Blog Archive

Quilting - taking the plunge


As it says in my profile I am teaching myself quilting and it's been quite a slow learning experience, as other things keep getting in the way!  Anyway, over the last few months I have had a go at piecing together some simple blocks, practiced machine quilting on some simple placemats, and then decided all of a sudden this was all well and good but I really needed to go for it, and attempt a bed quilt!

I thought I would start with my son's bed, as it is only slightly bigger than a single (or 'twin' for our American friends).  DS has a custom made bed, a bit longer than normal, as he is very tall!

DS is very much into Japanese culture so we decided on using this as a loose theme.  The wallpaper in his room is a Laura Ashley stripe, in shades of blue, cream and taupe, and the other walls are seaspray blue, so I took a swatch of the paper to the fabric shops to see what I could find.  I purchased four fabrics and also had three pieces in my sewing room that I could use (yay!  stashbusting!!)

Here is a terrible photo of the wallpaper by shadowy electric light...

As I am a newbie at this, and because I absolutely love (with a passion) machine embroidery, I am making all embroidered blocks in the 'quilt as you go' method.  All the blocks have a finished size of 7" (plus seam allowances).  Twelve of them will be heavily embroidered using this design package by Anita Goodesign.

I love the almost 'Willow Pattern' effect of using different shades of blue.  Here is the first one I made:

EDIT:  Did anyone notice I inserted the above photo upside down?!  The hummingbirds are the wrong way up!  

The more I looked at the block the more the wrinkle in the middle bothered me, so I decided to do it again but this time float a square of cutaway stabiliser behind the 'plate', which I will trim afterwards.  I also changed a couple of the colours to match the other fabrics a bit better, resulting in the block below, which I think I prefer.  It's definitely flatter and the colours harmonise better.  (It has been photographed by artificial light though, and not daylight, so looks different from the rest of the blocks on here!  Ah well, never mind; you can get the idea. :)

Each of the twelve will be different , and all twelve of these will be on the same cream background, to show the colours to the best effect.

The other blocks are embroidered in a Sashiko effect, using patterns from Designs by Juju  I am using a range of different patterns on the fabrics:

These are so fun to make and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.  It does require an embroidery sewing machine, with hoop attachments, but from there they are created entirely in the hoop, entirely by machine! How clever is that?!

The wadding (batting) is incorporated into the block as each is stitched.  The white fabric you can see in these photos is embroidery stabiliser - 'no show mesh' from Lord's Sewing.  The wadding I am using is 'Stitch it 80/20' from Empress Mills.

The quilt fabric is then placed on top of the wadding and the whole 'sandwich' quilted with the embroidery pattern:

These are proving to be a little bit addictive to make and I keep thinking I can make 'just one more' before I have to go and do other things.  Like make dinner.  Clean the house. Walk the dog...

These are some I have made so far:

I have worked out I am going to probably need sixty, but I shall make a few spares so I have a bit of flexibility arranging them.  As you can tell, this is all slightly haphazard, but I am really enjoying it, so that's the main thing.

Then they all have to be joined, using the outer stitched square as a guide and then the backing applied.  I will then 'stitch in the ditch' between the blocks to hold the whole quilt together, and lastly apply the binding.  I've not quite worked out how to do that yet, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!

I really am a beginner at this, but having such a great time!  I shall update you how it's going, and in the meantime, if anyone has any hints or tips, I would love to hear them!

Donna x 


  1. Beautiful blocks! Can't wait to see the finished quilt.

    1. Thank you, Linda! I am really enjoying this project :)

  2. Wow! (I know that there are a lot of wows and exclamation marks on the internet, but these are really heartfelt). I love the whole idea of the Japan theme and the combination of quilting, sashiko patterns and embroidery. And the blue and white combo is perfect with that.
    I looked at this post as soon as it appeared and again today. I hadn't noticed any humming birds at all! Your edit drew my attention to them. And it made me look at the embroidery patterns more closely. There are lots of hens/cocks and other birds in them. How lovely. I hadn't noticed them either the first time around.
    No hints or tips here. I only have experience with hand quilting. To me, you are the expert as concerns machine embroidery and quilting.

  3. Hello Marijke, Thank you for your lovely post! I do apologise for not replying sooner, but I haven't been well for a couple of weeks and haven't even opened my blog. I'm on the mend now and finally feeling well enough to sit down today to catch up and write.

    Yes, I didn't notice the birds either when I first looked at the disc. Have you spotted the owls?? I love owls! The patterns are really satisfying to stitch, but do take quite a long time, especially compared to the Sashiko blocks, which are much faster to work. My son's quilt will certainly be a labour of love! x


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