Thursday, 31 January 2013

This time last year ...Written by Janine 31 Jan

When Jan-Maree asked if I would take on the task of summarising the activities of AHQs first year, my first thought was, ' I wasn't part of it back then'.  But, I went back to the beginning and read all the early posts including posts on Cherry Red Quilts and began to understand these creative, hardworking, lovely ladies who saw an immediate need and just kept filling it - with no idea of where it would take them or the people and stories they would collect along the way.  Janine C

   This time last year ....

         we saw the launch of the                  

In January 2012 AHQ had only just begun. The previous October, after hearing that Defence Force personnel serving overseas needed easy to identify laundry bags, Jan-Maree started sewing and organising help through her Quilt Group the Gumnuts.  The aim was to supply 15 laundry bags for a Warrant Officer, the husband of another quilt blogger, Posie Patchwork, to hand out to his men.

Some of the original AHQs laundry bags

It was winter in Afghanistan, and snowing, so the ladies decided to send quilts as well, enough for the Warrant Officer's men plus a few more to give to those who didn't receive mail from home. By mid December they'd made and packed 15 laundry bags plus 25 strippy quilts and a stack of care packages. They even printed labels for the quilts, calling them Aussie Hero Quilts.

In January 2012 this thank you message arrived, "...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.

Jan-Maree's response to that message was,  '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...'

The NEED in January 2012:  
Losing all your clothes - which often happens in a laundry full of identical bundles of washing -  is a huge inconvenience and frustration.  The AHQ laundry bags do a wonderful job of helping our boys and girls keep track of their washing, plus the variety in colour and pattern offer some brightness in a bleak, often monotone, landscape. The aim of AHQ was to send as many laundry bags as possible - hopefully to everyone who needed one.
Suddenly Jan-Maree found she was running Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry bags.

The ISSUES for AHQ in January 2012: 
- Finding a way to distribute laundry bags and quilts, beyond the initial contact with the lovely   WO, possible solution - Jan-Maree infiltrating the workings of the Department of Defence!,
- Labelling boxes so they reached the intended person, and 
- the expense of batting for quilts made by the group.

The HIGHLIGHTS of January 2012: 
Tarnyia contacted everyone she could think of resulting in the donation of a huge box of large pieces of batting from Victorian Textiles.

Other bloggers found AHQ and started donating blocks and quilt tops.  Parcels of binding, cut strips, backing fabric, pre-cut laundry bags and blocks arrived in the mail.

In January 2012 the blog also included the first photo of a recipient with his quilt - approved by the ADF for publishing. What a handsome smile, and what a great quilt label! And he is holding one of the original, very effective, relatively easy to make for all sewing levels, strippy quilts. 

So, what is a strippy quilt?  Jan-Maree explains, "Basically we just sewed 6 1/2 “ wide strips of fabric together into one long strip – cut that down into 42” lengths and 11 of those made one quilt top. Quick and simple – utilitarian but I still think they looked cool and the guys that have received them so far love them.

I discovered an interesting little story about that day in December 2011. While the ladies were busy packing boxes of laundry bags and quilts someone counted up and discovered they had one B2 box left over - empty. That just wouldn't do. Fabric was pulled from the donated stash and they set to cutting and sewing strips, ironing, pinning, quilting and sashing until, 2 hours later, they had a quilt for that empty box. That is enthusiasm.  See below.

Quoting Jan-Maree from the AHQ blog  'Hopefully as we get more and more people on board making quilts we will be able to spend a little more time on each quilt and make them fancier ... but at the moment the priority is to get quilts over there.  Even then I will always consider the strippy quilt to be the original Aussie Hero Quilt.'

AND THE BIG EVENT of Jan 2012 ... TAA DAA  - introducing the Block of the Month.  

The Plan was that each month AHQs would present a reasonably simple block that everyone could make. They would be collected, stitched into tops, backed, bound and quilted.

BUT, the MOST EXCITING HIGHLIGHT of January 2012 was this blog entry

only 29 days into the year ...

