My first quillow

Yeah! It’s a finish! After all the adapting, procrastinating and deliberating I have a completed quilt with a twist, it’s a cushion too!

Candy Hearts

Candy Hearts - pieced back

The pieced back, including a label and the quillow pocket (this is the inside of the cushion when it’s all folded – see picture below for the other side of the pocket)

Candy Hearts cushion

The Candy Hearts quilt folded into it’s pocket to form the cushion/pillow

(Aside: I like the name ‘quillow’ but it’s one of those words that doesn’t translate well from American English to British English, as here, on the European side of the Atlantic, we use cushions on chairs and sofas, pillows are what we rest our heads on at night! But hopefully we all know what we mean, anyway ‘qushion’ really doesn’t work!)


As with most of my quilt projects it’s been a typical two steps forward, one step back process! Way back in November 2016 I downloaded the ‘Take Heart’ quilt pattern from the Mack & Mabel Etsy shop. I also ordered a Moda Cherry on Top jelly roll and fabrics from KalQuilts. Unfortunately they couldn’t find the last jelly roll so I agreed to buy the layer cake instead… Then the adapting began as the heart blocks are made from 2½” x 12½” strips. Layer cake squares are 10″ wide… Anyway the long and the short of it (ha!ha!) is that my finished heart blocks measure 9″ square rather than 12″ square.

The project stalled before I’d finished all of the heart blocks: I was in my usual indecisive state – how many blocks to make?, should I add borders? And then, of course, there were the doubts: the colours look really bright! too bright?, the row by row layout wasn’t really working for these adapted blocks, was it all just a mess? Procrastination set in plus a whole lot of other projects too 😀

Candy Hearts quilting


Next devising a plan for quilting – more opportunities for self-doubt and indecision! In the end I looked to my 2017 word of the year and VENTURED once more into the realms of free motion quilting.


Although I get a bit exasperated with my doubt-filled, indecisive, procrastination-mired creative process I have come to recognise a benefit – I do give myself plenty of time to develop a project while it’s in progress! So, the idea for the uneven setting of the blocks came whilst browsing through quilty blogs and discovering just the solution my quilt needed; and the quillow idea grew as I looked at the spare fabrics and recalled that this is something I’ve wanted to have a go at for a while. I’ve taken the warning behind the saying ‘more haste, less speed’ to a whole new level 😀

(If you are thinking of making your first quillow I’d recommend these: tutorial 1 and tutorial 2 and the quillow chapter in ‘Growing Up Modern’ by Allison Harris. If you’d like to read a bit more about the making of my Candy Hearts quilt top then click to this blog post).

Linking with Myra for Finished Or Not Friday (Myra is giving away a box full of scraps) and Amanda Jean for Finish It Up Friday (Amanda Jean has a scrappy pincushion challenge underway).




Posted in Free Motion Quilting, P&Q Books, Quillow, Venture | Tagged , , , , , | 10 Comments

Wimbledon, design wall modifications and a quilt in progress

The skies are blue and the TV is red hot! It’s Wimbledon fortnight and I do so enjoy watching tennis 🙂 I was going to call watching the tournament a ‘distraction’ but, truthfully, I make the choice to put the tennis before other things!

So, this afternoon I gathered jobs to do in front of the Wimbledon TV coverage. Despite it being pretty hot, I reduced the ironing pile before crawling around on the floor making modifications to my design wall! Huh? Wall on the floor? Let me explain: My design wall is a fuzzy backed table protector cloth hanging from an IKEA tension wire. It works very well but recently the cloth has been hanging unevenly, forming quite deep waves which make securing fabrics and blocks to it a bit ‘hit and miss’.

Wavy design wall

The wavy design wall cloth hanging from the IKEA tension wire 

The solution that came to mind was to attach a pole horizontally across the back of the cloth to flatten out the waves. Next problem: how to attach the pole? Tape was a possibility but may not have been reliable and may have left sticky residue on the back of the cloth… It’s taken a few days but finally, whilst doing the ironing and watching the tennis, I had a little brainwave: why not pin a quilt hanging sleeve to the back of the cloth and thread the pole into the sleeve? Ta! Da!

