Tuesday Treat: Not thread, or patchwork, but still a feast of textiles for the eyes

I worked on the hand embroidery on my “Welcome”  quilt at my patchwork friendship meeting last weekend.

I finished the embroidery on my "Welcome" quilt.  Now I have to decide on the quilting thread colour.

While we talked I finished the embroidery on my “Welcome” quilt. Now I have to decide on the quilting thread colour.

Conversation always roves across numerous topics when we meet, including descriptions of the exhibitions that we have each seen since last time we met.

A couple of friends had been to see the costumes made for the Miss Fisher Murder Mystery series, another had been to see the Faith Fusion Fashions exhibition & I had loved the Art Deco fashions that were part of the Edward Steichen’s photography exhibition.

See the exhibition of the fashions of Phryne Fisher and her cohorts at Ripponlea

There is a veritable feast of textile fashion exhibitions happening in Melbourne, and around Victoria, this spring and summer  so I thought that it was worth sharing some information here.

Ripponlea has been hosting an exhibition of costumes designed for The Miss Fisher Murder Mystery TV series.  If, like me, you have enjoyed the series, and particularly the 1920’s fashions, there is still time to see some of the clothes worn by Phryne, and to get an insight into the designer’s workroom.  The Exhibition has been extended until 1 December 2013

The National Gallery of  Victoria has an exhibition of Edward Steichen’s photography,  accompanied by an exhibition of beautiful art deco clothing.  A brief summary taken from  the gallery notes describes the exhibition thus:

Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion comprises over 200 photographs and more than 30 garments. This stunning exhibition captures the sophistication of the modern woman and the elegance of high-end fashion from this golden age of fashion and photography.

From 1923 until 1938, Steichen was chief photographer for fashion’s most influential and glamorous magazines, Vanity Fair and Vogue. During this time Steichen created images that were imaginative documents of glamour, talent, and style. His work revolutionised fashion photography, and influenced generations of subsequent photographers.

The Edward Steichen & Art Deco Fashion Exhibition runs from 18 OCT 2013 – 02 MAR 2014

Exhibitions held at the  Immigration Museum in Melbourne always have a core message about how migrants have arrived and settled into life in Australia.


The gallery notes for one of the current exhibitions, Faith-Fashion-Fusion, describes it  as follows:

Faith, fashion, fusion explores an emerging modest fashion market and the work of a new generation of fashion designers, retailers and bloggers offering stylish clothing and fashion advice to Muslim women.

Faith-Fashion-Fusion is showing until 9 June 2014.

The Bendigo Art Gallery , known for its outstanding fashion exhibitions, is showing a selection of some of the world’s most influential designers from the past 40 years  in the Modern Love  exhibition.

The Bendigo Art Gallery is the exclusive venue for this exhibition in Australia, the first travelling exhibition of its kind from the FIDM Museum, LA.

Modern Love is showing until 2 February 2014

And it is not only womens’ fashions that are being exhibited this summer.  The Melbourne Museum is featuring Designing 007: Fifty Years of Bond Style this summer.  The exhibition is showing from 1 Nov 2013 – 23 Feb 2014

Coming soon:

The Arts Centre has a new free exhibition,  All That Glitters, opening in November,  showcasing some of the gorgeous stage costumes from their Performing Arts Collection.  The highlights of the exhibition will be costumes worn by Dame Edna Everage, Kylie Minogue and Dame Nellie Melba.

The exhibition will  run from November 16th until to 23rd of February 2014.

More Reading:

About the Edward Steichen exhibition:

Drama of Exile

The Art Review

About “All that Glitters”:

  Arts Centre publicity office

Weekend Notes

Quilts of Valour

This year I have been involved in making a number of quilts to donate to various areas of need.  In June,  I wrote about Charity Quilts and  two quilts I made early in 2013. http://www.alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/06/15/charity-quilts/

Recently, one of the friendship groups of which I am a member, decided to make a quilt to donate to the Quilts of Valour (Australia) programme. We chose the Carpenter’s Wheel design, with individual blocks measuring 18 inches.  Each member of the group would make a block and we would then join them together.  Each member would use her own fabrics, but choose a warm beige as the main background colour.

Quilts of valour 002

Gathering supplies for my block.

I decided to hand piece my block.  For this task, Aurufil Cotton Mako’ 40 was ideal.

Quilts of valour 004

Using a template to mark sewing lines on each piece.

Quilts of valour 006

My completed Carpenter’s Wheel block.

When my friendship group met this week, several of the blocks were finished.

Quilts of valour 007

Six of the nine required blocks are finished.

The Quilts of Valour Foundation http://www.qovf.org was originally started by in the USA in 2003 by a mother, who, on her son’s return from deployment in Iraq, saw the need to support soldiers effected by war.  In 2012, Victorian resident, Helen, decided to establish an Australian organisation based on this foundation.  At present, Quilts of Valour operates in Victoria and Queensland, but the intention is for this to be a nation-wide activity, with committee representatives in every state.

