A trip to the lolly shop

27 11 2015

I remember a time when I was younger and as a very special treat my sister and I would be allowed 20cents to go down to the local shop and buy a bag of mixed lollies.  It was always an adventure to see what you got and to swap those that you did not like.  I never wanted the hard, boiled lollies but I could usually trade these with my sister for a snake or something else.  I think she worked out that you could suck the boiled ones for hours and extend the pleasure of the lolly bag.

Now I am much older and am still not a fan of boiled lollies, but I think I have found a way to have the joy and colourful effect of these without the sugar.  That is in making the latest block of the month by Jaybird quilts – Sweet Tooth.  Each block reminds me of bright, colourful lollies.

The BOM does not come out until the new year, but the beauty of going to Quilt Market in Houston is that you get to see the quilts and take home a shop guide.  This year Julie also gave me a little bundle of fabric to make the first two blocks.

Sweet tooth 3

Here is Julie from Jaybird Quilts standing in front of Sweet Tooth. (you can click on it to see a bigger picture)

Sweet tooth 2

Last night I made my blocks up.  The two blocks took less than an hour from start to finish.  The quilt uses the Hex N More and Super Sidekick rulers or you can make your own templates.  The rulers make everything easier.  I am offering the BOM with a choice of light, medium or dark backgrounds and am making my sample up in the light background, so you can see the five colours on the silver background below.  Obviously Julie’s sample pictured above is in the dark option.

Sweet tooth 1

Here is what the finished blocks look like.  I am looking forward to making the rest.

Sweet tooth 4

If you want to be part of any of our BOMs you can check out the details here:  http://www.uniquestitching.com.au/c/195258/1/clubs-subs-and-boms.html

Toes in the Sand – A feast of easy triangles

11 04 2015

I have been having a bit of fun recreating a Jaybird Quilts (http://www.jaybirdquilts.com/) Block of the Month.  I will run this as a monthly BOM starting late May early June 2015.  All of the blocks in the quilt are made using the Hex N More ruler.  This ruler is a Jaybird Quilts designed tool and is very clever.

Here are some photos of me using the Hex N More on a different quilt block, cutting triangles and hexagons.  Using this ruler means that putting together these, and other shapes go together like a dream.

Hex N More cutting Hexes.

Hex N More cutting Hexes.

Hex N More cutting triangles

Hex N More cutting triangles


Anyway, the BOM I have been remaking is Toes in the Sand.  It is made up of 24 different triangles, set in more triangles.  Each month, you make two blocks in the same way, but the way you place the fabrics will make them look very different, so by the end, you have 24 really cool, different triangles.  This shows the original pattern and colours.

ToesintheSand-Pattern_Cover_WebI am offering it in two colourways, one similar to those originally used and one in autumn tones.  Both options have batiks as the main fabric and Kona Cotton as the setting triangles.



Here are the 24 autumn tone blocks.  There is a bit of variation in the quality of the lighting as I took these as I finished them, some in the day, some at night, all on my ironing board in the kitchen.  In each pair, one is more subtle than the other.  This will be important when I lay them out into the finished quilt placement.

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If you would like to take part in this or any of our other BOMs, please visit http://www.uniquestitching.com.au and select Clubs, Subs or BOMs as the category.


This weeks featured product – Using Transfer Artist Paper (TAP)

14 03 2015

I love TAP and use it pretty much every day.

Transfer Artist Paper (TAP) is photo transfer tool. It gives you a lot of flexibility because it can be transferred onto almost any surface and can be added at any stage of a design process. Fabric you print onto will always need to be stitched into the project, but TAP can be applied over layers at the beginning, middle or end of a project. It can be applied to fabric, paper, card, leather, tiles, wood and even glass. TAP is paper sheets coated in a polymer which catches and then binds colour to objects. You can print onto it with an ink jet printer or draw, stamp, stencil – basically add colour in any way you want.

