Pantone’s New Colour Of The Year For 2014- Radiant Orchid

Pantone’s new colour of the year for 2014 is Radiant Orchid. Specifically, PANTONE® 18-3224.


Last year we told you about Emerald green and how it served as a “symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity.” This year it’s all about Radiant Orchid… an “enchanting harmony of fuchsia, purple and pink undertones that inspires confidence and emanates great joy, love and health. It is a captivating purple, one that draws you in with its beguiling charm.”


“Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”


Fashion designers including Emerson by Jackie Fraser-Swan, Juicy Couture and Yoana Baraschi, are incorporating Radiant Orchid into their spring collections and variations of this hue will carry into men’s and women’s clothing and accessories throughout next year. Too see what they are up to, and read about the rest of the Fashion Influences, check out the Pantone Fashion Colour Report 2014.

This picture is a collage of all the yarns available at The Yarn Store… inside The Quilt Store.

Sewing Machine Madness!

2 DAYS ONLY!!  On December 6th & December 7th we are having a  NO TAX EVENT or 0% financing on all of our Pfaff and Husqvarna sewing machines. The pricing and free giveaways will be amazing.  This sale is factory authorized. We will be having authorized Pfaff and Husqvarna representatives here on hand.  You will not want to miss this special opportunity!









Our Second Shop Hop

The Quilt Store is happy to be participating again as one of the hosting shops for the 13th Annual Simcoe County and More Shop Hop! This year’s theme is the 12 Days of Christmas.

A shop hop is a great way to get see what’s happening at different sewing stores all throughout Simcoe County. You can come and pick up your passport here at The Quilt Store and make sure to get it stamped at every spot you visit (directions and map are included in the passport).

As well, for just $7.50 you can pick up a kit at every shop to make different blocks in the official shop hop quilt. With your completely stamped passport, you may then purchase a finishing kit with fabric and instructions.

Our kit includes three fat quarters and instructions to help make one section of the 12 Days of Christmas quilt. There are two gold pieces of fabric and one green piece. The appliqué fabrics are not included, so you can choose your favourites from your own stash – or find some new ones at the shops you visit. In order to create the colourful border around this spectacular quilt, you would use your left over fabric from all of the block kits plus your choice of additional fabric. This amazing line is from Northcott’s Stonehenge Starry Night.

You can enter a draw at every store to win prizes such as a $100 gift certificate. The Grand Prize is a fabulous PFAFF PASSPORT sewing machine together with extension table, straight stitch needle plate, 1/4″ piecing foot and open-toe free-motion foot! This prize package also includes The Basics Collection from Aurifil, which is 12 (1300m) spools in neutral tones.

Everything gets started this Thursday, September 26, and keeps going until Saturday, September 28.  Official Shop Hop hours at participating stores are from 9am to 6pm. Of course, The Quilt Store will be open until 8pm as part of our regular Thursday shopping hours.


Grab your friends, hop in the car, pick up your passport and enjoy the trip to our store!

Burlap Beauty

The Quilt Store has recently received a new line of fabric from Springs Creative…it’s printed burlap.

The 100% jute fabric has a coarse woven texture, natural un-dyed colour, and oversized black prints of great motifs such as the Fleur de Lis, vintage lettering, coffee theme and the newly popular moustache (thank you, Movember).

Admittedly, this fabric is not ideally suited to quilting, but is truly amazing for home decor, accessories and even some garmentry.  One of our customers, Maryrose came by with the trendy tote she just made with the Tossed Text printed burlap. She runs her own bridal and evening wear business, so she knows big style when she sees it.

We have several tote patterns, such as the Betty Shopper and the Little Sister Tote, which would be perfect for this sort of fabric. Just choose a fun lining and/or accent fabric – like the leatherette Maryrose used – to add some stability.

The staff has been discussing other uses for this interesting textile.  We’ve seen it on the backs of dining room and occasional chairs…

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and cushions…

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clothing (well beyond wearing your basic potato sack!)…

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and curtains!