Design wall modificationI found a pole in the shape of a washing line prop but it felt very heavy and I don’t fancy the IKEA fixings being pulled out of the wall! A quick search through the garden shed and I came across a sturdy garden cane just 6″ short of the width of the design wall cloth and much lighter in weight than the washing line pole. I used large safety pins to attach the sleeve to the back of the design wall cloth, then threaded the garden cane into it before rehanging the cloth onto the wire support .

Design wall rehung

You might just be able to see the row of pins showing about a third of the way down the cloth – indicating the position of the quilt hanging sleeve attached tot he back.

As you can see the cloth is hanging a lot flatter, I need to tighten the hanging wire but it’s a bit of Heath-Robinson job and I’m worried the whole lot will fall down! There are limits to my mechanical genius 😀

Anyway, the design wall is a great tool to have in the process of creating a patchwork top. The Candy Diamonds top is progressing (this quilt top emerged from the fabrics and half square triangles left after completing the Candy Hearts quillow). Having looked at it on the (wavy) design wall I decided to make some changes to the design: I tried adding an extra row of HSTs around the edge to complete the diamond shapes. Here are the original and ‘mark 2’ versions of the quilt top on EQ7:

Looking at the amount of fabrics remaining I thought it unlikely I’d have enough to make a really varied, scrappy piano key border so I revised that too, opting for a stripy style border. We shall see… Here is Candy Diamonds on the design wall:

Candy diamonds progress

This weekend a fresh Beginners Class opens at Purple Stitches. I’ve been busy checking through the notes, collecting together fabrics for my demonstration quilt as well as preparing for the second BOM workshop on Tuesday. We are making a rainbow version of the Chocolatier BOM quilt. To test the instructions for each block I’m using much more traditional looking fabrics. I think these may be the start of a table runner…

First 3 of the Chocolatier blocks

Thank you very much for being patient with me as my last blog post took a look away from the quilty side of life, your thoughtful comments were encouraging. I’d like to say ‘thank you’ as well to those of you who have recently signed up to follow this blog 🙂 Just to let you know I love to follow quilty blogs too. Each week I collate the useful and interesting posts I’ve read along with online searches I’ve made onto my ‘Pins of the Week’ Pinterest board. On Tuesday evening these all get shifted to the ‘Last Weeks Pins of the Week’ board and subsequently spread through the rest of my boards. I hope you’ll find this Pinterest collection a useful resource.

Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social – use the link to see her gorgeous foundation paper pieced fox cubs – and with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday – check out Kelly’s neat pressing station.


Posted in Projects, Quilt Design | Tagged , , , , , | 8 Comments

Finding Hope in Uncertain Times

Gracious! I try and keep my blog writing more or less in step with what is happening in the quilty side of life but there is so much going on here in the UK that I’m finding it impossible not to let the mood of real life colour the quilty blog bubble. Several times I have begun and then erased substantial portions of this post as events race along.

I’ve found working in the garden and the allotment have provided some relief from the news bulletins :

Less than three weeks ago we in the UK were trying to absorb the result of the General Election which unexpectedly produced a ‘hung parliament’ – the winning party failed to gain a majority of seats. This has just added to an air of uncertainty in the UK: first with last year’s Brexit vote and all the provisos that are created by that, followed by the three chilling terrorist attacks – and then, suddenly and awfully, the dreadful fire in the residential block in London. And even since then another terrorist incident in the capital alongside continued political disunity.

These events and the air of uncertainty have got me thinking about hope. I am slowly re-reading The Lord of the Rings by J R R Tolkien. It wasn’t until I saw the films that I was struck by the twin threads of hope and despair running through the trilogy. There are many times when a character will express either hope or despair as the battle between good and evil ebbs and flows. At times of despair a fellow character will often counter with a few words of hope or the promise of continued support, in so doing somehow bringing light into a dark situation.