Transfering images with TAP is not hard and the quality of the image you can get can be crisper than any other transfer process, but there are a couple of hints that will help you do this. Here they are:

  1.  Use a high quality, large image. What you start with is what you get. If your image is not a high resolution and is pixelated or will become so if enlarged, then it won’t improve in the transfer process. You can increase the dots per inch and the colour saturation in most picture software.
  2.  Reverse your images. This is essential with people you know, words and phrases and landmarks that are identifiable.  If you create all your images, including any text as a picture, it is very easy to reverse.
  3.  Print onto the white side. This is the right side. When ironing onto your fabric, the right side (white) goes face down onto the surface you are transferring it onto.
  4.  The TAP is not A4 in size. Open up a Word document and change the Page Layout to Letter. Reduce the margins as much as you can.
  5.  When you iron the TAP, use a hot dry iron. You are melting the polymers onto your fabric, so the heat must be sufficient to melt all of the polymer evenly across the whole piece.
  6.  Remove the backing paper immediately. Do not allow it to cool down or your image will be damaged when you pull the backing paper away.
  7.  MOST CRITICALLY – if, as you pull the backing paper off, there is grabbing or resistance – STOP. Replace the backing paper and iron again. The backing paper should slip straight off without any grab. Pulling when there is resistance will cause you to lose or damage some of your image.
  8.  The surface that you apply the TAP too will determine the finish. TAP is semi transparent, so you will see colour, texture and patterns behind the image. This can be a powerful design tool, but make an informed decision about the finish you are after. See images below.
  9.  A textured or uneven surface will result in a textured or uneven transfer. See the image of the TAP on Crash for an example.
  10.  The finer the fabric, the harder it is to transfer onto. If in doubt, keep ironing. It will be okay.

Look at some comparisons on using it. This first image is the original photo printed on white card.

Original Photo med

I then printed multiple copies of the photo onto the TAP ready to transfer onto different surfaces.

Transfer images onto TAP med

As the TAP is semi transparent, each surface that the image is printed onto looks different.  When you know what the TAP is going to do on various surfaces, you can manipulate it to suit the finished effect you want for you project.

Different surfaces will get a different effect med

The crispest and clearest image is one transfered onto a white, high thread count cotton fabricTAP on cotton homespun med

These next two are on a light coloured patterned cotton and a coloured (green) cotton.  You can see that the colour and texture show through influencing the image.

TAP on Patterned fabric med         TAP on Coloured Fabric med

Extending the concept of texture, here is one on Bamboo Felt.  You get the crispness of the white showing through, but the subtle texture of the bamboo behind the image.
TAP on Bamboo Rayon Felt med

The next transfer is on heavy weight Lutradur.  Again, the texture influences the image. Next to it is a light weight Lutradur in Gold.  Colour and texture influence the image significantly here.

TAP on heavy lutradur med   TAP on Gold Lutradur med

When you iron the TAP onto an uneven surface, the transfer will only occur on the places where the top of the surface comes in contact with the TAP.  Imagine photos on lace or white cord etc.  This next image is on Lutradur Crash (now discontinued, sadly)

TAP on textured Lutradur Crash med

The final image I am going to show you today is the picture ironed onto a hand dyed silk georgette.  This effect is lovely and has a lot of potential to explore.

TAP on Silk Georgette med

So, dive in and play.  The potential is unlimited.



Okay, I am outing myself

10 03 2015

I am outing myself as a work area disaster.  Many of you will know that we moved into a smaller home with the view of renovating and downsizing – reducing our footprint in the consumer world. And lets face it, we are getting older, the children are adults, our needs are far simpler.

However.  We moved in August, yes, seven months ago and my work space remains a disaster.  I get that I am insane busy and my life is one of perpetual motion but I am an ordered person and without order, I don’t function at 100%.  Maybe not even 50%.  So today when I looked around my work space I said “ENOUGH”.

So here, today, I am outing myself with the view that you, my collective community will shame me into fixing this.  I won’t get much done before I go to the US and return, but your job is to keep me honest.  Here are the photos (OMG don’t judge me!)

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At the time of taking the photos, I had not even taken down the Christmas Quilt!!!!

The most amazing thing is that I have actually been working in here.  I know! How!

So this wont be an overnight adventure, but I will now make a big effort to get stuck in and fix this.  Watch this space.

