Thursday, August 19, 2010

Issue 2 Contributor - Rachael Simmons

I had never come across Rachael before she offered to be a part of Issue 2's Designer Challenge. I am not sure how I had missed her as her quilts are just beautiful, but we were very happy she got in touch! Her quilts are colourful, well thought out and full of surprises.

To see what I mean you just need to see how she turned her pinwheel block from the designer challenge into the most amazing quilt.

There is even an Elvis and birds hiding in this quilt! Read all about it in her blog post here.

Find out more about Rachael from our interview with her and by visiting her wonderful blog, Blue Mountain Daisy. You will not be disappointed.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I'm a Aussie girl originally from Ballarat who moved to sunny Sydney in the early nineties. A bit less than a year ago we decided to have a tree change and moved to the beautiful Blue Mountains about 80 km from Sydney. I travel to Sydney every day to work as a Florist . That way I get the best of both worlds: the vibrant hustle and bustle of the city and the rejuvenating beauty of the mountains. There's a really strong quilting community here in The Blue Mountains which definitely adds to the appeal.

It's amazing how much I relate quilting to floristry. They're both about playing with colour, creating with a tactile thing, using different shapes for interest, knowing theory and techniques but not being afraid to try new things.

How did you start quilting?

I guess I've dabbled in sewing on and off most of my life. Dolls clothes and embroidery when I was younger, making clothes and altering my op shop ( thrift store) finds, nesting with cushions and curtains. It's funny, about 7 years ago a friend gave me the most beautiful quilt and it didn't even enter my mind that I could make one. I think I started to get interested when Amy Butler's Belle range came out a few years ago. The gorgeous blue and aqua fabrics were popping up here and there on the Internet and they were so beautiful I just had to make something out of them. I have enough clothes so I thought I'd try a quilt. I ended up using fabrics from Henry Alexander, Joel Dewberry, Anna Marie Horner and Tula Pink as well. I figured a quilt of random squares wouldn't be too difficult. It turned out a bit crooked and full of mistakes with big uneven hand quilting but I love it. I enjoyed every aspect of making the quilt and the journey has continued from there. Quilting is very addictive with so many different styles and colour combinations to play with and always something new to try.

What is the favourite quilt you have made? Why?

Probably my favourite quilt so far was one I made for my sister in law, called a Very Very Merry Merry Go Round. It's mostly made from scraps which freed me up to play without being nervous about ruining expensive fabric. I started with some Queen of May blocks because her birthday is in May and ended up sashaying them with string pieced strips. I had fun using different techniques, machine and hand piecing as well as machine quilting and hand quilting. It's a big, bright, colourful quilt on which you see something different every time you look at it. Another one I love is Summer Bubbles, I love the dreamy colours and all those circles which I padded with extra batting. It's an enlarged version of a baby quilt pattern called Ginger Spice by Hugs N Kisses. I had a lovely time hand quilting in perle 8 thread on sunny afternoons. It's funny how some quilts you just really enjoy every part of the process.

What is your favourite fabric line or designer?

My favourite fabric is Sis Boom's Nuala Toille in aqua and red. I believe it's an enchanted fabric that makes every thing it's mixed with look beautiful. Sadly I've just used my last little piece.

But really there are so many inspiring fabrics coming out all the time, so I couldn't pick one line. At the moment I love Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley, Lizzy House's Castle Peeps, and French General's Lumiere Noel and ShKate Spain's 12 Joys of Christmas. There are too many amazing designers to name all my favourites but some are Jennifer Panganelli for Sis Boom- her colours are fabulous, Prints Charming- contemporary patterns designed in Sydney, Philip Jacob's luscious botanics , Martha Negley's fruits, flowers and foliage, Heather Ross of course makes you smile with her fun prints. Nani Iro's double gauze is like watercolours painted on a cloud.

I'm interested in the custom fabric printing places like Spoonflower. It's amazing to think you can design your own fabric and have it printed up. Or choose from thousands of patterns other people have come up with. That opens so many possibilities.

Where do you do your sewing? Do you have a dedicated sewing area or do you use the dining room table?

In Sydney we lived in a one bedroom apartment so I was in the lounge room. I'd read stories about people quilting in caravans and on boats so I was glad to at least have my own table. Now that we're in the mountains I am lucky enough to have my own sewing room and one with the most amazing view of the garden and never ending trees. When I'm sewing and I look up and the sunlight is filling the garden I can't think of a better place to be. One day I was fussy cutting a bird when I noticed a bird sitting on a branch just outside my window looking at me. It's one of those things though, no matter how much room you have you can always do with a bit more. Recently I snuck a card table into the lounge room with my hexagon project on it. And I fantasise about having a walk-in wardrobe for my fabric stash.

What are you working on at the moment?

I have a pile of tops that are waiting to be quilted. I keep saying that I'll tackle those before I start any new quilts but it's so easy to get side tracked and start something new.
I've been working on foundation piecing or American paper piecing in recent times. When I first started quilting I didn't like mariners compasses, I found them "too pointy". I saw a New York Beauty style quilt at a quilt show that changed my mind, everything about that quilt was absolutely perfect! Coincidentally when I moved to the mountains the person who made that quilt, Chris Jurd, teaches at my local quilt shop.

I've been basting 3/4 inch hexagons for a long term project. And I've just received EQ7 which means more ideas and quilts to be made.

Too many quilts, so little time!


  1. I'm dying over that second last photo of the radiating green star - OMG!!! And a walk in closet for stash - brilliant plan!

  2. Those quilts are just gorgous! What a splash of color!

  3. Stumbled over your blog for a while ago, you inspired me to make my own Queen of may Blocks.
    I love Paper Piecing.

  4. Rachael is a very inspired quilter with a great sense of colour and fun. Keep up the good work girl and cingrats on your first "interview".
    Who knows where it will end!