Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Ventana Quilt Along - Week 2: Foundation Paper Piecing

Hello! Welcome to the second week of our Ventana Quilt Along!

This week, as promised, I will take you through all the steps of paper piecing the blocks for the Ventana quilt! I've broken down this process and will take you through it little by little with TONS of photos along the way. Let's get started!

After last week's post, I hope you've chosen your fabric. I showed you my stack last week and I finally selected my background-- this Alison Glass text print. I wanted something that would read light and neutral and this does just that. Plus, I opted for the indigo on white as opposed to black so it wouldn't be too harsh and the indigo plays really well on the navy tones throughout many of my prints. Onward!

Let's start the paper piecing. First off, it's always important to start with well pressed fabric. When I press mine, I use Flatter as a starch alternative to keep my fabrics pressed really well. Using a starch alternative to press your fabric also makes it a little easier to handle when you're piecing and it keeps things clean and precise. Plus, it smells so good. Yuzu is my favorite! Side note: the fabric I'm starting with as my main print is this one from Kim Kight's Cookie Book.
After you've either copied your printed version of the pattern or printed out templates from the PDF, trim down the paper to just template. Make sure you use paper scissors to this so you don't dull your fabric shears. Or, save your old, dull rotary blades and use them in a specially marked rotary cutter for paper! That's what I do-- much faster than cutting things out by hand!
Next, cut out your fabric. The Ventana pattern suggests cutting your main print into a 5" x 11" piece and two 4" x 5" pieces and the background cut into 4" squares and 3" squares. Then, cut the 3" squares into half square triangles which will reduce waste!
Now, take your 9" x 11" piece and place it wrong side against the back of the center pattern template.
To keep such a large piece from shifting while you sew the coming seams, glue or pin the fabric to the paper. I like to use one of these fabric glue pens. These are formulated specifically for acting as a temporary adhesive to fabric-- the glue is totally water soluble and is super low tack so it's strong enough just to hold things in place but is easily readjustable. (These are great if you do English paper piecing too!)
Next, we'll start sewing! Beginning at the section marked 2, take one of your half square triangles of background fabric and place it right sides together with the main print fabric, lining up the raw edge with the sewing line and accommodating for a 1/4" seam allowance. This is most easily done by holding fabric up to the light and making sure your seam allowance reaches over the sewing line. This is kind of tricky to explain so photos best depict what you're looking for.
Now stitch! Sew your seams with paper piecing at a super short stitch length (1.5 to 2, maximum) and preferably a slightly larger needle than you would normally use (Alison suggests 90/14). These larger holes placed closer together will perforate the paper more and make tearing paper out MUCH easier later down the line! Plus, a short stitch length keeps your seams strong when you're pulling against them to tear out papers.
Next, you'll need to trim away the excess fabric from the seam allowance. This is pretty simple but be careful here! It's easy to make a mistake. To do this, place your piece fabric side down and fold back the paper along your stitch line. Line up the 1/4" mark on your ruler and cut away the excess. Be careful to make sure that none of the necessary fabric is on the wrong side of your rotary blade. Tearing out seams and restitching on paper only holds up for one or two tries.
Now, fold the paper back into place and press your seam toward the raw edge! 
Repeat for sections 3, 4, 5. You'll cover all four corners like this. It's okay if it's a bit wonky! It will trim down just fine. Note: it is important for the fabric to overhang the paper a little bit. You want to make sure all the paper is 100% covered otherwise, those short spots will eat into your seam allowance, if not the actual design. If it doesn't cover the design, you'll have a hole in your block!
Flip your whole piece to have the fabric side down and trim away all the excess fabric right up to the paper, being careful not to further trim the paper.
Ta-da! The center section is done! Let's move on to the top section. Take one of the 4" x 5" pieces you cut and center it in the paper template like you did for the center piece. Pin or glue into place.
Take one of your half square triangles and line it up to the 2 stitching line, just like you did with the corners of the center piece. Stitch in place.
Fold back the paper, as before, and trim excess down to 1/4".
Press the triangle toward the raw edge. 
Repeat for section 3: align, stitch, trim, press. Again, note that it looks wonky. And it's fine. Don't stress about it being totally perfect.
Next, take one of the 4" squares, place it right sides together with your main print fabric, and align with the vertical line on either side of the triangles, still accommodating for a 1/4" seam allowance by overhanging that stitching line. Stitch in place.
As always, fold back the paper and trim excess down to 1/4", being careful not to cut pertinent fabric.
Fold paper back into place and press your new seam toward the raw edge and outer sides.
Repeat on the other side. 
Just like with the center piece, place the top section fabric side down and trim excess fabric all the way to the paper, without trimming the paper template. 
Repeat for the bottom section. If you're using a print with directionality, keep things consistent. 
Now, layout all three pieces! You're going to attach all these together next.
Take the bottom section and place it right sides together with the center piece, being careful to line up your paper templates, thus ensuring an even 1/4" allowance being taken from either piece. Stitch together.
Open up your sewn pieces. Wiggle your seam allowance back and forth a few times to loosen it up-- it'll make the paper easier to tear out later and in the mean time, it helps your seam allowance lay flatter.
Press your seam open!
Repeat for the top section, give the block a good press and voilá! You have your very first foundation paper pieced block!
Now only 29 more blocks to go! Piecing all the center sections, top sections, or bottom sections in a row (like you do with chain piecing) can help speed the process along. These blocks come together pretty quickly when you're not stopping every minute or two to take photos :)

