1930’s Farmer’s Wife – Sara

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

FW Sara block

Today I am sharing with you the block Sara from the 1930’s Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt book. Way back when the lovely Angie of Gnome Angel asked if I would like to participate in this quilt-along and I said yes she asked me why. If you look at my work I’m not exactly a traditional patchworker. But I love every type of quilting and I thought that this quilt-along would provide the perfect opportunity for me to dabble in some traditional patchwork. So here goes!


You can get your own copy of The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

Sara among the strawberries

Sara isn’t my first block from the book, I started with an easy block, Becky (number 12), to try out my colour palette of orange and blue. Have you ever seen Elisabeth Woo’s orange and blue farmer’s wife sampler quilt?  I’ve never been able to get it out of my head and this is my chance to give it a whirl!

Up front I’m going to admit that I made a total rookie error. I printed the foundation paper piecing templates out too small and even though I checked the 1″ mark with my ruler I didn’t check it twice. So I made the entire block thinking the whole time, “gee these 6.5″ blocks are tricky” only to discover that I had made a 4″ block!!!

4 inch and 6.5 inch Sara

So please, check your measurements – at least twice!  In fact, you have the choice of english paper piecing, foundation paper piecing or using the conversion charts (rotary cutting and use of templates) for this block. I used the templates for the triangle pieces and am looking forward to using the templates again for future blocks as they make everything quick and easy.

Lay out of Sara

I think it’s really important in this block to take note of the original fabric selection and how that allows different parts of the block to stand out. My background fabric is a mid blue verging on teal but it still works as a background fabric in comparison to the orange and navy prints I selected for the feature prints. I always use a portable design board (just a piece of wadding stuck to a small noticeboard) and layout my fabric before I start piecing. If I’m not happy with how my fabric selection works I’d rather find out before I’ve pieced an entire block.

Sara in two halves

I followed the conversion chart which is available from Marti Mitchell’s blog for the length of the quilt-along. This involved the use of templates along with some rotary cutting that involved 9/16 measurements. You may wish to make a mark on your ruler between the 1/2 and 3/4 point on your ruler. The first time I quickly made up my own cutting instructions based on the misprinted template. You should not do that. Really. Trust me on that one ;)

press after every seam

I am slightly pedantic about my points matching so I press open after every join and I glue basted the long sections together to keep everything lined up. When I was joining my long sections together I started stitching from the middle of the block to the side and then went back and did the second half starting from the middle again. I always place the piece with the least amount of piecing on top to reduce the amount of shifting caused by the pressure foot.

piece from the centre to keep points aligned

I started sewing in the middle so that the points match up.


When you have eight points to line up across the middle of the block they will shift as you sew and the pressure foot applies pressure.  I prefer glue basting to pins but you could use pins, just don’t sew over them as you risk putting out the timing on your machine!


You can see here that I have stitched one half from the middle. I will then go back to the middle and stitch to the other end.


To be honest, I actually prefer my mini-me Sara at 4″ unfinished. I didn’t enjoy sewing it but it is so super cute that I love it to bits!

Sara and mini Sara

I hope you enjoy making Sara. I’m looking forward to seeing all of your different fabric selections! Don’t forget to link up over at Gnome Angel this Sunday. I also encourage you to visit the rest of the November bloggers. There are some BEAUTIFUL blocks popping up out there!

03/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

05/11/2015: Cat @ Cat + Vee

05/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

06/11/2015:  Kirsty @ Bonjour Quilts

10/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

11/11/2015: Nadra @ Ellis and Higgs

12/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

13/11/2015: Raylee @ Sunflower Quilting & Sherri @ A Quilting Life

17/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

18/11/2015: Jemima @ Tied with a Ribbon

19/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

20/11/2015: Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

24/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

25/11/2015: Cassie @ Cassandra Madge

26/11/2015: Angie @ GnomeAngel.com

27/11/2015: Lisa @ In the Boon Docks & Anita @ Daydreams of Quilts



Functional Quilts

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Today I am sharing a pretty dresden butterfly quilt that I made for a gorgeous new baby girl. As much as I love challenging my skills and diving into improv piecing and intense quilting, lately I have been enjoying making purely functional quilts.  I hope to share my quilts of 2015 with you over the coming weeks, but today I am sharing this pretty little thing that I made for a little girl of one of my dearest friends.

