Design inspiration

Header QuiltingAsAGarmentSewer

Welcome to the next post in the #quiltlikeaboss series. Today I’ll be talking about my design inspiration.

General design theme

My constraints are the following:

  • Baby quilt sized – The design needs to be bold, so the baby can see it.  Babies can only see high contrast things are first.
  • Using pre-cuts or pre-assembled fabric packs – I find it hard personally making all the fabric choices individually.  For gifts, I prefer to buy either charm packs, layer cakes or pre-bundled ranges of fabrics.  This means that one element, making sure the fabrics work together is already considered.  I then consider all the fabrics as a whole.
  • Feature some applique – Why not?  I fancy trying something new, and a baby quilt is small enough if I hate doing applique, there isn’t much to do.

Other considerations

  • The gift recipient – Let’s be honest, a baby quilt is really for the parents.  Making sure it fits their asthetic is important, and then worry about gender stuff.  HOWEVER.  I have made a quilt for someone who knew they were having a girl, and then at the 35 week scan…I was literally sewing on the binding when I got the text message that the sonographer got it wrong, and it was a boy.  With a pink quilt.  Strongly recommend gender neutral here people.
  • Time – I need to be able to make this before the baby arrives, so no fancy pants patterns here.  I want simple, beautiful and quick.  This also includes where I source the fabric from.

Let’s cover some basics

As mentioned above, my quilt will be made from pre-cuts.  So what does that mean?

  • Jelly Roll. A jelly roll is co-ordinating fabrics, pre-cut into 40 strips, measuring 2 1/2″ x 42″.  Personally I don’t like jelly rolls as they are really limiting.  The only baby quilt I’ve ever made from a jelly roll was just strips sewn together.
  • Charm pack. A layer cake is co-ordinating fabrics, usually pre-cut into 42 blocks, all 5″ x 5″
  • Layer cake. A layer cake is co-ordinating fabrics, usually pre-cut into 42 blocks, all 10″ x 10″.
  • General pre-cut. This is often a whole range of fabric.  A designer will release 10-20 co-ordinating fabrics from a set colour palette.  Often these can come as fat quarter packs.  This means that the fabric will be in 50cm x 50cm squares precut.  You can receive any quantity of fat quarters.

Hello Google

If you are a purely visual person, you could just cut straight to my Pinterest board.   The first thing I did was to scope out the parent to be’s Pinterest board.  This was so see if there nursery had a theme, or if their general design sense went one way or another.  This person had classic designs, that didn’t dominate a room or be too gender specific.  They also loved cotton and Steele and art gallery fabric.

With that in mind, I decided to focus on pre cuts without a really strong theme, and in gender neutral colours.  By that, I mean there are no bright Pink fabrics with brown and orange owls.  Super cute, but not what this parent would buy, so not what I would gift.

So then, I just googled fabric shops, and started browsing with a glass of wine!

baby quilt coordinating australian fabric

Ink and spindle quilting fabric

Houston, we have fabric.  I repeat, we have fabric.

The lovely ink and spindle quilting weight cotton it is.  There are 12 fat quarters included, and that should be plenty.


Looking back over my board, I’m trying to pick what will look good with some applique, and suits the fabrics.  Large prints don’t suits being cut into small blocks, and sometimes small prints look more balanced chopped up.

This could be nice, lots of straight lines but how would the applique look on top?


I think something like this could show off the fabrics, without looking like squares just sewn together (but shhhhh…thats what it is!)


Quilt tutorial by Reanna Lily Designs

So you can see, I’ve already got a fair idea of what it’s going to look like.  It’s going to be blocky, and use the applique as a feature, but not the entire focus of the quilt.


I’m going to consider applique at the same time, as different designs might change my opinion on which patchwork design to use.

As my fabric is Australian, I was thinking about trying to make a possum magic quilt.  The difficulty with that, is the images are so iconic, but wouldn’t work without fine detail.  If it would be recognisable as a silhouette, then it’s good.



Then I was thinking about Australian Flora, but would gumleaves just melt into the back and be too much?

