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Why I pulled my product from Etsy

Why I pulled my product from Etsy

Its been one of those years. Its now the end of June, almost half way through 2019 and I’ve already had too many little gremlins kicking me in the shins. These are metaphorical gremlins mind you – those little things that happen to you in life or your business that come out of clear nowhere and get on your last nerve. They’re arseholes. 

Its not to say that I haven’t had TONS of awesome things happen so far this year, but you know how it is – somehow you tend to focus on the negative things instead of focusing on the positive things. And one of those negative things that has been nagging at me (that gremlin’s name is Karl – he’s super annoying) is Etsy. I haven’t been happy with Etsy for a while now, but as a small business catering to the maker community you gotta start somewhere, right? There have been multiple warning signs over the past few years (I’m telling you, Karl has been at me for a while); for example, when you used to be able to find firearm components on the site, or when they adjusted their guidelines to cater to the businesses who have third parties mass produce their products. I’ve had an icky feeling that I just couldn’t shake (Karl might have needed an antibiotic) and doing something about it was in my future. 

Sidenote: I’m a big podcast fan – listening to them in the car morning and afternoon makes the commute so much more productive, especially when its a small business podcast. I’m a huge fan of The Creative Women’s League podcast by Kate Tonney. Kate’s no-nonsense, tell it like-it-is episodes are so refreshing – I’m not a sugar-coat type of person and would rather be told how it is, than be fed buttered up nonsense. So when I listened to Kate’s episode 111 about “Why Craftsy closing stores was our greatest wake up call”, I had that wake up call. If you haven’t listened to the episode, check it out here. Without giving away the premise behind Kate’s business pep talk in this episode, I finally made the decision to drop Etsy as a sales channel for Sew Fine Thread Gloss.

 Now lets be clear – I was doing well on Etsy. I had a regular flow of orders making my app cha-ching whenever they came in. So why would I pull my product? Does it seem ludicrous that I would do this? Here’s my reasoning. 

  1. I have my own website that gives me control of how I present, market and sell my product. Kate’s podcast gave me the kick in the pants to realize that I shouldn’t rely on anyone but myself and what I can control when it comes to my business. Staying on Etsy was just, literally, to be on Etsy. To have a presence on Etsy. Time to put on my boss-lady hat, pull an Elsa and let it go. 
  2. The list of amazing wholesale stockists who sell Sew Fine Thread Gloss FOR me is steadily growing. I knew when I launched that having wholesale partnerships with small shop owners was going to be one of the best ways (if not THE best way) to reach my target audience. Having these partnerships is more important than any of the sales that I do on my own website, so why did I need two other separate sales channels? Its was starting to feel like overkill. And I want to spend more time fostering the relationships that I’m building with my stockists. They are all wonderful people with the same love of sewing and making that I have and I need to focus more on them. (Sidenote: I just met Karyn from The Workroom in Toronto this week and she’s sooo lovely! And what a shop! I had never been into The Workroom before and I so wish we were closer – I could spend forever in there!)
  3. Because having a third sales channel, regardless of which came first, was becoming too much to manage myself. I’m still only a one-woman show and I don’t want to burn out a year and a half in. So I made the call that needed to happen for all of the above reasons. 

Did you expect this post to have some scandalous story behind the title? If you did, sorry to disappoint! I felt as though this was a good opportunity to share a legit business story that might inspire or inform someone else rocking the small business/maker badge and potentially stressing out over a similar decision. And for those of you who are on Etsy and the platform is working well for you, awesome! Each business has different needs and are at different stages in their lifecycle, and this is where I find myself right now. Karl has been given his notice to vacate the premises. Now that he’s on his way out, I’ve got more room to grow. 

*This post represents my personal experience on the Etsy platform and does not represent any thoughts or experiences other than my own.

0 In Blog/ Quilting

Libs Elliott collaboration!

libs elliott sew fine thread gloss collection

Well hello friends and welcome to another instalment of “holy crap I’m stupid excited!” Why you ask? (Hint… you just read the title of this post, right?!)

