The Denim Quilt Project – Part Two


Last month I shared with you a project that has been on my wish list for quilt some time – a denim quilt made entirely from recycled jeans.

This month, I’m excited to share with you my finished quilt top. I’m so thrilled with how this turned out. You can read about how I prepped my jeans in my previous post.

I was eager to lay out my quilt squares and get to sewing together my quilt top.

Of course, never one to make it easy on myself, we are mid-main floor renovations… and have had to vacate the house during the day for the last little bit BUT never fear, I’m flexible. I just took my Janome Skyline S7 out into the backyard for a little sewing in the wild. LOL!


I don’t think I mentioned this little tidbit last month but the Janome Acufeed Flex (walking foot) was amazing for keeping my denim from buckling and pulling while I was quilting my squares together. This foot has become a regular on my machine.

Here is my finished quilt top…


I’m just loving weathered jean indigo with a pop of colour. The little squares of fabric are few and far between but I know when the quilting is done, it will all come together.


(It was super windy out when I took these photos and I won’t lie, I was a little worried my quilt might blow off and end up in the creek!)


Ah, that little pop of colour. These were left over scraps that I cut into little three-inch squares quite some time ago. So perfect for this project!

But wait… there’s more! (Can you tell I love a good infomercial?) Be sure to tune in next month (DYK that I post on the last Friday of every month?) and I’ll share with you my final reveal of this project – how I finished this quilt with backing and quilting.

Have you sewn a quilt with recycled fabric? What’s your craziest story about taking quilt photos? Ever had your quilt blow into the water while taking quilt pics?

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Why do I need a serger?

Introducing Janome’s new Air thread serger: the AT2000D

Do you sew mostly garments?

Let’s face it, unfinished garment seams, especially on woven fabrics, aren’t durable over time. Eventually the fabric will fray, showing the unfinished edges and sometimes your seams will start to unravel. (That’s the beginning of the end for your handmade garment!)

If you look at your store-bought clothes you will most likely notice the flawless edge of the seams. This is where the brilliant work of a serger comes into play – it stitches and trims away excess fabric along the edge all at once!

The serger can be set up to complete many finishes by simply adjusting the settings to suit your project. Investing in a serger will make your garments stand the test of time, while making them look professionally constructed.

Do you have limited time to sew?

Granted, not all of us are full-time home sewists. Some of us are lucky if we can have an uninterrupted stitching session while the kiddies are napping, or being able to sew straight after getting home from our full-time job! If your sewing time is limited, a serger can help you whiz through your projects quickly and efficiently.

A serger can be used for many finishes including construction of garments, through to finishing off the edges of fabric that will then be seamed on the sewing machine. In particular, the serger is useful for knit and stretch fabrics, as it helps to guide and seam these fabrics that are often difficult to sew using a sewing machine.

Do you have trouble with the edges of your seamed fabrics rolling after sewing with the sewing machine?

Does the fabric rolling in the seam allowance on the edge of your knit garment drive you batty? If you have experienced this before, you will know that it becomes difficult to sew other intersecting seams and creates an unnecessary bulk to your work.

Sergers can help with this issue as the knit/stretch fabrics feed through with the help of the differential feed and allow you to create a nice flat seam allowance. Your waistbands and side seams will look a lot neater and sit more comfortably when you wear your garment.

Do you enjoy sewing home décor or accessorizing your home?

The serger can be used for more than just garment sewing. Have you ever wanted to work with fabrics that might end up needing to be washed or used frequently, and you worry about how they will cope?

The serger can be perfect for this as you can finish the edges of your pillows and other home deco items so that they are reinforced and secure for laundering and daily use. With a serger, you can stitch up lovely rolled hems to finish off your table linens, gathers for beautiful ruffles on pillows and so much more! The extra strength that is given when using the serger on the seams allows for a longer life to your handmade sewing projects.

One thing is for sure, once you decide to invest in a serger, it quickly becomes very difficult to imagine life without it! A serger can be the perfect addition for everyone. Contact an authorised Janome dealer today for a demonstration on the range of Janome sergers to see how much your sewing experience can be improved with this versatile machine.

ARRIVING SOON: GREAT STARTER KIT OF SERGER THREAD. Consists of 4 sets of 4 cones in black, white, grey and neutral. Ask your local Janome North America dealer about this thread today.

The new Janome air thread AT2000D serger will be available at select Janome dealers across Canada from September.

Our thanks to Janome Australia for some of the information in this post.

