Wednesday Wonder: Beauty really is in the eye of the beholder

I enjoyed reading a recent response to “A Quirky Question” on the Martingale blog.

The question was: “Have you ever made an ugly quilt?” and the winner’s response was an eye opener.

She finished her response with:  ” ….. Ugly can serve a purpose because I won’t stress over damaging an ugly quilt. Twenty years later, it is still holding strong!”

This jogged my memory of a challenge that I entered when I first started patchwork.

Way back then (1991),  living  in a remote community without access to any patchwork, or even fabric, shops it was a challenge to source fabric, so our small patchwork group decided to share our stash in an unusual way.

We had an “ugly fabric” challenge.

We each had to contribute a piece of fabric that we didn’t particular like … a piece that we considered to be ugly!

Everyone’s fabric went into a basket and we then had to choose a fabric that we liked, and make up a block for a shared quilt.

It was amazing … everyone found at least one piece of fabric that they liked, and the finished quilt looked quite good.

Beauty (& ugly) really was in the eye of the beholder.

In fact the quilt looked good enough to raise over $300 for charity when it was raffled for a $1.00 per ticket.

Sadly, the photo has faded so I can’t share that quilt with you, but making it did give me a fascination for quilt challenges.

The next quilt challenge that I joined was with the neighbouring patchwork group (260km away).

We each purchased one metre of bright, wildly striped, fabric with an instruction to feature the fabric in a quilt design of our own choice.


I cut the fabric into 4 1/2″  stripes, and then fussy cut triangles, using a technique that had been described by Jan Urqhart in the Down Under Quilts magazine.


This method of cutting a striped fabric created 12 triangles, enough to piece the centre and points  of  one six pointed star from each stripe.


I took the instruction to feature the fabric in the quilt to heart, and used every centimetre  of fabric in the quilt.

Sadly, I don’t get that many challenge quilts finished these days but I am trying to keep up with our office Round Robin Challenge.

We would love to hear about your Challenge Quilts, so write a comment, and share the story.


Reproduction Introduction

This week I had the pleasure of completing a quilt. Yay!! The majority of my projects are hand-sewn, so to reach the finishing line always feels good – to me, it’s a significant accomplishment!

My quilt is called “Reproduction Introduction” because it is the first quilt I’ve made (i.e. finished) using reproduction/reproduction style fabrics. Yes, it’s taken me a while to “catch on” to the pleasure derived from working with these fabrics.

I started with a piece of blue background and some contrasting “strawberry” fabrics.

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The best greens  were these poison greens.

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Marking the design and being able to see it on the background fabric was a considerable challenge, and eventually I made a design transfer overlay which worked very well and which I discussed  in a previous blog.

I had fun, needle-turning to my heart’s content…..

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…and engaged in some fussy cutting.

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I even made a label featuring the centre design and its fussy cutting.


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And finally, the quilt was finished…May 2014 003


… and on the bed.


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And in case you are wondering, this lovely design is “Louisa” by Cherry Pie Designs.  I made a couple of small adjustments to the original.

For the needleturn applique I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 weight, and to machine the components together and complete the binding, Aurifil Cotton Mako 40 weight was my thread of choice.

My “Reproduction Introduction” is just that because already I have other reproduction quilts in progress or waiting in the wings.  You might say I’ve caught the bug!




Tuesday Treats- Zentangle Quilting

Remember when we all used to speak on our telephones and doodle on a pad of paper? We were tethered to the wall by the curly phone cord. Some of my best spontaneous designs were created this way. Mobile phones have changed all that, however I have discovered that ‘doodling’ lives on!

My latest book purchase is by Suzanne McNeill CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher).

???????????????????????????????                                                                                      Suzanne McNeill Zen-sational

Using Suzanne’s book as inspiration, I wanted to experiment with her technique AND practice my free motion quilting. I traced a wine bottle onto some cotton; layered wadding and backing for my quilt ‘sandwich’, and began to stitch.

I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 28wt in my machine. I used a size 90 Jeans needle and Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt in the bobbin. I love this Aurifil shade of red, it is almost the exact colour of wine in a bottle.

Aurifil 28wt in a favourite colour

Aurifil 28wt in a favourite colour


I outlined the bottle.

FMQ Outline

FMQ Outline

I divided the bottle into sections.

Area divided for FMQ

Area divided for FMQ

Each section is treated to a different free motion quilt design.

First section

First section

Second section

Second section

Third Section

Third Section

Fourth Section

Fourth Section

Fifth Section

Fifth Section

Sixth Section

Sixth Section

I even revisited Lori Kennedy’s free motion quilting tutorial.

Final Section

Final Section

I am pleased with the results.  AND I can still chat on my mobile phone…hands free (to quilt) of course.

FMQ8Have a go at Zen-sational Stitching. If you can draw it you can stitch it.

