Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Staff Profile, Jenn

SSSSSHello Everyone, I’m Jennifer Giesbrecht. I moved to Coaldale after marrying my husband almost 13 years ago. I have one son, his name is Job and he’s 7-years-old. We live on a farm a couple miles from town. I’ve been working at the quilt shop for 11 years (I was hired on when it was Hopscotch Quilt Shop). I got the job when I mentioned that I was going to have to find work if I was going to continue this hobby. Asking me if I was serious, they soon after offered me a job. I only started quilting about a half a year before starting to work at the shop. 
My Mom is a quilter, and I mentioned to her that I would love to learn how. I bought a cheaper sewing machine, and McCalls Beginner Quilting book and started sewing different kinds of blocks-if I got stuck I’d call my Mom. I wanted to start quilting because I absolutely loved an antique Double Wedding Ring Quilt that has been passed down in our family. I loved all the different pieces, the story behind why it was called a double wedding ring quilt. 
I had tried many different hobby’s cross stitch, knitting, crochet, painting, drawing, scrapbooking, card making, stain glass making, embroidery, photography, gardening but none of them excite me as much as quilting-I’m happy knowing that my quilts will be passed down from generations and they will get to hear the stories behind my quilts. I love all aspects of quilting-picking fabrics (for others, and for myself)-my favourite fabric lines come from designers ‘Bonnie & Camille’ from Moda fabrics, I’ve also loved Kansas Trouble fabrics, but more recently I’m starting to be drawn into Art Gallery fabrics (so I guess I have very eclectic taste😉)-I even have a sample to cut out today with Batiks that Esther & I picked out-which if you know me, working with batiks is a stretch out of the box.
 I also just finished making my first bag-which is hanging at the shop. I love learning new aspects of quilting, I’m not a perfectionist, but I do enjoy becoming better. I love helping people understand a new technique, I like opening up patterns and explaining it. I’ve even pattern tested for ‘Sew Kind of Wonderful’-quick curve ruler a couple of times. Other than quilting, I’ve also sewn and sold over 600 dolls for over 5 years, but I’ve recently started to slow that business down-which is why you might have seen me more at the quilt shop lately.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Mini Quilts

Recently I have become addicted to mini quilts. They are so fun to make and they look adorable when they are finished. Minis make great wall or table decor, or are great for turning into pillows and can be made to match your home or coordinate with the current season. They are also great for gifts.
I love that I can start and finish the project it in the same day or weekend. They also use little fabric and are perfect for charm squares or scraps. There are so many different patterns available and they range in size and difficulty. 
The first ones I did were a set of three barn blocks from a pattern on Moda Bakeshop. I used a charm pack of Meraki by Basic Grey plus some borders and background. These would be so fun out of fabric that matches your home for some neat decor!
A couple months ago Esther and I picked up this fun pattern from our wholesaler in Calgary. 
I used Jen Kingwell fabric for this. This fabric was printed in 8 5” strips that run parallel to the selvedge. I needed 16 prints, so 2 .25m cuts of fabric was plenty.
Yesterday I started a mini pattern by Thimble Blossoms called Swoon. I chose a new Art Gallery Fusions called Printemps for this one and am loving the first block! 
For my fourth mini I chose to do a Sew Kind Of Wonderful pattern called Mini Scope. 
A mini is a great way to try out a new technique or improve on one that you haven’t done a lot of. It’s a small project and doesn’t take a lot of commitment in time or money, if you enjoy it you can always do a larger project later. One of my first minis ever was a paper piecing project, I wanted to try out the technique before I jumped into a big project. And I am doing the Sew Kind Of Wonderful mini to brush up on cutting and sewing curves again.Minis are also a good way to experiment with color combinations, different backgrounds, or a new fabric.  
A few things that I have discovered while doing these minis is that accuracy is very important. With smaller pieces cutting your pieces even an 1/8" to big or small can affect the outcome. I like to use smaller rulers for the minis, and my 4.5" x 8.5" and 2.5"x6.5" got put to good use in these projects. 
Pressing is also really important, and to reduce the bulk pressing open helped a lot. I used my strip stick often these past few weeks, along with starch and flatter. This combination gave me nice flat blocks, with few bulky seams.
Do you like making minis?


Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Be My Neighbor: Block 6

How are you coming along on your Be My Neighbor Blocks. Have you been able to set time aside to make your block on time, or are you starting to fall behind? I procrastinated this week because of the wonderful weather Swe have been having, but I set an hour aside last night and one this morning to get them done. If you are having trouble finding time, schedule a little time just to quilt, even write it in on your calendar if you need to. 
SThis weeks house is quite large finishing up at 18' square. If you do the whole house in one color as I did you will need a full fat quarter for it. Esther did her house in two colors plus the roof, tiles and windows. Both ways look great. 
I starched my fabrics before I cut them this time around to avoid stretching those 24 2” squares. 
I also pressed the seams between each tile section open. I love my strip stick for this. It helps the seams lay open and you can press without any other seams interfering. 
Another way to get those seams to lay nice and flat is to use a Magic Pressing Mat. It is made with wool and it holds heat so when pressing it is as if you were pressing your block on both sides at one time. It is a nice size to place on your sewing table next to your machine, saving you a few trips to the ironing board. Esther absolutely loves hers.
We haven't been able to do much chain stitching in this quilt so far, but I did some in this block sewing the 6 square in square blocks. I love chain piecing and do it when ever I can, it saves on thread and time. 
Have you been making half square triangles with the flying geese trimmings? I have and I am getting quite the collection. I am not sure what I will do with them yet, they may make a nice cushion to match my quilt, or they would look cool incorporated into the backing of the quilt as well. 

Friday, May 18, 2018

Bag Workshop

Esther has been working on setting up another workshop for sometime now, and this week we got confirmation on a Bag Workshop! This is mainly a teaser post about it as this is just confirmed and very few details aside from the dates have been worked out. 
We have an experienced bag maker who also happens to be a pattern tester and designer coming to our shop October 19 and 20 to do a workshop on two bags as well as a trunkshow for us. 
Esther and I are also thinking of adding an optional third day as well, where we will teach a third  pattern. This would take place on October 18. 
We are still working out the pricing details, as well as venues for the trunkshow.
I will do a much more detailed post in a few weeks when we have all the information worked out, along with some pictures of the bags we are making, and who will be teaching them. 
To go along with this, as well as by request we will be starting a Bag Of The Month Club in September. The Club will get together once a month to sew a bag. The patterns will all be from different designers, and range in style from totes, to wallets, to backpacks and more.
Esther and I will be spending the next few weeks making up the bags that we have chosen for the club, and get them into the store so that you can see the different patterns we will be doing before you sign up.
If you have never sewn bags before but are eager to try the Club is a great place to learn. It is a great way to learn and get advice rather than doing it completely on your own. That doesn't mean only beginners can join, it will be good for bag makers of all skill levels.
We have recently got in some fun cottons that look like cork and leather, and there are a few more colors on the way. These are great for those of you who like the look but are nervous to work with the real thing, or are scared your machine will be able to handle it. Come in store to check them out in person.
Before I can start my bags for the club, I need to finish up the minis that I am working on. I have a couple that need quilted, one that is cut, and another that I took home today. I hope to have them all finished for next Friday's blog post. 
We will be closed on Monday for Victoria Day.
Do you have any long weekend plans? My husband is taking me out for breakfast tomorrow morning while my inlaws watch our boys and than our family will be doing some yard work, and we have a Family Barbeque Sunday Evening.

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Staff Profile: Carrie

SThis weeks staff profile is all about Carrie. 
Carrie lives on a dairy farm just east of Coaldale and is the youngest of 6 kids. Carrie is currently in Grade 11 at Coaldale Christian School, and is very eager to graduate next year. Her current plans for after high school are to continue working at Chicken Feed Quilts and manage the up and coming online store. 
When Carrie is not working at the Quilt Store she can usually be found hanging out with her 4 nephews and 2 nieces. 
The rest of her spare time is filled with sports. Carrie plays a variety of sports, hockey takes up the winter, in the spring she plays on the school badminton team, she also plays Softball in a mixed league a couple times a week during the spring and summer. But her favourite of all is Water Skiing. She's out on the lake as soon as the ice is thawed and goes until it is too cold for wetsuits. During the winter she goes on holidays to Florida where she skis with the Canadian Water Ski Coach. S
Carrie started quilting several years ago, and primarily used the GO Accuquilt to cut out her quilts. This gave her accurate cuts with out the scare of losing any fingers. She has made many quilts and bags, some for herself, but lots for her friends. 
Last summer she made quite a few things for school, lunch kit, binder covers and pencil cases, she loves that her school supplies are unique to her and the exact colors and styles that she wanted.
Carrie has also been able to use her quilting knowledge for several school projects. She made a coat of arms for a social project and a quilt about her favourite things for a school fine arts show.
Her favourite fabric is Art Gallery. She loves to work in lines of fabric, but she is very good at pulling fabrics from throughout the store. 
This weekend is Quilt Market. We are not attending this quilt market due to the fact that I have a new born, and Esther's family is quite busy on the farm at this time of the year. But it sure is fun to follow along on Social Media, there are so many pictures posted and the sneak peeks of all the upcoming fabrics and projects are super inspiring. Will you be following along as well?

