Finally a design wall

Up until this afternoon I’ve never had a design wall.  So for me it was laying everything down on the ground, getting my little step stool, isn’t Ikea great? and taking a photo to get some perspective on what I’m doing.

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Charlie demonstrating the Ikea Stool use. All my cats love it!

What I wanted in a design wall was something I could easily organise myself, so off to Spotlight, a fabric & homewares store here in Australia, I went, thinking I’d grab some cheap synthetic batting, but I was lucky enough to be served by the lovely Annabel, who sometimes helps out at our local quilt shop.

After explaining to Annabel what I was considering she soon put me on the right track by suggesting using polar fleece, it’s was exactly the right width and all up cost six dollars rather than $$$ that I was likely to spend on the batting available.  But the best thing is the blocks just stick to it.  I’ve already trialled it and if I want to put a quilt top up it copes with pins just fine, much better than the batting would have, much more durable because its a knitted fabric, and if it gets dirty I can just put it through the wash.  Its been hemmed and put on its rod which is hung from the picture rail.  I used this quilt to see how it would hold up.  Even when I took out the pins it didn’t fall off. 🙂

image of texas rose baskets quilt
I popped this up to try and motivate me to sew those last five seams! by machine no less.

Margaret & Irene have skyped me a few times over the last week when they’ve been able, apparently the wifi access hasn’t been very good, however they’ve been to the DAR, the Smithsonian and Winterthur so I expect when they get back they’ll do some proper blogging about the trip complete with photos, I know they’ve got lots to show & tell.  Margaret has updated her FB page once or twice and the intrepid travellers have only got just over a week before they’re due to fly back home.  Oops speak of the devil and there they are on skype again!

Okay that was Margaret and Irene, they’re just about to leave Wilmington.  They have had a car, Margaret reckons ‘the beltway’? in DC was easy, whatever that means.  Anyway the pair of them have asked me to jump on their respective blogs and do a guest post so now I’m off to Irene’s & Margaret’s blogs to write and post!

Okay it’s now 3.50am and I definitely need to go to bed, I can barely cope with my own blog never mind those two gadabouts.

And that was over a week ago and I never got back to my own blogpost!

Last Thursday I was able to go to Mill Rose Cottage for there Sit n Sew.  While there Gudren asked me what was in those earlier packages.

Thursday Sit n Sew
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Some lovely older Margo Krager fabrics


And some more vintage fabric, most of it is nearly 20 years old.

And while I was up in Bendigo getting the fabric for my design wall I also grabbed these.

I just love the colour and pattern of those top two fabrics.

And I’ve been busy on an old project as well

Started in 1995 maybe.

I’m going to put another small resting border and then who knows.

I best get a move on, time to do some work.



The Postman came

image of pink green baskets

with 3 parcels!

Woohoo I love parcels

I think I’ve mentioned before that for some years I took a break from quilt-making and buying fabric.  That meant I missed some really good fabrics, so when I see something I really love well of course I just have to buy them.

Our good friend Sherry in San Antonio recently sent me some lovely fabrics, the second parcel arrived today with lots of lovelies, some of which is part of the Clarissa White Alford Collection for the Shelburne Museum by RJR.  Only had the odd bit of that, as well as some bits of Smithsonian.  This parcel was sent the day Sherry, Margaret & Irene left San Antonio and Margaret picked some of the fabrics as well.

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Fabrics from Sherry

You can see a bit of Smithsonian that somehow I managed not to pick up originally, now I’ve got them in all the colourways.  As well some Williamsburg Botanical, Cheddar Illuminations, Dargate Prussion Blue stripe, purchased for a very specific project, and some red & white fabrics.  Margaret are they for our red & white Maltaville?

Yellows and more from the old ‘Sturbridge Village II’ collection.

Parcels 2 & 3 came from SewFarSewGood, an online shop who were just lovely to deal with.  One of the things I don’t have in my growing stash is some really good yellows.  I found three really good yellows from the ‘Old Sturbridge Village II Collection’ as well as a few other bits from that range.  I think this range came out just before I got back into quilt-making.

