Dates for Second Applique Retreat!

Thanks to everyone who signed up for my first Applique Retreat which will be held in March at Fireside Retreat in Orillia.  The response was so positive that I have booked a second Retreat!  The dates for the second Retreat are April 20-22 (Friday-Sunday).  All meals will be included, starting with dinner on Friday night.  This Retreat is a perfect opportunity to learn the method I use for all of my applique projects.  It is also a perfect time to catch up on your own applique projects and to be inspired by other students. Your fee of $400.00 includes your accommodation, all meals, your project kit and pattern and class notes.  What is the project you ask?  I am having a block designed specifically for this Retreat and it is still in the works:)  I know you will love it!  I am limiting this class to 6, so if you are interested please contact me at

Today is the last day to sign up for Friends of Baltimore/Baltimore Squared.  If this quilt is on your To-Do List, then it’s time to get started.  Details are on the website.

I have been stitching away on my 60 degree diamonds (and loving every minute)!  There is something so addictive about hand-piecing, isn’t there?  If you haven’t tried Inklingo yet, give it a go.  You will be impressed.  In a nutshell, Inklingo allows you to print the cutting lines and the stitching lines on the back of the fabric.  Easy Peasy!

Too much fun!

I am making really good progress on Hugs and Kisses,  a new BOM designed by Sue Garman that I am launching in January.  My goal is to have my quilt top finished by January.  I love a challenge:)  I have 5 and a half blocks finished.  Sweet!  The details are on the website.

Til next time….



First border of Ladies of the Sea

I don’t think I am that different than anyone else when it comes to finding time to quilt.  Lately, we have had our fair share of family barbecues, a couple of baptisms, weekends away and on and on and on!!  I am trying my very best to squeeze in a few stolen moments here and there to work on my quilts.  Here is what I have been working on….

Ladies of the Sea, a pattern by Sue Garman, caught my eye a while ago and I started working on the blocks last year.  I decided to start one of the borders before I continued on with any more blocks, just to switch things up a bit!

I use the starch, stiletto and mini-iron method.  This involves flipping the pattern over on to my light box and tracing the shapes.  I don’t have the attention span to do all of my tracing at once, so I am constantly flipping my pattern over which is kind of annoying (and not an efficient way to work!).  So I thought…Why can’t I just flip my freezer paper over instead of the pattern?  So I traced the shapes onto the shiny side of the freezer paper using a Sharpie marker.  (A Sharpie is the only thing I found that would leave a permanent mark and not smudge.)


Since I use 2 layers of freezer paper ironed together, I experimented and found if you place the shiny side with the markings on it on top of another sheet of freezer paper (paper side up, not shiny side up) the liquid starch will not make the Sharpie marks bleed all over your fabric!  The traced lines are actually “captured” between 2 layers of freezer paper.  Sweet!


Anyway, here is what I have accomplished so far.  This pattern is available on my website Simple Bird Studio.






Last year, I discovered the joys of hand piecing using Inklingo.  This is a hexie quilt I made earlier this year using Inklingo…DSCN6995

…and these are the leftover scraps, which I stitched into some log cabins blocks that will become part of the backing.  I cut just cut and stitched, not worrying at all about matching colours or even the width of the strips. Very therapeutic!



I love entire Inklingo process and spent a couple of hours yesterday printing the 45 degree diamonds from the free collection. Lots and lots of them.


I have a quilt in mind and will show more when I have a bit more to show!


Til next time….


Slow progress, but still progress!

The definition of “progress” is: the development, advancement, or improvement, as toward a goal.  If that is the case, then I guess I am making progress on my next journey…handquilting Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  I am  echo quilting and I must say, I love how it looks.  Although, I also must say that I start hyper-ventilating every time I start to think about how long this is going to take!  I am not doing any marking on the background, just eye-balling it.  On some of the blocks, which have a bit more space, I will add some motifs, maybe some feathers, my initials and the date.  Who knows?


Thanks goodness I have someone to keep me company.  That just makes the time go so much quicker!  I started out using a hoop, but I am experimenting with quilting without a hoop and it seems to be working….for now.  I will keep you posted on the slow, but steady, progress!


Last night I finished stitching the top half of my hexie quilt, because what kind of quilter would I be if I didn’t have more that a few intense projects on the go?  Every time I sit and stitch these hexies, I am amazed at how quickly they are going together.  And how easily!  I am using Inklingo to print my shapes.  I have already started printing the next set of shapes for my next hand-piecing project, but I have vowed (definition of vow: to promise solemnly; pledge) to myself that I will only have one hand-piecing project on the go at any given time!!



