I'm again participating in the ByAnnie #sewpink campaign for the October Breast cancer awareness month. Although I have so far escaped the 1 in 7 statistic, many of my friends have not and I have watched them battle and fight...
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Sew pinkStitch for Breast cancer month in October = blog hop and more...

Sew pinkStitch for Breast cancer month in October = blog hop


I'm again participating in the ByAnnie #sewpink campaign for the October Breast cancer awareness month. Although I have so far escaped the 1 in 7 statistic, many of my friends have not and I have watched them battle and fight with grace and courage… hopefully by their side with support along the way. So it was certainly my honour to once again support this activity and bring a little awareness and reminders to our day.



There are many great designers participating in the blog hop, and I've put the links at the bottom of the post.  We also may each have a prize to giveaway! yes, one every day if you visit each blog. To win mine, you just need to post a pic on IG and tag me @helen_stubbings using hashtag #sewpink.  telling your friends and family to ‘check their bumps for lumps’. Don’t forget to tag me or I won’t see your entry. It would be great to also tag @PatternsByAnnie  It can be a HNK or ByAnnie project you’ve made, some wise words or show your BC story, anything you like. Be creative and have fun..  You may win a $30 digital voucher from By Annie and another from Hugs ‘n Kisses.

Last year I had a bit of fun and made this little project – the Zip it up bag


and we held a wonderful and successful ‘Stitch for Sisters’ high tea event raising many funds for the cause.


IMG_8863 IMG_8850

Sadly that is not possible this year – so I have instead ‘interviewed’ three lovely friends who have all won the battle and have some tips to share. (note: photos and content provided & shared with their permission further down)

I have also made the lovely Day Tripper 2.0 Cross body bag from ByAnnie as I felt it was the perfect bag for day treatment visits.


I've used Anna Maria Horner fabrics which are just perfect for the task, and something that I thought you’d be proud to hang over your shoulder. daytripper-close-top

I used the wonderful bag zippers from ByAnnie, (in hot pink of course) and the Wild Lotus Prussian fabric by Anna Maria. We also just received the lovely new black hardware from Annie, so of course I had to try that..  stock is coming!day-tripper-full-outside

I asked my friends what 3 things would they put into a day treatment (tripper) bag?


What are three things you wished you knew before going to your first treatment to take in your bag?


IMG_1731 IMG_2192 

First and last treatments -

First treatment I was full of anxiety  - Last Herceptin treatment (had to do this every 3 weeks for 12months, started with chemo) feeling happy it was all over

1. I wished I had prepared a small bag packed with a simple project to work on just at treatments, or sitting in waiting rooms. I was always walking out the door and forgetting to take some handwork and a lot of time was wasted in my own head worrying about stuff I had no control over.

2.I found taking comfy socks to wear during chemo kept my toes warm and me comfy.


3.Keep a diary/journal and write your story.



Look good, Feelgood workshops – celebrating end of first year of treatment

1.Ask how you’re having your treatment, mine was through a cannula in my hand and so I couldn’t really use one of my hands while I was having the chemo. So Music and an electronic book were better options than stitching for me, it was such a shame I had so much time I would have loved to have stitched. My days were a minimum of six hours long to an overnight stay on my first treatment.

2.I found everyone amazing and you are well informed about what to expect but when they suggested loose comfortable clothing I didn’t think about easy slip on shoes and socks! I liked to recline in the chair without my shoes, but I needed to put them on every time I went to the toilet which was often. You’re hooked up to a pump on a mobile pole and a cannula in one hand that they ask you not to use if possible so slip on shoes are invaluable. I took a pair of crocs in my bag. If you don’t wear socks take some. It may be hot outside, but hospitals are airconditioned and if you’re like me I didn’t like cold feet. It’s also not a fashion faux pas to wear socks with your slip on shoes, you also don’t have any hair remember.

3. A drink bottle that you only need one hand to open is handy and big enough you don’t have to get up too often but not too big that its heavy to lift. Your encouraged to drink lots of water and believe me it’s better to stick with that advice, dehydration, nausea, constipation are all much worse if you don’t drink regularly.




About to go into surgery – stitchery in hand to calm the nerves

Mandy due to her home location moved away from home to a residential facility to undergo her weeks of radiation treatment daily. The most valued things (packed in a bag by her good friend) to get through this period were:

1.A little new stitching project by Anni Downs,

2.MooGoo body cream & homemade sleeping and relaxation oils,

3. chocolate and magazines


What is one single piece of advice you would have as a survivor?


If you’re likely to lose your hair don’t panic and rush out and buy an expensive wig, you may never wear it, the head scarves I had were so much more comfy and pretty. The wig still sits in a box.


