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.
Kitka Neyedli, local Port Moody maker and stitcher, will be teaching how to make a fabric bag on Saturday November 4th. I sat down to get to know her a bit better. Here is some of her story.
2. How did you get started?
My mum sewed by necessity (kind of) because we lived in a small town. When I moved into my own home I made stuff for it. When I got married and had a family I made cloth diapers because that is now my world. I make somewhat out of economy. If I can make it in bulk numbers I can do it cheaper than buying it. I found that making clothes for my kids they would grow out of them very fast so I wondered what else I could make that would be cherished by my family? That's when I was bitten by the quilting bug. I made lots of fluffy pillows for the boys, storage baskets for the home, fabric bags... I like the challenge and variety of learning about different fabrics and techniques. It's a good way to live.
4. Describe an upcoming or current project.
The tote bags for The Stitchery. I've completed 2 bags so far. I would use the smaller one for library books. It's in summer colours, bright and cheerful, so I will use it in the rain. The larger one has a contrast lining for fun. Upcoming works include some cool shapes for bags by an English designer in Japanese style in dark colours. Also, hexies. You whipstitch multiple hexagons together so I have about 1-2m of hexagons sewn in cool colours. Now I have to dream up what to do with it. I also have a stack of mending that keeps on getting buried by the other things I want to start.
5. What is one thing you would like people to notice about you?
My enthusiasm. Most people say I'm an enthusiastic person. Gosh! I've never been in the room when I leave so I'm not sure what people think of me (laughs). I like to be an encourager for people to explore their creative side. I like to help people make something. If people want to know my aesthetic they can find me on Instagram @madebykitka
In this birthday year for Canada I thought I would share some Canadian resources for stitchers and textile artists. Since we are 6 days from opening here are 6 resources that I recommend.
1. BC's Lower Mainland staple fabric store Fabricana has a blog full of projects and helpful information for beginners and intermediate stitchers. In particular there is a "Fabric 101" section with some great posts to help you make informed choices for your textile projects. http://www.fabricana.com/blog-category/fabric-101
2. Tanis in Montreal, QC, blogs about dying, knitting, and yarns on her beautiful site Tanis Fibre Arts. Lots of gorgeous inspiration and great knitting patterns here, as well as beautiful yarns for sale. http://www.tanisfiberarts.com/blog/
3. Thread Theory Designs, a menswear sewing pattern company on Vancouver Island, BC, is a great place to find contemporary and stylish patterns for menswear. They also have a great blog. Check out this post about upcycling and visible mending https://threadtheoryblog.wordpress.com/2017/08/04/mend-dont-toss-visible-mending-up-cycling-and-fitting/
4. Speaking of patterns, Sewaholic Patterns is a Canadian pattern design company in Vancouver, BC. Their selection of patterns ranges from beginner-level to intermediate/advanced. Each pattern comes with clear, easy to follow instructions. You can order paper patterns to be delivered to you or purchase downloadable pdf versions to print yourself. http://www.sewaholicpatterns.com
5. For some visual inspiration follow Jessica Margaret Art on Instagram. Her work covers painting, illustration, and embroidery. Her style is bold and invites you to ask "what's the story?" https://www.instagram.com/jessica.margaret.art/
6. Get your Merino Big Stitch Yarn from Sarah Willey at Mama Knows Luxury. With a vision to support and encourage makers Sarah has a plethora of resources on her site for knitters and wool enthusiasts including video tutorials and a Preferred Makers Program. Find it all online at http://www.mamaknowsdesign.com
Photo by @coziknots (instagram), one of Mama's Preferred Makers.
What or who are your go-to resources for inspiration, tips, or projects to make? Write a comment below or send me a message. I would love to hear from you. Thank you.
As a beginner the fabric store can offer an overwhelming number of choices of tools and resources to get you started. Here are my top 10 must-have items for your kit. With these you can start sewing. After you get started you will have a better idea of what specialized items you might like to add to expand your capacity for making stitched creations.
1. Dressmaking scissors. A good pair of scissors is a valuable investment. These should only be used for cutting fabric as other items like paper will dull the blades faster.
2. Smaller scissors. A small pair of embroidery scissors or similar are handy for snipping threads, cutting small details, or getting into tight corners.
3. Tape Measure. A must-have to hand for checking seam widths and other measurements as you go along. Attention to detail in measuring makes all the difference to your finished piece.
4. Iron and ironing board. Press, press, and press again. Press your fabric, press your seams as you go along. Another area where attention to detail makes a big difference.
5. Pins and pin cushion. A magnetic pin cushion is useful for picking up dropped pins as well as keeping them safely in one place. Different pins are designed for different uses but for now a box of straight dressmaker pins (with or without a ball head) is all you need.
6. Dressmaker's chalk or pencil. Use blue or pink chalk on light coloured fabrics and white or yellow chalk on dark colours.
7. Clear Quilting or Grading Ruler. You might start with a 6"x24" especially if you want to try quilting.
8. Seam Ripper. For those times when you need to rip it out and try again. It happens.
9. Pinking Scissors. To stop the cut fabric edges from fraying. This is a simple way to finish inside seams without a serger. Other methods include making a French Seam (but that is for another blog post).
10. Needles. You can now buy "easy-threading" needles which are a good all-round basic hand sewing needle. Otherwise embroidery needles are good for most uses. Most sewing stores will also sell variety packets so you will have a range of the most common needles. Choose your needle according to your project: embroidery, darning, etc.
There you have my top 10 must-have items for your sewing kit. There are many more bits and bobs you can collect to make your projects easier. Your local fabric store can give you advice on what is available. Or you can visit me at The Stitchery Sewing Studio in Port Moody. I am happy to chat with you, even offer you a cup of tea, and help you with your creative projects. We also have a range of basic sewing tools for sale in our studio if you are putting together a kit.
That is all for now.
Welcome to Stitched: a place where I share tips, resources, and reflections on the stitcher's life.