Sunday 30 September 2012

Super Sunday

Well it is for me because while my teens have been languishing in bed now that they have become nocturnal creatures I have been binding!  So far three quilts down and three to go!  Mind you, I have only sewn one side of the binding down - then it will be over to my wonderful friend, Del, to do the hand sewing for me!

It is always lovely to be able to share some thank you messages and photos 
and this one is particularly nice.  This fellow's Mum requested 
a quilt and laundry bag for him and she wrote on his behalf. 
Check it out.

I am sending you this email because XXXXX has been experiencing some problems with his email account. I know he has tried several times to send a thank you without success. He told me he has sent an email via his mate’s account but in case that doesn't get to you, I will thank you most heartily on his behalf. He is most appreciative of the time and effort that goes in to creating something so beautiful, and also for the “lovely message” written on the quilt. 
XXXXX tells me there is snow on the mountains already so the quilt will be very welcome!
I have attached a photo of my very happy son with his brand new quilt by Miranda. Thank you so much to Miranda for making the quilt, Jill- his laundry bag-although I don’t think he has received this yet- and to you Jan-Maree for organizing everything. He is the envy of his mates- so much so that he has asked if I would pass their names on to you. He has had a real morale boost – and looks so very happy! THANK YOU!! 

And he does look happy doesn't he!

Then Melissa received this thanks for the Dobey Bag she sent to HMAS ANZAC - A Dobey Bag is Navy speak for laundry bag!

I would like to say a big thank you for the great effort and time you have put in to making the dobey bags. I was lucky enough to receive one of your artistic designs and already have it on display in my cabin. The Padre has had them available for collection today and they have gone very quickly! 
...........................................He wrote lots of other lovely info about himself but you don't get to see that.....sorry.....................................
Once again a big thank you for the time and effort you placed in to making the dobey bags for the crew onboard Anzac. It is a lovely gesture and well appreciated. 

Kylie had just asked me the other day if her quilt should have arrived in Afghanistan yet and then this turned up in her inbox.

 My name is XXXXX and I currently serving overseas :-) Words can not express the gratitude that we all have in receiving the wonderful quilts, and in particular that one that I received today. It just absolutely brought a tear to my eyes and I was extremely proud showing it to everyone on my team. Thank you so very much Kylie, receiving something as beautiful as that makes me appreciate that there are kind wonderful people in the world who care and who are thinking about us all over here.

         This place makes you realize that we certainly do live in the lucky country and one that we should embrace with every opportunity that we get. ......................... Please extend my gratitude to all the wonderful people who make the quilts and for you, I would like to express my sincere appreciation. It is people like you who make what we do over here all worth while - you have certainly made my day and for that I will be forever grateful!

Please take care and please be so very proud of yourself for making a difference to our lives :-)
Kindest Regards,

And from HMAS ANZAC a couple of thank you messages for Julie Ann..

Hello Julie, I would just like to say a big thank you for your time and efforts in making these wonderful laundry bags. It brings a big smile to my face when I think that there are people out there that do care about us and are thinking about us in during our deployment. 
I don't have much else to say except thank you again. 
Warmest regards, 

Hello Julie, My name is XXXXX and I am on board HMAS Anzac, currently deployed to the middle east as part of maritime security operations.  I'm writing to you to say thank you for the homemade laundry bag that was distributed to me after the last mail delivery to the ship. 
It was nice to get something homemade and it really helps to be able to pick my laundry bag out of the otherwise identical ones in the laundry. Our issue ones are all the same, white cotton mesh, and sometimes you can end up bringing the wrong bag of clothes back to your living area ! haha. 
Things up here are pretty good at the moment, its really long periods of fairly standard patrol, with a few exciting moments popping up at random. The heats a factor, its around 39 degrees outside, but down in the engine room where I work it can get up to about 60 when everything is running at full speed. Its good for losing weight anyways. 
Thanks once again for the gift. 

Karen B also received a couple of lovely thank you emails from ANZAC.

Thank you so much for the laundry bag you made, its a good feeling to know that the people back home are looking out for us. Again thank you it was a lovely gesture 

This was also sent to Karen but unfortunately she didn't make the actual cookie laundry bag.  Linda did so I have forwarded the thank you on. 

