Cutting Time

Have you seen that our major prize for the Girt By Sea sew-along is a Go! Cutter Starter Kit from Accuquilt Australia?

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Once you’ve used one of these brilliantly simple machines, you’re guaranteed to want one: I know because we all ended up buying one after we’d tried it out!

If you already have access to an Accuquilt cutter and are taking part in the Girt By Sea sew-along, you’ll definitely want to know which dies you can use to save time and energy cutting, so here goes…

 

Centre Medallion

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) for the third border of the centre medallion.

Medallion

 

Windmills

  • The 2.5” HST (AQ55018 or AQ55063) can be used to create the windmills.
  • Or use 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) and 3.5” square (AQ55006) for HST two-at-a-time and four-at-a-time methods.
  • The 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) can be used to cross-cut the 1.5″ squares and also for the outer border.

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Fruits of the Land

  • The 2” Applique Circle (AQ55012) can be used to cut the circles.

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Ragged Ranges

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) and then cross-cut into the various strip lengths.

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Multicultural Friendship Braid

  • You can use the 1.5” Strip Ruler (AQ55052) to cut the border strips, and also cross-cut some of the background fabric.
  • The 4.5” square (AQ55018 or AQ 55060) will cut the border corners.

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If you’ve never used an Accuquilt Go! Cutter, now you know how useful they are.  So get Girting to be in the running to win one!

 

Girt By Me: No Woman Is An Island

The Girt By Sea quilt was designed especially so that we could all sew along together and learn/master some of the skills involved, sharing tips and tricks and encouraging each other to give it a go.  We want to harness the wonderful support that quilters have for each other: helping to work out which colour should go where; reminding the over-thinkers when to step away from the design wall; being honest when the unpicker needs to come into play; calling for the smelling salts when someone posts something so incredibly beautiful that we go a bit lightheaded….

It’s such a thrill to see quilters from all around the world joining in and making new friends through the sew-along.  Katya Wolfram of @madeatturnpikecottage is relatively new to the wonderful world of quilting and decided the Girt By Sea sew-along was the perfect place to learn new skills under the gentle guidance and encouragement of a global tribe of likeminded makers.

Here’s Katya’s Girt By Me story.


Always running behind the times (by a decade or so) I finally joined Facebook in September 2016 and Instagram a month later.  At that time I had made a grand total of two quilts ever – one even had binding!

You see I have always been a stitcher: I design my own cross stitch patterns and enjoy creating hand embroidered pieces.  However, I was instantly in love with Instagram and the quilting community within it.  What a wonderful, giving and friendly bunch you all are!  No more sewing alone for me, or boring non-sewists with tales of mismatched seems!

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Shortly after I discovered Modern Makers, the buzz was all on Girt By Sea and I knew I was hooked.  It was just what I was looking for: something big, you know, throw myself in at the deep end.

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Now to choose the fabric.  Never having been to Australia, but having lived my whole life on another island (Britain), I decided to use islands as my theme.  I am loving my island centre with its turtles and circling sharks.

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But the best bit is joining in with everyone else and seeing how one pattern can look so different so many times over. And of course feeling like you are sewing with friends.

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Of course this centre round being EPP is well within my hand-stitching comfort zone. But in round one watch me literally come apart at the seams and loose all the points on my pin wheels!

But I’m sure some of you will be there to guide me through.

Katya x
@madeatturnpikecottage


Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Angel in there somewhere

It’s become clear to us that the Girt By Sea quilt isn’t just another quilt pattern. As people post photos of their fabric choices on Instagram (#girtbyseaquilt) and explain why they’ve chosen that particular palette, we realise that a lot of people are sewing a story into their Girt.

Here Sue Clarke tells us the beautiful story behind her Girt quilt.


 

I needed another project like, well you know – you’ve been there.

