Friday 30 May 2014

Voting open for Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge

I realise you've seen this mini quilt way too many times since I finished it - but you'll have to bear with it one final time ;o) Voting has just opened for the Umbrella Prints Trimmings challenge, and there are some amazing entries. If you'd like to head over and have a look, it is worth it I promise!

The pin with the most comments wins the viewers choice award, so I'm shamelessly asking you to go leave a comment on my quilt ;o) Seriously though, you can comment on as many as you want, and it really is worth checking out the creativity on that Pinterest board.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! I'll be freezing myself at soccer in the morning (and am seriously considering devising some kind of wearable quilt ;o) )

xx Jess

Thursday 29 May 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - Identifying 'Odd Ball' Blocks

We have had a few weeks break from our Decipher Your Quilt series (with Leanne of She Can Quilt off on her Market jaunt, and me madly working on projects for deadlines), but we are back today to talk about 'odd ball' blocks. I will be showing you how to identify some of these blocks and Leanne will be talking about the maths side of things.
The Elven Garden

So what do we mean by 'odd ball' block? You've probably realised by now (since we've been hitting you over the head with it!) that most quilt blocks can fit on a grid of equal sized squares. Well, there are several blocks that don't fit into a grid, or aren't square blocks, so that's what we'll be talking about today. Some examples are flying geese, improv blocks, my beloved snail trail block and log cabins. Leanne will also be talking about QSTs in addition to some of the block types I'll be talking about today.

Let's start by looking at log cabin blocks, one of my favorite blocks and (in my opinion) one of the most versatile quilt blocks out there. This type of log cabin is what first comes to mind for me, the traditional style with light value in one corner of the block, and darker value in the opposite corner (or contrasting colours placed in the opposite corners).

When placed in a quilt, you can create some fantastic designs using log cabins - and it is quite easy to identify the blocks within a quilt like this.

Another really common variation on this is the Courthouse Steps block. Again, it uses light and dark to create the design within the block, but the construction is slightly different to the classic log cabin.

You can create some really interesting designs using this block as well - and again it is quite easy to identify the blocks within the quilt.

 Log cabin blocks can also be made with the starting square in a corner of the block rather than the centre, and the logs don't have to be the same width throughout the whole block.

Log cabin blocks are one of my favorite improv blocks too - where the logs can be slightly wonky and/or value placement is random. One example of an improv log cabin quilt is my Full Moon Lagoon quilt I made last year. It is a little harder to see the blocks within this quilt, because I added a lot of extra logs while I was piecing the blocks together. There was no standard size when I made the blocks, so to make them fit within a quilt top, there was a lot of trimming and adding extra strips as I went along. It is a really fun way to make a quilt :o)

One of my other absolute favorite blocks is the Snail Trail (or Monkey Wrench) block. This block is an odd ball, in that it doesn't fit on any sort of grid.

I personally think the Snail Trail block is one of the most interesting blocks out there - there is SO much you can do with this block in terms of colour and value placement, and the secondary patterns you can create with it. I have made several projects using these blocks - a rainbow mini quilt

And Outfoxed on the High Seas.

As you can see, it is quite easy to identify the blocks within the quilt, and to create an interesting design using them. If you're interested, I do have a tutorial for this block :o)

The flying geese (goose? not sure if there is a singular with this one or not?) block is another one that is a classic and incredibly versatile block.

One of my current favorite reinventions of flying geese is this amazing block, 'Migration' designed by Charlotte. I have my Ausmod bee girls making these for me at the moment :o)

This is by no means an exhaustive list of blocks that don't fit on a grid, but they are some of my favorites - if you have any others that I've missed and think should be here, please let me know and I will update this post :o)

That's it from me today - but please make sure you head over and see what Leanne has to say about the maths behind some of these odd ball blocks.

xx Jess

Bernina Textile Artist!!!

