Billy Bass Mini Quilt (Sewvivor round 1) – plus a tutorial on adding sound to quilts

Ta da! Here’s my round one entry for the Nautical theme- a turned edge applique Billy Bass quilt. And I added sound too!


And a video to show that it works…


Size – 18″ x 11″
Number of blocks – n/a
Time to make– 4 hours not including component-related thinking time
Fabric – Scraps, including a perfect silver metallic print, some Architextures and the base board is a wood grain from Lush Uptown.
Backing Fabric – Plain muslin- it’s for hanging after all
Binding Fabric – More Lush Uptown wood grain- different shade
Threads – Gutermann, plus Superior Threads monofilament
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant
Quilting- Woodgrain echo and also outline quilting on the fish. Trapunto added for dimension.

I decided well in advance that if I made it through to the first round of Sewvivor, I was going to make a Billy Bass quilt for my nautical themed entry- he’s a sea bass rather than a river bass after all! Billy Bass is a short-lived weird gift fad from the early 2000s, therefore it only seemed fitting that I displayed him in my bathroom- I don’t have a “smallest room” for it, just the one lav’ in our house!


So I made all my freezer paper templates ready from this illustration of a sea bass I found via Google Images and when I found out I was lucky enough to get through, the making properly started, and in earnest. If you want to know or try the process behind making up a design, may I point you to this tutorial I wrote previously, or any of my BOM patterns.


Whilst I was gluing the seam allowances, Ange and Anita on Instagram both suggested I should make him sing. It was just too irresistible! Sadly I didn’t have the time or the expertise to make him dance too, but how awesome would that have been?

Here’s the next step after making up the fish appliqué. I first made my background panel from a woodgrain fabric I had from my Lush Uptown bundle. I cut it 11 1/2″ x 18 1/2″, cut the corners rounded using tape as a template and a small rotary cutter and stuck the appliqué down with glue with a bit of toy stuffing underneath to give it a raised, trapunto effect. I also folded the ends over on a gold coloured fabric, using the reverse to mute the print, and stitched Billy on the top with monofilament and a tiny stitch.

I’m really looking forward to making a bag for the next challenge, so to help make that a reality (your votes are 50%, the judges are the other half)…

Please go and vote here!



DSCF7618 copy

Here’s the tutorial on adding a sound box to a quilt…

A finished quilt to add sound to
A recordable sound chip
A push button switch (this and the above were purchased from Talking Products)
5″ square of fabric
Temporary fabric marker
A sewing machine capable of zig-zag stitch
Small sharp scissors
Needle and thread for hand stitching

My quilt has corner triangles on the reverse so that a dowel can be used to hang the quilt. If you’re doing the same, I highly recommend adding these as you stitch the binding to the back so you can make use of the same stitching for a quick and tidy finish.

DSCF75831) I decided on the placement of the button first, and drew around the button for the incision.

2) On my particular chip, you can have it push button activated or it has a greetings card style slide switch. Record the message (or play a bit of music into it as I did) using the microphone attached to the chip – I purchased the Al Green song, Take me to the River on iTunes for this purpose and played a section of it into the chip from my phone.

DSCF7585DSCF7586 DSCF75873) With small sharp scissors, cut out the centre of the circle drawn through all the layers, sew all the way around the edge using a satin stitch or a zig-zag with the width set very short.

DSCF75894) Unplug the standard button from the chip. Feed the wire for the push button switch through the hole from the front to the back and secure with the washer and nut.

DSCF75915) Now make a pocket for the chip so it can be removed for washing if necessary. Fold one edge of the 5″ square over onto the back by about 1/8″ to 1/4″. Fold over again to hide the raw edge. Press and top stitch along the edge.

DSCF75926) The seam becomes the top of the pocket. Snip the two bottom corners off, no further than 1/4″ in. Fold the sides in 1/4″ and press, followed by the bottom.

DSCF75937) The pocket now needs to be hand sewn onto the back of the quilt along the three unsewn edges. Position the pocket and pin into place. Sew around the edges using the same stitch as you would for hand stitching the binding down- only sewing through the backing fabric.

