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Sneaky peeks!

Welcome to Wednesday! I hope all you StitchyMites out there are as well and happy as you can be. Today the final instalment of Spooky Town is mixed in with the Tiny Town Sew Along on the free blog. We’re talking about quilting and borders, and as both posts were going to be fairly similar, I thought I’d mix up a Quilt Town Soup and leave the space here for some StitchyMites treats.

It’s very early morning here in Sydney as I write this, and I’ve been awake and at my computer since the sun came up. I’ll be here all day, and again tomorrow. If I’m not here I’ll be sewing and sewing and sewing and sewing. Damian is in his office, and he’s been there since dawn. He’s building me a new website, that will incorporate the shop, BOM subscriptions, StitchyMites and a wholesale portal, all in one place. It’s a putting a BIG job that we have been planning on for a few years into motion. There are a lot of moving parts. He also has a massive and very important new business presentation this week for his “real” job, so he’s up before me and falling into bed hours after me.

These few weeks in September/October are always nothing short of crazy for us. Yes, I could plan better and get myself organised over six months and not have to flap, but I simply am not that person and I work better under pressure. And so. New programs starting, old programs finishing. Books being edited and material requirements being written, new quilts being designed. A whole new line of hard copy patterns being released, new products being developed. A teaching trip to Europe to be planned (we’re getting there on this I promise!!). Plus this year I’m going to Houston for Quilt Market for the first time in years, so there’s Schoolhouse presentations being organised and sales materials being written, and early morning Zooms being had with overseas companies. Plus I always seem to have an extra bright idea this time of year, and throw in things like Sew Alongs and new subscription programs just to help myself out! LOL.

It’s the good kind of crazy though, where all the things you’re working towards are good things and there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cram all the ideas you have into the amount of energy you need to make them all happen.

October is always the month when my Block of the Month subscriptions open for the following year. It’s a scary moment for me every time. The problem with what I do is that it isn’t quantifiable - there's no formula for it, book about it or way for me to farm it out to someone else. What makes my business a success isn’t the customer service, or the website, or the time it takes for a package to arrive or the way things are photographed - although those things are obviously also important after the fact. But none of those things are needed without The Thing that starts it all off. The Thing that makes my business bubble begins in my brain, and there’s nowhere else it can come from. So, if I scribble and play and sketch, and sketch again, and come up with a drawing for the BOM and I love it, but no one else does? Then that’s my year of work blown. It’s daunting StitchyMites, let me tell you, and I tremble every time I push a brand new baby BOM out into the world.

This year I haven’t worked in quite as small a bubble as I usually do, and that has been lovely! My wonderful friend Robyn is the Liberty Fabric distributor for Australia, and she approached me mid last year asking if we could do something together. Well I love Liberty, and I love Robyn, so that seemed like a no brainer. Plus I already had another project (the one that’s taking me to Quilt Market) that wasn’t due to start until August 2024, which had kind of thrown my usual BOM schedule of January - December out, and I’d been wondering what I was going to do to fill the seven month hole in all of your stitching schedules! I couldn’t do NOTHING, I’ve never done nothing in my life! I like to keep you all on your toes :)

If you’re a quilter and you live in Australia, and even if you don’t, you will have heard of The Strawberry Thief. A beautiful shop and webshop located in Perth, which is all the way over the other side of Aus from me - pretty much the distance difference between New York and LA. The Strawberry Thief is Robyn’s retail business, and it’s attached to her warehouse for the Liberty distribution, which as you can imagine is a wonderful and amazing place to go and rummage. When Robyn asked me to play BOMs with her, I put my thinking cap on and decided I wanted the quilt to have a flavour of Art Nouveau about it, to bring in William Morris and his famous Liberty design The Strawberry Thief and have a nod to Robbie’s business. I also pulled out one of my favourite books, The Grammar of Ornament, which is about the designs of Owen Jones, an architect who was a huge influence on Morris and many other designers of the times. His book has been called the Bible of Design. Theres a fab little video about him here.

All that set me to thinking about tiles and stained glass and windows and classic Nouveau shapes like lozenges and circles and twisty vines,

and it also set me to thinking about The Strawberry Thief itself and about Robyn’s logo….

And this is where I’ve ended up! The quilt is called Stop, Thief! It’s a lovely little mix of applique and machine piecing, and a tiny little bit of English Paper piecing too in those corner star blocks.

The centre of the quilt is BIG - the square is around 40”, so that birdie stealing your needle is large and beautiful and pretty easy to applique. The lozenge windows have a curly pot plant growing on the windowsill below the stained glass radiants, and the starry glass corners are anchors for strawberry plants, with flowers and little tiny strawberry buds coming along.

The exciting news is that Robyn will be selling kits for the quilt, which contains all your Liberty faves like Capel in every colour of the rainbow, Betsy and Wiltshire.

The background is a very pale pink Liberty solid, and the gingham (the design below shows the sections the gingham is used in) is one of Robyn’s own pure linen fabrics. The checks are a large 1”, so although that centre might look like it needs something in the corners, the “something” is the checked fabric that will frame the birdie in the centre and provide texture and movement.

You can read all about William Morris here https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/introducing-william-morris

and the original Strawberry Thief design here https://thestrawberrythief.com.au/the-story-of-the-strawberry-thief/

I hope that you love my thieving birdie in the window as much as I do and that you’ll join me for 6 months of stitching him! Let me know what you think in the comments. Subscriptions, template sales and fabric kit sales open on October 15 (that's this Sunday! Sydney time don’t forget), and the first pattern will drop January 15. Because we start a little earlier than usual, we’re aiming to have everyone’s kits and templates sent out in early December, so make sure and get your orders in early.