SAQA Oceania Blog Hop 2016: Dancing Ferns

Dancing Ferns

I rejoined SAQA (Studio Art Quilts Associates) earlier this year and although I am based in Brunei, on the island of Borneo I was able to join the Oceania Group. Every year SAQA hold a benefit auction in which members donate 12” x 12” quilts which are then auctioned to raise funds. This year’s auction start on September 16th and you can find out more details on the SAQA web site. The auction is divided into three sections and my piece is in the third section taking place from October 3rd-9th.This year I entered a quilt for the first time and it is included along with 35 other quilts in the Oceania Collection and you can see details of these and the other participants here

Most of the work I do is inspired by the natural world around me and my auction piece “Dancing Ferns #1” is no exception and I have gone from the tropical rain forest to my garden where I have many of these graceful ferns growing and swaying gently in the breeze.

For the background ferns I made freezer paper templates and then used fabric paints and an old toothbrush to splatter paint on a piece of my hand dyed fabric. Using this technique gives a more subtle effect thank filling in the area with solid colour.

stencilled background ferns

I then fused the foreground ferns and appliquéd in place using a small satin stitch and fine 50wt Aurifil cotton thread because I wanted the stitching to blend and not be a dominant feature of the design.

appliquéd ferns

Finally I stitched rows of echo quilting around all the ferns again using the 50wt cotton thread. The echo quilting helps to give a sense of movement which is why I named these Dancing Ferns.


The next person following on from me in the 2016 Oceania Blog Hop is:

Carolyn Collins on 12th September

And before me was Rasa Mauragis

My new Janome

I’ve been back home just over three weeks now and slowly getting back into my normal routine and enjoying my new Janome 8900QCP.

I already have the 6600 and the Horizon 7700 but since the beginning of the year I had been thinking about switching my 7700 for the newer model. I was put off by the price but when I was at the Festival of Quilts they were doing a special deal which made them very attractive. I didn’t actually get a chance to try the machine until literally ten minutes before the show closed as the stand was always busy and I didn’t have the time to be able to wait. With the show closing I had to come to a quick decision, so I went for it. The stress I had with the shipping to Brunei almost made we wish I hadn’t bothered, but once it arrived I was very glad I had.

The machine is very similar to the 7700 but as it says in the blurb they’ve kept the best features and added quite a lot of small improvements  which make quite a difference to the quilter. I love the extra large foot pedal which stays put when you are sewing rather than sliding off across the floor.

They’ve got rid of the convertible foot plate and there are now two separate foot plates. I never had a problem with the convertible plate but was always worried I would forget about it and use it with the wrong stitch. The new foot plates are very easy to switch too, no more screws but a small lever to release, then they just snap back into place.

I do a lot of appliqué so was keen to check out all the available stitches. I think there are a few more than on the previous machine. There is a memory setting which enables you to set your preferred settings for any stitch which is very useful. (I think the 7700 had this feature but I never got round to using it)

Experimenting with a few different threads and stitches

I also tried out some setting for “invisible” machine appliqué.

I will also be doing a lot of free motion quilting on this machine and rather than have to fiddle around with tension I used the blue dot bobbin which I already had for my 6600. This bobbin is designed with a different tension, especially suitable for quilting, and I found it worked perfectly in these samples.

Of course Oscar had to come and try out the machine too!

Isle of Wight landscapes

While I was at The Festival of Quilts last year I was impressed by the beautiful landscape quilts by Kathleen Matthews. I bought her book “Stitched Textile Landscapes” but it is only now, six months later that I have had a  go at trying out her techniques, and this is what I came up with, inspired by some photos taken on the Isle of Wight when I was back there a couple of years ago.

This is the place where I was born and grew up so it has many fond memories for me.

My inspiration photo and a selection of my hand dyed fabrics for the background. The pieces were first pinned and then stitched in place, quite a fiddly job with all the small pieces.

The background assembled and stitched in place. It looks quite plain at this stage although already you get the feeling of depth. The fun part comes with the free motion stitching which really brings the design to life.

I used mostly rayon threads for the free motion embroidery, but a few cotton and polyester threads too, depending on what colours I needed for the look I wanted.

