Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Fire ! Fire ! Fire !

A tip for all quilters   - double check that you turn the  gas is off before you go to the sewing room! About 3 weeks ago now I thought that I had turned the gas off under a pot of oil..... but I had not. It ignited and went through the exhaust fan to the cupboards , along the curtains to my husband's whiskey collection - which exploded. The heat and smoke damage occurred through the whole house. I have really learned the value of being properly insured (which we were fortunately).  I had no idea how sticky the smoke reside was going to  be. It is like a black glue that sticks to everything.

Our insurance fortunately covered the clean up. We had 6 industrial cleansers cleaning the house contents  for a week and packing everything in to storage. They removed 64 large bags of clothing and linen for dry cleaning.

Now the builders have arrived and started cleaning the walls - and gutting the kitchen - dining room including ceilings.

The one thing that the cleaners would not touch is my sewing room and fabric collection. Because of the raw edges they said that I had to throw out the whole lot and claim the value. I think that they had no idea what it was worth.... Actually I have got most of it clean by going to the laundromat so that I could used multiple washing machines and dryers. I then got my ironing lady to iron it. I will send the insurers the laundromat and ironing bill - but I still think that will be a small fraction of the replacement cost. This as actually made me document, and put a value on my collection... and it certainly shows why I need to be a stashbuster!!!!

A piece of insight I have learned from this is that we were not over insured - clean up is expensive.

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Giraffe at Kilimanjaro

I am really excite to announce that I have a contract with Arbee designs and they will be making my quilt patterns available around the world.. This a wonderful opportunity for me to work with some really kind people who love to produce high quality, tested patterns. 
My work is drawing on some of my early art quilts where I worked on themes in the natural environment. I am beginning to produce a new series with the "Real Animals, Real Places" theme. if you have a favorite you would like to see let me know.

Giraffe at Kilimanjaro is my first release with Arbee. This quilt was designed thinking about this amazing mountain in the tropics with snow and glaciers on the top. Around it on the plains there are many wonderful animals - it was hard to pick which ones to include.

I have learned a lot about giraffes in the process of designing this quilt. There are several different types and in particular they vary in the spot color, shape and density. The giraffe around Kilimanjaro are the Masai giraffes which have dark irregular spots.  Much more interesting information is available on

The Trinity Celtic Knot pattern is nearly finished and will soon go out for testing.

I will still be providing tips and basic information/instructions as I have always done on this blog. Formally publishing allows me to give far more precise detail - which is necessary to make some designs work.

Christmas tree (fundraising paper) Quilt

I have designed this "quilt" for my local church's fundraising campaign - for the support of our local ministries. I used EQ7 to  fine tune the design ..... There 100 colored pieces which will be added to show our progress.

I am happy to share the EQ7 file

Friday, 4 November 2011

Hannah's Signature quilt

This quilt was made entirely by my daughter during her final year of school. She premade the blocks before collecting the signatures to reduce the chance of people signing in the seam allowances. The blocks were signed by her class mates and the border was signed by the teachers.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Dynamic views layout

Over the past couple of weeks I have been trying out the Dynamic Views layout. Mainly because I had feedback that my blog was hard to search. Unfortunately this layout only works on the latest systems and so many of my readers are not longer able to see my pictures I have chosen to switch back. Thank you everyone for your patience with the experiment.

When it works Dynamic views does make searching a blog like mine easy and fun as you are provided with a picture index. So at this time my comment is Dynamic views is  like "the little girl with the little curl right in the middle of her forehead , when it was good she is very very good and when it was bad she is horrid".

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Taiwanese batik panel quilt - Dream sailing

Stephanie, my Taiwanese daughter in law, found this lovely  hand made panel for me to make into a quilt. I was a bit concerned as the fabric was very stiff. Then I thought that as it was batik there could be still a lot of wax left in the fabric. So I washed it with lots of gentle (wool) detergent and it came out wonderfully soft and flexible.

Next I considered how to make it into a quilt. I did not want to add much to the picture as it is a very strong design, also I wished to respect the artistic integrity of the artist who made it.therefore i went for the simple picture frame approach. I also had the deep indigo fabric from Taiwan but that was too heavy immediately around the picture - hence the deep cream inner border.

