It's finally here.  If you've never taken the plunge for embroidery software before, now is the time.  This software is AMAZING!  Easy to use and jam packed with designs and features.  Including new things like more and more build in applique, send files to your electronic cutter or create your own paper templates, plan where you want your crystals goes on and on.
But best news yet--I'll be offering lots and lots of classes.
Some will be at a dealer near you
Some will be retreat format
and now for the part I'm really excited about, some can be one on one-regardless of distance, we can spend an hour or two, on line you get individual attention, can work on your own screen and you don't have to leave the comfort of your own home.  
Private classes will be starting later this year or early in the new year--I need to be home for a few days to get some things set up and right now people are so excited about this software I am on the road A LOT this fall.

I need another new project like I need a hole in the head and the other hand I need a new project as much as I need to take my next breath.

I love to try and experiment and learn.  I've tried lots of hobbies and LOVE and I mean LOVE my piecing and quilting and machine embroidery and software.    I could create this Zentangel in my software and stitch it out on the embroidery machine, but I feel a need to be brave and bold and step out of my comfort zone.  I want to recreate this--or a close facsimile in free motion thread work.   Will it look just like this?  Not a chance!  Will I learn--you betcha!  Any machine that will do free motion work can achieve this look and I'm not sure which of my machines I'll use or even if I'll use my long arm.  Maybe I'll try it on more than one machine--I'm sure to find my favourite that way.  
You can blame this new desire to create yet another project on my husband.  He started this as a form of relaxation in his spare time--this zentangle stuff--which I call doodling with a purpose, he's also into this whole new trend of adult colouring--taking these zentangles and adding lots and I mean lots of colour.
Yes--this is the same husband who rides his bicycle and works out regularly, he's definitely a short tempered type A personality yet is really enjoying this new hobby.  Since he's been participating in it, his blood pressure has reduced so much he is no longer on any medication, he isn't quite so quick to anger and is way more relaxed about things....I am not telling you Zentangles will solve your health issues but if this is a result for him, I'm more than willing to try it--I just want to do it on my machines, I feel most relaxed at them and well...lets just say I could use something to provide relaxation and a bit of centering right now.  
So--right after I finish my paperwork, finish the quilt that's on the frame for a customer, load another one, work a twelve hour shift two days this week--right after all that--and the laundry and the cleaning, then and I mean then I really will take the time to learn this relaxation technique.  Wish me luck.  

I remember waiting for the Christmas Wish book every year, now that I'm a grown up--what really?  Me?  oh well....Now I wait for the summer and fall when many of the sewing machine companies seem to unveil their new machines.

I can't have them all, just like when I was a kid I have to pick and choose and it's harder now than it was then.  Husqvrana Viking is teasing us right now with video's of their new EPIC machine which they are unveiling early in October.  I can't wait to see the real thing in person, but wait I must, in the mean time the teaser videos will keep my occupied and curious.

I love making pillow cases as gifts.  With all the fun fabrics out there you can really personalize them for the receiver.  Today, I'm making pillow cases for Christmas gifts, I did this a few years ago and they were so well received I thought I would do it again.

Here's what you need for one pillow case, I made four in the afternoon and they go quite quickly once you start.
Fabric Requirements:
2/3 yard or metre of fabric for the body of the pillow case
1/3 yard or metre of coordinating fabric for the cuff of the pillow case
4" of fabric for the trim or a 2" wide ribbon 

remove all selvages
fold 4" piece of fabric in half lengthwise and press

1.  Lay the body of the pillow case right side up on a flat surface
2.  Lay the folded and pressed trim (or ribbon) along the bottom edge of the body fabric matching up the raw edges
3.  Now lay the cuff on the fabric right side down, matching up the raw edges.  
4.  add a few pins here just to temporarily hold it all in place along the raw edges
5.  Now flip the 'cuff' down so it is right side up
6.  Slowly roll the pillow case body toward the cuff and trim, but don't get too close to the raw edges
7.  flip everything over so you can fold the cuff, over the rolled body and line up all the raw edges
8.  Pin
9.  Take it to your machine and sew a straight seam--I used the width of my standard foot as my guide.
10.  Turn pillow right side out--carefully removing body from inside the cuff casing
11.  PRESS
12.  OPTIONAL--I sew a fine line at the edge of the trim to keep it in place, I didn't do this when I first started making pillow cases and it turns up in the washing and looks messy so unless you want your recipients to have to press their pillow cases to use them, take the time to stitch this edge down.  I used a bi-level top stitch foot and moved my needle over close to the edge of my machine.
13.  Now just fold your pillow case in half, matching up the sides.  Finish with the seam of your choice.
14.  Take a nap and enjoy!
My husband and I LOVE bright colours.  We decorate with them whenever we can.  He needs to dress rather subdued in his profession and I always had to as well so one of the best ways for us to express ourselves artistically was in our decorating, yet we still couldn't go over the top as we often had people in our home for professional purposes.    Hence the orange walls!  They are happy walls.  

As much as I love our orange sherbert coloured walls it has made decorating at Christmas a bit of a challenge.  Many of the "Christmas Reds' clashed and instead of being festive just didn't work at all.

Then I Found This Fabric!

Christmas decorations with orange!  I was so happy, it was table cloth material so I bought enough to make two table cloths.  (remember when I said we often had people over--sometimes we need two tables set up and other times people come one night and we have other people the next night so I wanted, no I needed two table cloths)

It's not just enough to find the fabric though, you actually need to hem it to make the table cloths.  So the fabric has sat for three years--I'm embarrassed to say that, yet I will say it anyway.  

Christmas in July was a PERFECT time to make my two table cloths, from this three year old fabric which I bought on sale and matches my walls great!

First thing I did--square up the ends and cut the fabric into two equal portions.  (I know I bought enough for two table cloths plus a bit extra for the squaring up).  

Next I folded up each raw end a 1/2 inch and pinned it in place.  
I never pin--I'm a quilter at heart and with my awesome PFAFF sewing machine with IDT I don't feel a need to pin but this wasn't a quilt, so I pinned.  

After Pinning--I PRESSED!

Yes that right--I pressed!  I believe pressing makes the finished product that much better.  Don't get me wrong, I don't usually iron a lot, in fact when I started quilting my husband walked into the room when I was pressing something and took my picture.  He was amazed--he didn't think I knew what an iron was for.  He has done all of our household ironing.  But I do Press often and regularly when I quilt or do any other fabric, sewing project.
Now--Fold under one more time and press again.
That might not be clear--let me try again, I fold the raw edge under to meet the fold line.  Making a 1/4" fold.  Then I press again.
Once all the pinning, folding and pressing is done, I took it to my machine and using my 1/4 inch foot and matching thread top and bottom I sewed up the ends and was finished!  I love working with fabric meant for table cloths, it's a wider width than I normally use as a quilter, and a bit heavier.  

The Finished Product--It looks Great in my dining room.  

Table Cloth looks great with orange walls
It looks great in my dining room, maybe I'll have to extend this Christmas in July theme into a real Christmas Party so I can show off all my great creations, in a very humble way of course!
Here's how it's going to work.  Each day all month longI will be working on a Christmas themed project.  
Some projects will be small 
some will be big
some will be sewing/craft
some will have machine embroidery
some will be quilting related
some will be decorative
some will be useful
IF you have a sewing machine there should be something here for you.  

Christmas themed doesn't necessarily always mean, santa and the grinch--it could be a Christmas gift I want to get out of the way now.  
I'll be using different brands of machines (at least two brands and three or four different machines in the line).
I'll be using different brands of patterns and embroidery designs.
Some I have used before, some will be brand new to me.  
Basically--I'm going to have fun, experiment and hopefully get that head start on Christmas.  


I'm starting my month off with an apron.  It might sound boring to you but I just LOVE aprons.  I don't really wear them most of the time but I love them.  I collect Apron patterns and promise myself I'm going to make one but never seem to get around to it.  I have a great collection of patterns though!

I used to wear an apron a lot more often when I worked out of the house full time and had to rush home to get dinner started, often there wasn't time to even change my clothes so I would don an apron and get right to work.  When I didn't put that apron on I almost always got some kind of stain or mark on a good work outfit.  

I started with a Panel and decided to line it

All that talk about Apron Patterns and I started with a panel!  Yep that's right I took the easy way out and you can too!  There are some great panels out there, reasonably priced.  I picked this one up last year.

To make it a bit more polished than just a panel, I decided to line it with fabric from my stash (not Christmas fabric) so it could be reversible.

