Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Preparing for a great 2015

I still feel in holiday mode but next month all the groups I belong to will start and I will be back into the thick of it again.

I don't make New Year resolutions but I often think of a word as inspiration for the coming year. The word that keeps popping into my head is Preparation.

I am a morning person and often feel as if I am the only person who loves Mondays. I love the feeling that I have a new blank page in front of me just waiting for me to fill. So a new year is like all the mornings and Mondays rolled into one, instead of a blank page, I have a whole new book to fill.

So I have been writing lists and planning my year ahead. I am in the middle of a new crazy quilt with a seasons theme and I would love to be able to finish it this year. The trouble with hand embroidery is that it takes so long.

Autumn block
I haven't done any quilting for a while so I thought I would get some blocks basted together and put them next to the machine for some occasional quilting practice. I found some fabric in the cupboard that I will probably never use in a quilt that will be perfect for practice.

The floral fabric on the left will be sashing and the plain in the middle will be the quilting squares and the one on the right will be the backing fabric.

I think I will put some crazy blocks together for some embroidery practice as well.

At the moment I am doing an online camera course but the more I find out about photography the more I realise how much there is to learn.

The other thing occupying my time at the moment is a Photoshop course that I am doing online with Pixeladies. I already use Photoshop to re-size my photos and do some other things so luckily I am not a complete beginner but I am still picking up lots of tips and tricks. You can print out the lessons but the really good thing is all the lessons are on video and I find it so much easier to learn that way.

The Waverley Art Quilters start again next month and our holiday homework was to make a sketch book with painted pages and inspirational photos and I still haven't started that.

Two years ago I designed a miniature applique quilt and I haven't started it yet, maybe this year?

So you can see I have plenty to do and it will be interesting to look back at the end of this year and see what I managed to get done.

You may wonder why I am trying so hard to be prepared and the reason is that from Easter onward I will be minding my granddaughter 5 days a week! It's is only for this year but I am starting to realise what a big commitment it will be.

Roll on 2015 because I feel ready.

Bye for now,

Sunday, 18 January 2015


We celebrated Christmas at our place and it was the first Christmas with our grandchild, Savannah, My husband's father was also there so we had four generations at the Christmas table.

The next day my husband and I went away for a few days. We decided to drive interstate to Adelaide and visit family and friends and instead of driving the straight route we drove along the Great Ocean Road to see the beautiful coastline that everyone always talks about.

We stayed at Apollo Bay the first night and then set off early the next morning for a day of sightseeing. The first stop was at Ngatanwarr, which was part of the Great Otways National Park. We went on the Maits Rest Rain-forest Walk and because it was 7.30 in the morning we were the only ones there. It was so lush and green.

Maits Rest Rain-forest
From there we drove along the coast to the Twelve Apostles, we certainly found the holiday crowd there. We could hear so many different languages spoken, it must be a huge tourist attraction. I have wanted to see the Twelve Apostles for years and it didn't disappoint, those limestone rocks were just as beautiful as people said.

Twelve Apostles
We spent a long time there and I took a lot of photos. There are many lookouts along the Great Ocean Road and it would be almost impossible to do them all in one day but we did go to quite a few.

Loch Ard Gorge was beautiful, almost like a secluded beach, except there were many tourists there!

Loch Ard Gorge
There were little caves along the shore and some more adventurous souls than I went exploring.
Loch Ard Gorge Caves
We walked down many steps to find a beautiful little grotto and I can't remember the name of the place.

Secret grotto
After a long day of sightseeing the beautiful coast we stayed the night at Warrnambool and set off early the next morning for the eight hour drive to Adelaide.

We had a lovely time in Adelaide visiting family and friends and one night we were having dinner at Brighton beach and we watched a beautiful sunset.

Sunset on Brighton Beach.
We were only there a few days and we had the long drive back home but our daughter had dinner waiting for us when we arrived.

I spent the next few days packing up the Christmas decorations and cleaning the house. 

Last week I taught crazy quilting at the Victorian Embroiderer's Guild. It was a two day class and they were a lovely enthusiastic class and one of the ladies even finished her journal cover and the others weren't far behind.

After that great rest and change of scenery I feel ready to start 2015. I wonder what this year will bring?

Bye for now,

Monday, 22 December 2014

Merry Christmas

Another year has flown by and as usual I look back and see what a busy year I have had. This year I taught on the cruise to New Zealand, recorded 3 episodes of the TV show Susan is Craft, I was the Coordinator of the Waverley Patchworkers Quilt Show and I also coordinated the Waverley Art Quilters Group and I kept up my duties as a quilt valuer with Victorian Quilters.

I taught quite a few classes on crazy quilting and machine quilting and was busy at home because I have my daughter and son in law living with us while they build their house and my two sons also still live at home. Running a household with 6 people and doing everything else made for a busy year.

I am not complaining, I have a wonderful life and the most exciting thing to happen was the birth of my first grandchild, Savannah. She is now 6 weeks old and is keeping everyone delighted but busy.

Savannah 6 weeks old

Thank you to the kind readers who have taken the time to comment on my blog, you have made my poor attempt at keeping up to date seem worthwhile.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone and let's see what 2015 brings to us all!

Bye for now,

Thursday, 18 December 2014


At the beginning of this year I looked around my house and decided that it needed a bit of updating. We built this house 21 years ago and that was before I started or had even heard of quilting.

Once quilting took over my life I hadn't given the house or decorating a second thought. It was time for a change.

I started with the family room which had been a salmon pink colour. We painted the walls a creamy white and gave away our lounge suite. When I ordered new furniture and curtains I had the bright idea of keeping everything a neutral palette and using colour for the accessories, that way I could change the colour when I wanted.

