Holiday Dreaming

I’ve been back at work for less than three weeks and already my holiday is a distant dream, so I browsed through my photos to re-live some of the memories.

We drove 10,000 kilometres, over many gravel & dusty roads, saw lots of bush and wild life and very few towns.

Women-of-West-QuiltHowever, what I did notice is that in nearly every one of those towns, regardless of the size, there was always a mention of a community quilt to commemorate something special.

The quilt above, hangs in the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame & Outback Heritage Centre in Longreach, Queensland.

I could not find any reference to the makers, but the quilt captured the stories that were displayed around the museum, of women’s lives in isolation in the outback in the past.

Other quilts told stories of settlement anniversaries, mining and local interests and all were hanging in community halls, libraries, council offices and other public places.

It was obvious that the making of these quilts had brought people together to share their love of stitching and their community.

So long live the sharing of patchwork, quilting and embroidery!


Another Day; Another Scrap Quilt

Last week I shared my Square in a Square scrap quilt and discussed my choice of quilting thread.

Today I will discuss my choice of piecing thread on a scrap quilt. I have been working on an ‘Easy Big Block’ Pineapple quilt, designed by Cindi Edgerton for McCall’s, using only white and red fabrics.

When I say ‘red fabric’, I really mean anything remotely looking red in my stash.

Blocks with fabrics that 'read' red

Blocks with fabrics that ‘read’ red

And then, of course, when I say ‘white fabric’, it could be beige, tan or snow white.

White Fabrics...compared to the red fabric

White Fabrics…compared to the red fabric

This type of quilt construction lends itself to a production line approach sewing strips of fabric to the paper foundation, following the numbers in order.

Tissue Paper Foundations from Cindi Edgerton

Tissue Paper Foundations from Cindi Edgerton

I don’t want to worry about my thread colour choice becoming an issue with each new fabric addition.

Here are the threads I considered on several pieced blocks.

Auditioning Aurifil thread  colours

Auditioning Aurifil thread colours

I decided on the Aurifil Mako 40wt Colour 2900. It is ‘neutral’ enough to blend with my ‘white’ fabrics and ‘brown’ enough to blend with my ‘reds’.

Decision Made!

Decision Made!

I can wind several bobbins and sit and sew without changing my thread colour every time the fabric colour changes.

It is helpful to have a range of basic piecing colours so you can choose the right one for your current scrap piecing.

Several Panels are ready to stitch together

Several Panels are ready to stitch together

The ‘basic’ , or MUST HAVE Aurifil thread colours are different for each of us. What are yours? Personally I want them all!

Always Quilting answers your questions about: Quilt Backings

At Always Quilting, along with always talking about Aurifil thread we also quilt for other people …. you know ….  we have a machine quilting service where we turn other people’s patchwork tops into finished quilts. Gammill ……… and sometimes we even find time to turn our own patchwork tops into finished quilts.

We occasionally finish our own quilts

We occasionally finish our own quilts

This means that we have seen a lot of quilt tops and their backings over the years! When talking about quilting, a frequently asked question after, how big should the quilt backing be, is what to do when the fabric chosen for the quilt backing is a smidge too small. Now, I know that there are plenty of specialist wide backing fabrics available today, in fact we have some great backing fabrics in stock in the shop.

Some of the backing fabrics in the shop

Some of the backing fabrics in the shop

However, sometimes the perfect fabric for the back of the quilt is a standard width that will need to be pieced together to make it big enough for the quilt. When this happens, ideally you would buy 2 widths of fabric and join them to suit the size of the quilt. Visit Always Machine Quilting for clear instructions showing how to join fabric to make a quilt backing. But when the last piece of that “perfect” fabric is just a smidge too small it is time to get creative…… Do NOT add borders to the outer edges of the backing fabric,  instead

  • Do cut the fabric to add a second fabric in the middle of the fabric
  • Do make that cut off centre
  • Do add in a wildly different fabric
  • Do cut in both directions if necessary
  • Do cut on the diagonal to add in the new fabric to be even more creative
  • Do use up spare blocks to make up the measurement
Gail added a diagonal panel to increase the length & the width of the backing fabric.

