Friday, May 18, 2012

Chris Mitchler Adventure

Chris Mitchler adventure 

The Beginning of Maama Wakisa Designs.....A Story
Maama Wakisa Designs (meaning “mama is kind” in Lugandan) was inspired by traditional Ugandan batik artwork, hand-painted in bright colours and simple African figures, brought back to Canada by a good friend of mine.  Over the years, Susan and I talked about Africa's orphaned children and young adults, left without family, financial or emotional support and how we could make a difference.  Susan's vision was to develop a charity called, Maama Watali ( One of its programs, teaches orphan girls traditional Ugandan arts and crafts, of beading, basket-weaving, and hand-painted batik art which Susan brings back to Canada to sell.  
Seeing these wonderful works of batik art for several years, made me want to adapt them into quilt applique pattern designs.  In July 2011, while selling the batiks at an International Women's Symposium and Craft Fair, I ran the idea past Susan, and made the decision to create the patterns  as a new business under the name of Maama Wakisa Designs. 

On a recent trip to Uganda in January 2012, I experienced the grace, dignity, strength and indomitable spirit in the people I met.  I saw amazing creativity in how Uganda's people find ingenious ways to generate income, from creating a rural village walk and traditional banda accommodation for tourists, to micro credit loans allowing recipients to purchase chickens to sell eggs, or goats to sell milk.  While I saw and experienced sadness and examples of the many problems that can arise in Africa, I also saw joy and laughter in the smallest things on the faces of the people I met.  Joy in dancing to African music like no one was watching, or savouring an unexpected ice cream on a hot day, or the joy of new micro credit loan giving the opportunity to develop a small business in a rural village. 
I had the honour and priviledge of teaching a small group of young women hand-applique in Luweero, Uganda.  Watching them quietly stitch outside on the porch of the house with such a look of peace and contentment, remains one of my favourite memories of my trip.  One of them, is now teaching applique to other young women in Luweero.  It doesn't get better than experiences like this!

I see the same joy, dignity, strength, grace and perseverance in the batik artworks I have been exposed to and that I am I am adapting into quilt applique patterns.   These designs evoke a clear emotional reaction in those who see them.  These young artists exhibit so much raw talent and artistry in what they produce.   Maama Wakisa Designs is committed to bringing their artistry and designs to a larger audience in Canada and the U.S. Through the medium of quilt applique patterns.  It is hoped others can appreciate the beauty and strength of Africa's people through these applique designs, while acknowledging the artistic contribution of the artists themselves. 
While Maama Wakisa Designs is intended to be a business, it also has a charitable goal, of donating a portion of proceeds from sales to African projects creating opportunities for young orphans to acquire education, creating opportunities for young women to develop self-confidence and self-reliance in their own abilities and talents.  It is about Maama Wakisa Designs doing its part to contribute to creating a future of hope and promise for young African women and children.
Maama Wakisa Designs plans to support African charities, such as CANHAVE ( , a primary school in Kampala, Uganda and Maama Watali ( with micro credit loans as pattern sales grow.  This is core to our business goals and objectives.
I hope you enjoy our initial three designs at three quilt shows in Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.  Our goal is to launch Maama Wakisa Designs with three new designs this summer by making them available at the Running Stitch and other quilt shops in the Ottawa area, as well as on our website: currently under development.  A big thank you to everyone who have helped with this amazing journey!

Friday, March 9, 2012

March is UFO Month!

Hello everybody, Pam Cooper sent me that link from Quiltville Quips & Snips ... and I think it applies to our own UFO month.



Sunday, February 26, 2012

Consider The Postage Stamp!

I love this quote! I’m a quote junky, but this one applies to me so much and helps me push things through even when I might be feeling a bit bored, and am getting antsy to move on to the next thing.
A recent discussion revealed that many quilters have "so many" projects in various stages, yet can't seem to make progress on any of them.
When asked how I get so much done, I realize I limit myself and mostly stick to one main piecing project at a time --unless it is something that is a leader/ender project like the cheddar bow-ties or little sampler blocks that are released only a couple times a month.
I like to see big amounts of progress and stay mainly focused on ONE THING in the machine piecing department---and of course having deadlines helps with that. I don’t have time to dawdle or be distracted!
I have ONE hand travel project --- the hexagons.
I had one machine travel project -- the Florabunda blocks --simply because I finished the Midnight Flight quilt last week and haven't cut anything else out yet. ;cD
I have two hand quilting projects that are basted and have some hand quilting in them, but am only pushing through on one of them until it’s done – the pink and brown Jane Stickle variation. I’m not switching back and forth. The other one will simply be “next” in line.
I have two quilts needing the binding stitched down – That’s for TV watching time as well.
So there are a few quilt projects in different stages that are perfect to grab and stitch no matter what I’m doing, but it is not so overwhelming that I feel buried or paralyzed by a list of 100 UFOs.
Just what is it that takes a project from the front line, and puts it back on the shelf for you?
What makes us give up and run after the next new shiny thing instead of persevering in completing that project?
Sometimes life requires that we stop and do something else, whether it’s a baby quilt for a new arrival, a wedding quilt for someone special, a comfort quilt for a friend in need – I know these kinds of things can stop us in our tracks and make us shift gears to make a specific project in a limited amount of time ---but what else happens that makes us such distracted quilters?
I was told about a lady who had 87 KITS purchased and on shelves in her quilting room closet. Complete kits! Was she sewing any of them up? Nope. Just kits. For some day. That would feel like a life sentence to me! LOL!
I think if I had a list of 92 UFOs on a spreadsheet I’d go NUTS! It would feel like I couldn't ever get to the end of it. And I know for some people, it helps to list them all out ---but how do you stop yourself from starting new things and getting more and more side tracked with a list that long?
At home I have a white board on the wall in my basement studio. I list a few projects, including those for up coming deadlines --- and now that Midnight Flight is pieced and quilted ((That’s one of the ones waiting for binding to be sewn down now)) I’ll be picking one of those ideas off the list and working it through until the piecing is done and it moves to the next stage. I’m working on the quilts for book 5. I have about 1.5 years to get them done. And I know I work best one at a time.
And there is enough variety for me to be happy when you throw in the leaders & Enders, the hand quilting, the binding, and of course, those traveling hexagons. I am NEVER bored with these projects!
Are you buried in UFOs? Do you find that you are happy with that many, or are you panicky when you consider all it will take to complete them ---start a discussion in the comments section! I have a lot of airport time today, help keep me entertained, won't you? :cD
Just random thoughts from a road weary quilter as I make my long Sunday journey home to NC ---

