Surprise! TGIFF is here!!!

Surprise surprise, back here for TGIFF again!!!! Because there’s not going on with the second QAYGFMQAL (Quilt as you go free motion quilt along) and everything else that’s been going on around here!!!

I finished this this week, and I’ve already shown it, but hey, it’s TGIFF so I’m showing it off again.
Feather workshop practice pieces

And Sunday is our Christmas in July Secret Santa Swap at the Perth Modern Quilt Guild. Here’s what I made for my partner. bagkindlecase

It should fit an iPad mini but I’m not 100% sure it will fit in… but I don’t have the impetus to make a new one so this one is being gifted regardless. It will fit a Kindle quite comfortably so here’s hoping my swappee likes it. What do you think I should put in it????

Time to link up. Please take the time to say hi to the hostess (me, again!), make sure you link back to TGIFF and visit a couple of other linkers…  Happy Friday!

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Handiquilter notions and nick-nacks

I’ve had the Handiquilter Sweet 16 for almost a year now, and it’s been such a fun and interesting journey. This year, I’ve delved into the use of templates and rulers which has opened up a whole new world for me. We get such brilliant support in Perth for the S16, all thanks to Michelle at Handcrafter’s House, but I know a lot of S16 owners interstate who don’t have access to the same sort of training as I’ve had, so I thought it was time to share.

Before I get started:

  • Handiquilter have NOT sponsored this post (but if you are reading this HQ folks, please feel free to send me free stuff, ok? ;) )
  • There are a few products here that are not S16 or long-arm specific… Still worth checking out the rest of the post if you haven’t got a HQ machine.


Quilter’s Preview Paper

Before I go anywhere else, this was such a simple idea, but such a revelation. There are probably people reading this going ‘duh’ but in almost 20 years of quilting, I haven’t seen this done before.

It’s clear plastic sheet to draw your design on your quilt to trial it out. It’s simple but it’s awesome.



Whatever type of machine you have, get hold of some of this… Unless you’re a kleptomaniac who stole a lot of overhead projector roles of film in the 90s and have been wondering what to do with them. In that case, use those.

Templates, rulers and handigrip

I love love love using templates with my machine… But before I go there, the best friend of templates is handigrip. The best way I can describe this is  that it’s like clear, plastic, sticky-backed sandpaper. A little goes a long way. I just tear an inch or so off the strip, peel the backing paper off and stick it to the back of my template. Unless I’m over-excited in which case I usually stick it to the front of my template by accident… It helps the ruler grip the quilt. It’s MUCH better than those little plastic dots you put on your ruler. And much more economical. Get some. Put it on all your rulers. Trust me on this one.

Templates themselves – well, as I said, I love them. They are 1/4″ thick, which is double the thickness of your normal quilting rulers, and they sit alongside the foot. You move the quilt, with the template, alongside the foot. It takes a bit of pressure to hold it and move the quilt, so is a fair bit slower than free motion, but you won’t get those lovely circles, curves and lines any other way.
I’ve been using this arc ruler with my Quick Curve Ruler quilt – the curve of the biggest arc is just about a perfect fit for the QCR.

HandiQuilter Arc template

I used a set of half circle arc rulers to do this which admittedly isn’t brilliant but it was my first piece with templates, so I was pretty darn pleased with it!

So those are my essential S16 gadgets and gizmos. I’m wondering what else is out there to discover!



“WTF?!!” is probably what you are thinking.  Well, I have two projects to show today for Work In Progress Wednesday at Freshly Pieced:

  1. QAYGFMQAL = Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilt-A-Long
  2. QCR = Quick Curve Ruler project

 Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilt-A-Long

qaygbuttonAs I mentioned yesterday, I’m running a new QAYGFMQAL for the Perth Modern Quilt Guild, starting Sunday, but I’ll be co-posting here, so please feel free to play along.

When I finished as President of PMQG a couple of weeks ago, I was surprised by a card with a note saying that they had ordered the Kona Sunrise bundle for me as a thank you… It arrived on Friday, which was a lovely, happy surprise amidst all the sadness that happened that day.

