At the workroom we sew on Bernina sewing machines and sergers. People ask me all the time what I sew on at home and now I can finally say ‘a Bernina Aurora 430‘!
I’ve been sewing for the past eight years on a machine called, ‘The Craftmaster’ which has now been passed on to my mom. I rationalized for a long time that I had 7 Berninas already (at the shop), so no need to have one at home. The truth is that I very rarely get to do any actual sewing at the shop. I’ve been wistfully dreaming of a Bernina of my own since I first tried one.
There’s a definite reason that I chose Bernina for the workroom. I believe it’s the best. I spend a lot of time talking to you about the things that I make and now I’d like to mix in talking about how I make them with Bernina. I’ll be talking now and then about special features, feet, accessories about all of the machines. (sewing machines & sergers!) Getting to know your sewing machine and what it can do for you will make you a better seamstress. If you have a Bernina, I bet you love it. I know that I am absolutely in love with mine already. I’m hoping to create a resource for Bernina owners to learn even more about their machines and love them even more!
The Aurora has been my ultimate machine for a while now and I think I’ve earned it. I plan on putting it through its paces and telling you all about it.
(OMG. Seriously. Sewing has never been this fun! This machine is heaven.)
Last year we started a tradition of hosting Pysanky classes just before Easter. Pysanky is the beautiful art of traditional Ukrainian egg decorating.
Fittingly, we held our first class of the year on the first day of Spring. Our instructor, Andrei Gravelle, got us inspired with the historical background and imagery of pysanky eggs. The detail that can be achieved is truly incredible.
Pysanky is created by drawing with melted beeswax on the surface of the egg with a tool called a kistka. The egg is dipped in a colour bath (starting with the lightest colour) and the beeswax acts as a resist. More beeswax detailing is added after each colour bath, until you end with the darkest colour, often black. The layering of colour like this is fascinating to me and after doing my first egg I now have a much better understanding of the effects you can achieve. I love how the final layer of black creates such a bold finish to the designs.
I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to learn this craft and to create my own yearly pysanky tradition. I feel so strongly that these crafts need to be shared as much as possible. I especially love that this a such a great group/family craft that everyone can sit together and enjoy creating something really unique no matter what age you are.
Sampler Quilt 2 class finished two weeks ago. It was a glorious ten weeks putting together this beauty of a quilt top. I don’t think I’m the only one from the class suffering from a bit of withdrawal. Thursday nights just don’t feel the same.
Johanna designed this next Quilt Sampler version to be bigger and more challenging. I do feel like I underwent some quilt boot camp and learned so many valuable lessons that will make me a better quilter. Firstly, I never fully understood the value of finger pressing and careful ironing. The wonkiness in quilt blocks is often created afterwards when you are moving your iron back and forth over your fabric stretching the heck out of it. Secondly, the miracle of spray starch. Starching some of my wonky blocks made them MUCH less wonky. I imagine pre-starching fabrics before you sew with them would also be helpful. (FYI: you will see starch on our shop shelves in the next few weeks!)
Sampler quilts are tricky, since there are so may different elements going on. I found myself trying to choose very plain fabrics and somehow, I hardly put any mustard coloured fabrics into this quilt. I really wanted to, but it just didn’t seem right. My fellow students, on the other hand, chose brilliant, bold colours and fabrics that I am totally in awe of. Spend some time checking them out here. Also, check out Katherine’s quilt top that I didn’t get a chance to photograph myself. They are all wildly different!
I spent one long night working on the back of my quilt. I decided to use my improv techniques to make something on a larger scale that would fit across the back. I used scrap pieces from four different fabrics to create that pieced bar. I’ve started to pay more attention to my improv process since I know so many of you are interested in how I do it. Perhaps with a bit of nudging there will be an improv class on our schedule.
The quilt is now basted and ready for quilting. I am going to do my best to get going on this sooner than later. I’m thinking some simple machine quilting echoing the designs will do the trick.
I’ve finally finished and framed my Intro to Cross Stitch sampler! I had finished up the alphabet part of the sampler during the class, but was determined to frame it in a hoop and wanted to do a round border around it. Lucky for me, Johanna accepted my special request and designed this sweet leafy round border.
