Hexagon Thread Catcher


pinterest-hexagon-thread-catcherSaturday Morning Techniques was a class I taught monthly for more than 10 years.  Always held on the last Saturday of the month, at 8 am (before the store opened) and it was free to anyone who wanted to get up to be there.  

There was always a sewing technique or project involved, kits were prepared ahead of time, and if you brought back last month’s kit, completed, you got the current month’s  free.  We laughingly called it “Sewing Survivor”.

Well, it was time to move on……but sometimes I miss it.  The challenge of coming up with a project, often at the last minute, when a “thunderbolt” came out of the sky and hit me with the idea.  Really.  Ask my oldest daughter.  She saw it happen more than once.

Anyway, the thunderbolts still happen.  Often.  Still.

So these days we sew at the library in Trenton, on Tuesday afternoons.  Lovely room; large tables, good light, and carpet on the floor.  At the end of our Sewing Social afternoon, we set the room back up the way it was and pick the threads up off the floor

Thunderbolt!  Sure, we could bring little garbage bags, but…….THREAD CATCHERS!  And, because the most popular download here on www.sewwhatyvette.com is the “Quilt-as-you-go-Hexagon-Hot-Pad, it became a hexagon shape.

Hexagon Thread Catcher


  • 1 piece for background 8 inches square
  • 1 piece of fusible fleece 7 ¼ inches square
  • 1 piece of quilt batting 7 ¼ inches square
  • 6 pieces for the border 2 ½” x 4 ½, can all be the same fabric or use scraps, folded with wrong sides together to 1 ¼ x 4 ½” and pressed.


First trace patterns, (click) thread-catcher-pattern, one piece following the outer black line of the hexagon (A), and a separate one following the red outline (B).  Also trace 1 of the small border piece.(C)

  • Cut one background piece using pattern piece (A)
  • Cut one piece of fusible fleece using pattern piece (B)
  • Cut one piece of quilt batting using pattern piece (B)
  • Cut 6 pieces on the fold for border using (C)image-of-hexie-thread-catcher-pattern


  • Fuse the fleece to the wrong side of the background, centering it, set aside.img_4138
  • Open out the border pieces, and with ¼” seam allowance, sew with right sides together along the inverted “V’s”, pivoting at the inner point.sewing inner point
  • Join them all to form a ring.border pieces joined
  • Refold the ring with wrong sides together, flipping the seam allowances in opposite directions and pin to hold. Press lightly.border pieces joined folded and pinned
  • Pin the border to the right side of the background piece, matching seams of the border to the points of the background, then sew all the way around using ¼” seam allowance.adding the border
  • Trim off the “dog-ears”, turn to the right side, and press lightly.trimmed
  • Stuff the quilt batting in under the border and there you have it, a thread catcher.

hexagon thread catcher


I tuck one edge under the right front edge of my sewing machine to hold it in place.hexagon thread catcher in use

Do you like this?  Would you like to make one?  I’ve put the pattern and all the directions on a one-page PDF for your printing convenience, hexie-thread-catcher

Needle Knowledge for your Sewing Machine

How do you Know Which Sewing Machine Needle is Right for the Job?


I learned to use a sewing machine more than 50 years ago.  OMG!

Way back then there were 2 types of sewing machine needles.  Regular and Ball-point.  The regular needles were available in sizes 10 (thin), 12, 14 (the size I used the most)  and 16 (the thickest).  I don’t recall the sizes of the ball-points, because I didn’t use them often.

Well, things have changed a bit.  New fibers, new fabrics, new threads and new functions, including machine quilting and also all those decorative stitches that come on sewing machines these days.

It can get confusing.

What to Know When Choosing a Sewing Machine Needle

It’s all that’s between your sewing machine and your fabric, and choosing the incorrect needle can easily ruin your project.

There are still 2 basic types of machine needles: Universal and Ball Point , and then many other types for special uses.

There are many brands of needles to choose from, too, but my favorites are Schmetz, the most common needle in the world; available in most sewing  centers and Inspira, made for my Husqvarna/Viking sewing machine.

Sizing Info

There are 2 sizing numbers on the package, the American, which is usually first, and the metric. 

