July 2013 archive

A Paper Pieced Party


My main work in progress this week has been my “Celebrate” quilt made from blocks put together by the wonderful wombat stew girls (Fiona, Midge, Alyce, Kristy, Jane, Lara, Marieka).  I was the last Queen in the first round of our paper piecing bee and I really wasn’t sure if my theme would work.  I selected “celebrate” and asked the girls to make a block of any size that met this theme.  I put together a pinterest board to inspire them and explained that I wanted to turn their blocks into a wall quilt that would hang in our home whenever we had cause to celebrate.  The girls outdid themselves!  This week I put all of the blocks on the design wall.

Paper Pieced Celebrate blocks on my design wall

I had asked the girls to please send me some scraps of the prints that they used in their blocks.  They are such generous friends and they sent me a stack of scrap love including some wonderful novelty prints that were just perfect!

The Rainbow I Spy quilt was my first go at putting together random sized blocks.  I’m much better at it now.  I’ve learnt to work in sections, building up blocks until the sections match in either width or height and then joining them together

Turning different shaped blocks into sections

I was so excited with the finished top.  I LOVE it and my kids do too!

Paper Pieced Celebrate Quilt top

I was having so much fun that I found it really hard to stop and auditioned a range of borders including these great FQs that Jane sent.

Trialing borders

I asked the girls for honest feedback and they told me it was too busy (they were right!) so I auditioned every low value print in my stash to create a scrappy border.

Possible low value border

Thankfully my brain kicked in and I realised that a pale sketch border would be perfect and allow me to have some fun quilting.

Celebrate quilt basted

So now all I have to do is find the time to quilt this beauty.  August is birthday month in our house and I really wanted to have it ready to hang for the month.  I’m guessing it will be a day or two late ;)

I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Easy Peasy Princess Dress


My youngest is about to turn three years old and is completely obsessed with princesses.  Last year she was given a Snow White dress for her birthday, and even though I took it up (it was a size 5) she has trampled it and ripped it and it desperately needs replacing.  Recently we were invited to a princess party and I couldn’t help myself.  I had to make Miss 3 a new princess dress.

Princess in the garden

Years ago when my Nanny (grandmother) passed away all of my aunts and uncles were set up with their own homes and my cousins were young so I ended up receiving lots of household items (I still think of her every time I cook a roast in her roasting pan!).  My Nanny was such a stylish lady, one of those women who aged gracefully, was always immaculately dressed and was just the kind of person that you want to be around.  Oh, I still miss her!

Princess picking flowers

Getting back to the point, I inherited Nanny’s gold satin sheets.  I have no idea how she used them, they’re so slippery that you slide right out of bed LOL  I could barely keep them folded in the cupboard, so in the end I stuffed them in my fabric stash. They have been fantastic for costumes!  I’ve made pirate skirts, a snow white skirt for me, appliqué fairies and now a Princess Dress for my little Miss.

Twirling Princess

This has to be the easiest dress around, it only has one seam and you could easily make one in cotton for a summer dress (not all Princesses wear gold satin all of the time) ;)  I’ve written up a tutorial and just need to take some photos to go with it.  We even made some bijoux (jewelry) to go with the dress.

Princess bijoux

I used bead elastic and enclosed the ends in fabric then added snaps.  If it is pulled the snaps should come undone, but at this age she shouldn’t wear jewelry unsupervised anyway.


And if you haven’t got your fill of cute princess photos, here is one last one for you :)

Princess dress back

I’m linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread.

Better Off Thread




A creative recovery


After days of sitting in front of my laptop I decided on Thursday that I needed some creative time to recover.  I’ve been interested in the whole “low volume/value” trend since I first noticed it in blogland and decided to make a cushion cover playing with value.


A cushion at first

I had so much fun that I asked on IG if I should finish up my cushion or keep going.  Let’s just say that IG is full of enablers (and I didn’t need much encouragement LOL) so I decided to keep going and make a lap quilt.

