Author Archives: Heather

How to use the Perfect Patchwork Corner Trimmer

Marti Michell, one of the godmothers of quilting has developed a gizmo called the “Perfect Patchwork Corner Trimmer“. Marti is well respected in the quilting community and her rulers are very familiar to our Farmer’s Wife club members here at Hamels. She has been teaching and developing patterns, writing books and coming up with new tools since 1972! Below are some pointers on how to make use of this trimmer ruler:

Corner Trimmer

The corners of the tool have a special feature that allows quilters to align the fabrics properly. With proper alignment, patchwork blocks go together perfectly and the blocks lay flat. The Corner trimmer lets the user cut the special corners on any 45 or 90 degree angle fabric shape desired.

From Marti Michell Corner Trimmer

The Marti Michell Corner Trimmer template can be used to trim the corners of any right angle triangle piece regardless of the size of the triangle. Trimmed corners promote accurate piecing, eliminate “dog ears” before sewing and reduce bulk at corners for easier quilting by hand or machine! Engineered corners are just one of the quality trademarks you will find on  Marti Michell products. Get a Perfect Patchwork Corner Trimmer here.

From Marti Michell Corner Trimmer

We hope this tip will help you eliminate unwanted dog ears so that your blocks will match up like a pro!


Chalk Marking Instruments from Clover

One of our most favourite brand names here at Hamels for sewing notions is the Clover brand. They make all kinds of needles, seam rippers and the classic “chaco liners“. These pens are beloved by many quilters for marking fabrics for quilting, cutting, etc.

Watch the video below to see them in action. Another nice thing is that with the pens and liners you can refill them and keep using your marker. Now that’s a help to the environment! If we don’t already have one on our notion wall, please let us order the colour and style you would like from the warehouse.

Quilts with Rounded Corners Using Dinner Plate

Just last week, Pauline brought in a whole line of “gauze-like” cottons into the store. The series of bolts are called “Color Basic” by Lecien. This lightweight cotton is going to be wonderful this summer! So many ideas bounced in our heads for using this fabric and then we decided to make a simple one piece quilt top using this new fabric. It’s amazing what we think of when the boss is away in Alberta at a quilt show! Linda cut us one metre of the dots for the top and one metre of yummy Henry Glass flannel for the backing.

To make the quilt we simply squared up the two pieces to the exact same size and put them right sides together and sewed all around the edge leaving an opening to turn it out. But wait a second… what if we “rounded the corners” on this super easy quilt? Why not?!Using a dinner plate from my kitchen drawer, I was able to make a nice rounded corner to sew around. Just draw a line with a marking pen, snip off the excess and head off to the sewing machine.  I was first inspired by a civil war quilt I saw in a book that sported rounded corners.


Rounded corners on a regular quilt that needs binding will require bias binding to be applied. But that  is easy to make. Refer to our post from a few weeks ago on “continuous bias binding“.c312969b917c194f8f99af67e9d9dc3f













Please let us know if this inspires you at all to try rounding the corners on your quilt project. We love seeing your comments.

Tips on Teaching Young People to Sew

This has been one wet spring so far, to say the least, and most of us continue to occupy ourselves inside. Sunny days are promised by the weather forecasters, but in the meanwhile we can keep busy sewing our projects. Young girls (and some boys) like to learn what their Moms, Grandmothers and Aunties do with the contents of Hamel’s “purple bags” that come home from the fabric store brimming with various fabrics and notions.

As staff, we love to hear about the projects young people are sewing. Here’s a few things we have heard and helped young sewers gather materials for:  pillows with Minecraft characters, birdcage covers for pet bird, doll blankets, appliquéd pillows, jelly roll quilts, ragged handbags and moreaid2417050-v4-728px-Teach-a-Child-to-Sew-Step-24.

We want to offer you six quick tips to help you as you teach and inspire the next generation how to sew:

1.  Keep it simple. Let them pick out the fabric for a beginner project that appeals to them. A doll quilt is the perfect size to keep his/her attention and complete a project quickly without it taking too terribly long. Start a young child with a needle and thread. Show them how to run a threaded needle through a scrap piece of fabric.

2. Fabric precuts are great idea to start someone to sewing. What could be more simple than opening up a package of precut 5″ squares. Let a child lay out the squares and begin to sew them together without having to cut pieces.

3. Go slow. A staff member at the store offers this great suggestion:  try taking the needle out of your sewing machine and let the child practice the foot pedal speed and the sewing machine function. Safety first. Once the child gets the hang of that then they can begin to slowly join pieces together.aid2417050-v4-728px-Teach-a-Child-to-Sew-Step-2-Version-2

4  Be patient – Take a break after a few minutes. Share a snack or yummy treat with the child learning to sew. This can be a good bonding time as you listen to their ideas and watch them get excited in learning a new skill. It’s going to take a bit of time to concentrate on sewing the squares together.

5. Forget perfect – Good advice for all of us. Jenny Doan often reminds us that “finished is better than perfect”. A finished project that is loved and enjoyed is better than something pushed aside because it’s not absolutely perfect. Relax! Children are learning here and they will improve their skills with practice.

6. Take pictures – As you teach someone a skill like sewing, it’s worth having the pictures to look back on and see how things begin. Share the results of your time at the sewing machine. Many professional quilters fondly remember how they began sewing at a young age and wish there was a picture of that first finished project.

We are waiting to hear how things go out there this summer. Happy stitching!

Tape Marking Quilt Top for Straight Line Quilting

Straight line quilting gives your quilt a clean, modern feel and it’s quite simple to achieve. Lines can go straight along the blocks or diagonally across the quilt top. If a project isn’t too large, I like to use a Frixion pen and my 6 x 24″ ruler to mark lines on the quilt. That’s what I did on the the Dog Gone Cute pillow below.

Dog Gone Cute Pillow

However, another option is using painter’s tape. It comes in varying widths at the hardware store from 1/2″ to 3″. You can lay sizes next to each other to make whatever distance you choose between your lines. We also have a product at the store called “Quilter’s 1/4 inch tape” that works good if you want 1/4″ tape markings. You will also need a walking foot for your machine. The walking foot allows the top and bottom fabrics to feed evenly when you’re quilting. With tape, a walking foot and your imagination, you’re set to go.
 painters tape Quilter's quarter inch tape
The first step is to place the first piece of tape. If you’re crosshatching a large quilt setting that first line can be tricky so take some time to lay it down accurately. Making sure that first placement is straight is important because all the lines will build off of that first one. You can put a few “orientation” marks down before with a Friction pen or marking pencil to help guide you. A partner to help stretch out tape across a large top can be very helpful. The low tack of the painter’s tape will stick nicely, but it won’t leave a residue on your quilt. The key here is not to leave the tape on your quilt top for prolonged lengths of time and/or expose the taped quilt top to summer heat.
Position your walking foot like you see below with the inner edge running along the tape. This prevents any sewing over the tape and it helps keep your line perfectly straight. Sometimes when you stop to adjust your quilt your quilt will shift a bit and if you just have the needle it’s hard to line up your quilt again. With that inner edge of the presser foot you can line up with the tape and keep on sewing.
This is what your line will look like after sewing.
Masking tape can be re-positioned a time or two, but eventually when it isn’t sticky enough to hold a straight line you will need a new piece of tape. Here are a few examples of some of the straight line quilting. Stitching can be done in parallel lines or varying distances apart depending upon your liking.

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Remember to start in the center and work out to the edges. You can always pull fullness to the edges before stitching but it’s no fun having excess fullness bubbling up in the middle of your quilt!

Have fun playing with lines.