Another sewing month

While some of my work colleagues have been on holiday this month to warmer climes,  I’ve had to put up with cold Melbourne weather with only the occasional breaks in cold Melbourne temperatures.

However, my garden did tell me spring is on the way with bulbs coming up



and when out walking, the park showed me this


enough for the hay fever sufferers reach for their tissues and medications.

So, I haven’t got much to show for this month’s blog – other than some sewing.  My colleagues, will of course, have blog entries from all sorts of travel locations in the following weeks!  (sense a little envy here on my part?!).

First up is my work on the Quilter’s Newsletter Christmas Quilt (as reported on in my blog post last month).  I only have to make 20 of these little charmers – and that should be done in a week before the next download pattern comes available. No pressure here!Christmas QuiltThen I’ve been sewing a challenge quilt – can’t show much of that, except for the fabrics which were purchased in July and the deadline to get this one done is November:Challenge QuiltI’ve tried to do some more on my  ” Birdsville” by Wendy Williams:WW Birdsand help make blocks for a raffle for next year:

Raffle quiltand make a block for the guild’s retreat I attend each October with the theme “Step back in time” :

Retreat Block

In between times, I have completed a ‘modern’ baby quilt for a yet to be born first baby.  I can’t show the finished item yet, as it is a ‘surprise’ for the mum (and dad) to be:


I have brought out the tiny hexagons for another airing at the wholesale trade fair in November.  We are organising our display for the Aurifil booth:

Quilt Market

And finally, I have started my Christmas sewing (yes, it isn’t that long to go when you make gifts):

Christmas sewing

All in all, I think I have done a little bit of work this month – but the pile of unfinished items still seems to grow!

Tuesday Treats: A Stunning doll for Christmas

One of the great treats that comes from being a guest speaker, taking the Aurifil thread products story  to Guild meetings, is the opportunity to see the members’ show & tell.

I love seeing the wide range of patchwork, and  textile talent, that the members share with each other at their meetings, and each guild is always different.

This incredible doll, made by Barbara Strickland, was a highlight at the show & tell at the  Point Nepean Patchwork Guild meeting in October.

Barbara-StricklandWhen Barbara gave me permission to share my photo she said that she made this doll, and all the clothes and accessories, at classes with Helen Pierce in Mornington (Victoria).

You can see that the St Nicholas doll is quite tall and his jacket, and the eggs, were beautifully beaded.

Just stunning! and a beautiful Christmas decoration.

Another Cushion

I am pleased to tell you (also pleased with myself!) that I have completed another cushion, this time to replace one I made about 15 years ago which has now become faded and needs to be retired.  For a while the new cushion “makings” resided in my patch work project pantry, which featured in an earlier post. ‎

All my cushion "makings".

All my cushion “makings”.

The pattern I used is by Deborah Kemball    from her book  Beautiful Botanicals, and features many tiny applique components which I needle-turned in place.  It also uses some very narrow bias strips for the stems.  I previously  posted a tutorial on making bias strips without using bias bars as described in Deborah’s book.  If you missed this post you can find it at…s-without-bars/ 

Unfortunately I don’t have a photo of the applique in process, but here is a close up of part of the cushion, showing  details of the applique, embroidery  and bugle beading on the ends of the stamen.  I used Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 50 for the applique, Ne 40 for the machine piecing, and Ne 12 for the embroidery, and have on hand Ne 28 should I decide to add quilting.

Close up detail of applique.

Close up detail of applique.

To ensure a neat and firm closure I inserted a zip in the middle of the cushion back.  You can also make a button closure, use press-studs or Velcro, or simply have a large enough overlap with the back pieces, so that the opening doesn’t gape.  However, if you like to have a full type of filling (a fat cushion as opposed to the skinny variety), I have found that a zip  works well.  Don’t be tempted to make the opening too small, as this makes it difficult to fit in the cushion insert.

To finish the edges of my cushion, I used a binding, just as I would bind the edges of a quilt.  I have used this method before and found that it works well.  I used a double fold binding which I cut 2 inches wide, which resulted in a neat narrow finish.

Adding the binding.

Adding the binding.

The binding is machined to the cushion front with the corners  mitred in the usual manner. Then the binding is folded to the back and stitched down by hand.

The binding sewn into place.

The binding machined to the cushion front.

Since I used some embroidery in the cushion construction (in the stamen, tendrils and flower centres) and sewed through both the top and the batting, the cushion top and batting are satisfactorily sandwiched together, so from a construction point of view, there is no need to add additional quilting.  Quilting in this case would be for decorative purposes only, and I don’t think I will add any, as the top is already quite full and busy, but I will live with it in situ for a few days to see what I decide.

