Dreaming of a Pink Christmas

Where does it say it has to be white?

My decorations are, and have always been, silver and pink. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold as a combination, I’ve never done seasonal quilts, or worked with Christmas fabrics. So when I was inspired by fellow blogger Kym Byrd Lucas’ reply to my comment on her recent post about creating a Christmas tree quilt, it was never going to be… traditional.

Because this was spur of the moment, it was also going to be, if not scrappy, then at least made from what I had. And what I had lots of was jelly roll strips. Not much green, but an awful lot of pink, red and pinky-purple. So I’ve made myself a pink Christmas tree hanging. It’s sized to hang in front of one of my book cases, like a sort of half-sized colourful tree.

This is only the first step. Next I have to sandwich and back it, do some light quilting and then make my baubles. I’ve dug out some colourful scraps and will be cranking out lots of yoyos (Suffolk puffs) to hang from the tree ‘branches’.

But before I finish it I have a project to do for my SIL, involving making cushion covers. I just needed to get this first stage done so I could stop it niggling me! I’m going to press the yoyo scraps and then they can all go in the project basket to wait patiently till I have a bit more time.

Plenty of time to finish it before Christmas.


Floribunda #3: this is it!

I have the right block pattern now.

It’s called Ribbon Star, and it’s easy to cut, easy to piece and just complex enough to be interesting, especially in a variety of colours and patterns. It’s made entirely from 2½ inch jelly roll strips. All I’ll need are needle, thread, squissors, cutting mat and rotary cutter, a few pins, a pencil to mark the seam allowance, and my mini iron and ironing mat (which both live in the caravan anyway).

I haven’t wanted to use the actual fabrics while testing so as not to waste them if something doesn’t work, so you’ll have to imagine this with a bright raspberry pink background and a green star, or a fresh green background with a pink star. The ‘corners’ between the star’s points will have some sort of contrast; I haven’t yet sorted the fabrics into sets, but that will happen before I go away, because I need to cut some sets to take with me.

It’s a relief to know what I’m doing, finally!

Sea Glass #6: One of those days…

I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…


What happens when a pin and a sewing machine needle decide to go head to head. I’ve never seen a pin that shape that was still in one piece….

freestyle-seamsI have decided that I’m going to make these mismatched seams ‘official’. You’ll recall an earlier gripe about how the 2½ inch strips you get in many jelly rolls are not accurately cut. This is what happens if you don’t laboriously line up, check and trim out every single strip. There are over 80 x 42 inch strips in the quilt top so far, with more to come. Life is just too short. So for the purpose of this quilt, all junctions that are not a lilac pinwheel have official consent to be, um, freestyle. The pinwheels match. The important stuff matches.

Some of you hawk-eyes out there would have noticed if I hadn’t mentioned it. I hope the majority would have overlooked it or forgiven it for the sake of the general effect.

outer-border-fabricsHere’s the fabric I’ve decided to use for the outer border. I took snippets of all the fabrics used in the 16 patch blocks to the fabric shop, and laid them on a variety of colours and patterns. This is the one that lets all the others sing happily whilst not being dull itself.  I’ll be combining it with more 16 patch block corner- and centre-posts to form the outer border.

Two more seams and the main quilt top is assembled. Eight more 16 patch blocks, eight plain strips, and the border’s ready to be added. But tonight, I’m hemming the binding on the matching cushion, which is otherwise finished.

I’ll show you that another time.

Sea Glass #5: time for a border

Well, the middle’s filled.


Is it just my eyes, or is this photo ever so slightly out of focus? And how does that happen with a self-focusing camera? Still, you get the idea.

There was an episode of sleeplessness after I’d seen the Husband off to work at 3.30am the other morning, and rather than thrash around in bed getting grumpy at my failure to nod off again, I got up and starting cutting. Much more constructive, I think you’ll agree! I like the opalescent effect of the greens, teals and aquas combined with the lilacs and purples. It’s a pity I can’t seem to take a photo that represents the colours more accurately, but that’ll have to wait till the thing’s finished and I can hang it on the washing line in daylight. It’s so much nicer in real life; in the photos, the colours have flattened quite a bit and the lilacs all look much too heavy.

