Sunday, February 22, 2009

Busy Week

The quilts and QAYG blocks have started to arrive and so far I have received 13 finished quilts from around Australia. I'll post photos on the oz comfort quilts blog. We also had a family wedding yesterday and it was a lovely day with a ride on a paddlesteamer as well at Echuca.
I managed to finish another QAYG quilt in the last two days and put it together before we had to leave for the wedding. I've been getting requests for larger quilts for couples as well as quilts for teenaged boys so this one was made especially for boys with no pinks or florals used. I have lots more quilt tops to finish so I plan to work on them today while we have a National Day of Mourning for all those who lost their lives in the fires. Many thanks for all your donations and offers of QAYG blocks. The response has been very heartening and I'll show blocks as they arrive.
Hugs Jan Mac

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The First QAYG blocks

The first QAYG blocks arrived from Lyn Wilson in NSW. They are beautiful and are really needed as we're already getting requests for larger quilts for couples and teenaged boys. We need to make a lot of larger quilts so I'm focusing on those at the moment. I have a large quilt I made from donated orphan blocks which just needs the outer border and I plan to quilt that one ASAP and get it delivered. M-A from Bendigo has told me how grateful the recipients are as she puts the donated quilts in a room and allows them to choose which quilts they relate to and I feel that it's important that they can choose as it's one small thing they can do which requires them being in control when they have lost control of their lives in so many other ways. I've also just got a request for quilts for 2 teenaged boys today so I'm off to the sewing machine again.
Hugs Jan Mac

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Positive Action

I've been so happy with the very positive response that has come from quilters around the world who have volunteered to donate quilts or QAYG blocks for the Victorian bushfire project.
Please post them to me at: Jan MacFadyen
35 Trevaskis Rd
Kialla East, Vic 3631 Australia.
I am working with locals in the fire-affected areas to make sure the quilts are given to the right people and when they are ready to focus on re-building. At the moment they need time to grieve for all those they have lost from their communities as well as their homes, schools and so on. The quilts will be shown on my other blog at
This is one way to share and show all the wonderful donations from quilters who are reaching out to those who have been affected by this tragedy. The locals have particularly asked for quilts for the kids as they have lost friends, school mates, members of their sporting teams as well as well-known members of their community. The quilts will be given out through community groups without a lot of fanfare as these are proud people would would normally be the people giving the help. I am also happy to accept soft toys etc as they can buy stuff but they have lost all those loved and special toys they owned. As one lady said the quilts will provide a treasured gift for their family and let them know they were in our thoughts and prayers.
I've been particularly concentrating on making QAYG blocks which are suitable for males ie. not an obvious floral among the strings. Here's 4 I've just run up today as well as finishing the binding of 3 I quilted yesterday. More photos to follow later. If I haven't answered your emails or questions please be patient as I'm busy quilting too and restricting my time on the compoter.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Finished Quilt

I had so much trouble with the last post that I had almost put an entire quilt of QAYG blocks together. I had the photos all loaded and text written and lost the lot so I had to reload it all. I've finished the quilt now so I'll get back to quilting some tops.

Finally the Tutorial Part 2

Finally I have made time to update my blog with instructions for joining the QAYG blocks. Just remember that I’m only an enthusiastic amateur and my photos aren’t very professional but they will hopefully give you the idea. I made this up myself so I’m sure that there are many other ways to do this.

First I lay the quilt blocks out. Lately I’ve been using the zig-zag layout. Cut the joining strips the same as you would for binding at 2.5” wide and across the width of fabric. Press the strips in half lengthwise.

Then take the first 2 blocks and place them wrong side together and pin. Then place the joining strip along the seam line and sew in one motion. You will be sewing through 2 blocks of batting and the joining strip. Take the pins out and open the blocks to lie flat. Then machine down the strip to cover the exposed batting seams.

Join the rest of the blocks in the row in the same way. When joining two rows together pin them in the same way as for individual blocks and place the joining strip along the seam and stitch in one motion , then sew down the joining strip over the exposed seams.

Continue until the blocks and rows are all joined and then bind as usual.

HINTS: Use a denim needle to sew all blocks together as it’s the only way to cope with sewing through so many thicknesses without breaking needles. Position the quilt so that you only have one row under the machine throat while you are joining rows as it makes it easier to handle. I hope this makes sense. I use any strings in these quilts but you could make some gender specific by using fabric which is more suitable for males or females. I use a plain coloured joining strip which ties all the colours together. Strangely enough most non-quilters love these quilts as they are like an eye-spy. I love them because they use up odd scraps of batting and fabric which would otherwise be thrown out. It doesn’t matter if you use different background fabric because it just gives it another patchwork of squares on the back. I also use shorter lengths of fabric by joining them together to make them long enough to fit across the block diagonally.

