A Finish: Crosswalks

Here is my latest finish: Crosswalks.


It took ages to put this together, and I have lots of other stuff I should have been doing! I started it right around when I finished up my last quilt for the book because I just needed to get back to normal piecing. Looking back on Instagram I officially started it when I cut all the pieces while Netflix binging on Making A Murderer on September 17th.

The fabric is a fat quarter bundle of Janine Vangool’s Uppercase line for Windham Fabrics. I didn’t use them all, some went into my stash because I love them. Janine is a local designer, editor and publisher – of Uppercase magazine – here in Calgary, she was in the class I took with Lizzy House and she is awesome.

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I bought the backing from a Facebook group I’m a member of for $5 a metre. I have some left over which will work for bags. I quilted this on Monday with a pantograph at My Sewing Room and I love the texture, even if I had to change the bobbin a couple of times. The tension stayed pretty good so I didn’t mess up. And it took me 2 1/2 hours to quilt which is still a LOT faster than I would have managed on my domestic machine. I left the panto with Rebecca (of bag fame) so she can use it on a Star Wars quilt. I think it will lend itself very well to that!

I think this will be in either the January or the February issue of Popular Patchwork magazine in the UK.

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Size – 60″ x 60″
Number of blocks – 36
Time to make – About 25 hours – each block took at least half an hour and I chain pieced pairs towards the end.
Fabric – Uppercase by Janine Vangool for Windham. A fat quarter bundle. Plus yardage of Kona Eggshell.
Backing Fabric – Grace print from Joel Dewberry’s Atrium collection for Freespirit.
Binding Fabric – Riley Blake large stripes in black and white
Threads – Piecing with Presencia 50 wt. Quilting with Wonderfil Decobob prewound bobbins (80 wt) and Isacord on top (40 wt).
Batting – 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom as usual.
Quilting- Pantograph from Urban Elementz called Avant Garde. It’s quite a small design but pretty and simple.

This is a finish along finish!

FAL 2016

Brother PQ1500SL – a review of sorts

I realised that I have actually bought three sewing machines whilst I’ve been over in Canada, and not reviewed any of them. I find the review posts have been some of my most popular, so I guess I’d better do something about that.

My first purchase was a Brother Innovis NQ700. This is known as something else in the UK (don’t ask me what), and in the US I believe it is branded as Project Catwalk. I sold it after discovering I was too fast for my machine. I was making rapid points in FMQ on my animal quilts and I wasn’t happy with the stitch quality in the points. It was a nice machine otherwise, but I needed more speed and more power. Lea at My Sewing Room recommended I try the PQ1500 for the insane speed I sew at.

Here it is:

dscf1406As you can see it is very simple. It’s a mechanical, non-computerised machine. There’s only straight stitch, so the shank is super strong because it doesn’t have to move anywhere for zigzagging and the like. Bu since I mostly piece 1/4″ seams and free motion quilt, I use this machine 95% of the time. For the other 5% of the time where I need to do a blind hem or satin stitch applique for instance, I use this cheapo machine from Walmart. It’s also a Brother (since that’s my brand now) and it’s called the CE8080. It’s very lightweight for classes but if it breaks, it’s a goner. The stitches are pretty tidy. I keep it on the floor most of the time and when I need it, I unplug the power and foot control leads and plug them into this one, so I only have one set of wires on the go.


Back to the main review. This machine is HEAVY. It’s all metal and it has suction cup feet so it likes to attach itself firmly to a table. I don’t mind this because it’s not a machine designed for workshops and I only have to move it to the floor to swap it out for the Walmart machine. Because it is mechanical, I don’t really have to worry about it breaking down. I do have to remember to oil it a couple of times a month (a simple task). You have to be committed to cleaning it out on a Brother machine because it takes more effort than say a Husqvarna. There are screws to remove on the stitch plate to get in there and brush it all down around the bobbin area.


