Quilting on the Road

So you’ve decided to pack it all in and take off. Maybe for a year, maybe longer. The house is sold, the kids are settled, the dog’s going to be looked after and the van is packed. Now what are you going to take with you for quilting supplies? This was the question faced by one of the Apatcheez recently when Robyn did just that.  She and Brucie have said farewell to the ordinary life and are off travelling around Australia. And because she’s a caring, sharing kind of gal we know exactly what she took with her. I’ll leave it in her own words –

“Tried to be conscious of space. The plastic box I bought from a hardware store and it fits almost everything including my cutter.

Robyns pack 3

My handy cotton reel holder fits in my cotton box.

Robyns pack 4
Travel iron is great for the odd wrinkle on my clothes when requiring not to look like a camper (the occasional  dinner out)and my hexies and of course the LED light for embroidery.

Robyns pack 1
Yes you do need electricity for the iron but Brucie has an inverter that creates 240 v from the battery.”

Robyns pack 2

Robyn’s been thrilling those of us who have Facebook with regular photographs of her and Brucie’s travels. This is the sort of thing we see –

Robyns my small world sky

Jealous? So what would you take with you?

Those of us left behind have been consoling ourselves with finishing some UFO’s. Here’s what the Apatcheez have been up to –

Julia finished her bag –


And Joananne hers’ –


And Estelle brought some beautiful vintage pieces of embroidery in for us to admire –


I have been wandering the land, not quite as dramatically as Robyn, but nevertheless I have been away from my sewing for some time now. I’m hoping that will all change from next week. You do pine for the fiords as-it-were when you’re away and you see quilting everywhere – like in the teacher’s chair at the kindy open day last week –


Luvvy and I had a taste of winter when we travelled to Coffs Harbour for my brother’s wedding. The wedding was at the very beautiful Orara Valley Estate and was a very intimate affair. It had a country theme – the groom wore his RM Williams and bride cowboy boots with roses. We worked together to decorate the wedding space and for those who’ve asked here are some pictures from that day –







Maybe things will get back to normal now after all the weddings and travelling. Then again, define normal? Until next time happy quilting


Four cities and a wedding in China

Strange place China. One minute you’re revolted by some of the customs – like  the excess of phlegm its inhabitants seem to be able to produce (and the public spitting IS quite gross) or the inclination to eat….anything!. The next minute you’re absolutely charmed by the abundance of roses cultivated on the median strips and along the highways into town. And then you’re overwhelmed by the extent of the development of the cities.

A couple of weeks ago we flew into Guangzhou – the city that used to be called Canton – third largest of the Chinese cities with a population of around 13 million (yes that’s right 13 million!). As the plane descended to land, the sun set over the Pearl river illuminating, not a frontier town but the metropolis that is the portal to mainland China.


Reminiscent of Hong Kong with humidity and perpetual activity, this port city is sprawling and very busy.


Naturally we found a quieter area to walk through and found ourselves on Shamian Island, a sandbank island across a canal from the city.


Shamian Island is little different from its time as a foreign concession in the 19th century and that legacy reveals a charming leafy area, mostly pedestrian, filled with grand houses where European merchants once facilitated the trade for silk, porcelain and lacquerware. When the British and French took over they planted trees that now overhang the streets and the whole place is like an ornate garden. Throughout the area the streets are sprinkled with  the bronze statues depicting life in the area past and present. This one reminded me of Apatchy –


And this one depicts the development of the Chinese woman – from the woman of the past wearing the cheongsam to the modern woman in shorts with a phone to her ear.


We shared the area with bridal photographers and other tourists as well as some locals including this lady practising tai chi in the park – complete with sword! I might take this up in my later years – I wonder what Brisbane City Council would have to say about that?

We could see the dragon boats on the Pearl River from our hotel room window and the strong rhythm of the drums and gongs as the crews practised for the Dragon Boat Festival added to the exotic atmosphere of this city.

Two days later we were in Wuhan, further north than Guangzhou, and a not inconsiderable city that nine or so million people call home. It was here that we attended a family wedding. Luvvy’s son married a local girl, both of them now living in Sydney, but who travelled back to her parents’ country for the nuptials. And what a wedding it was – imagine a talent show crossed with a game show and you get a bit of an idea. The MC, whose banter was not translated into English, kept the crowd enthused and cheering throughout the event. The vows were made in English (him) and Chinese (her) and the food served could only be described as a feast. A wonderful day – I won’t impose too many photos on you but here are a couple –


bubbles dinner rachel

After the wedding the bride’s family took us sightseeing around Wuhan – what a beautiful city it is.



