Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Pat Sloan's Book Tour! Teach Me to Machine Quilt!


See that smiling face on the cover?  That's my friend Pat Sloan!  AND I'm really excited that she asked me to be a part of her book tour for her awesome new book Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Machine Quilt: Learn the Basics of Walking Foot and Free-Motion Quilting.

This book is the third in a new "Teach Me" to quilt series that Pat is putting together.  The other two books in the series, Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Applique: Fusible Applique That's Soft and Simple and Pat Sloan's Teach Me to Sew Triangles: 13 Easy Techniques Plus 12 Fun Quilts are still available so make sure you grab those too so you can have them all!  As a quilt shop owner, I think this is a great idea.  I have customers that will come into the shop and see a quilt and say, "Oh, I could never do that.  I don't know how to _______."  I can just hand them a book with Pat's smiling face on it and say, "Now you can!"

Machine quilting on a home machine is is the most requested class in my shop.  It seems scary at first to quilters.  Here's a quilt top that took hours and hours to finish and they don't want to ruin it.  Or they don't know where to start.  AND you see all these folks who have been quilting for years (or who send their quilts out to a professional) and you compare yourself.  "My quilting could never look like that!"  Of course it can!  Get Pat's book and get practicing!

Teach Me to Machine Quilt has a lot of information.  Some quilting books you see just have a few ages of introductory quilt information and then some projects.  Not so on this book.  It's really meant to dive deep into the subject of machine quilting.  And it really does.  Pat goes over the entire process from start to finish.  She highlights different methods too.  For example, pin basting vs. spray basting. This way you can try both out and decide for yourself which you prefer.  That makes Pat's book one that you can keep as a reference and go back to over and over again.  AND it includes information for BOTH free motion quilting AND walking foot quilting!

One of my favorite things about Teach Me to Machine Quilt are the visual references.  There are a lot of pictures in this book.  Including visual references on thread weights and what that looks like quilted, different ways to piece the back of the quilt, and what your quilting should look like and how to fix issues.  PLUS there are 8 bonus videos that you can watch (information on how to see them is in the book!) so you can really get a good idea of what Pat is talking about.  That is very valuable.

The sample projects at the end of the book are great for practicing what you just learned.  Pat has included both small (nice to start with something more manageable) and larger (lap size) projects.  She also has some applique to practice after you have learned everything from Teach Me to Applique.  I fell in love with the Cherry Pie project from the book and I started a few blocks.


Pretty cool blocks huh?  My plan is to make two more (smaller than the version in Pat's book) and then quilt the baby quilt myself.  These blocks finish at 15" so they are just the right size to make a quick baby quilt.  And I'm pretty sure I can handle quilting that myself .  Especially now that I have Pat's book to walk me through it... get it, walk me... you know because of the walking foot..   Okay, bad joke.

Make sure you go to Pat's Blog and enter to win a copy of her book!  Thanks Pat for including me :)

Monday, November 21, 2016

Vice Versa Block of the Month - November

Hello, everyone! For our 2016 Block of the Month, the Vice Versa quilt, we're going to share a blog post with you every month to show off our blocks, give you tips and tricks, or lend suggestions on how to make sewing your quilt smoother process!

Here's the month you've all been working toward! This month, we'll prepare our background and sashing fabrics and assemble our quilt.


Following the instructions on pages 74-76 of Sister Sampler Quilts by AnneMarie Chany, you can see how your blocks will be combined to form a quilt with a super modern layout. Her diagram on page 76 is very helpful for sewing them all together, but you are not at all obligated to put your blocks in the same places. I would just recommend not putting two of the same blocks next to each other. A design wall would be very helpful for determining your quilt's final layout.

   

After your quilt is assembled, you can quilt it or send it to your favorite longarmer! Kathy Koch of Thread Bear Quilting did a great job quilting with overlapping circles on her longarm. I'm so happy this quilt lives at Pink Castle Fabrics!


The binding complements the fabrics very well in this quilt. Dottie in Bluebird is one of my personal favorites. I love AnneMarie's tutorials for hand- and machine-binding on pages 120-124. Even if you've been quilting and binding for years, her instructions are very clear and easy to read. I forgot how simple joining the ends of binding can be, so I'm glad I read all of the instructions!