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The curtains above are from fancy-schmancy Restoration Hardware, but they’d be so easy to make yourself.  And don’t they look so sophisticated – in a rustic sort of way?  We love it.

Burlap fits right in with a modern shabby chic aesthetic, and oozes “green” with its natural, ecological, recycled look.  At just $7.99 a metre, it’s totally worth an experiment or two. If you’re on Pinterest, check out our Fun Sewing board for some neat ideas for what to make with burlap (like, the wreath below).

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Quilting in Kenya

The Quilt Store is always happy to support valuable charitable initiatives.  Earlier this year, one of our customers, Peggy Feehely, came to us with a wonderful opportunity.  Here is her report of her adventures…


In July of 2013, I travelled to Kenya with the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board under the Free the Children (Me to We) umbrella.  One of my goals while in the Maasai Mara area was to teach the students at Kisaruni Girls High School to quilt. Because of [The Quilt Store’s] generous donation of fabric and matching thread, I was able to teach fifty grade 10 students to make their first quilting project.

As you can see by the pictures, the students are very pleased with their accomplishments. Thank you so much for helping to make this possible.  I left all the quilting supplies with the school, and the principal was very excited about the prospect of the grade 10 girls teaching all 130 students to quilt using the supplies I brought.

It was an amazing experience.  I can’t thank [The Quilt Store] enough.  Who knows, someday in the near future we may be buying quilts from Kenya made with the fabrics you donated!

~ Peggy Feehely


Thank you, Peggy, for spreading the joy of quilting, and for sharing your experience with us!

Stars in a Box a Summer Success

We kicked off our August Summer Classes with a bang…and a bunch of quilting stars!

Joanne Barton is a favourite among our students, and she shared a pattern of her own design with a select bunch of summer quilters.  Stars In A Box was a two-day “retreat”, and (almost) all the students completed their quilt tops.  A couple even got borders on, too.

Here’s Joanne’s original quilt:

Now, here’s how the class went…

TYS Staffer, Irene, looks like she’s had a touch too much java?


Student Joanne D. with a row completed


Staffer Ann-Marie keeps her rows neatly organized


Sharon‘s created one pretty row. Can’t wait to see the rest of them!


Each of the participants brought something different to the table, and the end results are truly impressive…

A lovely country palette with bright sashing strips


These fabrics are from Moda‘s Old Glory Gatherings


Evelyn chose to work with simple neutrals, with elegant results


Joanne D‘s batiks provide a rich feeling

Not everyone brought Charm Packs or pre-cuts, but took the extra time to cut their own squares.  It’s a good way to have more control over your fabrics & colours (and it probably adds nicely to the stash!).

This camera-shy student totally stands behind her beautiful work :)


Funnily enough, two of our staffers joined the class (that’s not the funny part) and as they laid out their stuff, Irene and Ann-Marie discovered they had chosen very similar Charm Packs for their quilt.

Ann-Marie added yellow sashing to her quilt

Whereas Irene chose to use white for her sashing

All of the students should be very pleased with themselves and the wonderful work they’ve done.  Many thanks to Joanne Barton for sharing her pattern and tutelage with our students.  If you’re inspired – and how could you not be?! – check out our Fall 2013 Classes, because this class is part of the new roster.

One of the best comments heard about these “Stars in a Box” quilts was from one of the student’s sons…”But Mom, how can you possibly be put in a box?”  [We wonder what he’s fishing for…]


Tip : How not to break your needles

It happens to everyone.  All of us who sew are bound to break a needle at one point or another.  It’s something we strive not to do, yet somehow, we think we’re better than the rules.

Starting from the beginning, here are things to check:

1. Is the needle inserted correctly?  Most home machines use needles that have a flat back to the upper part of the shank, which means the long groove above the eye will be facing you as you sew.  That part may be obvious and easy.  Next, make sure the needle has been inserted all the way up, and screwed in firmly (no need to over tighten).

Anatomy of a needle (from

2.  Is the machine threaded properly?  Check your instruction manual, and any numbered/illustrated icons on your machine.  Forget for a moment that you’ve done this hundreds of times before – sometimes thread can jump out of place, especially following a thread jam or break.  Take all your thread out and start from the beginning.

