Wednesday 27 March 2013


I was asked by Daughter No.1 if I could make a 'cool flag cushion' for a birthday party she is going to tomorrow.

So I made a bag instead.

The thought of which made her anxious as I wouldn't let her see it until I'd finished it.

'But what if I don't like it or I think XXXXX won't like it? Will I have to pretend to like it because I know how much time you spent on it but secretly I'll be wishing you'd listened to me in the first place?'

'I mean no offence Mum or anything but your idea of 'cool' is not quite the same as mine, let's face it.'

'I mean, a cushion would be sooo much cooler.'

'Wow, Mum, that is cool!'

Things I learnt:

  • Using the quilt as you go method as describe here means you are highly unlikely to finish the bag with the same needle in the machine that you started with. The combined layers of cotton duck canvas (I bought mine here), batting, regular cotton as well as laminate fabric was heavy going at times. It does make for a lovely sturdy bag at the end though 

  • In an ideal world I would like to have used 2" wide webbing for the handles but all I had to hand was 1 1/2" and I felt it was a bit flimsy in comparison to the robustness of the bag. I therefore strengthened it by sewing some tape measure webbing to it and in the process, I hope, made the handles a bit more interesting

  • Clover Wonder Clips (bought mine here) really are the solution to working with laminate fabric in place of pins

  • That it's still possible to wing it on the amount of fabric needed for the lining and yet make the two fabrics used look like an intentional design choice

  • That sometimes it's OK to be contrary

  • That I can still gauge what 'cool' is

  • Just.

Friday 22 March 2013

Back to business

I finished off this quilt.

Did I mention I love it?

And that to reverse the balance of yesterday's post I'm feeling...

Toile backing - I've been quilting so long I can remember when toile was in. Maybe it's gone out and come back in again. I don't know. I don't think it really matters.

...there should be less words...

...and more pictures.

Because that's what you've come here for - right?

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday

Thursday 21 March 2013

Forewarned is forearmed

About the only benefit of living so far from QuiltCon was that if you entered a quilt in the show, you were always going to get your critique back much later than the vast majority of the entrants.

Mine arrived today.

I had already read on other blogs about the style of judging the quilts and if I'm honest, was steeling myself for what they would say about mine.

I even started to wonder if maybe knitting was going to be a less confrontational hobby.

In my case I did get an even spread of good and bad but not what I was expecting and by the end of it I was left scratching my head.

Under 'areas for improvement' it says the quilt has:

  • an ineffective use of colo(u)r - swirl takes away - whoops, misjudged the colour bit then as that was the bit I really liked and I have no chuffin idea what 'swirl takes away' means
  • an ineffective use of contrast/value - huh, come again?
  • the design detracts from the fabric choices - now you've completely lost me
  • quilting thread choice is distracting - how can monofilament thread be distracting? And on the back where I didn't use monofilament, it was just one piece of plain fabric
  • the quilt would benefit from less hand-quilting - I inner outlined the snaking shape with one row of hand-quilting, clearly that was one inner line too much then

And the comment to end all comments?
'Background is the most interesting part'

While I think the judges went about their roles with the absolute best of intentions I think they need to rethink how they do this in subsequent years.

Our quilts were not 'critiqued': the form that arrived today summed it all up with its words in the top right hand corner - 'Judging Checklist.' With this format, I think they were hidebound by the predetermined rights and wrongs they worked to. It is all too easy to stand in front of a quilt, put some ticks in some boxes, scribble a few additional comments and then move on to the next quilt.

I am incredibly honoured to have had a quilt accepted to QuiltCon.
I loved seeing all the pictures popping up everywhere.
I was thrilled to bits when it sold.

Would I enter a quilt again?
Yeah, why not, it wasn't that bad.

But next time I would like to see the following:

  • Judges with a solid quilting background and preferably with a track record of quilt show judging under their proverbial belts
  • Ideally more than two judges so that when subjectivity comes into play, personal thoughts will be more evenly spread
  • The 'judging check-list' ditched for a more expansive explanation (personal and applicable to each quilt) of the not so good bits as well as the positives. The amount of extra time that may incur wouldn't even come close to the amount of hours, thoughts and feelings I poured into making the quilt
  • One of those nice 'My quilt is in the show' rosette thingies sent to those of us that are not there in person please
  • Oh and while I'm at it, one of the goodie bags that those who attended got as it takes a lot of bottle (well it did on my part) to show a quilt, so if we do get a rather fulsome sh*t sandwich, it will soften the blow somewhat :-)
Thank you.

Friday 15 March 2013

Another new favourite quilt

Take a little bit of this

Add some of this

Do quite a bit of this

And you end up with this

Even better, the pattern is free

Is ludicrously easy to put together as no triangles are actually cut

I'm not normally a fan of selvedges but on this occasion I thought it was appropriate

Is a great way to showcase some of your favourite prints

"What will you get for us if we hold it up for you?"

And, if like me, you go the scrappy background route; a brilliant way to use up lots of neutral scraps.

It's my new favourite quilt.

I don't normally manage a quilt top that quickly but I was aided in no small part by the weather.
Over the course of two days we were battered by a once in a lifetime blizzard which is unheard of for this corner of the world. We can go years and years without any snow or even frost.

Between Sunday evening and Tuesday afternoon, the sky just disappeared completely and we lived in a swirling grey haze.

In a matter of a few hours, roads became like this

The airport looked like this

Cars disappeared

And over 100 trees came down in the 65 mile an hour winds.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday

Clearly, in instances like this, the only thing you can really do is make a quilt :-)

Thursday 14 March 2013


And the three winners of the lovely quilting magazine are:

Addresses please ladies!

