Ironing and Cutting Board


I have had this wonderful tool in my sewing room for several years … and love it.

I do not like cutting, or ironing, at regular table height, and had never found a board for either job I thought I would use at workshops or retreats.


I bought a large size mat for my permanent cutting table but it was too big. First problem was cutting a self-healing cutting mat! I used a ruler but replaced the rotary cutter with a craft knife and some elbow grease.

Now I needed something to lift it up to my preferred cutting height.

This is when I called on the man of the house.

Two pieces of MDF a little larger than the leftover piece of mat … I could have used any mat … and six legs just long enough to raise the height.


I glued the mat to one side of the portable table, and it works beautifully.

The other side I covered with a layer of kitchen foil, a piece of old blanket, and covered it with fabric from my stash, using staples to hold everything together.


At the last minute I got one of the legs separating the two boards with a piece of broom handle so it can be easily carried to and from the car.

Between excursions it sits in my sewing room with the ironing side up … who needs a full size ironing board when you are quilting?

The cutting mat gets used away from home … and when I want to work at the kitchen table.

By chance, there is enough room between top and bottom to put the iron under there when I am cutting, and the rotary cutter fits quite easily along with a ruler or two when I am ironing!

13th February 2011

Horrocks Pass

View through the pass which we took through the lower Flinders Ranges.

Jeans for Josh

9th October 2010

Earlier in the week I went op shopping in Berri, Loxton and Pinnaroo and came home with denim, in the form of jeans and a skirt, along with three bedspreads and a tablecloth.  Two days of cutting twelve and a half inch squares, and making up more squares from smaller sections and I had over 50 squares of denim! I only needed one quilt!

11th October 2010

The blocks started becoming quilt tops … and this one was first cab off the rank. It was also the top lot of blocks laid out on our bed today, so I had to concentrate on getting the bed cleared by bedtime. Others were on the spare bed and the lounge room floor!

November 30 2010

Backing pinned in place.

December 1st 2010

Machine stitched the binding around the outside.

December 9th 2010

Binding hand stitched down at Jack and Monica’s while Dad was in hospital.

The quilt was given to Josh on Christmas Day with instructions to empty his pockets! He found assorted cars, pens, pencils, an eraser, pencil sharpener, dice, note pad and a hand full of stones from Great Grandpa’s garden … all the sort of stuff you would find in an eight year old boys jeans pockets.

Trees for Christmas

September 2009

We were staying with Blue and Leah, who are not interested in anything involving needle and thread, when I ran out of work to do. There was nothing much in their house of use in this situation, and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a new project to fill in the remainder of the holidays. I had a sewing room full of fabrics, threads, tools, patterns, UFOs etc ….. I just wanted something to work on! I had assorted needles, scissors and a pencil, and Jordan had left a battered ruler and eraser on the kitchen table after doing his homework

The nearest craft shop had some wide cream homespun meant for a quilt backing as an end of roll special. They also had Perle thread and some thin iron on wadding to use as stabilizer. Leah had an iron and ironing board stored in the spare room which was our bedroom, so there was one tool I could make use of.

I started sketching ….. my skills are limited, but I managed the stick figure version of some different trees. I decided I would make them all the same triangular shape, but vary the style of foliage and branches. I found a cereal packet in the recycling bin, cut a rectangle as a template for the background block, and a triangle for the tree. I used the template to cut a heap of background pieces, and to mark the triangle onto some pages of the scrapbook I had found in Cheap as Chips – now my design book. A black marker turned the sketches into something I could trace onto the fabric.

(I chose a rectangle because it was easier to draw a rectangle when I was using the edge of a magazine for a ruler for anything longer than 5 inches … the length of th least battered edge of the ruler. The magazine also provided the right angle!)

By the time we came home I had six trees embroidered with simple variations of stem stitch.

November 2009

A weekend in Beachport …. more sketches, more embroidery.