Dresden butterfly baby quilt

Dresden butterfly baby quilt

I feel like I need to blow the cobwebs and dust out of the corners of my sadly neglected blog.  A year and a half ago I returned to Australia and to part time work in an office. With three kids, health issues and a business my blog has been the lowest priority. I’m not ready to let go of it, but I also cannot put it before children, work and health.  So please join me as I try to return to some sort of regular blogging :)

I used a variety of low value background fabrics and stuck to a teal-purple palette.

I used a variety of low value background fabrics and stuck to a teal-purple palette.

My daughter won a set of dresden plate templates by Kathy Dougherty of Material Obsession earlier this year and I decided to try them out for this quilt. Previously I had made a dresden plate cushion using my own paper template which worked well. Using Kathy’s templates was so much faster! In fact I made this entire quilt from start to finish in about two days!  I pieced the plates into quarters and then stitched them onto background fabric. I cut away the excess background fabric and pieced in the quarter circle (I used a glass as a template because it was on my cutting table). I then squared up the blocks and pieced them together with the idea of butterflies.

with backing

I used my favourite wadding, 100% bamboo by Matilda’s Own and a soft lavender Aurifil thread (2510 in 50wt).  Because this is a functional baby quilt and I was making it in a hurry (I found out on the Tuesday that the baby was born a girl and Friday afternoon I was able to visit her in hospital) I used my current favourite edge to edge quilting design. I also went for a busy backing print to disguise any stains and to allow the quilt to be used as a play mat.

on the grass

Totally the wrong lighting to photograph a quilt but I finished it ten minutes before I had to leave the house!


As soon as I heard that my dear friend had delivered a baby girl I pulled out two piles of fabric. One all pinks and highly saturated and this calmer purple and teal combination. I let my children choose which fabric and they went with the teals and purples. It’s not a palette I normally work with but it came together so nicely. I used lots of old favourite prints by Tula Pink and Kate Spain. It’s always nice to use favourite fabrics for the most special of people.

A palette to match baby's big sister's room

A palette to match baby’s big sister’s room

I’m really enjoying making functional quilts at the moment. Art is where my heart lies but I love the practical quilt. And there’s not much better than gifting a quilt to a close friend and seeing that they love it.

Capital Colours – Aurifil Thread

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins


Hola!  It’s been a while. Apologies. That seems to be the standard.  It’s a mixture of stoopid old computer that is slowwww and just not having time to blog.  But this month I just have to make it happen to share something exciting with you!  My lovely friend Midge of Ms Midge asked me to curate an Aurifil bundle for July.  I picked my favourite colours….

Aurifil colours

We named this bundle of goodness, “Capital Colours” because I live in Australia’s capital, Canberra. Kind of ironic really as this town sprouts more black suits than I can count, but I like to liven up the palette!  I know that you are now rushing to get your hands on these threads ;)  All the info is right here.

You know I love Aurifil.  I use it on my longarm (both 50 and 40 weight), I piece with it and use it for dress making and I use 12 weight for hand quilting.  It’s a love affair.  Whilst I don’t have a huge thread stash (45 colours – yes, I counted), I do believe it investing in brights.  Below is a sneak peek of a recent quilt (blog post planned…) that was quilted all in Aurifil.  Yes, I love a good colour wheel!

colour wheel

And whilst I try and quilt with as many colours as I can, you can see that my #aussieaurifilclub bundle is reflected in my recent projects.

exhibition quilts 239

Not to mention the beast that I currently have on the frame…  Deadline looming…

on the frame

Do you use Aurifil?  Have you subscribed to Midge’s #msmidgeaussieaurifilclub yet?  It’s a great way to build your thread stash and be inspired by your favourite quilters <3

Me and Pat Sloan in podcast! Eeeeek!

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

So one morning a few months back I woke up, grabbed my phone, opened my emails and started screaming (husband promptly woke up).  Pat Sloan had written to me asking if I would like to be on her podcast show.  Ummmmm… Once I’d stopped squealing (and explained to my husband who Pat Sloan is and how she is my new quilty BFF) I wrote back and said of course I’d love to be on the American Patchwork and Quilting Network.  Because, you know, Pat and I are like total besties now ;)

American Patchwork and Quilting Pocast guests Gemma Jackson May 2015

So, I would LOVE it if you could tune in and cheer me on while Pat and I chat this week.  For those in Australia it’s nice and early on Tuesday morning (about 6.30am Canberra time) but for those of you in the US it’s at the much more civilized time of 4pm Eastern on Monday 4 May.  We’re going to be talking about my trip to the US, free motion quilting and how I’ve found my voice through quilting. Let’s hope I make some sense as I will have downed a couple of coffees to get me started!!

