We're excited to reveal our brand new quiltalong! We'll be releasing a new quilt block design every month for a year in our new Rippon Lea – A Gardener’s Journal series, and they'll build up together to create a mystery quilt design. The blocks have been designed by Karen Styles for Today's Quilter magazine. Read on to find out the background behind Karen's designs, check how much fabric you'll need to make the full finished project, and catch up on the blocks so far. This week the Today's Quilter team are revealing the third block in the series – Pansy Pots. Find the full instructions for how to make it in issue 70 of Today's Quilter.


The story behind the series

The Ribbon Lea Estate, which inspired Karen’s designs, is part of the National Trust of Australia and can be found today in the suburb of Elsternwick, about 8 km from the centre of Melbourne. The original 23 acres property was located in a ‘fairly bleak’ and remote area on the outskirts of Melbourne, the property over the years has been subdivided and is now much smaller than it was in its splendour. The grand house was built and developed between 1868 and 1903 and the magnificent gardens were brought to life during this time too.

Karen’s paternal great-grandfather, George William Bell (1860-1934) was one of the many gardeners who helped work on, and maintain, the original design of the Rippon Lea estate, until his death. The story tells that her grandfather Peter William Bell (1902-1957) was born on the kitchen table within the gardener’s cottage on the estate. Peter lived on the estate, until his marriage at the age of 23 to Karen’s grandmother, Dorothy May Selkrig (1902-1982) in 1926. Peter was a Painter/decorator and Dorothy, a seamstress who worked for a Melbourne Ballet Dancer to stitch her costumes and other finery.

Today, my quilting life is inspired by antique English quilts and their intricate designs, mostly Frame quilts from the mid 1800s. There is beauty in the fabrics and soft colours that the quilt makers of our past used. While researching my family tree I have also discovered there are strong ties to gardeners, painters, upholsterers, dressmakers, draftsmen and engineers – all of the key elements that help formed my love and art of quilting.

I hope you enjoy my ‘Gardener’s Journal’ of blocks that will lead you to your own Rippon Lea!

Fabric requirements

  • Background fabric 1 – 2yds (used in months 1-8)
  • Background fabric 2 – 1¼yds (used in months 9-12)
  • Background fabric 3 – ¾yd n Pink floral – ¾yd
  • Blue floral – ¾yd
  • Four (4) pink variations from light, medium, dark – ½yd each
  • Two (2) blue variations from light, medium – ½yd each
  • Four (4) purple variations from light, medium, dark – ½yd each
  • Two (2) brown variations from medium – ½yd each
  • Border fabric – 2yds
  • Binding fabric – ½yd
  • Backing fabric – 4¼yds
  • Batting – 74in square

Fabrics used

Karen has used assorted fabrics from her stash along with some select prints from Regency Romance by Christopher Wilson- Tate for Moda (listed below).

  • Background fabric 1 (42341 11)
  • Background fabric 2 (42341 13)
  • Pink floral (42341 15)
  • Blue floral (42341 14)
  • Border fabric (42348 18)
  • Binding fabric (42348 18)

About the designer

Karen Styles has been quilting for over 20 years and is the owner of Somerset Patchwork in Melbourne, Australia. Her on-line store specialises in Antique Reproduction fabrics from the 19th Century and features quilt designs also inspired by that era.  Karen has been teaching throughout Europe, the USA and Australia for several years and can be found at many international show events too. If you would like to follow Karen’s adventures go to www.somersetpatchwork.com.au or find her on Facebook and Instagram 
Karen Styles

Catch up with the blocks so far

Today's Quilter Quilt Block of the month issue 70

Block 3: Pansy Pots

There are so many different ways to piece a traditional basket block. By simply changing the placement of the half-square triangle colour units, you can create a pot full of blooms, as in the main block, or a basket with a handle, as in the variation block (we also include a variation design, alongside this one, in issue 70 of Today's Quilter). Karen has ‘decorated’ her pot and basket with blue half-square triangles for a little extra interest.

Todays Quilter Quilt Block of the Month issue 69

Block 2: Iris

This month, we will be making a 12in Evening Star block, also called a Variable Star. Karen’s pieced variation has a smaller 6in star placed in the centre of the larger one; we like the way the design ‘twinkles’ inside the larger star! Find this block instructions in issue 69 of Today's Quilter magazine.

Ribbon Lea quilt along

Block 1: Petunia

Get the instructions and pattern for the first block in the series in issue 68 of Todays' Quilter magazine. Karen says: "For our first instalment in this year’s mystery quilt, ‘Rippon Lea’, I have chosen a 12in Sarah’s Choice block. We will be using my preferred method for making half-square triangles – made slightly oversized and trimmed down – to create an eight-pointed star with quick, easy and accurate piecing. For a variation block below, switch up your fabric choices and experiment with stripes to see what you can make."

More like this
Ribbon Lea Quilt Block of the month
Striped Petunia: For the variation block I have chosen to use a fine pink-stripe fabric to experiment with the design. Repeat the cutting and piecing steps for the main Petunia block, but make sure you draw your pencil line in the same direction on all pink-stripe squares. This will mean you can rotate your half-square triangles so the stripes in neighbouring units are the same orientation


Fiona Lawrence
Fiona LawrenceEditor, Today's Quilter magazine

Having worked in the publishing industry for almost 20 years, Fiona has worked in most positions, from sub editor working up to becoming editor of Today’s Quilter. Working with experts like Lin Clements and Laura Pritchard plus incredibly talented designers on Today’s Quilter magazine, Fiona has learnt everything she know about the wonderful world of quilting. Every day she picks up new skills and can’t wait to see what else she’ll learn and what projects she’ll make in the future.

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