  • Size 8/60 is very fine, ideal for lingerie and fine silk
  • Size 10/70 is suitable for light fabrics, silk and taffeta
  • Size 12/80 is suitable for medium fabrics, cotton, linen and satin, and the most popular for today’s sewing needs
  • Size 11/75 is a common size for ball-points and is ideal for light to medium weight knits.
  • Size 14/90 is suitable for medium to heavy fabrics
  • Size 16/100 is suitable for heavy fabrics, denim, tweeds, curtain and upholstery fabrics

Keep in mind though, that if your needle is too thick to easily penetrate the fabric, your machine motor will have to work harder.  Imagine hemming a silk blouse with a darning needle.

The Parts of a Sewing Machine Needle


Universal Point Needles
Universal needles are the all-purpose needle for sewing wovens. The point is slightly rounded and the needle is tapered so that it slips through the weave of woven fabrics. Universal needles typically come with all sewing machines. They come in many different sizes with the 12/80  being the most popular.

Ball Point Needles
Ball point needles are made especially for sewing on knits. Its rounded point is designed to slide between the yarns of knit fabrics without snagging. They come in size 11/75 and 14/90. Choose the size that will handle the thread being used when sewing on knits.

Specialty Needles

Microtex Needles
These feature a very sharp point.  Needles are for use with tightly woven fabrics sometimes known as “Micro-fibers”.  They have a very slim sharp point that creates beautiful top-stitching and perfectly straight stitches for quilt piecing. These needles come in sizes from  size 8 to the heaviest size 18.  If you’re planning on using a thick, decorative thread, be sure to choose a large sized needle.

Jeans Needle
A jeans needle has a special point designed to penetrate  extra thick fabrics and a reinforced shank to reduce breakage and skipped stitches. It is made for heavy duty stitching and is suitable for denim and similar fabrics.  Beware of using a needle too thick for the job.  I’ve used a 12/80 to 14/90 successfully in all my jeans making. 

Metallic Needle
The Metallic needle has an elongated eye to reduced the shredding and breaking of metallic threads.  Again, be sure to select the appropriate size.

Embroidery Needle

An Embroidery needle is ideal for using fragile, decorative threads.  They have a bit of a ball point, a wide eye and groove which prevents friction so you can sew with rayon, polyester and other embroidery threads trouble free.

Quilting Needle
Needles designed for machine quilting have a specific taper to the slightly rounded point to allow easy fabric penetration with no skipped stitches.

Top stitch Needle
The Top stitch needle had an extra long eye and a sharp point, making it the perfect needle for sewing perfectly straight lines with decorative threads.   Use your “Straight-Stitch Throat Plate” for perfect results.

Leather Needle
A Leather needle had a wedge shaped sharp point, like a chisel so that it can cut through leather and vinyls without making large holes.

Other Specialty Needles

Twin Needle
A twin needle is actually two needles mounted on one shaft used to create two rows of stitches simultaneously. It uses two spools of thread and one bobbin thread. The bobbin thread zig-zags back and forth between the needle stitches on the underside.  The package will show two numbers. One is the needle size; the other is the distance between the two needles. This distance varies from 2.0 mm to 6.0 mm. These are available in ball-point for knits as well.  Be sure to check that they fit into your throat plate. 

A Few Other Things
  • A sewing machine needle has a life span of 5 to 8 hours.  If in doubt, change your needle.
  • Sergers or overlock machines, embroidery or other specialty machines may use different needles. Check your manual.
  • For the most part all sewing machines needles work in all sewing machines. But there are a few brands that need specific needles.

click here for the Schmetz Sewing Machine Needle Guide

I’d love to hear if this article helped you.  I get many emails asking me to troubleshoot a sewing problem, and often the culprit is the needle.  click here for a printable PDF of  needle-knowledge

Sewing Social

The next chapter;
Sewing is a passion of mine, along with a few other passions, lol, and sewing socially is something I’ve really missed in my life.    Recently a sewing friend mentioned her desire for a sewing club, and I jumped at the chance to socially mentor others interested in developing their sewing skills in a non-retail environment.  Sewing Social is not intended to substitute for “Sewing Lessons” and “Sewing Project Classes” hosted by local businesses, rather, a stepping stone to those classes.
Here’s what happened;

Sewing Social at Quinte West Public Library

Do you like to sew?   Starting Tuesday October 4th, 2016 please join us for the Sewing Social. Please bring your latest project, sewing machine and supplies.
Where:  Quinte West Public Library, Trenton Branch – Multipurpose Room When:  Tuesday afternoons Time:  1 pm to 4 pm
For more information please contact Krista 613-394-3381 ext. 3325 kristar@quintewest.ca


click here for a map


If you’d like more information, please don’t hesitate to email me at yvettechilcott(at)yahoo(dot)ca

I’m coming back


I hope you have all had a wonderful summer.