Look at your machine for threading instructions


3.  Are you using the right needle?  There are two things to consider when choosing a needle to sew:  what fabric and what thread will you be using?  Heavier threads require a heavier (bigger size & number) needle – the thread needs to fit smoothly into the long groove above the eye, and through the eye without stress or major friction.  The fabric you choose affects the type of needle you should use – knits require stretch or ball-point needles, wovens require sharps.  Universal needles are not quite sharp and not quite a ball point, and like all season tires they’re pretty good in most situations, but not perfect. Click here for a Needle Primer from Schmetz.


4.  How is your thread?  Is it seated nicely at the top of your machine?  Are you using a spool cap the same size as the end of the spool?  If not, the thread could be wrapping itself around the spool pin and eventually bending the needle so it crashes into the presser foot.  Thread spools that have a nick in it to hold the tail when you’re not using it can cause similar issues; this nick should be oriented away from the threading path.  Try using a thread net to keep unruly spools under control.

Thread nets can help unruly threads (image from


5.  Are you using the correct foot?  Keep your wits about you when switching presser feet and when changing stitches.  There are feet that are not meant for anything other than a straight stitch – and sometimes it can’t be in the centre position (i.e. zipper feet).  Be sure to buy the proper feet for your machine; that way, the open space for the needle will line up properly with the needle plate.

Check your needle position with certain feet (image from


6.  Are you using twin (or triple) needles?  Please see above.  If your machine has a Twin Needle button, use it.  It’s a safety feature that keeps the machine from making the stitch too wide and causing the needle to strike the foot or plate.  If you don’t have any fancy features, check your stitch width and needle drop before you sew by turning the handwheel manually, and make sure the needles don’t come anywhere near the presser foot.  Adjust your stitch width accordingly.

Check stitch width and needle position when using twin needles


Now, to check how you’re stitching…

6.  Don’t sew over pins.  Seriously, don’t.

Your technician says: Not funny. (image from


7.  Are you pulling the fabric?  Another no-no.  Let the feed dogs do the work – that’s their job.  If you drag the fabric from the front, the feed dogs can’t take as much as they want to.  If you try to “help” and pull the fabric from behind, you can cause extra wear on the feet and feed dogs, as well as bending the needle, pulling into positions it’s not meant to go.  Try using a walking foot for extra feeding assistance.

Try a walking foot for feeding assistance


8.  Tackling a thick seam?  Yeah, this can be tough on any machine.  Sewing through too many layers can cause the needle to deflect (aka “bend”) as it struggles to find its way through the fabric, which means its exit point may not be in the hole, but somewhere else on the needle plate (or worse, bobbin area).  Use a sturdier, thicker needle if you’re working with a lot of denim (there are denim needles), and try using a “hump jumper” or compensation plates.  Come in and ask us to explain – or check your instruction manual.  Stitch slowly, and use the hand wheel if you must.

Go slowly over thick seams (image from


9.  Doing freemotion?  Good for you!  Now, let’s add a little more technique…it’s all about finding your groove:  your ideal combination of machine speed and hand movement.  You really have to Be The Feed Dogs, and remember that you cannot move the fabric while the needle is in it.  Try increasing the speed of the machine to keep up with your hands.  You may be surprised to find that you can handle things a little faster.


10.  Doing embroidery?  Keep those scissors away from the needle!  Unless you’re Superman with lightning fast reflexes (and let us remind you:  you’re not, and neither are we), you cannot snip that thread faster than your machine can sew.  So, stop it.  Stop the machine and take a second to safely trim the thread.  This will save your needles, your scissors, and likely your fingers, too.  Compare this amount of time to how much time and effort it takes to change a broken needle, rethread the machine, and back up your stitches to cover over the boo-boo.  No contest!


If you follow these guidelines (rules!) regularly you should be able to avoid breaking needles.  If there’s still some gremlins living in your machine, bring it in to The Tech Shop and we can exorcise those sewing demons (there could be a timing issue, or you might need new parts like feed dogs).