The outer border was chosen to tone with  the red in the batik but I wanted to be careful that it was not brighter. So I ended up with  reddish brown outer border. Not a color combination I would have initially thought of but one I came upon after auditioning many other pieces in my stash. The outer border was necessary as my son is very tall and I wanted it to be big enough - I had used all the indigo fabric I had.

I have included a couple of close ups to show the quilting.

I am linking this post to the Quilt festival, if you click on the button it will take you over there where you can visit heaps and heaps of talented quilters and their lovely quilts.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Spontaneous medallions Instructions

My medallion quilts are not very formally planned rather I just make them up as I go along. Most of the sizes of strips and triangles are determined by the amount of the particular fabric that I have - not anything more significant ..... this is a stash busting pattern.
Finished flimsy - on a breezy day - it is actually square.
 However this time I will take you on the journey.

ALL MEASUREMENTS INCLUDE THE SEAM ALLOWANCE OF 1/4". This means the 1" strip  make a half inch piece in the final quilt.

Choose the center - in this case it is a panel.
Choose 1 or 2 fabrics to be the inner triangles after the switch from Diamond to square and visa versa.

I frame the picture with borders. 1" white, 2 1/2" marble green, 1 1/2" cream. This makes the central panel 28 1/2" square - which is less that half of the width or height of the finished quilt. the finished quilt will always be at least 2 times bigger. Note if the panel is not square adjust boarder widths to produce a square.

What I have learned through my various experiments is that it is important for the last row of border (before a change of direction) be distinct color or the whole thing looks messy.

To make into a diamond.

1. Check the existing panel is square.
2. Cut 4 triangles. In example: TWO 10" squares of yellow floral cut in half along diagonal.

3. Continue to built up the triangles until the diagonal is bigger than the edge of  the central panel. I prefer to add the strips to the triangle and then trim the 45 degree angle using the markings on my cutting board and ruler.  In this case I added 2 1/2"  light green , then 3" mid green, 2" dark green.

TIP: when adding a bias edge to an edge in the straight of grain sew with the bias up and the straight of grain against your machines feed dogs.

The following 3 steps are for the Y shaped join at the shares point (alternative join in next section)

4. Match the center of the triangle diagonal with the center of the side of the square the triangle will hang out over the ends. make sure the amount of over hang is even... Pin. Sew 1/4 inch seam -leaving the last 1/4 inch of square side un-stitched.
5. Do all 4 triangles

6. Fold center square along its diagonal. Match up the triangle over hangs at each end. (Hopefully they match up - if they don't do the best you can and trim the sides of the finished new square straight. ) Sew down to the edge so that the seam is at right angles with the outer edge. Check it sits flat. If it does not do not panic work out if it is too tight or loose unpick and restitch accordingly. trim off excess.
7. Straighten new diamond and add sashing . ( 2" yellow).

To make back into a square.

1. Check the existing diamond is square.
2. Cut 4 triangles. In example: TWO 12 1/2" squares yellow fabric.and then cut them in half along their diagonal.
3. Continue to built up the triangles until the diagonal is bigger than the edge of  the central panel. I prefer to add the strips to the triangle and then trim the 45 degree angle using the markings on my cutting board and ruler.  In this case I added  3 1/2"  light green , 4" mid green (I needed 5 width of fabric(WOF) strips and had to join to get the required lengths),  then 4" dark green (Probably easiest made from 8 (WOF) strips - I would have cut 5" strips but did not have enough fabric)

The following steps are for the diagonal join at the tip of the diamond. (Alternative Y shaped join see previous section)
 4. Match the center of the triangle diagonal with the center of the side of the square the triangle will hang out over the ends. make sure the amount of over hang is even... Pin. Sew 1/4 inch seam to the end of the diamond.
5.Sew on the other triangles sewing right out to the edge of any triangles already added.

7. Straighten new square and add sashing. (4 1/2" very dark green)

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

In all Seasons quilt

This quilt is designed for a friend who loves tartans especially blue/green tartans. Now I did not have any tartan fabric in my stash - so I decided to make it with deep blue and green squares. Then I had to choose something to go in the center. Initially I found a panel (in my stash) but that was the wrong type of green being far more lime greens  than the squares. Fortunately I also had these season panels which did blend and I was able to make use of the yellow and red so that the over all effect was neither boring or dark.