Try to be patient if you’re not that nature. Everything takes longer than you think it should. Tests to be done so you can start treatment, your treatment to be over, days to feel normal, your hair to grow back, your taste to return, to not need an afternoon sleep, to be able to concentrate and remember things, to like chocolate again Winking smile , but before you know it it’s all over and you survived.


Have that regular mammogram when it’s due! I like many before and after me was symptomless and my little cancer friend was hiding and didn’t want to be found by regular monthly checks. It was an insidious little monster just growing away and I thank Breast Screen Victoria for their vigilance.


Remember to win a $30 ByAnnie digital voucher OR a $30 HNK voucher you just need to post a pic on IG and tag me @helen_stubbings using hashtag #sewpink. Don’t forget to tag me or I won’t see your entry. It can be a HNK project you’ve made, some wise words or show your BC story, anything you like. If possible – make it pink!

and ladies and gents – don’t forget to check those bumps for lumps!

Hugs for today – and go check those bumps!



Oct. 1 (Thur): Mister Domestic

Oct. 5 (Mon): Sewfinity

Oct. 7 (Wed): Great Heron Thread

Oct. 9 (Friday): Knot and Thread

Oct. 12 (Mon): Snuggles Quilts

Oct. 14 (Wed): A Bright Corner

Oct. 16 (Fri): Susan Quilts

Oct. 19 (Mon): HUGS'N KISSES

Oct. 20 (Tues): Sallie Tomato

Oct. 22 (Thur): Nancy Scott

Oct. 23 (Fri): Meadow Mist

Oct. 26 (Mon): LoveYouSew

Oct. 27 (Tue): Teresa Coates

Oct. 31 (Sat): Sue O'Very/Sookie Sews

The #SewPink Initiative was created by ByAnnie.com LLC to raise awareness for breast cancer throughout the year. Our efforts culminate in an annual blog hop during October’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month to promote self-care, awareness, early detection and support for those affected by breast cancer.

To learn more and see the calendar of events visit: https://www.ByAnnie.com/SewPINK

To find screenings available near you:

· Breast Screen (Australia)

· CDC.gov (US)

· WebMD (free screenings)

To donate directly to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation visit: https://give.bcrf.org/give/31404/#!/donation/checkout


Bias vines Stems 5 ways

I use bias vines and stems so often in my projects and love that there are many ways you can make them very easily and accurately. However, I'm also aware from the oohs and ahhs at workshops and in classes that not everyone has seen or heard about these easy methods… So while I can’t be with you to show you how – I have made a little video to show you from afar.



What are bias vines and stems?

They are  strips of fabric used generally in applique designs. Usually quite narrow – down to 1/8th of an inch – my standard is normally 1/4” – but you can do as wide as you like. Both edges of the strips are turned under – yes just like a turned edge applique shape, but there are much easier ways to pre-turn those edges.


Sisterhood society quilt

If the vines or stems are curved then these little strips are cut on the bias grain – that is 45 degrees – or a 45 degree angle from the straight grain or selvedge edge of your fabric.  This means they will turn around even very sharp curves and still sit flat on your work (sometimes with a bit of help from a steaming iron).


Of course they are best cut from 100% good quality quilting fabric as this has a lot of movement allowing that easing around curves whilst still being very stable. It would be much more difficult to use a stretch fabric, and a polyester would cause issues with steaming into place.

They are very common in traditional applique designs


Petite Cherie quilt

and used more and more in modern quilting techniques…


Designs by Kat Jones

Of course there are tools to help you with this – and although I’m not big on tools just for the sake of it, there are some, like a rotary cutter, ruler and mat, that I would never not use – and bias makers fall in this category.


My video will show you other ways – yes, without tools – and other tool options you may prefer or already have.


The Cardinal

Checkout my video tutorial here





now go forth and make lots of lovely bias – it’s truly very satisfying..

hugs for today



Zippered bag tute

I’ve done a quick photo tutorial whilst making up a second test prototype of my Le fer Tote bag as written instructions can be tricky for some parts of this bag and we have found people struggle with the lining particularly. This method will also apply to the Taffy Apple pouch bag which is made in  a similar way.


1. fuse the foam strips (iron or spray baste) inside the two long zipper strips. Push the foam right up to the fold – there should be a 1/4” gap at the bottom raw edges where there is no foam. (note: if making the original le fer tote you will have already completed the embroider on the bottom part of this panel on linen)


2. Place the two folded edges evenly together – you may want to pin.


3. lay the 40cm lace zipper right side up over the two edges – the teeth need to sit exactly on the join where they meet. Have the metal end on the left sitting in the seam allowance (so you wont sew over it later and break your needle). Pin well.IMG_6344

4. Using a zipper foot stitch down both sides of the zipper close to the teeth. Move the pull out of the way, stitch past it, then close it back up out of the way. Once finished turn over and make sure you’ve stitched through both sides.