One of my ‘must do’ projects has always been a pieced basket quilt in white, pinks & greens.  I drafted it up ages ago but last week the impetus to start it came.  So far I’ve pieced about about 14 blocks of this 16 block quilt.

image of pinkgreenbasketsprep
All cut out and ready to sew

This is another quilt that will be on-point. I seem to have an obsession with blocks on-point at the moment. Most of the fabric has come from my stash with just a little bit from picked up when I went to Mill Rose Cottage recently.  There’s a little bit of Smithsonian and some of my treasured Sarah Johnson pink fabric as well.

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Pink & Green baskets blocks

It’s TAS at Somerset this Sunday, so I’ll have to get the tops of these baskets prepared so I’ve got some hand sewing to do.  16 handles wont take long.

Margaret picked up some fabric for me when she & Irene visited Hancock’s so I’m waiting for the postman to ring again.



On the hunt for a new sewing machine

image of sunflower willow quilt

and I’m looking at the Husqvarna 835, which has the longer arm which would be nice. Does anyone have one?  The other machine I’m considering is the Bernina 330, which also has exactly the stitch I want, an adjustable, single, vertical stitch, blanket-stitch, and both machines are around the same price.  I’d love to hear your opinions on these machines.

It’s going to be very quiet around these parts with Margaret flying out to the US this morning.  I’ve sent our very good friend Irene Blanck, a local applique superstar in these parts, with her to keep her out trouble! 🙂

The girls are off to Paducah and then the east coast so if you get the chance to catch up with them grab it, they’re lots of fun!  Both Margaret & Irene are intending to blog, and Margaret is going to use her new Facebook page to keep us updated on their shenanigans as well.

I’m fast finishing a new quilt I’ve been doing, Sunflowers & Willows, most of the applique is done, and it’s almost time to attach the borders and then the last border appliqued on.  The last applique will be on the outside edge, scalloped, similar to the frills around the flowers just a bit bigger, not so fine.

I started this as a bit of an excuse to get rid of the fabrics I’ve used in the background and went from there.  It’s got at least two, no make that three, fabrics from Margaret’s stash.

image of sunflower willow quilt
I've called it Sunflowers & Willows.

I need to get it finished as I just busting to start another new quilt I’ve designed and have chosen nearly all the fabrics.  Remember my search for some gold fabric awhile ago? well I ended up with about 3 metres and here’s me doing a little planning.

image of lincoln gold fabric
Photocopying the fabric

Yes, sometimes I photocopy the fabric if I’m not sure of a combination or want to do a quick mockup without cutting into my precious fabric.

And I took another quilt out to try and get a half decent photo of it but little joy as my camera really doesn’t want to play nice.

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Rose Dance on the grass

Well it’s time to go, Margaret has left me some homework, ie blocks from our Red & White version of her Maltaville, I’m not complaining, it was my idea after all!



A basket & a bearclaw

image of sewing bag

A month ago, Irene and I went for a lovely day out sewing at Somerset Patchwork and its time to go again!  Now normally when I go out sewing locally or use my car I put all my sewing kit in one of my rattan baskets.

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Some of my baskets

The one I use mostly is something like what I imagine Little Red Riding Hood would have.

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Off to Grandma's basket

But when travelling on the train it’s really not the go, so last time I threw all my sewing in a plastic shopping bag, not a nice one, a scruffy, flimsy one at the last minute before I shot down to the railway station to catch the train and when Irene picked me up at the other end she was appalled that I had my lovely applique in it!

So knowing this Sunday was fast approaching and I was again contemplating how I would transport all my sewing stuff since I’m quite certain I don’t want to use any of my baskets I started to look online for a pattern to whip up a quick little sewing bag/pouch/etc.

After spending maybe 20 minutes searching and not finding any patterns I fancied, I went off blog browsing and this is what I found.  The Fat Quarter Sewing Bag by Meredithe at pomegranate and chintz.  I found two fat 1/4s of Japanese fabric left over from a quilt I made for some and off I went.  I followed the pattern for the outside but decided to change to pockets etc to suit what I needed.

