Monday, June 3, 2013

Binding, binding, binding

This time of the year is terribly busy for any quilter entering the Quilters’ Guild of NSW Sydney Quilt Show that’s on at Darling Harbour from 12th-16th June. In our house there are now two quilters entering so you can imagine the state of my sewing room!

A friend came over this morning to borrow something, she politely said it’s supposed to be messy. Hmm, I don’t think it’s supposed to be this messy (I’m sorry, I’m just too embarrassed to even put up a photo). Cleaning the sewing room is definitely on my to do list after this post ;-) It can be today’s aerobic exercise. Hah!

June in general seems to be busy, music concerts, fundraisers, end of year tax preparations, exams, parent teacher meetings. It all happens in June. I’ve known this for a few years now. So knowing all of this you’d think I’d start binding my show quilts well before June?

And you’d think, that having finished a *few* quilts by now I would know how to do it off by heart? Unfortunately not, every. single. time. I have to look to my latest reference to get that final step in the continuous binding. Why can’t I remember this? At the moment I’m really liking Canoeridge Creations Double Fold Binding Tutorial. There are simple and clear photos that jog my memory straight away.  Maybe I should just print out that photo and frame it?

Anyway, here are my binding tools. That little blue cube on the right is a new addition to the weaponry. Thread Heaven. Why have I only just discovered this? Makes those binding stitches glide through and keeps the thread from misbehaving.


Not in that photo because they were being used elsewhere are my favourite binding tool the Clover Wonder Clips. These little clips are expensive but well worth it. Gone are the days of stabbing my fingers with pins whilst hand sewing the binding.

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I heard a rumour that IKEA would be discontinuing their BRITTEN NUMMER fabric. Surely all quilters should band together and protest if that’s true? At the very least we should rush out and stock up!

Do you like this chevron fabric as binding? It’s from Robert Kaufman and I’m really happy with how it works on this quilt. I usually love a stripped binding but it just wasn’t working this time.

Well, with butterflies in our stomachs we kissed our quilts good luck as we dropped them to our kind Guild Volunteer. They’ll be hanging at Darling Harbour next week and then safely back home soon after. Ready to go on beds, the couch or maybe even be hung on a wall.

Do you ever wonder what happens to prize winning quilts? Hmmm…

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PS. It’s also a busy time for all the shop and business owners who have to transport all their goods and equipment to Darling Harbour and run their businesses from a temporary site. Good luck if this is you. I have been saving some extra cash to buy myself some goodies this year.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

To Boston with Love

Since 9/11 I’ve hardly watched TV. I’m a very visual person and those images took a long time to erase. When the awful events in Boston during the Marathon unfolded I made a special effort to avoid seeing any graphic images. I read the newspaper online and switched off all the pop up videos that insist on playing whenever one of these tragedies occur.

I don’t think I’m blocking the events out completely, just don’t think those images add any more details that I can’t already envisage. It’s the same with any horror or violent story, real or imagined.

When I saw on Instagram and Flickr that the Vancouver Modern Quilt Guild were collecting Flags for Boston I thought this was a way I could concentrate on something of beauty instead of all the misery being published everywhere. Then Berene (aka Happy Sew Lucky) asked if the Greater Western Sydney Modern Quilt Guild would like to be involved. We’ve now got a small satchel of flags to send to Boston with Love – from Australia. Quite a few Aussies are sending flags as well as individuals and guilds right across the world.

Whilst I realise that the flags will do little to help the victims directly, I hope they bring a ray of sunshine when they are exhibited at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston later this month. And hopefully at any commemoration ceremony in the future.

Thanks Berene and Amy for coordinating and driving this wonderful project.

There is also a collection of quilt blocks to make Quilts for Boston by the BMQG for those affected by the events in Boston. I’ll send a block off for that next week.

peace love hope

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Busy like a bee..

I signed up for two sewing bees this year. My first Bees ever, sew exciting to be asked! The Must.Stash Bee is run by Amy and it’s a nice small Australian bee. These folks have awesome stashes! The premise is that the Queen bee chooses a block for the month and the hive all pull fabrics from their stash to create a couple of blocks for her. It has been a wonderful and eye opening experience. I think we’re going for round two. The benefit of running a bee this way is the postage costs are kept down and I’m challenged to make something that someone else will love from my fabrics.

Here are some blocks I’ve made for the Must.Stash girls so far.

Must Stash Bee blocks so far

I’m still receiving the Jacobs Ladder blocks from my month and love them. It’s going to be a spectacular quilt. I’ll have to remember to take a photo of the blocks together to post here. Thank you Must.Stash girls!