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Educator Pick of the month: Scissors

Where do we start? Not an easy blog to start writing as there are SO many scissors out there – many designed for different and specific purposes.  Perhaps the best place to start would be my go-to-over-&-over again scissors? I simply could not manage without the following pairs of scissors:

<<BTW before we start, allow me to indulge my language teaching history: there is no such grammatically correct thing as “a scissor” –  as in the singular. That would not get me very far as it would be one half of a broken pair of scissors! Still hear it occasionally so thought I’d throw that in. Same goes for a pair of pants/trousers but perhaps I should not get too carried away?!>>



  1. A good, sharp pair of dressmaking shears – for cutting out my garments

2. A sharp pair of curved embroidery snips – for snipping machine embroidery threads

3. A sharp pair of small scissors for general thread snipping. Could be the same as #2 although I prefer straight scissors for non-embroidery snipping.



Yes well…what can I say… mugs make very good collection holders!!

Now I know there are all sorts of other pairs of scissors available and I will have you know I’m somewhat of a collector (see pic above). But as with many collectors: do we actually use all of what our collection has to offer us? In my case, No, not really. I stick with my top 3 listed above and honestly probably would not really miss the rest. Now mind you that is my opinion……For example, I sold both my pairs of duck billed applique scissors some time back as I did not like them and consequently never used them. But the 2 people who bought them at a bargain price (one was a Gingher and my friend who bought that pair told me I was barking mad for selling them…but she scored!)


4. And I do try not to use my good dressmaking shears on paper garment patterns so I do have a pair of big “paper” scissors which are not terribly special as I know they will blunt quite quickly cutting paper. Pretty much any old pair will do for this purpose.

TIP #1: Don’t use serrated scissors on paper. You will probably struggle to find someone who will be prepared to sharpen a pair of serrated scissors and if you do find someone, they should tell you that sharpening grinds away the serrated edge…..rather defeats the object of serration I think. However, I DO have a serrated pair of shears and I totally love them for cutting knit fabrics as the fabric does not slip nearly as much as with non-serrated scissors.

TIP #2: Have a pair of your favourite scissors on or within reach of all your sewing work areas.  I get easily irritated if I mislay items while I’m on a creative roll so I ensure I have more than 1 pair of the types of scissors above. I have one #2 or #3 at my sewing machine, another the same at my serger & CPX; and another on my ironing board. Incidentally, I do the very same thing with magnetic pin cushions and Clover clip “bowls” as I can’t be bothered with hunting around for pins etc when I need them. Yes, I know I could hang the scissors around my neck but I have stabbed myself in the belly or leg once too often to like that option. Not joking.  And I have tried wrist pin cushions and I’m not a fan. So I just duplicate pin cushions and scissors around my sewing room and I’m a happy girl.

TIP#3: Hide your very special scissors away when your little ones come to visit. Mine love crafting. And I love them but they know which scissors they may use on paper and card stock and which ones are Nanna’s special ones and can only be used by Nanna for fabric!

What is your very favourite pair of Janome scissors?

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Fun and Easy Tote Bag using the Janome HD 3000BE

Recently, I had the pleasure of sewing on the new special Black Edition of the Janome HD 3000. I LOVE the look of this machine and took it along to a quilting retreat so I could really put it through it’s paces. HD stands for Heavy Duty so I specifically chose some projects where strength and durability would be key.


First project to tackle was a tote bag.  I don’t know about you but I always seem to have SO much to carry with me: to retreats, classes, or running around town doing errands, (perhaps a little impulse shopping along the way, too) so a roomy tote is ideal to take along wherever I go.


One of my favourite tote bag patterns is The Everyday Tote by Northcott. It’s a free download from their website and it’s ultra simple and versatile to customize. As well, it’s a great project for all skill levels and it can be done in a day. Yay!



The photos above are of the sample I made for the classes I teach on The Everyday Tote, but, for the tote which I sewed at the retreat, I wanted to use the fabric I had quilted recently on the Janome Quilt Maker Pro 18 with Pro Stitcher Premium computer.



While the original pattern of The Everyday Tote instructs to use a lining, I skipped that step so I saved a little time and fabric and could utilize more of the features of the Janome HD 3000BE.

The Janome HD 3000BE comes with the extra bonus of the Quilting Attachment kit,


which includes 4 specialty presser feet, the Quilting Guide Bar and, my most favourite accessory, the adjustable Seam Guide, or Cloth Guide. This kit is also available separately so visit your local Janome dealer for more information.


The adjustable Seam Guide/ Cloth Guide attaches into the bed of the machine with the included thumb screw and it allows you to achieve perfectly straight stitching. I chose to bind the edges of the front pocket I made for my tote so I used the Seam Guide/ Cloth Guide to help me stitch in the ditch between the pocket fabric and the checked binding. Worked perfectly!

