Friday, February 25, 2011

Seeds of genius

In 2006, Maxine Rosenthal wrote a book called One-Block Wonders, which described quilts made from a single fabric. In 2008, an architect by the name of Bruce Seeds saw the book. He was taken with the dynamic effects, and decided to try the process.

Fast forward to 2011, and to Bruce Seeds' impressive art quilt portfolio.  One of his Facebook fans sums it up: "Your quilts are astounding. They belong in a museum of quilts." ~Maxine Rosenthal 

Paisley, 85 x 85, by Bruce Seeds

The quilts are composed of small triangles that are grouped into hexagons, each hexagon resembling the view through a kaleidoscope, and each made up of six identical triangles. The hexagon elements are then arranged into a whole, in a process similar to the construction of a mosaic, prior to stitching. In "Paisley", Bruce created the illusion of a third dimension by placing some of the lighter blocks on top of a black inner border and frame. There is great balance and harmony, along with energy,  in this composition.

Metro, 86.5 x 87, by Bruce Seeds

"Metro" is the second quilt which Bruce Seeds made.  He has shared photos at his photostream on Flickr.  There you can see some of the original fabrics, including the amazing black-and-white animal print that was used to construct "Metro". 

The Ring, 82 x 82, by Bruce Seeds

The Ring, above, was exhibited at the Grand Rapids Public Museum in September 2010 during the ArtPrize exhibit. It is the 13th work in Bruce Seeds' portfolio (he is now finishing number 18). This quilt started with a gorgeous floral print in rusty reds, sage greens and whites against a black background (below). Bruce divided the fabric into over a thousand triangles and then arranged them to construct the stunning quilt shown above.

We are struck by the beauty of Bruce Seeds' quilts, and we are also curious about his transition from an architect and web designer to a quilter (Oh, and he still does web design.)  We had a chance to ask Bruce a few questions about his work:

Quilt Inspiration: How does your experience as an architect impact your quilting?

Bruce Seeds: Architecture for me is a balance of tending to detail while also working the overall composition. This is also true for my quilted textile mosaics. When my seams are straight, when my corners come together in points, they enhance the overall work. The big difference is that my mosaics quilts are composed as they are constructed, while buildings are generally designed first and then constructed. Having to stay in the present and always thinking about the composition is what holds my interest in making this type of quilt. If I were making quilts from patterns, it would be like constructing a building that someone else designed, and for me that wouldn't be nearly as much fun.

Q.I.: Do you think you were 'born' to be an art quilter, and if so, what forces or influences caused you to go into architecture and computer design first?

Bruce Seeds: I went into architecture because it presented a balance between science (structure) and art. Because I worked at large firms, I rarely got to experience the art and spent most of my time on the computers working detail. I parlayed that computer experience into web site design, which gave me more opportunity to create. As the economy tanked in 2008, I took the opportunity to move even further into the creative by trying my hand at mosaic quilting. And this work has the best balance for me between detail and artistic expression. Was I born to be an art quilter? No more than anything else that strikes a balance between the detailed and the expressive.

Q.I.: What challenges have you encountered in quilting (any artistic, technical, societal, or professional challenges?)

Bruce Seeds: My pieces are large, which means they are expensive, which means they don't exactly fly off the shelves. So sales, for one. But that's getting better as I get more notice. Beyond that, I'm not much of a networker, so to the extent that I'm missing out on opportunities because I'm not out there rubbing elbows, that's a challenge.

Q.I.: How do you see your work evolving in the future ?

Bruce Seeds:  One part of the answer lies in the way I've recently decided to start describing my work as quilted textile mosaics. They are, at their essence, mosaics. And I plan to explore mosaic compositions in other mediums using techniques similar to what I'm doing with cotton fabric. In addition, I plan to find more of my voice and do work that says something more specific about my life.