Yes the dog wanted to know what i was doing standing on a chair.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Simple Turkey Soup and Pie recipes

Just thought that I would share a couple of our family favorites for all my American friends who might have Turkey left overs soon.

Turkey Soup - based on a Chinese congee recipe - gluten free

Turkey bones, skin etc
Left over vegtables
Water to cover

I prefer to simmer these in a slow cooker over night - but you could simmer slowly in a regular pot.
Pour off stock though sieve, if fat rises to surface remove.
If there any nice pieces of meat - add to stock. Discard bones etc.

Rice ( 1 cup of rice to 8 cups of liquid)
Finely chopped onions
Finely chopped other vegetables according to family preference (capsicum, tomato, carrot, etc)

Simmer overnight in slow cooker. The rice should now have thickened the soup.

Nice served with crunchy fried bacon pieces.

Turkey pie

2 cups of chopped turkey meat
2 onions - finely chopped
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons of flour
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 can corn drained
1 liter milk
10 sheets filo pastry.

Fry onions in butter, remove onions and add to turkey meat. Add flour and mustard to melted butter (off heat). Slowly add milk stirring to prevent lumps. Return to heat, add turkey onions and corn, stir until thickened.

Place layers of filo pastry in dish. Place turkey mixture across the the center and fold sides over the top.
Bake in a moderateoven until light brown.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Ironing errors ... Completed panels

Before quilting this panel I ironed it and thought that I had removed the crease in the center where it had been folded in storage. However when I photographed in bright light outside (after quilting) the crease reappeared.

I know you are not supposed to iron quilts but the crease was really obvious when hanging. So firstly I steamed the crease. This softened it a bit but it was still obvious. So I  wet the area and ironed it - much better.

I must add i use Nu-wool wadding that is 60% wool and 40%polyester. I am not sure that this would work with other types of wadding.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Eucalyptus (gum) leaf and nut quilting - free motion pattern

I have just finished a child's quilt based around some small pieces of koala fabric/ So when I came to quilt it I chose eucalyptus leaves as that is what koalas eat. I added the seed pods (called gum nuts) to fill in spaces in an over all quilting pattern.

The picture on the left is of the back of the quilt where it is easier to see the overall pattern. The drawing below is of the leaves and nuts and the stages of quilting them.

Tie Dye Batik Art Text Link: Tie Dye Batik Art Image Link:

Progress report 4: 50 quilts from stash challenge - Final

Well I have finished it - I have made 50 quilts from my original stash. However I fell off the wagon with the no buy part after number 32.

The reason this happened was a couple of special projects that I did not have the right fabrics for,   this meant that I went to fabric shops....... however I have not counted quilts containing those fabrics in my total of Fifty.

This quilt was made with some orphan blocks in the center - the visual tension between the formal outer borders and the informal inner blocks I find challenging - what do you think?

Having a challenge has been really good for me to keep moving on projects so I am trying to think of what next years will be..... I think that every quilt that is already promised to some one has to be finished.  I have 25 of those and usually the reasons they have stalled is:
 1.for some reason they got put away
2. I cant remember why
3. The people getting them are important to me and I want it to be my best work...

So I think I will call it the Promised Quilts Challenge

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Squares and bricks - 2 more simple free motion patterns

Top pattern squares , Bottom pattern bricks.
Here are 2 more simple free motion patterns - drawn on pater so you can see how they are done.
I have included the squares as in is the method I use to avoid backtracking.
The rows are drawing alternating colors to make them clear. I prefer to start the rows at opposite ends as it reduces the possibility of distortion.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Quilting a panel.

As part of getting accustomed to my new quilting machine I have been quilting up some panels for church. This has got me thinking about where quilting has developed over the past 25 years.

When I was new to quilting I was firmly informed "that not quilting its embroidery because you have used more than one color of thread". 

Well in the latest panel I used light blue, variegated green, green/black, grey. I changed color  according to the area of the panel because i did not want to add more colors to the picture only texture. I have done some work with transparent thread but I find it a bit temperamental and inclined to stretch and snap.

