Traditional vs Modern Quilting

I enrolled into an iquilt class called Quilting Makes a Difference by Judi Madsen.

I made my two identical quilt sampler tops as per Judi’s instructions and watched her videos very carefully, I then marked my quilts just as Judi instructed, loaded them up one at a time and then quilted them one after the other.



The traditional quilt had a lot less marking and it had more of a freehand feel to it, it didn’t need to be precise, just even and consistent. I found quilting this way a little scary at first. I really like to know where I am going and what I am doing in advance – I am not big on surprises! After free-handing my feather spine it was much easier as I had a base line to work from. I love the look of feathers and found that I really enjoyed doing them.

I was actually surprised that the quilting went very smoothly and I had the whole quilt finished in a fairly short period of time. The quilt measures 24″x 24″, so it wasn’t a big quilt. I have a 26″ longarm and even though the quilt measure 24″ I still couldn’t do the whole quilt in one go, I had to advance the quilt a short way only once to finish it off. That was also a really good lesson on where to stop and start to continue on for the borders.



I really, really enjoyed the modern quilting part of this exercise. I think I am a ruler junkie. I really like working with rulers. This quilt top had a lot more marking. In fact the only things that weren’t marked were the fillers. All the lines were marked before quilting started. There were also a lot of stop/starts. Judi has a longarm that doesn’t like going from right to left and she was constantly stopping to approach her quilting from the ‘right’ side. I am really lucky with my longarm, it doesn’t mind which way I go and gives me great tension in all directions. Still, with this particular design there were a lot of stop/starts.

Of the two quilting types, I think I really prefer the modern one. I really like ruler work so that helps seal the deal.

I am thinking of hanging my ‘Traditional vs Modern’ quilts side by side on one of my walls. I feel like I need something new on my walls so why not these gorgeous wallhangings.

Let’s make scraps beautiful,


Marking Your Quilt

Since my return to longarm quilting and trying my hand at more complex and interesting custom quilting designs, I have found marking my quilt to be a very necessary tool in getting my quilting exactly how I want it.

I have in the past been hesitant to mark my quilts as I have heard horror stories of marks not coming out, or of marks returning after they initially disappeared. I searched and researched all the marking tools out there and basically settled on a few different types of marking tools.

Here is a list of the ones I like to use:


Blue Water Soluble Pen – this is great for marking your quilt before you load up the quilt onto a quilting frame or longarm machine. It tends to stay for a little while before it starts to fade and disappear altogether. It can also be removed as soon as you no longer need it by either spraying some water on it – them wiping off the excess water. This method is great if you have a large area of marking.  A new method that I have found for smaller areas is using either a water pen or Sew Clean to dab onto the actual mark rather than spraying in a wider area. I use a Precision Lubricator Needle Point Pen Oiler which I bought with no oil in it from eBay and filled it up with Sew Clean. When I need to remove small marks or I only have a small area I will use this pen to drop Sew Clean onto the lines and it removes them. The Sew Clean then washes out when the quilt gets washed.

SewLine Disappearing Pen Purple – this pen is great if you are marking on the fly. Your quilt is already loaded and you just need a few guide lines, tick marks or tracing out templates. It does disappear and fairly quickly especially if you have a lot of lights above your machine as heat makes it disappear faster.

Chalk cartridge pen – this is great for using on darker fabric. I have both a thick and a thin mechanical pencil size. I prefer to only use the white chalk although they both come with green, pink, blue and yellow. These marks are super easy to get out, just rub a microfibre cloth of them and bam they’re gone!

Let’s make scraps beautiful,


iquilt – online quilting classes

At the moment I am surfing the net for any and all videos, tutorials and classes on longarm quilting. I am a very visual learner and find that I retain the information better and can better translate what I have seen to my longarm.

Quite by accident I found another ‘online quilting class course’ called iquilt. I love that they have a seperate Longarm Quilting section as that is really what I am interested in at the moment.