Friday, May 11, 2018


SBinding, it’s the final stage of putting your quilt together. It also often seems to be an after thought. After buying all the fabric for the top and than the backing people often forget about getting a binding as well. And again when putting it all together, you get the borders on your quilt, get it quilted and than oh yeah I need to bind this yet. 
I personally love binding. From choosing the fabric that pulls the whole project together, to hand stitching it in place. 
I love stripes for binding, I like the effect the stripes have, and that their are multiple colours from the quilt included in the final step. If there is no stripe, or the stripe isn’t calling my name I will choose a darker color, or a small print, something that you won’t notice grime from fingers on.  
I always do a double fold binding that I cut at 2.5”. I use my Stripology Ruler from Creative Grids to cut my binding, it’s quick and accurate and I can cut 8 strips without moving the ruler at all. I only cut my strips on the bias if I have rounded edges on my project, everything else gets cut selvage to selvage. 
Do you like to sew your strips together straight across or on the bias? I generally will do bias seams, but every once in a while I will sew them straight.
Once I have a long enough piece to get around the whole quilt, I take it to my ironing board and press it in half along the length, wrong sides together. I know not everyone presses their binding strips but I prefer to. I find it easier to work with when it is pressed. 
I almost always hand bind my quilts in the evenings while watching a favourite tv show with my husband. I machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt and than flip it to the back and hand stitch the fold down. I use The Binding Tool by TQM products or the Creative Grids Bias Binding Simplified Ruler to join my final ends. Both are great and both have you tube videos on how to use them. 
I machine stitch to the front because than I know I have a nice consistent seam allowance on the front which is seen more than the back of the quilt. 
In the past few months I have machine bound a few quilts, and I must say my first one left something to be desired but practice makes perfect and the most recent one I did yesterday turned out much better. I prefer hand binding but sometimes time gets the better of me and machine binding is the answer. Also it never hurts to know a few different techniques. 
When machine binding I stitch my binding to the back and than fold it over to the front and use one of the decorative stitches on my machine or a simple zig zag to tack it down. 
My wonder clips work great for holding the binding in place while hand or machine stitching.
Esther recently came across some fusible thread. This also works great for holding down a binding before you hand stitch it. It works best in the bobbin, when placed in the top it is very hard to get nice tension. You sew it as you normally would, than give it a press and the the heat causes it to act like a glue. It works great for hems and installing zippers too. 
So how about you, do you prefer a certain fabric pattern for bindings, bias binding or not, machine or hand finished? 
I have four quilts that need to be bound so my husband and I are going to turn on a movie and I will get to work. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Be My Neighbor: Block 5

We are now on the second row of our quilt! I love Block 5. As a plus it is super quick to make, and it is fairly easy as well. Once again we have some standard piecing, the flip and stitch method to make the roof and the heart, and an appliqued bird. I think this house would make a super cute pillow as well!
SSThe only major thing in this house is to ensure that when you are sewing the heart portion of the block that you end up with mirror images, not two of the same. 
Esther recommends using best press or flatter, not only for this block but for all of them. With so many bias seams in each block the starch will keep them from them stretching. These blocks will all be sitting for several months while we finish up and the starch will also keep them flat and prevent any stretching that could happen as they relax. 
I had to use the seam ripper a few times last night while sewing up my blocks. Most of my mistakes were a result of making both blocks at the same time and putting block b's squares onto block a. 
Our first shipment of Art Gallery Blenders should be here this week, and we are so excited for them. If you have not yet sewn with fabrics from this company, I highly recommend them. The quality is amazing! Carrie has been hard at work changing up the displays in the store to make room not only for these new blenders but for all the new fabric that has been coming in over these past couple weeks. S
With this warm weather I am wanting quick projects that I can start and finish in a matter of days. Minis are the answer, and are a great way to try out new techniques and fabrics that are out of your comfort zone. I will do a post in a couple weeks on my favourites. And we will be making up some kits of each as well. 
Don't forget Mothers Day is this Sunday, we have lots of great gifts at the store, and gift cards are always a great option.
Next week Tuesday the 15th, from 10am-noon we will have a little open house at the store if you would like to come in and meet little Easton.