 The panel on the left is before quilting.

The panel on the right is after quilting in late after noon sun light to show up quilting lines.

The panel below is the panel in normal light.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Water in the Desert quilt

This quilt began with a color experiment with the central block. I was not very confident in using such a bright green. I was really pleased with the combination of the green with the strong Aboriginal print and decided to work the entire quilt around these 2 prints.

The quilt is being held by my daughter and a friend as it is breezy here today and it was flapping around.

Monday, 10 October 2011

"Right angles" - another free motion quilting pattern

Because of the level of interest I have been getting in my simple free motion patterns here is another of my favorites that I call "Right Angles" I find that this is a great pattern for a man's quilt if her does not like curves and anything flowery. It also looks great on the wonky square quilt design.

This is a simple pattern to do once you are used to the idea of sharp corners. I have drawn the stitching line in blue and the direction in the red arrows..... I love being able to do large areas with out having to stop ans start in this design.

As I mention before trying out a new quilting design with a pen and paper until you are comfortable with it  saves a lot of unpicking.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Swirls and curls free motion quilting pattern

I have been asked how I do my swirls and curls quilting- so here it is......
 I have drawn this on paper alternating the row color to show how I do this more clearly. I adjust the placement of the swirls etc according to the quilt I am working on. I prefer to do the rows beginning at alternate ends as this gives a more even result.

Tip: When I am learning a new quilting pattern I spend a lot of time drawing it on paper (an old newspaper is great) Until the idea becomes more automatic.

Irish chain with red embroideries.

It is another limited fabric quilt I used 3 deep reds, a mid tone print and cream.

The quilting around the embroideries is minimal - stitch in the ditch around the edge. The remaining quilting is a free form pattern that I love and call swirls and curves.

This quilt is actually a gift for people moving away from the town who are members of our church. Therefore the back has a panel for people to sign.  I have included a photo because I thought that someone might find it useful to see how I constructed it. originally I intended just to have the central area red border and floral outside. However this would have been too small. I added the cream border to make it bigger - - but not on the edge. I find it is much easier to have the widest border on the outside as a narrow border really displays any irregularity of placement between the front and back.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Aussie rules football - kids playing applique.

I have just drawn up an applique pattern for kids playing Aussie rules. the green and purple lines are for the skin tone fabrics which form a base the red line is a tab on the shorts which goes under the jumper. Colour according to your team.......

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bread in a breadmaker - recipes - "soy free"

Because I have a food intolerance to soy proteins - which are commonly used in breads and bread mixes in Australia - we make all the bread we eat. My husband has developed so really reliable recipes for us. I thought that I would share them - especially because now when we are asked to contribute food for a party - we are asked often for the bread as it is so popular with everyone.

Over the years we have used various breadmakers - refer to your manual for the preferred order of inserting ingredients. Some prefer the water first and the yeast last others tend to reverse the order - yeast first and water last.

Standard Loaf

400 ml water
1½ Tbs  oil
1 tsp salt
1 Tbs (brown) sugar
2 Tbs gluten flour
520 g wholemeal/white/rye flour
(50g grain/seed)
2 tsp yeast

Setting on our machine: program 4, middle size, moderate crust.

Foccacia - a recipe mixed in the bread machine and baked in the oven.
This is a wonderfully flexible recipe, in that, it can be used to make: 
1 the flatish traditional foccacia, 
2 a thicker loaf, 
3 rolled out and cheese sprinkled on it then rolled up like swissroll cut in think 1" slices to make cheese scrolls.

350ml water
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
(4 Tbs milk powder)
2 Tbs white sugar
480g white flour
2½ t yeast

Pizza dough setting; knead, indent, cover & rise 30min
Brush with oil, apply topping  - herbs cheese etc
Bake 180

Monday, 26 September 2011

Another variation on the Trinity Celtic Knot

Rebecca Turner has kindly allowed me to share her version of the Trinity Celtic knot. Seeing one finished is a great encouragement to me As I am spending a lot of time at the moment counting and recounting squares to make a strip piecing method for this quilt.

