October 2013 archive

I Quilt Linky Party Quilting tips


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I’ve just sent my little monsters ;) off Trick or Treating and the house is in chaos (removalists arrive in four days) but it’s time to link up for I Quilt Thursdays here at Pretty Bobbins!  Thank you to all of the lovely linkers who joined in last week!  I am really enjoying reading all of your posts.  I’m sorry that I haven’t replied to all the comments on my blog yet, I am struggling with blogging time at the moment with moving preparations in full swing.  Nonetheless, this week I am going to share some of my troubleshooting quilting tips!

photo with permission from Dasha of Patching Pixies

First up I would like to share Dasha’s work with you.  Dasha is such a sweetie and has such a big heart.  She makes quilts and laundry bags for Aussie Hero Quilts (I think that is like Quilts of Valor for my American readers) and last week she shared her quilting on a BEAUTIFUL quilt for her friend Verna.  We first corresponded back in January when she wrote to me about bobbin tension and she claimed in last weeks post that she doesn’t love machine quilting.  Dasha, you might not love it, but you are have the goodies girl!  I LOVE the quilting in the below photo.  Now that is skill!  She is seriously accurate!  I’d love you to pop by and check out Dasha’s blog.  She is a new blogger and a great quilter :)  Thanks so much for linking up Dasha and for being my featured quilter this week <3

Photo with permission from Dasha of Patching Pixies

This week I want to share a few of my trouble shooting tips with you.  Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts was having a frustrating time FMQing recently and whether she wanted it or not I gave her a heap of advice that I thought worth sharing here too ;)  For interests sake I will share some photos of my current quilting project, a bee quilt that I will give to my good friend here in Nouméa as a farewell gift.  I can’t blog without photos ;)

First up, when you thread your machine make sure that the thread is coming off your spool in the right direction.  Check your manual to find out which direction this should be for you.  I actually use a separate spool stand as I find it gives me the best results.

When you are threading your machine make sure the foot is up and hold the thread taught where it comes off the spool by doing these two things you will ensure that the thread passes correctly through the tension disks. (I won’t tell you that I ALWAYS used to thread my machine with the foot down!)

I used the star on the back of the quilt as the guide for my quilting design. Yes, that was rather tiresome removing pins from behind whilst quilting!!!

Support your quilt!  The weight of your quilt can cause all sorts of problems.  I sit my machine in a sewing cabinet and put the ironing board behind it to carry the weight of the quilt.  If I’m working on a large quilt I will support it using my arms and shoulders and focus on only small areas at a time, then move the beast to rearrange the way I am supporting it.  If you don’t have a drop down table I would suggest that you build a support structure.  Even a temporary structure made of phone books or shoeboxes is going to be better than letting the quilt drag against the needle in every direction.

You’ve probably heard me say before, buy the best quality products that you can.  It really does make a difference.  My current quilt in progress is made up of bee blocks and of all of those various blocks, one little 2″ x 5″ strip (below photo – it’s the yellow with the flowers printed on it) saw me unpick five times! Based on touch alone it is not great quality.  I don’t expect my bees to spend lots of money on fabric for my blocks but next time I get a block with poor quality threads I will leave it out.  I think using quilt store quality fabric is a safe bet.  The quilting in that area had the same backing fabric, same wadding and no more seams than anywhere else and my machine was dropping stitches (which it NEVER does) and the bobbin thread was pulling through to the top.  Good quality thread, fabric and wadding will all help improve your quilting experience.  You wouldn’t do your plumbing with ancient leaky pipes, give your quilts the same love <3

Troublesome quilting

And that’s it from me for this week.  It’s almost 9pm (sorry I’m late with the linky!) and I have to sit down with a glass of wine and prepare to face more packing tomorrow!  What have you been quilting this week?  I’d love you to link up below.  I ask that you visit at least two other linkers and either link to me in your post and/or add my button to your sidebar/post.  You can find the button html code near the top right of my blog or at the bottom if you’re on a mobile device.  Remember that this linky is all about quilting process, I’d love to hear all about your process!

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South Pacific Dreaming – Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Wall Hanging Entry


Once again I am participating in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival which is very generously organised and hosted by Amy’s Creative Side.  This time I am entering two quilts.  South Pacific Dreaming in the Wall Hanging category and “Celebrate” quilt #1 in the bee category.  If you’re new to Pretty Bobbins, welcome!  I am all about free motion quilting, it’s my passion and I host a weekly linky party on quilting process :)  I’m soon to become a longarm quilter, but for now I work on a Bernina 440QE.  I’m currently based in Nouméa, a French territory in the South Pacific but am about to return to live in Australia.

Set of three quilts


Back in June some very good friends of ours left Nouméa.  They had lived here on their catamaran for many years and are one of the happiest, nicest family’s that I know (can you tell that I miss them?).  They commissioned me to make a set of three wall quilts (above) for their family as a souvenir of their time in Nouméa.  Honestly, the pressure was on.  I don’t know if you know many “boaties” but they tend not to have a huge amount of belongings (because they need to fit them all onto a boat).  These three quilts were to be a key souvenir of their time not only living in Nouméa, but sailing around the world and the South Pacific.  (I’m tearing up writing this LOL).  I spent a lot of time talking to them and they gave me some special photos for inspiration.