That's all for the year! It's been so great following along with all of you. I look forward to seeing all of your finished qults on Instagram! We're using the hashtags #viceversaBOM, #PCFviceversaBOM, and #sistersamplerquilts.

Until next time,
Hayley

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Vice Versa Block of the Month - October

Hello, everyone! For our 2016 Block of the Month, the Vice Versa quilt, we're going to share a blog post with you every month to show off our blocks, give you tips and tricks, or lend suggestions on how to make sewing that block a smoother process!

For all of the blocks in the Vice Versa quilt, we recommend pressing all seams open. Some of the pieces in these blocks can get small and pressing open can help reduce bulk when multiple seams collide.

Striped Corners

Since our blocks for this quilt are in strips placed on the bias, we need to create some triangular shapes to turn this into a square. The striped corners let us pull out some of our favorite colors from the blocks to tie the whole thing together. This is how we chose to piece our corners:


      

You can find the instructions for the Striped Corners on pages 72-73 in AnneMarie Chany's book, Sister Sampler Quilts

Since we're sewing the version of this quilt with 12" blocks, you'll need to strip piece two panels with your prints and sashing for the WOF. Be mindful of which direction you cut your diagonals! If done correctly, you should have extra fabric strip pieced to set aside and use for another project. If you're like me, and aren't paying close attention, you'll need all of that fabric to make up for a silly mistake you made.




Another thing to keep in mind is that these blocks will be trimmed on the bias so they have to potential to stretch out of shape if they're mishandled. You should be careful with these sections between cutting them and the assembly next month--just stow them away in a safe place so they won't have the potential to stretch!

That's all for this month. I look forward to seeing all of your finished blocks on Instagram! We're using the hashtags #viceversaBOM, #PCFviceversaBOM, and #sistersamplerquilts.

Until next time,
Hayley

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Janome Skyline Series

Janome is known for making easy-to-afford machines that last. Pink Castle Fabrics is dedicated to sell our customers only the best, and we feel that Janome is one of the best!
The Skyline Series is certainly no different! All of the Skyline Series are great machines for everyday use, no matter if you're sewing garments, home decor, or quilting.

All four models have the same body, so they are all the same weight, have the same amount of work space, and one-step needle plate conversions.

Skyline S3

The Janome Skyline S3 is the only one of the Skyline series that is able to be sold online. You can find it on our website for a very reasonable $999.00! It's a great sewing machine for beginners and intermediates that you won't have to worry about them growing out of any time soon.

The Janome Skyline S3 Features:
  • 120 Stitches
    • 7 of which are bottonholes!
  • 8.25 inches of throat space
  • One-hand Needle Threader
  • Easy-Set Bobbin
  • 7 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
Here is a video demonstrating the One-Handed Needle Threader 
that comes on the Skylines S3 and S5



In the Pink Castle Fabrics Shop in Ann Arbor, we have the rest of the Skyline Series out on display for your test driving pleasure:


Skyline S5
Skyline S5

A step-up from the Skyline S3, the S5 includes a knee lift and 2 mm more of a maximum stitch width. It's a bit more bang-for-your-buck with more stitches all around, too!

The Skyline S5 features:

  • 170 Stitches
    • 10 Buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • One-hand needle threader
  • Easy-to-navigate touch screen
  • Easy-set bobbin



Skyline S7
Skyline S7

Is one of our personal favorites here at Pink Castle Fabrics! We use it for our Glamp Stitchalot Retreats for those in attendance that wish to rent a machine. It's the perfect sewing machine for apparel and quilting with special built-in applications for zippers, quilting, and piecing,


The Skyline S7 features:

  • Colored LCD Touch Screen
  • 240 Stitches
    • Including 11 buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • Superior needle threader
  • Easy-set bobbin
  • Acufeed Flex 
  • Built-in Applications
In this video, Brenda reviews the Skyline S7 and all of its 
amazing features!






Skyline S9
Skyline S9
The Skyline S9 is the only Skyline to be capable of machine embroidery! It is brand new as of September 2016. It has all the same sewing features as the Skyline S7 and then some! Really, you're not going to want to pass up this amazing machine.

