Category Archives: Tuesday’s Tip

How to Spray Baste a Quilt Sandwich

Back a decade or so ago, basting a quilt sandwich took some time to complete. A “quilt sandwich” is simply the term we use once the quilt top, batting and backing are assembled together in preparation for quilting. In the “olden days”, we used to sew the layers of our sandwich together by hand with basting stitches or pinned 100’s of safety pins to hold the top, batting and backing together whilst the quilting took place. For a long while now there has been 505 Spray on the market and this has sped up the basting process considerably.

We knowSF515 that many of you out there have a few finished quilt tops out there waiting to be “sandwiched” and quilted. Perhaps you are a new quilter and are curious about this step in the quilt making process. Every week we have customers who ask us about how to use this spray and we want everyone to see how quick and effective this spray is.

It’s not difficult to use, just remember to apply sparingly. 505 Spray & Fix Temporary Fabric Adhesive is a temporary repositionable fabric adhesive designed for quilt basting, applique, sewing, embroidery and crafts. The adhesive will not transfer from the surface that is sprayed. It eliminates pinning and and allows repeated repositioning! It does not gum up sewing needles, cleans up with soap and water. It is odorless, colorless and acid-free.

Here at Hamels we offer two sizes of spray cans. What size do you need? Well, a small can should last for several medium to small  projects that you need to baste. However if you are busy making lots of quilt tops, invest in the larger can that will give you enough product to spray several large tops.


Here’s a quick video that shows how to use 505 Spray:

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!