Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane

and counting…


No use having pretty PJs and not having a pretty bed to lie in.

I’ve been making patchwork quilts for just over a year now and I’ve managed to rack up quite a collection but surprisingly we don’t have one for ourselves. The very first one (my ‘learning quilt’) was backed with a cheap shower curtain and given to my mum as a picnic blanket ( no pics); the next (still learning) went to my sister as a spare;


with a bit more experience and practice I made a very special one for her which helped heal emotional wounds. Rockpools.


I concentrated all my efforts and sewed up the universe for my son going off to uni. Big Bang

I made little ones for my niece and grand-nephew.


I repaid my long-lost friend’s kindness and hospitality with a giant all out Kaffe Fassett infused quilt. Frames


So enamoured with Kaffe Fassett fabrics I selfishly made and kept one for myself but it resides in the living room and is for snuggling under when watching TV. For Me


Each quilt so far has stretched my sewing repertoire, design and skill. I’ve done strips, triangles, circles, diamonds and squares.

Our bed is bare!

I know my husband would not appreciate my penchant for mega colour or real fancy piecing and there would be arguments about a quilt cluttering the marital bed, so with this in mind and in an attempt to keep the peace, I restricted the palette to blue and white in a geometric block. This is called by the manly name of Carpenter’s Square. Sources of inspiration for many quilts are either domestic objects or natural elements. It is unusual to find a quilt which is directly named after a tool.

It is just about complete, only the binding to hand sew on another 2 sides. But the sun was shining early this morning, so while the rest of the house lay asleep in their (unadorned) beds and the dew was fresh on the grass I took some photos. BTW, it’s hanging upside down!


Each block is a different mix of blue and off-white with sashing in between and five borders which really add to the overall size. It measures 2m square and is just big enough to cover the bed with a little overhang down the sides.

I got the pattern from this book Quilts: The American Story which I bought for a song online as an ex-library book. Its condition is perfect and this is probably the first time I have loosely followed a pattern for a quilt. The original inspiration quilt was sewn up in traditional red and white and heralds from the late 1800s. The book rates this design as ‘advanced’ but to be perfectly honest with you, I am by no means an ‘advanced’ quilter and I managed it. The original is 3 X 4 blocks but I made mine 4 X 4 for a square quilt not a rectangle.

As far as quilt patterns go, I tend to ignore them and use the design as a starting point – I just buy a load of fabric, cut it up, sew it back together again and that’s the finished size of my quilt. I managed to just about get two blocks from 2 long quarters: one blue and one white.

The binding is made from all the little scraps and cut-offs, just pieced together in strips of 3.5″ and folded over. There’s a mighty lot of seams inside that binding but they’re acting like extra batting to give a padded effect to the edge of the quilt. And I like that it is random and improvised to counter the precision of the blocks.


The back is just one extra wide fabric in a flowery cream on blue.


The quilting is a very, very random and badly executed free motion stipple over the blocks with straight line stitching down the centre of the borders. This creates a rather stiff quilt due to the density of the stitching but in reality, this quilt will lie flat on the bed during the day and will no doubt be folded out of the way during the night (hot flushes determining the amount of bed linen employed).



In a sense then it is purely decorative rather than useful but then you never know if the electricity will fail and we might need an extra layer. The quilt is still is sewn well and can withstand daily use if necessary.


The label is yet to be sewn on; like a launching of a ship, this is the last thing to do and marks its completion and transition into use. The quilt is called “…and counting” – a multiple purpose name – firstly, to my continuing quilt making but more importantly as a testament to the years already shared with with husband and to the many more to come. He’s a patient, good man, he has to be, living with me. He has put up with a lot and is still here………

I am also constantly reminded of blessings – and taking time to count them. When days drudge by and worries spiral just take 5 minutes and reflect on the good things. There is the real – family, friends, house, food, constant flowing clean water, electricity and freely available energy, good infrastructure and free health care, employment and salary; and then there is the abstract but no less important – security, freedom, learning, sharing, choice, equality, creativity, happiness and contentment.


Rest assured that I did not make this in one week! I started in October 2015 sewing one block a week in between clothes and other stuff. So it has only taken 6 months to make but hopefully there will be many years of use.