Quilts of Valour Australia’s mission is to present quilts to wounded service members of the Australian Defence Force in recognition of their sacrifice for Australia whilst deployed on combat operations.  The recognition will also be extended to the families of soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice. Since Australian deployment in Afghanistan in 2002, 260 soldiers have been injured and 40 have lost their lives. To read more about the Australian QOV organisation go to http://www.quiltsofvalour.com.au/
Perhaps you too would like to become involved in this very worthy project.

Always Quilting answers your questions about: Quilt Backings

At Always Quilting, along with always talking about Aurifil thread we also quilt for other people …. you know ….  we have a machine quilting service where we turn other people’s patchwork tops into finished quilts. Gammill ……… and sometimes we even find time to turn our own patchwork tops into finished quilts.

We occasionally finish our own quilts

We occasionally finish our own quilts

This means that we have seen a lot of quilt tops and their backings over the years! When talking about quilting, a frequently asked question after, how big should the quilt backing be, is what to do when the fabric chosen for the quilt backing is a smidge too small. Now, I know that there are plenty of specialist wide backing fabrics available today, in fact we have some great backing fabrics in stock in the shop.

Some of the backing fabrics in the shop

Some of the backing fabrics in the shop

However, sometimes the perfect fabric for the back of the quilt is a standard width that will need to be pieced together to make it big enough for the quilt. When this happens, ideally you would buy 2 widths of fabric and join them to suit the size of the quilt. Visit Always Machine Quilting for clear instructions showing how to join fabric to make a quilt backing. But when the last piece of that “perfect” fabric is just a smidge too small it is time to get creative…… Do NOT add borders to the outer edges of the backing fabric,  instead

  • Do cut the fabric to add a second fabric in the middle of the fabric
  • Do make that cut off centre
  • Do add in a wildly different fabric
  • Do cut in both directions if necessary
  • Do cut on the diagonal to add in the new fabric to be even more creative
  • Do use up spare blocks to make up the measurement
Gail added a diagonal panel to increase the length & the width of the backing fabric.

Gail added a diagonal panel to increase the length & the width of the backing for her quilt.

The aim is to make an “ART BACK”, a backing where you deliberately set out to make something interesting,  not one where it was obvious that you ran out of fabric and had to use another fabric to extend the backing. Get instructions for making an Art Backing for your next quilt or see more examples of Art Backs here If you have been following our “Welcome Quilt”  block of the month this year you will have an opportunity to make a small Art Backing for yourself.  Read the instructions judysew4th gave last month for piecing the backing for the Welcome Quilt.

The backing for my Welcome quilt is pieced with the left over background fabric and charm squares

The backing for my Welcome Quilt is pieced with the left over background fabric and charm squares

The idea is to use up the remaining pieces of the half metre solid fabric and charm squares to make the backing. The instructions for making your own Welcome Quilt are still available for Free download.

Happy Birthday and other surprises

I thought you may be interested to see some new sewing I have done.  Well,  it isn’t that exciting – but it is supposed to be a secret – so that means I can only offer a glimpse of the yet to be completed project.  Any guesses???!

Secret Sewing

The staff at Always Quilting are getting ready for the wholesale quilt market held in Melbourne at the end of November.  Here we have a booth showing all the wonderful Aurifil threads, Kit Art boxes and other thread treasures.   My sewing is part of a ‘display’ we are creating – and I am hoping all the parts go together well.  I will reveal the actual creation once the market is over (make mental note to self to do this in blog late November).

Happy Birthday

The other exciting event is Aurifil celebrating their 30th birthday.   I remember where I celebrated mine – standing on the Artic Circle in Norway.  Now that is a place and date (and year) I can’t forget.

Birthdays are always fun, and if you want to celebrate Aurifil’s 30th with us at Always Quilting, visit our website and subscribe to our retail newsletter.   I won’t say anymore than that – but I am sure you will be delighted with our ‘present to you’.  And don’t be worried about being inundated with our newsletters, as we are soooo busy in the shop with our wonderful customers, we don’t get much time to write newsletters that often!!!

Wednesday Wonder: Feathered Rose hand quilting

I love to see photos of the work that people have completed with Aurifil thread so I was delighted to receive these photos  from Judy.

Judy leckie's Feathered Rose quilting underway

Judy Leckie’s Feathered Rose quilting underway

It doesn’t seem that long ago that Judy came into the shop to pick out the Cotton Mako’ 28 threads for this quilting, and now it is finished.

The finished quilt

The finished quilt

We had fun picking the two colours, one just a little deeper than the other, to quilt the feathers.

Try choosing a shade up & down of the one colour to add depth & variety to hand quilting

Try choosing a shade up & down of the one colour to add depth & variety to hand quilting

Judy wanted to create some extra depth and interest by playing with colour on the feathers, and doesn’t the use of the soft shading of one colour do just that.


This close up show the great use of colour in the quilting

Thank you, Judy,  for sharing your beautiful hand quilting with us.

You can see more of Judy’s award winning work here.

We would love to share more stories like this so send us some photos, and a background story, if you have a project made with Aurifil threads that you would like to see featured in a Wednesday Wonder post.