I've been holding tight to a massive secret for the last couple of weeks, but I can stop biting my tongue and let you guys know - I have just been added as a Bernina Textile Artist on the Bernina Australia website. You have got no idea how amazingly exciting this is for me (well, maybe you do really) - there has been a lot of happy dancing around the house, and it has been pretty hard to wipe the smile off my face recently :o)

When Bernina called a few weeks ago to ask if I'd be interested in becoming a Bernina Textile Artist, I honestly had no idea what they were talking about to start with. I think I probably came across as a bit of a stuttering idiot to be honest. After that amazing phone call, I jumped onto the website to check out who they have on board as textile artists, and nearly fell off my chair (Tula? Amanda Murphy?) and instantly started wondering why the hell they wanted me there (and I'm secretly still wondering, but I guess I'll get over it!) As a few of my Instagram peeps have mentioned recently, I need to start believing in myself more - if this doesn't do that, I don't know what will :o)

I've always shared the love I have for my Bernina QE440 here on the blog, so I'm absolutely freaking thrilled to be officially in partnership with Bernina. Apart from my profile being up on the Bernina website (!?!?!), there is a possibility I will be teaching/demonstrating for Bernina at quilt shows around Australia next year. SO EXCITING!!!!

I'm off to do more leaping around the house in a decidedly ridiculous manner ;o)

xx Jess

Tuesday 27 May 2014

Urgent call for pattern testers

Due to my chronic level of disorganisation at the moment, I'm putting out an urgent call out for anyone who would like to test my Roundabout pattern for me :o)

As I mentioned on Sunday, the pattern will include the full sized lap quilt (60" square) and a mini quilt or cushion pattern. It is a paper pieced block - and I'm looking for people who would have time to make the mini quilt sized version, or even just a single block, within the next two weeks. I realise this is extremely short notice - if you'd have time to test for me you would have my undying gratitude and a free copy of the finished pattern when it is released :o)

UPDATE: Thanks SO much to everyone who has offered to test - I have enough testers now. If you'd like to go on my pattern tester list for future patterns, please let me know!

xx Jess

Sunday 25 May 2014

Mega Sweepstakes at the Fat Quarter Shop

My wonderful sponsor, the Fat Quarter Shop, has just announced a ginormous giveaway. This is Fat Quarter Shop’s biggest giveaway to date and may be the biggest online quilting-related
giveaway ever.

The total value of this amazing giveaway retails at over $6,300 and is divided into twelve prize buckets. The
prizes range from fabric bundles and books to notions and many more quilting essentials. All of the prizes are shown in the Sweepstakes video on our YouTube channel, so be sure to watch!

Beginning at 10:00 am Central Time (CST) on Friday, May 23rd, 2014 until 11:59 pm CST on Monday, June 30th, 2014, you can enter the 2014 Mega Quilt Market Sweepstakes by visiting the Jolly Jabber blog 
and completing and submitting the survey. This promotion is open to all domestic and international residents.

They will select twelve random winners from all eligible entries upon the conclusion of the promotion, and each will win one of the prize buckets. These winners will be announced on the Jolly Jabber on Tuesday, July 1st, 2014.

If you head over and enter, best of luck!

xx Jess

Sunday Stash?

I haven't had an opportunity to do a Sunday stash post for a while (you know, with the fabric diet and all). I did get a delivery of fabric a couple of weeks ago, but that's all for projects for publication so technically it isn't against my fabric diet rules - although it was ridiculously exciting to get a squishy parcel after so long ;o) None of the fabric I'm showing you today is intended for stash either, they will all be class samples for some of the classes I'll be teaching later in the year. But, I do have a couple of bundles of new fabric to play with, so I'm saying it counts for Sunday Stash ;o)

The first bundle is for a second Roundabout cushion as a sample for the class I'm teaching in July. You might remember the first one I made for the Pillow Talk Swap on Flickr last year.

