February 2020 Newsletter/Blog

Posted by Christer Backlund on

Happy Valentine’s Day to all

I’m late this month, I apologize, life gets in the way. I had some good news the end of January, but it has taken up all my time for the last week. Right when I should have been writing this blog, isn’t that always the way it goes? And I have to confess, I’m having writers block 😩, or maybe it’s a brain fog due to our crazy erratic weather.

I really need to be 5 different people to be able to get everything done on time. The new year has hit the ground running and I’m still trying to catch my breath. We’ve had some fabulous new fabrics arrive. Hoffman’s beautiful Christmas prints on cozy Cuddle, so irresistible!  And of course, we have new shipments of fabric scheduled for delivery every week.

I’m working on some new sample quilts for the shop. I just love a new collection from Wilmington called Country Road Market. (hopefully I can get it done soon)

We have over 150 panels here at the Cottage, but they just keep making so many cool ones that we can’t resist. Check out this beautiful barn with the US flag.

Or this fun space panel & fabrics that glow in the dark.


We have also expanded our line of Leanin’ Tree cards, which should be arriving this week. The long arm keeps me busy too, quilting your lovely quilt tops. And……. I got my desk cleaned off, which was no small task! LOL

We are finally ordering the lumber to start the framing on the new house! The septic is in, the new electric service has been run and we are expecting the trenching for the new water lines to be done this month. It always takes so long waiting on utilities. Plus we are building it ourselves so that takes longer too. But it’s getting exciting now 😄 I can’t wait for my new big sewing room ! How wonderful it will be to have room to work and spread out. Because I always have multiple projects going at the same time. It will be heaven !! 😍 But, at this point it’s still plans on paper.

Keep Sewing & See you soon


Tip of the Month
This is a new feature to my newsletter/blog this year. Watch for it every month.
February 2020 Tip:
Don’t forget to change the needle in your machine OFTEN ! Needles wear out and won’t preform the best. Needles can develop burrs that catch the threads of the fabric and tear it. Any time you see or hear stress on the fabric, change your needle. You will be so glad you did.


Creative Stitcher’s Club : Friday Feb 14th (Happy Valentine’s Day) This month there will be a demonstration on how to transfer embroidery designs. Share and Show segment, bring your accomplishments to share. After that, we will explore the basics of Swedish Embroidery using Monks cloth. Please bring your basic embroidery supplies. (needles, scissors, needle threader, thimble, hoop, and if needed a desk type light and magnifying glasses.), plus scrap yarn or other fibers you wish to experiment with. ☺️ Mary is bringing the Monks Cloth and special needles. (you will need to reimburse her for those)

Remember, anything you purchase during the meeting that pertains to your project is 20% off, including books


Warriors Heart Quilt project. If you are looking for a project with meaning, feel free to contribute to our Warriors Heart Quilt Project. (Please remember these quilts and pillowcases are for adults) We have kits available for your convenience at wholesale prices or you can use up your stash if you choose. If you need the instruction sheet, let me know and I will email you a copy. You can check out Warriors Heart on their website.  www.WarriorsHeart.com

We are also a drop off point if you are participating in the Million Pillowcase Challenge.


Valuable Info



  You want to start sewing. You have a sewing machine and an iron, (or maybe not an iron). What else do you need, where do you begin? The all-encompassing questions that beginners ask. My youngest daughter recently went thru this and suggested I write a Valuable Info article about it. As a life time seasoned seamstress, I often take the simple basics for granted and forget that beginners do not. If you are a beginner, Congratulations, you are about to embark on a journey of self-fulfillment and therapy. (If you are an experienced seamstress and/or quilter, reach out and mentor someone who is beginning that journey.)

Here are some tools and tips that will help you get started:

Basic tools are more than just “helpful” tools, you will quickly find that you need them as much as your sewing machine.

