Friday, November 29, 2013

Don't Forget--$5 Will Buy You a Chance to Win This Quilt

This quilt is available for an online raffle to raise money for Mercy Covers, an organization in Costa Rica that is working with indigenous women to teach them sewing skills. They are making quilts and other products to give to other needy people as well as learn skills to grow their own ability to support themselves. Sewing is a skill that can be vital in helping women support themselves and their families. We are working toward gaining more funds to help ship supplies and sewing machines for this effort. Watch for more news to come.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Day of Thanksgiving--Two Fabulous Giveaways

McCall's Quilting Vin du Jour Giveaway

Beginning November 1 and continuing through December 31, 2013, you may click on the Enter Contest tab above and enter your name in our random drawing. One McCall's Quilting reader will win this bundle of fat quarters from the Vin du Jour collection by 3 Sisters for Moda. Enter to win!

Click on link to enter:

Winner will be selected on January 2, 2014 and notified within 24 hours by e-mail.

Sulky Petites
The gorgeous boxed collection of Sulky Cotton Petites pictured above is being given away to one lucky winner! Sulky’s new collection of 12 wt. Cotton Petites threads includes 66 solid and 14 variegated threads. To enter just leave a comment at:

Click here for official rules*; contest ends midnight MST December 2, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from comments below and notified by email on December 3, 2013.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Ultimate Giveaway. Longarm Giveaway!

Hurry To Enter The Great APQS Longarm Giveaway

Have you dreamed of owning an APQS longarm quilting machine? What about a longarm machine with an automated quilting system? Here’s your chance at both!

APQS is giving away a Lucey longarm machine equipped with Quilt Path, the computerized quilting system. This is our biggest giveaway yet with a value of $21,900!!!

And that’s not all! Every month, one lucky entrant will receive an APQS Quilting Gift Basket full of thread, patterns and other great APQS goodies.
One grand prize winner will be selected at random during the week of Dec. 16, 2013. The winner will be notified via phone. Enter once a day for your chance to win.

To enter go to:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Another Giveaway--This Ends November 27th

Sew Fresh Quilts is giving away 40 fat quarters, a marking pen and a quilt pattern.  Giveaway ends November 27th.  Go here to register to win.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 2: Field Check for Fabric Quality

This is the second installment in our series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The series is about helping quilters make better decisions about the fabrics by providing information about fabric.

Field Check for Quality

We've all heard the comments: "All fabric is the same"; "Fabric is fabric"; and "Some companies just charge more!"  Some of us have even made those comments--including me.  In fabric none of these statements are valid.  The quality of one fabric is not the quality of another.  Fabric has different weights (as we learned in the first installment entitled Know Your Thread Count).  The cost of fabric is directly related to thread count and the manufacturers process.

So how does a quilter choose the right quilt fabric?  One way is to conduct a field check for fabric quality!  Sounds complicated but it's in fact quite easy.  You may get a few looks for fellow shoppers and clerks but don't panic!  Others may be curious enough to ask questions giving you the opportunity to provide them with a fabulous education.

The Crumple and Wrinkle

The first field test on quilt fabric should be to take a corner of the fabric you are looking at and crumple a bit in your hand.  Hold it there for about 15 seconds then release the fabric.  Does the fabric stay hopelessly crumpled or does it slowly regain it's shape with minimal wrinkling?   This is important as a good quality fabric should retain it's original shape after being crumpled.  If it remains a wrinkled mess in the yardage then walk away.  Can you imagine what a 15 second crumple can become in a quilt that is made to be used by others?  Do you want that to be the signature of something you painstakingly made either as a gift, a commission, or a show piece? Remember that there may be a small amount of wrinkling in making this test but significant wrinkling is not a good earmark for a quality fabric.

