Pennies, Memory-Sparked Singing and a Brave Girl Project

What do you think of when you hear the word ‘Tuppence?’ While I’m not entirely sure if it’s a word that’s still used in present day England, tuppence is an old word that means two pence or, in American terms, two pennies. That said, Tuppence, for me, has a magical meaning too.

Pennies aside, one of my favorite things to get in the mail since opening our fabric shop more than two years ago now is – you guessed it: Fabric catalogs. Moda’s is called Piece and it generally arrives four or five times a year.  I get a digital version too, but there’s something about the real one I love; turning the pages, envisioning the fabrics as I go.  I don’t always fall in love immediately with every collection we preorder for our shop, because it’s not always just about me loving it. It’s about you loving it, isn’t it?

But then Tuppence.

Tuppence In the Catalog
Issue #25 of the Moda Piece catalog.

And then Quilt Market St Louis.

Tuppence Booth
I have to be honest and say that somehow I must not have gotten a pic of the Tuppence booth while at Quilt Market St. Louis last Spring. Thank goodness for Shannon Gillman Orr – who posted lots online of her lovely booth.


Shannon Gillman Orr Tuppence Booth
Shannon herself amongst her beautiful Tuppence collection of fabrics and wonderments.

A lovely girl, I thought when I met her; friendly and bright. Given the name Tuppence for her collection, I think part of me half expected there to be an umbrella somewhere in her booth, with a parrot that talks for a handle. Or maybe a carpet bag with treasures in it that, when removed from said bag, could not possibly have fit inside it, given their size, once revealed. A long, yellow tape measure maybe, with the words, ‘Practically Perfect in Every Way’ printed somewhere on it.

Despite the absence of those things and almost before I could stop myself, I asked anyway:

“Tuppence? As in, Feed the birds…Tuppence…?”

I didn’t realize until after the words had already blurted from my mouth that I was actually a little afraid I might be off again (in the throes of my dumb imagination), floating with my umbrella, carpet bag in hand, in thinking my association of Tuppence is everyone’s association of Tuppence. But then she smiled.

“YES,” she said. “Yes! THAT Tuppence. You got it!” 

Then, from the top basket there to her right, Shannon pulled out a framed piece of glass art with a silhouette image similar to this one:

Mary P Silouette

…and you see, it’s Mary Poppins and I hadn’t been floating at all! The word Tuppence was indeed, for someone else too, not just about pennies. And so my dumb imagination smiled and together we sang quietly (for the whole rest of the day at Quilt Market and beyond), ‘Feed the birds, Tuppence a bag. Tuppence, tuppence, tuppence a bag…’

The Bird Woman on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral, London, from the Disney film, Mary Poppins.


…and we kept singing all the while as we waited for Tuppence to arrive in our shop. Fortunately we got our hands on a sample fat quarter bundle at Market, so we’d have something to do with our hands while we sang, and waited.


We mustered up our brave and designed some too; and then we started cutting…


…and sewing…


…and even though there was soooo much singing about birds and tuppence to feed them, there also started to grow a very tiny chim, chiminey song too, because when your brave girl quilt designing involves a variation of a London Roads block, you can’t help but think about…’from the rooftops of London, cheree, chim, charoooooo.’

Chim Chim Chiree Quilt Finished_with Logo
Though I’m still working on the actual printable pattern to share, my imagination and I are so excited to share this – my very first official pattern, Chim Chim Cheree, joyfully created with Tuppence fabrics, including the Bella Solids that coordinate.
Even little Charlotte requested new ears with her favorite Tuppence fabric, Cordelia grey.

I’m eager to keep chugging away at pattern design (which is a WHOLE lot more involved that expected, folks!), but finally this week, Tuppence and the coordinating Bella Solids are available in the Woods!

Tuppence by Shannon Gillman Orr for Moda Fabrics.

Also available – Shannon’s thoughtful book, because for some reason, in our world…

Choose Joy, by Shannon Gillman Orr of Eva Blake’s Makery & Emporium.

…it just makes sense.

With that – I wish you happy quilting, some brave girl-style creating and maybe, if my imagination and I are reeeeally lucky, some stuck-in-your-head happy singing too (in the event you feel like getting a little ‘floaty’ lost for another sec or two). Cheers!

Bert chalk drawing




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