Shhh, the Modern Makers are resting…

Always eloquent, with a knack for putting our undefined feelings into words, a recent blog post by the wonderful Cheryl Arkison really struck a chord with us…

Those of us working in the industry have been saying for a few years that it is getting worse and worse. The churn through of inspiration, the saturation of the market, the sheer volume of stuff is overwhelming even for us. It makes the hustle more exhausting as you try to find a way to differentiate yourself. Yet we too are contributing to the noise.

I always think of the Grinch and Boris Karloff saying “Oh the noise. The Noise. Noise. Noise. Noise.”

Cheryl Arkison


You may have noticed that Modern Makers has been quiet lately. A series of brutal life events has knocked our world off its axis, and we’re still trying to find our new normal.

But although this silence wasn’t by choice, we’ve realised that we’re able to think so much more clearly without the constant “noise” that we’ve been both consuming and creating. It’s giving us space to breathe and reflect, and allowing smaller, quieter thoughts to come to the fore. It’s taken us in unexpected directions creatively, and provided new perspectives on what we need and what we want.

So we’re going to embrace the peace for a while.

We know we’ll be back. We love the Modern Makers community and are still passionate about supporting Australian makers, designers and suppliers. But right now we’re taking a little rest to heal our bodies, soothe our minds and reconnect with our emotions.

Thanks for your quiet support. We hope you enjoy some peace too.

Jane, Alison and the Modern Makers Collective x









And the Girt By Sea Sew-Along winners are…

We’ve been so humbled and impressed by the many beautiful quilts produced during the Girt By Sea sew-along! The original Girt By Sea started with a story, and it seems that it struck a chord, with so many of you wanting to stitch your own story into the pattern. You certainly gave the Modern Makers team and Girt By Sea designers a difficult job in choosing a winner, as sometimes the stories behind the quilts were as beautiful as the quilts themselves!

But a winner there has to be. Well, two actually, as we promised one prize for Australia and one for international. And all along, there were two quilts that took our breath away at every single round…

The winner of the AccuQuilt Australia Go! Fabric Cutter Starter Kit is…

Laura Procter


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“The last round of my Girt By Sea quilt was epic but it’s finished! I’ve absolutely loved making this quilt, every border has a story and I’ve embraced the chance to play with the pattern in a few places. This last border is the multicultural friendship braid by @shequiltsalot which circles the quilt and to me symbolizes the friendships that share, support and enrich our lives. Mine is rainbow because Love Is Love.

Thanks to all the designers who contributed to this pattern collaboration by Modern Makers Collective!

And a big thanks to everyone who left lovely comments along the way, it’s my new favourite!


The AccuQuilt GO! Fabric Cutter is a fast, precise, affordable fabric cutting system that allows quilters to cut fabric as much as 90% faster than scissors or rotary cutting. You can cut an entire quilt in minutes!  Included in the Starter Kit is the Go! Fabric Cutter, the Value Die,  a 6″ x 12″ cutting mat, a die pick, plus a free 20-page pattern booklet which includes 12 block patterns and a sampler quilt pattern, so you can start creating right away.

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You can find AccuQuilt Australia here: Website Instagram Facebook

The winner of the Ava & Neve Liberty Society fat 16ths six month subscription, plus five gorgeous patterns from amazing Australian designers is…

Johanna Weidner


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“Since the inspiration for the designers of the Girt By Sea quilt was home – in their case Australia – I figured the only place to get a photo of my finished quilt was in the little town where I grew up and my parents still live. Ayr, Ontario will always mean home to me. My parents kindly volunteered to lend a hand for the photo shoot in the lovely park in the little downtown, near to the old schoolhouse I attended.

Thanks to everyone on IG for all the encouragement as I worked on this quilt. The colour scheme is crazy, and I love it! There’s also so many bits of fabric I adore all together. I think this is the favourite quilt I’ve made because it really feels like me.”


The Ava & Neve Liberty Society is an exclusive club, designed to help quench your love of Liberty and build up your stash.  Join a journey exploring the classic and seasonal fabrics from the wonderful world of Liberty Art Fabric!  For six months, you will receive 10 fat sixteenth pieces of Liberty Tana Lawn each month.  As if that’s not generous enough, Ava & Neve have also thrown in some of their favourite patterns from awesome Australian designers!


You can find Ava & Neve here: Website Instagram Facebook


Congratulations Laura and Johanna! We can’t wait to see what you make with these brilliant prizes! Huge thanks to our sponsors, Accuquilt Australia and Ava & Neve, for their generous support.

