March 2013 archive

March blocks in the nick of time!


It’s the last day of the month and I’ve managed to catch up on all of my blocks except for one bee block (sorry Fiona!).  But there’s always tomorrow :)

I’m loving the Lucky Stars BOM and after having changed my fabric choices half a dozen times I finally made both the February and March blocks today.  I think February’s block is my favourite so far.

lucky stars bom

I changed up the colours a little with the March block and brought in some purple.

Ninja star

I plan on using more purple in the upcoming blocks to balance out the blocks a little more, I really love all of the blocks but I’d like the purple to work a little better :)

lucky stars up to march

Amazingly I managed to complete the March block of the And Sew On BOM this evening and watch Dr Who :)  (Really, one shouldn’t be asked to choose between The Dr and quilting!)  I’m very happy with this block although I should have chosen a darker colour for the leaning spool.

sew on bom march
Let’s not discuss the poor job on the wall paper!

If you’ve read my blog for any time you’ll know that I always use Aurifil for quilting and piecing so I changed up Kristy’s pattern a little to include an Aurifil 40wt and 50wt spool :)

Sorry for the terrible photo but between Easter celebrations, a head cold and The Dr I’m actually impressed that I managed to squeeze this block in tonight!

So that’s March and I’m off to bed to nurse my headcold and impatiently wait seven days for the next episode of Dr Who ;)

I’m linking up with the And Sew On BOM March linky at Quiet Play.

Precise improv curves in progress ;)


I mentioned on Sunday that I intended to share a quilt in progress with you on Monday.  Unfortunately this week has been completely taken over by something that is all consuming and very stressful.  Hopefully we’ll have that issue all sorted by the end of the week, but it has meant a bit of a standstill on the creative and blogging front.

This is the quilt top that I wanted to share with you.

curved quilt

I had an idea last week that I wanted to make a wall quilt that was a kind of abstract self portrait.  I sketched up a design that had four elements.  Breath:

BW improv top
I plan to somehow incorporate a splash of red stitching in here


dream section
The idea is the black of the ‘breath’ section flows into dreaming.


ran out of white
I’m particularly proud of my curved piecing here :)

and Live/life which I haven’t started on yet.

By the time that I had the first three elements somewhat complete and in front of me, I realised that they just weren’t going to work in the way I had intended.

playing with layout
The ‘breath’ section was meant to go top left to flow into the dark blues.

I had planned to bring them together into a rectangular wall quilt that blended the darker and lighter tones together.  But it turned out way too big and I just thought that the different elements kind of fought for attention and that took away from the beauty of each piece.  So I decided that four separate wall quilts that would hang in a row down our hallway would work.  All about the same size with the same binding so show they were a set.

So I focused on getting the create piece done.  But then I ran out of the bleached white (feels like bella but could be kona).  I know that I am not one to set a project aside for three weeks whilst I wait for yardage so I lept in and cut it back to an oval.  Then the next day I decided that was a terrible mistake because I wanted it to be angular to contrast with the curves.  And that’s how I ended up piecing it into a large piece of Essex linen.  (And I want to note that I was able to do all of this curved piecing using the skills I gained in Rachel’s Curves Class.)


The photos don’t do it justice, and I’m sure the quilting will help bring the whole thing together.

pieced section

But right now I’m at a standstill because I have no idea what to use for backing.  I want to keep the white oval super crisp so I’m thinking I need white in that middle section or a very pale print.  I do have enough Kona Snow for the whole back, but the quilting design I have in mind wouldn’t really be complimented by a plain white back.  I’ve gone back and forth through my stash trying to find the right prints to piece together but I’m stuck.  I don’t want an ugly back, I prefer a back that is tied to the front in some way and even though using a couple of yards of Kona Snow would be the simplest option I’m just not convinced.  Most of the prints that I’ve used in the swirls I only have FQs of so I can’t use one of them for the back and I don’t want to piece together FQs, I’d rather use a couple of larger (say 1/4 yard and up) pieces.  The top is WOF x almost 2 yards.

backing options
Here are some options for the back, all of these are 1/2 yard or larger.

