Tuesday Treats: Do you enter Quilt challenges?

Quilt Challenges can be a great way to extend your skills and “challenge” your boundaries but, sadly, people often avoid entering because they think that they are “not creative” or that their stitching is not “good enough“.

So, as the sponsor, I was thrilled to see the clever pieces that had been entered in the Victorian Quilter’s Inc 2012 challenge. Congratulations to the winners :

First Prize:  Fran Batrouney
Second Prize: Ramona Resurreccion
Third Prize:  Janet Kidson

Fran won first prize with her entry “The Jungle & Totem Poles”

The challenge was entitled “Loose Threads”,  and the participants were free to interpret the words in any manner they wished, on a quilt that was approximately A3 in size.

Ramona won second prize with her entry, ” Bush Retreat’

The winners each won a box, or bag, of Aurifil threads and, this year, all the other entrants also received a sample pack of Aurifil threads as a thank you gift for having the courage, and taking the time, to enter the Challenge.

Janet won third prize with this piece, titled “Backlit Orbweb”

There wouldn’t be any quilt shows if people didn’t participate, so next time you start to make excuses for not entering a quilt remember that old saying “practice makes perfect”.

It is certainly true when it comes to patchwork competitions, and an easy way to start is to enter one of your local Guild’s  small quilt challenges.

Like the “Loose Threads” challenge, they are often no bigger than an A3 page size, and may even be smaller, so they are a “low risk” way  to get started.

  • They will not use up very much fabric
  • Should not take months to stitch
  • You can experiment with new techniques, or colours.
  • When finished, they don’t take up a lot of storage space.

So next time your Guild, or favourite magazine, promotes a small challenge, be brave and have a go.

Photos of the above winning quilts have been posted with the permission of each owner.

A taste of Tifaifai

Recently I attended a workshop run by my local guild on Tifaifai quilts.  The tutor was Dijanne Cevaal, an Australian, well known here and overseas for her innovative quilts.  I enjoyed the weekend class very much and learnt a lot about this style of quilts as well as colour, quilting, and threads.    We were encouraged to develop our own designs rather than use the patterns from Dijanne’s book “Tifaifai Renaissance”.

Tifaifai quilt ready for quilting

I now have to spend some hours quilting around the raw edges of my design.  Dijanne usually quilts around the raw edges three or four times in an embroidery thread.  I started on my pattern using Ne 50 (our finest thread) but will now go over it in the ‘heavier’ weight Ne 28 and may only need to do another 2 ’rounds’.  It will all depend on the look I achieve.

Aurifil Ne 28 and Ne 50 both used for quilting

Then I will have to think about the type of quilting I will put in the background and on the borders.


As well – I have to consider quilting the ‘reverse’ quilt I have created!!  Putting the fabric on a completely different coloured background has made an entirely different looking quilt.  I rather like the colour combination!!

The ‘reverse’ of the design

All I need – is more hours in the day and more days in the week!!

Tuesday Treats: Are you safe in your sewing room?

Well not really a “treat” this week, as I am concentrating on health and safety after reading an article recently that set me thinking about how we work in our sewing rooms.

We all pay attention to Health & Safety practices in the workplace, and on the road, but have you thought about how you “work” in your sewing room /corner?

Good health and safety work practices are expected, and accepted as the norm in Australia

Good health and safety work practices are expected, and accepted as the norm, in Australia

Patchwork, quilting and sewing in general can be quite injurious to our health so it is something that we should all consider.

If you have small children I bet you are already conscious of the sharp objects that we use, and work to keep them out of reach of small hands

  • pins
  • scissors
  • rotary cutters

One hint I read that really appealed to me was, when sewing with small children, instead of putting them in a play pen put the “fencing” around the sewing machine, so that you work in a space that the children can’t reach, and they can move around more freely.

You will both be happy, and if a stray pin drops on the floor it will not matter.

What about safety around electrical appliances?

  • sewing machine
  • iron

If you take these to workshops that are held in hired venues, with public liability insurance obligations, you are now required to have them “tagged” as being electrically safe to use.

So at the very least, for working at home, it is good practice to learn how to look after your machine and plan to have it serviced regularly.

Play safe, have your sewing machine serviced regularly

Also get into the habit of visually checking the power cord on the iron to make sure that it has not frayed, or developed a kink that could damage the wiring.

The cost of replacing an iron is minimal when compared to the damage that could occur if it has faulty wiring.

If you work with dyes and paints I am sure that you are aware of the basic safety procedures for storing and working with chemicals:

  • use gloves & masks
  • working in open spaces
  • not using utensils that will be put back into use in the kitchen
  • storing the paints & dyes in a secure spot away from inquisitive children

Safety gloves should be worn when working with dyes & paints

But back to the story that got me started on this safety post.

