Sunday, December 6, 2015

'Making The Australian Quilt: 1800-1950' exhibition - 22 July – 6 November 2016

Misses Hampson
The Westbury quilt 1900-1903
cotton, hand-embroidered, hand-appliqued
223 x 191 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Purchased through the Australian Textiles Fund 1990

‘Making the Australian Quilt: 1800 –1950’ is the first major exhibition of its kind to explore the rich and largely unseen works that constitute Australia’s quilt heritage. Exclusive to Melbourne, the exhibition includes more than eighty works from around the country. Key works such as The Rajah Quilt, and examples by renowned makers Mary Jane Hannaford, Marianne Gibson and Amelia Brown will be shown alongside a number of recently discovered pieces not exhibited before. They include quilts, coverlets, garments and quilted, patched and pieced works made in Australia or with a significant Australian provenance. The exhibition also features key 19th century English quilts that were brought or sent to Australia, informing and influencing the early quilting practices of local makers.
Annie Ellis
Australia 1870–1967
Dressing gown 1935
silk, wool, cotton, viscose, rayon, metallic thread
(a) 128.0 cm (centre back), 51.0 cm (sleeve length) (dressing gown)
(b) 242.0 x 10.0 cm diameter (variable) (belt)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Gift of Mrs Annie C. Champion, 1989 (CT136.a-b-1989)
With works drawn from public and private collections throughout Australia, visitors to this unprecedented exhibition will have a rare opportunity to experience the aesthetic impact, technical skill and powerful storytelling capacity of this fascinating art form. The material used in the creation of the work is diverse and telling of the creative resourcefulness of their makers. Taffeta, velvet, furnishing fabric, dressmaking scraps, flour bags, possum skins, suiting samples and flannelette has each been transformed by the act of cutting, layering, piecing and stitching.
Unknown, Australia
Possum skin rug (late 19th century – early 20th century)
possum skin
250.0 x 180.0 cm
Private collection, Sydney
Many of the pieces were created within an intimate, private setting, yet have the ability to convey much more of their broader social and historical significance. The exhibition encompasses quilts made by men and women, those made within the context of leisure and accomplishment, created as expressions of love and family connection and those stitched out of necessity in an environment of constraint and hardship.
Mary Jane Hannaford
born England 1840, emigrated to Australia 1842, died 1930
Wedding quilt 1922
cotton, wool, applique, glass (beads), sequins
169.0 x 195.0 cm
National Gallery of Australia, Canberra
Gift of Miss Swanson 1997 (NGV 97.1336)

The exhibition will be accompanied by a full colour catalogue and has been co-curated by renowned quilt historian and collector Dr Annette Gero and Katie Somerville, Senior Curator Fashion and Textiles, NGV. Multimedia will be used within the exhibition space to provide a better understanding of the process of quilt making and the stories behind the works on display.

A special opening weekend symposium exploring Australian quilt making leads the extensive range of public programs offered for ‘Making the Australian Quilt’. Other programs include talks, practical workshops and creative activities that allow a deeper exploration of the art, history and heritage of quilting in Australia.

22 July – 6 November 2016
Open 10am to 5pm daily
The Ian Potter Centre: NGV Australia

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Report on Shirley Gibson's QSG of NSW talk on Doll Making

Shirley Gibson has been a long-standing member of the Quilters’ Guild of NSW who has made many prize-winning quilts. She is a Guild-accredited quilting teacher and is also a valued member of the Guild’s Quilt Valuation Team. But many of us did not realise that she has another prize-winning skill – that of doll making. And on the 18th of July her audience was transfixed as she explained how she made her dolls and why.

Shirley with the first doll she made

Shirley was first attracted to this area when she was given a doll for Christmas in 1987. She was intrigued by how it was made, so had to make one for herself (a challenge she still follows). She started by buying the components of the dolls but quickly progressed to making them completely by hand: from handling the greenware through to making the accessories such as a bible, a chatelaine or in the case of her soldier doll, all his military equipment. In the process she has learnt valuable skills in porcelain painting and firing, millinery, shoe-making, smocking and pleating, and always researches historical costumes and construction in order to make authentic clothing. Along the way she has made all types of dolls, from the modern period to the late 1700s.
Shirley's daughter Merryn with the wind-up German doll her mother made for her

1920s doll with its own poupard (church doll)

Shirley started her talk by showing us the first doll she made. She explained how she prepared the greenware moulds for firing by using various tools to smooth and create attachments for eyes and limbs. She then showed how she painted the eyelashes and eyebrows using a paintbrush stripped down to 1 or 2 hairs, making sure that every hair painted is completely symmetrical. Lastly she paints the lips, nostrils and eyes (if they are not moveable) and makes teeth to insert. Finally the head is completed by making the wigs (from mohair or lambs wool) and attaching them. Some doll bodies are made from leather and some from calico and Shirley showed us all types.

After completing the body and researching the type of doll, Shirley then makes the clothing, footwear and any accessories needed to complete it. For the soldier doll going off to the Boer War, the uniform of a Tasmanian Regiment, complete with long johns and weapons, took her some time to make.

In the case of another doll, that meant making a complete wardrobe – all her clothes and accessories, along with a box to contain them.

For this doll, the ball gown with bustle and the tiara completed the ensemble.

The doll that intrigued us most was a French doll from the late 1700s that had the most beautiful clothing, including a quilted petticoat (quilted at 25 stitches to the inch). It was remarkable to see as Shirley undressed it and explained how she had made every part of the doll and its clothing.

Over the course of the talk we learnt the difference between the French and German doll and the various types of dolls – poupard, googly eyed, holly hobbie etc. Photographs of a small sample of those she brought along to show us are below.

Currently Shirley has an 1830’s doll body her son gave her for Christmas that has to be dressed, so her hobby continues still.
Shirley's next project

If you are intrigued by the speakers and topics, please come along to the next Quilt Study Group of NSW talk on Saturday afternoon, the 21st of November 2015. The speaker is by noted contemporary quilter Lisa Walton and her topic is ‘Leap and the net will appear’. For details, see QSG of NSW Events

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Saturday 21 November 2015 QSG of NSW talk by Lisa Walton

Lisa Walton will give the final QSG of NSW talk of the year on the 21st of November 2015. Lisa has been awarded many prizes for her quilts in Australian and International quilt shows and also teaches across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Europe and South Africa. She was awarded the 2010 Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship for Quilting Teachers by the International Quilt Association, Houston USA.
Lisa Walton has been awarded many prizes for her quilts including major international and Australian quilt shows such as the American Quilt Society and Festival of Quilts UK. She is widely published in all major Australian quilt magazines, has written her first book, Beautiful Building Block Quilts, and her patterns are published in the USA and Australia. Lisa also teaches across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Europe and South Africa. She was awarded the 2010 Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship for Quilting Teachers by the International Quilt Association, Houston USA. - See more at:
Lisa Walton has been awarded many prizes for her quilts including major international and Australian quilt shows such as the American Quilt Society and Festival of Quilts UK. She is widely published in all major Australian quilt magazines, has written her first book, Beautiful Building Block Quilts, and her patterns are published in the USA and Australia. Lisa also teaches across Australia, New Zealand, the USA, UK, Europe and South Africa. She was awarded the 2010 Jewel Pearce Patterson Scholarship for Quilting Teachers by the International Quilt Association, Houston USA. - See more at:

Her blog ( and website ( feature her quilting journey and her hand-dyed products that she makes and sells online and at the major Australian quilt shows.

Lisa's talk is called “Leap and the net will appear - sometimes great opportunities occur but we are afraid to take that leap due to natural fear of rejection or humiliation”. Lisa will talk about how taking that leap often leads to even more exciting opportunities.

The QSG of NSW talks are easy to get to and are a short walk from Wynyard and Circular Quay Train Stations. They are held at The Glover Cottages meeting room, 124 Kent Street, Sydney on a Saturday afternoon and start at 2pm. Entry is $5 for Guild members, $10 for others, and afternoon tea is provided.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Labours of Love Quilt Exhibition 7 August to 5 October 2015 at Hazelhurst Gallery

See for details

Monday, July 6, 2015

Report on Trudy Brodie’s QSG Talk on Strip Pieced Quilts

On Saturday the 2nd May 2015, Trudy Brodie spoke on the topic of Strip Pieced quilts. She said she has always been drawn towards traditional quilts and described how the places she has lived have influenced her development as a quilter. 

Trudy first discovered quilting when her husband was posted to Washington for 3 years in 1978. Inspired by a friend’s Lone Star Quilt, Trudy sought out a 6 week beginner’s class in 1981. Starting with the obligatory Sampler quilt in the browns and restricted fabric range then available to quilters, Trudy next made her own Lone Star quilt, 'American Memories', in red, white and blue prints she had bought in readiness in Washington.

Trudy showed us a succession of the quilts she has made since. These first quilts were, of course, made using a 12 inch ruler, chalk to mark and dressmaking shears to cut the fabric.

By the time she returned to Canberra and joined the local quilting group, Trudy had discovered her love for strip piecing – helped by the use of those new gadgets the rotary cutter and purpose-made plastic rulers. She grew fascinated by 60 degree log cabin variation strip pieced quilts especially when she saw one Maria McCormick-Snyder made in “100 Best Quilts of the Twentieth Century”. Since then Trudy has made a number of them. 

By the time of the Australian Bicentenary she had really mastered this pattern, as her copy of her ‘Diamonds Aglow’ which is in the collection of The Powerhouse Museum, proves.

Trudy has produced a number of quilts on commission for Margaret Rolfe and been represented in quilt shows in Australia and overseas. 

