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Ola, Sugar Skull Pattern!

October 22, 2015
New pattern available in my Easy store: HappySewLuckyShop

Last year I participated in the Michael Miller Fabric Challenge with the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild. You had to use their Petal Pinwheels fabric in pretty much any way you wanted. There was something about the colours and the higgledy piggledy teeth-like print that reminded me of a sugar skull. So that’s what I decided on. I designed a pattern end I ended up with this:

Sugar Skull Quilt

I pieced the quirky teeth fabric for the mouth, and used reverse appliqué for the eyeballs. For the hearts and the cheeks I wanted some extra dimension, so I did a bit of stuffed appliqué – my version of trapunto. (I know, it’s not REAL trapunto, but it did the trick for me.)



When I posted it on Instagram it got a lot of positive feedback, so I put it on my list of things to make a pattern for. This month, Daryl from Fabric Spark and I decided to collaborate on a project for her Creative Festival booth. So I designed a simplified version of my skull pattern that would be a tad less daunting than the one above. Here’s how it looks:

New pattern available in my Easy store: HappySewLuckyShop

New pattern available in my Easy store: HappySewLuckyShop

No stuffed appliqué and machine appliquéd skull instead of hand-turned and stitched. Embroidery pattern

Sugar Skull pattern

Daryl made up kits with fabric panels with the skull embroidery pattern printed on, to save you having to trace it. Then she picked fabrics for cushion backgrounds that would work well with the Day of the Dead design theme. Her kits also included matching embroidery floss. She has a few kits left over that she plans on making available soon in her fabulous online store, Fabric Spark.

If you prefer to choose your own cushion fabric and buy just the pattern, you can get a PDF version in my Etsy store: HappySewLuckyShop.

Although there’s a fair bit of embroidery involved, it’s a great project for road trips or when you have to sit in the car waiting for your kids while they’re at music lessons. The appliqué part is not tricky, and the cushion itself is really simple to put together. You can get the 18″ pillow forms at Ikea or many fabric or upholstery stores.

If you bought one of the kits at Fabric Spark, or the pattern from my Etsy store, I’d love to see how yours turns out so please tag me on social media when you post it.

See you on Instagram! :-)

EYEBALLS Quilt – Block Lotto tutorial

July 19, 2015

Happy Sew Lucky

BOO! The next TMQG meeting is in October, so our next block lotto is spectacularly Hallowe’en themed. I’ve had this eyeball quilt in my head for a while, so I figured this was the perfect time for it. The idea being a whole lot of googley eyes staring out of the darkness. Some nasty ones, some scaredy ones and some looking left and right to see who’s there. There will be lots of stories to tell with this quilt! It would also be awesome to hang from your front window as decoration on Halloween night.

A quick note to take care of business: This is a free tutorial written and designed by me. Any guild or quilt group is welcome to use it for a group project or block lotto. However I ask that you please link to this tutorial for others to follow the instructions. Please do not repost my design, images or text on your blog without my written permission. You are welcome to make this quilt for your own personal use or for a gift. You may not however sell anything made using this design without my written permission. Under NO circumstances may you sell any form of a pattern or tutorial based on this tutorial. Thank you.

The first option is pretty simple to do – sort of a variation of the snowball block. There are a couple of more complex variations for you to try out if you want to get more creative. This tutorial explains the concept and gives step by step instructions, but the idea is that the eyes are all different sizes and locations on the block, so exact dimensions are not given. The idea is to have some fun with it!


Background: Kona BLACK OR Free Spirit BLACK – about 1/4 yard per block

(Available at The Workroom, Sew Sisters and Sew Be It Studio.)

Eye balls: White or low volume (should read as white) – Small amount per pair of eyes

Iris*: Orange, Purple or Lime Green solids – Small amount. *optional


Trimmed block size: 12 1/2″ square (Finished size 12″ square)

Seam allowance: ¼”

Block size: 12 ½” square trimmed

Block Lotto Deadline: TMQG October meeting – October 25th, 2015.


After reviewing the tutorial, sketch a drawing of the kind of eyes you’d like to make. Are they the Googly type? I which case which way are they looking or are the pupils surrounded by white? Then decide how big you want them to be, baring in mind the pair should not exceed 10″ square at the absolute largest. There is no limit on how small they can be. Then calculate your dimension and make a note of them on your sketch. (Tip: Remember to add 1/2″ to your cutting height and width measurements for the 1/4″ seam allowance)

eye quilt sketch


Start with the eyeballs. Cut the eyeball out of black, and then the whites of the eyes out of white. (Note: I have examples from two different eyeballs shown in these steps. One pair is looking to the side, and the other is staring ahead.)

