November 2013 archive

I Quilt Linky Party – Wadding


i quilt blog button

Welcome to I Quilt Linky Party!  It’s Thursday and it’s time to get your FMQ on (any quilting really, I just like saying that ;) ) and link up your quilting process!  This week I’m talking wadding (or batting, depending on where you live) which is a really important part of the quilting process.  I’d love you to share your thoughts and experience on this topic too.  It’s kind of the unglamorous part of quilting but oh-so-important! :)  I have been quilting up a storm this week and if all goes to plan I will have finished three large quilts in two weeks!!  Eeeeek!  I’ve been sharing lots of progress pics on Instagram so won’t double up, but here is one in case you aren’t on IG (but you should be! Sooo fun!!).

I’ve been quilting like crazy this week!

This week I am featuring the absolutely amazingly talented Julia Graber from Life as a Quilter.  Seriously, this woman is impressive!  I wrote to her and asked if I could feature her and you know what she said? “I would be honored…”  Julia, the honor is mine, every week that you have linked up I have been blown away by your work.  Please check out her blog if you haven’t had a chance yet!  Who can resist a quilter that is talented, modest and polite?! :)

Image and work by Julia Graber

This week Julia made a BEAUTIFUL sailboat piece based on a photo.  So impressive!  Julia, if I’m ever in Missisippi can I please come by your studio and watch and learn?  Thanks so much for sharing with us.  I also LOVED Julia’s bird on a wire from last week.  Beautiful and so interesting to see how two different artists started with the same photo and created unique pieces.

Image and work by Julia Graber

Getting back to wadding/batting, a question that most quilters ask themselves at some point is, “can I piece together wadding and use it for a quilt?”  My answer is a resounding yes!  I haven’t gone so far as to mix different types of wadding in one quilt but you can see in the below photo just how scrappy I will make my wadding.  If I am being super scrappy (as per the below example) I just make sure that I quilt the piece fairly densely so that all of the joins are covered and the wadding won’t slip around with use.

Yep, I use the scraps most people throw away! I hate to waste things!

Sometimes I will use the flat lock stitch on my machine to join the wadding but usually I just lay it so that it is slightly overlapping.  I do this all the time and have never had a problem (I do usually add a few extra pins whilst basting to make sure that I don’t end up with any gaps).  You could use the zigzag stitch on your machine and I find that by only very slightly overlapping the wadding that you don’t end up with any bulk, it’s all caught in the stitches.  I have been told that a good idea is to cut your wadding in a curvy line where it meets so that you don’t get a noticeable fold.  I don’t bother and I haven’t had any issues so far :)

I am still a newby quilter.  My obsession with quilting only really began just under two years ago and whilst I did a beginners course at my (former) LQS most of what I’ve learnt is through trial and error and the internet.  I decided that I wanted to make a number of quilts that I would keep out of different types of wadding to see how they would wear.  So far I have tried out 100% cotton, 100% wool and 100% bamboo, all three are Matilda’s Own brand.  The quilts that I’ll discuss below are all made with top quality quilting cottons unless otherwise stated :)

L-R: Rainbow I Spy Quilt, Princess Quilt, Kitchen Windows Quilt

My daughter’s Princess Quilt is made with 100% wool wadding and has been in use for about three months.  It has a top quality flannel on the back and was really easy to quilt.  I love how puffy it is and I love quilting with wool.  The brand I use is low loft but has enough loft to really show up your quilting.  I love using wool wadding for items that have lots of texture.  It has a lovely drape and feels kind of bouncy.  What I don’t like is how much it has pilled!  Honestly, that quilt needs a shave!  I plan to experiment with other brands of 100% wool wadding and try blends to see if I can overcome this issue.  I’m loath to use this particular wadding in a bed quilt again :(  It is, however, my favourite for items that won’t be washed often, such as wall hangings, art quilts and table runners (maybe not at my house though – 3 young kids=food everywhere!).

This close up of the Princess Quilt shows you how fun it can be to quilt with 100% wool wadding.

