Thursday, September 1, 2016

Welcome to Sparkling Spring! - And to my New Federation Seven-Point Star Block

After what felt like a very long, cold, wet, winter it's wonderful to be welcoming the First Day of Spring!   Not a moment too soon!   

Here in Melbourne, the past few years have usually given us rather dry, cool, sunny winter days. So this Winter, I really missed the opportunity to spend more time outdoors.
On the bright side, I've been powering ahead with my hand-piecing, and feel like my technique is improving noticeably.   

I prefer to use the simple 'running stitch method' - no papers required, so it's much simpler and faster

I've also been having fun with Liberty prints and Kona Solids. 
I've finalised the design of my hand-pieced Federation Seven-Point Star block, which I originally drafted about 3 years ago.  

There are many variations of traditional 6-point and 8-point star blocks.  However, my research couldn't locate any reference to a pieced 7-point star block, (apart from one with appliqued pieces).  I'm not surprised, as the maths is pretty complex, even for me.
My starting point was trying out the measurements of the 7-point Federation Star on the Australian Flag, as outlined on the Commonwealth website.  Only, this is far more complex than it looks!   

The star diamond points are not symmetrical vertically (neither the edge lengths, nor the angles).  So, when I practiced a block, I kept mixing up the direction of the diamonds!  Not good.

So, after many months of trial and error, I came up with the dimensions that work for me - and I'm very pleased with the result.  The Diamond forms the star (for as many rounds as you wish to add), and the Triangle and Corner pieces turn your star into a Heptagon! (7 sides).   Makes a change from a circle, don't you agree? 

My new  Window templates are listed on my Etsy Store, and will soon be on my New On-Line Shop - 

These templates are hand-made and laser-cut for accuracy from 1/8th inch thick (3mm) Plexiglas.  (The same material used for commercial quilting rulers).  

The ones pictured are in "Pale Blue" - or choose from 5 other colours.   
I enjoyed designing, laser-cutting and using these handy templates for my hand-piecing. They make cutting the fabric pieces very accurate.   The pieces come together beautifully and there's no worrying about maths or angles.  You can draw along the outside edge for the cutting line, and the inside edge for the stitching line.  So convenient and portable!

Soon to come are my Border or Frame templates (4 templates to cut 7 fabric pieces), which extend the star into a Square 18 inch finished block.   Such a neat number!     Four blocks will make a 36 x 36 inch square quilt - perfect for a small lap quilt or wall hanging.  Or make and join more blocks for a larger quilt.   

I'm in the process of writing a pattern for this - (my first one - another new skill to learn!)


On a totally different note.....

Due to all the unseasonal rain this winter, there hasn't been much vegetable gardening for the past few months. I know - ironic, isn't it?  If I had been disciplined and steeled myself against the damp and cold in April / May, I could have been enjoying some massive vege growth by now.   (Though my caution did pay off in the sense that I managed to avoid coming down with the flu or even a head-cold).

Well, as it was still August (as of yesterday), perhaps it's not too late to plant some cherry tomato seedlings?  Maybe the garden bed will reward me after lying fallow for nearly a year?   

Our family loves home-grown cherry tomatoes, and we've found the perfect growing spot against the shed, facing the north sun, which has produced prolific crops over the past 5 years. These tasty tomatoes are terrific to toss into salads, grilled with eggs, or can be frozen (to add to casseroles).  I think I've almost talked myself into getting out the tools??!!  It's a lot more likely now, since the weather is definitely warming up. Hopefully, my next post will show some progress (and photos).

Thanks for visiting! Have a great month!

Lisa   1st September 2016.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

29 February 2016 - Last Day of Summer!

It's not often that this day comes around, so it's worthy of mention!  29th February!   Or at least, it's significant enough to prompt me to create a new blog post to commemorate the occasion.   At the start of 2016, I had the best intentions of updating this blog at least once a month - yet where has the time gone?  Are the days going by faster?  Or is life just accelerating?

This Australian summer, in Melbourne, has been unusually hot and humid. And uncomfortable.  Like most people, I do not sleep well in the heat, or function well the next day.  So it's with some relief that I welcome the start of Autumn tomorrow, on the 1st March - clear blue skies, balmy temperatures and a refreshing chill in the air - bring it on!

My newest  laser-cut Acrylic Template set is the "Double-Sized Window (Fanlight) Version of Ballet with Kaffe", with an added 1/4 inch seam.   See, the 10 x diamonds on the left create the middle of the first star.  Compare that to the "Double Size Window" of that same shape, on the right!   In the "Window Version", the Inside edge represents the Stitching Line, and the Outside edge is the 1/4 inch fabric cutting line.

See my Etsy store - Sunset Seams. for details of this 4-piece set, in a choice of 4 translucent colours.

Full details and instructions for this pattern are available from the stunning "Milliefiori Book 2" by Willyne Hammerstein.   I was lucky enough to view the original quilt, up close, at the Australian Quilt Convention in the Melbourne Exhibition Centre last year.  It's featured on the cover of the book - a stand-out of colour and contrast.   The original pattern pieces are very small - which creates the intricate, mosaic-like colourful tiles.  

