myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

Argyle Chain Quilt

I’ve been through a bit of a manic phase in the last few weeks, no time to blog and nothing to show anyway as I have been sewing magazine commissions like crazy! I’m just about through a bit of a backlog (phew!) and have a quilt in the latest issue of Today’s Quilter to share with you.

I’m calling this one Argyle Chain as it reminds me a little of an Argyle plaid but it’s actually made from two different Irish Chain blocks.

And it is blue! This is VERY unusual for me as I don’t actually like blue very much. I love turquoise and am okay with indigo but rarely use blue.

So settle down and I’ll tell you the story of this quilt…

Earlier this year when I was at QuiltCon in Savannah, I visited the Michael Miller stand to say thank you to the lovely folks there for being Stitch Gathering sponsors. Last year they had sent some gorgeous fabric for the goody bags but I hadn’t really paid much attention to the designer. It turned out it was by Sarah Campbell. 
As we chatted on the stand and they showed me more beautiful Sarah Campbell fabric it became apparent to me that they assumed I was familiar with Sarah as a ‘famous British designer’ who used to design for Liberty. I was as vague as possible without revealing my ignorance, and when I got home I googled Sarah Campbell and was amazed and delighted to find out about her long career in surface design and the famous book she wrote about design with her sister.

How had I missed her? Turns out all the quilters I questioned had somehow missed her too. So I contacted my friend Jane Rae (who also happens to be feature editor of Today’s Quilter) to suggest she wrote about Sarah in the magazine and I would make a quilt with some of her fabric.

I chose the wonderful Sandpiper collection – with all that blue!

Why choose this when I never use blue? Well around this time I had been teaching a course at myBearpaw to make my Starlights quilt. This is primarily made from a wide range of greys with a few bright solids.  One of my students, Sally, chose to replace the greys with a wide range of blues. Initially I was a little sceptical, but I absolutely loved the finished quilt! In fact I preferred it to my original!

So I decided to come out of my colour comfort zone and embrace blues! Obviously not just blue, there’s yellow and orangey-red too, I haven’t gone completely mad!

The fabric was so beautiful to use and I really fell in love with it. Finishing the quilt coincided with one of my Scrappy Improv workshops, so I used the scraps for class samples and then made them into these two panels.

After adding my usual combination of matchstick quilting with a variegated Aurifil thread and hand quilting with cotton perle #8 I turned it into one of my project pouches and it was sold in aid of the Makers For Grenfell fund (and blogged about a few months back, so don’t worry if you are getting a case of deja vu!).

Back to the quilt which was quilted with my current fall back overall FMQ pattern of a sort of curly mussels variation. The wavy lines and almost fishy shapes seemed to go well with the seashore themed ‘Sandpiper’ fabric. I used Aurifil 50wt in a turquoise shade, number 5017.

I love the yellow feather print that I used for the back.

The quilt was finished at the deadline (of course!) and the weather was awful, really wet and windy, which meant I couldn’t get my usual outside shots. It was way too dark in our house so I took it into the Tiny House and hung it from the sleeping loft!

It goes really well with the colours in there so maybe it might end up on the Tiny House bed when it makes it’s way back to me.

I hope you enjoyed this quilt story! Meanwhile do your self a favour and buy Today’s Quilter issue 27 so that you can find out all about the amazing Sarah Campbell too!


  1. How fabulous of you to ask the magazine to showcase her, she would be thrilled by your kindness and the publicity. I especially like the feather fabric on the back. x

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