Becoming a quilt

One of the things I love about Instagram is that I can take a photo of the project that I’m working on and use a black and white filter to check the value. I did this hundreds of times on Friday and Saturday on my iPad, taking a screenshot of the B/W versions so I could later revisit them in my album.  I really don’t enjoy sitting at the computer so being able to do the majority of my work on the iPad is great.

Using Instagram to check color values

I really wanted my quilt to have movement.  I didn’t just want low value/volume and high value/volume, I wanted to use it cleverly so that the quilt kind of pulses when you look at it.  I spent hours auditioning prints and I even cut up some lovely Joel Dewberry, sewed on a border and then unpicked it.  Sometimes you just can’t tell what works (or doesn’t!) until you sew it together.

Selecting high value (or volume or saturated) prints

I was second guessing my ideas, I came up with the idea of adding three dimensional scallops.  Cool or weird?  It looked cute ;)

Playing with bunting

I fell in love with this quilt top when I added the scallops.  Seriously in love <3

Scallop quilt border


Late Saturday afternoon I ended up with the biggest quilt top that I’ve made to date!  It hangs about 10″ down each side and end of our queen size bed and reaches the top of the pillows.  Not really a lap quilt in the end!!

Color play quilt top

Can I tell you how much I love this quilt top?  It’s SO ME!  I love the three dimensional scallops, I love the bright colors, the saturated hue and the seeming randomness of it all.  I even started to select prints for the back but I decided to fold up this flimsy and save it for another day.  I mentioned the other day that I plan to start a quilting business next year (thank you for your encouraging comments! It is seriously difficult to say these things out loud, I’m not a confident person at all.).  Well this flimsy is destined to be quilted on my long-arm machine by me.  Not an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.  I had thought that I should have a few quilt tops ready to practice on and this baby is too big to be easily quilted on my domestic machine.  So I have a plan, an exciting plan :)


BTW, my last post was truncated (as in it was sent out to readers in an abbreviated format with a link to click through for the whole post).  I’m hoping that I’ve fixed it so that you get the whole post this time.  I really don’t like truncated posts and had a bit of a panic when I was told mine was in that format LOL  Fingers crossed I fixed it!

Do you play with color?  Have you made a low volume/value quilt?  Please leave me a link in the comments if you have, I’d love to see your creations!

Why the move


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A stack of Pretty Quilts

A stack of Pretty Quilts

Thank you so much to everyone that replied yesterday that they can see me in their reader!  Yay!  I am trying to figure an easy way to reply via email without cutting and pasting, so please be patient :) (if you have a wordpress blog and you know of a plugin that can help, please let me know.) I would much rather be at my sewing machine but am still at the computer trying to get my site as user friendly and pretty as possible :)

My sewing space

I had a few questions asking why I made the move and seeing I need to add a new post to claim my new address on bloglovin’ I thought I would answer that question :)  The simple answer is that I have found my passion in quilting and I want to take it from being a hobby to being my profession.  In the last six months I have bought my domain name, business name and set up an Australian Business Number, I have ordered business cards and spent a lot of time thinking and planning how to turn Pretty Bobbins into more than just a blog.  Most importantly, I spend a lot of my time quilting.  Practice makes perfect, right?  Plus, I love playing with colour and producing lovely quilts!

Next year I will buy a longarm quilting machine and the dream is to make quilting my full time job.  I love blogging and I will continue to blog, but by having my own domain name I plan to incorporate my business into my site.  At this stage I am planning to just add another tab up top where you can see my business details.  What services I will offer and important details that potential clients will want to know.  The blog will continue as it is, but by moving from blogger to wordpress I have more options in terms of what I can do here.

A girls gotta dream, right? ;)

In the meantime I will continue this STEEP learning curve (I didn’t even know how to add an image or html code when I started writing this post LOL) and hopefully make it back to my sewing machine ASAP!!  I’m having withdrawals…

Have you made the move to wordpress?  Do you have any tips?