The Skyline S9 features:

This is just one of the many
AMH embroidery designs that
come already programmed into the
Skyline S9!
  • Colored LCD Touch Screen 
  • 300 Stitches
    • Including 16 buttonholes
  • 9 mm maximum stitch width
  • 5 mm maximum stitch length
  • Superior needle threader
  • Easy-set bobbin
  • Acufeed Flex
  • Built-in Wifi capabilities
  • 250 Built-in Embroidery designs
    • 40 of which are designed exclusively by Anna Maria Horner! (Not available for individual purchase elsewhere!)
  • Comes with three sizes of embroidery hoops: 
    • 6.7" by 7.9"
    • 5.5" by 5.5" 
    • 3.9" by 1.6"
  • The ability to taper specific stitches to create beautiful borders
  • You can purchase a professional straight stitch plate to turn it into a straight stitch machine! 

Skyline S9 with Embroidery Unit Attached




*The first five people to purchase a Skyline S9 from Pink Castle Fabrics will receive a free gift worth up to $180!

Call the shop today or e-mail our Resident Janome Sales Girl, Molly, with any questions, comments, or concerns at Molly@PinkCastleFabrics.com 
We can't wait to hear from you!


Did you know that October is Embroidery Month? We'll be posting throughout October with machine embroidery tips and tricks while also highlighting many of our amazing Janome Embroidery Machines. Stay Tuned!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Glamp Stitchalot November 2016

We're coming up on our third Glamp Stitchalot in less than two months!
It will be held at the Kensington Hotel in Ann Arbor, Michigan November 10th through 13th, 2016.

Glamp Stitchalot is run by Pink Castle Fabrics. With the purchase of a ticket, you will receive instructions from six well-known teachers, all meals for the entire weekend, and lasting friendships with new like-minded ladies and gentlemen.

In the past, our Glampers have had amazing experiences. As a company, we strive to make each Glamp even more successful than the last. Here are a few highlights from our past two Glamp Stitchalot Events:
Cupcakes at the Welcome Mixer

Welcome Mixer
Thursday night, we like to have a mixer for all of our Glampers to meet each other. We supply a buffet-style dinner after you check in and pick up your orders and goody bags.
You have the opportunity to check in to the hotel, if you've decided to stay at the Kensington with us, set up your sewing machine if you've brought your own, and find your swap partner if you've partaken in the Swap! You have the freedom to roam about Ann Arbor throughout the afternoon and stop into the Pink Castle Fabrics shop to pick up anything you've forgotten.

Six Classes
Each class will be taught by a professional quilter. We have six amazing teachers coming for November 2016: Latifah Saafir, Daniel Rouse, Sherri Lynn Wood, Nydia Kehnle, Luke Haynes, and Nicholas Ball! You can read more about each teacher at www.stitchalot.com.
Each class period will last two hours a piece. You'll be taught a different technique by each teacher.

Open Sewing Time
Want to practice your new improvisational skills? Well, you get a lot of open sewing time throughout the weekend! We keep the sewing room open until Midnight both Friday and Saturday so you and sew to your heart's desire. We know to many of you that a sewing retreat means that you finally have time to get some sewing done, so we want to give you as much time to just relax and sew as you want and need!

Open Sew
A Pop-Up Shop
Forget something or find you need just a little bit more fabric for one of your projects? We're here to help! You can find some of Pink Castle's Finest working in the pop-up shop along with Pink Castle's Resident Janome Sale's Girl, Molly, hanging out to help you with any questions about the Janome Sewing Machines we sell.
We will have shelf cuts, bundles, and notions galore for your purchasing pleasures!

Katie, Kara, and Molly
Hanging out in the Pop-Up Shop

Janome Machines at the Pop-Up Shop

Massage Therapy
Yes, you read that right! We bring in a certified massage therapist (sometimes two!) for those that need a little bit of R&R after sewing for many hours! The cost is $1/minute, and it's first-come-first-serve, so no need to schedule an appointment. Just drop in on the massage therapist whenever you need to and they'll take care of you!

Giveaways
Throughout the weekend, we hold giveaways! A lot of them, too! I'm not going to spoil any surprises for our November Event, but look at June's awesome table of goodies:

June's Giveaway Table
November's will be different!

We hope you'll join us for a weekend of sewing and fun. We still have a few tickets left, so don't hesitate to order yours at www.stitchalot.com!