The funny thing is that after I had changed everything I realised that I had lived with the room the same way for 21 years and had never taken a photo of it. It was too late for a photo and I could only see snippets of the way the room had been by looking in the background of some family photos. The photo below looks a bit bare because I had already taken away the old accessories.

The old style room

When I first suggested the idea to my family they liked it but said that I would never be bothered changing it! That made me more determined.

For winter I went with a red theme and I picked up red things here and there that were mostly on special so it really didn't cost very much.

I especially loved how I could use my red quilts to decorate the walls for the first time. I really enjoyed the having a change.

Summer is here now in Australia and so it was time for a colour change and I packed away the red accessories and chose a cooler teal theme.

My quilt, Star Crazy that is behind where I sit and sew every night is not teal but I think I get away with the blue quilt.

We also repainted and got new blinds and bed covers for our bedroom and next year we plan to do the bathrooms and the kids bedrooms.

It didn't take much effort to make the change and it feels so much better.

Do you use your quilts for decorating?

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Crazy Quilting with Silk Fabric

I am making a new crazy quilt and I am using silk fabric for the bases. Silk works well for crazy patchwork and gives a subtle glow to the blocks. When I use cotton fabrics I have no problem marking the occasional guidelines for the stitches using a blue water soluble marker or white chalk pencil depending on the colour of the block.

Base block using silk fabric

I cannot usually use markers on silk though because the silk seems to resist the marks and they don't show up or the silk seems to retain the mark after I have erased it.

In the past I have occasionally used a product called Tiger Tape, which is a masking tape with printed lines on it but I found that it had too many marks and was just confusing.

I had the bright idea to use some blue painters tape and mark lines a half an inch apart on one side and three quarters an inch on the other side. It worked really well and because I don't usually mark the stitches very often, the same piece of painters tape has lasted for months.

Stitch guide using painters tape
Here are some cute little birds I ended up putting on the block in the first photo.

Bye for now,

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Teaching 2015

I will not be teaching any classes in 2015 because of family commitments except for a few classes that are organised for term one.

On January 12th and 13th I am teaching Crazy Patchwork at the Embroiderer's Guild of Victoria's  Summer School. You do not have to be a member of the Guild to participate in the classes and there are a wide variety of subjects to be enjoyed. Here is the link to the Summer School classes.

I am also teaching a Beginners Machine Quilting Class at the Lyrebird Community Centre, Carrum Downs, Victoria on the 31st March. Please contact Cheryl Billing Smith on 9782 0133 or email

In the Beginners Machine Quilting class you will learn how to correctly baste your quilt and learn basic free motion quilting to finally get started on those quilt tops. Managing and quilting a  quilt on a domestic machine is possible and can be fun.

I am also teaching my Crazy Quilting Journal Cover for the Westernport Quilters on 3rd March 2015.

I am not planning on giving up teaching and my plans are that I will be back in full swing in 2016. Who knows, I might get a quilt finished next year!

Bye for now,

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

One Step Further 2014

The Victorian Quilters Art Quilt Show called One Step Further is on in Box Hill, Victoria, Australia at the moment and I had a delightful visit the other day.

It was a really lovely exhibition and all the quilts were beautifully displayed and lit to their advantage.

Lucy Carroll won first prize in the large category with her quilt named Yellow Box. It is hard to see in the photo but the quilt was quite wide and measured 180cm wide but only 60cm long.

Yellow Box by Lucy Carroll

Yellow Box Detail 
Maxine Quinlan won the Small Art Quilt Category with her quilt named Urbanscape.

Urbanscape by Maxine Quinlan

The Packers Choice Award went to Neroli Henderson for her quilt called Coco (the quilt).
Coco (The Quilt) by Neroli Henderson

You can see this quilt from across the room as you enter the exhibition and it really looks quite lifelike. Neroli made this quilt by cutting up lots of different fabrics into tiny pieces. Here is a detail shot that gives you an idea of how it was done.
Coco (The Quilt) detail

Button Grass Plains by Sandra Champion was runner up in the Large Category and it had a lot of hand stitching on it to provide the texture.
Button Grass Plains by Sandra Champion
Here is the detail photo that shows all the wonderful hand stitching, it must have taken ages to do.
Button Grass Plains detail

Janet Kidson had used a discharge technique for her quilt Autumn-Winter.
Autumn-Winter by Janet Kidson
I really liked Phyllis Sullivan's quilt Foliage.
Foliage by Phyllis Sullivan
There were cut-outs and all different kinds of  techniques for the various leaves but it was hanging very flat.
Foliage detail

I also loved Billy Buttons by Linden Lancaster, once again there was a lot of hand stitching that added texture and depth.
Billy Buttons by Linden Lancaster


Billy Buttons detail
The last quilt I have to write about is Summer-Kangaroo Paws and Billy Buttons by Susan Mathews.
Summer-Kangaroo Paws and Billy Buttons by Susan Mathews
Susan Mathews quilt was large and it really glowed. She had used hand dyed fabric and used screen printing and applique for the flowers. Her quilting was absolutely beautiful as well.
Summer- Kangaroo Paws and Billy Buttons detail
What a coincidence that two quilts had Billy Buttons as a theme.

I have tried to find websites for all the artists that I have mentioned and if you click on their names it will take you to their sites. A couple of them do not seem to have a website though.

I have only showed a small number of the wonderful quilts in the exhibition, there is so much more to see. Luckily the exhibition is on until 20th December and so there is still plenty of time to get to see the quilts.

The display is on at the Box Hill Town Hall, Whitehorse Road, Box Hill. Tuesday - Friday 10am-4pm and Saturdays 12pm-4pm.

Bye for now,