Hope you enjoy making these and have fun with them. I love to have some kid friendly fabric in them to give them interest too.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"Quilt As You Go" Block Tutorial

I have finally found time to put this tutorial together and if anyone is inspired to send me a few blocks then I'll put them together and donate them to the bush fire victims. These quilts are very easy for me to put together and cost very little as they all use up scraps.
Basically I cut a background fabric to 11" and place batting on it so
that it covers the fabric. I overlap the batting slightly if I'm using
strips. Then I place a long strip of fabric diagonally across the middle
of the block and pin it in place. I use strips which vary in size from
3/4" in width up to 3 " in width and the only rules are that I don't use the same string more than once in each block. Then I sew a strip each side of the
first strip and sew them down and then press them open, continuing until
the entire block is covered. I trim the blocks to 10.5" and then join
them together by placing two blocks backing sides together and pin them
in place. Then sew a 2.5" binding strip, which has been ironed in half,
across the seam line and sew through both blocks and binding strip. Then
unpin them and flatten the blocks and sew the binding down on the other
side. I sew them in a 5 x 7 setting and I also use a denim needle to
make it easier to sew through all the thicknesses. If anyone wants to
make even just a few blocks, then I'm happy to join them together into a
quilt. They don't have to be 10.5" in size as long as there are enough
to make a quilt. I usually start with a 10.5" or 11" piece of backing
fabric as I had a lot of donated sheeting pieces in those sizes.

There's no need to join the blocks together just send any blocks you can
get made and I'll do the rest.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

More Mindless Sewing

Not good photo but it shows another string quilt I finished today. The death tool from the bushfires is now at 173 and still expected to rise as more remote areas are accessed.
I'm keeping busy by more mindless sewing which at least has the benefit of resulting in a quilt to keep someone warm.
I guess that's a typical quilter's reaction and I know it's helping me by keeping me focused on how I can help others.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Some Days I Just Have to Sew

It was my birthday on Saturday and we had the hottest weather and most severe bushfires ever in Australia. The temperatures were 47 deg C or 116 deg F. There was a very hot wind and we were lucky to have power still on and the AC working.
Unfortunately the fire wiped out some towns in my state ( Victoria) without warning and so far the death toll is 126 and rising. We live in a rural area where it is also tinder dry so we have done what we can to protect our home and now we have to pray that we also don't have some idiot lighting fires here.
The air is still smoke-filled and I have a taste of smoke in my mouth but I'm very grateful that we are safe and not near the immediate danger areas.
We've been watching all the news broadcasts etc and now I've decided that it's not useful to sit and worry about what has happened. We have donated money to help those affected and I have quilts on hand if they are needed for victims but I have started to work on a new project to take my mind off things. It's not healthy to focus on negative things for too long when there is little I can do at the moment. so I'm relying on my useful form of stress release by playing with fabric.
I've started making Spiderweb blocks using Bonnie's pattern at Quiltville. I love that I can use tiny pieces to good affect.
I've also put together the donated blocks I was given last week and now I'm off to bind some quilts. At least the weather is cooler now.
Hugs to all.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Quilters are so Generous

I was asked to speak about my trip to East Timor at the Australian Quilters Association (AQA) meeting on Monday. I also spoke about my donation quilts at their Quilt-In a few years ago so I was very honoured to be asked to speak again.
They are a lovely group of ladies and they were very interested in conditions in Timor and what may be done for the people. They also donated orphan blocks, tops and fabric. Here's two of the quilts which just needed binding. The other is a fabulous set of blocks which have been beautifully quilted. They have no backing so I'll add that and the sashing to put them together in the QAYG style. They also passed the hat around and combined with my speaker's fee, they donated almost $500. That was just such a lovely gesture and will all be put towards helping in Timor. I'll post later on how I used the money. I've been working extra shifts to pay for my next trip over there so any money I can make through speaking or fund-raising will all be donated where it can be of the most help. It's also very encouraging to have others who are interested in how they can help women in other countries. Back to quilting today beofre it gets too hot. I'm on holidays for 2 weeks so i'm going to enjoy playing with fabric as usual.