Today I received a lovely laundry bag that was made by you, I just wanted to say a big thanks for it as the one I picked is bright blue with cookies over it, blue being my favourite colour it brightens up my day whenever I see it and it means allot knowing we have support from back in Aus and kind people like yourself are thinking of us while we are serving overseas.

The chaplain is trying to keep track of who sent over the individual bags but, given the number we have sent, and the fact that some of the boxes arrived with only the address on the back of the box, I am sure he can be forgiven for getting some of them mixed up.

I know some of you are as impatient as the crew for the quilts you have sent to HMAS ANZAC to arrive but I have confirmed with the Chaplain that none arrived in the last batch of mail.  Not sure when the next batch will be but I am sure we will hear as soon as the boxes are ripped open.

As I said I have been busy this weekend.  As well as binding I have packaged up 16.5kgs of blocks and fabric and so on to send off to all points around the country.   A big thank you to all who have sent me pre-paid satchels to use as required.    Now I just have to get some help to carry it all.

I don't know if this tickles anyone's fancy but I have more scraps that i know what to do with and i am gradually sorting them out.  Here is a crammed full bag of strings .  If anyone thinks they would like to make some more string blocks quilts as per the String Block Tutorial just let me know.  You will need to send me a 3kg pre-paid satchel.  I think the strings will just about fill it but if not I will make sure it is full to the brim with other donated goodies.  Most important - contact me before you send the satchel in case someone else has pipped you at the post.
EDIT - the strings have already been snapped up!!!

When I started the Aussie Hero Blog I deliberately didn’t think about what I was getting myself into, because I knew if I did, I might not be game enough to go ahead.  I just felt that one way or another I could make it work if I started small enough and let it grow gradually.   And that is just what has happened.

Every day new people would hear about us and offer to help.  I knew there would come a time when I couldn’t do everything on my own, but I also just trusted that when I needed them, the right people would come along.  And they did!

I deliberately didn’t seek publicity in the beginning as I was concerned that the organisation might grow faster than my ability to coordinate it or the requests might come in faster than our ability to keep up with them

We now have over 580 followers on Facebook and a smaller but still important 122 followers on the blog.  If you are one of the new followers I encourage you to check out all the parts of the blog.  Have a read of the page called Intro to Aussie Heroes – you will find it just under the title at the top of the blog.  There are other pages there too like the Quilts Gallery and the Laundry Bag Gallery and even the How toHelp and Brief History Pages.

Most people know me I guess. You know that I am the Founder and Coordinator of Aussie Heroes and you mostly know my name.  I felt it was time to introduce you to a couple of ladies who have stepped up to help me out and who remain largely anonymous!  Till now………

This is the story of Deputy Nut and the Tech Guru

Why Deputy Nut?  

Every so often, when the mood takes me I have been known to answer the phone by saying “Funny Farm, Chief Nut Speaking!”  That should give you an indication of the state of my life from time to time….LOL.  Well, this lady has taken to answering “Deputy Nut here” and it has stuck.   Caroline, or Caz, has been with Aussie Heroes since at least March and she and I have been meeting regularly to sew together every second Friday.  

These days Caroline does some of her own quilts, but we also collaborate on quilts, and often set homework to be completed each fortnight.  It works really well.  In addition to that Caroline also keeps an eye on the Facebook page for me and you might hear from her if you contact us and ask a “how can I help?” question.   She is one of my main sounding boards and sources of feedback and we would touch base most days by email, phone or text and sometimes several times a day.   I can’t tell you how much it means to me to have someone else to discuss things with, particularly someone I can get together with in person!  That is a rarity in Aussie Heroes as you would all understand!

Caroline has her own blog, Hunnigirl Quilt Designswhich has, like my own personal blog, suffered as a consequence of her involvement in Aussie Heroes.  She is not complaining though as she loves what she is doing as do I.  Caroline has also been featured this month on the Greater Western Sydney Modern Quilt Guild Blog in the current Member Spotlight.
You really should check them out.

