Busy Quilting

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Hallo mes amis!  Did you miss me last week, I’m sorry, I was busy quilting and doing that thing called parenting…  It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process.

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I’m so tired and it’s been a rough week or two.  Last week my 8 year old called himself a loser and just broke my heart.  How does that even happen?  So I’m trying to build his self esteem and spark his interest in activities without spending money that we don’t have.  So far he is loving watering the potted plants every afternoon and we’re going to look into hiphop dance classes at his request (he is a super funky dancer).

I am getting busier with quilting but still have a day job and a family so I’m just sleeping less.  Sound familiar anyone? ;)

My Dad is here next week from Hong Kong for a few days.  Dad, if you’re reading this (and thank  you for reading my blog, I love your support!) I have a list of jobs for you to do and I want to ask you to move here and never leave.  We love you and miss you and you’re an old fuddy-duddy who won’t be able to do long haul trips to visit us soon.  I know you won’t but we wish you would.  (Yep, I’m as good as my four year old daughter at pulling guilt trips!) ;)

starry skies class

Starry Skies class at Hobbysew Belconnen

I don’t have a lot of quilting pics to share but this is what I’ve been doing the last week and I so want you to link up :)  Big love to you lovely quilty peeps xxx  Don’t forget to visit your fellow linkers and share the love <3



Modern Medallion Quilt Bliss

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday, it’s school holidays, I’m exhausted but I have managed to quilt.  If you’re as tired as me, scroll down and link up ;) Don’t scroll too fast though as you don’t want to miss the amazing modern medallion quilt that I had the pleasure of quilting this week!

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Earlier this year local gal Crystal released her Modern Medallion pattern. It is such a fun pattern and I’ve seen so many amazing versions online.  But I have to say, I was completely blown away by the version that Happy Spider Knits brought to me for quilting.  AMAZING!  Seriously, I am missing that quilt and it’s only been out of my studio for 24 hours…

mm on frame

Sometimes life presents funny coincidences or maybe it’s just that Canberra is a small town.  Crystal hosted I Quilt last week, Happy Spider gave me her Modern Medallion (pattern by Crystal) to quilt, she had bought many of the fabrics from Angie.  All three ladies are fabulous, the quilt is brilliant.  I’d like to think that the fabulousness of all these creative Canberrans (and me!) came together in one outstanding quilt.  But the fact of the matter is that Happy Spider did an AMAZING job and deserves all the credit <3

mm quilting detail

When I first met Happy Spider she told me that she was went a little fangirl on me when she saw my quilts at the Canberra Exhibition.  Seriously, if there’s a fan girl, its me.  This is one of her first quilts.  The technical side of it is spot on, but the colour play is out of this world.  I can’t wait until the full reveal!

modern medallion quilting detail blues

Quilting a quilt this special, made from so many beautiful fabrics, is terrifying.  Until you get in the zone and spend hours of bliss getting up close and personal with something so happy (I promise that I handled the quilt with professionalism and no drool touched it despite my awe) ;)

modern medallion butterfly border

Happy Spider and I spent a fair amount of time discussing quilting ideas.  We wanted to keep the movement of the piecing but not have the quilting compete at all with the riot of colours and energy that just jumps out at you.  We opted for dense, straight line quilting with lots of contrasting angles broken up with two free motion borders.  We chose threads that blended into the piecing (Aurifil #2000 is the best for this task!) with the exception of the center where we chose to go bold with a verigated pink thread on low volume prints.

modern medallion center

I think we got the quilting just right on this quilt.  I’ve encouraged Happy Spider to show it at an exhibition as I just think that it is one of those quilts that people will get joy out of seeing up close and personal.  She is very modest about her abilities, but this is one of her first few quilts that she has made and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for her!  You can read about her process in piecing this beauty here.  I encourage you to pop over and check out her work.  I am in awe of the fact that she does podcasts, I mean, how do you even do that?!

If you want to make your own Modern Medallion you can find Crystal’s pattern here.  The sales help get her to QuiltCon and I’m for that ;)  And a big thank you to Crystal for hosting I Quilt last week.  I hope you enjoyed reading about her process under pressure.

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Don’t forget to visit a couple of other linkers and share the quilt love <3


Quilting under pressure

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday, welcome to Pretty Bobbins but if you’re looking to link up your quilty process please head over to Two Little Aussie Birds where Crystal is hosting this week’s linky party :)  Crystal is talking about her Sewvivor experience so I’m jumping on board and talking about my experience quilting under pressure.

