Pinwheel Posy - In Progress


Hmmmm. A tidy house deserves some hand stitching, wouldn't you agree? It's a rare treat to be able to take such a wide snap of our home. In this picture you can see the bunting I made for my old shop in the main street of Newcastle years ago, the baby rocker I made with Tully before Finlay was born (she now uses it as her little sofa), and the old green cupboard made by my great grandfather that homes our craft and homeschooly things. And can you see that chest poking out on the right of the green sofa? That came came over on the boat from England with Tim's mum. And here, laying claim of the dining room table, is my Pinwheel Posy quilt, slowly coming together, one hexie at a time. I do love our home.


Every so often I need a quilt that just follows a simple idea. Use an entire fabric line, let someone else choose the colours, stitch according to one simple rule. Over and over. It's a lovely, meditative thing, to have a quilt that doesn't need thought. It's also wonderful to have one that challenges and excites, but those quilts aren't for meetings, or sitting through swimming lessons, or sipping wine with a movie on the weekends. And they're not for taking over the dining room table and being available to the myriad of wonderful interruptions on a Good Friday afternoon.


I cut a 2.5" strip of each print, making it the perfect jelly roll quilt, and cut the 'jewels' as you can see below, with little waste. I love using Loominous, a woven collection, because it's basically reversible, so I can flip petals to keep stripes heading in the same direction. I've used jewels that have 2" long side, and a 1" short side, with 1" hexies.


I've been experimenting with sewing the quilt together in rows already constructed, or adding the flowers piece by piece. Mostly I like the former, because once a row is made, it's joined to the quilt with one long, uninterrupted thread, and it's easy to come back to when those inevitable interruptions arise.
And each time I finish a row, I stand back in wonder at how I'm only one more row through! Surely it must be two or three! And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that this quilt isn't for rushing. It's for resting and waiting and praying in the sunshine.


May the spirit of grief, yet hope; contemplation, yet joy; death yet life, bring you colour and peace this Easter!

Jodi. x

Tiger Lily and a Cherished Quilt.

This hexie block, like many quilts, grew from a happy convergence of ideas and circumstances. A request from my sister-in-law to make quilts for their beds, my current obsession with anything with a 60 degree angle, and a bundle of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross, a whimsical purchase last year that I immediately felt guilty for. I had no plans for this fabric, I had just wanted the "Small Roses" in Yellow and this bundle ended up being the best way to get it.

I've pulled the bundle out a few times over the past six months and sat uneasily with it. It's such a warm collection, with no relief from aqua or blue. It's almost too sunny for my usual taste.

When I saw this block on Pinterest, it struck me as a great one for fussy cutting big prints, like these forest designs in Tiger Lily. I already had 2" diamonds and hexagons (which I cut in half), that meant the centre hexagon sides needed to be 4". So I asked Tim if he could cut me some 4" hexagons (hexies seems too small a word for these monsters!) on his newly completed laser cutter. Too easy!

The excitement surrounding a laser cutter that can cut EPP shapes for me warranted diving back into my stash and giving Tiger Lily another go. I decided to fill it out with other prints and solids, within the same colour palette. There's something about adding solids to this line that helps it breathe a little for me. I don't really need another hand piecing project at the moment, but writing it on a list just didn't get it out of my head. I just needed to make one block. And then I could put it aside. Promise.

4" hexies are a huge 8" across. Big for English Paper Piecing, but not so huge by normal quilting standards, and certainly not too big for this print. Those girls in the tree fit inside the hexie perfectly, don't you think? Each finished block is 8" along each edge. It's nice having an English Paper Piecing quilt where the fabric does half the work for you!

I sat auditioning border prints until I was happy with these ones above. And then, as you'll see below, I swapped out the low volume print. It needed something with a different scale. All the flowers were the same size, and, well, floral. The crosshatch I eventually settled with gives it a nice balance.

