Modern "One Star"

Recently I had a request from a family member to make a ‘lone star’ modern quilt.  A request is always appreciated – as I tend to make quilts for me – usually because I like a pattern, or a fabric, or I have attended a workshop or because a friend is also making one.  I think there are quite a few other reasons why I have made quilts over the years and quite a few reasons why I have never completed some quilts too!

This new quilt was to be more of a ‘decor’ quilt – to suit a room – and to be relatively modern in appearance.  By that I mean with minimal quilting (YES!!) and with few colours.   I suggested a visit to the local hardware shop to find some paper paint samples in the appropriate colours would be necessary.  Using them I was able to purchase the fabrics and have a colour palette to work with.  I choose a deep charcoal grey for the background, and this ‘set off’ the aquas, pink and yellow colours well.

I had never sewn a lone star quilt before, but luckily a friend had a Nancy Johnson-Srebro book called “big one-star quilts by magic” in her extensive collection of quilting and patchwork books. The pattern book cleverly uses squares and rectangles to make up the star,  rather than cutting strips into diamonds and then sewing them together.

Nancy Johnson-Srebro

Using Nancy’s instructions I was able to easily follow what to do.  Well – it was kind of easy – except I started sewing at a quilt retreat, and one does have to concentrate when putting colours together in the correct order!!

My block pattern

Once I had all the top pieced, I machine quilted it with Aurifil (of course) in Ne 40 and then hand quilted minimally with Ne 12.

Basting with pins and marking with tape for the quilting

Basting with pins and marking with tape for the quilting


Simple quilting with Ne 12 in pink on the soft aqua fabric

Simple quilting with Ne 12 in pink on the soft aqua fabric

The quilting colours

The quilting colours

I added a row of flying geese top and bottom to add length to the quilt as well as pick up the colours used in the main star.

Flying geese border

I am hoping the recipients  are pleased with the end result – if not, there is a home in my house for the quilt, as I have really come to love it!!

Finished quilt


Another hexagon bag (or two)

I must confess a real weakness for bag patterns. When I buy them I am full of enthusiasm and good intentions, but I am not very good at actually making/completing the bags.  Last year I bought a pattern, “Mill Girls Tote”,  from Sewn and Quilted.   It is designed by Vicki Bellino of Bloom Creek

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“Mill Girl Tote” pattern.

I purchased a lovely piece of border print fabric for the top and bottom borders.

another hexagon bag

Border print fabric “Pride and Purpose” by Kaye England for Wilmington.

I found some jazzy red handles which are perfect!!

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The perfect handles.

I was able to utilise many fabrics from my stash to construct the hexagons for the centre feature. The hexagons are quite small, only 1/2 an inch.

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Fussy cutting some of the hexagons.

Sewing bag 144

The collection of hexagon “flowers” grows.

154 hexagons are required to make this panel.  I’m nearly there!

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Hexagon panel progressing well.

While I was beavering away on this project, my friends in a friendship group decided to make a bag, using this pattern, for one of our members celebrating a “big O” birthday. A group of us shopped together to select fabric.  Our choice this time was quite different from the fabrics I’ve used.

hexagon bag

Hexagon panel taking shape.

Various members of the group completed different sections of the bag.

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Bag outer constructed.

After much furtive activity and secret conversations, the birthday bag was completed and presented to our birthday girl.

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The completed birthday bag.

As for my bag….well I did confess at the outset that I am not good at completing bags.  And the decision to make another hexagon panel for the bag back  (rather than using a plain panel as in the pattern) will slow me down.  However,  I’m now re-enthused and keen to add this to my list of completed projects for 2014!

Time to fussy cut some more hexagons…..




Aurifil at Market Trends, Brisbane

Did you have an exciting weekend?


I did!  ……  I went to sunny Brisbane and escaped the cold Melbourne weather for three days.


I had a vendor stand at the Market Trends wholesale trade show, held at Doomben Racecourse in Brisbane.

It was a great opportunity for people to see the Aurifil threads first hand, and for me to meet, in person, with people who I have only previously meet by telephone & email.


As well as being the place to “put faces to voices on the telephone”,  trade shows are always a great opportunity to meet new friends.

I was particularly excited to meet the special guest, Camille Roskelley,  and to see her beautiful modern take on traditional patchwork blocks.


Camille also had her books, patterns & Aurifil Collections on display.


This inaugural Market was quite small,  but well attended by retail store owners from Queensland & northern New South Wales.


As well as having plenty of time to speak to each of the Wholesale vendors,  the visitors had morning training sessions and demonstrations during the day.

They were also treated to an evening talk by Camille, explaining her fabric design inspirations, talking about, and showing, the quilts that she has made for each of her Moda fabric ranges.


It was fascinating to see her miniature quilts, and to hear how they started because she wanted to keep a smaller version of each of the larger “fabric range” quilts on her wall.

Camille said that she stitches her quilts with Aurifil Cotton Mako’ 50, and she has created patterns for each of her miniature quilts so you can make your own versions.


Each wholesaler had put a lot of effort into setting up their displays to make the market hall look interesting.


My  “across the aisle” neighbor even had cupcakes made, and decorated with designs inspired from their Tilda fabric range.

Just too, too tempting.


Then suddenly the weekend was over, my display stand was pulled down, packed into two  suitcases, and I was ready to ride away into the sunset ….. no …. I mean catch a plane back to Melbourne.