They are kite surfers – go girl!!

I made three quilts for them but the one I’d like to enter into the festival is South Pacific Dreaming (also the title of the set).

I used a lot of techniques in this quilt that I have learnt in the last year or so.  The improv curve piecing was based on the class I did with Rachel of Stitched in Color.

The family portrait outline style thingy (very technical!) was self taught and involved merging two photos, tracing, some freezer paper and some free motion quilting.  I’m planning a tutorial at some point but I’m sure you can figure it out yourself :)  I merged two photos, in the original photo the Father and son were sitting in a hammock and I tried to keep the texture of the hammock to give the idea of my friend sitting with his baby on his knee (seriously cute baby!).  The second photo was taken years later and my friend was leaning in perfectly toward her now four year old.  Pairing the two photos to create a family portrait was a lot of fun and I love the outcome.

You can see the family silhouette better from the back.

The detail in the quilting is momentarily lost when you glance at this quilt.  I didn’t want the family portrait to be overly obvious and it took me a few days to work out how to quilt it.  Whilst I’m usually up for all sorts of fancy free motion quilting, this quilt called for lots of straight lines to really give the picture that I was after.  You can see that I went with the beach scene quilting a palm frond in the top corner.

A photo taken on a joint family vacation. See those palm fronds everywhere? :)

The white section is quilted to show the iconic shape of the Catana Catamaran windows.

My friend’s catamaran moored at The Isle of Pines. Can you believe this? Stunning!

To me this quilt really felt like a night scene in the South Pacific but I took the colour palate for all three quilts from the Mahi Mahi fish.  My friends gave me a great photo of a freshly caught (by them) Mahi Mahi and it took my breath away.

Photo courtesy of my friends


Whilst I am only entering the South Pacific Dreaming quilt in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, it is a set of three and I’d like to briefly share the other two with you because they are deep with meaning.  ”She Travels” was for my girlfriend (the wife/mom of the family) and the pink symbolizes her sailing around the world.  I included some prints with French text to represent the French culture in which we live (and remind them of me – one has a sewing machine!).

For the quilting I followed the path that my friends took from Florida, to the Caribbean onto the Galapagos, Tahiti, The Cook Islands, New Zealand, New Caledonia and Australia (with many stops in between!).  I then echoed this route in ever expanding lines to give the idea of a map of the sea bed or currents.  The three circles come from details of the catamaran and I added the phrase, ”Know your dream, find a route” just above these circles.

The third quilt is called “Elements” as to me it represents the elements of the wind, water and land as well as kiting, a clear passion of my friends.  This quilt excites me.  I really pushed myself by pairing a busy pieced section with an expanse of white which I then quilted in bold colours.  Absolutely no room for error!

I took the shape of the island from the photo below, the lighter blue of the wake behind the board shifting into the darker blue.  The colours represent the turtles that laze about in the seagrass bed and the unsuspecting kiters that have to dodge them.  The flaming C represents the kites that my friends have used during recent years.


I have no idea of winds and waters but I absolutely love these photos of my friends kiting.  I can see how much they love it and I can feel the excitement.  These things zoom and on a good day there are dozens of them weaving around each other.  Pouring over these photos I could almost imagine the wind and I did my best to capture this in my quilting.

My friends now live in Floriada and are sorely missed.  You know the kind of friends that you can pick up with at a moment’s notice?  The ones that you randomly think about and imagine what they might be doing?  We will leave Nouméa in two months and I hope to make something similar as a souvenir for my family.

South Pacific Dreaming (set of three wall quilts)

Usually when I share a quilt I talk about the materials used, these quilts used more than just materials, there were memories and emotions and dreams involved.  It was a privilege and a pleasure to work on these pieces and I miss my friends dearly.  They sent me a photo last week showing me the quilts on the walls of their new home and I want to share their words with you, “…we hung your quilts today and I am feeling so much better. I wanted to get a photo for you with/before the sunset… Anyway, they have very much lifted our spirits – thank you so much again. They have just so much meaning in every stitch and really look amazing in their spots.”


Pieced and Quilted: by me on my Bernina 440Qe

Size: approximately 30″ x 20″ (from memory!)

Thread: Aurifil threads (2000, 1135, 5005, 5006,1128, 2810 in 50 wt and 2024 in 40 wt)

Fabric: Bella solids (the white is snow) and lots of favourite prints from my stash.  If you would like the details of a specific print, please let me know and I’ll try and help you, but I suspect I used around 40 different prints so I’ll skip trying to list them all ;)

Wadding: 100% cotton

South Pacific Dreaming – my entry into the Wall Quilt Category

Thanks for stopping by and I encourage you to participate in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival by either visiting and/or entering the festival.  This is my third time entering and it’s a great quilty and bloggy event.  Thanks for all your work Amy!

