Sew Ottawa! Sew-a-Long: Borders

Welcome to your first block free week! 16 Blocks! Are you enjoying laying them all out and admiring how beautiful they all are? We know it might take a little longer to get all three blocks done and that is totally ok, work at your own pace.

How is your sashing coming along? Do you need any help deciding what to use for sashing? Feel free to post on the thread or send us a message – we are happy to help you spend your money decide on what to use.

This week our giveaway was this sweet little Dresden Pincushion. The winner was Kate Barbosa! Congratulations!

This week we are going to talk about borders for your quilt. Borders help with a lot of things

  • Frame your quilt and reduce and possibility of stretching in the quilting process
  • allows you to add extra size to your quilt if needed/wanted
  • compliments the colours in the quilt and helps tie the colours in the quilt together

Since everyones blocks are probably going to be a slightly different in size and I know I have talked to several people who are adding extra blocks the easiest way to do the borders is as follows:

Step 1: Fold your quilt in half and measure the middle of the quilt – I get 23″ so my first border will be 46″ – cut 2 strips of fabric at 46″ x the width you are doing your border. We are choosing to continue with the 2.5″ that we used for the sashing of the quilt so 2 strips at 46″ x 2.5″. You will want to pin the borders on before sewing – I recommend pinning in the middle, the ends, and then in between those two (quarter mark or so). Sew those to the sides of your quilt and press. If your quilt is wider than the width of the fabric you just sew two strips together – press the seams open and then continue as normal.


Now you will need to fold your quilt in half the other way and measure down the middle – make sure you are measuring including the two borders you just added. For my quilt I get 24.5″ so I will need 2 strips at 49″ x 2.5″. Sew those to the side of your quilt and press and voila! you are done putting your border on your quilt.



Next week we are going to talk about batting, and the longarm quilting process. We will be going Live at Mad About Patchwork with Sharyn to talk the ins and outs of the Longarm process.

Looking forward to seeing all your quilts laid out this week!

Much love,



Happy Birthday Sawyer

On March 14th, 2017 we found out that our sweet little daughter, Sawyer Marie, had passed away. At 39+3 weeks pregnant her little heart stopped beating suddenly and unexpectedly. She was born with the most perfect little red lips and the chubbiest little newborn thighs.

I didn’t know what to do with myself, all I wanted was Sawyer. I wanted to spend my days curled up in bed with the blankets over my head (and gin in my hand if I am being perfectly honest) but I had my 2.5 year old son to worry about and take care of.

Shortly after Sawyer died I headed down to my sewing room to finish a quilt I had started for my son. I hadn’t spent a lot of time down there since my son was born aside from a few projects here and there and it felt good and comforting to be in there. I was able to lose myself in my projects and found comfort in the process.

I have been quilting since 2011 and had tried a few clothing items but really fell in love with making clothes for my son and his little friends. I started to sew things for Sawyer, things that I had been excited to sew for her before she was born, little rompers and dresses, sweaters and grow with me pants. She wasn’t here to wear them but it brought me comfort getting to make things for her.

Late in the fall I started to think about her birthday and what Sawyer would be doing when she turned 1 if she had been here with us. She would probably be walking (running like her brother??) and she would probably be busy (oh so busy!)  I started searching for the perfect dress pattern, I tried out quite a few on my friends daughters and had my friends on the search for the perfect pattern as well (thank you Tania, I appreciate you so much). Suddenly a few weeks ago I stumbled on the perfect dress. I had found this fabric from Rifle Paper months ago and tucked it away waiting for the perfect dress.


Yesterday a friend showed up with cupcakes and that beautiful sign for my little blog here, and that cute little cupcake topper. I couldn’t resist putting them together with her little dress I made for her little birthday celebration.

This past year has been hard, impossible a lot of the time but we have had the most amazing community surrounding us. That first month there was a meal train set up and the most amazing meals were delivered. Some other amazing friends organized a fundraiser and we were able to get a beautiful bench and tree at our local park dedicated to our little Sawyer.

I am going to go up whenever Spring shows up and get a photo of her little pink cherry blossom tree in bloom. It was put in in November so I am hoping it survived the winter!

Thank you so much to this amazing community who lifted us up and always keep Sawyer in their hearts. It means the world to me to know that while she doesn’t get to be here with us she is never far from everyones thoughts and she is remembered and celebrated.

Here is a poem written by Edward Searl that was read at Sawyers Memorial when we unveiled the bench, it puts to words what I have never been able to properly say.