And thanks to everyone else who joined in the sew-along. Check out #girtbyseaquilt on Instagram to see the other amazing quilts and read the stories behind them!



Handmaker’s Factory Makes Makers Happy!


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Makers are a curious lot. We love to experiment with different crafts and are continuously challenging ourselves to learn new skills. So when Handmaker’s Factory  generously offered a prize of their “Learn To Screen Print In  Day” workshop to giveaway to two of our Modern Makers Retreat May 2017 attendees, we already knew we’d be saving up our pocket money so we could join the lucky winners at the class!


Our class consisted of MJ @janiecat58, Erin @quiltbystarlight, Jane @behind_lilpipdesigns, and myself (Alison @thebaronessdesigns), led by the lovely Nichola, who runs Handmaker’s Factory at a wonderfully eclectic studio in Melbourne’s Inner West.

The first step was to work out what designs we would be able to easily replicate onto the screen printing template, given our limited drawing skills and even more limited scalpel cutting skills. Nichola soon realised that this was no ordinary group when our first set of design sketches were furtively passed around the table and giggled at like naughty schoolgirls. “I never knew quilters swore so much!” Nichola said later.

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Once we had each decided on a design, we set to work cutting out our templates and Erin was first up to actually screen print. Always a spectacular maker, her first ever screen consisted of beautifully fine raindrops, and she printed them like a pro!


Compare with my own less-ambitiously-delicate mid-century design and not-intentional-but-I-kind-of-like-the-ghost-effect-so-I-won’t-call-it-a-mistake printing!

Jane was next up with a cute little “splash” design.

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And MJ had designed and cut a beautiful, intricate flower.

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Meanwhile, Erin had managed to design and cut a second gorgeous template and was already printing!


Nichola showed us how to use the screen, explaining and fixing our issues as we went along. We tried a few colours for our designs and had fun getting wet and wild while washing the screens between colour changes!



The class wrapped up and we took our printed fabric panels home with us to be used in quilts and other projects.

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We also took home a greater understanding of what it means to design a screen printed image, and huge respect for those who do it so well.


As a quilter, I find myself looking at the world through kaleidoscope eyes: all geometric shapes and a rainbow of colours. After this workshop, everywhere I looked I was seeing simple designs that I would be able to cut and screen print! It’s definitely something I’m itching to do again.

I’m also itching to try out some of the other workshops that Handmaker’s Factory run, such as indigo shibori, eco printing and natural dyeing, and weaving. Classes like this make great gifts for crafty friends… or indeed yourself!


Hands up who a list of new skills they’d like to try when they “have time”? Well you know what… we’re MAKERS! Let’s MAKE TIME!


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Handmaker’s Factory is located at:

84b Charles Street
VIC 3011

Phone: 0425868450

Girt by Sea: conquering the curves

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I’ll be honest … curves scare me. Give me straight lines any day.

My logically mind just can’t get around the concave, convex .. these two bits just aren’t suppose to go together.

I was lucky to watch this rounds designer, Emma Jean Jansen give a demonstration in person back in March and I also carefully read and followed her tips in her blog post.

It’s slow going. Very slow. If you are used to whipping through blocks, forget it. Slow and steady is best here.

My tips (very similar to Emma’s!):

  • Fold and make a crease at the centre of your two pieces
  • Match the fold and pop in a pin. Place a pin at the start and finish of the seams
  • I sewed the outer piece on top, so for me it was the white piece (I reversed the pattern pieces putting my feature fabric on the ‘inside’ and the background on the outside.
  • I used my quarter inch foot and the needle down function and slowly eased the fabric, matching it as I went. Don’t stretch it or pull it!
  • Carefully iron without stretching. The pieces are on the bias cut so can distort. You can see my seams just wanted to press out so I went with that. They lay a little flatter this way.

I’m pretty happy with my curves. Both those on my body and those I created for my Girt quilt.

I used my trusty Drunkard’s Path template from our sponsors Victorian Textiles – how awesome is the Modern Makers engraving! Love it!

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Hope you can conquer your fear like I did!





Girt by Me: of the Log variety

I’ve made a log cabin quilt before so these blocks weren’t daunting … although … the pieces in Girt by Sea are much, much smaller. And I had this nifty ruler to square things up last time. Couldn’t be that hard right?

It wasn’t!


