Tuesday, 31 January 2012


I'm having a sale in my Etsy Shop between now and the 14th of February (midnight, central Australian summer time) in the hopes of selling a few more quilts to help fund the purchase of the sewing machine I need to continue developing my quilting.

So head on over to the shop and use the code 820HELP for 10% off everything for the next 2 weeks.

That includes some newly-listed and about-to-be listed quilts:

(If there's something you're looking for and it's not there drop me a line!)

I'll be back later with some photos of what I've been up to - which isn't as much as it should be just at the moment, because 4 migraines in 3 days is enough to slow anyone's progress!

Thursday, 26 January 2012

On a roll

While I had my flannels out, I cut the pieces for a second baby quilt. This one will be almost identical in design, but with a more limited and structured colour palette. And because of the narrow strip I had remaining of one print I wanted to use, the block borders are 1/4in narrower. Since the first quilt was about as small as I like to go for baby quilts, I'll add a narrow border to this one, too. The squares in both are 6.5in, to finish at 6in. Why? Well it works quite well for the quilt size and the size of the print - but mostly because it's really easy, because I have a 6.5in square ruler!

I've decided to try a new quilting pattern on this quilt as well, possibly some sort of swirl. I love piecing and quilting flannels; they run through the machine so softly. And because there are minimal seams (I press the seams on flannel quilts open by the way, to spread the bulk) the quilting is even easier.

I'll get a bit done tomorrow; it's Australia Day and so a public holiday. We plan to do a few things around the house, having been spurred into action by our parents - Simon's father was here today, ostensibly to look after James and Eleanor, since its still school holidays and I'm back at work. He asked me to organise a skip, so I happily obliged - knowing that when he's here, he tears through jobs like a hurricane! James and Eleanor might not get overly close supervision, but he gets an incredible amount done. My father offered to come and help out, and when Simon and I got home, we found that both my parents had spent the day here, and together they'd done all sorts of things (pruning, fence fixing, odd-jobs, sorting the shed, clearing wood, sweeping, wiring, preparing for further activities...). I only wish I'd orderd the next size skip! I'm immensely grateful to have such wonderful parents and parents-in-law!

Monday, 23 January 2012


This afternoon and evening, I cut, pieced sandwiched and quilted this baby's play quilt! It just needs binding and it's ready for a label when the baby arrives, which is a really good feeling. This quick quilt is fulfilling one of my intentions to make simpler baby quilts at least some of the time. It's just that more often than not the designing bug takes over! Using flannels encourages me to keep it simple, because much of my flannel stash is large-scale prints, and I find flannels don't work the best in intricate piecing anyway - I'll save that for the regular quilters' cottons for now.

Even though it's quick and simple, I still put time into fabric selection and placement. A baby doesn't care how many pieces of fabric there are in her quilt, or how many hours went into its construction; she'll just enjoy the colours and patterns. And since there's quite an influx of babies requiring quilts in the first half of the year all ready, this is helping me catch up instead of leaving me further behind!

The quilting is my allover feather meander, but I've varied it by changing the shape of the feathers. I've seen these described as 'tooth' feathers, and now I can't get the name out of my head.

Friday, 20 January 2012

White Sands

My beach quilt White Sands is in the current issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting (Vol 21 No 2) - but I had no idea it was going to be on the cover, so I was thrilled to see this!

I've been looking at it all day!

Here's the whole quilt:

I tried something a little different with the sand section on this one; it was pieced separately, then appliqued in place.

The one thing I'd change is to ensure the sandcastle was properly vertical - oops! It's only a small detail, but because I'm aware of it, it's the first thing I see every time!

I'm really pleased with the sun and they way I incorporated the pinker shades of the sunrise/sunset - I'll definitely do that again! I was also happy to be able to incorporate the fabric with the sun's rays below it

This section of the sky is a bit of fun - it's the perfect colour, but a closer look reveals palm trees, a moon and a sailboat in the batik print. Is the sand section an island, with more sea behind???

