Entering Quilt Shows

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday!!  Put your foot on the pedal, choose your favourite thread and quilt your worries away!  I will certainly be spending Friday quilting my heart out :)  It’s a much calmer week now that my quilt babies have been handed over for the local quilt show!!

i quilt blog button

Last weekend I dropped two of my favourite quilts off ready for the Canberra Quilter’s Exhibition.  I honestly had no idea how emotional that would be!  I have had quilts shown twice publicly (both this year) but for some reason this time feels most important.  I’m only showing quilts that I’ve quilted on the longarm, I am considered a “professional” for judging purposes, my (local) peers will all see my work AND a gaggle of non-quilters who love me will head to the exhibition to see my work on display in a context vastly different to my home.  It’s the truth when I say I’m not in it to win it, but I would be lying if I said I haven’t thought about whether my quilts might place.

I know that we quilt because we love it.  it makes us happy, it’s an escape, a refuge, an emotional release at times.  Gifting a quilt can show love, friendship, concern.  A quilt can speak for you.  I have certainly found my voice through quilting.

table runner

As a professional quilter, I have to face up to the fact that my work will be judged whether I enter it into a show or not.  As an artist I don’t make quilts for the purpose of winning prizes or pleasing other people.  But holy heck, handing over my two quilts last week left me raw.  I like my quilts at home where I can pet them, where they’re loved!  I am also super excited to see all of the quilts on display, including my own.  There’s nothing quite like seeing your quilt hanging in a public space!

Improv placemats quilted with a computer guided edge to edge pattern

Improv placemats quilted with a computer guided edge to edge pattern

Have you entered your quilts into shows?  How do you cope handing over your quilt babies?  Am I the only one who thinks about them sitting in the cold and dark all alone? ;)

i quilt blog button

Link up your quilty process and remember to visit three other linkers <3  Thanks for stopping by xxx


I Quilt: what is this modern quilting thing?

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Happy Thursday!  Thursdays are always happy for me as it is the last day of the week in my day job and the beginning of three days of quilting!  This evening was double-bonus Thursday as not only did I go along to the Canberra Quilters Guild meeting, but I presented with the lovely Michelle of Button Tree Lane.  We talked about Modern Quilting and in particular our modern group and showed some of our work.

i quilt blog button

Canberra Quilters are the oldest quilting guild in Australia, they’re a big group with many smaller “interest groups” that meet throughout the month.  Tonight was the big meeting, it is held in a former school hall and we were up front with a microphone and about 70 people in the audience.

Single Aunt mini

Single Aunt mini

I hotfooted it out of there as soon as it was over.  I often feel so far on the edge of modern quilting that maybe my quilts aren’t appealing to the broader audience.  I mean, I love them and I think I’m awesome, but my potty mouthed mini (above) raised a few eyebrows as did the reference to scrap vomit…  I was just so scared of someone telling me that I don’t know what I think about that I just had to run and hide (I’ll go into that in more detail soon, but last week I was reminded of how mean people can be online).

Fifty Shades - my most recent and most modern quilt (bee blocks provided by Janice, Elisabeth, Alyce, Adrienne, Jess, Midge, Marieka, Jane, Lara, Gina and Fiona)

Fifty Shades – my most recent and most modern quilt (bee blocks provided by Janice, Elisabeth, Alyce, Adrienne, Jess, Midge, Marieka, Jane, Lara, Gina and Fiona)

I love all quilts.  I genuinely do.  Every quilt I see I fall in love with, even the ones that don’t appeal to my aesthetic or that the makers claim are badly made.  I just LOVE QUILTS.  I make modern quilts but I LOVE ALL QUILTS.

modern bee quilt

modern bee quilt

One thing that comes up again and again with regards to modern quilting is how to define the term itself.  Many people don’t care, just as many have very strong opinions.  But I wonder how many people feel like me, feel nervous to say what they think, feel anxious to raise the question, “how are modern quilts judged if seemingly no one can define what is or isn’t a modern quilt.”  I hope that going to QuiltCon will provide a forum to discuss this further.  It’s so tricky to discuss online where feelings are easily hurt and statements read out of context and without tone or facial expression to convey opinion.

Me in front of one of my modern quilts and Molli in front of his modern quilt (featuring batiks) that one best in show at Australia's first modern quilt show.

Me in front of one of my modern quilts and Molli in front of his modern quilt (featuring batiks) that won best in show at Australia’s first modern quilt show.

