By Kitka Neyedli, Stitchery quilting and sewing instructor and guest blogger.
If you are looking for a portable, meditative activity to keep your hands busy and your mind relaxed, then English Paper Piecing might be just your thing!
The process is still the same where fabric is cut into geometric shapes, wrapped around papers and then hand stitched together. Originally, since plain paper was a relatively expensive commodity, the papers used were re-purposed from what was available including scraps torn from old letters, newspapers and catalogues. All that was needed was fabric, paper, scissors and a needle and thread. Not much has changed with the EPP technique of today, except for modern fabrics and some new handy notions.
Many people find it a wonderful form of quilting they can take with them and work on in short bursts of time. Supplies are small and lightweight and can be stashed anywhere from a pocket inside a handbag - perhaps to work on while waiting in a long line-up - or in the glovebox of the car for something to have on hand as a passenger.
We can unplug from our electronic-obsessed world and work simply with our hands and create something beautiful. The simple act of taking needle and thread to make rows of stitches can be meditative and melt modern-day stress one stitch at a time. It can be an environment and fashion win too - perhaps by attaching a cute EPP'd hexagon onto a worn-out pair of jeans you can turn a garment destined for the landfill into a newly re-furbished treasure.
What are your favorite aspects of EPP?
To round off the perfect Christmas shopping trip, you'll find one of the best ice cream parlours in the lower mainland, Rocky Point Ice Cream, in Rocky Point Park. It's ideally located for wandering with your cone out onto the dock. Or check in to one of the craft brew pubs along Brewers Row and sample a local draft.
These are just a few of the many reasons to shop and relax in Port Moody this season.
A dad and mum popped into the Stitchery Studio saying their daughter wanted to make a shirt. "Help! That sounds so complicated."
It's so great that she has this ambition, but if she starts with something hard, she'll get discouraged. "Start at the beginning,” I advised. “Learn some basic stitches. Attend after school classes to improve skills. A shirt might not be a this-year project but she could make hand-stitched felt birds to learn the stitches, and move up from there."
It turns out the dad had never been taught to sew by his parents and always wanted to. The son, the girl's brother, also wants to learn. Now the whole family is doing an activity together - learning a skill together.
It's an appealing aspect of Gen Z, our children today, that they are (compared to my generation at least) more interested in experiences than stuff. Gifts which are activities can lead to precious family memories. Activity-gifts appeal especially to today's waste-conscious shoppers, who can't stand the throw-away nature of Christmas gift-giving. Whoever the recipient is, there's an activity gift to suit them: my father-in-law is getting a renewed membership of the rec center (just don't tell him yet).
But my favorite activity gifts are those that allow us to be creative. So few of life's experiences these days engage our creative and tactile minds, a crafting kit, or a sewing class can be a unique escape back to childhood, or into a new world of making. Crafting is stress-reducing; crafting as a family is bond-building.
My top 7 creative activity gifts for 2018:
Pop into the Stitchery to find these and many more activity gift ideas including gift certificates for our classes!
What are some of the key techniques every patchwork quilter should master? Here are some tips to get you started on achieving that perfect finish.
1. Match colours and patterns.
Lay out your fabrics beforehand in a bright light (preferably daylight) to check how the colours match up. Your colour palette can be drawn from one chosen fabric or from a selection of 2 or 3. Limiting your palette to 3 dominant colours will make life easier and the overall piece more cohesive.
Patterns should be balanced but varied. Bring in patterns of different densities or visual weight to add interest to your project. The fabrics below have different visual weight. Note the scale of the design, the "busyness", and the distribution of colour.
2. Cut carefully.
Measure twice, cut once. Or even measure several times. In order for the corners of your patchwork pieces to line up you must take time to cut out carefully and precisely. Measure across your piece at different points to check your edges are parallel etc. A larger quilter's ruler comes in handy here as it provides both horizontal and vertical measurements in addition to angles. Pictured below are some options we stock along with the new Splash coloured rotary cutters.
3. Cut from a straight edge.
Start your cutting process by cutting a straight edge along the grain. Use your quilter's ruler to ensure your perpendicular cuts are precisely 90 degrees to your initial straight edge. This will keep your edges true and your pieces on the straight grain to avoid extra warping or stretching when sewing.
4. Press frequently.
A good iron is your best friend and you should hang out frequently when sewing especially for patchwork. Seams should be pressed to one side or the other and alternated so as not to add bulk to the quilt top. Be careful not to roll your seam and create tucks in your piece when you press. Finally, do not wait until the end of sewing before pressing. Press as you join pieces to your project.
5. Practice your 1/4" seams.
If you are a beginner or used to sewing with a 5/8" seam allowance then practice sewing with a 1/4" seam allowance on some scraps before you begin. Use a 1/4" seam foot on your machine if you can.
Warning: this story is honest and may be emotional for some.
Our Strawberry Tea Party on Saturday is not a promotional stunt. I raise money to support those living through cancer because it is often brutal, painful, and life-changing.
