Sunday, 21 May 2017

Pantone Challenge: Secret Courtyard Mini

I was excited to see that the Pantone colour of the year this year was green. Or Greenery to be exact. I love green. It is my favourite colour.

So when Sarah @ No Hats in the House and Rebecca @ Bryan House Quilts announced that they were hosting the Pantone Quilt Challenge for this year I was determined to enter. Previous years, my stash has been sadly lacking the required colours, but I have plenty of green fabric squirreled away.

It is hard not to think of plants and gardens when someone says "greenery"- and that is exactly where my mind went for this mini.

It was such a gorgeous day today I had to get my little helpers outside to help with the photoshoot

I wanted to do cathedral windows where the petal shaped looked like leaves and the centres beautiful blooms. This grid makes me think of peeking through a trellised gate, overgrown with vines and beautiful blooms - a secret respite from the bus day to day. (Sadly, this is nothing like my garden, my thumb is distinctly on the black side).

To make the centre, I used the Missouri Quilt Co Easy Cathedral Windows tutorial. I can't say it was easy - it was a bit of a mind bend for me, especially as I set it on point. But I have also made a normal cathedral window pincushion, and this was definitely easier. I guess it is all relative. I raided my stash of green to make the leaves and my Tula Pink for the blooms. Thank you Tula for your big bold flowers!! Just the vibe I was going for.

To get it up to pillow size (I am killing two birds and making a cushion for our lounge), I set it on point with some Essex yarn dyed linen in Steel which made me think of pavers in that secret courtyard.

The great thing about doing the cathedral windows is that it is QAYG. I quilted around the petals to secure them down and then around the centre of the blooms to keep them nice and secure since there will be little girls bouncing on it. On the Essex I quilted straight lines in a bright green about a quarter inch apart (think moss on those I painting a picture for you?).

I really love the texture that the quilting gives it

Lastly I put a exposed zipper in the back. I just love that look. None of the zippers I had on hand were long enough so I just put tabs on the ends to get it up to length. I bound it in some great Color Me Retro by Jeni Baker (first ever bundle purchased, very big soft spot for this line - I ordered it from the hospital after giving birth to Ms Bird).

This kind of zipper closure just makes me happy. Plain back so that when heads are lying on it that don't get the front grimy. But oops! forgot my label - will have to retrofit that it

Now just to convince my dear husband that there is no such thing as too many cushions for the lounge...

Thanks to Sarah & Rebecca for hosting. Go check out the other entries here.

Quilt Stats
Name: Secret Courtyard
Dimensions: 24" x 24"
Pattern: Missouri Quilt Co Easy Cathedral Windows
Fabric: Assorted green from stash, assorted Tula Pink florals, Essex yarn Dyed in Steel
Binding: Color Me Retro Kitchenette in Apple
Quilting: All Auriful 50 wt. Petals: 4093 (Jade), Blooms: 4647 (Berrylicious), Background: 1231 (Spring Green)

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Drawstring Gear Bag: A Tutorial

This year Ms Moo started both dancing and netball. Both of these activities are after school and she needed a bag she could take her "gear" to school in as well as put her uniform in once she'd changed. The poor love was using a plastic shopping bag, so I wanted to make her something a little more permanent.

Moo modelling her bag. Just the right size 

I made this bag using an orphan block that I had planned to turn into a cushion cover which I had lying around in my garage sewing room plus some of the fabric left over from my #100days100blocks quilt. It has a drawstring top to keep everything in nice and tight and the drawstrings are attached to the bottom of her bag so she can carry it over her shoulders.

It was a big success and of course I also have an order in from Ms Bird for one of her own.

Strips added to the top and bottom of an orphan block for the front

Pieced back from matching scraps

It was such a fun and fast little make, I thought I'd share how I made it. If you make one, I'd love to see yours too!


Outer Fabric:
  • Cut two 16.5" x 20.5" outer fabric (I pieced mine, but you can use your favourite print - whatever floats your boat)


  • Cut two pieces of interfacing the same size as your outer fabric. I used SF101. Note that mine was precut and slightly smaller than the outer, so I just aligned it down the middle.

