Friday, September 29, 2006

The madness in Morpeth - part 2

Well...the retreat is almost over. The last group of girls have checked in and we will be back in Sydney on Sunday. What a week it has been! The way the retreat has worked is this - arrive after lunch on the first day, sew all afternoon, have dinner. Sew all the next, drink and be merry, stay the night and leave before lunch on the third day. Several of the girls have taken the opportunity to do a Material Obsession kit that they need help with. Kathy and I have been doing demos and talks on things here and there. There will be so much to show and talk about. This will be the last addition to the blog till next Tuesday - we will need a day or so to load up everything for you all to see. It has been a great success...and we can't wait to do it again next year. Hold tight for all the news... :)

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Woman known as Tokyo Rose dies at 90

You might know that we have a quilt design called Tokyo Rose...Looking through the paper today I saw an article on the "real" Tokyo Rose who just passed away in Chicago..the infamous radio announcer during World War 2....spooky... (by the way, our quilt was inspired by all the beautiful Japanese florals from the shop) ... :)

From the Sydney Morning Herald Thu 28th September:
CHICAGO: Iva Toguri D'Aquino, who was convicted and later pardoned of being World War II propagandist Tokyo Rose, has died of natural causes.
She was 90.
Tokyo Rose was the name given by soldiers to a female radio broadcaster responsible for anti-American transmissions intended to demoralise soldiers fighting in the Pacific theatre.
D'Aquino was the only US citizen identified among the potential suspects.
In 1949, she became the seventh person to be convicted of treason in US history and served six years in prison. But doubts about her possible role as Tokyo Rose later surfaced and she was pardoned by president Gerald Ford in 1977.
D'Aquino was born in Los Angeles in 1916 to Japanese immigrant parents. She had recently graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles, and was visiting relatives in Japan when she became trapped in the country at the beginning of World War II, according to a statement on Tuesday from the Toguri family.
She began working odd jobs to support herself while trying to escape back to the US. This included work on a Japanese propaganda radio show manned by Allied prisoners called Zero Hour, the statement said.
Using the name Orphan Ann, D'Aquino performed comedy skits and introduced newscasts.
On April 19, 1945, she married a Portuguese citizen of Japanese-Portuguese ancestry.
The FBI and the army conducted an extensive investigation to determine whether D'Aquino had committed crimes against the US. Authorities decided that the evidence then available did not merit prosecution, and she was released.
A subsequent public furore convinced the Justice Department that the matter should be re-examined and d'Aquino was arrested in Yokohama in 1945 and tried.
D'Aquino spent the years following her release from prison living quietly in Chicago.
Associated Press

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Another project just finished.. A quilt called Sauerkraut (click on the name to go to find out more on this traditional German recipe) made from gretchen blocks. After digging in my stash and some leftovers from the shop...and walla.. here it is - a different spin on a scrap quilt! I love the suble colour change across the quilt whilst using a consistent darker backround floral. Look out for it as another Material Obsession pattern. :)

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Estrella returns

Remember this quilt? There was such great feedback from the last time we showed it, we had to give it new life in a great new shot. It was conceived from Valori Well's fabric line, Estrella and designed and made by both of us. Well it is now back in the shop after being at Australian Quilters Companion . It appeared in Vol 19 and Vol 20 as a two part pattern. If you missed this, you should get some back copies. It is a fun and challenging project. Sarah traced over the outline of the large flower on the feature print, enlarged it and then used it for her applique template. We chose to use this method, combined with machine applique, Pigma pen detailing and curved piecing. :)

Monday, September 25, 2006

The surprise package quilt

Well, here it is finally photographed. This is the antique quilt top that I found under the nylon quilt. Isn't it stunning! There are so many different styles of fabrics in this top - it is almost like a crazy quilt but in a block style. Not all the blocks are perfect and it will need some restoration but, it will be a pleasure to get this back to it's original condition. Remember you can see the full story and new pattern in Down Under Quilts, the Annual issue, due out in January, 2007. :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The colour crystal ball for next season

So what are the upcoming colour trends this fall in the USA? Here they are...and as what usually happens, is that Australia follows a season behind so you can start that favourite quilt project in the colours below ready for winter 2007. Happy quilting. :)

From "Fashion Colour Trends 2007Autumn 2006 Winter 2007"
By Pauline Weston Thomas for

"As autumn 2006 settles down, colour fashion trends for fall 2006/7 reveal that warm earthen tones and natural materials gain appeal as women shop for new clothes.
The strongest colours in this palette are golds, reds and violas.
In autumn 2006 the colours for apparel are firmly in accord with nature. Traditional earthy tones with sun dried rich ochre and terracotta tones gain ground. Women's clothes the colour of pollen, honey, scorched gold, burnt earth and fox hues, meander amid a few livelier more shocking tones. Expect surprise with the jewel colours of purple and vibrant rich ruby red. Urban charcoal greys are enlivened with splashes of the brighter tones and look new because many materials have glazes.

