Polly Want A Cracker…

Back in the 1980’s Michael and I spent 6 years in Canberra Australia and loved every minute of the time!!

We were particularly enamored with the birds and horrified our Aussie neighbors by chasing a Sulfur-Crested-Cockatoo all around the neighborhood trying to get a good photo. We then learned that it had a nest in the tree in our back yard!!!

In 2008 we returned to the Sunburnt country to visit with friends and for Michael to do some work. Fortunately, some of the visiting took place on a sailboat in the Whitsunday Islands!!! Many mornings we had visits from a series of Cockatoo’s who were waiting for the proverbial cracker!!

I attempted to shade the sun with my hand but I am extremely glad that my efforts failed!!

Australia on my mind……

Back in the 1980’s, Michael and I spent almost 7 years living in Canberra Australia where Michael did his PhD and then worked three years as a Post-Doctoral fellow.

We had a wonderful experience there, both of our kids were born there, and we came home with fun remembrances of the Land Down Under.

Since then, many friends have sent Aussie fabrics as gifts, and when we traveled there in 2008, I was FORCED to buy lots of fabric to properly cushion a Granite Mortar and Pestle that Michael purchased.

The result was a box of wonderful fabrics…..


….and they have been much on my mind for a number of years

I have been torn between wanting to do a pictorial quilt with semi-realistic images or something more free, just concentrating on the fabric itself.  The fabric finally won out and I started thinking about patterns that might work.  I knew that it needed to have movement of some sort.

For several years I have owned the book “Vivacious Curvy Quilts” by Dianne Hire….61kY3doXhZL._SL500_AA300_

and thought that it would be the perfect pattern for my Aussie fabrics….

….but first I wanted to play some with making curved blocks.

The process is fairly simple……

First, select two fabrics that are the same size (I started with 9 inch squares) and stack them evenly on top of one another….


Next, you make curved cuts into the fabric stack…..


…..alternate the strips……DSC08516

….and start sewing the curves.

Dianne suggested that you always start sewing from the same side of the block and that you match the edge of the block when you start a seam…..


Then you “lift and separate” as you sew the pieces together, carefully matching the opposite curves.  I found that it was helpful to “tap” the top fabric up and down as I moved thru the seam.  As suggested in the book, I sewed with a 1/8 inch seam……


You then spritz the seam with water……


…..and press it flat…..


It was amazing how flat the curves pressed out……


At this point the block is NOT a square!!!   In her book, Dianne suggests that you not square up the block until you have done all of your design work and are ready to sew the final top.    Here is why…..

The piece shrinks in a very uneven manner during the sewing.  With this block, I could now square it up to a 7 inch by 8-`/4 inch rectangle……


….or square it up to 7 inch squares that look like this……


….or this…….


It is interesting how the cropping changes the flow of the lines.

I tried a bunch of different types of curves and ended up with this on the design wall…..


I really do like the movement of these blocks and think that it will work well with the Australian fabrics.  The one thing that I want to think about is whether I want to leave the blocks as rectangles or square them up.  I really like the additional movement that you get with the rectangles but am not sure about how I would make it all fit together.

The other option would be to start out with a rectangle rather than a square, making the cuts to dissect the longer edge…..much to think about!!!

I also know that I need to add some solid or “reads as solid” fabrics to the bunch.


I am thinking that I want to add greens, browns and maybe a touch of dark reds and/or gold.  Those are definitely the colors that remind me of the Sunburned Country!!!

I am thinking of making the blocks in two fabrics with one being the Aussie print and the other a solid…..


Final decision is what size block (rectangle) to start with.   The book suggests starting with a 4 – 7 inch block but I am thinking that might be too small for a queen size quilt……

SO SO SO many decisions, but SO SO SO much fun to look forward to!!!!