Above is a photo of my sewing area while I'm selecting fabrics. This is how it always looks at this stage of a beach quilt. I leave out and unfolded all the options until I've finished on that section, then I'll fold up the water prints and pull out all the sands.

Fabric selection is a major part of my beach quilts - below are a few photos which show what careful selection can achieve:

Even though they're not necessarily the same type of fish/coral, the red bits at the bottom of the fabric with the turtle help tie it to the pieces below.

The matching sections of green seaweed in these two fabrics make the join practically seamless.

The orange fishtail on the bottom fabric gives the similarly-coloured fish in the upper print a comically long nose - but helps blend them together anyway!

The pink and red coral on either side of this fish link the three fabrics together.

I quilt closely around the larger creatures for a few reasons - partly to maintain even quilting across the quilt, and partly to emphasise them. Thread matching the water blends well and has the added advantage that it can be done without a thread-break if you let the water quilting go close enough to just take a 'detour' around the creature!


All those little pieces of batting resulted in this amazing texture and dimension on the finished quilt top:

The silver thread I used above (and below - the little circles around the circle) is Superior's Glitter. It's actually holographic, and is smooth and ribbon-like. It quilts up beautifully, and has a gorgeous sparkle! The only thing I shoudl mention is that if you have the thread coming off over the end of the reel (rather than straight off it sideways) it twists, so don't keep quilting with it too long before you let it untwist. I bought quite a bit of this thread for a planned large wholecloth, and am thrilled with how it looks and sews.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Little Possum

I received word today that my latest commission had arrived, and been gifted, so now I can share it in full. I kept part of it hidden before, because the baby's name is on the quilt top, and I would hate to have given anything away.

I do love this quilt, so there are quite a few photos...

I blogged a series of photos of the possum as I was making it; here she is sitting with her strawberry on the finished quilt top:

I've included a few detail shots, to show how I did the quiting and applique.

This one of the tail shows quite distinctly the two colours of applique. I ended up quilting around the possum using a regular free-motion stitch to create a zigzag sitch which blended with the applique stitches - a 'straight' line would have ruined the softening effect of the applique stitches.

On request, I quilted 'love is everything' into the top, underneath the tree.

This quiltling was done in a pale pinky-purple thread to help it stand out from the background a lttle. It shows better in real life, but could probably have done with being a little darker. However, this colour of thread was almost impossisble to find, so this was probably the ebst  option.

I appliqued the little girl's name with the aid of a super-enlarged font print-out:

Either side of Poet's name I quilted a little bird, again in a contrasting light pinky-purple thread. You may recognise this image; it came from an album cover. I originally intended to seek permission to use it, but on finding the recipient was the artist herself, decided that it would ruin the surprise, and that this was probably one occasion it would be ok to use it! Being a line-drawing to start with, it converted perfectly to a quilting design.

Pluming from the birds' tails I quilted a trio of feather plumes. They are intentionally slightly different form each other, but similar enough to appear balanced. I drew the spines freehand, then quilted the actual feathers without any markings.

Because the quilt is wider than the standard 44in fabric, I use two fabrics for the top; one very subtle cream tone-on-tone for the centre, and a slightly draker one with a little more pattern for a wide 'border'.  I probably should have chosen a border fabric with just a little more contrast, since it's almost indistinguishable once quilted, but it still looks perfectly fine.

To help anchor the base of the quilt and tie in the border, I appliqued a pair of blossoms, matching those in the tree, with a few leaves.

I filled the background with my current favourite - the combination triple-paisley, swirl and double-feather pattern. It's not ideal for filing small gaps, though it worked quite well between the branches, but it's wonderful fun to quilt in the larger open areas.

I'll be back tomorrow night with another peek at the top of the white and aqua quilt - it's quilted and trimmed and ready for me to add the binding, but I'm having an early night tonight - hopefully before midnight.

(ps - remember to click on any image for a closer look!)

