This is some quilt!

StevieThis my friends is one helluva quilt!  I had the pleasure of seeing it recently at the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne.  The quilt is a depiction of a salt-water crocodile whose nickname is Stevie as a homage to the late Steve Irwin , but the quilt’s name is Crocodylus Smylus. It is and it is 21 feet 6 inches  x 70 inches.

It is the work of American quilter Susan Carlson and you can read more about her two year process of making Stevie on her website.  Stevie greets you on the front page of the site, with her red toe nails and red spine, not to mention those teeth, she is certainly an eye catching creature.  image

Susan’s photos are much better than mine, so go take a look. The time-lapse video of her progress is wonderful. I have no idea of how many pieces of fabric are in the quilt, but it would be thousands. The close-up picture below gives an idea of how many pieces are in just one small section.image

I cannot even imagine the time, patience and creativity it requires to create such a magnificent art work. A truly wonderful piece of work and I’m so pleased I got to see her “in the flesh” :).


One thing led to another

I don’t know about you but I sometimes find that I set out on a creative endeavour with one intent and end up heading in quite a different direction.  This happened last week-end in the Shimmering Triangles workshop I did with Jenny Bowker at the Australasian Quilt Convention (AQC) in Melbourne.

Shimmering Triangles Quilt by Jenny Bowker

Jenny was a wonderful teacher, very patient and giving of her time and expertise.  She explained that the idea for this quilt pattern came to her after looking at the ripples on the surface of water and of seeing that there was a light side and a dark side of each ripple which created the overall effect of shimmering water. You can see more of her quilts here.  A wonderfully talented person.

Well I started off following the instructions carefully,  and intently cut small triangles and stitched them into 4 patch blocks, but I wasn’t loving the end result.

Ist attempt v2I left the workshop on Saturday night feeling very dispirited.  Colour is my THING and I didn’t think it was working. In particular I didn’t like the bottom right hand corner with the green and orange paisley.

On Sunday morning I decided that I wasn’t going to continue if I didn’t like what I was making, so I took the radical step (for me anyway) of removing most of the work I had done on Saturday and started some new blocks.

2nd attempt V2

These didn’t shimmer because I was using fabrics of similar scale and value, but I really loved the way the blocks started to flow into each other.  Jenny  came over and advised me to use more contrast, but I pressed on as before – being a rebel student.  While the other 19 participants kept on with contrasting light and dark fabrics I continued on creating my “flow” effect.


At the end of the day Jenny came over and sat and examined my work on the design wall and then she said “…you know you have made the most interesting quilt in the class. It isn’t shimmering but you have created a fabric watercolour...”. Needless to say I was extremely chuffed!

Final Workshop Shimmer


I usually don’t quilt with many prints, my preferred style is big and bold with lots of solids which is why I decided to do the class  as I wanted to learn more about mixing prints together and to gain more confidence in cutting up beautiful printed fabric.  I learnt a lot and ended up really enjoying the process.  I had attended a fun lecture by Victoria Findlay Wolfe on Friday night (she was a special guest and teacher at AQC) and one of her comments stayed with me – “…don’t worry, its only fabric, you can get more!

I’m not sure I will continue to make a finished quilt from this, if I do I will change the big orange with pink leaf on the left because although I love it, it is too prominent for the effect I want to create.  Even if I don’t finish this WIP I am really keen to use the effect in different ways and have been pulling out printed fabrics since I got home and looking at them in an entirely new way.

I said to a quilter friend this morning – I think I’m now a quilter, because I now have at least 4 WIPS and many more ideas I can’t wait to try! Oh joy, oh bliss.

I hope all is well in your world – Australia is heading to an election in July and I’m over all the politics already – I feel for all my USA quilty friends – your presidential campaigns seem never-ending!

Quilty fun in Melbourne

I’m down in Melbourne for the Australasian Quilt Convention for the first time. I’m doing a 2 day workshop with Jenny Bowker on the week-end and spent today visiting fabric shops and stalls at the show.

imageI paid a visit this morning to Amitie Textiles, the home of Jen Kingwell designs, and they kindly let me take some pics of her quilts. They are not really my taste but I admire her skill, handwork and flair with colour and mixing fabrics.

After a leisurely lunch it was off to the Quilt Convention. Taking a cue from the above quilts and my recent foray into EPP  I bought a pattern  called Circle of Sisters by Karen Styles of Sommerset Designs. Karen was inspired by a vintage quilt from her private collection and created a design which can be hand or machine pieced.

imageKaren kindly agreed to me taking some photos of her version. I seem to be developing a thing for stars! This will need to be a future project while I finish my current WIPs. I won’t use reproduction fabrics but haven’t decided on colours yet.

Bookshelf additions

Even though I have been trying to budget recently I have still managed to add some books to my book shelf.

Christmas and a recent birthday helped with additions to my book “stash”.

Sonia Delaunay

Sonia  Delaunay  by Anne Montfort and Cecile Godefroy was a Christmas gift to myself (often the best kind!). It is full of beautiful photos of her work and I have it beside my bed to dip into when I need a hit of colour and inspiration. A review of this book by The Guardian newspaper described her as “…the woman who made colour dance...) which is certainly true.

Russian born Sonia is regarded by many as one of the most important female artists of the early twentieth century.  She painted, designed fabrics and clothing, and ran shops as well as a textile design company.  Some claim that her first purely abstract work was a sewn patchwork quilt, designed as a cradle cover, whose wonky rectangles and triangles of clear colour recall both cubism and Russian folk art.  Needless to say perfect inspiration for quilters!

VeraVera: The Art and Life of an Icon, by Susan Seid, tells the inspiring story of Vera Neumann an American artist and textile entrepreneur through the art and designs she created.   I must of been one of the few people who had never heard of Vera (perhaps because of my being an Australian?)  until I read a blog post by Sarah Campbell of Sarah Campbell Designs . I investigated further and found that the internet was filled with images of her stunning scarves. I decided to request this one as a birthday gift.  The book is beautifully illustrated with Vera’s original sketches, paintings, and photographs of her worldwide travels,  which all made me decidedly envious of such a creative and well lived life.

The White Road by Edmund de Wall is a book I’ve just started reading after buying it at Easter. I’m always keen on travel books with a twist, such as The Coat so this seemed right up my alley!

The White Road


Edmund de Waal is a potter, a successful ceramicist who has worked with porcelain for 25 years who has previously published the highly regarded The Hare with Amber Eyes.  In this book he documents his plan and and subsequent travels  to go to three places where porcelain was invented, or reinvented, three white hills in China and Germany and England. It’s  a combination of a personal quest, a dash of biography and history and a travelogue.  I’m only on page 35 but the writing is superb – elegant and eloquent – perfect for autumn evenings.




I have also been very remiss on not updating my online Bookshelf pages lately, however if you pop over to it now you will see some info on recent additions which are a nice mixture of patterns, designs, skills and inspiration.  I’m pleased to say that I have actually made something from all the  design books.

  • Clothbound, Julie Paterson
  • Improvising Tradition, Alexandra Ledgerwood,
  • The Improv Handbook for Quilters, Sherri Lynn Wood
  • Hexagons, Diamonds, Triangles and More, Kelly Ashton

Happy reading and creating everyone … the world needs more peaceful and creative times.