On the morning of her Official Birthday and just a few hours before participating in the spectacle of Trooping the Colour our Head of State, Queen Elizabeth II, summed up the mood of the nation in this message:

Today is traditionally a day of celebration. This year, however, it is difficult to escape a very sombre national mood. In recent months, the country has witnessed a succession of terrible tragedies.

As a nation, we continue to reflect and pray for all those who have been directly affected by these events. During recent visits in Manchester and London, I have been profoundly struck by the immediate inclination of people throughout the country to offer comfort and support to those in desperate need.

Put to the test, the United Kingdom has been resolute in the face of adversity. United in our sadness, we are equally determined, without fear or favour, to support all those rebuilding lives so horribly affected by injury and loss.


17 June 2017


As a Christian I am not ashamed to say my feelings about the events and circumstances of present day UK are preoccupying my thoughts and at times making me feel rather crushed and helpless – it is at just such moments that the timeless promises of the Bible come to give us a heaven-bound, eternal perspective on present day events. Last Sunday in Church we sang a hymn that lifted my thoughts and helped me regain more of the ‘big picture’ assurance that God is in charge now as He was at the beginning and as He will be at the end.

I will trust to God’s big picture knowing ultimately His goodness will be triumphant. The issue for this moment is to be at peace in that sure hope. The peace offered by God is not the peace of passivity and it certainly does not promise pain-free living rather it allows for a sure hope in the certain promise of faultless justice being exercised by Jesus at the end of time. This is a great reason to carry on the fight now – both on a practical and a spiritual level.

Back to quilty business next time 🙂 Just couldn’t continue sharing quilty news without making reference to all that’s been happening around us over the past few months.





Posted in Awe and Wonder, Books, Garden, Queen Elizabeth II | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Half square triangle progress and other news

Whew! Here in the southern half of the UK we have, thankfully, come to the end of a heatwave. Daytime temperatures were getting above 30°C and at night only dropping to around 18°C. I know this isn’t much compared to what is experienced in other countries but really we are not used to it and here high temperatures often mean very high humidity and we had that in buckets – even a South African friend living in the UK was finding it uncomfortable and comparing conditions here to those in Durban.

Anyway the weather report above is by way of me explaining a lack of blog posts over the past couple of weeks. There are other reasons too, and I’ve found separating these out from my quilting news into another blog post a more appropriate way to share (I’ll publish that post in due course).

So, back-tracking to last weekend and the Roundabout Quilter’s show… Only our second show in the four years since the group was formed and it really was so well organised, making the most of the venue – ‘well done’ Show Committee 🙂 The bright sun provided lots of light through the windows of All Saints Church – the quilts all glowed as if they themselves were made of stained glass – but the accompanying heat and the clash with Father’s Day deterred some people from venturing out, sadly our visitor numbers on Sunday afternoon were quite low. Here are some photos of the show:

Before the temperatures and humidity rose to 30-stupid I did make a start on quilting the Candy Hearts quilt. I’m pleased with the free motion loopy pattern on the white background, not so enamoured of the larger scale flowers in the heart blocks but I think the overall effect will be fine.

Candy Hearts quilting

Tuesday evening found me leading a Block of the Month workshop at Purple Stitches. We made the most of being able to open out the large doorway and Viv provided plenty of chilled drinks as we worked on a rather fiddly star block from the Chocolatier BOM. ‘Fiddly’ in that the finished block size is just 6″ and the Kona Solids fabrics are a little heavier and more prone to fraying than some other quilting fabrics. This made the inevitable unpicking and readjusting of some seams a bit fraught but we survived! I found using starch spray before piecing helped to minimise distortion and keep fraying to manageable levels.

Chocolatier BOM block 1

Thursday proved to be a particularly sew-cial day. I enjoyed the cool of Brown Candover village hall and the good company of sewing friends. Working on the half square triangle project inspired by the cut-off corners from the Candy Heart blocks, I made 56 additional HSTs and stitched them all together to make 24 blocks. A very satisfying days work. I will make scrappy piano-key borders from the remaining pieces of the layer cake squares and left over Cherry On Top fabrics.