The next layer

I've been busy on this quilt:

The areas of dense quilting left lots of waves in the quilt top, which can be seen above. This meant that sandwiching (the next step) was quite a challenge. But with plenty of smoothing and tugging and encouragement, I got it flat without much fuss.

Monday, 16 January 2012

From the front

Just a quick peek of part of the front tonight:

The area shown is under 2in square; the turquoise quilting lines are about 1mm apart. Threads are Superior Rainbows 831 - Mediterranean (40wt trilobal polyester) and Wonderfil metallic 881. The Superior stitched up perfectly. The Wonderfil was ok, but I prefer the Superior metallic which I usually use; it glides better, can be quilted a bit faster and barely shreds. I also tried a Wonderfil metallic silver mixed with white Rayon, but it shredded shockingly, and I ended up ripping it out.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

From the back

This is the back of the whoelcloth quilt which has been keeping me up all night (last 'night' I went to ebd at 5.15am, and it's currently 4.30, and I'm hoping for an 'early' night).

I roughly cut out loads of pieces of batting and pinned them in place to the back of the quilt.

This piece has been sewn and trimmed. It's 1 1/4in wide and 2 3/8in long.

Friday, 13 January 2012


This morning I took James and Eleanor strawberry-picking at the Beerenberg farm near Hahndorf. It's under 25km from home, and a quick trip because about half of that is on the freeway. While we were driving through the hills, we passed several teams training in the lead-up to the Tour Down Under starting shortly in and around Adelaide. It's been relatively cool and overcast this week (ideal both for strawberry-picking and the cyclists!) but you get warm very quickly in the sunny berry patch!

Strawberry picking is fun for a while, but ultimately not easy on the back for adults!

I spent a lot of the time fielding questions about which strawberries were suitable, but they both did a good job, and filled their punnets with lovely, fresh strawberries.

After I filled my punnet, I had time for some photos, but oddly didn't get any of the berries themselves!

Each of these large punnets (the short end is showing) holds over a kilogram:

You simply pick as much as you want, then return to the shop to weigh and pay for them. We brought home 3.8kg; some to share with my parents, and plenty for several days of fresh berries plus a couple of batches of delicious frozen strawberry mousse, which I'll make tomorrow.

Hmm, I sense a strawberry quilt design on the cards, too!

Designer collection

I gathered this selection to help me this evening.

I'm working on a new wholecloth quilt for the Machine Quilting special issue of Australian Patchwork and Quilting later this year and the shapes have a myriad of different curves. Throughout the evening and into the early morning I think I used all the glasses, most of the crockery (plus a pile of larger plates), all the coins, and several other items, including reels of cotton. The rough sketch has been turned into a fully-marked quilt top, but there's more work to do tomorrow before I can start the quilting.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Twinkle, twinkle, little star...

After much deliberation, I called this quilt Like a Diamond. I'd thought of naming it 'In the Sky' but then realised I'd printed out the label with the first name, so that settled it!

Anyway, it feels good to have my first finish of the year, and one that's come together so nicely - and quickly! I took it outside to photograph it today, and was lucky to get all 3 quilts completed before the rain started again. It's most unseasonal weather, for which I am very grateful; I hate hot summers.

There are 18 curvy background pieces, all in different blues - mostly navy, but with a few deep purples (hopefully not too girly!) and slightly lighter blues to give it added depth.

I fused the star in place, but cut the centre out of the fusible web star, so there's only about 1cm of web around the edge. This made the star easier to quilt, but it also meant that there was no fusible web where the hole in the centre was. I left the hole on purpose, so there wouldn't be a big build-up of seams, but I didn't then want to accidentally fuse the centre of the star to the ironing board!

I quilted a variety of swirly, loopy lines radiating from the star in a bright yellow embroidery thread, and used the same on the star itself, then filled the rest of the background quickly with a small loopy meander in navy BottomLine. This worked well to disguise a few small areas where the curved background pieces didn't want to lie completely flat.