The second Bee I’ve been in is the AusMod Bee organised by Jeannette. This is a much larger Australian bee with 15 members and each Queen bee sends out her fabrics and chooses a pattern. I only knew a couple of the members before I joined this bee and It’s been wonderful to get to know everyone over the past 4 months. I’ve made blocks for Jane, Charlotte and Bronwyn so far. The great thing about a big bee is the sheer number of blocks you get back, perfect for a big quilt. And I LOVE big quilts.

QuiltJane's blocks

Jane designed her own paper pieced pattern Refractatorium, isn’t it awesome?

Charlotte's AusMod Bee blocks

Charlotte sent out three solids Snow, Pink and Grey for modern 12” blocks. It was hard to send these away!

bronwyn's AusMod Bee blocks

Bronwyn sent out a variety of blue and aqua fabrics for some 12” modern blocks. I’m loving these stars. I think I see stars in my future…

I was lucky to be first cab off the rank and have 60 gorgeous AMH Feather blocks to show for it. I’m thrilled with the experience so far. Postage was a little expensive sending out the 14 parcels especially given how big the templates were. I’m very happy that my long hoarded stash of Anna Maria Horner fabrics is finally being put to good use! Now I need to find some time to sew them all together.

AMH Stash

Luckily one of the Bee members recommended Lisa at Sunset Seams to make the templates too, they really helped with making the feathers and we’re using them again this month for Kirsten’s blocks so it was a good investment.

AusModBee packages ready to ship

There’s only 13 cause I hand delivered Jane’s and Catherine's in January!

Will post photos of my gorgeous feather quilt when I have the top together, but here are some of the blocks. I have to say it felt like Christmas receiving all the gorgeous parcels in the mail!

Feather Blocks mosaic

Phew! Today I’m making some Granny Square blocks for Belinda, I’m really excited about using some of my new stash that I know she’ll love!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Easter guilt, yes I really should blog more often

It’s not like I don’t have much to write about, or don’t have pictures to share… It’s just that I leave it so long and then… where do you start?

How about some photos of the awesome blocks my patchwork and quilting students have made during our eight week Techniques course? They have really picked up lots of nifty tricks. Techniques are tools to tackle those tricky looking jobs. If one doesn’t work, try another one.

We concentrated on machine piecing, covering most aspects of patchwork. Over the weeks their piecing improved so much, they can now feel confident tackling curves, y-seams and fiddly foundation paper piecing.

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Here are some of the blocks made during our machine pieced curves class. So we could concentrate on the piecing we cut our fabric using the Sizzix and the Drunkards Path and Rose Dream dies.

Freezer Paper Piecing

And look at these gorgeous blocks they chose for the Freezer Paper Piecing class, aren’t they perfect! Patterns are from top left clockwise: Tea Cup and Saucer pattern by Piece By Number ; Hummingbird by Julia at Stars and Sunshine and finally Pink Penguin’s Kitchen Scales from her Let’s Bake pattern series.

Foundation Paper Piecing

And one more mosaic of their incredible work using the Foundation Paper piecing and English Paper piecing techniques. The first three are the striking Circle of Geese pattern by Piece By Number, the last photo is a block from Chuck Nohara’s book, made four times and then rotated to make a new block. Isn’t Munaiba clever!

So that’s just a little of what they’ve been doing, I know that after eight weeks their minds are ticking away with all the new techniques up their sleeves. I know the feeling well, I haven’t learnt everything I need to know about about it yet, there are always new products and techniques to try. I find it so exciting to have so much technology available to hone our craft .

PS I’m often asked about my classes, the easiest and most cost effective way to get started with Patchwork and Quilting is to book into an 8 week course via the City East Community College. The next course begins on the 6th May. Book online via their website:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Keep Calm and Hexagon On

I’m still here. We’ve been a little busy. Moved house, unpacked most of the boxes, planted the garden and all those things one does in a new house. There’s still a bit to do but hopefully it’ll be finished soon.

When I write it down it doesn’t sound so bad. Don’t be fooled, it was stressful and I never want to move. ever. again. Of course I didn’t get nearly as much sewing done as I had planned. And the work didn’t stop, which is a good thing but I’m looking forward to the holidays.

Life is slowly returning to “normal” and I can’t believe that Christmas is just around the corner. And I still haven’t finished my Little Apples Hexagon and Stars quilt. Made very little progress on my Ring Cycles quilt too.

After I sewed all the Little Apple blocks together and held it next to my daughter I knew it was too short. So I’m back at the cutting board coming up with 5 new hexies and 4 more diamonds. Sigh. I really wanted this done for Christmas.

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I’ve had to hang the quilt top up on the curtain, apparently my design wall is not big enough for the two quilters in this family. I’m adding {Make design wall bigger} to my huge to do list!

Little Apples Hanging

I love seeing it like this, a huge stained glass curtain. Now, back to work…

Hope I remember to post more pictures soon! Oh and I must post about my new toy, the Sizzix Big Shot Pro. We’ve been having lots of fun with it!

