Mother’s Day Promo

This Sunday is Mother’s Day so we are wishing a very Happy Mother’s Day in advance to all you Mother, Mother figures and those that play a Motherly role.

For 3 days we are offering a free travel bag with the purchase of a Wish or Large Sew Steady table.

If you are not familiar with a Sew Steady table here is some information from Sew Steady…

When it comes to sewing, and particularly quilting, an expanded work area is a big help, if not downright essential. And that makes a Sew Steady® sewing table, cabinet inset or cabinet insert essential. Sew Steady® sewing machine extension tables make the perfect companion to virtually any sewing machine, and our insets and inserts are carefully designed to fit your specific make and model of both sewing machine and cabinet*. Each portable sewing table is custom designed and built for your specific sewing machine. Crafted from high quality, long-lasting acrylic, to exacting standards, all Sew Steady® tables feature a rounded edge, a permanent ruler, and many other standout features.

One of our bestsellers is The WISH table

Wish Table is made with high-quality acrylic as are all our Sew Steady Tables and Inserts. The Wish Table includes several features as requested by quilters and sewers alike:

  • 3 beveled edges
  • 9″ x 14″ blue compartmentalized notions tray,
  • Holes in the table for circle sewing and Circle Sewing Tool
  • Universal Table Grid and Table Lock

Note: This grid is intended for use on free arm machines.  It is not intended for flatbed machines such as Featherweights.

For an instructional video on the circle sewing tool, click here.

For more information on installing the legs onto a Table, watch the instructional video on YouTube.

For instructional video on how to use the Centering Ruler, click here.

Find the Promo HERE or by clicking on the promo posters below. Sale ends Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Gypsy Quilter Felted Wool Pressing Mats

You’ve probably seen or heard about wool pressing mats but don’t know much about them.  Well they are a dream to use and come in 6 sizes from a four inch square for mini projects, mid size which are quite portable making them a great choice for retreats and classes, and a new size large enough to cover your ironing board surface.

Below is some information on the wonderful wool pressing mats by The Gypsy Quilter.

If you haven’t tried these yet, here are the details and why you should:

Press any pieced or embroidered block with ease. The density of this high-quality 100% felted wool mat absorbs seams and stitches, effectively pressing both sides at once. Block knitted projects as well by pinning them directly to the mat. An added bonus? The texture of the wool stops fabrics from shifting so there is no distortion when pressing.

Tips and Tricks
The pressing mat can be used with a dry iron on any surface. If using steam, place the mat on a protected surface since moisture does go through the mat and can harm the surface below.

Never place the mat on a rotary cutting mat when pressing. The heat could warp the cutting mat.

If mat feels damp after use, hang to air-dry before storing. Wash the mat occasionally by rinsing it in cold water and hanging the mat until dry – especially if using spray starch.

Safe surfaces include Formica, Corian, stone, and metal (an ironing board). Wood and painted surfaces should be avoided.

A wool mat is a handy tool for quick pressing when kept next to your sewing machine.

Please remember: These pressing mats can be used with a dry iron on any surface. If using steam, place the mat on a protected surface since moisture does go through the mat and can harm the surface below.

This mat fits on a standard size TV tray perfectly

Perfect for that quilter on the go! But what about when you are in your sewing room? We have the answer for that as well! There is now one big enough to fit your Sullivan Big Board Ironing Board – a whopping 22 x 59 inches! This 3/8″ wool mat is the perfect choice for pressing entire quilt tops.

For the dream pressing table set up combine the large 22″ x 59″ mat with a Sullivans Better Board at a reduced price when purchased as a combo set.

Watch the video below to see more about The Gypsy Quilter Wool Pressing Mats.

We currently have some special pricing in effect until May 8th so stop by the shop or find them online HERE to place your order today.


Hearty the Snowman

Heather stitched up Hearty the Snowman in an evening.  This sweet snowman is made using a panel designed by Cherry Guidry of Cherry Blossoms Quilting Studio for Contempo Studio for Benartex.  Super simple and all you need besides the panel is thread, stuffing, yarn for the snowball pom pom on his hat and any other embellsihments you may wish to add.  Perhaps buttons for his mouth and a candycane to add to his heart pocket which Heather decided to stitch leaving an opening at the top.

Get the panel while they last in store or online HERE

Elna Grasshopper – Ahead of its time!

Recently, Pauline, the owner of our shop, discovered three green vintage sewing machines in army green metal cases. She discovered the machines as she was helping to move her elderly parents, Lou & Yvonne, the original owners and founders of Hamels Fabrics. Poppa Hamel was once a sewing machine dealer here in Chilliwack and along with his dear wife, Yvonne, started Hamels Fabrics. After they retired, the business was sold to their youngest daughter, Pauline, who has continued to build the shop into what we see today.

Have you ever seen or heard of an Elna Grasshopper? This mighty little machine was originally designed in the late 1930’s and was in production from 1940 until 1952, and was one of the best selling sewing machines at that time.

Fun Facts:  The “Grasshopper” was the very first sewing machine that Elna produced and was Switzerland’s answer to America’s Singer Featherweight. Although these two models are similar in weight and portability, there are many distinct differences as well. The Grasshopper didn’t officially have a model number or a name but it’s colour and styling resembling and insect.