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Sewing some cotton holders

I put a bit of thought into what I might want and having a place to slot in 4 or 5 cottons was a requirement.  After thinking about how I might do that I decided to put them at the bottom so the bottom of the bag would support them.

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The inside all ready to go.

I decided to make the centre loop just a smidgen larger to hold my basting glue.  The pockets above hold a tube of needles and two thimbles, one for normal sewing and one for binding as well as slightly larger pocket for a tape measure.

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I hope I thought of everything!

As you can see there’s room for a little ruler, a little cutter, a scissors, as well as two large pockets that fit my purse and phone.

And here’s the finished product

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Already for tomorrow, oops nothing to sew!

And I’ve almost finished sewing up my Bearclaw quilt. It’s further along than this photo shows. I’ll post an update on it later in the week.

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Almost all together.

and I finally updated some of my other pages, not a lot just a little. I’ve updated all the header images, all except the dodgy one on this page and a little bit of info about me and I really will get around to taking some photos of Finished quilts etc.



For Dorothy & Linda

Last Saturday I caught up with Dorothy & Linda for a coffee after CAG, and was roundly scolded for not having posted recently.  While I had many excuses they all fell on deaf ears!

As a web developer and trainer sometimes the last thing I want to do on ‘my time’ is be at the computer.  And sadly, at the moment I don’t have have much to show as I’m busy putting on and sewing binding down.

But, I have been adding to my stash as well as adding to my museum collection fabrics.  I’ve picked up some Smithsonian I didn’t have or didn’t have much of.

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More Smithsonian fabrics as well as some friends came to stay

I also picked up some DAR Museum Collection by P&B Textiles from 1998.

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These have been on the shelves for some 14 or more years!

Some fabrics I failed to buy when they originally came out that I picked up recently.

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Bits & pieces

For interest, that last brownish piece of fabric was originally produced by Windham in their ‘Empress’ range by Nancy Gere, not sure which year.  It came in pink, blue and this olive/khaki/drab green colour. Note the difference in the background.  Empress had fine line grounds on a ecru background, whereas the ‘Canterbury’ range by Robert Callaham above, was much deeper & richer in colour with a smoked or mottled background. I have some of it in green, limey/yellow and now brown which will be perfect for stems in some future project.

image of Empress 24458-3 by Nancy Gere for Windham
Empress 24458-3 by Nancy Gere for Windham

And last but not least I picked up this tiny bit of floral fabric which I just love and would be perfect for a new design I’m keen to start, after I start & finish those Kaffe Baskets I’ve already cut out.

image of cheddarfloralfabric
Who am I? Where did I come from?

Do you know who the manufacturer or the name of this fabric?  If you do please let me know.  I’m really keen to find more.

And last but not least a message to Dorothy & Linda from Tigger.

image of cat
I heard about you two and your heretical ideas, and I'm not having any of it!

Just backing from ‘Unfolding Tradition’

the 2011 Australian Quilt Study Symposium hosted by Quilt Study Group Victoria and all I can say is Wow!

I travelled down from Castlemaine by train to ‘The Immigration Museum‘ where the two day symposium was held over the weekend.  I quickly lined up to sign in with many ladies and a gentleman or two, who had travelled from Queensland, NSW, WA and TAS as well as local attendees.

My fabric from the AQSG Symposium Luck Dip

The day started with an introduction and welcome by Janet O’Dell, Convenor, Quilt Study Group Victoria.  Janet spoke about a fabulous hexagon quilt from her collection which she refers to as the ‘The Braddyll Quilt’, but was originally called a ‘GRANDMOTHER’S FLOWER GARDEN’ QUILT‘ by Christies when it was listed for auction.  I was able to spend quite some time having a close look at this amazing quilt.  This quilt was made from many beautiful velvets and silks, which when examined closely showed tiny embroidered flowers on many of the centres.

This was followed by Margaret Rolfe stepping in for Dr Annette Gero, who was unable to attend at the last minute.  As part of the Annette Gero presentation several participants of the ‘Fabric of Society’ challenge brought along their quilts for us to get up close and look at.  Dear Prudence by Linda White was one.