Mr 7′s Rainbow I Spy Quilt was my first foray into 100% bamboo wadding.  This stuff is CRAZY!  It actually squeaks LOL  Before washing it feels a little stiff but supple at the same time.  It’s strange, but don’t let that put you off!  Bamboo wadding is my current favourite.  It quilts like a dream, it’s light and it wears SO WELL!!  I plan on buying a bolt of 100% bamboo wadding to use both for myself and customer quilts.  I recommend you give it a try :)

Mr 5′s Kitchen Window’s quilt is made with 100% cotton wadding.  It has worn exceedingly well considering the number of times it has been washed.  I did use some dress making cottons in this quilt (I’ll elaborate another time) and the white sashing is linen, but otherwise it is made with quilting cottons and organic quilting cottons.  Whilst this quilt has a nice drape I do feel that it is second (both in drape and wear) to the bamboo quilt.  In another year or two I’ll probably be able to pinpoint it, but at this stage all I can say is that it just doesn’t quite live up to the bamboo standard (but it is older, so that could be age).

I’ve used archive photos of the above projects as they are all on their way to Australia, but I did finish three quilts this week with three different types of wadding and I thought you might like to see them side by side.  You get a better idea of the loft and texture on an angle.

So there you go!  What’s your favourite type of wadding?  Do you use scraps?  Do you have any special tips for joining wadding of which is best for what type of project?

Now it’s your turn to link up!  Please remember that this linky is about the quilting process (the last Thursday of each month I will introduce a theme and you are welcome to join me by posting on this topic or sticking to quilting process – your choice).  I urge you to please visit three other linkers.  We all love sharing and comments <3  Please add my button and/or a link to my blog in your post.  Share the love!  My goal is to share, encourage and educate quilters.  I’ve been learning each week and am loving visiting all of your blogs!

i quilt blog button



A Cushion For Christmas Blog Hop


Ms Midge


It’s the 25th of November and in case you needed reminding, Christmas is just around the corner!!!!  Eeeek!  I’m joining the wonderful Ms Midge and a host of other talented bloggers in December for the “A Cushion For Christmas” blog hop.  You may have noticed that I have a thing for cushions (or pillows, depending on where you live in the world.  I’m talking the decorative type, not the ones you sleep on.) and I’m really excited to see what everyone comes up with.

A few of my all time favourite cushions that I’ve made <3

Ms Midge will be kicking off on December 1st followed by little old me on the 2nd.  You can see the full schedule below and Midge has promised to post tips and tutorials during the hop to get you started.  There will also be a linky party and some fun prizes at the end!

I can’t wait to decorate my new house with these pretties! I miss them…

If you’d like to join in, you can find the code for the button at Ms Midge and feel free to add it to your blog sidebar.  If you don’t have a blog you can join in by emailing your finished projects to Ms Midge (details on her blog).  There is also a Flickr group for you to join HERE.


Sunday 1st December – Midge at Ms Midge
Monday 2nd December – Me!!! at Pretty Bobbins
Tuesday 3rd December – Kristy at Quiet Play
Wednesday 4th December – Joshua at Molli Sparkles
Thursday 5th December – Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts
Friday 6th December – Fiona at Finding Fifth
Saturday 7th December – Abby at Things For Boys
Sunday 8th December – Lauren at Molly & Mama Makes
Monday 9th December – Jodi at Tickle & Hide
Tuesday 10th December – Adrianne at On The Windy Side
Wednesday 11th December – Rachel at Little White Dove
Thursday 12th December – Gina at Party of Eight
Friday 13th December – Jane at Quilt Jane
Saturday 14th December – Round up of Blog Hop and link up YOUR projects at Ms Midge!
A big shout out to the fab sponsors of the hop -


Patterns Only
The Oz Material Girls
Fat Quarter Shop - $50 Voucher!


Polka Dot Tea - Fabric Bundle!


Intrepid Thread - $25 Voucher!
Blossom Heart Quilts - Quilt Patterns!