Yes!! I have teamed up with an AHHHmazing designer, a Canadian designer at that, to bring you another Sew Fine Thread Gloss collaborative collection. And you’re going to LOVE it!

Some background first. Last year as Program Coordinator for the OMQG, I had the pleasure of organizing and attending Libs’ Embrace the Chaos workshop here in Ottawa. It was such a fun workshop and Libs was a trooper – she was so sick, but stuck with us for the entire day. While we were packing up I shamelessly gave Libs a sample of Sew Fine Thread Gloss to take home and try out. Okay, honestly – I was driving her back to her hotel, so I pretty well had her hostage, and she wasn’t feeling the greatest so she probably just took it to shut me up. LOL! But you know what – that weird hostage product handoff has paid off my friends because LOOK AT THAT TITLE!

*Please note – I do not condone holding sew-lebrities hostage in your car while you force product on them. It worked out okay in this situation but might not in others. Thank you.

Fast forward to a few months ago. I was walking through the grocery store parking lot when I got a message on Instagram from Libs (fangirl moment ensued) wanting to talk about a collaboration! Umm yaasss!

And here we are. Also, what better timing to launch this collaboration than when Libs is the featured artist at Quilt Canada! So without further ado – may I present Libs’ Sew Fine Thread Gloss collection!

Meet the new Libs Elliott Sew Fine Thread Gloss collection: Amber Violet, Orange Lavender and Rose Wood!

In honor of this collection launch I arranged a mini interview with Libs to talk about her reasons behind the collaboration.

photo via

Q: Why did you want to partner with Sew Fine Thread Gloss?

L: There are a few reasons I asked to partner with Sew Fine Thread Gloss. Firstly, I’ve been using it for a while and it’s a product I really believe improves my overall sewing experience. The opportunity to curate some of my own scents and share this awesome product with the sewing community was too exciting not to pursue. Secondly, it’s a Canadian and woman-owned business – just like me! – so building partnerships like this helps to lift us both up and find success as women entrepreneurs.

Q: Has using a thread conditioner changed your hand-sewing experience?

L: Yes, it has really changed my experience. Despite keeping my threads fairly short, I constantly ran into issues with thread tangling and knotting up. But with just one or two passes of thread through Sew Fine, that’s no longer an issue. It’s made the whole hand-sewing process so much more enjoyable for me and I find myself looking forward to it more often now. Plus, the pretty scents are definitely a bonus!

Q: You’ve curated a selection of amazing scent combinations – what draws you to these scents and/or why did you choose them?

L: I wanted to curate scents that have a balance similar to some of my favourite perfumes that I’ve collected during my travels. I’ve always liked the juxtaposition of florals and citrus against more earthy and woody scents. To me, it feels like a balance between feminine and masculine. Rose Wood, Violet Amber and Orange Lavender are all scents that embody that special combination and spark daydreams of exotic places.

Q: You have some breathtaking EPP patterns – how does using a thread conditioner make these projects easier?

L: When I’m sewing EPP projects, I often thread 3 or 4 needles at a time so that I can sew continuously for longer periods without interruption. Now, I run all loaded threads through the conditioner and they no longer get tangled up while sitting in my needle minder. When I’m sewing, the thread glides through the fabric much more easily and I feel like the stitches stay more firmly in place.

Q: And a non thread gloss related question – what inspires your quilt-making?

L: I’ve always had this notion that objects have stories based on their journeys. I like to think that some parts of the story are known by those who own the object but some parts are only known to the object itself. What motivates and inspires me to quilt is that same notion – that I’ll put my story and stitches into a piece, then release it into the world to have a story and journey of its own. I like the mystery of not knowing where my quilts will end up.

Also a big shout out to Peggy Pirillo who made this mini quilt! She was one of my swap partners for the #libselliottminiswap early last year! Its the perfect backdrop for this launch!

If you happen to be reading this post Friday June 14th, Libs will have the collection with her at Quilt Canada and will be available to purchase for her class attendees. Otherwise, they will be available online at I’ll be roaming the floor all day Friday, so if you see me say HI! I’ll have lots of Sew Fine Thread Gloss samples to give out!

0 In Blog/ Quilting

Typecast of Characters Blog Tour – Letter V

Typecast of Characters Blog Tour

Hello!! Thank you so much for stopping by on my day of the Typecast of Characters Blog Tour!

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m Jenn – graphic designer by day, modern quilter by night, and the maker behind Sew Fine Thread Gloss. I was very excited when my friend Sheri from Whole Circle Studio asked me to be part of this launch; I mean, look at the fellow quilters who have been part of this tour so far! I’m also a huge fan of English Paper Piecing (EPP) so being a member of this tour was right up my alley.

Typecast of Characters Blog Tour V Jenn McMillan
My letter is V! I couldn’t resist this green and peachy combo… but someone did. Keep reading!

Its funny how my project came along, which is also the reason behind why my single V block and the finished mini quilt have different colours/fabrics. When I found out that my letter for the blog tour was V I knew that I was going to make a mini quilt wall hanging for my daughter Ava – making these personalized minis for my girls have been on my “must make” list for ages, so this was a fantastic opportunity to get one made. The wonderful folks at Paper Pieces also graciously sent me an A along with my V so that I could make this mini.

I had started by making the V block that is shown above in the flat lay photo. I had just ordered more of that glorious olive green print from Giucy Giuce’s Quantum collection, and LOVED how it paired with the peachy coral, but my daughter was… umm.. unfortunately not as in love with the combo as I was. 🙁 For anyone with pre-teen daughters who are rather independent, you’re probably saying to yourself, “duh! what did you expect – she wants to pick her own darn colours!“. So that she did, which leads us to the finished mini quilt.

Some simple quilting and a bold stripey binding and she loves the finished mini! I might still do some hand-quilting on the letters to make them more pronounced, but for now, its up on her wall and she’s happy!

I thought only having one A template was going to be a challenge, but the template paper is a great quality and stood up to multiple uses. I made the first A, then the V, sewed those two together, and then took the papers out of the A to start over on the second. I glue baste my blocks, but there was no tearing or unusual wear or ripping of the paper while removing them, which made making the second A a breeze. Its great to know that the template paper can stand up to multiple uses if taken care of!

Typecast of Characters Blog Tour schedule:

• Wednesday, March 27: Tour Introduction by Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 1 — A: Kate Brennan of Aurifil
• Tuesday, April 2 — B: Mathew Bourdreaux of Mister Domestic
• Wednesday, April 3 — C: Tara Curtis of Wefty Needle
• Thursday, April 4— D: Leah Day of Free Motion Quilting Project
• Friday, April 5 — Week 1 Wrap Up featuring A-D and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 8 — E: Jess Finn of Paper Pieces
• Tuesday, April 9 — F: Sylvia Schaefer of Flying Parrot Quilts
• Wednesday, April 10 — G: Giuseppe Ribaudo of Giucy Giuce
• Thursday, April 11— H: Hilary Jordan of By Hilary Jordan
• Friday, April 12 — Week 2 Wrap Up featuring E-H and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 15 — I: Kim Soper of Leland Ave Studios
• Tuesday, April 16 — J: Yvonne Fuchs of Quilting Jetgirl
• Wednesday, April 17 — K: Karen O’Connor of Lady K Quilts
• Thursday, April 18 — L: Kristy Daum of St. Louis Folk Victorian
• Friday, April 19 — Week 3 Wrap Up featuring I-L and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 22 — M: Molli Sparkles of Molli Sparkles
• Tuesday, April 23 — N: Nicole Daksiewicz of Modern Handcraft
• Wednesday, April 24 — O: Scott Hansen of Blue Nickel Studios
• Thursday, April 25 — P: Pat Sloan of Pat Sloan
• Friday, April 26 — Week 4 Wrap Up featuring M-P and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Joanna Marsh of Kustom Kwilts
• Monday, April 29 — Q: Lindsay Széchényi of Lindsay Széchényi (and Patchwork Threads)
• Tuesday, April 30 — R: Andrea Tsang Jackson of 3rd Story Workshop
• Wednesday, May 1 — S: Sarah Thomas of Sariditty
• Thursday, May 2 — T: Rachel Rossi of Rachel Rossi
• Friday, May 3— Week 4 Wrap Up featuring Q-T and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 6 — U: Kitty Wilkin of Night Quilter
• Tuesday, May 7 — V: ME! You’re here – thanks for stopping by!
• Wednesday, May 8 — W: Jenny Meeker of Bobbin Roulette Studio
• Thursday, May 9 — X: Stephanie Kendron of Modern Sewciety
• Friday, May 10 — Week 5 Wrap Up featuring U-X and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio
• Monday, May 13 — Y: Debby Brown of Debby Brown Quilts
• Tuesday, May 14 — Z: Nisha Bouri and Kim Martucci of Brimfield Awakening
• Wednesday, May 15 — Week 6 Wrap Up featuring Y-Z, Tour closeout and GIVEAWAY at Whole Circle Studio

If quilters are curious where they can get their own Typecast pattern, paper pieces and acrylic templates, here’s the scoop.. paper pieces, acrylic templates and hardcopies of the pattern guide are available at and a pdf of the pattern guide is available at:

Thanks so much for stopping by! Be sure to check out Sheri’s IG posts on Friday as I may have donated a little prize pack for a lucky participant!

Enjoy the rest of the tour!

6 In Blog

My 2019 Sewing/Creative Goals

2019 is close at hand, and with this time of year brings the dreaded “resolution” lists. Uuuhhh… gag me with a stick. Personally, I don’t like the term “resolution” – for me it brings thoughts of trying to “resolve” something about myself and my lack of willpower to follow through with it, which usually leads to disappointment. Instead of using the term “resolution”, I’m setting goals for this year regarding my creative endeavours. Goals that I can work towards, but don’t have a set time frame so long as progress is being made. 

Progress my friends, is the key achievement here. 
progress [noun prog-res, -ruhs or, esp. British, proh-gres; verb pruh-gres] noun

  1. a movement toward a goal or to a further or higher stage.
  2. developmental activity in science, technology, etc.
  3. advancement in general.

I’m looking at #1 and 3 above and they feel like two very good descriptions of what I want to do this upcoming year. Maybe I’ll make “progress” my word of the year. Regardless, I felt that I would share some of the creative things that I aim to work on in 2019. Also, not having set a “resolution” makes it okay to not hit a specific milestone and work at your own pace. You can’t fail if general advancement in your goals is the mindset you have from the beginning, am I right?!

Goal #1

This is what I’m calling #mystashblast2019 (and feel free to use this hashtag for your own stash blasting!)

If there’s one thing I desperately need to do, its use up my stash!!! Honestly, if you were to see my sewing space, you would think Michaels, Joann and your local quilt shop violently threw up all over the place. I’ve got ziplock bags (organized, mind you) of WIPs, or fabrics set aside for specific patterns. I’ve got most of my “fabric collection” organized (and organized is used very loosely right now) into wovens, knits and others (fusibles, interfacing, etc.) so that’s one step in the right direction. But seriously, I’ve got a LOT of fabric, and it needs to be used. So…. no new fabric purchases unless needed to finish a WIP, gift (that will be gifted in the immediate future and not end up a WIP) or commissioned work. 

I’m participating in the #iheartyousewalong starting next week run by Lindsay of Pen and Paper Patterns and Meghan of Then Came June, and will be using up my scraps for the hearts in the pattern! I’ve chosen Essex Yarn-Dyed in Steel for the background (from my stash), Kona White for the speech bubbles (from my stash), and will put together the hearts with scraps. I’m really looking forward to putting this quilt together!