Additional notes:  Images are shown with the generous permission of the artist. You can find Bruce Seeds at, at his Facebook page, and at his online shop. In 2010 he was featured in M magazine (click for the .pdf article) and exhibited at ArtPrize 2010. Recently, he was interviewed by Nancy Zieman for the Sewing with Nancy television show (click to see a studio shot).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Blooming nine-patch: a perennial favorite

Did you ever construct a quilt which looked really challenging, but was incredibly fun to make because the patchwork was so simple? Well, the blooming nine patch is one of those intriguing patterns. It gives us  the impression of a color wash with the easiest of piecing:  nothing but 9-patch and same-size solid squares.  That's all !

Each solid block alternates with a nine-patch that uses the two adjacent fabrics, creating a subtle transition from one fabric to the next.  The pattern was first published in 1996 by Blanche Young with her daughter, Dalene Young Stone, in their classic book Tradition With a Twist.   Another daughter, Helen Young Frost, arranged the design in concentric diamonds, much like the Amish Trip Around the World pattern.

Batik blooming nine patch, quilt kit, 85 x 93, at Stitchin' Heaven

Blooming nine patch quilts look gorgeous with mottled or tonal fabrics which can blend into each other and create a contrast which is subtle and nuanced. This Stitchin' Heaven kit relies on an orange multicolored fabric of apricot, peach, and tangerine shades, set off by a medium grape inner border. We are showing some of the fabric swatches below, courtesy of Nichole Croft at Stitchin Heaven.

Blooming nine patch quilts are a great way to use medium value or lighter value batiks, because they will produce the gradual variation in tones that give such a soft and gentle look to this design. Also, Stitchin' Heaven has a great selection of quilt kits and block-of-the-month programs (check out their amazing red Dear Jane).

 Nova, by Helen Young Frost, at the Arizona Quilters Hall of Fame

For an inspiring read, check out Helen Young Frost's fascinating biography at the Arizona Quilters' Hall of Fame. Helen is the daughter of Blanche Young and the co-author of Radiant Sunshine and Shadow. One of the early teachers of contemporary rotary cutting and strip piecing, she writes that she has always loved the symmetry and design of the traditional Sunshine and Shadow pattern as depicted in "Nova".

Like many residents of the American West, Arizonans enjoy a "big sky" earthscape, and it's easy to imagine that Helen was motivated to create this quilt from the colors of the sunrise and sunset in her home town of Tucson, Arizona. We like the half-square triangle border, which adds to the contemporary geometric effect of the medallion pattern.

Blooming Nines, 88 x 93, by Peg Graney at Sew Fresh Fabrics, as seen at the 2009 Rising Star Quilters Guild Showcase

Peg Graney won a People's Choice Award at the 2009 Rising Star Quilters showcase for "Blooming Nines", which was machine quilted by Cathy Harnisch.   In her show statement, Peg says:  "I love this pattern because of the fluid look that is created despite all the hard geometric blocks. It was fun picking the fabrics and see how each new row changed the whole look of the quilt." Peg gave the quilt an upbeat contemporary look by incorporating bright colors, along with a lively blue and white pattern at the edge of the inner border.  You can see more of her quilts at Ivy Arts and the Mixt Media Fine Art Gallery. Peg Graney's current blog (and online shop) is Sew Fresh Fabrics.

Blooming nine patch, 72 x 82, by Sarah Griffin, at the 2010 Rising Star Quilters Guild Showcase

The Rising Star Quilters guild in Lexington, MA has so many talented members that their shows are always wonderful. This Blooming Nine Patch, constructed by Sarah Griffin and machine quilted by Laurie LaConte, won first prize, People Choice, for Large Quilts at the 2010 RSQ show. Sarah has superbly blended the neutral tans and chocolate shades so that this quilt would work well in any room in the house, but she has also added a dash of sparkle right outside the russet inner border.  Sarah says:  "I love the way the colors blend into one another going from light in the center to dark at the outer edges."

