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3160 Parsons Rd NW
Edmonton, AB, T6N 1L6


Edmonton based custom long arm quilting. Custom quilter at Sparrow Studioz since September 2011


Be Bold

Sheila Van Der Linden


I have to be honest and say, this quilt humbled me. How ironic is the name then, right? You would think that I named it this because it came to me easily, was loud and proud from the beginning, and I wanted to broadcast it to the world. The opposite couldn't be more true.

I struggled with this one. A lot. From concept to completion. 

But that means it is a learning opportunity. I'm a pretty stubborn girl, so when I latch on to an idea, I have to see it through. 

I wanted to design a quilt with the Drunkards Path quilt block. Every pattern I looked at, looked daunting. I have pieced lots of quilts, but so many I have backed away from because they looked too complicated. I didn't want that for you.

Most of the piecing in this quilt is in the assembly of the quilt top. There are not that many blocks to be pieced, and I wanted it to be that way. Now we can approach other patterns with a drunkards path block in it with confidence. 

I went through a number of names for this quilt, and mostly it was Matt that shot them down. I know, right, big meany! But when I decided on this name, I had a far deeper realization. I wanted my patterns to be encouraging for you. Be Bold. When I think of that I think of the quote from Marianne Williamson;

 “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

So Be Bold, and in doing that you will encourage others to be Bold as well.



Sheila Van Der Linden

Undone is my second large original quilt. Stay Centered was the first, and I also designed a table runner, The Blessing Braid a few years ago. I am currently working on another, and it is apparent that the design and naming process is different for each quilt. You would think that a designer would have a method to follow, but I am a bit dismayed to see that is not the case. Why dismayed? Going into this, I truly thought that once I had a few designs down pat, the rest would follow. I am learning very quickly, that that is not the case.  But since I truly love the design process, I am at the same time intrigued to see how my next designs come about.

Undone actually happened rather quickly. I have always loved the simplicity of the Disappearing Nine Patch block, and I wanted to do something fun with it. 

I played with a few designs that were fairly traditional, but nothing was wowing me. So I decided to approach it differently. I carry a little book with me that I use to capture moments of inspiration. I write down words, quotes, or Bible verses that strike me as encouraging or comforting. I actually have a page with a list of words that I think would be excellent quilt names. So I turned to this page, and the word Undone was close to the top, it instantly captured me.

The one design aspect of this quilt that I was confident about going into this was that I wanted this quilt to be on point.  So as I went about living my life, the word Undone, the Disappearing Nine Patch block, and an on point design percolated in my head. When you have a creative mind, it really never stops looking and thinking about designs. 

I was driving my daughter to an appointment when it all became crystal clear.  To be Undone means you are open, exposed, vulnerable. When you can be Undone in a safe place, it is a beautiful and brave moment. It is a gift you give to the witness.

I want my quilts to inspire beauty, courage, and boldness.  So that the people who piece them, and the people who sleep under them find moments to be strong, beautiful and courageous.

It was that simple. A moment of clarity. While driving with my strong, beautiful and courageous daughter who inspires me to be all that.

Be Undone, be blessed.  

The Last Goodbye Part 2

Sheila Van Der Linden

I've read somewhere that your character is developed in the first 5 years of life. I had no idea how my early years would direct me to this quilt.

My father passed away when I was 8. 14 operations in 4 years to try to save his life. While he spent so much time in the hospital, my sister and brother and I would visit him. We sang to him. He loved music and hearing us sing.

In Colorado,  Ricky Tims showed us his quilt Bohemian Rhapsody. I went there with the intention of learning his technique for piecing a Rhapsody quilt, as well as using my dads tie in the piecing. When Ricky told us the meaning of Rhapsody was "to sew a song" I nearly wept.

It seemed so fitting that in that bright and beautiful studio, with that beautiful, kind, and talented man, with a piano in the room, that that was where my dads memorial quilt would come to life.

Ricky spent time with each one of us, and when it was my turn, I just told him that I had no idea how to start. His answer was one that I turn back to again and again when I am stuck. "Just start drawing.... draw blocks" When he mentioned Log Cabin blocks, that resonated with me. The center of a Log Cabin block is traditionally known as the heart of the home. What if I used the fabric from the tie for the center? It will be the heart of this quilt....

I came up with 2 different Log Cabin blocks. 1 color way to represent my sister and I, and the other to represent my 2 brothers. My brother Randy had passed away as an infant so it was a memorial for him too.