Kona solids for QAYGFMQAL

I’d already started a few of the blocks for the FMQAL, but I’d intended the quilt to be in sunset/sunrise tones, so here are the colours I’ve picked out and two of the blocks ready to be FMQ’d.
Kona solids for QAYGFMQAL

QCR – Metro Hoops

I finished the Metro Hoops top and basted it. It’s over Queen size, so my living room barely coped, even with couches pushed out the way.


I invested in some Quilter’s Preview Paper – which is just like the old overhead projector paper (anyone else remember that?!). You put it over your quilt and you can draw on it with a permanent or whiteboard marker to see what designs would look like.quilterspreviewpaper

Damn that was fun… and such a good idea.

Despite having several other quilts waiting to be quilted (or finished) I HAD to tackle this one to see if my ideas worked.

Yup, pretty happy with that.
qcrhoopsquitingThere’s been a lot of experimenting with this quilt, with batting and with Sweet 16 tools, so I think that is going to require its own post. Stay tuned.

Happy WIP Wednesday!



Iqaygbuttont had to happen…. I’m doing another Quilt As You Go Free Motion Quilt-a-long, this time, for the Perth Modern Quilt Guild. But I’m co-posting here, so I’d love to hear from you if you want to play along!

This one is going to cater to beginners and more advanced FMQ’ers, and the blocks give you rectangular space to work in which will help us with:

  • long (rather than square) designs – e.g. feathers, linear designs such as FMQ Flying Geese
  • borders.

The QAYGFMQAL will take go for three months. If you want to get started at the July meeting, here’s your homework!


You will need:


  • A range of solid scraps (keep in mind that lighter colours will not show up your FMQ as well, so use mid to stronger tones rather than pastels) 8″x4″
  • Your main colour sashing strips (e.g. white/grey/black, or you may wish to use low volume to sash your blocks) Two x 2.5″x8″ strips per block (I used a Bella solids white jelly roll)
  • Batting scraps, approximately 9″x9″ per block (must be larger than 8″). You should use the same type of batting for all blocks, or a similar loft at least for ease of joining
  • Backing fabric, approximately 9″x9″ per block (marginally larger than your batting is ideal).
  • Matching top and bobbin thread. Higher contrast (e.g. white) will enable you to see your FMQ better.
  • Chalk or other marking pencil.

Block preparation

Here are your basic blocks.

  • Sew a 2.5″x8″ strip to the long edges (top and bottom) of the solid pastel fabrics. This should create an 8×8″ square.
  • Press seams in toward the darker colour or open.
  • Layer a block, wadding and backing sandwich together.
  • Using your walking foot, stitch in the ditch along the two seam lines.

Let me know if you’d like to play along, and if a Facebook group to share progress would be helpful to you. :)



On the second day of the Free-motion Feathers workshop I went to, we had the choice to complete a structure piece or just go mad practising feathers. I opted to go mad.  I just wasn’t in the mood to work within the lines…

I googled a picture of a peacock, sketched the outline of the bird, the brand and the sun onto my black homespun, and went to work.

Feather workshop practice pieces


I started by outlining the bird in a peacock blue variegated Wonderfil rayon 40 weight, and then worked on his tail feathers. I filled in the rest of the bird and then swapped to an orange variegated thread of the same type to work on the sunset.


I used the Sweet 16, a size 18 needle, and mostly 40 weight Wonderfil in rayon. The Wonderfil was a delight to work with. The S16 handles most threads very well. There was a bit of fraying, but not much. The branch was the only part done in a different thread – I used a flat gold Mettler Polysheen. I hated it. It split and fractured and broke after the sewing, so is being unpicked and redone.  featherwrkshopthreadI learnt a lot about feathers, about thread, and about my machine… I also learnt what I can do when I let go, stop thinking “I can’t do that…” and just sew. I can still see a thousand mistakes, but I’m really very proud of this piece of work.  It marks a very hard day, out of which something good came.