Paisley Peacock, by Faith Wescom, as photographed by Susie Ziegler at the 2009 Chicago International Quilt Show

The Paisley Peacock quilt was a showstopper at the International Quilt Show in 2009. Faith Wescom says that this quilt is one of her favorites.  Her husband, Gary, notes: "This design originated from a desire to experiment with different but similar shades of fabric. Faith thought they looked good together while on the bolt. I think they look even better assembled into a quilt!"  You can see this and other quilts by Faith Wescom at the Wescom website.  For another photo, see the 2009 Quilt Show Favorites post by Violette Severin. Many thanks to Susie Ziegler for permission to use her photo.

Sunset Garden, by Helen Frost and Catherine Skow, from the book Radiant Sunshine and Shadow and the Quilts 2011 Calendar

Helen Frost and Catherine Skow have used their expert color placement skills to create a quilt with a shimmering halo, which really catches the eye. Like most blooming nine patch patterns, the focal point falls close to the center medallion or the inner 50% of the quilt. Helen has enhanced this radiant effect by choosing a color which is complementary and a few shades lighter than the color of the medallion. In this case she has selected orange as the complement to the muted grape inner medallion, but not just any orange. It's a pastel muted yellow-orange which provides radiant highlights for the medallion itself.

Baby blooming nine patch, detail of work in progress, by Lynn Stalowy at the Bigfork Bay Cotton Company

The blooming nine patch pattern provides a great way to use fabrics from a collection. Lynn Stalowy, quilter and shop owner, says: "This is one of those patterns that looks good in any type of fabrics... I have done it in Cherrywoods, batiks, and just regular cottons like here." You can read the fun post about the project at the Bigfork Bay Cotton Company blog. For those not familiar with the store: check out the Bigfork Bay Cotton Company (in Bigfork, Montana and online). They have a really unique selection of patterns and kits which we love.

Books: Tradition with a Twist and Radiant Sunshine and Shadow

*Image credits and links: Images are shown with permission.  The photo of Paisley Peacock by Susie Ziegler can be seen at the IamSusie photostream on Flickr, and Susie Ziegler's blog can be found at

Note added on 2-26-2011:  Helen Frost explains that the original 'blooming nine patch' design was inspired by an antique quilt of a friend of Helen's.  At a trunk show in Phoenix Arizona, on February 26, 2011,  Helen showed off the quilts from All Star Quilts - 10 strip-pieced Lone Star Sparklers.  You can see the trunk show photos at our Flickr photostream.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Red and white wrapup

For the last ten days we've featured red-and-white quilts we admire.  Three of them are from the 19th century, and three are from the 21st century.  These photos help show the infinite variety of quilts that can be achieved, with only two colors !

You can scroll to older posts for details, but here are the quilt names along with original websites.  Row 1:  Bold, by Debbie Grifka, at Esch House Quilts; Gordion Knot, from Stella Rubin AntiquesRow 2:  Maze Quilt, courtesy of the DAR Museum; Vortex Quilt, courtesy of the American Folk Art MuseumRow 3:  Red and white applique quilt, by Mary Vaughan, at Fun With Barb and Mary; Red Delicious, by Esther Aliu.

For six days in 2011 (March 25-30)  the historic Park Avenue Armory in NYC will be transformed into a glorious display of color and design when the American Folk Art Museum presents Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts. Defying gravity, the quilts will appear to spiral in mid-air filling the enormous volume of the Drill Hall and creating circular pavilions that invite visitors to experience the quilts in a three-dimensional environment.

Friday, February 18, 2011


Today's quilt makes us think about shape as an element of design. Mary Vaughan began with Kaffe Fassett's adaptation* of a coverlet from the 19th century.  However, Mary has taken the design to a whole new level by choosing a brilliant white-on-red color scheme, and by filling the quilt with shapes of all kinds.