And then there is the Tech Guru

Another invaluable source of support for me is the Tech Guru, Naomi.  She has been around since at least February and her assistance has also been invaluable.  Tech Guru she is!  Naomi has managed to get the Paypal Button up and running on the Facebook page.  She creates the pdf files of all the tutorials we do for the BOMs (blocks of the month).  Now some of you probably think it is not big deal, saving docs as pdf files and uploading them for example, but it can be for me and knowing Naomi can do it for me is one less thing I have to do and that is a great time saver. 

I can count on Naomi to take care of a multitude of other things that need doing when those confusing messages pop up on the screen which confuse the living daylights out of me.  She is also able to save photos in a format I can work with when I can’t!  In short I would be lost without her.

Please go over and check out Naomi’s blog at Nomes's Brag-a-Long.  A dose of her down to earth sense of humour will certainly help your day along.

Both these lovely ladies have made the job of running and coordinating Aussie Heroes a lot less lonely and much more fun!  It is more than time to give them a pat on the back and acknowledge their involvement behind the scenes. 

Thank you girls!!!

And can I say I had to be particularly sneaky about this post as both these ladies have access to both the blog and the Facebook page and can see the posts before they go up.  I had to wait for a day when I knew I could assemble the post at the very last minute on the blog and then post it straight away.  Today was safe as Caroline is interstate on a quilting trip and with my hubby also away, currently in transit from London to Sydney I knew I could do it.
And that is also why I have posted so early today - so I didn't get busted as my kids would say!

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

Friday 28 September 2012

Quilts of the Week 28 Sep

559 Quilts 610 Laundry Bags to date! 

Hi all.  It has been a relatively quiet week for Aussie Heroes as far as quilts going out are concerned but that is due to a number of predictable factors mainly to do with personnel change overs etc.  We have started to received more requests again though so I hope you all have your sewing machines serviced (mine were done yesterday) and ready to go.  

So far this week we have received 7 requests plus I am waiting on more details from HMAS ANZAC and also for another fellow who contacted me from Afghanistan.  The latter already has a quilter even though I don't have his details yet - truly you have got to be quick!

Your cooperation requested please

Can you please do me a favour.  I am happy to send quilts to anyone serving as part of Operation Slipper in Afghanistan, Dubai and on HMAS ANZAC and we also have a relationship with those serving in Egypt.  If you hear of someone serving "over there" and want to arrange a quilt or a laundry bag for them that is great, but PLEASE liaise with me first.  I need the name and rank of everyone a quilt or laundry bag goes to so that we can keep accurate statistics, but most importantly, so that I can avoid duplicate quilts being sent to the same person.  How soul destroying for a quilter to put all their time and effort into making a quilt for someone only to find out that another quilter has sent to them as well.  Hasn't happened yet there have been a few times when a quilt has been requested for someone by two different people.

So, how do we get around this?  Easy.  Before you promise a quilt to anyone on behalf of Aussie Heroes you need to contact me first.  Some times there may be issues you have not thought of - like how long the person has left over there.  I have a fairly good handle on how long things are taking to get to the various places and we need to make sure there is enough time to get  the quilt to them.  Additionally I need to check my list of names and make sure that neither the recipient nor a friend or family member has already requested a quilt for them.

I try to be extremely cautious not to promise more than I am confident that we can provide.  If that is to continue I need to know what other people are promising in the name of Aussie Heroes before they do so as well.  Often this comes about from simple enthusiasm and passion for Aussie Heroes but I still need to maintain the procedures we have that work.

I know Aussie Heroes is a group of volunteers and I can not make any one of you do something that you don't want to do, but we all need to work together to keep the good reputation we have built up.  I also need to be very careful to protect the trust that I have built up along the way.  People know that I understand about protected identity and OP SEC (operations security).  They know that there are things that I will not share on the blog or the Facebook page - and that encompasses more than just the individual names of the serving members. The serving members know that I will not share more of their details than are absolutely necessary to get a quilt to them.  That is why I deal with quilters directly and not through a middle man.  Just the other day I got an email from someone who said they felt comfortable with contacting me as they know I will respect their confidentiality.  That reputation takes a while to build up so please help me to maintain it.

Phone Numbers

Every now and then an email comes along and I think this would be so much easier or quicker for me to handle via a quick phone call.  Plus some times it is really lovely to actually chat to an Aussie Hero Friend  in person.  If I don't already have your phone number, and if you are comfortable with doing so, I would love it if you passed it on to me.