After lunch Margaret Rolfe spoke about an applique quilt of Irish origin held in the NGV, as well as similar Irish quilts of the time and their common elements.

Lynette Nilaweera formerly from ‘The Wool Quilt Prize & Geelong Wool Museum’ spoke about her experiences curating the Prize.

Brownwyn Cosgrove, a senior textile conservator from the NGV spoke about and show a presentation on the conservation process they went through for ‘The 1840s Dickens Quilt’.

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Cleaning the E Dickens quilt

and that was just day one.

Day Two was were we actually got to get up and personal with some quilts.  Alan Tremain presented a range of quilts which he was happy for us the examine and photograph.

Alan Tremain quilt

and a beautiful lone star quilt

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1930s Lonestar quilt

and another

8 pointed star
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a close up of one of the blocks
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How bright are these colours?

and a closeup of one of the blocks, the fabrics that were put together left some of us speechless

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a close up of one of the blocks

and a closeup of another block

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and another

one more

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the colours were just so bright and clear in these blocks

the next block was from a sweet redwork quilt

Redwork chickens

the next image is of some pre-printed cushion embroidery squares.  Alan spoke about how often before these patterns were printed in the newspapers, the male image artists would go over the designs putting in intricate detail that no embroiderer would actually put in their designs.

image of at red and white cushions
Looking at the redwork cushions sitting atop another gorgeous quilt

the above quilt, when examined closely was pieced from small diamonds.  Here’s a closeup

Close up of the piecing

and some machine foundation piecing circa 1916, maybe or at least that was a date we found on the paper.

Foundation piecing

and the back

Foundation piecing

I still have lots more to cover but I think its time to go and do some work so I’ll try an do another post in a day or two.


New project!

Two years ago I made a vow not to start anything new until I had at least finished one of my medallion appliqué quilts that I had on the go, and I’ve only broken this vow three times! up ’til now. Each time its been absolutely necessary, of course!

So anyway, a little while ago I saw a picture of an antique quilt on someone else’s blog that I just loved. I decided that I just had to make a version of this particular quilt.  It would be my first red and green appliqué quilt, so I decided I was allowed to start yet a fourth new project.

Anyway, after several goes of trying to draft up the block and failing on one particular aspect, that of course was the aspect that I loved about this quilt, I tracked down the museum where the quilt was held and wrote an email to the collection manger.

I explained my dilemma and asked if they might have a clearer image I could look at, thinking I’d be lucky if I heard back, but I heard back the very next day. They kindly sent close up photos of the appliqué blocks, sizes and dimensions of the blocks and borders, detailed information about the quilting as well as information about the maker and how they came by the quilt.

The gentlemen I’ve been dealing with have just been so kind and generous. So after I finish my trial block I will be sewing a block up to make into a cushion and sending it to them, in fabrics a little closer to the original.

This trial block is made using four fabrics. A French General background, two greens and a Nancy Gere More Pink & Chocolate and I’m putting it ‘on point’.

Project fabrics

I’ll post images of the parts of the block  as I go and then the whole block when finished.



My first visit to ‘The Farm’ for quilt history

Well I just got back from my first visit to ‘The Farm’,  for a quilt & fabric history day.  Hosted by Jan Baker & Robyn Falloon in Woodend, the day started off with Heather & Allison picking me up 8.15 on a Sunday morning.  No sleep-in today!  A quick stop at Elphinstone to co-ordinate with Margaret and Rose and we’re off.

Driving down the Calder to Woodend and Victoria has put on one of those cold, foggy, overcast days that’s just perfect for being inside with a wood fire and your patchwork. We all tumble out of the car and race into the house out of the drizzling rain to find many familiar faces.  A large group from the surrounds of Castlemaine as well as a few TAS members were already there as well as many more from further a field.

We started off by a Show n Tell of Robyn’s Antique quilt top that she is laboriously repairing.  We all clustered around the table to have a good look.  Just beautiful.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have a camera with me so you’ll need to check on either Margaret , Rachel or Rose’s blogs to see if they’ve posted some photos.  If not give them a hurry up.