Red-and-white appliqué quilt, by Mary Vaughan, at Fun With Barb and Mary

The quilt has been personalized with shapes that include cats, birds, squirrels, spools, dresses, pears, skeleton keys, wine glasses, fleur-de-lys, angels with trumpets, a moon and stars, forks and spoons, and the initials, 'm' and 'V'. Some of the pieces can be seen in the work-in-progress photo below.

Mary explains that the three members of her group each did their interpretation of the quilt. Mary chose to do hers in red and white without a border; her quilt received honorable mention at the 2009 NJ State Quilt Show.  Barb's quilt, called Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious, won best appliqué at the NJ State Show the year it was finished.  Susan's quilt is yet to be unveiled.

Image credits and additional links:  The images are shown with the generous permission of Mary Vaughan.  At her original blog, called MissMaryMadeIt, you can read her 2009 posts about her quilting and thread decisionsultimate quilting design,  and quilt show award.
*The Kaffe Fassett Folk Art Quilt was published in Kaffe Fassett's Museum Quilts by Taunton Press.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Red, White, and Bold

The red-and-white quilts we've shown so far have featured red elements on a white ground. Today's thoroughly modern quilt reverses the trend, with white squares that provide a high contrast to the square red field. We love this quilt, which is emblematic of Debbie Grifka's bold, graphic style.

Bold, 40 x 40", by Debbie Grifka at Esch House Quilts

This quilt displays all of the core elements of good design. Notice that the vertical column has seven squares, while the horizontal row has five squares (the "rule of odds" suggests that an odd number of subjects in an image is more interesting than an even number.)  Also, exact bisections of the picture space have been avoided.  This quilt does have a focal point (can you identify it?) Finally, the pure red space that makes up the bulk of the quilt is the equivalent of 'negative space', but it is not 'empty space'. Check out the quilted diagonal lines; some of them are set at oblique angles.

Red is a color that is thought to raise the heart rate, but this red quilt is almost soothing. The fabric has a low luster, which makes it seem to absorb light. Debbie Grifka explains: "When I decided to make Bold, I just knew I had to use a Cherrywood Fabrics red. The subtle colors and texture were just what I needed. I didn't want to order over the internet since I really wanted to see the color. So my friend and I drove to the International Quilt Festival in Chicago, where they were vending, and back in one day (10 hours round trip) mostly so I could get that fabric! I still think it was worth it - a little crazy, but worth it."

The pattern for Bold and other modern quilt designs can be obtained online at Esch House Quilts.

Image credits: The image of Bold is shown with the generous permission of Debbie Grifka.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Maze Quilt

Some quilts we make for the fun and frolic of the present day.   Some quilts we make to be handed down to following generations as heirlooms. For those quilts, the hard work involved seems a small price to pay to preserve our legacy as quilters, as each of us would like to be remembered when we leave this earth. We like to think that our fore mothers undertook the arduous practice of making an heirloom quilt as a tribute to their families and as a way of leaving their mark for the ages and the future.

Maze Quilt, c. 1850, 83-1/2 x 79-1/2", by Margaret Cabell McClelland. Courtesy of the DAR Museum

Born in 1785 and married to Thomas McClelland in 1820, Margaret Cahill McClelland constructed this labyrinth quilt in about the year 1850, when she would have been 65 years old. The intricate pattern needs strong contrasting colors so that the design is clearly evident to the viewer. We like to think that Margaret chose bright red as a way to protect the design from fading into pale oblivion, as earth tones or blues might have done over the ensuing years.

The design of the maze was based on a mosaic floor at Amiens Cathedral in France*, as noted on this Quilt Index Page. Margaret hand appliqued each of the red strips into place, in such a way that it is exactly parallel to its neighboring strip. It is this devotion to accuracy that gives this quilt such a precise, orderly geometric effect. To add visual interest and diversity, she appliqued a Greek Key border around the outside of the maze, which helps the eye transition to the lines around the outside of the quilt.