Quiet Play - Paper Piecing Patterns!
Now I have to get back to my moving lists and then get onto making my cushion.  I’m going to be focussing on fun colours and the Quilt As You Go (QAYG) technique <3

I Quilt Linky Party – Forgiving


Welcome to Pretty Bobbins I Quilt Linky Party.  I would love you to link up!  This linky party is all about the quilting process, we want to share and learn and grow as quilters.  Please make sure to visit three other linkers and add a link to my blog and/or my button to your post (you can find it top right or at the bottom if you’re on a mobile device).  Next week is the last Thursday of the month and I’d like to invite you to discuss wadding (also known as batting depending on where you live in the world).

i quilt blog button


This week I’m talking forgiving, as in which quilting designs are rather forgiving ;)  I’m also hoping that you’ll be forgiving as I have a full plate this week and haven’t managed to get myself organised to feature someone from last week’s linky.  It’s a busy time and my day kind of fell apart when we had some intruders strip our lemon tree this morning.  It’s happened once before and to be honest the guys probably are after nothing more than lemons, but it is scary when they won’t leave and it leaves you worried about what might happen.  Anyway, the day is nearly over and I’m looking forward to a fresh day tomorrow! :)

One of my favourite (and thread hungry!!) techniques to personalize a quilt <3

I’m currently working on a lovely, girly butterfly quilt which I hope to finish tomorrow.  It’s actually a repeat of a cot sized quilt I made earlier in the year, but this one is a whopping 2m x 1.9m!!  I am quilting the same design but it’s been really interesting to use different materials and see how that changes the look and the feel of the quilt.  Last time I used an AMH flannelette for the backing and wool wadding, this time it is all quilting cottons with 100% cotton wadding.  Next week I’ll be talking more about wadding and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

You can see the flight paths and how much better they look once the main quilting is completed

I quilted three “paths” for the butterflies to give movement and whilst it looks a bit odd at first, it works quite well once you fill in all the space.

This quilting design is really easy.  It’s three shallow arches that are themselves in an arch shape and end in a swirl.  The swirl can either touch another ‘cloud’ or not.  It’s great for quilting up close to the butterflies (which are attached with fusible web and then quilted in place) without having to worry about direction.

The 100% cotton wadding is much flatter than the wool I used last time but it still gives a nice shape to the lettering.

It is also very forgiving when you think you’re going to get a pucker or fold or bubble in your quilt sandwich.  You just leave a gap in your quilting that is part of the design and you avoid messy folds.  Perfect!

The back is kona berrylicious and I love the contrasting quilting in grey Aurifil

OK, that’s about the limit of my ability to write coherently this evening LOL  I’d love you to link up and support your fellow quilty bloggers by visiting at least 3 other linkers.  Also, linking back to my blog will hopefully bring more linkers and more for us to learn.  I’m really loving visiting everyone’s blogs each week.  I’ve managed to visit everyone each week so far but I haven’t been quite so awesome in replying to comments so if you asked me a question and I haven’t replied, please as again :)  Happy linking and please feel free to link about wadding/batting next week :)

i quilt blog button




I Quilt Linky Party – Confidence


Welcome to I Quilt linky party at Pretty Bobbins, it’s Thursday (in Nouméa) and time to link up your quilting process.  Please link up, visit a few other linkers and grab my button (code at top right or down the bottom if you’re on a mobile device) and link back in your post.  Let’s spread the quilty love <3 :)  We had some seriously impressive linkers last week and as I was visiting all of the blogs I started thinking about quilting with confidence as quite a few people mentioned this.  Last week a Facebook friend shared a quote that said something like, “don’t compare your middle to someone else’s high point”.  It really struck a cord with me (as did the response that we should never compare our middles ;) ).

i quilt blog button

The online quilting community is great, blogs are great, craftsy and flickr and instagram are great.  But every now and then I catch myself comparing my work rather than being inspired.  Don’t get me wrong, 95% of the time I am surfing the web I am being inspired but there is a small part of me that every now and then thinks, “I’m not that good.” rather than “I look forward to being that good” or “I’m going to try that”.  Of course there are better quilters than me, there always will be!  And that’s great, it gives me something to aspire to.  But my point is, compare yourself to yourself.  To how far you’ve come, to what you achieved during your quilting time today, to the skills that come easily now compared to that first lesson when EVERYTHING was a challenge. (I remember being totally perplexed by how to use a rotary cutter and ruler and cutting all my blocks .5″ wrong!).  I used to sometimes feel like blogland was too happy and no one ever said anything real or negative.  But I have come to understand that the encouragement that we give each other is far more important than saying, “it would have looked better if you….” or “those really aren’t my colours…”  I read every comment I get and whilst I can’t always respond, those comments all build my confidence and that makes me a braver and better quilter.  Share the love people! :)

