Round Robin Round-up

At the beginning of 2014 the members of the Always Thread team set themselves a challenge, in the form of a round robin quilt project. We wanted this to be a small wall-hanging sized quilt, and one with a very modern feel. To see how we set up the specifications for our challenge go to

The original four blocks using colours determined by the colour wheel.


At various stages in the year we have blogged about our progress and posted photos. To track our progress you can visit ,…e-21st-century/ ,…-c-round-robin/, and…-quilting-plan/

At our final handover day the four quilts looked like this…..

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Heather and Denise….. and this.

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Jenny and Judy

Ladybirdee added both machine and handquilting to her quilt, using two different weights of Aurifil thread. (Ne 40 and 12 respectively).

quilted circles

A combination of hand and machine quilting.

A view from the back shows her extensive quilting.

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Back view.

She has also used pieced binding in 2 colours to add to the visual impact.

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Judysewforth also added lots of detailed quilting in a very “fun” design!! (#FUN)  Her binding is also pieced in two colours to match the outer border.

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Her backing fabric is a bit of fun too. (Sorry about the direction of this photo – WordPress is doesn’t seem to like this photo!)

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Jenny found some binding fabric to complement the colours in her quilt and used a variegated thread to machine quilt her project.

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The back view.

And as for my quilt….I could not decide how to quilt it and spent ages gazing at it without inspiration! In the end I machine stitched in the ditch to stabilise it (using Aurifil 40 weight), then added modern look hand quilting using Aurufil cotton in 12 weight. I trialled lots of colours before being happy with the apricot/orange I used (colour 2220) which doesn’t really show up very well  in the photo.

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Although this project took me very far from my comfort zone, and I engaged in a fair bit of sighing and complaining along the way, it did prove to be an intriguing exercise with interesting quilts as a result.

What about your group? Is anyone up for a challenge? We’d love to hear!


Quilting the 21st C Round Robin

Further to my post on 25 July 2014, about the Round Robin blocks we organised at Always Quilting, I had lots of fun quilting my “Modern Quilt”.
threads I need to tick it off the list of things to do – as I know that the year is racing along and it has to be completed as soon as I can.  The pile of other projects to be completed is increasing rather than decreasing, and I find if I can get a small project quilted I feel a sense of accomplishment.

More quilting

After looking at this little quilt for ages, I decided to machine quilt wavy lines, and then circles in certain areas to mimic the pattern already there.

Yellow thread

The machining was done with the wonderful Ne 40 – in matching colours to the fabrics  1148,1135,4250(a variegated) and 2525.

quilted circles

I found Aurifil has a gorgeous variegated gold (3920) in the colours I wanted. The  more subtle change of the Ne 12 which I used for all the  hand quilting  was just perfect.

Quilting Thread

Now all I have to do is put a binding on the quilt – that is the next decision to be made – will I do a traditional binding  ??or one that is less obvious??  I call it ‘bagging the quilt out I don’t know the ‘correct’ term – but it means the binding is not obvious  on the front – more like a facing used in dressmaking.  So – still a little bit more work before I can display it properly!


Red, White and Blue


Many colours in our lives have special significance. Some colours reflect age old traditions and some reflect new and exciting trends.

I am the proud owner of a red, white and blue quilt. When I moved away from the Midwest in America, my quilting friends made this delightful quilt. It came with plenty of room for signatures and thoughtful phrases.


Red, White and Blue Goodbye Quilt

Red, White and Blue Goodbye Quilt

Happy messages from dear friends

Happy messages from dear friends


Wonderful edge to edge quilting adds texture

Wonderful edge to edge quilting adds texture

Today when I consider making a quilt with red, white and blue fabrics, Aurifil’s variegated threads spring immediately to mind as they give me several choices.

I can use these traditional fabric colours with Aurifil Mako Cotton Colour #3852

Traditional fabrics and thread for patriotic blocks

Traditional fabrics and thread for patriotic blocks

For a more modern look, I match the colours in the Mako Cotton Colour #4647.