Since this border is round and the pattern is actually quite random, it took a little bit longer for me to stitch. The rectangular border that Johanna also designed for the class is a much easier border to stitch since it is repetitive. I hardly ever like to take the easy route, especially when it comes to aesthetics. To be honest, I miscounted when I was more than halfway done and had to take out quite a few stitches. The end result is totally worth it. I am so proud of how my sampler turned out. It’s now hanging on the wall at the workroom, so if you’re in the shop you can see it in person.
Cross stitch appears to be a fairly easy form of needle work. The reality is that there are always mistakes to avoid and tricks to learn that make any new craft so much better from the very start. Tricks and tips are Johanna’s specialty! I don’t know how she does it, but man! are we lucky to learn from her. (psst! have you seen her new class?!) What I didn’t realize about cross stitch was that it requires some strategic thinking to keep your work tidy on the back side. I found myself feeling like I was playing a game of Tetris, as I was pre-planning my ‘moves’ (aka stitches) with my needle. I totally enjoyed this aspect of cross stitching.
Also! I really had a chance to get a feel for the new Cosmo embroidery floss we got in. I love it!! Firstly, we have 443 colours, so the possibilities are endless. Secondly, the cotton floss is so silky and totally doesn’t tangle. The other thing I’ve recently started using are needle threaders. They make all the threading in hand quilting and needle work SO much easier. Clover makes a floss embroidery threader and it is now a permanent part of my sewing kit.
I have big cross stitch plans now that I know what I’m doing. I’m envisioning making linen napkins, coin purses and wall hangings with cute cross stitch motifs. Here are a few things on my cross stitch project list:
Farm Folk Stitchettes by Wee Wonderfuls
Some of the incredible border patterns in the DMC Library Cross Stitch booklets
Cute Kiwi from Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery‘s Fruit of the Month Club
Wildflower Garden Cross Stitch book by Kazuko Aoki (anything from this book)
Master Collection : A-Z Cross Stitch by Kazuko Aoki (anything from this book, too!)
Cosmo floss colours used in this project : 226, 225, 2224, 224, 2223, 223, 2222, 436
This week is week 9 (of 10!) of the Quilt Sampler 2 class. All our blocks should be done and this week we will attach our mitred corner borders. Marilou had all her homework done and assembled her quilt top in the last class. Inspiring! This week, I’m sewing like crazy to catch up and finish up my last blocks.
This particular block is special to my Quilt Sampler. It was meant to be a Carolina Lily block. As I was sewing up my lilies, I kept seeing half a star. I looked through the Quilter’s Album of Patchwork Patterns and in the section on eight pointed stars found the Flash of Diamonds.
The components for this block were so similar that I couldn’t resist trying it out. Star blocks are my absolute favourite! Sewing y-seams is a bit tricky, but there’s something about it that I really love. The more y-seams I sewed, the better I got. The other key thing that I’ve learned from making this sampler quilt is the importance of careful finger pressing and not overusing the iron. It is so easy to stretch out bias cuts on your fabric which results in wonky blocks.
When I sewed together the middle star, it came together perfectly. If you look at the centre, all the points meet precisely and not are cut off! My favourite thing about this block is actually the back of it. When you look at the back side of this block, you will see that all the intersections of seams fan out. It’s crazy how proud I am of something that will soon be on the inside of my quilt where no one can see it!
I have a dream of one day doing a lone star quilt. Having conquered the eight pointed star, I now feel that this is totally do-able! But first, I’ll be wrapping up the rest of my sampler homework…
I tried my hand at knitting when I first started to sew. I made a bunch of scarves and even knit a sweater, but I seemed to loose interest in the whole thing after my third scarf. (and that sweater was pretty terrible) Every winter I get ‘knit-envy’ when I see photos of cozy cowls, cute mittens and slouchy hats. I would love to make those things! But, I have a feeling I should stick to all the other craft that I’ve got going on.
I was super excited when our new teacher, Mariel, suggested a Sewn Mittens class. Yes!! Finally, I can ‘fake’ some knit mittens by sewing them from upcycled sweaters.
I love this fun project for all the variation you can achieve by using upcycled goods. For my mittens I picked up a purple sweater from Value Village. Debbie offered me some of her leather scraps for the palms. The sweater had ‘elbow pad’ details on the sleeves, so I cut my main piece from that part of the sweater.