As for features, it still has the ones I liked in my NQ700. It has a knee lift (mechanical, not electric so it feels a bit…. manual), needle down feature (again, this is mechanical so what it means is needle stays down when you stop, not the needle goes down when you push it) and thread cutter. The bobbin is side mounted and there is an extension table which is good quality, with little fold out feet. There’s a trap door in the extension table to access the bobbin. You do have to open three doors though…


There’s also a needle threader. It’s a bit more primitive than some of the swanky ones our there, however I really like it. My reason being is that it works however high you needle position is. It comes down to meet your needle and as someone who has broken needle threaders before, this is excellent and makes it live much longer. It doesn’t need to be flashy to be perfect. Also, you don’t need three hands to operate it as it stays in place!


There are four feed dog positions. Most of the time though I use the feed dogs all the way down or all the way up. The other positions are pin feed – for sewing velvet and stuff, there’s a short needle like thing that comes out to spear it through – and half dogs, which would be used on fine fabrics that don’t need all of the force of full feed dogs. You can change this with an easy dial at the front of the machine, not a switch around the back.


There’s also the option to change the presser foot pressure. The colour coding refers to the position of the feed dogs.To be fair, I’ve not really had to move away from N = Normal for my uses.


If you are used to machines like the Sweet Sixteen, you totally can thread this machine right away, but for the first time it looks scary. I can do this in just a few seconds now. I’ve found that most threads like going through all three holes (in the bit that looks like a piece of Meccano), but I skipped the middle one for cheap and crappy metallic thread, and it was more than happy. The tension is a bit tricky to get the hang of to start with, and I’m still not sure whether the correct number is the one the dial shows when the presser foot is up or when it is down. Once I find a good stitch though I just don’t touch it! Some different brands of thread I have to turn it up or down a quarter turn depending on how the stitches feel on the back, but generally it stitches lovely.


It is fast and furious! It stitches 1500 per minute – hence the name – but I don’t recommend going top speed if your machine sits on a cheap Ikea desk on a third floor of a newbuild house (second floor for those in the UK that call the first floor the ground floor) – like I do. It vibrates and I assume annoys the neighbours. They just put their house up for sale, I hope it wasn’t me! I still can go faster than my old machine without much trouble, but I do occasionally lose control of my foot and go a bit crazy. I’ve put the foam pads for washing machines to stand on under the suction cup feet. That way I can move it off my table easier, but it also helps a little with the vibration. The plan is to sew in the basement on a quality table when we buy a house in the future.

The machine comes with lots of feet, which is good because it doesn’t take “normal” feet. These are high shank, speciality Brother feet. It comes with a walking foot, 1/4″ foot, free motion foot, two standard ones of different widths (not sure why), adjustable zipper foot and invisible zipper foot and…. something else I don’t use. It takes special bobbins (metal of course) too, but five are provided with the machine. It can also take both normal needles with the flat edge and the round Organ ones. Those ones last a bit longer in the machine but old habits die hard!


My husband was surprised – and a little concerned –  I brought home such a “basic” machine (that cost $1300), but it does me just fine most of the time and I have had to swear at it minimally, which is the most important. I’ve had some real machine frustrations in the past. The only thing I found so far is sometimes when I cut the thread and the spool is running low, it will suck the thread back up out of the needle and a guide or two. I found a fix for this is to not use the really stubby spool stand on the top of the machine, but to buy and use a cone stand for all sizes of thread. I go through the antenna style guide on the top of the machine as normal and I’ve not had this problem since! Also I had a tendency to over oil it and get marks on my fabric to start with, but that was user error.


So if you’re thinking about getting a more powerful, faster machine and you’re contemplating a mechanical one, but not wanting to go industrial, give this one a try at your local sewing shop. It’s the same as the Babylock machine but at a lower price point. What’s not to like?

Lifestyle change

My new job starts at 7.30am, leaving no time for pre-work sewing unless I want to get up before 6am (which I don’t – and only will have to if I need to do the morning dog walk for some Alex work related reason, i.e. all week next week. Woe). So I’m trying to be more of an evening sewing person, but that is hard. Hockey season has begun, plus Alex works while I am asleep and is home in the evenings. Then there’s the usual activities such as grocery shopping, cooking, etc. I thought I would have more time to sew because I’d have more energy going back to a desk job, but I am still tired when I get home too. I hope that I’ll adapt better soon.