I resisted the temptation to join in the Girt By Sea sew along for a while but then I read something on the Modern Makers Retreat blog that really resonated with me and from that moment I was in. Let me set the scene by sharing a little history…

The person I most admire and the person l am most proud of in this world is my mum. She went through some very difficult times and when my dad walked out he left her with three small children and a mortgage on the house they had just purchased. At the time she was a stay at home mum but instead of crumbling she found a job, worked her tail off, put herself through night school and eventually qualified as a hospital administrator and auditor. Through sheer hard work she managed to keep the house and raise three children with little assistance from my father. Life wasn’t always a box of chocolates, but my sisters and I never went without. She was an incredible woman, never judgmental and always supportive of the decisions my sisters and l made (whether they were good or bad). She showed us by example how to be strong, resilient women.

Now, how is this all relevant to the Girt By Sea sew along? Well sadly mum passed away early on in my quilting journey so I never had the opportunity to make a quilt for her. In all honesty, it hasn’t really been something l have dwelled on but when I read this post something changed. I can’t say why but my mum popped into my head as I read the words “there’s no place like home”. Girt means to surround, and at that moment I felt my mum’s presence surrounding me and I knew that I had to make this quilt for her.

 

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With the decision made it was time to settle on what colour scheme to use. Normally I would revert to my favourite scrappy ‘throw everything but the kitchen sink in’ kind of style but I wanted this quilt to be different, it had to be done in mum colours. She loved autumn tones of browns, mustards and burnt oranges – all colours I rarely use so it took me some time to settle on a colour palette. I wanted to honour the autumn tones mum loved but needed to add a little punch.

 

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As much as l love the vibrancy of this palette I must admit that I am also terrified by it. It is so far out of my comfort zone but I think that is quite fitting. My mum is proof personified that you can work through adversary and succeed. Knowing she is on this journey with me, guiding me, I am embracing the challenge and excited to finally be making a quilt for her.

 

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I’m still working on a name for this quilt but I am sure it will have the word “Angel” in there somewhere.

Sue

IG: @curlyquesue
Blog: Curlyque Sue


Does your Girt have a story to tell? Drop us a line and let us know what Girt means to you.

It seems to us that Girt has a life of her own: she’s taken many of us on an unexpected journey. It’s never too late to join in the sew-along: click here to buy the pattern. Where will Girt take you?

Girt By Me: Exploring the Dark Centre

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I think this centre medallion was the most exciting part for me. I love EPP! I actually have three projects on the go right now. Wait … four! I love hand stitching and will happily go home at the end of the work day and stitch a little while watching Netflix!

I think the most difficult thing for me was deciding how it would look. My interpretation is very different to the pattern. But that’s the beauty of it right? It’s my interpretation. Making it my own.

I knew I wanted it to be dark and moody but have light and shade so you could see the defined star. The darkest fabrics are used in the middle and then surrounded by the greys.

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My tips for EPP:

  • I use Sewline glue pen though I’m told that a regular glue stick works just as well.
  • A rotating mat works well when you are cutting these templates. I also have a mirror but I didn’t fussy cut or pattern match with this EPP.
  • A fine needle will be so much better. I use these number 11 Milliners needles. I pick up just two threads on each side of the papers so the fine needle is perfect!
  • I know everyone loves the new Aurifil 80 weight but I use Bottom Line Thread 60 weight. I’ve just bought some Aurifil to try. First attempts I kept breaking it as it is so lovely and soft. I guess I’m tough when I’m hand stitching.
  • I just bought a rubber thimble on the weekend and getting used to it. Not convinced yet. Might need some of those dots?
  • Highly recommend taking a look at some videos before you start. You really need to be careful the direction you glue the fabric down (I did well with the centre papers but a little iffy on the outside pieces).

I talk about these tips and answer a few other questions in the Facebook Live video I did last week, which you can find here.

I’m by no means an expert but having done this for around 4 years now, probably more advanced than a newbie. Hope I’ve helped and if you have any questions – let me know!