With both greys and gold tones found in pebbles and stones so currently fashionable, either silver grey or golden metals make a good AW (Autumn Winter) 06/07 choice for jewellery or accessory trims. Golden sequins, paillettes and beads, shimmer and glimmer on fabrics that appear to look like molten gold and sheets of liquid glistening glass. Gold is one of the season's hottest looks. I'm sure you will find gold dresses and jackets in every autumn range.

For lovers of pinks good news, pink is still around, but it is either warmer becoming more coral/watermelon toned or more powdered and dustier toward heather/lilac. "

Friday, September 22, 2006

Ah..the smell of fresh Binga Bread

Time for some fresh bread for the weekend....I was going through some recipe books to work out the menu for all the girls coming to the Material Obsession retreat next week and in an old book found the recipe for bread originally made by my mother-in-law. She helped run a camp called Mt Binga (north of Brisbane, Queensland, Australia) for students and made bread for them each morning. The recipe has made it into the Classic Country Cooking (Traditional Australian Fare) book by Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen who was the wife of an infamous state premier of Queensland, Australia. Her granddaughter attended the camp and learnt to make this bread. My husband swears by the bread (originally made in an old large wood fired oven on the farm) and said it was so heavy that you only needed one piece to fill you up but it tasted so good fresh out of the oven. Well here is it. Enjoy. :)

38ml dry yeast (a medicine glass full)
2 teaspoons sugar
1 kg plain flour
500g fine wholemeal flour
500g coarse wholemeal flour

Combine yeast, 3/4 cup of warm water and 2 teaspoons of sugar. Mix and let stand until light and bubbly. Add to flour, then add 4 1/4 cups warm water and knead well. Cover with a cloth and place in a warm place to prove. When risen to double its original size, knead and shape into about 3 loaves. Cover with a cloth and prove again. Place in a pre-warmed, moderately hot oven (200-230 degrees C) for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

A Quilting Powerhouse

I found a great website today while playing around the net.... the Powerhouse Museum's site (the Powerhouse is located here in Sydney, for you out of towners!) features amongst other things a collection of quilts owned by the museum. Not only can you scroll through over one hundred quilts of varying ages and themes, but you can also use the cool zoom feature to look closely at the quilts and examine the fabrics and quilting in detail. If you're in Sydney, the Powerhouse is a great visit on many levels, but if you're not or you just want a really up close and personal peek at their collection, this website is great fun to play with. Just click on the link below and have fun! Sarah

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Beautiful Music

Not quilt related I know, but I just had to share with you the picture of my eldest, Charlie, singing tonight at the Willoughby Festival of Children's Music. The choir was made up of over 300 kids from nine different public schools in the area, and together they sang twelve different arranged songs including "When She Loved Me" and "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon". I think when they sang "True Blue" there wasn't a dry eye in the house, or maybe I just thought so because my eyes were so leaky everything looked waterlogged. The kids worked so hard on this performance and were so sweet and well behaved (and in tune!), and I was just so proud. Especially of the kids from Mowbray Primary, and my Charlie (the little blondie fifth from left in the front row), but then of course I am biased. Well done kids and Mrs Sarantis.

Oh, and I may have told a fib when I said it wasn't quilt related.... the Willoughby Town Hall boasts a set of fourteen (count them, FOURTEEN) amazing quilts, all hand stitched by quilters in the area for the Australian Bicentennial in 1988. The quilts all depict different aspects of Australian history. I was all ready to photograph them for you, but in my parental pride I took so much video on my digital camera that the battery ran out and so you are all left to wonder what they're like. I promise I'll try to drop in there one day soon and photograph them for you, they really are wonderful. Sorry! Sarah

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Quilters Companion

This month's Quilters Companion is a triumph! Their annual Great Australian Quilts issue is always something to look forward to, but editors Claire Mooney and Donna MacPherson have really done themselves proud with this one. Not only does it feature some of our favourite quilts and quilters, including Brigitte Giblin (her Couples Quilt is on the cover) and Judy Hooworth, but amongst other lovely projects it also has a fascinating article by quilt historian Annette Gero and a profile of another quilter we love, Kim McLean.

In amongst this exaulted company is a little creation you might remember, our quilt Crop Circles. I must admit I was looking rather more carefully at the piecing in the photo after I saw the level of talent in the issue!!

The issue is out now in newsagents, so run out and get a copy! If you're overseas and can't get your hands on one we can post you the issue, or you can order at this online magazine store. Sarah

Monday, September 18, 2006

ECHINO - bless you!

No, Echino isn't a sneeze, it's a fabric! A beautiful, Japanese fabric from Etsuko Furuya.It arrived in the shop today,where it is glowing quietly from its place next to the quilt I made from the advance fabric. At $30 per metre it is a beautiful addition to your next quilt, and would make amazing bags, skirts, cushions, purses, book covers, curtains, potholders........ Shown below are the colourways we have in.