This was a nice and easy round. I followed Alyce’s tips of pre-cutting, chain piecing and ironing everything. I think this is one of these blocks where the 1/4 inch seam is super important. A few of my blocks were perhaps a little … wonky … but nothing a good spray of Flatter and iron couldn’t help.

As you can see, I mixed it up a little and swapped out the little centre square. Something another Girt creator did that I thought was fun.

And yes … I still haven’t finished my needle turn. Another couple to go and the ones that go over the seams and I’ll be done. We can’t rush these things ok!

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The next two rounds are getting lighter, moving to white background.

After being behind a little (although these have been made since early August, I just didn’t get the photos and blogging finished) … I’m now caught up and ahead!

Happy log-cabin creating!




Blog tour: A piece of cake

When Peta asked if we would join her blog tour … it was like a three second delay … yes (might have shouted). It has been a pleasure working with her on our Girt by Sea pattern and so it was no question that we would be involved.


But what to make …

I read the book, cover to cover. And then read it again. Honestly, I was excited to try every project in the book. And I certainly won’t be stopping at just one.

But I need to choose something so I picked the namesake ‘A Piece of Cake’ which is the second project in the book.


I wanted to make a quilt for my in-laws for Christmas and was looking for something quite straightforward. Not fussy. Ok … also easy (lol).

And oh boy, did I nail it with this one. I couldn’t believe how quickly it came together. I basically had a quilt top in one afternoon. Including cutting!

I bought this fabric by April Rhodes a few months ago. I’ll be honest, it isn’t my favourite but I knew my in-laws would love it. Actually, now it is all sewn together it has rather grown on me. Not every quilt has to be bold and saturated colours. The mustard, rust orange, navy and grey is lovely.

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The book is designed to use Layer Cakes (get it? A Piece of Cake?!?) for this one, I used a eight half yard bundle of fabric and still plenty left over. I’m thinking I might use what is left for a scrappy binding.

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Now just to quilt it. Any suggestions?

Thank you so much for having us Peta – love you, love your book and love this quilt! And we look forward to having Peta hosting our last month in the Girt by Sea Sew-along starting 25 September. It has been so much fun (and not too late to join in!).

Happy Modern Making

PS. Make sure you take a look at what all the other lovely bloggers have been making. They are amazing!

Talking quilts with Quilt Talking

Recently, a fabulous creature called Velvet van Pelt came knocking on our door and, in a drawl as delicious as hot chocolate, asked if she conduct her own online “chat show” for Modern Makers. You don’t turn down a woman like Velvet van Pelt, so we sent her off to charm the equally fabulous Moira Carvalho from Quilt Talking (@quilttalking), also known as CraftyMa.

When you read this, you must imagine them both with martinis in hand!


Velvet van Pelt: Darling, when did you start quilting and pattern designing?

Moira: I started quilting about five years ago, but quickly realised that I love the creative design aspect most of all. I was brought up in a family who worked in the printing business and my mother also fostered my creativity by encouraging me to make my own clothes, as I am tall and had trouble finding clothes to suit.  When I left school, I studied dress making, thus consolidating my fabric handling skills and providing an outlet for creative design.



Velvet van Pelt: Now honey, what drew you to pattern designing?

Moira: I have always been interested in creative pursuits and spent several years immersed in the world of digital scrapbooking. That changed to quilting when my daughter was expecting her first baby and asked me to help her decorate the nursery.  We went and bought fabrics for curtains and other nursery items. It was then that I looked at the leftover fabrics and thought “I could make a quilt out of those!” And so I did. This first quilt was a success, but truth be told, it isn’t piecing that rings my bell…it is quilt design and fabric combining that is my joy. I have never taken a quilting class, but am well versed in the use of design and imaging software such as Photoshop and EQ7, so this has been my focus. I love to see what I draw on Photoshop come to life!

Velvet van Pelt: I don’t like to pry, but do tell me of your short and long term goals?

Moira: Well, currently I work full time with a commute of over 3 hours per day, and being so busy I don’t have any direct plans other than to continue with my current pattern design focus. That said, I do sometimes dream of being able to teach schoolkids how to quilt, as I feel it has so much to offer.

Velvet van Pelt:Can you describe your finest moment, sugar? You know, that time your heart went pitty pitty pat?

Moira: My first magazine feature was a wonderful moment for me, but two recent achievements have been really exciting. The first was being asked to make a quilt by Pat Bravo for her Heartland collection. The second occurred at the recent quilt market, when April Rhodes approached me to remake a treasured pineapple block quilt, made by her grandmother, in April’s own fabrics! I was blown away by the request, and of April’s expression of trust and confidence in me. April plans to showcase this quilt, in due course, in a magazine feature.

Velvet van Pelt: Do you find yourself hankering after a particular designers fabrics?

MoiraIt is rare for me to design with florals. I gravitate to big, bold prints and colours such as those in Lotta Jansdotter’s Zen Chic and Katerina Rochella’s fabrics. April Rhodes’ Aztec inspired prints are also definitely my thing!


Velvet van Pelt: Do you have any tips for creating fresh fabric palettes to complement your patterns?

Moira: I am very fussy and difficult to please when selecting fabrics to coordinate into a complete quilt design. Near enough is not good enough for me! Individual hues and tones must accurately match. I often find it easier to use a whole fabric collection as a starting point for a fresh new design. You will never find me settling for a scrappy look! I very much like to use white as a counterpoint to prints and find it a simple way to make those prints and colours pop.

Velvet van Pelt:We are all just dying to know what is in your sewing basket at the moment….

MoiraAt the moment, I just can’t wait to get stuck into April’s pineapple quilt! I find seeing new fabric lines very inspiring.  I invariably design with new fabric swatches in hand, as the fabric will tell me where I should go design-wise!

Velvet van Pelt: And finally, honey, can you pass on to we mere mortals, your most precious quilting advice?

MoiraGo with the flow of the fabric. Try a block style you haven’t made before and see where it leads you!

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Moira aka Quilt Talking aka CraftyMa!


Velvet van Pelt: Well it’s been a real pleasure, sugar! A real pleasure!



Girt by me: my biggest challenge

One of the original intentions of the Girt by Sea quilt was to be a skill builder. To bring our wide community together to share skills. To try something new for those that don’t have a lot of experience or to be able to stretch your limits for those that do.

The first medallion was possibly the hardest for most – English paper piecing. But for me, I found it easy. I’ve been doing EPP for about 4 years.

Next up was HST’s and ECT’s. Again, not a new skill for me.

So this round is about applique. Thanks to my business making children’s clothes and toys, I’ve done quite a bit of both raw edge and fusible interfacing applique. So I thought I would try something different. Something new to me. Challenge myself!

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Lots of stitching on the go – here at the park watching the kids during school holidays!

I’ve never (ever!) done needle turn applique. It couldn’t be that hard right? I’ve done a bit of hand sewing in my time. Surely this will be a breeze!

Well …. it was. And it wasn’t. I was concerned that this method would look terrible if I was attempting perfect circles, so I decided to free cut circles from the 3″ squares. Kinda wonky square / circles, often referred to as Squircles.

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I arranged them in the style I wanted, again, they weren’t going to be perfect so not bothered by measuring the distance etc. And then I got to work. Perfect Netflix and sew style. Mmmmm I’m sensing a trend with my love of watching TV and sewing!

I’m sure my technique will improve. Perhaps I should have alternated the circles I was sewing, so all the first attempts, getting it right ones weren’t all in one spot!

I love how this is looking. Organic and imperfect. I feel like it’s the perfect balance and transition I needed at this point in my quilt. I’m still going. Each one is getting better. And I’m glad I gave myself this challenge in the quilt.

Happy appliqueing!



Five tips for using a sand paper board with Colby Radcliffe aka @theauthenticstitch

When I stared, shocked, into my Modern Makers swag bag at the retreat, the first thing that caught my eye was Sue Daley’s Sand Paper Board. It wasn’t because it has been on my ‘must have’ accessory list for a very long time, or because it was something that I’ve always known would make my creating much easier, but because it had my name on it. I know, I know… but when you have an unusual name, like mine, growing up, finding items with your name on it is almost impossible. So I may have let out a squeal when I saw the personalised board in our amazing swag bags.

Having a board that grips your fabric and stops it from slipping can make your creating a lot less frustrating. Here are my 5 favourite ways to use my new Sand Paper Board.


Before sewing up HST’s, I have always drawn a light line on the bias of the square as a guide. It was always a bit tricky, because as you draw the line across the bias the fabric tends to stretch, but when you use the Sand Paper Board it grips your fabric, and the bias doesn’t stretch, so it gives you an accurate line to stitch along.

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I recently created a mini quilt that had needle turn appliqué on it and I absolutely loved the process, so now I have this board I know that I can trace off my appliqué pieces accurately with out the fabric moving on me. This is a perfect tool for all of those that are making the Modern Makers ‘Girt by Sea’ quilt pattern.

