Saturday, September 19, 2015

It's A Mystery!

A quilter on a forum I belong to hosts free Mystery Quilt Train Rides two or three times a year for anyone who wants to join in. I am very thankful to her for taking the time to design and write out instructions for us. Here is what we are working on--she gives us one clue per week.

Clue #1:

Clue #2:

Clue #3:

Completed block:

Beginning layout for assembly:

I can't seem to get the fabrics to photograph true-to-color--the burgundy of the completed block photo is the closest.

It is a lot of fun participating in these mysteries with other quilters. The range of colors and fabrics is amazing. I have heard quilters say that they would like to do a mystery quilt, but that they are afraid of the expense--especially since they might not like the end result. I always use inexpensive fabrics for these (at least the first time--sometimes I repeat the pattern), and I figure that if I don't like the result, someone else will--I can always give it to him/her!

Edited to add: Here's where I am today. Not good image quality, but the overall pattern shows up now. I will audition borders next.

Monday, September 14, 2015

More Ohio Star Blocks

I'm making more Ohio Star blocks. My first ones were here: Ohio Star Block.

I'm planning to put together one of Bonnie Hunter's patterns called Random Ohio Stars.  I have the 12" blocks done, and now I'm working on the smaller (6") ones.

They take some time for me to complete, but I'm enjoying the process. I'll keep you posted on the quilt's progress!

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Secret Garden

As a child, my favorite book was The Secret Garden. As an adult, I am lucky enough to teach the book every semester. Great job, right? 

That, of course, means that I re-read the book often. I have several editions,

These are only a few of them!

but I must admit that my favorite is the one I had as a child.

It's fragile and in pretty bad shape, but it is dear to me.

What does this have to do with quilting?


Gates, keys, and blooms!

Mary, birds, and seed packets!

I don't know yet what I will make with these, but until then, I'll just enjoy looking at them and being reminded of a wonderful book.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Improvisational Quilt

This quilt began as an experiment in making hourglass/QST blocks. You can see the post about it here: Hourglass Blocks. Then, I added four-patches. Then I added some more four-patches. Then I added a border. Then I added another border... Let's just say it grew improvisationally.

I made a layout plan on EQ7 after I made the blocks.

The actual quilt looks a bit different, but I am so glad to have the EQ7 program for a layout tool.

I used a black paisley print for the backing and binding.

I like the quilt, but I love all shades of red (except those with yellow in them). I'm hoping the color combination won't be too jarring for the quilt's recipient.

This quilt grew in the making; I didn't begin with an overall plan. Perhaps I should call myself The Experimental Abuela!

Linked to My Quilt Infatuation

Tuesday, September 1, 2015


A Wagga is an Australian utility quilt (also sometimes termed a Wagga Rug).

Its origins lie with men who traveled across country working as shearers, drovers, or farm laborers. Often called swagmen, they slept rough, and the wagga was an essential part of their gear. It might be used for warmth, to keep off the rain, or as a groundcover for sleeping. Waggas were made of found materials--hessian bags, jute flour bags, etc.--sewn together with twine. Batting might include old clothing, bits of fleece from the shearing, and even, in some cases, newspaper. They were roughly made for hard use.

Note: Clicking on the first four photographs will take you to links about them.
Elderly swagman
A Traditional Wagga Rug

In later years, the wagga became a domestic item as well. Tailor's samples of wool suiting, household bags (such as sugar or flour bags), and printed feed sacks were used by homemakers to create warm quilts for use by their families. Construction of these waggas was more refined. The fabric was cut and the pieces sewn together as patchwork.

Wagga Rug made of wool suiting
Wagga Rug made of wool suiting

The wagga is thought to derive its name from the town of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia. The flour mill there used wheat bags and jute flour bags, and according to Wendy Hucker, writing for Australia’s National Quilt Register, “There is anecdotal evidence that the Wagga Flour Mill late last century [19th] and early this [20th] had a special place where staff put flawed wheat bags and 150 lb. jute flour bags that couldn't be reused. The men were welcome just to collect these. One way or another opportunity and necessity in the Wagga district reflect the origin of the wagga."
Wagga Lily Flour Bag


When I first heard this term, I was intrigued. I have no connections to Australia (I've never even been there.), but the idea of a utility quilt sewn in rough conditions of found materials caught my attention. I have since made a couple of waggas of the domestic type. Of course, I had to purchase the materials, but I tried to construct them simply and make them warm. I found wool-blend fabric (54" wide) on sale for less than $4 per yard (traditionally thrifty!), so I was soon on my way.

This wagga was my first. It is made of wool-blend coating fabric. I washed the fabric in hot water and dried it in a hot dryer before making the wagga. I wanted to see if the fabric would stand up to the heat, and I'm glad to say it did very well. It didn't felt or shrink as pure wool would, so I cut it into bricks and sewed them together. I used a washable wool batting, and wool-blend backing, and rather than quilting with stitches, I tied the layers together with #3 cotton thread. It is very warm, it washes well, and it is not unattractive. The only drawback is that the wool-blend backing is a little itchy next to the skin.

This was my second wagga. It is made the same as the first, but I backed it with cotton flannel--goodbye itchiness! The top pattern was even simpler this time--just wide strips of fabric. I rounded the corners on both of these waggas--trying to miter a binding corner with such thick fabrics would have been very difficult.

I have some more wool-blend fabric (in pinks!--what would the swagman think of that?) waiting in the wings, so I will be making more waggas in the future. I enjoyed making these especially since I was learning the history of the traditional wagga along the way.

G'day, mate.