Friday, December 29, 2017

Favorite Finishes of 2017

SIt is the last weekend of 2017 already! On Tuesday I mentioned that I would share some of our favorite finishes of the year, so scroll through the pictures of Carrie’s, Esther’s and my favorite quilts and bags. 
First up Carrie. She made a quilt for a friend that moved here from Scotland this past year. She used the fabric collection called With Glowing Hearts. Carrie also did a Panda Quilt but believe it or not, neither of us happen to have a picture of it! She also really loves the two lunch kits she made and had a very hard time choosing which to use for school and which to display in the store. I can see why they both turned out so well!
SEsther has several favourites. Two quilts that she made for gifts made the top of the list. The black and pink quilt was a super fun one that she made as a wedding gift for our ski coach in Florida. The other quilt us d the digital prints by Hoffman and was a gift for her cousin’s son who stayed with her last year. These digital panels are so fun and there is so many different ones to choose from now.
She made a Penny Inn Wallet this spring and it definitely has been put to good use. In fact it is pretty much worn through! 

One of my favourite quilts that I made this year is probably the one made using the Strippy Stars Ruler, in fact it is one of two that I couldn’t even put up for sale. The Keys To My Heart quilt and the collage quilts I did also top the list
My favourite bag has to be the Range backpack that I finished this weekend.
We all have more quilts and bags that we love but I can only add so many pictures. Check out the gallery for pictures of more of our quilts, or come in store to see the latest ones!
SAs the year draws to a close it is also the time that everyone sets goals for themselves, making lists of things that they want to accomplish and tasks that need to be tackled. Do you make any quilting resolutions? Maybe you want to learn a new technique, finish a project thats been sitting around for awhile, clean up those scraps, or make a quilt just for yourself.This past year I pushed myself to try new techniques, rulers, patterns and color schemes. I worked out of my box many times, and though it was hard at first, it became easier and looking back I have grown as a quilter so much. Quilts I never thought I would be able to do, I have done or am currently working on. I only hope that I can learn and grow more in 2018. 
 Remember we are now closed until Wednesday, January 3. All of us at Chicken Feed Quilts wish you a Happy New Year, and thank you for your business in 2017. Your support is incredible and you make our jobs so much fun!
Until next year,

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Highlights of 2017

SAs the end of the year approaches it seems to be the norm to look back over the year and reflect on what has all happened. 
A lot has happened at Chicken Feed Quilts since last December. Our computer system was set up last year during the Christmas break and though it has taken us all some time to adjust to it and it still beats us some days we do love it most days. 
I started writing this blog last January and so far it has been going well. It has been a great way for us to communicate with you without spamming your email and Facebook pages.  
In the spring we held our annual clear out sale and it was very well attended. 
Rob from Trendtex Fabrics Cake for a visit in April and did a couple information sessions on Hoffman Batiks. These sessions were very interesting and I for one gained a vast amount of knowledge. Which reminds me that we should plan another of these information sessions maybe on a different topic. 
In May we welcomed Martha Penner to Chicken Feed Quilts for two days of demos on paper piecing the Judy Niemeyer way. This resulted in both a one day class on the Cactus Flower table runner and a 6 month technique of the month class to make the Vintage  Rose. 

We attended Quilt Festival in Lethbridge in June as a vendor and had so much fun.

In July our store was in the Candy Parade in Coaldale. While making a float for the parade was tricky we succeeded in putting one together and even won first place in our category! 
July also brought us Lynn Hagmeier from Kansas Troubles who came for a few workshops and a trunk show. It was so great to meet her and learn about her techniques and the stories behind each of her quilts. 
The annual Shop Hop in September was another highlight. It was once again well attended and we love seeing so many quilters in one weekend!
October and November brought around some huge changes in our store in the way of a massive remodel. We removed walls, changed lighting and floors, repainted and reorganized. We are loving our new space and from your feedback we gather that you love it too! 
With the new year only a week away I can’t even begin to imagine what will happen at Chicken Feed Quilts in the next 365 days. 
Check back on Friday to see a post full of our favourite projects from this past year, as well as some of the ones we hope to accomplish. 

