Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lyn Dennis's talk to the QSG of NSW on 9th March 2013

Lyn Dennis will give a talk for the Quilt Study Group of NSW about her quilt study trip in May 2012 to the United Kingdom. While in England, Lyn was able to study some of the quilts in the collections at Norwich Guild Hall, Norwich and Gawthorpe Hall, Lancashire. There will be approximately 10-12 quilts which she has detailed with photographs, description and measurements.

I had previously arranged the visits with the two curators, corresponding by email, to meet them on a mutually suitable day to view and photograph some of the quilts in their collections.  I will briefly describe one of the quilts in the Norwich Guild Hall collection that brought tears to my eyes and then, show photographs of, and provide information about, the quilts in the Rachel-Kay-Shuttleworth collection in Gawthorpe Hall and describe why the visit to Gawthorpe Hall was so memorable on several accounts’.

Come along to the Charles Kerry Room on the 5th floor of the Powerhouse Museum at 2pm on the 9th March 2013 to hear Lyn speak. There is no entry fee to the PHM charged for those coming to the talks, but we do charge $5 for Quilters' Guild of NSW members and $10 for non-Guild members to attend. Afternoon tea is provided free.

Paper Piecing Workshops at Old Government House in January 2013

Quilting Workshops – How the ‘Frederica' Coverlet was Made

Come and enjoy a couple of hours with the women who re-created our famous Frederica Josephson coverlet (C.1850). You will learn how the coverlet was made with the paper piecing method. You will also get an ‘up close and personal’ viewing of the original coverlet and the reproduction recently made by some members of the Quilter's Guild of NSW.
Old Government House
Parramatta Park, enter via Pitt St
Parramatta NSW 2150
Tuesday 22nd and Thursday 24th January
Two sessions each day 10am-12noon and 1-3pm
$10 per person
includes materials, kit and viewing of the original and replica ‘Frederica’ coverlets
Essential – ph 02 9635 819 or
Limited to 10 per session.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Original and Replica Frederica Josephson coverlets are currently on display

Currently both the original Frederica Josephson coverlet (as shown in Annette Gero's book) and the replica made in 2011/2012 by a group of dedicated sewers (presented to the National Trust at the 2012 Sydney Quilt Show) are on display to the public at Old Government House in Parramatta.
The original and replica coverlets below the portrait of Frederica Josephson

In the same room (the second last on the house tour), the Lady Mary Fitzroy incomplete hexie top and fabrics are also arranged on the bed. They will all be on display as part of the house tour until the 3rd of February 2013.
Closeup of blocks in the replica (left) and the original (right)

Details about the making of the replica can be found on this blog and also at the Quilters' Guild of NSW website page -

For details on visiting Old Government House, see

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

V & A Quilts 1700-1945 exhibition at Queensland Art Gallery

This important quilt exhibition which ran at London's V&A Museum in 2010 will be on show exclusively at the Queensland Art Gallery between the 15th of June and 22nd of September 2013 in Brisbane.

To accompany 'Quilts 1700–1945',  the Gallery presents an exhibition of contemporary quilts by the late leading Brisbane quilt-maker Ruth Stoneley (1940-2007).

See for more details. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Report on the Connecting Communities Seminar at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre

On the 12th of September 2012, the Powerhouse Museum's Discovery Centre presented a seminar which explored how the art of quilt-making and thread work has connected communities in times of need or remembrance. Dr Annette Gero, one of Australia's first and most respected quilt historians who has been documenting and collecting quilts since 1982, spoke about her latest research into military uniform quilts.
Dr Annette  Gero talked about a fine soldier's Crimean War patchwork,  circa 1870,  made from uniforms of the 90th Foot Regiment (British), which is in the Powerhouse collection,  Reference 98/48/1.  The information supplied with the quilt suggested it had been made in Tasmania by the soldier’s wives as British Crimean war veterans were given land in Tasmania in the 1860’s and many British Crimean war veterans families immigrated to Tasmania.
The quilt contains the following colours of uniform wool except for the blue, which is an slightly different fabric - red, yellow, black, green, and blue felted wools….. However these are not the colours of the uniforms of the 90th Foot Regiment.
So a search was on to find out which regiment this quilt came from. The quilt seemed to be made by one hand so it did not seem likely it was  made in Tasmania by many wives, but more likely, it was made earlier and perhaps brought to Australia with one of the Crimean War immigrant families.