Mine was wonderful!

I did a lot of deep thinking, and some wonderful quiet time, I’ve decided that I’m not ready to give up my blog. 

I really feel that “my calling” is to teach, and so teach I will!

I have not decided what my next post will be about, but lightning will strike.  It always has in the past, and I’m sure it will again.

thanks for your understanding!



Good Bye

This is my last post at sewwhatyvette.com.

And here’s my tale;  Many years ago I bought a used knitting machine from a friend.  I was a “stay at home mother of 2” at the time, so money was tight.  It cost the equivalent of one month’s “Baby Bonus”. 

Once I got the hang of machine knitting I had an OMG moment every time I used it.  I LOVED machine knitting and the word got out that I knew how to use that darned thing.  Soon people began asking for lessons, I upgraded to a new machine, and history began in my basement. 

I had another child, so then there were 3.  The machine knitting lessons became a regular event, and soon my basement had yarn and machine knitting patterns for sale.  There were days when my girls would come home from school to find a house full of ladies machine knitting. 

At that time I was also growing vegetables and baking to sell at the Port Hope Farmer’s Market.  My children got up at the crack of dawn with me on Saturdays from May to October, and accompanied me to Port Hope.  My mother was also a vendor there, she sold their honey and excess vegetables from her garden.  They were great times.

Pine Ridge Knitting Machines out-grew the basement and went store-front to Baltimore, just north of Cobourg, Ontario.  Sewing machines and sergers were added and the name of the business changed to Pine Ridge Knit & Sew.  On PA days and school holidays my children came to the store with me, and there was a cot for sick days, too.

Time passed, the children and the business thrived and grew.

Family circumstances changed, and eventually Pine Ridge Knit & Sew moved to Trenton, first on Frankford Crescent, then to Dundas Street near Second Dug Hill.  Over the years additional inventory and fabric were added and I taught more and more classes.

Fast forward to 2013.

It was time for me to think about retirement, and time for my oldest daughter and her hubby to rethink their employment future.

On February 1, 2014, Pine Ridge Knit & Sew had a new owner.  I helped out a lot at first, then as the store took a new direction, less. 

I found it very difficult to transition from being a business owner who worked long hours and spent most of my waking moments planning classes, events, newsletters, etc to a retired person.  I painfully missed writing lesson notes, posting on Facebook, and writing newsletters. 

Enter this blog, SewWhatYvette.  (thanks Shirley).  It filled the emptiness.  I chose sewing projects that I thought would inspire people to sew, be creative, AND support the business I started many years ago.

As time went on, and as the store moved forward in it’s new direction, it became obvious that most of my chosen sewing projects did not fit in with “the plan”. 

It has now become a struggle to post anything about sewing.

And because it costs money to maintain a blog, and I’m retired and on a pension, it just seems silly to pay to keep it going. 

I’m available as a guest teacher, specializing in sergers, knitting machines and fermented foods.

I’ll become more active on my facebook page, and I’ll post often. I actually have 2 facebook pages, one is my personal one where I connect with family and friends, the other is my “professional” page.  It’s called my entire name with no hyphens;  Yvette Matthys Chilcott Lafosse, and that’s where I’ll move a lot of my blog stuff to.

Thank you for all your support and encouragement, it means a lot to me, but it’s time to move on.

ps I can’t add files to that page, so I started a group with the same name and will move the files and recipes over there.


An Easy Tanktop with Style

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my garden, enjoying my vegies, planting the last of the seeds, watching the critters at the feeders, and taking lots of pictures.

As a result, I’m getting a golden glow on my arms.  But my shoulders and upper arms are white, so, it was time to sew a tank-top or two.  For a mature person.  No gaping, no bra straps showing. Continue reading An Easy Tanktop with Style

Simple Recipe for Rhubarb Soda


rhubarb plants

My rhubarb plants must really like living here, because they reward me with an abundance of juicy red rhubarb stalks. 