The Maze Quilt is in the permanent collection of the Daughters of the American Revolution Museum  ( D.A.R.) in Washington, DC, which preserves outstanding crafts and furniture of early America. It was displayed in an exhibit titled “The D.A.R.Museum Collection: Quilts from a Young Country” at the 2008 International Quilt Festival in Houston, Texas.

Are any of you planning to make or making a quilt specifically for the purpose of passing it along to your loved ones or friends?  Or, are all of your quilts meant to be legacy quilts?  We'd love to hear stories about any quilts that you have in mind for future generations. Please feel free to leave remarks in the Comments section below.

Image credits: The quilt image is copyrighted, and is shown with permission of the DAR Museum.  *The original labyrinth pavement, which dated to 1288, was destroyed in 1825 and restored in 1894. The above photo of the Amiens Cathedral floor is from the Mt. Holyoke University website.  A description of the labyrinth is at the Loyola University Medieval Studies website. A diagram of the labyrinth can be seen at Labyrinthos.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Red Delicious and Hearts Desire

Today's luscious red-and-white quilt is called Red Delicious. Each of the blocks is done in a folk applique style, with innovative elements, including a tea set and an ornate fan. Even the rose stems and leaves are red! The effect is like looking through rose-colored glasses.

Red Delicious, 50 x 52", by Esther Aliu

The first block features two mischievous love birds, which have human eyes and cherry red tails.

Red Delicious was a free BOM that began on Nov 15, 2008 and went for 12 months. The RD BOM is finished, but the blocks can be purchased online, either as a set or individually, at Esther's shop.

Coincidentally, today is the launch of Esther Aliu's newest BOM, called Hearts Desire. The first block, shown below, is aptly named "Be Still My Heart". You can read about the design on Esther's blog, and download the block for free (until March 15) !

Image credits and additional links: Images are shown with the generous permission of Esther Aliu. Red Delicious was shown at the 2010 Victorian Quilter's Inc. Quilt Showcase, where the quilt won two awards: 1st Place Small Quilt - Professional, and Excellence in Domestic Machine Quilting - Professional.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Infinite variety in red and white

If you love red-and-white quilts, there is a resource you won't want to miss.  Stella Rubin, the owner of Stella Rubin Antiques,  has a spectacular selection which includes the rare quilt pattern shown below.

Gordion Knot Quilt, circa 1890, 78 x 78", courtesy of Stella Rubin Antiques

This beautiful quilt, with its straight lines and uncluttered design,  has a contemporary feel which we love. The borders are wonderfully quilted with a feather design that provides a contrast to the straight lines of the pieced pattern; for detail views, visit the Gordion Knot Quilt page.

The Gordion Knot is just one of many outstanding red-and-white quilts on Stella Rubin's site.  Check out these classic beauties: Robbing Peter to Pay Paul; Lemon Peel; Delectable Mountains; Windmill Blades; Carpenter’s Square; Hole in the Barn Door; Irish Chain; and Feathered Stars.  The latter quilt dates to circa 1830, making it an astonishing 180 years old.  In fact, you can learn a lot about antique quilts and quilt patterns just by browsing Stella Rubin Antiques. She is internationally recognized as the top quilt dealer in the United States and one of the foremost dealers in the world.

Ms. Rubin's quilts are always a highlight of the American Antiques Show.  To see a picture of her booth at the 2011 show, along with a quilt that was a real showstopper, check out the fun article called Something to Crow About (you'll be glad you did !)

Image credits and additional resources: The image of the Gordion Knot Quilt is the copyright of Stella Rubin Antiques and is shown with permission. Stella Rubin is the author of the definitive tome, How to Compare and Value American Quilts.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Infinite variety in two colors: red and white

This Vortex quilt shown below looks modern, but it dates to circa 1900. It is an example of the more than 650 red-and-white quilts from the collection of Joanna Rose, which will be on view March 25–30 at the Park Avenue Armory in New York City. The exhibit will cap the American Folk Art Museum's Year of the Quilt celebration.