HAalloween quilt

These eyes will be looking to the side. (If you want yours to stare ahead, add another white strip on the other side.)

Then stitch the side/s of the eyeball whites on.

Halloween Quilt Pattern

These eyeballs are different from the ones above, they will stare ahead.


Now cut 8 squares of Black fabric to make your corners – 4 per eyeball. (Recommended that these be about 1 1/2″ square)


Turn the pieced block Right Side Down and mark 45º angles across the corners for slightly smaller squares that the pieces you cut. So if your black squares have 1 1/2″ sides then mark 1′ or 1 1/4″ from the corners and draw your 45º line across. The extra bit of fabric just makes accuracy easier as you have a little wiggle room if needed.


Now place a black square Right Sides Together on a corner, matching up the two cut edges, and stitch along this line.

(Tip: Use a thread bunny when doing this to avoid thread snarling up under your tiny pieces. If you don’t know what they are, see a pic below.)

quilting tip

Thread bunnies are very helpful at preventing the snarly thread mess when starting at the cut edge of fabric. Instead start your stitching in the middle of a scrap – aka a thread bunny – then stitch a little chain of thread, then feed in your pieces. See? No snarly mess. Thank you thread bunny!

Now trim the corners off with a 1/4″ seam as shown.




Note: On this one I didn’t cut the corner squares larger – see how I have a wee gap down the side? That’s annoying!

Press the piecing then trim your eyeball blocks as shown. (See why the little extra on these corner squares is handy now? You can cut night square blocks even if your angles were slightly skew!)

STEP 4: 

Add piecing between and on the sides of your eyes. Make sure that the finished width is more than 12 1/2″ so that you have a little extra to trim down to size.



Add fabric above and below to complete your block. Finally trim it down to 12 1/2″ size.

Halloween Quilt

One finished eyeball block!

But wait! There’s more… if this is too simple for you, we have options!! Read on.


STEP 6:  (“Scary” or “Scaredy” eyes option)

a) Start with a white rectangle (ratio 2:1) with a strip of black down the middle. (Note: this will make two pairs of scary or scaredy eyes. It’s a bit of a head scratcher, but one square will only make both eyelids going at the same angle. So if you’re ok with both eyelids slanting the same way, only make a square. But if you want opposite angles you need a rectangle.)

b) Cut a piece of Black fabric the same size.

Halloween quilt pattern

c) Place the pieced rectangle Right Sides Together down onto the Black piece and align edges. Cut into two squares. Then make Half Square Triangles.

If you haven’t made Half Square Triangles before, here’s how:

i) Use a fabric marker to draw diagonal lines from corner to corner. Stitch a 1/4″ seam allowance on either side of the lines.

halloween quilt

ii) Cut along the lines drawn.


iii) Press blocks open.

Halloween eyes

d) Next cut white strips for the eye bottoms, as well as black squares for the corners. Then use the same technique described in STEPS 3 to 5 above to finish your blocks.

monster quilt

Yup, he’s nasty. Don’t want to meet this guy in a dark alleyway.

scary eyes

Now life is not Black and White for everyone. So for those of you Jonesing for a little hit of colour, this next option is for you. (Note: TMQG’ers Andrea suggested that we make our blocks mostly B&W, with only about 1/4 of them with colour. She suggested making 3 B&W first then a colour one. Ha ha, so now that I’ve got you all excited about a rainbow splurge, I’m putting you partially back in the colour corset. What? Don’t blame me, I’m not the not-the-president. ;-)


a) Start by making a log cabin around a black centre. (TMQG’ers: colour restricted to orange, purple & lime green)

Log Cabin

b) Then add some whites strips. (Mine are looking sideways so only three sides have whites.)

eye quilt

c) You can do yours as per STEP 3 with equal corners. Or not. On these ones I wanted a less angular eye lid. So I measured 1 1/2″ distance in the height, and drew a line across to stitch on.

Eye quilt

eyeball quilt

d) Then add bottom corners and centre piece.

eyes quilt

e) And finally box them in.


Well that was one heck of a long tutorial! But I am excited about this block lotto. I think the quilt is going to be spooktacular!

If you or your guild are making and posting on Instagram, etc use the tag #eyeballsquilt so that we can all see how everyone’s look.