Celebrate! Blogger’s Quilt Festival – Bee Quilt Entry


Once again I am participating in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival which is very generously organised and hosted by Amy’s Creative Side.  This time I am entering two quilts.  My Celebrate quilt in the bee category and a second quilt, South Pacific Dreaming, #3 in the Wall Hanging category.  If you’re new to Pretty Bobbins, welcome!  I am all about free motion quilting, it’s my passion and I host a weekly linky party on quilting process :)  I’m soon to become a longarm quilter, but for now I work on a Bernina 440QE.  I’m currently based in Nouméa, a French territory in the South Pacific but am about to return to live in Australia.

Back in April I was Queen Bee for Wombat Stew, a paper piecing bee who at that stage comprised of the lovely Alyce, Marieka, Kristy, Fiona, Midge, Jane and Lara.  I’m a bit of an improv girl so I asked my bees to make ‘celebrate’ or ‘party’ themed blocks of any size in fun, gender neutral colours and put together an inspiration board.

The girls produced some amazing blocks and boy did I have fun putting them together!  You can read more about the piecing process here.  I quilted each block differently with lots of micro quilting.  You can see the quilting best from the back…

I LOVE this quilt!  My kids love this quilt and since I completed it in August we have had it hanging in our loungeroom (it was originally intended to only be hung for celebrations).


I had my own little party quilting with a rainbow of Aurifil 50 wt threads.  I used 2000 on the cream/off white areas and I love how they sparkle.  Can you see the word PARTY popping out in Kristy’s party hat blocks (Kristy of Quiet Play designed most of these blocks, isn’t she AMAZING???)?

Marieka baked me a delicious cake.  I was really unsure of how to quilt this block but really happy with how it turned out.  My icing is never that neat LOL  There is enough cake here for everyone, LOVE!
I had a lot of fun playing with Alyce’s pom poms (and I’m sorry, I had to make that joke LOL).  She very cleverly used a flying geese pattern, you can see her tutorial here.  I’m still considering adding a few beads to the pom poms but for now I’m sticking to the star in the middle (and yes, more micro-stippling there).  Aren’t they fun?!
Jane’s block is immediately apparent to Australian’s but some of my readers may be wondering what it is.  This is an absolute classic and staple of children’s birthday parties.  Known as “fairy bread” it is sliced white bread, spread with butter and then covered in sprinkles.  Jane obviously took a bite out whilst piecing and left her party blower behind as evidence ;)

Fiona’s cups (pattern by Ayumi of Pink Penguin fame) had a real retro feel so I quilted the wall paper to enhance this vibe.  Possibly better seen from the back, but aren’t they the cutest drinks ever? (There is a fourth block, you can see it in the larger photos)


What party would be complete without bunting?   The Lara made me rainbow bunting.  I went a little nuts and quilted pebbles with each dot being inside a pebble.

Whilst my lovely friend Ms Midge wasn’t in round one of Wombat Stew she decided to join the party early and brought the candles.  Can you believe she tried to tell us she was a novice paper piece-er when we asked her to join our bee?

And whilst we’re on the topic of Ms Midge, she sent me the cutest scrap EVER!  I LOVE this fairy and I quilted her in a micro version of the the FMQ design that I used on my daughter’s quilt. I’ve saved the last skerrik of this scrap and plan to make my daughter a cushion with it.  Thank you Midge xx

I totally got my FMQ on and micro-stippled this fantastic cupcake print.  The cupcakes measure about 1.5′ from base to cherry and the stippling is seriously tiny.

I think every block/print features a different FMQ design.  I must admit I went a little crazy quilting around each candle (print in the bottom right of the above photo) this scrap is only  1.5″ x 4.25″. I was so impressed with the affect that I then quilted around the jellybeans and balloons too LOL

I added in some three dimensional bunting down the side (left over from another project) and at the suggestion from a friend quilted words underneath (sing, dance, encore, cake, secret, surprise, kiss).  The idea being that the birthday person must choose an activity to complete ;)

Well done if you’ve read this far!  Possibly my favourite part of quilting this beast is the words in the border.  I used 12wt Aurifil (2250) for top thread and the same colour in 50wt on my bobbin.  The stitches are perfect and saved so much time than if doing it by hand! (I suggest going slow and smoothly and dropping your top tension a few notches).  Can you believe that I didn’t mark the words first?  It was all done free hand and I’m so pleased that it filled the borders perfectly and looks rather neat :)  The dots on the i are little red beads that I added after binding.

I really love this quit for so many reasons but possibly my proudest moment was when my seven year old son brought a friend home recently and the first thing he showed him was this quilt.  Yep, that is a win in my book ;)


Paper pieced by: my Wombat Stew Bees (Alyce, Marieka, Kristy, Fiona, Midge, Jane and Lara)

Top pieced and quilting by: me on my Bernina 440QE

Size: 37″ x 37″

Threads: Aurifil 50wt and 12wt

Wadding: 100% cotton

Thanks for stopping by and I encourage you to participate in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival by either visiting and/or entering the festival.  This is my third time entering and it’s a great quilty and bloggy event.  Thanks for all your work Amy!