Starting our day together with Ricky, hearing his stories and life wisdom, journaling, designing this beautiful quilt in this beautiful little town, my heart was full....and healing....

Paisley Parade!

Sheila Van Der Linden

   This bargello came to me from a lovely lady named Ronni. She pieced it with fabrics that are from my favourite fabric line Fairy Frost! It is a simple colour scheme but so very striking.

   I knew I wanted to do something different on this quilt, so I pulled out my doodle pad. I learned a while ago that your doodle pad is a very important tool for long arm quilters. Your needle on your long arm is the same as a pen in your hand. 10 minutes a day drawing on your pad helps you transfer designs from your head to your quilt.

   One of my first edge to edge designs was the simple paisley. When you are proficient at a design, it is embedded in your brain, and you don't have to think about it when you move across your quilt. So take these simple designs and think about how you can "fancy" them up. Keep in mind the stops and starts that are required to complete the design.

  The more I drew paiselys, the more "fancy" they became, yet at the same time they were simple to execute. The more I drew them, the more embedded they became in my head, and the design became perfected.  When the time comes to stitch out your design on your customers quilt, you can approach it with confidence.

  I also love doing swirls, anyone who knows me, knows this too! So a quick little consult with my studio mates resulted in me choosing these 2 designs, paisleys and swirls as my quilting design for Ronni's bargello. I decide I would alternate the designs, one colour way would be swirls, the next paisleys.

   This plan worked out well as I moved down the quilt. Because the colour "rows" undulate along the width of the quilt , there was a lot of moving the quilt forward, then reverse it on the frame. I also paid attention to what design fell where. I really wanted the paisley rows to be on the cream fabric.

   I positioned the paisleys randomly and C C'd the back ground around the paisleys. This created a beautiful contrast to the swirls.

  One of my most memorable reveals was this quilt. Taking it off the frame was a pretty emotional moment. It was fun to share that moment with Joanne and Matt. They were very encouraging the whole time I worked on this quilt. Ronni was very happy when she saw it, which of course is the best outcome I could wish for!

   There are more pictures in my gallery, have a lookey loo! Thanks for sharing my quilting journey with me!


The Secret Garden

Sheila Van Der Linden

  Where do I start with this quilt? I love, love this quilt, and yet, it is so different from anything I have ever done before. It matches nothing in my house, and is way more Victorian that any decor style that I like.

   So why do I love this? I bought the Robyn Pandolf fabrics at an estate sale. I loved them because of their vintage look, but I had no idea what I was going to do with them. Then last fall I was working in the Creative Stitches show in Sherwood Park. I started playing with the Brother Embroidery machines. I found a beautiful paisley design, picked some pretty Glide thread and bazinga! I was hooked! It was so easy and so fun! So I decided I would make some blocks to match this fabric, because why waste the pretty designs?

   So that was the beginning of The Secret Garden. I just picked more designs that went with the big centre one, and before I knew it I had 6 blocks that needed a fabric frame around them. I found the block design in a magazine. It was perfect for the large floral print fabric, so I adjusted it for the embroidery blocks. Some pretty striped tone on tone for the sashing and borders, plus a little help from my husband for the pieced border, and the quilt top was ready for the long arm.

   Now for the quilting. I knew I wanted to challenge myself, and do ruler work on this. Also I really wanted the quilting to be the focus. So I put 2 layers of batting in this quilt. The first layer is Hobbs 80/20, and the second is wool, also from Hobbs. I used Invisifil thread in a light cream colour, and Deco Bob pre-wound bobbins. Invisifil is 100 weight and Deco Bob is 80 weight, a good pairing that works well in my machine. I also used a smaller needle.

   The outer border was free motion on a pre-drawn grid. I used the blue wash away pen from Clover. I started with stitch in the ditch, everywhere, and as I moved down the quilt, ideas started to come for how the blocks needed to be quilted. I don't always know what to do right away, so I do what I am certain of, while I am thinking of ideas for the unknowns. It was slow work, but not everything that is worth waiting for comes quickly. 

   So why do I love this quilt? It has so much of me in it.  It's my design, my quilting, and so much of my time went into this one. I stepped outside of my comfort zone, pushed myself farther than anything I have ever done before. It's also a reflection of the love and encouragement I get from my family and my Studio mates. Without them I would not be where I am! So thanks everyone! Ron, my kids, Joanne, Matt and Bradie! You all rock my world!