I was really pleased with the way this turned out so I decided to try another one based on another Isle of Wight photo. This time the view from Forelands beach where I used to live, looking across to Whitecliff Bay and Culver Down. I used to look out on this every day and have always wanted to make something inspired by this view.

The first stages before the thread embellishment. I didn’t have any hand dyed fabric the right colour for the sea but found a piece of piece of cloth I painted years ago which was just perfect.

The finished piece. I think there might have to be a series of these as I’m really enjoying making them and I have heaps of photos for inspiration and it makes quite a nice change to be doing work inspired by a different location, although this technique would probably work for some of my rain forest designs too.

Festival of Quilts 2010 – Part 1

I’ve just returned to Brunei from my annual trip to the UK and my second visit to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham. This year I didn’t attend any workshops as the ones I was interested in had sold out by the time I was able to register, so that meant I had plenty of time to look around and enjoy the wonderful display of over 1,000 quilts from all over the world.

 For the first time I had two of my own quilts in the competition, here I am with my quilt inspired by the Borneo rain forest. The other quilt was my hand appliqué birds and flowers design which I wrote about in an earlier blog post.

I attended the gala dinner on the opening night of the festival, and little did I know it, but the quiet unassuming Japanese lady who was sitting at our table with her two daughters was the winner not only of the Miniature Quilts competition but also the Best of Show announced at the end of the dinner. Her piece ‘Mission Impossible 2’ a foundation pieced and reverse appliqué Mariner’s Compass design with 128 points was a true example of precision and perfection and a very deserved winner.

Mission Impossible 2 by Kumiko Frydl

As I had a bit of time on my hands this year I volunteered to help with the SAQA exhibit  ‘Art meets Science’ with its very diverse array of quilts inspired by the theme. There was everything from a vibrant close up detail of a butterfly wing to an artistic interpretation of the H1N1 virus. I enjoyed meeting some of the other SAQA members while I did this as well as chatting to people who came to view the display.

While I was there, Alex Veronelli the Product Manager for Aurifil threads shot this video which shows the quilts in much more detail so that you can see the intricacy of the designs and the quilting.

What struck me most about being at the show this year was the friendliness and camaraderie of so many of the people I met, whether it was going along the corridors of the hotel, sharing a table at breakfast or lunch, walking to the exhibition hall, going round the various booths of the exhibitors or attending the SAQA coffee morning. It made the whole show a very positive experience and I feel I made new friends as well as meeting up with old friends.

Needless to say I took this opportunity to stock up on threads and fabrics. Living in Brunei I generally have to rely on buying over the internet so it is a luxury to actually be able to look at and feel the fabric I buy, and to have such a fantastic variety of threads in all weights, colours and varieties all in one place. For the fabric I concentrated on original hand dyes which are much harder to buy over the internet as you really need to see them to appreciate their uniqueness. I kept telling myself I should look for colours other than greens and browns, but as you can see I didn’t do a terribly good job, although I did find these beautiful vibrant red and pink hand dyes as well as the subtle grey and blue fabrics.

As you can see from the photo I also bought a lot of threads, a good selection of Aurifil, plus a few by Superior, YLI, Oliver Twists and Madeira. Again I was mostly drawn to browns and greens which I tend to use so much of in my work.

In the next part I will post some of the photos  of quilts I took whilst at the exhibition.

Experimenting with trapunto

Traditionally trapunto was a form of padded quilting, usually on white fabric and was made by inserting small shreds of batting through a tiny hole in the back of a quilted motif. Nowadays there is a much simpler way of doing it using free motion machine quilting and water soluble thread. I have been wanting to try it for a while now but wasn’t quite sure how to do it until I recently got Ricky Tim’s ‘Grand Finale’ DVD, where he explains the process in detail.

I started off by tracing the design onto my fabric, I used a freezer paper template and a water soluble pen for this. The design was my adaptation of a traditional native design which I have previously done in applique.



I then removed the template and placed a piece of batting under the design and secured it in place with a few pins. I stitched round teh outline of the design using water soluble thread in both the needle and the bobbin. Once the stitching was complete I carefully cut away the excess batting, trimming as colse to teh stitching as possible.