I Quilt – all about threads


Yay for Thursday!  That means it’s almost Friday :)  And it’s time to link up your quilting process, woohoo!  Last week I opened up a conversation about threads and invited you to join me this week to talk about thread issues.  If you have any tips, tricks or “WARNING! Don’t go there” advice I’d love to hear it!  I’m going to talk all about my quilting threads and related tips and tricks.  Of course you are welcome to join the party even if you aren’t discussing thread issues, just make sure you post contains some discussion of your quilting process <3

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Last week you blew my mind when 30 quilters linked up!!!!  I’m feeling the love here :)   I’ve also been receiving lots of emails asking for advice on quilting issues or how to get started.  I certainly don’t feel like an expert, I’m just head over heals in love with quilting <3  But thank you and please keep those questions coming, I try to answer people directly but I will also use some of these as themes for my I Quilt posts :)  If I don’t get back to you please don’t hesitate to ask me again.  We are in the midst of packing up for an international move and I have many competing priorities at the moment and some things fall through the cracks…

Last week Jo linked up a fantastic post on using stencils.  Seriously, that girl has quilting T.A.L.E.N.T!  If you haven’t had a chance to pop by her blog please do.  I may be a little biased as we discovered that we own the same machine (Bernina 440QE) but I am in awe of her work!  Her post last week was all about using quilting stencils which is something that I have absolutely no experience with and found really fascinating.  Pop by and check it out when you have some time :)  I hope to feature a quilter each week and I’d love it if you could pop by and say hi to support them and learn from their posts <3

So last week I shared my dirty secret of thread tension issues in my son’s Rainbow I Spy Quilt.  I can live with it but that quilt would come under some scrutiny at a Quilty show and tell I’m sure ;)  This week I’m going to give you some of my tips on how to avoid thread issues.  Sure, the obvious tip is practice and get better LOL  But no one wants to have the first dozen quilts they make sporting thread issues ;)

For perspective the sashing is 1″ wide here

The first large amount of free motion quilting I did was on my middle child’s quilt (you can read about it here).  I don’t remember really thinking about the quilting too much but I went with stippling and I remember finding Elizabeth Hartman’s blog very useful.  I followed her tips for quilting direction and I kept my stippling at about the size she recommends.  I don’t think I’ve stippled since, but when I have a good hard look at that quilt there are no thread issues.  So I vote one for stippling as a good introductory design for newby quilters to avoid thread issues.  I find anything with sharp turns, points or corners can create little knots of thread and stippling pretty much avoids that :)

If you squint you can see the micro-stippling around the cupcakes. To give perspective the cupcakes are about 1.25″ tall

Micro quilting is something that I am a bit enamored of at the moment and as much as I love it I would advise that you get a little practice under your belt before you set your heart on it.  It isn’t tricky (it does require a LOT of concentration) and it does give a fantastic look, but I find that changing directions so frequently can cause thread issues.  The key is to keep your movements smooth, that can be tricky when your neck is spasming and your eyes are crossed because you changed directions every 1/4″!  It’s totally possible, don’t be scared off, just keep you’re fabric moving smoothly :)

I’ve mentioned before that I really believe in using the best equipment that you can.  My first quilting gloves (above) were bought from a quilt shop.  They wouldn’t let me try them on or touch them (for hygiene reasons) and I must say I wondered for about six months why everyone loves quilting gloves.  Ah, my gloves were not so awesome…  So I purchased some machingers (I read some quilting guru saying they are the bees knees so I did what I was told and bought some online) and they ROCK!

Why do machingers gloves rock?  They are really elasticy so they fit nicely on your hands and they breath well.  The grip is on both sides of the fingertips – kind of like they were dipped in grippy stuff) which is better than it sounds.  Be honest, how often do you pick up your gloves and put them on the wrong hand?  With machingers it doesn’t matter because they’re double sided, which is great for someone as absent minded as me.  (And just so you know I’m not affiliated with machingers in anyway and I paid for my own gloves, but if they wanted to come to the party….) ;)

There’s lots of talk about needles and I know some people SWEAR by applique needles or embroidery needles.  I exclusively use Schmetz brand quilting needles.  They’re good for piecing too (I know because I’m absent minded and forget to change needles other than when I change weights of fabric) and for some reason I really like the little green spot of paint on them (I don’t think it actually does anything).  Clever marketing Schmetz ;)  (And again, no affiliation, I pay my way but I’ll always tell you what I love and what works for me.)

You’re probably sick of me telling you how much I love Aurifil, but I really do.  I do think quality thread makes a HUGE difference.  I actually prefer to use my spools on a spool stand (I originally bought it for the large cones that I use but it’s fine for any sized spool).  I think it improves tension and I rarely use my machine spool stands anymore. I just raise the small spools so that the metal pin is inside the spool and there is no chance of the thread catching on it.

Speaking of spools, don’t forget your bobbins!  One of the best sewing and quilting tips I can give you is to wind your bobbins on the SLOWEST SPEED possible (I made that big in case you’re skim reading – DON’T MISS THIS TIP).  When you wind your bobbin on the slowest speed possible it winds looser so your bobbin will feel a tad springy or spongey or squishey.  Try it and I promise you it will change your life (OK, don’t hold me to that, it will not change your life but it will enhance your sewing and quilting experience).  Loose bobbins reduce tension issues (let’s see how much dirty spam I get from that sentence LOL).  If you are getting lots of birds nests at the back of your fabric this may help (it helped me) :)

Another helpful tip is to support your quilt and make your quilting setup as ergonomic as possible.  I was lucky enough to find a sewing cabinet second hand and I quilt with my machine dropped down into the cabinet and an ironing board behind for support.  The weight of your quilt can play all sorts of havoc by causing you to accidentally move your quilt or giving your fabric a kind of pulled look because of the pressure that was on the fabric as you were quilting.