The Sniff Test

Yes, you read this right...the sniff test is next.  Hold the fabric to your nose and inhale.  Does the fabric have a distinct or strong chemical odor?  This signals that the fabric has been chemically treated with stabilizers or sizing to make it appear to heavier and more stable.  If you smell heavy chemicals beware.  Once you wash this fabric it will possibly go limp and reveal a very thin fabric. To field test a "smelly" fabric grab a corner and place a hand on each side of the fabric and rub it with a rapid scrubbing motion between both hands.  If the fabric loses it's luster and stiffness once smoothed back out it is a poor quality fabric the manufacturer has tried to disguise as quality yard goods.

The Rub

As mentioned in the first installment of this series, Know Your Thread Count, thread count matters. You can field test for thread count, since this is not generally listed on the bolt end. Simply place a spot of the fabric you are considering between your thumb and index finger and rub the two back and forth together. Now check the spot where you rubbed. Does the fabric fibers appear to be separating? Does the fabric fibers appear to have separated and now the spot looks then? If you answer "yes" to these questions then the fabric is probably a low thread count and would not make the cut as a good quality quilt fabric that would yield and long lasting quilt.

The Wrong Side

Open the fabric you are considering for purchase just enough to look at the grain running both length-wise and cross-wise. Do the length-wise threads appear to be running from one edge to the other in a straight line? Do the cross-wise threads running up and down appear to be running straight? This will tell if the fabric in "on grain" or not. Also, look at the selvages. The threads should be running parallel to the selvage. A good quality fabric will have the threads at perfect right angles. If the fabric is "off-grain" and this can be spotted on the wrong side of the fabric then the fabric is not a good candidate to produce a top-quality quilt.

The Results of a Field Check for Quality

Checking your potential fabric purchase by doing a field check for quality may appear strange to other shoppers and clerks. Those who understand what it takes to create a quilt will also understand that the quality of the textile goods is the first step. Ignore the stares and giggle to yourself as you rub, smell, crumple and inspect the yard goods you are considering purchasing. Giggle even louder when you observe someone else doing the same. It's become like a secret society in which you hold membership. It's the club of knowing how to make quality wise decisions about the quilt fabric you are purchasing.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Remembering our History--The Day President Kennedy Died

There are some memorable moments in history that are undeniably life changing. For those of us who were alive the day our nation lost John F Kennedy we still ask almost yearly, "Where were you the day President Kennedy was shot?"

For me it is still a vivid memory. It was lunch time, maybe shortly, after when the teacher opened the classroom door to a visitor. The person whispered something in her ear. Her hand went to her mouth as she gasped. When she turned around to us there were tears running down her face. She told us in between her sobs that our president was dead. All we knew was that he had been shot by an unknown assassin and we were still in the middle of the "Cold War" with Russia. Classes were dismissed and everyone in the hallways were crying and looked numb. When I got home my mother was crying. My mother, my siblings and I sat in front of the TV waiting for news and hoping the assassin was caught.   We were supposed to go see the movie PT 109 that night with our father but the movie theater on our base closed (maybe because of the alert status). We were a military family (USAF) stationed at Ellsworth Air Base outside Rapid City, South Dakota. We all wanted to see the movie about Kennedy's war experiences. It was a sad time for our home and for our country. The base was on alert and people were on edge. The news coverage went around the clock, something quite unusual in 1963. We sat glued to the set and watched the coverage over and over. Our nation watched as they announced the arrest of Lee Harvey Oswald.  Perhaps we all breathed a sigh of relief until the news announced his link to Russia.  On November 24, I was sitting in front of the TV when Jack Ruby stepped out of a crowd at the jail and shot Oswald.  Jack Ruby became somewhat a hero for many since it was perceived that he killed the man responsible for killing our beloved president.  

We continued watching the coverage for days.  We saw Lyndon B Johnson take the oath of office on the plane heading back to Washington DC with the first lady, Jacqueline Kennedy, at his side.  She was still wearing the blood spattered suit she had worn while sitting in the car with her husband when he was shot.  And later we watched as precious John John, the president's son, saluted his father's coffin as it passed by in the funeral procession.

Our nation mourned the death of our president!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Another Opportunity to Win--$100 Brother Gift Card

Watch & Win! Don’t forget to enter our Always Good Times Watch & Win Sweepstakes for your chance to win a $100 Brother Visa® Pre-Paid Card! No Purchase Necessary. See Official Rules. Click here to enter now:

Note:  This works best when watched from a PC.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thank you!

