Tuesday 31 January 2012

Lots and lots of happy mail.....

But I am not sharing it all with you today.  I am going to stretch it out so we can enjoy everyone's work individually.  This is Maria's work.  Four really cool laundry bags in great colours.
 And then five - YES FIVE quilt tops.  Two masculine....
some great colours in these
 One feminine in chic black and white - I see this with a bright solid colour for binding!  Lime green, hot pink, cherry red?  
 And two more blokey quilts!
 some really great novelty fabrics too.
Maria also included backing for the tops - great!!!
Thanks so much Maria.  

Last night I told you that I needed to confirm if there was a way to label our boxes so that the people distributing them knew if there was a feminine quilt inside or a masculine one.  Overnight I got word that there  will be no problem - we can just address it to A FEMALE SOLDIER.  That is easy.  I also got confirmation that it is possible to send a bundle of laundry bags and just address the box to AN ADF SECTION and then  it will be handed to 'Division', 'Platoon', 'Section' for distribution by the OIC or commander as appropriate.  Easy!  

This is a really busy week for me.  My quilt group meets here tomorrow and so I spent today cooking their morning tea (see the Cherry Red blog if you want to see what I baked) and I also had to do some grocery shopping and run around after kids.  I am looking forward to a couple of quieter days on Thursday and Friday - I am planning to layer or quilt some more quilts.

I have had word of another donation or two but I don't want to say anything till it is confirmed. And I have also had emailed promises of more quilts which is so exciting!

Launch date for our BOM is February the 2nd so stay tuned.  If you want to sort through your stash for each block you will need two colours, one light and one dark.   I will be teaming the blocks with this fabric - a cool lettered faded red.  I think this will make a great masculine quilt so no flowers or pinks etc please.

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

Monday 30 January 2012

Latest News

Now before I get sidetracked - someone out there is anonymous! It is really frustrating for me, but it also means that you, oh anonymous one, are missing out on the delight of reply emails from me!  So here is what you need to do - Check out the instructions in this post from Sweet Simplicity.  That should set you on the right path to coming out of anonymity so that we can all talk to you!

Now time to update you all on things that have been happening in the background for a while now.  When I first started my quilt group off sending quilts and laundry bags to Afghanistan, we were given the direct address for the friendly Warrant Officer (WO), a.k.a Mr Posie, the handsome (and he is) soldier husband of Jennie from Posie Patchwork.  Now I have been very protective of his address and his identity as, like a lot of the guys and gals over there, his details, photo etc are not allowed to be published.  No problems. Everything went through me and everything we sent went through the family and friends mailing system.

At some point however the friendly WO will return to Oz and I will need to establish another method of getting everything to the right people in Afghanistan.  On New Year's Day I received an email from a Major (MAJ), who just happens to be a quilter, and she and I have been in touch ever since.  The MAJ and the WO have done some research and have been liaising and it has been decided that the best people to distribute what we send over are the chaplains or the padres.  I couldn't agree more.  They are best placed to know who needs a little boost or who needs mail etc.  They are also able to make sure that the quilts and laundry bags get to the guys in the outstations, not just in Tarin Kowt.  It is the guys in the outstations that are really doing it tough!

Also, if Aussie Hero Quilts is to grow like I hope it will then I need to be onside with the Department of Defence.  I could keep sending things using the family and friends postal address but it seems to me that that is not the right thing to do.  It is not what the Dept of Defence wants either.  That address is really for Defence  mail and for family and friends to use.  If everyone who wants to send a care package sends  through the same address there is a risk of clogging up the system.  As much as our quilts are important, letters and parcels from loved ones are much more important.  Also sending masses of parcels to specific guys, like the WO, increase their already demanding workload - not that there have been any complaints mind you, but AHQ should be a stand alone entity with an independent way of getting things over there.

I am not getting into the realm of sending care packages of goodies as I know some people do and if you do that I am not getting into whether you should or not - I tend to think those parcels are just as valuable to a soldier with no family mail as the family parcels are to a soldier who is lucky enough to get them.  This blog doesn't deal with care parcels.  I am keeping strictly to the quilts and laundry bags.

After much liaison and discussion an address has been established to handle all welfare and humanitarian mail, which is what our quilts and laundry bags are considered to be.  It will operate just the same as the other address I have been using - i.e. all parcels in Bx2 boxes under 2 kg will go free.  There is only one difference.  The address will only be in operation twice a year for about a month each time; in time for ANZAC Day and in time for Christmas.  I don't see this as being a huge problem.  Yes, I would like to be sending off stuff all the time, especially laundry bags, but you have to learn to work with the bureaucracy if you want to get along with them.  

