Anzac Quilts

Ooops; I've been a bit slack with the blog.

Please forgive me :) I've been crazy busy now that James is gone, I've been working on the commission and I've just started back on the Anzac quilt. I tend to post more photos to Facebook than on here, so if you want to see what I'm up to in 'real time' please like me here:

While I'm pretty much fixed on the plan for the Anzac quilts, I've gone back to refine them a little bit for a different angle. Doing the work on the Women in Defence quilts has made me realise how much I enjoy portraying those intimate, personal, quiet moments rather than the grand, dramatic ones. I've ditched one or two quilts which were more about the 'glory of the Anzacs' and I'm replacing them with scenes which are taken from the images and drawings the soldiers made themselves; I'd been using a few of the staged photos taken towards the end of the campaign for reference but I've put them aside now.

I've also just found The Anzac Book and it's been fascinating! It was compiled from the stories, poems and sketches of the men who fought on the ground, and published as a 'Christmas Diversion' (kind of like a yearbook) - contributions were accepted in November and December 1915. The soldiers tell their own story, and the result is a brutally honest, compelling version of events. You can actually purchase your own copy from the Australian War Memorial, find it online here:

There is also an online PDF version which I am using for now, hopefully I'll get my own hardcopy version someday:


Redirecting the ordinary catalogue arrived today.


I love exciting mail - and today I received the catalogue for Redirecting the ordinary. It's my first good look at the other selected quilts, and there is a fantastic juror's essay at the front from Alicia Merrett. The standard of works is very high, and they all look great together, I can really get a sense of the look she was going for.

The quilts are just so beautiful, here's my entry:


I'm having a day off quilting today, and linc and I have spent most of today building an epic train track for Thomas and his friends - I can't believe how fast he's growing up! Thanks for all the feedback on the soldier, I've taken everything on board and I'll start work on the big soldiers face tomorrow.

I'm almost done with the quilting,


But I'm wondering if I need to fill in his face a bit. I actually like the uneven quilting distribution, although I'll probably get some flak from the quilt police - it works to make sections stand out, which I suppose is my version of trapunto.

I'm planning on using some paint or shiva sticks to add some highlights and also to blend the shadows a bit - I'm really trying hard to remind myself that less is more and not just leap in and overdo it! I can't really show a full view but feel free to give an opinion on section I can share - it's all still a bit experimental so feedback is fantastic.

Pants and bag.

I've really got to stop taking photos at night. You can kind of see where I'm going with the background (or base level) for the quilting, the pants are pretty much going to remain as they are, and I've got a heap more black 'sketching' to do over the bags. image

I took the big kids with me to the Cairns Regional Gallery this morning with the scouts and we had a great time seeing all the indigenous works that are part of the Cairns Indigenous Art Fair. The kids got really into it, lots of the work was bright and bold and they loved the ghost net crocodile!

Just started the quilting.

Just ignore the bad lighting and think of it as the very first layer of a pencil sketch - I start by getting all the black lines in the right place to use as guides for the rest of the quilting. image

He came together quite well, I'm sticking to a sketch based approach rather than an anatomically correct and photo realistic version. I'm planning on filling in with background (colour matched) quilting and then I'll go over the original black lines and add more detail!

I'm getting the colours right slowly.


I've put together the fabric for the landing soldier (raw edge applique) in the tones as it appears in the reference pictures, and I'm not happy with a few bits so I'll go back now and change a few pieces and maybe add a few more.

I always find that sometimes stuff doesn't make sense until you try it in the fabric - I'm really unhappy with how bright his hand is and with some of the shapes of the darker bits, feels like it needs tidying up.

Hopefully I'll get a chance to fix it up and show you the improved version tonight or tomorrow!

Landing sketch


I just had to share because I am so happy that I have finally got a sketch in happy with for the landing panel! This was the sketch from hell, taken from a tiny section of a 100 year old photo, which was taken by Charles Bean at 9:20am on the 25th April 1915.

I found it really difficult to work out the finer details, and in the end I made some of it up and used my human model (James) to get the face right. I'm going to work on this one first, figure out the rest of the colours etc then tackle the trooper portrait one - there is no where to hide in that panel!

