Category Archives: quilting

Winter sewing

The challenge for the Waverley Patchworkers Quilt In tomorrow is a 12″ block with the theme Winter. As it rarely snows here I tried to think of another way of showing cold overcast days. I found a cute print with people all rugged up on my last visit to Morris and Sons and so combined it with some greys. Once I decided on a unit, the elements were stitched together randomly. Then it was a real challenge placing them in the 9 patch array. And what was I thinking, all those partial seams!


Other quilting projects have been put on hold because I have caught a Mystery Sampler Stitch Along bug. I saw the pattern being worked at Carrum Downs in March and bought threads to use at the Knox Art Show. The pattern by Linen and Threads is released on the first of the month and I am just starting the April band. I’m working in one strand over one thread of 28 count linen because that suited the width of linen I could find. The Cottage Garden threads are hand dyed lengths so placing the variegations has been lots of fun, although it entails quite a bit of unpicking as I figure out each new pattern.


The only machine work finished this season so far is a Gift Quilt I started ages ago from a pre-cut design by Krista from Waverley Patchworkers. It is now basted and ready to quilt.


Many triangles


Designing a quilt made of leftovers is a slow process. Here is the the sketch that is my starting point.


After sewing the triangles into 4 patches with zero to four triangles in each patch, I tried different layouts of the 56 units. I quite like the movement from lighter to darker.


To emphasise this I shuffled the units into a 4 by 14 array and joined them into larger squares which are easier to handle. Next I needed work out how the blocks with the appliqué circles will interact with the triangles. This involved a lot of maths, as the two types of units are not the same size.

Today I am thinking the band of falling triangles will be intersected at two points by the circle bricks. To lock in this thought I have sewn them into three panels and will move on to finishing the appliqué units.



Now for the leftovers

Just like a great meal, a quilt’s leftovers can be made into something even more delicious. I finished making the quilt top in the Bonnie Hunter En Provence mystery in January. The missing borders are now on, as you can see a tweaked them a little to bring in a tiny bit of colour.

Since then I have been playing around with ideas for the left over bits and pieces. So far I have made some units with the half square triangles cut off the ends of strips when making the hourglass units in the mystery quilt. I have added circles made from a set of 2.5″ squares I received late last year and appliquéd onto grey rectangles. The bits leftover from cutting strips for the mystery will also go somewhere.


There will be more solid greys in the finished piece – it is still very much a work in progress.

The final link up for En Provence can be found here, there are lots and lots of finished tops and quilts to see.

Clamshell solution

My carry around hand project for last year started in a Waverley Patchworkers workshop on 1 May with Irene Blanck. It is a very simple method of piecing clamshell units without paper backings. It has been quite addictive and I am really happy with the palette of hand dyes, hand painted and batik fabrics which have come mainly from my stash.img_5142I have been making panels of 6 across 8 rows down and so far have made seven of these. The usual way to make a clamshell quilt is to appliqué the curved edge to a border, cut off the pointed bottoms and trim the sides to a straight edge and add borders. While I have been stitching I have been trying to think of a way to join the panels so that top, bottom and both sides will all have a curved edge. img_5141I considered joining the panels with a mitre seam, but that would introduce straight lines. After playing around with the way the top and bottom panels might meet in the middle I decided that circles would be the way to link them. They are not to stand out, so I am using the same fabrics as the clams. First I made units with the same radius as the clams, then joined them in a quatrefoil with no overlapping, to be the centre of the quilt. This was done by appliquéing a fifth circle of the same size on the top.

The next step will be to make triangular panels of clams starting with a single one which will fit in-between the circles of the centre unit. Further circles will link these panels in a ridge capping style. Eventually the piece will be wide enough to incorporate the panels I have already made plus more triangle units and more panels. This is not going to be a small quilt!


Way back in October I needed a simple piece so that I could demonstrate machine quilting at a home and garden show. The backstory is my guild was invited to spend time  stitching at a big exhibition covering everything from home decoration and cooking to pets and landscaping. The idea was to open the visitors up to the wonderful world of quilting. It was a marvellous success! So much interest, lots and lots of questions and all in all heaps of fun.img_3760Given the venue and space I thought that machine quilting would be interesting, but not of a large quilt as it would be to difficult to wrangle. I found a pretty pattern at Geta’s Quilting Studio, quickly fused the appliqué shapes, spray basted the sandwich and was ready to go. The highlight was when a passerby recognised the pattern – she came from Romania and follows Geta’s blog.