My Waverley Quilt Show

A banner to quicken the pulse

A banner to quicken the pulse

Every two years my local quilt group presents the work of their members. I have been a member for 15 years and I went to my first Waverley Quilt Show just a few months after I moved to the area.

Every Quilt Show visitor received a bookmark

Every Quilt Show visitor received a bookmark

The quilts on display were all beautiful and represented every genre of patchwork from traditional to modern; hand pieced and quilted to machine pieced and machine quilted.
This year I entered my “Big O” Birthday Quilt. My friendship group, World Wide Wanderers, secretly worked on this quilt for a year. They even covertly contacted my husband to find out places of personal significance to me and then represented these places with its floral emblem.

My Big 'O' Birthday Quilt

My Big ‘O’ Birthday Quilt


Appliqué detail

Appliqué detail

I was so pleased to show off this quilt to the community. It represents so much more than a special birthday. It is a treasure from my dearest friends.

More appliqué detail

More appliqué detail

If you would like to see more quilts from our show, including the Viewer’s Choice Award winning quilt, visit Rose Lewis Quilting.

Are you friends with your sewing machine?

Life is much more creative if you have made friends with your sewing machine!


Every so often we receive a call for help from a quilter who is struggling with her project because the thread is breaking as she is stitching, so I thought that this was a topic worth talking about here.

Even good quality thread will break if it subjected to too much friction as a quilt is being stitched.

Quilting involves “pushing & pulling” a quilt sandwich around under the presser foot, forcing the sewing machine to do more than simply stitch two layers of fabric together, so the sewing machine set up can contribute to the friction on the thread.

The friction caused by the sewing machine can be from:

  • A needle that is too small for the thickness of the thread
  • A needle that is too big for the thickness of the thread
  • Machine tension out of balance
    • Top tension too tight
    • Top tension too loose
    • Bobbin tension too tight
    • Bobbin tension too loose
  • A burr on the needle
  • Dust in the bobbin race causing the bobbin to rotate at the wrong speed
  • Machine needs to be oiled
  • The machine timing not in balance

This list looks frustrating but, apart from the last point, where you might want to take the machine to a technician, you can teach yourself to recognise, and solve, all these issue by getting out your sewing machine manual.

You’ve already learnt how to make a quilt, so add to your skill set by learning how to “drive” your sewing machine.


Choose a needle that is appropriate for the thread, a finer needle for thin threads and a heavier, bigger needle as the threads get thicker.


  • You need to be able to thread the eye of the needle
  • The needle must make a hole big enough for the thread to travel through the quilt sandwich.
  • Get into the habit of changing the needle regularly so that it always has a good point free of burrs
  • Choose a needle dedicated to a particular task. eg: Quilting needles are designed to stitch through the three layers of a quilt with ease.


Machine Tension:


Be brave, read the machine manual & learn how to adjust the tension.

  • Before you start, record the pre-set tensions with a photograph and now play.
  • Start with one adjustment at a time, and stitch a sample.
  • Change to another setting, stitch another sample & record the setting for future reference
  • Build up a stitched record of what happens as the tension is changed.

The ideal result is a stitch that makes a good lock in the middle of the seam or quilt sandwich and a line of stitching that looks relaxed without being too tight or loose on both sides of the fabric.

PS:  Always use two layers of fabric when stitch testing the tension:


You can read more about adjusting the machine tension in this post I wrote in 2011

Clean the machine regularly:

It will reward you with good stitches

  • If you can, remove the needle plate and bobbin and brush out the dust & fluff that has accumulated in the bobbin race from the fabric, batting & thread
  • Add a drop of oil to the bobbin race & run the machine to spread it into the bobbin race and spin out any dust.
  • If your machine handbook advises that the machine does not require oiling, add a drop of oil to a cotton bud and swirl it around the bobbin race to pick up the last traces of dust.

You can read our hints about cleaning your sewing machine in this earlier post.

Non mechanical causes of friction can be:


  • Lumpy, bumpy seams on the patchwork top
    • Press the seam allowances flat, and  to one side of the seam line
  • Batting that has a harsh feel
    • Use good quality batting
    • Avoid coarse polyester “craft” batting
    • Pre-wash cotton batting when ever possible to soften the handle

Lastly, choose the right thread for the job:


A really fine thread eg: Cotton Mako’ 50 will give a good result for show quilts that are stitched  with heavily detailed feathers and close background fills but it is not necessarily the thread to use to quilt a utility quilt with an open quilting pattern.

Cotton Mako’ 40 is more suitable for day to day quilting. The ditch stitching will stay tucked in the ditch and the thread will produce great quilting texture and shadows.

Quilting with Cotton Mako’ 28 will be more visible and a slightly larger needle may be required than the needle that is used for Cotton Mako’ 40 & 50.

See Judysewforth’s Zentangle project using Cotton Mako’ 28

Use Cotton Mako’ 12 to stitch decorative designs that are very visible. This thread is thick, so the machine needle and tension settings will definitely have to be adjusted.

I match the same thread in the bobbin for all thread weights EXCEPT Cotton Mako’ 12. For this thread I use Cotton Mako’ 28 to give a well balanced stitch without having to modify the bobbin tension.

Now, start making friends with that sewing machine today!

More reading to get you enthused: