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




Bag making in the tropics

Isaac Singer has a lot to answer for. Not for his bigamous private life that resulted in more than 20 children, but for his alterations to the mechanics of the sewing machine that resulted in his claim to fame – the Singer sewing machine – the forerunner of all the others we enjoy and curse today.


While Isaac didn’t invent the sewing machine, his improvements turned the machine from an expensive, industrial device to one that Isaac envisioned in every home. Does that remind you of the computer or maybe the mobile phone? Yes the antique treadly was the moby of its day.


Although they were expensive, Isaac and his business partner ensured that everyone could afford one of his machines because they utilised the installment system that had been used for purchasing farming equipment. So a small down payment and a few dollars a week meant they were very affordable. Remember this is before the personal loan or credit card. And so then they went global. Way to go Isaac.

As a result we quilters each have a machine. Maybe not a Singer but perhaps a Jerry Janome or maybe a Bernie Bernina. Whatever the livery I reckon it’s a fair bet that you don’t really know how to use it. Sure you can sew straight and maybe you can recognise the 1/4″ foot. Perhaps you’ve dabbled with the darning foot for free motion quilting and even tinkered with the occasional zigzag.


Ah yes the inoffensive zigzag, but have you ever used the twin needle that came in the little tool box that slides off the front of your appliance? What about the blind hem foot? And don’t even start on the stitch regulator. And who of us actually understands tension and how to regulate it? The actual sewing of the sewing machine looks quite a simple process…

So why is it so difficult to make ours work the way they are supposed to work? And how come we don’t even know about half the features? Fortunately there are those among us who do actually know about all the hidden secrets of the sewing machine – sewing machine whisperers if you will. Those who can speak the secret language of edge stitch feet and stitch regulators. Sometimes they will share their secrets.

And so it was that some of the Apatcheez gathered together in the humidity of the subtropical world last Saturday to learn from the wise. The very clever Gail McMahon took the girls through their paces while they marvelled as she revealed switches that created decorative details and knobs, previously hidden to the operator, that produced the most marvellous stitches. The project was a rather attractive bag and another day is needed for anyone to actually finish one, such was the intricacy of the design (or was that because of the ignorance of the operators?). Nevertheless the ladies enjoyed the day (apart from the heat which was not very conducive to learning as more than one of us noted). Wondering what it was like? Here’s some pictures..







It was a very serious business as you can see. I blame Isaac Singer.

Until next week

Happy quilting


The Chinese zodiac, quilting and you

This week the Apatcheez thoughts turned to the Chinese New Year and in one class we had fun reading through the personality traits of each zodiac sign. I thought you might like to see how they relate to your quilting. The following is totally fiction so don’t put too much weight on it – it’s just for fun!

Year of the Rat (1936,1948,1960,1972,1984,1996,2008)

So you’re a rat. Don’t be down-hearted. It means you’re resourceful (so you can whip up a project from the scraps in your stash). Trials and tribulations are temporary setbacks as you can see the possibilities for the future.  You have a positive outlook on life and you can see the big picture. So you’d be happy to start something HUGE made of intricate pieces. How about the Baltimore Christmas project? Do it needleturn to really make it difficult for yourself!


Year of the Ox (1937,1949,1961,1973,1985,1997,2009)

The Ox is engineered to endure and succeed. You are known for your hard work and persistence. The only UFO is the one you’re working on. You finish everything. You eliminate chaos by sticking with what you know. One day you will see the new Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics and you will wonder if they might produce a quilt as nice as your trusty reproduction fabrics. You will try them. And they will. And everyone will cheer.


Year of the Tiger (1938,1950,1962,1974,1986,1998,2010)

If you’re a tiger you’re brave and adventurous. You are confident but sometimes authoritative. Embrace your tigress (not the bossy part) and create another masterpiece. You know that you have all the latest rulers and other gadgets and you know who’s who in the designer world. In fact there’s not much you don’t know. Why don’t you whip something wonderful up with the new Extravaganza range. It’s new. And everyone will notice.

extravanganza collage

Year of the Rabbit (1939,1951,1963,1975,1987,1999,2011)

So you were born in the year of the rabbit – but you’re no bunny. You’re gentle and quiet but very alert. You’re very patient and you know what you’re doing. You’re well-liked and you’re kind and help other quilters who can’t seem to sew 1/4″ seams or make their points pointy. It’s fun to have you in the class. Although you can help others sometimes you don’t ask for help yourself. That means that you might have a few projects in the too-hard basket. I know you’re quiet but why not put some kick in your hop by coming to an extra class so you can work on that project you put aside hoping that it would fix itself?