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You can find all the details about the American Patchwork and Quilting Show here on Pat’s site, All People Quilt and you can listen here or in your itunes podcast thingy (very technical!)

And just because I can’t post without throwing in some quilty goodness, here is a quilt that I FINALLY bound today!  I think this is my favourite ever quilt <3

Improv wall quilt by me :)

Improv wall quilt by me :)

Finding Balance

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s my birthday!  Yay me!  I’ve had a migraine for three days and only figured out last night it was because my birthday was looming…  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scared of aging, I just find these things a bit stressful and I’ve been wanting to hide in a cave.  So I thought I would write about some of my strategies for finding balance. Balance is my top priority for 2015!

cropped profile pic for Pat Sloan

I’ve mentioned before that I have an autoimmune disease, hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  It’s pretty blurk to be honest.  A lot of the time I am fine, but it does cause me regular bouts of fatigue and leaves me prone to illness.  For example, I’ve had a cold for five weeks. My husband had it for 2 days.  But I just can’t kick it.  And that’s fine, that’s the hand I’ve been dealt. But I find the longer I’m sick the harder it is to focus and face the world.

It means that I suffer brain fog. Which you would probably describe as vagueness and it might annoy you that I can’t answer clearly or I forget what I’m talking about.  I’ve been dazed and confused for a long time so I usually don’t worry about it, but it can be really frustrating for people trying to have a conversation with me.

The hardest part about my thyroid being uncooperative is that I often feel at the end of my tether.  For example, I’ll take the kids on an outing and I come home and need to sit quietly for up to three hours to recover.  It means that finding balance is extra hard.  I have to write up a schedule for each day and accept that I may or may not get it done.  And that schedule includes simple things like dropping the kids at school and answering phone calls.

Some key strategies that I try to stick to are not over-committing myself, listening to my instinct/body and dealing with challenges immediately.

Keeping commitments manageable means that I don’t disappoint myself or others. Once I start to fail to meet my commitments it all builds up and I get further and further behind. If I keep my commitments realistic from the beginning then I get that feeling of satisfaction and achievement which energises me. Once I start to fall behind I find it harder and harder to open my emails and interact online. Which is something I love doing. But I can’t face that feeling of failure.

It’s taken me a long time but I’ve realised that listening to my instinct is the key to me staying healthy and happy. When I have that niggling doubt about taking on a job or accepting an invitation, I listen to it. There are still lots of opportunities to say yes, but saying no at the right time means that I enjoy the activities that I do commit to.

I used to bury my head in the sand a lot. But the more you do it, the more you do it. These days if I have something that I don’t really want to do, I face it as soon as possible. If I stick my head in the sand the anticipation of the looming disaster makes it worse than it actually is.  I know that sounds really simple, but it has made a huge difference to me. I literally take a deep breath and open my email and do what I need to do rather than putting it off.  This means that I am more productive as I’m not wasting time wallowing in dread.

Accepting my health issues and letting others know about them is also really important.  My disease is an invisible one but it has a huge impact on my ability to function.  Letting other people know helps them understand why I often miss social events, why I work part-time (working from home means that I can rest regularly) and why I can appear generally vague and slightly confused.

And you know that photo of me up at the top of this page? I felt a wreck when we took it this afternoon, so incredibly tired that I was having difficulty explaining myself. Which is why I’m writing this post.  My top priority these days is finding balance so that I can continue to be a good Mum and a nice person AND have energy left over to quilt. Looks can be deceiving.

How do you achieve balance?  I’d really love to hear any tips that you have.  It’s my top priority this year and I know that it is something that most of us struggle with.  And just in case you wanted to see a little more of that quilt… :)

Me with the first quilt I really had fun with on the longarm. Still having trouble making the decision to sell it!

Me with the first quilt I really had fun with on the longarm. Still having trouble making the decision to sell it!

Quilty friends are the best friends

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and I’ve been sick for weeks and I’m sorry but I just haven’t had the energy to carefully craft a post and edit photos.  I Quilt will be back next week and I encourage you to link up, but this week I wanted to touch on something that I have been thinking about all day.

