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September 2016

Playtime in the Park

Today was pretty wet and miserable. Not really a great day for taking my quilt for a walk. I decided that rather than go to the mountains where it would probably be even wetter, I would walk to our local park. It's about a 6km (3-4 miles) round trip, so would give me a good stretch.

To cheer up the grey weather I decided to bring my latest quilt, Playtime.


On the way I saw this beautiful Kowhai tree.

Native New Zealand Kowhai Tree

Kowhai is the Maori work for yellow, and the blossoms let you know that Spring is here.

Kowhai Blossoms

 Where better to take a Playtime quilt than to the park? Here it is, at the amazing kids playground. This was a community project built by the town just before I came to live here. Nearly all the posts have the names of people who contributed.




To make this quilt I used Riley Blake's Wheels 2 range and added some solid colours. On the back is the Wheels2 playmat in canvas, so it's a reversible quilt. Here it is one the only dry surface I could find - in the middle of the bandstand!


Queen Elizabeth II park is a masterpiece of Victorian visionaries. There are so many different elements that make up the whole. The lake is the centrepiece, and plays host to many wildfowl.

Black swan
The Duck family enjoying the rain


There is an island in the middle of the lake, with a mini train that runs around it. No trains today though!


Playtime decided it wanted to sit on the steps to the Flying Fox


If you are interested in making the Playtime quilt/playmat I have the fabric in store and will be releasing the pattern soon.

Have a great week


Binding 101 - Part Five - the final step

Hi and welcome to Binding 101, the final step.

Don't you love it when you get to the end of a project and know that all the hard work you have put in is finally done, and you can move guilt-free onto the next one?

Once I have my binding sewn down by machine I look forward to spending the evening quietly contemplating the enjoyment of the project, and anticipating the next, while sewing down my binding.

Love it or hate it, hand sewing does make for a lovely finish, and hopefully with these tips you will find it enjoyable.

To start off, I press my binding back.

Press the binding back from the face of the quilt

This is what the corners will look like


Fold the binding over to the back of the quilt.

Use a fine needle to sew down your binding, this makes it easier to achieve an invisible stitch.

I use a fine applique needle #12 (Clover or Bohin brands are what I have available). These are easy to thread with the Clover desktop needle threader.


I am using Aurifil #50 cotton in Dove grey. This is a beautiful fine thread and I used it for quilting on this quilt.

As you can see, I am left handed and I sew from left to right. Just turn this round for right handers!

Fasten your thread, then insert the needle in the quilt side right next to the binding, travel a short distance and come out through the binding, right next to where the needle exits the quilt.


Now put the needle in the quilt again, right next to where you went through the binding. You are doing all the 'travelling' inside the layers of the quilt, so the only part of the stitch you see is very small.

  Continue around the quilt, When you reach a corner, fold the fabric down following the direction the fabric is folded on the front.

IMG_4153 IMG_4154

Take a few stitches through the corner to anchor it down on the back and on the front.




Now your quilt is going to look great!


Join me for my next Mystery Adventure, starting in February . Look out for the fabric requirements in December here on my blog!


Binding 101 - Part Four - Easy mitred join (no rulers!)

Welcome to part four of my Binding 101 tutorial.

Joining the ends of my binding was always a bit of a hit and miss affair. I used to fold one end inside the other and hope for the best. This didn't look good as it produced a lumpy, straight join when all the others were mitred and nice and flat.

I tried using various binding gadgets but could never figure out from one quilt to the next what to do, and got frustrated when I cut too much off, or cut the wrong way round.

Then one day I decided the only thing to do was to try and figure it out for myself, and I eventually came up with this method which for me is more intuitive and I can now actually remember how to do it every time!

Get a beautiful join in your binding

Give it a try next time you join your binding...

Start by leaving yourself PLENTY of room to work with. I start sewing my binding 10-12" from the beginning of the strip, and leave a good 12" gap at the end. The orange pins in this photo show where I started and stopped sewing:

Leave plenty of binding free

Now you need to take your quilt to the ironing board and have a few pins handy.

Take the right hand flap of binding and fold up at 45 degrees, then press:

Fold up at 45 degrees and press

Now take the left hand flap of binding and fold it downwards at 45 degrees so the two folds match up. Press.


Fold the left hand side downwards and press

So now we have marked where the binding is going to be joined, we are now going to pin the seam.

Open out the right hand binding strip. You can see the marks where we pressed.


See the 'V' where the pin points to

Now lay the left hand side over the top of the right hand side. Line up the pressed marks like this:

Line up the pressed marks

Open up the left hand binding and pin.