I got accepted into the craft fair I applied for, then panicked because it is on a Friday. Since cancelling it (due to new work schedule), I discovered that Remembrance Day – the Friday it is on – is a bank holiday over here. But I got my money back, and actually having less compulsory rush sewing is pretty nice. I think I will just list things on Etsy for now and see where I go from there in the New Year after I build up my stock a little.

In book news, the projects are gone! I have step outs to do, but I want to finish the crosswalks quilt top first. Look, progress!


I’ve ordered this pantograph from Urban Elementz and so hope to longarm it on an evening/weekend as soon as it arrives.

I also need to quilt this for my Quiltcon Michael Miller challenge entry. Yep, my little 36″ square top is pieced and assembled. I had trouble with the points, they came out without enough seam allowance- I’m looking at you, top left square! – so a little unpicking may yet happen before quilting it, but that idea is making me put it off a bit…


Rebecca’s bag

A few posts back I mentioned I had a project that was secret. Well now it is ready to be blogged about.

A few weeks ago, Rebecca – who I work with – brought in a Professional Tote Bag that she had made. It was very sad looking as it had lost a fight with a bottle of bleach and she asked if anyone wanted to salvage parts, etc before she threw it away. I took it home with me, planning on surprising her by replacing the panels that were damaged. I bought some of the black fabric online (and then discovered there was a half metre inside a zipped compartment) and I already had the grey floral from a sale on at a local fabric shop so I knew I could do it. The fabrics are Downton Abbey ones from a couple of years ago.

side 1 - I had already touched up the handles at this point, I didn't think to take a photo until after

side 1 – I had already touched up the handles at this point, I didn’t think to take a photo until after

side 2

side 2

Then it just sat for a while, during the time I was writing and getting book projects sewn up. I am leaving my job at the fabric shop at the end of this week, and so my deadline of today was set as it will be the last day we work together.

I started a couple of days ago and kept as much of her original fabric and stitching as possible. One handle was completely savable after colouring in the spots with a black Fabrico marker. I also used it on the odd pocket spot on the black fabric, such as on the inside.

The whole lining was fine as were the side panels, so I dismantled what I needed to replace the front and back, plus the zipped pocket on the second side of the bag.

I then made templates (as I don’t have the pattern) from the existing panels and fused Craft Fuse interfacing to them. It’s not an interfacing I particularly want to use again as it was hard work to get it to stick, but I wanted it to match the existing stuff.

It’s not exactly the same as the original. I struggled a little bit trying to figure out how the zip placket thing attached to the exterior and lining. You don’t turn the bag right side out through the lining it seems! I got somewhere close though and only broke one needle, so I’m pretty pleased!

Finish Along 2016 Q4

It’s a cliche, but this year has flown by. It’s the last quarter of the Finish Along already!

I’ve booked to do a craft fair and thinking about booking another, so my list is largely so I have stuff to display and sell, and I need to finish these fast. I have things I want to start making (wallets and dog collars), but in the spirit of the finish along, these are the already started things that I want to get done.

Four Blanche Barrel Bags by Swoon. I’ve started sewing two, and I need to cut and fuse interfacing for the other two…

blanche wips


Two Weekender bags- cut out and I’m going to lightly quilt them. The plan is fusible fleece and then back with sew-in Peltex. I also need to find lining fabric that I will also use for the zipped panel on the top of the bags. I also want to buy premade piping for all of these bags, including the Blanches. I plan to go on a little shopping trip next week for zips and piping.


Crosswalks quilt. This guy is a magazine project. I actually need to write it up first within the next week or so because of this particular issue’s deadlines, so working on it a different way round to usual.


Also the Michael Miller challenge for QuiltCon. This needs doing very very soon, I’m actually a little bit panicked about this one, because the submission deadline is the end of November. It’s only going to be about 36″ square though.


Doggy dress. I started this about four months ago and it’s sat on the back of the chair that I sew at ever since. I was waiting for O rings to arrive, which now they have, and then I was waiting for more time. I also have some repairs and stuff to do to other garments I have made, but not interesting enough for the finish along I don’t think!