Vortex quilt, circa 1900, 80 x 82", courtesy of the American Folk Art Museum

This quilt is fascinating to us because it combines a mathematically precise optical illusion - which we do not associate with the 1890-1910 period* -  with fanciful, Art Nouveau butterflies and scrolls more typical of the era.  The construction is also of great interest.  By our count, the circle that comprises the vortex has been neatly divided into 52 slices and more than 20 concentric rings.  The pieces in the middle of the quilt must be incredibly small, and yet everything matches up perfectly.

The collection as a whole is astonishing not only because of the sheer number of red and white textiles, but also because no two are exactly alike. Thus the exhibit has been titled Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts.  It will be the largest exhibition of quilts ever held in the city.

The exhibit will be on for only six days, and admission is free.  Maria Ann Conelli, the executive director of the American Folk Art Museum, says:  "Since admission to the quilt exhibition is free, it represents a special gift to the people of New York City and beyond.”  In honor of this unprecedented event we've selected a handful of stunning red-and-white quilts - some from museum collections, and some from modern-day designers - to show you next week. Of course, the red-and-white color scheme is also in keeping with Valentine's Day. We hope you'll stay tuned !

Image credits:  The image is shown with permission of the American Folk Art Museum. If you are going to be in New York you can also see Quilts: Masterworks from the American Folk Art Museum at the museum on West 53rd Street, and Superstars:  Quilts from the American Folk Art Museum at the Lincoln Square Branch.

* The op-art movement is often credited to Victor Vasarely, who was born in 1906 and whose famous Zebra painting was done in the 1930's.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Quilting in New Zealand - Part 2

One of the most spectacular places in the world is Fiordland, a national park on the southwestern coast of New Zealand. To get there we took the Trans Alpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth, then rented a car in Greymouth and headed south, stopping overnight in Hokitika and Wanaka. We traveled the Te Anau-Milford highway, which goes through the beautiful town of Te Anau.  The town is situated on the shore of the largest lake in the South Island (below). 

Te Anau is a gorgeous resort town. The street names reminded us of the dual Māori and European history of New Zealand: you'll see Mokonui and Mokorua, along with Duncan Street and MacDonald Park. Just a block off the lake, at 68 Mokonui Street, we found the quilted banner and garden path leading to The Pansy Patch.

We loved our visit to The Pansy Patch! Linley Hodgkinson, the owner, has a fantastic selection of batiks, Kiwiana, and other prints....

... and a wall full of yummy Tekapo Yarn.  It is 100% pure New Zealand wool named after Lake Tekapo. It makes you feel like diving right in (the wall of yarn, not the lake !)

We couldn't resist purchasing some vibrant batiks and cottons with Māori designs, which you'll see below... and some yarn. We were even lucky enough to get a sample of some cherry plums growing on a tree in the front yard !  For more information and hours, contact Linley Hodgkinson at or phone 249-8913.

Our ultimate destination was Milford Sound, a fiord that is lined with sheer rock walls and cascading waterfalls, which tumble hundreds of meters to the sea below.

After marveling at the jaw-dropping vistas on the South Island, we flew from Queenstown back to Wellington, and a few days later we headed up to Auckland. We arrived in Auckland on its anniversary day celebration ! Fortunately, the shops were all open. Some wonderful boutiques and cafes can be found in Devonport, which is only a 10 minute ferry ride from downtown; this view of Auckland and Waitemata Harbor is from Devonport.

After a delightful cappuccino we strolled up Victoria Road.  We browsed some wonderful antique, clothing and jewelry shops, but managed to save our pennies until we came to....

 The shop is in a historic building, which looks like this....

 and, true to its name,  it is filled to the brim with fabric !

We found a large selection of Japanese cottons here - we purchased five different fat quarters - along with some unusual prints from all over the world.  It was a great way to finish up our trip !