I love 2" diamonds, mostly because they so nicely fit in a 2.5" strip. I fit 6 diamonds almost perfectly along a strip cut from the short edge of my fat quarter. 

I stitched the border together in sections, first attaching the brown inside border to the top two sides of the pink diamond, and then joining the pink and white crosshatch. 

 And then I stitched the border to each side of the 4" hexagon. Because my stitching isn't perfect, it was great to have some clover clips to hold the edge of each seam evenly so I didn't accidentally push the border right over the edges. Once the hexagon was stitched around, I just had the six corner seams to do.

I called this quilt-to-be "Cherished" because I thought it would be perfect for any much loved kids line with beautiful illustrations, or those big, elaborate prints we find so hard to cut into. For a single (twin) sized quilt, I need 28 blocks and 4 half blocks. I hope to make these slowly (very slowly!) over the next year or so. That's if I can stop myself from designing a million other fun quilts that only a laser can cut! 

In the Studio


And all over a sudden, almost overnight, I went from escaping here for the air-conditioning, to escaping here for the sunshine. From cursing its hot beams radiating through our thin tin roof, to welcoming them through the northern window that fills most of the wall next to my sewing machine.

Perhaps it was the change in the weather, or the finishing up and shipping off three more quilts for Free Spirit. Or maybe even the big fuss over on Instagram about the impending changes to my feed, but I woke this morning with the desire to write. To think about words and the state of things, without limiting it to the space before the ... or how to caption a picture so that you don't just flick away.


English Paper Piecing has become more than just a summer fling. And something about my Free Spirit Quilts becoming my 'day job' has made me feel completely justified in working on more than one EPP quilt at a time. Afterall, it's my relaxing-in-the-evening sewing. I'm allowed to follow my whims, right? And even before this Pinwheel Posy quilt is all stitched up, I have another in mind that's ready to explode out of me if I don't hurry up and give it form. And hey, it's the weekend. Maybe I'll just succumb.


A completely new and exciting adventure for me is Scraps In Tubs. I know. Not new or exciting really, but all the happy feelings come mostly from me actually diving in and doing it. About a month ago, my mum came and helped me sort through my monster of a scrap stash. It was like a virus, making its way into all corners of the house (mostly with the help of our oh-so-helpful two year old.) My mother never passed on her organising genes to me, so I asked her to give them to me in a weekend, and we had a lovely time together wrapping yardage around comic book boards, and reorganising my scraps into these spider-proof, toddler-proof tubs. We threw out anything ridiculously un-useful, and then added my fat quarters and big scraps in the mix too. Now I only have two places for fabric storage, rather than five or six. Oh, it's so good!


I've been slowly going through the boxes and putting all kinds of favourites and not-so-favourites alike through the 2.5" square die with my Accuquilt, for the aforementioned next-in-line hexie quilt. If only I could hand-stitch as quickly as I can cut 2.5" squares!

The big tidy up revealed a longish forgotten scrap project, which this week has been brought out into the sunshine to hopefully be all sewn up. It's made completely with the scrap triangles from a second mountain campfire quilt I've sewn up and was also put on the 'waiting pile.' Fin wanted to be in the photo, but didn't want to be in the photo. She turns two today. And she lives most of her life this way, wanting to join in, and wanting to be in control. I'm like that too so I understand. And liking her despite the infuriating bits helps me like myself more.


I started this blog 5 years ago next month! Back in the very epicenter of baby-rearing chaos. It feels a little strange, a little too good to be true that today we say goodbye to the baby days. All those hundreds of times that I wrote, and said, and prayed, "This too shall pass", and it actually did! Who would have thought?

Some mothers are absolutely, wonderfully themselves with little ones underfoot. But me, I'm enjoying me right here in my Autumn sunshine and my tubs with lids.