Let me know how it goes!! I welcome comments and questions below! And again, be sure to share your progress on Instagram and Facebook! Tag @pinkcastlefabrics or #ventanaQAL so we can see your progress!


Once all of our blocks are successfully foundation pieced, we'll talk about laying them out-- color arrangements, sewing them together, and tearing those pesky papers out!

July 30 - Week 1: Fabric Selection 
August 6 - Week 2: Foundation Paper Piecing (we just did that!!)
August 13 - Week 3: Color Mapping & Block Assembly
August 20 - Week 4: Wrap Up

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Ventana Quilt Along - Week 1: Fabric Selection

Hello, friends! Welcome to Pink Castle's Ventana Quilt Along!

We're so excited to start stitching together the Ventana quilt. This quilt is a brand new pattern designed by the lovely Nydia Kehnle and Alison Glass as part of the Skill Builder Series from Alison Glass Designs. The patterns in this series are designed to help quilters expand their repertoire of skills and even help first timers with their very first quilt.

The Ventana quilt is foundation paper pieced with a top press technique. Included in the pattern are block templates and a block map to help you plan your layout. This pattern has the opportunity to look gorgeous in many different color palettes and that's what we'll focus on first: selecting your fabrics.

Fabric choices can make huge differences in quilts. That's part of why I'm so excited to host this quilt along-- so I can see what you all choose! If choosing prints is the most stressful part of a project for you, I can relate. I constantly agonize over what prints to include in my quilts, whether this shade or that shade is a better fit, or if my prints offer enough/too much texture. When I'm sewing with my mom in her studio, she always jokes that I "make a career out of pulling fabric" because it feels a HUGE decision! If you find yourself laboring too intensely over these choices, step away, and address it with fresh eyes.

I can imagine the Ventana quilt with so many possibilities: solid blocks with a print background, mixed low volume, prints with solid background, colored prints with neutral (or TEXT!) background, I'm starting to overwhelm myself just thinking about the choices. Whatever scheme you go with, you will need 30 fat eighths (or roughly 9"x22" pieces of fabric) for the blocks and 3 yards of background fabric. I personally love the sort of gradient of color with a clean background in the pattern cover quilt and have taken that as my inspiration.

These are the colors I've chosen for my Ventana quilt. I pulled ALL of these from my stash (something I almost never do anymore!) and yes, it is mostly Cotton+Steel plus some Carolyn Friedlander, some Pinhead Dots from Michael Miller, and a tiny coral gingham that ancient/unidentifiable/adorable. These colors, particularly the bright coral orange, mustard/chartreuse, and aqua, have been in almost everything I make anymore. Sorry/not sorry. They're gorgeous. The pink is an unusual touch for me but keeps things light and a little feminine and the navy just makes everything pop! I haven't decided on my background color just yet. I'm thinking a light grey but I'm not sure what. If you have suggestions, leave a comment!! I love a little bit of extra input!

I apologize for the low-quality phone photo. I promise more flattering photos next week!
If the options are just too endless for you, we've got great news: Alison and Nydia have both hand selected bundles with exactly the amount of prints you need PLUS they've chosen suggested background solids (though you could choose your own if you'd like). The guess work has all been taken out with these personally curated bundles. I think these ladies have pretty good taste.


I'm really looking forward to what you all pull together! PLEASE share your fabric pulls with us on Facebook and Instagram: tag us @pinkcastlefabrics and use the hashtag #VentanaQAL and we'll include a few in our next post!


We'll walk you through the process of foundation paper piecing using the templates in the Ventana pattern. As this is a skill builder series, we're approaching this as though you've never paper pieced before in your life. Fear not, first timers!

July 30 - Week 1: Fabric Selection (That's here, today!)
August 6 - Week 2: Foundation Paper Piecing
August 13 - Week 3: Color Mapping & Block Assembly
August 20 - Week 4: Wrap Up

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Time for another season of Golden Tickets!

This summer, we're celebrating Pink Castle's fourth Golden Ticket sale so this year, we're going to give away five awesome grand prizes! If you don't know what our Golden Ticket sale is, the gist is that for ever $50 you spend in store or online, you'll get a little yellow ticket that includes some sort of prize. You may be one of our lucky grand prize winners or you'll get a coupon code for you to use on an order. Every single ticket includes a prize and there are only 2000 tickets to give away! Here's a look at our grand prizes (with some contest details below):

Janome Horizon Memory Craft 8900QCP ($4000 value)! 
The Memory Craft 8900 is one of Janome's best machines on the market. With 270 stitches (sewing up to 1000 stitches per minute), a super high presser foot lift (making your quilting that much easier), 11 one-step button holes, 11" of throat space, AND an extension table included, the 8900 is really anyone's dream machine. Its speed is great for piecing, the throat space and table are great for those of us who do our own quilting, and tons of adorable decorative stitches are great for details on apparel. Unfortunately, as per Janome policies, we cannot ship this machine internationally. If you live outside the US and receive the Golden Ticket for this machine, you will instead receive a Pink Castle gift card for $1500. While it's not a free machine, you could buy almost a whole new stash with that!

Janome DC2015 sewing machine ($700 value)! 
The DC2015 performs 60 stitches, including 6 one-step buttonholes, and all the conveniences of a high-end machine like easy reverse buttons, auto lock stitch, and speed control slider all in a small, lightweight, and adorable machine. Portable enough to take to sewing retreats and dependable enough for every day use, the DC2015 is a great and versatile machine! I personally brought one of these cuties home just a couple weeks ago and I love it. Unfortunately, as per Janome policies, we cannot ship this machine internationally. If you live outside the US and receive the Golden Ticket for this machine, you will instead receive a Pink Castle gift card for $400. Still not such a bad deal! $400 buys an awful lot of fabric :)

Ticket to Glamp Stitchalot 2016 ($550 value)! 
Taking place June 2-5, 2016 in Ann Arbor, MI, we'll be hosting the second Glamp Stitchalot. If you're the recipient of this Golden Ticket, you're getting in for free! Hang out with us and learn how to make a mystery row quilt designed by our teachers Ayumi Mills, Rashida Coleman-Hale, Carolyn Friedlander, Elizabeth Hartman, Monica Solorio-Snow, and Penny Layman. If this is you, email me at and we'll get you set up! If you can't attend the event, the ticket is transferrable so you're welcome to pass it along to someone who might like to go! Otherwise, we can provide a $350 Pink Castle gift certificate instead.

1 year of Stash Stack Club fat quarter bundles ($360 value)! 
For the past 12 months, we've been setting aside a Full Stack, Fat Quarter bundle of each month of our Stash Stack Club. If you have the lucky Golden Ticket, you'll receive ALL of those bundles! That's 144 fat quarters in a whole rainbow of blenders to add to your stash. If you want more info about our Stash Stack Club and how it works, you can check that out over here.

1 year of Quilt Now ($155 value)! 
Like Stash Stack, we've been setting aside copies of the first year of Quilt Now issues. If you're the winner of this prize, you'll get the first 12 issues of Quilt Now to be published! Each issue of Quilt Now includes at least 20 projects and some sort of freebie gift so if you're the Quilt Now prize winner, you've got 240 projects and 12 goodies to play with!

In addition to all those amazing grand prizes, FIVE tickets will include coupon codes for $100 off a Pink Castle order, TEN will have $50 off coupon codes, TWENTY will have $25 off codes, and FIFTY will have $10 codes! Every other ticket will include $5 off a Pink Castle order. That's like the value of half a yard of quilting for free!

Now here are the logistics of this whole deal:
  1. Starting today, July 1, with every order you place at Pink Castle at $50 or more, you will receive a Golden Ticket tucked into your order. Tickets will not be included in any orders placed before 12:00a.m. on July 1. 
  2. You'll earn an additional Golden Ticket for every $50 you spend beyond that! The total must be an increment of $50 before any discounts, shipping, tax, all that and orders cannot be combined to meet the minimum. For example, if you spend $130 on an order, you'll get two tickets. If you place two $25 orders, you get no tickets. 
  3. Clubs, Glamp ticket payments, presale orders, and gift certificates do not count for this deal. Orders must be placed on our site or in person in the store.
  4. You can use your ticket coupon code on orders placed after August 15, 2015 but before September 30, 2015. After September 30, the discount codes will expire. 
  5. To find out the amount of your gift certificate, input the coupon code on the Golden Ticket at checkout on your next order. Don't forget, every ticket is a winner! Your prize could be $5-$100 off your next order!
We are only giving away 2000 Golden Tickets. Once they're gone, that's it! If you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment or send us an email at! Happy shopping!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Janome Kickoff Sale!

