Tag Archives: quilts

Confessions of sewing fear

Anxiety comes in many different forms. I have spent time speaking with medical professionals over the last week and was asked to describe how each of my children, and I, are similar or different in terms of anxiety. One takes the form of catastrophising everything – natural disasters are a particular favourite that will take hold and be obsessed about. Another worries about situations in the family, but understands reason and logic and can rationalise the fear. The third doesn’t appear to an outsider to worry or fear anything, but in fact has quite extreme reactions if feeling vulnerable or embarrassed. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise in my head – my ‘to-do’ lists, my own expectations of myself, etc. I think that we all think of an anxious person as the hand wringing worrier – when in fact anxiety takes so many different forms.

In thinking about all of this I have realised that on a more superficial level, I also have some sewing anxiety. It sounds a bit funny coming from someone who blogs about sewing, sells things she sews and purports to share tips about sewing with other people, but it is true. I am not a confident garment sewer – but that isn’t an anxiety, that is an understanding that I am not good at fitting things for myself (I have short torso) because I don’t know how. One day I will work out the science of it and all will be fine. Which leaves the question -what is my anxiety?

It is quilting.

Not the patchworking of a quilt top. Not the sewing on of binding. The actual process of quilting – putting together the layers of quilt top, batting/wadding, and the backing, and stitching through it to make a quilt. I have never done it. I have read tutorials, tips and hints. I have spoken knowledgably to people about it. But I have always been worried about doing it myself. A friend of mine who is very crafty told me that my machine didn’t have a big enough throat, so it would be too hard. She also told me that I need a walking foot. She recommended outsourcing it to a long arm quilter. I took her advice, not because she was the authority on all things quilting, but because it suited me not to confront that fear of failure!

But – no more. My mother is still with us, keeping the chicks and I feeling loved and supported. She is a long time patchworker and quilter. She has never had someone else quilt her quilts for her. And she doesn’t own a fancy long arm quilting machine. In fact for many years she didn’t have a walking foot. And those quilts from 20+ years ago are still going strong and being used daily by many members of the family. So this afternoon I asked her whether she thought we could quilt the quilt I made for the boy ourselves. (Yes – the quilt top that I so proudly showed you back in (ahem) April is still sitting in a drawer). I rang the long arm quilter this week, as I have also finished (finally) the memory quilt that I started for my housekeeper back in (ahem) August, and she said that she might be able to get one quilt done before Christmas. After talking to Mum (who said ‘yes of course we can – your machine is fine’!!) we have decided to quilt the boy’s quilt ourselves, and take the queen size memory quilt to the quilter. I am going to overcome that fear, and exile it by learning from my mother – just the way it should be!!

In news not related to any fears, the artist-in-residence’s fabric samples are on their way to us for proofing. She is very excited, and creating more designs. I have managed a little sewing, have cleaned out the chook house (so glamorous), caught up with friends for a cup of tea and crafting (I sat and cut out appliques of bicycles!), ferried children around to various social engagements, and have been supported by my mum.  I am excited about seeing my contribution to the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holiday series in the morning.  (Although it appears on the 10th of November, with time differences being what they are, it won’t be published until about 1am on the 11th November on Australian time!)  And I need to see my accountant, so will be filing, sorting and trying to remember my movements of the last financial year – sure to balance out any excitement!

I hope that your weekend has been lovely, and that you are able to recognise and face any anxiety that may befall you this week – large or small.

A review of “Growing Up Modern, 16 Quilt Projects for Babies and Kids”

When my fabric addiction began about a year ago one of the sites that contributed to my demise was the very delightful Cluck Cluck Sew, a blog by Allison Harris. I was lead there by a link from another site to her Raw Edge Circle quilt.  I still haven’t made that quilt, although it remains very high on my ‘must do’ list, but instead I made my first ever patchwork quilt (shown in my last post) by using her Star Blocks tutorial.  I have been a bit of a fan/groupie/stalker ever since.  I really like her approach to making quilts – instead of stressing about not perfectly matching every point, etc, she gives you permission to wing it a bit, to make some mistakes but celebrate the overall effect.  This was just what I needed when I was starting out – permission to experiment.

So when I saw that she was releasing her first book, I thought it was time to buy one, instead of just collecting ideas from the internet.  That “old fashioned” feeling of paper and pictures to pore over just can’t be replaced by touch screens and brilliant colours.  So I put my pre-order in on-line and sat back to wait.   And wait.    And wait.  But finally this week (quite some weeks after the book was released) my online bookstore finally sent it to me!  So tonight I am writing my first ever review of a quilting book!

My very first impression was about the way the book is presented.  There are lovely clear pictures with clear, simple colours.  There is nothing ‘fussy’ about this book – and really reflects the style that Allison shows in her blog.  The layout is easy to follow with a chart for yardage, for cutting, for block assembly and for quilt top assembly.  It appears to flow really well.  Many of the patterns are more than suitable for a  beginner, and with this layout, would be a good start for anyone wanting to dabble in patchwork quilts.


My second impression was that the blocks she has chosen are appropriate to use for children and babies, but through their modern simplicity can also be adapted to use for adults.  So the book is not just aimed at young people.  Following on from that, I LOVE the fact that her quilts for children do not involve cutsie little teddies and duckies and other things that mean that the quilt will forever be a baby quilt.  Instead, by using simple lines and clear colours, she makes patterns for quilts that are beautiful pieces of art that can be used for many years.  I am very fortunate that my mother made my three chicks their ‘baby quilts’ following a similar approach – so they have not grown out of them and now use them as lap quilts for lying on the couch, or in building forts and don’t think that they are in any way ‘baby-ish’.