“Pop it in your purse, Honey!” (New pattern and fabric design)

July 15, 2015

A couple of years ago I designed a little needle book for a swap that the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild did with the London (England) MQG. I thought it’d be neat to have a little pocket to keep a little stash of embroidery thread or a few emergency sewing kit buttons in. Here’s what I came up with:

Purse needlebook pattern

It turned out really sweetly and I was sad to give it up, but that’s a good thing when you’re making for someone else. The recipient loved it, so it was well received. A few people asked me if the pattern was available. I said that I was working on it. Well, here I am two years later announcing my new pattern: “Pop it in your purse, Honey” now available in my Etsy shop. Better late than never, right?!

There are a few novel features to this design: Firstly it has a 3D flap on the purse, which is unusual for foundation piecing patterns. And there are 4 design options for the flap, so that you can make a whole collection of purses if you are a purse fanatic.

"Pop it in your purse, Honey" pattern available onEtsy at  HappySewLuckyShop.

“Pop it in your purse, Honey” pattern available on Etsy at HappySewLuckyShop.

My favourite thing about it is that the main part of the bag has a functioning pocket. Yes, you read that right, you can stash something cute in this purse even though it’s paper-pieced! I guess that was the packaging designer in me coming out. I love containers that you can keep treasures in. And this little purse does not disappoint in that department! Embroidery floss for the road or emergency sewing kit supplies such as a few buttons and carded thread, or a sweet note if you’re giving it as a gift.

Purse Pattern pocket

I designed the paper piecing pattern for the purse in two sizes. The larger size is 6″ and is great for a mini quilt or a little girl’s quilt. A friend suggested that it would make a cute little tooth fairy pillow with a pocket for the tooth. I love this idea!

The smaller size is 4″ which is ideal for a needle book.

As you can see this pattern is awesome for fussy cutting.

As you can see this pattern is awesome for fussy cutting.

The pattern also includes instructions to make this needle book, which has a sneaky hidden scissor pocket at the back. (It’s slightly tweaked from the original one I made for the swap.)

Purse Needlebook Scissor Pocket

See the scissors hiding in there. Pretty sneaky, eh?


So with emergency sewing supplies in the pocket, it’s really it’s more like a mini sewing kit than a needle book, which is super handy. (To see some examples that others have made of this block check Instagram: #Popitinyourpursehoney)


Since I was on a roll with all things purse related, I decided to design some fabric with the same theme. I am crazy about fabric that I can fussy cut for zakka projects, and this fabric is designed with that in mind. It would also make a fabulous lining for a purse or bag, given that it lists pretty much anything and everything that we stash in our purses and handbags. It’s called Purse Paraphernalia and is available in six colours here in my TEXT FABRICS collection section of my Spoonflower shop.

"Purse Paraphernalia" available in 6 colours in my Spoonflower shop.

“Purse Paraphernalia” available in 6 colours in my Spoonflower shop.


PICK UP STICKS quilt block tutorial.

May 10, 2015

Pick Up Sticks Quilt

For those of you in Toronto, if you were at the April TMQG meeting you’ll have heard that we are doing our first block lotto. (I’m posting the tutorial here for now to help Andrea out as she’s swamped.) The block chosen is “Pick Up Sticks” which is pretty quick and fun to make, and the blocks make a super fun quilt with lots of energy. If you weren’t at the meeting, here are the details on how to participate, as well as a tutorial on how to make the block.

How the block lotto works:

Participation is voluntary. Bring your blocks to the May June 2015 meeting. (We’ve postponed it a month due to late posting of the tutorial) You get one ticket for each block you make. The more you make the higher chance you have of winning. We draw a ticket (or two if we have lots of blocks entered) and the winner/s take all. Insta-quilt for them! Woot!

So are you in? Great! Here are the details on what is required to participate:


Background: 11” x WOF (makes 4 blocks) KONA Snow (Avail at The Workroom)

Sticks”: a selection of about 20 or so solids strips cut 11” x 1”

Seam allowance:

Block size: 9 ½” square trimmed

Background fabric: KONA Snow

Sticks SIze: 1” cut / ½” finished strips

Block Lotto Deadline: TMQG May meeting – May 31st, 2015.



Cut background fabric (Kona Snow) into 4 pieces x 10 ½” x 11”.

Cut strips of solid colours 1” wide x about 11”.

Kona Cotton


Slice a background block at a random angle and in one or more spots. Place a coloured strip in the slash/s and piece with ¼” seams.



Press seams inward toward the coloured strip.

5. SeamAllowance


Now slice one or more slices in another direction, and piece.