I think most of you understand that i get a huge number of emails and I endeavor to answer all of them as promptly as I can - mostly so that they don't build up on me!  I am always afraid that I will miss someone's email, or get distracted halfway through answering it and either not answer it at all or not answer it completely.  If that happens please feel free to jog my memory.

I think that is most of the business for tonight so now on to the Quilts of the Week for this week!

I love it when a new quilter gets started because of Aussie Heroes and I especially love it when a young person gets involved!  Amy, who is a lovely Year 10 student spent part of her school holidays sewing laundry bags to send off!  Doesn't that just give you faith in the future!

Kaye sent me this quilt top a while ago and I have received it from the quilter and my friend bound it and off it went.

Deb is a new Aussie Hero Friend and she contacted me to say that she has this fabulous quilt ready to go.  very soon after that I was able to give her the name of a Navy fellow (not onHMAS ANZAC) to send it to - rather appropriate don't you think?

Karen B has continued to create a regular supple of laundry bags.

Lorraine and her small but merry band of quilters have finished a number of quilts between them and the first two have been sent off this week.

This is their second one made by Jen.

Caroline (who you can read more about here sent this neat quilt off this week. 

Beth hopped in and made the next five laundry bags.


Kelly and Carol combined their efforts and made a set for the dog handlers we have been sending to - the laundry bag and the dog's quilt

plus this uber cute dog handler quilt!

Hilary is another new Aussie Hero Friend, and let me tell you, I think you will be seeing her name featured regularly as she seems to be quite a prolific quilter judging by what she has told me she has ready to go!  This is one of her "plainer" quilts and she told me that to compensate for that 

she quilted it with a lovely all over swirly quilt pattern.  Nothing plain about this quilt now!  And yes, I admit to a bit of quilt envy!

Melissa has put together a bunch of great fresh looking laundry bags.

That shark fabric is really neat.

Naomi, AKA the Tech Guru, made this Jelly Roll quilt.  Let me tell you she and her off-sider/sewing buddy/neighbour Sharina have been working together to crack the code and tell us how to make a Jelly Roll Race quilt that will end up 42" by 72".  Standby.  She is going to write up the tutorial and add a bunch of pictures for us visual types.  When she posts it on her blog I will let you know!

Isn't this a great girly laundry bag - also by Madam Tech Guru.

These next three quilts are the work of Donna, another relatively new 
quiet achiever Aussie Hero Friend.

  I am loving the school holidays.  My husband is away (as usualy) and my 16 year olds are doing their best to become nocturnal and so they are leaving me with lovely quiet mornings and sometimes afternoons to work in peace.   Don't get me wrong i would love to go out to the movies with them or whatever but apparently that would be totally lame at their age!  
So, I am catching up on all manner of things - making backings to go with the quilt tops that get sent to me - cutting battings.  Finally finished the second 30m roll of batting and now need to order a new one but before that I am determined to use up a heap of the scraps that we have so I have some batting piecing to do first - oh joy! 
The quilt top for Ellie-Lou, SGT Diddams' daughter is completed and off being quilted.  The entire quilt for Hens is completed and looks magnificent.  Can't show pics as I don't want to spoil the surprise for the family.  Not sure how many of them check the blog but just in case......
The bundle of blocks and the backing is about to be sent of for TA's quilt and also for SGT Diddams' parents.  Just for any newbies that have joined since we last spoke about these quilts - the Diddams family is getting special treatment as they are our first Fallen Warrior Quilts (FWQ) .  All subsequent families that are happy to receive a FWQ will receive one quilt made from BOM (block of the month) blocks.  I have just about finished sorting out all the blocks that I have received this month - hooley dooley ladies you out did yourselves.  More blocks received this month than any other month!  Big thanks to my lovely Gumnut friend (my quilt group) Lyn for helping me sort through all the blocks and group them for quilts.  There are even more in the mail!

And that my Friends is it for another week.

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

Thursday 27 September 2012

Stand by to receive...

More requests coming in..

