Tag Archives: crazy patch

Branching Out With Butterflies.

20 Jan

I have repurposed one of my quilt kits to give it a new focus.

I have taken my mixture of butterflies and fossil ferns and transformed it from this single bed quilt.

Butterfly quilts

To these combinations of cot quilt and baby bag.



IMG_0152 (3)


The fabrics are still amongst the prettiest I have seen in the years I have been quilting and this way there is no need to lose out just because you don’t need a single bed quilt. There seems to be a steadily growing if  imported trend for baby showers. What better than a set for travelling. You won’t get one of those at Mothercare and there is little chance of anyone giving the identical gift.

The only problem might be actually giving it away.


Crazy for Butterflies.

9 Apr

I needed to make a quilt for a king sized bed. Making the top was not a problem but what about the cost of having it quilted. My little quilt frame would not even look at it and even if it would my albeit semi professional machine would be working on minus inches by the time the whole thing had rolled up under the arm. The only thing to do was quilt as you go. I have never done one of these before but never let it be said that I would let a little thing like that stop me. There has to be a first time for everything.

First I did crazy patch squares using strips of butterfly fabrics on a sandwich of backing and cotton/polyester wadding . Having chosen to go with a butterfly theme I was going to do some reverse applique butterflies but decided that it would either make or break the project. With my luck it would be the latter. Instead I experimented with embroideries.


Once I had drawn myself a rough plan of which colour went where to prevent adjacent duplicates it was a doddle. I had sewn the blocks into sections of two rows of eight blocks. The whole quilt was to be eight blocks by eight blocks so I had four sections. the added bonus was that as the blocks already had three layers no stabiliser was needed. It also meant that there would be butterflies the colour of the bobbin thread on the back.

I made my rows and sections by joining blocks with narrow sashing. The sashing is sown to both blocks right sides together on the back.




The front is only attached on one block right sides together.


It is then folded over and either hand or machine stitched on the right side. As life is too short and too filled with future quilts I used a fancy machine stitch trying to keep it parallel with the edge. A straight stitch would have been a nightmare keeping it neat on the back.

DSCN2948I used quilting thread.



I hooped the quilt sections and embroidered butterflies. I could have embroidered the butterflies before constructing the strips but this way I could get nearer the edges of the blocks but that was just my preference. I don’t like things too ordered.






Sew all the strips together, add a wide border to match the sashing and Bob’s your Uncle.

As an extra little touch I stitched butterflies all round the border using Sulky Solar thread. This means that at night a row of luminous butterflies lights the room. Who needs a night light when you have luminous butterflies.

I thought I might try making some baby quilts with luminous embroideries. they will either provide the comfort of a night light or produce mildly confused children. What is life without a little experimentation?


Ebony and Ivory and the ‘Lightbulb’ moment.

14 Sep

If you have read many of my blogs, especially the earlier ones, you may have gathered that I design patterns.  I have lived overseas on and off since the ’70’s and have always been fascinated by the children in the countries I have visited. As a  result, when I came to design a range of patterns featuring little girls, inevitably they had to be dark skinned. I had the greatest fun deciding what accessories to put in each picture. As I sketched my little girls I realised that I was being influenced by my surroundings. The dresses worn by them were subconsciously based on the ‘Merie blouse’ which is the outfit worn by women and girls in Papua New Guinea. It is of a simple design and I suspect that, as in most of the countries I have visited it was probably first invented  to protect the modesty of the female members of society — most likely by missionaries. Whatever the reason, I found my little girls were wearing them – and why not? Add a pair of bloomers and off we go.

'Ebony' with a skipping rope.

The skipping rope was made by fusing a piece of fabric cut using a piece traced from the pattern. I then used a wide satin stitch to go over the whole ‘rope’. I think it is quite effective. It certainly worked better than a couple of other solutions I tried.

I linked the blocks together by using different coloured gingham for the dresses and then changed their characters by varying the hairstyles.

Mellow in yellow

I also thought a couple of cute toys in the form of teddy bear and bunny rabbit would add a certain ‘Je ne sais quoi’. (Take no notice, I am merely indulging  my inner child.)

