Thursday, August 27, 2015

Quilt As Desired

I knew when I started my Chester Criswell blocks three years ago that I wanted to quilt it by hand.  I also knew that if I waited until the top was finished and then started to hand quilt it would take another three years to complete the project.  So I chose to Quilt As You Go - quilt each block as a single block, and then join them together.

Signature quilts weren't over quilted - the blocks and names were more important than the needlework.  The CCCQ has each applique block outline quilted, and then a second quilting line on the inside of each applique.  Each block is also quilted around the edge.  Only the centre block has additional quilting, a feather design filling the background space.

All the quilting on the original was done with white thread.  I didn't like the look of my white stitches on the red fabrics so I have used three colours of Superior Threads King Tut - white, Romy Red and Avocado.

I finished quilting my centre block not so long ago.  The block is four times larger than the other blocks but it took ten times longer to do.

The drawback to Quilt As You Go is joining the blocks together.  I machine stitched the two top pieces together, then overlapped the batting so there would be no gaps and slip stitched one back over the other.  That was okay until I tried to quilt around the block edge.  The overlapped batting was too thick and I couldn't rock the needle unless I made my stitches twice as big.  I have now undone all the backing and batting stitches, very carefully trimmed the batting to meet the next piece and sewn them side by side.  I am happy with the result and can get on with the job.

The official date for the e-book launch is 1st September.  But some of you may have noticed that the e-book is already on the website.  I couldn't wait, I was too excited.  So you can purchase 'Round is the Ring' now.  The prices are in Australian dollars but don't let that scare you.  The Aussie dollar is at a six year low so if you are buying in US dollars you are getting a great deal.  There is a currency converter link on the website so you can check your cost before you commit. Or look at it this way - the e-book is cheaper than a Big Mac.

You'll find the e-book at Two Bits Patches.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

1st September - E-book launch Date.

It's official now.  The e-book "Round is the Ring That Has No End: Stories from the 1852 Chester Criswell Quilt"  will be on sale 1st September.  27 more sleeps!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Antique Show and Tell at Quilts in the Barn

Early this month I attended an antique quilt Show and Tell at Linda Collins' home Quilts in the Barn.
In the morning Janet O'Dell brought some of her vast collection of quilts, particularly English quilts.  I spent more time looking and less time taking photos - which isn't a bad thing.

I love the interesting cut off borders.  I'm a bit of a slap dash quilter myself so I feel validated when I see missing points and not quite right angles.

 A zigzag border and fluro orange centrepiece.

At the other end of the spectrum, a very carefully calculated diamond border corner.

Waste not want not.  The square on the right has three bits of fabric pieced together to make the square.  Some squares had up to seven little fragments.

Some fragments are a closer match than others.

 A young Queen Victoria - probably amused.

After lunch there was more Show and Tell.  Lots and lots of antiques and reproductions, but my favourite came at the end of the afternoon.

Miriam from Yellow Roses brought along her FINISHED Chester Criswell top.  Miriam used the same fabric as me for the infamous Block 33.

I think that Miriam's CCCQ is the first finished top - my blocks are Quilt As You Go so they aren't joined together yet.  I know there are a number of Almost Finished, I wonder who will be next?  Why not add a comment and let us know where you are up to.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Free Pattern ~ Kangaroo Jo

Some habits are hard to break.  I have been sending out patterns every month for the past three years and now it's hard to stop. . .

So here is a new pattern and it's FREE.

Kangaroo Jo and a Shoo Fly Fence

Our town has a local museum which occupies one of the old bank buildings.

(Can you see the band hall to the right of the museum?  That's where I am on Monday evenings, playing percussion in a brass band.)

The doors of the museum/bank are guarded by a pair of kangaroos.

I have been wanting to turn a kangaroo into a quilt block for a while.  When I finished the final Chester Criswell quilt block I realised that now was my chance.  I added a Shoo Fly border.  If you have ever been to Australia you will know why I choose this traditional block; in the USA shoo fly is a lovely pie made with molasses and brown sugar, in Australia shoo fly is what we do all through the summer months.

The block is quick and quirky.  To download a copy for yourself go to Two Bits Patches site by clicking
Follow the prompts - you will need to go through the checkout but there is no charge for the pattern.

I hope you enjoy the block, and you know we love to see your photos.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Home Stretch

In the midst of special birthdays, anniversaries and a family wedding I have been collating the final pattern of the block of the month Chester Criswell Quilt.  The first block was released nearly three years ago in August 2012 and Block 33 will be unleashed in a few days.  Congratulations to all of you that have kept up with the blocks and shared your blogs, you deserve a medal!

The final block doesn't mean the end of the quilt.  The patterns are all available at Two Bits Patches, you can still buy one or two or all.  There are a few surprises still to come, so keep watching this space.

Do you like my new collection?  My aunt has been downsizing and I have been given these family photos.


This is my new favourite.  These are Mary McClellan Smith nee Criswell's daughters; Mary, Alice and Marion. The photo is about 1885.  Marion was my great grandmother.

...changed my mind.  This is my new favourite, Ryan just turned one and we had a birthday party at an animal farm.  Happy birthday Ryan.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Mother's Day and This and That

This was my Mother's Day present, a copy of The Ohio Collection by Anita Shackelford.  I have been following Nancy's progress on Tattered Garden, and I wanted a copy of the book myself. 

