Sunday, 21 December 2014


One #pineappleblock for you @clothwork Just need to decide on corner fabrics :)
The pineapple block wasn't a pattern that I loved when I first saw it, but then I came across this version by Amber and I started getting a little obsessed. I love the illusion of circles that appear between the blocks, they really soften all the prickly angles. When Melissa started posting pineapple quilt blocks in beautiful inky colours, I offered to make her a block to say thank you for her recent generosity. And selfishly, it gave me an excuse to make one block before committing to a pineapple quilt of my own.
These blocks are not fast! I took my time, it's not perfect, it doesn't sit completely flat. I'm crossing my fingers that Melissa can actually use it in her quilt. Imperfections and all, I love it and I've added pineapple quilt to my bucket list for next year. To piece the block, I used this Instructables tutorial that Melissa is using. It's a great tutorial if, like me, you'd rather piece than foundation piece.  

I think even the back looks pretty with all those open seams.

And amidst all the busy-ness, I've squeezed in a few last-minute gifts. A needlebook using the wonderful tutorial by Amy at nanaCompany and my other go-to gift, a drawstring bag using Svetlana's drawstring bag tutorial. I still have a couple more last minute gifts to make. I'm counting on getting some sewing time today.

Friday, 12 December 2014

Three Christmas Pillows

I had so much fun making my Great Pillow Fight Swap pillow recently that I carried on and made two more pillows using the same block design. I've been patiently waiting for all three pillows to arrive at their new homes so that I could share them here. This is the original version, made for Debbie in the Great Pillow Fight Swap.  

This version, in more traditional Christmas colours, was made for my online quilting friend, Karen. I went for a simple setting for this version, no tricky half blocks to make! The sashing is Alison Glass Sunprint Text in white.

The last pillow was made for Leanne in our do.Good.Stitches Care Circle Christmas swap. I used some Denyse Schmidt Sweet Ruby fabrics that my friend Deb bought while she was in the US recently and was generous enough to share. I quilted this one in a serpentine stitch, the stitch makes me think of ribbons which seemed appropriate for a Christmas pillow. I had planned to bind this pillow, but in the end I decided that it didn't need binding, maybe because the sashing was a bit busier?

And a favourite Aneela Hoey Cherry Christmas print for the back.

It was a fun exercise to play with different colours, setting and quilting. I'm hoping to get one more version made but it might be for Christmas 2015.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

A small boy's quilt

A few weeks back I dragged my small boy's July Stars quilt off his bed and outside for a photo shoot. I finished this quilt a year ago. When I finished it, I wasn't sure I really liked it, but seeing my small boy tucked up with it every night this last year has completely changed my mind. What was I thinking!? I love it now!

I used a free pattern called July Stars by Allison from Cluck Cluck Sew. Most of the fabrics are from Out to Sea by Sarah Jane, the remaining fabrics were from my stash. The quilt was pieced over the Christmas holidays while the local quilt shops were closed so I challenged myself to use only stash fabrics, it meant there were a few fabric choices that I wasn't in love with. Now I kind of love those odd choices.

I free motion quilted with a squiggly line, fun and fast! The backing is a Kona Cotton solid (Baby Blue I think).

We took loads of photos, here are a few of them.

Have you ever changed your mind about a quilt after finishing it?

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Gift Wrapped Pillow {block tutorial}

I've finished my Holiday Pillow for The Great Pillow Fight Swap on Flickr. It's always good to sew those last few stitches on the binding. Here's a little sneak peek...
I wrote about the Denyse Schmidt fabric that was the inspiration for the pillow in this post. Edited to add: I've now made three pillows with this block, see them in this post.
The block is based on an uneven 5-patch grid (I think I've got that right, I had to google it!!).  Here's a quick tutorial in case you'd like to have a go at making some of these blocks.