We get folks from all over! Especially Canada



Monday, September 12, 2016

Stabilizers- What you need to know to get started

Machine embroidery is one of the most fun features of my Janome Memory Craft 9900! Since purchasing this amazing machine a year ago, I’ve been able to make some really interesting and fun projects that I wouldn’t be able to do with just any sewing machine. It allows me to make anything I want personalized and special. I have taken store-bought, blank baby bibs made of light terrycloth and made a lovely bundle of shower gifts in less than half an hour, and the girls always go crazy over them! I know learning the basics of Machine Embroidery can be very daunting, so I’m here to help you learn how to choose the right kind of stabilizer for different types of projects.

First, let me disclaim this: These are just tips on how to use the different types of stabilizer. Not everyone’s machine or thread is exactly the same, so it may take some time for you to figure out what exactly works for you and your projects. I’m going to go through the basic types of stabilizer: tear away, cut away, and water soluble. I have figured all of this out by trial and error in my own projects and what works for me may not work as well for you, and vice versa. I've also asked a Janome Educator and my personal embroidery guru, Danielle Wilkes, for her personal tips and tricks. 

Tear Away stabilizer is the stabilizer that I and Danielle use the most. It's useful when working with:
  • linen, 
  • linen-like fabrics, 
  • and quilting weight cottons. 
For these specific fabrics, it is suggested that medium weight stabilizer is used. There has been little use, in my personal experience, for light weight or heavy weight tear away stabilizer unless you're using it for different weighted fabric than those I've already listed. Again, it depends on the project you're using it for. To remove it from the pattern, you simply just tear it away gently from the fabric. It will come away from where it is not stitched into the pattern.

Cut Away stabilizer is sturdier than tear away. It is usually used with fabric that is stretchy and needs more stability. Namely: knits! Onesies made of knit fabric are a perfect example of what to use cut away stabilizer for. Danielle has suggested using flesh-toned cut away on projects like this, that way the stabilizer does not show through the fabric when worn.
Here is one of the onesies Danielle has made this summer! You can see how she used the cut away stabilizer and has cut closely around the pattern to keep the stabilizer in place, but to keep it out of the wearer's way:
Front
Back

There will be some instances where an in-the-hoop project will call for cut away. Because the nature of in-the-hoop projects is to stitch over specific spots over and over again as you add fabric and embelishments, sometimes you need an extra sturdy stabilizer to keep the project together while the needle punctures it repeatedly.

Here I used a clear sheet
of water soluble stabilizer on top
of terrycloth washcloths 
Water Soluble, or Wash Away, is exactly what it means: it dissolves after being soaked in water for a certain amount of time or sprayed with a mist of water. The amount of time it takes depends on the brand and type, so be sure to read the basic instructions before using it. Many people prefer to use the mist-away rather than the soak-away as it takes less time to be rid of the residue left behind. However, there is no other advantage to the different ways of dissolving.
I also prefer to lay one layer of the wash away film over any fabric with any sort of pile that I am working with. What does that mean? Any kind of fuzzy fabric such as towels (or anything made of terry-cloth, really) or cuddle/minky fabrics. If it has any sort of fuzz-factor, really, you should place a layer of water soluble film on top before you embroider. This helps to keep the loops, hair, or loose fibers from poking through an otherwise beautiful satin or tatami stitch during the stitching process. It also keeps any animal hair from looking like a bad case of bed-head. I don’t use any sort of bonding agent to attach the solvy to the top of these fabrics, I just pet or brush the fibers so that they're all flowing in one direction, then lay it down on top and hoop it as it is; I don’t pull it tight or bond it with any spray as the bonding will rip the fuzz or loops of fiber away, making the fabric either weaker or bald. We don’t want bald minky on a baby blanket, do we? Definitely not!

How do you get the stabilizer to stick to the fabric?


     Here at Pink Castle, we prefer to use Web Bond when bonding stabilizer to fabric rather than other spray-type adhesives. Web bond releases an actual web of temporary adhesive that doesn't smell and is acid free. It doesn't release as many toxins into the air when sprayed compared to the other brands.. 
     Sometimes it will be more appropriate to baste the stabilizer the old fashioned way, by stitching it rather than using adhesive.  
     Also, you may not always want to bind the stabilizer to the fabric before you start stitching out your pattern. It's not an exact science, but when you find your special way of embroidery, your projects will come out beautifully and look store-bought, or even better!