Modern Fabric Choices and matching thread

Modern Fabric Choices and matching thread

The next time you want to remember a place or an event with a quilt, try matching your Aurifil thread colour to a Holiday themed quilt or a country’s flag. I’m off right now to gather my red, white and blue fabrics for an Independence Day or maybe a Bastille Day quilt …..

Sewing On The Go…

During my recent travels I fell behind on my Aurifil Designer of the Month stitching. I was able to do some stitching in the evening but seeing new places and having new experiences (a gondola ride at the San Diego Zoo for example) can be quite exhausting!

Birds Eye View of the San Diego Zoo

The September and October blocks were calling to me almost as soon as I walked in the door.

The northern hemisphere is just entering their autumn and the leaves are beginning to change in many places. I decided to use a wonderful variegated thread that represented the warm yellows and burnt orange hues of these leaves in the September design by Amy Ellis.

The collection of fabrics I am using for this project contains some delightful shades of orange and red to really bring out my thread colours.

MY Autumn Colours

The October BOO! Block designed by Amanda Woodward-Jennings brought back happy memories of the many pumpkins I carved for our Halloween “Jack-o-Lanterns”.

October Fun

I realized I trimmed my block in the ‘wrong direction’.

Up to Date!

I will use that tiny mistake to be creative when I put all my blocks together. What fun!

A feast for the senses!

Each year in October, Linda Collins hosts “Quilts in the Barn”  ( at her lovely property in Wonga Park, on the north-eastern edge of Melbourne.  I have been going to these quilting exhibitions for a number of years and am always impressed and delighted.

Linda and her group of helpers work extremely hard to run an event which is very well organised.  From the time you drive along her road, marked by signs and colour  balloons, to parking your vehicle as directed by friendly husbands/sons and other men pressed into service, and to the yummy food served so efficiently, you feel that attention has been paid to every possible detail.

Entry to “Quilts in the Barn”.

Each year has a particular theme, this year’s being  “Infinite Variety Revisited – an Exhibition of Red and White Quilts” and the variety of styles and fabrics was certainly extensive.  Whether or not you are particularly drawn to red and white quilts,  the display was stunning.

A pattern is available for this eye-catching quilt.

I was particularly drawn to this quilt because of the fine applique and the hand-quilting.

Hand applique and hand quilting.

Close up showing hand quilting.

More lovely applique.

It is interesting to see how quilters find inspiration from various fabrics.

This quilt was designed around the pattern on the fabric.

The quilt displays are always arranged very artistically.  Some of the props are as much admired as the quilts!

This miniature furniture was coveted by many visitors.

And speaking of miniatures… there were many small quilts on display too.

Lots of little quilts too.

I loved this miniature hexagon quilt with fussy-cut centres.

Don’t forget to look up too.

To satisfy our urge to stash-build, there is also a visiting shop.  This year, as in 2011, the “Quilted Crow” came over from Hobart. 

Deidre and Leonie from the Quilted Crow serve eager customers.

The Quilted Crow specialises in applique designs featuring felted wool, although you can also create the designs using cotton fabrics if that is your preference.  Of course if you are using wool, Aurifil Lana (50% Australian wool and 50% polyester) makes a good choice for sewing thread.  It is available in 192 colours, including some variegated shades, and is suitable for hand and machine work.  To check out all the details and see some examples of Lana in use, check out the Always Quilting website (Click on Thread on the left hand side, then Lana).

Another  draw card to Quilts in the Barn this year was the inclusion of a number of antique quilts from the collection of Mary Koval from Pennsylvania, some of which were for sale alongside some fabrics. Mary designs for Windham fabrics.

More beautiful quilts.

The only disappointing feature of Quilts in the Barn was that I did not get a phone call to say I had won one of the raffle prizes.  All money raised from the exhibition, refreshments and raffles goes to support breast cancer research.  It’s such a worthy cause even without the incentive of a beautiful prize.  Never mind, better luck next year.  I’m looking forward to it already!!