38 thoughts on “and counting…

  1. Being unfamiliar with terms like stipple and free motion, I can’t begin to guess how you made those squares inside squares but from where I’m looking, you’ve certainly achieved perfection. I couldn’t find a favourite among these: the colours of your friend’s (Klimt quilt!) would probably make it mine, but the design of your son’s is stunning and the latest has a simplicity that makes me admire the workmanship (and wonder).

    Drudgery of the days makes them fly by but all these quilts are proof that a good chunk of you time was spent wisely.

  2. Ruth you’re a star. I went to a quilting class ages ago, enjoyed it but didn’t continue to make any. You’ve put me back in the mood to make one. I love your enthusiasm. keep it up. monica

  3. What eye candy to wake up to! Marijana said it better than I could. I also love Rockpools, which maybe expresses my love of blue and green but the overall effect is very soothing. Your latest would be an elegant addition to any room.

    • Thank you very much Steph. There’s a challenge in patchworking – maths, colours, patterns, design, shape and size which I find strangely intriguing.

  4. They look really lovely Ruth! All the best.

  5. Ruth, this is lovely in all aspevts. Well done.
    The Savage One

  6. Absolutely wonderful !!

  7. Hope your husband enjoys his quilt. It’s elegant. You’ve assembled such a catalog of quilting work here, which makes my head hurt because at the same time you were also turning out masses of adventurous clothing. A force of nature, you are.

    What I’m thankful for today is your intent to express gratitude for family, friends, and all the daily comforts that are easy to forget to appreciate. It’s hard to say it without straying into simpering greeting-card-land, but so important to try.

    • He loves it Sankati, thank you. I tried not to veer into sentimentality when expressing gratitude but I do truly mean it from my heart. It’s very easy to overlook things which we take for granted. And so I also appreciate your support and encouragement.

  8. I like all your quilts but this one is my favourite, closely followed or equaled by Rockpools. I’m glad to finally have one for yourself Well done – it looks pretty advanced to me!

    • Liking the simpler colour schemes Anne? You have to be more precise when sewing these ones which is maybe why I opt for multi-colours as they hide the shabby seams! Thank you.

  9. So very beautiful! You are a star!

  10. Your quilts are so very beautiful. Thank you for sharing them, and for the message about counting blessings.
    Now I need to pull out my stalled quilt project of 8+ years and get moving – you are inspiring me to finish.

  11. Wow Ruth, I love it. I’m with your hubby here itS my favourite. Sometimes I find quilts a little overpowering. How you’ve found time to do this and your dressmaking I don’t know, you must be really quick and efficient, which goes to show you would have been perfect for …….!! X

    • Both of us are too good Mags – LOL!
      I schedule a block a week and then it’s not so overwhelming. Once all the blocks are ready, I set aside most of a weekend and then it’s done. Thank you

  12. I love the pink one, but the new one is also gorgeous. I am amazed at how many you have done – making it look easy. Bravo Ruth. I hope my CC loves it.

  13. Beautiful work Ruth. All your quilts are sure to be very treasured items and I love your message of gratitude…something we should all be more mindful of.

  14. That is lovely, and no way can your husband not like it. I love its apparent simplicity but it isn’t simple at all! I can feel the pull of the dark side…..

  15. I love your quilt! Your blocks are awesome and I think your stippling looks wonderful. I have a hard time coordinating my hands with my foot pedal to keep a constant speed, but yours looks so even.

  16. Wow, those are fabulous! I rather enjoy quilting but on a smaller scale – wall hangings, mug rugs, they become kind of addictive! I do love what you have done here, and what a great excuse for buying cute fabrics that you would normally have to pass by!

    • Thank you Twotoast. I do tend to make big things maybe I should try smaller for better discipline. And I do have an entirely different kind of fabric stash now.

  17. Beautiful Quilts. All. And the fitting names. The amount of time and energy and love that goes into making even one is beyond me. But I still look and look and look and dream. 🙂

  18. wow, what an accomplishment your quilt collection is! And you do other things to….awe!


  19. This is gorgeous! I love the design and the colours. Also I am totally impressed with the free-motion quilting, it looks brillant!

  20. All beautiful quilts! I can see the time that you have put into them. Well worth it!

  21. Your quilt is truly beautiful, you should be really proud of your wonderful handwork! The colours all flow together so nicely.

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