Pink Castle Fabrics carries an assortment of Janome Machines that do embroidery! Be sure to check out our Janome Machines both online and in-store. They range from embroidery only machines such as the Memory Craft 350E and the  Memory Craft 400E to combination sewing and embroidery machines like my Memory Craft 9900, the Memory Craft 12000, and the Memory Craft 14000

Thank you for taking the time to read about my personal uses for the three main types of embroidery stabilizer. I hope you have found this helpful and won’t be afraid to try something new.
 Please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns, or have your own bits of wisdom to share on the subject! E-mail Molly@PinkCastleFabrics.com with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!

Friday, September 9, 2016

Serger Success Weekend ! Serger and CoverPro classes September 29-October 1!

Want to come and make some cute clothes with us?

Come to our Serger Success classes!




We have had so many requests for garment classes!  And now that Fall is almost here, it's time to learn how to make some cute and comfortable clothing for yourself!  Our friend and Janome expert, Danielle Wilkes is coming all the way from the great state of Texas to set you on the path to success.  By the end of the weekend you will have four finished garments!  And the tools you need to make more clothing on your own!  Professional looking clothing is easy with a serger and cover pro!

The classes will be held at the Sheraton in Ann Arbor (located by Briarwood Mall).  You can come to any or all of the classes!  Each class is priced at just $40 a ticket but you get 25% off (total of $120) if you come to all four!  Each class has all the machines and patterns provided!  Just bring your prewashed fabric!  No previous experience necessary.

We will be teaching on the Janome Skyline S7 sewing machine, the Janome 1100d serger and Janone 2000CPX Cover Pro machine!  This is a great opportunity to try out and learn how to use some awesome machines!  And of course will have some great Janome pricing for the weekend too!

Merchant and Mills Tank
5:30pm - 8:30pm - Thursday, September 29
Ticket Price: $40

Learn to make a cute tank top!  This awesome pattern from the Merchant and Mills Workbook looks great worn with a sweater for fall and some jeans! Or even around the house with the Pajama Pants you will learn how to make on Friday!
Materials Supplied: Includes a copy of the Merchant and Mills workbook and all machine rentals.
Materials Required: Bring 2 Yards of pre-washed quilting cotton, chambray or cotton lawn fabric. 2 yards of 5/8" fold over elastic or bias tape for the neck and arm holes.

Friday September 30
5:30 - 8:30pm
Sew Easy Pajama Pants (ticket price $40)

I love a good pair of pants for around the house!  Danielle is going to show us how easy it is to make all the comfy pants you will ever need!  These can be made with a contrasting cuff (even a ruffle cuff!) or all one fabric.  And wouldn't these be so soft in a silky cotton lawn?
Materials Supplied: Pattern, 1" elastic and all machine rentals.
Materials Required: Bring 2 Yards of pre-washed quilting cotton, chambray or cotton lawn fabric. You will need 1.5 yards for the body and 1/2 yard for a contrasting cuff.

Saturday October 1
noon - 3:00pm
Kwik Sew leggings (ticket price $40)

Everyone loves leggings!  The perfect pant for Fall!  Wear them to the gym, around the house or even out with a cute top!  Stay for the evening class to sew a matching Linden Tunic!  A whole outfit in one day!
Materials Supplied: Pattern and 1" elastic and all machine rentals.
Materials Required: Bring 1.5 yards of pre-washed medium weight knit fabric.

Saturday October 1
5:30 - 8:30pm
Linden Tunic (ticket price $40)

The Linden pattern is the perfect raglan tunic!  You can make this with contrasting long sleeves for a fun top to go with the leggings that we will make in the morning!  This pattern will be a go to again and again with all the cute knits that are available now!  And so comfortable!  This is a garment that you will actually wear!
Materials Supplied: Pattern and all machine rentals.
Materials Required: Bring 2 Yards of pre-washed medium weight knit fabric!  (1 yard for the body and 1 yard for sleeves)

Get ALL FOUR Classes 25% off for just $120!

Janome Gives Back

Those of us that own Janome sewing machines know how amazing their products are. With all metal interiors and superior functions such as Acufeed and their easy drop-in-bobbin system, their machines are built to last. Pink Castle Fabrics is determined to sell our customers what we believe is only the best when it comes to your sewing machines.


