Friday, July 18, 2014

Everything New At Pink Castle!

It's been a huge week for us, with the arrival of Cotton+Steel and Quilt Now, but that's not all that's new at Pink Castle!

Back by popular demand is the Secret Stash Box!

Each Secret Stash Box contains 50 different fat quarters, selected from all the quilting cotton available in our shop. The cost is just $80 ($6.40 a yard)! It's a great way to add depth to your stash. And you'll get a Golden Ticket with it (as long as we have tickets left)! Spend an extra $20 and get a second Golden Ticket as well as free shipping (if you live in the U.S.).

Katrina Roccella's Indelible just arrived. It's full of natural motifs juxtaposed with colors and imagery you wouldn't necessarily expect to see in a woodland setting. It's a mature, dream-like collection, and I absolutely love it.

The colors of Gleeful, from Sew Caroline and Art Gallery, practically pop off the fabric. Blossoms and stripes and dots and squiggles dance on fields of blue and gold and pink. Described as 'the story of a young, carefree woman in pursuit of her dreams', this is a fun collection to have and to play with! It's also an Art Gallery Limited Edition, so grab it now!

Enchanted, from Sarah Fielke and Windham Fabrics, is everything its name implies. Imagine brightly colored peacocks strutting through magical gardens and you've got the right idea. Every print is overflowing with color!

And to top it all off, lots of new Nani Iro double-gauze! Take a look at all these beautiful, super soft prints. These amazing two-play gauzes are perfect for summer garment-making (and, of course, quilt making)!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

A finished Poolside Tote

I'm back from an amazing beachy trip, and I have to say, my new Poolside Tote had quite the workout.

I used it as my carry-on bag for the trip, and everyday, I carried my towel, camera, sunscreen, and other essentials in it. I highly recommend this pattern, whether you are taking a trip of your own, or heading to the neighborhood pool. You might want to add an interior pocket, and I omitted the key loop.

It's a great pattern for showcasing your favorite large scale print, like maybe some Mustang horses or bees!
The bag is not difficult to sew, but I recommend cutting and prepping your pattern pieces and then breaking before sewing. I just feel that I do a better job with fresh eyes and mind.

To the beach!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


When I was at Camp Stitchalot last month, Katy Jones gave us all a quick lesson in English Paper Piecing and a little project to do there or take along home. Now, I have seen hexies around, but never had the urge to try something I thought was a bit too labor and time intensive for a hobby (if you know me, you'd know if I can't get a machine to help me do it, it's quite possibly not worth doing). It's one thing to think, "oh, that's amazing, but I'll never try that!" upon seeing other people's work, but when someone places it into your hands, in Cotton + Steel fabrics no less, you've got to at least do one, right?

Then one turns into 14, because, um, you know how everyone says they're addictive? Well, it just so happens that they're addictive, and also easy:

And 14 turn into a mason jar pincushion:

Katy gave us directions at Camp, but Riley Blake has a fairly similar tutorial here.

And now I'm looking around for another English Paper Piecing project. And I'm going to make a Noodlehead's Road Trip Case to carry all my supplies.

Then maybe I'll attempt this amazing pincushion, made by my friend Melissa from a tutorial by Kristy of St Louis Folk Victorian:

Or something like the patchwork on this Sew Together bag, made by my friend Vicky:

I have a few blogger bundles collected in my stash that would be quite amazing as little bags and pouches like this!

Hopefully I have convinced you to adopt this yourself. It's a good little offshoot to machine quilting, it's great for travel, poolside, or just sitting on the couch, and the supplies you need are few.

All you need to English Paper Piece:
-hexagon papers
-a good handwork needle - I used Black Gold needles, and they are super thin and just the perfect length.
-thread and/or glue (though I just use thread)
-and something to secure the fabric to the paper - a pin, a wonder clip, a paper clip...

Many of these you probably already have, but we do have a paper piecing kit in the shop, which will get you everything but the scissors and fabric. Though, if you're reading this blog, it's likely you have both those things already.

If you're wondering how to get started with hexies, Lori Holt's hexie tutorial on her blog, Bee in my Bonnet is a good place to start.

And if you make any projects with hexies or without, we'd love to see them in our Made with Pink Castle Fabrics Flickr pool.

Monday, July 14, 2014

My First Camp Stitchalot

A guest post by Jacqueline Sava, Director of Possibilities for Soak. 

It started over a Soakbox manicure, as it often does. Whitney (of Pink Castle) was having a manicure in our booth at Quilt Market, the tradeshow for all things quilting, and she kept saying, “Brenda will be over soon, we have to have these products”. Fast forward a few days and a few emails and Brenda had invited me to bring my manicure station and a case of Flatter to Camp Stitchalot

I was excited to wake up early and head to camp Saturday morning. I came for the weekend and the drive to Michigan (from Toronto) was easy.