We farewelled our new Chinese family with promises to catch up again soon and flew to Beijing. After relaxed Wuhan the capital seemed somewhat tense with soldiers and police everywhere, although, as one local said “It’s the capital so it has to be safe”. Strangely it seemed less so with the abundance of security and we fancied everyone we met were spies or secret service agents.


We had only a short time in Beijing – enough to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City –





and then an hour’s drive to the Great Wall – which we did climb. What a monster this is – a monument to the sheer ingenuity, accomplishment and bastardry of man in equal measure. Taking hundreds of years to build, the bodies of those unfortunate enough to be conscripted to work on the wall and perish in the undertaking were buried within it – making it the longest wall in the world and also the longest cemetery.



Back in the city we walked through the lanes to the Old town and through the silk shops – laden with their bolts of colourful fabric that, alas, was very expensive. We came across a night market with some local delicacies –


Seahorse anyone? What about a scorpion kebab for supper?

The reputation of the Chinese gardener is well-established and we were not disappointed at the skill of the locals in this regards






The last stop on our short journey was Shanghai – apparently the most populous city in the world. A walk along the Bund highlights the difference between the old China and the modern with the historical buildings on on side facing the modern skyscrapers on the other side of the river.



Again we found quieter areas to walk and marvel at the local architecture, open spaces and scenes we found interesting. Fu Xing park and the French concession area is in stark contrast to the noise and busy streets. Again we saw older residents practise tai chi while younger ones practised ballroom dancing to Chinese melodies.





Apart from the small oases of tranquility we found, the development in these cities was overwhelming. I have never seen so many skyscrapers and all the while cranes everywhere building more. Alas we live in a homogenised world and many of the central areas of the cities looked the same as every other city. The shops in the main thoroughfare resembled those elsewhere – Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Salvatore Ferragama – you get the idea.



This means that much that is valued is also very expensive so there were only minimal purchases of silk and other ‘souvenirs’. We did find masses of some items – from teapots to jade bangles –



And we did find beautiful handcrafts at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum and at the Old Town –





And we saw the incongruities of modern life – like the devout praying at a temple while a priest checks his text messages –


Away from the main streets just around the corner though you can glimpse the real China – and from what we saw it is boundless.

Speaking of impressive the Apatcheez have not been idle while I’ve been wandering through the back lanes of Shanghai. Congratulations to those who took out prizes at the recent Brookfield Show – Chris for her winning tea cosies – a Best Use of Colour and Most Unusual Tea Cosy award –

Chris teacosies

and Lesa – a highly commended for one quilt and 2nd prize for another –

Lesas house quilt actual size

And there were other finishes too –

Joan’s peg bag –

Mums peg bag

Suzanne’s kanzashi flower wedding cake that I should have shown you in a earlier post –

Suzannes Kanzashi cake

Robyne’s hexagonal beauties –


June’s bag – one for herself this time – and another – the first project made with the new fabric Tokaido –



Pat’s eye-spy quilt for a lucky grand-daughter –


Now Margaret didn’t disappoint either. Here’s a great Valentino Rossi-inspired quilt for a very lucky man –


And then this very interesting coldie/picnic bag that starts out like a quilt with two zips –


and ends up like a very useful coldie bag –


So it’s certainly been a busy month – and more to come!


Until then happy quilting



Goodbye April

Another month gone and you haven’t seen what the clever Apatcheez have been up to for a while now. So here’s what they’ve been doing….


Faith finished this wonderful quilt – the flowers are entirely made from the fabric she won in the Apatchy Christmas lucky door prize – thanks XLN Fabrics! And thanks Faith for a wonderful job.


Another surprise was Julia’s bespoke ‘beaded’ necklace – what a wonderful gift!


Suzanne may have a Kanzashi-related problem – but we’re pleased because we get to see creations like this


Sharyn spends her free time creating these little beauties – we especially like the fancy-pants signature.


Dee is off travelling the world – and a very lucky girl on the other side of the world will be the recipient of this Smee designs stitchery/quilt combo


And Bev isn’t one to shirk gift-giving either – here’s her very modern take on a baby quilt


While we’re on the subject of gifts – I think Faith’s latest creation might be headed for someone else too – sorry about the deck lighting in this shot – not the best background.


Angie finished her bag from our class a couple of weeks ago and she look very pleased with it – as she should!


And Elaine finished her version – with her fancy embroidered bee!


And Joananne finished hers – a chic navy blue version


Jan was busy with the Tilda block of the month but still managed to finish this pretty Tilda Club stitched bag.


