True to my word, I held off from joining anymore swaps for about, oh, I don’t, five minutes! In my defense, the latest thing to lure me with its charms is the second incarnation of the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee, which this time takes the form of a round-robin-style medallion swap.  Pretty hard to resist, right?

You may remember last year when the hashtag #NGAQB popped up all over Instagram.  It was such a fun and creative experience that there was no way I couldn’t be involved the second time around. This year, John Adams took charge to round-up seven male quilters to partake in what promises to be an awesome swap.  No different to any round robin you’ve seen before, each month will see one quilter add to another’s quilt before sending it on. Fun, fun and more fun!

I’ve spent the last few days pulling fabric and making my centre ‘square’ (a term I apply very loosely). I’ve chosen a saturated palette of deep teals, mustards and red-purples (surprised?) with accents of greys, blacks and beige neutrals.  I went for an improv approach, sewing and slashing with abandon to come up with something I hope the others guys will find inspiring.  I want each future round to reflect the quilter who added it, and instructed them that anything goes!

This first part is en route to Scott, along with a bunch of fabric, some I used and some I didn’t.  I hoping that snippets of the centre block’s fabrics scattered throughout the quilt will add some continuity and bring all the additions together.  The pile is full of Tula Pink, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander and many more of my favourites. So much great stuff to play with!

As for my first addition, it’s going to be on a Molli Sparklified unicorn. Yes, you heard right. I’ve already got an idea of what I want to do and cannot wait for it to arrive.  Watch this space!  Have any of you experienced a round-robin swap?  Tell me all about it!



DISCLAIMER – The author takes no responsibility for the emotional effect that giving away a quilt may induce, be it positive or negative!

Phew!  Glad that dirty bit of business is out of the way.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience of the mini quilt swap I’m currently knee-deep in has been amazingly awe-inspiring.  Enough inspirational creativity to make your eyes water has weighed down my Instagram feed for the last few weeks and it shows no sign of letting up just yet.  It’s just now, with the deadline looming, I have to part ways with this…

So, a few months ago I heard tell of a mini quilt swap that was due to take place, meticulously organised by Kristi of Schnitzel and Boo.  In fact, it was to be round two, with a hugely successful round one having taken place last year.  The whole thing sounded awesome and I wanted in, like a secret club, which, not coincidentally, the swap is like.  You see, you sign up, answering a questionnaire so that your partner, whoever they may be, can get to know you and your quilting loves a little better.  What’s your favourite colour?  Who are your favourite fabric designers?  What would you absolutely hate?  Things like that.  After the sign up closed it was a long and, for me, restless wait.  I was itching to get started, but couldn’t scratch the itch until I knew who my partner was.  Then, my excitement peaked when my phone notified me of an e-mail received.  It was from Kristi.  The intense task of partner assigning was complete and mission #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap was go-go-go!

In that e-mail was all the details I needed; my partner’s loves and loathes, their social media information, even things they liked to collect.  Armed with this knowledge, the task of planing patchwork could begin.  Despite my vast and weighty fabric stash, I was surprised to find that I didn’t actually have a lot of what my partner had quoted as her favourites.  There was one word that stood out to me though, and that was Echino.  My love for this fabric was well documented in this post last year.  What better time to finally cut into some of that Japanese goodness?

I wanted my mini to be graphically striking, and play on the improv piecing that I have been embracing lately.  I chose to fussy cut frames from a couple of colourways and coupled those with bright and bold prints and solids in my partner’s favourite colours.  I couldn’t have asked for a better match.  Her tastes were exactly like mine!  I set about creating four improv log cabin blocks, using the other fabrics to literally frame the frames.  As well as the colours mentioned in the e-mail, I used snippets of text print, including one of my favourites from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures collection.  I had some fun too with the ‘include the selvedge’ line from a Timeless Treasures print, ‘How to make a pillow case’.  Appropriate, seeing as that’s exactly what I intended to do in the binding.

