Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Canada's Big Quilt Bee

You heard it here, Canada is launching a BIG QUILT BEE in celebration of Canada's 150th!

We think Canadian quilters are up for the challenge in reaching a goal of  quilting 1,000 quilts for kids in care at Ronald McDonald Houses across our nation!

What can you do?  Make a block, make a top, come out to our conference and help quilt during the BIG BEE June 14-17th. Cheryl Arkison has kindly let us use her 'slab block pattern'. Thanks Cheryl!

Jill Buckley designed our awesome logo for us, thanks Jill!

Here you will find out all the pertinent information that includes how to make the block and top, and what to do when you have made them.

Some of the fabric lines aren't coming out until November, but others are out now. Below are the links and some images of some of the fabrics to be used in the slab blocks.

If we have missed a Canada 150 fabric line, pls let us know at

'Discover Canada' by JN Harper

Stonehenge 'OH CANADA' by Northcott

Trend-Tex Fabrics 'With Glowing Hearts' by Moda

If you have any questions, please send us an email and we would love to see pics of you in action or a group of you working on blocks or finished blocks!

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Four Steps to Machine Quilting!

We are thrilled to have a guest blogger today!

About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many, many years and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.

Four Steps to Successful Machine Quilting

Quilters have been machine quilting their own quilts since the 1800’s and there’s no reason why you can’t join them! It’s a wonderful way to extend the creative expression you enjoyed in your quilt top and, while it does take some practice, Machine Quilting isn’t hard! Any machine will work, just make sure it is one that you feel comfortable with and know how to adjust. Take a little time to read and follow these four, friendly steps and you’ll be ready for success!

1. Consider Your Choices
A few minutes of planning will pay off in a big way as you begin to quilt. Experienced quilters may want to try Free Motion Quilting while newbies will enjoy beginning with straight line or stitch in the ditch. Think about how your quilt will be used, who will own it and what style will enhance the block designs. For more help, click here for a Quilting Tidbits post that offers lots of options for your quilting designs!  

2. Patient Preparation – Thread, Needles, Feet

As with all sewing and quilting, the thread you choose is foundational to the success of your project. Coats and Clark makes amazing Machine Quilting threads for you to use but, before you head to the store, you’ll want to think about color. To choose colors, try stitching together a mini-top using small squares or strips of the fabrics in your top. Create a quilt sandwich and, using your stash of regular threads, try different colors by stitching through each fabric one thread color at a time. You’ll quickly see the color or colors that will be the best choice for your project. If you’re a beginner, matching colors to your fabrics may be the best choice. Once you gain confidence you can play with contrasting threads to enhance the quilting design you’ve chosen.

You’ll find three styles of Coats Cotton Machine Quilting thread at your local quilt shop. These 30 weight threads are spun from high-quality, 100% Mercerized, Extra-Long Staple, Egyptian Cotton that produces very little lint.  They’re lustrous, smooth and have little to no stretch - perfect for your Machine Quilting needs! Coats thread, after quilting, can be washed in hot water, dried on high heat and ironed on a cotton setting. And, you can use chlorine bleach or dry clean if needed. I love the easy care and durable properties of this marvelous thread. We put our hearts and souls into our quilts so they should last forever, or at least for a very, very long time!
·       Click here to learn more about style S975 in 29 luscious solid colors on a 320m spool.
·       Click here to learn more about styles V34 in 23 contemporary solid colors on a 1097m tube and V35 in 8 beautifully variegated colors.

Machine Quilting needles are tapered with a slightly rounded point. That point pierces your fabric more easily, prevents skipped stitches and makes a positive difference in your stitch quality. A size 75/11 is great for piecing, but the larger eye of a 90/14needle may be best for your heavier quilting thread while stitching through the layers of your quilt sandwich. Keep lots of needles on hand. Frequent needle changes are crucial to preventing quilting tragedies!

