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,

Wednesday 19 November 2014


In all the excitement of my new granddaughter I forgot to mention the latest classes that I have taught. The classes were both booked last year well before I had any idea that they were going to be near my granddaughters birth.

Two weeks before the birth I taught a Beginners Machine Quilting class for the Strathdale Quilters in Bendigo. They were a great group of enthusiastic ladies and they all brought plates of wonderful food for morning tea and lunch to keep us all going.
The class was going well when I got a text message and my first thought was that my daughter had gone into labour and I was 2 hours away! It was only my son asking if I was going to bring home lunch!!

Strathdale Quilters

The next booking I had was for a Crazy Quilted Journal Cover with Kilmore Quilters. About a month before this I happened to look at my diary and realised that I was supposed to be teaching this class on my daughter's due date. As my daughter had paid me the kind compliment of asking me to be at the birth, I was devastated to realise that I had a double booking.

Kilmore Quilters were very understanding and said if my daughter went into labour that morning they would happily postpone the class and they would have a sewing day together.
As it happened my granddaughter Savannah-Marie was born three days earlier and I could go to the class with baby photos to show them.

Kilmore Quilters
Kilmore Quilters also had a wonderful selection of food and they said that if you want to diet don't come to Kilmore! I certainly didn't go hungry.

That was the last of my teaching for the year and I have a very limited number of classes for next year because it looks as if I will be required to baby-sit when my daughter has to go back to work next year.

Bye for now,

Thursday 13 November 2014

An Exciting Event

After waiting all year my first Grandchild has arrived and I have been in a whirl ever since.
My daughter Alison gave birth to Savannah-Marie Jean on Wednesday 5th November at 6.59 am. It was a long labour of 28 hours but that was all forgotten as soon as little Savannah was given to her.

My daughter went on maternity leave two weeks before the baby arrived and we spent a few days shopping and preparing for the big event.

Alison got married last Christmas and you can see that blog post here.

Alison invited me to be at the hospital with her and her husband while she was having the baby and I felt very privileged to share this exciting moment with them.

Here is a photo of me holding Savannah-Marie when she was only one hour old.

One Hour Old
I am still smiling but I have been up all night in this photo, I finally got a couple of hours sleep after being awake for 32 hours straight. I didn't even do that when I was a teenager.

They go home from hospital much more quickly these days and here she is all packed up to go home when she is two days old.

Going Home
That white shawl you can see at the bottom of the photo was bought for me by my mother and all four of my children came home in it. It's lovely to see the tradition continued.

They go home early but they are not neglected and Alison has had a visit from a midwife or nurse every other day and she has been very pleased with the service.

I have been lucky to have spent every day this week with Alison and the baby and we are certainly counting our blessings that she has been an easy baby so far. She has been up a couple of times a night but going back to sleep after being fed.

My daughter has been doing the right thing by having a morning and afternoon sleep herself and the baby has been going 2-3 hours between feeds.

Savannah is only a week old and we hope this easy behaviour continues. Most of the time this is what we see.

Savannah-Marie sleeping
Yesterday she was a week old and I managed to get some photos while she was awake.

Savannah-Marie one week old
She was 3.35kg and that is 7.38lbs in the old way.

I haven't done any sewing for a week and it's hard to believe that a baby can take up so much time even when she is such a good baby. But we do spend many hours staring at her saying how beautiful she is!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Unity Challenge

Earlier this year I joined SAQA which is an international art quilting group. Although I am known for my traditional quilts I do a lot of art quilting on the side especially with the Waverley Art Quilters. I decided to take the next step and join SAQA. Most of the SAQA members live in America but there is a growing number of members from Australia and we are in the Oceania group.

The Oceania group opened a Facebook page where we could connect with others in the group and get to know each other. A challenge was decided upon and the theme was Unity. Luckily it only had to be a small 8"x 10" because like everyone else I don't have a lot of spare time.

I have done quite a bit of study on the principals and elements of design and Unity is not mentioned very often.