Pom Pom Mobile Tutorial

There are some significant benefits to having quilting supplies and yarn in the same store.  Creativity is definitely one of them!  Welcome to a cross-over project…Quilt Girl, Shannon, got her hands on some yarn and took off on a roll!

Shannon and her step-daughter made this Pom Pom Mobile together.  For the full details and tutorial, please visit our sister blog at The Yarn Store.

You can make this using cardboard templates or Clover Pom Pom Makers.  The hard part will be stopping making pom poms!!

Pom Poms are addictive!

Pressing Tips

Last time, we discussed a few tools that can help you with your accuracy and consistency when sewing quilts. We mentioned that one of the most important tools in your sewing room is your iron.  We’ll leave the laundry out of this for now, and just focus on using the iron in quilting.



If you wash your fabrics before using them, you should definitely iron them – but not if you’re just stuffing them in the cupboard for now.  For storage, simply use the warmth from the dryer (since half the point of pre-washing is taking care of any potential shrinkage) to smooth the yardage out and fold it neatly.

When you’re ready to use your fabric, it’s best to give it a once-over with your iron, even if you didn’t wash it first.  There can be some pretty serious wrinkles from being on the bolt, and when flattened with your quilting ruler, these wrinkles can quickly become jagged edges.  So, ironing is important.  However, this can’t be done willy-nilly! Lay your yardage out and work methodically, moving the iron with the grain of the fabric, width-wise or length-wise.  Even when you’re moving your iron over the fabric, take care not to create a wobble in the weave, because this will affect the results of the cutting and ultimately, how each piece sits in your finished quilt.



It’s true.  Ironing is what you do with shirts and laundry.  Pressing is flattening with pressure and heat.  Yes, pressing takes longer!  But it saves time, effort and energy when done correctly, so keep calm and press on. :)

Lift and place your iron onto your fabric, hold it still for a moment, and lift and place the iron somewhere else.  This is pressing.



That is the question, and only you have the answer.  Steam can soften uncooperative fabrics, making it easier to bend them to your will.  Additionally, steam can take all the life out of softer fabrics, leaving them rather like woven wet noodles, and your neatly cut shapes may be completely lost and distorted.

Leaving water in your iron can also cause leakage.  This is mostly due to ironing at lower temperatures, where there’s not enough heat to create steam, but the water comes out anyway (don’t ask me why it chooses to exit via the base of the iron!).  The trick here is to keep the temp set at cotton, and to empty the iron of any water before storing it.

A handy alternative is to keep a spray bottle nearby, and just give a little squirt to the parts that need the extra help.



At first this may seem like a ridiculous thing to do, but once you embrace it, you’ll never skip this step.

Take the two pieces you’ve just sewn together, and bring them to your ironing board.  Keep those right sides together, and press (by lifting and placing the iron) over top of the stitching – that’s right, everything is flat.  This is called “setting the seam”.  What it does is offer support to the seam you just stitched, and kind of blend the thread into the fabric.

Let the fabric cool a moment or two before moving it, otherwise you could accidentally distort the pieces while they’re soft and warm.



Most quilting instructions will tell you to “press the seam towards the darker fabric.”  This is a decent rule to follow.  The darker fabric will show the shadow and the bulk of the seam far less than a lighter fabrics.

Take your “set” seam, and lay it light fabric down on the ironing board.  Gently lift the darker fabric upwards, while maintaining full contact between the light fabric and the board.  Use the pointy tip of the iron to nudge the darker fabric flat, and press the seam.  Try not to pull the pieces or wiggle the iron (this is supposed to be “pressed” remember?), as this can create wobbles in the grain and distort the shape of your fabric pieces.

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Pressing towards the darker fabric isn’t always the best thing to do.  Sometimes, it’s damn hard to organize all of that, and sometimes doing it that way creates too much bulk.

If you are working with a very dark and a very light fabric and there’s no way you can press towards the dark, press the seam towards the lighter fabric.  If you see a little shadowy line of the darker fabric, trim it off, just a little shorter than the lighter fabric’s seam allowance, and this will hide it from view.