Repeat process for the other blocks.

Trim your blocks down to 9 ½” x 9 ½”

modern quilt

 seam allowance

Slight variation option:

If you piece the sticks one at a time changing directions each time you will create more depth between your sticks.

Pick Up Sticks quilt

Pick Up Sticks quilt

TIP for angled joints:

If you would like to have your sticks at an angle, they can be tricky to align. A good way to make sure they line up nicely is to estimate the placement and pin the pieces right sides together at the critical point. Then open the pieces up to check if they are correctly placed. Then stitch once accurate.




Look forward to seeing your blocks. These will make a really awesome quilt. So get stitching!

If you post your blocks on Instagram tag them #pickupsticksquilt, and f you’re participating in the TMQG block lotto tag them #pickupsticksblocklotto.

“Make It, Take It” winner.

April 14, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-14 at 6.36.21 PM

The lucky winner of the digital copy of “Make It, Take It” is Sandie of Crazy’boutquilts. Congrats, Sandie. Martingale will be emailing you soon! Hopefully next time you go on retreat your bed doesn’t collapse on you! ;D

Thanks everyone else for entering the draw, and for all your lovely comments.

“Make It, Take it” book review & GIVEAWAY

April 6, 2015

Well peeps, I haven’t blogged in two years, as I seem to have contracted a spot of “Blogophobia”. And I’ll tell you that if you ever catch this bug, the sure cure is getting a pattern published  in a book, as then you’re forced to do a review of said book, thus overcoming your ailment. So here I am! (Apologies for the neglect.)

"Make It, Take It" by Krista Hennebury.

“Make It, Take It” by Krista Hennebury.

The book is called “Make It, Take It – 16 cute and clever projects to sew with friends” published by Martingale, and authored by the fabulous Krista Hennebury of Poppyprint fame. She is a dear friend and the person who is pretty much entirely responsible for getting me hooked on quilting. She is also an amazing quilter and organizer of some very in-demand quilt retreats in Vancouver. (Seriously, you have to get on “the list” to get a spot!) Krista put together  a circle of lovely quilty rock star contributors from Canada, USA, England and Japan for this book.  The theme is retreats – patterns for getting your gear to retreats, as well as projects to make at retreats.

The first half of the book has projects to sew to organize and carry all your retreat gear.

The first half of the book has projects to sew to organize and carry all your retreat gear.

I enjoyed reading everyone’s stories on what retreats mean to them. For me it’s all about hanging out with the lovely community that quilters are. Everyone rolling around in fabric chatting about their projects and giving feedback. It makes me so happy. I always come home feeling chipper!

The second half has fun projects to work on at retreat, including a group round robin project.

The second half has fun projects to work on at retreat, including a group round robin project.

The pattern I designed for “Make It, Take It” is called the “Ultimate Equipment Tote”. It is a large, quilted tote bag that holds an 18” x 24” cutting mat and all the rulers your little heart desires, plus lots of pockets for extra gadgets.


The first one of these I designed was rather cumbersome and cavernous, as you had to dig in the big gaping bag to find what you were looking for.  And I have a lot of rulers! That’s why I went back to the drawing board and finally came up with the idea for a pull-out “easy access” portfolio for the rulers. You just pull it out and open it up to display all your customized ruler pockets, making life SO much easier! I was pretty excited when I came up with the design.  The best way to explain how it works is to show you, so here is a video that does that job for me:

There are many other great patterns in this book. I made one of Ayumi Takahashi’s Big Patchwork Tote’s, and even used Ayumi’s new fabric line called Lighthearted. The bag has a nice wide bottom so comfortably fit’s bulky items such as quilts or knitting. I love it!


"Big Patchwork Tote" by Ayumi Takahashi.

“Big Patchwork Tote” by Ayumi Takahashi.

I definitely will be making  a few of the other patterns when I get the time. Be sure to follow the blog hop to see more details from each of these quilty rock star contributors:



Friday, April 3 Blog hop kick-off: “”

Monday, April 6: Berene at “”

and Amy at “”

Tuesday, April 7: Leanne at “”

and Felicity at <a href=“”

Wednesday, April 8: Martingale Inc. at “” (check out their Rainbow Round the Cabin staff party!)