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Happy EPP’ing

Jane

PS. In the interest of being honest and transparent … and trying to help others, here is my ‘behind’!

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Girt By Me: Flirty Girty’s Imperfect Heart

Day 1 of the Girt By Sea sew-along and I’m already facing a technique I haven’t done before!  But as I learned previously with foundation paper piecing, English Paper Piecing (EPP) is one of those things that you think is really hard until you actually try it.

 

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What’s with the squirrel? He’s my makeshift needle-holder!

 

The first thing I did was read Jodi’s excellent EPP Basics post on her website, and asked some friends for any tips they may have for a beginner.  “Don’t pull the fabric too tight around the shapes. You need a smidgen of room to stitch them together” said one. “Glue slightly in, rather than right on the edge of the paper, as this helps give the fabric some breathing space” said another.  And finally “Glue the fabric down in same direction on all your pieces”.  Soooo glad I asked, as I would have instinctively wrapped that fabric so tightly around the paper pieces and no doubt cursed in three different languages as I tried to sew them together later!  But other than a brief read through of Jodi’s article and the advice from my friends, I decided to jump right in at the deep end and be prepared to learn from any mistakes I may make as I go along.  What I actually learned is that EPP is easy, something totally different, and so perfectly portable, and now I want to MAKE ALL THE EPP THINGS!

 

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I deliberately made one of my little tails go the wrong way just to illustrate what happens when you don’t follow the “glue the fabric down in the same direction on all your pieces” advice.  Honest.

 

Yes EPP is easy, but my stitches were pretty visible… and very messy! So I popped around to Jane’s house for some further tips from one of the neatest EPPers I have ever seen. Firstly, she told me that needle size is important – size 10 or 11 milliners needles are perfect for EPP.  Then you also need to use a very fine thread – as everyone is raving about Aurifil 80wt right now I needed no further enticement to give it a go!  Now that I have the right tools the temptation to start that star over again is strong, but I’ve decided to embrace Flirty Girty warts and all.  I want to be able to look back on every visible, messy stitch in that star and know that this quilt was the one that taught me how to EPP.

Alison
aka The Baroness

 

 

There’s no place like home

Have you ever met a person who doesn’t have “The Wizard Of Oz” in their list of top 10 favourite movies?  We haven’t either!  And it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen it, you can’t help but watch it again and again and again…

That’s kind of how we feel about Jackie’s “Over The Rainbow” quilt, made with the Girt By Sea pattern.  It’s so incredibly beautiful, we can’t stop looking at it over and over again.  It makes our hearts fly like happy little bluebirds!  Simply seeing it has our troubles melting like lemon drops!

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“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Australia anymore”

The Girt By Sea pattern was inspired by our homeland.  For us and the designers, the concept was all about the merry old land of Oz, but for you Girt can be something entirely different.

“Girt” means “surrounded”, so think for a moment of your own homeland, and the colours that surround you.

You may be in Canada, surrounded by dark green forests, never-ending blue skies, grey rocky mountains and white snow…

 

Or your home may be in San Francisco, with the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset to inspire you…

 

Perhaps the heart of your home is the kitchen…

 

Or simply a place where you can truly relax and be yourself…

 

Wherever in the world you may be, close your eyes, click your heels together and say “there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home”.  Now tell us, what colours do you see?

Buy your copy of Girt by Sea now:

Click here to buy Girt By Sea

 

Girt By Three: a fabric odys-sea

Part of the vision of Girt by Sea was for the three of us to create our own versions to inspire you and sew-along with you. Here is our choices and the stories behind them.

Find out more about Girt by Sea and buy your copy of the pattern:

Click here to buy Girt By Sea

There was a point a little way back where I considered several different options for Girt. I’m sure it was at least a micro second… aaaaaannnnnd then I thought “who am I kidding? Of course I’m doing a rainbow!”

