Author Archives: Heather

Tuesday Tip….Steam-A-Seam 2 Tape – So Many Uses!


Recently in our shipment of notions to the store, we received a bunch of packages of both Steam-a-Seam 1/2″ and 1/4″ Steam a Seam tape. So what do quilters and sewers do with this stuff? Well, Fusible tape is perfect for seams and hems, trims, crafts and zippers. Also good to hold lace in place when attaching lace to a sewing project. Steam-A- Seam 2 1/4″ Double Stick has the pressure sensitive on both sides which allows for a temporary hold to both materials. You can hold your project vertically and the appliqué pieces stay in place and are still re-positionable until fused with an iron.

Some quilters use it to hold down the binding on their quilts after the binding is sewn on. Here’s a video showing how you can use this handy notion in your next project!

Stay Stitching the Edge of Quilt Top in Preparation for Quilting

Here’s a quick tip to apply after you’ve finished a quilt top and done the final pressing. Before you sandwich the top with batting and backing, it’s a really good idea to run a line of “stay stitching” around the outside edge of your quilt top.

What exactly is stay stitching? Definition: Stay stitching is a single line of stitching, through one layer of fabric, to stabilize the fabric, preventing it from becoming stretched or distorted. stay stitching yellow

Expert quilters always sew as a scant 1/4″ distance around the outside perimeter of a quilt top. The stay stitching helps to keep your quilt top to the intended shape as it is stretched and layered with batting and backing. This practice really helps to hold all of the construction of your blocks and borders together so that stitches don’t pop open along seams.pop seam

Here’s a video from Pat Sloan that demonstrates this practice.

The stay stitching does not have to be perfect by any means as it will eventually end up buried in the binding or be trimmed away once the quilt top is squared up after being quilted.

Sew your “stay stitching” along your quilt top from the wrong side so that you can see the seam allowances and prevent them from being twisted or bunched up. The stay stitching is sewn all the way around the perimeter of your quilt top. Just be mindful not to stretch your top during this process.

Even if you top is not going to be sandwiched and quilted right away, this step of stay stitching will keep your top secure and ready for the day you make it into a finished quilt.

Printable Fabric Sheets

In the Hamels Fabrics storefront, our staff is asked about specialty, novelty fabrics every day. We hear customers request fabric with green tractors, elephants, children’s TV characters, sports teams, etc. Many quilters increasingly want very specific fabrics but have difficulty in finding what they want and/or the design that’s not the right size or colour.

When Pauline, the shop owner, can secure stock on novelty fabric from our suppliers, she certainly does. Currently we have those Fairies, Marvel Superheroes and cats etc. printed on bolts of fabric in the store and displayed on the website.


However, most “licensed” images that are under copyright (eg. Disney, NHL) are difficult to find on the bolt. Often times licensed fabric is printed on a low quality grainy, fabric that is not going to perform very well in a quilted masterpiece.

Ok, so here’s the issue. We all want find quilting fabrics with a “specific” theme and these fabrics are not easy find as you browse the marketplace. Thus the search becomes frustrating and fruitless. No one wants to disappoint anyone wanting to have a quilt made with their favourite novelties.

printable fabric sheets

One solution that can alleviate some of this pain is EQ Printable Fabric Sheets. Now you can print your own photo, or image you find on the internet right onto a good quality fabric sheet that measures 8 1/2 x 11″.  Simply follow the steps in this video below and create fabric with “exactly what you want on it”.

Consider downloading that tractor image or photograph from the internet and print it onto a printable fabric sheet and incorporate that into your quilt. Add yellow and green tone on tone fabrics to match and you can customize your quilt as you wish.

EQ Printable Fabric Sheets each come with thread count: 200 – fabric for inkjet printers. The warm white fabric makes photo-complexions glow. Perfect for memory quilts, fabric scrapbooks and quilt labels.

Print sharp, photo-quality images from your computer onto these soft (never rubbery!) fabric sheets. You become a fabric designer as you scan in photos, flowers, love letters, or whatever. Then print, let dry, peel off the plastic backing and soak in cool water for 10 minutes. When the fabric dries, sew!


Stabilizing T-Shirts with Presto Interfacing

There seems to be a strong interest in t-shirt quilts these days and everyone seems to have a stash of favourite t-shirts chronicling their childhood, depicting a hobby or special interest. As time goes on, we all seem to have a drawerful of old t-shirts we can’t seem to part with or t-shirts we have been commissioned with to make a quilt for someone. At the store we have seen competitive runners gather all the t-shirts from all the races they’ve competed in, or t-shirts collected in a favourite theme (like Fido Dido character on t-shirts from the 1980’s).