On some of the prototypes I did for this quilt I used curly wool and real ribbons for the hair and bows.  I like experimenting with that sort of variation but they are only really suitable for a wall hanging hung out of reach of small fingers and I like my quilts to be touched and loved and therefore easily washed so all the accessories are firmly stitched down.

Teddy bear

'Bunny' Rabbit

I decided to do the blocks ‘on point’ so I needed something to make them square again – if that makes sense. I hit upon using the same fabrics as in the dress, bloomers, shoes etc and doing some crazy patch. I love crazy patch, it uses up all the odd bits of fabric and always ends up looking good. Every example is different too as new fabrics and combinations are used. Add a few metres of sashing and a border and ‘Bob’s your Uncle’.

The Finished Quilt.

Would that I could stop there but, no, I had to make another. I reasoned that sometimes people cannot see what is before them. If I presented a quilt with little dark skinned children and they wanted one with light skinned ones then they may not make the connection. I therefore made another quilt, this time with pink fabric for the skin colour. That is why the quilt pattern is called ‘Ebony and Ivory’ – simples.

Just in case you are still paying attention and haven’t fallen asleep, bear with me whilst I present ‘Ivory’.

The Whole

You will see that I have also changed the colour scheme. I know I have often bought a pattern as it has caught my eye mostly because the colours are mine and I would hate anybody to miss it because they couldn’t see past the colours.

Ivory With Baskets

Ivory With Bear

Ivory With Rabbit

Ivory With Skipping Rope

Of course I finally had my ‘lightbulb’ moment and realised that If I did both dark and light skinned children on the same quilt then I only need  make one quilt for the pattern photograph. Not only would this be a lot less work but also I wouldn’t have to squeeze two photographs onto the pattern cover. I am sometimes amazed at my own genius. As you will see in a later blog, I did, indeed use this brilliant idea in another pattern. I did, in fact use it in two patterns which, if you are paying attention you will realise means I have saved myself a lot of work although this does not mean I saved time. What it does mean is that I can squeeze in another project I wouldn’t otherwise have done.

If you would like to make one of these yourself the pattern is available on my website  www.nsaaquilting.co.uk – or link to the right.

Lay a Little Egg for Me

26 Aug

I promised you more car quilts and I always deliver – well almost always. There is a little story around this quilt. My Daughters seem to like to give their cars nicknames. Apparently, according to a survey I read the other day, this makes them better drivers. I don’t award the grants so don’t shoot the messenger, just accept the findings. Daughter number one called her first car ‘Chick’n.  So, when I was making a car quilt for her it obviously had to be about chickens. I found a pattern whilst on one of my sojourns to Cairns in Australia. I know every fabric based business in that town let me tell you. Anyway, I found this quilt pattern although I am not sure quite how as it was made up in dark purples and the pattern was in A5 size. If I hadn’t been looking specifically for that sort of pattern I probably wouldn’t have seen it. I suppose A5 takes up less space on the rack in the shop but it doesn’t do much for selling patterns. Anyway, I digress.

I had taken a couple of bundles of Madras checks overseas with me along with the rest of my stash fabrics and found these perfect for the country style quilt. I made it up as per the instructions but I am not really happy about using zigzag instead of satin stitch. I think I made this before I had settled on satin stitch as standard. If it ever needs washing, which I am sure it will, I presume the edges will fray. this is apparently part of the design to make it ‘country’. Time will tell.

The Whole Quilt

Here is a detail of the chickens.

First Closeup

Number Two.

The buttons for eyes would not be suitable for a child’s quilt but they add something nevertheless.

I mentioned in my last post on car quilts that the cover does not only keep the quilt tidy but also protects it from the sun if left on the back seat. (for those of you who are looking sceptical, yes we do have sun here sometimes). These next two  photo show you the fading on the cover. Both the front of the cover and the quilt were made from the same fabrics. The back was a mixture of completely different fabrics as, when you have limited supplies you tend to reserve fabrics you might use again. The crazy patch allowed me to use up lots of left over bits.



Daughter Number One is a Graphic Designer and like me prefers bright cheerful colours – probably the result of a childhood spent in Africa according to  research material she used for her University Dissertation.  This quilt must tick all the right boxes for someone like that so I was quite pleased with the result. Come to think of it being brought up in a sunny environment  is obviously not a prerequiste for liking bright colours or I guess I would like dull browns and greys.