DSCF75968) Connect the new button in the same location on the circuitboard as the original button. The chip can now be safely nestled inside the pocket, press the button and make sure it works! If you need to wash the quilt, make sure you unplug the button and take out all electrics.


P.S. My next post will be my 900th! I’ll be doing a nice fabric giveaway of an FQ bundle in my next post so make sure you bookmark or follow this blog if you are new so you don’t miss out!

Festival of Quilts round up

I have such sore feet! My camera ran out of juice halfway round, but these are some of the quilts that caught my eye. My judge’s comments were good cop bad cop again- one gave me two ‘excellents’, one gave me two ‘satisfactory’s and told me to think about the colour of thread I used- err yeah I did, I wanted black on top! The good cop one told me blocking would help with getting it to hang better which is something I thought was for crochet and knitting…. I haven’t got a floor big enough but would be interested to know more about this if anyone knows any good links?

Anyway, these are the ones I really loved, though some of my photos don’t show the name cards properly. I also came away with a stack of fabric and my first Bloc Loc ruler :)

I didn't get the maker's name- if anyone has it please let me know!

I didn’t get the maker’s name- if anyone has it please let me know!

By Anneleze Littlefair

By Anneleze Littlefair

Carmen Arevalo Sanchez and Silvia Gonzalez Medina

by Tracy Aplin

by Tracy Aplin

Credit needed

Credit needed

Mini by Jane Sully

Mini by Jane Sully

Credit needed

Credit needed

Credit needed

Credit needed

by Paula Flaherty (I think)

by Paula Rafferty

Credit needed

Credit needed


Our entry from EMMQG

Our entry from EMMQG

By the Kitchen Quilters

By the Kitchen Quilters

Credit needed

Credit needed

Credit needed

Credit needed

by Carmen Navarro Alonso and Silvia Gonzalez Medina

by Carmen Navarro Alonso and Silvia Gonzalez Medina

by Olwen Shears

by Olwen Shears

both by Elena Folomyeva

both by Elena Folomyeva

both by Elena Folomyeva

all by Elena Folomyeva

by Cheryl Kirby

by Cheryl Kirby

by ..... O'Connor

by ….. O’Connor

Credit needed

Credit needed

by Maggie Barber

by Maggie Barber

by Sue Dawson

by Sue Dawson

by the lovely Hannah Annear aka Quirkyhannah

by the lovely Hannah Annear aka Quirkyhannah

by Sheena Norquay

by Sheena Norquay

by Ulrike Tillmanns

by Ulrike Tillmanns



I don’t get it!

Picture by @quirkyhannah on IG

The lovely Reene has tagged me on photos coming up on Instagram of my David Bowie quilt, there are four (1, 2, 3, 4) so far not from people I know which means that people actually like it or something! I don’t understand, the quilting is really awful after my machine malfunction and I maintain that the chin is not right, or the face shape, it’s my least favourite quilt ever….

From @roseewoodland on Instagram

I mean, look at this one!!!! I am a bit embarrassed by it :) More pictures from the show when I go tomorrow!

English Country Garden BOM – Block 5 – Fuchsia

Here’s your next pattern for the BOM, the Fuchsia. The next one is out on the 1st September so this pattern is free to download until then. Previous templates are $1.50 in my Craftsy shop if you missed out.

Click here to download

This pattern includes repeat instructions from the last block, but with new templates. The instructions are: making bias tape stems, turned edge and raw edge machine applique, thread choices and the pattern in standard and mirrored formats depending on which type of applique you opt for. Instructions are included for an improv background too.

I’m on the end of an e-mail if you get stuck, just leave a comment or email me.

For previous posts on the BOM, please click the button below. Don’t forget to share your photos in the Flickr group!

Hank – Pets on Quilts

Hank is coming up to his 6 month “birthday”, he’s a big boy, but is a puppy honest ;)

Regular visitors will know that Hank is a regular on this blog, and sometimes his auntie Gwen, our older greyhound, makes an appearance too. I’ve got to be honest, I’m exploiting his puppy good looks to enter this year’s Pets on Quilts in the dog/puppy on quilt category. I have a history of entering this competition, in 2012 I entered my dog quilt, also Fletcher entered the competition (I miss that boy) and also Sullivan the Hedgehog gave it a go (and won a prize)!