Do you remember that last week I talked about using different colours for top and bottom threads?  Since my crazy go at using a stark white top thread and dark grey in the bobbin I have avoided huge contrast and it’s helped.  I’ve added the numbers of the thread to the photo above for reference, but really this is just to give you an idea of different coloured threads that I have used together successfully in the top and bottom threads (they are lined up in pairs as I have used them).  All are 50wt Aurifil threads.

quilted 241 tote

Another option is to use really busy fabric to hide your quilting booboos (did you know that we use the word booboo in French for when we hurt ourselves a little?  I think that’s a funny linguistic crossover!).  The above photo is of my 241 tote where I’ve used Architextures and it really hides the details of my quilting.  I was actually just going for textures and colours that I liked, but it can be useful to use a busy print on the back of a quilt so you aren’t so worried about your booboos showing :)

Single Aunt mini

I love to let my stitching show, even if it is just a slightly different hue but it does mean you need to not worry about your booboos or be confident that you won’t make any biggies ;)  I suggest you try some quilting designs that have nice smooth curves to them like the design above, it’s repetitive but the lines are intentionally wobbly so if you go off them it isn’t really noticeable.

My current wip, I’ve used threads that both blend in and contrast for a fun effect.

So now it’s your turn!  Link up your post, please remember that this linky is about quilting process :)  Visit two or three other linkers and add my linky button to your post or sidebar (you can find the html code in the top left side bar or right at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device).  Yay for quilting and yay for Thursday!  I’m ready to end the week!!



Dense quilting


I’ll concede that you’re probably going to get tired of my countdown until our move, but it’s what is taking up all of my brain space right now and the shipping container arrives in less than two weeks!  Of course top priority is to get sewing projects finished…  I may be a master at the art of procrastination…  It seemed very important to tackle some dense quilting today… But let’s ignore that and look at some progress photos ;)

I finally put together a top using my bee blocks from QCA Bee1.  To be honest it was a challenge.  The quilt is for my friend who is very special to me but has a difficult life.  She lives in a shack without electricity or running water and I will be very sad to say goodbye when we leave Nouméa.  I really want to give her something special and I had the idea that bee blocks would be great as they were from a group of Australian women and I thought she would love that idea :)  I had to fix quite a few of the blocks and some of the prints were really not so awesome, it really took the wind out of my sails. The whole experience was a lesson for me.  I’m not sure I’m suited to traditional bees.  I should have said I wanted modern prints (I just assumed which is silly).  If I think about it I generally don’t sew traditional blocks so being part of a traditional bee, whilst fun, isn’t really me.  Anyway, I’m super happy with how it all came together in the end.  I spent hours auditioning fabrics and thinking it over and then I remember there dark grey print with the bright birds on it.  I actually pieced it to get the length that I needed but I liked the look so much that I pieced both sides.  I can’t wait to see how the quilting pulls this baby together.  I’m thinking I might use a fun teal thread :) :)  And just so you know, I am glad that I have been in the bee and I have learnt a lot from it :)  I don’t mean to sound whingy, it was just disappointing to find a block with holes in it and other blocks with seam allowances so small that I had to resew them or there would have been holes after the first wash.  But enough from me, I love it and I know my friend will too :)

It would appear that it is birthday season and I’m therefore on a cushion/pillow making crusade.  First up is a superhero quilted cover for Isaia.

My eldest son turned seven today and whilst his Mummy made gift is a day late I’m sure he is going to love it :)

You could say that I like free motion quilting ;)

The above panel is only 13″ x 16″ so the dense quilting was kinda insane, especially black on black where I had to sort of feel the thread as I couldn’t see it very well.

Super tricky to see and I probably should have changed to the open toe…


Next up will be a princess cushion cover, but I’ve only cut the front panel so far, must get cracking!!

I’m linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced :)  Tomorrow I will be talking about thread issues and free motion quilting.  I’d love you to pop back and link up your quilting process <3  If you have any questions you’d like me to (try and) answer please let me know :)


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I Quilt – when you don’t want your threads to show


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Hello!  Welcome to I Quilt, a weekly linky party all about the process of quilting.  23 awesome crafty peeps linked up last week, yay! :)  I’m going to give a shoutout each week to someone from the previous week :)  Lindsey from Inspiring Creations linked up last week and shared her GORGEOUS sunnyside pinwheel quilt.  Her first quilt!  It’s beautiful, pop by and check it out if you haven’t yet <3 Lindsey made the great point that she considered diagonal lines but really wanted her piecing to shine so stitched in the ditch.  As much as I love quilting the heck out of everything in reach, Lindsey is spot on, the piecing is really important in determining the quilting design and ditch stitching is a great way of letting the piecing tell the story :)  I haven’t stitched in the ditch since my first quilt as I find I’m too impatient to be super accurate ;)  Well done Lindsey, your quilt is beautiful!  Thanks for sharing :)

