A Quilt Story

In my Sunday Sevens over the past few months I have alluded to the fact that I was working on a special secret sewing project. I can now reveal what I was making was a wedding gift which was given last month. You have probably guessed by now from the title that it was a quilt…

It isn’t my first attempt at making a quilt, that happened when Eldest was about 6 months old. Coping with being a new parent, selling a house and moving to a new area, I fancied an additional challenge. I decided to make a quilt for his pram and as my sewing machine was well and truly buried under boxes of junk, I sewed it completely by hand. Using paper hexagons and some fabric I had bought on the local market I set to work, much to the bemusement of those around me.

It was rather a long winded affair but I managed to complete it while he was still young enough to need it in his pram! It lasted well, despite my hand stitching, and was used by both of his brothers.

I started and failed to finish a much larger quilt for a double bed after that, it still languishes in a box somewhere in the back of beyond I’m ashamed to say… My next attempt was completed using scraps of material I had in my stash; from new pieces of cotton and a few fat quarters bought many moons ago to salvageable parts of Mr Postcard’s old work shirts and even a pair of my Dad’s old pyjama bottoms!

I made this one especially for Mr Postcard to bring in his suitcase to Gibraltar when he moved here on his own a few months before we came to join him. It was a thin summery quilt and meant that he didn’t have to rush out and buy a whole load of new bedding in the interim before we arrived with the furniture van several months later.

Next was this starry affair for the astronomy fan in the family. Made using a large central panel featuring the solar system this was a quick make over a weekend and a perfect birthday present for a young man who still uses it 6 years on.

And that is where my quilt making endeavours end until my recent make, well apart from another unfinished project – my only other attempt at paper piecing aside from my first ever quilt. I am embarrassed to admit I started this for Middle Postcard when he was still small enough to like sea creatures (well he still does to be honest) and most specifically the Octonauts programme on CBeebies. Then I had another burst of activity when Littlest came along and when he had an interest in pirates and sea creatures. Then I ran out of steam…. Perhaps I will have a grandson one day who might like it?!

Now to the present day and the latest quilt. It was for a very special couple who like the colour green and the great outdoors. With those criteria in mind I ordered some fabric. 

It’s so difficult to order fabric online I find, especially if you want different fabrics to sit closely together – you could end up with something which looks good on the computer screen but in reality clashes hideously. I took a gamble and it paid off, the different fabrics looked just dandy next to each other. (It arrived the same day as a Little Box of Crochet- hence the photo).

So the fabric had arrived, but what to do with it? I had all sorts of grand plans for patterns, log cabins etc but thankfully common sense prevailed before I got scissor happy. I opted for the most straight forward design I could think of – squares. Don’t be fooled by squares though – I have discovered to my cost over the years that squares can be tricky little blighters especially if their corners don’t behave and join up with their neighbours in the right way.

I spent a very happy day planning and cutting. I had an unusually free day with absolutely nothing to do whist the Little Postcards were at school (well apart from the usual housework but that can wait). I had such fun listening to podcasts while I worked, it felt like bliss!

I even managed to get some sewing done as I made up the horizontal rows of the quilt. I worked right down to the bell and had to clear everything up as quick as a flash and run to school in time for pick up time. 

A week or so later I had the chance to get my machine out again and get the rows finished and then join them. I am so pleased with how they went together, clearly my almost two years of dressmaking classes with a very exacting teacher who has taught me the merits of careful measuring and 1cm seam allowances have paid off! Just look at the corners on THAT!

The quilt top then had to be put away for a while as things got too busy. In the meantime I bought a good quality king size white sheet for the backing of the quilt and ordered some nice cotton batting to go in the middle of the quilt sandwich. And finally the time came for me to make that sandwich. I had kind of been dreading it, thinking that this could be the point when I finally make a mess of the good work I had done patching the top together.

I was so so careful laying the three different layers out onto the lounge floor, trying my utmost to make sure there were no lumps, bumps or bulges anywhere. I carefully pinned all the layers together before tacking them all together both horizontally and vertically along all the seams. Perhaps this was a bit belt and braces and over the top but I didn’t want to come a cropper when it was time to machine quilt it and it all go wonky.

I machine quilted in the joins between the squares and held my breath for much of it. I have learned from experience that what looks good on the top of the quilt may look dreadful underneath. It worked though!

Next up, binding. I bought a fifth fabric at the same time as I chose the fabric for the top of the quilt. I had intended to use it in the pattern, but the dark grey looked too much of a contrast with the pale grey and acid green of the other patterns so I held on to it and decided to use it to bind the quilt together.

I have never made my own bias binding before but as a habitual reader of craft books over the years I had a pretty good idea of how to go about it. With a protractor to get my angles right I set about marking out the strips ready to be cut.

The whole process was really easy, the only problem I had with the whole thing came when I discovered that my iron shoots out steam horizontally and as I was holding the folds into place before steaming them my fingers got a bit sore!