July/August 2010

Took the bag with my holiday project to the Golden Harvest Quilter’s Retreat and did a couple more trees, but without the decorations at this point …… I think I am making a book of Christmas Trees …. there are too many trees now for a wallhanging, don’t see the trees making a wonderful quilt, so I will make them into pages of a fabric book. (PS 2010 have officially run out of room in this house for any more wall hangings .. don’t tell anybody, because I might still want to make some more!)

One of the new sketches was drawn from some young Norfolk Island Pines I could see from the cabin we stayed in during our stay in Beachport when I last worked on the stitcheries.

I have no idea how to decorate this one …. have ideas for all the others, but nothing for this one!

November 2010

Back in Beachport for another weekend of golfing (for Butch) and some stitching time for me.

All the photos so far were taken on this trip to Beachport.

Next outing … Marion Bay in December….. wonder how many more holidays before I need a new holiday project!

Patches for Paul

18th September 2010

After cutting and piecing together the Blue Jeans quilt top I had to get out the denim scrap box. Scraps left over from Blue Jeans for the Limousine which I made for Megan when she got her first car (the car was far from a limousine!) had been joined by some op shop jeans when I was making bags from jeans many moons ago.

Before I cut the border for Blue Jeans I sorted out enough bigger pieces to make two more quilt tops not quite as big as Blue Jeans.

23rd September 2010

The top went together reasonably well untill the last couple of seams, which involved four patches of stretch jeans in the corners. All the stretch runs across the quilt, so joining the vertical seams was fine …. the horizontal seams of the corner blocks stretched way out of shape, but eventually managed to get it under control.

14th October 2010

Pieced together binding strips cut from some dark, lightweight denim pieces I acquired several years ago from an op shop.

17th October 2010

Stitched binding on. Now I want something worth turning the tv on to ignore so I do the hand stitching. The backing is a bedspread donated by a friend. This will definitely be for the father, with another one in the making earmarked for son!

26th October 2010

Finished stitching the binding down!

The ‘quilting’ is a few scattered areas of  ‘darning’ by machine in grey thread … the sort of thing I would do on a pair of jeans to make them wearable for another season in the garden.

The quilt was handed over on Christmas Day, and Paul was instructed to empty his pockets of fishing gear, pens etc!

The feet belong to Paul, and so do the hands … well, one pair!

Wonder where Sala was when the photo was taken!


PS I am not the only one who has used the pockets ……… The Cozy Quilter did too!

Made in Fiji

9th October 2010 – 19th October

Started cutting assorted jeans and an ankle length skirt. The skirt is a real bonus! Will be able to colour code the various shades of denim into several quilts.

11th October 2010

The second quilt from the purchases made in Berri, Loxton and Pinnaroo op shops, including the long denim skirt which was made in Fiji … the label was inside the band, but have removed it to be stitched to the front later. All the pieces are laying on the spare bed. This one has a predetermined home to go to because of that label!

12th October 2010

Quilt top together by lunchtime.

17th October 2010

Binding ready to be stitched down by hand. Backing is a chenille bedspread purchased from an op shop a few years ago. Price was about $5 …. looked brand new!

19th October 2010

Binding completed, and first photos taken.

The centre row of buttons came from the long denim skirt, and the label will be attached to the back. The details of the quilt will go on the front with a permanent marker, along with signatures of well wishers when the quilt is handed over to the new owner.

I have already started stuffing stuff into the pockets. Items will include a packet of chewing gum, chocolate, odd coins, a pocket packet of tissues…. and a scrunched up loose tissue …. all the things you might find in the pockets of jeans when you are about to put them in the washing machine.

Completed on the eve of  Count your Buttons Day!

The quilt was handed over on Christmas Day and Sala was instructed to empty her pockets of earrings, pens and pencils, pencil sharpener and eraser, note pad, head band, purse and scarf  ….. the sort of things you might empty out of the pockets of any teenage girl.

Swinging Blue Jeans

18th September – 18th October 2010

After cutting and piecing together the Blue Jeans quilt top I had to get out the denim scrap box. Scraps left over from Blue Jeans for the Limousine which I made for Megan when she got her first car (The car was far from a limousine!) had been joined by some op shop jeans when I was making bags from jeans many moons ago.