Recently I had word that one of our lovely Aussie Heroes who requested a quilt missed out on receiving the quilt that was sent to him.  Please please please if you take on a request understand that there is a time frame that we need to stick to.  I allow a MAXIMUM of 4 weeks for a quilt to be made and in the post.  I much prefer a quicker time frame if at all possible.  The quilter who made that quilt took 7 and a half weeks from start to posting.  I need to avoid this in the future.

From now on I will be trying to check on the progress of all requests after two weeks or you can keep me posted on the progress of your work.  After two weeks, if it looks like you might have trouble completing your quilt please let me know.  Sometimes, depending on how long the serving member has left in country, I may be able to give you an extension.  Other times I may need to make other arrangements.   I am always available if time gets tight or if life gets in the way and can probably arrange for an already completed quilt to be sent instead if need be.  

Don't take it personally if I am checking on your progress.  I do it with EVERYONE.  If we want to keep getting the lovely feedback we get then we need to keep getting the special requests.  We will only continue to get them if those requesting them are confident that they will not be let down.  I am determined to avoid another one of our Heroes missing out.

Standby to Receive

Just to let you know that there are bound to be more requests coming in over the next two months as people arrive for the Christmas deployment.  If you are working on a quilt, or have one finished, can you please let me know.  To save you all from contacting me these are the ladies who I know have quilts finished and ready to go - 

Lorraine, Alison, Hillary, Rae, Cat, Jill and Linda.  

If you have a completed quilt and you are not on that list, or it you are up to the binding even, can you please let me know and preferably send me a photo.  Additionally I know there are some of you who have made quilt tops and are not on the list but as some people take weeks and weeks to turn a quilt top in to a quilt (and that is fine) I don't count quilt tops as completed quilts so if your quilt top has turned into a quilted quilt please let me know. 

Now for those that like to include a little extra in your boxes here is a suggestion.  Chris from WA has sewn some Christmas decorations to include with her parcels and this is a great idea.

Last year I sent the lovely Warrant Officer (the first Aussie Hero) a small Christmas tree ($9 from K mart) and $8 for postage.  I got the children from my son's school to make some decorations and write some cards and they were so gorgeous.

I will definitely be including some tinsel, particularly pink for the girls, in parcels that I send from October on.  A little Christmas cheer is always appreciated.

This is just a thought - let me know what you think.

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

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Happy mail Wednesday

We care about the people, not the mission or the politics.

When I started Aussie Heroes, I knew that what I was doing was right.  But, I also knew that there are some out there who would not agree with me.  Whether or not our men and women should be in Afghanistan, is constantly being discussed in the media, particularly each time one of our brave heroes is injured or tragically killed.   I know a few of you have had to deal with people questioning your motivations or wanting to argue the point with regard to the validity of the reasons behind our service people being in Afghanistan.  

It was for occasions just like these that I put the following phrase on my business cards- 
We care about the people, not the mission or the politics.

Someone said to me "I don't support war so therefore I can't support Aussie Heroes."  I don't get upset by that.  That is their choice.  I think it is narrow minded, simplistic and ill-informed, but, that is not a crime.  I often ask them if they are happy to have the help of the Defence Force during times of natural disaster, be it flood, fire, or earthquake for example.   Usually they say they are.  I usually say that Aussie Heroes is my way of saying thank you for ALL that the service members do for us and on our behalf.   I point out that we are caring for the people, OUR service people, not applauding the politicians that send them over there.  

And if that doesn't change their attitude, I leave them to it.  I have better things to do. They are usually judging out of ignorance anyway, and we here at Aussie Heroes know better.

And why am I writing this?  Not because I need to share the reactions I have had, as I have been pleasantly surprised that I have had only one or two negative reactions from all the people I have spoken to in the time I have been doing this.  

I am writing this because it occurs to me that not all of your will have seen my business cards and therefore not all of you will have seen the quote.  Hope it helps you out, if you get those awkward questions

And yes, I know it has the old email address on there but I can't afford new ones just to change that and they both find me.


Requesting Donations.
If you plan to approach a company or an individual in order to solicit a donation in the name of Aussie Heroes could you please run it past me first.  As everything that is done in the name of Aussie Heroes reflects back on the Aussie Hero name, and also my name personally, I would feel better, if I could check the accuracy of how we are being portrayed.  I believe everyone is acting with the best intentions in the world but sometimes a lack of details, or slightly incorrect details, can appear to be misleading, and I would like to protect Aussie Heroes from such misunderstandings where possible.



