Tag Archives: kangaroo quilts

Bees, Fast Women, Hulala and a Surfeit of Monkeys

9 May

I haven’t posted for a while as I have been otherwise engaged moving house and decorating . Not that I personally have moved house but it amounts to the same thing timewise. Then I started on the Spring cleaning. I say started as although I managed to finish the kitchen the whole process ground to a halt somewhere between the living room and the bedrooms. After that I wasn’t motivated to do anything. However I think I may be back on track at least with the embroidery machine. Hopefully the next stage will be finished quilts.

I received some new Loralie Designs embroideries and did a few for the quilt shows.

Very Fairy






Bee Happy


DSCN2492_450x600 DSCN2493_450x600 DSCN2494_450x600 DSCN2495_450x600

Fast WomenDSCN2496_600x450



There are also matching fabrics and panels available on my web site.



bee happy panel left_600x600 bee happy panel right_600x600

Fast Women Black Tossed_600x600

Fast Women White Toss_600x600

Fast Women Panel Whole_600x330

Fast Women Portrait_600x330

Then I had an urge to embroider the MM Embroideries  Little Monkeys alphabet. I finally found a use for some Fabric Freedom fat quarters I had previously failed to utilise .










I have also made a start on the rest of the Chrissie Down Under by McKenna Ryan. I had cut out all the pieces and then lost interest. I happen to have a bit of time that needs filling next week so I hope to get the rest of the panels ready to sew.

Remember the ones I did do? ( see the post about the quilt.)


I might even have it finished by Christmas – only the third since I bought the pattern.

Hopefully when these are finished I might be on a roll and back into blogging too.


The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Chrissie Down Under.

6 Dec

I have finally started my Mckenna Ryan quilt. I think the one I have chosen – Chrissie Down Under – is probably one of the better ones for my purpose. It is a personal opinion but, art quilt or not, I cannot get my head round the idea of not actually sewing the shapes permanently onto the backing. The advice is to vacuum rather than wash but I guess that depends on how long you intend to use the quilt and, in the case of the Christmas one, whether it will suffer from storage or sticky fingers. I had ideas of ignoring the instructions and satin stitching the pieces on but there are so many layers on some of the pieces that I fear my Pfaff will rebel as it always does given too much bulk to deal with. I think the main problem is the layers of glue from the fusible web but whatever it is it may scupper my plans.

I would also say that these are not patterns for a beginner. This is not because they are complicated, although they are. If you have the determination and the discipline to practise and a modicum of common sense then I think most things in applique are possible. My main contention with this , and presumably her other patterns, is that they are printed on both sides of the pattern sheet. This may not seem a problem if you have not tried tracing them off but if, like me, you like to use a lightbox, it is very frustrating. It is not as if they are cheap and there is therefore a need to save paper to save money. It is not impossible to trace the pieces off but it is unnecessarily frustrating trying to sort out what is the outline of the piece being traced and having to turn the light box on and off in order to determine which side of the pattern it is on. As such it might put a beginner off applique in general.

Despite the above I have just spent a pleasant couple of days tracing and fusing  blocks, at the same time  listening to  the new J.K. Rowling on my iPod. Whilst this would not be any good in the tradition of Dunbar of Catch 22 fame who liked to stay as bored as possible in order to live longer, the combination of the two makes the day fly past. Luckily this is not a problem as I have so many quilts still to make that I will have to live for ever in order to complete them or die in the attempt.

Here are the first three laid out ready to stitch. Having traced the shapes and fused them onto the various fabrics, if you follow the numerical or alphabetical order of the pieces they are actually easy to construct.





I have not bought the fabrics recommended for the quilt partly because I have far too much fabric already and partly because I want to put my own stamp on it.

I will post the rest as I do them and show what method of attaching the shapes to the background I adopt in the end.

In the Steps of Aristotle

17 Mar

Aristotle was the guy that said ‘The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Apparently he was right. Who after all, can argue with Aristotle.

I am afraid I am still on the subject of frame quilting. I am told that nobody looks closely at the cloth of a suit, they look at the overall appearance. If I had only known this when, amongst other things, I made suits I could have saved myself a lot of angst. The same applies to quilting. I have, apparently been expecting too much and nobody will notice anything but the overall pattern. I think the sad fact may be that this is true. Still, we soldier on and I am still working hard at perfecting the art. Here is another example I have just finished. I decided that practising on bits of fabric was all very well but quilt conditions were required for a true test. You will notice that I have made myself do the binding too before going on to the next quilt on the frame. After all a UFO is still a UFO until it is completely finished.

