Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I finished quilting the Block Party Quilt late last night, it may even have been Tuesday morning. This took a long time to quilt, and it became increasingly more difficult to keep myself motivated.

Quilt measures 60" x 64"

Here are some of the more intricate details of the quilt that a few readers have been asking for.

The main part of the quilt is made up of 9 blocks that measure 12 inches. Each 12 inch block is made from four 6 inch blocks (all measurements are finished size, seam allowances need to be added).

The sashing in between the blocks measures 3 inches.

The first white border around the nine large blocks is a 2 inch border. The second border is a pieced border made from 2 inch blocks.

The larger outer border measures 7 inches wide along the top and bottom of the quilt and 5 1/2 inches wide on either side of the quilt.

The 6 inch blocks were made at random, starting with a small center block cut without measuring, and then adding two borders around the center block. Each block was trimmed back to measure 6 1/2 inches.

Each 12 inch block features only two to three main colors. The fabrics used are almost all from the Flea Market Fancy collection by Denyse Schmidt. The solid white fabric is a linen/cotton blend.

The quilt is quilted with straight lines, I marked some lines at regular intervals to ensure that the quilting continued to run in straight lines. My son tells me there are 82 lines, and they are quilted approximately 3/4 of an inch apart.

I used Aurifil Mako 40/2 thread, and for the first time used a different color thread for top and bobbin. I quilted the top with white thread and had a light beige thread in the bobbin. I expected tension problem, but encountered none. This is the biggest quilt that I have quilted myself, and fitted comfortably under my sewing machine, however, it did involve much lifting and maneuvering of a huge bundle of fabric. I also stitched my way through 6 bobbins and 3 needles (to stop skipping stitches).

Quilt Back - Most fabric: Sweet Pea - by Jackie Shapiro

I am going to get the binding ready for this quilt today, as I have promised myself that I cannot start another quilt until this one is finished!

Monday, June 29, 2009

From Where I am Sitting ....

This will be my view for today - I am still quilting my Block Party Quilt. I have decided to quilt it with organic straight lines. No marking lines, just quilting straight lines. The quilting is going well but ...

why did I decided to quilt these lines so close together? I love the look of all these lines, but what was I thinking?

I am going to be quilting for a while. I am enjoying the slow process and the school holidays though!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Stash #9

For Sunday Stash I have selected some favorite black and white fabrics, although this is no reflection on my mood for the day.

From left to right they are:
  1. Califon by Mark Lipinski's Home for Northcott Fabrics
  2. Toria byLiberty Fabrics
  3. Hugs and Kisses by Prints Charming for Marcus Brothers Textiles Inc
Califon - Mark Lipinski

Have a great Sunday - Enjoy!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Basting and Batting


I spent today on the floor - no not scrubbing it! - but basting the Block Party Quilt.

There is little joy in basting a quilt and having received a few emails asking how I go about basting my quilts I can give you a little run down of what works best for me. There are many ways to baste a quilt and this is just one way.

I start by making a backing sufficiently big enough (ie 4 inches larger than the quilt top all around). The back has to be nice and flat - no nasty ripples or waves.

1. I tape the backing face down onto the floor with masking tape. I tape each corner down first, ensuring the top is firm, quite firm, probably much tighter than you would think necessary. Gently pull the fabric tight. But it should not be stretched out of shape. Using masking tape, tape around the edges, pulling the backing so that it is firm. I use 4-5 inches of tape at very close intervals (often most of the edges are taped).

Pinning the outside edges first

2. Place the batting on top, again taping it firmly to the floor. (I usually just tape the corners and tape the sides in one or two places). If the batting has a scrim, which my batting usually does, ensure it is facing down. The scrim is a netting type of fabric that helps to support the fibers..

3. Place the quilt on top, ensure it is centered and lined up with the backing. Start pinning along the bottom edge. Start at the center of the quilt working out to the corners. As I pin I ensure that the quilt top is taut also. Then pin along the left and right side of the quilt. The top edge of the quilt is done last.

I pin the outside of the whole quilt first which is contrary to most basting instructions. Once the edges are all pinned, I pin the rest of the quilt.I place a pin every 3 to 4 inches which means using a lot of pins. And there you have it, a basted quilt.

This is how I baste most of my quilts, there is however no right or wrong way to baste a quilt, and if you baste your quilts differently, and if it is working for you, then great, stick with what works for you! I have not tried basting spray and would love to hear your experience with it and if you know of any possible long term effects it may have on the fabric.

A sneak peek at the pieced backing


I use Matilda's Own Batting, either 100% cotton or a wool/cotton blend. It has a scrim which also helps to stabilize the quilt sandwich. I often wash the batting before use, although manufacturer's instructions indicate that this batting does not shrink noticeably.