  • Cut two 16.5" x 20.5" lining fabric

Contrast fabric to run drawstrings through and to attach handles:
  • Cut two  3" x 15" contrast fabric
  • Cut one 4" x 6.5" contrast fabric

  • 4m thick cord cut into two 2m pieces

  1. Fuse interfacing to the outer fabric per manufacturers instructions
  2. Prepare the channels for the drawstrings
    • Take the two pieces 3" x 15" contrast fabric and fold over 1/4" towards the wrong side on each of the short ends. Top stitch in place. 
    • Fold each piece in half , wrong sides together and press
    • Align raw edges of prepared contrast fabric with the top centre of each outer piece and stitch in place with a 1/4" seam allowance
  3. Prepare the loop for the straps
    • Take the 4" x 6" contrast fabric and fold in half lengthwise, wrong sides together; press. 
    • Open and fold edges in to centre; press. Fold back in half lengthwise and top stitch down edges. 
    • Fold in half to form a loop
    • Align raw edges of loop with the bottom centre of the back piece of outer fabric and stitch in place with a 1/4" seam allowance
  4. Assemble the bag
    • Lie the fabric lining down face up and place the outer on top, right sides together. Take care at this point to ensure that the fabric is the right way if you are using a directional print. Sew together along the top with a 3/8" seam allowance. Press seams open
    • Lie the assembled outer/ lining pieces wrong sides together and stitch together with a 3/8" seam allowance leaving a 4" gap at the bottom of the lining for turning. When pinning together make sure that the seams between lining and outer match on each piece to get a nice finish.
    • Turn right way out through the gap you have left, pushing out the corners and sew the gap together. Press the bag
    • Push the lining  into the bag and press around the top to get a nice sharp edge.
    • Topstitch around the top to keep the lining in the bag
  5. Attach handles
    • Using a pin thread the cord through the channels and tie through the loop at the bottom
    • Repeat in the opposite direction with the second piece of cord. 
  6. Use and enjoy. If you make a version, tag it with #moobirdgearbag so I can check it out!!

Ready to use

Friday, 30 September 2016

Shape Family Challenge

Ta da! Scraping in by the skin of my teeth, here is my entry for the Shape Family Challenge run by the amazing Jodi (@Tales of Cloth).

All finished, I love this ranbow-y goodness

Made with Liberty fabric and a super light chambray, these were a match made in heaven and sew lovely to set. When I pulled the papers out they pressed so lovely and flat.

The premise of the challenge is to take one of Jodi's mixed pack of shapes (a Shape Family Pack) and make your own pattern. It certainly was fun coming up with it, although my husband did wonder what on earth I was doing.

Playing aound

The pillow back is a gorgeous spotty chambray that I am also going to make a dress out of (one day) - I think a Tea House dress, but I am going off topic...

Mmm, delicious

I straight line quilted it with a lilac Aurifil thread.

The pillow finished at 22.5 x 23.5 inches.

I've loved the peaceful nature of hand-stitching. It allows me to sit in the same room as my husband and still sew. I am a little sad now that I am finished, I think I may have to start a new project. Once I finish a few more WIPs. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Mini Quilt

This is my second entry for this years' Blogger's Quilt Festival.

I made this little fishy while I was on family holidays earlier in the year. It is based on a Studio Cockatoo print that I have hanging in my sewing room. We were going to be away for a few weeks and I figured I needed some hand sewing for while we were away.

This tiny little mini is hand pieced and only 7.5" x 10.5".

You can read all about the process here.

Go and check out the other great entries in the festival and a big thank you to Amy for hosting. 

Blogger's Quilt Festival: ROYGBIV

Woo! It is the Blogger's Quilt Festival!! I lurve the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

I remember the sense of accomplishment when I entered the very first time. You can see my previous entries here, here and here. And of course there is all the quilty eye candy.

This year I am entering this in the ROYGBIV category:

Alison x Tula
Those of you who follow me know of my love for Tula Pink and Alison Glass (check out my #peachesbigsmokequilt hashtag to see my all Alison Glass version of Tula Pink's City Sampler).

I made this for a swap at the end of last year and am very sad that I don't have it any more.You can read the original blog post with my inspiration here. I will eventually get around to making one for myself. One day, when I finish all my WIPS (maniacal laugh).

It's actually a pillow, but it was a quilt first. Versatile ;)

Go check out all the other lovely quilts in the Quilt Festival and a big thanks to Amy for hosting it.


I have already posted about my inability to avoid jumping on any sort of quilting trend/ group activity/ challenge that pops up. So when it was announced that Angie (@gnomeangel), Lisa (@sweetlittlepretties) and Raylee (@sunflowerquilting) were hosting a quiltalong for Tula Pink’s City Sampler, I knew I was done for. I tried to resist, weakly, for a few weeks, but who was I kidding? Having seen the amazing Ms Pink speak at the recent Sydney Craft & Quilt show and seen her very own version (!!) it was always going to happen.

Here is a quick update on my progress to date and my “rules” for the quiltalong (note: these are my self imposed rules, you can do it however you like).