So, the first mailing dates are 15 March to 15 April.  I am not going to put the actual address on the blog but if you email me for it I will send it to you.

Now you have a choice.  If you are making completed quilts you can send them direct and pay no postage.  In coming blogs I will include details for labels and so on.  It is really important that all quilts and laundry bags sent are identified as having come from Aussie Hero Quilts.  The more we get the name out there, the bigger our profile will get and the more support we will get.  It is really important that the recipients know how to get in touch with AHQ as well as the person who made their quilt or laundry bag.

I am planning to send as many quilts as I can in March/April and then I am going to work on collecting 16 quilts to send to the WO so that he can pass them on to the guys and gals that come in to replace his team when they return home.  After that I will start collecting for the Christmas mailing.  

Each quilt will just about fill a box.  I am also planning to send a laundry bag with each quilt.  I would like to be able to send a bundle of laundry bags over for distribution but I suspect that the boxes will be handed out unopened and I don't want some poor guy ending up with ten laundry bags and nothing else.  I have a few ideas how to get around that and I will let you know when some of the questions I have asked get answered.

The other thing I am seeking an answer for is whether we can somehow label the boxes so that the person distributing them knows if there is a feminine quilt inside.  I hate the thought of a butch guy getting a pretty pink quilt.  Until I get an answer on that I might suggest that if you are fixing to make a quilt, and I hope you are, it might be wise to stick to gender neutral or masculine.  If you are working on a girly quilt that is no problem I can still send them over to the WO or the MAJ who can hand them out in the short term.    

Quilt blocks, quilt tops, laundry bags, donations of fabric and BATTING can still come to me for completion etc.

I think that is enough information for now - let me know if you have any questions.  Sorry there are no pictures tonight - tomorrow night I promise there will be some!

Till next time.......spread the word and happy stitching!

Sunday 29 January 2012

Block of the Month coming

I have not done much Aussie hero sewing this weekend.  I have been tidying up my office/sewing room and finishing off a charity quilt to pass it on to a friend who is going to do the binding.  

I have also been doing a lot of thinking.  I have heard from a few people who have not quilted before and it is obvious that they would like to be able to help out but are not sure what they can do that is within their skill level.  I want AHQ to be as inclusive as possible so I thought we might try doing a block of the month.  It will work slightly differently from other BOMs.  

Each month I will introduce a simple block, then anyone who is interested can make up a block or some blocks.  At the end of the month anyone who has made a block (or some blocks) can send them to me and I will make them up into a simple quilt or quilts and will post the results.  You could also make a few extra blocks for yourselves.  If you are a beginner the completed Aussie hero Quilts will them give them an idea how to turn them into a quilt.

I have a few ideas what the first block will be - it will be a very simple one but remember I said there are some beginner quilters out there.  All the quilts made in this manner will be gender neutral or masculine as there is a much larger number of male soldiers in Afghanistan and I will usually stipulate the background colour or where the lights and darks are to go - just to make the resulting quilt more pleasing.

Here are a few examples of the sorts of blocks we could make and the resulting quilts.  
There is always my favourite - the star.
 Of course the pinwheel is always a goodie.
 Half square triangles - always so versatile.....
 and again
 and more half square triangles.
 Chinese coins are another option.  
Disappearing nine patch ....or an ordinary nine patch.
even a four patch
 And another favourite of mine is the churn dash!

What I really need now is feedback.  How does this idea sound?  Are any of you interested?

Till next time keep spreading the word and happy stitching!

Quilts and Laundry Bags sent so far this year
Quilts - 14
Laundry bags - 28

Friday 27 January 2012

Another Aussie Hero Stitcher!

Another blogger has jumped on the Aussie Heroes Bandwagon.  Check this out!  Five lovely quilt tops!

Happy stitching and keep spreading the word!!!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

I have to say a couple of very big thankyous!  On the 23rd of January I mentioned that I needed to try and find someone willing to donate some batting as it is the biggest expense we have at the moment.  Well, the very wonderful Tarnyia sat down to her computer and started emailing and writing letters to see what she could rustle up and boy! did she do well.  Bless her cotton socks, she contacted Victorian Textiles and today I received a huge box of large pieces of batting - see for yourself!
 Lengths vary from 1.6m to 2.7m - all in all enough batting for about 13 quilts!    
Thank you, thank you, thank you Victorian Textiles.
And thanks too Tarnyia!