I wash my batting by allowing it to soak in warm water in the bathtub. I add a product called SOAK to the water, which is a no-rinse cleaning product. It takes at least 4 hours for the water to be absorbed into the closely compacted fibers (I often leave it to soak overnight). I then drain the water and spin it in the washing machine at high speed to extract water. I either line dry the batting or if pushed for time, I will dry it in the dryer.

Although I realize that washing the batting is often unnecessary, I like to think that the batting inside my quilts is able to withstand many washes and does not in future distort the shape of the quilt. I have not had any problems subjecting this brand of batting to this rigorous procedure.

EDITED TO ADD: Matilda's Own batting now comes pre-washed and pre-shrunk and I no longer wash the batting prior to use.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

FMF Fabric Galore!

Oh wow! Look what came in the mail today (I think my heart may have skipped a beat!):

Not one, but two parcels of fabric. After my desperate plea last week for more Flea Market Fancy fabric by Denyse Schmidt, I was given some great leads of where I might find some right here in Australia. These two parcels arrived from interstate today and inside ...

These fabrics were sourced from Fred the Needle, Addicted to Fabric, Canberra, and Just Patchwork, Tuncurry, NSW (~very pricey~). My favorite here is the lime green Bouquet. I could finally breath a sigh of relieve when I found these parcels on my doorstep. (The anticipation - only a fellow fabric addict might understand)!

I am still enjoying my own block party. I have pieced the blocks together, added a border or two and it is now ready for the next stage. The batting is having a nice long soak in the bathtub (wish it was me), and I plan to make the backing tonight.

Here is a sneak peek! I wish it wasn't so hard to take a decent photo. I am a complete novice at taking photos and often need to take many shots for one ok photo. The winter sun/clouds only add to my light problems. And why is it that white fabrics look blue in my pictures? Any tips? All would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Eye Candy

I finally received my copy of Material Obsession Two today. This book is by Kathy Doughty (Material Obsession) and Sarah Fielke (Sewn). Both these quilt designers are so creative and talented, their quilts are unique and inspirational. I find their use of fabric and color fascinating.

Jazz Hands by Sarah Fielke

I love everything about this book, all the quilts have such a fresh and modern look about them, even when the quilt is traditional in design.

Gypsy Kisses by Kathy Doughty

This book is overflowing with inspiration and manageable, well written projects. This quilt in particular has struck a chord, and I would love to make one just like it.

Stashbuster by Kathy Doughty

I might just have enough fabric to make such a quilt from stash!

It is just as well the postman delivered this parcel late morning! Luckily I did get a chance to sew some blocks before the book arrived.

I am having my own block party!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Bits and Pieces

I can see it is going to be a busy week. School holidays have started for my son and he will be home for three long weeks. The weather is cool - dank and overcast which really does not help in terms of entertaining them. I find that if I keep myself busy whilst the teens are home, they too will occupy themselves.

I have spent some time practising my free-motion quilting. I cannot believe how much thread I have used, not only have I used all the left-over bits of bobbin thread that were in my drawer, but more, much much more!

I have come a long way with free motion quilting, but still need some more practise. This just does not come naturally to me. I still need to learn how to navigate my way around the quilt rather than getting stuck in a corner with no way out!

I have also prepared a little care package for a blogger friend. Mel from From Little Things has just experienced a great loss, one that I am sure many women can readily identify with. Please go and read her moving post. Mel is also getting ready to make her first quilt.

And my swap fabric posted in Sunday Stash - Urban Chicks (Paint by Number - Birds) is on its way to Washington!

Of course, a little sewing has taken place as well. Here is a sneak peak at what I have been working on:

Some fun blocks made up at random. I hope to make several of these and then piece them together using some bold white sashing fabric.

So much I want to do, so little time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Zig Zag Quilt

It's time to pull a quilt from the archives. I really love Zig Zag Quilts. Not only are they easy to make, but the this layout of the blocks makes for such a colorful and striking quilt.

I made this quilt late in 2008, using some of my favorite designer fabrics, focusing on the the colors red, orange, green and blue, and alternating each color with a solid white stripe. It was pieced by making Half Square Triangles. (Here is just one of the many great Half-Square Triangle tutorials - this really does help to make the piecing process so much easier).

I also pieced the back using more of the same fabrics and keeping them in their blue/green and orange/red color range. The back of this quilt was inspired by Denyse Schmidt quilts.

The finished quilt measures 49 inches x 63 inches and each finished half-square triangle block measures 3.5 inches. I quilted this quilt by practicing for the first time my "in the ditch" quilting. Not easy, could use some more practice!

For more Zig Zag Quilts and great inspiration check out the newly formed Zig Zag Quilt Flickr group.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Stash #8

Patchwork House (a local fabric store) is having a sale this weekend (25% off all fabrics!), and I was very pleased to pick up these two favorites fabrics. The Russian Dolls are manufactured by Cosmo Textile Co (Japan), and the dot fabric is my all time favorite dot from Aunt Grace Polka Dots by Judie Rothermel (Marcus Brothers Textiles).