My little, one, my dear one, my love, you will be with me forever: in the thin sunlight and long shadows of a clear winter’s day; in the dawn excitement of birds sounding in early spring; 

In the beauty of apple blossoms and butterflies. 

In the rustle of heavy-leafed trees in a mid-summer’s night; In the rich aromas and bright colours of a warm autumn day. 

All that is excellent, brushed by Life’s brightness and shadow, will remind me of you. 

My little one, my dear one, my love. You will beat with my heart, see through my eyes, hear with my ears, feel on my skin. Because your soul is mingled with my soul, forever, My little one, my dear one, my love. 

I love you my sweet little baby girl.





Sew Ottawa! Sew-a-long Week 5

Welcome to week 5! You guys are doing so amazing and your quilts are coming together nicely! At this point we should have all have 5 blocks and we will be adding 2 more this week – almost halfway there if you aren’t quite caught up yet that’s ok, we will have some time at the end to get caught up.

Last week we had a wonderful prize donated from Jenna-Rae at Fabric Crush. Thank you Jenna-Rae! The winner was Christa Fine with her beautiful Purple blocks!

This week our prize is a box of Shout Colour Catchers and two FriXion pens – perfect for all the HSTs we are doing!!

This week we are going to talk about lining up points and keeping seams lined up. It has been brought up a lot on the weekly threads so I thought we could go over a few tips.

  1. Cutting and Sewing. Make sure you are starting with your 3.5″ blocks and they are not misshaped or the wrong size, a 1/16th of an inch can make a big difference in the final product! Check your seams and make sure your seam allowance is correct. You will need your seam allowance to be 1/4″, if you don’t have a 1/4″ foot for your machine then use your ruler and measure as pictured, then use tape to give you a guide when sewing.
  2. Pressing. It’s a game changer, I promise. It will keep everything crisp and sharp and help you get the end look you really want. Take a look at Tania’s awesome tutorial last week on the fine art of pressing.
  3. Squaring up. If everything is squared up properly it is going to reduce the chances of your seams not lining up properly. If you have a ruler with the 90 degree angle line it is going to make everything go a lot smoother. You want to make sure that the center seam of your HST lines up with that line. If it is off your points are going to be off. When you are squaring up make sure you use that line as your guide and trim from there. I am going to do another blog post dedicated to squaring up – stay tuned later in the week for that but for now – here is what I am talking about:IMG_2409
  4. Pinning. So so so much pinning! I like to pin immediately before and immediately after a seam but when necessary I go ahead and put the pin right through the two seams, it isn’t going to harm anything and will pretty much guarantee that you are going to get the outcome you desire.
  5. Have FUN! Quilting is meant to be fun (at least in my opinion) and sometimes no matter what you do there might be an off seam, it’s going to be OK. Once your quilt is quilted and the binding done you’ll never think of (or notice) that seam again. Take a deep breath and enjoy the process.

Now, lets talk about blocks! I have two pretties for you guys this week. The first, in honour of upcoming Valentine’s Day, I have this beautiful heart! You are going to need 8 3” HST blocks and 8 plain 3″ blocks. 2 of those plain blocks need to be your solid (in this case the white).


There are 8 HSTs, 2 white(contrast) and 6 solid.

Lay them out like so:


Sew them altogether, I find for this one it comes together nicely doing each row and pressing your seams open. It makes for a nice clean finish. I’m actually  going to show you my flawed block this week, I struggled with the bottom right corner of this block  and I also got a little over zealous with the steam on my iron so there is some seam rippling, I’m just going to call it practice and do a new block!


Our next block is a traditional HST block, it is a take on a Civil War Era block called Port and Starboard. It is a really pretty block and one of my favourites. You will need 16 HST squares for this block. Lay it out like so:


This one can be a little tricky in some of the corners where there are 4 points coming together. Lots of pressing and pinning (and stitch ripping if you’re like me ha ha ha) should help with getting all those points lined up.


I hope I answered some of your questions this week! Stay tuned for a squaring up blog post soon!

I look forward to seeing all the pretties you create this week,

Much Love,




I have decided that I should probably do a weekly roundup. I am participating in so many amazing quilt-a-longs and I want to share with everyone all these amazing quilters and resources!

I have been following the #citytilesQAL through QuiltyLove on Instagram and I am loving how my rainbow quilt is slowing coming together. I am about 3 blocks behind so I will be playing some serious catchup this week. For anyone that wants to join you should come on over to instagram and join the party! It will be a great quilt for adventurous beginners, lots of chain sewing and piecing going on.