Below, you see the adjustable Seam Guide/ Cloth Guide in use while I stitched parallel rows of straight lines through the many bulky layers of the handles.

I certainly appreciated the machine’s penchant for heavy duty sewing while I was constructing the handles for my tote:  4 layers of fabric in the seam allowances plus 2 layers of Pellon’s Flex-Foam, which I used to add strength, body and comfort to the handles. Lots of bulk but it sewed like a hot knife through butter!


This was definitely a time to use my trusty Wonder Clips by Clover. SO much easier to use than pins!



Since the Janome HD 3000BE comes with 8 snap on presser feet (not including those in the bonus Quilting Attachment kit), I could quickly and easily switch between them while constructing my tote. In the above photos I used the Overedge Foot for perfectly even edge-stitching about 1/8″ from each edge of the handles. You can see the little black metal guide at the side of the foot which allowed for such even stitching. I love having that little extra reassurance so I get the results I want, especially while sewing fast! Even though this foot was designed for a different purpose (which I’ll show a little later), I wanted to maximize all the options which came with the machine to show it’s versatility.

This was also the case when I switched to the Clear Buttonhole Foot to sew a narrow facing onto the inside of the tote. The Clear Buttonhole Foot is designed so you can manually make a buttonhole whatever length you wish, but I used it for a different purpose. Since the foot is clear plastic it allowed me better visibility and accuracy when sewing over my previous line of edge-stitching. Again, the Everyday Tote pattern says to use a lining, but I chose to customize my tote instead and sewed this little facing to finish the top raw edge of my tote.

I took this little video so you could see that even though I was edge-stitching through multiple layers: 4 layers of fabric and 2 layers for Flex-Foam in the handles, plus 2 layers of fabric in the accent trim, PLUS an additional 2 layers of fabric in the seam allowance, PLUS an additional 2 layers of the facing fabric in the seam allowance, the Janome HD 3000BE really stood up to it’s heavy duty name sake.

By the way, anyone every try sewing with one hand while holding your phone in the other hand trying to film it? NOT easy! The things I do for my job! lol!

I used the Clear Buttonhole Foot again when I top-stitched the pocket onto the front of the tote bag. I adjusted the blind hem stitch so it was very small and narrow and I stitched along the outside edge of the checked binding. I know this pocket will get a lot of use, so I opted to stitch in the ditch along the inner binding seam as well.


The Clear Buttonhole Foot has a line marking in the front of the foot which lines up with the needle. (I’m sorry, it’s a little difficult to see on the fabric so my stiletto is pointing to the line) This marking helped keep my stitching just where I wanted it – in the ditch, even though this isn’t technically a “stitch in the ditch” foot. As I learned over the 4 days of sewing on this machine, there is A LOT of versatility to the Janome HD 3000BE.

Since I elected to omit a lining from my tote, I needed to finish the raw edges when it was time to sew the layers together. The Overedge Foot and corresponding stitch was the obvious choice as it mimics the professional look of a serger.



I love that little red indicator which moves as you select any of the 18 built-in stitches. The chart on the inside of the top lid lists all the stitches, settings and presser feet to use for whatever kind of sewing you’d like to do.


As I mentioned earlier, the stitch length and width are adjustable, too, so there’s even more flexibility.




I SEW love this tote, especially since I had a hand in constructing even the fabric! It certainly came in handy when packing up from the retreat as I somehow collected even more goodies than I brought. Maybe the stops at three local quilt shops had a little something to do with it. lol!

In a future post I’ll share another project I constructed using the fabulous Janome HD 3000BE.  Visit your local Janome Dealer for more information.


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We thought you might be interested to know that Janome North America has teamed up with our friends at Craftsy to provide our premiere sewing machines for their top quality educational sewing content.This means you have access to great online classes – some of which are free and which feature one of your favourite Janome machine models. Find out more.

Here is a link to find FREE Janome + Craftsy classes  which include classes like Classic Machine Embroidery, Sewing Double Pointed darts; Serging Ribbing; Easy Grid quilting with painters tape; Creating a wrist strap; Machine Savvy: tips for creative sewing …….as you can see, there is a mixed bunch of topics – something for everyone.

There are also many great full classes like Amy Johnson’s Ruler Quilting classes – Amy is a Janome Dealer in the USA and her 2 Ruler quilting classes are very good!

Are you looking for inspiration and excellent online tutorial instruction on a wide variety of topics? Check out the links above……you are in for a treat and sew lovely to see our favourite models used for the sewing education!


