Creative articles about quilting

Tartan Tattoo by LINZI UPTON, Scotland UK

We were really excited to hear that Linzi Upton won the first prize for her quilt “Tartan Tattoo” at the Open European Quilt Championships in Maastricht. Linzi created the quilt on a BERNINA Q 24 longarm quilting machine. This is not the main reason for our excitement though. Linzi really deserves the prize –  for her talent, her commitment, her free and sometimes reckless approach to quilting. To us, Linzi stands synonym for dedication and inspiration. She works unconventionally, advances old techniques and, in doing so, honors the tradition of quilting.

LUlongarmpose copy

Her portfolio includes quilted yurts, a full-sized Smart car cover, and a quilted coracle and many more mind-blowing pieces of art. For more informations and examplease, please visit the gallery on her website:

Linzi Upton – Gallery

We are happy to share the Linzi’s following article with you:

The Tale of the Tartan Tattoo

I have been the Q24 Longarm Ambassador for the UK since the beginning of 2015. I suggested that it would be a good idea to make a large quilt that would be displayed at Festival of Quilts, UK on the Bernina stand to show off what the newest machine in the Bernina family could do.

I wrote down lots of ideas for a quilt that would reflect the fact that I live in Scotland, that   The Bogod Machine Company which is the distributor for Bernina UK originated in Cardiff in Wales, and that Bernina is a Swiss company.

I decided that a simple tartan inspired design would work. I looked at a quilt that I had made from samples of wool kilt tartan and noticed how the colours change when the wools are woven together.


Tartan Samples Quilt

I picked 3 colours of red, black and white and drew rough sketches on graph paper with coloured pencils. These were actually the same colours as the body of my Bernina 710. Where the black and white threads met there would be greys and when the red met with black or white there would be greys, pinks and black/red.

I worked with my favourite fabrics, shot cottons by Oakshott. I love the way this fabric seems to change colour subtly but because it is an Indian woven cotton it has the disadvantage that it frays and stretches more easily than other cotton fabric. I worked out the size of the pieces by deciding that each tiny square on the graph paper would equal one inch of fabric.


I pieced the quilt together on a Bernina 710 using the straight stitch plate which is great for sewing such a fine cotton fabric. My machine is set into a Sewezi Grande table so the quilt top can be kept flat at all times.


I wanted to use some traditional Welsh quilting motifs but I was not sure which ones to choose. I did not mark any designs onto the quilt top until it was rolled onto the quilt frame and it took me a long time to make up my mind what I would quilt.


In the end I started by stamping a Celtic triskele motif into the red squares using powdered chalk. Next I quilted circles around those like a frame. I carefully stitched around the triskeles then quilted tiny spirals around them. I knew that I wanted long straight lines in the strips that ran across and down the quilt and eventually I decided to use curved longarm rulers to quilt large leaf shapes in the purple squares. This gave me the idea to place smaller diagonal leaves through the coloured blocks. Gradually the decisions were made about the rest of the quilting such as pumpkin seeds, diagonal lines and some gridwork using a straight ruler.


tartantat TTdetail welshleaf


The quilting was tricky and time consuming – I even started to hate the quilt! I was not sure whether it was turning out as I had imagined. I usually like to add lots of beads and paint to my quilts but I had to struggle to keep this traditional quilt simple. Afterwards I sewed down all of the main seams with a decorative stitch.


The quilt had to be washed to remove the chalk marks and I was worried that the dye might run.


When it came out of the washing machine it was covered in fluff from the wool wadding and it did not lie flat so I had to pin it out while it was damp and carefully remove all of the stray fibres and threads.

I made a binding using a finely striped Indian cotton fabric which was cut on the bias so the stripes would be seen at a 45 degree angle and I hand-sewed it to the back to make it look neat.


It was finished just in time to hang on the Bernina stand at FOQ in August.

Meanwhile, I had entered it into the Open European Quilt Championships in Maastricht. I had not even made the quilt when the competition entry form was due in so I had to submit a diagram, promising to send photos before the quilt selections took place. (At first the quilt was known a “Red Tartan” but I have since renamed it “Tartan Tattoo”.) I was pleased when it was successfully juried into the show but I was really surprised and delighted when it won a matching red rosette for winning 1st place in the longarm quilt category!



You can sew it by your own:

I have written a pattern for Tartan Tattoo which is available as a PDF download from my ETSY shop and suggested some alternative colour suggestions. To find this go to and search for TheQuiltQuine.

This is an exciting time for me as my Ebook, “Deviant Quilting” has just been published. This book is all about how I approach quilting in a very relaxed way, breaking a few rules, and it includes some unusual projects. This is where you can also read the story about my Quilted Yurts and the Smart Car Cover. The book has video clips that show my techniques and some of my mistakes! It can be purchased as a download or a CD-ROM from

Since 2008 I have written a weekly blog where you can follow my quilting adventures, travels, disasters and all of the other things that keep me busy. You can read all about it in Blogger on my website or use WordPress instead

Happy Quilting!
Linzi Upton


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  • Alison Steyn Grant-Fletcher EditEditing comments on the BERNINA blog is only possible after logging in with a blog user account. Sign up now or create a user account if you do not have one yet.

    It’s beautiful Linzi! Well done. Would love to see it when I’m back in the area- love Alison GF

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