myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

And she was making matchstick bags and matchstick caddies and wallhangings…

…sung to the tune of ‘Matchstalk Cats and Dogs’! But unfortunately it doesn’t quite scan as well!

I am wondering if younger people or those outside the UK are thinking I’ve gone mad – I have a feeling that was probably just a British hit single! There is a video at the end of this post for the curious amongst you.

Meanwhile let’s talk about matchstick quilting! I have been doing quite a bit lately and posting photos on Instagram, so I thought it would be nice to have a round up over here.

This is matchstick quilting, just machine quilting lines very close together. I’m not sure who started this but I first saw Leanne doing it – so maybe it was her!

I like to leave some wider spaces and fill them with lines of hand quilting in perle cotton (#8 or #12), I saw this on a quilt at QuiltCon and loved it. I first tried it out on this bag earlier in the year.

Recently I have been trying this out on various different surfaces and making the pieces into storage caddies like the one above, they make great gifts.

This year’s Stitch gathering goody bag contained a lovely Liberty Tana Lawn hexy pack from Sarah at Duck Egg Threads. I couldn’t resist sewing the hexies together (with a few extras) as soon as the event was over, and this was my little Swedish Teaching Trip project.

Before that (I am working backwards here!) I tried out some matchstick quilting on some needle turn applique.

I always have a few of those leaf shapes around (as they are scraps from using the Sizzix machine Drunkard’s Path dies) and some circles left over from this project last year. You just can’t beat some bright colours on Manchester yarn-dyed in pepper!

Here I am adding the hand quilting in a rare moment of Autumn sun.

And here is the finished caddy from a few angles. This was a gift for my friend Hikaru to thank her for all her amazing work teaching at the Stitch Gathering.

The first Caddy I tried the matchstick quilting on was this next one. I wanted to make something lovely for Nicky to say thanks for the sweetest little toadstool pincushion she sent me earlier in the year (or was it last year?), and as she was coming to the Stitch Gathering this seemed like the perfect opportunity.

The fabric was screen printed by me during a workshop at QuiltCon earlier this year. I haven’t been able to decide what to do with it, but the size and shape seemed perfect for a caddy. I lined it with gorgeous Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis.

After trying screen printed linen, needle-turn applique and EPP hexies I asked folks on IG what I should try next and someone said ‘selvedges’.
So here we go! I have made 2 pieces using selvedges but have yet to make them into caddies.

And matchstick quilting isn’t just for caddies!
This version of my workshop bag was made for a special quilty friend’s (Lynne) special birthday. The main part of the bag is made from a large block started at the last Fat Quarterly Retreat (in Thomas Knauer’s workshop), it had been hanging around not getting finished so I made it into this bag (as a sample during a recent class) and banded it with Essex yarn-dyed linen in Black. The main part of the bag is FMQ’d with a loopy pattern but I have matchstick quilted the band (it’s quite subtle though!).

And lastly we have the wall hanging!
I was so excited about the recent Today’s Quilter magazine cover featuring my Dishes Quilt that I totally forgot to show you the extra mini quilt I made to go with it!

And guess what? It is matchstick quilted! Yes I am obsessed!!
It will also be a new workshop for 2016… Prospectus will be launched on 5th December!!

WARNING! Ear Worm will be activated if you watch the video below!


  1. Hello Jo,
    I love your matchstick caddies (and Yes I know the song and most of the words – how sad is that?) Those caddies are just what I am looking for on the cusp of moving into my NEW SEWING ROOM!
    I 'get' the process of making the matchstick quilted fabric which I assume stiffens it so it will stand firm, but how do you make the actual caddy? if you have a tutorial on this I would love to know where to find it. Can you help???
    BTW I Loved the Great Tapestry of Scotland book, which my library got for me (after weeks and weeks of waiting!) what a wonderful project to have taken part in.)

  2. I particularly like the caddies made with hexies. I see a new idea looming for presents next year ( I ten dot often choose one thing and everyone gets it all year long). x

  3. Hi Jo, What gorgeous caddies! Love the idea and the look of mixing machine stitches with hand stitches! Also love the different colour threads on the black Essex linen – it looked from the picture that it could be a shot cotton fabric shimmering – very beautiful and clever! I look forward to seeing the selvedges caddy. Thank you – lots of fodder for inspiration! x

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