Year of the Dragon (1940,1952,1964,1976,1988,2000,2012)

Dragons dominate the world with their confidence, intelligence and ambition. You experience the extremes of pure joy and absolute despair (like when you cut through the 64-piece hexagon medallion that was under the piece of fabric on the cutting board). You love a challenge and you can accomplish great quilts, maybe using colour palettes that others wouldn’t. We see a lot of Apatchy Quilting in your future but beware of annoying Pozzie Dog – he will fight you!


The Year of the Snake (1941,1953,1965,1977,1989,2001,2013)

As a snake you’re intuitive and wise, a great thinker who says little. You learn from your mistakes and you are sympathetic and determined. You have a tendency to be stressed because of your sensitive nature. To ease the stress you need to be organised this year. What about making the Tilda Sewing Kit so you know where all your supplies are stored?


Year of the Horse (1930,1942,1954,1966,1978,1990,2002,2014)

You’re enthusiastic and energetic and you like to be the centre of attention. You have a great sense of humour and a positive outlook on life. You want to dance like no-one is watching. So you do. But beware – they are! You need one of the club projects so you can stride with pride with your personalised pencil case or Kindle pouch or mini keyring pouch.

hexie pencil case

Year of the Goat/Ram (1931,1943,1955,1967,1979,1991,2003,2015)

We like you the most.  You’re shy and gentle even though you are strong on the inside. You like coming to classes and working in a group. You also like the nicer things in life.  You like repetition and like to have a plan. You need one of the Jungle Abstractions patterns to start you off on the climb to full blown paper piecing addiction.


Year of the Monkey (1932,1944,1956,1968,1980,1992,2004,2016)

So this is your year monkey. Paradoxically that may not bode well. You’re witty and clever but you can be cheeky and naughty too. You’re going to need a few gift certificates this year to make up for the trouble you’ve caused. No Ms Monkey, hiding people’s sashiko thread is not funny!

Gift certificate

Year of the Rooster (1933,1945,1957,1969,1981,1993,2005)

As a rooster you live life in a series of natural rhythms. After a hectic time last year your balance might be a little off. With the full moon in the seventh house you’ll be receptive to new ideas – how about the pre-cut, pre-fused Quilt Squad kit to realign those chakras?

Quilt Squad

Year of the Dog (1934,1946,1958,1970,1982,1994,2006)

You keep your thoughts to yourself and may find yourself day-dreaming or just lost in thought.  Like man’s best friend you are loyal and a great companion.You don’t worry about impressing others, you just get the job done. You give many of your quilts away. With Jupiter in the 6th arrondissement you’ll find the planets align and you’ll discover the Paula Storm Applique brush and there’ll be no stopping you as you starch your way to perfection.


Year of the Pig (1935,1947,1959,1971,1983,1995,2007)

If you’re born in the year of the pig you’re generous and compassionate. If you set a goal and focus on it you are usually successful. You don’t rely on others but like company. Generally you’re calm in the face of danger. We see you attending every Apatchy Quilting class this year and then starting a blog about patchwork in which you feature us extensively.

Until then happy quilting


New Year new look

Hello and welcome to Apatchy’s 2016.

Are you sick of seeing blogs with free printable monthly planners (too late January’s almost gone)? Or advice on how to achieve your goals for this year?  What about ideas for organising your creative craft room (and what else would a craft room be if not creative?)? And then there’s the comprehensive storage ideas to maximise space (which means minimise your cash by buying ‘storage solutions’ to load up the beast that has become your stash).

Ok so I’m being sarcastic and I know it’s easy to be side-tracked from your goals – technology alone offers so many distractions (I’m talking about the hours you spend on Pinterest or surfing the net for inspiration). As it happens I have mapped out my goals for 2016. I thought about it very carefully and settled on a three-phase approach to improving life. The first aspect was ‘to create an orderly life’ (the others are health and creativity). I had broken those goals into manageable segments and wrote to do lists and so on.

Surprise, surprise an extreme makeover for the whole of the Apatchy space was on the cards. The first job was to clear the storeroom (junk room) which was at the point where, if you opened the door, something may have fallen on your head.


So everything came out of the room (and the photo above is about halfway through the process so it was actually much worse).  Furniture was re-located, walls, ceiling and floor scrubbed and ta-da – a clean slate.