Progress on the soldier.

The kids went back to school today (yippee!!!!) and I was able to get my teeth into the soldiers head. I used raw edge applique to get the colours and shapes, and it didn't look too bad. image

I then quilted over the top, outlines in black, and the rest in colour matched thread. I actually approached the quilting more like I would a lino, thinking about the flow and the overall shape rather than focusing on filling up space.


As a design note, it can be really helpful to take pics of your quilt as you go and crop them to the final size - it's amazing how much difference it can make to get rid of the distracting and messy borders. For example, this was the non-cropped version of that photo (it's pinned to my ironing board):


I'm still not happy with him, I think he is much too dark and needs work but at least the colourway is correct and looks good against the background quilts.

In another note, the theme for the AQC Challenge for 2015 has been announced as 'True Blue'. If you've ever been thinking/dreaming about entering the challenge then this could be your year - the size has been reduced to 90cm square, which makes it much more achievable! The theme is also really flexible, you could fit so many things within that concept. So - if you are thinking about giving it a go and would like some support I would love to help with brainstorming ideas or going through plans etc.

Hopefully I will get another big sewing day tomorrow and have something more to share.

Decision has been made.

After reviewing all your fantastic feedback, I've worked out what to do for colours (being me, however, I reserve the right to change my mind). I agree that it needs to be either the gold/orange or the grey, but when I put them all next to the background quilts it became obvious that I need to stick to softer subdued colours.

So I adjusted the grey head a little bit to be a bit more golden. This is the new version:


And this is the original grey:


And the original gold:


And by some miracle I already have fabric in that colour way! So I'll give it a go with a tiny trial version and move on to the panels if that goes ok.

I'm having a hard time picking colours.


Bear in mind that these are VERY VERY rough pastels over the top of photocopies and definitely not works of art (I almost didn't share them since they are so bad but I really need lots of opinions so please speak up if you have a favorite).

I've got a few different colour options, one is kind of pink, one more yellow and the last one is more grey. When they are next to each other they look won't but alone they look fine.


Pink (option 1)


Gold/orange (option 2)


Grey (option 3)

Which one is best?

Back to quilting!

I must admit that I'm a much better quiltmaker than printmaker. I really enjoyed the process of learning, and I have so many new ideas for the quilts now, but I'm definitely not clean enough to make multiple fingerprint free prints.

I'm just finishing up my journal for the printmaking block and then I'm going to dive back into the Anzac Quilts.

I'm going to work on the close-up panels next week, since I've had just about enough of backgrounds for now. I've got the age old problem of lots of different options for how to construct them, almost too many choices. I have a feeling next week is going to involve buckets of trial and error. I'm currently leaning towards a linear approach, similar to what I did for 'Linc and me', and I've been looking at a lot of Rosie James's work. She uses black outline drawings with FMQ and pops of colour. You can find her work here: And Jenny Bowker's incredible work for the Canberra Centenary

Also, this weekend is the Sydney Quilt Show! I didn't enter anything this year, I had no new work that isn't occupied elsewhere, but there is a lot of other beautiful to see. You can find out more (and check out the winners) here:

And finally, I've just updated the gallery with the moth quilt!


Lots going on today

First things first: the Soldier On quilt has been accepted into the World Quilt Competition! It's been selected along with 18 other amazing quilts from Australia, and the competition premieres at the World Quilt Show in the US in August, and will tour around other shows in the US until the start of next year. You can find out more here: Secondly, I just about have the ship quilt done (to the 90% level) which is great, only 2 backgrounds to go! I got all the feature panels out today and had a play with them lined up next to the backgrounds - they look much better all together and I have to keep reminding myself to keep the background panels as 'background' and not overdo them. I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into the panels now, as I complete more of the background my plan for them is becoming clearer and clearer.

Thirdly, I've found time for (A.K.A. squished in) a small project for James's boat. He's been bugging me to do something for his boat for ages, and I've finally caved into pressure. I'm actually quite pleased I did, as it's not a project I would have chosen to tackle otherwise but it's pushing the boundaries for the cut paper paintings.

This is the digital cartoon for the painting - I'll have some more pics tomorrow :)