Before I cut the border for Blue Jeans I sorted out enough bigger pieces to make two more quilt tops not quite as big as Blue Jeans.

21st September

Quilt top is together, and it looks like this.

There are a lot of what looks like grass stains …. they don’t show up near as much in real life ….. but maybe some bits of school boy jeans.

(I knew one who spent a lot of time creating grass stains on clothing!)

14th  October 2010

Layered the top with the backing …. part of the doona cover which was used for the back of the Washed Denim Quilt and cut the strips for a raggy edge.

15th October 2010

Stitched the strips around the edge for the raggy finish, and put it in th almost finished pile ….. I chased the vacuum cleaner around yesterday to remove all the little bits of thread which have come off the raggy bits of the quilts, and it is too cold today to go outside and snip the edges.

19th October

Clipped the edges and it is now washed and raggy round the edges.

Some of the grass stains have come out in the wash!

Finished size 44 x 60 inches

No wadding, denim top, poly-cotton backing.

More Things I Have Learned about Making Denim Quilts

Joy said in a comment:
October 13, 2010 at 9:05 pm e

Another hint..discovered accidently!

Stitching over those thick intersection seams is even easier with the walking foot on.


And another one learned accidentally …. and I have to admit to learning this one!

The amount of fluff in the washing machine after washing one of these quilts for 15 minutes is enough to block the pump! Butch said he had never seen so much lint in the lint catcher, let alone the pump! Ooops! From now on a quick rub in the wash tub followed by a quick spin, then into the dryer …. it is easier to remove the lint from that!

Washed Denim Quilt

Started 9th October 2010, completed 13th October 2010

Started cutting assorted jeans after an op shop spree in Berrie, Loxton and Pinnaroo.

11th October 2010

The third quilt top from amongst the pieces, using some well washed jeans. No plans for this one at this time.

Pieced together before I went to bed as the pieces were laid out on our bed …. the spare bed was taken up by another lot of pieces!

13th October 2010

The backing is part of a doona cover which was found in one of the op shops. I added two strips of navy fabric around the raw edges of the quilt instead of binding the edges, giving it a raggy edge ….. a fun, easy finish for a fun quilt.

I might use this edging again, but bind the top in the usual way, as the raggy edge could look good around the other sides of a bed quilt, particularly in a pink and fluffy girls room!

Finished size 34 x 44 inches

Raggy Jeans Rug

Quilt in a Day 13th October 2010

Twelve squares of dark denim …. cut from near new jeans …. backed with a cream fabric which formerly backed a bedspread.

Pieced together before breakfast …. my morning exercise was walking from the spare bedroom carrying two blocks correctly aligned to the sewing room down the passage, stitching, then returning for the next piece! This was before daylight, so working, or walking, outside was not an option at that time.  After the event realised I had stitched within a hairsbreadth of a stud ….. an extra cup of heart starter was required with the bowl of muesli!

Life returned to more normal activities for the morning, but still managed to get the snipping of seam allowances done by lunchtime, after thinking it was done soon after breakfast, but finding a few seams waiting for the snips just before I was going to put it in the machine.

Finished size 36 x 45 inches

Fluffy Jeans

Quilt in a Day 12th October 2010

Twelve squares left over from 6 previous projects made using recycled jeans have been joined together with seams on the right side, no backing.

Added 2 inch strips os scrap denim around the outside edges, then snipped all the seam allowances. The rug is now in the washing machine, where it will be agitated for at least fifteen minutes before it goes in the clothes dryer for more fluffing around!

There is another rug to go together, then I will be all out of jeans, and will not be cutting up any I can still wear in the near future, and I have gone off op shopping for the moment too!.

When this comes out of the dryer it will be the first quilt finished for the year ….. though it’s not really a quilt because there is only one layer. And it is a true ‘Quilt in a Day”!

15 minutes later …. it is out of the washing machine and in the dryer …… and it is looking wonderfully fluffy along all the seam lines!