Update January 2012
This quilt has just been re published as the magazine is no longer available. The current publication is with Arbee designs

Friday, 23 September 2011

Mt Kilimanjaro

I have been looking at a lot of the photos from the time my husband worked in Africa as a medical student. they are a wonderful source of inspiration.

To be continued

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Having lots of fun learning to use my new quilting machine

I am having lots of fun learning to use my new quilting machine but it may be a week at least until I have an official finish - the painter arrived to paint both the quilting room and the window frame in the sewing room. This has meant there has been a rapid reshuffle of stuff to let him in.This shuffle means that I don't have a place for the machine I love to use for binding so I think I will wait until the painter is finished to do them.

I have begun to master free form feathers - I tried them first on a small UFO table runner.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Janome 1600P - quilt bindings

Since  getting my bigger quilting machine for quilting i have been using my Janome one 1600P for piecing and binding. It is wonderful. he difference in speed makes long seams fly by; and the difference in the strength of the motor means that even when sewing through many layers of quilt and binding.

If i had known how good it would be I would have changed over to this machine especially for bindings earlier.

Thursday, 1 September 2011

"A Gift of Quilts"

 I have just finished my quilt for "A gift of quilts" project. these quilts will be distributed to the athletes at the London Olympics in 2012.

I called my quilt "We can all fit - if we are prepared to be trimmed"  Within the quilting there are words relating to specific sports eg beach volleyball, and some places eg Coventry as well as "sport concepts" such as "team work". There is no direct reference to the 2012 Olympics - evidently this is not permitted due to copy-write limitations. I hope however that it will be a pleasant memory for someone who participated.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Yukata (Japanese summer dress) - well almost

My younger daughter want to go as Japanese to her school's International dress up day. So I decided to make a Yukata style dress (rather than a kimono - which should be silk). The fabric she wanted is actually Chinese and a directional print which meant that I had to add a seam in the shoulder to keep the pattern the right way up front and back. Also I probably should have made the sleeve differently so they hang down more.  The pleat under the obi is held there by a cord tied around the hips - I think that is traditional - but we are finding that the pleat keeps slipping out. Any suggestions on how we should be tying it?

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Parrots in the garden.

This is another variation on my original red wedding quilt.This time greens with cream/fawn strips. Actually it is another quilt to celebrate a wedding. I love the way this design allows you to use all sorts of different prints and yet produces a unified whole. With in the fabrics there is everything from Christmas prints, to white water rafting, to Indonesian batiks, Australian birds and animals, tartans and nearly every other green I could find..... a celebration of the variety life can bring.

For pictures of other variations. and instructions please see previous posts:  (red central block only) (yellow and green strips - includes instructions)

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Chinese style sponge cake recipe (not a quilting post)

 This recipe is very popular with my Chinese friends - I am asked to make it for every party or function. In China few people have ovens in there homes - so cakes are usually bought and a special treat. However they often dont like the typical bakers sponges here in Australia as they are too sweet and have the "wrong" texture.

This has become a family favorite.

Chinese style sponge cake recipe

10 eggs  - separated into whites and yolks
1 cup sugar – 1/2 each for whites and yolks
150 ml oil
90 ml lemon juice
90 ml water
1 2/3 cups self-raising flour

1.  Heat oven 180C
2.   Separate eggs into 2 bowls
3.  To yolks - add ½ cup sugar, oil, water, and lemon juice.
4.  To yolks mixture add self-raising flour.
5.  Beat whites, add ½ cup sugar, beat till stiff.
6. Gently fold two mixtures together
7.  Bake 40 min – this does vary with the oven
8.  Remove from oven and cool upside down.


500g cream cheese
200ml Cream
Icing sugar to personal taste (I don’t use any)
Berries/ Fruit to decorate

Mix – spread on cool cake

Shadow Puppet Text Link: Shadow Puppet Image Link: Hyperlink:

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Liberated piano keys - quilting experiment

Having recently acquired my first true long arm i am experimenting with different sorts of quilting.

in keeping withe liberated style (i hope) I chose trucks,


houses, and cars. Next time I do this sort of work I think that i will be more confident to go over the lives more than once to make the pictures clearer.