Annette showed photos of many fine Crimean war quilts some of which were in her own extensive collection.  The nearest match to the fabrics of the  Powerhouse quilt was a soldier's Crimean War patchwork, circa 1855, with embroidered and beadworked Regimental colours to the centre for the 37th Foot Regiment, within a mosaic of red, yellow, black, green and blue felted wools taken from uniforms, which  seem to be the closest match to the Powerhouse quilt.

Karen Fail then spoke about her most recent research into Aunt Clara's quilt and the maker's family. She uncovered the following information -

"Clara married Frank Picton Bate in 1884 when she was 25 and he was 39. At this time, Frank was farming his father’s property ‘Brookdale’ , a mixed farm near Blaney NSW.This property was lost to Frank after a questionable court decision over the title of the land which had been promised to the children of his father’s first marriage. Frank had worked the farm, hoping that this promise could be overcome in the courts.
Frank's adventurous spirit prior to meeting Clara is recorded in the Stockman’s Hall of Fame in Longreach, Qld. Prior to this research, we had believed that Clara had managed the guest house as Frank was little more than a bush carpenter.But the records in the Stockman's Hall of Fame reveal his true pioneering spirit. One year after the first crossing of the continent by Burke and Wills, Frank, with others, drove 2000 head of cattle from Bourke, New South Wales to Burketown, Queensland for Town's Station (he had worked for Towns in Sydney as a young lad) on the Gulf of Carpentaria-a trip of nine months' duration. He followed this with a second mob.
Frank continued droving and station work in north Queensland, mostly for Towns' stations until about 1872. Around 1870 he was contracted to carry mail from Mackay to Nebo with a packhorse and pistol. Once settled at Frankfort, Frank maintained contact with his family, particularly his sister, Nell and there are reported to be letters between them which are held by Margaret Hardwick, Frank Jr's cousin. My research continues and hopefully I will find the letters and maybe they will reveal more about  Aunt Clara's Quilt.
More information on the pattern used for Aunt Clara's quilt.
With many ladies magazines and other companies making embroidery and patchwork patterns available for women to use and share, we cannot really be sure where Clara found the unusual elongated hexagon block pattern from. However, Diagrams of Quilt Sofa and Pincushion Patterns included a block Grandmother's Dream which could be purchased for 10 cents from the Ladies Art Company in St Louis. 
And perhaps she shared the block with another quilter in the area, Margery Harvey of Oberon NSW when she made her medallion quilt circa 1900 and used the elongated hexagon for one of her borders. The block is also listed in Caufields Dictionary of Needlework as Margaret Rolfe notes  in her book Patchwork Quilts of Australia but is unnamed."

Margery Harvey's Quilt
The Powerhouse curator Christina Sumner showed one of their latest acquisition, an unusual petal or pocket quilt that was made in England around 1900. See for a more detailed description of the quilt.

Here is a closeup of this fascinating quilt approved for publication on this site by Christina Sumner.

The documentation and care of the Australian AIDS memorial quilt was also discussed and selected panels were shown.

Dr Annette Gero 'War Quilts and Waggas' November talk at Noosa, Qld

There will be a quilt exhibition of War quilts and Waggas  as well as a lecture given by Dr Annette Gero in Noosa, Queensland on the Tuesday 13th November 2012.

The talk will be given at Wallace House
Noosa Shire Arts and Crafts Assoc Inc (NSACA)
7 Wallace Drive (off the Eumundi Rd/Gibson Rd Roundabout)
Noosaville Qld 4566

Reservations can essential and seats are filling fast. Contact Maree Risby-Jones on 5447-3652 or 0431 088-945 for your ticket.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Report on the 'Maria Challenge' unveiling at the Hunters Hill Quilters 30th Birthday Party

On Thursday the 13th of September 2012, I was lucky enough to be one of those invited to attend the Hunters Hill Quilters 30th birthday celebrations lunch. The guest speaker was Margaret Rowe, author of the Quilt Challenge series. Dr Annette Gero also brought alone one of her recent finds to show us.

