A Quilting Update

Well the days are whizzing by, or at least it seems like that. I remember being told that time moves faster the older you get. I could never figure that one out when I was younger but I am beginning to see how that saying came into being. Of course being busy helps with time appearing to move faster.

The weather here in Victoria continues to be unusual or at least it seems that way. It appeared to jump from winter to summer overnight, a few wonderful days and then back to winter overnight again. So far we appear to have missed spring altogether this year.

Here are a couple of random photos taken while Cocoa and I were on one of our daily walks. We ran across this turtle behind the pond near where we live. He/she had come out to enjoy the sun that had finally shown itself that day. Don’t worry Cocoa didn’t harm it. I picked Cocoa up and we carefully stepped over the turtle and left it in peace to enjoy the day.

My crazy work schedule has slowed down a bit and that is both good and bad. Good as I finally have time to relax and do some planning and maybe actually quilt one of my own quilts (we’ll see how that goes), and bad because slower work means less money coming in. Oh well, I am enjoying having a little time to sit back and actually think about what I want re the future. Besides come July 10 the schedule will go back into crazy mode again so I need to just enjoy the time I have while I have it.

Princess Kieva Quilt-1Princess Kieva Quilt-2

Recently I got the chance to work on this wonderful quilt. This was really fun to work on, the only drawback I had is that the silver Superior Sew Fine 50 thread I used as the background colour for a large part of the quilt ended up being back ordered. I had one small spool of the thread so I ordered a cone the same day I started working on this quilt and I didn’t receive the thread in the mail until 10 days later. Not great however it all turned out well and I love how this quilt turned out.

Even though I previously posted that I am not a huge fan of doing pantographs there are quilts that call for just an all over edge to edge design. I am very good at doing simple edge to edge for kids and baby quilts and I really enjoy those however I thought it would be nice to have a couple more sophisticated edge to edge designs available for people who want them. The Cloth Castle where I work recently brought some pantographs in so I purchased two that I liked.  Both are by Urban Elementz, one is Deja Vu and the other is Bora Bora.

I have used the Deja Vu on a client king size quilt (which I forgot to take pictures of) and it turned out great and I have also used it on a smaller quilt for a client that needed a quick wedding present.

Blue Quilt-1Blue Quilt-2

I did like the way these turned out. I just finished a custom quilt (one I completed from start to finish) with the Bora Bora pantograph which also turned out really well, however I am still sewing down the binding on that one so the client hasn’t seen it yet other than in pictures I have sent so that will have to be posted later.

Good friends are like quilts they never lose their warmth

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How to Fix Fabric Grain

Life has been super busy lately but thankfully it should slow down by next week. I am finding that time management is a bit of a laugh. I for one refuse to give up sleep just so I can get everything done on my list that there needs to be done. Sometimes something has to give and lately for me that has been blogging and church the last couple of Sundays. Sunday has been my only day off and so it has turned into the day for grocery shopping, laundry and all of that other fun stuff as well as quilting customer quilts.

Last weekend I was working at the Creative Sewing Show in the Cloth Castle booth here in Victoria BC.It was a lot of fun talking to people and doing demonstrations on the Handi Quilter Avante and Simply Sixteen long arm quilting machines. I even had at least one award winning quilter come by and teach me some things which was awesome. The days were long though and my body was complaining a lot by the time I finished my shift Saturday night. No other work got done that day.

The weather here in Victoria is still very winter like, usually the cherry trees are in blossom and there is starting to get some warmth to the sun. Not this year. The picture below shows the difference from our winter last year to what it has been like this year.


Last time I blogged I talked about people not knowing about the straight of grain on fabric. Since that blog post this subject has come up a few more times as well I just recently saw a YouTube video on this very subject.

It seems that something that was taught beginning sewing classes isn’t being taught anymore so there is a whole generation of new sewers out there that don’t know how to find the straight of grain or how to get a piece of fabric back on grain should it go off when pre-washing their fabric.

Maybe quilters don’t think they need to know this stuff or that straight of grain only applies to garment sewists. Well to a certain point that may be true, however that said there are certain quilt patterns that are much easier to create if the fabric is on grain. Understanding and using the different grains helps your piecing go smoother and your finished quilts hang or lay flatter.

fabric grain

The Selvage is the tightly woven end of the fabric. Do not use this in your quilts top piecing or backing. Just cut it off. In fact, when you hear the term ‘usable width of fabric’ that means the width of your fabric minus its selvages.