Hank is an English Pointer puppy with boyish good looks, a short attention span and very few expressions. He’s a bit wild, he likes to try and sit on my knee when I sew but he’s now 20kg so I really don’t think he will manage that again! He loves sitting on quilts, so this was an easy shoot to arrange; he sleeps on my giant churn dash quilt a lot of the time.

Some outtakes, because I can!

DSCF7570 DSCF7569 DSCF7574 DSCF7575

I’ll give you a shout when voting goes up, cheers! Click here to go see who else is in the linky party….


Do the kids still say that? Anyway big news…. I am representing the UK in Sewvivor, I got in to the final 16! Some of the competitors are relatively well known, including Amanda of Westwood Acres, plus some contestants are lesser known but have mad quilting skills so I’m feeling a teensy bit intimidated, but I can do this! Grrr!

Challenge 1 is nautical themed anything – so spoiler alert – knowing where my skills lie and forever wanting to make things that are a bit stupid, I’m making a Billy Bass-esque mini quilt. I’ve started it already, no time like the present! If you’re not sure what Billy Bass is- check this out.

That’s right, I pretty much exclusively use Instagram pics on my blog nowadays

I love this kind of project because I can still make progress in front of the TV. I have loads of ideas for the next few categories as well, and we are to post tutorials and stuff so I am calling out for the UK vote please to back me up on 11th August and help me get through the to next round of 10! Spread the word and I’ll love you forever. Also big thanks to Hannah and Sam who were both refreshing the Family Ever After blog last night to see if I’d got in and notifying me whilst I was laid in a cool bath in agony last night…

That agony was unfitness related. Netball went well yesterday, people were nice and amazingly I matched the skill level (except I dropped the ball maybe a tad more due to losing visibility through blood pressure madness and I fell over twice in over-excitement, naturally) I am concious of every single muscle in my legs today though and I proved to be seriously unfit (I was purple in the face for hours afterwards) so I’m going to do the couch to 5k thing to increase my general fitness that loads of other sew-ers are doing with the hashtag sweatandsew. I’m thinking of starting tonight once I get somewhere with wifi- like home for instance- so I can download the app…. I have a feeling running may be too boring for my overactive mind though and may upgrade to the chasing zombies app. Any suggestions for a playlist (other than Eye of the Tiger, obvs…. or maybe I should just play that on loop)?

Serious progress

Friday night I finished quilting and on Saturday, I put the last stitch in the binding of the Christmas project I’ve been working on. This gave me time to play with these for that rainbow quilt on a white background I promised a couple of posts back.

I have almost got the top together for this (no way am I piecing it) just waiting for a small parcel in the post of something so I can stitch it down, get a photo and then quilt it. I went back to the Fabric Guild yesterday and bought the wadding I needed but also a couple of Alison Glass packs of decent size “scraps” which may make it into a bag to go with my Weekender perhaps.I’m sure it will come in handy.

I haven’t been sure about the Cotton + Steel collections that have come out. A lot of the designs are a bit odd in my opinion (such as the lions I think look like sheep), the spotty stripes in the basics are too large scale for my liking but I like the metallic elements and I really like the Moonlit collection other than the fact it has butterflies in it.

Talking about butterflies, one flew in through the living room window on Friday evening and I had a mouth full of drink and temporarily forgot how to swallow as I pointed frantically and MMM MMMM!!-ed loudly at OH as it flew towards me in disgusting flappy slow motion. It went up the stairs and promptly disappeared. We think it may have gone out of the spare room window but I think that is way too clever and it’s possible it’s lurking somewhere waiting to land its fuzzy disgusting body on my head…

Anyway I digress…

I won a Mustang layer cake very recently and have actually cut up eight of the pieces to start on a cushion. I’m about 1/4 of the way there and that’s just before work this morning! Hope to finish it this week but of course it all depends on the Sew-vivor results that will be out today *baited breath*.

