Monday, August 30, 2010

Fast and Easy Quilt with an African Beat!

A couple of weeks ago Annette told you about a new line from Hoffman Fabrics called African Beat… well I absolutely fell in love with this line. All the browns, rusts and greens are just perfect and the amazing giraffe allover is the icing on the cake.

Now the only problem was… What am I going to make out of all these beautiful fabrics? I went online to the Hoffman website and downloaded the free quilt pattern for African Beat, bought the required fabric and set to work cutting and sewing.

The vertical lines of this quilt are perfect for this fabric and it went together really fast and easy. My only recommendation is to trace all the circles on the fusible web, iron it to the uncut fabric and then cut the circles out rather than all the steps the pattern describes.
I stitched around each of the circles using
a variegated thread and zigzag stitch.

When I got the top all put together, as shown in the pattern, it was beautiful but was lacking a little something. I decided it needed an outside border; so I bought another yard of the brown leaves and added a five inch border. This really made the quilt pop and helped finish it off.

The finished quilt... isn't it beautiful!

I then brought it to our custom quilter who helped me piece the back and then did an amazing job quilting it with a leaf pattern similar to those in the border.

Close up of the amazing quilting.

TIP: Matching the Back-
  • On the first panel iron one edge over, wrong sides together, and line the design up with that on the other panel.
  • Unfold the edge and sew along the crease.
This gives you a perfectly matched back and a nearly invisible seam. For this quilt I used the giraffe allover making the back almost as amazing as the front especially with the gorgeous quilting.

Everyone was so impressed with how this quilt turned out that we decided to make it into a kit which should be arriving in the next couple of weeks at a store near you!

Happy Quilting!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The probem with being a fabric buyer... that I want all of the fabrics in our stores.

For instance, today I went into our Northgate store on business, not planning to buy anything.

But then I see these fun new arrivals from Robert Kaufman. Owls, whales, lime greens and hot pinks - these are a few of my favorite things! So I have fat quarters cut from them. (Did you know that our stores will cut you fat quarters of pretty much any quilting fabric you want?)

But of course, there are other fabrics that match these so well, I need to get fat quarters of them, too. So I leave, an hour later, with 17 fat quarters. 

SEVENTEEN!  Aren't they so pretty, though? So now I'm looking for the perfect project for these.  I'm thinking of the "Magical Mystery Tour" Quilt.

It requires 20 fat quarters, though.  I guess I'll have to head back in for more!

 - Anna-Beth

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Yarnies Take Note - New Yarns in Our Stores!

Click on the pictures to see a larger image.

Just arrived - Flounce from Knitting Fever Inc. in 6 different 'print' colors. Yummy 100gm balls of 100% Acrylic, perfect for the coming Fall weather. Available at our Everett, Bellevue, Northgate and Puyallup stores. Would you like a fun, fluffy scarf to work on? Click here to download a PDF for a Flounce Scarf pattern.  

Grace Hand Dyes from Louisa Harding Yarns are individually beautiful, subtle and addictive! Use a size 6 needle to make yourself one of the luscious projects from the Fade to Grey Grace book shown below and wrap yourself in 50% Merino Wool/50% Silk warmth. Available at our Bellevue and Northgate stores only.

~ Annette

P.S. Sophie (the fingerless mitts above) is now on my 'Gotta Knit' list. I'm really impressed with this book - 15 projects and they're all ravishingly wonderful!

New Fabrics! Cuddle, Farmdale & Batik Cascade

Click on the pictures to see a larger image!

Make room in your stash closet - Batik Cascade from Avlyn Fabrics is here! With over 20 different colorways designed by Karen Combs to keep your quilting fingers happy, you'll find one that blends well with every project. The picture here is just a taste - aren't they amazing?!!! Colors run from light to dark across the width of the fabric, so you can buy just what you need. Available now at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

Can you see how soft and cozy this is? Cuddle Christmas from Shannon Fabrics is a plush-delightful collection of Minky prints for the holidays. Yes, it's Summer, but you know you should be sewing up your gifts now - right? Really cool stuff! Available at all our stores.

Farmdale from Alexander Henry is a collection of prints that celebrate the era when the kitchen had curtains, Mom wore homemade aprons and everything was made from scratch and filled with love! Available only at our Northgate store and well worth the trip. Check out their fabulous Galleria section of Special Occasion and Wedding fabrics and trims while you're there!