Like me, I am sure you have been told to NEVER put pins in your mouth in case you swallow one.

I think it was the first thing my mother ever taught me about sewing, but I still did it every so often as it meant that the pins were easy to grab when I needed them. (well I did this until I started making wrist pin cushions)

Well after reading Annie’s story, pins in the mouth will forever be a thing of the past.

She didn’t swallow the pin, she accidentally inhaled it, which resulted in surgery to remove a portion of her lung.

The best thing about being part of the patchwork, quilting and embroidery world is that everyone shares a love of textiles, so feel free to comment, to add your thoughts and hints about working safely in the sewing room to keep us all healthy.

Viva la difference!

The Aurifil Block of the Month, presented by Pat Sloan, is past the half-way point and I have finished the block for July; Summer is the contribution from  Sarah Fielke. I know we are in the middle of winter here in Australia, but I have enjoyed stitching beach umbrellas and thinking of the sand between my toes as I attached my golden, sandy coloured beads……I have employed the attitude…”Why make a French Knot when I can use a Bead”!

I loved using several variegated threads!

MY Summer colours

As a reminder…I began my Aurifil BOM with a collection of seductive fat quarters from Timeless Treasures.

Timeless Treasures

Choosing just the right fabric

I know Pat Sloan began with a different, luscious selection of fabrics. And Jenny is doing hers on wool with Aurifil’s fabulous Lana wool.

Here are a few snaps of my earlier blocks.

The Year Begins

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12wt….Variegated Bliss

I will indulge myself with a few days of feeling quite pleased with myself for being all caught up and waiting for the next installment …what new project can I start in the meantime???

Tuesday Treats: Do you want to make a pretty wrist pin cushion?

I was wondering what to share with you this week when I found a link to a tutorial for a pretty wrist pincushion.

A pretty wrist pincushion, designed by Michael Ann. Scroll down the page to find the link the tutorial on her blog.

As I looked at Michael Ann’s pin cushion, and then at the tatty one that I am using, I realised that it was time to retire my poor, hard-working wrist pin cushion.

My raggedy old wrist pin cushion was made with four small half-square triangle blocks

Since it was made four years (or more) ago,  my pin cushion has had a hard life, working with me, as I’ve loaded quilts on & off a longarm machine.

  • it has been worn nearly every day,
  • has been stuck with 2″ safety pins rather than neat little dressmaking pins
  • has saved my hand & wrist from injury many times when I’ve overloaded it with pins

As my Mother would say, it certainly doesn’t owe me anything and, as soon as I saw that pretty pin cushion on the Michael Ann Made blog, I knew that it was time to let it go.

I like Michael Ann’s idea of elastic to hold cushion in place. I had used velcro on mine and it was okay but I think elastic will be better.

She has used a piece of cardboard as the base of her pin cushion, however, I use much thicker, heavy-duty pins, so  I think that I will use a plastic base again, just to be sure that the pins do not stick straight through the cushion into my wrist.

Last time I cut a square from some templastic but I rather fancy a round pin cushion this time, and found just the right size piece of plastic sitting in the kitchen (left over from lunch).

I will also use wool batting off cuts to stuff the cushion as I found that the batting held its shape, and stood up to the use well, in the old cushion.

Choose flexible plastic for the base of a wrist pin cushion.

I’ve even found some fabric that will be perfect. I love the bright, modern print in this square from the “Simply Colour” Moda charm pack.

This is one of the 5″ squares from the Simply Colour Moda charm pack

Now all I have to do is, chop up some wool batting to make the filling for the pin cushion, and  go back to read Michael Ann’s Wrist Pincushion tutorial to see how she made that pretty frill.

Until next Tuesday,  I hope you have fun making your own pretty pin cushions!

Blog cleaning is much more fun than house cleaning

I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t updated the events page for so long that, if it was a physical object it would have been covered in dust and spider webs.

Clever spider, work is all done so now it can avoid detection by hiding inside the leaf

However, having seen notices for the following  “one woman shows”, by  textile artists whose work  I enjoy,  I really had an incentive to open the windows, blow out the dust and start the page a fresh.

The first, for people in and around Melbourne, is by Dijanne Cervaal who wrote:

You are invited to attend my Sentinelle Exhibition at the Caroline Springs gallery space in the Civic Centre/Library from 3 July to 13 August 2012

Dijanne’s “Sentinelle” quilts have to be seen in person, the detail is stunning.