Embroidery acts as quilting.

Embroidery acts as quilting and sandwiches the components together.

Here is the finished cushion in place on its chair.

My new cushion in situ.

My new cushion in situ.

2012 Block of the Month and patience

I always smile to myself whenever anyone discovers I make patchwork quilts and they immediately say,” Oh, I could never do that. I don’t have the patience.”

When I am immersed in a project and I have ideas bubbling around in my head, I am ANYTHING but patient.

Even while I am stitching my blocks together I am auditioning design ideas, in my mind, considering colour combinations and border variations. When I completed the December block of my Aurifil 2012 BOM I just couldn’t wait to see how Pat Sloan was going to put the blocks together.

So, I have finished my Aurifil 2012 blocks using my soft rainbow palette as I still had fabric left over. I began to measure and cut and piece….

























MY 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month Completed top

MY 2012 Aurifil Designer of the Month Completed top

 Here is the finished top.

I like the result and I have ample space in my borders for quilting or more decorative embellishments with my Aurifil 12wt thread collection.

When it is quilted and bound I will share a picture later this year.

Want to see more finished quilts?

Sewzalot has finished her quilt and has shared some great images, and a pretty quilt layout

Many others have finished their quilts and shared them on the Aurifil Flickr page

Didn’t collect the patterns in 2012?

It is too late to enter the 2012 competition, but it is not too late to  download the patterns to make your own version of the quilt.

The Cotton Mako’ 12 threads can be purchased from Always Quilting

Don’t get left behind this year, start collecting the 2013 Aurifil Designer of the Month blocks now.


We also have a BOM, “A Modern Welcome”, beginning here on our blog in the first week of March.

We hope you will join in the fun… just have to be patient.

Viva la difference!

The Aurifil Block of the Month, presented by Pat Sloan, is past the half-way point and I have finished the block for July; Summer is the contribution from  Sarah Fielke. I know we are in the middle of winter here in Australia, but I have enjoyed stitching beach umbrellas and thinking of the sand between my toes as I attached my golden, sandy coloured beads……I have employed the attitude…”Why make a French Knot when I can use a Bead”!

I loved using several variegated threads!

MY Summer colours

As a reminder…I began my Aurifil BOM with a collection of seductive fat quarters from Timeless Treasures.

Timeless Treasures

Choosing just the right fabric

I know Pat Sloan began with a different, luscious selection of fabrics. And Jenny is doing hers on wool with Aurifil’s fabulous Lana wool.

Here are a few snaps of my earlier blocks.

The Year Begins

Aurifil Cotton Mako 12wt….Variegated Bliss

I will indulge myself with a few days of feeling quite pleased with myself for being all caught up and waiting for the next installment …what new project can I start in the meantime???

You still have time to make a handcrafted gift for Mother’s Day

It only takes one hour to make a Dorset Button brooch using Cotton Mako’ Ne 12 so you still have time to whip up a pretty handcrafted gift for Mothers Day.

A variety of Dorset Button Brooches made using French Knots or Bullion Knots
To make a Dorset Button all you need is a metal ring to use as the base, some thread, ribbon, felt & brooch back.

Add a needle & a pair of scissors and this is all you need to make a lovely gift

If you are in a real hurry you can do what I did with the brooch below. I stitched fewer “knots” and fill the gaps with seed beads, speeding up the making and adding a touch of  glitz at the same time.
Cotton Mako’ Ne 12 Dorset Button, finished ready to add the gift card


 You will find an instruction sheet for making a Dorset Button in the Freebies box on the left hand side of the screen.

The Cotton Mako’ thread is available from our online store and Susan Brubaker Knapp of Blue Moon River , one of our Aurifil Experts, has written a great downloadable instruction for stitching French Knots , for both right  & left handed embroiderers.

So no excuses, hop to with that needle & thread to make your own handcrafted gift.

We would love to hear from you, so don’t forget to tell us what colour combination you chose for your brooch.

Calorie Free Fast Eggs

Another idea for Easter stitching (and a quick project) using the fine Aurifil Ne 50 is to applique some oval ‘egg’ shapes  onto a special piece of fabric.

In my version, I have used two gorgeous Kaffe Fasset fabrics. I often choose NOT to have fabrics of the same designer in a patchwork project, as I like to use various prints and patterns from different sources, but I thought these two worked beautifully together (and this is meant to be a project that can be done in a couple of hours).

Freezer paper template for the egg shape

I didn’t need to do any additional embroidery on the ‘eggs’ as the patterned fabric cleverly gives the impression. If I had time I could always add some fine beads if I wanted some dimension to the eggs.