I want an 8 inch wide border to surround everything, and I’m thinking it’ll be something straightforward. Either whole fabric, or simple squares. I need to look at the quilt a bit longer and wait for it to tell me what it wants; I can’t ‘see’ the answer yet. I’m happy with where it’s at now, and I don’t want to mess it up by rushing into making something I’ll regret later.

sea-glass-cushion-panelsThe orphan block has moved along, and I now have the cushion front and back panels cut and pieced. I’ll put in a concealed zipper when I assemble it after quilting the front. Sadly, I don’t have enough fabric to make the pattern line up above and below the zipper, but I’m forgiving myself that particular omission so long as the zipper doesn’t show and the covering flap lies flat and straight.

Of course, I could play with my new 60° ruler and make big triangles for the border… What do you think?

Sea Glass #4, and a bit of TWX

I’m slowly filling the gap.

The one between the centre panel and the large outer basketweave panels, that is. My earlier thought was to use colour alternating with white, but I tested it and it had a fairly blah effect, sort of utilitarian kitchen floor-tile. Not what I was after. I’ve made 4 corner-post blocks using the majority of the leftover jelly roll strips, and I’m pleased with those. Sorry about the gloomy lighting, but it’s very dark and overcast today, despite the heat.


That orphan block off to the side is going to be part of a cushion cover, a sort of ‘place-holder’ till the quilt is finished 🙂

Now I have to work out how to fill the two square panels on each side that are empty. I think I’m going to switch things round a bit and use a variety of lilacs, interspersed with a pale trellis fabric in blue, white and teal. The pale fabric will stop the lilacs being overpowering, and the lilacs will add intensity and a bit of calm for the eye compared with the pattern. A bit of cutting to do still, and I have to check and trim the lilac jelly roll strips – isn’t it annoying that strips you buy on a roll which are supposed to be 2½ inches wide almost never are? If you don’t bother, the seams will never line up, so it’s worth the tedium of fixing them.

And  now for something different (if rather similarly coloured…). I’ve received three more TWX blocks, two from Kate at Manic Mumdays, which I mentioned before but didn’t show, and another from the lovely Tracy at It’s a t-sweets day. Check out these pretties!

kate-b-twx1 kateb-twx2 tracy-p-twx

Broken Bottles #13: Finished, finally

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.33 PMIt’s done.  OK, I still have to sew on a label, but the quilt’s finished.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.32.32 PMThe quilting is just spacey enough that it’s still soft and drapes well. The broken glass starburst isn’t too overpowering on the front, and adds a bit of interest and texture on the back. I had just enough of everything, and a nice bit of the green shot backing cotton left to do something else with. There isn’t a single jelly roll strip left over, and the two spare blocks which I made into a heat pad are doing service on my desk as a pad under the camera.  I like a tidy result…. Oh, and it’s a Friday Finish!

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.55 PMTime to go and defluff the sewing machine and put a new needle in. Amistad’s the next quilt in line, woo hoo!

Broken Bottles #12: Quilted, quite

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.13 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.26 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.37 PMIt’s done. The quilting is finished.

A little unpicking, a little re-sewing, but nothing too drastic. It’s finished, trimmed out, de-threaded, and the binding is made, ready to sew on tomorrow. By the end of the day, it should be done, labelled, finished. I must go and dig out a label transfer and a bit of white fabric…. Weather permitting, once it’s done I can hang it on the clothesline as usual to get a better photo. My hands are still a bit sore from all the heavy work of the past few days, but luckily sewing doesn’t seem to make it worse.

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.00 PMAlso today, I treated myself to three new dressmaking patterns. Rather good value, actually, since they were half price, and three of the two were for multiple garments. So for $27 I have patterns for a tunic and medium pants, a wrap dress, a wrap top, wide leg pants, narrow leg pants, a coat, a jacket, a vest, and a simple dress / pinafore / jumper in two lengths.

First up will probably be the wrap dress, since I don’t have a really pretty dress to go out in, all my pretty outfits are separates. And for the dress, I’m going with a fabulous slinky matte jersey splashy print in teal and aqua on a white background which I have hoarded for a few years but never done anything with due to lack of overlocker. It’s loud, but this IS the tropics, after all… And then I shall make something from my cream and chocolate floral silhouette print, and then, and then….

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.24 PMScreen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.35 PMIt’s good to be back at the sewing machine. The baby vegies are fine on their own, I have projects lined up, and time to play.