The book starts off with chapters on how to cut and piece blocks, and then on how to assemble quilt tops.  This is written with great simple tips, and doesn’t over-complicate the process.  One of my favourite things about the book though, is chapter 3: “Quilting when you have kids:  Finding the time and keeping it fun”.  The very fact that she thought to include this chapter is one of the reasons that I enjoy her work so much – and the way that she encourages us to break it down and find a few minutes here and there is simple and sensible and (from my experience) works!


Oh look – the raw edged circle quilt is there!  Hooray!!

The quilts themselves are modern and funky.  Nothing like our grandmothers would have made us and yet they still retain the beauty of those old quilts.  They are still made with love in each stitch, are used and cuddled and loved, and give children a special sense of belonging.

I could chat on for quite some time about this book but my simple recommendation is that if you are thinking of starting to do some quiltmaking, or already know how but want some modern simple designs to work with, then this is the book for you.  As a bonus, it looks good sitting on the coffee table too!

In other news, I have almost finished with the dreaded burgundy polycotton!  All the tunics are made, the capes are made, and the ‘bling’ is attached to the tunics for the characters of Paris and his ‘crew’.  I am quite happy with the way that they have turned out – especially considering that the capes are made from donated sheets -a burgundy satin one and a yellow cotton one, just sewn together and overlocked around the edges!  Tonight I will finish sewing the capes to the shoulders of the tunics and then I will be done (for now!)


So now I get to think about my next project.  I am almost overwhelmed by the possibilities!  Do I start on a quilt (perhaps using one of the patterns from my new book), or make some more bags.  Do I start on things for the school craft stall so that I am not overwhelmed at the end of the year, or do I think about designing new ‘things’ for my shop.  Choices, choices, choices.

First things first though.  A few more days of school and then the chicks are off to visit their grandparents.  Once they are safely delivered I will have a much clearer head.  At the moment I can only think as far as the drive!  Someone asked me what I would like to do on the weekend and I just looked blank – I can’t think that far ahead at the moment!

I am just hoping for some sun.  We have been covered in fog here for a bit too long.  Yesterday the sun didn’t break through at all, all day!  So it was cold, miserable and grey.  The thought of a trip to a tropical island is becoming more alluring day by day!

I hope that you are having sun wherever you are!

Friday Finds – A list of 30 (+ more than 50) free tutorials for quilt blocks

I am really enjoying finding my various collections of online tutorials to share with you. After a fairly consistent theme of bags, bags and more bags over the last few weeks I thought it might be time for a change! Before I became hooked on bags I started on patchworking quilts. I am yet to develop the bravery to tackle actually quilting one myself (I have outsourced that so far) but am working up to it! The quilts I have made so far have all been made through using various online free resources. The tips and hints I have picked up that way have been amazing!

The four quilt tops that I have made so far are:




Today I thought it might be useful to share my collection of links to the tutorials that I have used, and others that I have read, or pinned, to use in the future!


Star Blocks – Cluck Cluck Sew

Tana Liberty lawn – Purl Bee (Loving those Circles!!)

Vintage Turning Modern – Mode Bakeshop

2009 06 05 0182 edited

Easy Peasy Log Cabin tutorial – Stitches in Play

Pinwheels in the Park – Sew Mama Sew


Squares and Strips – Cluck Cluck Sew

Crayon Box Tutorial – Sew Mama Sew

Garden Fence – Hyacinth Quilt Designs

Windy Days Quilt – Mode Bake Shop

Starflower Block – Ellison Lane

Zig Zag Quilt without triangles – Bee Square Blog

Salt Water Taffy – Moda Bake Shop

Simple Circle Quilt – Make it… a Wonderful Life

On the Go – Moda Bake Shop

Plus Quilt – For the Love of George

Oh Deer Quilt – Tonya Dusold

Love Mini-quilt – Sew Mama Sew

String Quilting Primer – Quiltville’s Quips and Snips

Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt

Jelly Roll Quilt – Christa Quilts

Wonky Block by Heather Jones – Sew4Home

Storm at Sea quilt

Storm at Sea Quilt pattern – Generations Quilt Patterns

Wonky Star Tutorial – Silly Boo Dilly

Scrappy Summer Free Quilt Pattern

Scrappy Summer Quilt pattern – Cluck Cluck Sew


String Quilt Block Tutorial – Film in the Fridge


Pineapple block – One Shabby Chick

JellyBeanStars Charity Champions: The Garage Girls Quilting Together

Baby quilt – McCalls Quilting

Picnic Quilt – Sew Mama Sew

Perpetual Motion – Originate and Renovate

Pinwheels and postage stamps – Sew She Sews

Scrap Jar Stars – A little bit biased

Of course I am not the first to think of making such a list!

At All People Quilt there are links to 30 scrappy quilt projects.

If you look at this link to the Babble site you will find another 25 links to quilting tutorials.

If you look at the Gen X Quilters site you will find a whole library of quilting blocks!

Enjoy coming up with ideas of how to use these tutorials.  Just preparing this list has fired my imagination!