My mum died in 1997. She had suffered through cancer several times. In fact she was ill for a lot of my childhood although I don't remember. She was so good at hiding the pain and suffering. I remember the wig and the jokes about hair loss. Most of all I remember the last time I sat with her. I was 19. I was beginning to learn what it meant to be my own woman. I was living away from home at university in England. My parents received the news that this time there would be no recovery. They waited until I came home for the summer. I heard the words, "Your mum has cancer again. She won't get better this time." That was it. My reality was forever changed but I had yet to realize what that meant.
That is what cancer does - hits you with the realization that all that you thought was true about life may not be certain anymore; that the darkness is truly darker and more dangerous than you thought possible. However, I also learned that the light is brighter and more hopeful than I ever imagined (but those details are for another story).
I went back to university while my mum lay in bed slowly slipping away from us as the morphine took over. When I was called home the following March it was a shock. The last time I sat by my mum's bedside she didn't see me or recognize me. I read her poetry and tried to find some hope to hang on to.
Author C. S. Lewis said it is not so much the loss as the irreversibility of death. If I asked my friends who are living with cancer they might say the same about it - cancer irreversibly changes your life. Good things can come out of this but often also a lot of loss.
This is why I am hosting a tea party on Saturday. This is why the proceeds will go directly to support those living with cancer. We will celebrate life and tea and hope. Will you join us?
The easy sunglasses case.
Making a sunglasses case is a practical summer project that is easy enough for beginners. Know a young person who is eager to learn to sew? Or perhaps you have a few hours and want to exercise your creative muscles?
Try one of the free patterns with instructions listed below and you too will be able to respond to compliments with, "Why thank you. I made it myself."
We have lots of bright, colourful fabrics in store that are perfect for this project. Come in to the shop and you will be spoilt for choice.
Part 1 introduced you to Samantha and her shop Willow and Wallflower. In Part 2 of our nosy around the neighbourhood explore the treasures to be found in Around My House Consignment Store.
On the corner of Mary and St. John's lives a long-time consignment store playing its part in a sustainable economy. The shop has had many owners through the years. The current owner, Heather, has saved many treasures from being discarded. Her eye for style and quality means you will find good stuff here. This is not a thrift store by any means.
From furniture to unique and historical curiosities this store has great things to be discovered. I especially love the beautiful range of tea cups (of course). Heather also brings in seasonal decor to celebrate the festive times. Check out the fun Easter pieces available right now.
I would like to show you some of the delights I have found in my neighbourhood. Let's call it a neighbourhood nosy. I hope you will find something to enjoy and explore here.
In Part 1 discover Canadian made artisan goods. Around the corner from The Stitchery is Willow & Wallflower Home Decor.
Owner Samantha MacDonald displays an eclectic selection of handmade and artisan goods from ceramics to soap, accessories to chocolate. Here are some more images of the delights to be found here. All of these are Canadian made. I love some of the more quirky designs like the Labyrinth-inspired print on the baby shirt. The Silk Road Imperial Earl Grey tea is really good, too ;)
A roundup of the top 5 sewing things I am currently happy about. Some are new things; some are regular essentials. This post is part inspiration and tips for you, and part insight into the heart behind The Stitchery Sewing Studio.
What are your favourite sewing things this season? Comment below or drop by and tell me over a cup of tea.
Well finished seams are key to achieving a professional look. Do it well and it makes your piece. Here are 5 tips to sewing a perfect seam on a sewing machine.
1. First, press, press, press. The more you take time to iron your fabric and your seam the better your finished piece will turn out. Iron your fabric before you start. Press your seam flat open or towards one direction. Often, vertical garment seams will be pressed towards the centre back. Check the pattern for instructions.
2. Align, pin, sew. Before pinning align your edges. If there is a significant inconsistency in your edge check the piece against your pattern for errors before you continue.
4. Next, pin along your seam. While pinning may seem like an unnecessary chore it will ensure your seam is flat and even. Insert your pins about 1-2 inches apart and perpendicular to your stitch line to make them easy to pull out when sewing. Do not sew over the pins with your machine. This may result in shattered needles or worse.
5. Top Stitching or Edge Stitching. Finish seams or hems with panache by top stitching. While not suitable for all seams this is a good way to add a level of sophistication to your item and secure your seam. The main rule about top stitching - keep an even distance from the seam. Your top stitch line should usually be 1/16 or 1/8 inch from the seam unless the design benefits from a wider gap. Whichever size you choose stick to it precisely otherwise it can look messy and amateur. Before you start make sure you press your seam so the seam allowance is underneath where you will top stitch (either one side or both sides of your seam). Use a slightly longer stitch length for top stitching so the stitches are defined (I use 3.0 on the studio machines).
Photo by Natahsha Priya. Fabrics: Wonderland by Rifle Paper Co. for Cotton+Steel, and Painters Palette Turquoise.
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