Community Quilt 97

21 07 2013

I’m nearly at 100 community quilts… three more to go! Though I’m not sure when I’ll reach that milestone as I know I have a LOT of drop-dead deadline work coming up between now and October.

This quilt was a quickie as it wasn’t very big (about 30 x 36 inches) and I quilted it with an all-over design. I did something a little different in the design — I combined a soft spiral with flames to create a sun-like effect, using a variegated pink and purple thread.

I hadn’t done this design before, but it was simple to do so I’ll probably use it again.

Oh, and this quilt had a pieced back too, so it’s reversible.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)







Threads used:

  • Top: Superior King Tut ‘Egyptian Princess’ (40 wt, cotton, colour #947)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (cream, 80 wt, colour DB 112)



Community Quilt 96

21 07 2013


I was asked to see what I could ‘do’ with this quilt to hide the bits of pink that had run into the beige areas. One suggestion was to quilt it in pink thread. But as there wasn’t a lot of pink in the quilt top, I decided to take a different tack — distract the eye! Have so much else going on that no-one will notice the pink blotches.

First, I stitched straight lines using my Line Tamer ruler, about 1/4″ outside the diamonds, then I filled one of the long beige areas with feathers. I initially thought about doing feathers for all the beige areas, but realised that would be overkill. Instead, I decided to do all sorts of other rounded filler designs, and any feather-like strands went in opposite directions to the one closest to it. The reason I chose rounded fillers was to counteract the harsh straight lines of the diamonds.

In between starting and finishing this quilt, I took a rulers class, and so when it came to the outer borders, I decided to put some of my newly acquired knowledge into practice and did three 2″ layers of clam shells. I still have to figure out how to go around corners or end a row when the measurements are uneven, so I fudged it! Don’t look too closely at the corners as they are inventive πŸ˜‰

I used the same variegated thread (in pink, beige, tan, and olive) throughout to create a unified effect.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)







Threads used:

  • Top: Superior Rainbows (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour #806)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (cream, 80 wt, colour DB 112)


Potato, leek and bacon soup

21 07 2013

Yummo! I made potato and leek soup last night — the first time in YEARS. I based my ‘recipe’ on this one from Jamie Oliver:, modifying it of course πŸ˜‰

Before I forget — and so I have it for future creations — here’s my adaptation:


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 carrot, diced into small cubes
  • 1 stick celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 mushrooms
  • 3 leeks, white part washed, quartered, then sliced
  • 3 dried chillis, chopped (optional; you may prefer garlic)
  • 5 rashers of bacon, chopped (optional; in future, I’d use a little less — perhaps 2 or 3 rashers; add an extra rasher and cook it separately until crisp for garnish, if required)
  • 8 small potatoes, washed then diced into small cubes
  • 2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes, crumbled or chopped
  • 1.8 litres boiling water (about 3 to 4 pints)
  • salt (freshly cracked sea salt, if you have it)
  • freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 small can evaporated milk or cream or sour cream or plain yoghurt or Greek yoghurt (optional)


  1. Heat a soup/stock pot (or any large pot) on the stove top, add the olive oil, then the chopped carrot, celery, mushrooms, chilli, leeks, and bacon. Saute for a few minutes, stirring every minute or so to stop anything sticking to the bottom of the pot and burning.
  2. Put the stock cubes in a heatproof jug and add the boiling water. Stir until the stock cubes are dissolved. Add the stock to the soup pot and stir in.
  3. Add the chopped potatoes and stir in.
  4. Put the lid on the soup pot, bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and let simmer for at least 10 minutes, or until all the veges are soft.
  5. Add salt and pepper to taste — a pinch of each to start — and stir through.
  6. I usually let the soup cool a little before putting it (in small quantities at a time) into the blender and giving it a good zap to puree it. Once pureed, stir in the cream (or substitute). Reheat prior to serving, if needed.
  7. Serve in hot bowls with a dollop of cream (or substitute) and fresh crusty bread. Garnish with crisp bacon and/or a green herb like chives or parsley (optional).
  8. Enjoy!

It was a meal all by itself and was absolutely delicious. It doesn’t look particularly appetising in the photo below, but it was FULL of flavour.

You could substitute chicken or ham for bacon, or leave out the meat altogether. Likewise, if you don’t like chilli, cut down the quantity or use garlic (I don’t like garlic, so I used chilli instead)


Postal service mistimings

15 07 2013

I’m not sure if Australia Post or the US Postal Service is at fault, but I’ve had three parcels sent to me from friends in various parts of the US in the past couple of months and two of them have taken an AGE to get to me — far longer than I would have expected for the ‘First Class International’ postage fees my US friends paid.