Fabric requirements for one 4 1/2" finished block

This block is scrap friendly, if you're wondering what scraps might work here's an indication of fabric requirements.
Outside colour (green), minimum of 1 1/2" x 16" or 3" x 8"
Inside colour (red), minimum of 1 1/2" x 6" or 3" x 3"
Centre cross (white), minimum of 1" x 10" or  2" x 5"
Centre square (green solid), 1" x 1"

Cutting instructions to make one 4 1/2" finished block

Outside colour (green)

  • Four 2 1/2" x 1 1/2" rectangles  [TIP if you're using directional fabric you may choose to cut two rectangles horizontally and two rectangles vertically to keep the fabric all going in one direction]
  • Four 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares
Inside Colour (red)
  • Four 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" squares
Centre Cross (white)
  • Four 1" x 2 1/2" strips
Centre Square (Kona Lime)
  • One 1" x 1" square


Lay the pieces out before sewing together. If you're using directional fabrics, make sure you lay out your fabrics in your desired direction.  
Start by sewing the two 1 1/2" squares together, so in my example, sew the red and green 1 1/2" squares together. Press (after some experimenting I decided it worked best to press this seam open). Then sew these two squares to the 2 1/2" rectangle to complete the four corners. Press (see below for my pressing tips).
Add the centre strip, to the corner blocks. Press.
Sew the middle row together. Press.
Sew the three rows together. And you guessed it, press!

The finished block, I love how it looks on point...
Or keep it simple...

My pressing tips

When pressing I pressed the first seam open (between the two squares), it just seemed to sit better that way. After that I pressed in the direction of least resistance. Because I like nesting my seams, I pressed the seams of the centre square in the middle row, away from the centre square. For the final seams between the rows, I pressed my seams open.
If you use this tutorial, I'd love to know!

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

WIP Wednesday ~ making progress

I'm on a mission to make a dent in my WIP list before the end of the year. I've dug out a few long term WIPs and I've put them to the top of pile. As a reward to myself, I've also made a start on something new...

An Anna Maria Horner feather quilt has been on my bucket list for the last few years. Maybe next year! In the meantime I thought a reduced feather would look good on the side of a Sew Together Bag. I didn't put a lot of thought into the whole process, I used the STB that Andrea had made me as a rough guide for size, I could see that the 50% feather should fit, especially if I set it on an angle. I made up the sizes for the setting pieces as I went, not an ideal way to piece but fun and fast! Then I thought I had better get back to that WIP list.

As I mentioned in my last post, I finished up the remaining six envelopes in the SWAK swap. The very last envelope is my favourite from my year in envelopes. I used the Math Class Doodles Spoonflower print that Katy sent me in a swap, I adore that print!

This afternoon I finished quilting my daughter's Out to Sea Penny Patch quilt. I used Rachel at Stitched in Color's Dogwood quilting tutorial. I love the softness that all those gentle curves add to the quilt. I'll be looking for excuses to use this quilting pattern again!
And... I've pieced together one of the two do.Good.Stitches quilts that I need to finish before the end of the year. Take that WIP list!

Do you have a few WIPs that you plan to finish before the end of the year?

Linking up to WIP Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Monday, 10 November 2014

A year in envelopes

I've made a lot of envelopes this year! This is most of them, but not all of them! It's been a lot of fun taking part in the Sealed With A Kiss (S.W.A.K.) swap but I have to say I'm really thrilled to have finished the last envelope! Mel organised us all back in January and we've been sewing up to four envelopes every month since. We each listed our preferences for our envelope blocks so there have been loads of different themes and colours throughout the year. July was my month to receive, I received so many wonderful blocks which I'll share with you in another post.
A year in Envelopes
The envelope block is a paper pieced pattern from the book Patchwork, Please by Ayumi Takahashi. I used the paper piecing technique that Merran taught me, I love her technique! It involves folding the foundation paper back out of the way and then sewing next to the fold, rather than sewing through the paper. The big advantage is that there is no paper to remove at the end. There are other advantages as well, it's my favourite way to paper piece.  I plan to share the technique with you soon!