Photo used with permission from Marelize @ Stitch by Stitch

This week I am featuring the lovely Marelize from Stitch by Stitch.  I think I originally “met” Marelize on Instagram and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE seeing her work.  She also quilts on a Bernina and is super amazing at free motion quilting.  Seriously, check her out if you love quilting candy!   Last week she linked up the most BEAUTIFUL quilt in progress and was talking about how it just wasn’t how she imagined.  Marelize, the rest of us can see how stunning that quilt is, your work is divine!  The back really shows the detail. AMAZING!

Photo used with permission by Marelize @ Stitch by Stitch

I’m actually in the same head space as Marelize at the moment.  I love the quilting I did on my “Dream” mini (below) but it isn’t quite there, it’s not how I imagined it would be.  I need to add a bit and I think by attaching the binding next I will be inspired to stitch on those words like I envisaged and decide whether or not to outline the word “dream” or leave it subtle.

As often is the case, the back is the show stealer here…

My other current quandry is the table runner I am making as a thank you/farewell gift for Mr 7′s teacher.  (Thank you for all the useful suggestions and kind thoughts yesterday.  Apparently he was improved this morning but lost focus this afternoon.  That in itself is a HUGE improvement.  Funny that my son is stubborn… ;) )  After so much dense SLQ on the Dream mini I just couldn’t do it again even though it was my first thought for the table runner (this girl needs curves!).

Triangle table runner in progress

I LOVED this baby during the piecing and felt oh so clever how I’d used all teal and placed it from dark to light with the bold pink thrown in.  I actually really thought this one needed some harsh geometric quilting but I didn’t want to quilt over the triangles.  I pondered it for a day and then decided to just jump in.

Stuck in a rut!

I kind of got stuck on the same pattern.  Does that ever happen to you?  Completely not loving it I gave up the idea of something I would love and decided to throw in some half swirls spewing out into pebbles.  I like it a lot more now, but it looks really beachy to me and that wasn’t at all what I was going for….  Ah!  I need to think less and have more confidence in giving hand made gifts!!  Do you give handmade gifts confidently?  It’s that real conundrum, do you give handmade and put in lots of effort and then maybe it ends up at goodwill or in the rubbish…  Or is it only me that is lacking in confidence on the handmade gift front?  Spill the beans people! :)

Adding swirls and pebbles for interest

Now it’s your turn.  I’d love you to link up below.  Please remember that this is a quilting process linky.  We all want to hear about your process, we want to learn and be inspired and share your quilty journey <3  Please remember to visit a few other linkers and add my button to your post or sidebar.  Happy quilting!! :)

i quilt blog button



Hanging in there


As the title suggests, I’m just hanging in there.  I’ll spare you the grim details of post-packing fallout, suffice to say that Mr 7′s teacher pulled me aside today and told me that he is going to fail his final evaluations because he has mentally shutdown following the packing up of our house.  If anyone has any suggestions on motivating, building confidence and managing change when it comes to children…  I’m all ears!  In the absence of good parenting I have promised Mr 7 the Nintendo DS (game thingy) that he desperately wants if he works hard like he did before last Monday.  I have been saying all year that it is too expensive and not possible but I hope the lure of the DS is enough to get him working again.  I have informed his teacher of this incentive and asked that she remind him if possible when he is head down refusing to work.  Terrible parenting but I’m desperate.  It is heartbreaking to watch your child shutdown and risk repeating a year of school because they are not coping with the thought of leaving their friends and the only home they remember.  Sorry, I meant to spare you the details…

‘Dream’ mini in progress – made with scraps from Rainbow Plus quilt top. Aprox 15″ x 30″

Usually I keep my works in progress to a minimum.  At the moment I’m suffering a lack of clarity when it comes to quilting designs but I’m pushing on and then procrastinating when I feel that the design I’ve gone with is not right.  I was thinking the word “dream” in the above mini was too obvious but when I shared it on IG the clever peeps there suggested outlining it in black.  I’m still procrastinating…

I use my ‘tri recs’ ruler when piecing triangles :)

I’ve started a table runner for Mr 7′s teacher as a thank you/farewell gift.  I loved it during the piecing stage.  I’m worried I messed it up whilst quilting.  I’ve probably quilted a 1/4 of it but didn’t grab a photo before the light went (and can’t find the charger for my DSLR, sorry for the ipad pics!) so here it is pieced.