I am so nervous; tonight I’m going to a “Back to Netball” class, hopefully they’re not on week 9 of 10 and I won’t be turned away. When I’ve joined sports clubs in this area before they tend to have been cliquey with a certain level of skill needed to fit in (except Fencing, that was very beginner friendly). This is a coached class for people just like me that used to play at school and have probably forgotten half of the rules. I wanted to take up squash but the way it’s run in my local area is very elitist and I didn’t want a private coach, I just want to get fit and have fun while doing it. I’ve sent an email this morning but essentially I am just going to turn up with my PE kit and hope a bunch of strangers let me play with them and don’t mock me too much. Scary!

**EDIT** The guy that’s organising it has emailed back and has put my mind at ease a bit. Here’s the info for the one I’m going to, but if you are thinking of looking for a similar class yourself, they are all over the place nationally on different days at different times, see the England Netball site or search for Back to Netball.

How I build my stash

I read this amazing blogpost by Rossie today, it’s very inspirational about how she builds her stash and how she makes the decision of what to buy because it fits her aesthetic, rather than what she “should” like. I thought this rang true with my post yesterday about how white backgrounds, rainbow quilts and general “modern” trends aren’t for me.

Rossie’s guide to a happier stash

I want to share how I do it, and how I want to improve on my stashing in the future. We all know that I can’t go all out and stop buying entirely, and I think the purchasing side of quilting is important to keep the creative juices flowing and inject a little bit of excitement now and then, but equally we can’t buy ALL OF THE THINGS either, so here’s how I make my decisions based on my own tastes and style.


1) I bookmark the lines I like most of the prints on Pinterest. This is my board at the minute, some conventional, some unconventional stuff. I’m particularly looking forward to Basic Grey’s Persimmon (you know Basic Grey are my favourite designers right?) and Petal Pushers by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I have a feeling that when I see that line in real life though, I will probably prefer two, three or maybe four prints in a couple of colour ways, which brings me onto…


2) I have a craft supplies board on Pinterest too where I post individual fabrics for buying later alongside rulers, patterns, etc. If I only like a particular print or two of a range (such as the Birch Farm Barn Owls) or it’s a Spoonflower print, then this is where that goes.

3) Then I wait ’til I have some spare money or the range is released or the prints are now so “old” they go on sale. I tend to buy the full ranges I like as precuts or F8/FQ bundles (though I don’t do that all that often) and then FQs or half yards of the single prints.

4) If I buy a yard or more it will usually be of a print I think would make a nice skirt or pair of shorts or a shirt. I then probably won’t be bothered to make any of those things and it instead is used as bag lining or quilt backing. And that’s OK- I’ve bought that particular print because I liked it enough to wear, so I sure am going to use it one way or another!



5) The amount of fabric I stash is heavily reliant on how much I have already used. I have 200- 2 packs- comic cards I wrap the fabric round for putting on the shelves and my shelves can’t take any more than that or the fabrics get crumpled and they’re not easy to pull off the shelf and put back. Once a card of fabric has been used, then I can wrap another piece around it. This is how I store anything from 1 FQ to 2 yards. I currently have too much to go on the shelves and  those pieces are in a basket waiting for cards. Problem is, Hank likes to chew the basket and these pieces end up all over the floor almost daily. It serves as a reminder to use before I buy!

6) Fabrics designated for backings are usually very cheap yardage (£3 a yard or less at Fabric Guild or Ikea) or vintage sheet finds. I’ve even been known to buy single duvet covers on eBay and cut then down the seam for backing- in fact one of my best backings was done with exactly that. I try not to get too fancy with backings; designer fabric is expensive and there’s a lot of textiles out there languishing unused and unwanted, so it’s nice to give them a practical use. I have started piecing together fabric cuts between F8 and FQ size left over from projects to expand these sheets to the right width, which helps free up stash cards too.

7) I try and stash some of every colour because I like to appliqué, I tend to need some of everything, and if anything I need good amounts of browns, greys and natural shades for animal appliqué quilts if that’s the project I’m working on. I thought I didn’t have a lot of purple, but I actually think it’s bottle green, red, mid blue, navy and mustard yellow that are most in need at the moment. I seem to have quite a few pinks, which is a bit weird since I generally don’t like pink unless it’s a cerise-y, in-your-face pink. Now I’m not in any bees or such, there’s no real need for me to have them.