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Skills Canada 2018

Skills Canada 2018

In early June, Julia (who is the Janome District sales Manager for Western Canada) and I had an opportunity to attend Skills Canada 2018 in Edmonton, AB. What exactly is Skills Canada? It is the culminating event to provincial skill competitions held each spring. All kinds of trades and techniques are represented, from auto mechanics to candy making to sewing to landscaping. The event took up 3 sections of the Edmonton Expo Center, and included fully built sections showcasing different skills.

The sewing competition was hands down amazing. Each student was provided with a Janome Pro 4DX Serger and 1600P Sewing Machine.  They were challenged to draft and complete a trench coat……in only 2 days! I think most of us would be hard pressed to complete that kind of project with a timeline like that, but these students were amazing. They came from all across Canada, including 6 female competitors and 1 male competitor, from British Columbia to New Brunswick. It was awe inspiring to see the skills, work ethic and professionalism displayed by these students. I took lots of pictures of their finished projects, but not too many during competition as I didn’t want to distract them from their goals. But have a look at the slideshow below to see the details of their projects.


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When we left the event, we didn’t know who the winner was ( this person will represent Canada at the World Skills Competition to be held Russia in 2019. But I am pleased to let you know that Lisa Aernoudts from Quebec won the competition and will hopefully be attending this event.

While the students were competing, we had the pleasure of introducing many school aged students to sewing. Lots of these students had never tried sewing before, so we taught them a simple project that allowed them to practice finger pressing, sewing, and snap setting. They were thrilled to make something their own that they could proudly show off to their family and friends.

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I look forward to seeing what becomes of this next generation of sewists and crafty people!


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Janome foot of the month: Janome Gathering foot

The Gathering Foot will create soft gathers in your fabrics. The bottom of the foot is specially designed to feed the fabric so it gathers between each stitch, creating a soft gathered edged as you sew. Density is controlled by varying the stitch length, the longer the stitch the more gathers. This is a different technique than full-on rufflers.
Pic and caption courtesy of

We have pointed you in the direction of a very useful and beautifully presented website many times: We will do this again today. There is a very good tutorial on sewing gathers by machine which covers many different gathering techniques. Some you may have tried …….indeed you may have used a technique successfully for many years. However there is more than 1 way to gather by machine so let Liz Johnson of sew4home show you.

pic courtesy of sew4home

I specifically wanted to highlight the Janome Gathering foot V today as a viable alternative to fussing around with long rows of basting stitches. True – we have done that many times but it can be  frustrating fiddle to ensure the threads don’t snap and that the gathers are even across the fabric. So here is a great alternative. Please  note that this link gives good information including parts #’s for this foot for various Janome models as well as short video’s on how to use this foot.

pic courtesy of sew4home

Please read the blister package instructions for using this foot: To be successful, we highly recommend you use a stitch length of 3mm or longer and that you tighten the needle thread tension a little. The amount of gathers will be determined by the stitch length you opt for + the tension on the thread. More length and tension >>>more gathers.  But the really clever design of this foot (see pic below) is what achieves gathers forming as it slows the feeding of the fabric against the feed dogs. In addition you can put your finger gently behind the foot to further slow down the fabric feeding and more gathers will form.

the specially designed foot allows gathers to form under the foot

We suggest you do a test stitch to establish how much gathers you require. Experiment with stitch length, tension and the pressure of your finger behind the foot until you achieve the look you desire. Make a note of the settings for future use if you wish.

Do remember that different fabrics will gather differently. For example a soft chiffon is going to gather very well so stitch length and tension need not be too big. Denim or corduroy will be something else entirely!

A question I am often asked when I demo this foot is: How do I know how much fabric I need to gather a frill around a pillow? Fair question. The quick, easy answer is just to make more frill than you need and cut off what you don’t require. But some of us don’t like waste so here is my suggestion: when you have established your gathering “formula” as described above, measure the length of the fabric you started with and the gathered end result. This will give you a ratio to work with which you can then apply to your specific measurements. I will let you do the math!

Delightful projects courtesy of sew4home using gathers & ruffles:

Do you struggle with gathering fabric? Is it a frustrating hassle? Then we would like to suggest you ask your local authorized Janome dealer to show you the Gathering foot for your Janome machine today.

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Mark your calendars for African Fashion Week August 30 – Sept 2nd, 2018!

Perhaps you’re like me and you love the excitement and inspiration which comes from admiring other artisan’s works. It can really help clear out the cobwebs and kick-start your own burst of creativity.

If you’re needing some new inspiration, or just love to “oh” and “ah” and marvel in the creative genius of others, then consider attending African Fashion Week Toronto, which will be held at the Globe and Mail Centre in downtown Toronto August 30 – September 3rd, 2018.


