Super Simple Quilted Pillowcases

My friend Lise is responsible for my diversion this week. She asked for an item that used to be my bestseller when I did craft shows – in purple. I will not tell you what that item is (it is a gift, after all). But you know what happens once you start pulling fabrics from the stash, don’t you.

Also on my to-do list was a quilted pillowcase. When I made my nephew’s t-shirt quilt in June, I was not able to incorporate one of the t-shirts and had promised to use it in a pillowcase.

I pulled out my purple minke, cotton, and flannel. I only needed a small amount for Lise’s project and since I was already planning to make pillowcases, I decided a pillowcase made out of these would be very pretty as well.  Then, just because there some nice pink minke laying right beside the purple minke, I added that colour to my pile. After all, a cold winter is right around the corner. I cut them into 5 1/2″ strips. pillowcase

Then I found ‘grandchildren’ fabric that they would soon grow out of. One grandson is in kindergarten so ABC’s are appropriate this year but probably not next year. The other grandson is 2. With no other grandchildren in sight, I needed to use the zoo animal panel now or never.

My 2 grandsons were coming for a sleepover the following night. Could I make them some nice cuddly pillowcases for movie night at grandma’s house?

By the end of the weekend, I had 5 quilted pillowcases done.Thanks Lise! This was fun.


Here are the instructions, in case you need to whip up some super simple gifts.

  1. Take 30″ of pre-quilted cotton x width of fabric.pillowcase3
  2. Plan your layout. Add enough fabric to cover the quilted cotton.
  3. Spray baste fabric to the quilted cottonpillowcase4
  4. Quilt with your pieced fabric on the bottom and the quilted cotton on the top.
    • make sure you use a walking foot !
    • Use the stretch zig-zag stitch at the widest and longest setting. You can shorten this if you are not using any fleece or minke.
    • stitch every second row, following the lines on the quilted cotton. I start by doing several long rows from one corner and then the other corner, all going the same direction. After that you can work from whichever direction is convenient without much shifting.
    • square up all sides
  5. With right sides together, sew side and top seams with a 5/8″ seam. Clip 2 top corners to reduce bulk. Turn right side out.step5
  6. Hem your pillowcase.
    • Option 1 – for a folded hem, add bias tape to the edge, turn under and top stitch. That is what I did for the zoo animal pillowcase.hem4
    • Option 2 – a hem with a facing is my preferred finish as it keeps bulk to a minimum.

      To do this:

      • measure the circumference of your pillowcase
      • cut fabric for facing. For the striped cases, I cut it 7″ x (circumference + 1/2″)
      • with rst, sew short end of facing together using a 1/4″ seam
      • finish one long edge with bias tape (purple pillowcase) OR you can skip this step if the long edge is a selvage end (pink pillowcase). This works especially well with minke. The selvage edge is stable, not very noticeable and you are not adding any extra bulk. (grey pillowcase)
      • with rst, pin facing around pillowcase
      • sew around the edge with a 5/8″ seam allowance
      • flip facing fabric to the inside – not at the stitching line but at the edge of the fabric. This will give you the look of a band, without extra bulk.
      • topstitch along the stitching line, and again at the edge of the facing. For my strip pieced pillowcases, I was able to topstitch on the seam where the first and second fabrics were stitched together.step7

That’s it! You are done! Hope you give it a try. These pillowcases are nice and cuddly.

By the way, it’s not too late to make and send postcards.Pictures and miles are starting to come in. It’s looking like a great month.

Thanks for reading my post. Have a wonderful week.

Posted in super simple quilting, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Christmas Cards

How are your Christmas cards coming? Are you done, or just starting. That’s me. Scrambling to keep up with self imposed deadlines.

When you send your cards this year wouldn’t it be nice to include someone you don’t usually exchange cards with? Maybe someone had a tough year and just needs to know you are thinking of them. Maybe an elderly aunt has outlived their friends and doesn’t receive many cards. Maybe they are living in a Nursing Home and would proudly display your card on their door. Let’s spread our love and make their day!

Remember the Christmas contest I announced in October? I will send a gift to the person that logs the most quilted postcard miles. If you need inspiration, look at this map.