It may have also been that I was staring at a gorgeous Alison Glass Sunprint 2017 rainbow recently arrived from Clair of Clair’s Fabrics!

Alison Glass

Seriously, how do you go past a saturated rainbow? Plus, no-one does them better than Alison Glass. I knew that I wanted my rainbow to be split into 8 colours (because teal is a colour of the rainbow, right?) and that I wanted the rainbow to radiate around the quilt rather than from the centre out. So, I worked out that I would need 4 print fabrics for each of the 8 colour sections.

Fortunately for me I have an extensive Alison Glass collection… sigh… and could dip into my stash for the complementary colours.

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I calculated that I would need 32 fat eighths to make the quilt. In some colours there are more than 4 prints – I wanted to use some scraps and some other favourite prints that weren’t quite fat eighth size.

Then it was time to decide on a name. Rainbow fart was tossed around for a while, but ultimately discarded. I started thinking about how a rainbow relates to the Aussie theme that Girt by Sea evokes and (with some help from our resident wordsmith Alison) realised that we live in Oz!

Rainbow Bundle

From there it was a hop, skip and jump down the yellow brick road before I came up with the name – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”

Jackie


My quilt has been an evolution. I knew a certain someone would go full on rainbow so wanted something different to that, something that was also me, what I wanted to create.

It started with a conversation with Clair of Clair’s Fabrics. My original brief to Clair was for a lovely soft, quiet, neutral style bundle. I had already bought some soft teals so was going to include them as well.

This was Clair’s first suggestion. I loved it but the bright blues didn’t appeal to me. Take them out (on the right) and I was loving where this was headed. I wasn’t sure at that stage how much fabric I would need but was thinking around 12-15 fat quarters (it’s all detailed in the pattern now!).

I’m terrible at describing colours and tones, I just know what I like when I see it. So I went to Design Seeds on Instagram and found this image. I know it isn’t the quiet, low volume look that I was going for but it really appealed to me.

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So these were the resulting fabric pulls. LOVE! but still not quite right. I needed more variation, more depth. Rather than fat quarters, could I look at fat eighths and have more fabric – YES! Thanks Clair.

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And this is how Clair and I (cause I couldn’t have done it without lots of input from her), arrived at – “Into the deep”.

Jane


Being able to call Clair from Clair’s Fabrics a friend is not only a joy because she’s one fascinating lady, but also because I can go to her house, walk through the rooms full of fabric and pick out treasures!

Even so, I found it incredibly hard to put together my bundle for Girt By Sea.  Not only was there simply too much choice, but I realised that I don’t normally choose fabrics for a project in this way at all.  I’ve either already got my fabrics and choose a project to suit them, or, particularly with a medallion quilt like this, kind of make it up as I go along, when I can see what looks right where.  This would be the first time I’d had the pattern first and then chosen all the fabrics before even starting.

“Just find one or two things that you love.  Don’t worry about how they go together at this stage” Clair advised.   So I browsed the shelves, picking out various bolts of gorgeousness, but kept gravitating back to Cotton and Steel and finally settled on a selection of Print Shop by Alexia Abegg.  “Now,” my guru said “find anything and everything that coordinates with those prints.  Don’t think about whether or not you like them.”  Wow, was that a game-changer!  I’m not sure I would have picked out this spiky print normally, but look how it coordinates beautifully with the rusts and also pulls that neon pink into play!

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The final step was for Clair to work her magic in helping me cull all the coordinating fabrics I’d picked out so that we were left with the ones that really work as a complete package.  I can’t describe quite how this happens, but even if you love a particular fabric, if it doesn’t play nicely with the others you have to let it go.  That said, a little quirk is what makes your quilt uniquely yours, so even though the neon pink sits pretty much all on its own in this bundle, we both agreed I should keep it!

