Tag Archives: Grace Frame

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?



Getting All Your Ducks In A Row.

26 Sep

I was trawling the internet mainly to see where links to my blog had come from when I came across yet more inspiration from a fellow crafter. Vicki’s Fabric Creations had a blog on a quilt made from embroideries by Embroidery Connection. They are called ‘Sweet Pea Duckies’ and are irresistible to anyone who likes ‘cute’.  As I believe in sharing here is a link to the page in case you would like to try them too. In this blog I will show you what I produced and how.

If you are not keen on the colours ignore them. The originals are digitised in Marathon threads and I use Madeira so they are largely my interpretation with a bit of help from a thread comparison program. I have never yet found one of those that is accurate.

I also did them on normal patchwork  fabric and they didn’t pucker – not always easy to achieve.

There are ten of them. Have a look at the links for the rest.

I had a bit of a problem in that I was supplied with the wrong colour charts but a quick email put that right, which is perhaps all you can ask. I only mention it in case you might have the same problem and need to know how to solve it.

I always use a piece of fabric bigger than the required block size as embroidering and pressing often distort the block from perfectly square. I then trim the block to size with my trusty cutter/ruler which is a bit easier than a pair of scissors and a lot safer than a separate ruler and rotary cutter. Being accident prone I was very pleased to find these on an Australian visit and I have found a source in the UK after much trawling of the internet and I now have some spares in case they disappear again. I looked for a couple of years and finally found them by accident. It  is amazing how difficult it is to find things on some websites even if you know they are there and I didn’t know where to start.

My first mistake was changing the style of quilt after I had already finished the embroideries. This meant that I had 11″ blocks when what I now needed was 12.5″ blocks. I  got over this by adding a frame,  taking the final size of each block to 12.5″.  I needed an extra 1.5″ total which equates to 3/4″ (0.75″) on each side plus seam allowances of an extra 1/2″ (0.5″) each making each strip  1.25″. Just don’t forget the seam allowances and don’t panic. There is usually a way and  If not you change the design yet again. It is rarely an unmitigated disaster.

Pin and sew them in place with the usual 1/4″ seam. The sides will be 11″ each and top and bottom 12.5″. However, do not assume this, always measure at each stage. Seams are not always accurate.

The ducks are sewn together in threes across giving two rows of three so we need something to join the rows together. I used 2″ squares.

To achieve this you need to cut 6 different strips each 2.5″ wide. I needed to cut two of each for the complete quilt.

Three of the coloured strips.

Join three together twice then cut into 2.5″ strips again. I chose some colours from the duck embroideries to draw together the borders and the embroideries.

Yes the colours are the same but I don’t exactly have studio conditions for my photographs.

Join together 18 of the strips, alternating the colours and using a pin to keep the seams aligned until sewn.

Make three sets.

The rows of ducks are then enclosed in the three sections of squares.

I decided that the next border should be the same blue and the same width as the sashing round the ducks, again to bring the bits of the quilt together. Makes it a bit easier on the eye.

I then did different sized borders using other colours from the squares.


Bind and finish.

There are Fairies at the Bottom of my Stash Box.

21 Sep

Being a bit of an  afficionado of Loralie Designs, when I saw some of her ‘Very Fairy’ panels on sale at a discount I had to have some. Then I couldn’t decide what to do with them so they were put away with the other UFO’s. This week I finally had another look and decided that I must make something with them. I am not a fan of framing a panel and leaving it at that, it seems a bit like cheating so I had to do a bit more.

As you can see, the basic panel comes with four figures at the bottom. I cut those off and all the little flowers and shoes and appliqued them on after I had stitched borders round the central panel.

The basic panel.

Cut round the figures for applique.

Choose fabrics to match.

Fix to corners with fusible web after the borders have been applied.

Satin stitch around the edges in matching colours.

A bit of a session on the quilt frame and ‘Hey Presto’.

I rather took a shine to the Very Fairy l embroideries too so I did a few of those. If you want one and can’t be bothered to do it yourself have a look at my web site on the Loralie Fairy page.  More to be added in the coming days.  They take a while but I think they are worth it.

