The Chickadee continued:)

I have finished prepping all of the pieces for the Chickadee block, but I still have a few things left to do before I can start placing the pieces on the background.IMG_6998

First, I need to trace my pattern onto the background.  I always cut my background fabric 4″ larger than the finished size.  This will allow for shrinkage when I wash the block (more on that later).  And, believe it or not, the block will shrink up a little when the stitching is completed.

So, I pin the background to the paper pattern.  Fabric shifts, so I like to use quite a few pins to hold everything in place when I trace.  I use my light box, but you can use a window to trace on or, depending on how light your background is, you may not even need a light box.  I use a Clover water soluble marker (the thick one) to trace the design.IMG_6996

The next step will make your life so easy!  I trace the “unprepped” seam allowance on the right side of each piece.    On every single piece!  There are 2 ways to do this. You can simply place the piece (right side up) on your light box and trace the edge of the freezer paper that is “unprepped”.  I use my Clover marker to trace on light fabrics and a white pencil marker to trace on dark fabrics.  At this point, the freezer paper is still attached to the wrong side of the fabric. IMG_7001

The second way to do this step is to take the freezer paper template out and place it on top of the fabric (shiny side up).  Trace the edge of the freezer paper onto the edge of the fabric that is “unprepped”.  This step is worth the time spent.  Trust me:)img_7002.jpg

Go ahead and mark all of your pieces.  You will thank yourself later:)img_7003.jpg

Of course, you don’t have to do this step with the pieces that are prepped all the way around, like this one. IMG_6940

Next, I am going to make some stems using my 1/4″ bias maker.  First I cut my strips 1/2″ wide.  Because I want these stems to curve easily, I will cut them on the bias.  I like to place my bias strips in a bowl and spray with starch before I feed them through the bias maker.  IMG_7005

Place the bias strip wrong side up and insert in the bias maker.img_7007.jpg

Use the point of your stiletto or a pin to guide the bias strip through the bias maker.  If you pray to the Quilt Gods the strip will come out the narrow end:)IMG_7008

Next, I use my big iron and press the edges flat.  Gently pull the bias maker and move the iron so that the iron and bias maker almost touch.  Make sure you hold the iron on the bias strip long enough so that the starch completely dries.img_7012.jpg

Perfect bias every time!  So, now I am ready to start placing pieces on the background.  I will save that for my next post:)  img_7011-e1558631452783.jpg

Til next time….




Preparing pieces for applique

Yesterday I began a tutorial for the Chickadee block.  The pattern is available on my website.  Many of you in the area (Barrie) asked about picking the pattern up and not having to pay shipping.  Now you can do that!  The patterns will be available for pickup starting on Wednesday May 22 at True North Yarn at Cedar Pointe.  Details are here.

Today I am going to show you how I prepare my freezer paper templates. These are the 3 greens I am using for my leaves and stems.  I love to use Northcott fabrics for most my applique projects.  The colours are yummy!IMG_6928

Once you have cut out your templates, iron onto the wrong side of the fabric.  If you are used to doing needle turn applique, this will seem odd to you.  IMG_6929

Leave enough room around each template to leave a good (not scant) 1/4″ seam allowance.IMG_6931 


Here is a photo of the tools you will need.  You will need a firm pressing surface.  An awl or a stiletto.  A mini-iron.  I swear by my Prym Dritz Petite Press!  A jar, some spray starch and a paint brush.  I use Easy On, which is a spray starch available in most grocery stores.  But you can also use Best Press.  And lastly, I cannot say enough about Karen Kay Buckley’s Perfect scissors.  I cannot imagine applique life without them:)IMG_6932

First thing to do is spray some starch into our jar.  Notice I am holding the can of spray upright and I am holding the jar on its side.  That is so that the nozzle will not clog, not unlike a can of whipped cream.  Let the foam in the jar reduce to a liquid.IMG_6963

With your paintbrush, paint some starch on the seam allowance.  IMG_6965

Hold the edge with your stiletto, pick up your iron and start to press the seam allowance over the template.  I hold my stiletto in my left hand and my iron in my right hand, but do what feels best for you.  If you cannot get the hang of the stiletto, simple use you finger to fold the seam allowance over.  Trust me, you will burn your fingers a few time and then say “I think I’ll give that stiletto another try”.IMG_6966


You will notice that some of the templates have some strange marking on them.  The two lines at the edge of the freezer paper (hash lines) means that you don’t do anything to that side.  Leave it “unprepped”.IMG_6933


If a template has no markings along the edge, the whole template gets prepped.IMG_6937


The last marking I want to show you is a dashed line.  This means that part of the edge gets prepped and part of it doesn’t get prepped.  Once I start showing you how the pieces go together this will make more sense.  First, clip right to the edge of the freezer paper where the dashed line is.IMG_6947.JPG

Next, prep the side that has no hash lines and leave the edge that does have hash lines unprepped.IMG_6948

When it comes to clipping inside curves, clip sparingly and clip to within 1/8″ of the freezer paper.  Believe it or not, 2 layers of freezer paper is thick, so you need that extra bit of fabric to wrap around the freezer paper.  Never (ever!) clip an outside curve.  Never!!IMG_6938

When it comes to points, I know you are going to want to cut those points off…. BUT DON”T DO IT!!  Just leave them be…for now:)IMG_6936.jpg

Hope everyone has a relaxing and safe long weekend:)

Til next time….