Fabrics are #konasolids (the grey) and #inthebeginningfabrics for the colours

Other fun stuff happening is the #12minisin12months sew along hosted by Knot and Thread. It’s self led so you can chose what mini quilt you make each month and then just post it to instagram with the #12minisin12months hashtag. Mini quilts are so awesome for new patterns that you want to try but don’t want to commit to a full size quilt. I like to use them to try out new techniques or practice my free motion quilting. My block this month is a heart for Valentines day, I threw it together last minute from some extra HST blocks I had from another project (hopefully on the blog soon!) and besides a few little silly mistakes I am happy with the way it turned out. The entries this month are incredible so I definitely need to up my game and try some new things!


The goal here is to fill a wall in my loft area upstairs. We have been in this house for almost 5 years and I have never been able to figure out what to do with that space or how to decorate it. We have a new couch coming for the space and I will slowly decorate it with the mini quilts, I am looking forward to showing you the progress on that!

I am also doing the Moda Bake Shop Layers of Love quilt with hopes to have the top pieced by this weekend. The Moda Bake Shop was an incredible resource when I was just starting out quilting and I am still on there all the time trying their free patterns. You really need to go over and take a look, its pretty incredible!

Stay tuned tomorrow for Block 5 & 6 for the Sew Ottawa Sew-a-long! The ladies there are doing amazing, so amazing that we are doubling up on some weeks so that we have more time at the end to chat about batting and quilting and binding and all that fun stuff!  I can’t wait to see all the completed blocks (and quilts yay!!)

Much love,




Sew Ottawa! Sew-a-long Week 3

Week 3 is already here and you guys are doing so great, I love seeing all your creations every week, the quilts you all create are going to be so stunning and all so different.

How did everyone get along with the new method for constructing your half square triangles? Tania did a great job explaining it didn’t she 🙂

Congratulations to Melanie for winning last weeks prize, generously donated by the Ottawa Sewing Centre!  This weeks prize will be a Fat Quarter bundle of some cute fabrics!

If you are new here (Hi!!) check out here for the starting method to construct an HST or week 2 here to see how to construct them in bulk. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to send one of us a message or post on the facebook page.

I have been finding that an image of the finished block helps me in picking my fabrics and colours so lets start there. This block can be a little tricky to lay out so I have left some space in between the squares so you can easily see how each piece should be laid out.


You will need 16 3″ HSTs to complete your 10.5″ block, you are welcome to use whichever method you find easiest. If you have directional fabrics that you would like to keep going in the right direction I do recommend the individual method versus doing them in bulk.

I am not worried about the direction of my fabrics so I have here 2 solid 7″ squares and 2 7″ contrasting prints.



Press all 16 blocks open with the seam to the dark side and lay out your block as shown above. We have had lots of questions about getting points to line up, the best advice I have for this is to pin, sometimes if I am really struggling with something I will pin immediately before and immediately after the seam to stop any shifting. I find when I need something to be really precise in quilting I like to use pins instead of clips.

Here is our finished block for this week, she’s a pretty one! I can’t wait to see what you all do this week!

SO W3-2


Much Love,





Sew-a-long Week 2!

We survived the first week, lots of learning all around and you guys came up with some seriously beautiful blocks, I am so amazed at all the beautiful colours you chose! There were 15 blocks submitted and Stephanie Plant was the winner of the teacup pincushion!

Tania has a gorgeous block for us this week and I am so excited to see what you all create! We have an awesome sponsor and a super cute prize! Don’t forget to put #sewottawaweek2 on your block posts so we can easily find them!

Here is Tania’s blog post or you can just head over to her lovely blog 🙂

Much Love,



Sew Ottawa! HST Week 2 [HST Sew-a-long 2018 3/18]

And we are out of the gate!

Everyone is off to a smashing start with their first blocks. I truly enjoyed seeing each completed block from Week 1. I’m loving your fabric choices and your blocks are gorgeous! Thanks so much for your feedback as we walk through this together. Keep it coming. For those of you not in our local Facebook Group, Colleen of Sewing for Sawyer kindly summarized some extra thoughts here.

Week 2 Sponsor!