Finished size 36 x 45 inches

Quilt Diary – Blue Jeans

13th September 2010 –

Last month Nigel delivered all his old jeans to me  …….. thankfully, not to be mended! While he was going to school I made him a quilt which left home with him and has been used on his lounge during most of the intervening years, and is no longer fit for public life! The jeans are to make a replacement, big enough for a six-foot plus, broad-shouldered bloke to use during late night movie sessions after a late shift. It has to be tough enough for a bachelor pad too.

Starting a few days ago I cut as many twelve and a half inch squares as I could, then cut rectangles from the remainder. Will need a minimum of 15 to make a lap quilt for the man who used to be our little boy!

Pocket areas have been saved, and the waist band above them hand stitched to a smaller scrap, then squared off with the rectangles.

After a week of fiddling with the small stuff, there are twenty-five squares almost ready to join together.

All of these jeans have stories to tell.

One pair of Levis 501s were pretty much the first item of clothing our teenage son bought for himself … out of school, but still without a job, he spent a large proportion of his available cash on just one pair of jeans. I thought he was crazy …. but those jeans were his good jeans for about 12 years, and were about twenty years old before they were retired and placed in the pile to be used for a denim quilt. The button fly front have been saved to be a part of the quilt, and both   of this pair and another pair of 501s have ‘Made in Australia’ tags inside ….. they were made at Elizabeth, South Australia, not too distant from where Nigel works and lives.

Another pair have evidence of the day he helped a cousin brand sheep. Some have ripped knees, one has a pattern of holes caused by acid, only two had broken zips (they were not Levis) and most have stains of their past use. (I am not going to try to identify them!)

15th Sept 2010

Who needs to bungee jump to get an adrenalin rush?

The plan for the day was to get the final blocks finished and join it all together.

The pockets and buttoned flies are part of the appeal of certain jeans, and I want to include them in the quilt. But that means mixing extremely sharp implements with solid objects.

Try stitching close to the studs which are added to secure pockets to the jeans! I missed them all, but not by much!!!! Added a few grey hairs … I had thought they were all grey before, but ……

I bought a new iron a few months ago ….. almost ironed over one of those studs, which would have scratched that lovely shiny stainless steel plate! Well, I did iron over it, but gently enough that it didn’t mark the iron.

Then when I was trimming one square, the rotary cutter found something sold …. one of the studs! I now have one less spare blade!

Had to remove a few belt loops, and the good quick-up-pick was the other end of the house, thankfully. I now have one less quick-un-pick, but the good one is intact!

No blood spilt, so it’s all good, and a strong Scotch will settle the stomach.

16th Sept …. Early  ….. all the twelve and a half inch squares are ready to join together …. twenty-five of them!

Later ….. Twenty five pieces have become one, though there are a couple of spots which need hand stitching. Studs too close to seam lines are a worry!

Other than that, denim is a forgiving fabric to work with as there is a certain amount of give in the weave, which is probably why so many people around the world enjoy wearing it! But then the top is so darn heavy it would probably sit flat anyway, even if it is distorted in the piecing!

18th September

I have the borders cut …. a narrow dark navy furnishing fabric with a 6 inch scrap border of denim, trying to use up all the scraps

(I had scraps left over from ‘Blue Jeans for the Limousine’ plus some op shop finds left over from making some jeans bags once upon a time, and have two more quilts cut out!)

20th September

The top is together, but it was too dark to take a photo … hopefully it will be fine and dry sometime soon to take a photo. The top is the size of the top of a queens size bed … it is heavy …. and it is dirty! Well, stained, as I don’t think the dirt will wash off! The jeans had a hard life before they became a quilt top!

Toys 4U

As already announced on Virtual Quilter

the pattern for this quilt is now available from the

Virtual Quilter’s Pattern Place.

This design is for a quilt I have never made with fabric …… but it is too good to stay hidden in my computer files waiting for a sample to be made so I have written the instructions so others can use it first.

I am not sure if it easier or harder to write instructions for a virtual quilt compared to a design I have made up. I always need to get someone else to read the pattern anyway to make sure the words I write make sense to someone else!