8) I don’t do much in the ways of solids- I have a bolt of white so that I don’t run out mid project. I tend to buy for specific projects to make sure that I don’t end up buying the wrong tone if I run out, or I’m struggling to find the same colour (which happened with my Wallander quilt- I bought Kona Pistachio instead of Bella Pistachio and there was a huge difference). I only have a few cards of solids, too many of them are yellow. I don’t worry too much about building my solids stash at all, I find them a bit boring so concentrate on having a nice range of prints instead.

9) Prints – I like blenders and small scale prints the best because they’re useful for so many things and therefore don’t languish on the shelves. Tone on tone are my favourites and I’d like to use these instead of solids in absolutely everything if I could get away with it. I’m not a fan of too much white, especially in a print design alongside bright or deep colours (pastels can get away with it better) because the contrast between the two draws too much attention to itself in my opinion. If I am cutting them into smaller pieces, there is the concern that the white may be more predominant than the base colour. Cycle Path and Pearl Bracelets are about my limit on this (and I am thrilled that you can now get tone on tone pearl bracelets). I tend to sew with small pieces, so the scale of print and value balance of white makes a huge difference. I therefore tend not to buy many large scale prints at all, unless it will be one of those hypothetical skirts!

I also struggle with multi-coloured prints as I just don’t know what to classify them as, so these are most likely to end up in zippy pouches and the like if I find some in the stash. I tend not to buy these at all so I imagine this section will disappear altogether before long. I love watercolour-y, painterly fabrics and I buy them almost indiscriminately.



10) Until recently I cut a lot of my scraps into 2 1/2″ squares but then they were made into the Bowie quilt and I had no more. As I use a lot of browns and greys I have a lot of those scraps. My scrap drawer is full of pieces from 2 1/2 up to fat eighths. Anything smaller goes in the bin otherwise I’d have a room full! Oh, and I have a glamorous Tesco carrier bag of strings for my log cabin scrappy project. I plan to sort through these more in the future and be a bit more ruthless, perhaps taking the larger scraps and organising them together as they will be ultimately more useful. I struggle to part with some scraps as they’re the last pieces from a certain project, but if I am planning on emigrating in a couple of years, I should start getting used to the idea that I just can’t hold on to everything. Maybe a destash of some of those greens and blues especially is on the cards?

Wow, that turned out to be a longer post than I thought it would be- goes to show there really must be a more rational, detailed thought process other than, “Ooh pretty, buy it!”

Do you have specific colours, or prints, or are there any particular prints and colours you steer very clear of?

P.S. Looking through blogposts, only two-and-a-bit months ago this…


…looked like this!

WT actual F?! I don’t miss the morning pee puddles though and I am up to a 6am start now which is excellent. But OMG the CUTENESS is gone! WHich reminds me, I think I’m overdue to post again on the puppy blog.

‘Modern’ quilts and coloured backgrounds

This blog post is an outpouring of thoughts with a lot of questions about ‘modern’ quiltmaking. You have been warned.

On Instagram over the last few days, Robert Kaufman have been putting up their new Kona solid colours. I think there are some real beauties in there, and it makes me really want to make a quilt where the background isn’t white, or ash grey, or low volume, or doesn’t have a background tone at all because it’s so busy and/or scrappy. That’s right, I don’t just want to use these in a rainbow solids quilt, I really want to make a feature out of a predominant colour.

Here are some of my favourites I think would be great for a different colour background…


I think these would be nice paired simply with one other colour group of patterned fabrics.

Now I don’t like the word ‘modern’ because to me, that was the time of Picasso through to the mods and pop art and Andy Warhol, I’m thinking turn of the 20th century through to the early 70s. I’m not an expect on art history by any means, in fact the last time I learned anything about it I was 14 so please correct me if I am wrong. In fact Wikipedia says it is 1860 to 1970. I personally feel more comfortable using the word ‘contemporary’ to refer to quilts of the time, that reflect today’s tastes, values, time restrictions, culture, etc. I’m not sure if we’re technically in the late modern period or we are postmodern now and that is an issue up for debate by those more educated than me. Maybe the art movement shouldn’t have been called modern in the first place, since a la mode could refer to the present day fashion at any point in history.