The I Heart You block – photo via Pen and Paper Patterns

As I’m sure tons of you can agree, we need to break free of FOMO (fear of missing out) – it does not control our creative process, and to be a successful/productive creative, you don’t need the newest/shiniest fabric/thing out there. I need to keep repeating that to myself when I see some long lost Rashida Koleman-Hale Washi print pop up in a destash somewhere… ahhhh control yourself woman! Now this is not to say that I can’t treat myself occasionally, but I’m going to try my damnedest to not do any shopping “just because”. 

Some other things I’m going to try to include in this arena:

  • de-stashing fabrics that aren’t going to be used – either selling or donating
  • finishing WIPs (kits, patterns started, challenge quilts, BOM winnings)
  • using what I have and being creative with my choices/options
  • making to sell if I don’t want to destash but don’t need to keep (I’m weird – pre-cut patchwork baby quilts for example)
  • yarn! I’ve got too much yarn and not enough time – sell what I’m not going to use on Ravelry or destash on IG

Goal #2

More ME sewing! Last year I quit doing craft shows. I was getting sick of sewing; sick of my favourite pastime, which was supposed to be my creative therapy. So no more. Only a few select commissions by those people who I know appreciate the work and time that goes into quilting and sewing, and the rest is for me and/or my immediate family. And you know what? It’s been freeing! I still have more project WIPs than I know what to do with, but they’re all projects for me. And because of this mindset, I’ve gotten back into garment sewing! I’m planning on setting up my own #2019makenine as there are a few garments that are on my must-make list, and sharing these make goals publicly will help keep me accountable. 

This is a little collection I’ve put together for a client commission (aka – one of the few people I do commissions for). This super cute whale print is from Spoonflower and the other two are from the Aweigh North collection by Rae Ritchie that I got from The Workroom in Toronto. I plan to add a few more blenders into the mix. She’s having a baby boy and this will be for his crib!

Goal #3

Another one of my sewing goals is something that I wanted to do this past year, but due to life throwing curveballs my way, it didn’t get done. I have a few patterns that were published in 2018 that I need to finalize to sell. As well as finalizing a few that I’ve been working on. I’m not sure if I’ll submit any patterns to magazines this year but we’ll see how things go. 

Love Patchwork & Quilting FPP quilt project
This is my Print Panache quilt pattern that was published in Love Patchwork and Quilting at the start of 2018. I’m currently working on hand-quilting my second version using a different layout of the pattern, but still need to finalize the PDF to sell.

Goal #4

Make to make myself happy. I had a hard time this year not joining the newest, shiniest quilt-along or fabric challenge that came across my screen. Its okay to say NO, because let’s be honest, there are only so many hours in the day. Again FOMO can be a nasty trigger but I’m not going to let her tempt me. But I will go with the flow, and enjoy the process. 

So there they are – my non-comittal goals for my sewing practice this year. No resolutions anymore. Just a work in progress. Do you have plans for your sewing projects this year?

0 In Blog/ Quilting

Carolyn Friedlander collaboration

Carolyn Friedlander Sew Fine Thread Gloss

This past summer I received an email that I NEVER in a million years expected to get. One of my favourite fabric and pattern designers emailed me. Me! First of all, I just about fell off my chair. That was before I read the email. I had a full blown #fangirl, heart pounding, goosebumps moment as I opened the email from Carolyn Friedlander asking if I wanted to collaborate with her.

Continue Reading →

0 In Blog

Residual – a new quilt pattern

What is leftover when a change happens? Are there consequences that weren’t considered? Is there a ripple effect that takes place and alters the outcome of seemingly unrelated relationships? Might that affect how you feel about what remains?

This is my concept statement for a new quilt pattern I’m working on, called the Residual Quilt. Although this statement may seem directed towards the negative, its meaning is derived from both positive and negative experiences, and can be either a reminder of a hurdle in the past that you have overcome, or a goal you are aiming to achieve. Like the concept of the Butterfly Effect, small changes may result in major disruptions that could not have been imagined.

Above are my two colour schemes that I’m considering for my full sized version of this quilt. As part of my design process, I tend to make a mini version of the block, or quadrant in this case to see how it looks in real life. Because as nice, crisp and clean an Illustrator mock-up may look, it may not work out as nicely in fabric, due to seams, bulky points, etc.

