Thursday, 29 June 2017

Presenting a Quilt

Last week I had the privilege of presenting a quilt to the Fleet Command Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer Stephen Downey,  who will be leaving the Navy early next month after a long and distinguished career.

The quilt features the honours and awards Stephen has received, the shore establishments and sea postings throughout his career, the crossed paddles which symbolise his early days in the Navy, the RAN crest and a cherished family photo.

This quilt top was made by Lynn F, with embroideries by Cheri W.  Keryn then completed the quilt with a quilting pattern called "Calm Waters".  What could be more appropriate?

Stephen had not been expecting the quilt but knew something was up as soon
as he saw I was there for the afternoon tea.   The Fleet Commander presented
Stephen with a fourth clasp to one of his medals and then handed over to me.
I looked at Stephen and he just said.. "I know what you do."

After a few words, I unfurled the quilt so that Stephen could see it.  It was an emotional moment in a room full of anticipation, and Stephen was momentarily lost for words and became choked up .. must have been a bit of dust in the air as well...

After he had had a chance to soak in the details on his quilt, we posed for some photos and then Stephen lay the quilt on the table and said a few words.  It was obvious as he related to each of the elements on the quilt, that we had hit the mark with what had been included.  This was a precious moment for me and I really wished all of you could have been there to see how deeply this quilt went straight to the heart of this sailor's career.

I don't normally share details like this, but I do so tonight with Stephen's blessing.  It is the only way I can bring you into the room with me when I am privileged to present these quilts on your behalf.

Til next time...... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree  xx

Two wonderful quilts by the class or 3/4B from Woy Woy Primary School

Sometimes I just do not have time to write up these fabulous stories... even when someone has done most of the work for me, as in this case, it takes me a while to get around to proof reading it and preparing it for posting. 

This post should have been up a while ago but I am so pleased I got it up before the kids go on holidays.  Hopefully Jess can get the word to Mr Betts as this is a wonderful story and I am so, so proud of the way this class go involved with Aussie Heroes and how they paid tribute to our serving members. 

Class 3/4B you Rock!
Mr Betts, you rock for embracing this project.
And Jess
YOU absolutely Rock. It makes me so proud when people call me the QUILT LADY and I am very proud to share the title with you!

And now the rest of you can enjoy this story......

And be warned.... there was a bit (ok a lot) of dust around when I read this for the first time.

By Jess T .....

My first ever Aussie Hero Quilt that I made was a Summer holiday project with my children. It was a Greek Mythology quilt. My 12-year-old son researched what we should put on the quilt, and then my 7-year-old drew pictures to correspond with the symbols for the Goddesses of Wisdom, Home and Safety. She then carefully painted them with fabric paints. I sewed the pictures together, with some other appropriate bordering and pretty fabric, and a love for making these quilts was born. My kids enjoyed working on this quilt with me, and we had great conversations about why we were making the quilt, who we were making it for. We talked about what we thought our recipient was doing while we were working on her quilt, what she got for Christmas (it was the holidays), and why we still needed a Defence Force today, even though there wasn't a World War happening.

Skip forward another year, and my daughter is still asking to make another quilt with me! So, we spoke to her teacher about the possibility of working on a quilt or two as a class. He was excited, my daughter was excited, but none of us had known how excited the class would be after our first session together. Firstly, I scanned the list for a few weeks to find something the kids could work with - football teams would be too controversial, although I'm sure Mr Betts would have loved for us to work on a Parramatta Eels quilt. Some themes would be too difficult to do with a large group of kids (physiotherapy anyone?), but then three of our Navy boys wanted various versions of Mario Kart characters. A computer game that has been around since I was a kid and still just as prolific among the kids today, I knew I could do something with this!

But first, to get the kids on board (Navy pun, sorry!). We spent one afternoon listening to the kids talk about their family history within the ADF - My Grandpa was in... My Great Grandfather and my Dad's Uncle were in... And what about ANZAC Day? What's that about? Well, they knew about landing at Gallipoli and they knew it happened over 100 years ago. And they knew about the last big war where Great Grandpa fought, but he's old too (kid’s words, not mine!). So I asked them, what about now? Is ANZAC Day just about the older guys? Well, Yes and No. ANZAC Day is definitely a day where we should show our respect for those who fought to help make this country what it is today. A day to remember the freedoms we have, that have been given to us by their sacrifice. But also our freedom, our safety, continues thanks to the men and women that are out there now. Like right now. You know that look on a kid’s face when they are really amazed at something? Their eyes really do widen! And 29 kids simultaneously is quite a sight.

