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,

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

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
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Also, feel free to visit Aurifil's Website here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What is the Best Janome Sewing Machine for Kids?

Is your child starting to take an interest in sewing? If so, we certainly have the perfect introductory sewing machine for them! 
Janome Sewing Machines are great for all ages of quilters and seamstresses alike!
You can purchase any of the following machines on our website at or by stopping into our shop in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


Janome Sew Mini Colors

     The Janome Sew Mini is the perfect machine for a young beginner. The Sew Mini is the smallest machine on the Janome market making it easy for your child to tote it back and forth from sewing classes. This sewing machine is for sale for $69.

It features:

  • Weighs only 5lbs!
  • Two stitches: a straight stitch and a zigzag stitch with varying stitch lengths and widths for some versatility. 
  • A slower stitching speed than a full-sized sewing machine, making it the perfect sewing machine to learn on. 
  • Absolutely no sharp edges! There isn't a thread cutter on the side purposefully to avoid the need for Bandaids and kisses.
  • It currently comes in three fun colors for your child to choose from: Honeycomb (yellow), Merlot (dark pink), and Beachcomber (blue); a color for everyone!

Sew Mini in Merlot


Janome Magnolia 7318

     The Janome Magnolia 7318 is a step up from the Sew Mini. It is a great machine for older kids who are branching out into the sewing and quilting world. It's another lightweight sewing machine, so it's also great for taking to sewing classes! The Magnolia 7318 is a sewing machine that any beginner will easily learn to sew or quilt on.

It’s perfect for introducing your child to both garment sewing and quilting. We currently have this machine for sale for $249.

It features:

  • A weight of just under 18 lbs
  • 18 stitches, including 1 buttonhole stitch.
  • Easy-to-use mechanical knobs to select the desired stitches and stitch lengths
  • A large reverse button to easily lock your stitches

Magnolia 7318


Janome DC2015

     The Janome DC2015 is a sewing machine your child will use for many years to come. This sewing machine is still small and compact for easy traveling and storage, but includes many features a full-sized Janome Sewing Machine would have. This sewing machine will allow your child to grow into the machine with ease. The DC2015 comes to be $549 here at Pink Castle Fabrics.

The DC2015 Features:

  • A light weight body of only 18.2 lbs
  • 60 stitches that include 6 one-step buttonholes 
  • An easy-to-use speed control bar.
  • A Start/Stop button, making the use of a foot control pedal optional
  • Easy-to-navigate computerized stitch selection
  • A hard case, making travel easy and safe!


     Pop on in to the shop during store hours to test any of these Janome Sewing Machines out! We have them in stock online and in-store for your purchasing convenience. If you have any questions about any of our Janome sewing machines, contact