Somehow in the clearing of this area a cunning plan suggested itself – why not make that room the craft room I had been complaining of not having for years? Indeed the light was adequate and the space was not huge but should be sufficient for a table, a couple of shelves and the odds and ends that come with this quilting life.

At this point I have spent three weeks going through my stash and have religiously culled, donated, tossed, filed and labelled all of it. Cupboards have been re-purposed and tubs are colour-coded. I wanted to have all my supplies together rather than spread through various rooms of the house. Unfortunately the metamorphosis of this room led to collateral damage to all the other rooms to the extent that even the garage was affected and we couldn’t park cars there for several days.


Things are still not quite there yet but the light at the end of the tunnel is now a soft glow in the distance.

One of the problems with this exercise is that I needed assistance – and Luvvy was there. Now the problem with this is – the husband is the natural enemy of the stash. And while his help was appreciated he now knows the full extent of the stash. This can’t be good. There was some discussion about how several children could have been sent to private schools with the investment in fabric. And there were prophecies such as “if you live to be 95 years of age there’s no way you’ll even use half of this”. And then the teenager-in-residence assisted the discussion by suggesting that the television series ‘Hoarders’ may be interested in doing a show here. Unbelievers just don’t get the zen of stash building do they?


Those of you who know me well will also know that the minimalist approach to life is not one to which I ascribe. As quilters, many of us are used to the wonderful pastime of collecting fabric and for some it is an obsession.  Imagine if you actually owned a quilt shop! For this activity though, I went through each tub – each fat quarter, each piece of yardage, each kit and each scrap. As Marie Kondo taught us in ‘The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up’ I asked myself “Does this bring me joy?” If not out it went.

Now there may be one or two items that might well stay in the bottom of the bin until the next great de-cluttering and I’m not exactly sure when I will use all of those tubs of fabric and I may not immediately have a use for the multiple tape measures I found during the exercise but I was very virtuous and only used the tubs and shelves that I had. Most of the surfaces are now tidy but I have added so many items to my to-do list the simplified life is a long way off. Luvvy is still not convinced.


Someone once suggested to me that if we spent as much time sewing as we did trying to organise our sewing supplies we would be a lot more productive (thanks Deb). That’s true and one casualty in this whole exercise has been creativity.

The creativity part of my 2016 goals has not yet had a chance to shine – in fact, apart from a craft room there hasn’t been any creativity whatsoever. I did toy with the idea of challenging myself to make handmade gifts for everyone this year but since No 1 son had his birthday last week it seemed to be a moot point. At least the health is a little better. With all that exercise re-arranging rooms surely I must be much fitter.

How are you going with your 2016 goals? And don’t forget to let me know the status of last year’s UFO list. And this year’s.

I’m looking forward to classes starting again on 2nd February and hope to have everything ‘just so’ by then. (Don’t forget that this year there is no Wednesday evening class.) I hope you’ll like the results when the ‘reveal’ shows the new space – well the old space re-arranged – because the fabric room and classroom also had a little mini-makeover too. Oh and there’s more fabric because there’s been parcels arriving this week. And some new ideas too. And even more fabric…bring me another tub!

Until then happy quilting


2015 Challenge Winners

The Apatcheez had a great time at the Christmas party/Challenge reveal on Saturday. This is the fifth year we have run the challenge and three people (Jan, Chris and Lynette) were rewarded for having entered a project each year. That’s what I call consistency. We had twelve quilts this year and they were so interesting it made it very difficult to judge. Just think how great it would be to have 27 quilts on display – that’s how many attended our party. So there’s a challenge for next year – if you didn’t enter this year you’ve got 365 days to come up with something for next year!

We continued with the Viewer’s choice method for both the winner and runner-up. With such a wide brief it would be too difficult to find someone qualified to make a decision – so I leave it to you! You’ll recall that the theme this year was ‘Home’.

I apologise for the quality of some of these photos but I know you want to see the entries NOW and this is what we have to work with. I’m sure the teenager-in-residence must be responsible for the blurred ones….

So….drum roll please….. this year’s winner was actually two people as there was a tie so this year’s winners, and the recipients of a $100 Apatchy Quilting voucher (that’s one each they don’t have to share) are…..

Julia – she used photographic fabric to create this beauty


and Lesa – who, again, used non-traditional methods including Inktense pencils to create this masterpiece –


Again, I apologise for the poor photography here but the reflective glass in the frame made a photo extremely difficult. Blame this one on me.