I also purchased their last two fat quarters of this sought after fabric:
Paint by NumberBirds in Red by Urban Chicks

I would love to swap a fat quarter of this fabric for a fat quarter of either one of these two fabrics from the Flea Market Fancy range by Denyse Schmidt:

Mediallion Grid in Green
Seedlings in Green

UPDATE: The Bird fabric is now on the way to Washington, swapped for some FMF posies! Hooray!

My stash of these is almost depleted. If you are willing to swap either of these two fabrics please email me.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vegetable Patch Quilt

I would love to be able say that I have an amazing vegetable patch in my back yard, surrounded by the most beautiful fruit bearing trees, however, that's not going to happen as I definitely do not have a green thumb.

This is the back of the Half Hexagon Quilt. It is as close as I will ever get to having my own veggie patch, and it requires little watering, a bonus in drought stricken Melbourne.

I really look forward to the quilting process, but once I start and then realise how long it is going to take to finish the quilting, I am ever so glad when it is done.

I am very pleased with how this quilt has come together. The quilt top and the backing are ever so smooth, and the quilting has added some more definition to the hexagons, which may have been lacking initially.

This quilt is ready for binding.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Half Hexagon Quilt-Along Progress

This has been my point of focus for the last two days. I am quilting straight lines to quilt my Half Hexagon Quilt, but also outlining some of the hexagons, which does involve a lot of moving the quilt from side to side whilst under the machine. Sigh ...

I do hope to finish the quilting today.

Be sure to look at the other wonderful Half Hexagon Quilts on the Flickr Quilt-Along Group. There are some very creative quilters out there. The color and layout variations are truly inspiring.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Finished Pinwheel Baby Quilt

I have finished the Mini Pinwheel Quilt and have given it a modern and no fuss look by quilting it with my favorite quilting - straight lines.

The back of the quilt is also pieced.

The finished size of this quilt is 30 inches x 36 inches. The entire quilt is machine pieced and machine quilted. The only hand sewing I did was to slip stitch the binding to the back of the quilt.

These little pinwheels really were very quick and easy to make. Let me know if you have had success using the instructions from my previous post on how to make a template for the pinwheels, or if you have made some blocks. I would love to see them!

Now I am going to re-focus and prepare the backing for my Half Hexagon Quilt! No more distractions!!

 Mini Pinwheel Quilt is for sale in my Etsy Store.  You will find the listing here.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Mini Pinwheel Template

I have received some requests for the instructions on how to make a template for a Mini Pinwheel Block.

This is how I made the template that I used:

Template instructions for a 3 inch finished mini pinwheel block:

1. Draw a rectangle measuring 2.5 inches x 2 inches.

2. Mark a line 7/8" in from the top left hand corner of the rectangle to 7/8" in from the bottom right hand corner of the rectangle. Like so:
3. Cut out the rectangle accurately. Cut across the diagonal line. This will give you two identical templates. These templates include all seam allowances.

4. Be sure to mark the right side of the template as UP.

5. You are now ready to start making pinwheels. I found the easiest way to do so is by cutting a 2 inch strip of fabric, and turning the template up and down as you cut along the fabric strip, but be sure not to flip your template upside down (ie the UP marked on your template is always visible to you).

For each pinwheel block you will need to cut 4 patches of a solid fabric and four of a printed fabric.

My seams were only a scant 1/4 inch. I then added a border to each pinwheel, using 1 inch strips of fabric. The sashing strips between each block are cut as 1.5 inch strips.

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you need further instructions, or if what I have written here doesn't make sense you.

Mini Pinwheels

Some progress was made on the weekend. This lot of pinwheel blocks was turned into this baby quilt top.

(Just a little sneak peak here)

The sashing fabric I used is again some favorite linen/cotton blend fabric, this time in Hessian colorway. (The same fabric I used for the Aqua/Red Triangle Quilt).

I am going to add some borders today, start the backing, and maybe even start the quilting.

Thank you also to everyone who left comments on yesterday's post asking for online fabric stores that sell cute Japanese prints. I think I am going to make a handy reference list of all the links and add them to the sidebar of my blog. I love some of the Etsy stores selling these prints, I know I will be loading my cart soon!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Stash #7

There's some really cute Japanese fabric out there and I have come to the realisation that my stash is severely lacking in these.

These are both linen/cotton blend fabrics.

Both these fabrics were purchased locally at Amitie quite some time ago. Most of my fabric sources only sell cotton designer fabrics. Does anyone know of any great online stores that sell cute Japanese prints (not necessarily linen blend fabrics)?

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Do you get Distracted?

I do.

Mini Pinwheels (3 inches) with a 1 inch border. These blocks were the start of a mini quilt but they are steadily growing in number to form a baby quilt.

Very easily distracted.

See the following blog post for instructions to draw up your own template to piece this block: