29 October 2016

Making the Australian Quilt Exhibition

I have wanted to see the Rajah Quilt ever since I first heard of it - and I was delighted when I discovered it would be in Melbourne as part of the National Gallery of Victoria Exhibition.

"Making the Australian Quilt 1800 - 1950"

The Quilt is named after the convict ship "The Rajah" which set sail from England in 1841 for the penal colonies in Hobart Tasmania.

From 1817 - 1843 Mrs Elizabeth Fry supervised a total of 12,355 female convicts by teaching them Patchwork skills as a respectable trade and occupation for the voyage.

These women were all given:-
a Bible, 2 Aprons, 1 small bag of tape, 1 Once of pins, 100 needles, 9 balls of sewing cotton, 24 hanks of coloured thread, 1 small bodkin, 1 thimble, 1 pair of scissors and 2 pounds of patchwork pieces.

At least 29 of the 179 women prisoners on board the Rajah put their gifts and newly learnt skills to good use by contributing to the making of this remarkable quilt.
It is the only known example of a convict quilt made during transportation to Australia.

The exhibition was well worth the visit and my DD & I spent ages peering at the construction of the blocks and applique and admiring the tiny stitches that held them together.

This incredible quilt was made in 1857 by Mary Jane Tolman and sent as a gift to her brother James, in Hobart.

I could not resist including a close up of the blocks - so vibrant they could have been pieced yesterday!

The quilt contains 6063 paper pieced hexagons and being held with 120 stitches per hexagon - there are three quarters of a million stitches in the quilt!

A letter from the maker to her brother asks if his female friends liked it.....

There were so many beautiful examples of hand worked quilts on display I cannot mention them all (you will have to go and see it for yourself - or buy the book!).

I will leave you with some photographs of just one last exhibit -

How beautiful is this....

Wonderful work
and exceptional fussy cutting...

Put away at the end of the day's sewing,
never to be finished.

Having done white glove duty I know just how fascinating the reverse of a quilt can be I was delighted to discover a photograph of the BACK of the Rajah quilt. This link will take you to further information.

Making the Australian Quilt
National Gallery of Victoria
(Ian Potter Gallery - Federation square)
22nd July - 6th November 2016

24 October 2016

Dear Timeless Treasures.... I am NOT happy.

My Aunt has suffered a Stroke and  I decided to make a quick quilt.
Moving past the ordeal of not being able to find pretty floral prints at any of my LQ Stores I chose something that I liked and hoped she would too.
* * *
I chose a pattern that I could QAYG. Carefully fussycut all my blocks and sashing and sat to sew my first block - a 'sample' before chain piecing the rest.
Everything was going beautifully, I pressed the seams to the dark side and picked up the next piece to add and.... WHY did it not fit?

In all the years I have been sewing I have NEVER found a fabric that actually shrank when it was pressed - until today!
I showed DD and we did the experiment. First we pressed, and again it shrank - then we spritzed a new block with water and watched in utter disbelief as the corners of the fabric started to curl.  Pressing the block dry with the iron resulted in the fabric shrinking HALF AN INCH across the 9.5" block!

This photo is of 3 of my 9.5" blocks - the furthest away is as it was cut, the middle fabric has been pressed and the closest to the ruler is what I ended up with once it was wet and pressed!

I am FAR from impressed, at $24 a meter, this was not cheap fabric and I bought 5 fabrics in the range, each one tested and with the same results.

Maybe it was a 'one off' issue, so to be fair - I took another length of Timeless Treasures fabric from my stash - removed the selvages and measured it ....

Then to simulate the worst treatment this fabric would endure (in it's life as a table runner) washed it in warm to hot water
-I was surprised to see how much dye was shed - and then ironed it dry.

The result was a loss of 2 inches across the width of the fabric.

In my opinion, 5% shrinkage across the width of the fabric (the length was unaffected), would not result in a good looking and enduring finished product.

Oh horror! What about those folk you see in Quilt shops that buy this fabric to make clothing from ????

* * *
So dear Timeless Treasures - you have lost this customer.
I am left with the wonderful task of washing / pre-shrinking and pressing a substantial amount of *4 1/2" blocks, re-cutting or re-drafting what was a simple and quick pattern to enable me to use the reduced sized fabric or put it all in the too hard basket and waste the $120.00 that the fabric cost.

Worst of all - my Aunt will not have her quilt any time soon.

*Footnote -
The 4 1/2" blocks are now 4 1/4" x 4 1/2"
The 9 1/2" blocks are 9" x 9 1/2"
and my sashing... a beautiful Duck Egg Blue Moda solid - They are still as cut

19 October 2016

I've been a bit busy ...

Where on earth has the last month gone?

I could say that I have been 'blissfully sewing' but that would be fibbing!
The last month's sewing has been far from blissful.

I have been working on finishing DS#1's Wedding Quilt.

The original pattern, has now been enlarged from a wall quilt to fit their Queen size bed.

There has been a lot more applique,

(I think I may now be officially 'over' hand buttonhole applique!)

There have been mistakes
and mis-cuts
and plenty of un-sewing
and yes the occasional tantrum.

But my borders are now on and DS#1's Wedding Quilt is booked in to be custom quilted -

And THEN I will show you the finished result.

AND - just because this quilt will not be for sleeping under....

I have also been working on their "everyday" quilt.

20 of these done -
just another 10 to go

and then I can start on the alternate blocks!