Continuing in their tradition of helping to celebrate and nurture new/ young talent, Janome is one of the sponsors and will be donating some fabulous sewing machines throughout the event. While that’s exciting enough in itself,  I’m SEW excited because I – yes! little ole’ ME! – have been asked to be a judge in the competition August 30th. Can you believe that?!

Be sure to check out the AFWT Instagram page for more information and some fabulous photos from previous shows, including the video below.

Part of my excitement of attending and participating in this show is that it takes me back (just a few years, lol!) to when I was studying Fashion Design in college. I remember very well the fun, excitement – and the great bundle of nerves – which goes with competing in design competitions. What a treat it’ll be to be on the other side of the judge’s table for once! Who am I kidding? I’ll still be a bundle of nerves trying to choose a winner, lol!

Be sure to check back to Janome Life in the coming weeks as I’ll post lots of photos from the runway and behind the scenes, and of course of the winners and their fabulous new Janome machines.

Perhaps you’ll use YOUR fabulous Janome machine to whip-up something special to wear to African Fashion Week Toronto!


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It is very useful to see all the little details on the work space when digitizing.  Artistic Digitizer helps me to change my point of view so I can see clearly.  Using the icons at the top of the screen when on the open work space, I can change the settings.

Note this applique design created in Artistic Digitizer:  It has the outer edge stitches for the applique and an auto digitized design from clip art in the Artistic Digitzer software.  The two elements were merged together onto one work space.

view merged desgins.jpg

I like to see the individual steps to create the design.  I also am distracted by the background graph/grid.  This can be changed easily.

Click on the ‘view’ icon view iconat the top of the screen.  In the drop down menu, choose grid > uncheck the ‘show’ by clicking on it to turn it off.  This  view is much easier to see all the elements in relation to each other and the colors of the design without the grid colors and lines distracting me.

view without grid lines

It is also useful to see the sequence ( stitch order) of the embroidery elements.  The default for the program is set to ‘auto’ and shows in the sequence box at the right with all the elements in one space.

sequence box

To change this look, click on the ‘auto’ icon at the top of the screen.  This will change the view to manual.

auto sequence icon              manual sequence icon

Now in the sequence box at the right we can see each individual step of the embroidery design  and the order in which it will stitch.  This allows me to select a single step of the design by clicking on it in the sequence box and editing it however we want.

manual sequence box view

This view is easier to see and select each one to edit the individual elements.  If there are a lot of elements, you may need to scroll  down in the sequence box to see all the steps the design will take to embroider your masterpiece.



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More travels with Janomegirl

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At the beginning of June, I made my first solo trip into the BC Okanagan, where I visited Anderson Sewing Center in Kamloops. After a brief torrential downpour, and some technical difficulties with my computer, we had a blast learning about Ruler Quilting. The ladies at Anderson’s are definitely knowledgeable about their Janomes, and can answer any question you throw at them!

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Next was Findlay’s vacuum & Sewing  in Vernon. It was so close to my hotel, which was lovely and I was able to meet some more ladies and show them my samples and techniques. We had a great day learning about the Janome MC 15000 and Ruler Quilting. Findlay’s Vacuum and Sewing is full of Janome’s and their accessories, so they can for sure help you out with your foot and accessory needs in the Vernon area.

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Last but not least, I visited Linda’s Quilt Shoppe in Kelowna. I did arrive in a “hot mess”, lol, as I had miscalculated the length of time it takes to get from Vernon to Kelowna. Fortunately all of the attendees were understanding and patient with me, and asked me lots of great questions. I so enjoyed spending my day with them, teaching about the Janome MC15000 and ruler quilting. And then the next day, we spent some time discovering what the Janome Quilt Maker Pro Long-arm can deliver for quilters.  My goodness, that was fun! Everyone had a chance to practice their name, some pantograph work and then some free motion doodling to see how a long arm quilter moves across a quilt. Linda’s Quilt Shoppe also has a great selection of fabric, patterns and notions. If you are Kelowna-bound this summer, make sure to plan a visit there!

At the end of my trip to British Columbia, I had an opportunity to check out a local yarn festival ( I love to knit) and that was a real treat. Knitting adds such flavor to my creative soul, because I can keep creating even tho my sewing machine is at home.


And I also have become very adept at travelling in little planes! The only way in and out of Kelowna from Calgary is in a tiny 40 seater plane. But I have to tell you, the landings on those little planes are way smoother!  I can’t wait to go back to the Okanagan and see how everyone is coming along with their skills and techniques with their Janome machines.


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