It seems a bit brutal to end with just that so instead more good fabric ordering news for those of us suffering the USPS postal hike for international packages.
Hancocks of Paducah ship up to $60 worth of fabric for $15. So if you shop in their sale section, that means you can get up to 12 yards for that price :-)

Saturday 9 March 2013

A giveaway

The giveaway is now ended.

When you live on a small island, very kind people assume you can't always get what the rest of the quilty world gets. That is true in most respects but not when it comes to magazines.

I have no idea why but the little village store along the coast has a real Aladdin's Cave of quilting magazines.  This means I now have a surplus of:

This is the magazine that has the absolutely gorgeous Marcelle Medallion pattern and appears to be sweeping quilty Flickr at the moment:

I must admit, I am sorely tempted as there are so many gorgeous variations; I particularly like this one, this one and this one. Oh, and I love the colours chosen for this one. Each one looks so different and so gorgeous.

Anyway, to get to the point.
I have THREE spare copies of the magazine to give away.

If you would like to be in with a chance please leave a comment: where in the world would you like to visit next and why?
If you're a follower, please leave an extra comment with the word SCRAPS and I'll include some scraps with the magazine as well.

I'll leave this open until Thursday 15 March at 7pm Little Island Time, after which Random Generator thingy will pick three winners.

Good luck.

Friday 8 March 2013


I very rarely buy a whole fabric line. I think I could count the number of times on one hand. For me, there are usually some that just don't speak to me and as I don't really like making a matchy matchy quilt, I just pick and choose a few.

On this occasion, I bought the whole line.

It's Architexture by Carolyn Friedlander and is available all over blog land.

It arrived a while back and then just sat there while I decided what to do with it.

There was also a pile of plaids next to it because I'd decided I wanted to do something with them.

And almost immediately it struck me that the two piles looked like they belonged together.

So they became one.

You wouldn't believe the block permutations I played with. Several hours later I realised what the problem was.
I was trying to be too complicated with the fabric and all along this little voice in the back of my head was telling me to Keep it Simple.

Something about text and plaid fabric has me wanting to keep them the 'right way' ie. just straight and the only way to achieve that (imo) was to keep the shapes simple.

I just cut 3" squares, sprinkled some half square triangles in, as well as some rectangles and some large squares to show off my favourite prints and randomly pieced the whole thing.

I quilted it either side of the seam allowances on the horizontal and vertical, apart from the large squares where I did some random free motion quilting.

You can possibly see it better on the back which has a piece of my favourite fabric from the collection.

And the binding I just think is fab.

I bought it from here  and there is a slight possibility I may have bought it in one or more of the colourways.

I know since US postal charges went up so considerably at the beginning of the year that I have cut back on ordering - I personally find anywhere between $21-$25 for a Global Priority Envelope a rise too far. There are still glimmers of U.S ordering possibilities out there though and if anyone is interested (and I have no affiliation to either of them), Fabric Shack is offering permanent 1/2 price postage, so a Global Priority Envelope to Europe is $12 and they can cram nine yards in for that amount. Also, Equilter has a temporary half price shipping offer on at the moment. If you type MARCH in the coupon box, you'll get your shipping for just over $10, although they don't put quite as much in -  7 1/2 yards is their limit.

Happy Shopping!

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday

Friday 1 March 2013


So I said I would get to the outstanding quilt that was on my design wall and I did.

It was the start of a BOM (Block Of the Month) from Material Obsession but I didn't actually know what the finished quilt would look like until the package arrived. And when it did, I sort of hummed and hawed.

I think I'm done with applique and I felt the fabric they sent was far too nice just to cut up in string strips so I vacillated between convincing myself I needed to finish it off right now and putting it aside for another day. In its defence, it's an excellent method of learning different techniques.

But with The Big Room Clean I made it my mission to finish it.
So I did.

My Way.

I finished probably two thirds of the blocks and managed to incorporate them all bar one.  I added in the X and Y blocks because I needed to get that urge out of the way. I've only got it temporarily out of the way. I enjoyed making them so much I see a whole quilt of them in my future.

The Flying Guess I added in just because I like them. I used this method - Speedy Piecing Method B - which gives very accurate results with no waste. The key to the instructions is to use a scant 1/4 seam allowance. If you don't and make it anything more, then you won't end up with the nice sharp point.

I know.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday 

Now I know I'm on sticky ground here when I say the reason I thing this quilt 'sparkles' is because the addition of, wait for it...BROWN ;-)
There seems to be quite a bit of aversion out there in quilty blogland to brown but to me, it adds an indispensable hue to quilts.

These are some of the browns that Material Obsession sent with the BOM.

For me, they add a neutral warmth that you can't get from black or white; you can pick up on the additional colours that appear in these prints and to me, they don't read as just brown. I see purple brown, chestnut brown, chocolate brown, caramel, golden etc etc.

In other bits of housekeeping - thank you to everyone who sent me pictures of my quilt hanging at QuiltCon. I was chuffed to bits and I have thoroughly enjoyed reading everyone's blog posts about the event.

I was also completely gobsmacked that someone bought it -someone who reads my blog. We've had some lovely email conversations to and fro about it and I shall leave it up to the buyer to decide whether they want to out themselves here and admit to buying it!

I also realise I offered up scraps from this blog post and haven't yet followed through.

If you're still interested I randomly screen grabbed this one:

Liz, if I don't get to you first, please email me with your address.

And finally, if I could go back to mentioning Material Obsession. Kathy, the owner, is recovering from breast cancer surgery as well as celebrating 10 years of M.O. Please feel free, if so inclined, to pop over and send her your best quilty wishes.

And that's it.

The design wall is bare, the sewing room is tidy and it's time to make another creative mess.

01 09 10