Not the exact same colours, but similar, I made this mini and hand-quilted the living crap out of it. Why? Because I wanted to. And also, because it gave a bit more context to some of the thoughts I had while designing the layout.

The basic layout finishes at 64″x64″, but additional sections can be added or removed to adjust the size. I’ll be needing a few quilt pattern testers in the next few months, so if you’re interested in testing this pattern for me, please send me a message via the contact page.

0 In Blog/ Business/ Quilting

New Holiday Scents!

It pains me to write that summer is over, but as I’ve mentioned before, I LOVE the fall! The crisp air, the beautiful colours and the cozy scarves. I’d much rather be wearing layers in the cool mornings than being too hot to sleep. And with the changing seasons come the fragrances that remind you of fond memories and the holidays associated with them.

For my first holiday collection I thoughtfully chose 4 fragrances that remind me of the upcoming autumn and winter seasons.

I chose two autumn scents that are different, yet similar. Firstly, I am 100% on the PSL bandwagon with no desire to hop off anytime! I’d eat pumpkin pie any time of the year, and have actually requested it instead of birthday cake on multiple occasions. Pumpkin Delight is a nice mixture of fresh pumpkin, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and a hint of sweet caramel – the perfect blend to use when hand-binding your quilt and watching the cool breeze brush through the ever-changing leaves. The second autumn scent I chose reminds me of visiting coffee shops – sipping hot coffee, chatting with friends, enjoying a piece of coffee cake or pastry and leaving with that happy, warm feeling. The blend of coffee, spices and caramel round out my Coffee Cake scent.

The two winter fragrances I chose remind me of (again) happy memories and seasonal activities dear to my heart. The quintessential peppermint in Candy Cane is reminiscent of that classic holiday treat, with a splash of sweet sugar. Sticky mittens and faces after the Santa Claus parade, or sneaking pieces from the glass candy dish on my grandparent’s sideboard at holiday family dinners. And last but not least, Christmas. For me, this scent brings memories of fresh cranberries and dried candied fruits, apples, cinnamon and spices found in the kitchen during the holidays. Isn’t holiday baking the best?!

To get your hands on one (or all!) of these scents, stop by my Etsy shop, or see if one of your local (or online) quilt shops carry them.

I spent a lot of time trying different fragrance blends when deciding on this collection, and hope that everyone enjoys them as much as I do! Maybe one of them will create new memories for you, of sitting under your half-bound quilt on a chilly morning, or working on your hand-quilting at night in front of the fireplace. I’d love to hear about your favourite holiday memories!

1 In Blog/ Lifestyle

When things don’t go as planned

Its almost the end of August. The past couple of months have flown by in a blur of stress and emotion and anxiety and frustration, and things are about to get real here, so bare with me. I have bailed on projects and shifted commitments. I have gone through the most stressful situation that I think I have ever had to go through in my life and am now just coming out the other end. 

To make a long story short I started having panic attacks that would be triggered by the smallest of things. Any time of the day, I would need to hide until I could compose myself. It had gotten to the point where I felt like a failure. No matter what I tried, nothing could get me out from under the cloud of feeling less than. Getting help was scary. The thought of being medicated was scary. Would I still be me? Anything was better than how I was feeling. Finally, after months of my inner turmoil I sought out professional help and talked to my doctor. She prescribed me anti-anxiety medication and instructed me to reduce as many of my stressors and stimulants as possible, including caffeine (WTF – give up my coffee!?), or else I’d be on sick leave.

So this is what I’m working on. I’ve accepted the fact that my panic attacks were caused by underlying stress and that the panic attacks themselves were not the issue. I’ve accepted that I wasn’t able to complete things on time, and vowed to get them done when I felt I was ready to. I’ve accepted the fact that I don’t have to do all the things, even though I want to. This is an ongoing process, and one that hopefully over time will become easier.

I am 100% willing to let go of something if its becoming “too much”, or starting to cause anxiety because my health and sanity aren’t worth the stress.