The binding went on fine as well, although at times I found it a bit tricky to try and pick up all the fabric on the back of the quilt as well so a little hand stitching had to be done to make sure everything was neat and tidy.


And so it was done. Would you like to see it in all it’s glory?

I am really pleased with how it all turned out. What’s most important is that the recipients of the quilt liked it too. (And when I took it to my dressmaking teacher to show her – she said it was worth a gold star, so that was a real seal of approval 😊).

For interest I bought all of the quilting fabric for this project and the batting from Quilt Room. The staff were really helpful especially when I was slightly dim and did something daft at the online checkout – thank you ladies!

Crafting for others…


I make no secret of the fact that I do crafty things to keep myself sane. When things get on top of me, as long as I have a little bit of head space free to craft, I can find a way to negotiate myself out of my pickle. When I am in a stinker of a mood, it’s generally because I haven’t been able to create anything for a while.

I have been interested in making things all my life pretty much and was taught to sew, knit and crochet as a child by my Mum and Gran. My making was rested a bit while I studied, although I did manage to knit a cardigan for myself during my second year at University, mainly because it was far cheaper to knit one than to buy a ready made one.


Over the years, as friends and family got married and had children I got back in touch with my crafting side as I made gifts to mark the special occasions but when I was working full time I didn’t feel the same need to make for myself when I was relaxing at home.

Once I’d had my first child, that’s when the crafting bug bit hard again. I bought a sewing machine and started making bags to be sold in a craft co-operative near to where we lived at the time. Just as a space came free for me in the shop, we were forced to move areas with my husband’s work and unfortunately nothing came of my bag making (I did go on to sell some of them at craft fairs once we landed in Gibraltar though).


Wherever we have lived (and there have been quite a few homes over the years) my boxes of yarn, stash of fabric and sewing machine have travelled there with me. I’ve tried my hand at quilting, embroidery, dressmaking, card making, crochet, knitting, tapestry, watercolour painting and glass painting, but there are so many other crafts I would still like to try (stained glass making really appeals to me.)

I feel incredibly privileged that I have been able to put my career on hold to have a family and now that my boys are at school and need me a little less, I can turn my attention now to indulging my passion for creating. Regular readers to my blog will know that I attend two lessons each week during term time, watercolour painting and dressmaking. I love this time I can dedicate to improving my skills, but it does so much more than that. It gives me the chance to expand my mind and use my brain after 13 years as a stay-at-home-mum. In short it does wonders for my sanity.


I believe that like so many other things in life your craft muscle needs to be exercised and the more you exercise it the more your creativity grows. I am making and thinking about making so much more these days than I ever thought I possibly could. Of course the internet has a lot to do with this, I try to stay off Pinterest as there is just so much wonderful stuff on there I get frustrated that I can’t do it all, but Instagram and other blogs provide me with such amazing inspiration.

It is through Instagram and the blogs I follow that I became aware of several opportunities to get involved in crafting for a cause far greater than just making something pretty for myself or my family. Over the past few years I have been able to contribute items I have created to fundraising and awareness raising events which have much further reaching benefits than just keeping my brain ticking over.

Llanita at Catalan Bay
In recent years the Yarndale festival organisers have called on crocheters and knitters to send in items to be raffled off to raise funds or to raise awareness to the good causes they support. Yarndale 2016 was the year of the sheep, hundreds and hundreds of little yarny sheep were sent in to raise money for the Martin House Children’s Hospice (you can read about the 2016 Woolly Sheep Project here.) Do you remember Llanita the Gibraltar Yarndale sheep who went along to the Yorkshire Dales?

Llanita & Lucy from Attic24 at Yarndale
Last summer, Jenny’s Blanket of Hugs was organised by Kate Eastwood at Just Pootling. Kate appealed for crocheters to send her squares which were made in a strict palette of colours and to her design to be made into a special blanket for Jenny, the daughter of Amanda Bloom (the lady behind the Little Box of Crochet). 

Squares for Jenny’s Blanket of Hugs

Jenny has terminal cancer and the blanket was made to show solidarity for Jenny and her Mum. In the end enough squares were created all over the world and sent in, over 1,000 in total, that both Jenny and Amanda received blankets and five extra blankets and cushions were made and given to charities to raise funds. You can read all about the Blanket of Hugs story on the Just Pootling blog.

Last summer I also became aware of the Sixty Million Trebles project. At the end of 2015, the UN announced that there were 60 million displaced people in the world. The team behind Sixty Million Trebles decided to take action and use crochet to raise awareness about the plight of refugees as well as raise funds to help those affected. 

A Sixty Million Trebles blanket in the making
They are asking for donations of square blankets which measure 36 inches x 36 inches which will be joined to create a record breaking blanket totaling sixty million trebles stitches (one treble stitch = one life). The Gibraltar Crochet Collective is currently working towards the goal of sending more blankets to the cause from Gibraltar.