I need to make the “step-outs” for the step by step instructions in my book too. These need to be in by early December. If I get time later in December, I’d quite like to finish up my Lotus quilt too. It was the first project I started when we moved, so it’s been a good while since I picked it up, and it looks like this so far…


And in the spirit of previous posts, here’s where I was on Wednesday. We went to Moraine Lake and also Lake Louise (if that sounds familiar, it is where we got married a couple of years ago). It was snowy and a bit foggy but a nice day out nevertheless.

moraine lake

Linking up…

FAL 2016

P.S. Thank you for the help with the blog reader last post. I’ve got it how I like it again, but not had time to read as much as I would like just yet!


Two things checked off the really long to do list.

Firstly, today I submitted my first draft of my book! By submitted, I mean that I am currently 16% of the way into the uploading process. It’s almost 3gb of stuff so it’s taking a while.

Oh that top left? Yep still working my way through – 10 blocks of 36 done.

Secondly, I finally got super patient Simone’s bee block done. I’m *technically* up to date now because I was off the hook for August (the person who’s turn it is opted not to make the block for my round and I was removed from the list of duties I think to compensate for this, even though the lovely organiser sent me a block to make up for being one short). So I just have September, I wonder if I will actually do it in September?


Does anyone here use Bloglovin? I’m trying to catch up on my reading and it has changed. I can’t figure out how I can read blogs by blog name. I used to have a list where I’ve drawn the red oval, but I can’t find any display option remotely similar. I like to read up each blog at a time if I’m behind by more than one post (which believe me I am behind about 2000 posts total), so this multi-blog layout tile thing I has going on just isn’t doing it for me….

Back on it

I’m thinking of doing some craft fairs just before Christmas. Just one or two, selling purses and bags and maybe some of the other stuff like resin jewellery I’ve been meaning to get rid of for ages. I might take some quilts too, not that I expect them to sell. I’ve sent off for a few application forms, and my next step is to figure out if it will be viable, in terms of if I have to pay $200 in business licences (i.e. not viable) just to do the two shows.

My Weekender bag - next time I'll improv piece but not QAYG- the thickness is too challenging!

My Weekender bag – next time I’ll improv piece but not QAYG- the thickness is too challenging!

If it is I want to make more patchwork bags, maybe like my weekender bag, plus some smaller things like wallets that I can make reasonably quickly. I don’t plan to sell volume, if I sell one or two items but at a higher price, I’ll be happy with that.

In book news I’m happy to report that I only need to make a sleeve for initial photography and write up one project, then I can submit it for my October 3rd deadline. There are other deadlines for other things after this time (like printing out my patterns full size for the illustrators, making the individual step by step things for real photography, signing forms and labelling quilts) but the hard work is DONE! I decided to treat myself by working on a new project (for Popular Patchwork)…

Eight blocks down, 28 to go. I’m also thinking about a name for it. I’m thinking something along the lines of “Downtown Crosswalks” right now. I’m also going to get on with my bee block commitments this week because I’m feeling guilty about falling behind, and I need to start on my Quiltcon entry soon too. After that I have dress alterations and three quilts to finish, oh and I was writing a new Quilt Workout pattern…

I do have a question for you though. Does anyone have any tips for destashing? I used to be so good at it in the UK on Instagram, but there doesn’t seem to be the appetite for it over here, I think it may be because postage is stupidly expensive. I don’t get any biters on IG and I had some limited success on Facebook, but I like to destash, it’s good for my soul and it means my stash doesn’t stagnate. Often I will get a fat quarter bundle, use most of it, put some in my stash but then have pieces left over to sell on like these Uppercase FQs. At the minute though I have no outlet! Do you think it is worth putting this kind of thing on eBay?

$12 CAD plus postage, if anyone is interested....

$12 CAD plus postage, if anyone is interested….

I’ll leave you with some snaps from straight off the camera (no cropping, editing, etc). I’m getting too lazy to Photoshop these days, anyone else feel the same?

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A Finish – S is for Snake

I don’t think I could really show this before, but now it is in print, this is my S is for Snake quilt!