I’m looking for a design to do in a dark colour, in silhouette, that makes me have feels.  But not owls, or boats or kitsch.  Tall order.

Click here to go to the #QuiltLikeABoss page for links to all the posts in the QuiltAlong and other information!

Learn To #QuiltLikeABoss – Quilt Along with us!

beginner quilt

Today I am excited to announce that together with Rachel and Abby, we will be hosting a QuiltAlong, entitled Learn to #QuiltLikeABoss.

We have heard many of you say that you’d love to make a quilt but for whatever reason haven’t done so yet. Since we all love quilting, and want you to love it just as much as we do, we are hoping to remedy the situation.

Quilting can seem overwhelming – but compared to making a dress, you’ll be amazed how easy it can be (you’re sewing in 2D rather than 3D afterall).  The hardest part is getting over the fear of starting.  But in the wise words of Dr Seuss, Congratulations!  Today is your Day!  

Over the next 5 months, with around 2-3 posts each week, we will be posting inspiration and information with the goal of guiding you through all the decisions required in making your dream quilt. We are considering the core audience to be people who are able to sew, but have not made a quilt before, however hopefully anybody will be able to use the information and join in. While we might put together some tutorials of our own, our focus will be more on introducing you to some of the vast quantity of information available online to quilters, and providing information to help you decide which information is best for you.

During this time, we will be making quilts of our own, and we encourage you to join us. The QuiltAlong will comprise the following 6 phases (and approximate dates):

  1. Introduction (now until late-Jan): We will introduce the topic of Quilting, including what it is, why it’s awesome and what you can use quilts for.
  2. Choosing/Designing your Quilt (3 weeks – late-Jan until mid-Feb): We will provide you with some inspiration for quilt designs and share some tips for choosing designs and fabrics for your quilt.
  3. Patchwork – Making the Quilt Top (5 weeks – mid-Feb to mid-March): We will take you through how to successfully piece your quilt top, covering a variety of designs and methods.
  4. Quilting – Making it into a quilt (2 weeks – mid- to late-March): We will talk about the why and how of the actual quilting.
  5. Finishing it off (2 weeks – early- to mid-April): We will finish off our quilts; binding the edges and adding a label.
  6. Round-up (late-April to late-May): We will share our finished quilts, and will have a round-up post of your completed quilts on the 27th of May.

You can visit the #QuiltLikeABoss page at any time to find links to all the posts in the series.

If you are joining in, here are some graphics for you to use if you wish (please save and re-upload the images yourself):

button200 Sq QuiltLikeABoss






So, will you be joining in with our QuiltAlong?

We look forward to seeing what you create! If you share anything on social media please use the hashtag #QuiltLikeABoss so that we can find your posts!

FO: The elsa dress from Jalie 3460 bella fit and flare

Firstly, hello! I know it’s been a long time between posts, but life you know?  I thought I’d ease back into blogging, after frocktails in Melbourne, it’s easy to get excited about our community more.  Sewing nerds FTW.

So here is a little selfless sewing I’ve done recently, it was our little Snorks fourth birthday (crazy right?) and like every single small person, she is obsessed with frozen.  Like every feminist mother, I cringe at the ‘princessness’ (also shoutout to my amazing friend Jen who gave Snork Goldieblocks- she’s all about empowering our little ladies with STEM). 

This year, oh it’s different, I’ve made her frozen dress.  It’s comfortable, which means so horrible glitter tulle directly on skin, no low cut bits.  When you get down to it, what she really wants is the ability to twirl, and a bit of sparkle.  And really, that’s a completely reasonable request.  And a cape.  Also very reasonable.  I like all of these things in an outfit myself.  

The new Jalie pattern was PERFECT.  It twirls, it’s got long sleeves (perfect for winter) and sparkles without shedding glitter all over the place.  Everybody wins.


The wedding of JB  and Em – and the silk dress

You know that super special fabric in your stash? It’s beautiful, hard to sew, and terrifying.  Sometimes you need a special occasion to make you use it.  My big brother finally found a girl perfect to marry him, and bam.  It was a perfect match.  How gorgeous are they?