Til next time….


Onward and Upward!

Since finishing my “Friends of Baltimore” last week, I have had a hard time getting back into my sewing room.  Well, that’s now exactly true.  On Monday, which was Family Day in Ontario, I spent the day organizing my sewing room, going through all my stuff and just looking for some inspiration.

On the one hand, I am thrilled to have such a huge quilt crossed off my bucket list.  On the other hand, there is definitely a void in my quilting life.  But as my Mother used to say…”there is already to much strife in the world, is that what you are going to complain about?”  In other words, “quit complaining”!  So, onward and upwards!

I am addicted to stitching my hexies using Inklingo.  If you haven’t tried it yet, just take some time and try it out.  Inklingo is just good clean fun!!


I just love the crisp corners and I find that hand stitching has the same calming effect as hand-quilting.  It is really just a running stitch.


I am trying to finish up some projects before I start anything new (what a concept!).  This is the centre medallion of “To Everything There Is A Season”, a BOM I launched last April.  You can check out the patterns on my website Simple Bird Studio.



Til next time….


Inklingo 101-Update

In one of my recent posts, I mentioned my newest obsession….Inklingo.  Many readers commented or emailed me and said that they would love to try Inklingo, but just cannot get their head around the concept.  Some readers said they have already created an account, but even downloading the Free Shape Collection seemed very overwhelming.  That made me sad, because  I, too, was  overwhelmed when I first went on the Inklingo website.  I spent 3 days browsing the site, watching the videos, checking out the shapes, and all the different sizes of each shape. Each time I went on the website, I was getting more and more curious.  I was very intrigued with the concept, handpiecing verses EPP, not having to use paper templates anymore, even using Inklingo to stitch shapes on the sewing machine.  My head was spinning with ideas, but I was more than a little overwhelmed with all of the information. I honestly didn’t know where to begin.  I decided that the only way I was going to learn about Inklingo was to just start printing.  So I made a pot of tea and spent a couple of hours with my printer, some fabric and some freezer paper (and an open mind)  to see if I could figure this Inklingo thing out.  I am so glad I did…so glad…so glad!   The best part is…all of that information on the website and the videos started to make so much sense after I printed my very first set of shapes.  I would love to share my experience with you in the hopes that you will just give it a try.  You will be glad you did!  If you have any question at all, Linda is the one to ask.  Simply email her and she will get right back to you.

First, you will need to set up an account.  If you haven’t set up an account yet, check out this link  and just follow the easy steps.

Are you ready?  I am using the “Free Shape Collection” as my first example.  First, order the pattern (even though it is free) and you will immediately receive an email from Linda explaining how to download the pattern to your computer. Once you have downloaded the pattern, you will find it in your “Downloads”.  You now own that pattern forever!  If you scroll through all of the pages, you will see that there are pages and pages of every shape (diamond, triangle and square) in all of the 20 colours.  Bet you are wondering “oh my gosh…where do I start…what should I print?”  We aren’t going to print any of those pages, at least, not right now!   Those pages are for those of you who are going to become truly addicted (like me!) and want to make hundreds and hundreds of eight-pointed stars, or just want to print some triangles and start stitching them together. You can use any combination of those 3 shapes to make some pretty awesome designs.  Here are just a few…


Sally Post Floral medallion lonestar finished 10.2.2009 81 x 81

for tilde 75 x 75 inklingo lonestar

OK, so now we are going to go straight to Page 70, and you will see that Linda has designed a combination (Combo 2) of all the shapes.  That is the combo I used to make these stars.



We are going to print the combo, one on a light piece of fabric and one on a  dark of fabric. First question….what colour of ink are we going to use?  I did a colour sample and you can see that there is not just one “correct” answer.   Important note: Testing is important so you know the ink will not bleed or show on the front.  Make sure you read this article on testing the inks on your fabrics.


My Test Sample.


Take the time to print a few of these samples on the fabrics you are using and use them as a reference, just to see how the inks work with different colours of fabric.  Once you have tested your fabric, go to the corresponding page and print the combo.