Busy hands…

It has been a difficult week or two for me. A recurrent sinus infection knocked me about for a week before I’d booked in to go to a free-motion feathers class out at Handcrafter’s House – so bad, I nearly had to cancel despite having done little besides nurse it.

I got home tired, exhausted and out of sorts after having spent day one practising my feathers on this piece of work. Feather workshop practice piecesI had just got my dinner onto a plate Saturday night and collapsed when the phone rang. I was fairly grumpy at being disturbed by this point. But it was my parents. They weren’t calling to remind me to call my aunt to wish her a happy birthday the next day. Instead, they were calling to tell me that, amidst the birthday party-preparations, my uncle had suffered a heart attack and died.

Sometimes life just knocks you for a loop.  My aunt has lost her husband. My cousin has lost his father. My brother and I have lost the only uncle we’ve ever really known, and my dad has lost his only brother.

It seems odd to me that when someone passes away, people who rarely express themselves suddenly find a lot to say, but I – who pride myself on being a writer – lose my words.  They just become so damned inadequate.

I went out to the second day of the workshop, to keep my hands busy and my mind distracted.  And despite the exhaustion, the sickness and the grief, this came out, which is possibly one of the best pieces of work I’ve ever done:


I’ll post more on this piece later.

WIP Waves Wednesday

Well my post yesterday on batting gained a bit of interest! No hate mail as yet but a few shares, including a share from the lovely Kate Spain herself! And a mention in Quilter’s Companion as friend of Miss Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness. It must be my week for fame if not fortune!

I have made good progress on two WIPs this week – both Quick Curve Ruler projects. (I think  I should be appointed the QCR ambassador in Western Australia or at least be getting commission from my LQS for the number of people who are getting the ruler after hearing me rave about it).

The smaller project is what I’m calling my Wave project (Waves of Longing? As in I’m longing to be finished with it?). I used a FQ bundle of Lucky Penny that I got at Sewing Summit and just chopped away. These are NOT my colours, except the teal, so I didn’t mind chopping up the pack to experiment. Hurrah – and it didn’t go wrong!

I asked the brains trust of Quilt Club Australia (a Facebook group I started with a couple of others and which now has over 2000 members) whether they’d put the panels together (first photo) or separate (second photo).








The answer came back as a resounding SEPARATE, bar one brave sole who dared to suggest against the 67 others that together would be better.

I went with separate. It’s nearly done. Any thoughts on quilting???? I have no idea. It may stay as a top for quite a while.

The second near-finish is my Metro Hoops quilt. I am SOOOOO happy with this. I still need to add the borders to make it up to a queen size top but I know just how I’m going to quilt it and I can’t wait to get started.



Happy Wednesday! Linking back to Lee at Freshly Pieced!

Debunking batting …

MichelleA few weeks ago, I went out to Handcrafter’s House for a Perth Modern Quilt Guild Sew-in day. I asked Michelle, Handcrafter’s House owner, guru and local quilting goddess, to give us a talk on batting.

I’ve always been a white-n-warm, 100% cotton girl myself. I’ve flirted with wool and bamboo. My first quilt, 15+ years ago was the old fashioned high-loft polyester because I was a struggling student and didn’t know any better. It ended up in the Salvation Army bin.  Unfinished. But I really don’t know enough about batting.

My first few quilting lessons were from members of the Quilt Police. Things like “if your seams are going the wrong way, you will develop enormous warts on your face and your children will be cursed for six generations “. And “If you use polyester thread with cotton fabric, it will tear holes in the fabric and a plague of poisonous toads will descend upon your home”.  The last part of that may be true if you live in Queensland, but it’s probably not related. Michelle blew my mind a while ago by explaining the progress in thread manufacturing technology and stating emphatically that the former is no longer true! And Michelle does stuff like this so she should know.

So it wasn’t surprising that Michelle debunked a few batting myths that I acquired back at the turn of the century (doesn’t that make me sound ancient?!).

Natural versus man-made fibres?