Did you notice my new address?  I have moved from http://www.prettybobbins.blogspot.com to http://prettybobbins.com  It would be exciting except it is scary and I have no idea what I’m doing LOL  Please bear with me while I work on the colour scheme and bring back all of the content that I previously had (the blog posts are all here, but a few pages are missing for now).

I would LOVE it if you could take a minute to leave a comment to let me know that you have found me in my new digs :)

I’m desperate to get sewing but for now all of my spare time is going into making this transition.

Thanks so much for your patience xx

A Cluster of Cushions


TGIFF is at Molli’s place this week, how could I not link up?  If you haven’t checked out Molli’s blog, please do, you’ll find quilty talent, humour abundant and sparkles for all.

Single Aunt on wall

I shared my most recent quilt finish earlier in the week.  A huge thank you for all the love, I was somewhat nervous of the reaction as it has a naughty word quilted into it.  Well, it turns out I’m not the only potty mouthed quilter! ;)

Single aunt quilting details
In case you missed it, the quilting is a little easier to read side on :)

I have had a couple of other finishes this week and recently that seems to be turning into a bit of a staple for me.  Call them cushions or pillows (in Australia we sleep with a pillow and have a cushion on the sofa, I think it’s the opposite elsewhere), I have a plethora to share with you this week :)

butterfly cushion front

First up is the butterfly cushion cover that I made as a test run for the Flight of the Butterflies quilt.  My friend bought both the quilt and cushion cover and they’ll head off to Ireland soon.  I used a lovely Kate Spain print on the back which also features in the quilt

butterfly cushion back
Flight of the Butterflies quilt and cushion back

I’m obviously losing my mind (no need to comment) because I cannot remember whether I shared a photo of this finished cushion…  It is for one of our favourite families who is moving to Florida next week.  I made this cushion cover for their son who is 5 and included an appliqué hand print of each of our children and him as well as some meaningful words.

farewell cushion

It seems that we’ve hit birthday season and have two 5 year old girl birthday parties this weekend!  I’m sharing these early and hoping that they’re not surfing the net hunting down their gifts ;)

Girly pillowcase

I’m a total sucker for appliqué names on gifts for kids.  It makes a simple pillowcase so much more special and meaningful :)

applique pillowcase

I REALLY need to get to the store and buy some more cushion inserts.  I only have one left and have three more parties coming up which I plan to gift similar cushion covers.

girly cushion cover

I know not all girls are girly girls, but I totally am and I so channelled my inner princess this week in sewing ;)

applique cushion cover

I really considered changing my name and keeping this cushion cover and pillowcase…  In addition to over the top girly gifts I also sewed a princess dress, some princess bling and two prince crowns.  Yep, we’re sparkling over here at Pretty Bobbins too but you’ll have to wait for next week for those photos (unless you follow me on Instagram, I’ve already shared progress pics there) :)

I’m linking up to TGIFF over at Molli Sparkles.  Have you been sewing up a storm this week?  Thanks for having us Molli!

Single A Mini


Single Aunt on wall

Over the weekend I shared some pics on Instagram of a mini I was working on.  I had so much fun and I finished it up yesterday.  I even hand stitched down the binding which I NEVER do!  I used this fantastic tutorial by Very Kerry Berry for single fold binding and I must say I love the result and will use this method again.  

Single Aunt fabric pull

I had been contemplating a double wedding ring quilt for awhile and had also been tossing up entering in Pat Bravo’s IG sewing contest and then the two ideas came together. I had so much fun, it turns out I have a lot of Pat’s fabric in my stash, who knew?

Single aunt template

I made my own template, once again being thankful for having done Rachel’s curves class.  I found this great tutorial for a lazy girl quilt but didn’t follow it.  I stuck to 1/4″ seam allowances and I paper/foundation pieced the ring.  I made my template using a ribbon and a pencil, then  I checked that it was evenly placed using a ruler.  

circle template

Then I just traced the ring template three times and pieced four quarter rings directly onto the template.  