Candy Diamonds on design wall

Candy Diamond HST blocks on my design wall alongside the Chocolatier BOM blocks.

In the evening I took my laptop along to Purple Stitches for the Sewcial Evening. I needed to review the notes for the Beginners Course as the next class is due to begin on 8th July. And while I was there I did a bit of fabric shopping too. These Winter hued fabrics are from the new Dashwood Studio collection, ‘Norrland’ by Bethan Janine. Aren’t the animals with their leaf patterns just perfect? There’s a smattering of gold flecks on some of the fabrics to contrast with the icy colours. I’ll be using these fat quarters to make a new version of the Star table runner (see my 2016 Gallery page) ready for a class in the Autumn.

Norrland fabrics

That’s my quilting news up-to-date 🙂

Linking with Myra for Finished or Not Friday – she’s also sharing a HST project.

We are preparing for a bit of adventure today. Soon we will be catching the train to London, travelling to Wembley Stadium to see ELO in concert 🙂




Posted in Fabrics, Free Motion Quilting, Local Quilt Groups, Quilt Blocks, Quilt Exhibitions, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Half Square Triangle Inspiration

I know! I know! Here I go again! A quilt in production and I’m diverting off into another project 😉


In my defence: 1. I would be quilting the Candy Hearts quillow but I need to take a trip to my not-so-local quilt shop to buy a reel of thread; 2. The quilt I’m planning is making use of the cut off half square triangles from the heart blocks, so really it’s just an extension of the quilt in progress! *Yeah! Right!*

Candy Heart half square trianglesAlong with the 42 HSTs saved from the construction of the Candy Heart blocks, I have 14 of the layer cake squares ‘left over’, a few strips of fabric and some reasonably large pieces of fabrics from the ‘Cherry on Top’ range that could be used either in the body of a quilt top, for borders or the backing along with a metre or so of the white on white background fabric. Looks like all the ingredients required for a quilt to me ;-)

Left overs from the Candy Hearts quilt

For inspiration I looked up the HST Quilt Projects board on my Pinterest page. Pretty quickly I decided on a pattern and set about recreating it on EQ7.



The pattern is created by rotating blocks and there is only one block design to make, made up of four HSTs. The blocks will be 6″ square when finished. I drew up a 6 x 8 layout with 5½” of border to make a 47″ x 59″ quilt top. This would require 192 half square triangles! Eeek! A quick calculation of the number of HSTs I could construct from the fabric available led me to revise my design to a smaller 4 x 6 layout that maintains the symmetry of the pattern. The completed quilt will measure 35″ x 47″ which is a bit small but better to have a completed quilt than add the fabric to my stash!

On to other news:

Music Star tote bagI do have a finish to share! My foundation paper pieced stars have become a tote bag called ‘Music Star’. It is on display, for sale, in my area of the All Our Own Crafts pop up shop in Basingstoke’s shopping centre, Festival Place.

If you are in the Basingstoke area this weekend please do visit the pop up shop – there are displays of items created by forty crafters – anything from delicate glassware to re-cycled drift wood, silver jewellery, stunning photographs and much more besides.

Also in Basingstoke this weekend: Roundabout Quilters second show 🙂 We have a great venue to display our quilts, All Saints Church, Southern Road. There are three local quilt traders setting up shop in the Church Hall next door alongside the refreshments area where homemade cakes will be on sale 🙂 Outdoor temperatures are set to rise to 30°C this weekend – step inside the Church and enjoy the cool while you browse the quilts, cushions, bags and wall hangings.

Linking with Amanda Jean for Finish it up Friday.

Have a great weekend.


Posted in Bags, Computer Software, Fabrics, Foundation Paper Piecing, Local Quilt Groups, Quilt Blocks, Quilt Design, Quilt Exhibitions, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , | 4 Comments