Locations where cards have been sent are marked with a dot. A detailed list can be seen here. Do you have friends in a country that has not received a card? Would you like to send them a card and be included in this contest? All you need to do (besides making and sending the cards) is:

  • send me a comment to register your intent
  • send me a picture of the cards you make along with a few details- the number of cards sent, locations and miles.

This does not have to be elaborate but simply a note such as: “I sent 3 cards to Toronto, 1 to Arizona, and 2 to New Zealand for a total of xxxx miles”. The picture and note must be sent to me by December 31st, 2016.

The theme this month is ‘Anything Christmas’. That leaves it pretty open to make anything you like.

nov2016I have received some lovely cards in the last week or two. Virginia told me her husband gets excited when she receives a card in the mail. Mine too! Now when the mail comes in, DH will say “look, look. You got a card!” So much better than flyers. Or bills.

Ruth made the school bus with ink. How clever. Even the windows and doors are stitched! Marnie & I shared a Texas experience in November. She drove through Texas on Highway 66; I flew over it. Virginia took ‘wild’ literally! And then there are some of my first Christmas cards. Love them all!

Speaking of DH, last week I posted a couple recipes from Ken’s Kitchen. A friend informed me that a link to the recipe for chicken-vesuvio did not work. That has been fixed. Thanks for letting me know! Readers – feel free to send me a comment if you see something that needs to be fixed. Private messages will not be published.

In this next week I hope to finish piecing the ‘Connected’ quilt (see last week’s post) so that it can go into the quilting cue. Then I can start on my last minute Christmas gifts. Why do we wait to the last minute? Actually, we don’t. We just keep thinking of new things. And adding them. If we had more money we would spend it. If we had more days, we would add more projects. Ah, the wonderful life of a quilter.We are never bored.

Have a great week! May it be creative. And productive!

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This week I want to extend a warm welcome to the new friends I met and made on the recent quilting cruise. It was a special time.

Since coming home I have been anxious to finish the log cabin quilt I started in September. All the blocks are done, and trimmed. Ready to be put together and quilted. My quilting cue is quite long at the moment and this is bigger than what I like to do on a domestic machine so it will go to my long arm friend, Donna who always does a superb job. You will see the finished product in a month or 2.

My next project will be to finish ‘Connected’, the Carol Moellers quilt that I started on the cruise. Carol designs her quilts on EQ7, and made the kits using the Go Cutter.carol1

I had the pleasure of dining with Nancy from California most dinners, and she was in my class working when we were working on this quilt.carol2

Another class was taught by Pam Holland. The assignment was to make a whimsical house. Towards the end of the day I asked her what I could do to improve my picture and she suggested quilting the background.house1

After doing what she suggested, it dawned on me that densely stitching the background did not make it stand out as I had expected, but did the exact opposite. It made the house really stand out in the foreground, and the background recede. A very valuable lesson.

We were asked to bring fabric for 2 houses, so the second was hand stitched on the way home. Not quite finished but here is the start…house2

Do you recognize the fabric? Remember my mad scientist experiments? Yes, I found a use for some of it. Saskatoon berries, pincherries, juniper needles, cabbage and coffee were some of the botanical dyes used in these pictures.

We were also treated to a trunk show by Pam. These pictures were taken and posted with her permission, but they are just a tease. Each quilt tell a wonderful story and you need to hear it from her in order to get the full impact.

And how can you talk about a cruise without talking about food? Ken’s Kitchen sent me 2 recipes this week so I am passing them on to you.  chicken-vesuvio and chocolate-pecan-pie chicken-vesuvio


Thanks for reading my post. Have a great week! It’s time to think about Christmas – and postcards! More on that next week.

Posted in 2016, Highlighting others, mad scientist, recipes, travels, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Houston, Houston

Let me just say – GO! If you ever have a chance, you will not regret it. Our 3 days were roughly divided into a day of classes, a day of quilt exhibits and a day of shopping. Hardly enough.

The Houston International Quilt Festival displays the best of quilting, with the best teachers, and hundreds of vendors with unique (i.e. enticing!) items from all over the world. 1700 quilts. 45 special exhibits. 120 teachers. 500 classes. 1100 vendors.