Thursday, April 9: Krista at “”

and Krista at “”

Friday, April 10: Lynne at “”

and Cindy at “”

Saturday, April 11: Ayumi at Pink Penguin “”

and Krista at “”

Sunday, April 12: Kristie at “”

and Christina at “”


And now for the GIVEAWAY deets:

One lucky reader will win a digital copy of “Make It, Take It” by email. All you have to do to win is leave a comment telling me what you love about retreats, your fave retreat memory or if you’ve never been on a retreat, what your dream retreat might look like. Comments are now closed. Thanks!

I will pick a winner on lucky Monday April 13, 2015!

Note: Comments need approval on my blog (my anti-spam device) so just send once and it’ll be up soon. And don’t forget to leave your email address so I can find you if you are the winner!

All together now: “YAY!”

May 7, 2013

Wow! It’s been only 3 weeks since the idea for  “to Boston with Love” idea began, and it has gone wild! (For more on how it got started read my previous blog post here.) At this point we have over 45 Modern Quilt Guilds and 70 individual makers (that we know of) participating. We’ve already received over 100 flags, and we have had emails with more promised from flag making enthusiasts all over the world including Ireland, England, Germany, France, Holland, South Africa, USA and of course, Canada. IT IS AMAZING!!


Flags makers from top left to bottom right: First 3 Berene, Georgia Campbell, Rita Hodge, Berene, Krista Hennebury, Berene, Dani Prem, Alison Sawers.

What really makes me so happy about this outpouring of love and enthusiasm, is the way people have come together as an international community. On the day of the bombings, as I watched the news, I listened to the media postulate on who could be responsible. They talked about right wing supremists, muslim extremists, people with mental health issues and other potential “groups” that may have wanted to take revenge. I was struck by how separated we’ve become as a society. And by we, I mean human beings. We’re all so focused on our own agendas – political, social, religious, and economical agendas. Everyone is categorized and put in a box. We fight for those in our own boxes and feel threatened by those in others. Yet I’m sure that if we actually sat down and spent time with people that we view as “different” to us,  we’d realize that we all have way more in common than we think. We seem to have lost site of the fact that we are all just fellow human beings sharing the same planet. We have forgotten to be kind to each other. 

This project was about Boston, and bringing love from others to comfort those affected by this senseless violence. But it was also about something bigger: It was also about people looking after people. Fellow human beings across the globe, coming together to feel more connected. And that to me is quite something. Thank you to everyone who has made those connections through the project. You are all amazing. This is not something that any one person can do alone. It is a group effort. And just as we will be tying the flags together for the exhibit, so too will we be tying you together to each other. I hope that that feeling of connectedness catches on a little, especially to those who may feel left out, ostracized, or just disconnected from society. From humanity. Because I believe that no person who feels connected to their fellow human beings, could do something as evil as what happened in Boston. Or what happens around the world on a daily basis in places of war and dissension.

With that thought in mind I finished this flag today. This one os for Martin.

This one is for you, Martin!

This one is for you, Martin!

And continuing on the theme of inclusion, I made this braille one that reads: “WITH LOVE”. Not sure why I’ve never thought to embroider braille before, it feels great to touch and looks pretty cool too.

Braille embroidery flag

And here is a of my wonderful mom and her students in Cape Town, who made 42 flags out of African shweshwe fabric. As well as a pic of my step-dad at the machine stitching away at his contribution.

Rosemary Sellars and her fabulous students, with their flags for Boston.

Rosemary Sellars and her fabulous students, with their flags for Boston.

Sean Sellars stitching up a storm!

Sean Sellars stitching up a storm!

Today it was announced that the exhibition will be hung at the prestigious Boston Museum of Fine Art, in the Shapiro Family Courtyard. Amy Friend is responsible for securing this location. Amy has been a huge factor in the project’s success. When I contacted her to be my Boston liaison person, I had no idea that she used to work as a curator in museums. In addition she, as many of you may know, is a quilty rock star. Amy has been an awesome partner, not only because of her large blog following and experience working in museums, but also because she is also a lot calmer than I am (!) so we make a good team, I think. I come up with the crazy nut-job ideas, and she calmly talks me out of the too crazy bits, and systematically helps with the execution. Having said that, she was the one who went big and contacted the MFA. That was pretty bold!!

MFA is Boston Strong, Huntington Avenue Entrance

And the exciting news for me is that I will now be attending the event. I have never been to Boston before, so am really looking forward to it. If you are in Boston over Memorial Day weekend, be sure to come to the exhibition. There is no entrance fee for the whole weekend, as they are instead accepting donations for the One Fund. Track me down and say hello!

And if you haven’t made a flag yet but would still like to, there is still a bit of time to squeak one in before the deadline. Deets over here.


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