Thank you to my blog readers for your continuing support.  Yesterday I reached 3,000 page views since I opened this blog in mid-August.  I hope you continue to enjoy this blog and find useful information in each post.

Jillian Grant
Owner of The Quilt Orchard

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Another Fabulous Giveaway

From the Fluffy Sheep Quilting we have two opportunities to win fat quarters. To enter, leave one comment below telling the Fluffy Sheep Quilting blog which is your favorite print or your favorite color in a new line. While at the Fluffy Sheep Quilting Blog you get a bonus entry blog, by sending an instagram or FB message about this giveaway and leave a bit of evidence that you did so in a comment.   You must click on the link to enter your comments:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Never Arrive Empty Handed

It's never too late to sew up a little something special for a hostess.  This is especially true if  you are going to someone else's house for a holiday meal.  Sew a simple set of cotton coasters, a quilted table runner in your hostess' favorite colors, or even a pretty wine bag for that bottle of wine you are gifting.  An item can take minutes to sew, or a couple of hours.  Regardless of the time spent something sewn by you will leave a lasting impression.  The time invested will be small compared to the memories made when you show up with something truly special in hand.

Happy creating for the holidays.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Quilt Raffle Update

Raffle Quilt--approximately 65" x 75"--Tickets $5
The quilt raffle has begun to move along.  We have 45 days left to raise our goal of $5,000. The raffle money will go to help with the cost of purchasing supplies, materials, tools and to pay for the shipping/transportation of these items and donated machines and fabric to Costa Rica.  These items will be used by Mercy Covers in their continued effort to teach sustaining sewing skills to women in areas of Costa Rica.  Mercy Covers is involved in several projects including having indigenous women sew quilts for charities and sew craft items they can sell to help pay for their children's education needs.

You can purchase a raffle ticket for a chance to win this lovely quilt for as little as $5.  You can't win if you don't enter.  Your donation will be a great help for a very worthy organization.

To give:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another Chance to Win!

Direct from Angela Walters blog: Machine Quilting by Angela

See a fun quilt designed by Vanessa Christenson of V & Co, and have a chance to win the pattern for free!

Quilter's Prayer

Lord forgive me when I sew
There is so much that I don't know
Gadgets, rulers, and special tools
Sometimes make us feel like fools
When I acheive that special look
Then I will write a nice big book
But for now I continue to grow
My ever changing talents as I sew

Original poem by Jillian Grant
I am re-posting this poem by request

Friday, November 15, 2013

Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric--Part 1: Know Your Thread Count

This is the beginning of a series entitled Choosing the Right Quilt Fabric. The purpose of this series is to help quilters make solid decisions when choosing their fabrics by being better educated about the quality of fabric available.

Know Your Thread Count

Is thread count of a quilt fabric important? To be able to answer that question you much first understand what thread count means. The term "thread count" refers to the number of threads woven together in a square inch. If you have 50 threads lengthwise (known as the warp) and 50 threads width wise (known as the weft) the total thread count per square inch is 100.

Quality quilting fabrics have higher thread counts--with the average being between 68 and 78 (weft and warp). Quilting fabrics in this range are thicker and more durable, shrink less, and sew better. A good quilting fabric has a thread count of approximately 60 x 60 square (thread count of 120 threads per square inch) or more. Finer quality fabrics with a higher thread count will feel softer and finer to the touch. They are smoother and will last longer.

It's not easy to find out the thread count of quilt fabric as not all quilt cotton manufacturers will reveal this magical number. You can, however, look at a quilting fabric and make a decision on it's quality on your own by examining the weave. Do the threads appear loosely woven? Can you pull the threads apart easily? Can you see your hand outline through a single layer of fabric? Does the fabric look thin? If these questions are answered with a "yes" then this is not a quality fabric and has a low thread count that will not produce a quality quilt that will stand up to use.The better quality quilt cotton manufacturers will have a higher thread count, but this means the fabric will cost more. The higher the thread count the higher the price. What does that means in terms of creating a top quality quilt? The higher quality, higher thread count cotton will yield a quilt that is much more durable, will not wrinkle as quickly, and is made to be used.

