Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Springwood Winmalee Bushfire Quilt Appeal

For the best part of a week last October bush fires threatened the townships of the Blue Mountains, advancing along ridges and surging through gorges, damaging property and bushland, killing wildlife and destroying nearly 200 homes in the Springwood and Winmalee area. 

To give you some idea of the magnitude of the fires, here are some photos I took on the afternoon of Thursday 17th. They show Sydney Harbour, its water turned to a deep charcoal reflecting the angry blanket of smoke that had settled over Sydney from the bush fires burning more than 80km away.

If this was how Sydney looked, I can't begin to imagine how terrifying it was for the residents and fire fighters. A friend who was driving back to Sydney through the smoke and chaos phoned to update us and said it was truly frightening.

Di B and I drove up to Winmalee last Wednesday, where we finally met Tracey Greenaway, co-ordinator of the Springwood Salvation Army Quilters, to deliver our quilts from St Mark's Quilters,  and hear her dramatic version of events.

As we drove around the area we saw plenty of reminders of the fires' devastation. The ground is still bare, but the blackened trunks are sprouting bright new leaves and the bush is starting to regenerate.

This is a typical sight, a gate to a vacant block of land where a burnt-out home has been demolished and cleared and the front driveway now leads nowhere.

On the previous Sunday we displayed the 30 quilts made by our group at the back of the church, hanging them from the gallery and around the font.

Typically, I was still stitching the binding down on my fourth quilt for Winmalee at the last minute, but I made it just in time. This Double Square block proved a simple but effective one for our scrappy quilts.

Tracey hopes to have 600 quilts by March, when there will be a grand exhibition on Friday 21st and Saturday 22nd. Our delivery brought the total number of quilts to 545.

Then the families from the local community will be given the opportunity to choose their quilts, hopefully finding comfort in knowing that so many quilters all over Australia have wanted to help in just a small way.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Smiles all round!

 For the fourth time in as many years the congregation at St Mark's, Darling Point, will find the church decked out in quilts this coming Sunday. I hope they bring their sunglasses!

Made by St Mark's Quilters, this batch of cheery quilt-love is bound for Springwood in the Blue Mountains where 193 houses were destroyed by catastrophic bush fires in October last year.

Since Linda Hungerford kick-started our quilting group with her exciting Stitchin' Mission in 2009 we've had an ongoing commitment to -

* Making a quilt for every boy or girl who enrols at the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre (aka The Marcia) at Liverpool


* Making Blankets of Love, mini quilts, for the grieving parents of bubs at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital at Camperdown who sadly don't survive childbirth, or who spend time in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit because of serious health problems following birth.

However, from time to time, when emergencies crop up, and organisations put out a call for quilts as part of providing comfort to folk suffering as a result of natural disasters, we also like to help.

We've sent quilts to the victims of the January 2011 floods in Brisbane, the February 2011 Christchurch New Zealand earthquake, and last January's bush fires in Dunalley Tasmania.

So when Tracey Greenaway, co-ordinator of the Springwood Salvation Army Quilters, let it be known that she had a dream to have 500 quilts by March 2014 to be able to give every child in this hard hit community a quilt of his or her own, we joined in - as did a huge number of my quilting friends across Australia.

I just thought I'd share with you three quilts I've made or finished off for Springwood. After Sunday's Hanging of the Quilts you'll see what everyone else has made. It'll be worth the wait.

I pulled out a couple of quilt tops that had been waiting for their moment in the sun, and with some simple machine quilting and bindings they were ready to shine. Don't tell Linda, but I think this "Stairway to Heaven" quilt was the quilt top she and her granddaughter Celina made when they visited one of our Saturday workshops a couple of years ago. It was good to see it finished at last!

Here's another orphan quilt top I finished off, a "Noah's Ark" design.

Someone donated this backing fabric several years ago and it's my very favourite. Turning over the corner of a quilt and seeing these sunny, smiling faces just has to be the happiest surprise!

You've seen this rail fence quilt before. I made it last year when I was trying to use up some of my scraps.  Ha! Silly me. Of course they just multiplied.

 Though it was destined, at the time, for The Marcia, we like to keep a few quilts in reserve and I've decided this one will go to Springwood instead.

This quilt is all about blocks of colour rather than the individual fabric prints. For a "free" quilt I was very happy with the result.

But it wasn't until I looked closely at each of these three quilts when I was taking photographs today that I realised each one has oodles of smiles! Some are more obvious than others, but just look...

I really hope and pray they will bring a smile to their recipients, whoever they may be.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Economy Blockalong with all the trimmings

This time last year the Scrappy Tripalong was taking the worldwide quilting community by storm. Every second blogger, it seemed, was slicing up scraps and machining them together to create spectacular Trip Around the World quilts, many of which were definitely more beautiful than the sum of their often 'ugly duckling' parts.

Oh, how I wished I could join in, but I had a house to empty, two cats to relocate and a new home to find for myself and Chester the Wonderlab.

Those issues sorted, I could hardly contain my excitement when the Instagram quilting community began to spread the word on this year's craze by Katy of I'm a Ginger Monkey and Brenda of Pink Chalk Fabrics - the Economy Blockalong.

Instagrammers, just search the hashtag #economyblockalong.

I thought very carefully before committing to the Economy Blockalong, asking myself several important questions…

Do I like to create scrappy quilts? {Sure do!}
Do I have enough scraps to make this quilt? {Are you kidding?}
Do I have enough time to fit in another project? {Insert slight eye-rolling and nonchalant whistling}

 These Economy Blocks are so darned addictive that I'm going to have enough for a bed quilt in no time. Who needs to sleep anyway?

With every round of triangles needing to be trimmed down along the way, my pretty pile of strings and threads is steadily growing. I've completed 15 blocks so far.

Mine finish at 9.5" before being sewn together, but if you'd prefer even bigger blocks Katy of Monkey Do has a tutorial for a 12" finished block, and a downloadable pattern for a foundation pieced version of the block.

Rita of Red Pepper Quilts has a tutorial for her small-but-perfectly-formed blocks finishing at 5". There's also a downloadable pattern for the foundation pieced version here too. These are so sweet, but right now I just don't have either the time or the patience to make such tiny blocks.

How about you? Are you coming on board?