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.


See me in Australian Patchwork and Quilting.

5 08 2013

It has been a long time since I have had a quilt published in a magazine.  As a general rule, I don’t have time to make, write up and submit magazine articles.  However, I have set some new goals, one of which is about increasing my contributions here and overseas.  This is the first.  Australian Patchwork and Quilting Vol 22 No 11, page 106.


What do you think?

A Patchwork Economy should be a strength, not a weakness

4 05 2013

Those of you who follow my Unique Stitching Facebook page will have seen that I took exception to the continued reference by members of our Government to patchwork as a negative and problematic part of our economy, our health and education systems and the delivery of disability care and so on.  That comment and this post does not reflect a position on the Government, positive or negative.  I don’t agree that ‘patchwork’ is the term to be used to describe difference, diversity, inconsistency or the requirement to make do.  Yet then again that is exactly what it is.

The Oxford University Press defines patchwork as:

noun [mass noun]

  • needlework in which small pieces of cloth in different designs, colours, or textures are sewn together:a piece of patchwork [as  modifier]:a patchwork bedspread

  • [count noun] a thing composed of many different elements so as to appear variegated:a patchwork of stone walls and green fields

Your Dictionary dot com defines it as:


  1. anything formed of irregular, incongruous, odd, or miscellaneous parts; jumble
  2. a quilt or other covering made of patches of cloth, etc. sewn together at their edges
  3. any design or surface like this

Interesting that both dictionaries state it is a noun, yet our Government uses it as an adjective.

My view is that being patchwork, whether a noun or an adjective should be something seen as a positive.  If we go back to the very reasons behind patchwork, it was about making do with what was available.  Fabrics were recycled and sewn together to make utilitarian, functional items.  At the same time, fabric was put together in patterns so that the utilitarian items also were visually pleasing and beautiful as well as functional.  In times of poverty, such as the great depression, patchwork became both popular and essential.  Patchwork was about saving money and reuse of what we had. Doesn’t that sound like something to be venerated, not condemned, particularly in the wake of the Global Economic Crisis?

To illustrate what I am talking about, I went to the scrappiest quilt I have ever made.  I like scrap quilts because they have this order out of chaos thing going on.  I like that.  In this case, I used a pack of 50 six inch floral charm squares.  This pack was one of those what on earth was I thinking packs.  There were, in my mind, some truely hideous fabrics in that pack.  My challenge was to make it work, so I divided the pack into value – light and dark – completely ignoring colour or pattern.  It got a bit dodgy around the middle and calls had to be made on just how dark the mediums could be and still be classified as lights.  Compromise had to be made and the groupings worked because when viewing the quilt, the pattern dominates the individual parts.  The process of making the patchwork caught up the weaker areas and bought it together in harmony.

Although I hate half the fabrics in here, I love the quilt.  It works because of the compromise and the integration and the harmony that is then created.


In some cases, the pattern over rode fabrics that were just not nice:

scrap 2

Or just did not belong:

scrap 4

But overall the sense of balance and coherency wins.

scrap 3

So, with some reflection and thought, I think it is good that we have a patchwork economy and health system etc.  It is the very diversity of all the disparite parts that make us strong.  We just have to find the unifying pattern.

Patterns for this and seven other scrap quilts can be found in my Stashbuster Book:  http://www.uniquestitching.com.au/p/1025033/stashbuster-quilts-by-cecile-whatman.html

My Turtle Playground.

26 02 2012

It may come as no surprise that I work a lot with textural fabrics.  I love using silks, velvets and other interesting fabrics to create depth and texture in a piece.  I am putting together some samples of how people can use non traditional fabrics in a traditional sense.  For example applique.  The elements of this piece are all from a Helen Godden pattern – Dolphin’s Playground.

I started with two off cuts of the Radiance, sewn together to create both a big enough piece, but a focal point.

I basted it on to some wading and stitch ric rac onto the surface.

Next I appliques some coral with pink/salmon/peach velvet.

Next I made a turtle.  The turtle is cotton sateen (head, tail, legs), Velvet shell, and a commercial cotton I had in a draw.

Next I made some star fish out of some velvets and silk jacquards.

I stitched all the pieces as I went so that the appliqueing did not get complicated.   I do what is effectively free motion applique – drop the feed dogs and go like the clappers around the edges of each shape.

I had some black and white and red fish, but decided that I was happy with out the red which would have dominated.

So here it is.  New sample number one.  What do you think?

This is not the best picture but I was running out of light.  You get the drift though don’t you?

Machine piecing is my artistic comfort food

11 11 2011

I have spent most of today cutting and machine piecing a quilt top.  It has been a very therapeutic day.  I love the precision of piecing, the predictability of how the pieces form up blocks, the blocks rows and the rows a quilt top.  The rhythm of the stitching, the thrum of the machine and steady reduction of thousands of pieces into one whole top fills me with a sense of balance and completion.  I piece when I need to get back to basics, to reinvigorate my soul or to remind myself of who I am creatively.  When life is not going to plan, I piece.  When I need time to reflect, I piece.  I love that piecing a quilt allows the simplification of complex designs and ideas.  I love  that you see the transformation of many different fabrics into an integrated whole.  I love that you can express yourself through colour, texture and design and that a two dimensional object can have movement and activity, light and joy.  I love piecing.


Easter – five days of creativity and cleaning.

22 04 2011

Happy Easter to all.  I am hoping to spend most of it doing fun things with fibre, fabric, paint and discharge paste however had to catch up with the basics.  Four loads of washing later, lawns mowed, website updated and we are ready to play.  Or I am.

I bought these Japanese fabrics at AQC from a couple of the Japanese fabric stands.  I wonder what I will do with them.  I have an idea, but I am off to cut them up and see how they go.

I also have some tops to finish using silks and velvets.  Does anyone else have three of four projects on the go at the same time.  I am not talking about UFOs.  I have heaps of those too, but multiple projects that you are working on concurrently.  I seem to always have.


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