We (the Ottawa Sewing Community) are so spoiled with amazing resources, businesses and talent. One local business that should be on your radar is The Ottawa Sewing Centre. They have kindly agreed to be our HST Week 2 Sponsor and have kindly donated a cute tin packed with Beissel sewing machine and serger needles. The Ottawa Sewing Centre is owned by Yasmin and her husband Zuher. They are Brother, Babylock and Juki dealers, Zuher is a fully trained technician and together they stock some brilliant supplies. I personally like to pick up my essentials here and have also purchased a serger from Yasmin. In my opinion, they are very knowledgeable and their customer service is fantastic!

So let’s get started on Block #2!

As you know, each week we will work through a new block design. This week we will make a 10.5″ Chevron block.

(Colleen – so sorry in advance for these “amazing” photos!)
There are many different ways to make half square triangle squares to construct your block. Colleen demonstrated an excellent method in Week 1. If you have directional patterns on your fabric, or if you have already pre-cut all of your squares – continue using the method outlined in Week 1.

Cut your Fabric

I am going to walk through a slightly different way to create your HST squares, 8 at a time. Our goal is to create sixteen, 3″ HST squares to complete our chevron block. To do so, start with two 7″ main squares and two 7″ contrasting squares. This will give you enough HST squares to create the block. In my case, I wanted to use 3 types of contrasting fabric in this block as a design element. As a result, I was left with 8 extra HST squares that I will use in another block.

Prepare your squares

Place one main and one contrasting 7″ square right sides together (rst) and pin in place. I am using a “Quilter’s Magic Wand” to draw on my sew-lines 1/4″ on either side of the square’s diagonals (optional method).

Sew along your traced sew-lines.

*After I drew the two sew-lines above, I went ahead and drew in a third middle line in the photos below. That third middle line will be your cut line. Sew only on the two outside parallel lines as created by your “magic quilter’s wand” (I feel ridiculous even typing that out).*

If You Do Not Have a Magic Wand

If you do not have a “magic wand”, or if this method isn’t for you, follow Colleen’s method as described in her blog post here. For ease of reference, here are her detailed instructions:
“Using a ruler and a pencil… you will want to line your ruler up from one tip of the square to the other tip as seen in the below image.
To make sure nothing shifts you can pin the block but stay away from the line as you are going to be sewing on both sides of that line in just a moment.
IMG_2112 copy.jpg
Using your sewing machine you are going to want to sew 1/4″ down either side of the line – shown here in black thread – the line is shown in pink pen so you can see where you are needing to sew.

Mark your Mid-Points

In preparation of cutting out your 8 HST squares, find the mid-points of each sides of your square (see tiny blue hash marks on each side of my square)

Draw a line connecting these mid-points. The blue lines below show your cut lines.

Cut out your HST Squares

I suggest cutting your square into 4 squares first. I find it’s easy as your corner-to-corner cuts are reinforced by your straight-stitches.
Boom! 8 HST squares magically appear!

Square up and Press

Ok, it’s not magic, you still need to square up your squares and press them. Quilting is like baking – there are many different ways to accomplish the same thing. I was taught the way Colleen demonstrated in Week 1; however Jan Kittle, the owner of the Pickle Dish, showed me how to square up before pressing and I love it. For me, this has given me more consistent results. You decide for you!
I’m using this “Quilt in a Day” HST ruler to square up my blocks, however I’ll show below how you can use your regular acrylic ruler that you likely already have.
Since we are making 3″ HST Squares, place the 3″ line of the ruler along the straight stitch that you’ve created. Trim the square by running your rotary cutter from the straight edge of the ruler through past the corner. Try not to start at the corner or you run risk of dulling your blade, damaging the ruler or your fingers. Once trimmed up, go back and trim the corners off at 60 degrees (or you can do this after pressing like Colleen demonstrated.
You do not need this nifty ruler to trim your blocks like this. Blogger Katy of Lethargic Lass, kindly pointed out that you can use your regular ruler and a piece of tape (obviously!). I like this little gadget, but also, I’d love less “things cluttering up my work station”, so just use some dang tape! To show you what I mean, I’ve stacked my nifty ruler over top of my regular ruler. If you look closely, the 3″ line of the nifty ruler, of course lines up with the 3″ marks on either side of the corner on my regular ruler. Slap some tape on the underside and continue with this method if you’re keen.
Now that your 16 HST squares are squared off, go ahead and press them open to the dark side.

Design your block

This is the fun/stressful part! Arrange your squares to recreate the chevrons. I am not great at the design aspect. I often will ask for the opinions of my quilty friends as I like asymmetry but also balance and I never know how to get myself there. Pop on over to our local Facebook group if you get stuck, or have had too much wine, or would just like some feedback.