29th January 2012 -  SENT SO FAR THIS YEAR

Quilts - 14     Laundry bags - 28

A final January 2012 quote from J-M...'I can't believe the response we have had to our efforts.  To say they have been appreciated would be a massive understatement!  It has just driven me to keep going and grow this project.'

Showcasing some of those quilts posted overseas in January 2012

BELOW: The star quilt top made by Celia, Jan-Maree and Debbie, sent with 4 other quilts to be distributed to female soldiers. It's so bright and cheerful, I imagine it is still doing its job of lifting the mood of the day, for someone.

BELOW : This Bold Star quilt was donated by another quilt blog, the blocks all stitched by the blog members. 

BELOW: A stack of quilt backings and the labels.

BELOW:  Quilt top of glowing jewels by Jenny and Irene, Jan 2012

Below: Quilt top by Tarnyia and Debbie in delicious purple, Jan2012

BELOW: Del pinning donated blocks to that 'design wall' 
that we've all heard about.

BELOW:  Maria's quilt tops with detail of 
the black and white fabric, Jan2012

BELOW:  From fabric stash to strips, to a roll ready for cutting, 
to quilt top - there will always be AHQ strippy quilts

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

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Happy Mail 30 January

Hi All,
This will be a fairly short post tonight as I just arrived back home, still have to unpack and get ready for my other son to start school tomorrow.  

First up the date for the next Penrith Sewing Day  is Sunday 17th February.  All you need to bring is your sewing machine and bits and pieces.  All other materials and what nots will be provided by  me.  It is wise to BYO lunch and a drink as I don't think there are many options for buying anything.  It would be great if you could let me know if you are planning to come so that i can make sure there is enough for everyone to do.

We will be at Penrith Patchwork from 10 am till 2pm - email me if you have any questions.

We only have one photo for happy mail today - I suspect you were all busy making Australia Day Laundry Bags!  LOL  These blocks and a whole bunch more - a total of 80 blocks were send in by Dorothy!  Enough for two quilts!  Well done!!!

We do have some other happy mail though - how about some thank you messages. 

To Dear Liz, and AHQ;
I just received your beautifully hand crafted quilt in the mail!! I am writing to you to thank you for this beautiful gesture! The detail and patterns are gorgeous, and I already treasure it as a beautiful reminder of home, and of the kind hearted and generous people that support us over here. 
I have just reached the half way mark of my trip last week. There is a group of us over here from our Regiment in Adelaide; and we are all starting to count down to our return home!! The weather here is quite the opposite, as you said - particularly the heat and also the rain. Winter has been kind (so far) only getting down to -5*C. Today was quite a warm 10*C as well! Certainly no floods or fires! 
Thankyou once again for your beautiful quilt. I really do treasure it, as do other recipients over here. Something hand made so lovingly from home by people such as your self is a wonderful gift and one that puts a smile on all of our faces!!
The following relates to a quilt that Paul and Paula quilted with Aircraft!  Of course I sent it to a RAAFie!

Hi Jan-Maree,
I received the quilt and absolutely love it. What a great idea to stitch in the silhouettes of aircraft. I spent a cold xmas with my guys in Afghanistan huddled around a 44 gallon drum waiting for aircraft to come and go but enjoyed the experience. Soon most of us will have returned from leave and have to knuckle down to ride out the remaining weeks to ensure everything is shipshape for the new guys coming in. Take care and thank you very much and all the rest of your team that do this just out of good will. It does make a difference.

Hi Stephanie,
You kindly made me a personalised laundry bag with my initials and a horse print on the outside.   My friend wrote to the Aussie Heroes Quilt organisation when I raved on about his blanket. It was a lovely surprise to receive a personalised bag and blanket. I think they are a wonderful idea as they are not only useful while deployee, they are a wonderful memento of my time spent here. I get much enjoyment from seeing all the boys carrying their very colourful laundry bags around. 

I have a horse, hence my friend's suggestion as a theme for my bag. I haven't yet thought of a use for it when I get home, but I'm sure it will come in handy storing or protecting some of my horse gear without getting it too dirty or damaged. 

I am at the end of my trip and I am very much looking forward to going home. I have immensely enjoyed this deployment and have met some incredible people, but there is no place like home. 