Whatever your collection of special shirts is comprised of or the shopping bags you’ve been given to create a t-shirt quilt, how do you begin?

Well step one is to make sure the t-shirts are laundered and folded flat. The second step is to cut off the sleeves, cuffs and collars and get focused on the graphics you want to work with and set into blocks for your quilt. Consider incorporating the back of the t-shirts too that have significant wording or a crest.


Step three, the most transformative step, is to “stabilize” the wrong side of the t-shirts. Keeping the t-shirt piece larger than the block you think you will create is the key. (eg. cut t-shirt 16″ or so and resize it later to 12″ or whatever size you decide on) T-shirt fabric is, by nature, stretchy and without a lot of substance on its own if you want to make quilt blocks. We like to recommend “Presto Interfacing” to stabilize the back of all your t-shirts going into a quilt. Presto Interfacing is a 100% cotton pre-shrunk 22″ wide single-sided fusible interfacing available in white. For $6.98 per metre, this product is not going to add a lot of bulk to the t-shirts but will stabilize the t-shirt and transform the stretchy knit into a format you can square up or cut to size for blocks.

So fusing Presto Sheer onto the back of the t-shirt fabric before you sew you blocks together will make the t-shirts a breeze to sew with. Presto Sheer comes off the bolt here at Hamels by the metre and fusing a piece of this to the back of your t-shirts with a medium hot iron is going to set you on your way to a wonderful finish. Take your time pressing on the presto sheer interfacing to insure that the glue adhesive melts onto the back of the t-shirt. I found that cutting it down to block size after stabilizing it with Presto Sheer worked well. Once the t-shirts are “stabilized” you can proceed to laying out your blocks in whatever arrangement you decide.

Tuesday Tip….Wrap n’ Zap

Now that we are into the month of October, many sewers and quilters are working on projects to sell at craft fairs and it’s not too early to consider gift ideas for all the special people on our Christmas lists. One gift idea that you could sew for anyone on your list (eg. teachers, hair stylist, neighbour,  co-workers, etc.) is the currently popular “microwave bowl cozies” made with a product we have at the store called Wrap n’ Zap. The pattern uses 10″ squares from a precut layer cake or squares you cut yourself. Why not make up a batch of these cozies and get a head start on your holiday sewing!


Here’s the link to the tutorial to made these “soup bowl cozies” which are great to use in the microwave to warm up soup, chili, oatmeal, leftovers, etc.WZ-45

Pellon®’s Wrap-N-Zap® is a microwave safe product is made of 100% Natural Cotton Batting. When used in the microwave, it will trap the moisture inside to produce a perfect baked potato or a well steamed ear of corn. It can even be used for warming rolls and tortillas.

  • Natural
  • 100% Natural Cotton Batting
  • Packaged Size: 45″ x 1yd
  • Cotton battings can shrink up to 3-5%.   To avoid shrinkage prior to use, we suggest you soak the batting in hot water for 20 minutes.  DO NOT AGITATE WHEN WET.  Gently wring out water and dry in dryer on low setting or lay flat to dry.  After your quilt is complete, you can machine wash cold on a  gentle cycle and dry in dryer on low setting for best results.

NOTE:  When working with products intended for use in a microwave, certain precautions should be taken.  Use only 100% Cotton batting, thread and fabric.  Do not use more than two layers of the batting, even at the seams.  Wrap-N-Zap® is made of 100% Cotton fibers without any additives. It is not fire retardant or flame proof. For this reason, we suggest cooking in 2 minute intervals for a maximum of 8 minutes. Never leave the microwave unattended.  Do not use in a Convection/Microwave oven. 

As microwave ovens use radio waves to cook and heat organic molecules such as fat and water, and the natural fibers in Wrap-N-Zap® can contain small amounts of fat and water, we do not recommend putting it in your microwave without an additional food item.

Projects made with Wrap-N-Zap®, such as a potato zapper, are especially great for cooking potatoes or corn on the cob and heating bread and tortillas. The Cotton batting helps to insulate, which cooks or heats the food evenly.

Please keep in mind that all microwaves can vary based on the manufacturer and wattage.  It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and may also be helpful to have a better understanding of how a microwave works. Microwave ovens use radio waves that are absorbed by fats, sugar and water to cook food.  The radio waves use the molecules in these natural substances to heat the foods evenly and more quickly than in conventional ovens. While Pellon®’s Wrap-N-Zap® is made from natural fibers and contains a limited amount of fat and water molecules, the radio waves may, after prolonged exposure, eventually find the small molecules in the batting. This may cause the project to scorch and possibly flame which is why it is important to follow all safety precautions.