This morning I read a message from the Modern Quilt Guild, from the fabulous Jacquie Gerring that touched on interpersonal relationships.  Jacquie’s key message was to assume that others have good intent.  I love this.  It means that instead of jumping to conclusions, instead of thinking that someone is excluding you or is against you, you should assume that they have good intent and that there is a good reason that they are or aren’t doing something. Maybe they have a hardship in their life that they are struggling with and just can’t give you the time or friendship that you need or expect.

I completely agree with this.  However, I also fervently believe that we should surround ourselves with friends that make us feel good about ourselves.  That’s what I tell my kids, “If your friend makes you feel bad then maybe you need to find another friend.”  I think we all get to a point where we have to look after ourselves.  If you keep putting yourself out there but getting nothing in return, or worse, getting hurt, then maybe it is time to just roll around in some pretty fabric, listen to a podcast and quilt your blues away.

And I think that’s one reason why quilting is so good for the soul.  When the world gets a bit much, when your friend can’t celebrate your successes with you, then quilting is a safe and relaxing outlet. It’s a way that we can connect with others regardless of age, political sway or gender. And this is why guilds can be so great.  It is the ideal setting to leave exclusive in-groups (does it matter who is a founding member?), income (does it matter if it’s 80’s florals?) and gender (does it matter who got the deal as long as they worked hardest?).

As much as I love my stash and my studio and my longarm (how I love that machine!), it’s the genuine friendships that I’ve made through quilting that matter most. The friends that I’ve chatted with online for years and never met, the ones that I finally met after years of online chatting, the ones that I met and immediately hit it off with. It’s the friends that take you as an equal, as a fellow quilter, not as competition, not as a source of wholesale thread and wadding. They’re the ones that make quilting special and that make guilds wonderful.

The first few days wandering around QuiltCon I felt like I was part of something.  All of these people had travelled from all over the world, all passionate about the same thing, with hearts and arms open.  It was such a special thing to be part of. And it made me realise that I want to be part of that kind of guild.

So, I agree with Jacquie, definitely assume good intent.  But I would add to that; surround yourself with friends who make you feel good about yourself (and reciprocate!).

Now I’m going to roll around in some pretty fabric!

I quilt linky will be back next week when I am over this ever-lasting headcold!

I Quilt – edge to edge quilting

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

i quilt blog button

Welcome to I Quilt at Pretty Bobbins!  This week I thought I would talk a little about edge to edge quilting, also known as ‘panto’, pantograph, all over or E2E.  Edge to edge quilting is essentially a quilting design that is repeated all over a quilt regardless of what piecing may feature on the quilt.  It is the most affordable option of longarm quilting and therefore quite popular.  There is both machine/computer guided and hand guided edge to edge quilting.  It’s something that I do a lot of and I thought I would give you a bit of a tour of this quilting style :)

Fresh off the frame! An edge to edge quilt <3

Fresh off the frame! An edge to edge quilt <3

Edge to Edge quilting is popular not only because it is cheaper than custom quilting, but also because it is quick and you know what you’re getting.  You can find a pantograph online or see one in your longarm quilter’s studio and ask to have it done on your quilt.  When you are coming up with a custom design it is much harder to imagine what it will look like on your quilt. You’re relying on your longarmer’s talent and ability to sketch and explain the design to you.  Computer guided E2E quilting can also be scaled up or down easily which is great.  It means that your repeat quilting design can be tailored to your quilt top so that the repeat doesn’t exactly line up with your rows.  And before you ask.  Computer systems are very expensive.  I love mine and I wouldn’t run my business without it, but it did cost about the same amount of money as our seven seater family car…

Intelliquilter at work (computer guided edge to edge quilting in action)

Intelliquilter at work (computer guided edge to edge quilting in action)

Whilst I have be known to claim that even a blind monkey could be trained to quilt an edge to edge, that isn’t quite true.  Firstly, you still need to know how to load a quilt, which wadding to use, how to straighten it all and not get puckers. If you hand guide your pantos then you need to stand at the back of the machine and follow a paper pattern with a laser light. You cannot see what your quilting, you have to have a good feel for your machine and be conscious of where your stitching is in relation to the pattern (maybe you always veer to the left of a tight swirl) so that you don’t accidentally stitch over your own quilting.