It was the first mass produced portable free arm sewing machine, and gave the Singer Featherweight a run for its money!

History: The Grasshopper was invented by a Spanish Civil War refugee named Ramon Casas, and mass produced in Geneva, Switzerland by the firm, Tavaro S. A.

While the Grasshopper was not released for public distribution until 1940, it has actually been around since 1936. At the time, Europe was embroiled in World War II, and Tavaro was involved in manufacturing munitions.

However, due to the Swiss policy of neutrality, the war related product line was eliminated. With the factory quiet, Tavaro shifted to making sewing machines and the world was introduced to the Elna Grasshopper.

The Grasshopper’s efficient and functional metal carrying case was ideal for wartime. Right away when Pauline brought these machines into the shop to show us, I thought that the case looked like something from M*A*S*H 4077 (1970’s reference…) !

Whenever bombs were dropping, bullets whizzing through the streets and soldiers were marching through small towns, the Elna sewing machine was easy to pack up and compact, making it possible for refugees escaping the horrors of war to carry it as they fled to safe havens on trains and buses.

At A Glance

When you first see the case, you aren’t sure what’s inside. Then after opening it up you are first struck by how cute the whole thing is… a little green sewing machine tucked inside.

The machine itself looks kind of funny. There’s this metal thing hanging from it. At first glance, you aren’t sure if it is a hanging rod or some weird attachment. Upon further inspection, we realized it was a knee controlled replacement for the traditional foot pedal.

The next thing that caught our attention was the fact that the fly wheel is at the bottom of the machine, not the top. The motor is located directly behind the fly wheel. It really looks a little funny, but very innovative for when it was made.

The power switch is located on the very top of the machine. The light housed above the needle, giving the user the best possible illumination while sewing, a definite improvement over the Featherweight.


This odd looking all metal portable sewing machine is equipped with the following standard features:

  • Straight stitch only
  • Knee lift
  • Two owner’s manuals
  • Carrying case doubles as work table
  • Free arm

Working on the Elna Grasshopper

The carrying case is functional in more ways than just providing a neat means of transport for the Grasshopper. It converts into a sewing table. Remember folks, this was 60 years before Sew Steady Tables came along!

I’m not sure how many other portable sewing machine carrying cases have as many unique features, but this one has certainly got to be at or near the top of the list.

With a case like this, you only need access to electricity to whip up a great outfit. You can literally open up an Elna Grasshopper and sew almost anywhere.

Just imagine riding on a train, waiting in an airport terminal or sitting in a coffee shop and sewing away while sipping on your favorite cappuccino, zooming along the rails to your next destination or waiting for your flight to start boarding.

Threading the Elna Grasshopper is a simple process

The only drawback is that when you use the carrying case as a sewing table, you do not have access to the free arm or bobbin case.

Threading the Elna Grasshopper is a simple process, but different from anything we had seen on other sewing machines.

There are no onboard guides, like those found on today’s sewing machines, but if you are familiar with operating sewing machines at all, you can figure it out easily.

Winding the bobbin is a little different from winding bobbins on other machines. The bobbin winding pin is located behind the balance wheel, attached to the motor axle.

Unlike most machines, it is not necessary to turn the balance wheel before winding the bobbin. The trick to remember, though, is the machine will NOT sew if you leave a spare bobbin on the bobbin pin.

The Elna Grasshopper is a straight stitch only sewing machine. The two step adjustable stitch length regulator is not the easiest to operate, but it works fine.

Like many other straight stitch only machines, the stitches produced by the Grasshopper are neat and have that distinctive look about them.

The Grasshopper stitches at the rate of about 500-700 stitches per minute. This is very good when you think of how small this machine is. It is also relatively quiet… which bodes well if you actually do decide to break out your Grasshopper and start sewing in a coffee shop or airport terminal.

In fact, the carrying case and sewing machine are both in remarkably good condition – especially when you consider how old they are.

One thing that really caused us to stop and take a second look is that the manufacturer not only recommends that a little bit of oil be put at several points all over the machine, users are also advised to add a little bit of kerosene near the bobbin shuttle.
Kerosene is a highly combustible fluid and we are not so sure we would recommend its use, but the owner’s manual specifically states oil at some points and kerosene at others.For now, one of the Grasshoppers that Pauline rescued during the move is on display in the store. We think this little green guy deserves to be enjoyed and viewed out in the open to remind us of a bygone era and show us some historical Swiss ingenuity. We think he is kinda special!


Clothesline Projects

Have you ever heard of sewing with cotton clothesline? You know the sturdy stuff used for hanging your clothes to dry?  Well there are some beautiful projects you can make that are no where near related for it’s recommended use like tying up your tomato plants or emergency rope to be kept in your car.

Here are a few…

There is also a book available “It’s A Wrap” by Susan Breier for Martingale Publishing.

Wind, wrap, and sew fabric strips into fantastic containers! Start with a plate shape to learn the technique. Then experiment with four basic container styles to create round, oval, square, and other shapes. Create purses, baskets, and bowls in an endless variety of sizes, shapes, and colors Simply wrap fabric strips around cotton clothesline, coil into the desired shape, and secure with machine stitching Special sections on lids, handles, and embellishments offer unlimited options for your own variations. 

Watch a video to see how it sewing with clothesline works

Need clothesline?  We have it in store or online here>