Oh and while she was at it also finished this bag – made from hexies sewn from her leftover Fiesta project – see what you can do with scraps.


Joan was the first to complete the project-of-the-month with this bright mesh bag made with Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric – way to go Joan!


Chris took a break from quilting to create one of her amazing tea cosies


Debbie finished one of her projects (!!) this lovely hexie purse


Carol came to visit us a couple of times and impressed us with these picnic placemats – complete with cutlery (another project made from small pieces of fabric – I won’t say scraps because they look too good to be described like that)


The youngest Apatchee, Baileigh finished this lunch bag for a school project – well done Baileigh!


Bev finished her February project-of-the-month with Melba magpie fabrics – but we forgot to take a photo – here she is now

Janes bag side 1 Janes bag side 2

Jane sent me a photo of her finished bag


And finally, Joananne sent me a photo of another finished project – a very clever way of using bunting and soft toy fabric to make a child’s quilt – and the back of the quilt has the back of the owl – very clever too.

There’s lots more of course as well as AQC but that’s for another day.

Until then happy quilting




Boonah Show wrap up

Thanks to everyone who came to Boonah to say hello at the quilt show on the weekend. Jan and I had a great time and were really inspired with many of the quilts in the show. Of course I did take a photo or two so prepare to be quilt-bombed!!



Wonderful aren’t they? Lots of colour this year which seems to be the trend in the quilting world.

And in the Apatcheez world there was also colour and inspiration over he past couple of weeks –

Margaret made these placemats and tablerunner


And while she was on a roll these evolved from the Australian floral stacks (that were also a big hit at Boonah)


Suzanne finished her Sashiko cushion-


Chris finished another small quilt with her wonderful free motion quilting-


Dee finished one the “boy version” of her Aussie stitchery quilt –


And Pat really got stuck into the February project-of-the-month and managed to finish four aprons! Don’t the vibrant colours of the Kaffe Fasset Collective fabric pop?


I wonder what we’ll see this week to impress? Until next time….happy quilting


What’s on your design wall?

After weekends filled with many distractions I did find a few hours to work on my next major project. This one is a tribute to a great artist and also a challenge. Personally I have tried life-like faces (some worked better than others but I learned about value and the importance of it in design)

Family Portrait for my sister's 50th

Family Portrait for my sister’s 50th

and then went on to see if I could produce recognisable faces that were quite small (again some worked some didn’t)


So now I want to make a face with really bright fabrics (think Kaffe Fassett Collective) that have lots of patterns – not normally what you would associate with face-making materials. Anyway here’s where we are – there’s no mouth or hair and the eyes are yet to be done and I’ll probably change quite a few things – but I can see him coming to life:


The Apatcheez have been busy too but unlike me they have actually finished projects – here are some of them:


I love this piece and OK well I did help my sister finish this one so I am biased but I think she did a brilliant job of her first art quilt!


Sharyn’s been very busy finishing the tablerunner and placemat set above as well as the quilt below – she is a machine!!


And many people have been working on the January apron project. Many have used the Melba fabrics or perhaps the Ella Basics range. Many used the turquoise or orange colours but Elaine wanted to be a little different and came up with this beauty from the greys of the range.


I neglected to show you some projects that I’d known about prior to last week so here they are now:


Suzanne made this zippered pouch – perfect for displaying her Geronimo jewellery.

lynettes quilt for a wedding pressie

Lynette made this beauty for a wedding present. I believe both Lynette and the bride cried when it was handed over – rightly so.

So that’s the week that was – what do you have on your design wall? I’d love to see.

Better get back to Bowie – I can hear him calling me

Until next time – happy quilting



5 fabric ranges you won’t want to miss

The Apatcheez were right back in the saddle when classes started last week. The postman has been busy over the holidays and there were several new fabric ranges to tempt them. The most popular was probably Melba –
Melba collage

Melba was designed by Emma Jean Jansen from Ella Blue and she used her memories of living in Melbourne when she was Textile Design Student, as the inspiration for her designs. The collection includes the iconic Melbourne tram on which she travelled daily, and fabrics listing Melbourne suburbs that she lived in and visited regularly. Old Public Transport Tickets and a fabulous Magpie print are included in the range giving it an overall very Melbourne feel. Beautifully designed Native Australian flora, Banksia and Gum nuts are also part of the fabric range. We used it to make the frilly apron above and it was very soft and easy to use.