Your longarm quilter will baste your quilt top on the frame.  The basting stitches (in this case brown thread) will be within the .25" seam allowance

Your longarm quilter will baste your quilt top on the frame. The basting stitches (in this case brown thread) will be within the .25″ seam allowance

In both hand guided and computer guided E2E quilting you need to realign the quilt as you advance. With computer guided quilting you also need to adjust the design so that you don’t end up quilting off into space when you reach the edge of your quilt. Most longarm quilters will ask that your quilt back is 8″ longer and 8″ wider than your quilt top. This is especially important for an edge to edge design as you need a little bit of extra backing to attach clamps to (if you use them) and to give yourself a little wriggle room to start and end the quilting.  Case in point, I nearly quilted over my clamps on this quilt!

This is why you need your quilt back to be 8" wider and 8" taller than your quilt top when sending it to your longarmer...

This is why you need your quilt back to be 8″ wider and 8″ taller than your quilt top when sending it to your longarmer…

In addition to the skill and know-how of quilting a panto, your quilter also needs to be confident with thread and quilting design selection.  Your longarm quilter will have to purchase their pantograph designs.  These aren’t cheap so they may request that you select a design from their existing catalogue, they may ask you to pay for the purchase of a new pantograph or they may only have one or two from which you can choose.  I tend to purchase my pantographs from http://www.intelligentquilting.com and I will give clients about six designs to choose from as it can be completely overwhelming to go through hundreds of designs. I incorporate the cost of pantographs into my business unless a client requests something I think I will never use again, such as puppies playing fiddles with octopus dancing on spaceships.  In that case I ask they pay for the pattern as part of the quilting service. Of course you may go to your quilter because you’ve seen them use a design that you want on your quilt so you know they already have the pattern.

Edge to edge quilting can give great texture to a quilt without overpowering the patchwork design. Here I have used a pale pink 50wt Aurifil thread to do just that.

Edge to edge quilting can give great texture to a quilt without overpowering the patchwork design. Here I have used a pale pink 50wt Aurifil thread to do just that.

Once we have selected a pantograph I then guide the client in terms of thread selection.  I currently only use two brands of thread; Aurifil and KingTut which is by Superior Threads.  I stick to these because A) they are the best quality and B) they are the best colours.  You should ask your quilter whether they use the same colour thread in the bobbin and the spool (I do). I’ve heard a nightmare story of an example where this wasn’t discussed and the quilting had to be unpicked and redone because the client assumed the quilter would use white bobbin thread because the back was white and the longarmer assumed that the client would be happy with her using the same thread in bobbin and spool. You also need to discuss thread weight (thickness of the thread) and wadding.

Some quilters will ask you to purchase the wadding from them, others will happily use your wadding as long it is clean. Clean means both free of pet hair and cotton husks, little bits of dirt or stones and preferably well enough processed that it does not smell strongly of lanolin.  There are a number of reasons for this that are important for both you and your quilter.  Any hard stones or cotton husks in the wadding risk putting out the machine’s timing.  Cotton husks or a strong lanolin smell risk oil stains on your quilt as it is washed and used over time. Pet hair in a quilting studio is never a good idea. Whilst I have two cats I keep them well away from client quilts and out of the studio – nobody wants to suffer allergies from somebody else’s pet.

Quilt back.

Quilt back.

The funny thing about edge to edge quilting is that I have a real love/hate relationship with it.  Custom quilting is what I love.  It is an art form and it keeps me sane. I could not run a quilting business without edge to edge quilting, not only is it more affordable for clients but it is where the (tiny!) profit margin is. It also makes selling quilts that I have made more feasible.  On top of those practical reasons it also gives a great finish.  I’ve never completed a panto that I wasn’t happy with.

i quilt blog button


So there you go!  Something a little different from me for I Quilt this week, but I hope that you found it informative.

Please link up your quilty process below and don’t forget to visit the other linkers <3


The Bob Bag

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Bob bag <3

Bob bag <3

Today is my day on the Bob-A-Long.  A blog hop hosted by the ever fabulous Angie of Gnome Angel featuring the Bob Bag, a cute pattern by the lovely Quilt Jane.


When Angie asked me to be part of this hop I had to weigh up my commitments.  For all of about 2 seconds.  I mean, who could resist this super cute bag!?!