The Last Goodbye, Part 1

Sheila Van Der Linden

Its hard to say when the journey to this quilt began. I like to think it was the summer after my dad passed away. I remember a moment in time with startling clarity. I don't know what I was doing, what day it was, or even where I was. But I remember the moment. I remember thinking, "I don't know what my fathers voice sounds like any more, and I will remember This moment for the rest of my life". I was 8 years old. 

Fast forward to a few years ago. My dads sister gave me his tie. It was precious to me, as it is the only thing I have that was his. It was proudly displayed on a shelf along with other family mementos.

Then life changed for my little family. The tie was packed up in a box as our family made the big move to Edmonton. The tie was stored in the basement in a box, but lingered in the corners of my mind, waiting for everything to fall into place.

And one day, after I became a quilter, it all clicked. This was what I was meant to do with the tie. It needed to  become a part of my art, blending the precious few memories I had of my dad, with my passion, quilting.  It would be like "hearing" his voice once again. 

The opportunity to attend a retreat hosted and taught by Ricky Tims was the exact right timing for this quilt to be designed, to become a reality. I pulled out fabrics from my closet that I had been saving for a special quilt. The tie was dug out of the box in the storage room. I hadn't seen it for awhile so I couldn't remember exactly what colour it was. I was happy to see it was orange and green. My favourite colour combination is purple, orange, and green. Some of the special fabrics I had set aside for this were a perfect match to this tie.

And off I went to La Veta Colorado with my studio mates and a couple of wonderful ladies, a heavy suitcase full of fabric, and of course, the tie. 

When a quilt talks to you....

Sheila Van Der Linden

Mrs. Z is a delightful lady, a friend of my mothers, who shares my love for fabrics. We understand when one of us makes a comment about taking fabric out of the cupboard just to fondle it. 

She loves to piece quilts, but admits that by the time she is finished, she is not sure if she likes the quilt any more. I have the same problem, especially if its a time consuming quilt top that takes a long time to put together. By the time the quilt top is pieced you are tired of the fabric and excited to start a new project. [That's when you pull the waiting project out and stroke it!]

Discussing quilting designs for this quilt was interesting. With so much open space, the possibilities are endless. Mrs Z wanted the leaves outlined,  and thought maybe feather wreaths would look pretty but beyond that she didn't really care.

She had a budget that I would respect, we wrote up the intake form, and off she went leaving her pretty quilt in my cupboard. I was pretty stoked to get this on my frame.

Anticipating a quilt like this builds up the creativity. Every quilt that was loaded on my frame while this one waited for its turn, talked to  me. They each told me that the possibilities were endless, that I needed to listen to the quilt.

So with all this "chatter' in mind, the day finally came when I could load it up, pick the thread colour, baste it, and then sit back and plan the quilting.

I had done piano keys in the border on previous quilts for Mrs. Z, so I added the swirls to tie in the new feather design I had decided on in the body of the quilt. The feathers looked so pretty in between the leaves but I wanted to add a different texture towards the centre. 

I pictured how the quilt would appear on the bed so in certain areas that surrounded the centre I added grid work that would contrast with the feathers. In the centre areas I incorporated the feather wreaths that we had initially talked about.

The end result was stunning. The only problem was that I had spent way more time on this quilt than what her budget allowed. I put it down to a learning experience. If I come across another quilt that requires similar treatment, I now have a better measuring stick for estimating costs.

Mrs Z was thrilled. She loved it and was very appreciative of the extra work. She loved her quilt once again. 

Sometimes the quilts talk.....we need to listen.....and push ourselves to go the extra mile. Its worth it. 

More pictures posted in the "Quilts" section of my website

Carpenter Star 2!

Sheila Van Der Linden

  I had so much fun putting together a Carpenter Star quilt, that I couldn't resist doing a second one! I needed a quilt for my sister in law. She was giving me a mirror so I said I would make her a quilt in exchange. 

  She requested soft pretty colors, so off to Quiltessentials in St. Albert I went. I knew they had a good selection of Moda floral prints which was exactly what I envisioned for this project. A beautiful white floral tone on tone was perfect for the background. I bought extra background fabric because I had a feeling this quilt would require a white border so that the star would have a "floating" effect.

  Quilting was more work than piecing. I premarked a scalloped border, and spines for the feathers to curve around the scallops. Marking the lines on the inner background blocks made quilting straight lines easier than using seams as a straight line guide. 

  Quilting on the floral prints did not turn out very good at first. My choice of design was thready and I was not happy with how it looked. So part way through I changed to a simple stipple. That suited the fabric and looked much better. I finished the rest of the quilt , then took it off the frame and brought it home. Picking out stitches is just more pleasant when one is sitting by a fire.