It is quite a cheery little number. I made it when I was just starting out with applique and I was experimenting. I didn’t know how to set up the tension and which bobbin thread to use for satin stitch so I did raw edge applique. Some people like the fact it frays a bit with wear and washing. I’m not so sure but for what it is worth here it is.

I had a bit of an obsession with hearts as they were a good way to use up charm squares. Now I use the charm squares more for general applique but the hearts  are still great fun.

Here are a few closeups. First the raw edge applique.

Now the not so perfect ,but still being persevered with, quilting.

Don’t you just love variegated thread on vibrant colours.

The back looks really good on the Aristotle principle too.

Recognise this old friend? Unpicked and requilted – definitely worth the effort. I also gave it a wash to redistribute the fabric and lose the holes from the original quilting. I have always avoided washing a finished quilt but with this amount of quilting the ‘antique look adds to the overall effect.

Close up of quilting.

We are getting there although there are still a few ‘deliberate’ mistakes. I believe you are supposed to have a few mistakes as  nobody is perfect but (here insert the name of your particular deity). I’m not so sure.

Of ‘andles and Fings Wot ‘old the Candles

26 Nov

I  have been helping Daughter Number Two to move house. They say it is one of the most stressful things we do – moving house not helping other people to do same.  Mind you there can’t be much in it.

I started the week at The Cotton Patch in Birmingham trying to get to grips with my quilting frame.  I bought it years ago and have hardly used it. I have to say that the course was very useful. The Cotton patch has a dedicated studio for teaching and familiarising so that if you decide to buy a machine or a frame you can ‘try before you buy’ as they say. (In my case ‘have a go before you throw’).  It was a very small group, there were five of us but I think normally it would have been four.  This means that everybody can have a hands on experience. This is the only way to go if you really want to learn something practical. I managed to spend rather a lot extra because I saw the value of a stitch regulator. This is a device that regulates the length of stitch. Having already used the frame I found that this was one of the problems; keeping stitches the same length throughout. The normal method of working the sewing machine on the frame is by way of a handle connected to a lever that presses down on the presser foot. I always found this quite stiff and as too many years of sewing obsessively have affected the hand I use to operate the lever the idea of something to help was very attractive. When I receive it and use it I will report on what hopefully are its benefits. I can certainly recommend the course if you are in UK.

Back to the moving – We felt the first sense of forboding as the van came round the corner. It was going to be too small. This wouldn’t have been a problem, except monetarily, if they had said so at the beginning. However they swore they could get it all in and they were the experts so we believed them. At least we did until the axels were practically on the ground and then we questioned the wisdom of travelling 400 yards never mind 400 miles in that state. ( Daughter Number Two has a bit of a background in Health and Safety) The long and the short of it is that Daughter Number Two and I left The Big Cheese supervising (thank goodness for Sudoku) and set off to reach the unit that was going to absorb the overflow, before they closed. The need for the overflow had something to do with trying to get a quart into a pint pot. In this case the quart was a large three bedroomed house and the pint pot a small two bedroomed flat Thank goodness for cousins buying a new house and being able to look after the excess. They had to repack the van and use a second one. They blamed it on the solid construction of the furniture but I am not sure how that would have affected the quantity. Mind you I am not an expert so what would I know.

Having  paid extra to transport the  furniture and boxes we then had to make up quantities for the charity shop. Yes I know but when it all went into store it might have been going back into the same house eventually. The removal men talked fondly of the day when everyone will have a Kindle and two bookcases had to be purchased to take the books. Yes I know but the furniture being looked after by the cousin is bedroom furniture and if you saw the size of these ‘double’ bedrooms you would understand.

I stayed on a while to unpack boxes and take deliveries which is why I have been offline for a while. Being without the internet was not as bad as I thought but it did mean I came back to hundreds of emails, most of which I didn’t want.

On the plus side I found  a quilt in one of the boxes. It was part of the tradition we have of making something christmassy for whoever is hosting Christmas. This was from Christmas three years ago. It is another Millamac pattern.

What a lot of eyes.

