Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Reunited with my sewing machine

I've not actually sewn a stitch for almost a week. I've been dithering over a quilting design for Jindy, my snuggle quilt. I wanetd something flowing and not too dense. I also wanted something that didn't need marking, and of course not a stipple.
I'm using a lovely deep aqua flannel on the back of this quilt - nothing I did in Photoshop could get an accurate colour; every time I got it blue enough it went all greyed.
Then the latest issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting arrived in my letterbox on Friday. On page 63 is a quilt called Inner Piece, which has a beautiful feathers and swirls pattern. It's so even that it mst be a longarm pantograph, but I've been doodling similar patterns for a few days, and tonight I got stuck into it.
It's denser than I'd planned, but by keeping the feathers large, it's not too slow - though there's still a lot to go. I find I need to pause after each element to plan where the next will go to keep it even, and that combined with a bit of double-back on the swirls is what's taking the time.
It feels good to be back at the machine.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Giveaway Sundays - Week 4

Here's the fourth giveaway, just before midnight!

This week it's six half-yard cuts of batik fabrics:

To give you an idea of scale, those butterflies at the top left are about 2in across.

How to enter: This week I want you to leave a comment on this post tellingl me whether you like the quilting part of making a quilt or not - and why that is. International entries are welcome as always. Entries are open until next Saturday, when I'll announce the winner. Good luck!

Week 3 Giveaway Winner

The winner of the thrid giveaway is Margaret. I can't mention Margaret without telling you all to head over to her blog to check out her beautiful quilting. (Her piecing is pretty spectacular, too, and I'm lucky enough to have one of her creations on my own wall.)

Now, a few more answers:

Penny asked what is my favourite machine quilting book?The truth is, I don't really have one! I have a few books which I use for inspiration on occasion, but none I regularly use. I love Karen McTavish's books, but even so, I don't use them often. There are a few books which I'd like to get, such as Anita Shackelford's Infinite Feathers, Kim Brunner's Twirly Whirly Feathers and Linda Taylor's Fancy Feathers books (notice a theme there?!). I'm totally self-taught, though hoping to take some classes at AMQF here in Adelaide in October. I get a lot of inspiration from the many magazines I read, especially Machine Quilting Unlimited. Blogs and Flickr and online sources are really useful as well.

Shelley asked if I'm wanting more children? We'd always planned to have two children, and are happy to keep it that way. I went through a brief stage of wanting another baby, but honestly, two is enough for me.

Margarita asked "How many kilometres of quilting is there in one of your quilts? " This is another "I don't know" My focus on the quilting stage is relatively recent, and a lot of my older quilts are quite simply quilted. The two quilts which I'd guess have the most quilting (certainly for their size) are lap-size and quilted very heavily all over. Fancy Feathers has about 1100m and I imagine Starburst would have a similar amount. I'm not good at either keeping track of or estimating thread use, and in most cases I use several different threads, which makes it hard. Does anyone know a good way of tracking it?

Margaret is curious how much I'd charge to do a beachy quilt commission? Well, I have a small lap-size one available on Etsy for $450US - which is a bargain given the time involved, but not a cheap item! Pricing quilts is my least favourite part of selling them, and something I feel very uncomfortable doing. I suspect I'm not alone in that!

Karen asks how many hours a week I spend sewing/quilting? This is only an estimate, but I'm in the study from around 9pm-2am each night, plus a few hours on Saturdays and Sundays, and the odd hour here and there. Probably 2/3 of that time is spent actively sewing or working on designs, so that's about 25 hours a week working on quilts in some way or other.

Another reader asked where I got the name for my blog. It's explained here in my first ever post. Sampaguita is the national flower of the Philippines, where I lived with my family  between 1988 and 1991. The flowers in my blog header and the giveaway button are sampaguitas.

More answers another time.

See you again tomorrow for giveaway number 4!

Thursday, 24 June 2010


I am intending to answer all of the questions from last weekends giveaway in posts here on my blog. Some are going to be harder to answer than others, and I won't necessarily be answering them in order, but I really do plan to answer them all as I can.

Let's start with a one:

Thisn one seems appropriate for now, since I'm currently taking a lunchbreak from my day job:

Leah asked: Do you fantasise about quitting the dayjob, and going full time obsesssin instead?

Short answer: Yes.

Long answer:  Yes, BUT!

