Ending 2020 with a Patchwork Rainbow

I’m happy to have my first Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finished in the year I began making it – just! The monthly hunt though a box of scraps of the prescribed colour gave me a sense of making progress through the topsy-turvy year of 2020. The simple nine patch blocks fit together in a 10 x 12 layout measuring 60″ x 66″. The backing is an extra wide text print and I created the label in my usual fashion using a computer print out, light box and permanent marker.

I stitched two sides of the label into the binding and finished the project by hand stitching the remaining two edges to the quilt back. The binding fabric is from the Solstice range by Sally Kelly @sallykellyfabric . I felt I was committing a crime by cutting this beautiful fabric into binding strips but the rainbow of colours on a dark blue background make it just perfect for the quilt!

In the end I chose to echo quilt a gentle curve across the quilt following the flow of the patchwork pattern. The echoes are 2½” apart so the quilt drapes well and feels cuddly 🙂 I used three different colours of Aurifil 40wt threads – 2314 across the yellow & orange sections; 2520 across the red, purple & blue sections; and 2902 across the aqua & green sections.

My final quilt of 2020 🙂 It feels appropriate to have ended with a rainbow, symbol of hope in the Bible, and a natural phenomena which moves us to look up in wonder. Before Christmas I shared thoughts on Advent as a season of waiting. The sense of waiting continues with the transition from this year to the next bringing few tangible changes. This morning I read a reflection by Mark Meynell* which included the thought that there are two types of waiting: passive ‘rainy day’ waiting; and active ‘house-guest’ waiting. I’m going to make a conscious effort to make my ‘stay at home’ Tier 4 existence a time of active waiting. Not necessarily making quilts (although there’s bound to be some sewing room action!) but a time of expectant waiting. Instead of staring at the rain and wishing it would stop I intend to be preparing for when the sun breaks through a gap in the clouds and a rainbow arcs overhead.

Rather than wishing you ‘Happy New Year’ (which may sound hollow to some and wishful thinking to others) I will instead go back to the theme of Advent: a sure hope in the promise of everlasting light that can never be extinguished by the darkness. Two thousand years ago John wrote with confidence, ‘… the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining’. Jesus is the name of that light and He’s still shining! Amen


* Mark Meynell, Colossians & Philemon For You, The Good Book Company

A thousand piece rainbow quilt

I hope your Christmas has been a peaceful time, perhaps even an opportunity to embrace different ways of gathering and celebrating. Our Christmas moved on from Plan C to Plan D as our daughter and S-I-L were plunged into Tier 4 restrictions – no mixing of households, no travelling. We hoped to have my parents share Christmas Day with us, then we heard the new Covid strain was indeed ‘going viral’ and we too would be in Tier 4 as from Boxing Day. So we played it safe, keeping households apart, and celebrated at home just the three of us. We were so grateful for a live-streamed Church Service in the morning and access to family via the internet.

No guests this Christmas meant my intentions to tidy my sewing room and convert it into a guest room could be set aside. I did a bit of tidying and sorting after finishing the Dashing Stars quilt last weekend. The Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt was the obvious next project. The blocks were up on the design wall and slowly through the week I pieced the quilt top together. Some days I just didn’t have the heart for sewing, trying to absorb the increasingly severe restrictions being broadcast from Downing Street and the resulting changes to our plans just left my head too full.

But by Boxing Day the quilt top was complete. I spent upwards of half an hour pressing all the seams – what a job! The quilt top measures 60″ by 66″ and I calculate (well my calculator calculates!) there are 1,080 two inch squares! I’m calling the quilt ‘Thousand Piece Rainbow’. I had a two metre length of Michael Miller ‘Calligraphy’ extra-wide backing in my stash and plenty of Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding to make up the quilt sandwich. There was just enough space on the kitchen floor to centre the layers.

Next task will be pin basting. I will use my walking foot to stitch out a quilting design. I’m not yet decided on the actual pattern. Maybe a wavy grid to follow the wave of changing colour in the patchwork or a diamond grid to overlay the patchwork design… There’ll be plenty of time to ponder the choices while I’m basting.

The label is prepared and I’ve made the binding strip, I’m wondering if I can finish this years Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt before the end of the year? Are you challenging yourself for a final finish for 2020 or maybe doing the opposite by enjoying the opportunity to relax into sewing mode with no goals in mind?

This isn’t a Saturday Quilting Bring & Share post and I sure do have a LOT of blog reading to catch up on but here are a few links I’d like to share 🙂

Alyce has shared an encouraging post about free motion quilting and how to break through five common myths that could hold us back from using this skill to enhance our patchwork.

Jo Westfoot aka the Crafty Nomad has launched her on-line sewing school. Her in-person workshops are great so I’m sure her new easily accessible classes will be informative and a lot of fun. The latest course to be launched, ‘Confident & Joyful Free Motion Quilting‘ takes participants beyond the anxieties of starting free motion quilting with a series of four step-by-step tutorials designed to grow knowledge and skills.

And Jasmeen is offering free tutorials sharing her love of needle turn applique. She is extremely skilful and wonderfully calm. A bit of slow stitching may be just what’s needed as we wait for 2021 to shake off the troubles of 2020. The series of video and written tutorials begins on 1st January.

