Tag Archives: quiltingmagic

Bold Move

Bold Move
Be Bold

Be Bold

This month’s Sugar Block! It’s called Bold. I really like it, especially because it was my first block in the new house. It was very difficult to undertake, because the cords for the iron and the machine were in the air and the cutting board was taking up a lot of space, along with pencil crayons and felts strewn all over the place. We’ve been here for a week and I managed to squeeze some sewing in. I think that’s amazing.

empty apartment

empty apartment

Bronwen was the best at keeping the kitty company for the ferry ride and was great at getting him settled into the new house. My sister said this picture was a sad shot. Personally I think it was a crazy day and this was the calm before the storm.

The truck

The truck

This is the behemoth I drove from Victoria, onto the ferry (at the commercial rate because I was 13′ tall and 33′ long) and then through to the north of Surrey. (For those of you not from these parts, that means I drove for about 3 hours). I even managed a three-point-turn in this puppy with no help!

fish tank hilarity

fish tank hilarity

This was probably the most comedic aspect of the truck unload process. The classic joke “how many <insert person’s title here> does it take to <insert mundane task here> pops to mind. It really did take three full grown men to move one aquarium. Okay, I’ll stop ribbing them. My husband is bent over to help the other guy on the end to slow the tank down, and they had it balanced on two dollies. The tank is 120 US gallons and empty it weighs about 300 lbs.  Luckily there were no injuries or issues with it. (It’s in the carport now.)

coming together

coming together

We got to hang up a few things since we got here. First was my big collage. It’s 4’x4′. I think it looks wicked cool in our entryway. I love the house’s original “pendant” light there.


This is a scrap fabric rug I’m making in the shape of a heart. I think it’s super cute and I look forward to finishing it.

craftsy inspired tool wall

craftsy inspired tool wall

Right before we left the island a lovely lady, Bonnie, who is a garment maker, gave me a big stash of quilter’s threads! Loads of aurifil, marathon metallic, and YLI polyesther! Perfect for embellishing!! I also thought I’d hang my rotary cutters and specialty rulers since in the old house they used to get lost under stuff all the time. I love the fact that most people would use my area as a dining room. In this house it’s a quilter’s den.

quilter's den

quilter’s den

As you can see the fabric has started bubbling out of the bins and I’ve configured things in a somewhat functional order. I was proud I managed to get the design wall batting up on my own!

pressing board

pressing board

My first official sewing project was to make a pressing board. The ironing board got trashed at the old dump. It was rusted and wobbly. I got a 2′ square piece of plywood, cotton batting (three layers), some strip yardage I made a while back that was simply taking up space, a staple gun, and duct tape. Layer all those together, staple, and cover the staples with the tape, and you have a killer pressing surface!

sooooo excited!

sooooo excited!

In other news, I  just treated myself to a mystery quilt workshop with my idol, Amy Gibson!!! This will be the first thing I get delivered to our new address! Way to start off on the right foot!!!

Scrap Happy block 1

Scrap Happy block 1

This is what I made today:  a 15″ square lone star as part of the 2013 Scrap Happy quilt along. I got my Y-seam skills on and made a truly scrappy block! This is the first time I’ve ever made a lone star that is not meant to have each row matching colours. I think I like this more random look. Suits me fine!

So now you all know what’s been going on in Handy Danielle land! I hope you are all doing well and I can’t wait to get back to regular updates!


Handy Danielle




Hi! Remember me? I blog here. It’s almost halfway through June and for those of you out there with kids, this is a CRAZY month for school! I have a preschooler who’s about to graduate to Kindergarten and even the preschool is hoppin’ with stuff to do. Every once in a while I’ll hear Bronwen singing a song to herself, under her breath, and when I ask what she’s singing, she says “mommy, it’s for school!” Not to mention all the stuff on the calendar that means alotting time on this day or that day for family BBQs and graduation day.

Talk about tired!

Talk about tired!

So I’ve been busy with that and also finishing the Dr. Who quilt. My friend Amanda has been waiting patiently for it and I’m in the home stretch to hand it over. It was one of the most advanced projects I’ve ever taken on–everything was paper foundation pieced, some of the sub-units had 50 pieces!! It was quite the exercise in patience. But at least I got all 20 blocks done and have completed the assembly.


I love this quilt as you go method. I can more easily quilt each block in my machine and then assemble the top with little sashing strips. I sewed the front and backs with my walking foot and then sewed the front together by hand. I had a classic tv marathon while doing this–it was definitely Columbo time after being relegated to my sewing room for a month.

Time to go mobile

Time to go mobile

So I rolled up each row like cords of wood and took my show on the road…to the family room, anyway. Once I got each block sewn together and then each row, it was time for a border treatment that I’ve been dying to try! And I must say, for a first time effort, I think it came out pretty badass. I made a big border with two narrow strips of the same navy fabric that predominates the quilt and one wide white strip.

bare naked border

bare naked border

I took a tip from a Cindy Needham class and she said to ditch everything before quilting. I must say, I’ve not heard this bit of advice before, but I thought what the heck? It’s only a few long, straight seams down the border. So I did. Then she said to work your design from the big stuff to the small details. For me, that began with quilting the navy strips with these squares. The next step will be the feather structure.