The frog family photo. Notice big brother on the right making gesticulations over small Brother’s head.

Possums ( I always want to write  possa – must be the classical education) fixing the Christmas lights. See the ‘thumbs up’ from the foreman.

Peering into the manger.

Dressing the Tree. Where is the safety officer when you need him.

The Choir.

Kangaroos with Presents.

Keeping on the Straight and Narrow Down Under

31 Oct

When I’m not appliqueing or quilting I can usually be found doing a bit of machine embroidery. I like something to make me laugh so I tend to go for quirky, humorous but always well digitised embroideries. There is nothing worse than investing in an embroidery pattern and spending time and effort embroidering it to find that the stitches don’t look good or the outline stitches are not where they should be. This is especially irritating when the design has been bought for a special reason.

The designs that started me off were from Loralie Designs in America but one of my favourites actually has an australian theme. I am not sure why I am attracted to australian designs in quilting and now embroidery but I suspect it is because they are great fun.  When you work in a dungeon every little ray of sunshine helps.

I found some australian fabric and made up a simple design as the embroideries are all the character it needs.

I also did a bit of simple diagonal quilting to make the background more substantial. For a bit more dimension I sometimes embroider with the wadding already in place. It depends on the effect I want to get.

The only tip I can give you for this type of quilt is accurate measurement. I have found over the years that my seams have become automatically more even and so my measurements are usually what they are supposed to be. I still always measure, not just the piece I am working with but also any other piece that should be the same length. If opposite borders are different lengths then it is no good cutting pieces the two different measurements. As you can see this will mean your top will not be square. If you measure at each stage, if there is a discrepancy you can put it right when it has happened other than when it would mean unpicking several stages.If your top is not square your finishing and quilting will be a nightmare.

Do not ever be tempted to take a long piece of border and just stitch it to the quilt top without measuring and cutting first. If you do this, a perfectly square top could end up distorted. You need to keep complete control of the strips.I think this is why I have never tried mitred corners on my binding. I cannot see how to keep the symmetry of the quilt and all my carefully measured edges if I use an unmeasured piece. It is not helped by the number of quilts in magazine pictures that seem to have wonky edges. I am open to conversion if you have found otherwise. Let me know and tell me the secret.

I also find that any project on which I have had to fudge something whatever the reason and whatever the project becomes a bit of a bugbear, nagging me every time I see it. So even if you manage to fix it so that it looks fine, you will always know. The more you progress the more this will be the case and the more careful you will be. Why not cut out this stage and start as you mean to go on.

There are a lot of straight lines and corners in quilting. Measure, measure, measure and you won’t go far wrong.


When the Clock Strikes Three, Everything Stops for Tea.

18 Aug

Personally any time the clock strikes and in between time suits me. That is a little strange as my Anglo-Saxon roots are well diluted with potatoes and stout. There must have been an ancestral  teabody  who passed down the  gene undiluted. I suppose I’m lucky it wasn’t the one with a penchant for moonshine. Having this predeliction and also a stash with some flowery fabrics bought in a fit of something I cannot quite remember, the Millamac ‘Tea Party’ quilt was a bit of a must. I made it for Daughter Number One who could really do with an intravenous drip where tea is concerned. I don’t think she would go for the moonshine but you never know till you try. You certainly wouldn’t be wanting to take that intravenously.

This quilt  is called ‘Tea or Coffee’. I saw it advertised as a block of the month as ‘The Great Aussie Tea Party’ which I think has a bit more ‘Zing’ as a title. It shows various animals, birds etc taking tea – as they do.

The complete Quilt

The comment from the Australians that I showed it to was that the fabric made the teapot very ‘English’. I think they were thinking more ‘English Stereotype’. Personally you wouldn’t catch me with a pink flowery teapot but that is called interpretation.  There are times when I think I live on a different planet from other people.

I just broke off then to look out of the window as I heard a car. This may not be something that you would necessarily do but then you may not live on a street that is too narrow for cars. That does not stop people trying to drive down it though. They think if their holiday cottage has parking it must be outside the front door. This is a grievous error. There are railings outside my house By the time they realise they can’t get through and try to reverse, their wing mirrors perform like a child’s ears when he has stuck his head through the railings – they won’t go backwards. Still we don’t get a lot happening here so it all adds to the entertainment. It doesn’t do the paintwork a lot of good though, the railings or the car. If you go to the Polperro website you will see a couple of pictures of unlikely vehicles using the roads but in fact the road past my house is even narrower and they would not even have tried it. At least I don’t think so. I think there is a bit of a macho element that thinks it can drive anywhere despite signs to the contrary.