Anyway, my point is, can a quilt be put in the category of “modern quilts” if it has a coloured background? If I use bottle green, purple, a deep red, or even black, does that then instantly give them a more old-fashioned look?

I have in the past been told my Wallander quilt (above) isn’t “modern enough” (I’m not telling you for what), purely for the colour choices I made. These colours I might add, were from the modern quilter’s favourite solid collections – the Kona range and some designer couture ones too. I don’t regret these colours, they were an accurate representation of what I was trying to represent and I actually really like this quilt, I’d never give it away.

Are colours truly the deciding factor? Do I have to use more than two colours? If I have brown in my stash does that automatically make me a traditional quilter? Or are shapes important too, and block designs, the quilting and the speed of the construction of the quilt, and how it is put together? What about the invisible binding I prefer so much? Do I need to check off all of these factors, because if I do all but one it doesn’t qualify? To me, this isn’t an old fashioned quilt, it doesn’t smack of civil war quilts, nor is it a hand pieced masterpiece over several years made from old clothes and feedsack.

My parquetry quilt, a deliberate attempt to make brown fabrics into a modern quilt.

I don’t know, but if “modern quilt making” feels so restrictive to me, I think I might not want to be part of it anyway. Maybe I don’t want my quilts to be “a la mode” or definitively modern, I want to make them in the colours and fabrics I like, and to try something a bit different sometimes, and it won’t always work, but at least my quilts will look like my quilts. I’m not here to fit in (maybe that’s why I don’t like the word ‘modern’?!), I’m here to play with fabrics that make me happy, tinker with designs and most of all, enjoy myself. So I’m happy with my style, and if someone wants to coin it postmodern, or whatever, that’s fine by me.

Now the important question: which of those new Kona colours should I choose?

P.S. Be prepared- I’m coming out with a blatant ‘modern quilt’ finish soon. It’s rainbow solids on white and everything and I may even back it with Ikea Nummers! Don’t worry, in reserve I have sketched a design for a mini quilt with a big applique fish on it to balance it out in case that finish makes me feel untrue to myself (or I get through to round 1 of Sewvivor)…

P.P.S. It’s not that I don’t like rainbow solids quilts on white, it’s just that making them isn’t for me, and I love a bit of scrappy too. I’m going to be making the Georgetown on my Mind quilt later in they year and if I can gravitate away from the white backing that would be awesome if anyone has any ideas?

TV sewing

I’m not at the retreat so there will be a bit of TV and  hand stitching going down this weekend- I need to finish sewing on the sleeve and label on the back of the Bowie quilt so I can post it for hanging. I still don’t like it, but there’s not a lot I can do now unless I undo some of the applique, reshape the chin at the right (which is what I believe to be the problem) and then stitch it back on by hand avoiding the backing fabric. Might work but it also might ruin it more… If there was a worst in show I think I could be a good contender this year, I normally love the quilts I enter into shows but I think this one was an experiment too far, even the quilting has me dubious. I’ll stick with appliqué animals in future. I am dreading the comments this time.

sleeve sewing

Is anyone going to the Festival of Quilts on Sunday 10th August? I thought I might pick my quilt up from the show, so Sunday is the day for me (money saved on posting the quilt back is money spent on a new cutting mat, hell yes). Let me know if you want to meet up, I’m thinking of going alone this year but it doesn’t have to be that way of course! I can also give lifts from the North West Leicestershire/Charnwood area – parking is expensive there!

Oh and the East Midlands Modern Quilt Group have made a group quilt this year, I think it’s with Moira at the minute being pieced together. There will be some slight changes in orientation from the picture below, but basically it’s going from East to West of the area we live in, starting from the top; mine is the slightly ugly motorway-in-the-dark strip (seriously I am having doubts about the work I did around April/May time, I blame puppy, he was ruining my life around that time, he’s much improved now and so is my work, hmmmm). Next week Trudi will be doing some of her amazing quilting on it and then it will be skipping on over to Mary who will be handing it in and collecting it.

Photo nicked from Moira’s Instagram feed…

I’ve also started on a new wall quilt now the Christmas top is done- I’ll update you next week :)