From here, I showed them a clip that HMAS Darwin recently released about life on their boat. I skipped in a little to avoid the shooting practice, but they watched the grey boat float over the beautiful ocean. They watched them in their grey clothes perform drills, take their smaller grey boat out on the ocean and then lift it back on board. And then watched them eat in their greyish dining room. The personalities onboard HMAS Darwin are beautiful, and the kids laughed at them pulling funny faces at the camera, but the kids quite easily picked up on the grey. Whilst it sure is great for camouflage, it’s just a little dull for kids that are used to bright, flashy things! Time for the talk about Aussie Hero Quilts! What we make, why we make them, who we make them for. And then the announcement that they were going to make one with Mario Kart characters. They were so excited, it was fantastic.

We did a quick vote as to who was going to paint which character, which I then prepared for the next session. I printed simple A4 colouring in style pictures of 6 characters, and traced them onto pieces of thick white calico. The kids then painted the pictures with acrylic paints mixed with a fabric fixative from Spotlight. I took the pictures home and painted on the black outlines. Then set the paint by dry ironing them on the hottest setting with a scrap piece of calico so as not to allow any scorch marks to develop. If you're worried about using this method, I have a kid’s shirt that has been around for 18 years, been through 4 children through their pre-school years, so has been washed plenty of times on cold wash settings. Whilst the colours have now started to fade a little, the picture is still very clear, the colours are just more muted. So in terms of use on a quilt, which is generally washed on a gentle setting, I am quite confident that it won't be a problem, but it is a good idea to use a colour catcher for the first couple of washes just in case. 

The kids then wrote letters, coloured pictures and made cards to say thank you to our lucky chosen recipients. But it didn't end there!

I trimmed the pictures and made them in to a quilt, with a colourful border that the kids chose. But the talk around the school about what we had done and how the kids were buzzing, caused a stir! With the ANZAC Day Ceremony at the beginning of Term Two, it was insisted that we show the quilts to the whole school, to make sure that everybody remembered not just our older ANZACs, but our newer veterans and our current serving members as well. The kids proudly displayed their quilts to the whole school to an audible wow, cool, and round of applause. 

For those that are good with numbers, and had also noticed that I said three quilts at the beginning - a quick explanation. I used 12 characters on the front of each quilt (24 total). I then used a character alongside the signature panel on the back of the quilts. The third quilt is still under construction, but will be a larger picture that one child who had a bit of difficulty with the smaller image painted for me. And the remaining two characters will be worked into this quilt as well. So a class of 29 split across three quilts quite nicely. 

Doing this project with the kids has been an amazing experience for both myself, their teacher Paul Betts, and the kids. The enthusiasm from the kids has been completely infectious, and I've stolen Jan-Maree's title around the school, I'm now the Quilt Lady, which I wear with pride. The conversations we had with the kids whilst painting and writing letters etc. where beyond phenomenal. One child painted his character with darker skin, as he has darker skin, but then thought he'd made a mistake, as the human Mario Kart characters have lighter skin. He was incredibly happy to find out that there are people in the Defence Force with darker skin, and that they work with other people from all around the world. He was then proud to have made his a little different, so that the quilt reflected the many different people in the Defence Force. Presenting new ideas to some kids that thought 'people only join the army because they hate the bad guys and wanna kill them', was interesting. Ensuring the Mario Kart female character was included, because there are also girls in the Defence Force was very encouraging. And seeing letters where they say that Thank You isn't enough, is just beautiful. Seeing the kids get enthusiastic about this project, talking with their friends on the playground and having the opportunity to work on this project with the kids has been amazing.

And now, I'm having to teach my daughter to sew, because *just* painting the pictures is no longer enough.