Enjoy! ~ Annette

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Quilt! Lilly Pilly from Down Under

I just finished sewing the binding on this exuberant, whimsical little beauty of a quilt, and I just had to show it off! The quilt is "Lilly Pilly," one of a few adorable patterns we have picked up recently from Australian company Don't Look Now.  I did all of the applique using Steam-A-Seam, so the whole quilt top took me one afternoon (with my dear quilting friend Becci holding my baby to let me cut and fuse in peace - Thanks Becci!) and then I just had to quilt it.
I absoloutely LOVED this project - it will one day be over my little Annika's bed - but I have a great tip if you are thinking of doing it (which you so should.)  If I had it to do over, I would quilt the entire background, then fuse on my appliques and stitch around them - adding all of the textural quilting around the birds and leaves was way more difficult than just doing large open spaces. The designer instructs you on how to do that swirly quilting, and it's a great chance to practice your machine quilting. It's not hard, and it was fun to do!
This pattern is in stock at PacFab Everett, Northgate, Bellevue, Puyallup, and Bremerton.  Highly recommended!

~ Anna-Beth

Friday, August 20, 2010

Colorful, Coloriffic, Coloricious! - New Fabrics in Our Stores

As you can see from her Noro post below, Anna-Beth is done with maternity leave and back in the house (office, that is!). She called me from our Northgate store earlier this week to gush about two Marcus Brothers fabrics that she says you've just got to have. Guess, you better pack up and head into your nearest store - right? Take a look below, click on the pictures to see a larger image, then click here to find a store near you!

We'll go in alphabetical order since I can't decide which collection is the most gorgeous. Good thing is, we don't really have to decide - it's okay to buy both! The Color Defined collection from Marcus Brothers includes the uber useful stripe shown at the left. I love this kind of thing as it makes designing easier and if you're short on time, it would be a very cool 'cheater' quilt. Pick a few coordinates to go with it and define your own color dreams in lovely brown and aqua style! Available at our Everett, Bellevue, Northgate & Puyallup stores.

I DO love this collection. So fresh, spunky and full of life. Aptly named Petalicious and it really is! The prints coordinate lucsiously, but each one could easily stand on it's own, too. Truly botanically delicious! From Marcus Brothers and available at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

If you're a Fashion sewist, get yourself down to the Outlet on 4th this weekend. They've added loads of rolls and flat folds from Cache to their already ample supply of fabulous designer fabrics. Hurry, before I get it all!

~ Annette

Noro Love

It took me a while to understand Noro yarns.  Perhaps you have seen them in our yarn departments - lovely little swirls of color with Japanese names: Kureyon. Silk Garden. Taiyo.  For so long I could not understand the color combinations, the wooly textures, the uneven twists of the yarn.  I knew people who were "real knitters" (as opposed to myself, a quilter who dabbles) loved Noro, but I failed to understand why.

But then I was too pregnant to sit comfortably at my sewing machine, and I needed a nice lengthy project, and this beautiful lace-weight Noro called Sekku arrived at our Northgate and Bellevue stores, so I decided to give lace knitting a try. Lace has always intimidated me a bit, so I selected a simple pattern and started to knit - and started to love Noro. 

As my scarf drifted from color to color, I realized that if it had been a simple solid, or even a splattery hand dye, my knitting would have been tedious - over and over, repeating the same stitch pattern would have become exceedingly dull. But the magic of my Sekku skein was that as I knitted, I would see flecks of red dotting the black, till the yarn had turned crimson, then I would notice that it was beginning to variegate to a soft dove grey, then drifting into purples, emeralds, teals, browns, limes -  Noro's colors kept me knitting to get to the next transition, never growing bored. Texturally, the delicacy of the thin yarn was broken up by slubs of thicker, less twisted fibers, giving my knitting a more interesting surface as well as shading.  I am on my third skein of Sekku now, and I want to explore them all.

But it isn't just Sekku I have learned to appreciate  - now that I recognize the magic of Noro, I am finding myself drawn to all of the yarns - Kureyon and Silk Garden, the Noro classics, let me have the same variegations in a worsted weight for much quicker or larger projects, and make amazing hats, scarves, or sweaters. Both also come in a sock weight, and with huge yardages per skein, they ignite my mind with possibilities.  I love Taiyo - a gorgeous blend of cotton, silk, wool, and nylon, it is simultaneously soft and natural feeling.  I designed an afghan in it that is so lovely, it will be making its appearance in a book about Noro next spring!  I'm going to be published! And the crazy part is, it isn't really my kntting that is so great - remember, I am a dabbler. It is the yarn that brings the blanket to life.

You must always remember when selecting your Noro skein to look into the heart of the ball - from the outside you see only the colors that wound up on the edges, but in the heart you may find a whisper of neon, a moment of darkness, or a diversion into pool blue.  I was shocked to find a section of fuschia in my skein of greens, blacks and reds - but as I knit it into my project, I found it had that magical "zing" that quilters always seek - the contrast that makes a piece interesting. The ball of Kureyon I am holding here, for example, is all rich darks on the outside - but if you peek in the center, you see the sparks of yellow and apple greens.  When you knit with it, those will appear as electric waves of color, making your project vibrant. Of course, you can not look into the heart, and let those bursts of unexpected color come as delightful surprises.