Thirty-nine quilters accepted the 'Maria Challenge' and their results were unveiled at the meeting. Each person spoke about how they had approached the challenge, describing the quilt making process they followed and then spoke about the life of the convict woman they had been assigned. If they could not research their assigned convict's life, some created wonderful life stories for her- some hilariously on the spot. After judging had finished, the president handed out prizes for the best coverlets along with a prize for the best storyteller.
See for exact details of the challenge, a photograph of the winning coverlet made by Lindy Messenger and photographs of the 39 entries.

Margaret Rowe then spoke about her self publishing journey, including how her four Australian  challenge quilt novels came to be written. See for the story of her journey, her current work and contact details.
There are 4 books in the "Australian Challenge Quilt Series" -
The Maria Challenge Quilt
The Elizabeth Challenge Quilt
The Caroline Challenge Quilt
The Amelia Challenge Quilt

They are all paperback and $24.95 each. Margaret does not charge postage for private orders within Australia, but overseas postage is unfortunately $10 per book. You can contact her direct by email at and she takes payments by cheque, cash or direct deposit.
Finally Dr. Annette Gero showed one of her latest acquisitions which was found in a Sydney junk shop 15 years ago. It is a simple hexie quilt that has the date '1811' and a name, which she thinks belongs to a convict woman, embroidered on it. Annette believes that the fabrics are correct for that time and and she is continuing further research on it. 

Liz Bonner

Monday, September 17, 2012

Report on Dianne Finnegan’s talk to QSG of NSW on the Soft Furnishings Project for the Historic Houses Trust properties

On Saturday 15th of September 2012, Dianne Finnegan gave a wonderful presentation on the Soft Furnishings Project she has been leading since 2008 at Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney. Dianne was drawn to this project after health problems meant that she could no longer quilt. She has always been fascinated with the relationship people have to their quilts and other furnishings in their homes especially how these objects are used to denote wealth, status, taste, and notions of family. As well Jasper Morrison and Naoto Fukasawa’s notion of ‘super normal design’ (everyday objects that really make a difference in our living environment but don’t grab our attention) intrigues her.

Dianne spoke of Alexander Macleay, the owner and builder of Elizabeth Bay House, his life and the house itself. She quoted from the diary of his unmarried daughter, Fanny, who provided the inspiration and model for how they have worked on this project. If an area of textiles cannot be seen, then a sewing machine is used.  If it is cold, then they move the table and chairs close to the open fire and if the light is low, then they move to the window for more light. At all times they have been mindful of budget restrictions. Their design inspiration has come from images in books of that time and the wonderful HHT’s Caroline Simpson library and research collection.

Dianne broke her talk into the different areas of the project they had worked on – the bed furnishings, hangings and coverings, the window dressings including Holland blinds, fringes and silk screens, and the other oddities they have been called upon to sew (skin rugs, baize table cloths, aprons for use by visiting school children and knitted doilies for the dining table). They are now investigating Berlin work, making linens to fill cupboards, and will start on making rag rugs for the house. They hope to soon start a similar soft furnishings project for Elizabeth Farm.

On her guided tour, Dianne spoke of the problems they will have in freezing a bale of hay to restuff one of the mattresses in the main upstairs bedroom. We also saw close up the problems her group of sewers worked through in making the bed hangings on the campaign bed. And we admired the beautiful knitted bed covers.

In the Drawing room, the curtains were last replaced in the 1980s so Dianne consulted her reference books to create ones in a more appropriate style. In the process they discovered that the original gilt pelmets had been sold to Old Government House so these were copied and replaced.  The bullion fringe was reused but a knitted fringe had to be made for the new curtains. They also made pleated silk screens for the piano and lining cupboards.