In competitive quilting, this quilt won Best of Show. It is called Reflections of Cape Town, by Cynthia England. Spectacular!bestofshow

In the category of Abstract Art, Leah Gravells (from Edmonton) won for her piece called Summer Solstice.


Another winning quilt I enjoyed was Birds Fly by Barbara Lies. It is held together by tubes of fabric (you can see her fingers through the tubes)

Special exhibits included categories such as Christmas Memories, African Expressions, Fly me to the Moon, In Celebration of the Doll, Millefiori quilts, and so many more.

The largest was ‘Specimens’ by Susan Carlson. Susan has collected specimens of endangered, extinct and not-widely-familiar species as subjects for quilts.sue

I loved this sign was posted in ‘For the Love of Linens’ exhibit. Most of the time we are not allowed to touch or take pictures. This time it was different.petting-zoo

The most unusual quilting was showcased in the ‘Cowboys, Horses, Quilting and Leather’ exhibit. Quilted leather by Cathy Wiggins.

On a personal note, here is Grand Illusion done by Beth Nufer, quilted by Clem Buzick of Fargo North Dakota. I had the pleasure of meeting Clem a few months ago so it was nice to see her quilting in Houston.

Vendors also had some very nice display quilts. I noticed many used Swarovski crystals. What do you think about that? Would you put crystals on a quilt?

thimbleIn terms of purchases, I did buy a few rulers and other quilting gadgets but to be honest it was a little overwhelming. The first day we called it quits after the 2nd isle. The next day I started at the end and worked backwards. There may have been some in the middle that were missed altogether. But here was my favorite find. A thimble. It is from Thimbles by TJ Lane. A new form of jewelry.

My creative juices are feeling like they have had a major dose of sugar. Or coffee. Maybe both. But first I need to finish projects I was working on prior to this trip.

Next week I will share pictures of our quilting cruise. Have a great week!


Posted in 2016, Highlighting others, travels, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Cats and Quilting

I am a lover of cats.

Here is Jasper, the 17 year old resident at our house.june2

Griffen, one of our grand-cat visits occasionally, and Mavis (another grand-cat) makes herself totally at home in my studio, which is in my son’s house.

But this story is about Jake, a greenhouse cat that lived with us for a winter in between his greenhouse gigs.


Besides being cute and adorable, cats are pretty easy to draw – for those of us that are artistically challenged. So it is not surprising that I would work them into my quilts.

This post is about the two times I made challenge quilts with cats as the subject. The first one resulted in my most embarrassing moment ever as a quilter. The second one resulted in a trip to the Houston Quilt Show, and a Caribbean cruise.

We will start with the embarrassing story first …

I signed up for my first beginner quilting class the month I retired from work. Signs of a quilting addiction came early. I bought fabric. I read books. I looked at patterns. I signed up for classes. And I joined the local guild. I thought I would only ever need to make 3 or 4 quilts (silly me!). Then what? Who needs more that that? So I looked for reasons to make quilts, ways to become involved.

Six months later a challenge caught my fancy. It was for an upcoming quilt show. Funds raised would go to the Humane Society. I had never been to a quilt show, and didn’t know what a challenge quilt was. The parameters given were- use 3 fabrics they provided plus any of my choice, include an animal on the front, and make it with a circumference of at least 150″.

That winter I worked hard on the quilt. Interested in Hawaiian quilting, I took the concept of mirroring an image – in this case a cat, and placed it in the center of a white square. Then I added a border with the fabric provided plus others so that length plus width equaled 150 inches. Here was the result.


You may have already picked up my mistake. Obviously it had been too long since I last attended school and had forgotten what ‘circumference’ meant.

When I went to hand it in, the person was speechless. Not knowing what to do, she showed me the other quilts and I was mortified! But she was gracious. We decided I would keep the quilt and she encouraged me to bring it to the next meeting for ‘show and tell.’ Which I did. Without telling the whole story.

Fast forward 2 years. Another challenge was in front of me. This time it was a 12″ completed block on the theme of ‘home’.  Once again, I had to use 3 fabrics provided plus any others. You can be sure I read the instructions many times to make sure I had it right!