If you also have struggled to understand the appeal of Noro, I strongly suggest finding a simple project - a seed-stitch scarf would be perfect - and discover the wonderful power of color.

Seed Stitch Scarf:
Use a worsted weight yarn - Kureyon or Silk garden, for example.  You will want about 220 yards for a nice length, so you'll need two skeins.
Size 7 knitting needles.

Cast on 41 stitches.
All rows: Knit 1, purl 1 to end of row.
When  you only have a few yards of yarn left, bind off.

All Pacific Fabric stores have a selection of Noro yarns, although not all stores carry all of the yarns.  Check at your local store for the Noro of your dreams.

 - Anna-Beth

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Fabrics For Your Sewing Delight - new in our stores!

Just had a few minutes to check on what's new this week, but I did find some great things with a lot of help from our friendly staff! Click on the pictures to see a larger image, then click here to find the store nearest you.

Quiet now - can you hear it? The beat of the drums, giraffes quietly munching leaves, then suddently the whirr of a sewing machine! African Beat from Hoffman Fabrics evokes wild and wonderful images and a herd of inspiration for your summer sewing. Far from dry and dusty, this vivd collection would be smashing in a summer weight quilt, fabulous as room decor and tons of fun for tablecloths or placemats at your next barbecue. Available at our Bellevue, Everett, Northgate and Puyallup stores.

Willa from our Northgate store called me this week to let me know they just got a HUGE shipment of Spandex fabrics in. Turns out most of our stores received a fabulous array of Spandex solids and prints and they're ready for you now! It's definitely swimwear time, and I'm sure you have lots of other ideas, too. The top row of my picture shows just a few of the yummy solid colors that came in to all our stores and the bottom row shows a few colors of the holographic Spandex that came to Northgate only. No picture, but also at Northgate only, you can look for brand new Spandex colors in collections called Twilight and Shattered Glass. By the way, if you're sewing swim, dance or skating wear, I highly recommend Kwik-Sew patterns. They come multi-sized and Kwik-Sew really gets it with knits. You'll find them at all our stores except Outlet on 4th.

Last, but not at all least, we have new Wool Jersey solids at our Everett, Northgate and Puyallup stores (coming soon to Bellevue, too). I know it's hot, but I also know if we don't start our Fall fashion sewing now, it won't be ready when our weather does cool off. So plan ahead and take a look. No picture, but take my word for it - it's lovely and wonderful to sew.

Down at the Outlet on 4th they're unpacking nice big boxes of designer fabrics from Cache. They're adding them to the designer rolls left from last month, so it will be well worth going in to look at the tables from time to time over the next few weeks.

More next week!
~ Annette

My Oh MY - A Blissful Night at Safeco Field

Wow!!! What a great time we had at Stitch 'n Pitch on Thursday night. Hope you were there! Debbie Bliss did a fabulous job of throwing out the First Pitch and then spent two hours in our booth greeting her fans and siging books. She and her daughter Nell are both just lovely people and I really enjoyed getting to know them when I attended Tea With Debbie Bliss at our Bellevue store last night. (More about that in a later post!) Here's a few pictures you'll enjoy - click on them to see a larger image.

The line to purchase books and meet Debbie stretched down the concourse for about two and a half hours. A LONG line formed before Debbie even got back from throwing out the First Pitch!

Speaking of First Pitch . . . Debbie knitted her own baseball mitt so she would feel yarnie comfortable throwing out that First Pitch. The Mariners were quite impressed! Sorry my picture's a bit blurry. Guess I got a little excited. :)

The Mariners posted a fabulous backdrop for picture taking with Debbie, which she readily welcomed. This scene was repeated over and over with happy fans. The woman on the right started an incredible Fair Isle project for her Tote Bag Challenge project. You'll see that in an upcoming blog post.

Nell, Debbie's daughter is in the middle of this fun photo sporting one of the "Knitting is Bliss" T-Shirts we wore in the booth. Nell is just charming, has a great sense of humor and was always delighted to answer questions while her mum was signing books. "Do you knit?", we asked her last night after Tea With Debbie Bliss at our Bellevue store. "Oh, no, " she replied. "I let Mum do that!" She does know all about it though and was a great help in the booth as well as at the Teas.

That's it for now, but watch for more posts about our Teas With Debbie, the Tote Bag Challenge participants (oh, my, SOOooo cool) and a bit more about the booth. If you were there, you know how amazingly fun it was - if you missed it, you can enjoy the game and the Tea with me through posts!

~ Annette