The Orphanage Quilt


If old WIPs make a satisfying finish, imagine all the good feelings brought on by finishing six at once! This quilt has been on my mind for along time, back when I asked my Do Good Stitches bee back in February to send me some scrappy improvised blocks. And then as they arrived, I added them to my orphan block pile, wondering when I was finally going to take the plunge and sew this thing together. To say it made me nervous was an understatement. This is not usually how I quilt. It's not a pile of squares sitting next to the machine and sewn together at random and it's not carefully laid out blocks that need concentration and working out. It sits somewhere in the middle, not in a happy medium kind of way, but in a road-less-travelled, throw-the-rule-book kind of way.


My orphan block box is a scraggly mix of leftovers from finished projects and abandoned quilts that started with a bright future but quickly resulted in disillusionment. It is a place of discomfort and guilt, bereft of inspiration.What else do you do with leftover blocks? It's times like this I realise that in my quilting life, more than anywhere else, I am a hoarder.

And it's a good thing I am, don't you think? I used only about half of my leftovers, but with the ones that made their way back to the box, I now feel a sense of peace and purpose. One day I'll do this again. Maybe it can be a yearly ritual. Like a jubilee. Setting those old expectations and dreams and "I don't know what to do with this so you can go here" into a quilt to start afresh with new projects and a little less guilt.


As I was showing my progress on Instagram, a few folks asked me to explain my progress, so I took lots of photos to give you an idea here. Like I said, there's no rules in improvisation. I went mostly by feel.

There's no way I could have achieved this without my design wall. I laid out the blocks, keeping in mind that I want to sew them together without going around corners. So I made them into bigger blocks of 2-4 pieces. Coincidentally, most of these were divisible by 3. That means they were 3", 6", 9", 12", etc, so a little mindful arranging made them fit together easily. When they didn't, I had strips and strips of leftover half-rectangle triangles from my Tent City quilt that I added to anything that was too small, and then trimmed back down if I needed to without worrying about keeping my points intact.

I sewed those bigger blocks into 3 large slabs and was almost going to sew those together when I realised I was out of wadding. This actually felt a lot like providence because I did have long, wide strips of wadding, leftover from other quilts mostly the perfect size for my slabs. The one that was too narrow, I sewed to another and pressed the seams open so it would fit.


I used a Quilt-as-you-go method I first came across on Maureen's blog, which I had only ever used with smaller blocks. I spray basted the quilt top slab to one side of the wadding and then quilted lightly over the two layers. Then I trimmed all the way around the excess wadding. And then I did the same with the other two slabs.



I trimmed the whole quilt a little again, just where there was uneven edges. Then using a 1/4" and my walking foot, I sewed the quilted slabs right sides together. I lay out my backing fabric and taped it to the floor so it would stay taut, sprayed and laid out the quilted top.


I then went back to my machine and first quilted either side of the thick seams to hold them down. Then I used a straight, meandering stitch, basically zig-zagging my way around the quilt. I wanted to try something different and more improvised than straight line quilting, but now that I'm done, I wish I'd stuck with my favourite! I used a mix of hand-quilting, thick variegated Aurifil thread, and my go-to white. It was a fun experiment, trying to keep with the improv theme, but I think simple, horizontal lines would have held it together more.


Undoubtedly, the very best part of quilt-as-you-go is when you suddenly remember that you can use you backing as your binding! I simply trimmed around the backing 1" from the quilt top edge. I then folded it in half towards the quilt, then over the edge of the quilt again, and top stitched. When I came to a corner, I folded the overhanging pieces to the left to make a little triangle. The I folded the same method, folding the fabric in half and then over again to make a neat mitered corner.


I'm not sure if I would usually use a binding this dark, I generally pick out a colour somewhere in the middle, but I love how this all hangs together. In a quilt with a lot more low volume than I usually try in scrappy quilts, I think it makes the darker tones shout out happily.