If you had to design a block (in January) on the theme of ‘home’ what would you put on it? I spent a night or two thinking about it and decided to reuse the cat design. After all, it was winter and not many exciting things happen in winter. Cats provide the most entertainment and what do cats do in the winter? If the cats you know are anything like mine, they sit on the sofa and look outside all day long. On the other side of our window is a cedar tree with a bird feeder that sees plenty of action.

So here is my block called ‘Jake’. The 3 fabrics I had to use are in the 2 flower pots and Jake.


Jake – A challange block that won Viewer’s Choice Award

Jake won Viewer’s Choice. I have had almost 18 months to savor the win and look forward to the prize. By the time you read this, I will have spent 3 days at the Houston Quilt Show and will be almost done an 8 day Caribbean Quilting Cruise. Talk about a suburb prize!

So, here is a plug for Sew Many Places, the company that sponsored the prize and provides many different craft tours around the world. They are wonderful to work with, and provide top-notch teachers for all of their tours. If you are interested in traveling, learning, and making, I would strongly encourage you to consider one of their trips.

I anticipate being totally inspired and stimulated over the next 10 days. If you want to see and hear more, feel free to check me out on Instagram (j.stupak), Twitter (@jquiltstudio) and Facebook (Judy’s Quilting+ Studio.)

Posted in challenges, Uncategorized | 2 Comments


The Winnipeg Art Gallery held their Crafted event last weekend.

In September I wrote about the 20 pillowcases made by my quilt group ‘The South Enders’ which were contribted to this event and then donated to CancerCare/Children’s Hospital. crafted4

Pillowcases brighten the space for a child, making a hospital room feel more personal and more like home. It also gives them a place to keep their personal items when they go for a procedure, or for treatment.

The Art Gallery did a wonderful job of displaying the pillowcases. crafted1

We were also encouraged to make quilts.  Quilts are used for many things in the hospital. They provide shade for preemie babies in incubators, they provide a safe place for babies to play, they provide warmth for cuddling and they go home with the baby. Often families come from rural or northern communities so don’t have all the natural comforts of life with them while their child is in the hospital.

In this case they specifically requested quilts for teenagers. They receive more quilts for children, but not as many for teenagers. This is only one wall of quilts. I recognize several that were made by friends I quilt with.crafted2

A special tribute at this event was for Arlene Crabb, a friend and member of the Crescentwood Quilt Group who passed away this spring. Her family donated her stash to our Quilt Group and members made over 40 quilts for this cause.

Crescentwood holds their mini-retreats the last Sunday of each month and I attend this ‘Quilt Church’ whenever I can. I was not there the month Arlene’s fabric was distributed, but still contributed a quilt I thought would be bright and cheerful. It is the middle one in this picture. A basic tumbling block pattern using charm packs.crafted3

This has been a very busy time so I will leave it here for now. I hope you have a fabulous week. Next week I will tell you about the cats in my life – and how they affected my quilting.

Posted in Highlighting others, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Fruits of the Earth – October Reveal

Look at these beautiful postcards I received under “Fruits of the Earth”.

oct-marnieThe first one is a leaf in rich fall colours done in a Confetti design.  According to Marnie, you make an outline to show where the leaf will be, then add pieces within the outline of different materials.  In this case there are pieces of wool and pieces silver/gold chocolate wrappers.  Once they are in place you put netting on top, and stitch down around the outside perimeter.  Then the final stitching is done and you trim the netting either before or after this last step. This is not a technique that I have used before, but will look for a way to use it in the future. A perfect excuse to eat chocolate!

oct-virginiaVirginia sent me a visual buffet. Lettuce, tomatoes, peas, garlic, lemons, strawberries, cherries, bananas, oranges, apples. I like them all! She says that she discovered she had a lot of fabric with fruits and vegetables.

I decided to tackle grapes done with needle felting as my take on “Fruits of the Earth.” october-2016

Needle felting is a simple technique. Using VERY sharp felting needles (ask me how I know) and small pieces of wool, you attach the pieces of wool together by poking them repeatedly.  You can use a felting board or a dense sponge as a base which allows the needle to go through the wool and into the sponge without damaging the needle or your work surface. If you want to know more, there are you-tube videos you can watch and on-line sources for supplies.