However, back to tea time. I rather like the kookaburras who are having such a good time the tea is getting spilt. The slit of an eye makes all the difference to the expression. The one on the right seems to have told a very funny story.

Don't Make Me Laugh.

In the next one the possum on the right is a busy little fellow. Pouring the tea and handing the cakes. If you are interested the cakes are called ‘Lamingtons’ and are plain cake dipped in chocolate and sugar and coated in coconut. Click here for the recipe and the theory of origin. They may sound a little odd but they are strangely delicious.

More Tea Vicar.

Then there are the koalas tossing pancakes into another block. See the expression on the face of the one tossing the pancake and the other watching it go whilst the third sifts flour. Lots of french knots there. Please note the steam from the coffee. A bit of backstitch there.

Where did that one go?

Then there are the ’emus what lunch’. It looks like milkshakes rather than solid food. I expect there are some of you that think I hand-embroidered the chairs. I don’t think so!  Satin stitch on the machine. I don’t mind french knots and a bit of backstitch but I have to draw the line somewhere.

'Ladies What Lunch'

The frogs were great fun. Just look at the one on the right. You can see her pursing her lips ready to drink the hot tea. Attention to detail like that puts the expression and humour into the picture. This is a quilt that makes you laugh.

Do Have a Cake.

Down at the bottom left it looks like Granny’s birthday with Junior delivering the cake. A very tactful one candle I see. More french knots on the cake and sundae in the foreground. They almost look good enough to eat.

Happy Birthday to You

The border fabrics were a jelly roll I just happened to have . I probably wouldn’t have thought of that fabric if I hadn’t had it in a jelly roll but I think it makes it. Someone asked me to make them a similar quilt but in creams and browns. It was a struggle bearing in mind the way my colour tastes run but I did it and it looked as good in its own way. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of it so you will have to take my word for it.

Well I think it is about time to put the kettle on so I’ll love you and leave you as they say. I wonder if I can find some cake.

Sledgehogs,Ice Creams and Show and Tell.

1 Aug

As promised here are the pictures of the quilt I have been working on. I haven’t quilted it yet but I think I have just enough of my favourite wadding left to finish it. I will find out tomorrow. Today I cleaned the cellar and rearranged everything. I have a lot of quilt tops that I will never finish. maybe I should look for a charity with people willing to do just that. It would give me more room and someone would benefit.

You will have to excuse the creases. The pictures I took yesterday after pressing it were not right and I didn’t press it again. Put it down to old age and poverty. I’m sure you can still see the pictures even with the creases.

This is the whole thing appliqued. It is very difficult to get a good enough picture as it is so long but it is just an overview as you can see the individual pieces below.

The Great Barrier Reef.

The Great Barrier Reef was great fun. I started with a piece of fabric depicting same from Nutex and then had great fun adding all the little bits of colour. Fossil Ferns was used for the coral. Despite the fact it has been around for so long I think it is the most versatile fabric I know. I do have lots of Fossil Ferns but haven’t found a way of photographing them for the site but if you are looking for a particular colour just email info@nsaaquilting.co.uk . There is a bit of batik in there for the fish too. This panel is a particularly good reason for not throwing away the little bits of fabric you think are not big enough for anything. The goggles are a case in point, why would you waste a big piece when a tiny scrap will do. As you can see I didn’t think far enough ahead with the red flippers and the sashing. However, a bit of variegated embroidery thread took care of that. There is always a solution. Considering the state of my disordered brain there often has to be.

Music in the Rainforest.

I have to say that having been in the rainforest this is not the sort of music frogs usually make. This, I wouldn’t mind. The other I did. Fossil ferns again on the flowers and batik on the large leaves. Throughout the quilt we have ‘spot the possum’ as well. two here I think.

Sledgehogs Cause a Tumble

The way the Kangaroos are  looking at him I guess the crocodile is the sledgehog. He appears to have caused a bit of an RTA down at the bottom.

Patriotic Sailors

As you can see I found some appropriate sky fabric and various others for the sea, the rudder and other bits and pieces.