Briony at Frangipani Fabrics curated this bundle based on the photo of my cushion - she did a beautiful job, and I'm really excited about making a second version :o)

Another class I'll be teaching is a sampler quilt based on the ten star blocks in the Vintage Quilt Revival book. I'm super, super excited about this class - we'll be covering lots of different techniques and I can't wait to start making the blocks. 

Hopefully I'll have some progress to share on these this week! Linking up to Sunday Stash at Quirky Hannah's place.

xx Jess

Saturday 24 May 2014


I'm completely honoured and thrilled that Sunshine in Through the Rain has been nominated for viewer's choice in the Blogger's Quilt Festival - and that I'm in the excellent company of so many of my quilty friends. I'm absolutely stoked that my quilt appears alongside so many seriously amazing entries. You can go here to check out the viewer's choice finalists and have an extremely hard time deciding who to vote for ;o) My personal favorite is this absolutely mind-blowing art quilt by my friend Charlotte. 

I'm really looking forward to spending a few hours browsing all the quilt over the weekend :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday 21 May 2014


This is something I've been giving a lot of thought lately. Why I make quilts, why it's so important to me. And why other people have the same strange obsession as I do.

Some of my very favorite quilters out there quilt (what I consider) mindfully - they have amazing ideas and express them in the art-form that is quilting. Each quilt is loaded with meaning and significance, and they write amazingly thoughtful posts about their process and what the quilt is all about. I find these kinds of posts enormously rewarding to read, and end up hugely inspired and awed by the depth of thought they put into their work. As cliche as it sounds, they put so much of themselves into their work. And I end up wanting to grow up to be just like them. 

I think I struggle with the fact that I really don't do this at all - aside from Sunshine Through the Rain, I really don't put any meaning into my quilts. Yes, I feel an immense amount of joy when making quilts, but for me quilting is all about colour and geometry. To put it simply, I love making beautiful things and playing with colour. I am far more inspired by colour and geometry, and creating interesting designs using these elements, than by anything else. More often than not, I will be inspired to create a quilt using a particular quilt block, and to see what patterns emerge with different colour or value placement. Or be inspired by a particular combination of colours - I rarely use the same palette twice, and really love experimenting with different combinations of colours. That said, there is very little depth of meaning to my quilts beyond what you see. 

I guess I'm writing this post because I had a bit of an epiphany today. For a long time I've felt a bit strange that I don't quilt mindfully - not bad or guilty or anything, more that I wish I was a mindful quilter. I guess envious is the best description. But I was looking at some of my quilts today, and decided it doesn't really matter. I love that other people put loads of thought into their work, but it's okay to just make pretty things. I make what I love, and have fun doing it which is what it is all about (to me anyway.)   

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you quilt mindfully, or do you just make beautiful things? Do you think it's better to be a mindful quilter? Does it matter why you quilt, as long as it makes you happy?

xx Jess


I've been a wee bit quiet on the blog lately (aside from giveaways and Blogger's Quilt Festival), but not for a lack of sewing I promise! I'm actively working on three projects at the moment, and absolutely loving it. I think this is my favorite way to make quilts - flitting between several projects means I don't get bored working on the same quilt at length. I think it might be some sort of quilter's ADHD...

My Marcelle Medallion take two is growing slowly - I'm pacing myself so I'm making it along with my students. The class I'm teaching runs over eight sessions, with homework time in between, and I'm really enjoying the relaxed pace (compared with the first effort, which to be honest was a bit obsessive. A month from start to finish for this kind of complex quilt is a little, ah, insane?) I've finished putting together my geese borders and just have to decide on the solid border between the triangles and geese. The front runner is the brown print in this photo (although Alison and Di had the great suggestion of making that border with brown and yellow squares. Thinking about it, but not that keen to piece that many 1.5" squares...)

I am absolutely loving the vintage feel of this quilt - and it is quite a challenge working with a much more restricted palette than my first one. It is seriously awesome teaching this quilt - it is so fascinating watching eight other medallions grow. I will try to get some photos during my class this weekend and share them if I can :o) I will be running a second set of classes later in the year (along with another Necessary Clutch Wallet class, a BOM sampler based on Vintage Modern Quilts and my Roundabout pattern which I'm putting the finishing touches on. You can check out and sign up for my classes here.)