This was Burda 06/2013 #103, which was fairly simple in terms of design, but perfect for flowing Drapey fabrics.  Pretty right? It’s not something I would usually have considered, but breastfeeding makes a perfect fit across the bust very difficult to obtain.  Turns out I LOVE it.


The only thing that was irritating about this pattern was facings.  I prefer full lining.  That is all.


No alterations whatsoever.  Crazy right? When I did the muslin the loose fit meant I could skip an FBA, and the only alteration I need to do still is a SAA (short arse adjustment).  I did crazy last minute hemming and it’s still a little long.  Apparently while a petite Burda pattern, the petite ladies are 6 foot tall.  Also, I might have guessed at where to sew the thigh slit on the lining, and it was a wee bit higher than I expected.  Hello Brunswick!


This BEAUTIFUL fabric was a silk georgette from Tessuti, with the lining a silk crepe de chine from both Emmaonesock and Tessuti.  I bought four yards from Emmaonesock, which I assume I cut out poorly as I ran out of fabric and had to buy another 1.5 yards from Tessuti.  


This was a damn labour of love.   There is an inverse relationship between how often I will wear a garment and how much time I spend sewing it.  So every seam line was thread traced, every seam then hand basted, and then French seamed.  The zip was lapped and put in by hand.  

Hand basting is the way to go, it’s so much faster than unpicking and doesn’t take as long as you would imagine.  Yet thread tracing seam allowances seemed to take forever.  Go figure.


The Tiny hem tutorial from poppykettle was as usual, a life saver.  I hemmed this whole dress the morning of the wedding, no stress (SO MUCH STRESS).  But considering a week before I still hadn’t cut out three skirt panels I win at life.  Not so much at sleep.

The other resource I used was the Susan khalje craftsy course.  More for general sewing skills than specific things.  I have a giant lady crush on this woman.

Overall rating?

I’m only wearing silk crepe de chine going forward.  It feels like a hugs all the time.  And it’s perfect for twirling in.

FO : The saltspring maxi skirt (or three!)

This current love of mine, was an accident. The first maternity saltspring I made, by the time it was almost finished I’d grown too round to fit it. It hung unfinished in my sewing room for over a year.

And then I decided to salvage the skirt, and make it into a maxi.
cotton maxi skirt saltspring

The saltspring skirt is BRILLIANT for an easy maxi. Yes, I probably could have drafted it up, but I knew it would fit. Perfectly. So why wouldn’t I make MORE? The next two versions are from beautiful fabric from the Cloth Shop in Ivanhoe. I went in there for one thing…and came out with so much beautiful fabric, that didn’t deserve to be chopped up too small.

saltspring skirt elastic waistband skirt

In the last shot, I’ve tucked my singlet in to show the waistband.  It was a very good photo lesson as to how not to wear my maxi.  UGGGGH.  It doesn’t help that the last one is lined (as the white of the print can be a little see through) which makes it even bulkier.
lined cotton maxi dress


Sewaholic Saltspring Dress


Surprisingly little. I used the skirt piece for Saltspring dress, using the front piece twice as there was no need for a zip. BAM. Simple skirt. With perfect swishiness.


The cloth shop in Ivanhoe, and also


I tend to use this tutorial by Fehr Trade for my elastic waistbands, as they turn out nicer and don’t roll.  This was a very straightforward “alteration” and really, aside from the waistband it’s two straight seams and a hem.   In hindsight I could have possibly just used the Rae skirt sewing pattern by Sewaholic Patterns and lengthened it.

Overall rating?

Simple to make, satisfying and I’ve worn all of them in fairly constant rotation, with the middle one one being put on as soon as it’s dry off the line.  It may have never seen the inside of my wardrobe.