What I will say is this:  I am a modern quilter who loves all quilts.  I value originality, perfection and colour play.  These are some of the factors that shape my modern quilts.  I want to see more discussion and education on modern quilting.  I want to confidently enter my quilts into shows that I know will appreciate the modern aesthetic and have judges who understand modern quilting.  I want to discuss all of this with other quilters and I don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt.  Modern quilting can be described as a spectrum, there is room for all, but I also feel that there is nothing wrong with (and in fact a great deal of value in) defining and clarifying that spectrum.  We might go through the whole process and decide that by defining modern quilting (and the multitude of subcategories) limits it.  Or we may just find that the modern quilting movement matures by looking at itself in the mirror.

Now let’s get linky!!  Big love to all you quilters and please remember to share the love by visiting three other linkers <3




I Quilt but when can I sleep????

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Welcome to I Quilt!  I have been quilting non-stop this week but I’m wondering, when do I get to sleep?!?!

i quilt blog button

I’ve finished quilting both of my quilts for the Canberra Quilter’s exhibition, forgive the fast photos, but here is my HUGE quilt, trimmed and ready to bind.  I’ve renamed it, “50 Shades” ;)  Tonight is just a sneak peek, better photos to follow soon :)

Fifty Shades, ready to be bound

Fifty Shades, ready to be bound

It’s all about the quilting this beast.

fifty shades details

I used two layers of wadding, bamboo and wool.  I love the texture but holy heck it was a challenge to get it done!

quilts 096

Primary Plus (below) is bound.  The stripy binding gave me a migraine.  I love the look but it was so hard on the eyes.

primary plus

Just another sneak peek tonight.  I had a few tension issues quilting over the organic fabric below.  I’m glad I figured it, I LOVE this quilt!

primary plus detail

Have you been sleeping or quilting this week?  Is it possible to do both???

Please link up your quilty goodness below.  Don’t forget to visit three other linkers <3


I Quilt and think

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday – yay!  Time to link up your quilty process <3  This week I’ve had a lot of time to think, I’m under the weather and have been doing lots of little jobs and taking it easy.  Having time on my hands has led me to pondering.  I’m not used to having free time and as much as I claim that part of my drive to become a full time quilter is to have work-life balance, I am certainly nowhere near achieving balance!  I read a quote somewhere that said something like, “Business owners will work 70 hours a week to avoid working 25.”  That pretty much sums it up really!

i quilt blog button

This week I caught up on some bee blocks :)  This improv block for Jess of The Elven Garden.

Bee block for Jess

Bee block for Jess

And this cat block for Adrianne from On The Windy Side.

Cat block for Adrianne

Both blocks were fun (they’re both around 24″ x 30″) and both are for the same bee.  The cat block was not in my comfort zone at all, I not only got out the graph paper but gave myself detailed cutting instructions.  I love the block and it turned out just as I’d hoped (but much bigger – my quilt math sucks) and most importantly, Adrianne loves it too :)  The block for Jess was totally in my comfort zone; improv all the way baby!  Both she and I love it and I need to pull myself together and part with it ;)

photo 2 (18)

Having all this thinking time has made me realise that I constantly need to be productive.  Today I sorted scraps and tidied up the studio.  I admit that I even cleaned the house over the past two days – I really am desperate for outcomes!  Usually my complete focus is on quilting but I don’t like to quilt when I’m overtired or not well.  That’s when mistakes happen and I do enough unpicking as it is!

School quilt on one of my favourite rugs <3

School quilt on one of my favourite rugs <3

I finished binding the quilt for the school fair this week and washed it yesterday (I ALWAYS pre-wash quilts in cold water with no detergent on a quick cycle and then put them through the drier.  It means they are colour fast and pre-shrunk which is really important to me. If the colours run I wash until the water runs clear.  I throw in a couple of colour catchers to pick up any dye.)  I can’t get enough of the texture post-laundering.

Lovely quilting crinkle post-wash.

Lovely quilting crinkle post-wash.