The other two projects are secret squirrel ones. The first one is using a collection of Tula Pink fabric (Fox Fields, Birds and Bees, Neptune and a few of her others.) I'm a bit in love with this one (okay, completely head over heels in love. It's going to be so pretty!)

I'm using a heap of Denyse Schmidt fabric in the second one - mostly Ansonia, but also a few prints from Shelburne Falls and Florence. Apologies for the dodgy design wall photo, I was too lazy to line them up properly ;o)

So I might be a bit quiet for the next month or two while I'm finishing up the secret stuff - but I do have a few class samples to put together, so I won't go AWOL for too long I hope!

xx Jess

Linking up with Lee

Friday 16 May 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Block Flower Quilt

If you're visiting for Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome to my blog! I thought long and hard about which quilts to enter this time around - but ended up choosing my Block Flower quilt as my second entry (in the home machine quilted category).

The design for this quilt was born through a desire to use some of my (significant) stash of large scale prints. I chose a range of warm prints along with a few charcoal greys (from designers Anna Maria Horner, Denyse Schmidt, Violet Craft, Heather Ross and Lotta Jansdotter), and created a simplified bears paw type block to feature these fabrics. This quilt is currently residing on my bed, and it's a lovely reminder of spring as we descend into autumn and winter here in Australia.

The background in each of the blocks is a different light value print, which helps give the blocks a little more depth than using a solid.

The large scale of the blocks also gave me a lot of room to play with the quilting design. Initially I thought I'd do some big feathers in and around the blocks, but once I'd pieced the top I decided something more linear and geometric would suit the quilt top better.

I ended up creating a secondary design around the blocks, using the geometry of the blocks as a jumping board. I marked straight lines using my Hera marker and ruler, and used these as the basis for my quilting.

The sashing within each of the blocks is quilted with a chevron or arrow type of design, echoing the diamond shapes to the sides of each block.

I created a large cross-shaped design in the areas between the blocks on the diagonal, by matchstick quilting large triangles, and filling in the crosses with swirls and pebbles.

I continued the matchstick quilting and swirls/pebbles out into the border as well, using the angles on the blocks to create large triangles.

I love attempting long arm style quilting on my domestic machine, and I had a lot of fun quilting this quilt. It was quite challenging quilting the centre block due to the sheer bulk of the quilt in my machine, but the more I do this type of quilting, the more I get used to manipulating my quilts through my machine.

I quilted this entire quilt using Aurifil 50wt in pale grey (Dove), which is my go-to thread for most of my quilting. It has blended beautifully into all the background fabrics, and just leaves all the texture.

This quilt was recently published in Quilters Companion magazine (issue #67), available now.

Quilt Stats:
Size: 78" square
Fabric: Kona medium grey sashing, along with a variety of low volume and coloured print fabrics.
Quilting: By me on my Bernina 440QE, using Aurifil 50wt cotton Mako thread (Dove grey)
Design: My own design.

Thank you for stopping by, I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival! I'm looking forward to some serious quilty eye candy :o)

xx Jess

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Sunshine Through the Rain

I absolutely love Amy's biannual Blogger's Quilt Festival - looking through all the entries is always inspiring, and I love adding new blogs to my reader. I don't have anything brand new this time around, but I've had fun looking through my finishes since the last festival and deciding which two to choose. If you're popping in for the festival, welcome to my blog!

I couldn't not pick this little quilt for one of my entries - I'm still a little sad that it's finished, it really was such a joy to make. So I'm entering Sunshine Through the Rain in the original quilt category. I live in Tasmania, the little island to the south of mainland Australia - and in winter we have a lot of grey, rainy days that seem to go on forever. I get really grumpy and down in this kind of weather, so I made this as a gentle reminder to myself to try to stay positive regardless of what is going on outside my window. Winter seems to have arrived early this year, so it's been quite a therapeutic quilt already :o)

You can read all about the construction of this quilt here. I appliqued the rain drops using needle turn applique, and then improv-pieced the quilt top using a range of grey and white light value prints. It is densely matchstick quilted using a variegated grey Aurifil 40wt thread for the most part, with a light yellow thread around the sun. The dense quilting has made the raindrops and sun rays pop beautifully from the quilt top, and feels incredible.

Quilt stats:
Techniques: Needle turn applique, improvisational piecing, matchstick quilting.
Size: 30" x 36"
Quilted: using FMQ matchstick quilting on my Bernina 440QE, using Aurifil 40 threads.
Design: Improvisationally designed (ie I made it up as I went along!)

I hope you enjoy the rest of the festival!

xx Jess

Monday 12 May 2014

SMS Giveaway Day - Millefiori by Sarah Fielke

For all of you stopping by for Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day, welcome to my little corner of the blogosphere! My name is Jess, and I love sharing my quilts and process here on my blog. I am a mum of three little people and live in Tasmania, Australia. These are a few of my most recent finishes:

I have a gorgeous bundle of fabric on offer for this giveaway - six fat quarters of Millefiori by Sarah Fielke. If you've never seen thiss fabric before, it is probably because it was only available in Spotlight stores in Australia and New Zealand - so it is a great chance for those of you who live elsewhere in the world to get your hands on some! 

This giveaway is open internationally, and will be open until 12pm on Saturday 17th May (which is around about 5pm PST on 16th May). 

To enter:
Please just leave a comment letting me know what you'd make with these fabrics. My followers (new and old) get a second entry - just leave a second comment letting me know how you follow!

If you're a no-reply commenter, PLEASE leave your email address in your comment. If I can't contact you, I will have to choose another winner.

Mr Random will choose a winner once the giveaway has closed, and I will announce the winner on this post. 

Giveaway is closed! The winner is comment #161, Farm Quilter. Congratulations, I'm sending you an email now :o)
Good luck!
xx Jess

Friday 9 May 2014

Block Flower Quilt {Finished and Featured!}

I got a bit of a surprise yesterday when I was reading the latest issue of Quilters Companion magazine - my Block Flower quilt is in this month's issue #67 (obviously I realised it would be in the magazine at some stage, I just didn't realise it was in this issue.) So I can finally show you the quilt I was working on last November/December.

I took her off to our Botanical Gardens this morning for a photo shoot. When Hobart does autumn well, it does it in spectacular style. It has been a crisp, cold morning, but gloriously sunny - a beautiful morning to walk around the Gardens with quilt in tow. I did get a few strange looks while I was taking these photos ;o)

I used some of my favorite fabrics in this quilt (Good Folks and Garden Party by Anna Maria Horner, Echo by Lotta Jansdotter, Briar Rose by Heather Ross, and lots of Madrona Road by Violet Craft). It is a very spring-time palette of deep pinks, oranges, and reds with a few pops of charcoal grey.

The blocks are simple in design, but a perfect choice to use for larger scale prints.

I am really proud of what I did with the quilting on this quilt. I wanted to create an interesting secondary design with the quilting, and I think I achieved that. I used Aurifil 50wt in Dove grey - someone described this recently as a chameleon thread and it is such a good description. It has become my go-to thread for quilting low volume (light value) fabric, as it seems to blend beautifully into these fabrics, regardless of whether they are cream, white or grey based.