What you may not know about Janome is their dedication to helping those that need it. In the past, Janome has created special machines with specific charities in mind. In the past, Janome has sponsored Women's Heart Disease awareness, Breast Cancer research, and the American Sewing Guild all through sewing machine sales. We're proud to be an authorized dealer of this brand of sewing machines because of their efforts to help those in need.


Here at Pink Castle Fabrics, we currently have two machines that, when purchased, part of the proceeds go towards a charitable cause: The NQM-2016 and the NPCF-50.


NQM-2016


Benefiting the National Quilt Museum in the NQM-2016. Janome has already raised over $15,000 for the National Quilt Museum this year with this sewing machine! The money donated by Janome goes towards maintaining exhibits, sponsoring classes for youngsters, among other amazing feats!
This machine is the perfect travel or beginner’s machine!


The NQM-2016 features:
  • 60 stitches, including 4 buttonholes
  • A hard cover perfect for travel
  • Automatic thread cutter
  • Start/stop button
  • Extension table included!
Pink Castle Fabrics' price for the NQM-2016 is only $719.00!


The Janome NQM-2016 is only available through December 2016. Quantities are limited, so order yours today!


NPCF-50


The NPCF-50 donates its proceeds to the Nation Pediatric Cancer Foundation.
The National Pediatric Cancer Foundation was founded in Florida by a Janome dealer, making this philanthropy very near and dear to our hearts in the Janome Community. 2016 marks the 25th year since the Foundation’s founding.
The NPCF-50’s bright and happy orange color symbolizes the National Pediatric Cancer Foundation’s Sunshine Project. This project brings together the nation’s best medical staff to find cures and increase the survival rate of those diagnosed with all types of cancer as children. You can read more about their efforts on their website here.
When you purchase this machine, you’re helping to fuel the research and treatment of so many children throughout the country, and to recognize that, you’ll receive not only an amazing sewing machine, but also a quaint lapel pin and a special letter about what your contribution has done for these children in need.


The NPCF-50 features:
  • 50 stitches, including 3 buttonholes
  • Computerized stitch selection
  • ¼” foot included!
  • Walking Foot included!
Pink Castle Fabrics' price for the NPCF-50 is only $549.00!
The NPCF-50 sewing machine is perfect for beginners of all ages and the perfect size to be a travel machine or store away easily when not being used! It’s vastly versatile, allowing you to use it for garment sewing, quilting, or home decor. It's compact, so it stores away easily and works beautifully as a travel machine weighing in at just over 18 pounds!

Here at Pink Castle Fabrics, we take pride in the fact that Janome dedicates so much time, effort, and money into giving back to the world. Whenever you sew on your new machine, you’ll think about the good you have personally done for society.
If you have any more questions on any of our Janome products, please e-mail Molly@PinkCastleFabrics.com for more assistance.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Sewing Machine Review: Janome DC2015

The Janome DC2015 is one of our favorite sewing machines at Pink Castle Fabrics.

This sewing machine is the perfect machine for every sewist out there, whether you're a quilter, a seamstress, or all of the above. It's the perfect learning machine for beginners, it's great for traveling, and it's perfect for keeping stored away when not in use!

We're going to show you exactly what comes with the machine in the following video. You'll be amazed at what comes with the Janome DC2015 for the low cost of $599.00!


Here's a video showing you the ins and outs of the Janome DC2015 as well as some of our favorite features:


Thank you for watching! Now you know why the Pink Castle Fabrics family loves this sewing machine; it's small, durable, and easy to use!

Check out more of our videos on our YouTube channel.  
If you have any more questions about any of our Janome Machines, please e-mail Molly@pinkcastlefabrics.com or call Pink Castle Fabrics at (877)-808-8695.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Vice Versa Block of the Month - August

Hello, everyone! For our 2016 Block of the Month, the Vice Versa quilt, we're going to share a blog post with you every month to show off our blocks, give you tips and tricks, or lend suggestions on how to make sewing that block a smoother process!

For all of the blocks in the Vice Versa quilt, we recommend pressing all seams open. Some of the pieces in these blocks can get small and pressing open can help reduce bulk when multiple seams collide.

