Daysail disappearing 9 patch baby quilt

There are few quilts that are easier to take on than a disappearing nine patch.  So, over the weekend, I opened up my Daysail layer cake at last, and decided to get cracking on one.

Sometimes people say to me that they don’t like working with layer cakes because there is just too much colour in it for one project.  I understand that sentiment sometimes, but often find I get the best results when using a layer cake (or any other pre-cut for that matter) if I make a decision to only use a few of the colours in the pack, and save the rest for another project.  That way the few colours you choose to focus on get to shine, and the result is not so overwhelming.

In this case, I decided to use the reds, navys, whites and aquas in the pack, and save the cream, green and teal for another day.

Here’s the method:

1.  Cut layer cake slices into 4 x 5″ patches.  I cut 21 slices (sometimes in bulk by stacking a few of them up) to make a quilt that will be 6 blocks by 6 blocks (about 41″ square finished size).

2.  Arrange the patches into sets of 9.  I like to choose one colour that will always be the centre block in these arrangements.  You’ll see why soon.  For this project, I chose red to be the centre patch.

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3.  Sew these blocks together, to form a 9-patch block.  Use a 1/4″ seam and press each row in the opposite direction so that the seams nest as you join the rows of the block together

4.  After a good press, lay your 9-patch on your cutting mat.  You need to measure carefully the centre lines of the block, both vertically and horizontally.  I’ve marked approximately the lines you need to locate in yellow on the picture below.  Where to cut5.  Cut the 9-patch block into 4 smaller blocks, along the yellow lines that you have measured.  Be as accurate as is possible!

6.  You should now have 4 small patches, each with one large square, one small (in my case, red) square and two rectangles.  Trim these so that they are of identical size.  I trimmed them all to 6 3/4″ square.

7.  Lay out your patches into the arrangement for the quilt.  Here’s an example of how you can lay it out, but there is plenty of room for improvisation and experimentation here!  I try not to over-think it.  In my view, some imperfection is desirable, but each to their own.

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8.  As you can see, when you choose a single colour for the centre of the 9 patch block, it ends up becoming a common thread in the finished design that brings the whole quilt together.  I think it can make an otherwise messy/scrappy design look orderly enough to be pleasing to the eye.

8.  Sew together your small blocks into rows.  Press the seams in opposite directions.

9.  Join your rows together, matching the points where the blocks meet and locking the seams (by having them pressed into opposite directions).

10.  Give your masterpiece a good press, cut some backing and wadding to size, baste, quilt and bind!

Enjoy this fun, easy project.


At last! Spell it with Moda quilt top is complete

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It’s probably been the slowest project I have ever taken on… but at last the Spell it with Moda alphabet quilt top is ready to finish.


I’m so happy with a few decisions I made along the way: to omit the picture blocks that were slotted in irregularly to even out the size (I just used white panels at the end of the rows and centred the letters instead) and to add a really bright border made from the scraps of the piecing of the letters.  I think the border really makes it pop!

I’ve used a mix of all of the Bonnie and Camille bits and pieces I have accumulated over recent years, in an effort to tidy up my fabric stash.  There’s Marmalade, Scrumptious, April Showers and Happy-Go-Lucky in there, each contrasted with the white Bella Solid.

This will be hung on my little girl’s bedroom wall.  I hope she loves it as much as I do.

Have a great day.


Bedlinen for doll’s furniture

My little girl is into dolls all of a sudden.  I bought her a little doll bed from Ikea, but the linen that came with it was… awful.  So, I dug out some scraps and decided to make something better for her.

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I rustled up some leftover April Showers (and probably some other Bonnie and Camille bits and pieces) and printed out from the internet some hexagon templates onto thicker paper.

I cut out the hexagons carefully, then used an EPP glue stick to baste the fabric on to the hexagons.

Then I set to work at joining the hexagons.  The little pillow came together very quickly, as did the mattress, but the doll’s quilt took a bit longer.  I think there’s probably about two weeks worth of short TV shows in there (to be fair, I sew small stitches and don’t watch a lot of TV 🙂 ).

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Last night I put the quilt top together with some wadding and backing (matching the mattress and the back of the pillow – also from April Showers)  and when my little girl woke up this morning there was a nice surprise for her.

She loved it!  So do I… and I love that I am teaching her that the best toys are handmade.  Now she can get back to her favourite game, which consists of feeding, putting to bed, putting on nappies and clothes, and toilet training one poor harangued doll.  If that poor doll could speak!

Since the favourite doll was in bed with little miss, these three got tucked in for the first snooze in the new linen.  They seem pretty happy about it!

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The great thing about working with paper pieces is that you don’t need a pattern or a fixed design, you can work it out as you go, adding another row here or there as you like.

Have a great day.


Restoring old garden furniture using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint

I’m sure most people have seen, or even have owned, a set of cast-iron (or aluminium, depending on their age) garden furniture a bit like this.  It’s not in vogue at the moment, but I really like old-style furniture, and it suits my Queenslander home.

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My mum noticed a set of 4 of these chairs and a table (in terrible condition!) at a garage sale near her home not long ago.  She snapped them up ($40 for the lot! Bargain!) and I have been very slowly doing them up so that they can go either on my front porch or into my garden.

This weekend, I knocked over chair number 3.  The photo above shows the restored chair on the left, and the remaining one which is untouched on the right.  In fact, the photos don’t really show the full extent of the contrast.  The restored chair looks amazing compared with its former self.

