Ballaarat Quilters

I thoroughly enjoyed my visit to the 2017 Exhibition put on by the very talented and industrious Ballaarat Quilters.

The Hall at St Patricks is a great venue, even the ceiling has plenty to inspire a quilter. Included in the exhibition were the responses to a few challenges and quilts following a red and white theme. There was even a table setting in red and white made entirely in fabric. It was lovely to see Vireya’s circle quilt in its entirety, I have had a few sneak peeks during the making. Worth clicking for a closer view, the quilting is beautiful.

Three large quilts all by Robyn Cooper are a Grey Series started when she says she noticed the stack of grey fabrics was far too large. She describes her process as a “cut and sew and go wherever inspiration takes me”. All fabulous quilts and all made this year.

Another two quilts I really liked turned out to be made by the same person. Sue Scrabl’s response to the circle challenge has lovely textured fabric circles inserted into a stripe and simply embroidered. She has reimagined the Kaffe Fassett pattern African Collage from the book Shots and Stripes to make a busy landscape for diggers and trucks. Her grandson will have lots of fun making up stories of hills and holes and roads.

A beautifully proportioned small quilt by Jenny Bacon is all made by hand. The design was inspired by her Crabapple tree through the seasons. The border’s symmetrical structure is made more interesting by the extra branches twining upwards on each side. The hand quilting really enhances the appliqué and I loved the final border treatment. While not a large quilt, it contains a huge amount of skilful work.

A great show, congratulations to the group. If you missed out you will have to wait two years for the next one, it will be worth it. I didn’t leave empty handed as members had some lovely items for sale, including this covered journal.IMG_6992

It is hard to resist a rabbit.


The train to Ballarat

The Victorian Government generously gives two rail passes a year to Seniors Card holders. I have been very remiss in taking up this benefit until today when I journeyed to Ballarat to visit the Ballaarat Quilters Exhibition which I will cover in another post. Readers with a keen eye will have noticed the variation in spelling. It goes back to a change in local government structures in 1994 when the spelling was changed, dropping the double ‘a’ to signify a new council.

Enough of history. I arrived in Ballarat at mid-morning and headed off to Alfred Deakin Square behind the Ballarat Art Gallery where MexVic was holding a Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration.

It was crazily delightful and a wonderful way to remember the dead. Fortunately there were enough informative signs to explain the event. Mexican people believe that a person is only truly dead once he or she is forgotten by their loved ones and Dia de Muertos celebrations are a way of keeping the memory and therefore the spirit of the person alive.

Ofrendas are set up in houses and public spaces dedicated to deceased loved ones, and objects are placed on them which were associated with the dead person. The scent of the flowers and incense is intended to guide the spirit of the dead person back to visit their loved ones. This beautiful ofreada was built by Ballarat’s Hispanic community and is dedicated tot he victims of the recent earthquakes in Mexico.

The Alfrombrista tapestry was made by Mexican artist Alejandro with a lot of help from celebration participants. It took a long time to fill in with coloured mulch and sands so I had to come back later in the day to see how it had progressed.

The Pan de Puerto is delicious, it is flavoured with orange to give it a strong aroma and bring the dead to the altar.

The day was very much for children, with special dances, crafting activities and of course piñata, which had them diving for sweets when it finally broke.

I discovered a tiny project/gallery space off the square, the current exhibition is Skipticism.

Beautiful Machines were some of the 322 photographs of sewing machines found at landfill sights and outside Skip in Cast was a skip bin cast embedded with found objects.

Before heading up the hill to the quilts I saw a bit of central Ballarat, with the Eureka flag flying of course. And visited the farmers market in Bridge Mall where there were some tempting plants, but not for a train traveller.

I also saw some beautifully bound journals which I thought would interest my friend Jenni.

I have to say the VLine train trip was most pleasant, and I will be sure to use my remaining voucher this year. When I finally got back to Southern Cross Station in the early evening it was full of interesting characters. The slightly tipsy ones dressed in black and white, many sans shoes, were on their way home from the races. I assume those dressed as fantasy characters had been to the Anime Festival at Jeff’s Shed. There was a most charming Kiki complete with a broomstick and cat Jiji peeping out of her bag on my platform as I waited for my Metro train.




This is not a bird

Playing around with the cut out pieces from my humming bird.

I fused them on to pink and during the night dreamed they should be covered in lace.


Pink and grey are a good combination, who knows what will happen next.

A new quilt shop

After months of rumours and false leads, Clair’s Fabrics has opened at Warran Glen Garden Centre, Ringwood-Warrandyte Road, Warrandyte.

Once inside the doors there is plenty of fabric in the bright modern style and Clair ready to provide friendly advice. After so many shops closing it is good news that one has opened close to home.