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Reading about Crystal’s creative process is fascinating as I’ve found out we’re so similar in the way we come up with ideas.  Whilst I don’t use a computer to design, I too have quilts bubbling away in my head and sketch them on graph paper.  I usually deliberate until just the right moment comes along and get started.  I like to work intensely on one project at a time.  Quilting as a business isn’t completely conducive to this work style.

mid section in progress

My big grey quilt (above) was an amalgamation of bee blocks and strips that I started playing with and ended up getting myself into a tight deadline.

Lots of ruler work

Lots of ruler work

I didn’t realise as I was quilting it that my machine was slowly falling apart (all fixed now) but I did spend a lot of it thinking that I was not very good at stitching in the ditch.  But being under the pump I kept pushing on.  In fact I lost enjoyment of this quilt and completely realised that I should never quilt a quilt after it has been accepted into a show, but should select quilts from what I’ve already made.

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Working to a tight deadline removes a lot of the enjoyment and spontaneity which is really what makes me love quilting.  I was in awe watching the two local Aussie girls, Crystal and Angie, competing in Sewvivor, but I’m so glad that I didn’t give into the temptation to enter.  Quilting is my meditation, pressure is not my sweet spot.  I’m so glad that Crystal (and Angie!) did enter because I got to see some amazing work!  I LOVE Crystal’s iceberg quilt.

And I would like her washi bag.  And that chair please. ;)  Maybe even that wood paneling. I have a thing for wood paneling.

Crystal also made a hexi quilt, but if you’d like to see that (and link up!)  you’ll have to head over to her blog :)  Don’t forget to visit a few other linkers and share the comment love!

Thanks so much for hosting Crystal!!


Triangle quilt in progress

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

I pieced this triangle quilt top a little while ago and folded it neatly and set it aside.  I’ve brought it out into the daylight this week, selected backing and am determined to get it finished!

triangle quilt top

triangle quilt top

The colours haven’t photographed very well.  It really needs to be seen under natural light to appreciate the soft pinks and greys competing with their bolder cousins.  I wish I had the right grey to back it.  I have a pink text print on flannel that works but I want a grey backing…  Hence my procrastination…

triangle quilt top - I promise the palette is much better in real life!

triangle quilt top – I promise the palette is much better in real life!

I had some fun today pulling novelty prints from my stash.  It turns out a girl has everything from xylophones to combi vans in her stash!  Who’d have thought it…

novelty print pull

novelty print pull

I’m linking up with Work in Progress Wednesdays over at Freshly Pieced :)  Twice in two weeks – looks like I might be back to blogging more than the essentials! :)  Speaking of blogging…

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Don’t forget to link up with I Quilt tomorrow over at Two Little Aussie Birds.  The lovely Crystal is hosting and it would be amazing if you could show her the quilty process love and head over to her space tomorrow and link up <3

Inspiring Quilters

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

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It’s Thursday and as I sat on the sofa watching a show about renovating and contemplating coming down to the freezing studio to blog I was feeling rather uninspired.  And then I Cheryl’s post from last week‘s linky party.  Talk about inspiring quilters!

Cheryl blogs at 22 Applegate Lane and was lucky enough to attend grown up summer camp with the Quilters of Gees Bend.  Do you all feel as weak at the knees as I do reading that? :)  Make sure you visit Cheryl’s blog to see all of the amazing quilts that the ladies worked on, but to give you a taste of what you’re about to be inspired by I’d like to share a paragraph from Cheryl:

“The quilters of Gee’s Bend, led by Miss China, start each day with a prayer, offering up the work of their hands to Jesus. As they work, they often sing. They unselfconsciously shared that tradition with all of us attending Fiber College. One could often hear spirituals loudly, and beautifully, emanating from the quilting tent.”

Now I’m not religious, but I do feel a strong sense of spirituality when I quilt.  To me quilting always feels like meditation.  It’s where I find my peace, where I go to collect myself when I’ve fallen into pieces and where I’ve found my voice.  Through quilting I connect with others, I give to charities and I share the love of handmade.  And I tell you what, I think I’m going to start singing while I quilt :)

I would love you to share in the comments which quilters inspire you and in what way.  I will put all of the comments into a blog post to share, there’s nothing better than losing yourself in an afternoon of learning about inspiring quilters!