Cut yourself 2 sheets of freezer paper 6 3/4″ x 9 3/4″.  Press each one to the right side of 2 different fabrics, preferably a light and a dark.  It is much easier to cut around the freezer paper, instead of cutting the fabric the same size as the freezer paper and trying to line them up…trust me!



Place the fabric/freezer paper (freezer paper side up) into the printer and click on the Print icon. Make sure you click on “current page” and “portrait”.  This is extremely important!


Ta-da!   You are a superstar!  Now, do it again with the other piece of fabric/freezer paper.  Too easy!  If you are wondering how to stitch this eight pointed star together, here is a great video, showing a Kaleidoscope Star, but it is the same idea!  P.S…..make sure you watch Part 2.


I have an HP printer and (as far as I know) I cannot print Custom Sizes.  That has not stopped me from printing my shapes. Once I became familiar with printing the free pattern, I thought I might as well jump in and buy the 1″ hexagon shape (and the 2″ hexagon and the 2″star point!).  Just like the free diamond shape, all of these shapes come with numerous layouts and each layout can be printed with all 20 colours of ink.  So there are lots (and lots!) of pages to scroll through.  If you click on Page 13….


…you will see different sizes of freezer paper with the number of hexies that you will get out of each sheet.  Make a couple of paper copies of this page.  You will want to refer to them from time to time.   I started off with just printing a 7.25″ x 11″ page just for the fun of it.  What did I have to lose?  Nothing!!


Then I thought that maybe I did not want 12 hexies from the same fabric and maybe I wanted a scrappier look.  Then I started cutting 5.75 x 7.5 pieces of freezer paper and lo and behold…..I ended up with just 6 hexies!  Everything was starting to make sense!


One of my many “aha moments” came when I thought…”I wonder if I can print on a 5″ square”.  So, I fed a 5″ x 5″ piece of fabric/freezer paper into the printer and this is what came out.  I used the same layout as the fabric above.


Then the creative wheels started spinning…I thought…oh wouldn’t it be cool if I could just fit another hexies in there, then I could get 3 hexies instead of 2.  I must admit, by this time my mind was racing and I could see why Linda offers so many different layouts.  When I first saw this layout (Page 75) and saw that it is intended to be cut with scissors and not a rotary cutter, I was really stumped…


…I wondered who in their right mind would want to cut all those hexies apart with scissors.  But if you had 5″ piece of fabric and wanted to get as many hexies out of it that you could, cutting them apart with scissors is an excellent idea!


Now I am on a roll!!


That is when I started to realize that the more I played around with Inklingo, the more I was learning and the more excited I was getting.  Here is another very useful bit of information. You may be wondering what the difference between “Portrait” and “Landscape” is, so I did sample of each.  Both are the same layout and I cut both pieces of fabric/freezer paper 8 1/4″ x 12″.  Can you see the difference?  The one on the right is printed “Landscape” and gives us 15 hexies and no waste at all.  The one of the left is printed “Portrait” and only gives us only 12 hexies with lots of wasted fabric.  See?  It is really all very useful information!


Hopefully, I have convinced you to give Inklingo a try.  It is actually very simple to use, once you spend a bit of time just printing for the fun of it!  This is what I am currently working on using the 1″ hexies.  I am hand-piecing them, which is done with a simple running stitch, very much the same as the handquilting stitch.  This video sums it all up!


And here is the back!


Once I started printing and stitching, I couldn’t stop!



Til next time….



Slow Stitching Sunday

Today I am on a mission….I am going to finish this last corner block of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  After that I will sew the remaining half-square triangles that will be stitched to the edge of the border.  I told my family that I am having a “me day” and if they need me, I’ll be in my sewing room…with the door shut!  I am linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday, so go on over and check it all out!!


Yesterday I stopped at a delightful quilt shop in Shelburne, Ontario called “Cobwebs and Caviar”.  I spotted this spectacular fabric and just had to have some.  I have no immediate plans for it, I just had to have some!  It is by French General.DSCN6641

And, my hexies are coming along quite nicely.  Edyta Sitar has a new book called “Handfuls of Scraps” and I am using her quilt on the cover as a bit of a road map.


Till next time….


“A Dog’s Breakfast”

My favourite teacher in high school had an interesting saying.  If something was gross or disgusting to him, he used to say “It looks like a dog’s breakfast.”  I have been thinking of him a lot lately, because when I look at the back of my hand-piecing, I think “it looks like a dog’s breakfast…how am I going to iron that flat??”  So, here are a few simple pressing tips that everyone who hand-pieces needs to know.