Speaking of letting the piecing speak to you this is my current work in progress.  I have an idea for quilting but I’m not sure.  This was entirely pieced using scraps most of which came from my Primary Plus Quilt but a few from my scrap stash.  I’m thinking I might stick with the colours of each area or using a thread which blends in with all the scraps such as Aurifil 2000 (a golden colour).  I’m trying to decide between some stark SLQ and really intense FMQ.  So rather undecided really ;)

I shared a progress pic of this mini on Instagram and a few friends commented on how tidy the back is.  First up I will admit that I am pedantic when it comes to my own work.  In all honesty though, I really think that a tidy back helps with quilting.  I trim all loose threads, press my seams open (to reduce bulk and improve accuracy) and press the heck out of my top.  I’ve never used starch and I’ve heard that spray basting is not great for free motion quilting.  Do you have any things that you do to improve your quilting?

Speaking of tips and tricks, I wanted to introduce a theme for the next Thursday :)  I would LOVE it if you could talk about thread issues.  It’s very easy in blogland to select which photos you share and hide any little mistakes.  This week I’m going to share some photos of my work that you may not have seen before ;)

You may remember the Rainbow I Spy quilt I made a while ago for my eldest son.  I really wanted the quilt to be truly double sided so in addition to the top you see above I pieced a rainbow back with scraps and a grey solid (Bella Steel from memory).  I then decided to quilt pebbles in white thread in the white sashing and use grey thread in the bobbin.  Alarm bells are ringing right about now.

Rainbow I Spy quilt back

For some reason lots (all? most? or maybe just me…) of quilters have issues when using significantly different coloured top and bottom thread.  Seriously, the quilting was a right pain.  I persisted but I was messing with the tension constantly (I normally rarely have to adjust tension on my Bernina 440).  In the end I found some solace by dropping the top tension to zero, using a spool stand and (strangely) missing the last loop when threading my machine (so not running the thread through the little metal loop just above the needle).  Pebbles probably made it worse with all of the tight turns as I didn’t have as many issues with the straight line quilting (SLQ) in the borders.

The pebbled area here is about 2″ wide to give you some perspective :)

If you look closely at the above photo you will see the threads popping through.  After a wash and some wear the thread issue isn’t an issue.  The quilt is loved and NO ONE is ever going to look at it as closely or as critically as I will look at my own quilts ;)  (tell me I’m not the only one who does that LOL).  I did learn a good lesson from this though, now when I use different coloured threads in the bobbin and spool I make sure they are not as dramatically different as dark grey and stark white.  I also quilt more smoothly now than I did at that point which I also think helps reduce thread issues.

When I made my daughter’s Princess Quilt I used a range of different threads colours from white to soft mauve and with each thread change I used a different colour in the bobbin.  For example, White on top, soft pink in the bobbin.  Soft pink on top, soft mauve in the bobbin.  Pink on top, dark pink in the bobbin.  Et voila!  No thread peaking through, no tension issues, no constant stressing and fiddling.  Lesson learnt :)

I would love to hear if you have any tips on thread.  I exclusively use Aurifil thread as I believe it’s the best (and I pay for it out of my own pocket – no sponsorship or paid reviews here).  It is super fine so the bobbin goes further (win!), the colours are beautiful (win!) and my machine feels smoother when I FMQ. Win, win and win :)

Some stash favourites including Aurifil thread and kona solids <3

Do you have a favourite thread?  How do you prevent thread issues?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experience, I’ve aired my dirty laundry, maybe you can share yours too ;)  There’s no requirement to link up a post on thread issues but if you feel like it, that’s the theme for the next week.  I’ll be talking about quilting designs that I find particularly easy and troublesome when it comes to thread showing through.

Blessings Quilt in progress – an all time favourite <3

Please remember to visit at least two other blogs and to please write about your quilting process.  As much as we all love finished projects, this linky is about process.  Your linked up post will be most helpful to everyone else if you talk about your quilting in some way, even if you’re discussing an old finished project, a current work in progress, quilting sketches, that kind of thing :)  Please feel free to link finished projects, or any type of quilting project, just include some of your process so we can learn :)  I also ask that you add a button to your post or sidebar.  You can find the html in my left hand side bar or right down the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device.

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Now it’s your turn to link up and talk about your quilting process :)  I’ve been having so much fun visiting new blogs, I hope you’re enjoying the quilty party too <3



Using Scraps


It’s about three weeks until I pack up my house and I currently have about five in progress WIPs (let’s not count the ones that are being ignored).  So what’s the best thing to do?  Start another!

I finished sewing together my Primary Plus quilt top (above) and I LOVE it (I haven’t had a chance to properly photograph the finished top yet)!  I’ve just paid for my long arm and this baby will be packed away ready to quilt on the long arm early next year.  I ended up with a pretty pile of scraps and seeing as I require a reward for cleaning I decided to play with them this afternoon.