Visit Dijanne’s blog to see more of her work

The second exhibition is for those of you in Queensland.  Sue Dennis’s exhibition is being held in Warick and she has the following information on her website :

Taking Leaf of My Senses Solo Exhibition: Warwick Art Gallery 5 July – 19 August 2012

Whether Sue is in the Australian bush, travelling overseas or at home trying to tame her garden, she is observing the shape, colour and variety of foliage present. A humble leaf is transformed via paint, fabric and stitch into a unique snapshot of place and time. Work from 2006 to 2012, and both Australia and North America are represented in her exhibition.

5 July-19 August 2012
Warwick Art Gallery
49 Albion St, Warwick QLD
Phone 07 4661 0434
Tuesday- Friday 10am- 4pm
Saturday and Sunday 10am- 1pm

View Sue’s short video about making “Taking A Leaf ”  by clicking on the image below or visit Sue’s Blog to see her post about the opening night.

Now go to our events page to see the full, updated, list of exhibitions and events.

If you wish to have your textile exhibition, or event, listed simply leave us a comment below, with the details, so that we can added it to the page

Tuesday Treats: Modern Quilt Guilds in Australia

I thought I would kick off the new regular feature at Always Playing with Aurifil Thread“Tuesday Treats”,  with a list of Modern Quilt Guilds around Australia.

I loved the use of graphic prints in this quilt which I quilted  for Sandy several years ago.

I am sure that, like me, you have been intrigued by the growth of the Modern Quilting Movement.

Initially I could not see the point in “re-inventing the wheel” and giving it a new name. I thought that there were already plenty of resources out there for people to learn patchwork & quilting and to meet like-minded fabric addicts BUT,  as I began reading the blogs, and looking at the books, I started to appreciate the differences.

Another quilt that I have quilted that caught my eye for the use of colour

I’ve always loved colour, always found it difficult to make an exact copy of someone else’s pattern and much prefer simplicity to fussiness ….. I think modern quilting might suit me.

Now I can see that I need to start collecting more modern quilting designs such as this one by Lisa Calle which I found at: Digitech patterns

Maybe I should look for more designs like this one from Lisa Calle

If you want to know more about the Modern Quilt Guilds in Australia simply follow the links:

Central East Coast


North Brisbane






Don’t forget to come back each week to see what new treat has been added to Tuesday Treats

Hand-quilting, hangers and handy husbands.

There is tremendous satisfaction in finishing a hand-crafted item, particularly one that has held UFO status for longer than you are prepared to divulge!  I have recently completed a wall-hanging for our family room which must have been started about 6 years ago.  I used a pattern called Antique Rose by Country Appliques (www.countryappliques.com)which I originally purchased to make a table runner for a friend.  I liked the design so much I decided to make it up for myself too.

I made the top quite quickly, but when I came to hand-quilt it, I ground to a halt.  I had hoped to improve my  hand quilting technique and to this end I invested time and money in a course, new thimble, hoop and needles.  Despite practising, and several broken needles later, I did not feel that my technique or stitches were any better, and the quilt top remained unfinished.   Finally, in disgust, I decided to go back to my previous method and just “do it”.

Quilting the border.

I had used all the other Aurifil cotton thread weights before for various applications, but this was my first time hand-quilting with 28 weight  It proved to be a fine, but strong and  smooth quilting thread, and I was really spoilt for choice when it came to choosing the colour, as there were several colours available which were all suitable.

I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 28 weight for the quilting

Because some of the quilting was on dark blue fabric, I used a Sewline ceramic marking pencil with a white lead to mark my lines.  (http://www.sewline-product.com)   I have used this pencil extensively for marking fabric (not just for quilting but for applique etc as well) and the white shows up on most colours, even the pale ones, but other coloured leads are available too.  Because it is a propelling type pencil you always have a sharp point and the marked lines are easily removed by gently rubbing or sponging with a damp cloth.  Sewline marking pencils and other products are available from the Always Quilting online store.  (www.alwaysquilting.com.au) Look under tools/marking tools.

My husband likes to do a bit of woodwork.  This is very handy in more than one way.  If I ever feel a tad guilty for indulging in quilting paraphernalia, I remind myself of all the tools in his workshop and immediately feel justified!  It’s even better if my handy husband turns his hand to making something for our home  (In the past he’s made bookshelves, occasional tables, built in cupboards etc).  A number of years ago he fashioned a big lightbox for me and most recently made a beautiful hanger for my completed wallhanging.

Applying polyurethane to the quilt hanger,

He had been given a number of pieces of aged timber, very solid and heavy, which he thinks are red gum, which he chose to use for the quilt hanger.   It is a lovely rich red colour and does not require any stain,  just a coat of poly-urethane.

Waiting for the polyurethane to dry.

The finished wall-hanging and wooden hanger look like this.

The finished quilt and hanger.

Very satisfying indeed!!!