There is much joy in this quilt, in the trying something new, using something old, freeing myself of quilts hanging over my head, some for years. Some were hard to let go, like my Penny Sampler. I would love to make that quilt again someday! But for now, the colours stumped me, I was never sure about them. Other blocks were a relief to use, like the Ohio Stars and the leaves. The leaves were generously made for me by an old bee and the colours just didn't go together like I hoped. Oh, it's good to see how much I've learned about colour over the last five years! I also love the contrast and interest the lovely flowers add, but I was sad when they arrived late, lost in transit for weeks before getting here. I'm glad they finally have a home!


All in all, this quilt was made by about 20 people from about 15 old quilts! Because half were for do. Good Stitches, it'll be heading to a charity next. A quilt of previously hope-less blocks for someone struggling for hope. Gosh I love long-coming finishes! I love new starts, renewed confidence, and stories with happy endings.

Take Out - Travel Happy Stitching


October started with a happy chaos. Pulling out all my old projects for #WIPtober to give them my attention again, flitting between ideas and quilts with abandon, throwing around old blocks and yardage and scraps in a kind of delirium...it was an exciting couple of weeks that have have left me feeling tired and a bit lost. I've become disillusioned with finishes for the sake of finishing. I want some meaning and purpose in my sewing again.

It's not the search for meaning that brings me back to Nana Mac, my English Paper Pieced quilt coping an Australian pattern from the late 1800s. It's the fact that about a month ago, I put a lot of work into organising this quilt to make it easy to take out. So while I ponder the point of it all, trying to decide what project motivates me most, and wondering whether I should push myself to sew even when love has been lost, Nana Mac is making slow but steady progress, because she waits, ready in little zip lock bags, for the next time I'm heading out for a meeting or appointment.

So I thought I'd share this little arrangement with you, in case you're in a similar spot to me. Because glue and cardboard and zip lock bags are a fun little change of head-space when the sewing you is having a nap.


I started stitching Nana MacIntyre's quilt from the centre, cutting and basting my shapes as I needed them, and always adding the next piece to the larger patchwork, rather than stitching in sections. I found it easier this way until I finished that round of yellow and orange stars and my next job was to add 'star blossoms' in rows. In this section, it's easier to keep track if I work on a single star at a time, and add them together at the end. Also, my patchwork is getting so big that pulling it out all the time is wearing the seams, so my plan now is to get all my separate stars made and stitch them together over a couple of free weekends. (Sewing retreat anyone?)


I started Basting Day with a tonne of 2.5" strips in the right colours. My 1" hexies, jewels, and 2" diamonds all sit nicely on a 2.5" strip. I then sat the paper piece on the strip and cut with a generous 1/4" seam, put the paper and new fabric shape in a pile, and grabbed another paper piece to cut around. When I had a sizeable pile, I started to glue baste.
I've used every basting method imaginable, and my favourite for this project is glue basting. I like the special glue basting pens you can get, but they're $10, and these are $1 and available in town, so guess who wins! If you just use one swipe of glue along each edge, the fabric should come off the paper again easily, without tearing the cardboard, or warping the fabric.


Then, when I had a large pile of fabric covered jewels, I sorted them in to bundles of six, with one coordinating hexagon. Then I added to each pile, the next border of diamonds, and then the next border after that. And sadly, this is where I ran out of diamonds, so I have some stitching to do before I can free some up and reuse them.
I dug out every zip lock bag I could find, and the little satchels the paper pieces came in, and bundled them in their separate star blossoms. And now, whenever I'm walking out of the house to go to our weekly staff meeting or Bible Study, I grab one or two, and my little stitching purse, and sew while I listen.


I enjoy this pace of stitching. It's ticking over nicely without a whole lot of thought or effort. It doesn't have to be my 'main focus' quilt, or interrupt any time I need to give to machine sewing. It's like a bonus quilt, a free gift with all the sitting and meeting (and any TV) time in my weeks, added up to make something quite wonderful. It's like my very own sticker chart! And it's why I think everyone needs a hand-stitching project on the go, in little zip lock bags.