Single aunt paper pieced curves

If you’ve never pieced precise curves before I would suggest lots of pins or glue basting.  I glue basted the points of the ring in the final stage because I like my piecing to be perfect because the rest of my life is chaos LOL

Single Aunt top
Top complete!

Whilst I was piecing the curves some words popped into my head. I guess I was thinking about how the single girl block is meant to be an easier version of the double wedding ring and yet it is still challenging. Easy my aunt!  And there you have it, I knew that I had to somehow quilt “single my aunt” into this quilt. But if you’re paying attention you’ll know that I was thinking of another A word.

Single aunt quilting details

I shared my progress on instagram and stayed up late quilting. I got 3/4 of the way through the quilting and doubted myself. Would I offend people? Would it look ok? Should I have used the American or Australian spelling? I even questioned whether single could have a capital S.  but then I remembered that I was making art and it didn’t really matter as long as I went with my artistic vision.

quilting in progress
Quilting in progress

I used Kona Steel on the front and Bella Steel on the back, the kona is much darker and I love how it makes the prints pop.  I used a grey Aurifil (2605) in 50wt for piecing and most of the free motion quilting but you know how I love colour and I couldn’t resist adding some vibrant sparks to the negative space (1100, 2452, 2810 and 2692).

Single Aunt back
Single Aunt back

So I ask that you please remind yourself that this quilt is a piece of art. It will not appeal to everyone.  I am reminding myself that by putting my work into the public sphere that I am OK with negative feedback :)  Personally, I love it and I think it’s funny.  All those voluptuous swirls in the centre, well they remind me of wobbly bottoms and round, jiggly tummies. You can be single or a married mother of three and claim those beauties. The segmented circle inside the pieced circle, that reminds me that our lives are segmented and compartmentalized  You don’t need to be single for that either.

Single Aunt on wall

I didn’t make this quilt to shock or offend. I made it because I have a sense of humour, I had an itch that needed scratching and an idea bubbled to the surface. And if I’m going to be really honest… Well, I am a bit of a potty mouth and this quilt is for me so it’s a good fit.

My sewing space
My new mini in my sewing space (how could I edit that Princess out?)

I hope I haven’t offended you, if I have I remind you that we all have different tastes and I hope you can appreciate the piecing or the quilting or palette if not the play on words :)  Unfortunately all the quilting in the negative space makes the piecing look somewhat messy, next time I’m going to play around with the quilting and see if I can over come this issue.

quilting playing with piecing

I seriously had a lot of fun with this mini and it was super speedy, from fabric selection to basting took me a couple of hours.  The quilting was done in the evening between the kid’s bedtime and mine, so probably two hours.

This quilt was pieced and quilted by me on my Bernina 440QE using Bella and Kona solids, Art Gallery Fabrics, 100% wool batting and Aurifil threads.  It measures just under 20″ x 20″.

Have you ever made a quilt that you weren’t sure how it would be received?  Do you see quilts as art?

I’m linking up to Sew Cute Tuesday at Better Off Thread.  I have also taken a leap of faith and added this quilt to the NYC MOD quilters Double Wedding Ring Quilt Challenge in the small category.

Better Off Thread

Flight of the Butterflies


This week I finished a cot quilt for a new baby girl.  I’m resisting the urge to call her a wee Irish lass every time I talk about this quilt, so I promise not to do that again ;)  I’m just a little excited that one of my quilts will be heading to Ireland!

butterfly trail front
Flight of the Butterflies front

In light of the Irish climate I selected 100% wool wadding and a GORGEOUS Anna-Maria Horner flannelette backing.  This quilt is seriously snugly.

butterfly quilt back on fence
I used a gorgeous AMH flannelette for the back from Pink Castle Fabrics

This was my first time using wool batting so I made a test sample with the idea of turning it into a cushion cover.