I was originally thinking a cushion cover to match the plus quilt but I just had a light bulb moment and have an idea for a mini :)  One can never have too many minis, right? ;)

I have two piles of fabric sitting here patiently awaiting my attention.  First up is a twin sized butterfly quilt for my son’s love (they are both five and I have finally convinced him that they can be in love without having to kiss!  This Momma isn’t ready for that!!).  This pile of pink will become a flutter of butterflies on grey <3

Second up is a gender neutral baby quilt and I have all sorts of fun modern ideas floating around in my head.  This one is for my son’s (same son) teacher as a farewell/baby gift at the end of the year.  We’re moving away, she’s pregnant, I quilt.  You get the idea ;)

And with that I must get back to the roast chicken.  We have a dinner guest tonight and it would appear that I need to vacate the sewing/dining room so that we can entertain ;)

I’m linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced!  I’d love you to pop back tomorrow for my I Quilt linky party <3


Christmas Table Runner


Before you freak out and think that I’m super prepared for Christmas, please understand that I’m packing up my house in a month and all the sewing is actually just procrastination ;)  Normally my Christmas sewing is done around the 23rd of December!  But here we are in October and I’ve made a Christmas table runner!

Don’t look too closely at the table, it’s somewhat *ahem* worn!

I have been avoiding piecing chevrons as long as I have been admiring them.  I am not particularly fond of HSTs (half square triangles) and even then ‘easy’ patterns that I’ve seen around fill me with some sense of dread ;)  But I spied a cute chevrony Christmas table runner on Pinterest and I decided that I needed to make one.

After some contemplation I remembered how much I loved making my triangle quilt so I dug out my tri recs ruler set and got cutting.  Now quilt maths isn’t my strong point and I thought I cut enough triangles to make a 50″ long table runner.  In fact my table runner is 90″ in length and I have a dozen triangles left over!

My late Grandma knitted the Mr and Mrs Claus <3

I paired some Christmas prints by Kate Spain that I won as part of a blog hop last year with some Essex linen blend.  I cut the triangles to 6″ (finished) and a 3″ (finished) strip down the middle.  I actually just wanted something to quilt but figured some piecing was in order ;)

I went with a holly design (the last time I saw real holly was in primary school, approximately thirty years ago!) leaving out the berries as I didn’t want the quilting to over power the simple piecing and I couldn’t bring myself to quilt green berries ;)  I used a lovely soft green Aurifil thread (2840 in 50 wt) to quilt the holly design.

I don’t often mix blue and green together and I’m notoriously picky when selecting a backing fabric.  I have to use something nice but I don’t want to use something so nice that I will regret not having that print for a quilt top (ah, the dramas of being slightly obsessed with fabric!).  It turned out that I had the PERFECT print on hand.  An old moda print that I kept putting back on the shelf as it wasn’t quite right for any project.

I didn’t have quite enough so I added a section of the Essex linen blend.  I actually love the Essex section and it’s a reminder how much I love whole cloth quilts.

I used the linen blend for the binding as well and as always machine sewed it in place.  I also added simple hanging pockets and the quilting is directional so we might end up using it as a wall hanging.

I didn’t have any hooks high enough to photograph the whole quilt!

In addition to the holly quilting I quilted Christmas trees within the triangles.  I’m still having second thoughts about this as it takes away the abstractness that I loved but the space was big enough that it needed quilting.

I’m linking up with TGIFF over at Quilts Matters this week.  Big thanks to everyone who linked up this week for the i quilt linky party <3  I plan to finish the evening with a glass of wine and some blog reading ;)

I Quilt Linky Party – artist trading cards


Hello!  Welcome to I Quilt, a weekly linky party all about the process of quilting.  Big love to all you amazing quilters who linked up last week!  I was so overwhelmed by the response, even my husband was super excited (I think he secretly thought my goal of 3 linkers was ambitious) LOL  16 clever quilters linked up and I’m ever so grateful!  I hope you managed to visit a few other blogs.  I was super impressed with Rita’s post and would love to give her a shout out :)  She shared the quilting of her third quilt (a king sized quilt at that!) and all the things she learned.  Seriously, this lady has awesome skills for a new quilter!  Rita I’m keen to watch your quilting journey, it looks like you’re having a ball :)  Thanks so much for sharing and I do agree, I find free motion quilting easier than straight line quilting :)

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I was planning to share my current quilting project, a Christmas table runner, but instead I’ve decided to talk about some Artist Trading Cards (ATCs) that I made back in July and have had to keep secret.  These ATCs are all about free motion quilting so spot on for our linky party :)

A sneak peek of next week’s project that I’ll be talking about :)

Earlier in the year I suggested to the Wombat Stew Bee girls that we do a ‘Christmas in July’ swap of ATCs.  I had seen some online and I immediately fell in love with the idea of being able to make something super creative for no purpose other than to be creative.  We had very loose guidelines and a few of the girls struggled with having no guidelines other than a rough size limitation.  I take full blame there, I thought that it would be easier with no guidelines, but I guess that just reflects that we all work differently :)

South Pacific Dreaming – set of 3

I wanted my ATCs to reflect me so I decided to use some scraps from the above super special project that in itself was all about the quilting (there’s a family portrait quilted in there!  Can you see it?).

First up I pinned my pieced scraps to my quilt sandwich and secured in place with lots of organic lines, sticking within the pieced section.