Arriving at Camp!

When I arrived, there were a few early risers mulling about and the sewing room filled slowly as others woke up. Flatter bottles were scattered around the ironing stations and sewing machines were whizzing along. I was particularly pleased to see that not only were Flatter bottles on the ironing stations but a few campers had also brought their own personal stash. 

I was equally pleased to meet the many campers who prepped their hands for early morning manicure. Now that’s planning! 

A perfect manicure

Highlights from the weekend included meeting new people, sharing new products and of course, enjoying a sunny weekend in the country. Okay, well, it rained Sunday morning, but it was sunny inside.

Fun things happen both when you participate in an event (exploring the Accuquilt cutter) and when you observe (checking out peoples projects) and I did both over the weekend. Learning how Katy plans the colorways for her new magazine, Quilt Now, over breakfast was indeed a treat. Watching Tula show ribbon strike offs and listening as she talked about what worked and what didn't in tests was fascinating. It’s not often that we get glimpses into the production of magazines and ribbon. 

Playing with the Accuquilt

Moving throughout the space, from table to table, I learned about paper piecing, paper piecing templates, handstitching, fussy cutting, apparel, knitwear, and saw everyone’s great Sew Together Bag projects which were created Friday night, led by Kristi of Schnitzel And Boo.  And I really enjoyed watching what projects the guest designers brought to work on. Katy worked on a great project with the new Cotton and Steel fabric and John Adams completed a stunning king-size quilt top. Meanwhile,Tula was hand-stitching her way from room to room.


I'm pretty excited that between manicures and talking about Flatter I was able to get a little sewing time in for myself. That doesn't happen too often so it's a real treat. I worked on the back of my Liberty quilt, inspired by Tula’s Modern Alphabet

Finished quilts on display

An array of finished quilts accumulated over the weekend, above the kitchen on the mezzanine. Apparently this is a typical occurrence but it was new and exciting to me. 

I really enjoyed the late-night conversations that took place when people decided it was too late to sew, or switched to hand-sewing/stitching projects and comfy sofas. I personally have a ‘no rotary cutters after 10pm’ rule, so I’m good with late night chatter.

Attending events is one of the favorite parts of my job. As a product developer, great products are only useful if people find them useful.  At Camp Stitachalot it was confirmed that quilters find Flatter useful (and a great matching manicure is always a bonus). 

The Flatter Collection
We’ve had great follow-up since the even - I’ve made new sewing friends and have been able to guide curious minds over to Pink Castle Fabrics to purchase our new products. We will be at the fall and winter camps again with Flatter and manicures. I highly recommend you get on board. If you’re a camp regular, it was lovely to meet you. If you’re new, you’ll make memories and projects to last a lifetime. 

Visiting Pink Castle for the first time

Oh, and I take full responsibility for the images of Katy Jones eating cheese balls with a seam ripper. I was telling stories of knitters who eat ‘cheetos’ with chopsticks to keep their hands clean…and the rest, as they say, is history.

Want to see more? Head over to Instagram and search hashtag gives you all the visuals you need from the weekend, in chronological order. You can follow me @jacqueline_soak and explore the feeds of other like-minded sewists. Make yourself a cup of tea (Katy educated us on proper English tea making over the weekend), or grab a cocktail (if you were there, you know what your friends would prefer), as you’ll be looking at great pictures for a while.

If you'd like to visit Camp Stitchalot, there are still openings for Fall and Winter 2014. And we'll have more news regarding 2015 camps coming soon!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Quilting with Friends: Round Robins!

There are a few methods of having multiple people work on a quilt: bees, row quilts, and round robins.

My local offshoot of the Modern Quilt Guild, the Ann Arbor Modern Quilt Guild runs an ongoing round robin (you have another member's quilt for a month, and then at the meeting we switch, and people can drop in or out as they chose), which I have participated in, and I spoke to a few other participants about the process.

Rules may vary from place to place, but at our guild, the rules are very loose. You provide a block, in a container with your name on it, you can add a list of what you like and what you don't like, or not. You can provide fabric, or not. You can have a theme, such as a type of block, a season, a type of fabric (one member has a love fore vintage sheets, so she provided a number of those in her package), or, well, anything:

Anna of Woollykat has recently started up a quilt in the round robin with a  modern art theme, based on the work of Josef Albers:

Ashley, of SassafrasGirl, started a round robin quilt with a star theme. She created a few stars, in a teal, pink, and yellow color scheme, and asked for more star blocks, continuing in same the color scheme:

By the time it reached me, it looked like this:

By now, months later, it has stopped being loose blocks as people have begun joining up stars into a top.

