Are you quilting for a Hawk or an Eagle?

I’ve lived in Victoria long enough to have become accustom to a public holiday for a horse race but one for a football game was a surprise.


Now I am not a dedicated follower of the AFL so I am making the most of the day to play with thread …. Aurifil of course and in particular Cotton Mako’ 28, our favourite quilting thread weight.


But some at Always Quilting are followers, so here is a test that they set up for the committed AFL spectator.

Are you a Hawk?


Or an Eagle?


So was that a Hawk?


Or an Eagle?


So hope you enjoy the game, and still find some time to quilt.

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!


Wednesday Wonder: Thread Colours for Hand Quilting

Last week we helped a customer choose threads for hand quilting, something that we often do but we don’t always get to see the results.

Well this week Judy L sent me a photo of the quilt ….. just look at her beautiful feather and cross hatch quilting.


I loved this feedback, especially as Judy wanted a thread colour that would add a little contrast to the beige background fabric, so it was interesting to see how the colour selection had worked


We played with several colours from the Cotton Mako’ 28 range.

In fact we spent quite some time agonising over the colours … some looked too dark while others looked too light.

Judy L finally decided upon a deep greenish brown for the feathers and warm brown for the cross hatching.


In her email, Judy commented:

Just thought I would show you this,  the different colours don’t really show

This reminded me of the times that I have helped a customer choose the thread colour when machine quilting.

We have ALL the Aurifil colours at our finger tips, and many spools are open, so we can spread a length of thread across the quilt to preview the effect.

Doing this has made me realise that you don’t have to have the “perfect” colour. More often than not any one of 4 or 5 colours would work, and look good.

As Judy has found with this quilt, as long as the colour she chose was deeper & richer than the fabric colour, and the contrast was pleasing to the eye, it would achieve her desired effect and her hand quilting was always going to be a beautiful feature on the quilt.


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


Tuesday Treats: One Aurifil size does NOT have to fit all (part 3)

I’ve already written about Cotton Mako’ 40 & Cotton Mako 28 so now it is time to feature Cotton Mako’ 12

A selection of Cotton Mako' 12 threads

A selection of Cotton Mako’ 12 threads

This is the thickest thread in the Cotton Mako’ range.

Cotton Mako' 12 is the thickest thread in the range

Cotton Mako’ 12 is the thickest thread in the range

It works beautifully as a substitute for traditional hand embroidery stranded floss or pearl threads as:

  • It does not require splitting and re-aligning before use
  • The threads do not split when the stitches are formed
  • The thread has a smoother twist when compared to a pearl thread so it is easy to pull through the fabric
Zoe Clifton's beautiful embroidery design stitched in Cotton Mako' 12

Zoe Clifton’s beautiful embroidery design stitched in Cotton Mako’ 12

Try it for stress free modern hand quilting

Cushions using Cotton Mako' Ne 12 for the hand stitching detail

Cushions using Cotton Mako’ Ne 12 for the hand stitching detail

or for bold machine quilting

Bold machine quilting looks good when stitched in Cotton Mako' 12

Bold machine quilting looks good when stitched in Cotton Mako’ 12

Cotton Mako’ 12 also gives great results when used for crochet

Try your hand at crocheting with Cotton Mako' 12

Try your hand at crocheting with Cotton Mako’ 12

or Punchneedle embroidery

Punchneedle embroidery with Cotton Mako' 12

More Cotton Mako’ 12 delights to be found on these pages:


Each year, at this time, we bring out our collection of Christmas decorations.  It is always enjoyable, taking off the wrapping and being re-acquainted with the items, some of which have been part of family traditions for many years, others of which have been recently made or purchased.  It’s a bit like an annual reunion!!

Allow me to take you on a tour of some of my Christmas decorations.

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The Advent wreath.

The first to go up is the Advent wreath, which marks the four weeks prior to Christmas.

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Our oldest nativity.

We have a number of nativity sets. This is the oldest (sorry about the flash reflection). The clothing is actually real fabric dipped in some kind of starching solution. Poor Joseph gets a bit “tipsy” each year and has to be supported with Blutak!

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A newer, more glitzy nativity.

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A simple Peruvian nativity.

Parts of our house have a blue carpet, so a number of years ago, we added blue decorations to our collection.

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Blue and silver Christmas tree decorations.