I still think this quilt will be a wall quilt, we have a very large (tall and wide) wall in our new house in the lounge room and I think this quilt might work there or in my sewing space (I’m going to have the former double garage that was renovated and joined to the interior of the house, so it is nice and roomy and we’re even talking longarm!!  But not until next year so must contain myself a little longer!).  I guess what I’m saying is that I have an emotional attachment to this quilt, that I would like to do my best, not just make do or rush on with a half thought out solution for the backing :)

curved quilt

I would love to hear your thoughts.  What do you do for backing?  Do you try and tie it to the top through colour or design?  Do you just use whatever you have most yardage of or need to use up (especially if it’s planned on being a wall quilt)?  Do you dither and dither until it becomes a UFO? (there is a risk of this happening LOL  If I ponder too long I lose interest!)  I would really love your opinions or ideas on this one :)

I’m linking up to Work In Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday Stash


Thanks so much to those of you who linked up with Sunday Stash when I hosted last week :)  Today I really wanted to blog about a quilt that I’m working on (that you will have seen if you follow me on Instagram) but it’s Sunday Stash so I’ll save that post for tomorrow :)

Earlier this week I sketched up a wall quilt with four different sections.  I’ve pieced three sections and decided that actually I think they should be separate pieces, I’ve completed work on one section (that I’ll share tomorrow) but the first section I started work on was this black and white improv piece.

BW improv top

I had a lot of fun with it although I’m not sure that it’s finished or if I will actually turn it into something.  I pulled all of my black fabric to work on this piece.  In my stash I store brown, grey and black together so it looks like I have a fairly sizeable stash.  In reality I don’t have too much that is really appropriate for a black and white piece.

sewing text print white

I bought the above piece a little while ago (from Pink Castle Fabrics I think) and like it so much I then bought it with white text on black.

sewing text print black

I think I prefer the white on black.  Either way it is a fun text print and I particularly like that it is quilting related.

close up quilt text print

I recently added this black and white text print as part of Alyce’s monthly Japanese fabric bundle.  I have it in one or two other colourways and I really like it.

sewing notion print

I have a small collection of sewing themed prints that I love but don’t use that often.  I might have to work on that… ;)

I’m linking up with Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth.

Finding Fifth

For the love of Baby; robots, flannelette and even hand quilting!


Here I was thinking I could wait until Friday to share this finish with you and link up to TGIFF…  No way, I finished last night, I photographed it this morning, I don’t have it in me to wait four days! (I also sneak peeks at gifts, scoff chocolate in one sitting and generally have very little self control when it comes to fun stuff.)

robot quilt on gate

This quilt is a gift for a special baby boy.  I wanted a quilt that was boyish, babyish, didn’t have too strong a palate (I don’t know what the nursery decor looks like so hopefully it will fit) and that would be suitable for winter.

robot quilt on line

I fussy cut the robots from a lovely organic Robert Kaufman print I bought a while back.  I selected coordinating prints from my stash, many of which come from my monthly Pink Castle subscription.  I’m not normally one for sashing, but I wanted a touch of tradition, plus it’s a good place to have some FMQ fun.  Then I trimmed the blocks to 6.5″ unfinished and added 2″ sashing and 3″ border.  The finished quilt is about 50″ x 50″ after being washed.

robot quilting details

I love FMQ and I went to town on this baby.  I did a kind of swirly triple loop in the sashing using 40wt Aurifil (I like the quilting to show), I eased this into the border by having a narrow strip of pebbling also in 40wt.  I was thinking of circuit boards when I was quilting the geometric pattern in the border.  I love how it stands out in the blue (Aurifil 50wt 1128) but doesn’t overpower the quilt.

robot quilting prewash
This photo is pre-wash but shows the quilting quite well

For a change I did a little hand quilting (and it didn’t slow me down! Woohoo!).  I used some lovely variegated Aurifil thread in 12wt (4664, 3920, 3770), it is so easy to stitch with and as much as I didn’t want to do the dirty on my beloved threads I knew this quilt needed some orange and green stitching too so I dug into my DMC floss.  I like the end result but I prefer to hand quilt with Aurifil 12wt, the floss separates occasionally and a few times I got that kind of scratching noise as I was stitching.  Hard to explain but I remember it from my days of cross stitch too.