In the Dining room, because they could not afford lace curtains, Elizabeth Wright made a design for them to copy, which they then embroidered by hand – but only after their workmanship met Elizabeth’s exacting standards.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dr Annette Gero 11th September Talk at Penrith Booked Out

Unfortunately, the talk that Dr Annette Gero is giving at the Penrith Civic Centre on Tuesday the 11th of September 2012 in conjuction with the Nepean District Historical Society's Library History Week display was booked out 2 weeks ago. There are currently no places left nor is there a waiting list.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Updated details for Dr Annette Gero and Karen Fail talk on 12th September 2012

The Powerhouse Museum is organising to have Aunt Clara's quilt and their military quilt at the the How the Power of Quilting Connects Communities seminar on the 12th of September 2012. They are the subject of talks that Karen Fail and Dr Annette Gero are giving at the Powerhouse Discovery Centre at Castle Hill.
See the previous entry in May 2012 for details of this event. The programme is available at

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Annette Gero talk for the Nepean District Historical Society on 11th September 2012012

In conjuction with the Nepean District Historical Society's Library History Week display Dr Annette Gero will be giving a talk on Australia's quilt heritage and exhibiting some of the antique quilts featured in her book "The Fabric of Society: Australia's Quilt Heritage from convict times to 1960".

As part of their Antique Quilt Roadshow, they invite participants to bring along their own antique quilts, which Dr Gero will be happy to assess on the day.

When: Tuesday 11th September 2012
Where: Library Theatrette Penrith Civic Centre
Cost: $5 including light refreshments.
Bookings essential on 4732 7891

For more details see

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dianne Finnegan QSG of NSW talk on Saturday 15th September at Elizabeth Bay House

This talk for the Quilt Study Group of NSW will take place at 2pm on Saturday the 15th September 2012 at Elizabeth Bay House, 7 Onslow Ave, Elizabeth Bay.
Elizabeth Bay House. Photograph (c) Patrick Bingham Hall
Dianne Finnegan has made quilts for nearly thirty years and along the way has been president of The Quilters' Guild NSW for the Bicentenary, exhibited internationally, curated exhibitions, explored the history of Australian quilts, written books and articles, fundraised, and travelled around the world teaching.
Currently, she is working with the Historic Houses Trust on their Soft Furnishings Project, restoring and replicating textiles at Elizabeth Bay House. 
For this event, Dianne will give her presentation on the Soft Furnishings Project followed by afternoon tea. Then there will be a guided tour of the house by one of the regular guides and a tour of the textiles with Dianne.
Entry to Elizabeth Bay House will be half price for this event  - $4 or Concession - $2; Members of HHT- Free. There is also a fee to the Quilt Study Group of NSW for the talk. This is $5 for  Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc. Members and $15 for non-Guild members.
BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL. Please email Karen Fail at  to secure a place at this event.
You are advised not to bring your car. For details on how to get to Elizabeth Bay House, see

Friday, July 27, 2012

Report on Margaret Sampson George’s QSG of NSW talk on Medallion Quilts

On Saturday the 21st of July 2012, Margaret Sampson George spoke for the Quilt Study Group of NSW about Medallion or Frame Quilts. There were 68 in the audience in the Target Theatre at the Powerhouse Museum who came to hear Margaret Sampson George talk about her introduction to sewing and quilting, her love of medallion quilts, examine some quilts in detail and then to see examples of her work and her students’ work. Margaret discovered quilt making through her contact with the craft magazines that her US service wife friends read when living in Alice Springs. After making her first quilt, a log cabin, and then moving to Penrith, she and a friend enrolled in a patchwork class run by the Embroiderers’ Guild of NSW. The teacher, Audrey McMahon, allowed them to make 4 blocks, instead of a glasses case, and introduced them to Avril Colby’s “Patchwork” (her bible still) and the Lady's Circle Patchwork Quilts magazines and the Quilter's Newsletter Magazines.

A year later, she started teaching but saw there was a need for commercial suppliers of metal templates and quilting frames. She encouraged a local company to make these – thus beginning the successful start of JH Bonwick & Co’s quilting products manufacture. Now Margaret teaches whatever people want to do – “repeat blocks are not me”, she said. This is why medallion quilts have interested her – they are quirky, eccentric and traditionally are not made from a pattern but evolve. Her detailed examination of Joanna Southcott’s quilt ( which was stitched in the centre with her own hair, best exemplifies what attracts Margaret’s interest.

