Member Spotlight: Gemma Jackson | Pretty Bobbins

In the first members spotlight, I would like to introduce Gemma, or as you might know her – Pretty Bobbins. Gemma has just returned to Canberra and we are thrilled that she has become a member of the Canberra Modern Quilt Guild.


  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself Gemma!
    I’m a long term Canberra resident who has spent more time away from the Nation’s Capital than in it!  I grew up in Victoria and have lived in Queensland, Indonesia, China and New Caledonia.  I have always had a thing for textiles; costumes, rugs, fabric, clothes and weaving.  I came to quilting quite late and used my dress making skills and an old 1970s Better Homes and Gardens book to teach myself to quilt.  Convinced that there had to be a better way I took a beginners class and a few years later discovered modern quilting and got hooked!
  2. What got you interested in quilting? When did you first find modern quilting?
    I discovered blogging first and shared my creative journey sewing gifts and kids clothes.  I had made a couple of quilts and the more fabric I bought online the more quilts I came across.  Eventually I bought a few Modern Quilting books and followed a pattern or two.  After a particularly difficult period and whilst recovering from pneumonia I hooked into the modern quilting movement online and realised that quilting was more than just following a pattern and making a blanket.  Once my quilting addiction hit I couldn’t stop and haven’t looked back!

    two beds with mama quilts
    The quilt on left is the first Gemma made and the quilt on right is the first modern quilt she made following a pattern called “Kitchen Windows” in Elizabeth Hartman’s first book.
  3. How has your style changed over the years?
    My first four quilts (with large gaps between the first and second and third) were all made following patterns.  These days I am all about improv, designing my own quilts, using bold colours and making the quilting a large feature of the quilt.  My first two quilts I quilted in the ditch, these days I go crazy free motion quilting everything I can get my hands on. It’s been a little while since I finished a quilt, but I have lots of quilts waiting for binding…
  4. What are you currently working on?
    Too many projects to count!  Probably the most exciting for me are a quilt for my bed, designing my own medallion quilt (I’m still figuring out how to make a double orange peel block for the centre – it’s half the fun!) and making a few new wall quilts for our house (we moved recently).

    No doubt inspired by the beautiful colours of the South Pacific!
    No doubt inspired by the beautiful colours of the South Pacific!
  5. Where do you find your inspiration? Who are your quilt idols?
    Inspiration is everywhere! I tend to be inspired by the palette around me.  The vivid colours of the Pacific definitely made their way into my quilts and now in Canberra I find myself drawn to more rustic tones.  IG is probably my favourite place to be inspired by other quilters, artists and designers.  My quilting idols are Angela Walters, Latifah Saafir and Krista of Lola Blue Ocean.  Elizabeth Hartman was someone who inspired me early on and I found her blog and first book to be incredibly helpful as a new quilter.
  6. What is your favourite part about quilting? What is your least favourite?
    Binding is my least favourite part!  I’m a machine binder through and through or I never finish a quilt!  I love every other aspect equally and am often torn between selecting new palettes, designing a new layout, piecing and quilting!  There’s not enough time!!!
  7. Is there a technique on your list to learn this year? How do you like to learn new techniques?
    This year I need to learn time management so I can quilt more! Precise curves is something that I’m focussing on right now.  In terms of quilting I’m enjoying learning about ruler work on the longarm.

    A beautiful studio in Gemma's new home, where she runs her long arm quilting business
    A beautiful studio in Gemma’s new home, where she runs her long arm quilting business.
  8. Show us your sewing space! What’s the best thing you ever bought into it? 
    My longarm is my favourite thing in my sewing room, before that it was my Bernina.  I have just discovered Matilda’s Own rulers which I LOVE, oh, and I have to mention Sewline chalk pacer pens.  ESSENTIAL!
  9. Do you do any other craft besides quilting?
    At the moment I don’t do any craft, quilting is more art or meditation rather than craft for me and I just don’t have time for any other ‘me-time’ activities at the moment.  I do love rearranging my house and hunting down mid-century modern furniture, does that count as craft? 😉
  10. Where else can we find you?
    You can find me everywhere! I’m @prettybobbins on twitter, Instagram, flicker and facebook.  My blog is and my longarm site is

Gemma will be back next week, sharing five things that are inspiring her right now.

Craft de-stash mini market

Canberra Creatives are hosting a destash mini market this weekend! A couple of us will be sharing tables and I know that you guys can find a great bargain or three, riffling through the stashes! There will be paper craft, fabric, patterns, beads, knick knack and more.

Come along from 2-4pm on Saturday 23 November at the Downer Community Centre. See you there!Image

September Meeting – Hand Embroidery

Hello! The September Meeting is coming up and this month we are featuring embroidery. Personally, I think quilting and embroidery go hand in hand. I love combining them and relaxing under a quilt with my stitching. Ahh, bliss!Image

photo: girl on the cherry tree by Aneela Hoey, embroidered by me!

To show you just how fun hand embroidery can be, I have designed a little sampler to show you a few of my favourite stitches.


What you need to bring:

  • A square of fabric (white/neutral is best, however a light print such as a dot, stripe or text is fine too) – it should be at least 6 inches square.
  • Printed design sheetFOUND HERE. Spare copies will be available on the night. If you have the chance you can transfer the design to your fabric before the meeting.
  • Your favourite embroidery needle. Its got to be sharp and pointy with a big eye to thread the floss through.
  • Embroidery floss – Choose your poison. DMC, Anchor, Sublime Floss, Perle 8 etc are all great choices. You can bring as little or as many colours as you wish.
  • Transfer pen – I love the Frixon pens, but you can use a pencil, fine pen, blue washable pen. As long as it can be hidden under the stitches or removed.
  • Scissors. Nothing fancy, just good old fashioned snippers will do.

Looking forward to seeing you all on Thursday, 7:30 at the Civic Library as usual. Don’t forget to bring your latest projects for show and tell!

Raffle Quilt Progress

It has been so exciting to see the beautiful raffle quilt blocks submitted so far. I hope you have enjoyed the challenge of making an improvisational block, based on the map by Walter Burley Griffin. I don’t know about you, but studying that map sure has given me a greater appreciation of Canberra. It’s amazing to see his vision come to life with all those beautiful curves and lines. We really do live in a beautiful city.ImageFor those unaware of the design brief for the quilt, each block has been designed based on a corresponding square on the original Canberra map. The quilters have then created an improvisational style block, pieced together from fabrics in the colour range. There has been no boundaries placed on how intricate or simple the piecing must be, as it is their block, they can decide. Fun, right?ImageIt’s so interesting to see how the map has been interpreted and there certainly is a lot of talent in the Canberra Modern Quilt Guild. I can’t wait to see the final pieces of the map come in at the end of the month.ImageIf you are unable to attend the August meeting (Thursday the 22nd of August), please send your block/s in with a friend or you can send them to my address (email me for details). If you feel you are unable to complete the block, please hand the block back to a member for redistribution. We understand that sometimes time is difficult to find! Any questions on the raffle quilt can be emailed to me, otherwise I am looking forward to seeing you at the next meeting!