One thing that you may have noticed is that when you quilt your quilt sandwich changes shape slightly.  I have been known to lose up to 2″ length and width because I have quilted so densely that the fabric is slowly pulled in (a good reason to leave some wiggle room in your quilt top and back – which I generally don’t do, but should!).

I decided to quilt feathers in the space between the SLQ.  I tend to choose feathers for three reasons, 1. Angela Walters says they are her default design as she loves them so much, 2. they are quite versatile and 3. I wanted to densely quilt the ATCs all over and feathers are versatile ;)  You can see above that I have squished full feathers into a small space (about 4″ x 6″ at the points of the triangles).  I will say that my feathers are probably more organic than the nice rounded ones that you see around.  I think of peacocks when I quilt feathers.  I guess I need to practice more to get nice, rounded ends ;)

I used Kona lagoon on the back and Essex linen blend on the front.  I highly recommend quilting with a linen blend.  It gives such amazing texture (it does move and fray a bit).  You can see another example here of when I used a linen blend for a mounted, quilted canvas.  The surface is a little rough (not enough to interfere with quilting) but it seems to just glow when the light hits it and really show off the quilting.

each ATC is approximately 2″ x 5″

My whole idea with these ATCs was to share a bit of my free motion quilting.  I wanted to quilt a scene, cut it up and send each of the participants a piece of the jigsaw puzzle.  I like the idea that maybe one day they might put the pieces together again.  I love how bright the back is and how the thread (Aurifil 2810, 1135 and 2000 all in 50wt) plays with your eyes.

Each ATC had a section of piecing quilting.  Just a taste, not a full scene.

I didn’t take a photo of the ATCs after I “finished” the edges.  With all of the quilting, these babies became as solid as a regular business card and they won’t be washed or experience much wear and tear.  I didn’t want to lose any of the quilting by using binding so I stitched around the edges three or four times using a really small stitch to prevent fraying. The one you see above is the prototype and the one I kept for myself.  The piecing reminds me of Nouméa, the shape of the main island, the colours of the lagoon and the sun.

I received my ATCs today and they’re amazing (and quite a few feature free-motion quilting!).  Although this post is about my quilting process I know you’re dying to see what I received ;)

Clockwise from top right: Jane, Gina, Alyce, Lara, Fiona, me, Midge.
Centre L-R: Marieka, Kristy

And the backs :)

Have you been quilting this week?  Or just dreaming about quilting?  I’d love to see you link up, I had so much fun discovering new blogs last week!  Just from my own experience I seem to get more traffic the earlier I link so I suggest you link up early if you can :)  I’m keeping the linky open for a week and I plan to post around 4-6pm AEST (that’s Sydney time if you google) every Thursday.  Next week I’m going to air my dirty laundry and show you some lessons I’ve learnt about showing your thread when you’re quilting – the good and the bad :)

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Now it’s your turn!  You don’t have to write an long post or share a finished project, just share some of your process so we can all learn together :)  I will keep the linky open for a few days and it will run weekly.  I really hope that you’ll join me <3  Make sure to visit two (or more) other bloggers and add the linky button (html at right –>) to your post or side bar.



Primary Plus Quilt in progress


Ages ago I pulled two stacks of fabric both based on the primary colors, one for each of my sons for a winter quilt.  My younger son is getting the cascade quilt.  I knew all along that I wanted to make a plus quilt for my older son but I I felt the prints I’d pulled were a bit stark.  Then I had the brilliant idea to pull in some solids and the whole thing went from hohum to passionate chopping and excitedly filling the design wall.

(mostly) kona on the left, original pull on the right

Big love to Pink Chalk for their awesome Kona Color Box stack.  I bought it almost a year ago and it is PERFECT for this project!!!  The only reason I had waited so long to use it is that it is so pretty that I couldn’t chop it up LOL

reds first followed by orange

I cut three (where possible) pluses of each print (each plus is made up of 1 x 3.5″x9.5″ and 2 x 3.5″x3.5).  I knew exactly the layout I wanted so I just started throwing things on the design wall as fast as I could :)

I filled in all the colours first, spilling over each other, getting a nice blend of colour.  Without the text print it was lacking but I have a thing about needlessly cutting up fabric so I filled the design wall and then worked out what sized strips I needed of the text print.

My lovely friend Jane sent me some of her clever row markers ages ago so I decided to give them a whirl.  You press the seams in the direction of the arrows (although I press open) and I found them super helpful for getting track of everything.  I was seriously worried about messing with my original layout and having to redo it – not a window was allowed to be opened until I had the pieces off the design wall and safely pinned!

I find quilting quite exciting, but I have to say that this one was extra special to watch as it came together.

Serious love right there folks.

I haven’t sewn the rows together yet.  I love the movement of them hanging there and moving every so slightly in the breeze.

I think I love this quilt in progress so much because I used a select few of my favourite prints, stuck to a defined palette, broke into my pretty solids and did the whole thing on instinct.  I didn’t change a thing from my original layout and I think this quilt reflects how much I love colour but also how fun the primary colours can be all by themselves.


I’m linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for my iquilt linky party.  Tomorrow we’re talking quilting process and I have a few fun ideas gurgling around in my brain to share with you :)


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