Friday, November 10, 2017


STonight I have question for everyone. Do you cut your borders to the exact length and sew them to your quilt? If so do you pin them in place?  Or do you like to wing it, and trim the extra length afterwards. I admit I used to just make sure my border strip was longer than I needed, sew it on and trim it when I was done. I could not be bothered to spend the extra time measuring the quilt, measuring the border material, cutting and than pinning it in place, by the time I reached the borders I wanted to be done. The problem was I always ended up trimming a little more off of one side than the other and my quilts were not as square as they should have been, especially those with multiple borders. I never even attempted borders with fun set in corners or centers because I was certain they would not line up. 
 I have mended my ways. I now diligently measure and cut the borders to size before they are stitched on. I start with the center of both my quilt and border strip, and clip this in place. Than I work outwards clipping every 10 inches or so, if needed I will ease extra fabric in so I stay square. I say clip because I use wonder clips, have I ever said how much I love these things! They are amazing, I have over hundred of them and use them all the time, if you do not have any you should definitely give the wonder clips a try! Anyways back to the borders. When you are clipping or pinning the strip in place you can be a lot more confident that your quilt will finish nice and square, and surprisingly it does not take that much extra time. As an added bonus if you have someone else do the longarming for you, they will love your quilt! I speak from experience here, quilting a quilt on which the edges are the same length is a lot easier than one that is out a couple of inches. 
I can tell you with complete confidence that the last quilt I did would not have been square if I had not measured, cut to size, and pinned each strip. The quilt started with a panel that I added some blocks to and than after that is was border after border until it was the right size. The final border I decided use some extra blocks from the panel and put them in the corners knowing that the corners would line up neatly. If I had wung it I am sure that I would have one side at least 3 inches longer than the other. After all that's only half an inch additional each set of borders, it adds up quick. But it is exactly 101" on both sides and 96" on both top and bottom! Win!  
Now time for another question, if you were in the latter category at the beginning of this post will you jump over to the other side or keep going with winging it because it works for you? 
Esther has left on her trip, she is gone for a couple more weeks, which means there is lots more daily deals to come! Every day that we are open while she is gone we will post a new daily special on Facebook. The special is good for one day only and while supplies last, no rain checks. If you do not have Facebook feel free to call the store and ask what is. Don't ask about the upcoming ones though because we have no idea what they are. You can also place a phone order but it must be paid for by credit card at that time. 
I will be joining Esther next week and so there will be no blog posts Friday, November 17, Tuesday, November 21, and Friday, November 24. 
Also we will be closed tomorrow (Saturday, November 11) in honour of Remembrance Day. Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, September 8, 2017

Block Books

Have you heard of the Block Books? Technically these books are magazines published by the Missouri Star Quilt Company. However I think of them more as books. Each publication contains a total of 10 patterns for quilts, bags, table runners, pillow or other quilty projects. Each pattern also has an accompanying story to go with it, and if you search the pattern name on Youtube, there is a video tutorial as well. Best of all, in my opinion, there are no ads, it is just a book of patterns, stories and tips. 
The Block Books feature precuts. We all tend to have a stash of layer cakes, charm packs, jelly rolls and mini charms (who can resist those cute little squares). The patterns in the Block Books give you some inspiration to either pull a precut from the ever growing stash, or head to the quilt store to pick a new one.
I love sewing quilts from these books. The instructions are written well, with lots of pictures. And if I ever get stuck, watching the short video clears the confusion right up. I have made several of the quilts, and though some of them look difficult they are easier than they appear.
Occasionally the pattern calls for a specific tool or template, and we have several of the MSQC templates in stock. 
Esther just reordered every Book, so we have all 22 issues in stock right now. Issues 1-6 of Volume 1, 2 and 3, and the first 4 issues of Volume 4. So now is a really good time to go through the ones you have, make note of any you are missing and come in and complete your series. Or maybe you do not have any of these books, now is a good time to start your collection. Working out to less than $8 per book they are also very affordable. Plus they look really fun in your work space as well.