Hey Jess,

Firstly thank you to yourself and the class of 3/4B for the amazing quilt. I am nearing the end of my deployment now and just received your care package and quilt. I also read through all the letters and cards that the class sent me. The coloured in pictures are now stuck up on the inside of my locker.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Happy Mail 28 June 17

Lot of great blocks, two great quilt tops, some laundry bags and a bunch of completed quilts......  what a great lot of mail in our letter boxes this week.

Thanks so much all!

Anne S 

Jan A 

Jan A

Julie Ann

June A 


Maree J 

Norma R 

Relwa A

Thanks muchly everyone! 

Till next time.... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xx

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Heart for Adelaide Written by Julie Ann...

On behalf of AHQ, I was presented with an appreciation award from local community radio station,  1079 LIFE here in Adelaide called “Heart for Adelaide Award”.

1079 LIFE like to give these awards to organisations/persons that they deem to give of their time for worthwhile causes.

The certificate says:       

AUSSIE HERO QUILTS (and Laundry Bags)

The team at 1079 LIFE would like to thank you for your generosity in blessing our overseas servicemen and women with personalized quilts and laundry bags. Your practical kindness in using your creativity and sewing skills to bring a piece of Australia to those who might be missing home is a wonderful enterprise. We want you to know that you in turn are appreciated.

We had a few quilters present, Raylene and Liz (sisters) came down from Mid-North, Rita and Bob M, Su J, Leonie D, Inga C, Nelle K, Jackie J and myself.

I was asked to explain about AHQ’s beginnings and when I stated the numbers of Quilts and laundry bags that we have sent, Jody the presenter was notably impressed.

She spoke to most that where there and asked why they sewed for AHQ and what sort of responses each had got.

Jody with Inge and one of her stunning quilts.

 It was good to catch-up with the other ladies and talk about what they have been working on and ask what’s in the sewing/embroidery machine next. Everyone is looking forward to catch-up again.

Julie Ann

Big thanks to all of those who showed up and represented Aussie Heroes yesterday. 
What a special honour for Aussie Heroes to be recognised in such a way. 

Julie Ann and the others who attended really enjoyed getting together and sharing their stories and AHQ experiences.   The ladies all enjoyed being together and wondered if others would like to join in the fun in SA.  If you are happy to be included in the group in South Australia for future events please email me and I will pass your details to Julie Ann and she will coordinate and advise you of any events and get togethers in the future. 

Till next time.... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xx

Grati-Tuesday 27 June 17

Tuesday's post is always one of my favourites for the week.  I spent 12 hours yesterday organising one special project (can't tell you everything) on top of the normal request list emails, and it is messages like these that make it easy to do it! 

Happy reading everyone!


I am an Army member serving as crew on HMAS Choules for the last three years.

I would like to say a big thank your organisation for your kind gesture in making a Hero Quilt washing bag for us whilst we were on Cyclone Debbie duties.

I know how much effort you and your ladies put into these quilts and bags in support for all members of the ADF who are deployed.

When I received the washing bag I was over the moon, that someone cares and supports us in our field of employment.

I have previously received a Hero quilt and washing bag when I was deployed in the Middle East in 2013 and I still use them today.

The new washing bag I have just received is now being used as my last washing bag was starting to wear out.

Thank you,


Hi Jan-Maree! I have to say I'm absolutely thrilled with my laundry bag. I absolutely love it and will be writing a letter to Anne thanking her. It's dead set perfect! The goodies in the box were an extra delighted surprise! Thank you so very much.


Hello Sue

I am currently serving in Afghanistan. I received your Hero Quilt you lovingly made for me a few month's ago and I'm afraid I've been a bit lax in showing my gratitude towards the effort and care you put in. I absolutely love it and while I was on leave I took it home to Australia to show my mother, who knows of Hero Quilts and is a quilter herself in her spare time, and she thought it was marvelous and insisted I get in touch with you as soon as I could. Once again I would like to thank you for the quilt and I've attached a photo so you can see it.

Take care


I wanted to thank you for the laundry bag I received from you.
We collected them about a month ago. It certainly was a  lovely gesture and the whole ship's crew appreciated them.
From the looks of the ship's laundry mine is not the  only one that has not been put to good  use!