It’s been a busy month!

Last month I had the pleasure of teaching 18 eager students at an all day workshop for the Moraine Quilt Guild in Newmarket.  As you can see, it was a very productive day!  The project the class worked on is the Hummingbird in Flight pattern which is available on my website here.  The pattern comes complete with the freezer paper templates already traced so you can start prepping your pieces immediately!  Such a time saver.IMG_6750





I taught the same Hummingbird in Flight pattern at my Spring Applique Retreat held on April 23-25 at Fireside Retreat in Orillia.  I think it is fair to say we did as much eating as we did stitching!  The breakfasts were catered by the owners of Fireside, Emma and Julien.  And the cake was made by Holly’s Sweets and Eats in Barrie.  It was gluten-free!IMG_6792IMG_6791

Diane managed to get every single one of her pieces prepped and glued in place by the time we left.  Amazing!IMG_6799

Hard at work!IMG_6790

I even managed to get my own block completely stitched.  It is in the talented hands of Rose Bell of Fancy Feathers.  Can’t wait to see what she does with it.IMG_6789

Starting today, I will be doing an ongoing Tutorial for a new series of patterns I have been working on for the last year or so.  The series of 13 patterns is called “Glorious and Free” which will be based on the official birds and flowers of each province and territory in Canada.  The patterns will become available on my website as I get them completed (the pressure is on!).  You will recognize the first pattern, “The Chickadee and Purple Violet”.    All 13 of the patterns will include a full-sized pattern and the freezer paper templates already traced for you!  As you can see, each pattern piece is labelled and there is a corresponding freezer paper shape.  So half the work is done!  By the way, the Chickadee and Purple Violet represents New Brunswick and it measures 19″ x 25″.IMG_6920IMG_6911

So, the first step is to iron each sheet of freezer paper (with the templates already traced) onto  a blank sheet of freezer paper.  This step creates a thicker template than just one sheet of freezer paper.  Did you know that you can reuse your FP (freezer paper) templates up to 10 times?

Freezer paper has 2 sides.  One is a paper side and one is a shiny side.  Place the freezer paper (with the templates traced on),  and a blank sheet of FP with the shiny side down. IMG_6922

Next, place the traced FP on top of the blank one.  This step will prevent you from putting shiny side to shiny side.IMG_6923

Use a hot iron to fuse the 2 sheets together.  Do not use steam (the sheets will not fuse together properly).  Once the 2 sheets are fused, lift them immediately from the ironing surface.  Now you are ready to cut out your templates.  This is a good “sit in front of the TV” kind of job:)  I like to cut my templates right on the line (as opposed to inside or outside the line).IMG_6924

Keep each “group” of templates together.  I like to keep mine in separate zip lock bags to save my sanity.  G1, G2, G3 etc. all refer to different shades of green.  G1 is light green.  G2 is medium green.  G3 is dark green.  So each “group” is a different fabric.IMG_6926


So now I am going to start prepping my pieces.  I will post that information tomorrow:)

Til next time….





The Handmade Quilt and more fun stuff!

Last week I had the pleasure of being the guest speaker at the Region of York Quilters Guild in Newmarket.  My quilts and I received a very warm welcome, and I may have convinced a few members to dig out their unfinished applique projects.  Fingers crossed!  Here are a few of my very early quilts that I showed.

I was 15 when I made my very first quilt.  It has been very well loved.  The batting is long gone and some of the seams are letting go.  I have such happy memories of this quilt:)


When I was 21 I took an 8 week class at a local quilt shop and made this sampler quilt.  Hand applique was my favourite technique!IMG_0616

When my kids were little, I made quilts to keep them warm, and to save my sanity.IMG_0621


Speaking of the Region of York Quilters Guild, they have a quilt show coming up!  Who doesn’t love a quilt show? The show is being held on April 6 and April 7 at the Newmarket Community Centre located at 200 Doug Duncan Drive in Newmarket, Ontario.  Admission is $7.  Hope to see some amazing quilts!

If you would love to learn how to hand piece, this book is for you!  It starts with very easy blocks or sections.  Then you work your way up to curved piecing and such pointy points that all your quilting friends will think you are a superstar!IMG_6634

This is the block I worked on last week.  It’s called Castle Wall.  First you add 4 squares to the octagon.IMG_6606

Next you add a square to the white background piece.IMG_6607

Then you add 2 diamonds to either side (good practice for setting in seams).IMG_6608


I am starting to sew sections together.  I must confess, I am loving it!IMG_6624

So this next block consisted of curved piecing.  Which is the same as straight line piecing, except it’s on a curve!IMG_6626

Bruin acts like he doesn’t care, but he really is impressed!IMG_6627

Can you spot the block? (Hint: it’s the only orange block).  Good, clean fun!IMG_6633

The Spring Applique Retreat is fast approaching.  I have 2 spots left and I would love to fill them.  Here are the details of the Retreat.  This is the block that I will be teaching.  The Hummingbird in Flight pattern is suitable for beginners, especially those wishing to learn Prepared Edge Applique.  If you are interested in attending, please email me at

Hummingbird in Flight

Til next time….