  With our Leader Grip system of loading quilts, it's easy to load and unload a partly finished quilt. Once I had it back on the frame it only took about 10 minutes to redo the parts of the star where I picked out stitches.

  It was hard to photograph the stitching since the background fabric really showed off its print! Another quick trip to Quiltessentials for the binding fabric. The ladies were so helpful! 

  I was very happy with the finished quilt. It's a nice refreshing, light and feminine quilt. Since my sister in law has only men in her house, I think she will enjoy this pretty quilt! I know I will enjoy my new mirror!

Carpenter Star for a Cute Couple

Sheila Van Der Linden

My niece Camille is a pretty special young lady. On February 8, 2014, she married her true love Nick. They have known each other for 20 years, have had many life experiences, and finally reconnected a year or so ago. There was no looking back for either of them. Nick, Camille, and Camille's two daughters, Shae and Avi became a family.

To honour this special occasion I made them a quilt for a wedding gift. Their engagement was short, so a quick pieced quilt was in order. 

I asked Nick and Camille what colours they wanted their quilt to have. They responded with orange, yellow, and green. To me that means fall colours! Yeah, my favourite too!

Meanwhile at the studio, Bradie had designed and pieced a Carpenter Star quilt. It was exactly what I was looking for for this special quilt. Plus, I like stars so this appealed to me on every level.

Into my stash at home I dived. Pulling out fabrics that I had bought a while ago for no particular reason other than that they were beautiful, it started coming together. Sunflowers, pumpkins, leaves, all looked so pretty together. 

Off to Quiltessentilas in St. Albert I went to fill in a few gaps. On the floor of my family room I laid out all the blocks trying to put them in a pleasing pattern. After about three attempts at rearranging I finally found the right orientation. It looked spectacular.

One more stop at My Sewing Room in Calgary for the final border, and it was complete. Once more into my stash for the backing, piecing two beautiful flannel scraps and it was ready for my frame.

I quilted feathers in the points around the centre star, feathered hearts in the large background squares that surround the stars, and stippled the busy fabrics of the centre star and outer border.

Nick and Camille, Ron and I wish you Gods blessings in your marriage. Enjoy the quilt, and plan lots of snuggle time with the girls under it!

It's a quilty kind of life...

Sheila Van Der Linden


   My husband Ron is a very patient guy. He encourages me to be creative, praises my work or gently gives constructive criticism. He is the reason why I am doing what I do everyday. Without him I'm really not sure where I would be today.

   I have made quilts for our 3 kids, my mother, his mother, so many people, but not for him. We have quilts on our bed and couches that he uses, but nothing was specifically for him.

   He changed jobs last year after working for one company for 20 years. This was a huge leap of faith, a risk, an act of bravery. 

   I needed to honour this decision in a way that conveyed my support. I saw this wall hanging in Mundare, at The Chicken Coop. I knew instantly this was the project I was looking for. I found a fabulous batik print with evergreen trees, and I decided this would be my focal fabric. I bought the rest of the bolt.

   Digging through my batik stash at home I found all the fabrics I needed to complete this gift. It was like I had shopped just for the perfect fabrics to go with the evergreens. I know it was meant to be. 

   In Quiltessentials, in St. Albert, I found some artsy buttons for embellishment, and thread for stitching the flutes together.

   For further inspiration for Ron, I stitched a Bible verse into the quilting. "In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path".Proverbs 3:6. This made it personal for him, so that every time he looked at it hanging in his office, he would know where to turn when he has to make decisions.  

   He is my best friend, my partner in this journey called "life", and by far the biggest blessing in my life.

   This was so fun to make. The hardest part was deciding which fabric went where. The pattern is called Pan Pipes, by Amelie Scott Designs. I know I will make more of these, my friend Sheryl is talking about a Christmas themed one....hmmm, my mind is buzzing with new ideas!

A quilt for Ivan

Sheila Van Der Linden

  There are some quilts that you just fall in love with while piecing them. That was the case with this quilt. I love batiks, but batiks in green, my favourite colour, and in fall hues, well the combination is my "chocolate" so to speak!  

  But, you knew there was a "but" coming didn't you! But, I also knew that this quilt was not meant to stay with me. 

  I had no idea for a long time who this was for. I quilted it with different style leaves all around, with a leaf style wreath in the middle, and I was so pleased with how it turned out.