Aprox 15″ by 60″

The other main piece I am working on is a custom order, a Butterfly quilt based on a cot sized one I made a few weeks back.  My wadding arrived today so I hope to baste it tonight (although crying into my wine is more tempting!).

Butterfly quilt in progress aprox 2m x 1.9m

I’m using fusible adhesive and raw edged appliqué and I love all the pink on the grey.  Quilts like this make having a large stash a lot of fun.  My customer had a great time going through all of the pinks and putting together her picks :)

I’m linking up to Work in Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.  I’d love you to pop back tomorrow and link up to my Quilting Process linky <3

 i quilt blog button



I Quilt Linky Party – growth


i quilt blog button

First up, thank you for all the kind words and support on my post yesterday.  You reminded me once again that when I put myself out there I get it back ten fold.  Thank you xx  Today has been chaotic (I got all ready for my first walk post packing and discovered that my shoes and hat have been packed!) but I will start to respond to comments tomorrow <3

Greek Cross Cushion by Aoife of thREDhead

A big thank you also to everyone who linked up last week!  I finally got around to visiting everyone’s blogs last night :)  I hope everyone linking up is showing some of the love and visiting other linkers, we all love comments and traffic :)  This week I am featuring the talented Aoife, I LOVE her blog name, thREDhead.  Seriously girl, how long did it take you to come up with such a great name?!  I thought about mine forever and I still question it LOL  Make sure you pop by Aoife’s blog, last week she shared her Greek Cross cushion which is absolutely stunning in bold solids with some AWESOME quilting to boot.  Aoife pointed out how dense quilting dramatically shrinks your quilt and she used this as a clever design feature and densely quilted half of her cushion back (photo below).  Aoife, you may have completely inspired my current work in progress ;) Thank you xx

Greek Cross Cushion (back) by Aoife of thREDhead

My post yesterday probably left you thinking that I’m somewhat introspective at the moment.  Yep, it kind of happens when you go through the moving process and touch every item that you own.  Left with an empty house I put up our advent calendar that I made two Christmases ago.  My idea was to make a Christmas tradition/symbol that was portable as we are often in transit during December.  I had very little quilting experience (and confidence!) when I made this wall hanging.  The wadding is synthetic felt, the white fabric is a super high threadcount sheet (NOT fun to quilt through!) and I did all the blanket stitching and binding by hand.  Yep, I have grown a lot since I made this baby!

Quilted Advent Calendar with felt decorations

Growth is good.  I love the quilts I make now (I love my early quilts too).  I’d never use synthetic felt as wadding now (never say never!!) LOL  I rarely mark my quilts anymore and for this quilt I even marked all of those straight lines in chalk.  I didn’t even own a walking foot so I dragged that sucker through my old Husqvarna.  Yep, I don’t do any of those things anymore, but I love this wall hanging and so does my family.  If I hadn’t jumped in and made that wall hanging and lots of other projects, I wouldn’t have ended up where I am now.  Marking quilting lines gave me the confidence to quilt.  Quilting gave me the confidence to not mark lines.  Not marking lines gave me the space to get creative and play.

my current quilt in progress 12″ x 27″

I would love to hear about how you’ve grown as a quilter.  How did you build your confidence?  Do you still have your early projects?  Did you have lessons and learn methods or did you just jump in and give it a go?  As much as I am a perfectionist, I don’t think there is really a right or wrong when it comes to quilting.  Sure, you might not feel every piece is “show worthy” but we learn from each piece we make and that is invaluable.  My Blessings quilt (below) was a major turning point in my quilting journey <3

I have also become a better photographer since then but I gave this quilt away so I can’t photograph it again.  You can see the quilting better from the back (where I learnt that sometimes whole cloth is better) ;)

Blessing Quilt back (I thought a pieced back was fun, but in hindsight it took away from the quilting.)