Two things to remember if you do find the thread count for your favorite quilt cotton manufacturer (and yes some are not afraid to let you know what it is):

1) Do not confuse quilt cotton thread counts with the thread count of cotton sheets.

2) Know that the higher the thread count the more pressure has to be put on a needle to penetrate the cotton when quilting. For machine quilting this is generally not an issue but when making a quilt that will be hand quilted this can matter.

Thread count is just one of many things to consider when purchasing cotton fabric for your next quilt project. The next article in this series, Choosing The Right Quilt Fabric, will be How to Identify Quality Quilt Fabric.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Doing Your Own Thing

Maybe this should be entitled doing my own thing.  Whichever it is I highly encourage everyone to take the freedom to do what pleases them when it comes to creating and sewing.  For me it's finding that perfect  match of doing what comes to me and doing what makes others go "oooh and aaah."  Nonetheless, it's still self directed.

I like to work on designs for machine quilting that don't look cookie cutter.  I buy patterns and read the directions then never use the pattern but instead prefer to make it up as I go along (I learn by doing).  Sometimes I watch videos and walk away wondering why the presenter bothered then set about creating something completely different from what they did.

Maybe it's rebellion and maybe it's just me being me.  Regardless of which it is I encourage people to find their inspiration inside then go make happy sewing experiences for yourself.  You don't need Pinterest or magazines to show you how, let your spirit and talents guide you there.

Happy doing your own thing.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday--Another Chance to Win

McCall's Quilting Fabric Giveaway Contest! 
Enter to win this wonderful pack of fat quarters from the Midwinter Reds collection by Minick & Simpson for Moda! Go to:

Contest is open from October 1 through November 30, 2013. One winner will be randomly selected from entries on December 2, 2013 and notified within 24 hours by email.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Don't Miss a Chance to Win A Quilt

Many of you know that I have a quilt that is being raffled off to support Mercy Covers in Costa Rica.  Help me help these wonderful women by making it possible for us to send sewing machines and supplies to them as they grown and learn to sew and support others.

Buy your raffle tickets at:

To learn more about Mercy Covers, visit their Facebook page at:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Announcing a Quilt Raffle to Benefit Mercy Covers

This quilt measures approx. 65" x 75"
Close-up of custom free hand longarm quilting
This one-of-kind quilt has been created for the purpose of raising money for Mercy Covers, an organization started by the St. Bryce Foundation, a non-profit group. The quilt is being raffled as a means to raise money to send sewing machines, fabric, supplies and other needs to the women who are working with Mercy Covers to create sustainable goods such as quilts for the needy and crafts that can be sold as a way these women can support themselves while learning a useful and self-supporting trade in sewing. Shipping even fully donated goods to Costa Rica is astoundingly expensive.

Colleen Connell Mitchell, the founder of Mercy Covers, has created a network of missionaries willing to bring supplies to the organization but it takes money to ship these items to those travelling to Costa Rica. It also take money to repair and make ready machines and other tools that are donated. That is where the quilt comes in. We are working toward raising $5,000 to take us through the next few shipments of goods to Mercy Covers.

Raffle tickets come from your donations. They are $5 for 1 ticket; 3 for $14; 5 for $24; 6 for $28; 8 for $37; 11 for $50; 17 for $75; and 25 for $100. All entries will be entered into the raffle and the prize winner will be drawn on December 31, 2013. Upon verification of winner the quilt will be shipped no later than January 6, 2014. The quilt is valued at $400. Shipping of the quilt to the winner will be free of charge.

To learn more about Mercy Covers, visit their FaceBook page at

Counting Blessings

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and this is truly a month we Americans count our blessings.  I keep thinking of all the things I am grateful for:  an incredible family, wonderful friends, a good job, a nice place to live and freedom.  We often don't take the time to sit back and "count our blessings."  As we move through the month I challenge each reader of my blog to find one thing you are grateful for each day through the rest of the month.  If you have the ability to read this blog it's a guarantee that you have many, many blessings in your life.  Count as many as you can find!!  You don't have to be American to be blessed.  It happens around the world.