5. Cut out the top and bottom using Template A. (Note: if making the original le fer tote pattern your top will be pieced as hexies, cut the hexie panel to the Template A size.


Join the two Template A pieces (top and bottom of bag) to the back panel. Press seams inwards.IMG_6350

Lay your press panel onto the glue side of foam bag batting (or spray baste non fuse first), place baking paper or ironing sheet over and press to fuse.IMG_6351IMG_6352

Trim to size.


Stitch in the ditch through all layers through both seams.


Place this panel onto your lining fabric and trim to size. Mark with pins on the lining where the seam lines are on the outer panel – press to make a fold. Put your lining aside for later.IMG_6370IMG_6371

6. Make the handle as per instructions. Hand or machine edgestitch. Place it in the centre of the back panel with both edges even and pin. Machine baste if you wish. It won’t sit flat as its a little longer than the panel.


7. Place the short edge  of the zipper panel right sides together with the centre of your outer bag panel. (the zip side will be against the right side of the back panel)  It will be 1/2” wider than the back part. Pin at the seam lines (1/4” in from both ends). Stitch from the first pin (1/4” in) to the last pin (1/4” before the other edge) – be careful when going past the zip not to hit that metal part.


repeat for the other edge – you may want to open the zipper pull a tad.IMG_6357

With sharp scissors clip into the start and end point of both ends.IMG_6358


7. now it starts to get a little fiddly. Turn the zipper panel at the clip point (the seam) so that it follows around the curved end of the outer panel. Pin the edges well so all the raw edges are even. Do the bottom of the bag first.


Stitch 1/4” around the pinned edges. I found it easier to stitch from the foam side – you can see where the end of your stitching row is at the seam (that 1/4” point) this is where you want your row of stitching to start – and yes you want to backtack to secure. You will finish when you reach the start of the stitching line on the other side.

IMG_6362Now you will have a half a bag with the lid or top hanging open. Open the zipper and repeat what you just did – joining the small part of the zipper panel to the lid (or other curved end of the bag panel)IMG_6364IMG_6366IMG_6367Smoosh it so you can get into that start point at the end of the side stitching line –fiddly yes..IMG_6368Turn the bag right side out and press out the seams really well with a steam iron.IMG_6369

8. now we are at the trickiest part. Attaching the lining.

Turn the bag inside out again – so that the fabric is inside the bag and the foam is showing on the outside.

Start by matching a fold of the lining piece to a seam line on the bag. (the seam line between the lid and the back piece of the bag). The right side of the lining will be against the fabric inside the bag. pin the first fold to the seam at the top edge of the bag. Now pin up around the curved edges of the lid – not too hard.

Now we have to pin the other fold to the bottom edge seam.  See the first yellow arrove below? that pin is my fold line and it needs to go right down to that bottom seam corner.

then for the bottom edge  you need to tuck the straight edges of the bag inwards and the lining has to reach down to the bottom as per the second yellow arrow. You have to squish and smoosh to get it down there all the way around the bag.



Then turn to the foam side and you are going to stitch around the edges on the same stitch line as before or as close as possible. You will leave a small opening in the side of one bottom edge.

IMG_6377IMG_6376Use a pair of clamps to  reach inside your opening, grab the far end and carefully put it all through the opening. (you may want to clip the curves before you turn). Push out all the seams really well.  If you did not get the lining all the way to the edges and some seam lines or raw edges are showing you can now adjust and slip stitch the lining better into place.IMG_6378IMG_6379


Pin and then Slip stitch the opening closed so that it covers the remaining seam allowance.

IMG_6381IMG_6383Turn the bag inside out and give it a really good steam press with an iron to ensure the lining is all sitting nicely and flat against the foam.

IMG_6382IMG_6372And you’re done!


Or here’s the original version with embroidery and EPP Hexies. All ready for your mini iron.



Do you struggle with wavy borders on your quilt tops?



Do you often  end up with wavy borders on your quilt? Is your quilt often not square?


Here’s some hints and tips to get a perfectly flat border and quilt top - which your longarm quilter will love you for.

How to measure and attach borders to your quilt top to end up square!
It's not unusual for the four edges of an unfinished quilt top to all be slightly different lengths because the edges
of quilts are often stretched out of shape a bit during construction and pressing, or if you have many seams even
the slightest difference in seam allowance can make a big difference.
If the quilt is skewed a bit and you measure the sides of the quilt to determine the border length, the quilt will be just be out of square as it was before borders were added. Never just cut a strip of fabric, start sewing at the top and trim off the leftover at the bottom.
If the border is too long, then the sides of the quilt will be puckered or wavy, and if the border is too short or tight, the middle of the quilt will bubble. If the border is not sewn evenly along the whole edge of the quilt, it will cause waviness in some places and tightness in others and just will not sit flat.