Thank you very much for dedicating your time and energy to making my bag. It is a wonderful idea and I greatly appreciate the thought and effort that generous people like yourself donate to bring us something special while we are away. The thought is not lost on me and merely revitalizes my love of Australia

Hello Janelle
Have received your box of Laundry Bags, they are great, some nice colours and patterns. I will pass them along to my counterparts in another location for them to hand out. You all do a wonderful job with your patchwork and quilting and rest assured that your efforts are very much appreciated. They bring just that little piece of Australia into some harsh environments that some of us are enduring.
Once again Thank You for your work

Jan-Maree, Thank you very much for the quilt and laundry bag they're beautiful, I really appreciate all the hard work that went into making it - so thank you very much. 
Can't wait to take it home and show my family. Thanks again

A very special post is coming up tomorrow night.  Tess from SA suggested that I do some "historical" posts - i.e. go over some of the things that brought Aussie Heroes to where we are now.  I thought that was a great idea but as I know the story so well and as I can always use a little bit of help I asked Janine C from QLD if she would be interested in doing it for me.  Luckily she said yes.  So, at the end of every month now we will have a post that goes over what we were doing this time last year. 

I hope you will enjoy it.

Till next time..............keep spreading the word and happy stitching!
oh and I just have to tell you - I have been signing off with the above messages since almost the very first post - and I only just found out last night that Deputy Nut, a.k.a. Caroline, had never ever noticed!  Good to see she is paying attention!  LOL

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Mystery Boxes by Kylie Kenny Part Two of two

Welcome back, I hope you've all had fun making your 'stratas' or 'units' thus we're going to reveal the final stages of making these great quilts, and as you'll see, they're sew easy to make.

Step Six:

It is now time to join the pieces into blocks.
*** Note, if your feature fabric squares/blocks are directional (they have a right way up), read the notes at the bottom before joining.
1.     Join the shorter segment to the right hand side of your feature square/block.
Iron, pressing the seam allowance toward the feature square 

1.     Join the longer segments to the bottom of the block – to make 36 blocks.
2.     Iron the seam allowance either way, whichever sits flatter.

** If you are making the blocks with directional feature fabric squares/blocks, this step gets a little tricky - For each co-ordinating colour:

Make 3 blocks that look like this (start with the short segment down the right hand side): 

Make 3 blocks that look like this (start with the short segment across the top):

Make 3 blocks that look like this (start with the short segment across the bottom):

Make 3 blocks that look like this (start with the short segment on the left side):

You can now lay out your quilt – it is 6 blocks across by 6 down and the layout can basically be described by referring to the placement of the feature square (or follow the diagram):
Row 1: Top left,  bottom left, top left, bottom left - making sure you alternate the colours.
Row 2: Top right, bottom right, top right, bottom right - making sure you alternate the colours.
Row 3: Same as Row 1.
Row 4: Same as Row 2.
Row 5: Same as Row 1.
Row 6: Same as Row 2.
***Note: If you are using 3 co-ordinating fabrics, the colours should run diagonally across the quilt. If you are using 12 co-ordinating prints just lay them out randomly in layout you like.

AHQ Quilters:

Join the quilt blocks into rows, as if making a big quilt, however instead of joining into one big quilt, leave it in two halves which are 3 x 6 blocks. This means you end up with two tops that are 33 ¾” x 67 ½”. Add a 1” inner border (cut 1 ½”) followed by an outer border cut 3 ½”. This will make your quilt 42” x 76” – the perfect size for an AHQ quilt.


Once you have joined your top together – add borders. I added an inner border cut 2 ½” followed by an outer border cut 5 ½”, but it is up to you.

A smaller version (3 x 5 blocks):

A different colourway:

 The full quilt:

Another couple of quilts by students:

These quilts are made splitting the blocks in half and making two tops instead of one.

The PDF can now be downloaded HERE or on the Tutorial tab at the top of the page at a later date (without having to scroll through the general blog to find it).  For more of Kylie's patterns, please visit her ETSY Shop.

Thank you so much Kylie, for sharing not only a great quilt pattern, but also for amending it and including instructions for AHQ.

Hugs & Stay safe