Another range from the same stable is Ella Blue Basics. We have curated a small collection to start and had fun making the kangaroo. These go beautifully with the Melba range.

ella basics collage

Since it’s February and Valentine’s Day is close here is another love-ly range –

Lovebugs collage

Lovebugs is a Riley Blake Design fabric range and the ‘love’ text fabric would be great as a backing for that special quilt and we had fun making fabric envelopes out of the envelope fabric.

Another Riley Blake Designs range is Extravaganza.

extravaganza collage

This is another pretty range with greens, pinks and lilacs taking centre stage.

Finally, now that we have some cooler weather here in Brisbane after the high temperatures/high humidity of last week it’s a great time to sew – and why not make something for your newly revamped craft room? How about a mug rug or sewing machine organiser with Thimble Pleasures

thimble pleasures collage

or maybe you could use the free pattern here and make a whole quilt with this quirky fabric.

Of course the holidays meant that there were several projects finished and other progressed. Here are some of the Apatcheez’ work –

Janes dolly quilt

Jane finished her dolly quilt in December but I was walking Hadrian’s wall and missed it – maybe you did too.


Lynette surprised everyone by making this sewing basket. As she’s away for six months this will no doubt be useful – and beautiful.


Maureen finished this quilt and gave it to her granddaughter who has run away to the circus – not really but she was chosen to learn to be a member of Circus Oz – way to go! Hope we’ll be seeing her on the high wire soon.


Robyne wowed everyone with her magnificent rendition of this Kim Maclean design. Her use of colour is exquisite. And she did it again with this quilt called Mon Ami – another crowd favourite:-


Not content with those two masterpieces we saw another – made from French General fabrics and embellished with lace –


June has been busy over the holidays too –


This whimsical piece has a place in her craft room and this bespoke peg bag is almost too good to use –


Bev also finished a UFO that’s been hanging around for a while – and she did it beautifully – this is the Japanese log cabin quilt that Hiroe taught us –


The Wednesday ladies were not to be outdone and Margaret finished a couple of minor pieces – just kidding – there’s this eye spy quilt –


Oh and did I mention she finished Fiesta! Congratulations Margaret this is wonderful and the quilting is excellent – all her own work –


Not to be outdone Sharyn slipped in a few finished projects –


And finally Robyn showed us this piece which came together very quickly –


Ir was lovely to see all the ladies again and catch up on tales of holidays and other exciting events. This year looks to be very promising and there are still more wonderful projects to come. Stay tuned.

Until next time, happy quilting


Holiday Mode

Wednesday is cancelled. Well not the whole day, obviously. As many of you know I am jetting off on Wednesday morning to the other side of the world to help Luvvy celebrate a significant birthday. The world’s-best-right-hand-woman Jan will be ensuring that the Apatcheez continue their classes and will look after the four legged Apatcheez, the house, and, well, just about everything really. BUT she is not available on Wednesday morning and I will be flat out like a lizard drinking working out whether to take the extra t-shirt/jeans/coat. This means that there will be no Wednesday morning class but normal service will be resumed for the evening class and you hardly notice that I’ve gone.

The Bowie post last week resonated with many of you and it was the 100th blog post so that’s a milestone.  I was asked what else we saw in Melbourne. The Facebook followers were treated to some of these photos at the time but here they are some more for you.

Melbourne is….

The old and the new side by side


Melbourne is…. a chocolate shop at every turn


Melbourne is… bad for your waistline


Melbourne is… trams and history and St Kilda Pier and Luna Park


And Melbourne is….Flinders Street station and wonderful restaurants and funny laneways


That one was for the teenager-in-residence. And while we’re on that subject…Melbourne is…the excitement when your Mum finds a patchwork shop…


Say no more.

Last week the Apatcheez finished more projects. Here’s some show-and-tell

Di's bespoke sashiko by the pool

Di’s bespoke sashiko by the pool

Elaine's great hack where she changed a softie kit into a cushion

Elaine’s great hack where she changed a softie kit into a cushion

And the back....is the back

And the back….is the back


Isn’t that lovely? This is Lesa’s beautifully embroidered ring-bearer’s cushion for her daughter’s wedding. This wedding has been all about the special touches that only handmade can bring – from this cushion to the beads embroidered on the veil. I’m sure it will be very special and all my best wishes for the wedding on 10th October. I’ll be thinking of you while I watch the Australia v Wales rugby match.

The postie did bring lots of new Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric as well as another range Letter Stitch – very graphic. Also a big bundle of loveliness from Tilda..


Have a look on the website under Tilda fabric, kits, Tilda Club and embellishments to see what all the fuss is about.

And we had lots to see in class last week. Everyone was very focused…


Until next time happy quilting