The first parcel was sent from a town in Connecticut on 4 May 2013 and I received it on 21 June 2013 — some 47 days later. There were no signs of inspection by any security or customs agencies, so that doesn’t explain the delay. The parcel wasn’t overly large or awkward.

The second was sent from San Diego, California on 31 May 2013 and I received it today (15 July 2013) — some 45 days later. With this one, my friend had paid $16.75 postage and her local Post Office told her it would take ‘5 to 7 days’ to reach me. Based on previous experience, I knew that 5 to 7 days was overly optimistic, and figured it would be more like 15 days. But 45??? Like the parcel from Connecticut, there was no evidence of customs or security agency inspection. Again, the parcel wasn’t large or awkward.

The third was sent from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on 26 June 2013 and arrived on 12 July 2013, some 16 days later. Postage paid was about $31. No evidence of security or customs inspection. This parcel contained two books and a calendar, so it wasn’t overly large or awkward either.

The 16-day time frame is what I expected for all of them, based on my previous experience with getting things from the US, not 45 or 47 days.

I don’t know which postal agency was at fault for such tardiness, though my local Post Office lady says ‘it’s likely the US’; well, she would say that, wouldn’t she, seeing as though she works for Australia Post! I wonder if the budget cuts to the USPS are starting to affect general and international postal services.

Lucky I wasn’t in a hurry for any of the parcels I received….

See also:

Update: I sent a parcel on 24 June from Western Australia to Connecticut. It arrived on 3 August, some 40 days later. My Connecticut friend said this: “I think the slow mailing times are a temporary result of some consolidations in the larger distribution centers in the US postal systems. Some tightening on customs rules might be jamming things up, too. Just as TSA guidelines made inspectors lose perspective and spend too much time inspecting elderly folks in wheelchairs and little kids’ teddy bears at one point, some printer cartridges filled with explosives caused mail inspectors to lose perspective on packages.”

Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen: Rulers class

15 07 2013

Using rulers (or templates) with my Sweet Sixteen is something I’ve tried but got very frustrated with (exception: my favourite Line Tamer ruler for straight lines!). So I booked myself into last Saturday’s rulers class run by my awesome dealer, Michelle at Handcrafters House in Midland, Western Australia. Getting there by 9 am meant a 5 am wake-up for me so that I was on the road by 7 am and in the city on time. Yes, I packed my machine and table into the car the night before, as well as all the class requirements.

We had a full 6+ hours of tuition from Michelle, with LOTS of practice and help along the way. Michelle provided us with a pre-marked quilt sandwich, and we started with using straight line rulers, then branching into clam shell rulers, circles, arcs, swags, etc. Lots of fun, and I got much more confident about using rulers and learnt some tricks along the way too. And yes, I bought a set of half circles and a clam shell ruler too.

I left Perth at 4 pm and was home just after 5:30 pm. My husband helped me get the table out of the boot of the car and set up inside, and I was all unpacked by 6 pm. It was a long day, but productive — and I learnt a lot. On Sunday I finished the sample piece — if I didn’t finish it then, it might have been put away for some weeks/months/years and not touched again πŸ˜‰

The photos below show some of my progress during the day, and some of the finished sections on the sample. Michelle also has videos of using rulers with the Sweet Sixteen on her website:, but there was nothing like getting one-on-one, hands on instruction.


Michelle demo’ing using a circle ruler


Starting with straight lines (my Line Tamer ruler)


More straight lines, with some free motion fillers


Clam shells, with an added flourish. Hint: Do the flourish as you complete each line, NOT after you’ve done them all otherwise you have too much travelling to do over original stitching lines


Work in progress 1


Work in progress 2. I love how these arcs and ‘piano key’ lines look like the Bixby Bridge in Big Sur, California!


Completed. I like how my centre star turned out with the heavy threadwork in white, the black cross-hatching, and the coloured flames in the star points.


Again, the extra threadwork adds to the lines created with the rulers


See what I did with those fish shapes? Turned them into fish by adding eyes and scales with thread!



Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen: Changing the hopping foot

12 07 2013

In case I need it again in a hurry, here’s a link to Handi Quilter’s YouTube video on changing the hopping foot on a Sweet Sixteen.

