Japanese Quilting Study Group- A Quilt Finish

If you’ve been following this series, you’ve seen a LOT of pictures of my Hexagon and Rail Fence quilt (made from a Yoko Saito design in her book, My Quilting Life).

Journey quilt

Today, that quilt is finished, and I am both happy and sad.  Happy with the way it came out, and with all I learned through the process of making it. Sad that it’s finished and will no longer be my quiet stitching” project at the end of each day.

I decided to call the quilt “Journey”, for a number of reasons.  One, it has been a long journey to make this quilt, much different from the journey of following an American pattern.  Believe it or not, the instructions for this quilt were about 5 pages long, including diagrams.  Especially since I made the quilt bigger than the directions, and because the pattern was written in metric measurements, there was quite a bit of math involved to get it all right.

Journey label

And the other reason for the name is that this quilt is going on a journey.  It will be traveling with my good friend Teresa Wong as she presents book tours across the country for her wonderful new book.  Sometimes I wish my quilts could talk, and tell me all about their adventures!


Journey detail

Here’s a close-up, both of the quilting and my favorite flower in the whole quilt. That little plaid flower with the pink center just seems to twirl every time I see it, and it makes me smile.



Happy Stitching, my friends! I’m off to start a few new quilt journeys.. . .




If You Give a Build-a-Bear a Sundress

If you give a build-a-bear a sundress. .. .

first bear






All the other build-a-bears in the house will probably want one too.

all the bears








So you’ll make a sundress for each of them.  While you’re sewing, the bears will raid your studio.  They’ll have lots of fun playing with the scraps.  Soon, they will decide they need accessories to go with the dresses.  So you’ll pull out your pinking shears and make some.

checking out scraps






Once they’re all dressed up, they’ll be quite pleased with themselves, and want to go do something fun.

all dressed up






So you’ll take them to the snow cone stand.  Once they’re at the snow cone stand, they will have a really tough time choosing just one flavor.  So you’ll get a snow cone for each of them.







Once they have their snow cones, the build-a-bears will want to try each other’s snow cones.  So they’ll all share spoonfuls.  Some of the snow cones (the red ones) will end up on the dresses.  So you’ll take them home to wash out the dresses.  While they’re waiting for the dresses to dry, one of the bears will ask you for a second dress.  And chances are, if you make her a sundress. ..  . The rest of the bears will want one too!

more dresses






Special thanks to Thousand Square Feet for the most excellent sundress tutorial. And to Laura Numeroff for the wonderful book series that inspired today’s post.  And to my kiddos, for helping me style and pose the bears, and for helping to finish the snow cones once the bears got full.

Happy Stitching!





So Easily Distracted. . .

Last week I saw an e-mail advertisement for a Craft University class on designing fabric with Photoshop and Illustrator.  The class sounded pretty neat, and both of those programs are ones I need help learning, so I made a total impulse decision and signed up.

So far, the class has been fantastic.  My only gripe is that I just want to sit on the computer and play with ideas instead of taking care of all the other things going on in our world right now (like getting the kids ready to head back to school next week– where did the summer go???)

Before I started this class, I knew how to open a picture in Photoshop, crop it, and slap a watermark on it. That’s it.

Now, I’m dangerous. . . . Here’s the class homework I submitted.  The assignment was to take your hand drawn sketches, scan them, open them in photoshop, color them, and create a simple random repeat.

shell design by Emily Breclaw

It’s far from flawless, but I had so much fun creating this.  I might just head over to spoonflower and get a yard of my own fabric.  It would make a cute little hand sewing kit, don’t you think?





Happy Stitching!



Japanese Quilting Study Group- More Taupes and More Progress

Welcome to this month’s edition of the Japanese Quilting Study Group!

I am still working hard on my Hexagon and Fence Post quilt from Yoko Saito’s book, My Quilting Life. I still love this quilt. However, it is officially the most difficult quilt I have EVER attempted. I have been agonizing over the center border curves. The book’s instructions say to cut the hexagons in a curvy pattern.  Here’s a progress picture of that border before cutting the curves:

fence post frame





The idea of cutting all those hand-pieced hexagons, and maybe messing them up, or having the seams unravel before I could baste them down, absolutely terrified me. I just couldn’t do it.

Instead, I cut the smoky teal border strips around the rail fence center to match those curves. I figured, if worst came to worst, I had more of that fabric and could redo the borders if I messed it up.

Now I’m making progress once again, and have nearly all the border strips appliqued:

fence post almost finished

I’m hoping to get a lot of the hand quilting done this weekend, as soon as I determine how to quilt it. Any suggestions?


Last weekend we visited the Midlothian quilt festival and had a ball.  In amongst all the “trendy” fabrics at the vendors, I hit on a treasure:  fat quarter taupe bundles with the Serenti line from EE Schenck and Daiwabo.

taupe bundles






Aren’t they delectable?

light taupes







dark taupes






Not sure what I’m going to do with them yet, but it feels rather decadent to have a taupe stash of my own!

Happy Stitching!



Stitch Fall 2015!

I am so excited to share some sneak peeks of the new Stitch issue with you!  Their magazines are always gorgeous, but I think they outdid themselves on this one!