I didn’t really consider what would happen when you try to sew leather to sweater. Basically these are two materials that behave very differently! The knit sweater was super stretchy, while the leather was not. This made the sewing a bit more tricky and I did use a walking foot. I would not recommend this combination of materials to a beginner sewer or at least for your first pair. The students who made their mittens completely out of sweaters turned out totally adorable! (hello, cashmere mittens!)
I’ve been wearing my mittens every day. They fit perfectly and are totally cozy and warm. My mom will be happy to learn she doesn’t need to buy me gloves or mittens anymore.
In the back of my mind I’m already gathering ideas for next year’s Christmas gifts. These are currently at the top of the list. I’ve got another pair cut out and ready to sew!
p.s. You can read a cute interview with me on ‘oh my! handmade goodness‘. The piece was written by Debra Norton of Vintage Paper Parade. Thanks for including me in your piece, Debra!
I hardly had a moment to take any photos at the Love & Rummage 3 Trunk Show on Sunday. When I arrived at the shop there was a line up outside for the City of Craft giveaway bags and from the moment we opened the door until just past 5pm, we were pretty busy. (some moments were Crazy Busy!)
I hadn’t had breakfast that morning so I snacked the day away on delicious chocolate heart cupcakes, brownies and cookies. Thank goodness we always do a snack table at our trunk shows. It was so busy at some points that many of you came and went without me even spotting you or saying ‘hi!’. I hope you had fun. I definitely did. It’s hard not to in a room filled with so many friends.
At the very last second of the show, I managed to run around and buy myself a few necessary treats. A ceramic heart from Krystal Speck, the tote I’ve been wanting so bad from Fieldguided, some postcards by Dead Weight and a very pretty Queen-filled envelope ready for mailing from Send More Mail. Coriander Girl gave me a little posy in a cute vintage bottle.
Thanks for supporting the show! Did you get some cute stuff too??!
ADDED NOTE : Celine took photos of the show for Toronto Craft Alert. Check them out here!
Most of the past Sunday nights have been devoted to doing my Quilt Sampler 2 homework. As soon as I catch up with all that, I’ll be back with some new Sunday Patchworks.
In the meantime, here’s my Maple Star! This is probably one of the more simple blocks we’ve done in class, but I really love this one. Firstly, it’s a star. Secondly, I slipped in some scraps of Liberty of London ‘Fairford‘ and it goes perfectly. It’s magic when that happens.
Today is the Love & Rummage 3 Trunk Show!
A couple months ago, I received the best gift from Amanda. A Hoop Travel Bag. With all the different classes (Intro to Cross Stitch, Quilt Sampler 2, Sewn Mittens, etc) that I’ve been taking recently, I’ve been wanting to create a better (cuter!) way to tote around my tools & supplies. Well, this hoop travel bag has become one of my favourite things for my hand work projects.
Isn’t it super adorable? Take a look at the incredible quilting she did! Including embroidering my name! The hoop bag is just the right size to stash a little project and all my tools. I’m finally sharing this treasure with you because Amanda just published the pattern for this project on The Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery! It’s an awesome, quick project that you will love to pieces. (and probably make twenty of)
Somehow this weekend, I’m going to try to squeeze in making a couple more of these for myself. (in between the Leather Moccasins class and the Love & Rummage Trunk Show)
Also, you can see my cross stitch sampler progress below. I completed the alphabet and bird a couple weeks ago. I’m now slowly working on stitching a pretty round border that Johanna designed for me. Take a look at how Tanya’s beautiful tonal grey cross stitching turned out. Every single student from our class is completely hooked on cross stitch now. So fun!
Surprise! It’s time to shake things up with another big fabric sale at the workroom. It’s February already and I don’t know about you, but planning for spring and making spring-y things gets me through the last few months of winter. Now is the perfect time to treat yourself to some fabric love and plan some happy projects for these cozy winter nights.
I haven’t posted ANY clothing pictures for a few months, but I’m about to change that. I have a few back posts of clothing that I need to photograph AND I just finished a cute spring-y top that I’ll be wearing on Sunday at the Love & Rummage 3 Trunk Show. Fabric Sale + Love & Rummage!! It’s going to be a pretty great weekend!