Hey Jess,

Firstly thank you to yourself and the class of 3/4B for the amazing quilt. I am nearing the end of my deployment now and just received your care package and quilt. I also read through all the letters and cards that the class sent me. The coloured in pictures are now stuck up on the inside of my locker.

I am a Electronics Technician on board and I have also been part of the emergency response team called 'Standing sea fire and emergency party'.  My primary role as an ET means I look after all the missiles on the ship and our defence systems.  My job as part of the SSFEP is BA-H which is Breathing apparatus hose. This involves being apart of a party of two people who are the initial fire fighters to any sort of fire that may occur on the ship.

We do a lot of training while at sea to make sure that our skills are good enough so that we are ready to respond to anything that may happen.

We have spent 219 days away from home and not long to go. We have been to a lot of middle eastern countries including, India, Oman, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Tanzania and the Seychelles.


Hi Joy 

I loved the quilt you made it was a lot better then expected - you have done an amazing job gotta say 100 time better then what I could have done haha 

I am a infantry  private from the great 7RAR based in Adelaide I have been in the army for about two and a half years now and still enjoying my jobs I have had two deployments to kabual Afghanistan  as ROCL relief ( I replace the boys who go on leave ) I was here last year from August to November and this year I got  here in march and I am set to go home in under two weeks 

It is such a nice thing you do making all the quilts you make it shows to me that their are people back home who actually care about our well being beside family and who take the time to make something from the heart

I wish you and your family the best of luck in your life and hope you are doing well i just want to say thank you for the lovely quilt 

Hi Ruth,

Thank you so much for the care package with the laundry bag.
I didn't realise before deploying how many people send care packages full of goodies.
It's nice to see that our deployed soldiers, airmen and sailors are still thought of and supported by our nation.
Thank you and keep up the good work.


Dearest Sue,
I'd like to begin by sending my heartfelt thanks for making me the most beautiful quilt I have ever seen. In your design you captured the simple things that fill my soul - tea cups, tea pots and a well stocked bookshelf!

  I received the quilt one month to the day I left Australia, that being 11 May. Forgive me for my delayed response. I haven't had a day off since arriving in theatre so was struggling to find you a suitable thank you gift, but managed to find this humble camel which I hope will always remind you of how thankful we are to those back home, that care so much to give their valuable time to those so far from home.

 Our accommodation over here is quite spartan, but I'm grateful we have air conditioning to be able to sleep. We're managing 50 Degrees daily and dehydration is a big risk.  So your quilt has made my spartan accommodation feel like home. I simply adore hand made Items, More so since the passing of my dear mother in 2011, so your gift to me became a family heirloom with my daughter attempting to claim it for her bed when I return. I however think it will take pride of place on the back of our lounge as evenings in Canberra are quite cool even in autumn and spring.

 Anyway dear Sue I am writing this whilst having lunch so I must return to work. Please know that thank you is not enough for the most beautiful quilt you made me, but heartfelt thanks is all I can give.

I wish you and your family all the very best and know that we are very grateful to you for your kindness

  With fond regards

Dear Karen, 

I wanted to drop you a line and thank-you for the brilliant laundry bag that you were kind enough to make for me, which I have just received.  My colleagues were also thankful for the tim-tams and lollies as well! 

This is my second six month deployment to the Middle East, and I've also previously served with the United Nations for twelve months in East Timor.  It was not until arriving on my current deployment that I had become aware of the Aussie Quilts project, and as soon as I had seen some of the many terrific quilts and laundry bags that many of our people had 
taken advantage of that I decided that I would like to get one as well.  Thank-you very much for the kind gesture and for taking the time to do this.  It is very much appreciated. 

We are currently "enjoying" 50 degree days each and every day here and the thought of swapping for the cooler delights of Canberra where I am currently based back in Australia seems very appealing.  Fortunately I have a two week break coming up and the end of this month, where I will be joining my partner for a couple of weeks holiday, which I'm very much looking forward to. 

My laundry bag is going to be a very nice reminder of my final deployment


Good afternoon Janeene,

Yesterday I received my parcel from yourself.  Thank you so much for the quilt, laundry bag, Tim Tams and of course Tommy Hawkins poster.  I cant thank you enough for the effort and time you put into making these for us.