And now for the unveiling... here are the fabrics we came home with from the four NZ shops we visited.  Do you like them?

The middle group of fabrics have Māori motifs and icons, including koru swirls, tiki and a wharenui, and native birds including the adorable kiwi. The bright batik designs are in the shape of abalone shells (pāua). We fell in love with the black-and-white novelty print which includes Māori icons, names and translations! We heard greetings of "Kia ora" and "Haere mai" throughout our journey. We smiled at one of the translations on the fabric... "Haere ra =  Cheerio" !

We'd rather not say Cheerio to New Zealand, as we hope to go back someday and visit the many beautiful places we missed ! Thank you all for your warmth and hospitality.
Image credits:  The image of Waitemata harbor is from Wikimedia.  All other photos are by Quilt Inspiration.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quilting in New Zealand

Marina and her stepmother, Karen, recently traveled to New Zealand to visit Karen's granddaughter, who lives in the capital city of Wellington. We were blown away by the beauty of New Zealand, and the warmth and hospitality of its people. We also had fun tracking down some quilt shops (see the red dots on the map).

We started our trip in the capital city of Wellington, which is on the southwestern tip of the North Island (see map). This cosmopolitan city has an absolutely spectacular setting, as shown below. The water is a beautiful aqua color, just as it appears in this photo*.

One day we went to the suburb of Karori, which is home to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary - and to the Piece by Piece Quilt Shop (below).

The interior of this wonderful shop is festooned with quilts and fabrics from around the world. A 'sexy hexy' quilt made with fabrics by Amy Butler can be seen on the wall, below. The elegant Suzy Miller, who owns the shop, can be seen in the middle as she cuts fabric.

We spent well over half an hour ogling fabrics by Kaffe Fassett, Liberty Art, and many other leading designers and manufacturers (check out the Piece by Piece website for a list).

We purchased a stack of 100% cotton Japanese indigo fabrics, and a whole collection of cotton prints by Pat Bravo (you'll see our purchases tomorrow). After the fabric shopping spree we stopped at the cafe next door to enjoy a delicious New Zealand-style cappuccino. What a perfect morning !

The next day we hopped on the Interislander Ferry to the South Island.  The ferry travels 50 nautical miles across the Cook Strait, and the trip lived up to its reputation as one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the world. We arrived in the town of Picton, then strolled over to the train station to catch the Trans Coastal train.  The train goes all the way to Christchurch, but we stopped off for a day and a half  in the coastal town of Kaikoura. When we got off the train in Kaikoura and looked to the left, we saw the Pacific Ocean! The gray clouds seemed to intensify the aqua color of the water.

And when we looked to the right from the station, we saw the cheery sign below....

The sign is on the back of A Patch of Country. What a great location ! We walked to the front of the shop on another day, under bright blue skies (see below). It is a whole cottage devoted to fabric, sewing, quilting and other crafts.

This shop has a great selection of batiks, cotton prints, and patterns, along with a room devoted to New Zealand-themed fabrics and patterns (see photo below). These items are called Kiwiana, a term that refers to iconic Kiwi elements.


The distinctive herringbone/chevron quilt on the wall is made with New Zealand themed fabrics - it even includes kiwifruit !

Our whale-watching trip in Kaikoura was canceled due to high seas, so we felt justified in spending some of the money we 'saved' ! We purchased several New Zealand themed fabrics, and a bundle of batik fat quarters.  (For examples of some of the products the shop carries, visit A Patch of Country online.)

After a fun time in Kaikoura we traveled to the Southern Alps by train and rental car before heading up north for the final leg of the trip. Tomorrow we'll show you more scenery and more quilt shops in Te Anau and Auckland (and we'll show off all of our NZ fabric purchases !)

*Image credits:  The photo of Wellington Harbor is from Wikimedia Commons.  The map of New Zealand is from Google Maps.  All other photos were taken by Quilt Inspiration.
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