Some of Nancy's blocks - more at Tattered Garden Blogspot

I often choose my own presents.  I buy something online and when it arrives I give it to my husband, unopened, to be hidden until the appropriate day.  It's the best way to get just what I want.  (One of the local advertising flyers said, Surprise your Mum! with a range of perfumes.  I certainly would have been surprised with a gift of perfume...)

This was my Mother's Day present in 2013. The range was Pomegranate by Blue Hills Fabrics.  It made another appearance at our Primary Patchworker's quilt show last month.

And if you'd like to see some fabulous red and green quilts visit Collector With a Needle. Dawn has pictures from an exhibition with quilts from the Rocky Mountain Quilt Museum in Colorado. About halfway down the post is the Osborn Signature Quilt with autographed fleur de lis blocks.  The signatures are around the edge of the block, rather than in the middle like Rachel Dickey.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Time for some Photos

I was reminded that it's been a while since I posted links to everyone's blog photos.  I was amazed to find it's been almost six months since I asked for your photos.  So, if you've finished one of the following blocks now is a good time to share your handiwork.

Block 26 Elizabeth Cummins

Block 27 Susanna Criswell

Block 28 Mary McDowell

Block 29 Maria Criswell

Block 30 Elizabeth Crosby

Block 31 John and Martha Dickey

1. Write your blog post. Publish it on your blog.
2. Copy the link of the specific blog post. This is not just the link to your blog itself (, but the link to the specific post: (
3. Click the blue link up button below and paste your link into the box.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Godey's, Patchwork and Fashion

The Godey's Lady's Book was it and a bit for women in the 19th century.  This blog has a few posts on the famous magazine.

Patchwork doesn't get much attention in Godey's.  Patchwork was menial, like mending socks and hemming sheets.  The following entry is typical - one picture with no description.

Fashion, of course, was another matter.  The fashion plates and the current fashion news from the big cities was a feature of the magazine.  I do love these over the top drawings and was pondering about a blog of Godey's fashion plates or printing a set of postcards.  I ran the idea past my editorial staff.  They (daughters and sister) suggested I would need to add some captions to the pictures and offered a few suggestions.

Emily wondered if anyone would notice the excess baggage hidden under her skirt.

Emily hoped that by wearing all her clothes to the weight watchers weigh in they won't notice the extraordinary number of Easter eggs that she had consumed over the weekend.

If I don't move my husband will never find where I've hidden my fabric stash.

After 5 hours ironing her outfit Emily was too scared to move in case her skirt creased.

Emily hoped no-one would notice her clunky orthopedic shoes at the school sports day.

What do you think?

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Appealing Yet Absurd

I have been looking for information on the traditional House or Schoolhouse block.

House Block  from Malaga 1937

The house block appeared in quilts at the end of the 19th century.  It was firstly called Log Cabin, then Old Kentucky Home, Old Folks at Home or Lincoln’s Log Cabin.

I discovered that it was first called Little Red Schoolhouse in 1929 by Ruth Finley in “Old Patchwork Quilts and the Women Who Made Them.” I went to my bookshelf to see if Finley had any more information on the pattern. 

I discovered that Finley wasn’t a big fan of this block.  In her opinion the pattern was “appealing yet absurd”.  She dates it as a “new” pattern, i.e. appearing after 1870.
Finley mourned the demise of quality needlework due in part to the Victorian era.

“… no well-known pattern was evolved after 1880…. As a universal medium of feminine expression, quilt-making ceased to exist.  It vanished in the general night, as it were, of hideousness.”  page 196-197

My House blocks - "appealing yet absurd"

I wonder what Ruth Finley thought of Sunbonnet Sue?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

A Sojourn in New South Wales

I have been on holidays. We spent some time on the south coast of New South Wales, one of our favourite locations.  Apart from the delights of sunshine, beaches and no cooking, I found I few nice surprises along the way. 

Mogo, NSW is the new home of Rosemount The Patchwork Shop.  They used to be located in Canberra.  Downstairs is lots and lots of fabric and upstairs is a collection of antique sewing machines.

This Singer 319K attracted my attention.  It has levers on the top for stitch selection.

We spent a day driving up the mountain to Braidwood. Braidwood is a historic town that grew during the mid 1800s gold rush and many of the buildings are still in the main street.  The Hanging of the Quilts takes place in Braidwood each year, November 2015 will be the 21st time this event has been organised.

 This is the famous Braidwood Quilt Shop.  Its website says it has the largest collection of theme and novelty prints available in Australia.  I believe them.  The shop is full.  Very, very full.

I found a signature quilt in Braidwood too.  This is hanging in  St. Bede's Catholic Church with a lovely mix of contributions from families and church groups.

You can tell a quilter on holidays - we take the most interesting photos.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

On Your Mark, Get Set, ....

Mary McDowell's block was January's Block.

CCCQ Block 28 Mary McDowell

Now January is nearly finished and February is the day after tomorrow.  Block 29 is in the gates and ready to sprint through the ether to lucky computers.

I have been thinking about projects for 2015.  I could finish UFOs but that seems too boring.  The last block for the Chester Criswell Quilt will be released in June so this project will be complete (apart from quilting...) I have spent three years in the 1850s and am ready for a new decade. I am working on a special something, I don't want to give too much away, but I will leave you with some clues.  Ready?