Bob Pattern_ThreadBox_Cover

I’m going to warn you up front that this project does require a bit of hand stitching and because the bag is small it is a little fiddly. However, it is completely worth it.  The pattern pieces and measurements are very precise so you will end up with a snug box that has a lovely shape.  I suggest that you follow the instructions in order, usually I give instructions a quick glance and then wing it.  Not so in this case. The only alteration I made was to use a super stiff pellon rather than cardboard (to give the box structure) and I used normal wadding rather than iron on.

Cutest sewing fabric on the inside!

Cutest sewing fabric on the inside!

I love my little Bob Bag and I plan to make another.  With a four year old in the house who loves all things cute I don’t think I’ll be able to keep this one all to myself!

Bob bag made by me

Bob bag made by me

If you’d like to make your very own Bob Bag you can buy the pattern here.

Don’t forget to link up your Bob Bag over at Gnome Angel on 10 April for a chance to win prizes!  You can visit all of the other fabulous hoppers here:

Monday 23rd March — Angie @ Gnome Angel

Wed­nes­day 25th March — Jane @ Quilt Jane

Fri­day 27th March — Peta @ SheQuilt­sAlot

Monday 30th March — Anita @ Day­dreams of Quilts

Wed­nes­day 1st April  – Jess @ Elven Garden Quilts

Fri­day 3rd April — Melissa @ Ms Midge

Monday 6th April – Cat @ Cat & Vee

Wed­nes­day 8th April — Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins (that’s me!)

Fri­day 10th April — Angie @ Gnome Angel (link up and prizes!!!)

bob bag open

Modern Quilter

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday (somewhere in the world) and it’s time to link up your quilty process!  I’m well and truly settled back in at home but not all things are the same.  This week I thought I’d talk about that label a little; Modern Quilter.

i quilt blog button

I love Modern Quilting and I’ve spent a fair amount of time labeling myself as a modern quilter. QuiltCon could be described as THE event for modern quilters. But I’ve come home feeling less like a modern quilter than ever.

I spoke last week about the trend of straight line quilting that was evident at QuiltCon.  And you know how much I LOVE free motion quilting.  There was also a noticeable trend in using solids. And many quilts that could be classed as “modern traditionalist” or at the very least a modern take on structured patchwork.

I personally tend to use tone on tone prints, mix free motion and straight line quilting and improvisational piecing.  I love what I do and I don’t feel a need to change my style to fit with what I saw at QuiltCon. I still think my work falls somewhere in the realm of modern but I’m far less clear on what is modern quilting. Aside from the modern quilt guild changing its definition a few times, I’m just not certain that the things that I value most dear in quilting are what others see as modern.

I enjoy challenging myself. When I first started to get really into quilting I wanted to do improv work but I didn’t really know how to do it.  There wasn’t a lot of guidance online (google a tutorial for most techniques and you’ll find step by step guides) and so I guess I just started to make quilts that didn’t follow a pattern. Right from the beginning I would lay out or sketch up my design and I wouldn’t compromise. I took on the challenge of working out how to piece what I’d come up with.  Those early improv quilts have a look to them. There is a definite structure to the design. They have promise, but they’re not groundbreaking.

Rainbow I Spy quilt

Rainbow I Spy quilt

In fact I love those quilts and I learnt a lot making them.  I made them because I wanted to do my own thing, I wanted to learn and I didn’t have anyone nearby to teach me or talk through how I might go about piecing my design together.

Making quilt after quilt that challenged my skill set helped me to grow.  All that practice made improvisation possible, enjoyable and satisfying.  I worked really hard and put in a lot of time to become an accomplished improvisational quilter and piecer. And I guess we value the things that we’re good at and work hard for (and I guess I’m a little vain) because I really do value originality in quilts.

'Fractured' an improv wall quilt

‘Fractured’ an improv wall quilt

In actual fact I like going my own thing. I wear hot pink tights to work in a work environment that most people wear dark suits. I make my own clothes and I enjoy wearing them because they’re me. So I guess its not surprising that I don’t feel like I need a label to define my quilting.

Turns out I wear quilter's camo ;) I unintentionally made a dress to match my quilt and then amused my students by blending into the background!

Turns out I wear quilter’s camo ;) I unintentionally made a dress to match my quilt and then amused my students by blending into the background!