Now it’s your turn to link up your quilty goodness!  Please remember to visit three other linkers and share the love xxx



I Quilt without a plan

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

i quilt blog button

Hooray for Thursday!  It’s nearly the end of the week and it’s time to link up your quilty goodness.  This week I have been quilting without a plan, I know lots of people sketch out their designs or even draw them on clear plastic and then lay it on top of their quilt. For some reason my brain doesn’t get beyond vague ideas before I start stitching.

photo 1 (20)

The quilt that I’m working on is one of my entries for the Canberra Quilters exhibition.  The biggest lesson I’ve learnt this week is not to quilt after a quilt has been accepted into a show!  I’ve been putting so much pressure on myself to be perfect and every mistake is a rude shock.  And trust me, there are a lot of mistakes, I’m terrible at stitching in the ditch and this quilt has a lot of that!

photo 4 (7)

I mentioned last week that going to the quilt show in Sydney was somewhat intimidating, the quilts were amazing, I thought I was pretty awesome, but I felt completely dwarfed.  I wish I had the time to talk to some of the quilters about their quilts, to ask how they developed the skills that they have.  To hear that they are human too.

photo 2 (17)

As it is I have come to the realisation that I have a long way to go in my quilting career.  I have been watching a tonne of youtube videos this week and am thinking about going to the Australian Machine Quilters Festival in Adelaide later in the year.  I also hope that I’ll learn a lot at QuiltCon (I have two classes booked with Lisa Sipes). I guess that longarming can be somewhat solitary and I like to talk about process and brainstorm with others!

photo 3 (6)

At the end of the day (or mid quilt) I am happy with where this quilt is going.  It isn’t perfect but it is very me and I am using it as an opportunity to learn new skills and push my quilting just that little bit further.  I’m also reminding myself that I’ve only been longarming for 6 months! :)

i quilt blog button

So now it’s your turn to link up your quilty process.  Have you ever made a quilt for a show?  Do you plan your quilting or just jump in and see where you end up?

Please remember to link up your quilting process and visit three other linkers :)

P.S. Just to keep it real, I’m typing this post in the dark in my kids bedroom. We have two extras sleeping over tonight and there have been tears (the youngest is 3) but as I type this, it has just hit 10.15pm and I think everyone is finally asleep.  My life is very hectic right now and my blog is not getting the love from me that I’d like to give it.  Thank you for your continuing support and for linking up every week xxx


I Quilt at the Show

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your Quilty Process.  This week I’ve been to the Sydney Quilt Show and did my best not to drool on any of the beautiful quilts on display!

i quilt blog button

The lovely Angie of Gnome Angel and I traveled to Sydney yesterday for the Quilt and Craft Fair.  It is an event that travels around Australia and combines the state Quilt guild Shows with a quilt and craft fair (ie. stalls).  Yesterday was the first time I’d been to one since I’ve been a quilter so you can rightly argue that I am not particularly well qualified to give you a rundown of the show ;)

Iconic Sydney Harbour! My first visit to the city in 9 years!

Iconic Sydney Harbour! My first visit to the city in 9 years!

I was blown away by the quilts in the show and in particular I was impressed by the number of modern quilts on display.  Unfortunately I cannot share photos with you as they have a very strict “no photography” policy, but I can say that the modern quilts did not stand out as a minority, they were well represented.  You can view the winners here.

The show featured many amazing quilts and my mind was blown time and time again with the use of colour, intricate hand quilting, the amazing longarm quilting, the fantastic applique and the absolutely stunning thread painting.  Most quilting categories that you can imagine were represented and in general the standard was very high indeed.  In fact I came home having felt like I’d walked among giants.  It was a humbling experience and a good reminder that I am still serving my quilting apprenticeship.

Angie and I on our big quilty day out!

Angie and I on our big quilty day out!

It was fantastic to meet some lovely quilty peeps and I was reminded of the strong quilting culture we have here in Australia and that my personal passion, modern quilting, is warmly welcomed but not in the majority.

The Sydney Quilt Show is really big, there are 17 categories including a modern category which is described as: “Modern -New Traditions From Old Favourites - Modern quilts including those inspired by traditional block structures but reinterpreted using non-traditional layouts. Maximum size 290 x 290 cm”.  You can view the Modern category winners here.  It was very exciting to have Canberra so well represented with a number of locals placing including two in the modern category!!  Yay Michelle (of Buttontreelane) and Jo (of Jo Loves to Quilt)!!!

Some of the quilts were absolutely breathtaking.  I encourage you to visit if you can (the show runs for the rest of the week).  It was a fascinating insight into use of colour, pattern and design.

So in the vein of sharing amazing quilty goodness, let’s get linky!  Link up your quilty process and visit three other linkers <3

i quilt blog button


Thanks for stopping by xx


Will I see you there?