I did use my regular quilting ruler and a Hera marker to mark the long straight lines on the quilt top, but other than that it is all done by eye. I've used a combination of my favorite go-to swirls and pebbles, very dense matchstick quilting (these lines are less than 1/8" apart) and some other straight-line designs in and around the blocks. I loved quilting this one - although it did take a very long time (around 30-40 hours I think.) Cue close up shots of the quilting ;o)

Quilt Stats:
* Size - 80" square
* Fabric - I used a range of prints (Anna Maria Horner, Violet Craft, Lotta Jansdotter) for the flowers, low volume (light value) prints for the block backgrounds, and Kona medium grey for the sashing and border.
* Quilted - by me on my Bernina 440QE, with Aurifil 50wt light grey (Dove) thread

I will be looking for some pattern testers for this quilt pattern, so if anyone is interested please let me know. I have enough testers this time around (thankyou!) but if you'd be interested in testing patterns for me later in the year, please let me know. Several of you were no-reply bloggers, so if you don't hear back from me, it's because I can't reply. I've also decided to start thinking about making some short videos of how I quilt and putting them on You Tube. My question is, what would you guys like to see?

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts!

xx Jess

Thursday 8 May 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - a couple of clarifications

Today Leanne of She Can Quilt and I will be taking a slight detour from our scheduled Decipher Your Quilt posts to clarify a few points that we have covered in the series so far. I have had a few really great, thought-provoking comments left on some of my DYQ posts in the last week, so we've decided to explain these points further.

I am by no means an expert on quilt blocks, but I do have a love of maths and geometry, and it is this passion that inspired this series. Our aim is to help you understand how to identify what type of grid various quilt blocks are based on, and then be able to figure out the maths behind the block; this is this idea that's forefront in my mind when writing my DYQ posts. 

The Elven Garden


One point that I'd like to clarify is in regards to uneven grid types. When I gave the 5-patch Shoofly block as an example of a 25 patch block, it was pointed out to me that in Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Quilt Blocks this is regarded as an uneven 9 patch block.

If you look at the geometry of the block, it can indeed be considered to be an uneven 9 patch block (where the five centre patches are smaller than the four outer patches). However, it is also considered a 25 patch block (in other quilt block books and EQ7 for example) because it is possible to superimpose a 5x5 grid on this block.  

As will all things in life, quilting does include some 'grey areas', and there is no right or wrong answer here - this block (and many others) can be considered either a 25 patch block OR an uneven 9 patch. The aim of our series is to show you how to work out what type of grid different quilt blocks are based on, and to then be able to figure out the maths involved. To me, it makes more sense to think of this block as a 25 patch to then be able to figure out what size the patches would need to be for a given sized finished block. But, if you are more comfortable thinking of it as an uneven 9 patch, and can get your head around the maths involved, there is no reason why you shouldn't think of it in these terms. 


My post on identifying 16 patch blocks has also raised some excellent points. It was pointed out that the following three blocks (Crown of Thorns, Temple Court and Another Star) are constructed as 9 patch blocks, so how can they be called 16 patch blocks?

The simple answer is that how you put a block together does not necessarily relate to what type of grid that block is based on. As I explained in my post, these blocks are all considered to be 16 patch blocks because their symmetry and geometry is based on a 4x4 grid - they can all be divided into 16 equal sized squares. If you wanted to draft these blocks and figure out the maths behind them it would be critical to consider them as 16 patch blocks. For example, this is the Crown of Thorns block, with a 4x4 grid superimposed over it.

You can see that the underlying grid of this block is a 4x4 grid, which would be needed to figure out the size of each of the patches in the block. But, when you went to piece these blocks, they would indeed be constructed as a 9 patch (in fact, an uneven 9 patch), with three units across by three units down. It would make sense to piece the centre part of the block as an on-point square rather than four half square triangles, and to construct the four rectangular units as shown in the first image, rather than dividing them down the centre as in the image showing the grid. The important point here is that when figuring out how to make those units, you would need to be using a 4x4 grid, regardless of what method you wanted to use to put them together. 

I hope this helps clarify these things - and thanks so much to those of you have been reading these posts, thinking about them and asking questions. That is why we are running this series :o) As always, if you do have any questions about anything we have covered so far, please leave a comment or send me an email and I will answer as best I can :o)

We will be taking a short break from our Decipher Your Quilt posts, and will be back on the 22nd of May talking about odd-ball blocks.

xx Jess