I finished another two quilts today and managed to get them in the post with five other quilts.  Andrea made this one 
 and this was my work.  
 Love that pink spotty binding!
Seven quilts were sent off today to our first female soldier for her girlfriends.  

And now back to tidying my sewing room............truly I would rather be sewing! but I work better in a tidy room.  

Till next time...........happy stitching!

Thursday 26 January 2012

Happy Australia Day

I hope you have had a lovely Australia Day.

I emailed the friendly Warrant Officer and the female Major to wish them a happy Australia Day.  The Warrant Officer told said there were several BBQs on today and a few games of cricket. He said he wasn't sure how much cricket would be played as it snowed for three days just recently and there is snow and ice everywhere. Apparently today’s top temp would be around 0 degrees!!!  Brr
I told him not to forget about the Australia Day Box from the Gumnuts and friends. I posted it well before Christmas to make sure that it got there without any glitches and his reply was 
"You have little to fear about me forgetting about the box, I have been looking at it everyday for the past week."   I filled it with ANZACs, Violet Crumbles, Smarties, Freckles and a few other bits and pieces.  

My family had a very quiet day. My hubby is still in the USA on business. There is no point me arranging a family outing as the boys, at fifteen, won’t be seen dead with me in public! Fly Boy has been out the movies and Guitar Hero spent the day lying in bed! He tried to add a second monitor to his computer last night (as a budding geek is likely to do) and both screens went black. Apparently if you can't use your computer you might as well not get out of bed!

I, at least, have had a productive day. I have quilted four AH quilts but I will show you pics once they have been bound tomorrow.   I have also packed up five quilts to send off tomorrow.  You have seen the pics of all the others but you haven't seen this one.  

I just love the bias gingham binding.  Such a fresh green.
Usually I don't do "themed" quilts but this is going to a 20 year old - she turned 20 the day she flew out for Afghanistan.  How hard must that have been for her family.  There was one female soldier among the first fifteen we sent quilts too and I asked her if she had any friends she would like laundry bags and quilts for and she gave me five sets of initials.  And she also told me that this girl loves horses and in fact she owns some.  Well, of course I had to find some horse fabric!  I am so pleased to be finally sending it off tomorrow.  

Till next time...........happy stitching!

Wednesday 25 January 2012

A perfect day for sewing!

Lots and lots of constant rain- the perfect day to sit inside and listening to it while sewing!  Lovely!
 Two of my Gumnut buddies came over today and we got plenty done.  Sharon worked on laundry bags 
 and Del cut up the rolls of 6 1/2" strips that Sue from the Injune Creek Patchwork Group sent down and arranged them into groups of 11 for quilts.  
 Snickers supervised of course!
 And I cut more laundry bags and linings for laundry bags that I had cut out earlier.  These laundry bags are all partially sewn thanks to Andrea who did some sewing recently at home and Sharon who sewed today.  All the bundles on top are the channels for cording.
And all of these are now laundry bags - minus the lining which I still have to cut.  All bar the top two were provided by Kate from SA.  Thanks Kate - these are going to be really distinctive laundry bags - no lost laundry here!
 These are enough 6 1/2" strips that Del put together - the top one came from Sue's strips and the bottom is from leftovers I had.  I reckon we will get at least another quilt, plus leftovers, from Sue's strips but we ran out of time to sort them into groups.
I am expecting a fairly quiet day tomorrow so hopefully lots of quilting.  I want to finish off two more quilts to send off on Friday. 

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

Quilts and Laundry Bags sent so far this year
Quilts - 4
Laundry bags - 28

In a bind? Check this out!

No AHQ sewing here today.  Instead I gave my day over to another good cause -helping a girlfriend and her 15 year old gorgeous daughter make quilts for both grandmothers.  And I got part of my office tidied up and that is a big improvement.  I actually had serious plans to tidy as soon as Christmas was over but then guess what happened - yep, AHQ happened.  Now I am going to be tidying slow time over the next next few weeks!  Has to be done as I work better in a tidy room, and there is going to be lots of work for me to do in coming week - because lots of you are getting on board and sending me quilts and blocks and so on!  Wonderful.