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Needles from Superior Thread

I was reading this Newsletter from Superior Thread and I thought it would interest you too. So here it is.


Have you ever wondered what a needle burr is? The eye of a needle is punched out in the manufacturing process. Sometimes the punch process is not clean and a microscopic fragment of metal is left behind (see photo at left of a new Universal #80/12 needle -- not ours!). As the thread goes through the needle, the burr snags it and causes problems. If it is a small burr and you are using a cotton thread, the burr will snag some cotton and pull out a piece of lint while the thread keeps going. If you are using a smooth polyester thread, the burr will snag the thread and result in breakage. This explains why sometimes a cotton thread might run well, but a stronger poly thread breaks. A large burr will cause problems for all threads. Burrs usually do not develop during use but exist in an imperfect needle. A burr in a smaller-eye needle (most needle styles) will cause more problems than a burr in a larger eye needle (Topstitch style).

During a visit with the largest industrial needle manufacturer in the world, I was surprised to see their catalog. It was as big as a phone book. There were hundreds of different needle styles, each offering a variety of sizes. I estimated a total of 4,000 choices. For the past 12 years, we have learned much from professional quilters, embroiderers, general sewists (I like this new word better than sewers), and educators. As far as needles are concerned, many tell us the needle they use in home machines is the Topstitch style needle -- regardless if they are piecing, quilting, constructing, or embroidering. (The only exception to this rule is when sewing on knit fabrics, and then a ballpoint needle is used.) FYI, the least favorite needle of professionals is the Universal needle.

There are three main advantages of a Topstitch needle.

1. The point is sharp, but not razor sharp. It has a very slightly rounded sharp point with allows the needle point to penetrate without cutting the fibers. Many needles have a similar point.

2. Wider and deeper groove. All needles have a groove which runs up the shaft of the needle. The thread lies in the groove rather than along the outside of the needle. The groove on Topstitch needles is wider and deeper than most other needle styles. This is beneficial especially for medium, heavy, decorative, and sensitive threads.

3. The favorite feature of the Topstitch needle is the extra large eye (see photo below). It is twice as large as most other needle styles. The large eye gives much more room for thread as it moves through the needle and greatly reduces stress on thread. (Click on the images to see close up details.)

In our sewing room, we have only four needles:

1. Topstitch #70/10 for very fine threads such as MonoPoly, #100 Kimono Silk, and Bottom Line.

2. Topstitch #80/12 for fine threads (50 wt.) such as MasterPiece cotton and So Fine #50 polyester.

3. Topstitch #90/14 for medium threads (40 wt.) such as King Tut, Rainbows, Art Studio Colors, Highlights, Metallic, and Glitter.

4. Topstitch #100/16 for heavier threads (30 wt. and heavier) such as So Fine #30, Perfect Quilter, and Poly Quilter.

But how about metallic needles? Here is the truth. The best selling brand of home machine needles in the world packages the Topstitch needle in a green Topstitch needle pack and also packages the same Topstitch needle in a gold pack and labels it as Metallic needles. They are the identical needle in two different packs. No wonder those metallic needles work so well! They are Topstitch needles.

How about titanium-coated needles? These needles are very similar to regular chrome needles but have a micro-thin coating of titanium nitride (a ceramic-like substance) applied. This micro-thin coating does not affect the overall strength of the needle, but it does make the needle last longer (5 to 8 times longer than a regular needle) and it costs only 20 cents more. Most factories around the world use titanium-coated needles due to their durability. If you have heard the rumor that titanium-coated needles can damage your machine, don't believe it. They do not create any greater risk than does a regular needle. Professionals and factories would not use them if there were a greater risk of damage. Use them and enjoy them. They really do last a long time. For scientific results of laboratory testing, please view the Organ Needle Company brochure.

You can have more information on this topic by visiting Superior Web Site

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