I am learning where to spend my fucks and totally okay with having zero fucks for something – see previous sentence.

I don’t like to fail – I’m sure not many of us do – but this process has taught me to not overbook myself, to only take on what is manageable at the time, and that its okay to say NO. Because I’d rather say no than disappoint someone.

And so now is the time where I rebuild myself, slowly. I still find my heart pounding and mind racing when I lie down at night, but I’m working on slowing down. Focusing my energy on projects that are important, and not ones that are spur of the moment. Taking each day at a time.


20 In Blog/ Quilting

Canadian Summer QAL!

You’re here! Yay! I am super excited and honoured to be the first stop on the Canadian Summer Quilt Along. Pull up a lawn chair, grab an iced tea/iced coffee/adult sippy cup of wine (#iwould) and be prepared to get inspired by the incredible line up we have prepared for you!

Our wonderful host Anita (@daydreamsofquilts on IG) organized this QAL to celebrate our love for this beautiful country of ours! And as you can guess, all of the quilters on this QAL schedule are all fellow Canadians. We were each tasked with creating a 12″ finished block that represents something that we love about Canada. Some of the quilters on the schedule created very patriotic and beautiful blocks, but mine is a little more personal. When I think of what I love about Canada I automatically think of summer, and when I think of summer I think of my family.

To make a long story (and massive family tree) short (no trees were harmed in the writing of this blog post), my paternal grandmother is one of 7 children. Back in 1975 the 7 grown children and their expanding families decided to organize an annual summer family reunion. The Grant Family Reunion is going into its 43rd year this summer and has been a highlight of my year since I was born. From catching up with cousins who live far away to seeing my great-grandmother have a few sociables and play pranks on those who went to bed early, some of my fondest family summer memories revolve around these reunions.

Less than a year old me and my great grandmother Annie Grant.

As with most family reunions, there are a few friendly – yet serious – tournaments that we partake in. We have a Euchre tournament and a Horseshoe tournament. I take my game of horseshoes VERY seriously! LOL! And I’ve come thiiiiiis close to winning the trophy a couple of times, but have yet to win (*sniffle*). So in honour of my favourite summer family sport, I created a horseshoe block. I wanted to be able to get a nice curve to the horseshoe so decided that needle-turn appliqué would be the technique of choice.

Have you ever done needle-turn appliqué? If not, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered! Also, I’ll mention that you do NOT need to hand-baste your pieces onto your fabrics – if you’ll find it easier to glue baste or machine baste, please do whichever basting method suits you best.

If you happen to have a Creativebug membership, my favourite needle-turn appliqué class/tutorial video is Carolyn Friedlander’s Hand-Stitched Appliqué Quilts tutorial. Carolyn’s technique is pretty well the exact same as mine when it comes to the needle-turning and stitching. And if you don’t have a membership, you can always sign up for their free trial and use your free credits to take this class! I’m a HUGE fan of Carolyn’s style, slow-stitching mentality and fabric designs, so this would be my #1 recommendation.

Here’s the link to the PDF of the block pieces! You will need:

  • a fat quarter for your background, cut to 12.5 x 12.5″
  • a 12×12″ scrap for the horseshoe
  • smaller scraps for the flower, flower centre and leaves

Cut out your shapes on the solid line – the dashed line is your basting line, which is 1/4″ from the edge. Follow Carolyn’s tutorial or use your own awesome needle turn appliqué skills for the basic technique. Start with the horseshoe, then stitch on your leaves, the flower and then the flower centre. Give it a good press and you’re set!

Now to get this party started on the right foot I am also hosting a giveaway! I’ve got a Sew Fine Thread Gloss prize pack (my awesome side-hustle!) that includes 3 thread gloss scents to help you with your summer sewing projects! All you need to do is comment on this post and tell me what your favourite summer family tradition is. Contest will be open from June 11 at 9am EST to June 15th at 11:59pm EST. I’ll draw a name at random and post the winner here and on Instagram – be sure to include your Instagram handle in your comment so I can tag you! Open to residents of Canada only.