Speaking of inspiring quilters…  Next week the talented Crystal of Two Little Aussie Birds is going to host I Quilt.  She has just sewn up a storm as a contestant on Sewvivor and is one of the local Canberra Modern Quilters that I will be travelling to Austin with next year for QuiltCon!  Please be sure to link up on her blog next week and check out her inspiring blog :)

On that note, link up your quilting process <3  Let’s inspire each other to keep growing our art <3  Don’t forget to visit three other linkers!

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Quick and Easy Heart Quilt

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Last week I decided at the eleventh hour that I was going to make a quilt for a very special family friend of ours who was turning seven. I came up with a fabric pull at 8pm on Thursday night for a party at 2pm on Saturday.  Yep, I’m a crazy quilter! I wanted this quilt to be special but I needed to fine a quick and easy quilts.  So I made Miss 7 a quick and easy heart quilt.

Quick and easy heart quilt

Quick and easy heart quilt

I cut 70 3.5″ squares from 23 pink and red fabrics for my heart and used a couple of yards of an off white and red pin dot print that I had on a bolt.  I managed to get all the cutting done on Thursday night in a couple of hours.  Friday morning I was running errands but I managed to piece the entire top Friday afternoon in about four hours.

quick and easy heart quilt up close

The quilting took me a few more hours (having a longarm means I don’t have to spend all that time pin basting which makes quilting so much faster). I quilted large feathers in the negative space and a sort of swirly vine in the heart with her name in the center and pebbles around it to give it some definition.  It’s easier to see from the back.

quilting detail

quilting detail

I managed to have the top trimmed and the binding prepared before I went to bed on Friday night.  Saturday morning it was bound and I even made a label which I never do!

heart quilt

heart quilt

I have to say that while I was working on this quilt a part of me was thinking that the birthday girl would probably prefer a Monster High doll and whilst her parents would appreciate the quilt I wasn’t sure if she would love it.  Unfortunately the gifts weren’t opened at the party so I was left hanging until I got that loveliest phone call an hour after the party.

The birthday girl’s Mum rang me up and all she could say was, “I’m speechless”.  Apparently her daughter had opened the gift in the car and started screaming, they thought something was wrong, but no, she just loved the quilt so much and was screaming in that way that only 7 year old girls can :)  I’m so thrilled.  Isn’t it the best feeling when you make a gift with love and the recipient loves it too?

heart quilt folded

I used my favourite threads of course, Aurifil 2000 50wt in the negative space and King Tut 926 in the heart.  The fabrics were all from my stash and the wadding is 100% bamboo (Matilda’s Own brand).

I’m linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts

Sew Cute Tuesday

Quilting supply tips

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty process!  This week I’m talking quilting supply tips, but before I do that I would like to feature the talented Jessica from Quilty Habit.

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Last week Jessica linked up the matching quilts that she made for herself and her sister.  I LOVE these quilts!  They combine traditional blocks with improv techniques and even better, the fit together to make the bottom of a heart <3

Sister quilts by Jessica of Quilty Habit

I love that Jessica kept these quilts similar yet different.  I have to say, her sunset tones is my favourite and uses some of my all time favourite prints!  Love your palette choices, amazing how matching quilts can look so different using different palettes. But the thing I love best of all are the great sister photos of Jessica and her sister with their quilts.  You totally have to head over and check them out.  I wish I had a sister!

This week I’m talking quilting supplies.  You can find my previous post on wadding here and I’ve given quilting tips here.  But what I wanted to say this week is buy the best quilting supplies that you can afford.

stash for kathreen 2

I only stock products that I believe in.  I use Matilda’s Own wadding, Aurifil and King Tut threads and a range of fabrics.  You should definitely try products out for yourself and go with what you think is best but for beginner quilters there are some general tips.

Wadding should be clean.  Any bits in your wadding are going to cause you a problem.  Cotton seeds are going to exude oil, dark bits of cotton husks or dirt in wool wadding are going to show through light fabrics.  Hard chunks (husks, stones) risk putting the timing out on your machine if you hit them while you quilt.  If your wool wadding smells of lanolin it might stain your quilt with oil when you wash it.  After all the hours that we put into our quilts, you owe it to yourself to buy clean, good quality wadding.

different wadding

Using good quality thread should help your quilts and machine last longer.  And speaking of machines…  you want a machine that is going to give you a nice straight stitch, than you can fiddle with the tension to adjust it as need be and change your stitch length.  And you want to get to know your machine.  Clean it regularly, try out different settings.  Ask other quilters how many stitches per inch their machine is set to (I get 15 stitches per inch when I’m piecing or dressmaking).  If your machine is set to tiny stitches then you can damage your fabric when it’s time to unpick.  You also want to use good needles, I prefer Schmetz brand.

