5 January 2012

My Quilting Story


I am new to blogging and I would like to go back to the beginning of my quilting experience and show some of my "older" quilts which have a special place in my heart not because they are expertly made, but because I did the best that I could at the time with my limited knowledge and experience.

On the right is the very first quilt I made.  Is it a snowball or a bow tie pattern, I'm not quite sure?  I think that I found a pattern in a quilt magazine at the time.  It is machine pieced and hand quilted.  (I had to try my hand at everything all at once - lol).  It has pride of place in my sewing room!

On the left is a Bargello wall hanging which also hangs in my sewing room.  Machine quick piecing and machine quilted.  I was in such a hurry to get the binding on and hanging that I did not quilt the border until quite recently when I had tried my hand at Free Motion Quilting, which, by the way, has become my passion.  More about that later.


Here are 2 Amish Quilts.  I love the bright and simple colours which were so typical of the Amish needlework.

I made this quilt for my Mom for her 70th birthday in 1992.  It is also in the Amish tradition but I took the liberty of using a floral in the piecing as well as in the border instead of a solid fabric.  I wonder what I should make her for her 90th birthday this year?!

Crazy quilted waistcoat

February 12 1999 was Dad's 80th birthday and this is the waistcoat I made for him.  It was the first time that I had tried my hand at Crazy Quilting and I used many of his beautiful ties and embellished the finished piece with different embroidery stitches.

This little miniature remained a UFO (unfinished object) until quite recently when I decided to finish it.  See the size of it next to the light switch!  The tiny blocks are 1¾ cm square - less than 1½ inches.

Then came the annual Quilt Show which was held in Johannesburg that particular year.  I can't for the life of me remember, but I think it was round about 1993/4.  Oh the excitement!  I would attend as many of the workshops in the week as I possibly could.  There I met up with "old" friends from Natal where we previously lived whom I had neither seen nor heard of since we left and had no idea that they had also started quilting.  The quilt below was pieced at an "Attic Window" workshop.  This was such fun and I managed to piece the top which was then brought home, folded up and put away until 18 years later (last year) I decided to "back and batt" it and try my hand at FMQ.  I took the bull by the horns, put it under the presser foot, dropped the feed dogs and off I went!  I was sooo excited to say the least!  The fish swimming in the window were outline quilted, which I might add took ages and the window ledge and wall were stipple quilted.  It hangs at the end of the passage where it looks quite striking.

Attic Windows

Flying Geese

 This is a Flying Geese made at least 15 years ago and has been used every day.  It is one of my favourites and is folded up every morning and placed across the bottom of our bed.  Unfortunately the border fabric has faded quite badly (see my note later on about fabric). Nonetheless, it is a very loved quilt and has been cuddled under on many a frosty night!  I actually made it for our bed in our bush cottage at Marloth Park and often wonder, if quilts could talk, what sounds it had been witness to.  Lions roaring at night, hyaenas ....whatever they do; and all types of critters wandering around the cottage at night.  Oh yes and Eland looking in at the windows as we had often witnessed.  But that is another story!

Now there was a period of about 10-15 years where I did not do very much quilting owing to a few of our childrens' weddings where I made daughters' wedding dresses as well as daughters-in-law's wedding dresses.  Also we had a few house relocations when my quilting fabrics were packed away and remained unopened until 2010 when I decided it was time to retrieve them from their packing cases in the garage and get to work again.  Why had I left it so long?!

I soon discovered that many of the fabrics that had been horded for so long were actually quite useless for quilting and so began an arduous task of "sorting and chucking" much to my maid's delight!  Many of the pieces were left over dress material and also upholstery fabric given to me by a friend with a furniture factory.  Actually some of it was put to use making totes, or handbags as we call them.  Here is a pic of one

 ....and another made of charm squares.

So, most of my stash is now sorted although I still have some "just can't get rid of" pieces!  These shall remain until such time.....

Now what to make?  My friend Gill has introduced me to Cotton Tales and Sew Many Things both in Hillcrest.  Oh my, oh my!!!  How I found that quilt fabric has not only changed but improved in the past 15 years!  Choices; colours; batiks; designs; tone-on-tones; charms, jelly rolls, honey buns, layer cakes; turnovers, dessert rolls; candy bars - I could go on and on.  A feast for the eyes.  After getting my breath back, I managed to choose some fat quarters with a colour scheme in mind but no idea of how I was going to use them.  There I was R1500 later with fabric, batting and an assortment of threads, pins, and templates under my arm, heading away on our 3 hour journey back home.  A few weeks later and here is what I produced....