Even though it’s a vegetable, I think most of us equate the tangy flavour with that of fruit.  And it’s that tangy taste that makes it so thirst quenching.  I have a batch of rhubarb wine on the go at the moment, and here is my simple recipe for rhubarb soda.  This recipe makes 2 liters.

Chop 4 cups of rhubarb into about 1/2 inch chunks.  If you’ve got some of last year’s in the freezer, it’s fine to use that.

Dump into a medium saucepan, cover with water and boil until it’s mushy.  Let it cool.

straining pulp

Strain the pulp out of the juice, add 1 heaping cup of white sugar, then top up with water to just under the 2 liter mark.

rhubarb juice amount

Pour the liquid into a large glass jar, add 1/4 cup of whey, ginger-bug juice or sauerkraut juice.  (It’s very important that the whey or sauerkraut juice is natural and unprocessed.)   Cover with a clean cloth held securely with an elastic band and leave at room temperature for about 3 days.  Stir it each morning and evening, then taste the juice on the spoon.  When most of the sweetness is gone it’s ready to bottle. It’s almost Rhubarb Soda!   (During the summer this takes less time than it does in the winter.)

rhubarb soda

To  finish your Rhubarb Soda, use a funnel and pour into a large plastic 2 liter soda bottle.  Leave about 1 1/2 inches of head space.  Tighten the lid and leave out at room temperature for 12 to 24 hours.  You’ll know it’s ready when you can’t squeeze the bottle because it’s so firm.  Refrigerate then open carefully.  It will continue to ferment in the fridge, so don’t leave it much longer than a few days.

You can also bottle your rhubarb soda into smaller plastic soda bottles.  I don’t use glass after one exploded.  The plastic bottles make it easy to tell when it’s ready.

glass of rhubarb soda

 Here are links to my other rhubarb recipes:

Adelaide Dress

Seamwork Adelaide fusciaSummer is coming!  We’ve had a cool spring, but the heat and humidity is on it’s way!  (I hope)  Does the idea of a simple dress, with front bust and back waist darts and a front snap closure make you think of a hot summer day as you stay cool? 

This pattern is being featured on the Seamwork website this month for $5, with sizing from 0 to 26.

Seamwork adelaideAnother view from the Seamwork page, this one is in a cool cotton print that looks refreshing.

This next one is in a print that just screams my name, I found this version on la Petite Josette blog.

Petite Josette Adelaide dress

Here’s the outline drawing which shows the details really well.

Seamwork Adelaide outline

I have a piece of cotton poly in a nice weight that would be perfect.  It’s in my stash, and will be perfect to test this pattern out with.  fabric for Adelaide dress




IMG_3798This pattern is a download, and there are many pages to print. 

If you’ve not done this before, be sure to print off the first page of the pattern first, and make sure you are “printing to size”, not fitting to the page.  There’s a square to measure, check it, then if it’s the right size, go ahead and print the rest of the pattern.

It was easy to assemble, even with my cutting table assistant.  There are guide marks on every page.   Then I traced my size onto a sheet of tissue paper.   I wanted to keep the master pattern intact until I know that the size I chose fits me.  I’m sewing the size 12.

After tracing and cutting the pieces out, I held the front piece to my body and checked in the mirror.  The front darts are about 1 inch too high.  I’m fairly tall, 5 ft 10 inches, so generally add an inch in the body length anyway.  I added it between the bottom of the armhole and the top of the dart at the same place front and back.



I also used the longest length instead of the line for size 12.





I didn’t print off the instructions, but read them over before I began sewing, then referred to them a few times as I needed to.  There are some great sewing techniques built into this project.  The stay-stitching around the neck and armholes is really important! 

I only did the back darts at half the width indicated, and curved them a bit at the widest point.