Another horse chestnut tree in full flower spotted over the fence at the nursery. This one has flowers that are much darker than the ones I saw at Banksia Park.

Reverse appliqué

On Friday two weeks ago I spent the whole day in a workshop with Grace Errea. She specialises in appliqué quilts and has developed some new techniques. I quite like reverse appliqué by hand and was curious on how it could be done by machine.

The example used in the class was more like a lead light window effect and involved many steps to achieve an interesting result. To adhere the fabrics before stitching we used dilute Liquid Thread on the back of black fabric. The pattern was transferred using freezer paper on the front and cutting was done with a craft knife.

I really like having a small practice piece first to learn the basics of the technique.

Things got rather sticky when we moved on to a larger project and much more adhesive was used. By the end of the day I had the finished outline of a humming bird pressed onto my background.

Since then I have zigzag stitched it down and added a flower outline  of my own design. It is lightly quilted with leaves, buds and a flower and today I finished the binding. I had read about binding with a faux flange earlier this year and as Grace likes wide binding with a flange thought I would give it a go. I downloaded these instructions and used the suggested measurements. It is pretty easy, all done by machine. But I would used different proportions next time and take care about the measurement on the back as well as the front for a result that is as good as my usual binding.

Just for fun I coloured in-between the zigzagging on the back with fabric pen to make a reversed image.

Quilting lines

When I arrived at the NGV on Thursday it was overcast and a bit drizzly. For a short amount of time, just as I was leaving the Dior exhibition, the sun came out…


making a grid of quilting lines on Federation the floor painting by Taiwanese artist Michael Lin. The painting incorporates designs from an 1800s coverlet recently on display as part of the Making of the Australian Quilt exhibition.


I wonder if gallery visitors were aware they were walking over a giant patchwork.

Haute Couture

I think I first became aware that there was an extreme style of garment making when I read Paul Gallico’s Flowers for Mrs Harris as a young teenager. I knew rich people had very fancy clothes but had no idea of the artistry and technical skill behind these custom made garments made by hand from start to finish.

The House of Dior: Seventy Years of Haute Couture at NGV International gives a fantastic overview of the designs from this notable house. Unfortunately only one small area is given over to the atelier which I think is the most interesting aspect. I have seen quite a few documentaries and these will have to be enough to satisfy my curiosity.

The exhibition is huge, and very popular. Some visitors even dress up for the occasion. As expected it is wonderfully staged, with salons and catwalks with video backdrops. I was most interested in the designs of Dior himself and the embroidery and other embellishments. Garments are organised by design themes rather than chronologically but of course it begins with the ‘New Look’. The Bar Suit was the most discussed and photographed work from Dior’s debut collection in 1947.

This amazing dress was almost impossible to photograph being in a dark area and behind glass. It is described as layers of plush black velvet with a bodice of heavy wool lozenges and dozens of handmade tassels. Those lozenges look like EPP with a textual stripe in the fabric going in all directions on the bodice and then making a net  hanging over the skirt. I can imagine it having quite a sway when moving down the catwalk.

The toile is a Raf Simons design obviously paying homage to early Dior work. The toile, a prototype of the finished garment in unbleached cotton, is an essential part of the couture process. It left the atelier as the very essence of a design, showing only line, fabric bias, principal seams, balance and volume, and returned cross-examined and corrected, marked up by the designer for further adjustments.

Two silk organza dresses to satisfy any little girl’s dreams of a party frock in the 1950s.

Dior hit Paris in 1947 with an extravagant use of fabric. The skirt alone of this stunning deep blue taffeta dress uses 23 metres of silk. Displayed behind this is the pleated look reimagined by Raf Simons in 2015 in silk organza and tulle and colour.

The celestial blue ball gown of 1953 has swathes of taffeta draped in cloud like puffs. John Galliano took the idea of volume to new extremes in 2003 in this coat inspired by the kimono.

Recently designers have embraced the art of embroidery and embellishment again, but using non traditional materials. This beautiful dress is covered in split raffia stitching and has trails of branches with silk cherry blossom.

Another design by Maria Grazia Chiuri the current designer for The House of Dior. The dress features three-dimensional raffia and skill thread embroidery.

Her evening coat from the same collection has densely embroidered panels of flowers and branches.

Two Raf Simons designs appear at first to be quite simple. The sheath dress however is covered in tassels made from pressed droplets of paint and attached in strands to the surface of the fabric. The second dress required really close inspection to understand how the graduated colour was achieved. Hundreds of chiffon petals have been attached to the surface, looking much like a pointillist painting.

Sometimes just a gorgeous fabric is needed such as this one successfully evoking the deep sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

The epitome of Dior design, highlighting the skills of the atelier with the layers of tulle and the graduated embroidered crescent moons. This is haute couture.