Gail added a diagonal panel to increase the length & the width of the backing for her quilt.

The aim is to make an “ART BACK”, a backing where you deliberately set out to make something interesting,  not one where it was obvious that you ran out of fabric and had to use another fabric to extend the backing. Get instructions for making an Art Backing for your next quilt or see more examples of Art Backs here If you have been following our “Welcome Quilt”  block of the month this year you will have an opportunity to make a small Art Backing for yourself.  Read the instructions judysew4th gave last month for piecing the backing for the Welcome Quilt.

The backing for my Welcome quilt is pieced with the left over background fabric and charm squares

The backing for my Welcome Quilt is pieced with the left over background fabric and charm squares

The idea is to use up the remaining pieces of the half metre solid fabric and charm squares to make the backing. The instructions for making your own Welcome Quilt are still available for Free download.

Wednesday Wonder: Feathered Rose hand quilting

I love to see photos of the work that people have completed with Aurifil thread so I was delighted to receive these photos  from Judy.

Judy leckie's Feathered Rose quilting underway

Judy Leckie’s Feathered Rose quilting underway

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Judy came into the shop to pick out the Cotton Mako’ 28 threads for this quilting, and now it is finished.

The finished quilt

The finished quilt

We had fun picking the two colours, one just a little deeper than the other, to quilt the feathers.

Try choosing a shade up & down of the one colour to add depth & variety to hand quilting

Try choosing a shade up & down of the one colour to add depth & variety to hand quilting

Judy wanted to create some extra depth and interest by playing with colour on the feathers, and doesn’t the use of the soft shading of one colour do just that.


This close up show the great use of colour in the quilting

Thank you, Judy,  for sharing your beautiful hand quilting with us.

You can see more of Judy’s award winning work here.

We would love to share more stories like this so send us some photos, and a background story, if you have a project made with Aurifil threads that you would like to see featured in a Wednesday Wonder post.

See Songbirds a previous Wednesday Wonder

A Visit with Family and Friends (and Fabric)

After several years in Australia, I finally had the opportunity to visit my family and friends in America.

I am always amazed at the changes that occur in places and people. I expect things to be just as I left them…

For the first time in my life, I had to get a rental car ALL BY MYSELF.  That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to someone who travels all the time, but for me, it was new territory.

One of the things that made it easier was the destination. I was going to ‘have to’ pass through Paducah, Kentucky on the 1000mile drive to see my dear mother.

Only 71 Miles to go

Only 71 Miles to go

Not the best picture in the world…I was driving with my camera on the steering wheel….notice the empty highway…

I had never been to Paducah and I was determined to go to Hancock’s and the National Quilt Museum.

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

After a tiny amount of retail therapy…..

I don't really need anything...yeah, right...

I don’t really need anything…yeah, right…

Turn to the left....

Turn to the left….

Turn to the right....

Turn to the right….

I get back on the road heading further south.

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

A joyful time was spent with my dear mother who has allowed me to borrow a quilt I had made for her from the Fall/Winter 1986 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine. It is hand pieced, hand appliquéd and hand quilted.  The label on the back has the’ finish’ date of 1991!

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

Mother said it was too good to use so it still looks like new.

My version of the cover quilt

My version of the cover quilt

A view of the hand quilting from the back

A view of the hand quilting from the back

I left her with several quilts she has promised to ‘use’.

After all that driving I was ready for the long flight back to my Aussie friends and family.

A sight for sore eyes

A sight for sore eyes

Now that I am back in Australia, I am determined to be a tourist more often. We never think to be tourists where we live.  I would love some suggestions of destinations….  (Quilt related, please).

A Modern Welcome BOM-Creating the Backing Fabric

 I hope your Modern Welcome BOM quilt top is nearing completion.

Many quilts have a whole piece of fabric for the backs of their quilts.  Our Modern Welcome quilt has a pieced back.

If you remember at the start of our BOM, the entire project only needed 1/2 metre of background fabric and a charm pack of 5″ blocks.