That may speak volumes for how much I love it, or how much I hate folding washing.  That mystery is up to you dear readers.
sewing maxi skirt cotton elastic waistband


The Flora dress

flora dress by hand london mock wrap bodice fba
This post was going to read “The 1940’s tea dress”.   I was adamant.  This dress was going to be soft, gentle and a vintage construction.  Then disaster struck*.

*Not a real disaster.  Annoying disaster, like realising your favourite bra is in the wash which sits perfectly under the top you wanted to wear today.  Instead, you have to go with the only clean one, which the right strap always slides down.

The long and the short of it is, I’m still breastfeeding the baby, and have only worn knit tops since being reasonably pregnant.  As such, I wasn’t really paying attention to how much my body changes over a day.  I made three muslins – and each time with more pattern changes it still wouldn’t fit right, depending on how long it was since the last feed, which side she fed on etc.  TOO HARD.
flora dress by hand london

Thus the lovely 1940’s tea dress pattern was not going work, and I decided to make the By Hand London Flora dress instead, which with the cross over front construction gave the dress some room to move, as my shape changed over the course of the evening.  The evening being the Sydney Frocktails of course!

Flora faux wrap bodiceEven then this make was beseiged by troubles, mostly of the ill-conceived and hastily executed project variety.  The ikat fabric I bought for it?  Not wide enough to fit the very wide skirt.  Flora dress by hand london

The large boobs?  Ever tried to do an FBA on a mock-wrap bodice? Me neither.

Flora By Hand London, faux wrap bodice full bust adjustment FBA

Flora By Hand London, faux wrap bodice with FBA


Ever finish basting the zip in a couple of hours before the event?  Actually I do that all the time. Probably should have checked it at the waist to avoid the dreaded zippergape.
Flora dress back

And you know how you should ALWAYS PREWASH YOUR FABRIC? Yes well, that white binding on the skirt, and all the white bits on the ikat print used to be a bright white, and now has flashes of mute pink. Apparently there is a product you can get from the supermarker which helps remove bled dye which is on the shopping list.

Aside from all the dramas, I think the flora dress with get made again, even perhaps as a flora skirt. I might wait until I have a more consistent bust size as I’d like a snug fit across the bust, but the skirt is just SO TWIRLY.
Flora dress skirt by hand london

Raised Vegetable beds from BAAG – Spring sowing

Funkbunny is a bad influence.  Her bicycle riding, vegetable eating, recycling ways has encouraged me to grow my own vegetables.  I don’t even like vegetables, and yet somehow since going to social sewing….I eat vegetarian meals.  (Note- I’m usually that idiot that orders the vegetarian pasta dish…with chicken).

This was surprisingly affordable, with all the supplies sourced from Bulleen Art and Garden (BAAG) and delivered.  We even paid for the timber to be pre-cut, which you might think is expensive, but compared to buying a drop-saw….not so bad.


8 x ecowood timber 2400mmx50mmx200mm
4 x timber supports
1 x screws and driver
1 cubic metre of vegie mix soil
and delivery…came to $275, including paying for labour to chop up all the timber in half.

The finished result is two 1.2m square beds, which are 40cm high.  If you’re interested in the construction, we took detailed photos as we went.    So now we’re growing our own vegetable, making clothes…we might need more bikes and to move to brunswick at this rate!

Checking the position of the vegie beds

Checking the position of the vegie beds

Assembling the first side

Assembling the first side

Managing the work site

Managing the work site

Displeased with the progress

Displeased with the progress

The site manager gave approval to move to phase two - assembly

The site manager gave approval to move to phase two – assembly

Progress inspection

Progress inspection


It looks like a vegie bed

It looks like a vegie bed

The last piece of timber was deliberately left off until later to make tipping the soil in by wheelbarrow easier

The last piece of timber was deliberately left off until later to make tipping the soil in by wheelbarrow easier

A thick layer of newspaper was put down over the grass, which in theory will help this be a no dig bed

A thick layer of newspaper was put down over the grass, which in theory will help this be a no dig bed

Completed raised vegetable beds, reading for planting in the Melbourne spring

Completed raised vegetable beds, reading for planting in the Melbourne spring