Now, I know a few girls out there are somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of machine sewing binding, and that's okay, but I saw a gorgeous example of just how good it can look with a little practice so I thought I would encourage you to check it out here on Rachel Hauser's blog stitched in colour.  She has just completed the most gorgeous triangle quilt (positively delicious) and there are some great photos of the binding - it has been stitched with a zig zag stitch and I think it really adds to the quilt.  Hope it encourages some of you.  It did me!  

There has been a big jump in the number of laundry bags tally for this year today.  I just found out that my friend, Cynthia, whose son is over there, has posted off 18 laundry bags to her son to distribute to his mates! Excellent - all made by Cynthia!  She is currently away on holidays but I expect there will be a push to complete 18 quilts shortly after her return!  Fine with me.

This is the quilt we made for Hamish.  You might think Cynthia would have made her own quilt for Hamish but she actually found it quite difficult as she was struggling with the idea of him going.  We often forget  that it is not just the guys and gals over there that are making a sacrifice when they go but also their families.  hamsih, being a Gumnut Baby, i.e. the son of one of the Gumnut Quilters, warranted a little special consideration.  For his quilt we used some of our precious Gumnut fabric.  See the green patch under the orange.  And he also got the first quilt with pockets. 
 I managed to get some old air force cadet camo uniforms from my son's unit and I cut up the legs of a pair of trousers and preserved the pockets.
 And we backed the quilt with curtain material from "home", Gumnut fabric and some Aussie fabric.
He hasn't received it yet so i am looking forward to what he says when he gets it!

Till next time......happy stitching!

Quilts and Laundry Bags sent so far this year
Quilts - 4
Laundry bags - 28

Monday 23 January 2012

Check this out!!!

Just caught up on some blog reading and look what I found over at Maria's blog - Life on the Block!

Check this out!

Maria, in the words of my sons - YOU ROCK!!!!!

Happy stitching!

Three gone and more ready to go.......

I posted off three quilts today - one masculine and two feminine.  They all went to specific soldiers whose details we were given.

I managed to finish off three more quilts today.  I would have finished four, but on the last one I stitched the binding onto the front as if I was going to be hand stitching, instead of stitching it onto the back first for machine stitching - CRANKY MUCH!  But I am lucky that I was able to drop it off to dear Del from Gumnuts and she will hand stitch it for me.  It will make it a couple of days late sending the five off as they are going together.  Grrr.  In the big scheme of things it doesn't really matter.....but I still wanted to get it done!!!  Ah such is life!

This quilt top was made by Andrea, a Gumnut.  Some of the quilting (by me) is a bit wonky, but I have decided to call it "organic".
This is the back so you can see the quilting (don't look too closely).
 A lovely lady in Melbourne, Jenny, made some of these nine patches and the very cooperative Irene made enough to make the quilt big enough and she also assembled the rest of the top.  I just LOVE this.  Irene doesn't like blue and I think it is safe to say that she hates this blue and was so pleased for it to be almost used up in this - BUT I LOVE IT!!!  I can't decide which of the five quilts I am currently readying for the mail is my favourite but this is certainly a forerunner!!!
 This is the back but the colour isn't good.
 And another front runner for favourite status is this one.  Tarnyia made these nine patches and Debbie, also a Gumnut, completed the top.  The nine patch is such a simple block but I just love it.  I hope the girl who gets it loves purple as the purples in this are lovely!
Whilst some mail went out a little more mail came in - firstly these labels from Cathy.  Last week Cathy sent me some backings and now labels.  These will be great on girl's laundry bags.

I also received a lovely thank you letter from an officer today.  I never name the people who contact me as most of them have some sort of protected identity status and I don't know what can be released and what can't so I just follow a policy of not releasing anything.  Although  the letter was written on the 23rd of December, the day the last of the quilts arrived in Afghanistan last year, it only arrived today.  So, whilst I can't name the officer who wrote to me I can share a part of it with you .....
"...the quilts that you provided now sit in pride of place on our beds.       Your support encourages us to continue in our mission, particularly over the Christmas period when we are separated from our loved ones."

What is becoming obvious to me the laundry bags are the necessity that prevent the guys and gals from losing their washing, which is a huge inconvenience, but the quilts are the thing that seems to touch the hearts the most - they will be taken home at the end of the tour and kept as a memento or handed to a son or daughter etc.  

Recently I have been thinking about how to proceed with AHQ given the fact that batting is the biggest expense and the hardest thing to get donated.  I had been trying to decide if I should phase out the quilts and concentrate on laundry bags....but this letter has confirmed that we need to keep doing both and I just need to find some batting or some donations for some.  I have a few ideas and I will start working on them as soon as my boys go back to school.