Since then I finished the pink cushion and have just completed the blue one. All made from scraps of six different hand dyes and some white on white from my stash. The pattern is adapted from a table runner called Flamenco, easy to see the inspiration

Three quilts

Today I finally got to see the other En Provence quilts that have been made by my little group this summer. We met with other quilting friends at Morris and Sons in Collins Street for our monthly get together. It is very hard to see where one quilt ends and the next one begins.


The one to the left belongs to Jenni, Vireya’s is in the middle and mine is on the right.

Don’t the fabrics make a lovely background? There is now a tempting range at the shop including a wonderful Kona Bay solids palette.

Vireya is well ahead on this mystery as she has started the quilting.


It was a wonderful day spent with quilty friends, and a new project was planned. Something nice and quick so there should be some photos by the end of February.


Complete Mystery

After a few solid sewing sessions I am very pleased to have a finished top minus the final border. I stuck with Bonnie’s colour suggestions and design except for the magenta, where I used a number of fabrics instead of one. My neutrals were more limited, to greys only. And I changed the cornerstones. Hope you like it as much as I do.


Here in the Antipodes the seasons are the opposite to where Bonnie Hunter lives in North Carolina. Actually the opposite point to Warranwood, Australia is the middle of the North Atlantic. c389c58b8bb36ed078b1173c2dd234a0

So while most of the quilters joining in the fun are snowed in with nothing to do but throw another log on the fire, send out for nourishing comfort food and sew to keep warm, here in Australia the challenge is to keep your cool.

My tips for completing a Bonnie Hunter Winter Mystery Quilt in the summer.

  1. Keep up. This should be your major focus, if you slip behind, the beach will become a great temptation and all that fabric will be gathering dust.
  2. Clues are usually released in the early hours of Saturday morning on the eastern side of Australia not because  we are in another hemisphere, but Bonnie is on the other side of the International date line, many time zones away. So either stay up very late, or get up early to make a quick start, or at least see what you are in for. Best to keep the weekend clear, social commitments should be kept to outside the home, you have no time for hosting events and you will probably be using the dining table for fabric. Come up with some good leaving early excuses, a desperate need to sew will not go down well.
  3. Have lots of fabric. If you change the colours from Bonnie’s suggestions, come up with a really clear marking system. Instructions are given by colour names – and sometimes these vary during the mystery – so always check back to the intro clue where colours are listed.
  4. Organise a clear space to work. Floor should be pin free, you will be barefoot. Cutting and pressing are critical to success, so have these workstations in pristine condition. Keep the iron off until you have a stack of pressing to do. Get it done, call for a towel and switch off. At least you are not on centre court at the Australian Open.
  5. Keep finished units together in a container, there is no way you will finish if you let them get away. Those cute clips are nice but not essential.
  6. Read each clue then read again. Jot down the key points like number of units, what you are making, what rulers to use, width of strip to cut, colours and pressing tips. If using a different method from the one recommended, good luck.
  7. Be prepared to love the quilt no matter what. Once the final design is revealed, if you have doubts about what you have made, you will never finish. It will be very scrappy and best viewed from a long distance, if necessary view your work from the other side of the house after drinking something strong on ice. Don’t listen to non quilters who cannot make sense of what you are doing. Once it is finished and quilted it will be lovely, that is why so many quilters make the mystery quilt year after year.
  8. Keep hydrated. Once you start flagging, mistakes will be made, the wrong sides sewn together, the wrong fabric cut. If you do need to reverse sew, do it straight away – throwing it in the later basket means you are making a UFO.
  9. Be prepared to time shift. Sewing in the middle of the night when it is cooler can be fun. Have a couple of long playlists you can sing along to, hits of the 80s comes to mind. Then when you are exhausted in the middle of the day, binge watching something light hearted can get you through. My choice this year was the Gilmore Girls, there are seven seasons. Set in snowy Connecticut there are lots of home sewing situations, quilts to spot and Lorelei has a lovely Singer Model 12 treadle.
  10. Most important of all, do the mystery with friends. Having a group for sharing photos, moaning about lack of progress, testing colour ideas, double checking what the clue means, and making a commitment to them will get you through. No one else truely understands what it is that you are doing, and no one else will have as much fun with you.

Thank you to Vireya and Jenni, my fellow travellers en Provence, and in fond memory of Joy, a mystery master.

Here is the list of all my posts about this mystery, starting with the first one.

Another mystery
A neutral starting position
En Provence in the garden
Magenta magic
Violet, Lavender maybe Lilac
Why violet?
Cool change
A New Year a new colour
Ready to assemble
Sashing surprise
This or that

Hundreds of quilters have taken up this challenge and you can see lots of versions of the quilt at the Mystery Link Up.