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

I’m going to the Quilt Fair in Sydney tomorrow!  Angie of Gnome Angel and I are taking a road trip (sans enfants!) and planning to meet lots of wonderful quilty peeps at the show.  The fabulous Molli will have his own stall featuring his Big D that I quilted (let’s make it about me…) and I’ve lined up rendezvous with some quilty besties.  It’s going to be a SUPER day!

Image stolen from @lorena_in_syd she's fabulous and on Instagram, go check her out!

Image stolen from @lorena_in_syd she’s fabulous and on Instagram, go check her out!

I’ll be wearing bright pink (I think) and a huge grin.  Stop me and say hi if you’re there!

I Quilt at Blossom Heart Quilts

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to head over to Blossom Heart Quilts to link up your quilty process.

i quilt blog button

The lovely Alyce, an Aussie expat living in Japan and quilty-blogger extraordinaire is hosting I Quilt this week.  I’m sure you’ve heard of Alyce, but if you haven’t, now’s your chance to get to know her :)  She’s a designer, quilter, blogger, mummy, wife, expat and as her tag-line says, “Modern Colours, Traditional Design, Me.”

blossheartquilts header

A little while back I had the pleasure of quilting Alyce’s Bright Sky quilt for her <3

photo 4 (4)

She was very generous and gave me free reign.  I had a ball :)

Thanks so much for hosting Alyce!

See you back here next week quilty peeps xx

Quilters that inspire

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s time to get your quilty link on!  This week I’m waffling on a bit and sharing the quilters that inspire me ;)

i quilt blog button

So who here got in on the craziness this week and registered (or tried) for QuiltCon 2015?  Registration opened at 1am Wednesday here and I was up til 3am sorting it out.  It was all rather stressful (my internet dropped out at 12.45am, I didn’t get the email until 1.10am, it was 1.45am before I could even get to the register page) but I managed to register for a half day class and a full day workshop as well as some lectures.  I was feeling very down as all the Aussies girls were messaging madly on facebook, excited that they’d got their first preferences and were going back for more. I felt like the one who’d missed out.  I can be pretty good at self pity ;)

Making a QuiltCon wish list!

Making a QuiltCon wish list!

Anyway, after some sleep, and then some more sleep, I am able to be much more balanced about it all.  Especially as I’ve read many stories of others who didn’t get into anything.  It’s kind of funny because I feel crazy to be spending so much money to go so far (we are on a very limited budget as a family – we choose a lifestyle over wealth).  Even though I’ve been told how awesome QuiltCon is and even if you don’t get in, it’s still a blast.  Even though I’m travelling with a great antipodean contingent and am looking forward to meeting online friends and my first trip to the US…  Even with all that, it still niggles at me.

Quilting away my QuiltCon planning nerves.

Quilting away my QuiltCon planning nerves.

The money that we’re spending on my trip could give us the new bathroom that we sorely need, or even a cheap second car.  My husband is an eternally reasonable, generous and kind soul.  He is the balance in this relationship, I’m the nut.  He restores the calm, I ride the ups and downs.  He believes in me, knows how hungry I am for this dream and trusts that I’m not going to give up.  He convinced me to not just travel to Austin for QuiltCon but to stay on longer and visit my two best friends who currently live stateside.  He will take annual leave and look after three children for three weeks while I live the dream.  Man I am lucky that I found him!  I can’t believe I wallowed in self pity!

Pushing myself to grow as a quilter.  Ruler work isn't easy and I enjoy the challenge of not marking my quilts.

Pushing myself to grow as a quilter. Ruler work isn’t easy and I enjoy the challenge of not marking my quilts.

So despite feeling terribly sorry for myself for missing out on classes, I know how lucky I am to be going, to have a partner who supports me, to have the resources to make it happen, to have clarity.  I know what my dream is and to be able to chase it.

Quilting on the fly <3

Quilting on the fly <3

I still hope to meet some of the quilters and artists at QuiltCon that have inspired me along my quilting journey.  I may not be in their classes or lectures, but I would like to share them with you here.  I first discovered them online and learnt so much from them, it will be a thrill to see their quilts in real life (hopefully some of them exhibit).

I finished quilting this whilst stressing about QuiltCon registration at midnight.  Quilting helps me destress.

I finished quilting this whilst stressing about QuiltCon registration at midnight. Quilting helps me destress.

In order of my quilty journey of discovery here are some of the quilters that have inspired me.

Faith from Fresh Lemons Quilts – her crisp lines and great use of colour caught my eye.