I must confess that I didn’t do the armhole bias finish as described.  Instead, I left the side-seams unsewn, applied the first step of attaching the bias, then sewed the side-seams before top-stitching the bias down to the inside.

underarm bias finish

When I finished the placket by folding it to the right side along the fold, I also finished it at the hem the same way, but used 1/2″ seam allowance.

page 13

When it gets turned outward, it’s perfect.  Notice my assistant.

hem step 1






I used plastic snaps and they went on easily.  I really like these, they’re the “Babyville” brand, and I’m going to get more in different colours.

plastic snaps


My observations:

  • I’m going to make this dress again, I really like it!  I was a bit concerned about the bare shoulders, but it’s fine.
  • The next time I make it I’ll make size 14 and sew the back darts according to the pattern (I already have it traced onto tissue)
  • I’m going to draft a neck and armhole facing for my next version
  • I’m also making the neck a 3/8th of an inch narrower at the shoulders, making the shoulder 3/8 of an inch wider on the neck side.
  • I had a little issue with the tie belt.  By cutting it according to the pattern, there was a lot of seam allowance bunched up in the point, even after trimming the excess off.  If you change the pattern and cut the ends as an outward point instead of an inward point, that problem is alleviated.  Drawn in red, below.belt fix

Do you want to make this dress?  If yes, follow the link above to the website where you can buy it. 


Gaiter, a noun

1.      a covering of cloth or leather for the ankle and instep and sometimes also the lower leg, worn over the shoe or boot.

2.     a cloth or leather shoe with elastic insertions at the sides.
3.       an overshoe with a fabric top.
My daughter lives in BC, very close to the coast, and loves to hike and explore the outdoors.  Ticks are a real problem, so is just getting debris her shoes.   We decided that a pair of gaiters would help.
Some internet searches gave me a good idea of what they should look like, then Amber sent me some measurements to work from.
Sew, off to the sewing room I went and found this perfect piece of swimwear weight lycra, a bathing suit remnant.  It was first cat approved, then Amber approved.
IMG_3786 IMG_3785
These needed to be strong, stretchy, washable, pack-able, and most of all, easy to put on.
Here’s what I made!
 I used velcro at the back to attach it to her shoes and a hook at the front to attach to her laces, and Amber will test them for me.  I’m going to write up directions after this first pair has been tested.
What do you think?  Are you interested in a tutorial?

Loving Lovage

In my garden, lovage is the first edible green to appear.lovage lovage

Well, not counting the dandelions and stinging nettles.

What is Lovage?

Lovage belongs to the parsley family, and its seeds, leaves, and roots are commonly used in Europe for flavoring foods and beverages and for their medicinal properties. The Romans, who introduced lovage to Europe, used it widely in their cooking as well as to reduce fevers and treat stomach ailments. Germans called it maggikraut because its aroma reminded them of maggi cubes (meaty yeast extracts). Today it is popular in South and Central European cuisines. Learn more about Lovage by clicking here.

It’s a perennial that grows to well over 6 feet tall in my garden.  The only care I give it is water and weeding.lovage

While the leaves are still young and tender I make a fermented pesto using the same recipe as my cilantro pesto.

I just substitute the lovage for the cilantro.  It’s delicious spooned over tomato halves grilled on the BBQ.

cilantro pesto

 Yesterday I made Lovage and Potato soup, and it’s delicious!

lovage and potato soup

It’s a simple combination of onions, garlic, potatoes, lovage and chicken stock along with a bit of seasoning.  I searched the internet for recipe ideas, and many of them required a “bunch” of lovage. 


My “bunch” is 6 leafy stems about 12 inches long.

Lovage Potato Soup
Serves 8
A delicious and simple to make soup
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Total Time
1 hr
Total Time
1 hr
  1. 2 tablespoons butter
  2. 1 medium onion, chopped
  3. 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  4. 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut up into 1/8ths
  5. 2 quarts or liters of chicken stock or broth
  6. 1 "bunch" of lovage, coarsely chopped (save a few leaves to garnish)
  7. 2 bay leaves
  8. 2 teaspoons salt (my broth is unsalted) adjust if needed
  9. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  10. 1/2 cup yogurt, greek yogurt or sour cream
  1. Saute the onion and garlic in the butter. Use your soup pot, why wash a fry-pan? When they're soft, add the potatoes and chicken broth, salt, pepper and bay leaves.
  2. Boil gently until the potatoes are almost done, then add the chopped lovage.
  3. Continue to cook until the potatoes are cooked.
  4. Remove the bay leaves and add the yogurt.
  5. Blend carefully until smooth using an immersion blender or a counter top blender.
  6. Serve with chopped lovage leaves as a garnish.
  1. I had a few bits of cooked chicken remaining from the broth I made, so I added it after blending.
SewWhatYvette? http://www.sewwhatyvette.com/

Yup, I sew, machine knit, crochet, garden, cook, love, and share.