A note about thread:

You know, I wondered for ages what everyone was talking about when they praised Aurifil thread. So I bought a spool of green 50 weight Aurifil thread from my quilt shop. It was expensive and they only carry a very select few colours. They carry lots of Sulky, YLR and Gutermann. I use those a lot–Sulky and YLR for the more novelty stuff or quilting, and Gutermann for piecing. So anyway I tried my green Aurifil in the bobbin and on top to piece something (I don’t remember what). And the jamming and breaking was absolutely crazy-making, as my mother in law would say. So I put the spool on my rack and would stare at it longingly. “Why won’t you sew? You’re such a pretty colour!”

So on a whim and taking a risk, I wanted green feathers on my border treatment for this quilt. I used lots of variegated polyester thread to quilt the blocks out and wanted the border to be just as awesome.


I wanted to take the opportunity to make a truly arresting border for this quilt as I haven’t really had much artistic license in making it because the patterns were all very specific. I was always of the belief that quilt borders were kinda like backs–just there to make the quilt larger. But not anymore!

I figured out what would make the Aurifil work in my machine, too, by the way.  It works only if I use Gutermann in the bobbin and the Aurifil through the needle. Weird, I know. But at least I will get use out of this Gucci thread that I likely won’t buy again. Here’s the Aurifil feathers:


Along the navy strips I used an ivory Gutermann to do scribbling and cross hatching. The feathers were a blast! I used the same green thread to paint in the background. I found that it made the feathers stand out much more than if I’d left the background alone.


See? It really pops the feathers out, which I figure is important, as I took the trouble to quilt them. As a last bit of awesomeness I thought I needed some sparkle, since this was all quilted with cotton thread. So I wanted to use my 14 weight polyester thread and do some bobbin painting.


Check out that backbone on the feathers! I used that 14 weight variegated polyester in my bobbin and used a Sulky metallic thread in my needle. The trick to this technique is flipping your quilt upside down and delivering the heavy thread to the front! Now the spines of my feathers sparkle and I love them!

So here’s another word to the wise should you want to take on a border like this: make sure to stretch and walk around lots. I have serious body aches and sore hands from handing this quilt and all the thread painting. Honestly–it’s in my legs, hands, neck and arms. It’s a bummer. But the borders are almost done and this puppy will be ready for binding!

Have a good one and I’ll be back soon to update you on quilts and life in general.

Hurried half square triangles

Hurried half square triangles

All quilters, regardless of modern or traditional bent, are going to need to know how to make half square triangles (HSTs). So since the quilt I’m working on now requires over 100 of them, I thought I’d share the two methods I’ll be using.
The Drawn Line Method

Step one: place two squares right sides together and using the 45 degree mark on your ruler, draw a line down the centre. (I’m using a green friction pen.)

Step two: after doing this to the required amount of squares (this method yields two HSTs per square) sew 1/4″ to the side of the line. Not on the line! This is also a great opportunity to switch to a double sided 1/4″ piecing foot.

Step three: Now you can chain piece everything. After sewing this first seam, flip your chain around as though forming a circle and sew another 1/4″ seam to the side of your line.

Step four: now take your ruler and cut along the line.

Now you have two HSTs ready to be pressed. Everyone’s got their opinion about pressing. Seam open, to one side, starch or not, steam or not. This is my way of pressing and you take it with a grain of salt and do what you like best.
Danielle’s pressing method
First I take the cut triangles to the board. Then I give them a squirt of whatever’s on hand. Today I have Mary Ellen’s best press, but sometimes I use starch.
Then I take my steam iron (it’s a Rowenta pressure iron with a steam compartment separate from the iron itself. I love this iron and highly recommend it!) and put it on the seams like an elephant foot.

Then it’s safe to open the HST up and press the seam to the side and give it some steam.
Trim your dog ears and you’re done!

The Magic HST method
This method is cool because it yields four HSTs with each unit. The difference being the HSTs are smaller. So if you’d like larger units just start with bigger squares. This method is perfect for creating borders and you needs lots of HSTs in a hurry.
Step one: take your two squares of fabric and put the right sides together.

Now here’s the mind bending part. Sew 1/4″ all around the perimeter of the squares.

“That’s weird,” you say. But this method is all in the cutting.
Step two: take your ruler and align the sewn squares with the 45 degree marking. Cut from corner to corner.

Step three: now turn the two halves around and line them back up. Align the 45 degree marking on your ruler and cross cut from the other corner to corner.

Now you’re ready to press!


A brief note about pressing and both methods described: there is a lot of bias along the edges of these triangles. I recommend some kind of starch when pressing just for stability. And handle them with care as you’re working with them.

Have a great week!