Fox & Geese

This month's block puts your flying geese skills to the test! The Fox & Geese block utilizes flying geese and half square triangles to create a block with tons of visual movement. Let's see how ours turned out:
I'm personally a big fan of the no-waste flying geese method. I've made entire quilts using that method and they come together so much faster! Make sure to review AnneMarie's instructions on how to piece geese this way on pages 114-115 of the book. I typically use my Sewline pencil to draw my center guidelines. Their pencil lead glides really smoothly over fabric without tugging and draws a line dark enough to see where you're going but not so dark that you'll need to worry about lines showing through.

You can find the instructions for Fox & Geese block on pages 62-65 in AnneMarie Chany's book, Sister Sampler Quilts. As always, the Half-Square Triangle block can be found on pages 108-109.

That's all for this month. I look forward to seeing all of your finished blocks on Instagram! We're using the hashtags #viceversaBOM, #PCFviceversaBOM, and #sistersamplerquilts.

Until next time,
Hayley

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Which Straight Stitch Sewing Machine is Right for Me?

Looking for a straight stitch sewing machine?

     For those of us that are quilters, we have some basic needs when it comes to sewing machines. We at Pink Castle Fabrics absolutely love our Janome straight stitch machine; it's fast and easy to use!
     Today I’m going to compare three of the top straight stitch sewing machines on the market: The Juki 2010Q, Babylock’s Jane, and, last but certainly not least, the Janome 1600P-QC. All three of these machines are fast and user-friendly, making them perfect for getting quilts done within a short amount of time. However, each has some difference between them.

     Let’s take a look at each machine on its own, shall we?

Juki 2010

     Let’s start with the Juki 2010Q. In my experience of talking to other quilters, this is probably the most well-known. It features:

  •  8.5” of throat space
  • an LED light for seeing your work clearly
  • an automatic thread cutter switch. 
  • Sews 1,500 stitches per minute. 





Babylock Jane
     Babylock’s Jane (BL510A) is comparable to the Juki 2010Q. It has:

  • 9" of throat space
  • a built-in lamp 
  • an automatic thread cutter switch
  • boasts the same 1,500 stitches per minute that the Juki does.





     The Janome 1600P-QC is another top-of-the-line straight stitch machine. The Janome 1600P-QC out stitches both of its competitors with the following features:

  • 9" of throat space
  • a built-in lamp to see your work clearly
  • an automatic thread cutter switch with the ability to hook up a thread cutter foot pedal
  • includes a darning plate for a quick switch-over to free motion quilting
  • an independent motor for bobbin winding
  • an extra-high presser foot lift
  • an amazing stitching speed of 1,600 stitches per minute!

Janome 1600P-QC
     Think of how quickly you’d be able to finish a quilt top!  At that speed and the ability to free motion quilt on the Janome 1600P-QC, you can finish an entire quilt quicker than ever before! It's the perfect sewing companion for all quilters, professionals and hobbyists alike. The Janome 1600P-QC is also great for other projects that you want to be able to turn around quickly, such as bags and purses! It's the perfect sewing machine for any project you use a straight stitch for. 


     I've had the opportunity to talk to a couple well-known ladies in the quilting and fabric industry about how they have found their Janome 1600P-QC:

Carolyn Friedlander, designer of the fabric lines "Doe", "Carkai", and the upcoming "Euclid", has been using her Janome 1600P-QC straight stitch machine to create her pattern "Envelopes" as well as the sham covers titled "Hesperides". These patterns are available for sale on Carolyn's website.
     Carolyn says: "I love that it's a work horse ready to tackle whatever I throw at it. Also, now that I've rigged up a foot-pedal-controlled thread cutter, I'm in heaven."


Sunset Strip Quilt made with
One Room Schoolhouse Fabric
Brenda Ratliff, Pink Castle's own Queen and designer of the fabric lines "Pie Making Day" and "One Room Schoolhouse", also owns a Janome 1600P-QC. It's the only sewing machine she's been using, that's how much she loves it! Her latest projects include a Sunset Strips quilt made with her newest fabric line for Spring 2016 Quilt Market, as well as many other projects you can find on her blog, Just A Bit Frayed.
     Brenda enthuses: "This sewing machine is my favorite! I've been able to cut my work time in half by using the 1600P-QC!"