Lengthwise Grain

The lengthwise grain has the least amount of stretch and it runs parallel to the selvage of your fabric. You can minimize sagging in your quilts by cutting your fabric in ways that take advantage of the stability of lengthwise grain. For the backing cut it out on the lengthwise grain to run from top to bottom on your quilt if you are intending to hang the quilt.

To help prevent borders from sagging you can cut the long left and right borders of your quilt on the lengthwise grain and cut the top and bottom borders on the crosswise grain. The same idea applies to sashing strips and hanging sleeves that are used on your quilts.

Crosswise Grain

The crosswise grain has more stretch than lengthwise but less than the bias. It runs perpendicular to the selvage. Most quilt patterns instruct you to cut cross grain strips and then sub-cut them into patches.


True bias is the grain that runs through your fabric at a 45 degree angle from the selvage and has the most stretch of any grain. If you are using a curved outside edge on your quilt you will want to use a bias binding as apposed to a crosswise grain bias as you will need to be able to stretch the binding around the curves.

Using Fabric Grain in Your Quilts

Ideally, all of the outside edges of a quilt block are on the straight of grain, either a lengthwise or crosswise grain line. This prevents distortion during piecing and pressing, helping to keep the block square.

To keep those bias edges inside the block, certain piecing “units” are cut very specifically.

Cut a square once, diagonally from corner to corner to get units for half square triangles and/or setting triangles. The bias remains on the inside.

Cut a square twice diagonally from corner to corner to get units for quarter square triangles and/or setting triangles. Again, the bias edge will remain on the inside of the block.

How to check your fabric’s grain

You can check to see if your fabric is on-grain by establishing a straight line across, from selvage to selvage, then folding the fabric to see if it squares-up.

To do this, lay out your fabric panel right side up and flat on your work surface.

Near the top cut edge and starting at one side of the selvage, find one thread that goes all the way across (cross-ways). Start pulling it.

Fabric with an Amount Off-grain

Fixing off Grain Fabric

There are two ways to fix off grain fabric. One is to fold your fabric in half (selvages together) so your cut edges are aligned. Pin along the cut line and pin the selvages together and then iron your fabric until flat.

The second way is to stretch the fabric.  Fold your fabric in half (selvages together). When your grain is off, you’ll see that one of your corners is short. Hold the short corner with one hand and with the other hand, grasp the opposite corner. Gently stretch the fabric on the diagonal.

Well that is a brief description of grain and how to fix it. Hopefully this has helped some people.

Image result for Living life to the full sayings

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Busy week and Something New

Whew, it’s been a busy week or so and it’s going to be busy for the next three weeks so I will have to try to slip a blog post in whenever I can. I have now started a second part-time job as well as the job at the Cloth Castle not to mention having more quilts to quilt as well. It’s all good though and things should slow down again by the end of the month so in the meantime it’s going to be a test of my time-management skills.

I just recently decided to purchase a new camera. Now, one might wonder why since I have a camera I use on my phone as well as a very good DSLR camera. I love my DSLR camera but it is big and bulky and it works well for video and tripod shots but not so much for just a quick photo. The phone camera is OK for that type of thing but has it’s drawbacks so my partner Kevin and I discussed it and decided to bite the bullet and get a really good point and shoot camera that takes great pictures in low light, takes good video and has a super zoom. It’s nice and compact so I can take it on holidays with me (the countdown is on). It’s small enough to just slip in my bag but not so small I will lose it. This is all a good thing as I won’t be taking my phone with me on this trip. Now I just have to find the time to figure out how to use it before Mom and I head out on the high seas.

Nikon COOLPIX A900 Digital Camera (Silver)

One thing that seems to have been coming up recently while working at The Cloth Castle is about ripping vs cutting cotton fabric and the straight of grain. At the Cloth Castle we cut the fabric as opposed to ripping it. Now this is fine except that if you take the fabric home and wash it, sometimes that fabric will go off-grain. I had two customers come into the store last week with pieces of fabric that they wanted to complain about as it was all askew and if they cut it like that they would loose too much fabric. I took a look at it and quickly assessed that there was nothing actually wrong with the piece it simply went off-grain when they washed it and a simple pull corner to corner put everything right.