But let me take a moment and talk a bit about the all important sewing machine. If you don’t have a sewing machine yet and are thinking about buying one, here is the best I can tell you. (and I get asked about this all the time) My best advise has 2 answers:

1)if you want a new machine, spend the maximum you can afford on a quality, “heavy” machine. (Expect to spend around $1000 & up).The heavy machines have metal parts and will perform better and give you less trouble. Please don’t buy a “cheap” new sewing machine. They will only frustrate you and cause you to loose interest in sewing. They are mostly made of plastic and do not hold up to the demands of even average sewing.

2)if you can’t afford the price of a new machine, look for an older machine. The older machines are mostly all metal and are long lasting work horses. They sew well and are easy to repair. You can find older (30 + yrs older), used machines in lots of places. I recommend that you once you find the right one, you have it serviced by a reputable service person, (our guy is fantastic), before you start using it. You will have a great machine that will last you for a long time for around a $300 investment. The simpler the machine the better for beginners.

Besides your machine, you will need an iron. I know a lot of people don’t iron much anymore, but you will need to press your seams at the very least.

Here is a list of other necessities for basic sewing:

The manual to your machine. This is a very essential tool. You will need to refer to your manual many times. For threading, settings, trouble shooting. Please keep it handy for frequent reference. If you have an older machine but no manual, you can find the manual downloads on-line for most machines.

Extra bobbins, you will need at least 6 bobbins. Bobbins are not universal, each brand of machine is going to have a specific bobbin. That being said, there are many brands that are compatible with each other. Always take a bobbin from your machine with you when you go to buy more. Make sure they are the same diameter and height.

Sewing machine Needles. Unlike bobbins, needles are universal. They fit all domestic sewing machines. You will need a couple of sizes of needles. You size the needle to the fabric and project. If you are sewing on delicate fabrics you will want to use a size 10 or 12 needle. Size 14 needle is a common standard size for most sewing. But if you are sewing layers of denim or heavy fabrics you will need a size 16 or 18. If you are sewing on knits of any kind you will need a ball point needle.

A seam ripper. Yes, you will need a seam ripper, we all do. I have been sewing for over 60 years and I still use a seam ripper all the time. Find one that fits your hand and is comfortable to use. Make friends with it. 😜

Point turner. This is a basic tool with many uses. If you are making something that has corners and needs to be turned inside out, you will need a point turner to push out those corners. Get one that has a smooth blunt point so you don’t push it all the way thru the fabric. A point turner can also be used to “press” seams open momentarily or crease the fabric to mark a certain point.

Small thread scissors. Also called thread snips. For years I used my big 9” dressmaker shears to snip the threads and every sewing machine I have has big gouges in it where I accidentally whacked the machine on my way to clip the threads. Not a good idea.

Sewing Scissors. No matter what your project, you will need scissors to cut the fabrics. Again, scissors come in a wide array of choices. Pick one that fits your type of sewing, 8” dressmaker shears is a good basic sewing scissor, Then guard it with your life! Don’t let anyone use them for anything but fabric or you will be buying a new pair. The up-to-date way of cutting fabric is with a rotary cutter. They are fantastic, I do use them for so many things including cutting out garment patterns. To use a rotary cutter, you will need a cutting mat and a thick plastic ruler to cut against. But you will always need a good pair of basic scissors.

Seam gauge. This is a small measuring devise. It can come in many different styles. It is used to measure many things on you project from making sure you are sewing ¼” or ½” seam to the placement of a pleat or hem.

Pins. I couldn‘t do without my pins. Especially when you are a beginner, pins are your friend. Pin the fabrics together or pin a pattern onto the fabrics. Pins are an essential tool for every project. Pins come in many different types and sizes. Pick a set that is right for you and your sewing style, fine silk pins to stronger, longer quilt pins. Whatever you chose, you will need at least 50 pins.

The tools listed above are the basics. From there you can add all kinds of helpful and handy gadget tools. I have many, many different ones, helpful and handy. You will build your arsenal as you need them for different projects. But that is an entirely different article. The most important thing is that you enjoy your time sewing.

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