Friday 5 July 2024

Kokomo (Stars Upon Stars) Fabric Selection

Thank you for all the lovely comments on my Kokomo quilt.  As promised I'm going to explain more about how I made it - both for anyone thinking about making one themselves, and for my personal record, because after all, that's what blogs are for.

A. Fabric selection

I loved Tula Pink's Zuma range as soon as I saw it and I knew I wanted to use it for something special so I decided to use it for my version of Stars Upon Stars - Kokomo.  As soon as the block started coming together I knew I had made the right decision for me.

Most people who make Stars Upon Stars quilts use traditional colourways.  The pattern is inspired by an antique quilt from the collection at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in USA so it's not surprising many people recreate that look with traditional fabrics.

But traditional colours have never appealed to me, and I could picture Stars Upon Stars in modern colours.  So I decided to go with blues and greens with accents of pink, orange and yellow.  

When I work on long term quilts like this I select a range of fabrics that match my vision for the quilt and move them into a different storage container. Then I just pull from that curated range as I select the fabrics for each block.  I find that this method stops me straying too far from my original vision. 

When I'm working from a limited range of fabrics I become very aware of the subtle colour differences between the fabrics.  My greens merged into teals and then into blues.  But that's fine because I love them all.  

If I needed more of a particular colour I would take some of my fabrics to the shop with me to ensure I didn't drift too far away from my colour scheme. 

In the end it's all worked out well and there's not a single block that I would change.  

Friday 28 June 2024

Kokomo (Stars Upon Stars)

Where do I even begin to describe my happiness with how this quilt has turned out?

I'm thrilled with it and I'm not going to let it out of my sight.  I've even considered sewing an Apple AirTag into it so if it goes missing I can track it down! I've spent so many hours making this quilt but I've enjoyed them all. 

I started this quilt back in January 2020.  I've spent four years working on it in the background.  I haven't once put it on social media or even shown my friends.  I knew it was going to take a long time and I just wanted to enjoy the process and take my time with it. 

There's so much to say about my Kokomo that I am going to break it down into a series of blog posts and then link to them all from a new tab at the top of the page. I will cover:

- my fabric selections (Tula Pink Zuma range mainly)

- planning the colours

- assembly - I hand pieced it all

- hand quilting - and then I hand quilted it all. 

But firstly, the name. 

I've called my quilt Kokomo because it reminds me of that fictional place in the song by the Beach Boys (made famous in the movie "Cocktail", starring Tom Cruise).  

Aruba, Jamaica, ooh, I wanna take ya
Bermuda, Bahama, come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego
Baby, why don't we go?
Off the Florida Keys
There's a place called Kokomo
That's where you wanna go
To get away from it all

Back in 1988 when the movie "Cocktail" was released, and "Kokomo" was racing up the charts in New Zealand, I went on a four week work trip to the Cook Islands.  The cruisy songs from "Cocktail" were on the radio everywhere we went in Rarotonga.  We even thought that "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was a Cook Island song and were surprised to hear it on the radio in New Zealand when we got back.  That movie soundtrack was always playing in the background as we swam in the pool and Muri lagoon each day after work.

The sea glass colours in my quilt remind me of the sparkling waters of tropical lagoons and beaches.

I'll be back in coming weeks to explain more about how I made my quilt and all the thinking that went in to achieving my super special quilt. 

I'm so happy to finally be able to talk about it and share it with everyone. 

Friday 21 June 2024

Sunshine Coast

I'm just back from a lovely holiday on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia.  The Gold Coast is an hour south of Brisbane, and the Sunshine Coast is an hour north of Brisbane.

As soon as friends knew I was in Noosa they all told me to go to Sand Salt Sew so of course I had to! I love a quilt shop that knows their target market.  My husband and son and agreed to allow me 30 mins max to visit the quilt shop and a dress shop while they waited in the car.  There was no time to buy yardage and ponder about what I could make with it, so I chose a kit for a bag that had everything included - pattern, papers, zip, batting and even thread for embellishment. Just perfect for a quilter in a hurry because there's so much to see and do in Noosa.