I love my book, and you can find more of Suzanne’s books here:  Suzanne McNeill CZT (Certified Zentangle Teacher).

The flavour of the month is …….felt

It seems as though the patchwork world has discovered the joys of working with wool felt. Some of us have been doing this for many years, but it is lovely to see this in patchwork items more and more. I have made bags,

Bag with felt flowers and table runners

Christmas tablerunner

and small wall quilts over the years,

camelias and have quite a collection of felts – some hand dyed wool felt, some quite thick, some thinner and some more like wool suitings.

Part of the felt stash

Part of the felt stash

This year I didn’t attend the Australian Quilt Convention in Melbourne, but a friend did – and she had booked into a workshop with Wendy Williams to make a cushion. I had a while ago purchased one Wendy’s colourful cushion patterns, so I decided to start stitching it (is that called living vicariously through a workshop?!!).

Cushion Pattern

Of course, I didn’t choose colours that went with my decor – I wanted to try some new colours and began selecting the basket colours first and using similar backgrounds (black and white) to the original pattern photo.


Then the fun starts – choosing all the gorgeous felted wools to go into the flowers and leaves. I had quite a few at home to choose from, and did buy one or two to add to my felt stash.

I used Wendy’s idea of putting fussy cut floral fabrics or graphic patterns as the centres of the flowers (a good way of making ‘cheddar cheese’ out of fabric!).


Having a selection of Ne 12’s and Lana threads to choose from was great – however I found I wanted to purchase some more as I didn’t quite have the ‘right’ colour at times. (a good way of extending my thread collection!).

Aurifil threads

I don’t think you can have just one new cushion – so I am going to make another one, using similar colours (another chance to buy some more fabrics??).

I haven’t got to the quilting stage – but I may hand quilt it in Ne 12 – or – on second thoughts, I may machine quilt it in Ne 28 or 40 to ‘puff’ up the flowers and leaves. The possibilities are endless!!

Nearly finished

I just have to complete the quilting, make a cushion backing, buy an insert and I’m finished!

A 'Bright' Idea

The recent Easter holiday coincided with the Anzac commemorative long weekend. Taking advantage of this break in the normal work schedule, we headed to the high country of Victoria; destination Bright.

The Ovens River in Bright

The Ovens River in Bright

The leaves were beginning to show their splendid Autumn colours and in the crisp evening air we could see our breath.

The Ovens River with a touch of Red

The Ovens River with a touch of Red


The many shades of red

The many shades of red

One of the highlights of Bright is visiting the Sew Bright Alpine Quilting shop. There is always a smörgåsbord of fabrics, patterns and kits on offer.

Sew Bright Alpine Quilting Shop

Sew Bright Alpine Quilting Shop

I picked up some gorgeous corduroy fabric and an  Amy Butler pattern, “The Liverpool”. You can glimpse a version of this shirt in blue in the photo above.

Perfect Pattern and Fabric for the cooler days of Autumn

Perfect Pattern and Fabric for the cooler days of Autumn

The Sew Bright Alpine Quilting shop also has an Aurifil Mako 12wt Embroidery Thread Club underway. You can contact owner, Angela Bradbury, for full details.  Aurifil Thread Clubs are a great way to enhance your thread collection over time.

Sew Bright Alpine Quilting Thread Club

Sew Bright Alpine Quilting Thread Club

We would love to hear about your ‘bright’ ideas for a short break. Quilt shop destination optional but always appreciated.

Wednesday Wonder: Aurifil colours are fashion forward

The latest thread shipment arrived mid last week so we have been in a whirlwind behind the scenes here at Always Quilting.

It is always “all hands on deck” to get the cartons unpacked, and the stock shelved, as it is impossible to move until we get everything put away ……  so apologies for the delay in responding to anyone who placed an order in the past week.


The fun part of unpacking is the first “real life” viewing of new products.


This time we got two new Designer Collections and Edyta Sitar’s Winter Essentials.


The colours in Edyta’s Winter Essentials perfectly mimic the start of wintery days here in Melbourne.


And the two new designer collections will be the antidote needed to brighten those dull days ahead.


Even more exciting, was to see the new colours that Aurifil has introduced to the Cotton Mako’ range for 2014.


At first glance they looked very similar to the existing greys, khakis & blues on the colour chart but then, with a closer examination, the subtle differences became obvious.

I can already see how well they will work with the new season fabrics.

I’ve found two colours for fabric swatches, left with us by a pattern designer for thread matching, and another colour would have been the perfect grey/brown to quilt a project that a customer brought into the store today.

We have a limited number of the new designer collections in stock but unfortunately we do NOT yet have spools of the new colours in stock.

However, watch this space after our next shipment arrives.

To see the full range of Aurifil Designer Collections pop over to the online store.