The Doll Conspiracy

12 Aug

First an update on my Pirate Quilt. You may remember it. If not here is a reminder. Here is a link to one blog.   Here is another .

In it the ship is small but it occurred to me that a bigger ship on a wall hanging would also be a useful addition.

I also appiquéd the mariners compass as an alternative to an embroidery.

In a former life I made dolls and when I started quilting seriously I relegated the paraphernalia to a small section of my work area. (This small section is the size of many ‘3rd’ bedrooms in estate agent terms). I have been meaning to get in there and sort it out with the idea of trying to offload the moulds and made dolls so that I can put my frame in the room. It was only after I had done an inventory and photographed all the dolls that I realised just how much ‘stuff’ there is in there. What I really need is someone wanting to start a  doll making business who wants to buy a whole working studio. Then I just need to sell the dolls I have already made. In case you think  I am exaggerating take a look at this lot. It’s only a drop in the ocean but it’s a bit overpowering.

Kimmie mould  by Cindy Marschner Rolfe

From the Joey mould by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.

Another Joey

Angel Love by Cindy marschner Rolfe.

Theodore by Cheri Chagall with Donna Rubert 28″ body.


Sylvie by Cheri Chagall.

Mimi by Cheri Chagall.


L’il Boo by Cindy Marschner Rolfe.








Sipho from Donna Rubert’s Flossie mould


Theodora from Theodore mould by Cheri Chagall.

Hannah Rose by Donna Rubert



There are some more on my web site nsaaquilting.co.uk

It’s not just the dolls or even the moulds. There are wigs, shoes, eyes, and goodness knows what else.

I  have come to the conclusion that life is too short. There are many more dolls I would like to make but I would have to live  several decades more and still be able to lift the moulds – unlikely. Then there is the quilting. So many quilts, so little time.

Blue Dogs, Green Birds, Pink Rabbits and a Game of I-Spy.

3 Aug

I have finished two more UFO’s this week. If I am not careful I might run out. I am getting the hang of the quilt frame now although I have decided that there is not really any scope for imaginative quilting. The space available is too small. I need to come into some money to buy a long-arm setup but as I have no rich relatives ready to leave me their worldly wealth I guess it won’t happen. That being the case I am getting to be a bit of an expert at meandering. I don’t have too many problem stitches these days but I have also discovered that washing the finished quilt evens up the stitching in the antiqueing effect. It also makes sure that all the years sitting in the UFO pile in various dusty locations are washed away leaving a clean fresh quilt. It has the added advantage that you know how it will look when it is washed.

The first was originally a BOM by Kookaburra Cottage. This link will take you to the BOM page on their site and lots of lovely examples of their particular style of design. I have loved them since the first one I saw. They are a bit pricey as a pattern which explains why I make more than one from each.

Little Macca’s Farm

Someone once told me I should label my quilts. Nothing looked right but then I got an embroidery machine and I have never looked back. Just give me an excuse and I will make a label.

The other quilt is an alphabet quilt. I wanted to use up all the charm squares of children’s fabric I had accumulated. Looking at it again after all these years I see that I made it into an I-Spy quilt of sorts too.

In case you are wondering how I achieved the ‘wonky’ effect, wonder no longer. Starting with the top of the centre square attach a strip of fabric to the edge. Attach another strip down the right side onto the new shape. Then the bottom, then the left side. You now have an ordinary upright  block bigger than you need. Make a template the size you want the finished block then place it onto your straight block at any angle desired and cut off the surplus with a rotary cutter. Easy Peasy.

Mustn’t forget the label.

The monkeys are from Oregon Patchworks on this link. There are lots of variations on the monkey embroidery. This one is an applique but there are some straight forward embroideries on the same theme.

Let me leave you with another set of views from where I live.

View Towards the Beach

The Beach

The Outer Harbour

Jeremy Fisher and Friends and Another Vanquished UFO.