My Charm Pack by Malka Dubrawsky A STITCH IN COLOR

My Charm Pack by Malka Dubrawsky

Gather any charm squares and pieces set aside from the construction of your pieced blocks.

Left over blocks and fabric pieces

Left over blocks and fabric pieces

This month you will be constructing the backing for your quilt.

Using your quilt top’s measurements as your guide,

sew pieces together into a rectangular shape at least 2 1/2″ larger than the quilt top on each side.

I use Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt thread for my machine piecing.

Cotton Mako' 40 is the best choice for piecing patchwork blocks

Cotton Mako’ 40 is the best choice for piecing patchwork blocks

Create an arrangement that pleases you.

Left over pieces make a Modern Backing Fabric

Left over pieces make a Modern Backing Fabric

Next month….the quilting begins.

2012 Calendar Quilt finally finished

You may remember us posting stories about the 2012 Aurifil embroidery block of the month…. Judysew4th made her quilt using Cotton Mako’ 12 and a lovely linen fabric.  Her quilt was finished months ago.

I, on the other hand, used Lana 12, and a softly felted wool fabric,   and only finished my quilt recently.

My 2012 embroidered quilt is finally finished

My 2012 embroidered quilt is finally finished

In fact, it really isn’t quite finished as it still needs some quilting in the borders.   I had an incentive to get it to this point so I rushed the “finishing” to have the blocks together for a trade show in June.

As the wool fabric made the blocks bulkier than the original plan I decided to keep the piecing simple. I put a frame around each and then sashed them altogether with a setting stone in the corners.

the blocks were framed, then set with sashes and cornerstones

The blocks were framed, then set with sashes and cornerstones

The woollen fabrics used for the frames have been sourced from my stash of “recyclables’.  I can see two old skirts from seventies, pieces gifted to me when friends have been cleaning out their cupboards and even a piece from my husband’s old dressing gown.

The blocks were framed with recycled wools

The blocks were framed with recycled wools

Talking of husbands,  I had a light bulb moment when he asked why I had stitched the word “Summer” with a wool thread. When I explained that the blocks made up a northern hemisphere calendar he wanted to know why I hadn’t made it a southern hemisphere calendar.  Duh!

I had already changed the embroidery medium that had been used by the designers of this quilt. Why didn’t I think to re-arrange the blocks into a southern hemisphere calendar?

Well I don’t plan to unpick the quilt (it took me long enough to make one quilt!! I don’t plan to make it a second time.) but I thought that I could re-arrange the blocks in a photo-montage.

Here, the blocks are re-arranged to make a southern hemisphere calendar with winter in the middle of the year

Here, the blocks are re-arranged to make a southern hemisphere calendar with winter in the middle of the year

If you didn’t collect the patterns last year, they are still available on the website for free download.

Both the Lana threads and the Cotton Mako’ 12 threads are available for purchase from our online store.

It is never too late to start a new project, and this calendar is not date specific so it can be stitched at any time regardless of whether you are in the northern or southern hemisphere.

Tuesday Treats: Another chance to be an Aurifil winner

The internet is overrun with competitions of all variety but every so often I come across a simple one, like this, that really is worth sharing.

The AURIbuzz blog, the official Aurifil blog, has a great competition running at the moment to win an exclusive box of 12 Cotton Mako’ threads but be quick as it closes on 15th August.


The prize is an exclusive set of 12 large spools of Aurifil Cotton Mako’

It is really easy to enter.  All you have to do is visit the AURIbuzz blog  and leave a comment answering a simple question about your favourite quilting style.

And here you can see the thread colours inside the box.

And here you can see the thread colours inside the box.

However, here is my tip!

Take the time to read the blog post first before scrolling to the competition question and comments. It features a very clever art quilter, Luke Haynes,  and the photos of his portrait quilts are worth a look.

The competition is open to international entries and closes on 15 August 2013 so don’t waste time. You could be the lucky winner.

More about Luke Haynes

Not a Tuesday Treat: A Wednesday Woe, no winner today

Last month we ran a photo competition on Flickr, designed as a progress report, for the free Modern Quilt Welcome block of the month quilt we have been offering on the blog.

