Sophie Standing workshop

11 03 2017

Last weekend I had the privilege of attending the first-ever workshop held by textile artist Sophie Standing. And what a workshop it was! Sophie (originally from the UK, then ten years in Kenya, and now living in the Seychelles) was an absolute delight, so helpful, and just an all-round lovely person. And her art is AMAZING! The four days just flew by, ably helped by the hospitality of Michelle and her team at Handcrafters House in Midland, Western Australia. Thanks must go to Michelle for working for more than two years to convince Sophie she needed to share her skills with the quilting world. I’m sure a new world has now opened up to Sophie, and I expect to see her moving from strength to strength as her work and techniques become more widely known.

Now, to the workshop…

We all worked from the same photo (provided by Sophie) of a shell on a beach, but the variety of work produced by the 20 ladies in the workshop was as different as they were. All the photos I took are on Flickr: — only some are shown here.

Sophie started by talking about some of her pieces and the techniques she used for choosing fabrics, thread, and stitches. Then we were off on our own, choosing our fabrics and getting started on cutting out, pinning, and stitching. I think we all needed a little help from Sophie with our fabric choices — I know I did, and I was really pleased with the fabrics she helped me choose. I didn’t use some, added others (the lizards on the body of the shell, for example — I figured if Sophie can put flowers on a gorilla, I can put lizards on a shell!), but basically used the palette she helped me with.

The photos below show the original shell, some of my work in progress, followed by a section of Sophie’s work, and then some photos of some of the other work done in class.

My interpretation – in progress

(click on a photo to view it larger)

Others’ work

Sophie and her work



Huey, Dewey, and Louie

11 03 2017

A couple of months ago, I made some baby quilts for a relative. I purchased a duck applique pattern when I was at the New England Quilt Museum’s shop (Lowell, MA) last October. The pattern was for 9 different ducks on the quilt, but after cutting out the pieces for three ducks and knowing I was making three quilts, I figured cutting out nine ducks in total was enough, not 27!

I always make gender-neutral baby quilts, even if the recipient knows the gender of the child (she doesn’t) — I just have a thing about the stereotypical pink for girls and blue for boys, and so I make baby quilts in yellows, greens, oranges, and purples instead. For my niece’s quilts, I chose various shades of purple and of course the yellows and oranges in the ducks.

I started by cutting out a wide strip for the ducks, then fusing them in positions where they looked inwards to the centre of the quilt, with the middle duck looking straight out (I call them Huey, Dewey, and Louie). After fusing them in place, I satin stitched around them in matching colours. For the top section of each quilt, I did some improvisational piecing with strips of purple fabric, interspersed with flashes of yellow and orange. I then separated the top section from the duck base with a strip of yellow or purple fabric (the ducks on the darker background were separated by the yellow strip). The backing is some purple sheeting I had.

I quilted the top section of each quilt differently — for one I did a large meandering stipple, for another an open headband motif, and for the last one, a spiral motif. For each I used a variegated purple cotton thread. Each of the bottom sections has wobbly vertical lines, emulating rain. (On one, I’d done a heap of tight McTavishing in the bottom section, then because the tension wasn’t right, I decided to unpick it and do the vertical lines instead. Fortunately, I was on a retreat at the time and one of the other ladies helped me out — between us, it took a total of 10 person hours to remove that stitching!!!! Thanks again, Carol!)

I bound each quilt with the dark pink/purple fabric, stitching the binding to the wrong side of the quilt, then pulling it over to the right side and machine stitching it down — I liked the effect as the stitching line is straight on the front and doesn’t need to catch the back as it’s already stitched down.

(Click on an image to view it larger)








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Community Quilt 312

27 02 2017

Another scrappy quilt. The ‘busy-ness’ of the fabrics meant a simple stitching motif, so I chose ‘open headbands‘, which is a muscle-memory motif for me — I think I could do it in my sleep!