The quilt incorporates one of my favourite forms of patchwork – crazy patch. It is so useful for using up bits of fabric but doesn’t look as if that is what you have done. As you are using up leftovers the end result tends to be a snapshot of your taste in fabrics too. Very Freudian I’m sure. I will do a blog on crazy patch at some time I am sure so we can discuss the ins and out of that one.

Whatever, hope you enjoy this little quilt and maybe it will inspire you to make your own car quilts.

Having a Not-So-Nervous Breakdown.

10 Aug

Picture the scene – the snow is falling, the temperature is dropping, the traffic in front comes to a halt and there you are in a weather induced jam. You can’t go anywhere,  and it’s cold. I do realise that if you live in Queensland this could be a bit of a stretch but humour me. As time goes by the temperature drops even more and you haven’t even put a coat in the car as you weren’t going far. This could become a very big problem as the snow ploughs take their time and it gets darker outside. In my case this will never be a problem. I am one of those people who see everything coming, even things that never do. As a result everyone in my family is provided with at least one car quilt.

What, you ask is a car quilt? The answer is that it is a variation of the quillow – the quilt that folds up into an attached cushion cover. I tried the quillow idea but as I tended to use hi-loft wadding which was the only type available to me at the time, these quillows tended to be a bit unmanageable. I also wanted to make a quilt and then decide on the size of the ‘cushion’. This resulted in the car quilt which is basically a quilt in a matching pillow case. This keeps the quilt folded in place and clean and also protects it from fading if kept on the back seat for any length of time. I usually use calico as a base and stitch the outside fabric on top. This  gives a good, solid construction.

Car quilts can be any size. A useful size is one to go over a child’s knees in a car seat. They can also be as large as a bed quilt if necessary. Folded up in the case a car quilt provides a great pillow for children (of any age) to use when falling asleep in the car. They can also be used to cover up a sleeping child.  If you have two you can do both. What a cosy picture, I almost feel like going for a drive – except that I don’t , drive that is. I can but I don’t but that’s a different story and totally irrelevant to this one. Obviously any quilt pattern would do but I thought you might like to see some of mine.

The first picture is of a quilt I made for Number Two Daughter. She is a civil Engineer and had a cold site hut so it came in handy for keeping the knees warm. As it is a car quilt it means that she always has it with her. As one of her other interests is dancing she always has extra bedding to compensate for inadequacies of same on dance weekenders.  Versatility is the name of the game. I made this quilt from a pattern by Smee Designs in Australia. I then tied in the case by   decorating it  with an applique from the quilt but changing the colours. On the back I put the tools that you see on the bottom of the quilt. It can be great fun and there is a danger of getting carried away but who’s looking.

Builders Quilt and Case

Here is a detail of the quilt.

What busy little bees they are. Do you think the Engineer knows he has the blueprint the wrong way round. Or maybe it’s just the light shining through.

If you are wondering why the digger driver has a flowery hard hat, it is a bit of personalisation. When Daughter Number Two began to work for a contractor, Daughter Number One who is a graphic designer decorated her a hard hat, painting it pink and sparkly with little flowers all over. For those in Health and Safety , never fear she doesn’t wear it on site.  Anyone who read my last blog will recognise the background fabric as Fossil Ferns, I told you it was versatile. If you look at the original pattern on the Smee Designs link above  you will see what a difference using different fabrics can make. It also shows you that you do not have to copy the original if you do not want to. Two interpretations for two different tastes.

Tool bag

Truck with Dog but different colours.

I made another one, also for Daughter Number Two, with a completely different theme. This one was clean, bright colours  from a pattern by ‘Country Cupboard Designs’ also in Australia.

Quilt and Case

With this one I matched the backing and the case.

Back and Case Match.

Here is a detail of the border which I think transforms a simple 9 patch pattern into something really special. (Fossil Ferns again).

Border Detail.


The front of the bag on this one is crazy patch which is a good way to use up small pieces of fabric or leftovers from the quilt.

I have other car quilts that I will show you in a future blog. Don’t want you to get too excited all at once. Apart from that I haven’t managed to take the photographs yet and I have to post and go.