As I said, I’ve always been a 100% cotton girl. I could cite a number of reasons, but one is because I simply like the feel of natural fibres, whether I’m knitting or sewing. There’s something about poly that just doesn’t feel right to my fingers.
However, Michelle pointed out that natural fibres shrink. You need to buy them pre shrunk or wash them first. I’ve never pre-washed batting in my life. It has never even occurred to me. I don’t like the idea, so  I’ll certainly be asking the question when I next buy batting.
100% cotton tears more easily and is not as strong as something like an 80/20 mix. It has low loft and quilts quite ‘flat’. This hasn’t bothered me too much to date, but as I’m getting more sophisticated with my free-motion quilting, I want a bit more oomph. Cotton also has more sagging if it is not quilted to billy-oh.  I had kinda noticed this, but it hasn’t bothered me to date.
I have tried bamboo once and I hate it. It squeaked like snow, shed fibres everywhere and generally drove me nuts. So I wasn’t surprised when Michelle’s more professional opinion was that even with a bamboo-cotton blend, the thread on your machine performs differently and can cause tension grief. That said, there are a lot of bamboo fans out there. You have a right to your opinion, so please don’t send me hate mail.
This is where Michelle blew my mind. It’s one of those rules we learnt as quilters years ago:
Polyester = Bad.

Not any more!

Michelle pointed out that like thread manufacturing, technology related to batting manufacturing did not stop at the turn of the century, even if our ability to learn new things about quilting did. <cough. guilty>  Polyester batting will cause no allergies and is much cheaper.

We used a Matilda’s Own O-Sew-Soft 100% polyester batting for our FMQ samples (like Michelle’s above). Newsflash: it was nothing like the old polyester batting that I’ve been avoiding for years. It felt lovely. It had more loft than cotton, especially doubled. It was stable, unlike wool. It wasn’t squeaky, or sheddy, or… it was pretty damn good. Good enough that I was game to try my Sunnyside baby quilt.
Sunnyside Crib Quilt

I’ll definitely be using it again, both for quilts for others and for wallhangings, placemats, bags and other projects. Cost may not be a factor if you live in America, but for Aussies who are looking at paying well over $100 for cheap cotton batting for a Queen size quilt, polyester is a lot more economical.

I still love natural fibres. For quilts for myself, or special quilts, I have no doubt that I’ll be going with something with natural fibre in it, but I am certainly no longer making voodoo signs at people who use polyester batting. Eyes opened. Mind opened. Thank you Michelle.


Blends are – if this isn’t stating the obvious – mixtures of different fibres, both natural and synthetic, and vary on percentage. For example, you may have 80/20 cotton/poly which gives you the feel and comfort of cotton with the strength and stability of polyester. You might have an 80/20 blend of cotton/wool which dries quicker. You can get cotton/poly/wool mixes. It all depends on the feel, features and effect you want.  Worth investigating further.

Coloured batting

I think I knew this but it had slipped my mind: you can get black batting in wool and polyester. Possibly in some other blends/fibres, but you’ll have to investigate that for yourself. The main advantage of using black is minimising the batting being seen though needle holes on a dark quilt. I can’t say I’ve had a problem with this so I’m not sure that would convince me to buy black batting.

Mixing it up

I’ve heard rumours that some quilters – usually the amazing “I won a blue ribbon at the show” type ones – use two layers of batting. Something stable like 100 poly or cotton on bottom, and 100 wool on top for loft. Shock horror, I’m about to try this for my Metro Rings quilt, so I’ll keep you posted…

The question of fire…

I might get flamed for this. Pun intended. But I see a lot of people arguing online about waddings and flammability. I have to ask, how many of you have actually set a quilt on fire? How many people let their babies roam around in front of open fires or loll against heaters? Are there loads of kids doing this with a quilt, toy or box of fireworks in hand? If so, I’m worried, but not about the batting. (Presumably they are naked whilst doing this to minimise the risk of clothing catching on fire, and are certainly not wearing anything loose fitting or with ruffles on).