The wonderful blessing of opportunity

26 02 2015

I have spent a lot of time in the last little while thinking about opportunity. It is amazing to me that the decision to start my little craft business fifteen years ago would provide me with so much in rich experiences. To date, I have met so many amazing people and travelled the world, yet this feels like just the beginning.

In the time that I have been doing the major craft shows, a period of well over a decade, I have had the opportunity to spend time with literally thousands of incredible people – mainly women but also some noteworthy men. I have learnt that everyone has a story, a history that has shaped their present and can dictate their future. In the fleeting time we often have, I have been truly honoured to hear the stories of many. The wisdom and experience in these stories give colour and perspective to the human condition and shapes my creative expression. I love that I can intersect with so many and hopefully leave a little mark behind. There is nothing so exciting as someone telling me that they did a class or workshop with me or asked me to explain something and they then went on to use that skill, knowledge, or media in a way that made a difference to them; whether winning an award, getting a great score in their textiles class or being able to capture a meaningful moment or experience. I love that I have the opportunity and ability to inspire and teach.

In my International travels and the events that I have planned, I have met and become friends with some of the most remarkable and inspirational women. Friends who challenge me to fulfil my potential, give me measures to aspire to and drive me to stretch myself and push beyond my boundaries. I am so fortunate to have all these voices behind and within me and their support going forward.

In 2014, I attended 18 craft shows, taught in two of the most prestigious International quilt events and ran three events. Teaching at Birmingham and Houston was an honour beyond words and I will always cherish having been given that opportunity as it is rare and precious. Putting that aside, 2014 was a hellishly busy year. So while doing all of this, I was actively downsizing and cutting back. I knew that being this busy was preventing me from seizing bigger and bolder opportunities. With opportunity, you also have opportunity cost. While doing one thing, you can not be doing another. When doing too much, the risk is that much is done badly. It is easy to get into a groove or rut, to do what you did last year because it is known and safe. By doing so though, a door is closed to other things. 2015 must change that: to break the cycle, to do less better and to seize new opportunities. As I worked through 2014, I chose not to rebook most of the major craft shows preparing to see what door opened when the comfortable one was closed. So far, two months in, I have not been disappointed.

This year, I intend to do a lot more on a local and regional level, a lot more online and hopefully continue to build my International presence. The opportunities seem incredible and accessible. It is also time to give back to those who supported me for the last 15 years and this blog will be a critical vehicle for much of that.

I have four events coming up this year with some wonderful International guests. The two Modern Quilt Conventions with Weeks Ringle and Bill Kerr in Parramatta and Brisbane in June are filling fast. I am excited to be bringing this style of event and these leaders in their field to Australia. My Retreat in Canberra and the Mixed Media Mayhem in Brisbane with Lesley Riley and Liz Kettle in September will be so much fun, I almost don’t care if other people come (kidding, please come). Interwoven between these I am doing a number of the smaller Regional shows with the Craft Alive crew.

Ten years ago, I did three Craft Alive shows and vowed to never contemplate them again. It took me over twelve months of watching very closely to determine that I would give them a go again. Ten years ago, the shows felt jaded, tawdry, not craft oriented and definitely not for the quilters. I was surrounded by people selling finished goods, fudge, leather cleaners and special tools for painting my walls. Now all of these are valid products which need an appropriate market. I am all in favour of nice fudge and having embarked on renovations, some of those painting tools would be more than useful, but this market as it stood was not one I belonged in. With a change of management and a fabulous enthusiastic and youthful team they are demonstrating that they can deliver a vibrant, varied and balanced show. It has been a revelation to me how relaxed the environment is and how wonderful it is to have more time to spend talking to the people who come to buy from us. It would be a mistake to assume a small show is not a good one. It is also noteworthy that most of the exhibitors that I have shared these events with are ones many have grown to love at the major metropolitan shows. These regional shows bring some of the same great exhibitors, the same great products and the education and information that is hard to source in the regional areas. Most importantly we come to you.

Over time, I would like to extend my stay in some of these regional areas and run workshops or classes for groups and guilds. This is one of the exciting opportunities in the future. Let me know if you are interested.

My events and my involvement in the country shows are opportunities that I have controlled and planned. It is the opportunities that I did not see coming, have not planned and are growing every day that have me the most excited. Many are still in the embryonic stage and will unfold over time. Some will not eventuate or will be pushed back for later years, but what is certain is that by closing the door of the familiar and comfortable, by standing on the cusp of the future, I am truly just at the beginning.

I hope that you will continue to join me on this marvellous adventure.

tremendous texture from tyvek

8 02 2015

Tyvek can look really dull and boring – no colour or texture, but this week’s product is worth having a play with.  Tyvek is a synthetic sheet, water resistant, it can also be recycled. Tyvek comes in three weights: 54gsm, 75gsm and 105gsm. I get the sheets cut into A4 size pieces, but it can come in larger pieces or even on a roll if you need that much.

Tyvek can be found in a lot of different forms.  It is most commonly found in the US as free USPS envelopes, but we don’t have that luxury here in Australia.  It is a man made paper type of medium and is now most commonly used for archival purposes.  Water proof, no acid, smooth surfaced, it is a great storage paper when slipped between items being stored.  The other place you find it is in hardware stores in the form of protective clothing (a great way to start a wearable art piece by the way).  In earlier times, you would readily find tyvek used as wall insulation.  You do not want to use industrial tyvek in your craft as it will probably have a lot of other, nasty additives which you particularly do not want to heat and therefore release into the air.

Using it is supper cool.  Tyvek bubbles and warps with heat. It also bonds to itself and other materials when heated. Yet it remains soft and pliable and can be hand or machine stitched or embellished.

To use, place the Tyvek between two sheets of baking paper or an appliqué mat. Using an iron on the cotton setting gently iron until the Tyvek starts to change shape. You can keep going until it bubbles and separates, or use it with limited warping. Painting the Tyvek on one or both sides not only creates interest, but helps with the warping process. You can use any paints. They will behave slightly differently, but it is fun to experiment. I particularly like the effect of Lumiere paint on melted Tyvek.  When you put a surface of paint onto the tyvek, it acts as a bit of a resist, slowing down the heat activated reaction.  This will often give you more time and, dare I say it, more control.

Both sides of the Tyvek will look different after being heated. You may like to heat some of the sheet on one side and flip it over to heat other areas. That will create an interesting combination of hills and valleys. I have also had a lot of success using a heat gun on Tyvek.

Some ideas for its use include:

  • Cut out shapes and heat or use scissors to create slashes or nicks in the paper before heating.
  • Paint and then lightly apply Shiva stiks or other highlights.
  • Stamp on the surface.
  • Hand or machine stitch patterns or designs on the Tyvek and then heat.       The stitching will slow the warping in some areas and create interesting designs.
  • Sprinkle or stamp embossing powder onto the surface – the heat will warp the Tyvek and activate the embossing powder.
  • Lay Hot Fix Angelina on one side of painted Tyvek. Heat. The Angelina will melt into the Tyvek but will also limit the warping where the Angelina is.       Try this with non hot fix too.
  • Cut strips of painted Tyvek, roll onto a skewer and heat with an iron or heat gun. The rolls will bond to become chunky beads.
  • Cut Tyvek shapes and apply to a background of Tyvek. Heat to bond.

As always, play experiment and wonder ‘what if…’ and you will get some great results.

Tyvek Project – A Swirl of Pearls

swirl of pearls


Silk velvet (about a 10inch square)

Backing material and wadding

Hot Fix Angelina Fibre

Acrylic Paints – I used Lumiere


Small number of Pearl beads

Appliqué Mat or Baking paper


Thread, Sewing Machine

Foam Brush for paint


Sandwich the backing fabric, wadding and velvet, pin to hold together and stitch around the sides to baste.