Progress shot

The Rules
  1. All Alison Glass Fabric, all the time; I have quite a collection, fabric is meant to be used and I mean to use it. If I decide to sash the blocks then I might use a solid, but we’ll see when I get there. I am using Handcrafted I, Handcrafted II, Handcrafted Patchwork and Sunprints 2016 with some random bits and pieces thrown in.
  2. Matching colours to the ones in the book, as closely as possible. I am a realist – I know that if I had to think about colour choices I would be frozen in indecision. It is hard enough just choosing from the fabrics that I have. To be honest, some of the colour choices from the book are a bit out of my comfort zone, but when you combine all the blocks together they look quite good and it is fun to push myself to try new things.
  3. Do not peek! I only ever go ahead as far as the block that I am making. No peeking forward to see what the next block is (which is especially hard when you are hating the block you are sewing – Block 40, I am talking about you – or sick of sewing purple)

That’s it – actually not too many rules.

I have sewn ahead a bit. I have sewn up to block 66 so far. My work is very peaky and so I knew from the outset that there would be times when I wouldn’t get to sew for days (eek) so I sewed ahead at the start and then have been trying to squeeze in a block or two at every opportunity to keep me “safe”. I find that this works quite well for me, because it means if I want to take a break, if I get Tula Fatigue, I can sew something else and it keeps me going. It has also sparked my enthusiasm for some other WIPs on my list. Watch this space for some long time WIPs getting finished off.

I thought I’d share the things that I have learnt along the way for pain free blocks:
  • Practice makes perfect. Really. I mean we all know that, but sewing all these blocks in a short space of time, I have seen my seams get straighter (am I the only one who struggles sewing in a straight line); closer to a perfect quarter inch; my finished blocks closer to a perfect 6.5 inch square; my cutting more accurate. I can only imagine how perfect block 100 is going to be :P
  • I only cut and sew one block at a time. I hate cutting sessions with no sewing action and given that each block is different it isn’t hugely inefficient, especially if I am only sewing one or two blocks at a time. I know other people do other things, this is what works for me (and why I haven’t started my Aviatrix quilt yet).
  • Where you are matching up across strips (for example the big plus sign in block 11) it is worth the small effort to mark where you want your pieces to join. I sew one side to the strip and then mark where the seams from the other side need to fall and position to that rather than the edge of the block. If I don’t do that sometimes you get misalignment and that makes my eyes start to twitch. Some people can live with that, I can’t. You should see when we hang pictures at our house, bless my dear husband for his patience. It takes a long time. On the flip side I can live with slightly cropped points on a HST if I have to (and it isn’t too major). We all have our own little quirks....
  • Pressing seams open really increases the accuracy of the blocks and also makes them sit really nice and flat. This was a hard one for me to accept, I am a seams to the side kind of girl. I LOVE nesting seams for perfect matching. But on blocks this teeny, pressing the seams open really makes a difference. I’m not changing my general mode of operating, but for these blocks I am. I don’t use starch (I read somewhere it attracts cockroaches and I really do not want anything in my house that does that. If I finished my WIPs more quickly, it wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t want something nibbling holes in my WIPs).
  • Have fun with it!!! It is meant to be fun. If a particular block is making me grumpy then I just stop and do something else (but don’t jump ahead because Rule 3).
  • Don’t succumb to block envy. There are some seriously AMAZING blocks out there, that having been photographed amazingly (not mine, got no time for that, too busy sewing – you can see my Ugg boots in all my photos) and there are going to be awesome quilts, but what is that saying about comparison being the thief of joy? So true.

That’s it – you can check out #100days100blocks to see all the awesome progress people are making and if you want to follow along with me check out #peachesbigsmokequilt – you can see my other projects on Instagram at @peaches1003

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Fast finish: Marmalade pillow

A good long while ago I won some Marmalade Mini charm packs and a FQ or Marmalade fabric from Mary on Lake Pulaski.

I sorted the charms into colour groups and made some granny squares. But when I sewed them together I didn't love it. So much so that I put it away and let it languish, unloved in my sewing room.

The offending mini - ugh

Six months or so later and needing a fast finish I decided to just get it done. I looked at it and figured out what I wasn't loving - the sashing between the blocks was too wide and it was just throwing out the balance of everything. So I unpicked and the sashing, slimmed it down (diet for quilts?), sewed it back together and was in love.

I finished it off with some serpentine quilting and ta-da!! A pillow top I loved.

Much better with the skinny sashing

The backing is a great match and I had the perfect green zipper on hand

The moral of the story - if it isn't singing to you, leave it and come back and fix it later. I am so glad I did because I am very pleased with how it turned out.