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Ever since I tried my hand at English Paper Piecing, I have been drawn to fussy cutting fabrics to create an entirely new design within my blocks. This board will now take my fussy cutting to a whole other level of accuracy because there is no fabric slippage.

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This use is a very simple one but a great one. Because the surface grips your fabric I’ve been using it as a mini portable design board. It allows me to place out my EPP pieces to be able to see the full effect of the design I’ve created.

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Many of you may have seen my work that I have created with Inktense pencils. Because of the consistency of the pencil it can drag on the fabric, so using a Sand Paper Board keeps the fabric in place, and the slightly rough sand paper surface allows me to get a more solid coverage of colour, resulting in more intense saturated colour for the end product.

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Thanks Sue Daley!

And we asked Sue Daley if she had anything else to add to Colby’s tips and there is just one extra!
“Preparing fabric for traditional hand piecing using acrylic templates to mark your sewing line. Using the sand paper board stops your fabric from moving when you’re drawing on it.” 

Inheritance Patchwork

You probably know by now that Modern Makers’ mantra is to showcase and support Australian and New Zealand makers, designers and suppliers. There’s no better way to do this than to frequent our wonderful local quilt shops. More often than not, the owners of these shops aren’t there just to make a profit, they want to foster the community of makers in their area. So next time you’re about to place an order online, consider making a pleasant trip to your local quilt shop instead!

We sent our roving reporter, Maryjane Morris (aka @janiecat88), to visit the gorgeous Inheritance Patchwork and Wares in Birregurra and chat with owner Katrina Fisk. It’s a hard job but someone had to do it!


MJ: What drew you to opening a fabric store?

Katrina: Karen O’Sullivan was the instigator of original project, she shared her vision with the three of us (Katrina, Megan Doolan and Deb Cahill) and we all excitedly jumped on board. I must admit that our collective push made the start-up much less daunting. We found that we had a similar focus, and this enabled us to achieve more.  Karen had already sussed out the potential location of our store, and we all agreed that Birregurra had the right vibe.

MJ: How was the name derived?

Katrina: Karen brainstormed our business name, and we just loved it. By inheritance we mean: You can either make your kids inheritance in the form of heirloom quilts or simply spend it all now on fabric!!!!


MJ: What are your short and long term goals?

Katrina: Our immediate aim is to promote our business far and wide, and get our name “out there”. Ultimately, we would like to look at pattern design as well as expanding our premises to allow for classes, making Inheritance an “all day” destination venue. I have recently learnt the ins and outs of EQ7 and this is helping to design some really lovely quilts. In addition, we are hoping to get our on-line shopping capability up and running soon.  We do all have family and jobs to juggle, but being a foursome is very effective and allows for load sharing as well as support. Oh, and one day travelling to Quilt Market together would definitely be on our bucket list!

MJ: Can you describe your proudest moment?

Katrina: For Karen, this was seeing a total beginner quilter finish her first quilt. Such satisfaction! The quilter has now progressed to her next project, and this has added spark to Karen’s love for teaching, encouraging and imparting knowledge. For me, it has been the pure joy of realising my dream of opening a quilt shop. Bliss!


MJ: Do you have a favourite fabric designer?

Katrina: All four of us have different tastes in fabric, so this has resulted in an eclectic mix in the store.  Fortunately, our customers love this and often comment on the refreshing mix of choices on offer. I love modern fabrics, Karen is our doyenne of 1930’s designs, Deb is our resident Liberty lover and Megan likes Liberty and a whole lot more! As far as specific designers, I do adore me a little Denyse Schmidt, also Cotton and Steel, who are just fabulous. Karen’s favourite designer is Sandy Klop who created the American Jane label for Moda.

MJ: Do you have any tips for creating fresh colour palettes?

Katrina: I tend to go on instinct, making sure there are pops of colour to spark the eye. I love the scrappy look and avoid an overly matched look. Karen often uses the trusty method of selecting a favourite print to start with and gradually curating a palette from that central theme.


MJ: What is current personal sewing focus?

Katrina: I want to make all the things!  I have so many WIPS on the go at the moment! I am currently working on a Liberty quilt, a Denyse quilt, Cotton & Steel and Kowa quilts, an EPP project…plus my knitting and crochet.  If I get bored, I pick up another project. I think it is important to strike when the mood hits, and not let that creative impulse/thought disappear before acting on it.

MJ: Finally, what would be your number one quilting tip?

Katrina: My top tip is this : it is important not to hurry your creativity, don’t rush it, enjoy the process!