Blue Ladybugs Pink/Brown Trees and Birds Beige Birds and Spiders

Red Ladybirds Green Birds and Spiders Green and Purple Flowers

Orange Spot, Purple Spot Green Ladybirds Orange and Brown Birds

Blue and Plum Flowers Purple and Blue Ladybirds Beige and Plum Birds and Spiders

And here's the quilt I made, nice big bits for big results and maximum fabric show off-ability! If you, like us, can't live without some Echino, email or call 02 9817 2733 to order. Don't forget we mail order overseas as well as interstate, but please be aware that the fabric is a heavier weight than traditional patchwork fabric. As you can see though, that hasn't stopped me! Sarah

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunny Afternoon

For the first time since we moved into our house five years ago, the wisteria on the front porch has flowered beautifully for Spring. The front of the house is draped in purple lace, and the few green leaves that are already out have given the porch a lovely dappled afternoon sun. Today was such a pretty day, one child at a birthday party and the other playing with his dad, how could you not sit in the sun and read and stitch?

I managed to sew my way through a few parts of some applique blocks, and read about six chapters of the Yarn Harlot's book, The Secret Life of a Knitter.

If you haven't read this hysterical book you should, knitter or not. If you're not a wool nut like she is, just read along and substitute the word "fabric" for "yarn", and you should just about have a take on my patchwork fabric stash obsession. I think the Yarn Harlot and I would get along well. Does that mean I'm the Fabric Whore? Don't think I'll tell my husband about that one!! Next time you have a sunny afternoon gaping before you I personally don't think there's a better way to spend it. Happy quilting... Sarah :)

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


The latest quilt from the prolific factory that is Kathy..... this fabulous combo of the primitive rooster applique, wonderful wagon wheels and sweet little stars is Cockadoodledoo, just finished by Kath and beautifully shot by her husband, John, who is responsible for all our amazing photography. I especially love that perky little rooster medallion, who is very easily accomplished with iron on applique. Need a quilt for that country feeling in your life, or a project for Autumn all you girls on the other side of the world?? This is the one for you. To order the pattern or kit, email Happy quilting! Sarah

Monday, September 11, 2006

Surprise Package

Remember this little number peeking out from the inside of a rayon quilt? Well I've finished my version and it's off to Down Under Quilts for their Annual issue, due out in January. Look out for the mag, which will include the Surprise package story, a picture of the original quilt and the pattern to make the quilt below and the original quilt. I had so much fun making this one!
Sarah :)

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What a Weekend

Well we're back... 33 Hunters Hill Quilters had a fantastic, silly, all singing all sewing weekend. The hotel in Terrigal was as usual lovely, the food was great and the company was absolutely the best there is. Nothing like a group of quilters to figure out how to get the most out of three days. Lots of work was done, producing some great starts and finishes..... here's one in progress from our friend Jan, who's been hand piecing all those little triangles -

- a pretty one by our clever accountant at MO, Kathy de Palo -

which was greatly admired by all, and of course there's always an audience when you're laying everything out and need an opinion!

Dinner the first night was very nice, two very long tables of girls awaited their dinner in the resturant, which was buffeted by one of the worst storms I've ever seen! The storm raged all weekend, but we figured it was just a good excuse to not have to go sightsee and sew instead.

Sewing Day 2 saw more stunners finished, including this little beauty from our good friend and MO employee, Sally -

Isn't that gorgeous? Love that Lotus fabric. Kath finished her black and red masterpiece which everyone thought was just beautiful -

And so did Kath. :)
We always dress for dinner on Saturday night, so the Material Obsession girls decided to go dressed as Kathy's quilt.

No, not really, but we certainly look like it don't we? For those of you who don't know us, from left is Kathy de Palo, Kath, me, and little blondie Sal on the end. This was our idea of dressing for dinner, but there were others with differing opinions.

Judith and June

The lovely Laurel

Audrey, Susie and Felicity

The patchwork angels gave out fat quarters to the girls while we had our drinks, and spent the rest of the evening poking everyone with their wing tips and having their halos tipped at increasingly rakish angles. Kath and I of course rose above all this silliness and set the stardard of decorum and elegance.

We are pictured here wearing the necklaces the girls gave us for organising the games and donating the prizes for the weekend. Aren't they nice? Thanks girls!
Of course, once the dinner party is over, the weekend is all downhill and quickly degenerates into downright silliness.

So what was I working on all this while? Well I have been busy finishing the applique on a wedding quilt for my brother and his lovely fiance, which is nearly done, and I pieced all the borders! Should be done by the end of the week, I'll let you know. Sarah

PS. A final word of thanks to our special, wonderful friend Judith, who as usual made the weekend hilarious, happy and a whole lot of fun. wE LOVE YOU jUDE !! xxxxx