Freeezer paper shapes ironed on the back of the "eggs" ready for pining and stitching

I used a freezer paper template shape to applique around – ensuring the smoothness of the oval. I nearly forgot to pull out the  freezer paper shape before the last applique stitches went in!!!

I intend making this simple design into a little Easter bag (optimistically hoping someone may put some real chocolate eggs in it!). However it could be used as a cushion – with some additional borders or put into a frame for an Easter wall decoration.

Happy Easter – and I hope you have time to do some stitching.

Wonderful whimsical woolly works with Lana

The alliteration had to stop somewhere, but I do hope that you think our entries for the “Dyed & Gone to Heaven” whimsical woolly competition are wonderful.

Our "Thread Whimsy" & "Playtime Pincushion" made with the felted wool from Dyed & Gone to Heaven and embroidered & decorated with Aurifil Lana wool thread

Judy & I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge and loved the way the fabric and the Lana wool threads worked so well together. It was so easy to work with the fabric that we both said we had to make ourselves stop adding more & more decorations to our pieces.

We used every square centimetre of the fabric, supplied in the challenge kit, making our respective projects and are a little disappointed that we don’t have any of that lovely felted wool left for more tactile play but of course we still have plenty of the lovely Lana threads left in our personal collections and in the shop.

Some of the Lana thread that we used in our whimsical woolly projects

Judy drew up her own original applique design for the pincushion. She fused the wool fabrics together with a heat fusible web to create the basic shapes,  then added the Lana embroidery and  beading surface decorations.

I designed a small wallet to carry around my threads and included a pocket on the back, for a pair of scissors & a packet of needles. The wallet opens out flat to give access to 7 spools of thread so it will be the perfect companion for an individual project bag. I blanket stitched the wallet edges with Lana  and also used it to crochet my fantasy flower decorations.

We are in the process of writing up instructions for our creations so check back to the blog over the next few weeks to find the downloadable patterns in the Freebies Box on the left hand side of the page.

Also, don’t forget to keep coming back throughout April to see what we do with Cotton Mako’ Ne 50,  our feature thread for this month.

Down Under Textiles – New in the store

I’ve just had a pleasurable browse through the new issue of Down Under Textiles.

Down Under Textiles; issue No 2, 2010

Down Under Textiles; issue No 2, 2010

Issue 2 has maintained the high standard of issue 1, published earlier this year, and will be a worthwhile addition to your magazine library.

Just one of the articles in issue 2 of Down Under Textiles

Just one of the articles in issue 2 of Down Under Textiles

This issue has something for everyone – transfer painting, beading, using colour, weaving, using texture, making journals, using metal shim and the list goes on.

Issue 2 of Down Under Textiles is full of detailed "How to" photos

Issue 2 of Down Under Textiles is full of detailed "How to" photos

I can’t wait to try our some of the techniques in this great magazine. If you want your own copy, the magazine is available for purchase from the Always Quilting Online Store

I've always been fascinated by textile journals so this article was like a peek into one artist's inspiration.

I've always been fascinated by textile journals so this article was a peek into one artist's inspiration.

Always playing ….

Beading sampler

 Last weekend, I attended a Beading workshop tutored by Lisa Walton of Dyed and Gone to Heaven fame. Lisa has won many awards for her beautiful quilts, and I have long admired her work, so I was pleased to have the opportunity to participate in her workshop. I enjoy attending workshops and believe that no matter how much you may think you know, there is always something new and different approaches. Every tutor brings their own unique ideas and so you always learn something new.  I made the decision some time ago, that it is not necessary to complete a project as taught in a workshop, but just to regard them as learning experiences.  (Or maybe that is just a convenient excuse for not finishing a project!)  

Lisa’s workshop was a technique class, so no set project to complete. (Whew!).  We learned many of the basic stitches for beading are based on simple embroidery stitches. These days, with the popularity of jewellery making, there are many beautiful beads available. It was easy to see how addictive beading could become.  

Strangely, as a result of this class, I was inspired to do some fabric dyeing during the week, as I can see how readily hand dyed fabric and beading complement each other.  I have many pieces of hand dyed fabric that I can’t bear to cut, so beading them intact, is the obvious answer.

Dyed fabric

 I enjoy fabric dyeing and had several different PFD (prepared for dyeing) fabrics on hand to compare the results after dyeing them, since different weaves and finishes on the base fabric produces a different result.  Surprisingly, the one I liked most, was a white cotton shirting I had bought at an Indian department store in Singapore. I wish I had bought more of it !

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