The bush and the beaches around Noosa are all lovely, and the surf clubs are all very welcoming with their big restaurants and views over the beaches.  We visited Noosa, Sunshine Beach, Coolum, and Alexandra Headland surf clubs and they were all great. 

Noosa from Laguna Lookout

Noosa Beach

Alexandria Bay - only visible after walking to Hell's Gate

We spent the first four nights at Noosa.  One morning we walked out to Hell's Gate and got a great view of the vast Pacific Ocean and the spectacular surf beaches.

Maroochydore River sunrise

same view at sunset

Then we moved down to Maroochydore and spent a few days with family. That was fun too and they took us up into the hills and we got great views back to the coast.  We had an icecream at Maleny because the days were lovely and warm while we were there - about 22c each day and no rain.  

Now I'm back home in New Zealand and it's winter, but I guess that means that Spring is next and that will be nice. 


Friday 7 June 2024


There's nothing like an exhibition deadline to make me hurry up and finish a quilt.  

This one all started when I saw an offcut of the beautiful Stone Flower centre in the remnant bin at my local quilt shop.  I knew I had to take it home and and turn it into something pretty. 

There's always a good selection of medallion quilts in Kaffe Fassett's books so I perused my little library and came across the Blue Square Dance quilt in Quilts in the Cotswolds.  

I didn't fancy making the final border on the Blue Square Dance quilt, so I turned the page and used the border from the Flowery Jar pattern instead.  

The final touch was a great Kaffe Fassett print for the binding that incorporated all of the colours used in the quilt - Chevron Stripe in Blue. 

I've called it Faith because:

a. I love George Michael's music

b. You've got to have faith to build an impactful quilt.

I had it custom quilted by Sue B from Busy Bee Quilt Shop and I'm really pleased with it. 

Finished size 74" x 74".

Friday 31 May 2024

Last Christmas

I finished my Trip Around the World quilt just in time to enter it into Capital Quilters recent exhibition.  

I've called it Last Christmas because I've always loved Wham, and each December I pump this song out  regularly.

I used Edyta Sitar's pattern and method and I found it very good.  If I decide to make another Trip Around the World quilt I would certainly follow her method again.   

You can read my first blog post about this quilt here. I made this quilt over the Christmas break and found all these fabrics in my stash. I hand quilted it using a range of colours and types of threads.  I don't think they show up all that well, but I had fun mixing it up.  

I did find that quilting on the diagonal skewed the quilt slightly.  I was tempted to add some straight lines to straighten it out, but that would have ruined the diagonal effect that I was after.  When it was finished I gave it a wash and blocked it and I think it's back to being square now.  

I do love the colours which are Christmassy, but not in a traditional way.  I was inspired by this Christmas gift bag.

Oh! And on the back I used a piece of Noel by Cotton + Steel - so cute. 

Finished size is 54" x 62"

Friday 24 May 2024

Tea Party part 6

Wow! It's been two and a half years since I worked on this quilt! But I'm going on holiday soon and I need some hand stitching to take with me. 

My quilt.

The full finished quilt designed by Wendy Williams

I have 4 tea cup blocks and 4 coffee cup blocks all prepped and just waiting for me to applique the flowers on.

So this week I've been cutting circle motifs out of fabrics and appliquing them to the wool felt in the evenings. I'm just building up a collection at the moment and will decide which flowers to put on each block when I have a good range to choose from. 

This pattern includes some reverse applique wool felt stars and they are fun to make.  I'm tacking the underlying fabric into place before I attach them to the background. 

Hopefully I can get at least 3 blocks ready to take with me to sunny Noosa. 