Broken Bottles #8: It’s time for grovelling once more…

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 5.24.07 PM

Look at that, no dodgy points showing. And I didn’t even plan it that way…

The top is complete. The white border is in place. 

Now, of course, I have to go and buy backing (tremble, Husband, I’m going to Spotlight!). And then it’s time for the bit where I make excuses not to clear away furniture, vacuum the floor, press the quilt top, piece (if necessary) and press the backing, put the batting in the tumble drier for 5 minutes to make the creases drop out, and then get down on the floor and grovel. It’s hard on the back, hard on the knees, hard on the fingers and hard on the patience. I’m going to pin it fairly closely this time, as I want to make sure that all those nice pointy points stay put, that the backing doesn’t pucker or bubble and that no matter what quilting design I ultimately go for, everything stays flat, flat, flat.

Now, I’ve got a few things on in the next week or so, so once I’ve scored the backing and that’s good to go, I’m going to have to put Broken Bottles aside for a little while. It’s not even an excuse, it’s just life getting in the way of quilting, shock, horror. So there’s going to be a bit of a quilty hiatus in the immediate future. I’m hoping, though, that the vegie garden will get a look-in, because some of the other things I have to do relate to that. That, and a visit from my sister and her husband, on their way north. They’re making a long, leisurely trip of it, so we’ll have the pleasure of their company for a few days. I will therefore be on extended kitchen and chauffeur duties, since the Husband will be at work.

The lovely Mrs R down in Dorrigo is about to start the 9-patch squares she’s making for me to go into Amistad, our friendship quilt. She’s hoping to get them to me in a week or so, and after that, the heat is on. Amistad beckons, and I’m not in the least reluctant to start! But I will finish Broken Bottles first…

Next stop, the fabric shop. Hurray!

Broken Bottles #7: Turning the Corner

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 4.41.06 PM

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 4.40.43 PMThe first border is on. I had some pale green strips left over, and have pieced together the first border from those. It’s not elegant, but it is in keeping. I just didn’t have enough to do beautiful broad mitred corners with these fabrics, so I’m saving that for the white border, which I’ll do next. I didn’t much enjoy this bit, trying to squeeze something out of insufficient fabric. There’s no margin for safety, and I can’t just go and get some more, the fabrics came from the UK. But however inelegant, it’s done. I think the white border will be twice as wide, and then the narrow dark green binding, once it’s quilted.

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 4.48.14 PMMy sister sent me a photo she took of the forest floor in the rainforest in northern NSW a couple of years ago. She says it reminds her of Broken Bottles. I can see what she means, but perhaps her bottles are brown rather than green! I’d love a print based on this colour scheme and layout, perhaps with a little more contrast and some flashes of gold and orange, too. Which is weird, because normally I’m not much of a brown person…

I spent the morning on non-quilty activities. The second vegie garden pod is ready for its filling. We have one more to go, and perhaps a 4th if I can summon enough energy. I’ve stripped a load of turf, laid weedmatting and bark chips, we’ve decapitated another IBC and erected the frame over it. I must go and dig out my seed catalogue to think about what I want to grow. It’s too late to sow now, I’ll have to buy seedlings, but I’ll get ideas for later. Meanwhile, my back is yelling at me and I feel a cup of tea and a piece of gingerbread coming on…

Sorry, not a very exciting post today, but the progress is mostly invisible!

Broken Bottles #6: Pointy (im)perfection

Screen shot 2014-05-12 at 3.40.31 PMSo, that’s the central panel done.

It does look good, though I say so myself, but now my eye is drawn irresistibly to the points that don’t match up exactly. We’re talking less than an eighth of an inch here, but still, I notice. So I’m just going to get over myself and admire all the ones that do.

Now I can play at border options. I want to be sure I’m happy with what’s going to happen before I start cutting, so I’m going to fiddle around with it a bit longer. And then once the top’s done, I can buy the backing fabric, cut the binding and away we go again.

I’m having second and third thoughts about the quilting pattern. Some of you have said that you don’t see a traffic accident in the shattered glass image, which is good. But once the thought had occurred to me, I couldn’t stop seeing it. Anyway, I’m going to suspend the decision until I’m ready to go, and may find something better in the meantime.

Right, time to break out the border fabrics.