As the range of quilting fabrics and designs increased, Trudy embraced them and during a year in New York in 1993, she took the opportunity to take as many quilting classes and visit quilt shows as she could.

Trudy shared a number of lattice quilts she has recently made, and also showed us a wonderful Round Robin quilt made as a friendship project with Japanese quilters.

After Trudy finished speaking, Karen Fail showed us some of her US 1940’s strip pieced quilts and a quilt she made for Judy Hooworth for one of her books. 

Kaye Graham also showed examples of her strip pieced quilts, including a simple but effective rail fence quilt.

Come along to the next Quilt Study Group of NSW talk on Saturday the 18th of July. Shirley Gibson will show us how she has made her wonderful collection of reproduction porcelain dolls and talk about doll making.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Saturday 18th July 2015 QSG of NSW talk by Shirley Gibson

On Saturday the 18th July 2015 Shirley Gibson will give a talk on 'Dolls and Doll Making from 1700 to the Present' at The Quilt Study Group of NSW meeting. Shirley has been a member of The Quilters’ Guild of NSW since its inception more than 30 years ago. She taught dress making and millinery for many years at technical college. She has always loved sewing but is also an accomplished landscape painter, as well as being a patchwork and quilting teacher and a member of the Guild's quilt evaluation team. 

Shirley will show us all the components she uses in making her reproduction porcelain dolls - greenware, handmade wigs, shoes, and even knitted socks and crocheted gloves. The dolls are made entirely by Shirley herself. Some have up to five petticoats underneath and a hoop. Her dolls are mainly from the Edwardian, Victorian, and Georgian periods, and she has even made an Amish doll and her quilt. All the details have to be scaled down to fit the doll; for example smocking has to be smaller, the quilting finer and the wool split to make it a smaller ply for knitting. Her dolls are exquisite and have so much attention to detail. 

Come and join us at The Glover Cottages 124 Kent Street Sydney at 2pm for this most informative talk and display. Bring along your own dolls to show, and stay for afternoon tea afterwards. Guild members pay $5 and visitors $10.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

June 2015 Jenny Bain Contemporary Quilt Exhibition at Wollombi NSW

Between the 13th and 21st of June 2015, Jenny Bain will be showing a number of her recent quilts and pieces in a shared exhibition in The Old Fireshed Gallery at Wollombi NSW.

Jenny received a scholarship from the Quilters' Guild of NSW last year and with it produced her "Corruption Cycles" textiles. It was a study of the implications of corruption in design with reference to political and social events. 
Come along to see Jenny's latest works. See for venue details.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Saturday May 2 2015 QSG of NSW talk by Trudy Brodie on Strip Pieced Quilts.

On the 2nd of May, Trudy Brodie will give a presentation about the versatility of Strip Piecing. She has incorporated this piecing method into many of her quilts.  Other forms of piecing such as Lattice and Log Cabin will also be featured to show the style of Trudy’s quilts.

Bring along examples of your own strip pieced quilts, such as log cabins, jelly roll quilts, string pieced quilts etc., to share.
The talk will start at 2pm and will be held in the Meeting Room at The Glover Cottages, 124 Kent Street, Millers Point in Sydney. Entry is $5 for members of the Quilters' Guild of NSW, $10 for other guests. Afternoon tea is provided.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Report on 7 March 2015 QSG of NSW talk by Judy Day

Judy Day was The Quilt Study Group of NSW’s first guest speaker of the year on Saturday 7th March 2015. 

Judy’s mother was a dressmaker and a sewing perfectionist, whose skills Judy believes she inherited. Judy loves handwork and has been a quilter for over 25 years. Her miniature quilts range in style from antique reproductions to Hawaiian, 1930’s, 19th Century red and green quilts and copies of early cot quilts. Judy shared more than 30 of her beautiful miniature quilts with us and described in detail what inspired their creation and exactly how they were made.

Judy has won many prizes for her quilts at quilt shows in Australia, as well as a number of prizes at The American Quilter’s Society quilt shows in USA. Two of her miniature quilts are exhibited in the “Oh WOW! Miniature Quilts Gallery “ in The National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky USA.

Judy believes that patience, attention to detail and precision is important in making miniature quilts. She loves antique quilts but said she couldn’t hope to reproduce as many as she would like to in a lifetime, so by making them in miniature she can produce more. 

Judy’s advice for those wanting to make miniature quilts included sharing details about the threads, needles, fabrics and assembly techniques she uses.   

Most of her quilt patterns are taken from pictures of old quilts found in books. First Judy enlarges the picture using a photocopier (usually 300%) and then she drafts the pattern by using tracing paper. To select the most appropriate fabric Judy studies those used in the original picture using a magnifier. Nowadays she tends to appliqué her quilts as a whole cloth on muslin – even a beautiful clamshell quilt she showed us was made by this method. 

Please join us for the next QSG of NSW talk on the 2nd May 2015. Trudy Brodie will talk about all types of Strip Pieced Quilts.