We thought that it would be an easy way to give away some Aurifil thread packs but we were wrong ……

One of our alternate applique designs. Download the pattern using the link below

It was a progress report, the quilt didn’t have to be finished.

In fact I almost expected to get a couple of photos of bundles of fabric with an “it is in the planning stage” comment, instead the only photos entered on the group page were our examples.

Either no one is making our little quilt … a sad thought

….. or these days it is too much trouble to add a photo to Flickr

…. maybe Instagram has become the preferred photo sharing platform.

Once my blocks were finished I had fun testing layout options. still not decided!

Once my blocks were finished I had fun testing layout options. I am still not decided!

We really did want to give away some thread packs, so if you haven’t started making your Welcome Quilt now is a good time to do so, to be ready for the next photo lucky draw.

You can collect the free patterns here  and start stitching.

(You do not need to register or “sign in” to access the patterns using this link. Once the page opens, simply use the “More Options” arrow, to the right of each file, to preview or download that file)

The Christmas Welcome applique option. download pattern using the link above

The next progress report will be in December so we will have to work out a better way for people to enter a photo for the lucky draw.

Help us decide by answering the poll:

If you haven’t been following the progress of Judysew4th’s quilt you will find a link to each post below:

Month One: The introduction to the Block of the Month

Month Two: Making Four Patches

Month Three: Using Half Square Triangles

Month Four: Combining Half Square triangles and Four Patches

Month Five: making Flying Geese

Month Six: Adding borders

Months seven through ten will add embroidery, plan the quilting, add bindings, labels & hanging sleeves until you end up with a small wall hanging quilt (24″ x 20″ finished) in time for Christmas, and our next photo competition.

The quilt has been designed to use fabrics out of your cupboard, and give you a way to try each of the four Cotton Mako’ thread weights on a small project.

Special Offer for blog followers:

Special Welcome Quilt Offer:

Save 10% when you purchase one spool from
each Cotton Mako’ thread weight
to make your quilt.

 Here is how to activate the Offer:

1.    Go to our online store

2.    Choose colours that will work with your fabrics.

3.    Make sure that you have selected one spool from each of the 4 Cotton Mako’ thread weights.

We chose a different colour for each task, and used a small spool of each of
Ne 50 for Applique,
Ne 40 for piecing,
Ne 28 for quilting &
Ne 12 for embroidery.

4.       Type “Welcome Quilt” in the comment box when checking out of the online store.

We will apply a 10% discount to 4 spools in your order before processing your payment.

Time is running out: enter your progess photo now to win an Aurifil thread pack

Have you been following (& making) our Modern Quilt Welcome block of the month?

If so, have you entered the competition by adding a progress photo to our flickr group?

The instruction for the last pieced block pattern was supplied this month. From now on the instructions will be designed to help you add embroidery, borders, sandwich & quilt the top and add a hanging sleeve and label.

So, to celebrate the “Blocks all Pieced” milestone, we set up a photo competition and time is running out to enter.

The competition closes on 31 July 2013 with the Lucky Drawer winners being announced on 2nd August.

The quilt doesn’t have to be finished, all we want is a photo to show your progress making the blocks.

I even thought that we might have had a couple of photos showing the fabrics and threads set aside with the patterns … ready and waiting for the spare five minutes to get started.

So don’t miss out on a chance to win an Aurifil thread pack.

Up load your photo now!

There are four applique blocks from which to choose for the centre of your quilt but you may remember Judysew4th told the story about why she chose a pineapple for the central applique on her quilt.

Up until then none of us here at Always Quilting had been familiar with the pineapple being used as a symbol of welcome & hospitality.pineapple-gate

So imagine my surprise this week when I joined a group visiting the Johnson Collection, a Museum house, and the guide pointed out the symbol on the gate as being a welcome …. you got it…. there was a pineapple sitting on the front gate of a beautiful old house in the middle of Melbourne.

If you don’t have a Flickr account you may send your photo directly to us to upload for you.