Jo Avery on BOMs, colour-choices & thread tips!

Wild flowers quilt block

We love hearing how you’re all getting on sewing along with our Block of the Month series. From Autumn leaves to snowflakes and issue 23’s FPP wild flowers block (pictured above), Jo Avery‘s A Month in the Country quilt blocks are inspired by nature and the countryside surrounding Jo’s home. They’re a great excuse to play around with different techniques too – her designs to date have included everything from foundation paper piecing to appliqué. We love to hear about what inspires our favourite quilt designers, so we’ve been chatting to her about what it’s like to create the blocks, and does she have any tips for those of us who are sewing along with her designs each month?

Autumn leaves quilt block

Jo started the series by turning half square triangles into Autumn leaves, back in issue 15

What inspires you?

“Designing this BOM has been such a joy for me,” Jo told us when we caught up with her this week. “It’s been such a personal project as the inspiration comes from my life and the nature all around me. Most days my husband and I go for a walk around our field and seeing the same things on such a repetitive basis means you notice all the tiny changes of the season and actually get really excited by it. As a City Girl I am quite astonished by how excited I get and it’s been wonderful to have a chance to share that with the readers.  I’ve particularly enjoyed writing my little piece where I explain the inspiration for that month along with a few stories it brings to mind.”

Birdhouse quilt block

Jo created these birdhouse quilt blocks from issue 22

What do you enjoy about the designs?

“It’s been fun using a range of techniques to suit the different subject matter, and hopefully easing some readers in to discovering new skills such as FPP and needle-turn appliqué.”

What have you learnt along the way?

“In hindsight it probably would have been easiser to have chosen a background colour for all the blocks and stuck to it at the start, but I think that would have really constrained me with some of the designs. I didn’t plan everything before I started except the ‘running list’ for the subjects (at least I made sure I had enough for the 13 months, though some of them have changed as I’ve gone along), but I did pick out a big pile of fabrics in a particular muted palette, well muted for me as I am known for my love of bright colours! By sticking to this palette I hope I’ve made sure the blocks all hang together.

Jo Avery block of the month

Which block are you working on now?

They’re all finished now and I think they work together really well. Next I need to choose the sashing fabric and this is probably the most crucial decison of all as it needs to bring the whole quilt together, so wish me luck!

Any tips for those of us who are sewing along?

When tackling the needle-turn applique I find it really helpful to use an extra fine thread and needle. I like to use Aurifil 80wt thread, it is so fine that you will hardly notice your stitches even if they’re not as neat and tiny as you would like. I love a Tulip miliner’s needle size 10 best of all, but they are very expensive so I also use Millwards miliner’s number 10 which is almost as perfect but for a fraction of the cost.

Snowflake quilt block

Jo’s snowflakes BOM from issue 18 – snowflakes and quilt blocks have a lot in common, each one is unique

Find out more…

  • Jo blogs over at, where you can find out more about what’s on her sewing table at the mo!
  • Find the pattern and instructions for her latest Wild Flowers block in issue 23
  • Missed some of Jo’s earlier blocks? Complete your collection with our digital back issues – Jo’s first block appears in issue 15, which is available through our free apps.
  • Download our issue 23 free quilters templates to get the FPP templates for this month’s Wild Flowers block (pictured at the top of this post)