You can read my previous blog post about the Tea Party quilt here

You can find the pattern here at Material ObsessionOr the full kit here

Friday 17 May 2024

Exhibition shopping

After promising you I'd always do my blog posts on Friday nights NZ time, I slipped one in on Sunday, so if you missed seeing my Purple Zone quilt you can click back and read about it here

I've got more quilts from the exhibition to blog about, but first on to my shopping from Capital Quilters' exhibition last weekend. 

We had five retailers at the exhibition and I think I bought something from nearly every one of them.  

my haul from the exhibition

First up was this very interesting fabric from e bond for Free Spirit Fabrics.  It's unlike anything I've purchased before, but I want my quilting to continue growing so I'm going to challenge myself to use it.  

I also bought a bundle of Peppered Cottons from Studio E which will work well with another project I've been collecting fabrics for. 

These purchases were both from Jenny Hunter at Plume Art + Stitch

Catherine McDonald from Mallee Textiles brought a great range of her hand treated fabrics and there was a tempting discount if you purchased five.  Here's my five fabrics. 

I feel like I haven't been to a quilt shop in ages, and my lovely friend Lyndy from Stitchbird at Kilbirne had lots of pre cuts on her stall, so I bought a layer cake of Backyard by Ruby Star Society and I will enjoy thinking about what to do with that.  I do like the Ruby Star Society fabrics.  

I haven't unwrapped it yet because I know that when I do I'll want to start making something with it immediately and I have lots of other things I need to do first - including housework!

And finally, I bought some Sue Spargo wools from Fox's Cottage from Foxton. I've mainly used wool felt to date, but I'm participating in some Sue Spargo BOM programmes and I'm really enjoying seeing the different results felted wool produces.  Wool felt vs felted wool.  They are different - trust me. 

So, in between looking at all the wonderful quilts and talking to friends from around New Zealand, I managed to do a fair bit of shopping too. 

Sunday 12 May 2024

Purple Zone

There's nothing like an exhibition to make you hurry up and finish a quilt. 

This recent finish is a combination of two Jen Kingwell designs. 

Back in 2019 I started Jen's Marshal Mystery Quilt published through QuiltMania.  I was very proud of my central motif when I finally got it to sit flat, but as time went on and more and more of the quilt got released, I didn't feel inspired to finish it according to the pattern.  

But I've always hung onto this centre piece and I knew I'd find a way to use it one day.  

Last year another Australian quilt designer, Chris Jurd came and spoke to our guild and taught some classes.  I loved Chris' show and tell and the stories behind many of of quilts.  I decided that my vision was too small and I needed to think BIG. 

So I dug out the centre of my Marshal Mystery Quilt and decided to applique it onto a back ground.  And because I'd been seeing a lot of lovely Daylesford quilts from Jen Kingwell's Quilt Recipe book, I decided to add some borders using Jen's method and mixing them up with a few blocks.

It was so liberating to just make a few blocks for the borders rather than thinking that I needed to carry the same design right around the quilt.  To top it all off I used Kaffe Fasset's Shiraz in Grey from my stash on the final border.  

Finally, because the hand quilting pile was growing bigger and bigger, and I wasn't even sure hand quilting would show up on this quilt, I took it to Sue B at Busy Bee Quilt Shop in Wellington and she worked her magic on it.  Thank you Sue!

As for the name? I'm continuing my theme of naming quilts after songs, and Purple Zone by The Pet Shop Boys and Soft Cell gets a good thrashing in my car. It seemed an appropriate name for this guilt given how much purple is in it.    

I hadn't even seen the video until I went searching for this YouTube link, and it is a bit weird, but I love the chord progressions in this song so I'm sticking with it for the name of this quilt.  

Finished size 68" x 68"

PS - you may remember that I used some of the blocks I made for the Marshal Mystery Quilt in "We Built this City" which you can read about here. 

And, I still have 4 of these little hand pieced circle blocks from the Marshal Mystery Quilts that I may well use in the future. They were meant to be semi circles but I joined mine up to make circles. 

Watch this space.