The book called The Quilters Book of Design by Ann Johnston has an entire chapter on Unity and she says that Unity is achieved by the lines, shapes, colours, values, texture and patterns that are used.

Sandra Meech in her Connecting Design to Stitch book says that unity makes everything work together and until there is Unity the piece is not finished.

I am still having fun with my Gelli printing and decided to use those fabrics. I pulled out some blues and yellows and decided on a music theme. I had some  stamps, stencils and thermofax screens with music motifs and used them with the Gelli plate.

Some of my fabrics were a strange shape and I wondered if crazy patchwork would work in an art quilt and thought this was a chance to try it out.

I pieced the fabrics together and this is what I made.

Music- 1st Attempt
As you can see I had quilted it and although I was trying to achieve Unity with the complimentary colour scheme and the music theme I thought it was unbalanced. I felt that there was too much blue in the top left corner and not enough in the bottom right.

I fixed the problem by adding some blue to the bottom right corner and quilted over the top. Quite an easy fix really.

Music balanced
I added some white dots of paint to give the piece some movement.

A few days later when I looked again at my music piece I thought the treble clef stamp that I used in the middle was not dark enough, so I added some Lumiere paint to add a bit more colour.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Photo Challenge- Flinders Street Station

One of our challenges at the Waverley Art Quilters was to take a photo and interpret in a small A3 quilt. One of our members had her own photo of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne and we decided to use that as our inspirational photo.

I didn't want to make a photo realistic quilt of the station; I wanted it to be more abstract. One of the many features of the beautiful old building is the line of clocks above the main entrance and I decided that the Flinders Street Station clocks would be my theme.

When I was playing around with my Gelli plate and doing all those mono-prints, I had the Flinders Street Station challenge in mind and so I picked out all the fabrics that I thought suitable and started piecing them together.

Piecing the fabrics

I had a stencil of a large clock that was perfect for the project and I tried to use the creams, oranges, browns and greens of the building.

Here is my first attempt, I wasn't happy with it because there was such a distinct line of piecing right through the centre of the quilt. You can see I tried to soften the hard effect with some smudges of brown paint but it didn't help.

1st Attempt
I unpicked it all and tried again. This time I cut the pieces a bit smaller and took more care in where I was placing the pieces; I liked it much better.

The Gelli printed fabrics are thicker than normal quilting fabric because of the layers of paint and to keep the piecing nice and flat on the front I pressed all the seams open.

2nd attempt
As you can see from the photo above I quilted around the clocks and added some more circles to keep with the theme.

I was happy with my quilt but I thought it looked a bit flat and I had the idea of adding dots of white paint to enhance the clocks, I was surprised at how much it lifted the entire quilt.

Flinders Street Station ©2014 Linda Steele

I really enjoyed making this quilt, so much so I might make more of this sort of thing.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 21 October 2014


 In August the Waverley Art Quilters had a Monoprinting demonstration by Marion, one of our members.

Marion was very generous with her knowledge and supplies and for the rest of the evening we tried Monoprinting for ourselves, trying out different paints, stencils, fabrics and ideas.

You can use a piece of glass or plastic as a printing plate but I had bought a Gelli Plate well over 12 months ago and I was keen to try it out at last.

The basic idea is that you spread a layer of paint onto your printing plate and then make some marks or patterns into the paint with a stencil, stamp or even your finger and then place a piece of fabric over the top, smooth it down and then lift the fabric off. You are left with a beautiful pattern.

You can easily go over your first pattern with another paint colour and pattern and then things really interesting. It is so totally addictive and everyone found themselves having so much fun.

Here are some of the fabrics that I printed.

I had some 2" strips of white fabric leftover from a quilt and printed on them; it is a good way to use up scraps.

Marion let us use her supplies and I really loved the pattern of this stamp that was made from one of those felt place mats that are so popular at the moment.

I have printed a lot more fabrics than this, I kept Monoprinting for the next couple of days. It is so quick and easy and I just wanted to keep going.

It is a fun way to have some unique textured fabric, now I have to stop and see if I can use the fabric in some of my art quilts.

Bye for now,