The instructions are for fused applique by machine, but you can do the stitching by hand if you prefer.

If you add seam allowance you can even needleturn it.

Like wise quilting can be done by hand or machine.

Members of the Pattern Place will have access to some other ideas to use the block designs.

This design came together after I drew up the block designs for a toy box full of toys in 2005. It is one of several designs which use toys from that same drawing session. some of the toys are used in several designs, and there are still others which haven’t been used in any design yet. Originally the pattern was published as a tradition paper pattern in 2007, but has now been updated to be sold as a PDF.

Virtual Quilter Archives

I have started printing a copy of each post I have added to

Virtual Quilter.

It’s going to be a big folder when it is finished, but would like to complete all this years posts before mid July.

September to end of December have been printed, but 2009 will have to wait a while.

On Monday June 7th I will add virtual quilt number one thousand to the blog.

All original designs too.

The one included here is just one of them.

Fabric and Threads

Some copyright information, magazine pictures and articles in a scrap book with a plastic cover.

A newspaper clipping with a picture of a wall hanging made by members of the Golden Harvest Quilters.

A Moment at a School Reunion

The MC was directing 400 plus ex-students to the new toilet facilities at their old school when someone called out

“Are you still allowed to smoke int the toilets?”

The identity of the wag at the back of the room could probably be narrowed down to one of ten ex-students amongst the 440 present for roll call.

It wasn’t one of my classmates.

School reunion was held to mark one hundred years of secondary education in Jamestown.

(There were times during the four years I spent at the school that I felt I had been there for all one hundred!

Usually in maths and Latin classes.)

Photo taken in Beachport Museum, South Australia, 2008

Expensive Stuff-Up

Story of an expensive stuff-up.

I can usually stuff things with a $5 bag of fibre filling with enough left over for another stuff up or two!

Christmas Toys

A collection of cards, pictures from magazines and some of my sketches of anything related to Christmas and toys to put under Christmas trees.

The card on the right with the rather ragged fairy was the inspiration for my Fairy Nice, and I have finally stuck it firmly into a scrap book.

Photos of Santas made while we lived in Yorketown, 1990 – 1995, a sketch for a doll I have never made, and some paper dolls from a magazine.

Magazine pictures, and Christmas cards … possible inspiration for toys, decorations and quilts.

More scraps saved from magazines.

Cottage Collectables Scrapbook

A piece of fabric intended for rag dolls covers this book.

The contents are pattern sheets I drew up in the late eighties, with antique and items which would have been found in country farmhouses in the middle of the 20th century, along with sewing accessories, along with pictures from magazines which I have saved for inspiration for future items.

Why I Quilt

I love the time spent with a quilt during the making of it. It is not a race to use up fabric, or to complete the most quilts. It is a passion, a hobby, something to be enjoyed at leisure. I don’t need any way of reminding me to make a quilt. I do it because I want to! I love every thing from designing to putting the last stitch in the binding, and adding a label.

In the last few years so many people complain about the cost of quilting and if you buy a detailed pattern, rotary cut, machine piece at a million miles an hour and send them out to be quilted it is expensive. Two or three quilts a month is possible, but the cost would be huge.

I buy the best materials I can, but because I do a lot of the quilting by hand it doesn’t cost very much to get them quilted. Just time, which may be in short supply, but when it is available it is cheap.The fun is priceless, and I don’t need therapy or drugs to relieve stress either!

Very rarely have I felt compelled to make a quilt quickly just so I could boast about how many I have done, but admit to making a quilt quickly just because! Some years I complete 8 to 10 large quilts, some years it is just one. If I enjoy it, it doesn’t matter.

I started counting the hours spent on ‘our’ quilt, a hand-made pieced and applique sampler/album quilt for a queen size bed. At five hundred hours and about half way I stopped counting because every hour was priceless, I could never put a monetary value on the hours spent making blocks to tell our story, so I didn’t need to know!

Enjoy the process, and the quilt will bring its own enjoyment in use.