Monday, December 15, 2014

Australia Flair

It was a combination that fired my imagination in a way I'd never been moved before in my quiltmaking journey: two pristine fat quarter bundles of Emma Jean Jansen's Terra Australis (my favourite fabric range of 2014), the Quick Curve ruler, and the Quiltcon Panasonic  Bias Tape Challenge.

Today I'd like to share with you my second Quiltcon entry, 'Australia Flair', a quilt I hope conveys the sunshine, warmth and celebration that is our Australian summer.

The challenge brief was simple, to create a quilt using appliquéed handmade bias tape as the main design element. 

I started by using my Quick Curve Ruler to cut out plain white quadrants which would be my main shapes.

As a lover of appliqué I've been using Clover Bias Makers for many years, and from my collection I chose the 1/4 inch, 1/2 inch and 1 inch sizes. I pressed open one folded edge of the 1 inch wide bias which was eventually taken up in the seam allowance when I sewed my arcs into blocks

After marking the arcs on my quadrants, I initially used tiny dots of Roseanne's Glue Baste-It to hold my strips in place. However I soon decided I was more comfortable with hand tacking the strips, ready to machine appliqué them using Auriful Invisible thread.

I tried to graduate the shades diagonally across my quilt, from warm to cool, and on the white space in the middle I 'tossed' a multi-coloured streamer. This was meant to be a party quilt, after all.

I used a double-batt, this time Australia's finest Matilda's Own wool/poly on top, combined with Quilter's Dream Poly Request, to ensure a nice thick base for my free motion machine quilting, and a resistance to fold lines in case Australia Flair had to travel.

As you can imagine, a quilt that thick needed LOTS of pins to ensure all those layers didn't move!

Confident that my pinning would hold the layers, I flew in the face of convention (what a rebel I am!) and began by quilting the arc blocks on my Bernina 1230 domestic machine, and using Aurifil Mako 50 threads in white 2024, leaving the central area until last. To be truthful, this was because I hadn't yet decided how I was going to quilt that part.

After all those feathery shapes, in the end I went for simple twin-stitched cross-hatching, to rest the eye but still give plenty of texture.

'Australia Flair' is my first serious competition quilt, so I washed, pegged out and blocked it carefully so it would hang straight, especially necessary with all that bulk. 

Then I auditioned 2 1/4 inch wide strips for the multicolored binding until I decided on this combination that continued the graduated colour story right out to the edges.

Here you can see the binding machined on before I trimmed back the batting and backing to half an inch from the stitching line. I like a well-stuffed binding!

Did you notice those flapping tails on the corner of my quilt in the pic above? My previous attempts at machined mitred binding corners have ended in frustration and tears, but I was determined to master this method which leaves no binding tails to join along an edge. All the joins are within the neatly stitched mitred corners, or at least that's the theory!  

Woohoo! It worked!

I've loved every minute spent making this quilt but, like Happy, my other Quiltcon entry, Australia Flair won't be making the trip to Austin, Texas.

I'm not the only quilter who assumed that, as long as an entry in the Panasonic Bias Tape Challenge met the competition criteria, it stood a reasonable chance of being accepted. 

As well, I had reason to think that Australia Flair was one of a reasonably small pool of entries. A search of the Instagram hashtag #biastapechallenge and #panasonicbiastapechallenge comes up with entries by just six quilters, myself included. Clearly there must have been lots more Bias Tape Challenge quilts not shared on social media.

I was a little sad that it wasn't juried into the Quiltcon exhibition and, having put so much work into the creation of Australia Flair, the dust of disappointment clung to me just a little longer than it did with Happy. 

But I've brushed myself down, pulled on my big-girl panties and accepted that what will be will be.

Come February, though, when so many of my online quilting friends are meeting up in Austin, Texas, sharing photos of the fun on Instagram and getting to see in real life the magnificent quilts that made the cut, I'm sure I'll discover one or two of those pesky little grains still stuck in my shoe, and once again wish that, if I couldnt be at Quiltcon, at least Australia Flair might have gone.