To celebrate our new inventory of Janome sewing machines, we have some awesome deals for you guys! Essentially, when you purchase a new Janome machine, you'll earn 10% of that price tag back in notions and/or gift cards! This sale is only going on through the weekend (ending June 28th, 2015 at midnight) so take advantage of these while you can. Here's a little more info on our special offer machines:

The Horizon Memory Craft 12000 is one of Janome's top of the line machines and it's absolutely incredible. This machine includes an astounding 425 different stitches including 10 alphabets to stitch with, 91 needle positions, 11" of throat space, and does everything you might need in terms of embroidery. There is almost nothing this machine can't do! When you purchase a 12000 through the Janome Kickoff Sale at $6999, you'll receive $700 worth of goodies to go along with it!!

First, you'll get a $320 gift card for Pink Castle-- that's essentially cash back in your pocket for fabric, patterns, thread, you name it. Next, you'll receive $200 worth of notions including Aurifil, Wonder Clips, Olfa rotary blades, Schmetz machine needles, and Tulip hand sewing needles and pins. PLUS, because the 12000 is so embroidery-capable, you'll receive our limited edition embroidery package including $180 worth of embroidery thread and a thread color card! That's an insane amount of freebies!

Love machine embroidery? We've got you covered! Janome offers a range of stand alone embroidery machines including the MB-4S, pictured above. The MB-4S is an incredible four needle embroidery machine for your home. With memory to store up to 100 different embroidery designs and patterns, this machine is an embroiderer's dream. Plus, when you order an MB-4S during the Janome Kickoff Sale, you'll also receive $420 to spend at Pink Castle and a massive kit of embroidery thread worth $180! We also have the Memory Craft 350E and 200E if you're looking to venture into the world of individual embroidery machines but maybe aren't ready for the power of the MB-4S. Those machines will come with $130 and $50 Pink Castle gift certificates, respectively. 

Next up is the Memory Craft JNH 7700QCP, or the 7700 for short. If you like the appeal of the 12000's capability to do everything but are maybe overwhelmed by all it has to offer, the 7700 would be a comfortable machine for you. For $2499, the 7700 still features 250 stitches, including 3 alphabets, 11 different one-step buttonholes, and still offers 11" of throat space. Plus, the 7700 still comes with a $50 Pink Castle gift certificate and $200 worth of notions including Aurifil, Wonder Clips, Olfa rotary blades, Schmetz machine needles, and Tulip hand sewing needles and pins. 

Next up, we have the 1600P-QC and the Memory Craft 6300 Pro. These machines are both priced at $999 but are very different machines appealing to different needs. I thought I'd break that down a little bit for you guys!

The 1600P-QC is a true workhorse machine. It is a mechanical straight stitch machine meaning there is no computer helping monitor your tension, stitch length/width, etc. But it gets its name from the fact that it sews 1600 stitches per minute. That figure seems abstract until you see how insanely fast that is! This machine only sews straight stitches so if you need zigzags or anything fancy, this machine won't do it. But, if you're a quilter, this machine is your dream. Your piecing and quilting come together so much faster on one of these. The 1600P is a favorite machine of many professional quilters and sewists! You can order your 1600P-QC here.

The Memory Craft 6300 Pro is a more versatile machine. With 66 stitches, 4 one-step button holes, automatic tension control, and the ability to program up to 50 stitch combinations, the 6300 is definitely more well-rounded than the 1600P. If you're looking for an affordable machine that can do it all, the 6300 is your girl. You can order your Memory Craft 6300 Pro here.

And, of course, both of these machines come with extras! Whether it's the 1600P or 6300 that's calling your name, you'll be able to take home $100 worth of notions including Wonder Clips, Olfa rotary blades, Schemtz machine needles, Aurifil, and Tulip hand sewing needles and pins when you place your order before the 28th.