In this case, I put a piece of white fabric that was slightly bigger than 4″x6″ on the sponge and then felted a cluster of grapes in varying shades of purple through the cotton. I tried to use as little wool as possible for each grape in order to keep the thickness to a minimum.

When the was felting done, I had to peel the fabric off the sponge. There was a fair bit of wool on the underside, which I trimmed in order to reduce bulk. I was hoping the adhesive on the FlexiFirm would be enough to keep the wool in place but added some free motion embroidery on the grapes just to be sure. Then I used yarn as a border.

What will our theme be in November? Why don’t we make it a “Wild Card” month. That gives you the freedom to do anything – use a card in your stash, get an early start on your Christmas cards, or actually do something really wild. Go to it!

Have a great week. Thanks for stopping by and reading my post. Don’t be shy about leaving a comment. I love to hear from you.

Posted in 2016, quilted postcards, Uncategorized | Tagged | 2 Comments

Art Exercises

Did you have a creative week? Were you artistic?  Is there a difference?

I have always considered myself creative, but not artistic. It is something I have wanted to improve, so I made it one of my New Year’s Resolution for 2016. I simply said I was going to search for ART every day. Art is a little vague, and every day may have been a little ambitious, but I figured it would take an ‘everyday’ type of approach for it to become habitual.

Since focusing on art, I have become aware of a number of different strategies a person can use to exercise the right side of the brain. A friend suggested looking for letters of the alphabet in architecture and nature. She looked for letters that spelled the word L O V E, then took pictures which were framed and given to grandparents as gifts from her children. What a great idea! Check out alph_love. (used with permission)

Looking for letters of the alphabet in nature has become one of my favorite activities. Even dear hubby became involved, pointing to patterns in plants, rocks and trees. And a neighbor must have wondered what I was doing on my hands and knees taking a picture of something that looked like a letter.

Here are a couple other strategies I have heard about:

  1. Take an art walk. Schedule it once or twice a week, in the same way you would schedule any other exercise program. Look for anything that interests you – textures, patterns, lines, colours.
  2.  Map out a daily diary in pictures instead of words. This was very difficult for me and didn’t last long, but I think it could be a useful exercise. One I should think about doing again.

The great thing about any of these strategies is that you can do them anywhere, anytime. It doesn’t matter what kind of house you live in, what your neighborhood is like, or where in the world you live. And best of all, they are fun and FREE!

cornbreadFinally, here is a recipe for cornbread from Ken’s kitchen. This is not just ordinary cornbread. It is cornbread with JALAPEÑO, BACON AND CHEDDAR.

Have a great week! Thanks for reading my post.


Posted in art, recipes, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Christmas Contest!

Someone gave me this fabulously fun fabric yesterday. I just can’t wait to make postcards out of it! I might even start today.ladies

My paper pieced Judy Niemeyer Log Cabin quilt blocks are coming along.
There are 80 different fabrics in it and she has a system for ‘shuffling the deck’ so that no 2 blocks are the same. But it means that I don’t always love the combinations, or the pieces that end up as neighbors. They tell me it will all come together in the end. I hope so.pp1

Going from paper piecing a log cabin to paper piecing a New York Beauty is something else. Does ‘Confident Beginner’ sound familiar? How about reckless? Our Satellite Group is responsible for Quilt Reflection’s 2018 raffle quilt and I only have to make 3 blocks. They have been the bain of my existence the last 3 Tuesdays.

Is it too early to talk about Christmas? How would you like to win a gift package of fabric and sewing related items?

In September our quilted postcards on the theme ‘Back to School’ went 16,200 miles, bringing our total to over 600,000 miles! I have not yet announced the theme for the November postcards, but I am giving you lots of time to prepare for December.

The theme will be ‘Anything Christmas’ so get your Christmas card list ready and start planning your quilted postcards. The gift package will go to the person who gets the most miles in December. All you need to do (besides making and sending the cards) is:

  • send me a comment to register your intent anytime between now and December 15th
  • send me a picture of the cards you make along with details- the number of cards sent, locations and miles. This does not have to be elaborate but simply a note such as: “I sent 3 cards to Toronto, 1 to Arizona, and 2 to New Zealand for a total of xxxx miles”. The picture and note must be sent to me by December 31st, 2016.