Thank you for following my blog posts through the past year. All things being equal Saturday Quilting Bring & Share should return on 2nd January. I might even sneak in another post before then if I make significant progress on the RSC quilt 🙂



Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (236)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share – arriving in your inbox fashionably late on a Sunday! I hope you have had the opportunity to enjoy some sewing time over the weekend. Bring along your project and share in the inspiration, news and thoughts from members of our Worldwide Quilting Community. You can join in by clicking on the links below and leaving a message in the comments boxes at the end of the blog posts you read. Thank you!

My sewing time has been taken up with two projects that have deadlines. The gift for my parents is coming along, just the binding to hand stitch in place and the runner will be complete. The second project involves working towards a magazine deadline – so ‘secret sewing’ for the time being 😉 Both projects need to be completed before the end of this coming week.

The magazine accepted my quilt pattern over a month ago but came back asking if I could make a cushion cover to match. Thankfully I had fabric left over from the quilt so I agreed. I had to design a fresh pattern as the block design used for the quilt didn’t scale down well onto a cushion. I tested the pattern by making a cushion cover using fabrics from my scrap bins. As each stage of the cushion-making process passed the ‘pattern test’ I repeated the stage using the quilt fabrics for the magazine. I quilted both cushion fronts with in-the-ditch stitching between the nine-patch block units before adding large ‘stay-stitches’ around the edges.

The stay-stitching around the edge of my test cushion front. Can you spot the seams in the light fabrics? I had to piece two of the light squares – very satisfying to use up the very last pieces of a fabric scrap!

Once the stay stitching was in place I switched to free motion quilting to stitch a super-quick meander across the cushion fronts. I’ve finished the cushion for the magazine 🙂 The test cushion will be an addition to our living room decor once I’ve hand stitched down the binding but that is low on my priority list for now.

Here are the links to a few of the blog posts that have sparked my interest this past week. I hope you find plenty of inspiration. Make a cup of your favourite beverage to sustain you as you traverse a rabbit hole or two:

Over at Quilt Musings there is an inspiring blog post about using a skill building patchwork pattern book. Learning to achieve accurate seams and piece perfect points certainly does take practice. Following a pattern that is designed to grow skills and at the same time use up stash fabrics that have proved hard to use or no longer make your heart sing is a great way to grow patchwork quilting confidence and make space for new fabrics 🙂

Sounds like Izzy really enjoyed the process of making her latest quilt. Isn’t it great when a project comes together better than expected even when the original plan has had to be changed due to a stash deficiency?

Rebecca’s got a Christmas squirrel project underway! You know how sometimes there comes a moment when a project bursts from the back to the front of your mind and refuses to go away until you’ve dropped all other projects, rushed around getting the supplies and made the darned thing? 😀 If you follow Sandra at Musings of a Menopausal Melon you’ll know she has a monthly link up for anyone has had a squirrel take over their sewing time – yep! squirreling happens often enough to have it’s own dedicated link party!

Jan has brightened up a blank wall by making single blocks from three different patterns. Cutting and piecing the blocks gave her an opportunity to test her understanding of the patterns. The quilted blocks look great up on the wall.

Leanne has shared a sparkling star in a star block design as her contribution to the Quilt Block Mania thread. She shares some possible colour and layout variations which look very interesting. I’m always intrigued by the secondary patterns patchwork blocks can create.

Sandra is celebrating her quilt design being featured on the front of a magazine. The design features shadowed arrows. I especially like the way Sandra has changed the direction of her straight line quilting and added in a few extra designs to add interest and compliment the arrows facing in different directions.

Allison Harris shares her latest scrap quilt. This one is made entirely of Hourglass Blocks. Her post contains a link to her free, comprehensive, printable Hourglass tutorial.

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. It’s a season not just to count down to Christmas Day but to re-orientate our focus to the person of Jesus. John the Baptist was born a few months before Jesus. Following John’s birth his father, Zechariah, gave a prophecy about his role in preparing people for the coming of Jesus. The prophecy ends:

…because of God’s tender mercy, the light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.’

Luke 1:78-79

I’m following the Advent page on my Church’s website, there’s a mix of reflections, interviews and some information about up-coming events at Church too. You are welcome to dip in and scroll through the daily posts 🙂

Happy Stitching!


A bit of paper craft with some links to patchwork and quilting news and tutorials

I have tucked away my sewing machine and cleared my sewing room ready to receive our guests over the Christmas and New Year holidays. I often feel a bit lost when the sewing equipment is packed away. I think the ‘lost/detached’ feeling I get when the sewing room is converted to a guest room is more about letting go of the possibility of sewing rather than any real loss of sewing time. After all there’s more than enough to do what with extra meetings with friends and family (not to mention more shopping trips into town in one fortnight than for the whole of the rest of the year!) so the chances of disappearing into my sewing room for any length of time are pretty limited.

But taking a break from sewing opens other opportunities to be creative and crafty. At the craft group I help run we were shown how to make a star shaped table centre/wall hanging. This was fun and do-able in

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