In the mean time I have more quilts to finish, laundry bags to cut out and sew and blog posts to write and so on.  Between now and 1 Feb you can expect the blog to be a little quiet.  I will post if quilts get finished or if things arrive in the mail but other than that I am going to spend a little time re-organizing my sewing room and de-cluttering a bit so I can work more efficiently on AHQ and my other projects.  Sometimes you have to slow down a little in order to run at a more constant speed over a longer time period.

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

Quilts and Laundry Bags sent so far this year
Quilts - 4
Laundry bags - 10

Sunday 22 January 2012

Crazy Quilting!

Yesterday and today I have been quilting like crazy.  I am only going to show you pictures of the finished quilts.  I have only managed to finish binding four of them so far.  First a masculine one for a special guy a friend of mine heard about - this will go in the mail tomorrow.  
This is the backing.
This and four others will go to the lone female soldier who received a quilt in our very first batch last year.  They will go to five of her girlfriends.  Some of these blocks were made by Celia and I made a few to bring the number up to fifteen.  Another Gumnut, Debbie, worked on the top til it was completed. 
And this is the backing.
These next two quilts are going to two women in the same team.  This quilt top was completed by Tarnyia.
 And Tarnyia also sent us these nine patches which I handed over to Debbie to turn into a quilt top.
And, surprise, this is the backing of both.
 As an added bonus Margaret dropped in on her way up the coast today and dropped in three laundry bags - unfortuantely I was out doing grocery shopping and playing taxi driver when she stopped by.  Maybe i will meet her another day.
 And all the time, no matter where I was working I had very faithful company! Miss Maisy - I still think she is the cutest dog that ever walked this earth!  And no, I am not biased!
I still have four quilts left to bind but at least I got them quilted and tomorrow I hope to get them all done and ready to post.  Maybe I will get more quilted as well.

Till next time........happy stitching!

Saturday 21 January 2012


No pictures today.  It has been a cool really wet day today - so wet at one point today that I had to pull into a carpark while I was driving to wait for the rain to ease so that I could see where I was going - love it when I am at home inside - not so good on the roads.  Of course, Guitar Hero, who is an expert in all things, advised me that it was totally unnecessary for me to wait out the rain!  And he would know - he has so much driving experience - pity there is no windshield on his computer!

Still, once I got home I got stuck into quilting.  So far I have quilted four quilts today - two last night - that makes 6 of the 12 that were layered on Wednesday.  Two quilts are bound!  Hooray!  I am only going to show you each quilt as it is bound and finished!!!

Watch this space  - apart from playing to taxi driver tomorrow for both boys I have the rest of my day for quilting and binding and I am planning to get at least 8 of the 12 completed.  And the way my boys are going off at the moment I am so glad they will be out for a good part of tomorrow - at different times!!!  That means more peace for me!  Ahhhhhh!

Till next time.......happy stitching!

P.S. pics tomorrow I promise

Friday 20 January 2012

Marvelous Mail Call

Cathy from Queensland sent down a big pack of backing fabrics today.  I haven't measured how much there is but suffice to say that each piece will be more than enough for two quilts and they are all great colours for men.  The one on the left doesn't show up well but it is a great navy blue!!!  I love them all!  Thanks so much Cathy!
 And Sue, from the Injune Creek Patchwork Creek sent me another three huge bundles of binding!  This is SO useful!!!  
Last time Sue sent me a bundle of binding and fabric strips she apologized as she had been busy - her FIRST grandchild had arrived the night before.  Now I can tell you that the baby was a BOY and he is called LUCAS NOEL and is a beauitful little/BIG boy at 8lb 10oz... all are well.

If anyone, particularly those in Sydney, has any leads on getting batting donated please let me know.  We used most of our donated roll of batting on Wednesday layering 12 quilts and whilst there is still some left I can see that batting is going to be our biggest expense!  

Five laundry bags went into the mail today and a quilt to a lovely lady over there - a fellow quilter believe it or not.  I hope to get at least two more quilts, if not seven more, into the mail on Monday.  Depends on how long the quilting and binding takes.  Wish me luck!

I have few plans coming up ......  Think Block of the Month!   No more hints on that one.  

And maybe a Sewing Day for up to 8 Sydney based ladies as well.  The Block of the Month is in the planning for February but the Sewing Day plans will have to wait till my boys have been back at school  long enough for me to know what their schedules are.

Time to go sew!  

Till next time........happy stitching!