robot quilt hand quilting 1

I pieced together a super soft flannel print for the back that I think is just perfect for a winter baby boy.  It is seriously soft and I love the weight it has added to the quilt

robot quilt back
Quilt back

This is my first time quilting with flannel and it was great.  It seemed to move very easily while I was free motion quilting.  I was really worried about it fraying so I zigzagged the edge of the quilt (I was too lazy to get out my overlocker/serger, but would have used that otherwise).  I just made sure the zigzag was less that 1/4″ wide so it didn’t peek through the binding.

robot quilt zigzag edges
Zigzagged edges to prevent fraying

As always I machine sewed on the binding, I’m getting quite good at it now, I follow the Red Pepper binding tutorial and cut my binding to 2.25″.  I don’t use pins, just a small bulldog clip on each corner.  I do iron the absolute heck out of it and then sew it down with a quilting glove on my left hand to help move the quilt along and my right hand bare holding the binding in place.  I also use my left forearm and elbow to keep the quilt moving otherwise I find the stitches slip onto the binding.  It’s a very natural position even though it sounds awkward.


I love colour in a Nursery but I also like them to be restful so I went with Kona Steel for the binding with a little splash of colour.

robot quilt folded

I love this quilt and I cannot wait to send it off!  I hope Mummy, Daddy and baby love it too :)

50″ x 50″ (it shrank about 2″ in both directions even after pre washing the flannelette)
100% Bamboo wadding
Mix of quilting cottons, organic cottons and flannette
Machine quilted by me on my Bernina 440QE using 40 and 50wt Aurifil threads
Hand quilted without losing my mind in Aurifil 12wt and DMC floss by me

Following the crowd…


Follow my blog with Bloglovin

With the closure of google reader having been announced I’m moving over to Bloglovin (it was actually really straight forward to import my reader list which was great).  Fingers crossed it all works but I do need to claim my blog by posting this code :)  Bon Dimanche!

Guess who’s hosting Sunday Stash?!


Me!!!  A big thank you to Fiona for having me, I love Sunday Stash!  Last week I linked up and cleverly hid a confession of how big my stash is in a post about fabric selection ;)  This week I want to share something different with you, some fabrics that have been in my stash for awhile.

Finding Fifth

You may or may not know that I’m a bit of a nomad.  I’m from Australia but have lived in Indonesia, China and now, New Caledonia.  I have collected fabric in my travels and I thought it’s time to share and ask your advice :)
I bought this batik print in Indonesia years ago.  It has an amazing drape, I have no idea what it is made of.  The orange is a great burnt orange colour but I’ve no idea what to use it for.
Indonesian batik
I bought this Thai or Cambodian silk when travelling in Cambodia ten years ago.  My favourite silk from Cambodia is actually in storage in Australia but is more a display piece, this bright pink yardage was bought with the idea to use it for something, some day.  Any suggestions?
pink thai silk
I started quilting when I was living in Beijing.  I had no idea what I was doing but I did recognise cheap fabric and bought heaps of yardage.  These are traditional prints and are seen everywhere in Beijing.  They are used for baby blankets, umbrellas over street stalls, table clothes and more.  I have lots of this, any suggestions what to use it for?
traditional chinese florals
traditional chinese blue floral
This beautiful linen is stunning and I’m hoarding it, again, I have no idea what to use it for, but I love it.  It’s so soft!!  Any suggestions?
traditional chinese linen
These prints are traditional Chinese batiks.  Again, I have lots of these, but no idea what to use them for.  Unfortunately the dye on these runs like crazy.  Any suggestions how to stabilse it?  (Keep in mind I cannot access all products in Nouméa)
chinese batiks
What do you do with fabrics that you have no idea of their content but you have lots of them?  Or am I the only one with this problem?  Surely not! :)  I’d love to hear your suggestions.  These prints are too special to use as muslins and I make clothes and quilts so I’m open to any suggestions!