It’s just baby quilt size and it’s in the current issue (27) of Quilt Now. It’s another quilt I put together using the Scan N Cut to cut out my Drunkard’s Path blocks. I really don’t like cutting these out and it saved me a lot of time!


WordPress won’t let me rotate this particular image for some reason which is very annoying


I quilted bubbles around the snakes and I used my walking foot to sew ladders in the spacer blocks. I also free motioned matchsticks either side of the ladders.

Here it is in the magazine…

quiltnow2 quiltnow3 quiltnowcover

Size – 36″ x 50″
Number of blocks – 15 snakes
Time to make – About 12 hours with the quilting
Fabric – Green scraps plus a print from Tula Pink’s Chipper in the spacer blocks and Kona Natural.
Backing Fabric – £2 a yard green linen slub from Fabric Guild in the UK.
Binding Fabric – Alexia Abegg Hatbox for Cotton + Steel
Threads – Piecing with Aurifil 50 wt. Quilting with Wonderfil Decobob prewound bobbins (80 wt) and Isacord on top (40 wt).
Batting – 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom.
Quilting- Freehand walking foot ladders in spacer blocks with free motion matchstick quilting. Snake blocks have pebble quilting around the central motifs.


Finished! My Lizzy House Meadow Quilt

So it only took three weeks after finishing this quilt to actually photograph it and post about it….


This is my Q3 Finish Along finish, the pattern is Lizzy House’s exclusive Meadow quilt pattern that she only teaches in class (because the pattern is open to some interpretation and personal influence which in turn can mean it doesn’t turn out flat or the right size without supervision). I went to the class in April so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to remember how to do it but it came out fine. I cut out the pieces on my Scan N Cut and made the centre “eyes” (or eggs in my case) first, then chain pieced the rest!


The back is slightly wonky, shh!


The block on the back was signed by Lizzy with a Micron pen and I was pretty sure I heat set it but it kinda washed out a bit which is a little bit sad.


The quilting was done freehand on the Bernina Q24 long arm at work which is a lovely machine. The ruler foot was broken and not yet replaced so I did the straight lines “organically”. It is based on a fab Meadow I saw quilted by The Workroom in Toronto but I modified it a bit by adding medallions to the centre of my “eggs” which I drew on with a stencil and I echo quilted then spiralised the borders. I quilted the middle first and then rolled it all back to do the borders in a purple thread.

Weirdly this is only the second finished quilt under this year on my Finished Quilts page, however I have actually made four others plus lots of cushions and smaller quilts and fiddly things in general. One quilt is currently in Quilt Now magazine so I will show you that in my next post.

Size – 76″ x 62″
Number of blocks – 20
Time to make – Piecing is hard to say because it was on and off… quilting four hours- maybe a total of 20-22 hours including binding.
Fabric – All sorts from stash plus a lot of Kona Eggplant
Backing Fabric – Mostly reduced discounted stuff- Amy Schimler Creatures and Critters is the main part, plus a bit of Cotton + Steel Honeymoon and some V & Co dots.
Binding Fabric – More Kona Eggplant.
Threads – Piecing with Aurifil 50 wt. Quilting with Wonderfil Decobob prewound bobbins (80 wt) and Isacord on top (40 wt).
Batting – 80/20 Hobbs Heirloom.
Quilting- Freehand grid, stencilled mandala type things, plus echo quilting and spirals in the border.

I will leave you with these images of my spirit town, Canmore and one of the nearby Spray Lakes (where the water genuinely cured my hiccups instantly). I want to live there so bad. It’s nice that it only takes an hour and a half to get there.

Yes, the building on the left is a quilt shop.

Yes, the building on the left is a quilt shop.


Linking up to the FAL…

FAL 2016

Modern Quilt Guild stuff

I’m still buried in book stuff. I feel like I’m making good progress but I have two more quilts to make (well, three minis and a full one) and more writing to do and five weeks to finish it in.

Quiltcon is the next thing. I’m doing the Michael Miller challenge for next year’s show and also contributing to the Calgary group quilt. The group quilts are going to be a theme of micro and macro, here are my blocks…

Putting binding on my Meadow Quilt today so maybe I can make two posts in one month?