That’s What Friends Are For….

After being on the lookout for a quilt design that would help diminish my ever growing tub of scraps, late last year I settled on Bonnie Hunter’s “Wild and Goosey” foundation pieced pattern found on the Quiltmaker website.


Naively I thought that if I could finish one mini block a day I’d have enough blocks for a quilt in about a year. At one block a day that quilt was destined become a UFO very, very quickly.

I increased my output to 2 mini blocks a day and my row of blocks slowly began to take shape. But it was going to be a very small quilt. I had printed the original pattern out at 2 3/4 inches and it took 4 mini blocks to make each 5 1/2 inch Wild and Goosey block. After a month I knew that I had to make at least 4 mini blocks a day to get anywhere fast.


I had also realised by this time that I have a particular predisposition when choosing fabrics (they tend to read as solids) and that relying solely on my own stash would increase the boredom factor significantly. Needing more variety, I sent out an SOS to one of my wonderful quilting groups asking for a small bag of scraps from their stashes and the response totally lifted my spirits – novelty prints, quirky prints and colours not found in my stash lifted the look of my blocks. That’s what friends are for….

I packed my trusty Elna Lotus for a 2 week babysitting stint in sunny Queensland and managed, in between Grandma duties, to make 8 mini blocks a day for almost a fortnight. I was in full production mode.


Since then I’ve continued to make at least 4 mini blocks each day. On occasion I produced 12 – 16. I took my mobile sewing production line to sit and sew days and was encouraged by the feedback from my sewing groups.

I’d also done the maths by then. I needed to make 672 mini blocks. Each had 13 pieces in them. That’s 8,736 scraps of fabric. More friends came on board with baggies of scraps – the last bag I received came from a friend who said that I couldn’t make a scrap quilt without some of her scraps being in it.

Last weekend I took the almost finished quilt top to a quilting group for Show and Tell. That border fabric has to go, said one. She was right. I was trying hard to use up what was in my stash. Luckily we meet in a fabric shop and we all happily settled on a much more effective choice. That’s what friends are for….

In recent days I totally ramped up my production line and made 16 mini blocks a day. I could taste, smell and feel that finish line!

last one


Now all 672 mini blocks are finished. Mostly I have been able to keep up with their ongoing construction into Wild and Goosey blocks, then sashing and joining them into rows of 14 as the mini blocks were completed each day. The remaining two rows are at various stages of coming together – but there is light at the end of the tunnel!


And…..there are definitely less scraps in that tub now!



Vintage Quilting


I confess to being an absolute devotee of Cindy Needham. I love the fact that, through her influence, stored away vintage linens are seeing the light of day and being re-purposed by today’s quilters. Every time I put myself to bed with the flu I take my laptop and once again enjoy Cindy’s Craftsy classes. She is a mine of information and sooooo inspirational.
Last year, just 3 weeks before entries were due for South Australia’s Festival of Quilts Exhibition I placed an embroidered table runner on top of a piece of red fabric, took a photo, guessed the finished measurements and entered a quilt. I loved every minute of the hours and hours of quilting (and beading) that I put into that quilt – challenging myself to try techniques never before attempted.
The quilt won First Place in its category and then a Judges’ Special Award for Domestic Machine Quilting. Next week it travels to Melbourne to be exhibited at AQC.


The teeny tiny seed pearls were gifted to me from a lovely quilter in Broken Hill about 20 years ago.
Twisted Ginkgo Background Fill with teeny tiny glass beads at each intersection.
Some of the open areas were beaded with larger glass beads.

So, in true form, with the looming Coromandel Valley Quilters Exhibition next month I started quilting a supper cloth this week. Already I wish I’d made other design decisions, but that’s always the risk when your personal approach to design is serendipitous! Til next time…..


Twice Blessed with Grandaughters

In the short space of 6 weeks in late 2014/early 2015 we greeted two beautiful grand daughters into the world. The following weeks and months were a whirlwind of babysitting, interstate trips and, through the joys of modern technology, photographs of daily milestones in shared family photo albums. We now have two toddlers and a new baby cousin on the in-law side of one family. So our world is full of all things babies. It was timely to make a quilt top for the newest little one and I was reminded by the mother of one toddler that said youngster hadn’t yet had a quilt of her very own – so off I went shopping for cot panels.

I’ve heard it said that if you want to improve your free motion quilting skills then pre-printed panels are the way to go. I’m going to beg to disagree. The one panel that I started when I first purchased my sit down quilting machine became a UFO very soon after it was sandwiched! I’m sure that I will go back and complete it one day, but the necessary accuracy in outline quilting and creativity in developing suitable background fills were beyond my early ability. Personally, I think that orphan blocks are the absolute best way to develop your early free motion quilting skills.

The baby cot panel that I quilted came from Hettie’s Patch and was a lot of fun to quilt. Firstly, I outlined all of the graphics then went to work on making the background  interesting without being quilted/flattened to death. For the same reason I chose not to do more than outline the larger animals.



However, for the toddler panel I went to town on the animals and balloons, trying to build in a range of textures. I like to imagine Charli lying on or under her quilt, running her fingers over the surfaces of the different blocks.





I was totally flummoxed when trying to come up with a design for the ever changing widths of yellow sashing strips until I remembered a wonderfully simple technique used by a friend. It works a treat on super busy border fabrics too – you can zig zag your way back and forth, or all the way around a quilt, as many times as you need in order to tame the bulge. I used a ruler, but it can easily be eye-balled.


Til next time……

Hello, World!

Earlier this year my local Bernina dealer contacted me and asked if I would teach some beginner quilting classes on the Q20 at AMQF this year. The following weeks were a rush of class planning and sample production before the class schedule was released and bookings went online. It occurred to me during that time that anyone searching online for information about Chris O’Brien probably wouldn’t find much about a South Australian quilter in amongst a gazillion references to a well known and much loved Australian surgeon.

Many years ago my husband asked why I hadn’t joined the blogging world, but I was pretty adamant that blogging time would take away from my precious quilting time so I’ve always resisted. That said, I spend far too much time reading other peoples’ blogs, so my excuse was pretty lame!

So today I’ve made a start.  Next time I’ll show you what I’m currently working on…..