Essential sewing keeping me clothed and sane


Trio of the Sun, the Galaxy and a Heart

A few years ago I claimed to have quilted the universe, well, this week I quilted sunshine, our own galaxy and a little bonus.

DSCN5317A few months back I asked my SIL if she’d like a quilt; at the time it was between seasons, I was lacking inspiration and I had enough clothes to get me through spring/early summer but still had the need to sew and create. K said yes and provided a few images for inspiration and suggestions for colours and off I went down the rabbithole of quilts.

This is from Reccamea designs and highlights the contrast between colour and grey.


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I have rarely followed a quilt pattern: I look at patterns and get ideas, then I buy a tonne of cotton, cut it up and sew it up again. However much fabric I purchase – that’s the size of the finished quilt. I like the freedom of this kind of sewing – innovation combined with discipline. To make a double bed or king sized quilt which will be about 4 metres square you need to quadruple the metres purchased, so buy enough fabric for about 6 sq metres to allow for cutting and seams (and mistakes). And then you’ll have some fabric left over to add to your stash to be used for yet another quilting project. You can’t ever do one quilt because there’s always fabric leftover to start another – cunning plan…..

I found this design and was immediately struck by its simplicity and striking visual impact. This was my starting point…. From Esch House Designs, the pattern is available for purchase.

The colour palette suggested by K was grey with a touch of colour. What I came up with is “Sunshine on a rainy day” – anyone remember the 1980’s song by Zoe? The lyrics are perfect and the melody is an earworm.



Pre-pressing, quilting and binding. Merely a check for finished size.

The whole time that I was sewing this I was also singing – thank goodness it has now been completed and delivered. I’ll now have to find another song to sing…..


Blocked stripes of monochrome with one third of Kaffe Fassett vibrant orange/pink. The greys represent a cloudy sky and the colour represents the sun peeking out – also possibly a sunset/sunrise.


The back of the quilt is yellow in a wood-effect design. The quilting is a loose wiggly line across the joins and is more representation of clouds.



And then I thought….the only person in this little family who doesn’t have a quilt is Lucas, my young nephew. That would just be mean if he didn’t get anything. So I went ahead and made a single bed quilt that hopefully is appropriate for a 10 year old boy.


He got the galaxy with all the planets and our single star in roughly the right order but with a disclaimer in the title of “Not To Scale”.


Some planets are appliqued and others are half-circle sewn. Jupiter has an appliqued storm and Saturn has its rings. The earth has its polar caps, the moon including the dark side.


The sun is a quarter Dresden plate and determines the top of the quilt. Poor little Pluto had to be added onto the end and made the quilt very long and no doubt will hang over the edge of any bed. But in any case, it’s a cold, icy planet and so it’s a suitable position.


The back side is representative of all the microwaves in the universe with a zig-zag navy and white fabric. You can see the relatively loose machine quilting that sort of mirrored the planets’ position.


And then I thought, but now everyone in this little family will be receiving something, except Leigh, my niece. She already has a quilt but it’s really not fair to leave someone out. So, she got a cushion with a big pink heart.

The whole family now has at least one handmade, unique item that I hope they will enjoy and value for many years to come.

I received some lovely Thank You letters the next day….


and yes….. those of you from an older generation may question the value of learning phonetic spelling…..







Quilting the Universe – Big Bang

It started out by me asking teenage son what colours he wanted in his quilt. We were standing in the kitchen at the time and he answered, “Just like this.”

“What, the kitchen?” I queried. “Blue, white and orange?”



Now, having the benefit of knowing my son since birth, blue actually means navy, white actually means grey and well, orange just means orange. So I set about gathering appropriate fabrics. Once I had gathered together about 100 metres of each colour I then researched quilt patterns. This quilt is intended for him to take away to university in September this autumn and I allowed myself 5 months in which to make it. I started in April and almost, almost, got it finished today but nPastelBigBang_m-1ot quite. I just couldn’t resist showing you……..

KaffequiltsagainThe design is from Kaffe Fasset’s Quilt Again book and is the Big Bang pattern. In the book the quilt has 3 stars which I thought was a rating for impressiveness. It actually means level of difficulty which just goes to show that if you don’t know your own limitations then there are no limitations!

Essentially, the pattern is a Lone Star that goes all the way out to the edges of the quilt.

To cut a very long story short – the thinking time and colour matching and fabric setting; the processes and time consuming patchworking. Then the construction and with every little bit and strip added, this quilt top just got bigger and bigger! In total there are 1392 diamonds. Yep, nearly 1400 diamonds and all with bias edges!DSCN5282

But there are easier ways to sew 1300 diamonds together: Straight stitch a clatter of fabric strips together and then cut them at 45 degrees. Then sew the diamond strips together. Press that tiny 1/4″ seam allowance open – good grief! And make sure your diamond points all match up – yeah right!

However, at long last I had a quilt top which is clear proof that time is limited and not endless. I think I should get a PhD for that discovery!


The quilting is really fairly simple and I mostly used my walking foot – North, South, East and West : NE, SE, SW, NW and then octangle rows to join up the points of the compass. That should hold the bias together yet remain soft and flexible enough to snuggle under. There’s a bit of a free motion quilting in the centre to make a spiral too.


While I was quilting the layers together, I did begin to think that this quilt was the same size as the universe. I have henceforth discovered that the universe is not infinite and neither was the quilt because the quilting did eventually come to an end. Do I get another PhD for that one? I sewed the binding on and the only thing that needs to be done now is slip stitch this over the raw edges and give the whole thing a really good pressing.


In the centre is the original Big Bang – hot and firey. Then all the debris, dust, dark matter and the foundations of our universe radiating out. Our solar system is orbiting around about the orange/turquoise band – warm enough for life but not too hot nor too cold. As we get towards the edges of the quilt, and therefore, the edge of the universe, everything begins to cool down and the second Law of thermodynamics is irrefutably proved. Of course the first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created or destroyed  – which this quilt also proves – all my energy has transferred into this quilt which in turn will keep my son warm and loved when away from home.


For scale – son is 6’6″ (1.98m)

And when he takes official ownership of the quilt it will come with a single condition, namely, to make a Big Bang!