If you haven’t seen the entire quilt, in all its Canadian glory, here’s Anita’s full sized quilt with flag sashing. Isn’t it GORGEOUS?! Now get needle-turning! I hear there might be a super amazing grand prize for someone who completes all of the blocks…

Leave your comment to win! And thanks for stopping by!



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Print Panache QAL Week 2 & glue basting!

Have you ever come across a technique after years of doing something a certain way and once you learned how amazing it was, you had one of those amazing fireworks, doves flying out from behind you, angels singing, rainbows and flying kittens AHA! moments?! That’s how I felt when I was taught how amazing glue basting is when Foundation Paper Piecing (FPP). Glue basting for the win! I’m a complete and total convert and I will never thread baste again. Cross my heart.

glue basting technique

Because of how long the lead time is between submitting patterns and the actual published date, I had written and submitted my Print Panache pattern long before I discovered how beneficial this under-appreciated office/craft supply is to my FPP process. Its a game changer. If you’re reading this and saying “jeez Jenn – have you literally been living under a rock all this time?”, well yes, yes I have. If I had known how often I would use glue sticks in my sewing practice I would have been preaching the benefits LONG ago.

Before we start I must tell you that, from experience, I prefer the Elmer’s glue stick. Before going on vacation a few months ago I grabbed a few UHU glue sticks from my local art supply store, and while they worked fine consistency-wise, I found that after the glue dried, the fabric and paper curled quite a bit. As far as I can tell – for the small EPP pieces I was working with – the curling won’t affect the overall piecing, but for large areas of fabric and paper such as this pattern, I decided it best to use a glue stick that I know won’t warp or curl once dry. So do yourself a favour and either test the brand of glue stick with fabric and paper, or just go ahead and get an Elmer’s – you won’t be disappointed.

glue basting technique

Okay, enough rambling. Here’s a super quick and mostly visual step-by-step for glue basting a large block like the one in my Print Panache pattern. As with every FPP pattern, we will be placing the fabrics on the back of the pattern file and sewing on the front.

glue basting technique

Get a general idea of where your first piece of fabric will be placed and apply your glue to that shape. It doesn’t need to be fully saturated – just enough that your piece of fabric won’t be going anywhere once you’ve placed it on the glued template.

glue basting technique

Place your fabric for piece #1 over the shape on the template, making sure it extends out to the edge of the seam allowance and covers any other edges by at least 1/4″.

glue basting technique

Here’s a view from the wrong side/fabric side.

glue basting technique

Lying the pieces back down on your cutting mat, use your ruler, a piece of cardboard or another tool such as the Add a Quarter Plus ruler to score along the line between section 1 and 2.

glue basting technique

glue basting technique

Align a 1/4″ mark of your ruler, or the notched edge of an Add a Quarter Plus ruler along the folded edge and trim your fabric.

glue basting technique

Align your fabric for section 2 along this trimmed edge, making sure that it will cover the entire section once flipped. Sew along the line between section 1 and 2 with a 1.5 stitch length.

glue basting technique

Now either press with an iron or use a seam roller to flatten your seam.

glue basting technique

Flip this section back over and apply glue where the fabric covered the template. Fold it back over and finger press to adhere the fabric to the glued template.

glue basting technique

glue basting technique

Continue with the remaining pieces of the template. Trim to the outside border (12.5″ box) and set aside.

glue basting technique

The glue will baste your fabrics to the template until you are ready to take them off. Using this technique will speed up your production time, but will also increase the cost of your overall project slightly, because of having to purchase the glue sticks. You can always raid your toddler’s craft stash first before investing in a bulk pack of glue sticks from Costco!

I hope that tutorial will help make your block production a bit speedier. It is also extremely helpful when FPPing patterns with small pieces, as the glue will help keep the tiny pieces from shifting while you’re placing or sewing them.

I can’t wait to see some finished blocks popping up on Instagram! Be sure to use the #printpanacheQAL hashtag and tag me @jennmcmillan so I can see your progress!

Happy sewing!