I received a happy email from the Chaplain late last night.

We received a large amount of mail today - and morale went up as a result.
I am not sure if quilts arrived from AHQ quilters, but about 12 boxes of laundry bags and pillow cases arrived.
Thank you for the coffee satchels - much appreciated.
Thank you for the bags and pillow cases.  They are lovely and very popular - interestingly some of those who didn't show any interest in them have seen how good they are and now covet one.
You boost so many people's morale by your great efforts and generous gifts.

Here is a rather special thank you for Angela!

Hello Angela,
Just wanted to send a quick email to say thank you soooo much for the quilt...I love it, and even more love the fact that you guys are thinking of us and the dogs. It really does mean a lot.
The pics are not brilliant, but I hope you like them.
MWD Pax was more than happy to pose for them :)
Thank you again. Love your work!!

At last a serving member who can not only be photographed but also named!!!
Meet Pax!

And now on to the rest of our Happy Mail

Kaye made this gorgeous quilt and sent it to me.  
I think it just has to be a Wounded Warrior Quilt.

Heather made this clever, but simple, quilt top.

Gina made this quilt top from the bird panels that were donated.

 Louise has outdone herself again, sending me several tops with backings and bindings.  There were two orange and green ones.

There was also a second one of these ones and I only just realized that I forgot to take a picture before I put it in the mail to the quilter.

Maria sent the next two quilt tops - love the colours in this one

and who can beat red and blue and the flag!

That is it for Happy Mail for this week.  

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

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Bali Pop Strip and Stack Quilt

Hi All!  The very clever Jill has created a tutorial for us!  Don't you just love the colours in this one.  There is going to be one very happy soldier in the next couple of weeks I feel.

Over to you Jill!

This style of quilt can be made from Bali pop’s, jelly roll’s, or strips 2 ½’’ wide by the width of fabric.   You could use a fabric story or total scrap strips.  You will need 36 strips, bali pop’s and jelly roll’s come with 40 strips

Sew strips length ways x 6 strips, I just pick up the fabrics as they lay when I open the bali pop or the jelly roll.

Once you have all the strips sewn together press your seams all going in the one direction.

Cross cut these strips into squares, they should be around 12’’ and you should get 3 squares per strip of 6 fabrics.

Now that you have all your squares cut (18) lay 9 of them out with right side of fabric facing up and rows of fabric in a ‘VERTICLE’ position

With the other 9 squares lay then over the top of the verticle square, but lay the top square right side down and strips of fabric ‘HORIZONTAL’

With the 2 squares now being right sides together sew around the outside edge with a ¼’’ seam (pin together if you wish but it’s not a necessity as the fabric does stick together quite well)

Once you have sewn all the way around the edge  cross cut the square on the diagonal (corner to corner) to give you 4 triangles that when opened out will give you 4 squares.

Press seams to one side, if you press your seams in opposite directions then this will give you a locking seam and will make sewing less bulky.

Sew 2 of the blocks together, and press seams.  Repeat this with another 2 blocks.  Then sew the 2 rows of 2 blocks together and press seams. This will then give you your completed 4 square block .

Repeat this process until you have 9 blocks.

Trim blocks to 15 ½’’, please take the 10mins now to square up your blocks as it truly does make a huge difference to your finished article.

Sew the blocks together in groups of 2, yes you will have 1 block left over, this can be used as part of the backing, in a laundry bag, pillowcase, or with the 4 left over strips from your bali pop or jelly roll, you could add borders around the square and turn it into a table topper.

Sew the rows together then so as your quilt centre is 2 blocks x 4 blocks. The finished measurement of this section will be 30 ¼’’ x 60’’

From a matching border fabric cut strips 6 ½ ‘’ wide by the width of the fabric. (cut off selvages)
Attach your borders and press seams. This will give you a finished quilt top measuring  42’’ x 72’’ the perfect size for an Aussie Hero Quilt.

Thanks Jill!  That is a great tutorial!

I am actually impatient to try this one out as I have a rainbow coloured Bali Pop in my stash and this sounds like just the ticket.  I might need to finish a few things off first!

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