Elizabeth from Oh!Fransson – her no nonsense advice and fabulous tutorials taught me heaps of great techniques.

Janice from Better off Thread – her use of colour, amazing patterns and attention to detail really engaged me.

Jeni from In Color Order – her series on colour theory rocked my world.  So simple, so well explained, so wonderful!

Rachel from Stitched in Color – her use of colour and beautiful projects had me mesmerized.

Jess from The Elven Garden – her quilts have a magical quality, the way she mixes quilting and piecing is very special.

Angela Walters - her quilting is beautiful.  So controlled, so perfect.

Lisa Sipes – AH.MAZE.ING.  Some people think my quilting is dense.  Lisa’s is perfectly dense (in the best possible way!) ;)

Krista Withers – Oh my.  Oh my.  Um.  total fangirl moment.  This quilter inspires me.  LOVE!!!

There are many, many, many more inspiring quilters out there, Latifah, Katie, Nicole, I could go on!! But these are some of the ones that I came across at the right point in my journey and inspired me to take the next step.

i quilt blog button

Now it’s your turn to link up your quilty process.  Please remember to visit three other linkers <3



I Quilt Confidently

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Hurrah for Thursdays and hurrah for quilting!  I hope you join me and link up to I Quilt this week :)  This week I’m talking confidence.

i quilt blog button

Without fail my projects follow a pattern.  First I start with grand ideas, an amazing stash pull and full of confidence.

Stash pull

Stash pull

I over-gram, sharing my process in my supreme confidence.

Bee blocks and strips from Marieka, Fiona, Jane, Midge, Lara, Kristy, Janice, Elisabeth, Adrienne, Jess and Alyce <3

Bee blocks and strips from Marieka, Fiona, Jane, Midge, Lara, Kristy, Gina, Janice, Elisabeth, Adrianne, Jess and Alyce <3

Once I get a bit beyond the half-way mark, the doubt creeps in.  Quietly at first, then in droves.

mid section in progress

I’ve committed beyond the point of giving up and yet all I see ahead is a finished quilt that falls far short of my original idea.  I’m used to this process.  In spite of my fear of failure, I believe that it will work out OK, I keep going.

LHS finished

Usually when I finish a quilt (and I usually work just on one project at a time) I am so emotionally spent and exhausted that I step away for a few days (at the very least, overnight if a deadline is looming) before deciding how to quilt it.

I’m constantly thinking of my finished quilt top and usually take a couple of photos on my phone so that I can look at it throughout the day.  I generally have a rough idea of how to quilt it but nothing definite.  The only time I sketch quilting is for clients and then I have to apologise for my hideous sketches and reassure them that my quilting is far better than my drawing!

I’ve never made a quilt that I don’t like.  In fact I think the least in love I’ve been with a quilt was even enough to say that I really, really like it, it just isn’t quite my style.  Usually I think my work is pretty awesome once I’ve finished.  The excitement of a freshly laundered quilt is always special.

Colour Therapy on the line

Colour Therapy on the line

The past week I have been working my butt off finishing a top for entry into the Canberra Quilters Members’ Exhibition.  My moment of doubt was so extreme that I’ve started to doubt that it will even be accepted to be shown.  Is it too busy?  Too bright?  Too modern?

I will be submitting a photo of it before it’s quilted and I KNOW that the quilting will bring it together and change it further.  I hope the judges can see that too.  I don’t know how I’ll quilt it, but I’m excited to get it on the frame.  I want to quilt a couple of stars in the greys and quilt it quite densely.  Beyond that I have no idea.  But I’ve invested too much to give up and I’ve mostly passed the period of self doubt.  Once the quilt is on the frame all that doubt disappears, I’m more focused than I am at any other time and usually it all comes together.  I’m already completely in love with this quilt, I just never know if others can see what I can see.

RHS finished

I was watching a documentary this week about amazing Australian artist John Olsen and he said something along the lines of, “when I’m creating it starts completely instinctively followed by careful planning and attention to detail.”  He described my creative process to a T and I immediately wanted to rush out and get it tattooed on my arm.  For me, to quilt confidently is to start with my instinct, then focus on the detail and then move on in the knowledge that the end product will be awesome.

Now let’s hope I haven’t jinxed myself! ;)

How does your creative process work?  Are you a confident quilter?  Do you have any tips to quilting confidently?

i quilt blog button

Please remember to share the love and visit three other linkers xxx




1 2 3 34