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

WIP Wednesday ~ One or two WIPS

I have so many WIPs on the go at the moment, I'm determined to finish a few of them.  My Pillow Fight Swap pillow has been sitting nearly finished for the last couple of weeks.


Last night I knuckled down and finished the quilting, I think I'd been procrastinating because I wasn't sure about how to quilt it. In the end I quilted straight lines, 1/4" apart, in the sashing. I love the texture the dense quilting gives and because I haven't quilted the pieced squares, they really pop from the pillow.

Cotton and Steel fabrics arrived at my LQS just last week (so exciting!) and I found the perfect binding in a print from Homebody by Kimberly Kight. I also found a Cotton and Steel print for the back of the pillow (I'm keeping that one under wraps for now).

Just a little more hand stitching and I can call this a finish.

I've also been quilting my Penny Patch quilt. I started this quilt last November as part of Rachel at Stitched in Color's Penny Patch Quilt Along. It will be good to call it finished! I'm using Rachel's Dogwood quilting tutorial. It's been a while since I've practised my FMQ, my stitches are not perfect by any stretch, but I'm in love with the overall look of the quilting and I'm sure I'll use this design again.

Linking up to WIP Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival ~ Original Design Entry
There're now only hours left to enter Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival. Yes, I've left my second entry to the closing hours! It's been a busy week in my household, with Ballet rehearsals followed by two Productions and today is my daughter's 8th birthday. Luckily I'm out of bed before everyone else so I have a little time to write this post!

My second entry in the Blogger's Quilt Festival is my Aerial Kisses Pillow, made for Marika in The Great Pillow Fight Swap. I'm entering it in the original design category.


I wrote about this pillow in my first blog post here. My main inspiration was Carolyn Friedlander's beautiful Aerial Grove Quilt. Carolyn's quilt has brightly coloured, appliqued circles on a low volume background. I wasn't too sure about my needle-turn applique skills so decided to use a pieced block instead. The circles in the Aerial Grove quilt are laid out in rows and columns with a little space between each circle. I designed a cross block that could be laid out in the same way as those circles (tutorial here). I also love the use of graduated colour in the Aerial Grove quilt, so I used that in this pillow too. For the background I chose low volume fabrics in white, cream and grey. It was the first time I'd limited my low volume fabrics to those with no additional colour and I really like how it turned out.
Peek at the backing fabric..

My favourite photo is this one that Marika posted on IG.
So happy that my Kisses pillow finally arrived at Marika's place :D Love how it looks on her couch! Regram from @marika_makes
Quilt Stats;
Quilt Size: 24" x 24"
Block Size: 4 1/4" finished
Backing: Small Gathering in Azalea from Good Folks by Anna Maria Horner
Binding: Buttoned Up in Pomegranate from Good Folks by Anna Maria Horner
Pillow Closure: Covered zipper in the back
Quilting: 1" cross hatch grid

Voting opens in just a few hours, you can get to the Festival by clicking on the button at the top of this post. It's fun to see what everyone has been making! Have a great weekend everyone, I'm off to prepare a birthday breakfast!

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Blogger's Quilt Festival ~ Mini Quilt Entry

I'm really excited to be entering Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival for the first time! If you're visiting for the first time, welcome to my blog! I've been around on Flickr and IG for a while and two months ago I started blogging. My name is Rachel, I live in New Zealand and I'm mad about quilting.

My Quilter's Palette mini quilt was inspired by this photo on IG of a water colour paint palette.  I'm not a painter but I love those little circles of colour. To turn the idea into a quilt, I applied my favourite quilt formula, bright, scrappy fabrics on a low volume background.  I used my Marti Mitchell drunkard's path acrylic templates to cut the pieces. Each drunkards path block is 3" finished. The finished quilt went to Paula (Flickr link) in Bermuda as part of a summer themed swap.

This is my favourite photo of the quilt, there must have been some sunlight on the day I took this photo.

Quilter's palette WIP

I quilted in straight lines using my walking foot. The lines were about 1/4" apart. Rather than marking all the lines, I used my walking foot as a guide (so much easier!).

