I found a new source of interesting fabrics online: www.fabric.com. They sell a wide range of different fabric, including quilting cotton.
It's a bit of a gamble to buy quilt fabric online, you're at a disadvantage without being able to touch the fabric and examine it up close. But If you stick with known manufacturers/name brands, it should be OK. The costs, after the exchange rate between the US and Australia, plus postage come out to slightly below what I'd pay (retail prices) at shops here.
So I found a few interesting panels with designs that I haven't seen in shops here. This quilt is one of those. The center panel has 6 bluebirds surrounded by Black-Eyed Susans. I bought the panel and the flower print in the border online, then supplemented with solid homespun from my stash (the solid brown and solid yellow borders).
|(click the picture above to see a larger image)|
I chose yellow thread because I was certain it would be the least obtrusive. That was true mostly, but the quilting was done using my "Simply Stipple" groovy board, and I ran into trouble when I stitched over the birds - really not the effect I was wanting.
So I picked out the stitches on the body of this first bird, then outlined the birds before going around them with the stippling. It was a bit fiddly, but worked out OK.
Below you can see the effect - looks MUCH better than having stitches over the bird.