Firstly, I do actually enjoy my day job and the people I work with. I love the mental stimulation and I can see real purpose in my job, and most of the time I enjoy the actual work. It's also extremely flexible for me; I couldn't ask for a better workplace. I dont really think I'd want to leave and not know my position was there to go back to - it also provides a lot of security.

Secondly, I'm fully conscious that the market for handmade quilts at a price that would afford a decent wage it minimal. I would like to do longarm quilting, but at the moment that would be a major investment on top of the machine, since I would need a new studio with enough space.

A more realistic dream is to get myself a longarm for personal use, and take on a greater number of quilting jobs. It's not really economically viable on my sewing machine, because of the time it takes, plus of course there are physical imitations of the machine. I'd certainly consider taking a year or so of unpaid leave to focus on quilting once I got  a longarm (I'm working on the assmption that it will actually happen here!) and reassess after that.

I currently work 3 days a week, and that seems to work reasonably, though I often feel as though I could do with extra time both a home and work. Inanother few years, both children will be at school, and that might change things, too. I don't ever want to go back to working my day job fve days a week, and it's really important to me to be home when the children finish school.

Sunday, 20 June 2010


I finished this little doll's quilt last night, and have called it Nectar. I took some quick (and very late) photos to show the quilting, but somehow forgot to take it outside and get some decent pictures today. Given the busy week I have ahead with an extra day at work, and several appointemnts, I won't get a chance now until next weekend.

I wan't overly happy with the piecing accuracy - too many of the points didn't meet up; but since it's for a little girl to use with her dolls and teddies, I decided not to worry about it. On the other hand, her bed quilt was going to be very similar, but I couldn't live with these inaccuracies in a bed quilt, so I'm considering th options. At least I have a bit of time until that quilt's needed.
After I'd quilted in-the-ditch around the borders (the narrow red border is a 1/4in flange) pretty much everything else is feathered.
Everything apart from the corners (below) are freehand.
I wanted the corners nice and symmetrical, so drew a template, but couldn't trace it after sandwiching, so I use my quickunpick (seam ripper) to cut along most of the lines (not a very accurate way fo cutting, but quick and good enough for what I wanted), and folded them back. Then I just 'traced' inside the  paper template using a clover blue pen. Because it's just paper, it gives easily to allow me to draw a smooth line.
I don't know why I used to be so scared of using markers; this one goes on easily and comes out quickly with water - I don't like the crinkly look of a washed quilt, so I use a cotton-bud (Q-tip?) dipped in water and rub that along the lines - it does a good job and dries quite quickly, but would use a lot of cotton buds if you marked an entire quilt.
I've added this quilt to the pile of 18 already on my shelf!

Giveaway Sundays - Week 3

There are three fabrics in the week three giveaway. There's half a yard each of the feathers and chandeliers, and over 1.5y of the pink on the right.

To enter this week's giveaway, just leave a comment asking me a question. Any question, quilty or not. Entries are open until next Saturday when I'll announce the winner and answer at least some of the questions. International entries welcome.

Remember to come back next weekend to find out if you've won and to check out the fourth giveaway.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Week 2 Giveaway Winner

The winner of the week 2 fabric giveaway is Miss Nancy! Nancy, please email me your address so I can send your fabric to you!

I'm still deciding exactly what you'll need to do to enter the Week 3 giveaway - you'll have to come back tomorrow to find out!

Thursday, 17 June 2010

From James' mouth

In response to an ad this evening:

"All those butterflies are coming out of the same raccoon!" !!!


Here's my new wheatbag. I found the remaining wheat I had in the cupboard, decided it would nicely fill a bag if I cut a square using my 12.5in ruler, and that was it for measuring! I just folded the square in half and sewed right-sides together around all but 4in, doudble-stitched the seam with a short stitch, turned the bag, poured the wheat in, and top-stitched it shut. Done! I'm planning to get some more wheat and make some more - as warmers for James and Eleanor, since the nights are suddenly cold, and some spares for me.

This play quilt is ready for binding. It's flannel back and front and is feathered all over. I FMQed a wavy snake going across the quilt 5 times over the whole thing, then feathered up and down either side of the line - simple, good feathers practice, and just right for the quilt - not too heavy and just adding a little intrest to the pieced top.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

New stash, new quilt

After staying strong for years, I've finally given in and started a flannel stash. This is my latest delivery; almost 30yards of flannels; mostly Valori Wells designs, a little Amy Butler Love and a tiny bit of Farmer's Market. I ordered these from QuiltHome.com little more than a week ago. This online store only sells modern designers, and are reasonably well priced, but what really got me was their shipping. Those of you in Australia ordering from overseas will be used to paying a tonne for shipping, and this is a good way to save. Small orders can go in the usual flat-rate envelopes, but...they have flat-rate shipping for $39.95 to Australia for unlimited fabric! So my 30y of flannel which filled two boxes, still only cost $40 shipping, instead of more than twice that elsewhere! Very handy if you can put in one massive order (maybe with a friend or two) and especially if you're ordering something bulky.