You can even press your seams open, when required.  Goodness knows that no one is going to be able to see the backside of your piecing when your quilt is all done!

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The most important thing to keep in mind is ease of sewing.  It’s nicest when your seams “lock” together, and this is done by alternating the side to which the seams are pressed. Take some time and plan this out in advance, if you can, and it will make the next sewing step much faster.

Plus, sometimes it depends on the pieces themselves as to which way they want to be pressed.  The large triangles in Flying Geese blocks are most often best when left flat.  This shows off your lovely, accurate points in the best way.  If you press the little triangles flat, with the seams behind the large triangle, this can mush the centre point, and create a bunch of bulk at that same spot.  Icky for continued piecing.

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If you need to press a seam in the other direction, go back to the middle before switching sides.  Press the seam flat – like when you set the seam – and let it cool a bit, then press the seam to the other side.  If you skip this step, you may wind up creating a pleat in the seam, making your block smaller than it’s supposed to be.



Generally, your pressing will not fail if you work on the right or good side of the fabric.  Nudge, lift, press and repeat until your seam is neatly and evenly folded back.  Use a shot of steam if desired, or even some spray starch to add some extra staying power.  Let the fabric cool a moment, then flip it over to the back side and do a quick check to make sure all the seam allowances are tidy and flat.  Press the errant spots carefully, so as not to disturb all the other good work you’ve done.

If you try to iron – or even press! – from the wrong side, you’re more likely to squish the seam incorrectly and create a little pleat along the seam.  It’s only because you can’t see it, and the fabric tends to stick in place on the ironing board cover. Stay on the right side and your efforts won’t be wasted.



If you are pressing a dark fabric – or even a light one – that tends to get shiny, try using a pressing cloth in between your iron and the fabric.  This will help to reduce the friction and wear on the fabric surface and eliminate the unwanted shine (which is difficult to get rid of!).

If you are pressing appliqués, you may want to employ a pressing cloth, too, so as not to flatten the life out of your hard work.

What’s a pressing cloth?  Anything you have on hand will probably work.  Thin, old bed sheets or pillowcases work beautifully, since you can see your work through the cloth.  There are also teflon pressing sheets, which are ideal when using fusibles, as they can withstand any heat, and will keep the sticky stuff from sticking to your iron (cue the angels singing).

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Extra bonus:  you can dampen the pressing cloth, too, if your iron doesn’t do steam.  We wouldn’t recommend a damp cloth and steam at the same time, but feel free to experiment.



With these few tips, you should be able to boldly go and conquer any seam, and wind up with all your quilt blocks the same size as the pattern said they should be. Wouldn’t that be novel?

Another Year, A Longer Good-bye

Some of you may remember our co-op student, Deanna, hanging out with us in the store last year.  Happily, we benefited from her assistance and company again this year, but this time in The Tech Shop.

The grade 12 student from Sacred Heart Catholic High School liked us so much (yay! the feeling is mutual!) that she found a way to come back to us for another year.  This semester, she expanded her sewing knowledge and experience to include the more technical side of sewing, while dealing with machines, parts and accessories.  Lloyd and Ryan were whipped into organization with numbered shelves and priority lists! (Thank you, Deanna!)


Deanna impressed the pants off her co-op teacher with her competent demonstration of the sewing and embroidery features of the Bernina B 580E, and an in-depth report on the skills she’s gained working with us.  Ms. King was visibly and audibly thrilled to receive two customized pouches with her very own initials on it, and to have witnessed the making of each by her own star co-op student.

Ms. King, Deanna and Wendy

Deanna and the teachers in charge of the co-op program at Sacred Heart held a special breakfast, to which the participating employers were invited.  The students’ efforts were commended, and the local businesses who support the school program were shown appreciation.

Look for the turquoise…that’s Wendy, with Deanna and Deb Y.

We were thrilled to see pics of Deanna in the slide show, and we are very proud to wish her well in her future adventures as a graduate.  Cheers, Deanna!  Congratulations and thank you for all your efforts!

It’s nice to be appreciated…