Archive | July, 2011

Roos, Damned Roos and Wallabies

13 Jul

I get very confused doing Australian themed quilts. I will be cruising along nicely having traced and placed several panels then I will come upon an animal I have never heard of. What for instance is an echidna? I came across this little fellow doing another of the Millamac designs – can you spot it on this link? It turns out that all my life I have been calling it a spiny anteater.  Then I will be quietly placing bits of kangaroo and find out that one of the creatures is actually a wallaby. It may seem a  trivial thing but it can be quite traumatic .

Anyway, I have already placed and fused four of the panels for my  quilt.  I would have done more but I had to embroider a birthday card for the big cheese – but that is another story. Several of the pieces overlap onto the sashing so it’s a bit of a challenge fusing just enough of the edge pieces that it doesn’t become necessary to prise them off the background in order to attach the sashing. Take note here as you can benefit from my extensive experience in doing just that – prising bits off the background that is. See what I mean below.


I would have got more done if I hadn’t had to keep answering the door. This consists of panicking when the doorbell brings me violently out of the necessary concentration for applique placing. This is followed by a dash across the length of the cellar, tripping over sundry items on the way. I then realise I haven’t unlocked the door yet and deperately try to do so before the person outside decides nobody is home and leaves. The reason I had to do this was that The Big Cheese and  Daughter the Second had gone off for a sail and a fish. Apparently the mission was nearly aborted as they couldn’t get out of the harbour. The village is finally having something done about the inadequate sewerage system and the only place for the subcontractor to park his huge boat for offloading was right in the harbour entrance. An agreement was reached with the trip boats that they would do a shuffle to let them out so the Big Cheese tagged onto the back of the queue and managed to get out into the sea. Unfortunately without wind sailing is difficult, nay impossible so they brought back a couple of fish instead. Funnily enough, unlike the home made cheese which is delicious, I am never too keen on foraged fish. I prefer them from the supermarket all packaged up with a bit of parsley and a nice slice of lemon.


After all the excitement of answering the door it took me a while to get back into the swing of things but I was drifting nicely into thought when the iron started screaming at me. The fact the iron screams is due to the problem I have of remembering to switch it off.  As a result all my irons – and I have a few – have timers. Why The Big Cheese had to choose timers with noise I do not know. He blames it on internet shopping and the lack of ‘try before you buy’ but I’m not too sure.

Great Barrier Reef

Enough of my problems, the point of this blog is to show you some of the stages of my Australian quilt.  See what I mean about the overhanging pieces. However they are worth it as they give the finished quilt a more interesting finished design.  Sometimes you have to suffer for perfection. If you want to follow the making of this quilt, keep reading. I will be posting comment and pictures as I progress.

You Can’t Quilt Cheese

9 Jul

My Husband has discovered cheesemaking which is very appropriate as his children have for years referred to him as ‘The Big Cheese’. It all started with a visit to New Zealand during which we visited a long lost cousin and his family. They made their own cheese and  the process had produced one of those really smelly Camemberts  that seem to be banned from our supermarkets and therefore our tables in case we might succumb to whatever bugs our ancestors seemed to survive with few problems. As soon as he tasted it he had to know how to make it and he finally went on a course in Somerset two weeks ago with the result that he has spent today making 25 litres of milk into 5 different cheeses. I’m not too sure how it will all pan out as cheese has to mature and it tends to pong a bit whilst it is doing so. The Cheddar and Roquefort he brought back from the course are competing with the aroma drifting up from the river where they are finally sorting out our village sewerage system. I’m not sure which is winning. Anyway, I fully intended to help with the whole exercise but it became apparent in the first five minutes that I am far too stupid to make cheese so I decided to preserve the marriage a bit longer and disappear into my workroom which is just along the corridor from the cellar in which he was making the cheese (he also uses it to make sausages but that is another story).

Anyway you can’t quilt cheese or I would have found a way to do it by now.

I am waiting for the next batch of tracings from the graphic design department before I can start on my next quilt  and so I decided to have a go at one of the patterns I had bought from one of my favourite pattern designers Sally Miller at ‘Millamac‘ It is called ‘Australia All Over’ and it has lots of scenes involving Australian animals. I have done a couple of her designs before and they are great fun. I’m not sure whether they are the easiest thing to start on but I like a challenge so I learned quite a lot by trial and error several years ago. To cut a long story short I have spent most of the day tracing possums and kangaroos onto fusible webbing. There are worse ways to spend the day and it is a legal addiction as far as I know.

Tomorrow I will be sorting through my extensive stash to find all the bits of fabric appropriate to each panel on the quilt. I am really looking forward to it. My pleasures in life are simple if ultimately expensive.

On a completely different tack (The Big Cheese has a boat too so I am au fait with nautical terms) have you discovered Loralie Harris Fabrics and embroideries. I will upload a picture of one of her panels – Senior Prom – and if you think it is interesting have a look on the website as I have lots of different panels and fabrics from her range.  I also offer some of her embroideries in my kits. Have a look and give me some feedback.If you need some fat quarters to match try the pink or brown matching fat quarters .

Senior Prom fat quarters brown.

Confessions of a Quiltaholic

8 Jul

I admit it, I like fabric. No, I have to be honest, I love fabric. I also love creating little artworks from tiny bits of fabric (known in the quilting world as ‘The Stash’). It could have something to do with being exiled to faraway countries with little to do , lots of sun and a collection of vibrant coloured scraps and fat quarters. Add to that the need to keep cool and an airconditioned room with a sewing machine and a lot of time and the resulting pile of quilts and wall hangings was inevitable.

At first I made traditional patchwork quilts with the cases full of fat quarters I took back from each leave. Then I went to Papua New Guinea which is very close to Australia. So close that I went several times and had lovely holidays in which quilt shops featured heavily.  There I discovered applique. Not just any applique but bright, happy applique. I discovered Kookaburra Cottage patterns in particular and also Australian quilting magazines. They have so much colour and fun. From then on I was hooked on applique and bright colours and I couldn’t stop.

After a while I started experimenting with my own patterns. I am not particularly good at drawing but I designed some interesting and different quilts and bags. I soon realised that if you are going to put 9 cowboys on a quilt, each in an identical space they need to be roughly the same size and  my sketching didn’t work too well in this regard. Luckily my Daughter is a graphic designer and she showed me how to trace on the computer. Suddenly the patterns looked professional and were much easier to produce. An idea was born, if I liked making these quilts perhaps others would. When I returned permanently to England I decided to set up a web site selling patterns and kits for my designs. I wasn’t too keen on doing the tracing when I had a Daughter to do it so we came to an understanding. I design, she traces and does the patterns, I make up the prototype. I like to think we have produced some very professional patterns between us. Some are made into kits as many people like to use the same material as the original. Also it is easier to have everything needed to start a project instead of having to buy everything and being frustrated by lack of availability and choice.

Quilt pattern Cowboy Layout

This is what the pattern looks like for the cowboy quilt. It has pattern pieces reversed for tracing onto fusible webbing and full sized templates for placing and fusing a whole cowboy before placing on the background fabric. These are printed on one side so that they can be placed on a light box without confusing the tracer. Also included are a general instruction sheet and instructions specific to the cowboy pattern. In addition there is a photograph of the finished quilt and a sheet with the layout measurements and materials requirements. I have tried to make my patterns user friendly based on years of using other people’s patterns and noting the pros and cons.  For individual pictures of the cowboys have a look at or see cowboy quilt link above.