See Songbirds a previous Wednesday Wonder

A Visit with Family and Friends (and Fabric)

After several years in Australia, I finally had the opportunity to visit my family and friends in America.

I am always amazed at the changes that occur in places and people. I expect things to be just as I left them…

For the first time in my life, I had to get a rental car ALL BY MYSELF.  That probably doesn’t sound like a big deal to someone who travels all the time, but for me, it was new territory.

One of the things that made it easier was the destination. I was going to ‘have to’ pass through Paducah, Kentucky on the 1000mile drive to see my dear mother.

Only 71 Miles to go

Only 71 Miles to go

Not the best picture in the world…I was driving with my camera on the steering wheel….notice the empty highway…

I had never been to Paducah and I was determined to go to Hancock’s and the National Quilt Museum.

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

My heart was pounding as I parked the car

After a tiny amount of retail therapy…..

I don't really need anything...yeah, right...

I don’t really need anything…yeah, right…

Turn to the left....

Turn to the left….

Turn to the right....

Turn to the right….

I get back on the road heading further south.

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

This rocket greets everyone entering the State of Alabama

A joyful time was spent with my dear mother who has allowed me to borrow a quilt I had made for her from the Fall/Winter 1986 issue of Quiltmaker Magazine. It is hand pieced, hand appliquéd and hand quilted.  The label on the back has the’ finish’ date of 1991!

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

The Fall/Winter Quiltmaker Magazine

Mother said it was too good to use so it still looks like new.

My version of the cover quilt

My version of the cover quilt

A view of the hand quilting from the back

A view of the hand quilting from the back

I left her with several quilts she has promised to ‘use’.

After all that driving I was ready for the long flight back to my Aussie friends and family.

A sight for sore eyes

A sight for sore eyes

Now that I am back in Australia, I am determined to be a tourist more often. We never think to be tourists where we live.  I would love some suggestions of destinations….  (Quilt related, please).

A Modern Welcome BOM-Creating the Backing Fabric

 I hope your Modern Welcome BOM quilt top is nearing completion.

Many quilts have a whole piece of fabric for the backs of their quilts.  Our Modern Welcome quilt has a pieced back.

If you remember at the start of our BOM, the entire project only needed 1/2 metre of background fabric and a charm pack of 5″ blocks.

My Charm Pack by Malka Dubrawsky A STITCH IN COLOR

My Charm Pack by Malka Dubrawsky

Gather any charm squares and pieces set aside from the construction of your pieced blocks.

Left over blocks and fabric pieces

Left over blocks and fabric pieces

This month you will be constructing the backing for your quilt.

Using your quilt top’s measurements as your guide,

sew pieces together into a rectangular shape at least 2 1/2″ larger than the quilt top on each side.

I use Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt thread for my machine piecing.

Cotton Mako' 40 is the best choice for piecing patchwork blocks

Cotton Mako’ 40 is the best choice for piecing patchwork blocks

Create an arrangement that pleases you.

Left over pieces make a Modern Backing Fabric

Left over pieces make a Modern Backing Fabric

Next month….the quilting begins.

Tuesday Treats: Stitching is the same the world over

I really enjoyed my whirlwind holiday break to Japan last month.

This temple is in Nara-koen

This temple is in Nara-koen

If you are a regular reader you may have noticed that myescape the office breaks all have one thing in common. ……  I try to go somewhere out of reach of the telephone and computer,

While an international trip doesn’t necessarily meet this criteria, it was easy to get caught up in the travel and ignore the computer for 10 days.

Unlike my friend’s trips to Japan, our trip did not have a textile purpose ….. we were with a group of whisky lovers, touring distilleries.

Whisky tasting can be just as structured as a wine tasting.

Whisky tasting can be just as structured as a wine tasting.

But I did manage the occasional textile “fix”.

This interesting sewing box was on display in the workroom of one of the exhibition homes in the Hida folk village.

This interesting sewing box was on display in the workroom of one of the exhibition homes in the Hida folk village.

I found  some great examples of sewing tools when we visited the Hida Folk Village in Takayama.

The translation described this as a sewing textbook but it looked more like a pattern book.

The translation described this as a sewing textbook but it looked more like a pattern book.

It was also here that I saw my first live koi.

They really did look like the sewing/quilting  designs that I had seen on the “Colour me Quilty” blog.

Such great lips here

Such great lips here

I didn’t find a quilt exhibition on our travels, but I did see some beautiful embroidery on display in the hotel in Tokyo when I went to breakfast one morning.


The detail was amazing


It is interesting to see that embroidery stitches, and techniques, are very similar regardless of where you are in the world.

Note the addition of the framing fabric to extend the embroidery so that it could fit evenly into the frame.

Note the addition of the framing fabric to extend the embroidery so that it could fit evenly into the frame.

It was a treat to see these embroidery pieces being used as centre pieces for the breakfast buffet.


And of course, as I hadn’t expected to see a quilt exhibition on this trip, I was constantly on the look out for possible patchwork designs.


I am tempted to turn this photo into a thread painted applique.