These instructions for measuring and sewing straight borders to a quilt can be used to add any type of border, plain or pieced/appliqued.Goose Heaven

Straight sewn quilt borders, also called butted borders, are quick and easy to sew—that's probably why they are the most often used borders for quilts.
Borders are usually sewn to the two longest sides of the quilt first and then to the remaining two sides with the final two extending straight across the ends of the first borders.

The steps are:
1. Measure the quilt from top to bottom through the vertical centre.
I like to also measure at both side edges - add the three measurements together and divide by 3 to get the average. (a+b+c /3)

2. Cut two border strips that match the measurement exactly, using the average width you've just determined.
Borders made with crosswise grain strips can be more stretchy than lengthwise grain border strips, but either type is suitable. if you need to join strips to get the measurement, do this first, press seams open (or use a bias seam to reduce bulk) and then cut to size.

Extra Tip: Sometimes you will find that it's best to add top and bottom borders (or shorter borders) first to avoid the need for piecing those border strips.
Use the same method, but measure horizontally first and start at the Short sides. Determine which borders to sew first to make the best use of your fabric.

How to Sew the First Two Borders to the Quilt
1. Fold one of the borders in half crosswise to find its centre point, using your fingers to crease it slightly at that spot.
Do the same with your quilt to find the centre point. Finger press. (You can use a pin or marker to mark them also)


2. Place the border along the side of the quilt, right sides together and  centre points matched. Pin through both layers at the match to keep fabrics from shifting.
If the quilt is quite large I would also mark the 1/4” and 3/4” marks along both the border and quilt top. Do this by
folding in half and then half again to crease these points.
3. Match and pin the bottom end of the border to the bottom edge of the quilt with raw edges even, then match and pin all of your crease marks until you reach the other end of the border pinned to the quilt.
4. Add extra  pins at close intervals in between your quarters and ease in any fullness to coax the two lengths
to match.  Raw edges should be aligned along the quilt's entire side.
5. Sew the border to the quilt with a 1/4 inch seam allowance, removing pins as you approach them to avoid bending pins and breaking needles. If you have extra fullness, sew with the longest piece next to the feed dogs and this will really help to ease it in without puckers.
6. Press the seam allowance towards the border.
7. Repeat for your opposite border.

Sew Remaining Two Borders to the Quilt
1. Measure the quilt from side-to-side through its horizontal midpoint and top and bottom edges, including the
width of the first borders. Find the average and cut or piece two borders that length.
2. Fold a border in half (and quarters if large) crosswise and crease. Pin again matching all of your crease marks.

3. Continue as you did with the previous borders.

If you are adding more borders to your quilt repeat the process above.
Using this method will give you the best chance of a perfectly square flat quilt top - even if your piecing was not

Go forth and make square flat  quilts!


happy quilting

hugs from Helen


Lets get real studio tour

So Terry Atkinson and Gudrun Erla put the call out to us to show our ‘real studios’- not perfectly cleaned, beautifully presented, out of a magazine images, but instant as they are now..

let get real

I considered that I really can’t show you this – my studio is simply not fit for human eyes – I can’t really show you how messy I am and what a state we are really in.. But then….. maybe it could make you feel better about yours – AND, maybe it may make me stick to my word and show you the new and improved version soon….

so first you can watch mine- please watch mine first as all the others will just make mine look even worse…

It is a little rushed (trying to keep them short and sweet) and very organic (sorry no expert videoing skills here today)  but you’ll get the picture of just what state we are in…and how and where I work.



then pop on over to some of my friends tours and see how they work – it really is interesting….

Terry Atkinson | Atkinson Designs
Gudrun Erla | GE Quilt Designs
Annie Unrein | By Annie
Celine Perkins | Perkins Dry Goods
Deanne Eisenman | Snuggles Quilts
Debby Ritenbaugh Brown | Debbie Brown Quilts
Katy Cameron | The Littlest Thistle
Nancy Scott | Master Piece Quilting by Nancy Scott/
Pat A Sloan | Pat Sloan Voice of Quilting
Shari Butler | Doohikey Designs
Sheri Cifaldi-Morrill | Whole Circle Studio
Scott Hansen | Blue Nickels Studio
Lynn Carson Harris | Lynn Carson Harris Blog
Shelley Lynne Pederson Robson | The Quilted Forest

keeping it real here….. please don’t judge me – less tidying time, more stitching time

happy stitching

Hugs from Helen


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