Finding Fifth
The linky will be open for the week, please feel free to link up, Sunday Stash is all about your stash, be it a recent acquisition, an old favourite, a thrifted or gifted print or even notions!

My quilting process


Maybe that should read ‘my creative process’.  I’ve spent the past week working on a special quilt and sharing updates on instagram (I love instagram!) has kind of made me think about my quilting process. It is generally the same each time.  First there is the fabric selection when I spend a few days deciding what fabrics to work with.

stash raid in progress

Then there is the hesitation.  I have a design in mind but I’m scared that I’ve got it wrong, that cutting into my precious fabric I will just waste it all.

not sure about the butterflies
Fabric selection, baby girl quilt

Then I start the cutting and placing fabric on the design wall.

playing with layout on design wall
baby boy robot quilt on design wall (sorry for dodgy iPad pic!)

At this point I take lots of photos, both in colour and black and white.  I find viewing them on the camera gives me a different perspective and the black and white pics help work out layout.

black and white showing values
Hues of the Pacific in progress

By this stage I am committed by am constantly questioning my design.  I love quilting, but of course I have to prepare a back and wadding first.  Without fail I am piecing together wadding, triple checking my quilt math, losing the piece of paper with my dimensions and starting all over again.

I always hesitate over the back.  I love quilt backs and I always want them to be just as good as the front.  To me, because a quilt is three dimensional, I want every part of it to be amazing.  I never want a back that is second to the front, rather one that reinforces just how special the quilt is whilst not overpowering the front.

I Spy quilt back complete
Back of Rainbow I Spy quilt (still in progress!)

Then the quilting.  Oh how I love the quilting!  But again, I question my design.  To me this is the point where everything comes together and whilst I am enjoying the quilting, I question my design choice.  About a third of the way through quilting I will start to get really excited, seeing the quilt nearly finished as I’d originally imagined.

colour wheel quilting in progress
Blessing Quilt

Then the trimming and the binding.  I love a freshly trimmed quilt.  So full of possibilities, it can go in any direction.  The choice of binding can really change the look of the quilt and I can audition anywhere from two to thirty different options (it’s true!).

Machine sewing binding onto Robot quilt

And then it’s done.  Sure, I still have to make a label, but I can run outside and take photos and share it here with you.

Some favourite finishes (you can see more here in my gallery). L-R: Colour Therapy,
 Blessing Quilt, Hues of the Pacific, Kitchen Windows for a 4 year old.

Sometimes I question why I blog, do I just want positive feedback?  I think it’s more because I love the creative process so much, that I’m so excited about the finished piece that I want to share it with people who understand that.  My kids and husband love the quilts I make because they love me and I appreciate that so much.  But they’ve never made a quilt.  I don’t have a LQS or a Guild, I have played show and tell once when the lovely Fiona came to Nouméa.  So I guess my blog is the place I go to share my creative journey with like minded souls :)  Thank you for stopping by, for listening to my excitement, for commenting on my blog, Flickr photos and instagram.  It feeds my enthusiasm and I really appreciate it! :)

finishing touches
Final touches on Robot Quilt.

Whilst I don’t have a finish to share with you today, I’m almost there and am hoping to get some pics tomorrow.  I’m just doing the last little bit of hand quilting and I am head over heals in love with this quilt :)  I would love to hear about your creative process.  Do you constantly doubt yourself along the way?  Are you confident from start to finish?  Do you work to a sketch, an idea or improv?