Your sewing machine should be free of lint, oiled and set to a slightly longer stitch length than you would use for general sewing. Simple, elegant straight line stitching is best done with a Walking or Even-Feed Foot. This magic foot helps to keep all the layers of your quilt moving along the feed dogs at an even rate. If your machine came with a seam guide it will now be your treasured quilting BFF! Stitch a line, re-positioning the guide on the previously stitched line and repeat to keep your quilted lines evenly spaced. If you’re new to Free Motion Quilting and would like to try it, click here to read a post on Coats Sewing Secrets blog full of hints for beginners.

Finally, you’ll prepare and baste your quilt sandwich - a technique you may already know. A delicious quilt sandwich begins with the stitching and preparation of your top. Use consistent .635cm seams and clip all loose threads to create a top that will lay as flat as possible. If you haven’t mastered the quilt sandwich, click here for a video that will show you everything you need to make yours yummy!

3. Practice, Practice, Breathe
Take a little time to practice stitching before beginning to quilt an actual project. It’s worth the repetition it will take to master Machine Quilting. As Heather Thomas suggests in her excellent video, create a Machine Quilting “scrapbook” as you practice. Click here for Heather’s video and keep breathing!

Start with good stitching habits from the beginning. To keep thread tails on the top, take one stitch, gently tug on your top thread and bring the bobbin thread tail to the top. Repeat this each time you begin or end a line of Machine Quilting and secure your stitches with a couple of stitches in reverse.  Corners are easy! Leave the needle down, raise the presser foot, pivot the quilt, lower the presser foot and off you go. Beginning in the center, quilt a 30cm square section, take the quilt off the machine, unroll a new section and continue.

Many stitching problems can be solved with a needle change. Be sure to start with a new needle of the correct size, replace it if you hit a pin and listen for “clunking” that may indicate it’s become dull. Other solutions include adjusting your tension, checking for proper threading and making sure that your backing is not being held too tightly.

Mark stitching lines with water soluble or chalk markers designed for cotton fabric. Try out your marking and removing on a scrap of fabric first. Lead pencil markings are difficult to remove and should definitely be avoided. Marking your design lines one section at a time will also keep your markings fresh and sharp.

4. Pick a Fabulous Project
Coats and Clark are privileged to have paper crafting king, Tim Holtz using his incredible, artistic skills to design gorgeous collections of 100% Cotton fabrics! This Compass Design quilt from his Correspondence One collection is perfect for Machine Quilting and offers many options for sections to quilt. The downloadable PDF includes print-at-home templates and excellent step-by-step instructions. Click here for the pattern, plan your stitching and enjoy your new skills in Machine Quilting!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Registrar Position Open!

Registrar Position
Quilt Canada 2017 

Quilt Canada 2017The Canadian Quilter’s Association is looking for a part time Registrar for Quilt Canada 2017 in Toronto.
The Registrar shall report directly to the CQA/ACC Executive Director and shall undertake duties as follows:
  1. Respond to requests for event information, brochures and workshop information.

  2. Register participants in Quilt Canada workshops and related events.

  3. Supply registration updates by email, every two weeks or as requested, to the Executive Director.

  4. Work with the Treasurer and Executive Director to integrate a Moneris based on line registration system for registrations for use in the 2017 registration process.

  5. Supply a final report, including payment calculations to the CQA/ACC Executive Director within a month of Quilt Canada 2017.

  6. This is a part time one year position (November 2016 to June 2017) and compensation will be paid up to 200 hours at a competitive rate, as well as office expenses and travel to Quilt Canada.
Applicants should have demonstrated experience at preforming these functions at a similar type of conference, and be familiar with on line based registration systems, and word processing, including EXCEL spreadsheets. The applicant should have exceptional interpersonal skills at dealing with registrants. 
Applications should be received by September 8, 2016  to .  Questions can be directed to the .

Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Trend-Tex Challenge Fabric Is Out!