Now how easy is that?!!! Have a great week.

Posted in 2016, Contests, Uncategorized | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Things That Last

Last weekend we traveled north to celebrate the 65th wedding anniversary of my Father & Mother In-Law, along with their 90th birthdays -one in October and one in November. With this in mind, I thought a short story about the legacy of quilting from their perspective might be appropriate.

Living “off the grid” sounds cool.  It represents freedom, anonymity, self sufficiency.  Yes.  When you can drive half an hour to a city.  When you can communicate instantly with the world via i-phone or social media.  When you can visit family, shower and eat a nice meal in a local restaurant.  Then living off the grid may be cool.  Even fun.

Not so much in the 1930’s when my mother-in-law was a child.  Coming from Eastern Europe, my mother-in-law along with her sister, 2 brothers and mom were deposited on a farm in Central Canada and left to fend for themselves.  Being 3 miles from town didn’t matter.  Few people there spoke their language anyway.  Her dad, the only one who spoke English, left home for days/weeks/months on end in order to work in a distant mine.  He did what he could to provide for the family.  He was the one who did all of the monetary transactions.  When he was not around, they just had to make do.

Over time, they cleared land to convert it from bush to farm land.  Over time they added animals.  Anything to move from the random provision of hunted animals to the self-sufficiency and the dependency of domestic animals.  Cows meant you had meat, milk, cream and butter.  Pigs provided meat, sausage, and lard for baking and making soap.  Chickens gave meat and eggs.  And from geese you collected feathers.

Survival in a foreign land required adjustment.  Everything revolved around the 4 seasons – planting, growing, harvesting and winter.  Very, very cold winters.  Storms where you did not leave the house for days on end except to feed the animals.  Nights when the temperatures inside the house were so cold the water in pails turned to ice.

But winter evenings in Northern Canada are not only cold.  They are also long, with almost 18 hours of darkness.  Going out?  That was feared.  It was much safer inside.  And there was always something to be done.  After supper, bags of geese feathers collected from the fall ‘harvest’ were brought out.  As mother/children sat around the single source of heat for the house – a wood-burning stove, they stripped feathers until mid-night when the last person to go to bed would put a stick of wood on the fire.

At first, the feathers were put into empty sugar or flour bags and sewn shut.  These were pillows.


Down filled pillows

Later, the family became friends with neighboring Dukabors who showed them how to sew rows on sheets of fabric and stuff channels with feathers in order to make down comforters.

glass 144

Down comfortor

At some point feathers were replaced with wool.  Bags of wool were taken down to the river to be washed.  They were then carded and rolled into sheets.  A quilting frame was set up in the living room where it took up almost every square inch of space.  It remained there for weeks until the quilting was done.  In this case it was hand stitched (loosely) so that the tops could be removed periodically to be washed or replaced.


glass 123

Wool quilt -front & back, loosely hand stitched

Remnants of this life remain.  My mother-in-law still has the treadle sewing machine, her spinning wheel, wool carding equipment, down filled pillows, wool quilts, tea towels made of recycled flour/sugar bags circa 1950’s, hand embroidered pillowcases and cross stitch done on hand made linen fabric.  She has passed on to us feather pillows that are the most comfortable ever, down comforters that are way too hot in today’s world of central heating and wool quilts that keep us warm on winter nights.  The down and wool provided by geese and sheep who lived 75 years ago still provides us with warmth and pleasure!

For my MIL, the legacy of quilting was simple and very traditional – you made what you needed, but nothing extra.  The ‘nothing extra’ applied to everything.  There was no time for the extra stitching of blocks.  There was no waste of extra fabrics and there was no waste of energy/time making quilts you did not need. This quilt, with a little more planning and stitching came into the family later but the history of the quilt has been lost. All I know is that we used it last weekend.

Have a great week. For my Canadian friends, happy Thanksgiving!

Posted in Highlighting others, Uncategorized | Tagged | 3 Comments