Lana Loveliness

When some of the members of my patchwork guild went away on a weekend Retreat recently,  I was interested to see what work the ‘hand sewers’ would take to do.  We have a group of ladies who bring their sewing machines and work hard all weekend producing new patchwork tops or complete their ufos.

The ladies who bring hand sewing also work hard, but more slowly and peacefully (piecefully?!!) on their work.  Some brought hand piecing to do, others hand quilted while some embroidered.

Jeanette started an embroidery a few Retreats ago, but this year she brought it finished for “show and tell” .  I thought it was just beautiful and asked if I could blog about it.

A close up of one flower

The pattern is from Mrs Sew and Sew  and is called “Red Design”.  The original is red embroidery on a white background, but Jeanette has changed the colours and used an unusual linen fabric as her background fabric.

A beautiful beetle

She has used Aurifil Lana threads – including a couple of variegated ones.  There are many different stitches on the embroidery – not just your ‘standard’ stem stitch or back stitch.

An elegant bird

I am hoping  some other embroiderers may choose to use Lana in their hand work as it works so well and the range of colours is extensive.

More beautiful work

The finished embroidery

Free Motion Quilting Challenge

The phrase ‘Free Motion Quilting’ makes my shoulders become tense and my heart rate increase!

I am much more at home with a thimble on my finger hand quilting in my favourite chair.

But this year, SewCalGal has offered an opportunity for all of us to challenge ourselves to become better quilters with our sewing machines.

When Jenny and I were discussing ideas for Hearts, Hearts and More Hearts, I shared my scrappy heart quilt top and decided it was an ideal top to use for honing my machine quilting skills.

There are 12 blocks and 12 months of tutorials..what could be easier?

The January tutorial is presented by Frances Moore . I have used Aurifil 50wt for the FMQ in the top and in the bobbin.

Aurifil 50wt thread for free motion quilting

 Frances Moore’s video gave me confidence to complete the first heart block.

January FMQ Challenge

The February FMQ Expert is Diane Gaudynski.

Diane creates beautiful feathers with free motion quilting. When I first viewed her tutorial I thought I would wait until I had more experience before I attempted her technique but I am thinking of this challenge as a learning experience. A STEEP learning experience!!

I was glad to read she uses Aurifil 50wt thread as well, so I knew my tools for the job weren’t going to hold me back.

My feathers are a little shaky in places but with practice I will be able to look back at this block and see improvement. Well, that’s the plan….

The February FMQ Challenge

I will be brave and show you the back of my quilting. I have used Aurifil 28wt thread with a walking foot for quilting in the ditch around my heart .

FMQ skill building with help from Diane Gaudynski

I am looking forward to the March tutorial with Ann Fahl.

Yes…..I will share the results with you each month.

Sharing my imperfect attempts at FMQ is quite humbling but we all have to start somewhere and I can only get better.

I must remember to breathe whilst moving my hands and pressing my foot down!

Lana flowers make a neat trimming

Last Saturday I was guest speaker at the Sea Breeze Quilter’s  meeting. The day was wet & blustery outside but it was still a great day as we were snug, and busy, inside at the Altona Meadows library.

As usual I rattled on about thread, why cotton thread works so well for patchwork and why Aurifil thread is nice to use and of course I always mention the other textile art threads in the Aurifil range when I give one of my trunk show talks.

Doris crocheted these beautiful medallions with 2 strands of Lana & 1 strand of Brillo

I must have inspired Doris G. to go home that night and start crocheting with the Lana thread, because the next day I received this wonderful photo above.

Doris had purchased a spool of  variegated pink 8005, a solid pink 8442 & spool of Brillo 800 which she worked together with a fine crochet hook.

I had warned her that miniature crochet with Lana was addictive, and she said it was great fun, and that she would be making more when she worked out a project to use the flower motifs.