Construct your Block

Sew your rows together as Colleen demonstrated in week 1. Press your Seam allowances to the left for odd rows and to the right for even rows.
Sew your rows together and press.

Share your creation!

Congratulations! You have completed your second, HST block! I just love how this simple technique can create so many different looks. Please remember to share your completed block, ask any questions and share any tips in our local Facebook group! Everyone who completes a block gains an entry into a draw to win this cute tin, packed with Beissel needles. This prize has been kindly donated by our Sponsor, The Ottawa Sewing Centre.

Week 3

Join us next week as Colleen of Sewing for Sawyer walks us through our 3rd block!




I have had a number of messages recently about what tools I use when quilting so I thought I would do a really quick post about my go to items.

SO 3-2


Item #1 – Cutting mat. I got this one from Michaels using the 50% off coupon. Most of the local fabric stores and quilting shops carry them as well and have been having great sales lately. I have a 24’x36′ one but unless you are cutting a lot of large items you can definitely get by with a smaller one. This picture is also making me realize my mat needs a good cleaning….

Item #2 – 24″ x 6″ Plexiglass ruler. I am pretty sure I grabbed this one from Michaels as well with a sale coupon. This gets used all the time here and it’s the ruler I most recommend for anyone looking to get their first ruler.

Item #3 – Gypsy Grip. I just got this as a Christmas gift from a sweet friend. She scooped it from Mad About Patchwork. I love it but I do find that since my basement is cold it comes off the ruler frequently. The only work around that I have found is actually having water in the suction things – not a little water, like, I poured water onto them put the ruler on top, flipped it and then locked the clips and it seems to be working. I find it gives good leverage when I am cutting and stops my ruler from slipping when I am cutting.

Item #4 – 6.5″ x 6.5″ ruler – I love this little ruler, it’s the perfect size for so many things and I am loving it for the sew-a-long project when we are squaring up all the little squares. I don’t remember where I got this one but I’m pretty sure it was scooped from a local quilt shop a number of years ago. I see them all the time so they are easily found.

Item #5 – Ever Sewn Mini Gripper – I just scooped this from Fabric Crush and I am loving it. It makes keeping my little ruler from slipping so much easier and I love having the little handle on my ruler.

Item #6 – Rotary cutter – I have gone through a number of rotary cutters just trying to find one I love and this is my favourite. I definitely recommend trying a few different ones before purchasing if it’s possible. Everyone seems to like different ones so you need to find what works best for you. A rotary cutter will make your life so much easier for cutting fabric, it is truly worth the investment. This is the Olfa 45mm one and I am pretty sure I got it from Michaels with the 50% off coupon but they are really reasonable at most fabric stores.

Item #7 – Wonder Clips – I love my wonder clips, the multi coloured ones are from Amazon, I also have the purple ones that are an amazing price but they take FOREVER to arrive, if you aren’t in a rush then I’d definitely recommend them – you can’t go wrong with under $4 for 50 of them – they just might take a few months to get to you. I use pins a lot as well when I am sewing quilting fabric, I find the wonder clips pull on the fabric as its so thin. I tend to use the clips more when I am working on the binding or multiple layers.

Item #8 – Stitch rippers – uhhhhhh these get A LOT of use around these parts. The purple one I have no idea where I got it from but I love it, it’s awesome but its been used so much that it is a little dull and I need a new one. I bought the Tula Pink stitch ripper as a replacement and it makes me all shades of rage-y. It does have a time and place and gets the occasional use but it definitely can’t replace a standard seam ripper.   So if you have a favourite seam ripper, let me know, I’m in the market.

Item #9 – FriXion Pens – these pens weren’t originally designed for fabric but quilters and sewists discovered them and people love them. When you iron on the writing, it disappears which is the appeal for a lot of people. I tend to only use them when it will be an area that you will never see. Apparently when the fabric gets cold the markings will reappear so I would recommend only using where it will be hidden inside a seam. I do love them and they get a lot of use around these parts. They are a pretty good price at staples but a lot of the local fabric shops carry them as well. There is a great write up on them here if you wanted to read more about the disappearing and (possible) reappearing qualities of these pens.

Thanks for reading my ramblings, I hope I answered a few questions for you!

Tania will have some more fun items for you to view in the coming weeks on her blog as well! Quilters love gadgets!

Much Love,