How is your quilting journey progressing?  I’d love you to link up below.  I ask that you visit at least two other linkers and 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!

i quilt blog button

Thanks for linking up xxx



Thoughts on moving


Well, the big move is underway.  Two days ago the shipping container was loaded and locked and shortly it should be on it’s way to Australia.  Now we camp out for awhile until returning.  This is my third international move with children and I was prepared for the fallout but it’s still hard.  We are exhausted, we are stressed and on edge.  The children returned home from school on Monday to find their home (the only one they remember) empty of all their possessions.  Miss 3 had tears in her eyes for hours, Mr 5 was full of nervous energy exploring every cupboard and Mr 7 got angry.  In my experience we should expect six tough months but by the year mark we should be back on track.

I can already see the behavioral issues.  Everyone is fighting and bickering ALL. THE. TIME.  The loss of anything (taking away a plate before they’ve finished) results in hysterical tears.  I am having to stop myself from taking them to the toy shop every day.  I want to see them happy again.  I want to stem the tears and stop the fights.  But all I can do is try and explain, try and be patient (I’ve had my post-move meltdown, it wasn’t pretty) and try to keep life as normal as possible.  But what is normal about this nomadic lifestyle?  That’s not a path I should venture down at this point.  It’s a dangerous spiral.  My silver lining is that in our mid-thirties we have realised that this lifestyle is not for us.  We are still employable, we have time to claw back our family life.  I know my husband will forever mourn the loss of these three years that he only saw his children on weekends (he has worked LONG hours Monday-Friday) but I hope that they will forget and it will be replaced with memories of a Dad who does their homework with them, a Dad who is home for dinner every night, a Dad who isn’t late for everything no matter how important it is because work ALWAYS comes first.

I hope that I forget too.  I hope that these three years go fuzzy in my memory.  That I remember the brilliant colours of New Caledonia, the smiling faces in the provinces, the precious friends that I have made.  Those friends that have taken my kids into their homes so I could pack up our life without them watching, the friends who rang to see if they could drop over dinner, the friends who judge me on my actions and not on what others may say.  I have had some very dark days here in Nouméa, I tell myself that great artists have to suffer for their work.  It’s a kind of sad joke.  It makes me wonder how much you have to suffer to actually make great work.  I’m not asking for pity, but I’ve written and deleted this story so many times without publishing it.  I don’t want to be negative in my happy place but these three years have had a huge impact on me as a person.  I have lost so much of my confidence.  I have suffered social anxiety to the point that I won’t leave the house other than to collect the children from school.  I have had moments where I was ready to walk out but I didn’t even have the clarity of mind to know where to walk to.

To me, quilting is like meditation.  I focus so wholly, with every fibre of my being, on a small area of fabric.  The rest of the world, my thoughts, the doubts, they disappear.  And then I produce something pretty and amaze myself.  And then I share it and other people like it and I feel human again.  Thank you dear readers for commenting both here and on IG and Flickr.  Your comments and ‘likes’ have helped me regain my confidence.  You’ve helped me feel human again.  My very good friend told me yesterday that you don’t need hundreds of virtual friends that you never even meet, that you only need a few diamonds (he -and his family- is definitely one of my diamonds).  I disagree.  Yes, my awesome ‘diamond’ friends are amazing and prop me up, but the online interaction has shown me that complete strangers care.  That is really powerful.  I can’t tell you how much it meant when Dasha emailed me late on Sunday night to wish me luck with the packing on Monday (we’ve never met and only started corresponding in January over thread/tension issues), I ‘chat’ everyday with the ‘Wombat Stew’ bee girls, in the last hours of packing they were cheering me on.  Those kind words and all the lovely comments on my blog are no less important.  So thank you very, very much.

I’m sorry this post isn’t really sewing related.  And I’m sorry if it’s negative.  And I know it doesn’t tell the whole story of what really happened (let’s just say bullying doesn’t end in primary school and leave it at that).  But this time I’m going to hit publish and I hope you don’t mind.

Tomorrow we’ll be back to quilting.  I’d love you to come link up to I Quilt Thursday.  I haven’t visited last weeks linkers yet.  I will, but it has been chaos here and my feet have only just hit the ground.

i quilt blog button