  1. Wow, another fabulous brand new design, beautifully executed. I can't believe it wasn't accepted. I would take a class in how to make this quilt. You are genuinely creative! As Michelle mentioned in response to your last post, keep entering "Australia Flair" as well as the Happy quilt.

  2. Thus is a wonderful piece of work. And I am sorry it won't be traveling but so happy you've shared with us!

  3. Stunning quilt! Thank you for sharing your process. I'm sorry it wasn't accepted. Truly amazing!

  4. Oh my golly Di, this quilt is so wonderful. It has a beautiful joyful look to it. I love the design and the quilting adds a whole different dimension. Share it again at Bloggers Quilt festival time.

  5. I have seen so many fabulous quilts that didn't get in to QuiltCon. I guess with over 1,300 entries and only 300 slots, they really had to narrow the field. I think they should only allow one submission per quilter to give more quilters a chance to have their quilts in the show. Both of your quilts should have been in the show, IMHO! Please do enter these beauties in other international quilt shows as well as shows in Australia - they are too gorgeous to keep at home!!!

  6. What a wonderful quilt! Don't be many quilts are entered in competitions, and there can only be a certain number chosen. I admire you for even thinking of entering!

  7. Don't be too disappointed Di. I gather the competition is intense. Good on you for entering in the first place.

  8. What a beautiful quilt. I'm an Aussie living in the US and it shouts out home.

  9. I love it, it's such a creative design and the quilting looks amazing. I'm sorry the quilt didn't get accepted but at least it's been enjoyed by us. Put it I. The next state guild show!

  10. I love your quilt! Competition or not, this is a gorgeous quilt. The colors and design just pop. Beautiful.

  11. that is really a wonderful quilt -what a great design and color - I really do not know how they do the judging but they left out a lot of people by taking 3 quilts from some people and none from others

  12. Oh. My. Gosh!!!! Di!!! This is awesome. And a loss to the show! I hope you'll enter it in other shows. The graduated sizes and fabrics in the bias arcs creates such a nice effect. I love the loopy-loops through the center, and the quilting is marvelous. I just stared at it for the longest time before scrolling down to continue reading - and the binding detail - brilliant. (I do that unconventional approach to quilting thing quite a lot - mainly for your reason of not knowing yet what I want to do in some of those areas. If I've pinned well, there's never any problem from this approach.)

  13. P.S. This makes me hear didgeridoo sounds, like the arcs are depicting those cool, distinct sound waves. :)

  14. Di once again you have created a masterpiece. You are such a talented lady. I cannot believe it wasn't accepted in the show. If it had been me entering I would have assumed it would be accepted also. Their loss, our gain!

  15. A seriously stunning quilt. Thanks for sharing the process. Love all the colour

  16. What a "Wow" quilt, Di! It is so fabulous. I'm sorry to hear that it didn't get chosen as an entry in the competition. Do you know how many spots there were for the Bias Tape Competition? Perhaps there is another quilt competition that you can enter it in sometime....don't give up's just too wonderful!

  17. Oh, Di, I'm so sorry! That is an absolutely stunning quilt and it deserves to be shared with a wide audience.

  18. Di, I completely understand your disappointment that Australia Flair wasn't juried into QuiltCon! I would feel precisely the same. You worked so hard to make it perfect - from the color gradation, to the appliqué, to the extreme quilting with double batt no less! And I love the color flow in the precision binding with those perfect corners (wink). I'm oh-so proud of the dedicated effort you made with this quilt. Now, please be sure to enter, enter, enter it into other showS. Yes, more than one show. This will surely be a winner. I'd be willing to place a bet on that! Let me know if you want suggestions for US quilt shows as I can point you to several.

  19. I just want to say that this quilt is amazing and should have been accepted! I made a bias tape quilt too hoping to get in ( ), but I like yours so much better! The colors and the quilting in yours is beautiful!


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