My quilt started with a variant of the friendship star:

I wanted a teal, fuchsia and grey medallion. I provided some fuchsia and blue printed fabrics, and a yard of a Kona Steel, and some Kona Cerise. The last time I saw it, I think it'd been worked on by five people other than me and had grown into this:

I asked some people for their thoughts on participating in a round robin:

Ginia, of Early Morning Quilter, says that when you write up your request you should make them concise and positive, and make sure to leave room for other quilters' creativity. She advises that a long list of instructions is intimidating, and can make the project feel like a chore, when it should be a fun challenge. For her own round robin quilt, Ginia provided three orphan blocks from another project as her starting blocks.

Dorie, of Tumbling Blocks, who is also our guild's round robin coordinator, suggests that you be clear with your instructions. If you want a specific type of quilt, or you dislike a color or a type of fabric, make sure you say so.

A block Dorie made for a "Winter Not Christmas" Round Robin quilt
Dorie also suggests you need to look at the work that came before you got the quilt, and then add to it, coherently. Every quilt has a story to tell.

I know when I get a round robin quilt to work on, I read the instructions, then lay it out and look at it for a few days before deciding what to do with it.

Jen's ( of Brave Little Chicken) round robin quilt, the theme is Indian Summer.
Ashley loves round robins because even when she's busy with other things, they force her to spend time sewing each month. I think she sums up how enjoyable it is to work on a round robin so nicely, I'm just going to quote her wholesale:

I love having the (loose) constraints each month, whether it's a color scheme or block type or based on an artist's color theory work or a life story, it's a lot of fun to try to fit my own style and ideas into the rest of the quilt.  It keeps me learning and practicing new techniques when I find something I think will go perfectly with the rest of the quilt but haven't tried it before.  I also get to use fabrics and colors that are totally out of my comfort zone and sometimes find ones that I want to keep working with.  The best part is seeing the finished work; you can still pick out each part that the very different quilters have contributed but they blend together to make a beautiful quilt.

I agree. I've certainly attempted a number of new and newish techniques, and even come up with a new quilt design based on experiments started on other people's quilts during my participation in the round robin.

Ashley's block for a "block inspired by a favorite relative" round robin quilt
The main thing to remember, as most of my interviewees pointed out, is that the quilt you get won't look like the quilt you have in your mind, because no two minds (or quilters!) are exactly alike. But it may be even better! If you do a round robin like ours, chances are you will have a variety of hands working on it, from precision piecers to improv piecers, from experts to novices. So parts will look different, and yet, hopefully, coordinate into a harmonious whole.

(On a practical note, if you do start up a round robin, I would suggest  including a yard or two of your chosen background fabric with your starting block, in order to increase the likelyhood of  harmony .)

Special thanks to Ashley and Dorie for additional pictures!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Announcing Our Cotton+Steel Giveaway Winner!

If you know Esther Lodico, tell her congratulations because she's the winner of our Cotton+Steel giveaway! She'll be receiving one fat quarter of each print from the Cotton+Steel imprint...more than 100 fat quarters!

Thanks to everyone who collected their cards...we hope you had fun! And congratulations again to Esther...have fun with all you new Cotton+Steel fabric!

In other Cotton+Steel news, our first shipment should be arriving next week, and we'll be receiving additional shipments throughout the month of July. We can't say when any specific order will ship, but we'll be fulfilling as many orders as we can from each shipment. It's almost here everyone!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Summer is for sun hats

When I was at Camp Stitchalot in June, one of the women working in my vicinity, Cheryl, was sewing up sun hats for her children. She started by cutting up a bundle of Rae Hoekstra's new line Lotus Pond using the Accuquilt Go!, then sewing it up into panels that she then cut down into pieces for hats.

The hats were not complete when we left camp, so I checked in with her this week to show you the finished products:

The pattern Cheryl used is the Oliver + S Bucket Hat, from the book Little Things to Sew. It is reversible - like two hats in one! And, as a promotion for the book, it is also available as a free download from the Oliver + S website:

Although Cheryl didn't use this tutorial for a longer brim from Jessica of A Little Gray, she suggests it as a nice way to add some extra sun protection. But she does use her tutorial on construction method that avoids the hand sewing in her hats.

The fabrics she used were the Lotus Pond bundle, and single prints from that and Briar Rose, Catnap, and a Riley Blake gingham.

What a great idea, and project! And Cheryl very kindly took these fantastic photos to share with us. I love all the hats, but my heart is taken by the patchwork ones. I'm definitely putting this pattern on my to make list!