Quilting with the winter sun on my back, bliss! #warmwishesswap

The week I finished the quilt and posted it off was wet and grey (dreary winter's weather) and the photos are not so bright! The binding is from Tsuru by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cloud9 fabrics.

Quilter's Palette

Have you checked out the Festival yet? I've had a few quick peeks, I can't wait to have a proper look around!

Finished Quilt Size; 18" square

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Holiday Pillow Swap 2014 ~ WIP

Pillows are, almost definitely, my most favourite thing to make. Last year I took part in my first holiday pillow swap, and I loved it.  But I really needed more than one Christmas pillow, so it was an easy decision to sign up for the holiday/winter pillow swap on Flickr again this year. I pulled these fabrics for my partner with a vague idea of a wintery theme...

I was thinking over a few design options when I spotted a beautiful Denyse Schmidt fabric in this progress shot by Nicolette (the fabric on the bottom left). It looked so pretty I grabbed my Super Tote to see if I could find it in there, and yay, there it was... (Awesome Super Tote made by Marci - Flickr, it's my own DS fabric catalogue).
That's the fabric I was looking for in the centre of this pic.

The fabric looks pretty cute in red, pink and green too.

How fun are those little on-point squares. I thought they'd make a great quilt block so I made a few test blocks. These blocks are 4 1/2" finished and those centre squares are only 1/2".
Making a start {GPF Swap}

This afternoon I made a few more blocks. I still need to play with the arrangement but I'm really happy with how they turned out. While I was cutting I may have cut enough pieces to make several more blocks, you know, in case I decide to make a quilt of them!

Friday, 10 October 2014

Baggy Bottom ~ A favourite sewing tip

My Swedish Bloom quilt has been on hold for the last few weeks. Partly because it's the school holidays but mainly because I had to do some unpicking and I get quilter's block when it comes to unpicking.

I did my usual lazy technique for sewing the rows together, but this time it didn't work out! My lazy technique is not to measure any of the rows, but to make the sashing longer than it needs to be and trim it back after sewing. The problem with sashing is that you don't notice when your blocks start getting out of alignment. On one row I ended up with a 1/2" difference between the flower blocks on either side of the sashing. It's pretty hard to hide a 1/2" overhang, although I did consider my options for a while, anything to avoid the dreaded unpicking! I wasn't actually planning on advertising my mistake ( I don't have any photographic evidence) but I decided to keep it real and maybe someone might benefit from my sewing tip!

With the unpicking finally done, I spent some time this afternoon ironing, pinning and sewing the row back together, applying my baggy bottom sewing tip. I used heaps of pins, I didn't want any overhang this time!

The after shot, perfectly aligned rows!!

Hooray, quilter's block over, back to finishing this top!

Here's my baggy bottom sewing tip, I learnt it from a local quilter and I use it all the time... when sewing blocks or rows together, if one side is longer than the other, put the longer (baggy) side on the bottom, next to the feed dogs. I used this technique today and it worked a treat, I just made sure that I lined the two rows up and used plenty of pins. I'm guessing this technique works because of the way the two layers of fabric move between the foot and the feed dogs. Do you know this technique? If you don't, give it a try!!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

A Drawstring Bag

It's school holidays here so there's not a lot of sewing going on but I did make a drawstring bag just for me today. The Joel Dewberry fabric is one I purchased on a whim while on holiday earlier this year, I love the colours and the large design makes it perfect for a bag. I used the lined drawstring bag tutorial by Jeni Baker. I love how this pattern can be made from fat quarters as I have plenty of those!

If you're wondering about the books, they're all on loan to me and I haven't read any of them yet. It's exciting to have such a big pile of books to read.

I might not be getting any sewing done but I am plotting a future quilt. Bonnie from pinkxstitches has organised a Donut Quiltalong on Instagram (#donutqal). I've put together this pile of possible fabrics, I chose fabrics that made me think of chocolate, berries and sprinkles. Of course, I may yet change my mind completely.
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