Monday, 26 January 2015

.: I Am, You Are, We are Aus-tra-lian quil-ters :.

The fabulous Angie from GnomeAngel has organised a little blog-hop in honour of Australia Day - today!

Angie emailed a bunch of quilty, crafty bloggers a couple of weeks ago, inviting us to share what it means to be an Australian quilter.  To celebrate, I've sewn up a half-size block of my friend Peta's brand new Australia! pattern.  Peta has recently launched her new pattern company - She Quilts A Lot - and the full-size Australia! quilt pattern will appear in the next issue of Fat Quarterly.  It's a gorgeous quilt, designed and pieced by Peta and quilted by the wonderful Jane.  The panel I've made will soon be sewn into a tote to take to QuiltCon! - clearly two weeks notice during the school holidays wasn't enough for me to actually finish the Australia! tote bag ...

[did you notice all the States are different colours?! - and I put an Australia right where Canberra goes-ish?!}
So what does it mean to be a quilter in Australia? - or even a keen sewist + fabric-lover in Australia?  Here are a few things that come to mind:

** being geographically isolated is something we don't really think about much (unless you're about to hop on a plane to fly further overseas than New Zealand ...).  I don't think Australian quilters have a unique aesthetic -  you can hardly look at a quilt or a block and snap your fingers and say "Australian!" - though you definitely can recognise particular quilters' work without knowing it's theirs.  We DO have amazing creative talent over here and a kind of bold desire to share that with the world.  We love colour, design, pattern, and are not afraid to mix them up and create something awesome.  Let's make a little noise and share that talent with the world!

** we are part of the quilting tradition - we sew, we quilt, we gather in groups to share ideas and things we've made - just like quilters all over the world.

** we do have to travel far if we want to to meet and engage with the international quilting community - but we aren't afraid to travel, and nowhere in the world is too far.  As one example, there are around 25 Australian girls (and at least 4 New Zealanders!) going to QuiltCon in Austin, Texas next month - for most if not all of us, that's two or three planes, a taxi, a bus, a lot of hours and a tonne of excitement.  I think Jess will be travelling the furthest in the world to QuiltCon, all the way from Hobart! - so yes, Australian Quilter, Will Travel.

** we have embraced social media like a limpet on a rock (I tried so hard to think of a good embrace-metaphor, and even googled 'famous embraces' and 'famous hugs' and just wasn't loving what I was seeing, so we are stuck with limpet) - instagram, Facebook quilting groups, Twitter, Flickr and blogs help us to connect with our quilting people, both here and overseas.  I especially love instagram, because it's easy and instant, and just such a fun, supportive place to be.  I'm pretty late to the Facebook party, but am growing to really like being there, especially in the various quilty-groups I'm in - and our Aussies in Austin Facebook page, for all the girls heading to QuiltCon? - so fun, helpful, idea-filled and excitement-inducing.  Just a great place to be.

** we are experts at online stalking of fabric shops, we watch the Australian dollar with rabid interest and our knowledge of international postage rates is unsurpassed.  Our geographic far-away-ness means we don't often get to see new fabric lines in person at our LQS until months after it's been released - and we want it NOW!  We can fill our cart while calculating the check out price in AUD not USD, and can exactly-fill a USPS envelope so that not an inch is wasted.  We've got mad skillz.

** we love our LQS's and though we can't always buy the latest ranges there, we are loyal and buy every other possible fabric, notion, thread and batting we can from there.

** it's hot hot HOT when we are sewing for Christmas pressies - WAY too hot to be sewing a single thing, let alone working your way through your most ambitious Sewing To-Do list for the entire year.  But we do it anyway, because us Australian quilters are made of tough stuff (or we are a little mad).  In December, our instagram streams are filled with gorgeous northern-hemisphere pics of snow, fireplaces, cosy lounge rooms with seasonal, homemade decorations, and festive tables brimming with delicious hot food.  But over here?  We're eating outside around the BBQ, with paper serviettes, slapping at mosquitoes and there's not a festive table-runner in sight.  Or maybe that's just me ... 

** which brings me to the end for now.  There are many, many more things that make an Australian quilter an Australian quilter - but each person is different and has their own set of sewing-circumstances.  Go check out what the other quilty-bloggers have said it means to them - I can't wait to click through and read their posts too:

** Angie from GnomeAngel
** Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts
** Gemma from Pretty Bobbins
** Melissa from Ms Midge
** Jane, Kristy and Lara from Make Modern
** Raylee from Sunflower Quilting

It's like the Seekers' song says, we are one, but we are many - each person is different, has their own aesthetic and creates something unique to them.  

Let me leave you with another song that I am loving at the moment, and seems very appropriate to share on Australia Day - there's not a thing about quilting in the lyrics, not surprisingly - but here's Straya - you're welcome:

Did you watch it?!  You think you got it, oh you think you got it, but have you got a rock where there is nothing at aaall ...  What a lyric, oh so good.  Happy Australia Day to you, and happy last day of the holidays to everyone whose children go back to school tomorrow - I'm a fan of the endless school holiday, and would much rather have them home!   xoxo cat


  1. Nice post! Although I do think Australian quilters do have a unique aesthetic! Not in the modern quilt movement, but definitely in the art and contemporary fields. I'm thinking particularly if Gloria Loughman, Kay. Haerland, Beth and Trevor Reid, Beth Miller. And in the traditional field, Merrilyn Pearce who does those wonderful Margaret Preston inspired quilts. In the contemporary arena, Brenda Gael Smith did a series of Australian bird quilts using the colours but not the shapes if you know what I mean.

    Have a lovely public holiday, and have fun at Quiltcon! xx

  2. Also I couldn't see the video! Granted I'm on my iPhone and don't have my glasses on at the moment (hence if there were multiple typing errors in my last comment). My favourite Aussie song is Sounds of then by gangajang. My old choir once had to sing We are Australian at a mass choir thing, but because we were a bunch of feminist socialist environmentalist unionists (we really were) we stood at the back of the group of 200 and refused to sing it because we found the words so objectionable. I should go back and find out what those words were as I just can't remember. It was funny at the time though. :) ;)

  3. Haha love the limpet analogy! Perfect! Great post Cat! Love it - and loving your gorgeous Australia!

  4. Great post! Love the postage expertise! lol

  5. lovely post really enjoyed loved the video too well done add happy STRAYA DAY

  6. awesome Cat !! loved the video and you are spot on wtih the online shops !! pity the Aussie dollar isn't doing well for your trip - fingers crossed for a big drop in the next two weeks !

  7. Vid didn't show for me but I know the one you mean! I'm with you on how being an Australian adds some difficulty to quilting - but nothing we can't surmount, right? We're used to being on the edge of nowhere!
    Love your version of Peta's fabulous map'o Oz and I hope you have a fantastic time at QuiltCon x x

  8. Lovely post, and a lot of that can be applied to us kiwi girls too. Happy Australia Day.

  9. Oh the Aussie project is an eye catcher, loads of colour and subtle fussy cutting :) Glad you had a great weekend, I truly think a mandatory long weekend monthly should be the norm hahahahaah :)


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