More fun times at the Academy of Applique!

Exciting news….for the fourth year in a row, one of my quilts has been juried into the show at Quilt Canada this year!  This awesome event is in Ottawa this year, which is only 5 hours away, so we are going on a road trip in June. Hope to see you there!

As promised, here are some photos from the second class I taught at the recent Academy of Applique, held in Williamsburg, Virginia.  

Once again I was amazed at how much the students in The Blue Jay class accomplished.  This pattern was different that The Rose of Sharon because the entire design is made up of layers, so most of the 3 days were spent building those layers…many, many leaves and branches.  Most people started prepping the Blue Jays, and I am sure they have the birds stitched on to their background by now:)








So what else have I been working on?  Well, like most quilters, I have a growing list of  WIPs, so I have decided to work on that list.  I am almost finished my Scrappy Log Cabin, which I must confess I love how it is turning out!  I just need to choose borders:)


I am still stitching away on my 60 degree diamond quilt.  I am using Inklingo to print my diamond shapes.  If you are new to Inklingo, I urge you to give it a try!  I only use Inklingo to do my handpiecing now.  You just print (with an Inkjet printer) your shape collection on the wrong side of your fabric, which has a piece of freezer paper ironed onto the front side so that it will go through the printer.  Next you cut your shapes apart and BAM!  Your are now ready to start stitching.  Notice that both the cutting lines and the stitching lines are printed on the fabric!  What more can you ask for:)




So every night I make myself a pot of tea and stitch the night away.  Really, it is amazing how much stitching you can get done when you just sit and do it!



Til next time…







Fun Times at The Academy of Applique!

Believe me when I say that teaching at Barbara Blanton’s Academy of Applique is the highlight of my year!  It really is an amazing time.  Imagine being surrounded by nearly 200 people that share your same passion…hand-applique.  It is not too early to start thinking about next year’s Academy, which will be held March 2-7, 2020.  The class schedule will be available August 3, 2019 (mark your calendars…now!)

The first class I taught this year was The Rose of Sharon.  I worried that maybe the students wouldn’t accomplish as much as I thought they should.  But you can see from the photos that I need not have worried.  The majority of students in this class were “beginners” and had not tried Prepared Edge Applique before.  You can see that everyone caught on very quickly.  That is why I love, love, love this method!




By the end of the third day, we were exhausted, but look how much everyone accomplished!


In the next couple of days, I will show photos from The Blue Jay class.  They are just as impressive:)

Also, I still have 2 spots left in my upcoming Spring Applique Retreat.  You can check out the details here.

Til next time…



Hummingbird in Flight pattern is on the website!

My recent pattern, Hummingbird in Flight, is now on the website.  Each pattern includes the templates already traced onto freezer paper.  This is the pattern that we will be working on at the Spring Applique Retreat.  I have 2 spots left for the Retreat so if you would like to come, sign up soon!  Everyone who comes to the Retreat will receive a pattern and a Fabric Supply List for this block.

Hummingbird in Flight

In my last post I showed pictures of my Hugs and Kisses quilt that I have just started to hand quilt.  Some of you asked about how I mark my quilts for quilting.  This is the first quilt that I have marked before I sandwiched it with the batting and backing.  It is so much easier to do it this way.  I decided on cross hatching and my lines are 1″ apart.  I contemplated making the lines 1/2″ apart, and then I came to my senses!IMG_6264

There are 4″ sashings between the blocks and I was a bit stumped about what to quilt in that area.  I thought it might be cool to do a scallop around each block, kind of mirroring the scallops in the border.   I made a scallop template 2″ x 4″, so there are 3 in every sashing.  So far, so good!IMG_6265

I used a Clover water soluble marker (the blue thick one) to mark the lines.  I am using YLI 100% glazed cotton quilting thread and I love it.

I did a bit of research online and discovered this little gadget that I cannot live without.  I was lucky enough to find it a local quilt shop:) I wonder how I ever hand quilted without it. It’s Aunt Becky’s Finger Protector.  Once you get the hang of it, it is quite easy to use.  And the best part?  No more pricked fingers!

Last, but not least,  for the batting I chose Hobbs 80/20.  I am loving the effect!  The most challenging part of this journey is trying to quilt while Bruin takes his nap on the quilt.  Oh I almost forgot.  I am using Clover Black Gold Needles (Quilting size 10) and these needles are gliding right through the batting.  I highly recommend them.IMG_6255

The Academy of Applique is fast approaching (too fast lol) and I am putting the finishing touches on my class samples.  This year I am teaching the Rose of Sharon, and The Blue Jays.


Til next time….