Once the blocks were complete I wanted to surround them in negative space.  I used my go-to fabric, Essex Yarn Dyed in black, to add borders to two sides of three blocks and a solid black for the fourth, before joining the blocks into a square.  I knew I wanted to quilt the piece quite heavily so I left the squaring up until the quilting was done.

I’ve been inspired a lot by the matchstick quilting I’ve seen on Instagram recently so I used this mini as an excuse to try it out.  I didn’t want my lines to be straight or even evenly spaced.  Instead, I worked my way out from the center using various thread colours to stitch randomly spaced curving lines.  I absolutely love the feel it gives the quilt and it’ll be something I’ll try again soon.

And so there you have it, my first quilt made for somebody I’ve never met!  All that’s left for me to do is make a label for it, something I actually hate but, alas, them is the rules!  I loved making this quilt and can only hope that my partner feels the same way about it when she receives it as I do.  Somebody said that the hardest quilts to give away are the ones that resemble something you’d like to receive.  I can tell you that I’d die if this came through my letter box.  It sums me up perfectly a quilter in a 24″ square!

Along with the Schnitzel and Boo hashtag, participants have been tagged their posts throughout various social media sites with #makeaquiltmakeafriend.  The whole experience has opened my eyes to wealth of new talent that probably would have gone unnoticed to me.  I wholeheartedly recommend you go forth and stalk the hashtag to see all the amazing things that are being made for people who love quilts by people who love quilts.

I have to end with a huge thank you to Kristi and all the moderators who helped her with this mammoth task.  You guys did great!


I’ve always had an affinity for Japan; the culture, the food and the fabric.  I’ve wanted to visit ever since I was young and it’s a place that has continued to resided amongst my top five holiday destinations.  I first discovered the wonder of Japanese fabric just after I started my quilting journey, at the same time as I discovered Heather Ross.  Heather Ross lead me to Kokka and Kokka lead me to Echino.  I knew from my first glance of this amazing collection that I’d found my perfect fabric.  My next thought…how do I get my hands on this!

Over the following months, I began to appreciate the rarity of past Echino lines.  People were hoarding this; stocking up and locking it away in a fire-proof chest under the bed.  Google searches turned up some stockists here in the UK, though their selections were limited and highly over priced.  Etsy had scrap packs and Ebay had snippets, but I needed wanted NEEDED more.  I knew I wouldn’t be going to Japan anytime soon, so the internet was my only option.  With my limited success on English-language sites, I ventured into the alien world of .jp with little success.  I couldn’t speak Japanese (unless you count karaoke, bonsai, haiku and sushi) and was worried what I’d stumble upon!

I moved onto different projects, yet Echino stayed at the back of my mind.  Then, a few months ago, the craft club at my work asked if I’d teach them some patchwork at their next meeting.  Of course I said yes and couldn’t believe my luck when a Japanese colleague of mine, who I’d had little interaction with up until that point, offered to pick up some fabric for me when she visited her parents in October.  My first thought…ECHINO!  After that, everything was easy.  She found a great Japanese site, obviously having none of the troubles that had befallen me, and asked me to make a list.  A list!  A list of Echino!  As easily as it would have been to order everything I knew there were weight constrictions; her suitcase was her own after all.  She was going for a month, so after the order was placed I waited…and waited…and waited.  Then some news; the package had arrived and it was securely packed into her suitcase.  I was happy!

She returned a few days ago, with this…

Christmas had come early!  That parcel wasn’t going to stay wrapped up for long.

The fabric was perfect!  The colours are even better in real life; bold, bright, graphic designs coupled with insects, birds, trains and frames.  I’m so happy that I finally got my hands on some of this.  I can see this being used in so many future projects that I might have to re-stash!  Any suggestions for blocks?  What would you do with this great fabric?

Insects, Cherry, Piece, Acacia

Acacia, Insects, Cherry, Cockatiel

Peck, Dahlia, Woodland, Frame

Flower Bed, Ni-co, Frame, Train, Ni-co, Frame

Once I can draw myself away from this newest addition, I’ll fold it back up and attempt to find space for it amongst all this…wish me luck.