We are currently making a square for every day in Lent in an attempt to boost our blanket production process!

Another ongoing appeal is through Cherished Gowns UK, the organisation takes donations of wedding dresses which are then made into tiny gowns for babies who are stillborn. They are currently appealing for 2500 knitted or crocheted blankets to be made during the month of March. 

#wrappedinlove blanket for Cherished Gowns UK

Having seen friends of ours go through the pain of losing a baby, anything that can be done to help comfort bereaved parents at this terribly difficult time has to be a worthwhile cause. If you would like to support the #wrappedinlove appeal, please click on the link below.

So there you have it, crafting doesn’t need to be a self-indulgent passtime (although there’s nothing wrong with that!). There are so many opportunities to help contribute to good causes through your craft if you want to and there is very little cost involved other than yarn, time and postage.

If you would like to join in with one of these initiatives, please click on the links below to find out more about them and help spread the crochet love ❤️

For more information on how you can support these great causes, please click on these links:

Sixty Million Trebles

Cherished Gowns UK (wrapped in love blankets)

Creative Gibraltar: Crafting & Upcycling with Sue Orfila 


Crafting and making is something which Sue Orfila has always done, from making clothes for her Sindy doll and making her own crib at Christmas at the age of 5. “I’ve always made something from nothing” says Sue “I’m a thrifty kind of artist”, something which is evident when you take a look around Sue’s workspace and shop; OriginArta.

When Sue left school, she went to work in an office “that went against the grain, I wanted to be a hairdresser and be creative, I should have stayed on at school but I wanted money to buy clothes”. That office based work continued until Sue came to live in Gibraltar with her husband, an advert for a part time job at the Caleta Palace Hotel at Catalan Bay was the catalyst for a change in direction.

Acrylic on canvas
The job advertisement was for a hotel gardener but also offered the chance to do some flower arranging for weddings and that pushed Sue’s creative buttons. She got the job and after 2 years it became a full time position. “I realised my creative side” says Sue, “the pinnacle was at Christmas when they asked me to dress the Christmas tree on a tight budget – I was in my element”.

Sue (centre) with husband David & son Adam
After having her son, Adam, Sue stopped working but continued her creativity by returning to drawing, something she hadn’t done much of since childhood. As Adam got older, Sue went into partnership with another girl in the early 1990s and and opened ‘Suzie Willow’, a shop selling dried flower arrangements. In 2000 Sue left the shop but she continued drawing and making things for herself in the meantime.


Then, ten years later, the time was right for Sue to open another shop and OriginArta was born. It’s first location was on Governor’s Street, just a short distance from it’s current spot and was “a great little shop, but when it rained it leaked like a sieve” reminisces Sue. When her current shop became available she was really happy “I got a window to dress!”


Sue’s shop window is an absolute delight (regular readers of the Postcard from Gibraltar blog may remember seeing it featured before in Sunday Sevens). Following the same principles of form and depth as in flower arranging, Sue takes great care in dressing her shop window to reflect the seasons.


As well as selling items she has made and upcycled, Sue offers a range of craft classes from flower arranging and ‘stencil and stitch’ to decoupage and still life drawing. “I don’t want to influence my students” says Sue, “I want them to find their own style”.

Daffodil Teapot, painted with enamels “In celebration of Spring”
In her stencil and stitch classes, students make their own design and cut out the negative before painting it onto fabric to creative a positive image. They then use embroidery to embellish it further. The designs can be used to make cushions and soft furnishings like trims for curtains.

Stencil & stitch sunflowers
Another passion for Sue is upcycling things which are no longer wanted, from picture frames to pieces of furniture.  She says “I like to take a photo before and after the process”. Using things like tissue, paint or wrapping paper and pieces of tile or pottery found on the beach.

Stencil & Stitch upcycled footstool
Beach walks are a regular feature of Sue’s routine. During the summer months she takes morning walks from her home in town round to Catalan Bay and forages along the beach for anything interesting the sea has washed up. “I love it in summer, I get everything from Catalan Bay – I’ve got bags of stuff” says Sue, although she just collects man-made items leaving the shells and pebbles behind.

Gibraltar National Day window display
Having her own workspace and shop means that Sue is free to please herself about what she creates, “inspiration can come from anywhere, it might result in a painting, up cycled piece or a new stencil design. What’s brilliant is if someone likes it enough to buy it, that’s a real buzz”. Sue also takes commissions.

Upcycled LP storage case
For more information about OriginArta and the lessons Sue offers, please check out her  OriginArta Facebook page

Also in the Postcard from Gibraltar series:

Creative Gibraltar : Paper crafts with Sarah Devincenzi

Creative Gibraltar : Fashion Design & Dressmaking with Dorcas Hammond

The Postcard from Gibraltar Podcast Episode 004: Rebecca Faller 

Creative Gibraltar : Watercolour painting with Deborah M Lawson