Don’t forget to pop back tomorrow to link up with Sunday Stash, I’m hosting for the lovely Fiona and the linky will be up for a week :)

Works in Progress


This week I am going to admit having three quilts in progress, usually I like to focus on my current obsession and pretend that I don’t have a stack of UFOs ;)

Yesterday I spent some time pulling fabric for a baby girl quilt.  I felt the need to get all pink following a few days work on a baby boy quilt.  Plus I have this idea that at some stage I am going to get organised and open an esty store.  You need stock for that, right? ;)  Last night I cut a stack of different width strips from these prints thinking I’d got it right.
baby girl quilt blues
This morning I threw them up on the design wall (fancy name for flannel sheet) to see how fabulous this quilt was going to look.  Um, no.  It just wasn’t right, no matter how much I wished it was, it wasn’t.  So I pulled out all of the yellow and that helped but still it wasn’t there.  I remember some yardage I had that has a similar palate so I pinned it to the design wall and removed a few blues and tried out a few more pinks.

baby girl quilt trialing pinks and blues
I think I have it right this time.  Alyce suggested that I keep the navy and I feel the same way, but I’m not convinced, so I’m going to play with the pinks and then throw the navy back in to see if it works.  But I’m not going to force myself to keep it there.  Time will tell.

not sure about the butterflies
I’m not sure about the butterflies…
Did I mention that I was working on a baby boy quilt?  This one is for someone SUPER special who I don’t think reads this blog, so I think I’m safe to share :)  Over the weekend I put together the quilt top.  I spent way too much time unpicking.  I hadn’t perfectly trimmed all of those 6″ blocks and I wanted this to be perfect so there was nothing but to grit my teeth and get it done.  I’m glad I did though, I think it’s lovely.
baby boy robot quilt
After the back and forth with the baby girl quilt today I decided to show some follow through and baste the baby boy quilt.  I had the perfect print for the backing, a super snuggling flannelette cloud print.  My pregnant friend mentioned something about snuggling her winter baby and this fabric is super cuddly.  It was a rather warm exercise as it is well over 30 degrees Celsius here today!
softy flannel
Determined to follow through I had this baby basted by school pick up time.
robot quilt basted
I’m feeling good about it and plan to spend tonight thinking about quilting and then start tomorrow.  At this stage I’m thinking some hand quilting around the robots and FMQ in the sashing.  But I’d love any suggestions you :)
My last work in progress that I am going to admit to this week is Mr 6′s rainbow I Spy quilt.  Gosh I love that quilt but honestly, hand stitching slows me down (don’t bring up the fact that I just said I plan to hand quilt the Robot quilt…).  To get myself motivated I trimmed up the quilt and bound it this week.  I’m hoping I can force myself to hand stitch the last of the words in front of the TV during the evenings.  Keep in mind that to sit under a quilt I need to turn the air conditioning on (even at 9pm).
rainbow ispy quilt bound
Do you have lots of works in progress this week?  Or to you do what i do and pretend there is only one? LOL  I’m linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.  Please feel free to pop back this Sunday to link up when I’m hosting Sunday Stash :)
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Fabric Selection


I’m a little late linking up with Sunday Stash this week, but I really wanted to because this coming Sunday I am hosting Sunday Stash :)  I hope some of you pop back to link up.  Sunday Stash is most often about fabric, sharing your latest fabric purchases.  However, it can also be about your favourite fabrics in your stash, or those special gifted or thrifted fabrics, you can also share other special stash items such as books or notions, it’s all about sharing :)

My stash is out of control at the moment and I’m on a buying ban (although I need to break that to buy some more wadding, that doesn’t count, right?) except for my monthly subscription to Pink Castle’s Stash Club.  I’ve spoken about how much I love their monthly packages and this is why:

brown stash

I almost never buy brown prints.  I’m not a brown girl, I can’t wear brown clothing, I rarely use brown in my sewing.  But it does have a place and this bundle is gorgeous.  Big win for me.

I also like buying bundles that someone else has put together, I’ve bought lovely blogger bundles from The Fat Quarter Shop, Pink Castle Fabrics, Pink Chalk Fabrics, scrap packs from Hawthorne Threads and bundles from The Intrepid Thread.  I never stick to the original bundle.  I find it is a great starting point or sometimes I completely break it up and don’t use any of the prints together.