Margaret then discussed the historic reasons for the popularity of medallion quilts, the development of fabrics from the 1500s onwards (especially the quilt centres based on pastoral, floral, military or commemorative panels) and the importance of medallions for commemorating important dates in the makers’ lives (such as the New Zealand Martha Quilt – see the story of this wonderful quilt at -

She finds it wonderful that there are no two identical frame quilts yet found and loves the odd ones – those that are not “oversized mathematical behemoths”. She doesn’t believe that there is a mathematical formula applicable but can see how the Fibonacci principles could help when designing the width of the frames. She now loves renovating her centres to take advantage of new, brighter fabrics.

Margaret then took us through her quilts and those of her students. She started with the One Day Quilt she made in 1992.

This is her 'Not the Levens Hall' quilt.

Here are 2 centres inspired by the Jane Pizar Irish medallion quilt which is held at the Cheltenham Museum. The original can be viewed at (Barbara Brackman has a more detailed examination of the quilt on her blog). Marg discovered the quilt when she saw an ad for the museum in an 'English Country Living' magazine. The first example was made by one of Marg's students and the second one is Marg's version.

And this is the medallion quilt she made from available fabrics and sewed under the curfew during the coup when living in Fiji.

Margaret then shared a number of quilts her students have made including some made by Gay Drummond and Maree Spencer, who were in the audience. Thank you for letting us see your wonderful quilt tops.

And this is the last quilt Marg showed us. A group of her students made it for her. She never uses Visoflex, so for fun they used it when making the blocks.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Report on Judy Hooworth’s QSG of NSW talk on 26th May 2012

Judy Hooworth gave an extensive talk to the QSG of NSW at the Powerhouse Museum in May. She broke the talk into three topics. The first section of her talk covered the history of ‘The New Quilt Exhibition’. The second section covered the thoughts and recent works of selected current contemporary quilters who have exhibited their works in ‘The New Quilt’ exhibition or its successor.
And the last part of Judy’s talk was the story of her quilting journey.

Quilting really took off in Australia in 1981. By the time Judy Hooworth and Anna Brown were on the Guild’s committee in 1992, they knew that recognizably Australian quilts were being made and it was time to also see quilts as ‘works of art’, not just as bed coverings. The committee accepted their proposal to start ‘The New Quilt Exhibition’ to showcase such quilts, so they took some of their own representative quilts to a list of museum and art galleries to gather support. Michael Pursche, then director of the Manly Art Gallery and Museum (and who was also in the audience), agreed to provide the venue for the exhibition. The benchmark for the first show was USA’s Quilt National, and the first catalogue produced for The New Quilt Exhibition has ensured continuing recognition of the event. Judy showed us the cover of every catalogue produced and took us through the themes and notable developments shown by quilters at each exhibition. She noted that while one third of the entries in the first exhibition had some surface design and two thirds used commercial fabrics, in the most recent exhibition 15 of the 19 exhibitors made their own fabrics. She encouraged all of us to submit proposals for future exhibitions because it is important to our work to ask ourselves three important questions: ‘What are we making? Why? And what have I made before?’ There are no prizes given but the reward is the privilege of being accepted into the Exhibition. Judy’s final piece of advice: ‘Take courage to submit a proposal’.

For the second section of her talk, Judy approached quilt artists who had exhibited in The New Quilt Exhibitions and asked them to provide her with digital images of their recent and earlier works, and to tell her what was the highlight of their career so far. It was remarkable to see how their quilts had changed and to hear the highlights. Those who responded included Yvonne Line, Barbara Macey, Pamela Fitzsimons, Alison Muir, Alveena Hall, Dianne Firth, Greg Somerville, Susan Matthews, Glennis Mann, Carolyn Sullivan, John Parkes, Anna Brown and Sue Cunningham.

In the final section of her talk, Judy took us through her artistic journey in textiles, her awards and the publications to which she has contributed. She started stitching with Noreen Dunn in the Cottage Quilters group in 1981. In 1985 they joined forces to start a business, Quiltek, and had a stall at the Craft Expos from 1985 to 1987. They both taught and sewed on consignment. Judy said she ‘concentrated on colour, Noreen on maths’.