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The bundle of fabric I left Clair’s house with took me totally by surprise!  Although I loved it, it was a complete departure from how I had anticipated making this quilt.  But when I showed the bundle to Jane, she said “It’s the colours of Australia!” and it all fell beautifully into place.  I hadn’t intended to do a literal interpretation of Girt By Sea, but here was the blue of the sky, the aqua of the oceans, the green of the mountains, and the red of the earth.  And that neon pink?  Well, that’s what makes my quilt “Flirty Girty“!

Alison

Our bundles are available through Clair’s Fabrics now – just search ‘Girt by Sea’.

A new perspective on traditional v modern quilting

I’m a recycler.  I hate throwing anything away that can be re-used or re-purposed.  The less going to landfill the better.  So when I started sewing a few years ago I began to save old clothes that were unwearable but made from nice fabrics.

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When I started quilting I thought “Yey!  I’ll be able to use all these lovely old clothes!”

When I’d made a couple of blocks I realised that this quilting caper was much easier when using made-for-quilting cottons.

When I’d made a couple of quilts I realised that this quilting caper produced far better results when using good quality quilting cottons.

When I proudly launched my little business “The Baroness Designs” I realised that this quilting caper was a greater pleasure when using gorgeous designer prints.

 

 

And then one day I suddenly stopped.  And thought.  And was appalled at myself. Somehow I had been sucked into this world of buying brand new, made for purpose fabric, in order to cut it up and sew it back together.  Madness!

I felt like I’d completely lost touch with the origins of quilting.  The recycling, reusing, repurposing of old, worn-out clothing into useful quilts.

To salve my soul, I dug out a pile of The Baron’s old shirts and decided to make a simple quilt out of them.  I was so pleased with myself.  I was going to reconnect with the roots of quilting.  It was going to make me a better person.  A better quilter.

I called this quilt “Square Root”.

 

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It was such a disappointment.  Not the quilt itself, but the process was not in the least bit satisfying.

Doing a fabric pull is often one of the most pleasing aspects of quilt making, but in this case I had to use what I had and only the fabrics that complimented each other.  So even though I started with my favourite shirt, I couldn’t include it in the final selection as it jarred horribly with the others.  Pink and purple are my least favourite colours… and just happen to be The Baron’s colours of choice for shirts!  So reluctantly I had to settle for a predominantly pink and purple quilt.

The energy I had to expend in order to get the maximum usable pieces of fabric from the shirts, taking into consideration grain direction, wear and tear and the shape of the shirt itself, really took it out of me.  Never has cutting taken so long or been so much of a challenge.

Sewing the quilt together was also far more difficult than usual.  The fabric had been washed and ironed so many times that, even cut into squares, it was not quite “stable”.

So although I ended up with a quilt that I kind of like, the experience of making it had left me stone cold.  (I haven’t even finished the binding.)

 

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Six months later, I’m lying awake in bed at 4am with a serious case of jet-lag and I have a ‘eureka’ moment.  “That’s the difference between traditional and modern quilting!”

From this perspective, modern quilting is technically superior.  We have the tools, supplies and fabrics to play and create whatever our hearts desire.  We have no real need for the quilts we produce.  We are doing it simply for pleasure.

On the other hand, traditional quilting was essential.  They needed quilts to keep them warm.  They had old clothing to be repurposed.  Money was scarce and products were out of reach either geographically or financially.  They had to make quilts.

And this is why my Square Root experience left me cold.  It required a level of skill that I have not needed to master during my brief quilting career (and actually will never need to).  I found it displeasing because I was doing things the difficult way when I didn’t have to.  I couldn’t love the resulting quilt because it wasn’t something I’d made with love.

Those who visited the Making The Australian Quilt 1800-1950 exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria last year will appreciate the incredible level of skill required to make a quilt in the traditional way.  We all gazed in amazement at the tiny pieces perfectly cut with scissors, not a rotary blade.  We were in awe at the mix of different fabric types and weights they had somehow made sit nicely together.  We giggled at some of the hideous prints that you could see close up, but gasped when we stood back to take in the beautiful effect of the whole quilt.  The skill required to make something so spectacular is outstanding.