The picture above shows the back of the design with the batting cut away.  Next I took another square of batting and layered it between the top and some backing fabric. I used a variegated cotton thread to free motion quilt around the outline of the design and then to stipple the background. This part didn’t work quite so well and the stippling wasn’t really small enough or close enough to the design to make it really stand out. I was having a few problems with the adjustable settings of my quilting foot which didn’t help matters.

The finished design would have looked better with much tighter stippling and maybe on a more solid coloured background, but it was a useful learning process and I can see that this technique could have great potential when used with applique designs.


This week I started teaching a course at my local club on how to make a quillow. If you have never heard of a quillow before, a quillow is a small quilt that folds into a pillow. Before starting the course I needed to make another sample and rewrite my notes, so over the last few weeks, aside from my art quilt work, I have been making up my own quillow.

I bought some rather nice cat print fabric from the local fabric shop in town to use as the main feature fabric and then raided my fabric stash for the rest. The print fabric has lots of different cats in brown, black and grey on a light brown background so it was easy to find coordinating materials from amongst my stash of fabrics that I use for landscape quilts and geckos.

The quilt and pillow top is constructed from 8 inch ‘crazy’ foundation log cabin blocks which I printed out from Electric Quilt. The central patch is quite large so I was able to cut a square featuring a cat for the center of each block. I then applied strips of fabric around the central block to complete the square. I have included detailed instructions of how I made the foundation pieced log cabin blocks and completed the quillow on my web site in a new section entitled ‘Tips and Tutorials’. In time I hope to expand this section and include  lessons covering more different techniques and processes.

Brown is really one of my least favourite colours, but since I have been making art quilts I have accumulated a large collection of lovely batiks and blenders in all sorts of lovely shades and tints. I have grown to like using these colours a lot more and I was happy with the way the blocks turned out. I used a pale buttery yellow for the sashing to set off the blocks and this also brightened up the quilt a bit.

I used more of the cat print fabric for the outer border, being careful to remember to make sure everything was the right way up and the cats weren’t standing on their heads. The pillow top was made in the same way except that round the outside I used small strips of fabric sewn together in random order to make up the border with a square in each corner.

For the quilting I quilted in the ditch around the first row of the log cabin and around the outside edges of each quilt and the borders. The first time I made this quilt I didn’t do any more quilting but this time I wanted to practice my free motion quilting so quilted all around the blocks using a loop design and variegated cotton thread.

If you’re curious to see how the quilt turns into a pillow and becomes a quillow, chack out my web site for more photos: Anne Maundrell Designs

Rain Forest continued

The weather here in Brunei is still very wet and hardly a day or night passes without heavy rain at some time, but luckily there has been no more flooding.

design with leaves added

design with leaves added

I have done some more work on my rain forest design, adding leaves in the form of small snippets of fabric. I have just added to the trees in the background and this helps blend them in and make them look more realistic. I have also added fallen leaves in shades of brown overlapping into the lower border.  I added some machine embroidery to the leaves in the background and then the next step will be to add more undergrowth and plants.

The picture on the right shows some of the leaves and the machine embroidery.

I have taken a break from this quilt for a few days now to get on with some other projects. I belong to an Internet sewing group linked to my sewing machine and they also have a partner group for challenges which I have just joined. The challenge this month was to make a small, simple quilt and practice free motion quilting, with the resulting quilt to be donated to an animal shelter in Florida.

I thought it was a good cause and I was also keen to practice some free motion quilting on my new sewing machine so I decided to participate and raided my stash of fabrics for a plain piece to use for this quilt. I used an all over meandering design of loops and hearts from Patsy Thompson’s DVD: Free Motion Fun Volume 1.

close up of loops and hearts design

close up of loops and hearts design

I also took this opportunity to practice sewing on the binding by machine. Normally for my art quilt wall hangings I prefer to hand sew the binding because it gives a good finish. Occasionally if I am pushed for time and it is a simple design I will machine sew the binding using invisible thread and a straight stitch on the top side, with a thread to match the binding on the reverse side. As this was to be a utilitarian quilt and withstand wash and wear I thought a machine sewn binding would be appropriate and I wanted to try out a method that I had learnt about in my quilting group. I used the same variegated cotton thread that I had used on the quilt top and a shallow zig zag stitch. It worked well and looks attractive for this sort of quilt but isn’t something I would use on an art quilt or wall hanging.

machine stitched binding

machine stitched binding