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Before restoration

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After restoration

Annie Sloan’s chalk paint is not all that easy to get (Bunnings doesn’t keep it, for instance) and it is a bit more expensive than ordinary paint.  It is worth the trouble to find it and the extra money because:

– it doesn’t require the stripping of the old paint (all you need to do is ensure the surface is clean and remove any loose flakes of paint)

– It is pretty safe:  there aren’t nasty fumes to worry about, so I can paint despite being pregnant and having a little one running around me while I work

– It is really easy to use

– It washes up in warm water

When you factor in the money and time saved when you don’t have to strip the old paint, prime it or varnish, it’s a good deal, in my view.

Before restoration

Before restoration

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After restoration

I really like the white, but the paints come in a range of colours (most of which I think would look better diluted with white, but that might just be my preferences showing through).

If you are using the paint on indoor furniture, it also has a wax finish that seals it in (I’ll show you this in a future post).  However, the Queensland sun is just too strong for it, and you don’t need it in the outdoors, so it is better to just go without it.  I’m told the really high summer temperatures we get can melt the wax right off outdoor furniture!  It’s much better to keep the wax indoors.

The paint is the perfect surface if you want to try and distress the finish.  I don’t plan to do that with my outdoor setting.

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The original condition is on the left, the restored chair is on the right. The back of the chair wasn’t as bad as the front, so the contrast between the before and after isn’t quite as stark!

Anyway, if you are the kind of person who would prefer to fix something up than throw it away, consider restoring using Annie Sloan’s chalk paint.  It’s easy, hardy and gives a nice new lease on life for well-built classics like this outdoor setting.

I’m one chair and a table away from a brand-new setting for my home.  It has been such an enjoyable project so far.

If you are looking for the paints, you can get them from Paint Me White in Brisbane (Woolloongabba) or on the Gold Coast (Mudgeeraba).

Have a great day!


Paper dolls bakery 16″ softie doll

I’m not experienced with making toys.  I’ve made a number of EPP balls with a bell inside for babies, but that is about it.  Until last night!

In the space of about a half hour, I took the paper dolls bakery softie panel produced by Sibling Arts Studio for Penny Rose Fabrics from start to finish.  It was really easy, I could hand sew it closed while I watched telly with my husband, and importantly, my little girl loves it.

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It really was just a matter of cutting out the panels, putting the front and back sides together (pretty sides inwards) and straight stitching around the edge, leaving a hole for stuffing.  I also zig-zagged around the raw edges to prevent fraying – overlocking would be better but I don’t have an overlocker 🙂

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Some soft toy fill pressed in, and hand sewing of the hole to close it up, and voila!  I might have over-filled her a little but I figure that toys compress a little over time.

I’ll confess my husband doesn’t love it (he thinks dolly has a piggy nose), but I think it has a nice simplicity and a sweet vintage feel.  Plus, I want my little girl to love simple, home made toys rather than piles of plastic, disposable junk from stores.  The fact that she won’t stop cuddling it has to be a good sign!  She was very quickly named Abby by my little one.

Have a great day.


Scandinavian style baby quilt

On mother’s day in early May, I had a little more time than usual in the sewing room.  It was my request for the day – so much better than breakfast in bed!

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I took the chance to make a quilt top for a friend of mine who is a new mother.  Her daughter arrived 4 weeks early, and so I didn’t quite have the gift ready for little miss’ arrival.  Nevertheless, it is complete now, and I thought I would share with you some photos.

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I didn’t use a pattern for this quilt, but I gave a description of how to make it in this post.

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I decided to back the quilt in flannelette, because it is winter here and nothing is more snuggly.  That way, the quilt has a cool side and a warm side, so that it can be used year-round.

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I had picked up the fabric for the front at a quilter’s fair earlier in the year, and it is by Cloud 9.  The backing is a Moda fabric which, despite being from a fairy-tale styled range, coordinates well with the pinks and creams on the quilt top.  I used all of the scraps from the fabrics I used on the top to make a scrappy binding, and so there was less than one fat quarter’s worth of waste for the whole quilt.  That made me especially happy!

My Mum, who so often helps me with the hand-sewing part of binding, did it again on this quilt.  Thanks Mum 🙂  It means I was able to post the finished product to the recipient yesterday.  Now I have the anticipation of waiting for the recipient’s reaction… one of the parts of giving quilts I enjoy most.

Have a great day, all.


Another Dr Seuss colourway

A few weeks ago I posted a quick and easy baby quilt made from Dr Seuss 6″ squares.  You can see that post here if you missed it.

Here’s a second version of the quilt, made for another dear relative who is due to have her first baby in August.  I think I am even happier with this version!  It was another mother-daughter effort.

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It’s the same basic concept – same size coloured patches, same number of coloured patches, but this time there is a 1.5″ white sashing between each coloured patch.

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What is great about that is that it gives each of the bright colours a bit of space to shine – and a moment for the eye to focus on each one before the next colour hits the eye.

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Backed in yellow Dr Seuss fabric that is nice and busy, it is bright and practical without being overwhelming.  The binding is a blue fabric with the head of The Cat in the Hat all over it.

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I hope it is well received!  I put it in the post for the lucky recipient on Friday, so it won’t be long until it adorns the nursery in its new home.  Now we just need that baby to arrive safely and enjoy it!

Have a great day,