  1. Cut small pieces of Tyvek. Start with pieces about 10 by 15 cms.
  2. Paint both sides of the Tyvek with the acrylic paint and leave to dry.
  3. Lay a thin wispy layer of the Hot Fix Angelina on to one half of the appliqué mat. Cover with the remaining mat and iron to bond the Angelina together making a cob web effect. Set aside.
  4. When the paint on the Tyvek is dry, place between folded appliqué mat.
  5. Scatter some Angelina fibre over one side of the Tyvek and iron with a warm to hot iron. Hover the iron over certain areas to cause puckering and bubbling. Flip the Tyvek and do both sides until you are happy with the effect.
  6. Lay the Angelina web on to the velvet ‘sandwich’ and stitch to hold in place.
  7. Pin the Tyvek in place and stitch in place.
  8. Scatter pearl beads and hand stitch into place.
  9. Quilt and edge to create interest and texture.



Using Multipurpose Cloth

1 02 2015

Last week I did not post a blog, not because it was the long weekend, well partly because of that.  We spent the weekend building a fence and I did not have the capacity to think, or move nor the time, so took the weekend off.

This week’s featured product is made by Roc-Lon and was originally designed as a black out curtain lining, but it is one of the most fabulous and versatile surfaces to work on. If you want to use it to line your curtains, it blocks light, acts as an insulation for heat/cold and noise. Those exact characteristics are what make it so versatile.

Multipurpose Cloth is 30% Cotton and 70% Polyester. As such, it can be dyed with transfer dyes and stained with Procion dyes (colour will only be light, soft and drifty due to high Poly content). The surface is mildly suede like and it takes all sorts of paints and colour products really well. The first thing you can do with it is apply paint. The cloth is quite solid and heavy but maintains a soft drape. This means that you can use this to add body but still be malleable and can be shaped. It is completely washable, so depending on what you are making select a paint with sufficient colourfastness if it is likely to be washed. The cloth takes Lumiere Paint like it was made for it.

Most importantly, the Multipurpose Cloth can be cut with scissors or a rotary cutter and can be sewn on the sewing machine or hand embroidered. Due to the polyester content, the cloth will not fray, so you can be a bit lazy on how you finish the items you make with it. It makes great baby shoes and bags, sturdy cloth dolls and baby toys. It can be stitched into quilts or garments. Imagine a painted, embroidered and embellished vest front for example.

So, paint, stencil, stamp, spray and sponge layers of colour over the surface with pretty much any paints and colour products. You can glue fabric or paper elements directly on the surface, foil or apply embossing powder.

Once decorated (or not), the cloth can be stitched into a range of different items. As the cloth is water resistant, it is great for household items such as placemats, bowls, wine and lunch box covers, picnic wear, peg holders and more.

The cloth is heat tolerant, so you can add image transfers, embossing powder, foils, iron on decals and more. It also means that the cloth can be used for lampshades and other functions were indirect or diffused heat will be present. Most importantly it can be ironed.

Although the cloth can be the base fabric for pretty much anything, my favourite uses for it are dimensional embellishments. You can cut the cloth with any of the die cutting machines, so can make anything from very precise and detailed appliqué elements to dimensional stars, flowers, hearts etc to stich or glue onto a project. Lots of brightly painted stars would make a great baby mobile.

For a huge range of very quick and easy projects, go to the Roc-Lon website listed below.


I am carrying the cloth in the 54 inch width, so if you want metreage you can order it. Have fun with this awesome surface.

Here are some pictures of me colouring it and a bag I made from the painted fabric

Painted with Lemon and Hot Fuchsia Dye na Flow

Painted with Lemon and Hot Fuchsia Dye na Flow

Pearlescent Magenta and Metallic Gold Lumiere and Pink and Orange Liquitex Paint sponged on all over the surface

Pearlescent Magenta and Metallic Gold Lumiere and Pink and Orange Liquitex Paint sponged on all over the surface

Multipurpose Cloth painted with Pearlescent Purple and Pearlescent Turquoise Lumiere Paint with Gold Embossing powder melted onto the painted surface.

Multipurpose Cloth painted with Pearlescent Purple and Pearlescent Turquoise Lumiere Paint with Gold Embossing powder melted onto the painted surface.

AND finally the bag I made from it all.  As this is all waterproof, I can use this for a towel and swimmers or a great nappy bag.  I have four pockets on the outside.  Although this is not lined, I could easily have lined it and perhaps made the bag reversible.  In a different shape, it could be a lunch bag or so much more.  Easily washed, Multipurpose Cloth is extremely versatile.



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