(To give some perspective on the size of this pile; it's 1/4y wide; the top 2/3 are all 1/2y cuts, each folded in quarters after being cut from the bolt.)

I actually used a little of the flannel tonight to make another wheat bag. Like a lot of people, I sew without shoes on, and it's getting cool here - a nice hot wheatbag is beautiful for my icy toes!

What I was really sewing tonight was a doll quilt as a very belated first birthday present for one of my nieces (at one you can get away with being late, they don't care too much about the presents!). I just need to cut the corner setting triangles and put the blocks together, then I can add the borders.

This quilt uses Patty Young's gorgeous Flora & Fauna range, and the bed quilt for her 2nd birthday will match.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Hush in the Forest

Here at last is the flurry of photos of Hush in the Forest. I really love this one, for both the design and the quilting - which is just as well, since it has been a big job! Click on any photo for a closer look.

The centre of this quilt is my tree design  - which is available as a pattern in my Etsy shop.

The pieced owls and squirrels come from Margaret Rolfe's book Go Wild with Quilts
With the exception of the owl in the tree and some of the colours in the pieced owls, all the fabrics for this quilt come from 3 Moda ranges: Hushabye (by Tula Pink), Eva (by Basic Grey) and Twiggy (by Sanae).
The quilt includes three different sorts of owls (pieced, appliqued and printed), rabbits (printed) and squirrels (pieced).
I did more open McTavishing (quilting lines about 1/2in apart, instead of under 1/4in) in the centre to keep the quilting at a similar density across the quilt. After the pinwheel border, the quiting density does reduce a little to keep it from getting stiff, but not so much that the quilt doesn't naturally lie flat and square.
I thinik the squirrels are my favourite part, each with their own little nut to nibble on.
If you look closely at the branch the pieced owls are perched on, the grain of the wood goes the wrong way!
I got a bit enthusiastic feathering these corner kaleidoscope blocks and put some of them the wrong way - and had to unpick and re-sew them!
I trialled loads of designs for this outer pieced border, wanting something which used the block design, but everything was too heavy, and while this feathering completely disregards the piecing, I don't think it detracts form it too much - and it looks great on the back!
I has fun feathering two borders in one - but in hindsight should have included the outer brown and pink bunny damask border as well.
The photos above and below were taken once I'd moved the quilt into sunlight; it was a very dull day.
I love how the feathers in the centre (below) swirled together so nicely.
I think this is the only photo showing the quilting of the corner kaleidoscope blocks:
Detail of the tree roots and the quilting in the pinwheel border - done in pink:
Nearly done...
Last one...
Now as soon as I can get my printer to recognise the new colour cartridge, I can print and attach the label, and send it off to a little girl who's soon to turn 4 (as signified by the four leaves in the tree).

Giveaway Sundays - Week 2

Sorry it's a day late, I wasn't well yesterday. Actually, I've been sick since Friday, and have missed most of the long weekend!

This week's giveaway is a dozen fat quarters. They're metric fat quarters, so a little bigger than the imperial ones.

How to Enter: International entries welcome. This week, in your comment, just tell me what you like about winter! This long weekend is the start of the Australian ski season, and skiing is my absolute favourite thing about winter! Bonus entries to everyone who spells favourite 'correctly' (this is me seeking revenge for the time I spent in a US-centric International school!).

Remember to come back next weekend to check the winner and next giveaway!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Week 1 Giveaway Winner

It was fun reading all of your entries; a few had me giggling, but those who did their research were all relatively close.

First I'm giving a special mention to Adds, who first spent ages trying to wheedle clues out of me, then through pure luck and dogdy maths was actually pretty close!

At the time the photo was taken, there was approximately 1.42km (1420m) in the cupboards.

Now to try and answer some of the questions which arose, and to satisfy the statistician in me:

1. Almost my entire stash, expect maybe a few metres, is in the cupboards.

2. Since the photo was taken about 5 weeks ago), I have added about 30m, and have another 30 or so on the way. And I've had to do some refolding and re-organising to create some space!