  I used a light coloured batik for the backing, with 80/20 cotton poly batting. It turned out to be nice and light, while warm and cuddly at the same time.  

  Ivan is an "encourager". He is a gentleman that I suspect has an interesting life story. I don't know that story but there is something about him that is just special. Whenever he sees me he has positive things to say to me, he is honest and real. He has been very up front about telling me what I need to hear, when I need to hear it.

  One day, I don't know why, but the combination of this quilt, and Ivan came over me. That same day, in a conversation with Ivan, he encouraged me to listen to my heart when it came to my quilts.

  He phoned me when he found it hanging on his door knob. He was so moved by my gesture, we both cried. If you know me at all you know that's not hard for me.

  I knew my beautiful quilt was with the right person. It will be treasured, and that's all I ask.



Mexican Star

Sheila Van Der Linden

My Mexican Star was pieced a few years ago. I decided to finally quilt this lovely wall hanging after I had some help from Claudia Pfeil, a teacher from Germany. She helped me come up with a quilting design. It sat for another year before I felt brave enough to tackle it.

Some of Claudia's ideas I used and some I didn't. The curved lines with the ribbon candy detail in the centre of the blocks was Claudia's idea. The background detail is called McTavishing. It was a technique that I had tried before but I was not brave enough to use on anything important yet.

I stitched the quilt with silk thread, which are actually Claudia's Allure Essentials. The silk thread is 80 weight, so I used a DecoBob prewound bobbin that is also 80 weight.

It was a good marriage of top and bottom thread. With the wool batting, the quilt design looks elegant and suits the quilts overall design.

I am very pleased with my new wall hanging, now to get to the binding.....and maybe some crystals?

The Ugly Quilt

Sheila Van Der Linden

I am so blessed to work at Sparrow Studioz. Its an amazing place, very unique, and wonderful people to work with. At any given time there are at least 2 of the 8 creative people here, and if there is more, well the place is just buzzing.

As you can imagine we see  many beautiful quilts pass through our doors. Its easy to become a "quilt snob".  That's a very real danger. Its a danger because we start to value only the beautiful and turn our nose up at the ugly.

One such quilt passed through my hands awhile ago. It was a mess! The fabric was cheap, the borders were improperly put on, and the edges looked like they had been torn instead of carefully cut. I was asked if I wanted to tackle it. I looked it over and yes, my nose turned up. 

I did decide to take it on though and it has turned out to be one of my most memorable quilts. Through discussions with a co-worker I learned of its story. A lady had made this for her brother. She had never quilted before.  It was going to be a gift.

I was humbled. It was pieced with love. It would be a treasured gift reflecting the love of a brother and sister. I was determined to do my best once I heard that. I fixed the problems that needed fixing, loaded it on my frame, and with care, quilted a simple design.  There is no such thing as an ugly quilt, I learned that lesson.

We are all a mess when compared to the perfection of Christ. He loves us and treasures us anyway. That quilt reminds me to seek out the stories behind the quilts. We all have our own story, and if we pay attention, we will learn from each others story.  

Don't dismiss the ugly, look beyond and the beauty will be revealed, and will be treasured. 


Benjamin's Quilt

Sheila Van Der Linden

This was a much anticipated quilt! 

My daughters boyfriend turned 20 a few weeks ago. I had asked him last spring what colour of quilt he wanted. He replied "white". I said "you are not getting a whole cloth sweetheart". At this Ben was bit afraid since he had no idea what a whole cloth was! So my quest began.

It started with a jelly roll of Moda marbles that ranged from cream to beige. Then I started finding focal fabrics that had images of things that Ben liked. Old cars, trains, cookies, coffee, and music. I still had no idea what pattern I was going to use.

This is a scary position to be in since you have no parameters for shopping. Using EQ7, I designed a square in a square block quilt, with the marble fabric as frames for the focal fabric. It was looking great except I hadn't bought enough fabric. Off to my stash, and voila, more coffee fabric and more fabric with special words on it that I knew would be meaningful to him.

 I used fabric from my stash for some of the frames since one jelly roll wasn't enough. It turned out fantastic, I was really pleased! Wool batting, flannel backing, and a simple edge to edge quilting design and Bens quilt was done. Just in time for his big surprise party. In the picture above he is on the very left, the Ducks Dynasty rellie.

 Happy 20th Ben, it was so fun to make a quilt that is unique to you. You are a wonderful young man, and even though I tease you a bit too much sometimes, I'm glad you haven't run away screaming yet!