine. The Skyline S7 has a built in memory – so I stored the quote as 3 files in the machine. Double-check your spelling! This machine has a view screen where you can see all of the text all at once. Really helpful.
  3. Place stabilizer on the back of your twill tape. I used a glue stick very lightly to adhere the two together. 
  4. Start stitching about 1-2″ in from the raw end. I used a slower speed and it took me about 25 minutes to stitch, open the next file, stitch, add leaves to fill the open space and double-check my work. Remove the excess stabilizer and cut/remove the threads between letters if desired.
  5. Sew one side of the skirt panel/contrast border together. Glue baste or pin the ribbon near the bottom and edge-stitch it on. I like using the over-edge foot that comes with the S7 to make my stitches really straight. The edge of the twill tape runs along the edge of the black divider on the foot and works to keep everything in place.
  6. Once the ribbon is sewn on, finish the other side seam and then finish the skirt!

I hope you found a few new fun ideas to use from this list! Next week we are going to talk about quilting. I’m looking forward to trying all of the piecing/quilting options on the Skyline S7. Plus I’ve been wanting to make the project I’ve chosen for ages now. Nothing like a deadline to get ‘er done. Have a great week!

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