I love reading the art of choosing series by Jeni over at In Color Order.  I try not to read it when I’m selecting fabrics because I find it slows me down, makes me question everything and invariably I cannot finalise a selection of fabrics for a project.  I do go back to it at regular intervals and read it, it has been really helpful for me in improving my ability to put together a nice array of fabrics.  On the off chance you haven’t seen it you should definitely pop over.

These fabrics started out as a bundle from Pink Castle. I removed a few prints, added some yellow and some blue.  Then added some more pints and a few blenders as well as a couple of solids.

pinks yellows blues

I played around a bit more.  Not trying to match the blues to each other, but checking to see if they work with each of the pinks and yellows.

checking blues

Whilst I thought I’d come up with something I liked I pulled some purples just to have another option and for comparison.

pinks purples blues

At this stage I think I’m happy with my selection. However I have a few more steps that I go through before finalising my selection.  Firstly I take my glasses off and see what the blur of colours looks like.  Then I photograph it and see if I like it in the more abstract mode on the computer.  If I’m still happy with it I walk away for half an hour and come back with fresh eyes.  I already have a design in mind for this quilt, a baby girl quilt to offset the baby boy quilt top I finished over the weekend.

final pink yellow blue

I’m always playing at putting together fabrics for quilts.  In fact I would say for every quilt I make I would put together 10 bundles that I think would work as a quilt.  This was my floor for a few days last week.

stash raid in progress

I ended up packing it all away but have kept three of these bundled, ready to go.  I really want to work with the prints below but there is something not quite right about it.  I haven’t been able to figure it out, so instead of make a quilt I don’t love, I’m sitting it aside for now.

not quite there

I am fairly certain I will turn the below prints into a twin quilt for a teenage girl (not that I know one, that’s just what I’m imagining LOL) but again, I wasn’t 100% certain on the fabric selection, so I have set it aside.

purples pinks yellows

When I was pulling all of these fabrics and putting together gorgeous girly hues I was actually meant to be pulling fabrics for a baby boy quilt for someone super special.  Just to prove to myself that I could put together some fun boy prints I came up with these.

boys selection

I went with the middle of the three options and came up with this quilt top.  The blocks are 6″ finished but they were a bit random, I fussy cut each of the robots individually and added the main prints.  I’m planning to do a heap of FMQ in the white sashing, I hope it comes together, right now it looks a little blah which is disheartening because it is for someone super special to me.  But I had fun pulling the fabrics and that’s what it’s all about right, enjoying the process and creating something useful and hopefully beautiful.

baby boy quilt top
Sorry for the poor lighting, we’re on pre-alert for a cyclone and the weather is windy,
grey and raining. Not great for quilt photos!

Do you have any tips for fabric selection?  Do you have a process you go through when coming up with the prints for your next quilt?  Do you have any tips on how best to build your stash?  I’m rather tardily linking up to Sunday Stash.  Please feel free to pop back later in the week and link up when I’m hosting :)

I’m very tardily linking up to Sunday Stash over at Finding Fifth :)

Finding Fifth

EQ7 learning curve


I wasn’t going to link up to WiP Wednesday this week as I didn’t really think I had much in progress.  But then I opened up EQ7 for the first time in a few weeks and started designing an overdue bee block for the lovely Marieka.

Marieka has chosen vintage kitchen as her theme and she was Queen Bee last month, but she is lovely and being very understanding of this tardy bee!  I had originally suggested a colander but she subtly suggested that kitchen scales would be awesome.  Well, Marieka was right, vintage kitchen scales ARE awesome!

vintage scales wip

The above image is a work in progress, it has changed slightly.  I find the numbering process in EQ7 brings up any problems with my design so I have found that at this late stage I have to go back and alter the pattern a little.

My sewing time is up today but hopefully tomorrow I will get to piece this baby.  I have selected some fabrics, but I don’t want to spoil the surprise, so instead I will share a photo of the fabrics that I won’t be using for this block ;P

fabric not in use

Just in case you were wondering, I still plan to share my triangle teapot Paper Pieced pattern for free, I just need to remake it and take heaps of photos because I want to include a tutorial :)

paper pieced teapot

I’m linking up to WiP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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