The Janome 1600P-QC is available at Pink Castle Fabrics both online and in-shop. Stop on by during retail hours to take it for a test drive! If you have questions, comments, or concerns, e-mail Molly@PinkCastleFabrics.com

Monday, August 8, 2016

All About Aurifil Threads

    Why Aurifil Thread? Why do we love this thread so much!?


Aurifil creates 100% cotton thread that is geared towards quilters. Made in Italy, the quality of the thread is made from long staple Egyptian Cotton meant to make your projects last and look amazing. The company was founded in 1983 creating thread for both commercial and domestic quilting. They began making it available for American quilters in 2007. Pink Castle Fabrics sells Aurifil thread both in store and online!

Aurifil is known among sewists for its amazing strength while still being incredibly thin! The key to this strength is the long staple cotton. When you have longer fibers to make into thread, there are less joins and weak spots on the thread. The thread strength is enhanced again by the mercerization process. Here is a link to a great article about mercerization and what that means for your threads and fabrics. It helps the dyes to be brighter and last longer, it strengthens the threads and gets rid of the "fuzz" so you won't have the same halo that you notice when you use some threads for embroidery or cross stitch.

Aurifil threads come in several different weights or thicknesses. The bigger the weight number, the smaller the thread. Keep in mind how many plys (or how many strands are twisted together to make the thread) are used when comparing thickness between brands as well. A 50 wt (weight) thread with 2 plys will be thinner than a 50 wt thread made with 3 plys. Pink Castle Fabrics a good selection of Aurifil thread in several weights.
  • 50wt that is perfect for machine applique, machine embroidery, piecing, and quilting. It’s also perfect for hand sewing (such as quilt binding), too! It comes on three different sized spools: small spools (220 yds), large spools  (1,422 yds), and cones (6452 yds).
  • 40wt is used the same way as 50wt; machine piecing and quilting. 40wt thread is actually the most popular thread for machine embroidery! It’s great for quilting or top stitching as well. Spool sizes: small (164 yds), large (1094 yds), and cones (5140 yds).
  • 28wt is great for machine work including serging and quilting, but also great for handwork such as cross stitch and hand piecing and hand quilting. Spool sizes: small (109 yds), large (820 yds), and cones (3609 yds).
  • 12wt can also be used with machines and for hand work. The thickness will give your project a bold look. It can be used in sergers, for machine embroidery, and machine redwork. It’s great for cross stitch or back stitching, hand embroidery, and hand quilting. Spool sizes:small (54 yds), large (356 yds), and cones (1931 yds).
  • 6 Stranded AuriFloss is also available, which is perfect for all sorts of hand work! Cross stitch, embroidery, even tatting! The floss comes on a cute wooden spool with 18 yards!

Tula Pink's Moonshine Collection
Tula Pink's Moonshine Color Palette
Due to its popularity among quilters, many fabric designers have taken to creating their own collections of colored Aurifil threads to match their current fabric collections. Pink Castle carries Design Boxes created by Allison Glass, Tula Pink, and more! Our very own Brenda Ratliff (Justabitfrayed) has created a collection of 12 large spools for her new line One Room Schoolhouse. We have used the 50 wt. thread from her design box to create beautiful embroidery that matches the fabric line perfectly! Large Design Boxes include twelve large spools of 50wt thread. Small boxes include ten small spools. Special editions, such as Tula Pink’s Ultimate Collection (pictured above), may come in different sizes and amounts.

One Room Schoolhouse Aurifil Design Box

Some brands of threads will shed as you sew with them, these typically use a shorter staple cotton when being made or don't go through the mercerization process. The friction of the thread rubbing against the needle and other metal and plastic parts of the machine is too much for it, causing bits to shed off here and there, causing the thread to lose its strength (and sometimes even break).

Machine that used lower-quality thread

This shedding will also cause your machine to become dusty long before it’s due to be serviced and cleaned (which should be once a year). Dust can quickly turn into lint that gets in the way of the moving parts of your sewing machine. Aurifil threads don’t shed like lower quality threads. Your sewing machine will stay cleaner for longer and will be less likely to need to be fully serviced each year. As a company that cleans and services sewing machines in-shop, we have been able to tell the difference between a machine used with threads bought at a big box craft store versus the Aurifil thread we sell in our family owned shop.

Questions, comments, concerns? E-mail Molly@pinkcastlefabrics.com
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Also, feel free to visit Aurifil's Website here.