Open out the left hand binding strip
Pin the binding flaps together

Now mark a diagonal line.

Mark a diagonal line for sewing

Sew on the marked line

Sew the two ends of binding together

Hey presto! We have a mitred join.

Before I cut anything, I always fold everything back and check that my join is in the right place. Then I can safely cut off the excess binding.

Test for fit before trimming


Trim the seam to 1/4" and press open.

Trim the final seam

Finally, sew this last bit of binding to the quilt.

Sew down the final part of the binding

Join me in part five where we sew the back of the binding down and I give you tips for some great tools.

Binding 101 - Part Three - Mitred Corners

Welcome to my binding tutorial. If you haven't done so yet, make sure you read parts one and two before moving on to this step.

Ok, so now we have reached a corner.

Take your quilt over to the ironing board.

Take the binding strip and fold it out to the right, making a 45 degree angle like this and press:


Fold binding to the right


Keeping this fold in, fold over to the left and press.

Fold back over to the left


Continue sewing from the top edge of the quilt.

Start sewing again from the top

Carry on all the way around, repeating this method for each of the corners.

This is what the corners will look like from the front:


Once you reach the final side, stop sewing at least 12" from where you started. Don't cut off any of the binding strip yet, we will use it in the next step when we make the mitred join.

The orange pins show where I started and stopped sewing

Join me next for part four - my mitred join technique.


Binding 101 - Part Two - Attaching the binding to the quilt

Welcome to part two of my binding tutorial!

We are starting with the trimmed quilt and binding strip that we prepared in part one.

Now we are going to attach the binding to the front of the quilt by machine.

First you need to set up your needle position. I like to sew my binding on with just over 1/4" (about 5/16") allowance.

Use your ruler to work out where your needle needs to be. If you have a machine where you can adjust the needle position, this is easy.

If you can't adjust your needle, work out where you need the edge of the quilt to be as you are sewing. You can mark this with a bit of masking tape.

I use my walking foot when attaching the binding.

Set up your needle position between 1/4" and 3/8"


Now lay the binding on top of the quilt with the raw edges together.

Make sure you leave a really generous allowance of binding free - at least 10" for joining at the end.

Start sewing your binding about halfway down one side of the quilt. Stitch length about 2-2.5mm.



As you approach the corner, stop and make a mark 5/16" from the end:

Make a mark 5/16" up from the end of the quilt.

When you reach this mark, stop sewing and cut the thread. Take the quilt out from the machine.

Now go on to part three - corners.

Binding 101 - Part One: Trimming the quilt and preparing the binding strips

Here is part one of my step by step binding tutorial.

I always find this the hardest part of writing instructions and patterns, so I decided to take step by step photos as I did the binding on the Modern Triangle Sampler. There are many different approaches to binding but this is the method I have tweaked over the years to suit me.

Binding 101


Part One - Trimming your quilt

Once the quilting is complete, trim your quilt. If there is a handy seam close to the edge, I use a ruler and measure from this seam to the outside so that I can keep this distance the same. Cut with a rotary cutter. Here I can see that if I use the 4 1/8" line on this border, I can trim the outside edge close enough so I won't see any batting when I sew on my binding.

Line the ruler against the border seam and trim

When you get to a corner, use the ruler to keep everything square. Square corners will be your friend!


2. Preparing the binding strips

First you need to work out how many strips you will need. Measure the quilt. Say you have a 48" by 60" quilt.

2 side at 48" = 96"

2 sides at 60" = 120"

Total distance around the quilt = 216"

Divide this by the width of fabric (40") = 5.4

You need to round this up to the next whole number so this quilt would need 6 binding strips. If the number is higher, say 5.9, you might need 7 strips once you take account of corners and joining the ends.

I cut my binding strips 2 1/4" by the width of fabric. Once the strips are cut, join them on the diagonal:

Lay two strips right sides together at right angles and sew on the diagonal

Join all the strips together like this until you have one long strip. Trim each of the seams to 1/4", then press them open.

Trim seams to 1/4"


Press seams open

Now press the whole long strip of binding wrong sides together.

Press the binding strip wrong sides together

That's it, your binding is ready to attach to the quilt. Carry on to part two ....


Taking my quilts for a walk

It's a beautiful spring day here! As I drove to the foothills of the Tararua ranges this morning, I passed the quintessential New Zealand spring sight, a ewe feeding her twin lambs. What a great day to take my quilt for a walk!



I love my walks in the bush, I usually go alone and I enjoy the peace and solitude. It helps me revive and recharge my batteries before another week in the shop or behind my computer or sewing machine. Over the winter I haven't been getting out, and last week was my first walk for ages. I decided that it would be fun to bring my quilts along. So this week, that's what I did!