Although the blue tree lights were on when I took this photo, they don’t really show up here.  What does show up however(big sigh) is the lack of tree skirt.  One is in the making, and I am currently quilting it using Aurifil Cotton Mako 12, but I suspect is in danger of becoming a new year’s resolution(again)!!

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More blue decorating.

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My Heartwood Creek angel by Jim Shore….blue of course!

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Patchwork table centrepiece.

You may recognise this one, made for last Christmas using a Marg Low pattern.

Newly made in 2012.

And the latest piece, purchased just yesterday!

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My latest decoration purchased yesterday.

A number of years ago, pre-patchwork , I made Christmas wreaths.

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Wreath about 30cm diameter.

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Smaller wreath. This one is about 15cm diameter.

My daughter-in-law’s mother is a talented cook and makes many Gingerbread houses each year.

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A pleasure to look at and to eat!

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Hand appliqued and hand quilted runner.

And of course, no home is completely decorated without quilts!

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Friendship quilt.

The blocks in this quilt were made by members of Launceston Patchworkers and Quilters in 1998 when I was a member of that group.  Each year all members are asked to make a block.  The blocks are arranged into groups of 9 and anyone who has not already received blocks goes into a draw to receive a set.  The recipient then has to make her quilt.  The hardest part for me was to choose a sashing fabric which worked with all the blocks.

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Moda pattern and fabrics.

This large hand appliqued quilt hangs over the stair railing.  This is one of my favourite applique patterns.

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“Christmas Galaxy” quilt.

Thank you for visiting!

May your Christmas be a happy and safe one and just a bit “stitchy”!

Last But Not Least

Here we are at the end of our Block of the Month Journey.

A Modern Welcome Finished size 20x24

A Modern Welcome
Finished size 20×24

We chose our charm squares; cut and sewed; layered and quilted: and now it is time to complete the finishing touches and enjoy our creations.

Last month, after our quilting was finished, we trimmed the excess backing even with the top.

Binding cut and trimmed ready for pressing

Binding cut and trimmed ready for pressing

These pieces are carefully cut to 2 “widths and all 4 pieces (one from each side) are sewn together creating the binding. The 2” binding is pressed in half and applied in the normal way, creating a mitre at the corners. I stitch my binding down to the back of the piece by hand using Aurifil 40wt Cotton Mako. Jane Wickell has a great tutorial on making and applying bindings.

You will want to show off your new creation and a hanging sleeve can be made for easy display. Have a look at Susan Brubakers Knap’s instructions and Nancy Zieman demonstrates how to make a rod pocket for a show quilt.

The label is the last and most important item on your quilt.I have decided to use a pre-printed label.

Label for my BOM

Label for my BOM

We have some lovely quilt hangers in the shop and our labels come in many designs.

Each label has suggestions for the items to be included for future reference.

Information for a label

Information for a label

I hope you have enjoyed making your Modern Welcome BOM.

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

The Melbourne Agricultural Show

When I was a young girl living in America, I always looked forward to the annual Agricultural shows.

Each State usually had a show and almost every county in the State had a smaller version. These fairs provided opportunities for farmers and their families to show off their prized livestock, best cakes and finest arts and crafts.

 I even won a ribbon at a county show in Iowa for a hand pieced and hand appliquéd baby quilt

A Prize Winner over 25years ago

A Prize Winner over 25years ago

This week The Melbourne Agricultural Show is on at the fairgrounds.

It is nice to know some things don’t change. The show is packed with livestock judging and baked goods in abundance.

Country Women's Association Scones

Country Women’s Association Scones

There are wood-chopping competitions and carnival rides and games.

Getting ready for the Giant Slide ride

Getting ready for the Giant Slide ride

And Australian wildlife exhibitors.

An Australian Goanna

An Australian Goanna

And best of all, for me anyway, is the Arts and Crafts pavilion.

This year, yarn bombing seems to be everywhere!

I am sure you will agree that this tractor is amazing.

A Full Sized Tractor

A Full Sized Tractor

Yarn Covered Tractor

Yarn Covered Tractor

The Tractor's Wheel

The Tractor’s Wheel

Tiny Yarn Farm Animals

Tiny Yarn Farm Animals

So, no matter what you call this extravaganza…”Agricultural Show; State Fair; County Fair”…take the time and the entire family, and visit the show.

It might just become a yearly tradition.

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