The theme for today was ‘Urns and Vases’.  Jan took us on a brief introduction regarding ‘Baltimore Album Quilts’ and how the fad for these quilts lasted only ten years, approximately.  My knowledge about Baltimore Album quilts is non existent although perhaps less so now.

As Baltimore was a busy seaport, thats where the ships with the lovely fabrics from Europe & England arrived, so the ladies of Baltimore had immediate access unlike those who lived just west of there.  The quilts were a snapshot of the important events of the day for their community.  The differing blocks said much about the maker, their station in life, how they were connected in the community and how cultured they were.

Remember those initial blocks you might have started with say a blue epergne or vase of fruit and flowers.  These blue or fondue (ombré) fabrics, fashionable in Europe were highly prized as they designated great wealth and taste.  Often the design represented a high quality cut glass vase.  Other blocks like the ‘Red basket of flowers’ design seen time and again may have been produced in kit form, or fully completed by Mary Simon, a designer and quilt block maker of the time.

After lunch it was time for some show & tell which we all love and then it was sit & sew while Robyn took us through a technique tutorial on how she does beautiful concave curves & points as well as those awful sharp convex points that are so easy to mess up.

I did get to start my brand new appliqué project  while sitting and chatting with Sue & Cheryl.  I got a whole three strips of bias sewn on for the basket.  Sorry there are no photos as my camera has died, however Rachel has promised to lend me her camera so I can take heaps of photos to put up.

Well I’m going to do a little bit of sewing before I start on my house work, at least one rose bud stem.



New Projects

In the last 18 months I’ve tried not to start any new projects, but to finish the ones I already had on the go.  Amazingly,  I’ve only broken that rule once, for a cot quilt.

This hasn’t stopped me from collecting the materials etc for the new ideas that pop into my head though.  One of these ready to go projects is my version of a Princess Feather quilt using a fabric from the Grande Teint fabric range from last year.  The ‘feathers’ are all cut out, roughly, and a few months ago I found about 4 yards (approx 3.50 metres) of RJR Smithsonian fabric, the dark green ‘The Grooms Quilt’,  for the background on Etsy. A lady was clearing out her fabric stash and it was ridiculously cheap.

Princess Feather project to be

This would be about the third lot of fabric I’ve bought for the background. I looked everywhere for a red and couldn’t find anything I like, tried two different paler fabric but it just didn’t have the rich impact that I’m hoping this will have.

I’ll possibly be using a buttonhole stitch as averse to a blanket stitch, as I like the texture of the ridge that you get from the buttonhole stitch.

Buttonhole stitch example

The image above was a quick test of two different buttonhole stitches, I did at Goldfields Quilters last Wednesday. You can just see the ridge/knot that’s formed as you sew.  I have to decide if in fact I will Broderie Perse this quilt or do traditional needle-turn.

I’ve got 12 Broderie Perse blocks (small) to do on my Feathered Star Medallion quilt so by the time I’ve finished that I guess I’ll know what I want to do.


Nearly Winter!

Well it’s more than half way through May and this is only my fourth post and only one image.  I’m working on 6 quilts at the moment.

  • A Robyn Falloon medallion quilt I started around 2000 – Needleturn applique
Medallion Quilt with Smithsonian fabric
  • A Flying Geese quilt started in 2006 at Threadbear, and still missing in action while moving house – freezer paper foundation piecing
  • Michelle Yeo’s Abbeville County Quilt – hand piecing & freezer paper foundation piecing
  • My William Morris quilt, I’ve named Acanthus  – a feathered star medallion with broderie perse and machine piecing, and lastly
  • a rotary cut & machine pieced scrap quilt from the Old Maid’s Puzzle block pattern that I had forgotten about.

I’d forgotten entirely about the quilt I’m currently spending all my time on at the moment. I started it around 2007 with no real plan in mind and then put it away.  It’s  12″ blocks of Crosses and Losses / Old Maids Puzzle pattern. I’ve decided to set them on point with setting squares.  I’ve chosen the fabric for the setting squares and picked up a little more blue & dark red fabric today, as I need 25 blocks and I’ve only got 16 done so far.