And the runner up, for a second time in two years, and the recipient of a $50 Apatchy Quilting voucher is Margaret with this wonderful creation


We were all looking at this on the day and every time you looked you found another little detail – it really is a lot of fun.

Several people mentioned how difficult it was to put only one project’s number in the prize box and you can see why when you have a look at the entries. Here are the remaining entries –

Angie actually followed a pattern to make this – something she doesn’t always do – and she did a great job. Look at those points….perfect!


Pat, a first-time entrant made this little piece based on a quilt she made for her daughter. It isn’t sideways but the number is – we fixed that after the photo.


Faith, another first-time entrant, gave us one of the blocks from her Baltimore Santa quilt. She used to be devoted to reproduction fabrics but I think you can see that we’re turning her to the light side! Beautiful needleturn work on this one.


Jan made this for her son. It is a drawing of his old house mounted (very cleverly with magnets) to an old piece of tin from the property and used barbed wire as a hanger. We thought it might be a problem with health and safety handling this one so we put it up out of reach!


Maureen showed us the life she leads when she she goes off with her caravan club buddies – and it certainly looks like a good one.


Lynette pleased everyone with this fantasy garden, complete with dense quilting which is her forte.


Dee, another first time entrant, made this lovely quilt. She is such a well-travelled lady and this amusing quilt showed us a home of another land – love the fur-lined hood!


Chris didn’t disappoint – delighting us with this whimsical landscape that is so much her style. Who wouldn’t want this hanging in their sewing room to inspire them?


And finally, Robyn’s entry is here.


The photo doesn’t do this one justice as there was so much to see in the multiple applique pieces – great work Robyn!

And I also entered a quilt – just to show solidarity with those brave enough to enter the competition. It had to be done in three nights so it had to be simple and it had to be graphic. So here it is…


XLN Fabrics, who are the purveyors of the beautiful fabric I tempt you with – the Amy Butler florals, the Tula Pink fantasies and the Kaffe Fassett Collective colour explosions, very kindly donated fabric bundles for the lucky door prizes.  Here’s Heather very happy to win hers –


And here’s Faith, the-quilter-formerly-fond-of-reproductions-fabrics-but-now-almost-converted-to-COLOUR with hers –


I would also like to thank Teresa who brought her houses quilt in as an exhibit – unfortunately I didn’t get a very good photo of it by itself but you can see it in the background here


That photo shows Chris opening her secret Santa gift – this year we swapped needle cases and I think everyone was satisfied with their choice. As one person said “there were no duds this year”. Absolutely!

The other nice thing was the community that the group has – even though many only see each other at this time of year. The morning classes rarely see people from the evening classes but, as the teenager-in-residence says ‘there were no skirmishes’.

He distinguished himself by working flat out at the front desk – giving people their viewer’s choice forms and writing out raffle tickets. Here he is during peak time


And lots of people helped pack away at the end of the day which was really appreciated. Some washed up –


some wrapped leftovers



and some re-arranged furniture even though they were told not to “in their condition”.


Generally, everyone had lots of fun



There were more prizes, more gifts and more smiles but you get the idea. So thanks everyone for a lovely day. Until next time

Happy quilting






Hit the Wall Tour – the campaign moves further east

Monday was a rest day for the legion – so naturally the company went walking! A reconnaissance mission around Chollerford discovered the following:-

1 the bridge has fantastic views of the trees mirrored in the water of the Tyne (that were not visible the next day due to higher winds).


2 The town has the most beautiful range of trees and the autumn leaves are an inspiration


Another reccy to Chester’s Fort was very valuable for the legion to see how a fort was set up as there were visible evidence of the barracks, the bath house and the other buildings in the compound. Further evidence came from the comprehensive collection of artifacts accumulated by Mr Clayton (the archaeologist you have when you’re not having an archaeologist).



Petermus Maximus thought that more of the fort should be visible and that it should be built up again as it was during dear emperor Hadrian’s times. The English Heritage lady explained that it was their policy to leave things for future generations. A debate ensued which ended with Petermus casting aspersions on the quality of their tearoom’s carrot cake and the company was forced to make a retreat.

The next day orders came through that the legion was to advance another ten miles east to East Wallhouses and the Robin Hood pub where a chariot would be waiting to transport us to camp.