Diamond Star Quilt

It was machine pieced and both machine and hand quilted.  This has now whet my appetite and the next one I made, after having discovered the Missouri Star Quilt Company and Jenny Doan's tutorials, remains my favourite to date.  Ta daaaa.....

Crazy Drunkard's Path

This was made from one of Jenny's tutorials and is machine pieced and free motion quilted with echoing spirals and stippled around the border.  Just love the effect!  It hangs horizontally on the wall above our bed.

After this, I made a few wall hangings but unfortunately I don't have any photos of them as they went to a friend's shop to be sold.

Log Cabin

 Here is a Log Cabin Quilt set in the "field and furrows" design.  Not one of my favourites but pretty anyway.   It is a single bed quilt.

Next came a hand pieced Spool Quilt.  Why did I start this; why, why, why?????  Because it is hand-pieced, it absolutely must be hand quilted and this is taking months as it is still in the making!  Pics will be posted when it is finished. *

Dresden Plate

This is another of my favourites (I've got quite a lot of favourites)!  It is a Dresden Plate wall hanging made with a template which I ordered from the States.  It is free-motion machine quilted with hearts and spirals.  The binding is made with left-over fabric from the plates.  It looks stunning hanging on the wall.  Unfortunately the FMQing does not show up very well in the photo.  I have also done another one in pinks and purples.  Will put it up when it is photographed.  It needs strong sunlight.

 A close-up view of the hearts and spirals quilting.

Purple Dresden Plate

Here is the purple Dresden Plate.  By the way, you can click on the photos to enlarge them.


This is a sampler quilt I started in about 1994/5!  As the years passed, I realised that with my limited knowledge at the time and the fact that I had hand-pieced it, there were many inconsistencies in the piecing.  I finally decided, in 2012, that it would make a wonderful quilt on which to practice my free motion quilting.  So I hauled it out, tried to square up the blocks and found that there was not enough space left for a ¼ inch seam
which would leave the points chopped off in some of the blocks.  Oh well, what can do!  I just sommer sewed it up adding sashing and borders and all of a sudden - wow - this doesn't look too bad!  I used a different FMQ stitch in each block.  This allowed me to practice the different stitches on a real quilt in stead of scraps of quilt sandwiches.

April 2012

Here I used a 5 inch half hexie template for this hexagon lap quilt.  The fabric is a batik - Mirah's Classic Sushi Roll by Princess Mirah for Bali Fabrics.  I used 2 Sushi Rolls for this quilt.  The colours caught my eye!  It is quilted in a branching design.  It is used as a throw on our couch in the lounge.

May 2012

This is a small table topper where I used "Collections for a Cause" by Howard Marcus for Moda Fabrics.  It is quilted in a meandering loopy design.  Love the colours!

*  July 2012

Here, finally, is the Spool Quilt machine quilted.  Yes I know, I know.  It just is not done to finish a hand pieced quilt by machine; but-but-but.   This "ufo" has been put away for two years!  Unfortunately I backed it with chintz which made the going very difficult to hand quilt it and as we had just completed our July fmq challenge (see under Blog Archive July), I thought it would be great practice for the swirls and it would get the quilt done!  So here it is finally finished!

Spool Quilt

August 2012

I have now completed another Disappearing 9 patch to be used as a table topper, using "Tea Cakes" by Verna Mosquera for Free Spirit Fabrics.  It is quilted in a swirly leaf design with feathers in the border.

A close up of the quilted feathers

Also in this month I have completed a Queen size quilt as a wedding gift for my nephew Shaun and his wife to be, Janene.  They will be married in October in the Drakensberg, Natal, so it is finished well in time!

Here are some close-ups of the quilting

A swirly flower design

The feathered border

In the meantime, I have started a BOM (block of the month) quilt challenge by Craftsy, as well as a Free Motion Quilt Challenge, both of which started in January.  They will continue every month for the rest of the year and can be found separately on my Blog.

Thank you for taking the time to read about my quilting.  It will be updated as and when I have more completed quilts to show.


  1. I am so glad that you are back into quilting - your quilts are beautiful! I hope you are enjoying FMQ. All of the practice makes it rather addicting for me, the hand-quilter! ~Jeanne

  2. Thank you Jeanne. I appreciate your comment.

  3. Beautiful quilts! Did you use the Elna machine to quilt them?