Sadly.... these pattern pieces are a bit too small for me to use (I'm not very accomplished at English Paper Piecing).  So I decided to  re-sized them so that each finished edge is "Double" the size of the original.  (ie, the main measurement is 6cm, instead of 3cm).  For those of you who enjoy mathematics, you'll realise that this means if you followed the original pattern exactly, then the final quilt would be FOUR times the SIZE the original!   Pretty big, right?

Alternatively, you could use the larger templates to make a similar quilt FOUR TIMES as FAST!  For me, the bonus is being able to hand-piece the bigger fabric pieces (using running stitch) - without having to bother with wrapping or gluing fabric onto paper pieces.

Yes, that fabric is from my small stash of Tula Pink "Eden" range. I'm looking forward to adding more colours, as the motif grows.    Maybe it won't end up being a full quilt - (if only I had that much time!) - but it may soon reach my favourite lap quilt size (1.5 x 1.5 metres).  Here's hoping!

Now that I finally have a new mobile phone (after having remained stubbornly loyal to my old one for far more years than it deserved), it should be easier and quicker for me to upload photos to my blog, and so create more frequent posts. (Again, hopefully!)

Anyway... Thanks for stopping by!  Do check out my Instagram account @SunsetSeams, if you get the chance.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

Farewell to 2015

It has been a HUGE year...!   "So Much to Tell You", as per the famous Australian author John Marsden's novel title. 

Where to start? Not tonight, on New Year's Eve.  Sufficient to say that it's been extremely busy & successful (work-wise), and sadly eventful (extended family-wise) and unexpectedly challenging (health-wise).

Instagram has proved to be a wonderfully easy way to connect with friends & customers, so this Blog has been a bit of an orphan this year.

However, hopefully 2016 will be a vast improvement on last year, and I will use the Blog to share more personal insights about my favourite aspects of quilting, sewing and acrylic laser-cutting of templates.

Thanks so much to all of my lovely, loyal Etsy & website customers...and Instagram & Pinterest followers! You make my day!

All the best for a happy, healthy & safe New Year to you, your precious family, and treasured friends!


Lisa & Andrew Smallridge
Sunset Seams, Melbourne, Australia
31 December 2015

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Summer Holiday Time!

Vacation time! After a long, busy year, we are taking time out to refresh and rejuvenate. Thanks to our wonderful, creative, loyal customers, both in Australia and worldwide. We love what we do! 

Emails may (or may not) be checked and answered, every couple of days (subject to patchy internet access, while we are travelling).  Thanks for your patience - all queries will definitely be followed up on our return, after 21st January.

Cheers, Lisa & Andrew, 4 Jan15

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Reflections on Christmas Day, 2014

Another year has passed... and Christmas Time is a good time to reflect on what has been happening, and what is to come.

First, let me wish all my family, friends, acquaintances and customers all the Very Best for this Festive Season!  Thank you to all of you for your love, friendship and support this year - which has been Very Busy!    

I've really enjoyed participating in meetings, retreats and workships arranged by my Quilt Guilds: Patchworkers' & Quilters' Guild, IvanhoeBay Quilters, Beaumaris, and Vic Quilters, Inc.  Thank you for the warm friendships, stimulating conversations, and wonderful inspiration - especially as these groups all feature a strong, lively 'Charity Quilt' aspect.  I'm proud to be a member.

Christmas Lights, on a house, on the street where we live.
For our business "Sunset Seams" - we have made Acrylic Templates for over 500 Etsy Store customers.... far exceeding expectations!  Thanks to everyone who "passed the word" via Blogs, Instagram, Pinterest and all those wonderful reviews on Etsy.  I am truly humbled by your generous comments, and am glad that I've helped to enhance your quilting and patchwork and sewing experiences.  We now have 31 separate items listed for sale (including multiple copies, and different versions with either No Seam allowance, 1/4 inch Seam Allowance or 3/8ths inch Seam)

Thanks so much for all the suggestions from customers for new template sets or variations of old favourites - hopefully next year I will list even more.

Hopefully, 2015 will be a time for more blog-posting.... I've been a bit lax, as Instagram is far easier to use!    However, I will try to be more diligent next year.  We are also in the process of commissioning a new Logo... which should be finalised early in the year.  This is a pretty exciting development for us, using a professional graphic design company in Sydney.  Stay tuned!

It's great to see "returning customers", and to see the fantastic final quilts from quilters who have used our templates.  Please email your photos to me at, and with your permission, I'd be happy to display them on this Blog.

Finally, I wish you and your loved ones Peace, Harmony and Good Fortune as we come to the close of this "eventful" year.... worldwide, there have been many difficulties and tragedies, but with hope and prayers and good wishes, hopefully 2015 will be a Great One!

Cheers from Lisa & Andrew, here at Sunset Seams.