NOTE: These instructions were quite different regarding the raising/lowering of the needle bar than the printed instructions I got with my machine back in 2011.

Making plans

9 07 2013

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve been making travel plans, and paying for as much as I can while the Aussie dollar is still relatively high (I remember the dark days of 47 cents in the US dollar….).

Some of the plans I’ve made include:

  • Booked and paid for flights to/from Bali in September. Accommodation will be with my parents in their timeshare, so my biggest expense of the trip is the return airfare (just under $600).
  • Booked accommodation and restaurants in Albany and Esperance for a 4-day weekend in December to celebrate my birthday (yes, this is BEFORE the school holidays).
  • Booked and paid for flights to/from Los Angeles in February/March 2014.
  • Booked and paid for registration for a 6-day quilting workshop near Monterey, California in February 2014.
  • Booked and paid for car rental (and associated insurance) for the two weeks I’ll be in the US in February/March 2014.

The only things left to do — and they can be done some time in the future — are to book accommodation for my conference in Palm Springs, California in March 2014, and register for the conference (if I’m not speaking at it — I’ve submitted a proposal to speak, but won’t hear for a while yet if it’s been accepted). I’ve already contacted friends and family in California and have arranged to stay with them on my way to/from the quilting workshop and conference. And I’ve told my main client of the dates I’ll be away.

I *am* an organised little bunny πŸ˜‰

More thread storage options

9 07 2013

Six months ago, I posted about my new 120-spool thread stand. Well, it’s pretty much full now…


For a few years, I’ve used another storage device for the spools that won’t fit on this wooden stand (the spool holder spindle is too thick for the holes in these threads):


But I can’t put the BIG thread spools (those 5000 and 10000 m spools) on or in any of these thread storage devices. And I’m buying more of these larger spools as they offer value for money (especially the Fil-Tec threads). What to do?

Well, in my previous career I was a teacher-librarian. We automated the library catalogue and circulation systems back in about 1990, and there were whole banks of catalogue drawers and stands that became redundant. I contacted the guy in charge of library furniture at the Ed Dept and he gave me permission to take one of the stands and the catalogue drawers on it as they had no use for them (most schools in our state automated their libraries between about 1991 and 1998).

So for years I’ve had these drawers. My husband used them to store his cassette tapes for several years, then when we moved south, I used them to store my fat quarters of fabric. When we moved to where we are now, I didn’t have a use for them, so put them in the shed.

And I was in the shed a few weeks ago when I spotted them and had a thought… maybe the big spools would fit in them? Off to the sewing room to grab a couple of brands of these spools — and they fitted PERFECTLY. Now, where to put the unit? With a bit of rearrangement of the 4th bedroom, the catalogue stand is now in there, housing my large spools. I’ve only filled up a few drawers so far, but there’s plenty of room for expansion πŸ˜‰

I think my thread stash is now overtaking my fabric stash…



Community Quilt 95

8 07 2013

I was really looking forward to quilting this quilt! I’d seen it from afar as it was being pin-basted at the Community Quilting Bee. As soon as I saw it from a distance, I just knew it was aching to be quilted in the ‘modern quilt’ style.

I started by using invisible thread on the hexagons to stitch them down and stitch in the ditch around them. Then I used my Line Tamer ruler to stitch straight vertical lines through the centres of the blowflies (or are they cicadas?).

Next, I stitched a continuous line of overlapping rectangles across all the border fabrics. Finally, I thought I’d add a touch more colour by using the centres of the flies/cicadas to create some coloured hexagons in thread to match the colours of the hexagons in the lower right corner.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




quilt95_05 quilt95_04




Threads used:

  • Top: Main thread: Gutermann Sulky (silvery grey [colour #1011], 40 wt, rayon); Minor threads: Fil-Tec Glide (β€˜Neon Orange’ colour #90811, 40 wt, polyester), Mettler Poly Sheen (bright pink [colour #1950], 40 wt, polyester), Floriani (peacock blue [colour #PF373], 40 wt, polyester?), Isacord (neon green [colour #Fb 6010/A2941], 40 wt, polyester)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Invisifil (red, 100 wt, colour IF 202)


Community Quilt 94

8 07 2013

This was a sweet little quilt! In keeping with the heart fabric, I quilted hearts all over it, using a variegated green and tan thread. I left the centre block and outlined the design in invisible thread.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Silco (colour SCM 15, 40 wt, polyester?)
  • Bobbin: Bobbinfil (white)