On a creative note, I am thankful for my ability to create, sew and make QUILTS.  Bringing joy to others is so rewarding and truly a blessing!!

Happy month of blessings and thanksgiving to each of you.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Selecting the Right Sewing Machine Needle for Your Project

Selecting the right sewing machine needle for your project is just as important as selecting the fabric.  There are different sizes and types of needles for different types of fabric. The European metric sizing system for sewing machine needles is numbered from 60 to 110 and the American sizing system is numbered from 8 to 18. Regardless of which system you are using the lower the number the finer the needle and the higher the number the larger the needle. 
Typically the lighter the fabric the smaller the needle size and the heavier the fabric the larger the needle size. The thread you use will also determine the type of needle you choose--a fine, delicate thread would require a smaller needle size.
Fabric Type                                               Machine Needle Type           Machine Needle Size
Sheer to lightweight                                       Regular Point                           9/70 or 11/80
Lightweight                                                   Regular Point                           11/80
Medium-weight                                              Regular Point                          14/90
Medium to Heavy-weight                                Regular Point                          16/100 or 18/110
Denim and Canvas                                        Denim/Jeans                           16/100
Sheer to Lightweight Knits                             Ball Point                                10/70 or 12/80
Medium to Heavy-weight Knits                       Ball Point                                14/90
Specialty Fabrics (Leather, Suede)                Wedge Point                            14/90 or 16/100
Quilting Needles                                          Slightly rounded                        11/75,12/80, 4/90

Using the wrong needle on the right fabric type can have devastating results on your project. You may see skipped stitching, poor tension, and pulling of threads just to name a few of the issues that may result.  For your quilting projects 

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Announcing An Upcoming Raffle of a Quilt Orchard Quilt

Lily is designed by Jillian Grant for The Quilt Orchard
Great news!  This quilt will soon be available for an online raffle to raise money for Mercy Covers, an organization in Costa Rica that is working with indigenous women to teach them sewing skills.  They are making quilts and other products to give to other needy people as well as learn skills to grow their own ability to support themselves.  Sewing is a skill that can be vital in helping women support themselves and their families.  We are working toward gaining more funds to help ship supplies and sewing machines for this effort.  Watch for more news to come.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Giveaway Tuesday Is Here Again


Another fabulous fabric giveaway.  Enter to have a chance to win a gift certificate for $40
They are generously giving away a gift certificate for $40 to Southern Fabric.  You must enter through the blog link listed below:  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Family That Sews Together

I just got back from an amazing weekend in Illinois.  My cousin got married for the first time, and he's 50+. Better late than never.  Congratulations to Brian and Beth Graham.  I know your union will bring you many blessings.

In the meantime the women of our family are all planning a sewing retreat yet this month where we have hired a meeting hall for two days.  We women and the young girls are all going to sew together.  The goal is to bring our current quilt project or anything else we want to work on and we will sew away.  What a good way for we women to enjoy one another.  Of course, we have decided the men will cook for us and deliver the food.  Now how's that for a good way to enjoy time together.  We will also be honoring our matriarch, Alma Dye Grant, my salt-of-the-earth grandmother.  She was a quilter and a sewer and she has handed down the gene to  we "girls."  We can hope this will become an annual event.

Happy beginning of the month of Thanksgiving.  I am thankful for my family, friends, a great job, and the talents bestowed on me to create.

Friday, November 1, 2013

More Giveaways--From McCalls Quilting

When we reach 50,000 fans, we'll be giving away this gorgeous fat quarter pack of 40 fabrics from the Avalon collection by Fig Tree & Co for Moda.

Go to: to see details

Watch & Win Contest 
Each of the FREE Surf & Sand Quilt Along episodes features a word of the week—click here to enter to win! Contest is open from October 25 through November 24, 2013. Three random winners will be selected November 25, 2013, and notified by email.