Stitch Fall 2015 COVER






All photographs are courtesy of JackDeutsch.com

Here’s my project, a super-quick, fun little sashiko accent for your kitchen.  I can’t wait to get my samples back to start using them! Don’t you just love how they staged this photo?  I may just have to paint one of the walls in my studio a dusky teal so I photograph my quilts like this.

Breclaw Sashiko Tea Towel







In case you want to see the sashiko up close, the next picture is one I took before sending the towels off for their professional photo shoot.

sashiko tea towels

Look for this issue on newsstands next week (July 28), or if you can’t wait that long, it’s already available digitially.

Happy Stitching!













More Christmas in July Fun!

I think I may be a tiny bit obsessed with Christmas quilts this month!  I’ve finished a second one, and sent it off early last week for photography.  I’m so excited to show it to you. . . . sometime in October!  For now, though, here’s a close-up of the quilting on the back:

mistletoe quilting design

I freehanded mistletoe leaves and berries.  I had hoped to include holly leaves too, but my machine was NOT happy with those.  The thread kept breaking in the points of the leaves.  Maybe my tension is too tight overall?

Yesterday I started cutting into scrap yardage for a THIRD Christmas quilt.  This one will be a “rough draft” of a pattern I’m working on for the Little House on the Prairie fabric from Andover.  So I’ll hopefully have a finish and a pattern on that one in early September.

Christmas fabric strips

So many exciting projects, and I really SHOULD be unpacking instead of sewing.  Oh, well! What are you stitching up this week?

Don’t forget my Christmas in July pattern sale if you’re looking for holiday inspiration!

Happy Stitching!


Christmas Whirlwind Pattern Release and SALE!

While I may be behind on everything else right now, I’m tickled pink that I’ve already finished a Christmas quilt! Today I’m so excited to share a new pattern with you, Christmas Whirlwind!

whirlwind blog

This fun quilt is made with the lovely Downton Abbey Christmas Collection for Andover Fabrics.  I had a ball playing with the different sizes and orientations of pinwheel blocks.  This is a very easy quilt to piece, and goes together quickly.  I’ve included step-by-step piecing directions with ample diagrams. Last week I shared an alternate color version of the quilt made with Civil War reproduction fabrics.  I keep thinking this would also be fun with bright colors on a lime green background, or white fabrics with a blue background. . . So many possibilities!

And because it’s such a fantastic feeling to have a Christmas quilt already made for the year, I’m offering a special sale on ALL of my Christmas patterns in my Craftsy store for the whole month of July.  Hopefully one of them will inspire you to get a jump start on your Christmas quilting too!

Christmas in July






Happy Stitching!



Happy Fourth of July- and a Sneak Peek!

My apologies for the lapse in blog posts! Getting back into a routine after our move has proven to be a bigger challenge than I had originally imagined.  But there have been several exciting quilty adventures in the new studio that I’m looking forward to sharing with you as soon as I can.

Here’s a sneak peek of a new pattern that will be available next week.  This is my “rough draft” quilt, and the patriotic color scheme seemed very fitting for the fourth of July weekend:

Whirlwind preview








Tune in next week for the pattern and a very special sale!

Happy Fourth, and Happy Stitching!!


Quilting in Boxes

This is my first time to write a post from my cell phone, so it will be brief. We’re in the middle of a move, and don’t have computers set up yet.

Studio and kitchen, however, are functional! Here’s a sneak peek of the new studio. I love all the space, and the lighting is amazing!new studio

Hopefully I’ll have more fun stuff to share next week, but right now my progress is limited to an un-photogenic stack of empty boxes.

Happy Stitching!

Magna Glide Delight Bobbins and the Artistic SD Machine

When I first bought my Janome Artistic longarm, the demo machine was running on Magna Glide delight bobbins.  I’ve been a huge fan of Glide thread for years now, as it makes the most beautiful quilting stitches of any thread I’ve tried on either my domestic or longarm machine.

So I bought some of the prewound bobbins, just to see how that worked.  One thing I do not like about the Artistic is winding bobbins.  It usually takes me several tries to get it right.  It reminds me of trying to wind a yo-yo as a child.  The string would just go round and round, never quite catching.  Same thing with winding bobbins.

Long story short, it took a while for me to get these bobbins to work out right. After some online research and a note to the great folks at Glide threads, I finally figured out why the thread was breaking so often.

First of all, these bobbins don’t have sides to them.  So you have to remove the little anti-backlash spring in the bobbin case, or it will fray your bobbin thread.  It looks like this:

remove check spring

And yes, I promise you can put it back in when you’re done- just hold it with a pair of tweezers and gently press it back into the case.  Then run the tweezers along the side of the spring to lock it in.

Secondly, there’s a right and a wrong way to load the bobbin.  You want the magnetic side to go into the case first, and the blue plastic side to show once the bobbin is in.  Like so:

metal in first






plastic to outside






If you don’t do it this way, your bobbin will stick inside the machine instead of inside the bobbin case.  Not fun.

Now I’m back to happily quilting away on the Artistic.  I think my machine loves Glide threads as much as I do!!

Happy Stitching!