So that’s a few of my tips for quilting supplies.  Please share any you have in the comments :)

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Link up your quilty process and remember to visit at least two other linkers :)

Halloween Quilt in progress

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

After years living abroad I have come to know and love Halloween and this year I’m taking the plunge and making a Halloween quilt.  Halloween isn’t a big holiday in Australia and was never even celebrated when I was a kid.  These days we get the commercialism of it, but many Australian’s refuse to participate.

I have trouble saying no to candy and I love making quilts and costumes and my kids have come to expect Halloween celebrations so this year I’m working on a Halloween quilt.  After sharing a photo on instagram of my initial fabric pull, Kelly of Kelby Sews brought my attention to the fun Quilt-A-long #mybooqal.  If you’re getting spooky with Halloween quilts, please join in the fun and hashtag your work on instagram.

halloween pic 1

Halloween is in Spring in Australia and by the end of October we’re all living in denial of cold weather so there isn’t much point making a lap quilt as no one will snuggle under it.  So I’ve decided to make a Halloween wall quilt.  I’m thinking wonky stars and feature prints and some spooky quilting.  I’m thinking that I’ll hang it in our entry way and on Halloween will put it on the front door.  I’m hoping we get trick or treaters but the majority of our street are at Grandchildren rather than children stage…

halloween fussy cut

My lovely friend Angie of Gnome Angel (that girl is a blogging machine!  Check her out) offered me some of her scary scraps and even had her husband drop them in my letterbox with a block of chocolate one lunch time.  Aren’t quilty friends the best?!  She gave me three of the Halloween prints and the rest were straight out of my stash – this is exactly what I was talking about in my last post; that you can use small prints in the right colours for any project, even seasonal ones :)

halloween fabrics 2

I’ve fussy cut a couple of the prints and just need to sketch out the ideas that I have floating around my head…  Please feel free to share any Halloween quilty ideas you have :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced for the first time in what feels like FOREVER!

How to buy fabric

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

Did you see the recent post by Diane Bohn from blank pages about fabric addiction?  I started to write about this last week but didn’t want to overload the thinkyness on my Cost of Quilting post.  What I’ve really learnt over the past year or two is how to buy fabric.

Diane talks about her experience with fabric addiction.  I’m so glad that she shared this.  To be honest, I used to use fabric purchases to make myself happy.  Fabric purchases have definitely been retail therapy and much more expensive than actual therapy would have been!!  I hate the money that I have spent on fabric and what I could and should have spent it on.  But these days my fabric purchases are minimal and under control.  I also run them all past my business partner (and husband!) because I want to know that I’m not dipping into our family budget for fabric.  I can honestly say that on the rare occasions that I buy fabric now, it is fabric that I need (as opposed to what I think I need).

For me personally, buying fabric was filling a hole.  My husband was working long hours, I wasn’t working and I didn’t really have an outlet that was giving me professional satisfaction.  Of course I had my kids to keep me busy, but honestly, when you cook dinner and 9 times out of 10 the response is something along the lines of “I didn’t want that!” you really don’t get a heap of satisfaction…

Back when I was buying fabric left right and center I would do things like buy fat quarter or half yard bundles of an entire line.  I would follow all the fabric store newsletters and facebook pages and could never pass a sale.  Of course I would have to fill an envelope or box to get the most out of shipping.  I had a million ways to convince myself that I needed to buy that exact fabric even though some had just arrived.  I could (and still can) identify designer’s work and would lust after my favourites or be hanging out waiting for the release of the newest, bestest lines.  Ironically I NEVER use those designer bundles together and the real impulse buys (read: everyone is buying it so I better get it before it runs out) sit on my shelves waiting to be destashed.

I am totally fine with buying fabric these days but I want to share some tips with you about how I choose fabric.  I really don’t think buying a full bundle of one line is the way to go.

My studio is never going to end up on Pinterest.  I love it and I work hard to make it look good, but I ain’t a gal who is going to wrap fabric around comic book card or refold fat quarters so they’re all exactly the same.

stash sorted by colour

I organise my fabric by colour on shelves with the full sets on smaller, separate shelves (I never use these which is why I don’t think it’s the way to buy fabric).  Where’s the fun if someone has selected all the colours and prints for you?