3. Some metric/imperial conversions:
-   1420m = 1553yd or 0.88miles
-   1km = 0.6miles
-   1mile = 1.6km

4. I worked it out by weighing fabric. I took new fabric purchases whcih I knew to be full metres and figured out that a kilogram is approximately 7 metres of fabric. I made allowances for the shelf of flannels, and excluded backings.

5. It took me 17 months to go from 600m when I first 'assessed' my stash at the end of August 2007 to reach 1 kilometre at the end of January 2009. I seem to be accumulating at a fairly consistent rate, since it's been another 16 months since then, and I've added another 460m  in that time. I'd suggest looking for a 2km giveaway around the end of 2011 at ths rate!

And the winner, selected randomly from anyone whose guess was within 25% of the actual figure: Lily

The next giveaway will be up soon.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Quilting on the computer

I've been busy 'quilting' all evening, and I haven't even turned the sewing machine on! My copy of EQ7 arrived today, so of course I had to install that and have a play. It's pretty intuitive because I'm familiar with EQ5, but I need to find time to learn all its extra features properly so I can make good use of them. Unfortunately the software did not come with extra time!

And the photos of this quilt need more editing than usual, because the overcast conditions meant the colours aren't true. I've sorted the photos and edited about 2/3 of them, but it's late and my body is telling me it's done enough mouse-work for the night, so this is another peek from the back until I get the rest up tomorrow evening.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Forest finished

This quilt is all finished, and here's a quick peek showing the quilting from the back - I love it! I love that the afternoon sun coming through shows some of the front through the back. Click on the photo to see some of the quilting detail.
I think this is one of my favourites; both the piecing and quilting, as well as the way it all came together - though it has taken a lot of time. Expect a flurry of photos soon; for now I can't be bothered sorting through and editing them all.

As soon as I can print the label, this will be ready to send to its new owner. At the moment my printer doesn't want to acknowledge the presence of the new colour cartridge, and the old one is empty!

This evening I finished piecing a baby's play quilt from flannels, and am ready to start quilting that - I want to feather all over it. I don't think it will be too much if I keep the feathers a decent size.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I'm starting to develop a pattern for my beach-scene quilts. It's good timing, because I'm about to start making another, and will be able to photograph the process throughly.

Want to have some input? Here's your chance!

Is there something in particular you want to know about how I make these? Is there a certian bit you want lots of detail on? Have any questions? Just ask, and I'll do my best to incorporate it all into the pattern. I'm also going to have a go at producing this pattern as a PDF, as well as in hard copy.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Giveaway Sundays - Week 1

It's time for the first fabric giveaway! This week's offering is four half-yard cuts (a total of 2 yards) from the Eva range by Basic Grey for Moda. I've used quite a bit of Eva in my current quilt. Look out for another range used in this quilt in one of the later giveaways.

How to Enter: This week I'd like you to include in your comment a guess at the amount of stash in my new cupboards. It shouldn't be too hard; I've blogged about both stash and cupboards before. International entries welcome.

Don't forget to come back next weekend to see who has won, and check out the second giveaway!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Giveaway Sundays alert

Every Sunday in June, I'll be posting a fabric giveaway here. Each week it will be different, and the way to enter could change too. I'll post the giveaway details on Sundays, entries will remain open all week, and I'll announce the winners on the following Saturdays. I'll finish with a special giveaway the first Sunday in July; and everyone who blogs about the giveaway (and leaves a comment with a link) will receive a bonus entry in the final draw.

I don't know how to give you code for the button, but feel free to copy the image above and use it to link back here!

International entries all welcome, but please note that time-wise, Australia is ahead of most of the world.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


I wanted to share a little colour with you tonight.
This is a selection of Vicki's hand-dyed gradient fabric which arrived from her Etsy store today. Aren't they just stunning?! This photo shows a 4-5in wide selvage-to-selvage strip of each fabric. I'm tempted to use a bit of each of them in a quilt just like this!

The other colour is this range of real-thread charts I bought a little while ago. Because I buy so much of my thread online, these are invaluable in helping me to pick the right colours. I have quite a collection of these now, and they're beautiful as well as useful. I buy most of my thread, including this lot, from Red Rock Threads. I want to say a special thank-you to them. They have a enormous range of my favourite threads (including Superior and Aurifil) the best prices I've found, and when one of the parcels from a recent order disappeared in the postal system, they promptly resent it - impressive customer service!