Sunny skies saw the company move on. After leaving the small town we marched through a wooded area widely believed to be the source of fairy tales of wizards and tree spirits…


After successfully navigating any sorcery the company was charged to climb St Oswald’s hill


It was quite a steep climb but the company was now used to much steeper gradients and they were quite soon at the top to see the beautiful church …image

And of course the famous St Oswald’s tearoom run by the same lady for the past 18 years and soon to close forever. Naturally we were honour-bound to partake of the chocolate cake and date-and-walnut-scones on offer. Best not to show you those, better you should see the lavender in the garden…


Did I mention it was a beautiful day? And oh the sights we saw – as we walked hills, field paths and farms…



The camp that night was in the picturesque village of Wylam…


home of many a steam train pioneer, including the late, great George Stephenson.

Today there was a westerly wind blowing which helped the legion progress and it was reported that the only sunshine in Britannia this day would be found right here.

And so it was – but not until late morning. The path was more level than previously but also muddier …



The mud did slow the legion down and, on more than one occasion centurions became bogged. Petermus Maximus had to assist one of his fellow travellers out of a very sticky situation when she fell foul of the gravitational forces of the path. Since the importation of a large crane was not feasible, brute force was required. As both centurions were laughing hard this was made more difficult.

As the legion progressed eastwards the wind dropped and the path followed the road, thereby underlining the fact that each step brought them closer to the urban environment. Still though there were signs of the country – abandoned farm buildings …


Strange and unusual wildlife…


Wooded paths filled with dappled sunlight and softly falling leaves…


Bucolic scenes of great beauty….


And friendly natives – these little fellows were extremely tame and came up to us for a pat…


All too soon though the countryside disappeared and we were on the edge of Tynemouth, although there were still some aspects of the countryside…



So we are almost at the end of this campaign. Tomorrow we march on Newcastle. Until the next despatch…


Hit the Wall Tour – the campaign strengthens

It is now day 8 in the campaign and the scribes tell of the gruelling two days just past. Saturday saw the company leave the secluded valley of Greenhead for the wild crags of the Housesteads fort. The path along the wall continued and the first hill did not hint at what was to come.


The company had to make it over the peak of Winshields Crag and further.


The scouts reported back that it would be a mixture of minor roads and field paths, steep in places with varying gradients across several valleys and ridges, with a total descent of 430 metres and ascent of 620 metres. What they didn’t mention was that the descent would be almost perpendicular into deep narrow valleys that were the gaps between the crags and then the ascent would be likewise to the top again and again and again.

The local animals with which we shared the path continued to be the most timid creatures and we were amazed at how close we could walk to them without startling them in any way.


Always the wall kept us on the right track as we celebrated the victory of another hill. The company was unusually quiet, each with their own thoughts of how we would survive this most gruelling of marches yet.

Everywhere we saw milecastles, turrets and the shadow of the Empire’s efficiency.


As we reached the top of each crag we were treated to magnificent views, the air cool but the day clear. We continued the arduous route through more crags and down though Sycamore Gap. Further on the sun broke through the clouds over the patchwork fields and the pines and sycamores standing above the waters of Crag Lough.


Another two miles across paths that climbed again, to tackle the last slope at Hotbank Crags. The scout had foretold that the gradient eased along the top although Petermus Maximus doubted the validity of the claim. Finally we came to our camp where the commander said we could rest for the night. The owner, a very talented chef, as well as some medicine in the form of gin and tonics helped the legion start to forget the trials of the day.image

It was with heavy heart and aching legs that the company left Hunter Crook Lodge. The campaign was now to head to Chollerford and Chester’s Fort. We set off from Housteads Fort, the sun shining brightly once again.


The anaesthetic of the night before had renewed the resolve of Petermus Maximus and, as he had no use for his knees anyway, he continued along the first path at good speed.


At the end we could see that it would be more marching uphill to reach the top of Sewingshields Crags.



At the top more wonderful views



And another path – into a wooded area that had been cursed by a necromancer and appeared to get further away the more you walked towards it.


Petermus enjoyed the fact that we were walking on level ground, although the spirits of the company dipped slightly when we found there was still another 6 miles to go until camp.


A visit to the Carrawburgh temple fortified us although we had nothing to sacrifice at the altar. Petermus thought that the bloke who organised the tour would be a good candidate but unfortunately he was not in the garrison so we marched on.


The legion rested at Limestone Corner, an area with huge stones, actually made of basalt, some weighing 13 tons.


Here we changed direction now heading to south of east. Another two miles of grassy paths, wooded areas and finally the road to Chollerford and Chester’s fort where we would rest up for a day.

And all the while the beautiful wild flowers, placid farm animals and wild things to see.




So a day here to rejuvenate … Until the next despatch