Monday, August 20, 2012

a brilliant weekend and tonight the GWSMQG

At the risk of sounding boring and harping on about how fabulous the Ulladulla Quilters Gathering was, I’ll let these photos convince you:


We arrived to this splendid view at our accommodation at Burrill Lake. One of the few times I’ve thought the real thing was better than the “pamphlet”. It was warm, bright and comfy. We’ve already made sure we can book it again for next years retreat. Can you believe the retreat has been running for 17 years already?

It was difficult to leave this view, and the three of us agreed it was lucky we didn’t live here or nothing would ever get done, we’d probably never get off the couch…

But there were quilts to be made! I’m so thrilled with my choice of Lessa Siegele’s Ring Cycle quilt class. Lessa is a very generous teacher, she is full of tips and tricks, not only to help you with the class quilt but handy tips to make general piecing fly.

Her Ring Cycle quilt is even more spectacular in real life than in the photos I’d seen. Over 270 mini 9 patch blocks. It was love at first sight!


I’d picked up this fabulous fabric at the Hunters Hill Quilt Show recently and I could see the possibilities immediately. Can you tell I’m into bright colours at the moment!


I was really excited once I worked out I could insert some pieced hexagons into the centres of my Ring Cycle quilt. So here is what I think is a great beginning for a new quilt. Not a quick quilt, this will be another slow burner.

Lorena's Ring Cycle

Of course everyone has a different quilt in mind, it’s great to see how others interpret the pattern.


So what were the other 3 classes doing? I always like to take a look around the workshops and see what everyone else is doing…

Judy Hooworth was as usual making a big impact with colour with her group. I overheard some women comment that they’re ready to become Judy groupies and they’re planning their next class with her already. She has so much colour and design theory knowledge that you could probably attend her class every year and still learn lots.


Faye Packham, was getting her class straight into it with the clever Antique Nine Patch and Cross quilts. Faye has amazing patience and gently coaxed some of the newer quilters. It was incredible to see how much this group got done in 2 days and how different this pattern looked in all the different fabric choices.


Our final day started with the awesome view, some furious sewing in the middle and ended with a {thankfully} uneventful drive back to Sydney.


I’m now looking forward to seeing what others have been up to at the inaugural Greater Western Sydney Modern Quilters Guild meeting this evening. If you are in the vicinity why don’t you pop in and say hi! The group is being organised by Amy and Sheridan with help from Dolores. Should be fun. There’s fabric, friends and food. What more could you want??

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Quilt retreat time, oh yeah!

It’s that time of the year when I start getting excited about the annual Quilters’ Gathering in Ulladulla organised by Marilyn’s Craft Corner.

I’ve received my paper work listing the class schedule and as usual it’s hard to make up my mind what to do. I had really hoped to be able to get away for 4 days this year and do two classes but unfortunately I have other commitments (again). But still, a weekend away with quilty friends with nothing to do but sew is a huge treat.

24 LA mosaic

24 blocks so far: Little Apples Hexagons and Stars, Lorena Uriarte

Last year I did a great Hexagons and Stars class with Catherine Butterworth. That was the start of my Little Apples Hexagon and Stars quilt (above). I’ve been so focused on building a new house and finishing A Symbol Recomposed that I now really need to finish my Little Apples quilt to take for Show and Tell. That’s one of my favourite parts of the retreat, catching up with everyone and seeing the quilts finished.

Catherine Butterworth’s Jolly Stars image from Quiltsmith

This year Catherine is teaching a workshop using the Marti Michell Template Set D called Jolly Stars. Catherine is a fantastic teacher and I feel I’ve got the hang of these awesome templates now so I’ve decided to go for something else…

I’m really interested in doing Leesa Siegele’s Ring Cycles class. I’ve seen some beautiful examples of this quilt on the net and I reckon I could get rid of a few scraps making up my 42 9-patch blocks (3.5” big) to take along to class. It’s the kind of quilt I probably wouldn’t get around to make on my own so a workshop will give me a good solid start.


Leesa Siegele’ Ring Cycle images from

Other fabulous workshops are on offer from the award winning Merelyn Pearce. Merelyn will teach needle-turn applique techniques. I look forward to checking out her class. Another great thing about the retreat is that you are all in a big function centre and can mingle with the other classes. See if there’s something you’d like to try next time.

Judy Hooworth is teaching a Collage and Colour class. I’ve done a workshop with Judy before, she is a very skilled teacher and the worthy recipient of the 2012 Rajah Award for her contribution to quilting in Australia. This is the class I’d do if I had extra time.

But there’s loads more, I’m sure by the end of the weekend I’ll be looking forward to next year for the chance to learn from Jennifer Cornish, Beth and Trevor Reid and Faye Packam too.

Do you like going to quilt retreats? Is it odd to want to run away from your gorgeous family, talk about new fabric releases and notions and sew like a banshee once a year?