It had a pocket so I also made a pocket for the reversible side and lined each pocket as well--it just makes a nicer finish!
Here's what I did--
1.  PRESSED my panel and lining fabric--I shouldn't have to say this but I can't believe how many people skip this stage.
2.  Laid the lining fabric right side up on my cutting table
3.  Laid the panel on top of it
4.  Cut the apron, ties and pocket through both layers of fabric (I used a few pins to hold things in spot)
4.  Made the pockets--pinning the pocket and the lining fabric for the pocket right sides together I sewed  using a 1/4" seam all around the pocket--leaving a small space for turning it right side out.  
(the pocket on the reversible side was made using a contrast piece of fabric)

5.  Attach each pocket to the Apron piece it belongs to.  The pockets need to be added before you put everything together.  I used a decorative stitch and also made this pocket into sections.
6.  Next make the ties--Press them once you have turned them right side out.
7.  Attach the ties with pins to the appropriate spots on the apron.  The panel will have markings where they belong. 
8.  Lay the two aprons right sides together with the ties all neatly tucked inside. 
9.  Stitch around the entire apron, again leaving a large enough opening to turn apron right side out.
10.  Turn apron right side out, PRESS carefully and top stitch the opening closed.  
And just like that Christmas Day#1 complete--this could be a gift or perhaps I'll wear it while I sew this month using the pocket for my snips and tape measure etc--you know all that stuff we 'lose' on a regular basis?

the Christmas side of the Panel Apron

The "reversible" side of the apron with contrasting pocket

Don't look at the mess on the floor--I keep a couple of rolls of stabalizer on the floor right behind by sewing desk so it's handy--I guess I'm too lazy to actually open the door and reach it out of the closet :)

Proof it's a reversible apron and not two different  ones!

Remember when you were young and time moved so slowly?   The lazy hazy days of summer were wonderful and endless and the only thing you had to worry about is wether you were going to eat your ice-cream cone from the ice-cream down or from the bottom of the pointy cone up.  

Summer officially started just four days ago, here in Ontario, grade schoolers still have a couple of days to go and I realized Christmas is just a mere six months away.  To my five year old grandson that will seem like forever, for me (and likely you) who wants to make at least a few of my gifts that time frame is getting shorter and shorter.  

CHristmas Gifts are already being dropped off at your local longarmer

Perhaps I was in a panic a bit too soon?  No one else would be worried about Christmas yet right?  Just to confirm my suspicion that hobbies make us thing differently about the calendar a friend dropped a quilt off for me to quilt on the long arm.  Yep--you guessed it,  this quilt is actually a Christmas gift for her nephew who has been helping them out around the house a lot lately.  

So with that in mind I am officially launching Christmas in July,  Each day I am going to work on at least one Christmas related project in my studio.  I vow to do at least one quilt block or one other gift per day for the entire month of July.  Some projects will be bigger than others, some will be small and EASILY completed.  Follow along, accept the challenge to join me and share your ideas with me as well.  
If you were following me on a couple of weeks ago then you know I had to make a last minute yet extremely meaningful quilt for the Administrative Assistant from our church.  If truth be known, I knew in the back of my mind for a long time that I was going to make a quilt for this woman.  She IS a special woman.  She was my husbands Admin Assistant for 15 years and that takes some doing let me tell you.  

I started with a Layer cake from MODA--it has a nautical theme and she is going to retire to her hearts love--Cape Breton Island.  I made just a few cuts, put it back together, added a couple of borders and brought it home from vacation.  

When we got home it went onto our frame.

A few hours on the frame and it was ready to trim and bind.  And before any of you ask.  YES!  The binding matched the small inner border--remember I LOVE that pop of colour and the red binding just 'finished' the quilt in a way like nothing else could.  

It was great--but I won't bore you with the details 

I won't bore you with all the details but suffice it to say it was a great day.  I believe we honoured the great service this woman provided to our church for the pas 15 years.  She was presented with 15 roses, one for each year of service.  I gave her a mug with grumpy on it to remind her of all those mornings she worked with my husband who claims to be a morning person but really is not!    Then my husband got to give her the quilt.  She laughed and she cuddled in it right away.

 I like to think that she is having a cup of tea this morning and enjoying the first day of her retirement.  I also want to think she will smile each time she cuddles under this quilt to watch a movie or have a nap.  I know I will miss her.  I love her and most importantly I trusted her, day in and day out in all those special moments with my husband.  I hope she enjoys this next phase of her life.  

linda--enjoying her retirement quilt.  

Hi Everyone,  did you find me last week over on the QUILTsocial blog?  This is a great site if I do say so myself.  They have guest bloggers on regularly sharing their ideas, reviews and providing inspiration, it's a great way to stay informed about what's happening out there in the world of quilting and get to enjoy a variety of points of view.  You should really check them out.

Last week I blogged about a quilt I needed to make for someone retiring and I got to make it on a new PFAFF Quilt Ambition 2.0 sewing machine.  It was a lot of fun, we were away on a working vacation so I fit it into that busy schedule.  When we got home it went on the frame, got quilted and now we are attaching the last of the border by hand at the same time the quilt label is embroidering out.  

I'll post the finished picture here in a day or two, but in the mean time do a google search for QUILTsocial and/or find them on facebook.