Having said all of that, I am also very much wanting to help people get started with modern quilting. I don’t really see the point in exclusivity in quilting. I want people to feel welcomed to modern quilting. I think we need to acknowledge that just labeling something modern doesn’t make it modern (no matter how much you want to be modern). But we need to be welcoming and open and generous with our knowledge and skills. Sharing the process behind a quilt is so much better than just sharing a finished piece.

So here I am back in my studio, taking on board what I learnt and saw at QuiltCon and thinking about where I fit (or don’t). The main thing is that I want to have fun. And I am fitting in time to make fun pieces. But I also want to find the time for collaborations.  To find that sweet spot where my enthusiasm and energy match up with my peers and we meld into some freaky quilter of awesomeness.

Since returning home I’ve given three talks about my work and the impact QuiltCon has had on me.  I’m also about to run a series of modern patchwork classes because I want to gently guide people into this thing called modern quilting (even if I’m not sure that is me!).

star gazing photo for testers

I want to give people the skills to create their own unique pieces rather than having to follow a pattern. Ironically I’m starting this by following a pattern (above) ;) I want people to be able to be involved in the modern quilting movement (if that’s what they desire) but it can be awful scary to jump in the deep end and almost impossible to go from ‘traditional’ to improvisation in one bound.I want to give students some of the groundwork that goes with modern quilting. But mostly, to encourage people to try something new and to practice.  Because at the end of the day it takes hard work and practice to make something awesome.

One of my mantras this year is, “scratch that itch”.  If you’ve got five minutes or half an hour, jump in and play with some scraps or make a cushion.  Not every project has to be a quilt. Table runners, placemats, cushions and oven mits are all achievable projects that are great ways to develop colour selection skills, piecing and try something new like improv.

QAYG cushion in progress.  A fun and satisfying project that doesn't take a long time.

QAYG cushion in progress. A fun and satisfying project that doesn’t take a long time.

Quilters of Awesomeness unite. Let’s scratch that itch and try new skills and not worry about finishing a whole quilt and definitely not worry about whether we fit with the current definition of modern.  Just get making and creating and have fun xxx

Please link up your quilty process below xxx


Aussie QuiltCon Quilt

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Last year in all the excitement of QuiltCon quilt entries, some of the Australian contingent decided to put together an Aussie QuiltCon quilt.  In fact it may have been the highly organised Alys Gagnon who motivated and organised us.  Unfortunately the quilt wasn’t selected to hang at QuiltCon but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t awesome!  For your viewing pleasure…

gdayquiltcon dropped watermark

I had a lot of fun quilting this mostly improv quilt.  I tried to keep the quilting kind of flowing and wind-like to really push the piecing to the front and have it shine.

Aussie quilt on a hillshoist

Aussie quilt on a hillshoist

Photographing this quilt on my true-blue Aussie clothesline (known as a ‘hillshoist’) felt quite appropriate.  It seemed fitting to include this Aussie icon in at least one photo ;)

Parliament House block by Alys Gagnon

Parliament House block by Alys Gagnon

Parliament House is one of my favourite buildings (for many reasons!) and I love that Alys made this block. I tried to quilt some of the building’s design into it.

gdayquiltcon cocky

The blocks included piecing, paper piecing, improv piecing and applique. Whilst I didn’t make a block I did really enjoy tailoring my quilting to each block and did things like added feathers to the birds, waves to the beach and quilted state and territory lines on the map.

Map of Australia with state and territory boundaries quilted in.

Map of Australia with state and territory boundaries quilted in.

I just love the birds. How cocky is this Cocky?!

Cockatoo by Bronwyn Hooper

Cockatoo by Bronwyn Hooper

The parrot has such detail and again, I loved adding the feathers!

Parrot by Lorena Uriarte

Parrot by Lorena Uriarte

If you are heading to the Australasian Quilting Convention in Melbourne this month you will be able to see this quilt hanging for the first time in the Modern Quilting exhibition.

The following talented peeps contributed to the making of this quilt:

Alys Gagnon, Bronwyn Hooper, Lorena Uriarte, Crystal McGann, Julie McMahon, Danielle Aeuckens, Catherine Demack, Louise Luscombe, Mandy Wain, Coral Brady, Monica Raven, Carolyn Goonrey, Maryjane Morris, Lara Loyd, Liz Hoyland, Peta Peace and Cathie Trotter.

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