butterfly quilt test run
You can read about how I make my templates here

For the sample I tried both reverse appliqué and raw edged appliqué and although I love the look of the reverse appliqué I found that it distorted the fabric.  I decided not to risk a quilt top that wasn’t flat and went with raw edged appliqué.  I’m really happy with the result.  I FMQed around each butterfly using my rainbow of Aurifil 50wt threads to secure it in place and prevent excessive fraying.

butterfly quilting detail
quilting detail

I used a grey 50wt Aurifil for the quilting because I wanted the texture of the quilting to not over power the butterflies.  It worked perfectly, although I found that I needed to drop my top tension just a little due to the wool wadding and flannelette backing.  I went with a variation of a quilting design that I used recently and added in some pathways for the butterfly to really give movement and direction to the kaleidoscope of butterflies (yes, I googled that and they can be called a kaleidoscope of butterflies!).

butterfly quilt in flight
I love the motion and movement the quilting gives, these butterflies are ready to fly away

I used Bella Berrylicious for the binding and I love how it makes the quilt a little more girly without going over the top and works so well with the back too.

butterfly back
quilting detail on back with binding

This quilt measures approximately 50″ x 50″ and is a great size for a cot or playmat (seen here on my daughter’s toddler bed which is actually a modified cot).

butterfly quilt on cot sized bed

I’m hoping the new Mummy loves this quilt just as much as I do.  I had fun stitching baby’s name, first freehand by machine and then with some handquilting using the lovely 12wt Aurifil in a verigated pink.

Butterfly quilt name details

I had fun being back in the babyzone making this quilt and plan to make some more baby quilts soon, such a fun size to work with!

butterfly quilt folded

This quilt was made and quilted by me on my Bernina 440QE. I used Aurifil threads, Bella Solids (Steel and Berrylicious), Loulouthi flannelette and a variety of stash prints for the butterflies many from my monthly stash subscription.

I’m liking up to TGIFF over at Quilt Matters

Somber work in progress


You may have guessed that we live a fairly nomadic life.  In my 35 years I have lived in around 40 houses.  Considering I had only lived in 3 houses until I was 14, that is a lot of moving in the last 20 years.  There are definitely benefits to this life, but one thing I have learnt is that when you move it is very hard to keep in regular contact with friends.  It doesn’t have to have a negative impact on the friendship.  There are always those special friends who it doesn’t matter how long since you last spoke, you can go ten years between chats and everything is the same.  You get that feeling, you care, they care, there is no judgement, just support and interest and you can’t stop talking and laughing and every minute is precious.

South Pacific Dreaming angle
The family portrait quilt, South Pacific Dreaming, that I made for our departing friends.

Well, in two weeks one of my most forever friends is moving to Florida.  Then in six months we are moving back to Australia.  We will think of each other often and when we do catch up it will be as if no time has passed.  But our five year old sons are best buddies and it is so much harder to see them go when kids are involved. I dread the day when my kids realise that their buddy is really gone, that it will be years before they can play together again.  That by then they will have grown and changed and will need time to reacquaint themselves.  Yeah, that’s kind of breaking my heart at the moment.

So this week I am working on a birthday/farewell gift for our buddy.  I started with handprints.

farewell cushion hands

I’m making a cushion cover with superhero fabric on one side and some nice words on the other using an Essex linen blend.

Farewell cushion wip
Can you spot the spelling error?  Doh!

The other work in progress this week is this gorgeous butterfly quilt that will be making it’s way to Ireland to keep a wee Irish lass warm.  I used wool batting for the first time and I think it is going to be super scrummy paired with a flannelette back.

butterfly quilt in progress
My quality control checker hard at work <3

I love this quilt and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you on Friday.  I had a lot of fun with the quilting and I’m looking forward to seeing the reaction of my friend who ordered it for her niece.