If you love custom quilting then you might have heard of Judi  Madsen of Green Fairy Quilts, she is an awesome quilter and she teaches a class called Quilting Makes a Difference. Because I love her quilting I just had to buy the class and I am glad I did. In this class Judi uses two simple 24″ x 24″ quilt tops with lots of negative space to show how to do modern quilting on one and traditional quilting on the other. Judi takes you through step by step how how to mark and then quilt each style on the quilt tops.

I have made up my sample quilt tops and will be ready to mark and quilt them very soon.


I have two of these!

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before but I like to visit Ikea’s fabric section and see what they have and occasionally I am rewarded with some gorgeous printed fabric that is perfect for backing. It is a little wider than the average quilting fabric and is perfect for the charity quilts I quilt for Sew Generous. As most of our quilts are 42″ x 52″ I can usually get the the whole backing in one piece. Win-win.

The fabric is also less expensive per metre usually between $4.99-$8.99 and they come out with new fabrics each season. Last time I went to Ikea they had some solid colours that I had never seen before in white, blue, black, red and calico. I bought some of each not really sure what I was going to do with them until I watched this class and decided I would use these solids to make up my sampler quilt tops.

I am planning to use these two quilts once they are finished and if they work out, as side by side wall hangings in my family dining room. It’s time to upgrade my Vincent Van Gough Sunflowers tapestry!


TouchDraw for Quilters

Today I am talking about a program that I am currently using to make quilt patterns. This program is called TouchDraw.

In the past I have only ever used Electronic Quilt and that was many years ago. That program worked fine when I used a windows machine, but when I moved over to a Mac things got a little too interesting for my taste and quite frankly I didn’t really like using it, I found I didn’t use most of the options and it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I have been without a quilt design software for quite a few years and thought that I could do quite well without one until I tried drawing out some ideas that I had in my head. I started out drawing on graph paper but eventually all that rubbing out was just driving me nuts.

At this point I started to look at software to use for this purpose, the obvious was EQ but I didn’t really like it and it was expensive and didn’t want to have to install a windows platform on my Mac to run just one program. So after a bit of searching I came across TouchDraw and I liked the look of it.

I managed to find a few tutorials related to how to use TouchDraw as a quilt designing program. The links are HERE, HERE and HERE. I really recommend that you take a look at these tutorials if you are interested in using TouchDraw for quilt designing to see how to get started.

I have the desktop version rather than the iPad version which the above tutorials are based on however, the instructions work for both just the placement of the options is a little different. I will give a quick overview on using TouchDraw on a Mac.


This is the opening screen. It is fairly simple, the canvas in the middle is where you do your design and the left hand side has the drawing toolbar and the right hand side is the sidebar which is used to make attribute changes for objects (shapes, lines, paths, and text), to manage drawing layers, and for inserting stencils into a drawing.

By clicking on the icon that looks like a canvas on an easel the units and rulers options come up and by hitting the blue arrow drop down menu you can select inches.



I usually have my major gridlines at 1” and my subdivisions at 8, which shows 1/8” increments on your grid.

The grid also has positive and negative grid space which is great because if you decide that you want to add extra borders or make your quilt larger you can do it without having to either delete or group and move the whole design.

I usually start all my quilts at the 0,0 axis and add an outline of how big I want my block or quilt to be for that project.

At this point I would look at Lily’s Quilts tutorial on Getting Started . This will give you to building blocks you need to start your first project. I think she did a great job with this tutorial. It is for the iPad version however it works for the Mac version too, some of the options are in slightly different places but they are easy to find.

I have a few tips for getting started:

  1. If you want a perfect square hold the shift key down while dragging out your shape
  2. Double clicking on an icon in the drawing toolbar makes it sticky which means you can use that option as many times as you want without automatically going back to the selection icon, to release the sticky option just click on a different icon
  3. Holding the shift key down while selecting multiple shapes allows you to make changes to all selected or to group them together
  4. Command D duplicates whatever shape is selected
  5. Command G groups your selection together
  6. Use layers to make and save changes to your design without having to do multiple copies. I will make a tutorial about how to do this at a later date

Here is an example of a quilt I designed on TouchDraw.