Friday, August 11, 2017

Favorite Patterns

M Do you have a favorite quilt pattern? One that you pull out of your pattern box over and over, maybe its even so tattered that you can hardly read it anymore, but it doesn't matter because you could probably make the quilt in your sleep. 
Yellow Brick Road is one of Esther's go to patterns. And hers really is getting worn out. But it is a good one. In fact it is one of the top sellers from our supplier and it is 17 years old. The pattern has 6 sizes from baby to a king. It is also fat quarter friendly, so shopping for it is quite simple. This quilt is perfect as a quick baby gift, a lap quilt for a friend or family member or any size bed quilt.

Carrie loves to sew the jelly roll race quilt, and has done several for friends and store samples. This quilt goes together really quick and makes a nice size lap quilt. 

 A popular quilt in our store is the Tumbler.  We cannot keep these kits in stock, they are popular in baby and lap size. 

I for one do not have a go to pattern. In fact I don't think that I have ever made the same quilt twice. 


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Back to School Sewing

If you are like Esther you love it when the kids are off of school in the summer, and dread it when they go back in the fall. I remember growing up that we postponed school shopping as long as possible, trying to soak up every bit of summer holidays that we could. Now with one of my own kids in school, I am feeling the same way.
However walking through any of the stores around it is a hard point to ignore. Everywhere you look there are school supplies, dorm room furnishings, and fall clothes popping up. 
So with all this back to school talk, is there any thing that you sew for your kids or yourself?
As I went over the list of school supplies, I highlighted a few things that I will be making for my son.
First up a pencil case. At our school we are required to have zipper pencil cases, as this prevents any accidents on the way to the art room. If you search pencil case on Pinterest there are so many fun ones that pop up, from a simple pouch, to elaborate cases with multiple pockets, and elastic holders for each individual pencil. The pattern options are incredible, and add fabric choice into that and the possibilties are endless!
Another supply on this years list that I will be making is a gym bag. And I have decided on this sports fabric for it. I will do a simple drawstring bag, at his age he doesn't need anything fancy but this way it will be unique and Marshall will not forget which one is his. 

Esther already made a luxie lunch bag out of Transformers fabric and offered it my son so in that department he is all set.

While my son is still to young for binders I don't need to worry about those, but binder and notebook covers are fun to make, and a good way to personalize your things. I may need to put a bug in Carrie's ear that they would be a fun to sew.
Maybe someone in your house is off to college or university this year and is staying in a dorm, what better way to send them off with than a new quilt! There is still time to finish one up for them.I will share some quick and easy quilt patterns on Friday.

If you are a teacher, a new quilt would be perfect for that quiet corner, or maybe you need some bulletin board or wall displays, a themed wall hanging could be just the thing.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Quilt Backing

What is your favourite fabric to back a quilt with?
SThere are several things to look at before choosing. What is the quilt being used for, who is it for, what size is it, and cost?  Cuddle, Fireside, flannel and cotton all make great backings for a quilt. I do use all four options myself however, I almost always use cuddle fabric. I love the softness and texture of it, as well as the instant coziness it gives to a quilt. At Chicken Feed we carry cuddle from a company called Shannon Cuddle, and we have two widths available. In the 60" wide there is a wide range of color, pattern and texture options. In the 90" wide we have just the solid neutral colors, black, several shades of both brown and grey, and a navy blue, at the moment. Also quilting shows up really well on cuddle, so if you are putting a lot of work into that aspect, it will look really neat on the back. 