Psst... we are so excited to be able to finally show you the fabric for the 2017 Trend-Tex Challenge! Thank you so much to Trend-Tex Fabrics that supports our only fundraiser! They have been doing this for 27 years! We do love our sponsors.
To find out all the info on this year's challenge, go here.

The theme is 'Stitching a Canadian Memory'. How does that theme get the mind spinning creative ideas?
Check out the quilts from the 2016 Trend-Tex Challenge for more inspiration. 

Barbara Root's quilt received the Trend-Tex award and will reside at the Trend-Tex Fabric headquarters. 

Thursday, 28 July 2016

An Inside Look at Judging Canada's National Juried Show

Anna Hergert is an incredible quilter, teacher, and certified judge. Winning Teacher of the Year in 2014 and a previous teacher of the Quilt Judge Certification Program for CQA/ACC has made her something of an icon in Canadian quilting. 

Anna was one of three judges in the 2016 National Juried Show this past June in Toronto ON. This is her view on judging the National Juried Show (NJS).

Behind Closed Doors…

Several months ago Jackie White contacted me to provide a glimpse into the judging chamber. Once I agreed to provide some general information I began to organize my thoughts and create a general overview of the judging process.

It is at this time that I feel the need to thank the countless volunteers who work tirelessly on behalf of quilters across Canada. We are familiar with board members’ faces and often know local guild members who contribute volunteer hours. More often than not we are remiss in remembering and honouring those helping out for a day or a few hours.  Today my gratitude goes to those volunteers who quietly drift in and out, fly across the country or drive several hours to lend a hand holding up quilts for judging, and the volunteer who sacrifices her birthday to ensure judges’ critiques are professionally typed for each entry. Thank you to all!

But I digress… Back to the topic at hand, insights into the judging process:

Quilts laid out by category, ready to be judged.

It all began with the call for entry in the 2015 Autumn issue of the Canadian Quilter Magazine. Information pertaining to categories, deadline for submission, jury and judging teams were publicized for reference. Quilt makers across Canada responded to the challenge with enthusiasm.

Images of quilts with details were electronically submitted to the jury coordinator in early 2016. Once she ensured that all information, including the statement and the images were organized the jury of three (two apprentice judges, one certified judge) were provided with the secure access to the information. During a set time frame individual jurors carefully reviewed the information supplied. Employing a scoring system aided in narrowing down the selection. Jurors then connected via Skype to compare and discuss their first results. With approximately 275 submissions, life came to a halt in three households… Primarily based on overall design and visual impact the jury proceeded to reach consensus and ultimately selected 135 quilts for the 2016 NJS.

Note: Pre-selection is an important step in the NJS planning. Jurors base their decisions solely on the images and information supplied. It is easy to understand why photographing one’s entries to their best advantage is vital.

The Canadian Quilter’s Association’s practice is unique in that the quilts not selected for the NJS receive constructive critiques from each juror. Critiques are not formulated between cooking dinner and running to the grocery store. ;-)  Countless hours and several rewrites are part of the juror’s task.

Fast-forward to the NJS Coordinator who receives the information about all quilts submitted to the NJS. Soon quilt entries arrive at the NJS coordinator’s door. She is responsible for receiving, unpacking, documenting and organizing the submissions. Meanwhile she tours the exhibition venue, recruits volunteers, communicates with the judges and CQA/ACC board when she is not working a regular job and cares for her family.

Judges were provided with the judging procedure and the necessary forms to make notes and record prize winners. Judges, volunteers and CQA/ACC board representatives gathered Sunday morning, and after introductions and a brief organizational meeting proceeded with the task at hand. We soon established common ground in examining and evaluating each entry, followed by a brief deliberation and summarization of our findings. Constructive critiques were formulated individually and dictated to our personal scribes.
Scribes typing judges comments.

How do I ensure staying within a reasonable time frame? I cannot speak for my fellow judges, but am happy to share the four-step process I have devised to help me stay focused and work in an organized manner:
1.     I view the quilt and determine its visual impact based on its composition, colour and value contrast.
2.     I evaluate construction techniques and their complexity.
3.     I examine the execution of these techniques to ensure sound workmanship, and
4.     I determine how well the quilt has been finished.