The first thing is that TouchDraw is defaulted to metric measurements so this is the first thing I change as soon as I open up a new working file.

Then I created the outline of the block, filled in the rectangles and squares to make up the block, coloured in the units and grouped it to make it one block.


Then I duplicated the block 12 times and placed them within my quilt outline all in the same orientation.  I then used the handles to rotate the blocks the way I wanted.


To give the quilt a finished look I added the ‘binding’ to the quilt by using the line drawing tool. I did this by selecting the straight line and increasing the size of the line to 30pts and then drew it around the outside of my quilt.


This is such an interesting program and I am only just getting started with it. I will share what I learn with you as I go.

Let’s make scraps beautiful,




Sew Generous – A Charity Quilting Bee

A few years ago my bestie Effie and I started our own little charity quilting bee  Sew Generous, which was inspired by the Do Good Stitches that started in the US.


We wanted to do something like this but wanted to have the quilts go somewhere closer to home. So we started Sew Generous with just the two of us at first. We supplied all the materials and time but then reached out to other quilters. When we first started I had an active blog and I was part of a few quilt guilds and craft groups so we had many generous quilters and crafters donate fabric to us and we have made many quilts with these. In fact we had so many donations that we put a hold on donations so we could work through what we had. We were simply overwhelmed and I was going through my health issues so it was a good break.

During my illness I stopped going to quilt groups and craft groups and lost touch with so many quilters and I stopped blogging. It has been a few years now and my bestie Effie and I have decided to get back into our charity quilting bee.  There is still only two of us doing the work and a lot of fabric and blocks that were donated and not used yet. We have managed to donate a fair few quilts, you can see all the quilts we donated to Westmead Children’s Hospital on the Sew Generous website.

My hope is that the donations may start up again so we can continue to make quilts for the brave kids going through treatment for cancer in the Oncology Department at Westmead Hospital.

We were so lucky last time we dropped off all the quilts to meet up with the Make a Wish Foundation Youth Ambassador David and a few very excited nurses when we handed our very large bundle over to them.


Suzanne, Effie, Nurse, Donna and David

I really enjoy quilting these quilts. Effie usually makes all the quilt tops and I quilt them. I have become a little more adventurous with my quilting and I think the quilts are coming out really well. We have finally come up with a standard size of 42″ x 52″ for most of our quilts and we have limited ourselves to specific number of quilts. Finally!

If you have any fabric you would like to donate, or any orphan blocks that you no longer need, batting or backing fabric, we are more than happy to take them off your hands. Just visit Sew Generous for all our contact details.

Let’s make scraps into beautiful charity quilts,


Book Review – Shape By Shape

I love books, all kinds of books. I have a lot of them and have even more ebooks. However I find when it comes to quilting books, I really love a physical copy.

I have recently found Angela Walters and Natalia Bonner as inspiration for my new found love of longarm quilting. So of course me being me, I had to buy books from each of these wonderful quilters.

So, today I am going to review a book by Angela Walters called Shape by Shape Vol 1.


I ordered it from the Book Depository and received it in record time. I actually ordered Vol 2 as well. Well why not?!

Anyway, it has over 70 quilting designs in it and it is separated into sections using shapes of blocks, borders and backgrounds. I found that to be a very interesting idea. I looked through the book and was pleasantly surprised to see variations of each design and ways to use the design in other types of shapes. There is step-by-step instructions on how to do each design, definitely something that is really useful. For me this is a book I would have very close to my longarm machine to use as a ready reference when I have different shaped blocks, or borders I want to quilt but am a little stuck. It has a lot of designs at your fingertips for easy access.