To see that it was made from someone in Geelong, makes it that little bit more special.  I grew up in Meredith and went to school in Geelong, so that place and of course GFC are very special to me.  

The Quilt and Laundry bag are fantastic, so well made. It must take you a long time to do them and I cant thank you enough for making them.  It was so good to read the Advertiser and the Tommy Hawkins poster hangs proudly in my room.

Once again Thank you it is a fantastic thing you do for the Serving members and we all greatly appreciate the time, passion and energy you put into making them.

Go Cats!

Hi Jean

I received the Laundry bag you made on Tuesday afternoon and I must say it is very impressive and a most wonderful effort that you have put in for me. I am particularly impressed with the scroll work and my initials. I cannot thank you enough for the work that you have put in and cannot adequately express my thanks for your efforts. Rest assured that the bag will get good use for the remainder of my tour here in the Middle East. At this stage, my return to Australia is a little over two months from now and I find it amazing that the time has gone so quickly. We have had some exceptionally hot days here over the last month or so with last Saturday afternoon being 48.9 degrees in the shade. It was a real effort to walk even the 300 metres to the bed sheet exchange building. Thankfully most areas have very good air conditioning and staying inside most of the time is the thing to do.

Anyway, I just wanted to thank you again for the Laundry Bag. Thanks for your work and the work you do for all the Servicemen and women who are deployed.

Dear Joan and Robin,

Thank you both for the laundry bag. The bright colours certainly brighten up my life here.

I have been overwhelmed by the support the Australian Defence Force members receive from proud Australians like yourselves.

We are working on getting a group photo for you and will hopefully have it for you in the near future.

Thank you once again.


Hey Ruth,

I received in the mail the laundry bag that you made for me. 
Thank you so much for taking the time and making it for me, I really appreciate the effort you put in and it definitely brightened up my day and week! 
I hope the Power do well this season but more importantly hope the Crows take home the premiership.

Many thanks


I wanted to write to you so say a HUGE thank you for the quilt you made for me!! I absolutely love it, it's perfect and it's made me so happy and really brightened up my room! Plus thank you for the matching laundry bag - I love it! The design is awesome and the teepee with my initials really made me laugh, that was very clever! 😃 😃

I just got back from R&R leave and I when I came back I heard there were 2 parcels waiting for me and it was a lovely surprise, plus all the additional Aussie goodies you put in there for me, was so lovely of you! Thank you!! Plus my fiancé was very impressed when I showed him through Skype!

I have been away for just over 5 months now and a few weeks to go before I head back to a very cold Canberra winter. It's very warm over here, about mid to high 30's so I will definitely notice the cold! 

Anyway I wanted to touch base with you to thank you.

Thank you so much again, I'm so grateful!

All the best, 

Good Afternoon Jan-Maree

Just wanted to say I received my quilt and laundry bag yesterday, and they are simply amazing.

I received mine from Di from Tasmania, and she did a simply incredible job. I can't thank her enough, both bring such a smile to my face every time I see them. Such incredible colours, and more then I could have ever imagined when I requested a quilt.

Thankyou for everything you, and your quilters do!!!! It is the most incredible thing, and I am sure that I am not the only one that knows that having something beautiful to come back to at the end of every day, makes each day just the little bit better.

Thankyou again.


Hey Rhoda,

I received in the mail the laundry bag and quilt that you made for me. I really appreciate the time and effort you spent in making them, they are better than I could of ever imagined. Receiving them has definitely brightened up my day and week and I hope you and your husband are doing very well. Hopefully the Crows continue their good season and win the premiership!

Many Thanks

Dear Denise, 

I would like to thank you very much for the beautiful quilt, laundry bag and pencil case. 

I'm a medic/nurse with the ADF and this quilt meant the world to me, when it arrived I had been going through a terrible time and it truly brightened up my month. 

The kindness of strangers like yourself inspired me to do something similar and I started to make dreamcatchers whilst hospitalised. It is now my goal to raise money for veterans charities with the sale of my dream catchers, I have only just started the Facebook page but it will be called mending dreams. 