Seeing these pretty motifs set me thinking and I had to start writing a list of hand crafted Christmas ideas:

  • Make them into snowflakes …just imagine them made up in shades of  silver and white, hanging on the Christmas tree
  • Stack several together to make a brooch
  • Attach fittings to individual motifs to make earings
  • Stitch several to the ends of a scarf to create a designer look

Back in August I posted some photos of the brooch and necklet  that I had made crocheting with Cotton Mako 12 and I think similar designs could be made with Lana.

If you want to make your own Lana motifs you can download a free crochet pattern from the panel on the left.  Lana & Cotton Mako’ 12 are available for purchase from the Always Quilting online store

So what do you think?

Do you have any clever ideas for using miniature crochet motifs?

We would love to hear your ideas for using crochet motifs so please add a comment.

Funky Chickens….My Bag is Finished

Back in July I was inspired to create a quilting design after purchasing some cool fabric.

My original idea of a four-patch design was discarded as I really like this fabric and, in the end, I just didn’t want to cut it up too much.

Added Ric-Rac and stitched handles to top fabric panel

The initial hand quilted motif has been augmented with some machine quilting using Aurifil Variegated 50wt (orange spool).

Hand quilted and Machine quilted with button embellishments

When the quilting is finished I then straighten the edges of the block and begin building a panel by sewing additional, coordinating  fabrics until I have a rectangle that measures 32 inches by 20 inches.

“building” materials for my market bag

I have also decided to add  an outer piece of tablecloth plastic to keep my bag waterproof and clean. The plastic is lightweight and easily sewn as part of the bag construction. I cut the plastic slightly larger than my cut bag rectangle.

Outer plastic layer adds protection from dirt and water

Fold your rectangle in half with right sides together. Using a walking foot (this keeps all layer moving through your machine at the same pace) stitch side and bottom seams, leaving top open.

While bag is inside out, grab one of the bottom corners and match the bottom seam line with the side seam line. Flatten the bag corner forming a triangle. Mark 2″ from the triangle tip and mark a sewing line across the width of the triangle. Stitch along this line making sure to secure your stitches at both ends.

Creating a flat bottom gives the bag some stability

Make straps using two different fabrics. Cut 2 lengths of each fabric 2 inches by 20 inches. Creating two straps, sew two fabrics , right sides together , leaving one small end open for turning. After trimming corners and turning right sides out, press and edge stitch.

Two fabric Straps

Place your handles with unfinished edge along bag top in your desired position. Stitch these in place. Make your bag lining just as you made your bag ADDING at least an inch to height measurement AND leaving a large enough gap in the bottom for turning out. I have added several inches as I wanted a wider header at the top of the bag.

Place your bag, with right sides out,  into the bag lining with wrong  side out. Stitch all round the top edge making sure your handles are in the ‘down position’ so they are not caught in this seam. Carefully pull the exterior bag out through the gap in the lining. Stitch the gap closed in the lining. Top stitch around the bag top. I have added the green ric-rac and you may want to add some trims or embellishments as well.

Top stitch bag and add embellishments

If you are looking for more clever, quick, ideas for making  bags visit master bag maker Lisa Lam’s blog 

There is still plenty of time before the holiday season to make a variety of bags for your friends and family You can never have too many bags!

Let’s glitz up for Spring with Aurilux

As a “dyed in the wool cotton thread on cotton fabric” patchworker I don’t often talk about our Aurilux, the satin finished, polyester embroidery thread but in the past week something happened that made me look at the Aurilux threads with new eyes.

Just a small selection of thepretty variegated colours in the Aurilux range

We  had two textile artists in the shop who took one look at the rich glossy Aurilux  colours and went into raptures about where, and how, they could use the threads in their next projects.

Their reaction made me realise that it wasn’t fair to keep this lovely thread a secret, and Spring is the perfect time to start adding some glitz to our life (and work)

These pretty butterflies were embroidered several years ago by my friend Janice

Aurilux gives beautiful results when used for embroidery and it is also a great thread for quilting, when you are looking to add a touch of  light to a design.

You can read more about the Aurilux thread here on the blog or you can go directly to our online store to make a purchase.

So, as the gardens start to blossom for spring, there is no better time to start planning your own pretty spring project.