This got me to thinking, (I know dangerous at the best of times), working with fabric straight of grain was a very basic sewing lesson in first year home EC,  however this doesn’t seem to be taught anymore and both woman I talked to last week didn’t even know what I was talking about when I said that the fabric was simply off grain and I showed them how to fix it. So, how many quilters or other sewists out there these days know about fabric straight of grain and how to fix it?

I think this is important and will follow this post up with another this week (when I have a little more time) explaining how to get fabric back on grain.

Image result for fabric grainline photos

So look for that post soon. Meanwhile I had two client quilt finishes this week.


You can’t really see the quilting in this quilt as the fabrics were very busy and I used Superior Threads Sew Fine 50 in both top and bottom. I did a different design in each of the borders and used a new circle template for one of the borders. It turned out really nice but as mentioned the quilting didn’t show up in the pictures.

Quilters Retreat Quilt-4.jpg

This was another client quilt about a queen size and she just wanted a simple design on it so I chose a simple loop de loop and star all over design done in Aurfil 50 thread in both the top and bobbin. Nothing fancy but it totally works for this particular style of quilt.

Our lives are like quilts – bits and pieces, joy and sorrow, stitched with love.

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A New Quilt Finish

Ugh this time more than a week has gone by and I am finally getting the chance to sit down and write. In my defense I ended up really sick with the current flu/cold virus that has been circulating around the area. I decided to share and now my partner Kevin has been really sick as well. I can’t say he is particularly happy with me about that either.  Oh well at least we are both on the mend now.

It’s a good thing I am on the mend too as life is getting busy and Mom informed me we only have 6 more weeks before the two of us take off for a cruise through the Panama Canal. Say what? How did that happen? We booked it back in September and it seemed so far away and now it’s only 6 weeks until we go! Oh no!! Better get at that too do list.

Last week with all of the snow and ice I ended up getting snowed in, not that it mattered much I was too sick to go anywhere anyway. I did manage to take the dog for a walk while it was still snowing so we could enjoy the fresh fallen snow. In Victoria we don’t actually get that opportunity too often as it rarely snows here.

The long arm business is picking up these days (yeah) with the help of the good people at The Cloth Castle. I am really enjoying working there. It is a much busier store than Satin Moon quilt shop was. I usually just have short shifts to cover lunch hours and the busy time so it works out very well. Luckily I didn’t have too many shifts last week as I wouldn’t have been able to make it so it all worked out well.

If you live in the Victoria area don’t forget to drop by the store and say hi and check out the bargain tower upstairs, there is some really beautiful quilting cottons upstairs at great prices (considering the price of fabric these days).

Monday was a holiday this week here in BC (Family Day) so I was able to finish quilting a client quilt. I am really happy with the way it turned out.


Here is a photo of the quilt before I quilted it.


This was a fun quilt to work on. I used Superior Threads So Fine 50 No 401 on both the top and in the bobbin for this one.

So now to finish up a little more computer work and then onto the next quilt on the frame.

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Works in Progress

Well, here we go again and another week gone by. I woke up on Monday morning not feeling well, and sure enough I ended up with the cold that seems to be making it around the city of Victoria. I guess it’s that time of year. I’m finally feeling better now though yeah!

So, in light of the fact I wasn’t feeling well, not a lot got done last week.  The Cloth Castle  where I am now working part time is a one stop sewing and quilt shop so they sell regular sewing fabric, home dec fabric, quilting fabric as well as notions, sewing machines and even knitting supplies. I used to sew my own clothes and knit my own sweaters but then I found quilting and well that has been my focus for the past 11 years or so. So since I was down for the count anyhow I used my time to brush up on watching YouTube videos on sewing and knitting as a refresher for myself.

I did get a hand applique block completed though.


The pattern is Vintage Valentine by Verna Mosquera of The Vintage Spool. This is block 10 of 12. I started sewing these blocks about 11 years ago. This was supposed to be a block of the month which has turned into a block of the year (more or less). I will finish this one day but not sure when.

I also managed to finish the quilting on my first great niece’s quilt. I just have to sew the binding on now.


I did take a picture of the quilt but it didn’t turn out well and I ran out of time to retake it so I will have to show a better picture when I have finished sewing the binding on. I choose to highlight the star with straight lines and just did a simple stipple in the centre as I wanted the dog fabric in the centre to shine and didn’t want anything too complicated to take away the focus from the fabric. I choose to replicate the stipple in the border however I doubled back to make a ribbon effect just because it make it look a little fancier.