With practice these four areas are assessed within seconds. It opens up the lines of communication between judges using educated observations which ultimately lead to the formulation of constructive feedback.

Easy you say? Far from it! Each quilt submission is treated with the greatest respect. We wear white gloves, use reducing and magnifying glasses (when necessary), look the quilt over front, back, determine whether the quilting stitches are balanced and check whether the binding is full. My co-judges and I repeated this 135 times in 14 hours (not including short breaks). It works out to approximately 10 quilt entries per hour.

Each time I have the privilege to judge a quilt competitions I am humbled that with professional judges personal biases don’t enter the judging area. Quickly helpers, scribes and judges connect and engage in mutual support for a successful outcome.

This was my second time judging an NJS. In 2008 in St. John’s, NF I was relatively new to the scene when the team came together quickly in pursuit of a common goal, the fair evaluation of approximately 90 quilts. The last two days confirmed that I have deepened my knowledge in quilting over the past 9 years. I have gained a better understanding of evaluating quilts and with the common goal of honouring quilt makers across Canada we build community. An educational environment is fostered through professional conduct by CAQ/ACC Certified Judges and committed volunteers who give freely.

I would like to thank the CQA/ACC board for the opportunity to be a vital part of the judging team this year. I hope you will consider the commitment and passion invested in this showcase of Canadian Quilting.

Thank you Anna! Keep an eye on our website for the Call For Entry for the 2017 NJS and get ready to enter! To see the winners of the 2016 NJS, click here.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016


Q&A With Trish Stuart

Join us as we welcome an adorable project from one of our amazing sponsors WonderFil Specialty Threads!

Texas-based Quilter, Author, & International Teacher

For the full Q&A visit the WonderFil website.

Raised in Alaska and currently residing in Texas, Trish’s art is heavily influenced by nature and color. She has a broad range of techniques and styles, ranging from traditional piecing, her own method of easy curved piecing, small and large scale appliqué, painting on fabric and mixed media. She currently can be found working in wool and embroidery. A former “Sewing Star” for both Pfaff and Viking, Trish has been a repeat guest on nationally broadcast television programs, is featured on Craft Daily as one of their online teachers, has been published in national quilting magazines, traveled and taught both nationally and internationally. She has published 12 books and over 200 patterns. Her passion is inspiring others to succeed in their own creativity, encouraging them to work out of the box by showing how to get from A to B. The point is to have fun doing it!
Trish has been with the WonderFil Teacher Program since 2009.

For the full interview / Q&A with Trish Stuart visit the WonderFil website.

For great tutorials, DIY project, and more visit the blog.

With Love and Threads,

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Hand Quilting Tips and a Modern Quilt Project

About our author:
Annette Millard is passionate about sewing and has worked in the sewing industry for many, many years and is always happiest with needle, fabric and thread in her hands. She currently enjoys supporting the Coats & Clark community writing blog posts about products and projects for the Coats Sewing Secrets Blog.

Quick! Fast! Easy! Instant! These seem to be the words we frequently think most important when we’re planning a task. Even our leisure lives become invaded with this mantra and too often, I find those same words crossover into my quilting and sewing life. So, let’s stop, even if just for a minute and think about why we quilt. What drew us to this magical art and what keeps it enjoyable? Was it speed? Probably not. So perhaps, slowing down and mindfully enjoying the process of what we can create with our hands could recreate the joy that first caused us to take up needle and thread.

And, so . . . Hand Quilting, a slow, mindful form of stitching that makes every project unique and distinct. Not “quilt in a day”, but a fabulous, purposeful, creatively, joyful form of quilting that connects our ancestral traditions with modern trends and recharges our passion for stitching. If you haven’t tried it, I have good tips, a marvelous thread, resources from your favorite experts and a beautiful project for you. And, if you’ve already discovered the amazing calm and fulfillment of Hand Quilting, you’ll enjoy adding even more info to your “by hand” file.

So let’s talk thread - one of the most important “tools” for hand stitching success! Coats and Clark makes a wonderful Hand Quilting Thread that is designed specifically for your hand stitching needs. You’ll find it in over 25 beautiful colors, so you’ll easily be able to match your fabrics. Many quilters find it’s best to choose threads that match each of the fabrics you are using as Hand Quilting stitches are larger than machine stitching and will be more distinctly visible. Other quilters suggest matching the thread color to the backing as those stitches tend to be longer than the top stitches so they will “hide” best in a matching color. You may find that you want to choose a busy print for your backing so that the threads that match your top fabrics will blend in well on the back, also. Whatever you choose, just be sure those swatches are tucked into your pocket when you go out to choose your thread!

Coats Hand Quilting thread has a glace finish and is made from a cotton wrapped polyester core that makes it strong as well as flexible. The polyester core is a uniform size, so it creates a smooth thread that holds up well to any stress we may put on it as we’re stitching. Click here for more information about this fabulous thread. You’ll find a download link for a PDF of those gorgeous colors, too!

Before you begin your Hand Quilting adventure, you’ll want to thread several needles with 45 to 60 cm lengths of thread, so you can efficiently keep stitching. Choose your needles carefully. Hand Quilting needles are betweens and a size 10 is a good choice. You’ll want an eye that isn’t too small to easily thread on a needle that is strong enough to slide through your layers of top, batting and backing. Click here  for a short, fun YouTube video on threading multiple needles onto one spool of thread.  Such a great idea!

Using a fairly short length of thread (none of those meter long lengths, please), will help prevent tangling and keep your working thread manageable. Lack of knottiness, is another one of the reasons I love the glace finish on Coats Hand Quilting Thread. Although many quilters use a waxing product to prevent knotting, the gorgeous finish on the Coats thread inhibits and resists knotting all on its own. The very last thing you want when Hand Quilting is to find unwanted knots in your working thread!

Now, what about those little stitches and how do you get them even? Well, here’s the wonderful thing about handmade - practice makes perfect and . . . it doesn’t have to be perfect! Seasoned hand quilters will tell you that the more you stitch, the more even it will become and if you examine those stitches up close, there are always variations and it’s okay.  To quote Marianne Fons, “Hand quilting is like going for a walk for pleasure rather than getting in your car to go somewhere quickly. “ Slow down, enjoy what you’re doing and the patience you’ll develop from the process will enrich your life in so many ways!

Sometimes, you just need a buddy to hold one hand while you Hand Quilt with the other, so here’s some help from our friends in the big, wide quilting world.
Click here for the Quilty Hand Quilting video, mentioned above, featuring Mary and Marianne Fons.
Now, click here  to learn Alex Anderson’s Top Three Hand Quilting Cheats. Thank you, Alex!
And, finally, click here for a marvelous Craftsy post on the Hand Quilting Stitches you’ll need to know, like you see in the photo above. Quilter’s Knot, Running Stitch, Tunneling and Rocking will soon become a natural part of your quilting vocabulary!

Are you ready? Feeling better now? Good! We have a beautiful Modern Traditional Quilt for you that features both machine and hand quilting. It’s the perfect combination of tradition and modern style and you’ll love making it. You’ll machine quilt some areas of your quilt then finish with beautiful hand echo stitching around the white sections. Coats chose lovely Free Spirit solids, but you may want to use prints or dynamic florals. Put your “hand” to it and make it your own!

Click here  for the quilt project that includes a link to the PDF tutorial. Full color to make it clear for you!
In Summer, my very favorite thing about Hand Quilting is it’s portability. Take your charming, calming stitches along on your next road or day trip and carry it along to the kids’ sports practice. And, for even greater joy, get your friends involved, plan a gathering and invite those kids, too. Stitching is always better in community and a Play/Hand Quilting group will make your Summer the best ever!