Carol Singers

It is not very easy to see but I found some glittery fabric for the song books and embroidered the star with gold thread. Christmas is the only time I could justify the sparkly stuff. Must be my upbringing.

The Nippers

I can think of several reasons for the title but not being Australian I may be missing something. Please notice how I cheated with the background. If you’ve got it flaunt it (or at least use it). I think that might be another possum there but I managed to find one more than there are supposed to be so one of them may not be hiding and it might be him.

Show and Tell

These are supposed to be Gallahs (me neither) but being ignorant I made them into chickens. Guess what the background fabric is.


I Want to Go Home

There are lots of little joeys in this one, some are camouflaged and some not. Note the beach fabric.

Ice Creams and Hide and seek

I am not too keen on the koalas picture, perhaps it needs a bit more detail. Just off the picture to the right is another possum.

Three Kings and a Star.

Another Christmas theme and more sparkle. maybe I am a closet ‘sparkleist’. The crowns and presents are all finished with metallic thread.

I enjoyed doing this quilt, especially choosing the fabrics. If anyone has done anything similar  using blanket stitch or other hand stitches perhaps you could find time to comment. I don’t use blanket stitch and I often wonder how you get on with the tiny bits and whether there is a technique to help. What I also want to know is how on earth anybody managed before fusible webbing I suppose it would all have been needle turned edges. I have done applique without but it’s not easy. The bits move as you are sewing them.

If you see this blog and have tackled the same sort of applique I would appreciate a comment as I would like to know what other people are doing on the same lines.

What to do next?

Many a Slip Twixt Cup and Lip

20 Jul

Now here’s a turn up for the books. I haven’t done much everyday cooking for years but tonight I have been requested to do so.  The Big Cheese says he loves cooking , helps him unwind apparently whereas it winds me up. My hairdresser says that anybody who says they find cooking destresses them, which could be a rough translation of ‘winding down’ is just after an excuse to drink the cooking sherry. Whichever it is it seems to work. Not that the Big Cheese ever seems to get stressed unless you count when he’s talking to me but I think he has a mechanism for that called ‘not listening’. That seems to work too. Anyway, I digress.

I suppose I shouldn’t complain as many a quilter has to do the cooking every night. I’m afraid I would have to buy a cookbook of ‘Meals to make when you have just realised it is 10 minutes to dinner time.’ This could consist of a lot of pasta which would in itself have me removed from the kitchen posthaste. He doesn’t like pasta, I prefer not to eat red meat but I am prepared to sacrifice my preferences to my need to be able to get on with more interesting pursuits. I may die early of some horrible disease brought on by rich food but at least I’ll die happy. Not sure what the Big Cheese will do with all the quilt tops I’ve accumulated over the years and never made into quilts but I guess that wont be my problem.

You will be pleased to know that the Millamac  quilt reported in the post of July 13th is coming along nicely. I have now started the satin stitch. What a lot of pieces were involved in placing though. Still, no pain, no gain as they say. See if you think it was worth it. They cheer me up anyway.


This is the one featured in the July 13th post when I had just placed it. Now it is stitched. As you can see there are bits that cannot be stitched yet as they go over the border and will have to completed when the various scenes have been joined with sashing. As  said in an earlier post, this is more difficult to do as you have to work with more bulk but makes a more interesting quilt in the end.

Sailing stitched in place.

Finally a view of the perils of the road hog on the slopes. I love this one.

The dangers of the 'croc racer'.

Anyway, that’s what I am doing at the moment. With a fair wind I am hoping to finish stitching before the weekend . I was going to have to help with the next batch of cheese but daughter number two is bringing her washing home so I’m hoping to do a deal.

You will be pleased to hear that my onion tart turned out well by the way. I used some of the Roquefort he made on the cheese course and even if I say it myself it was delicious. It’s not that I can’t cook, just that I can’t see the point. I was helped greatly by the fact that I bought him a Kenwood Chef for his birthday – no really – so I made the pastry, sliced the onions and whisked up the eggs and cream. in the machine. We had a nice little salad and he had a baked potato. I was taught at school that if you have pastry you don’t need a potato. Perhaps boys’ schools had a different philosophy. Or perhaps they did woodwork instead. Whatever, with the example of the head of the household  I have never managed to get the idea across to any of my family. Anyway, I am sure you are relieved he didn’t starve.

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.