(Click on a photo to view it larger)



Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Navy’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 32965)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (lead gray)

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here:

Community Quilt 311

27 02 2017

Another predominantly blue scrappy quilt. I stitched ‘piano keys’ in the ‘Chinese coin’ strips, a medium stipple in the backgrounds for the flowers, and a large meandering stipple in the border.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

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Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Navy’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 32965)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (lead gray)

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here:

Community Quilt 310

27 02 2017

How to quilt this blue scrappy quilt? The squares were easy — a cathedral window motif, which I echoed in the light blue border too. For the large setting triangles (in navy), I free-motion stitched a large feather motif.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Navy’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 32965); Mettler Metrosene Plus (40wt, polyester, colour 672)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (lead gray)

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here:

Six new quilt tops

22 02 2017

On my recent quilt retreat with friends, I knocked out six new quilt tops. Most were made with batik fabric jelly rolls I bought in Bali a couple of years ago, and I made the others using fabrics from my scrap stash and the excess jelly roll fabric. No patterns, just from my head or from a picture I saw.





Licorice Allsorts!

Licorice Allsorts!




Doing myself an injury

22 02 2017

Quilting is a dangerous hobby! The only time I’ve ever been to an ER was because I spiked myself in/near the femoral artery while quilting. Until Monday.

I had a wonderful 4-day quilting weekend away with some very special gals, and was on my final three strip cuts to finish my 6th quilt top for the weekend when the rotary cutter jumped the edge of the ruler and took out part of my thumb (end of the nail and several layers of skin) and a big slice out of my index finger (I think it would’ve been much worse had my thumb not partly stopped it on its journey). I’d made several scrap quilts on the weekend so had used the rotary cutter hundreds of times. But that didn’t make any difference.

My friend Bobbie (an ex-nurse) was able to strap the main injury to my index finger tightly and take me to hospital where we spent three hours in the ER (at least two of which was waiting, me with my hand raised). Once I was in, the medical staff checked it out, put on some stuff to stem the blood, put some ‘glue’ stitches (no anaesthetic required) in my index finger (nothing could be done for the thumb except dress it; it was mostly a cosmetic injury anyway), gave me a couple of painkillers, and instructions not to remove dressings for a week, and I was on my way.


I’m fine. No pain at all, surprisingly, though it hurt like crazy (plus throbbing) after I did it and while I was waiting to be seen. I’m now looking online for a rotary cutter ruler guard or protective gloves (the Klutz gloves from Fons and Porter look like a good option).

Update 24+ hours later: Still no pain unless I inadvertently knock the end of my left index finger or the thumb (idiot!). No painkillers required. Slept well last night, except for being woken by a storm coming through. Feel absolutely fine, and except for some awkward movements (typing is interesting, as are other daily activities like showering and washing my hair) everything’s good. While a disposable kitchen/food prep glove works well for showering, it’s too hot for sleeping, so I MacGyvered a solution using a mini packing cube to protect my dressings while sleeping 😉


The lack of pain is the most surprising — I sliced into a fair chunk of skin, though not to the bone as I’ve heard others do (shudder).

Update one week later

The thumb was a light injury in comparison to the index finger. Mostly, part of the nail was sliced off and several layers of skin behind that part of the nail. I think that hitting the thumb first caused the rotary cutter to slow down a tad and perhaps deviate a little, thus resulting in a less serious injury to my index finger.

Here’s my thumb immediately after I removed the dressings; there’s still some caked-on blood from a week ago, and some fluff from the dressings:

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And my index finger, looking pretty ugly on removal of the initial dressings. I’ve since dressed it again, but obeyed the ER doctor’s instructions not to remove their initial dressings for a week. The very dark lumpy bits are a combination of dried blood and the glue used to hold the skin together, in lieu of stitches. It looks far worse than it feels!




Although the site of the cut is tender to touch, I’ve had no pain since the first few hours after doing it. I’m keeping everything dry by wearing a disposable kitchen/food handling glove in the shower and when I prep food. And will keep changing the dressing on the wound every couple of days now until it’s completely healed.

Update two weeks later

Two weeks’ on and I’d taken to exposing it to the air. I was still showering with a glove, but the dressing — if worn — was minimal and just to stop me from ripping the wound. The wound looks far worse than it it — it’s just dried blood and glue. Still a bit tender near the wound site and some lack of feeling in the side of the finger pad, which I believe will come back over time.

Update nearly three weeks later

I’d been exposing the wound to the air, water, etc. and finally the last of the glue fell off some 19 days after cutting myself — now I can see the (superficial) mark in the fingernail where the rotary cutter went! The wound site is still a little tender, and I have small areas on the side of the finger pad where I can’t feel anything, but the colour is good so it’s just a bit of nerve damage, which I believe will eventually heal and regenerate.


Update four weeks on

Still slightly tender but it’s coming along well!