Last, and certainly not least, is the DC2015. The DC2015 performs 60 stitches, including 6 one-step buttonholes, and all the conveniences of a high-end machine like easy reverse buttons, auto lock stitch, and speed control slider all in a small, lightweight, and adorable machine. I personally brought one of these home just a couple weeks ago! Portable enough to take to sewing retreats and dependable enough for every day use, the DC2015 is a great if you're looking to buy your first or are looking for a backup. Plus, when you order before the 28th, this little guy comes with a $50 notions kit including Wonder Clips, two large spools of Aurifil, Schmetz sewing machine needles, as well as Tulip hand sewing needles and glass head pins.

An Important Note about Janome Machines

  1. Per Janome's policies, we cannot ship sewing machines internationally. We are more than happy to supply any Janome parts and accessories such as feet, bobbins, software, etc anywhere across the world. Luckily, those things are all pretty universal!
  2. Coupon codes will not be applicable on sewing machines. Again, as per Janome policies, machines must be sold no less than their designated price thus discount codes will not be honored on the purchase of a machine.
  3. Because these machines are larger and heavier than fabric, shipping will take a little bit longer than your standard orders from Pink Castle. Please allow 7-10 business days for machine shipping!

Friday, April 10, 2015

New Collections from Art Gallery Fabrics

Hello, blog friends!

This week, Art Gallery debuted ten new lines (!!!) that will be released this spring and summer, leading into fall. There's tons to see so let's take a look.

Anna Elise is the latest collection from Bari J. This line features bunnies, guitars, and free spirited florals with the namesake young girl on horseback. I love the teal and orange tones in this line as well as teeny tiny pops of metallic! Anna Elise arrives in shops in May.

We had Caroline Hulse's first collection, Gleeful, when she debuted her fabric designing skills as an Art Gallery Limited Edition designer last spring. She's been hired on to AGF's permanent design team with her new line Happy Home. My favorite prints are that bias scallopy stripe, her big hand painted text, and cutesy cartoon houses. Love the rich navy with all those bright colors! Happy Home arrives in stores in May as well.

So happy to have a new collection from Jeni Baker!! Her color palette with this line, titled Curiosities, is so rich and gorgeous and the prints are adorable (as usual). I love the scallop but my favorite print, by far, is the bunnies! George the bunny is on fabric!! Just when I thought Jeni's fabric couldn't get any cuter, she does that. Curiosities ships out in June.

We still have Skopelos coming from Katarina Roccella in May but in this unveiling, we get to see TWO more collections from this busy lady! First is Imprint. Prints in this line are wonderfully clean and geometric, drawing inspiration from printmaking and linotype. The colors on this one will play really well with Etno and Maker, if you have some of those in your stash. Imprint arrives in stores in June. 

Sketchbook is Sharon Holland's second collection with Art Gallery. Lots of soft pinks, greens, and gold accented with rich indigo in these prints. I love the pen and ink prints-- they look like scans from a page of my own sketchbook! Other favorites are the scattered square blender and big poofy dandelion wisps. Sketchbook ships to stores in July.

April Rhodes's third collection from Art Gallery, Bound, comes out this summer. Much like her first two, Bound has southwestern vibes. Her rich color palette is my favorite thing about April's line and this one introduces a gorgeous jade green and cerulean blue, both of which I'm gushing over, combined with signature golden mustard, burnt orange, and soft, warm greys (all of which I have happily come to expect from April). Bound arrives in stores in July.

Playing Pop is the next house designed line from Art Gallery. With prints ranging from floral to abstract, this line will be super versatile and will play well with tons in our stashes (Geometric Bliss, a little Petal and Plume, Dreamin' Vintage perhaps?) with minty greens, soft plums, and sugary pink on creamy backgrounds. Playing Pop ships out in August.

Pat Bravo's Artisan is a nod to handmade craft and makers who create them. Colors in this collection are wonderfully saturated and prints nod to quilting, watercolors, embroidery, and the natural texture of textiles.  Artisan ships to stores in August.

New from Bonnie Christine is Succulence.  This line features pen and ink style line drawings of cacti and other flora, polygons, rain drops, and several great low volume prints. Her colors vary from rich jewel tones to fresh pastels. My favorite print is definitely those prickly pear cacti! Succulence arrives in shops in September.

Last, and certainly not least, is Wonderland, Katarina Roccella's second collection from Art Gallery in this unveiling. As an clear nod to Alice in Wonderland, this collection takes us all on a trip down the rabbit hole. Tea sets, camouflaged owls, whimsical flowers and dolls all make big statements in this new take on a classic tale. Wonderland ships to stores in September.

Check out this look book for bigger swatches of all the prints from these collections!

What are you guys excited for? Any collections you're thrilled about? Are there trends you'll pass on?