G'Day Sue,
Just a quick email to thank you for the awesome quilt  and laundry bag you have made and sent over.  During the difficult times of being away from family and friends in a desolate corner of the world it is gestures like these that lift our spirits and keep us focused on the job at hand. I have a wife of 21 years and an 11 year old son at home and at different times it can be difficult for all three of us to keep upbeat, but it is encouraging that we all, as a family, have great support back home and that people understand that what we are doing is helping in the security of Australia, not just the local region here.

Once again, thank you very much for the gift, it is greatly appreciated and will always be in our family as a gesture of the kindness of people in Australia. 

Kind Regards,

Dear Kate,

Thank you so very much for the love and care you have put into the colourful laundry bag.

I had a great time opening the package and seeing it all for the first time, the tasty treats were a great addition and they have been put to good use.
The colours on the bag are very eye-catching and psychedelic.  It now hangs in pride of place on my locker and has been used countless times.

It gives me great pleasure to write to you and say thank you so very much.
Needless to say, it gives me great excitement to receive goodies and kind words from home and always manages to put a smile on my face.

Being away from home for months on end does take its toll, but the packages you and those like you make and send helps to alleviate some of that home sickness.
It was so amazing to receive something so personal just for me, and for that I thank you for all of your hard work and artistic flair that went into making this special gift.

Thank you and God bless.

Hi Di

First of all, oh my goodness, my quilt and laundry bag and incredible, I actually can't wipe the smile off my face. Both are absolutely perfect and are just so so me!!!

Thankyou so much for all the thought, time and effort you put into my quilt and laundry bag. It is such a beautiful thing you do for us, and I know anyone that has received one of your quilts would say the same!!!

I can't even imagine how cold it is in Tasmania currently. I currently have overnight lows of 33 and highs of about 49, so a tad warmer I'm guessing.

Good luck with your travels to Cairns and the east coast of Australia, will be so lovely!! Oh how exciting being grandparents, I have a niece who is 3 and nephew who is 2 and they bring so much joy to a family.

Thank you  again, words can not describe my thanks and joy for my quilt and laundry bag.

Stay warm!!!

To whom this concerns,

I am currently serving on HMAS Arunta in the Middle East Region.

This email is to convey my appreciation to the many parties that have contributed to the creation of a masterpiece that is now my quilt and laundry bag that I received from your organisation. I was very moved to receive the package containing the goodies and also to receive and read the beautiful letter enclosed. 

First, a little bit about me.
Throughout my childhood, I have grown up, part of a family of quilters and have seen the amount of effort and work that goes into these finished products. My Grandmother, Mother and Sister all quilt, applique and do stitchwork and as a teen there were many times I was dragged along to another craft show or quilters fair to see the works. I also remember walking into my Grandmothers sewing room (packed to the ceiling full of odd fabrics and projects) and wondering why anyone would have one room dedicated to this artwork. To say I wasn't interested would of been a lie, I even had the chance to learn a little bit myself but found that Cross stitch was more to my liking. I could never seem to work out the sewing machine properly and stitching straight was my greatest challenge. My mum still quilts to this day and every time I go home she has another bit of stitching that she is working on to finish. Unfortunately due to work and change of taste, I have moved away from stitchwork but still have many of my finished pieces stashed away for safe keeping.

I have currently been serving in the Royal Australian Navy as a Marine Technician for just under 13 years.  I have served in several ships over the years including HMAS Perth, HMAS Warramunga and HMAS Toowoomba. I have been on HMAS Arunta now for four years since her upgrade. I am married with no kids and my wife is very supportive of my career. She was a Assistant in Nursing when I met her in 2011 and now is studying to be a registered Nurse. We have been married for 3 years. 

Finally, I would like to again send my regards for your efforts with the Hero quilts that have been sent during this deployment. To see the many laundry bags getting around the ship is really exciting. It can also be used as a small game trying to guess who has chosen all the different designs. I think my bag is one of the most recognizable due to everyone knowing I support Hawthorn. Even though we are so far from home, you can never get away from the Football and supporter passion that will always be present.

Kind regards


Till next time..... keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Jan-Maree xx