Judy has always worked on series of quilts and showed us examples from every one of them. She started with her 1986 Double Homage series, inspired by Amish quilters, which marked the start of her career as a contemporary quilt maker.

By 1993 her fascination with the log cabin series led to her first entry into USA’s Quilt National.

In 1995 and 1997, the red, white, yellow and black colours in road barriers sparked her ‘Urban Landscapes’ series.

Her move from Terrey Hills to Morriset in 2004 led to the latest change in Judy’s work. As she initially had no studio or commercial fabrics to use, she started experimenting with plain white fabric torn into strips, layered, slashed and painted.


Her inspiration comes from nearby Dora Creek and she is now back to working with simple pieced and collaged quilts. When she lost her husband three years ago, she started work on her latest quilts – the Black Water series – which are hand painted, monoprinted, discharge-dyed and worked with oil pastels on the top of the fabrics.

Cancellation of Dr Annette Gero's talk on 11th August 2012 for the National Trust Parramatta

Unfortunately the 11th August talk by Annette Gero for the National Trust Parramatta on 'The Fabric of Society' and the Frederica Josephson coverlet has been cancelled. It will be rescheduled to a date in 2013.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Margaret Sampson George's talk to QSG of NSW on 21st July 2012

Come along to hear Margaret Sampson George talk to the Quilt Study Group of NSW about Medallion quilts. She will also show us her quilts and describe how they have changed over the years.

Margaret stated - "Medallion" style quilts have always held a great fascination for me. From the simple to the sublime, from 200 years ago to the present day, they can provide lessons in restraint or lessons in complexity. My talk will attempt to gain an insight into the reasons behind their construction and therefore into the lives of the women who made them.

Please join us in the Target Theatre at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney at 2pm on Saturday the 21st of July. There is no entry fee to the Powerhouse Museum if you are coming to the talk. Guild members pay $5 and non-Guild members $15 to attend. Afternoon tea is provided. Please bring along your own medallion quilts for show and tell after Margaret's talk.

Annette Gero talk for the National Trust Parramatta on 11th August 2012


The Fabric of Society: the story of our ancestors told through the quilts they made, both men and women.
 A talk by expert historian and passionate collector of historic Australian quilts, Dr. Annette Gero.
Dr Annette Gero, historian and author of “The Fabric of Society - Australia's Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960” has been documenting and collecting historic Australian quilts since 1982. She curated a stunning exhibition shown at Old Government House in 2000. 

The thread that holds the patchwork of Australian history together is that every story told includes the making of a quilt. Each story draws on women's and men's memories, diaries, their letters to relatives, official records, and newspaper and magazine articles reflecting current domestic influences. Surprisingly, it has recently been uncovered that many men made quilts, both during the wars and during the Depression. Some wonderful examples will be shown. In addition, on display during the talk will be an exact replica of a coverlet held in the National Trust collection. The original was made by Frederica Josephson and the replica was beautifully recreated by The Quilt Study Group of NSW. Dr Gero has found out some exciting new stories about the maker of the coverlet.
Replica of the Frederica Josephson coverlet

Dr Gero will have copies of her book "The Fabric of Society - Australia's Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960” ( which is fast running out)  for sale (cash or cheque only please).
Saturday 11 August, from 2.30 pm
Parramatta National Trust
Burnside Public School Hall, Masons Drive, North Parramatta 
Talk begins at 2.30,   $5 donation
Free parking is available.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Historic NSW Hexagon Quilt Top Unearthed

The Quilt Study Group of NSW has a fascinating request: to identify the maker of a lovely half-inch hexagon quilt top. The owner is a 90 year old. She did not make it but she believes it was made by a member of her family, which has links to the families of NSW Governor Philip Gidney King and the retailer David Jones.

The hexies are backed with papers which could help with this identification.

The owner would like it to go to an institution where it can be seen and admired, possibly the Powerhouse Museum. If we can identify the maker this would be a great bonus. The QSG of NSW is keen to take on this project and we will start with a debate on the thorny question: what should be done with an item such as this? Watch this space for developments.