21 Jul

This week I have been finishing a quilt based on frog fabric. I actually bought the fabric in  a shop in Trinidad. There’s a bit of name dropping for you. Before you go  green with envy, we went at Easter and it was closed. The only highlight was the revolving restaurant at the top of the hotel. It was a good job we went as there were not too many other people there.

As I finished it I realised that it wasn’t the only frog related item I had made over the years. I once made a quilt and matching bag based on the Peter Rabbit stories. As it wasn’t needed after all I still have it so I took a picture of the Jeremy Fisher alphabet block in faux cross stitch.

Also on the matching bag in normal stitching.

I also, at some time made a couple of frog characters when my Daughters were small. I don’t think anybody actually used them for anything but I haven’t got as far as the charity shop with them yet.

With the quilt as background.

Relaxing on the day bed.

He looks a bit miserable.

This one looks startled.



I also did some embroideries for a ‘Rainforest’ quilt that  I never somehow got round to. He is particularly fine.

Now for the purpose of the blog – the quilt.

As you can see it is a very easy pattern. Each small square is 2″ (2.5″ before seams) making 10″ finished and each frog square is also 10″ . The border of each square is either 2″ (2.5″) strips or 2″ (2.5″) squares. Add  2″, 1″ and 4″ borders and bind. How much easier could it be. As long as you watch your seam widths and match the seams it cannot fail to look good.

I think I may be getting the hang of the quilting frame. The size  of quiltable quilt on the frame at any one time is still frustrating but at least I can do a good job as long as I plan it. There are times though when I would love to do a really big design. Not,I fear something that will happen in the absence of a win on some game of chance. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath blue in the face not being an attractive look.

See this tip on one of my other posts for the ‘how to’ on seams.

I had occasion to make a wedding  anniversary card this week. If you are interested the embroidery comes from Emblibrary.com. under ‘Tweets’. There are lots of different ones. You need to scroll down about 5 designs then you will find all the different tweets. There are patriotic ones, boy scout ones, golf ones, birthday ones etc etc etc. As usual the digitising is faultless.

I decided to change all 15 needles on my embroidery machine yesterday. They didn’t appear to be a problem but some of them had been in rather a long time so I didn’t think it could harm. I was quite impressed with myself. They are usually a pain but once I had loosened the screws I managed to get them all in without a hassle. The reason they are a pain is that the shanks are round so could go in any way except that they can’t or they don’t work. The difference between front and back is obvious if you can see the thing but bionic sight would be an advantage. The screws were the problem. I had been working on the basis ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ but the tightness of some of the screws made it obvious they should have been changed before. Still, hopefully they should be fine for a while now. After all who needs a working wrist.

Yo Ho Ho and a Bottle of Rum

15 Jun

I have finished the pirate quilt. I wasn’t sure I liked it until I quilted it. It is amazing the difference it makes.

Here it is loaded on the frame. Thread colour chosen, bobbin colour chosen – and off we go

I am still at the meandering stage. I have lots of fabulous ideas about what I would like to do in the way of quilting. Unfortunately they mostly require the full sized area provided by a long arm machine and frame. The main problem is that unless you draw everything out in advance you could get to the bottom border and find you can’t repeat the same pattern as you stitched in the top border. Not only frustrating but also the ruination of the quilt. The reason for this is that as you progress and roll up the quilt under the machine arm the space left on which to work reduces. The only cure is a long-arm setup.  Still it beats stitch-in-the-ditch – much more fun.

View of the front and back of the quilt.

The finished Quilt.
Top Left.

Top Right.

Bottom Left.

Bottom Right.


Walking the Plank.



The compass is an embroidery from Emblibrary.com

If you are thinking of using a piano key border and loading it onto a frame for quilting it might pay to consider that it may stretch as you roll  and quilt so stabilising first will help, otherwise you get a slightly twisted border. Just a heads up so it doesn’t creep up on you and ruin your quilt.

Now I just have to write up the pattern to go to the designer and then onto my web site. nsaaquilting.co.uk