Cotton is flammable. Arguably more so than polyester.  How many quilters are out there arguing against using cotton fabrics in case they catch on fire? There is cotton fabric on the OUTSIDE of most quilts. The outside of a quilt is gonna catch fire first, unless said child lolling about by the fire manages to rip all the fabric off and stuff the batting into the heater.

So is the flammability of the batting really worthy of such debate and is it such a big consideration? I’m a bit bored of all the arguments about this. Perhaps there are a heap of children in the burns unit at your hospital due to quilt-batting related injuries  and you should be considering your choice of batting and exterior fabric more carefully. Perhaps there are a lot of quilters who smoke in bed under the covers.

If this is all a worry, there is a lot of information out there. A lot of it contradictory and very very confusing. It seems generally agreed that cotton will ignite faster, but polyester will burn faster and will melt (onto the skin), so is potentially more dangerous. Another article says cotton will burn hotter. What doesn’t seem to be in contention however is that “Fabrics made of protein animal hair, pure silk, and wool are the least hazardous” (see here).  So maybe I should be collecting all that dog hair and turning it into batting, or weaving it into fabric for the outside of the quilt?

For me (and that me is the important part), flame retardancy of batting is not an issue. I live in Australia where the gas heater is on for a few hours a day maybe 3 months of the year. However, it has a flame and only a small grill for protection.  Two small dogs with wavy waggy tails and no sense to speak of have not yet managed to set themselves on fire in 13 years. Nor have any small children stuck their fingers or anything else in the flame.  Not one of my quilts has spontaneously combusted like a vampire in the sun.

However if fire-retardancy is an issue for you, don’t send me hate mail. I haven’t done extensive scientific study on this topic, and I don’t intend to. I am not going to rush out and buy samples of batting to lay before my heater to see which catches flame first. I am asking you think about what may be long-cherished myths, and, more importantly, what is important to you in your batting. Do your research and think about your outside fabric as well. Cotton is natural. It’s going to catch if the conditions are right. If you want to find out more, there’s a really interesting article on flame retardancy of fabrics here and a sewing-specific one here.

Related to heat resistance, of course, you can get thermal wadding such as Insul-bright, which is really useful for things like potholders or, conversely, retaining warmth (if you need to make yourself a quilted ski-vest).

These are my own thoughts, opinions, follow-up research and summation of a very interesting talk on batting. It’s not gospel. It’s not definitive. But I hope it is interesting at the very least…

Happy quilting!

TGIFF – Scarlett on the Sunnyside

When it comes down to it, humans need help from dogs in most things they do. That’s my firm belief.

Hi, I’m Scarlett and I’m a Quiltdog…
Sunnyside Crib Quilt
At the start of the quilting process, you need to lay on the pieces to hold them in place. This ensures the human gets a good view of what the quilt will look like as a finished product on behalf of all people who have dogs. You wouldn’t want the quilt to turn out to be unbalanced looking once a dog lies on it. So dog-on-quilt is an integral part of the design process.

It’s also important to challenge the human’s preconceived notions of order by getting up, turning around, and lying back down again, rearranging any pieces into a more comfortable order.

scarlett on the Sunnyside

You also need to lie RIGHT ACROSS the quilt when the human is trying to cut the edges off after quilting. This is to ensure that they don’t cut too much off and that they are not bound by such outdated concepts as straight or square edges. Feel free to run away with and eat the leftover pieces of fabric.

My human removes the quilt for a while and plays with the machine-gun sounding thingy and some curvy rulers where I can’t supervise. (This is an example of the innate silliness of humans).
It does, however, get her this effect, which I thought was nicely suited to Kate Spain’s Sunnyside line of fabric.
Sunnyside Crib Quilt

Most importantly, ensure you reclaim the quilt at the photoshoot stage.Sunnyside Crib Quilt

Sunnyside Crib Quilt
Now it’s time to link up – show us your finishes!  PLEASE PLEASE make sure you leave a comment, link up ONLY to a finish, and include a link back to TGIFF or here or my human gets very narky and goes and removes your post, finds a photo of you, prints it on fabric and turns it into a pincushion…

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