First, go put the kettle on and make a pot of tea.  Everything is easier to do when you are drinking tea.  Speaking of tea, my friend Kathy (an awesome and way-out-there quilter) gave me this tea pot for Christmas, along with an assortment of tea.


My daughter gave me a Downton Abbey mug and Marilyn (a talented artist who designed my BOM “To Everything There Is a Season”) gave me a Downton Abbey tea towel, so I am all set!


Now that I think about it, Marilyn gave me a Downton Abbey teapot last year for Christmas.  Hmmm…. I see a pattern here!


Ok, so here we go.  We want the seam allowances to swirl in the same direction (either clockwise or counter-clockwise), to reduce bulk.  Here are just 3 hexies and I have swirled the seam allowances.  First, I just picked one of the seam allowances and pressed it to the right.  (It’s under the iron.)


Next, I take my left hand and position my fingers on the connecting seam allowances, folding them in the same direction as the first one.  Notice that all 3 seams are going counter-clockwise.  That is about as complicated as it is going to get.  Seriously!  So, just  remember this, we are only swirling 3 connecting seam allowances at a time.  Do you notice what shape appears in the very centre when swirled correctly?  It is a quilt block called “Building Blocks”. Magical!  I am using Inklingo to make my hexies.  It’s as easy as stitching on the line!

pic 1

In this next example, I have stitched these hexies together and am now ready to start pressing.  “Looks like a dog’s breakfast.”


I am going to do exactly what I did when I only had 3 hexies…press the first seam to the right…the one under the tip of the iron.


Next, I position my left hand and guide the seam allowances in the same direction as the first one…



So now I can see that the orange seam allowance is heading in a clockwise direction, so the connecting seam allowance have to follow in the same direction.  Notice my index finger and my thumb are holding the seam allowances in place.  Then I just pick up the iron and press.

pic 2

Here is the finished block from the back….


…and the front.  Fancy!


I finished stitching the corner block of Friends of Baltimore and dipped it in the sink to wash all of the ink and glue out.  Now, I am finishing the next corner block.  Cannot wait to finish this quilt!


Once it is dry, I will trim it to the proper size.


Til next time….


Slow Stitching Sunday

This past week I have been busy with non-quilting activities, but I still managed to find the time to work away on the last corner block in the border of Sue Garman’s “Friends of Baltimore”.  And, as usual, I started with the vase.  This just might be my favourite vase!




Slowly, I filled the vase….first with some stems and leaves.   You can see that some of the leaves and flowers cover the seam line and flow from the block onto the border.






So now I have prepped as far as I can.  I am going to stitch everything…well, maybe not everything!… in place this afternoon at my Sunday Afternoon Applique Group.  Once all of the stitching is done,  I will attach this border to the rest of the quilt, and then fill in the missing pieces.  I am linking up to Slow Stitching Sunday.  Check it out and see what some fine quilters are up to today!



My hexies are taking on a life of their own.  I am not exactly sure where this quilt is heading.  I am just making it up as I go!  Have you tried Inklingo yet?  All of these hexies were made using Inklingo.  Inklingo is fast, efficient, super-simple and extremely addictive!  Betcha can’t make just one!!


And, finally, a couple of people asked me if I would show the back of my hexie stitching once it has been pressed.  It’s all about  spiralling the seams!


Til next time….




Slow Stitching Sunday

I have discovered the addictive (very addictive!) world of Hand-Piecing!  A couple of weeks ago, I decided to start another hexie quilt.  I needed a little inspiration so I found myself on Pinterest admiring the hundreds and hundreds of hexie quilt images.  Long story short, I clicked on a hexie quilt that was made using Inklingo.  I had heard of Inklingo a couple of years ago, even spent some time on the website, but that is all that became of it.  This time when I checked out the website, I could see the beauty of the Inklingo concept.  First I downloaded the free pattern for the diamond stars, fired up my ink-jet printer, watched a few Inklingo videos on Youtube, threaded up a needle and BAM!!  Before I knew it, I had completed four stars!!


So, then I thought “If I can hand-piece these stars, I can hand-piece anything, including hexies!”  I purchased the 2″ hexie patterns and the rest is history!  So this is what I have been working on today….I am linking up to Kathy’s Slow Stitching Sunday.  Check it out and see what quilters are working on today!


Pressing these hexies are easy when you know how!


Til next time….