As I packed my backpack, I wondered how much the quilt would add to the weight I had to carry. Standing on the scales, I realised that the total of me plus backpack was still 6kg (about 12 pounds) lower than I weighed on my own this time last year, before I started my walking habit! No problem carrying that extra weight then.

This week my companion was Blue China, a quilt I made back in 2012 for our Shop Hop. It's a sampler quilt all in blues and whites - great colours for a blue sky day when the snow is still on the mountain tops



I took a few shots of the quilt when I stopped to look at the lambs frolicing in the fields

IMG_4023 IMG_4024

Then off to Kiriwhakapapa campsite, at the entrance to the Tararua Forest Park. It's only about a 20 minute drive from home - how lucky I am to have this gorgeous countryside on my doorstep!



On with the boots



And it was off into the peace and quiet of the trees. The track is pretty muddy at this time of year and the streams were running strongly with all the meltwater from the snow on the mountains.

A lovely thing about the ranges is that the water is pure and delicious, lucky for me as I had forgotten my water bottle!



After leaving the stream, the track turns uphill and it's a bit of a slog, but before long I reached the resting spot at the saddle between the Kiriwhakapapa and Mikimiki valleys.


The little orange triangles mark the walking tracks. Time to get the quilt out!



When I told people I was going to take my quilts for a walk, they looked at me as if I was nuts! It'll get dirty, they said, what do you want to do that for? Now I have tried it, I love the idea. Why not? My quilts are my friends. They make great walking companions. They don't disturb the silence, and if I got lost they would keep me warm!

Quilting and walking are my solace. They both revive my spirit. Having a quilt on my walk is just perfect.

Time for a cuppa. I might have forgotten my water bottle, but I didn't forget the thermos...



So after sitting in the silence with just the birdsong, it was time to walk back down the hill, through the mud and back to the world again - refreshed and revived.


Thank you for your company, Blue China quilt. Who will I take with me next time?


Nanny's Singer

My uncle was a very keen photographer and his son (my cousin Phil) has kept and treasured all his family photos and slides. This week Phil posted this slide from the 1950's on his facebook page.


As Phil says, the colours are so realistic in these slides that you could almost be in the room with them. I was so absorbed in looking at the images of, from the left, my Great Auntie Nance, Grandad and Nanny that I almost missed seeing the all- important Singer treadle behind Nanny. I expect she used it to make her 'pinny' - the only time I ever remember her without one on was at weddings.

I remember exactly where this photo would have been taken. The house was a tiny two-up two-down in Twickenham, and this was the back room. The door you can see led to the add-on kitchen which always smelled of coal tar soap and where you would find Nanny making yorkshire pudding batter in an enamel dish. Grandad would usually be found out in the garden, which was very long and where he grew his vegetables and fruit.  We helped him pick cherries and raspberries, and then they would give us some money and send us to the corner shop for ice cream blocks and wafers.

Behind Grandad's head is a photo of Nanny's brother Fred, who died at the battle of Loos. He was her elder brother and she worshipped him. She never got over the loss. Unlike now when we sew because we love to, Nanny would have been using her Singer for very utilitarian purposes; to mend, make clothes, and so on, but I like to think that as she treadled away, it took her mind off the pain of losing Fred.

The Singer now lives with my sister. The love of sewing has come through the generations, and I know it will be treasured for a long time to come.


2016 Puzzle Mystery Clue Eight

Here we are in September already. My Instagram feed is full of kids going back to school, or spring blossoms, depending on where in the world you live.

September means two more months until the Big Reveal! It is getting real now - one of the sample quilt tops is done and the other just has one more bit to do, then they will go for quilting.

If you are feeling like you are a bit behind, take heart. This month I have gone easy on you and there's not too much to do. So why not have a catch-up session with any of those previous blocks you haven't got round to. Make the most of the days with kids at school , or the lighter evenings, and indulge in a little sewing time....


Here are the steps for clue eight of this year's Mystery. If you are just starting, the clues are available in my Craftsy store. These give you full instructions for picking fabrics, cutting and piecing the sections.


L1 4 7 7

Here is step one

Square of 3 plus 4 6

Step 2


Here is my section L1 all complete.

Now to make the extra parts for the double size quilt:


I hope you have enjoyed this nice easy month! Come back on October 1st for part nine,

 You can follow me on Instagram @mysteryquilter, and don't forget out facebook group www.facebook.com/groups/mysteryquilters, where you can post photos of your blocks.


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