Do you have much in progress this week?  Are you linking up to WiP Wednesday?  Let me know if you are and I’ll pop over :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Vive le Stash


Today I’m hosting Sunday Stash for the lovely Fiona of Finding Fifth.  Fiona mentioned to me that she was thinking of doing an American related stash post to celebrate the 4th of July earlier in the week.  I hope you don’t mind Fiona, but I’m totally stealing your idea ;)

RWB prints
Rouge, Blanc, Bleu or Red, White and Blue :)

As some of you will know I live in Nouméa, Nouvelle Caledonie (New Caledonia), a special territory of France.  My children were 4, 2 and a few months old when we arrived in Nouméa and two and a half years later they all identify strongly with France.  I’m often asked questions such as, “Can we go to the Mountains in Suiss?” and “Is the Sydney bridge as big as la tour Eiffel?”  In fact my eldest is often heard chanting “rouge, blanc, bleu!” whilst his brother will argue that Canberra is not in Australia…

Bastille Day march 2011
Evening street march as part of National Day celebrations in Nouméa, 2011

So today I am going to share some of my recent rouge, blanc et bleu stash additions to celebrate both the 4th of July et La Fête Nationale which is on the 14th of July.

rouge stash

Recently I received my Red Stash Stack bundle from Pink Castle Fabrics.  I seriously love that store and their monthly fat quarters never fail to disappoint (no sponsorship deal folks, just good old fashioned loyalty based on great products and service).  As always there are a couple of favourites that jump out at me.

rouge sketch
I love this Architextures in red (I also have it in black and grey)

Blue makes up the largest part of my stash, not surprising really as blue has been my favourite colour as long as I can remember.  Here are some of my favourite blues.

bleu favourites
L-R: Lou Lou Thi, Little Folks (voile), Good Folks, No idea but I love it, Hope Chest, Kona Lagoon, I think it’s Japanese

The solid is Kona Lagoon and I have used it again and again and everytime I use it I think of the Foona Lagoona Baboona, yes I grew up with that great American Dr Suess and “The Sleep Book” was a favourite.

Spiderman rouge Spiderman bleu

My sons LOVE Spiderman, another famous American, and I recently stocked up on some Spiderman prints.  These are one of the most important parts of my stash, I have made a pillow or cushion case for almost every little boy we know as a birthday gift.  Always a winner and as popular in France as elsewhere.

superhero squad

Whilst I am completely unfamiliar with Captain America and his fellow superheros this print is another firm favourite and one I restocked this one recently, more birthday presents coming up (one this week in fact!).

bonjour blanc

Another recent arrival in two colourways is this fantastique Kauffman print.  How cool is this?  I have no idea what I’m going to make with it, but I knew I had to have it :)

bonjour noir

Whilst I could never have enough fabric I recently purchased two notions that you need!  First up is a clover unpicker.  This thing is sharp and makes unripping much faster and easier.  If you’re considering a new seam ripper I’d recommended you give this one a whirl, I bought it here.


The second notion which I mentioned on Friday (and yes, I did survive the sleepover, the last child standing was the 4 year old who finally fell asleep at 11.30pm) is my new Machinger gloves.

machinger gloves

AWESOME.  These are SO much better than my last quilting gloves which were so much better than nothing.  Seriously, they fit well, they breath, they grip the fabric.  The make the job of quilting easier and more pleasant and that is a BIG WIN in my book.  If you don’t have quilting gloves or you’re not happy with the ones you have, try these, they really are the bees knees of quilting gloves!

Last week the most popular linked up post was by Em at Sewing by Moonlight which is no surprise considering her beautiful new Liberty of London prints!  Have fun playing with your new prints Em, I have some Liberty scraps that I’m hoarding but have really enjoyed using the few times that I have :)

Now it’s your turn to share your stash.  I’d love to see some of your most recent additions, some favourites that you can’t bear to cut into or if you’re feeling full of national pride feel free to join the party and share some national colour themed prints :)  Thanks for stopping by xx

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