And this, my friends, is the ‘eureka’ moment…

Traditional quilting is using skills, tools and supplies that the majority of us would balk at today, to make something useful.

Modern quilting is utilising the fabulous array of co-ordinated fabric bundles in gorgeous designs, made-for-quilting cottons, rotary cutters, sewing machines etc to make something beautiful.

That’s the difference between traditional and modern quilting.

Alison
aka The Baroness

 

Fear Of Missing Out

Last night I went to the theatre.  Yes, I had a lovely time, thank you for asking.

This morning I had a medical appointment.  Nothing serious, but somewhat less exciting than last night’s excursion.

Just now I spent an embarrassingly long time catching up on all the social media I’d missed over the last 24 hours due to these two engagements.  I can tell you that it rated somewhere between the theatre and my medical appointment in terms of enjoyment.  It absolutely felt like a chore rather than a pleasure, and yet I was compelled to scroll through IG and FB, right back until I started to recognise things I was sure I’d already seen.  And let me tell you, even though you may not have been on IG for 24 hours, a lot of other people have.  So why did I do it?  Simple: fear of missing out (or FOMO if you’re one of those youth types).

 

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Ooooh Instagram… so many pretties!

 

I didn’t want to miss some brilliant Facebook post, or seeing a gorgeous make on IG.  Worse still, what if I missed an amazing giveaway?!  But you know what?  The brilliant Facebook posts will be shared time and time again, the gorgeous makes on IG will be replaced by more gorgeous makes tomorrow and unless they’re giving away time, there’s nothing I really need to be given for free.

 

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Ooooh Facebook… so many kitties!

 

Fear of missing out doesn’t only apply to social media.  I joined a bee last week because I saw that all my closest quilty friends were doing it and I didn’t want to be the only one not involved.  My local Modern Quilt Guild have had four sit and sew days since I joined and I’ve not been able to make a single one of them, so now I feel like I’m missing out on the great relationships that have been formed in that group.  And don’t even get me started on swaps!

The quilting community is fabulous, but it’s also utterly addictive.  Social media is where we hang out together; bees and swaps are where we have the fulfilling pleasure of making something for someone who REALLY appreciates it; and sit and sew days are as pee-your-pants exciting to us as a birthday party is to a 7 year old.  There’s no denying that these are all excellent and important ways for us to spend our time.  But, as when our knees are buckling under the weight of the fabric bolts in our arms at our local quilt shop, there’s a point at which we have to tell ourselves “that’s enough”.

Next time you’re tempted by another new bee or swap that’s popped up in your IG feed, ask yourself… “Is there someone else in my life who needs my love and attention more than a random stranger right now?”  (And it’s perfectly okay for the answer to this question to be “Yes, me.”)

When a sit and sew day is arranged for a time when you already have a prior engagement with family or friends, remind yourself “There’ll be another sit and sew day.”

And most importantly, when you’re next scrolling endlessly through IG or FB, stop for a moment, look around you and see who deserves your attention far more than the screen in front of you.

Because the real fear should be missing out on our children before they grow up; our parents before they grow frail; our friends before they grow tired; our partners before they grow apart.

 

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Don’t panic!  They’re not fabric scissors!

 

One of my resolutions for 2017 is to have “Turn It Off Tuesday”, where I don’t engage with any social media for a full day each week.  Writing that down sounds ridiculous – how difficult can it be to stay off IG and FB for a day?  But it’s become such a habit for us to pick up our phones and scroll whenever we’re bored, waiting, or worst of all, actually in the company of other people.  For at least one day a week I want to break that habit and engage with the world and people around me instead.  Because I fear I’m missing out.