Organising my fabric by colour means I can easily see what I have the most of and what I’m lacking.  This means that when there is an amazing sale and I actually do need fabric, I know what to look for.  Instead of putting novelty prints in my cart I go for tone on tone prints and I generally go for small prints.  If I buy big prints I get a few yards to use them for backing.

Organising my fabric by colour means I add to the colours that I don’t have lots of rather than instinctively purchasing more of my favourite colours.  I have HEAPS of blue but always need to look out for purple, orange and yellow.  As much as I’m not advocating for blindly building your stash, I did find Pink Castle’s Stash club to be a great way to build up tone on tone prints that I actually use every day.  I unsubscribed though as it’s an easy way of spending money each month without budgeting or feeling much responsibility for the actual spending.

So if you’re trying to keep your fabric spending down but you just can’t avoid a super sale, I recommend that you organise your stash by colour, identify what colours you’re low on and shop the sales for those colours.  Don’t even look at the novelty prints or the designer bundles.  Trust me, you are going to get distracted by those cute foxes or convince yourself that you need some seasonal prints.  In reality, once you have a good selection of colours then you can pull prints to make seasonal (or any) projects using colours rather than needing to buy that once in a lifetime print of Santa riding a kangaroo and shouting “G’Day!”

I agree with Diane that there’s nothing wrong with sharing fun purchases, that doesn’t make people spend money on fabric.  But I do sometimes feel that there is kind of a crowd mentality when it comes to having to buy the latest and greatest fabrics. Which is crazy really because it’s the diversity of quilts, the original, one of a kind quilts that are so special.  We kind of get whipped up into a frenzy to buy what we’ve seen other quilters buying rather than making our own, original quilts from our own, diverse stashes.

My high comes from making beautiful quilts, not from amassing and hoarding copious amounts of pretty fabrics :)  If you’re sneaking fabric purchases and feeling anxiety about it, please head over and read Diane’s post, I really think it has an important message in it.

I’d love to hear your tips for buying fabric.  Do you shop the sales or repurpose clothing?  How do you make sure that you buy what you need and not what you want?

And don’t pass out, I’ve posted more than once this week! ;)

Thanks for stopping by :)

Supernova Quilt

By Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins

It’s Thursday and it’s time to link up your quilty goodness.  This week I have been quilting a STUNNING supernova quilt.  I just wish it was mine to keep!

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Alys contacted me a couple of weeks back about sending her Supernova quilt to me.  The pattern is from the book Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen.  My original quilting suggestions were very similar to the original quilting done by Angela Walters (great minds think alike… ;) ) but we came up with a plane to enhance the contrast and angles and I think it turned out just perfectly!

Alys quilt on bed

We selected thread colours to enhance Alys’s piecing (I only ever quilt with Aurifil and King Tut threads because I believe they are the best quality).  My all time favourite Aurifil #2000 in 50 wt, a lovely pale teal #5006 and a verigated pink King Tut (which is similar to an Aurifil 40 wt). We used Matilda’s Own brand 100% wool wadding which contributes to the awesome texture of this quilt.

Alys quilt thread

We went with straight lines in lots of different directions but generally travelling out from the center with circles and swirls randomly in between.

Alys quilt details

The inner blue area was quilted with a diamond shape with a swirl in the center to echo the rest of the quilting.  I quilted a feathery kind of ferny scroll in the teal area and feathers in the pink.  These go in different directions to enhance the movement and contrasts in the quilt.  I’m SUPER happy with how it turned out.  I can’t wait to give it back to Alys!!

Alys quilt back

Speaking of backs…  Pieced backs can cause all sorts of issues with a longarm.  The piecing in them creates tension and you can end up with one side of a quilt stretched tight and the other looking like a parachute.  I have to say, as much as I appreciate a wideback, Alys’s pieced back is GORGEOUS!!  Bring me a pretty back any day ;)

Alys quilt rumpled

It was an absolute pleasure to quilt for Alys, my only complaint is that I can’t keep the quilt ;)  We emailed and chatted on facebook to come up with an initial design and to make changes along the way (we had originally planned to densely quilt the inner pink area but left it unquilted as it gives a fun pop that matches the unquilted sections in the low volume area).  I have to say, one of the best things about being a longarm quilter is getting to quilt all the quilts that you don’t have time to actually make!

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Have you been quilting this week?  Don’t forget to link up your quilty process and visit three other linkers <3


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