I have been practising like crazy and I have already used some ideas from her book. I really love her attitude of ‘close enough is good enough’ and ‘a finished quilt is better than a perfect quilt’. I think especially in my case I get too caught up in trying for perfection that I forget to enjoy the process and just get on with quilting. Angela Walters has helped me ‘get over myself’ and really get back into enjoying quilting and experimenting and giving myself permission to get it close enough and not constantly trying to get it perfect.

Shape by Shape is a really handy book to have if you need inspiration for different quilting designs and all the designs work for the longarm, a domestic or sit down machine.

I would definitely recommend this book.

Let’s make scraps beautiful,


Re-Fresh After a Long Break

Someone once told me that once you start quilting you will never stop! I didn’t know how true that statement really was until very recently.

I had stopped my machine quilting service about four/five years ago and stopped piecing about two years ago due to illness and thought for ‘sure’ that I would not get back into it again. I thought I would sell my longarm quilting machine and move onto something different.

Instead, only recently I went through my studio tidying up and sorting out all the quilts that I still had waiting for binding charity quilts for Sew Generous and couldn’t believe how much fabric I had amassed. At this point I thought I would just make a few quilts for the family and then call it quits.

After finishing off the charity quilts and then sorting through all my scraps and reorganising everything, the quilting bug hit me like a sledge hammer and I realised that I didn’t want to give this up, not yet. I still really, really love quilting and piecing and everything else that goes along with it.

I shut down my old website and started up a new one with the same name and re-freshed my logo. After designing the logo I noticed that it was a design that could be very easily transferred to a quilting pattern. I haven’t designed or graphed out blocks in a very long time (I am thinking Farmer’s Wife Quilt) but I still remembered how to do it so I got out my trusty graph paper and drew out my logo.


I really enjoyed the process. It is now the first thing I see when I walk into my studio.

I used TouchDraw which is a new to me app that is fantastic for making quilt designs. In the past I used EQ which is a windows based program and I own a Mac. The version I had was really old so I thought it was time to upgrade to something that actually worked on a Mac. I read about TouchDraw from Lily’s Quilts and after reading her tutorial I purchased  the Mac version and since then I have made about eight quilt designs.  I also used this app to transform my logo into a quilt pattern and then I went ahead and made it. I think it reflects more of a modern feel which is definitely what I am going for.


1998-My First Quilt

I started off doing a lot of traditional quilts with traditional fabrics because lets face it, back in 1998 when I made my very first quilt that was all there was.

I throughly enjoyed quilting traditional quilts and I still have some unfinished projects like Dear Jane, Farmer’s Wife and Pony Club. I have already done half the blocks for Farmer’s Wife, but for Dear Jane and Pony Club I hope to put a modern twist on it. I will have to see how much traditional type fabric I have left to use up.

My first quilt was the usual stitch in the ditch on my domestic which was my mum’s old Singer at the time.

I just love how the most amazing quilt designs can be done on both the domestic and longarm. I must say I am a little spoiled with my 26″ throat longarm.

I bought my longarm in June 2010 and only did pantographs and the occasional ruler work. I really wasn’t much into custom as it just didn’t seem to  come together and my back would hurt only after a short time quilting. It wasn’t until I watched a free longarm quilting Craftsy  video ( brilliant online learning courses) called ‘A New Look At Longarm Quilting’ that I realised that I had my machine height set up all wrong. When I bought my machine I didn’t have someone come out and set it up for me as I believe most companies do now when you buy your longarm machine. I had my machine set about 30cm to low. That is significant height difference. According to the video I watched the  front rollers of the frame should sit just under bust height. That very night, very late that night I made my husband readjust the height of my quilting frame.

The next morning I gave it another go and couldn’t believe the difference, I could quilt from the front of my machine for over an hour with no back pain. I have been practising like crazy ever since and am just loving all the custom designs out there. I have all the videos and books by Angela Walters and Natalia Bonner and I don’t want to put them down and I can’t wait to practise what they are teaching!



Let’s make scraps beautiful,