 My boys love cuddle on the back of their quilts, but when my son had a new quilt made for him out of hockey fabric, he wanted the flannel hockey players on the back instead of the cuddle. 

There are other times that cuddle is not a great option. For example I used the Riley Blake collection called Road Trip to make a picnic blanket, and did not want to use cuddle on the back, but I thought that a gingham print from the line was very appropriate for what I would be using it for.
I am also currently working on a baby play mat, and will use cotton on
 the back for two reasons. The first reason is that the blanket is meant to lay on the floor and be sat on, and not for snuggling up in, the second reason is that the quilt will fit on the 42" wide fabric.
If you know me, you know that I will avoid piecing a back as much as possible. I have even changed patterns to make my quilt top fit a 60" cuddle backing to avoid piecing. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with piecing backs, and I have seen some pretty incredible quilt backs, I just prefer to not do it, I have enough quilt tops to make.
This brings me to wide cotton backings. At Chicken Feed we are slowly bring in some 108" wide cotton backs. Most of them are still in the neutral colors, but the variety is growing. Also if you were waiting for the wide Kansas Trouble Fabric that Esther mentioned at the Kansas Troubles Workshop we have two in stock now. If you prefer cotton backings, but would rather not piece your back than these wide backs are a great choice. They just need a quick press and you are ready to move onto the next stage, quilting! Due to the width of the fabric it can be difficult for the manufacturers to roll it crisply, so if you find your fabric wrinkly or creased that is why.
If you are making quilts for charity, than maybe finding fabric on sale for the back of your quilt is priority. While we do have sales on cuddle these are usually unadvertised. Whereas bolts of cotton and flannel are at a very good discount on our semi-annual clearance sales, so that would be a good time to stock up on backs for those quilts. Come prepared with color options and sizes to make the best purchases.
If you are still reading there are a couple questions yet that I get asked frequently that I would like to address here yet for a moment.
What is the difference between Cuddle and Minky? I up until recently thought there was a difference, that minky was stretchier, and that cuddle was better for quilting. However after more research I learned that Minky is just a brand of Cuddle, so all minky is cuddle however not all cuddle is minky. 
What is the cheaper option, cuddle or cotton? I get asked this often, and the answer often is cuddle. For a 54" by 74" lap, my favourite size to make, because it will fit on a cuddle back, I would need 2 meters of cuddle. This would give me 6" overhang to quilt, which is what most long armers prefer. If I chose a solid cuddle which are $20/m it would be $40 plus tax. If I chose a printed cuddle they are $30/m so my total would be $60 plus tax.  A cotton back would need 3 meters, two strips of 6o" seamed together. At $19/m this would be $57 plus tax. Most flannels are about $19/m as well so the price of the flannel would be the same. 
For a twin size quilt say 70"x90", I can usually get away with using the 90" cuddle, or should I say, I will make my quilt a couple inches shorter to fit the 90" back? I can get away for this for kids, but for teenagers I may be forced to go another route, maybe switch over to a 108" wide cotton back, either way you would need just under 2m of fabric. The 90" cuddle runs $30/m and 108" cotton runs at $31/m so price there is very similair, around $60, however if you wanted to use the standard 42" wide cotton back you would need about 5m of fabric, this would cost close to $100. 
So contrary to popular belief cuddle is not the expensive choice, it's actually more affordable than you might think.
Now what about the difference between cuddle and fireside? At Chicken Feed we refer to Fireside as adult cuddle. It is still soft like cuddle, but it doesn't have the shine. I prefer fireside on my own bed, because to me it feels as if it breathes a little better, I have not found anything that can actually back that up, its just my personal opinion. Our Fireside is 60" wide and is $20 a meter so price wise it is the same as solid cuddle.
If you are still with me Congratulations, this is the end. If you have any other questions come in store and we will do our best to answer them. I am off to finish two quilts so I can choose some backs on Thursday and hopefully get them quilted and in the store in the next week or so.