I like how this quilt turned out and am hoping my nephew and his wife will like it too.

In light of what is going on in the world I wanted to close this post with this quote.

Image result for quotes about fear

Please remember to love one another.

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A New Journey

It’s Friday! For some that is a day to celebrate the end of a long and busy week. However I am finding that when one works for oneself there really aren’t any defined days off. Even when I don’t have client quilts waiting in the wings I am still working at something for the business whether it’s designing quilts, or learning some new quilting designs.


This week was even busier than normal although I am excited at the new possibilities this will bring. I started working part time at a local quilt shop, The Cloth Castle . I only had a few short shifts this week however I loved it. I love helping people pick out fabrics and working with colour and seeing what they will create with their purchases.

The Cloth Castle is where I purchased my Handi Quilter Avante and the store usually has both an Avante and a HQ Simply Sixteen on the floor. These models are available to rent and you can either purchase the floor model or of course order a brand new one.

Yesterday I got to play with the Simply Sixteen and it’s a really nice little machine, I really liked it and it would be perfect for people who don’t have the space for a larger machine.

This morning I taught my first class on how to load and use the HQ Avante to some woman who were interested in maybe renting the machine.

Now some would think, but hey Janice, don’t you have your own longarm business, aren’t you taking business away from yourself? The opposite of that is won’t the store think you will steal all of their customers for yourself? Well, here is the thing. Angela Walters has her own store, does amazing longarm quilting for people and yet she also teaches, writes books and helps people quilt their own quilts.

There will always be people, like me, that love to quilt. We love the whole process from designing our quilts, piecing them and designing the quilting itself and then actually quilting the quilt. We don’t want to give up control of the design process to someone else.

There are still others who love to piece the quilts, they love working with the fabric, playing with colour but when it comes to basting the quilt and quilting it themselves, they just don’t want it, it simply doesn’t interest them. Those types would rather hand the quilt off to someone like me! Someone who can do that part of the process for them.

Next you have people who love the whole process but simply don’t have the space or money for a longarm and maybe just don’t have the time to complete everything themselves. For these people renting a longarm for an afternoon is an excellent alternative or maybe taking some machine quilting classes so they can quilt on their domestic machines. People in this category quite often utilize the services of a longarm quilter for their larger quilt tops or quilt tops that may require quilting that is beyond their capabilities or time allowances.

So, you see there is something here for everyone. I am excited to see where this leads and am looking forward to the journey.


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Setting Goals and Designing Quilts

Well the weather here in Victoria BC has continued to be clear and cold and the skating on Panama Flats is still happening. The forecast is for warmer weather soon. We have been lucky here on the south island though as we have managed to escape most of the snow and ice even though it has been cold.

Not a lot has been going on here. I have been working on setting up my own daily planner guide as the ones in the stores just weren’t doing it for me. I thought it might be a more cost effective way of doing it but as it turns out it won’t be however at least it will work for me.

The other thing I have been working on is setting my goals and intentions for 2017. This has proven harder than it would seem as I have had to ask myself the very hard question of what I want to achieve in 2017. Now you would think this would be easy right? What I found was I came up against a deep seated upper limit belief of “who am I to want and achieve success.” Wow! OK so now that I have uncovered this upper limit belief how do I work through it? Has anyone ever had to work through deep seated beliefs that they have uncovered about themselves?

Some of the other things I have been working on this week are designing some quilts in Electric Quilt 7. My first great niece will be born soon and I have been working on the quilt. It is larger than a baby quilt as apparently you don’t use quilts in cribs anymore so I always make the quilts larger so they can be used on the floor when the child is a bit older. My favourite design for this type of quilt is the Sawtooth Star block. This is an image that I have exported from Electric Quilt 7 as the actual quilt is now loaded on the longarm ready for quilting (which I have to start today).


Another quilt I designed yesterday was this one


This quilt was based on the 9-Patch Pizzazz book by Judy Sisneros and some of the fabrics included are these. Aren’t they fun! This quilt should be a lot of fun to make. I used the custom quilt set in Electric Quilt 7 to design this.

The other quilt I am in the process of designing is a double four patch quilt. I started this quilt in the hopes of using up some of my 1.5 and 2.5 inch squares that were building up in my stash. Well I did use some up I still have more to be used.


This is the progress so far I am still trying to decide the border treatment.


I love the way using the different scraps gives so much life to what is essentially a two colour quilt.

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