 

Alison x
aka The Baroness

 

Quilting Is My Therapy

When Josephine Kelly was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, she decided to turn a negative into a positive and do something for kids and their families who were “doing it way tougher” than her.  Josephine set herself a goal to donate 200 quilts in 2016 to the Very Snuggly Quilts program, with the help of her friends and by running quilt making workshops. Today she makes her last delivery for the year to the Royal Children’s Hospital, and will exceed her goal as she hands over her 220th quilt to a family in crisis.  

Meet Josephine.  We love her.

 

I love the saying ‘When life throws you scraps, make a quilt’…. so, that’s exactly what I did.

I’ve started to write this post a few times but found it quite difficult as it brought back so many raw emotions that I thought I’d dealt with.  But after some thought, chatting with those around me, and finding myself part of an awesome tribe, here is my quilty story.

Hearing the words “you have cancer” was something I didn’t expect at the age of 40, but as we all know cancer has no boundaries.  It doesn’t care how old you are, if you’re male or female, or the colour of your skin. Cancer does not discriminate.

Back in February 2015 I was diagnosed with a Grade 2 breast cancer. Being diagnosed turned our little world upside down initially and telling the kids was one of the hardest conversations I’ve ever had to have.  But they were also where I got my strength and determination to fight and fight bloody hard. I didn’t want to let them down.

Driving back from the hospital after a day of testing, pokes and prods, I remember saying to my amazing husband Dave, “we need to turn this sucker into a positive”.  I needed to ensure all my energy was focused onto something positive. I just didn’t know what the ‘something’ was going to be right then. What I did know was positive energy was going to be important for the kids, Dave, my mum and dad, brothers and friends who were going to support us and join me on this crazy ride.

So, I’m a lover of fabric and lover of quilts and the rest, as they say, is history.

My sewing machine and I became (and still are) the best of friends. The process of making a quilt – from the planning, pattern and fabric selection, to the actual sewing of quilt top -took me to my happy place. A place where I could be lost in creativity. A place where there were no worries and concerns. A place that was safe. A place that soon become my everyday activity. Oh, and still is…just ask the family about our kitchen table! Even on dark days when I was too sick to lift my head off the pillow, I still turned on my sewing machine. Why? It was as simple as this: it just made me feel better.

 

The repetition of sewing seams together and matching points was what got me through my treatment. I would turn up to my 5 hour chemo sessions with a bag full of fabric, needle and thread, pattern books and EEP. It didn’t matter that some days I never stitched a stitch – I knew my favourite things were in the bag to look at, to reshuffle colours and to stroke. What is it with stroking fabric and the warm fuzzy feeling you get inside?!

The quilts I make today are donated to The Very Snuggly Quilt Program, who distribute approximately 200 quilts per month to the patients at The Royal Children’s Hospital in Melbourne. I am also very fortunate to be part the delivery team that visits and gifts the quilts to the kids who are doing it tough. Just recently I delivered a quilt to a little boy who was around 4 years old. His mum burst into tears when she realised this was for him to keep.  He lifted his head and gave me a little cheeky smile…. at that the mum said “Thank you so very much, this is the first time in two weeks he has smiled, I can’t thank you enough”.   And that is the positive in my diagnosis.

 

 

There is something to be said for the therapeutic nature of making a quilt, whether for you or as a gift. The repetition… it soothes the mind, it’s a safe place and the outcome is predictable (in most cases!). It was my mediation and mindfulness activity.

I think the conclusion of a study done in the UK in 2011 says it all:

“The findings illustrate how creative hobbies such as quilting can be a meaningful vehicle for enhancing wellbeing”*

…and that’s exactly what quilting did for me: helped and improved my wellbeing.

Josephine

 

You can read more about the Very Snuggly Quilts program here.

Follow Josephine and Very Snuggly Quilts on IG at @josephinek74 and @verysnugglyquiltprogram.

 

*Emily Burt and Jacqueline Atkinson, 2011 The relationship between quilting and wellbeing. Journal of Public Health 10.1093