Friday 31 January 2014

Weekly Dispatches 31 Jan

G'day all.  I hope you have all had a good week wherever you spent it.  I must say I am glad to be home again though I do enjoy driving around in the country. Now I am really looking forward to my next quick trip, this time for Aussie Heroes.  I am off to Adelaide and Julie Ann has been kind enough to offer her home for a Pot Luck DInner on Saturday the 1st of March. Timings etc are to be confirmed but if you are interested in coming, and I know a number of you have already expressed an interest on facebook when I posted it a few days ago, can you please email Julie Ann.

Julie Ann will keep track of numbers, will coordniate what everyone brings (so we don't end up with all deserts and no main courses!) and will pass on details like the address etc. 

There is no restriction on numbers and all are welcome, quilters, recipients (please come!) and anyone else who is interested.  

So what else have we been up to this week?

46 quilts and 87 laundry bags for 2014.  

2410 quilts and 3816 laundry bags in total.

Often there is a bit of a story behind a quilt and it is the same with this one.   This is Amanda T's first foray into making a quilt for Aussie Heroes and didn't she do a great job.  When she told me it was heading off in the mail she wrote 

"I'm afraid it took a little longer than expected as one of my children had a serious car crash last week and has been in Intensive Care until yesterday.  The one bonus out of the situation is I had plenty of quilting time."

How is that for understated.  When I sent my best wishes for the child's recovery and then my amazement at her hand quilting she replied

"Hand quilting was wonderful to do while we waited for my son to have 8 hours of surgery and then when he was in Intensive Care for 5 days.  He is out now and will survive, so he is one very lucky 25 year old."

And to top it off Amanda thanked ME for giving her the opportunity to make a quilt for your group.  She said she felt very lucky to be able to contribute to a great idea.  My goodness!  Thank YOU Amanda!  This is going to be one happy recipient!

Amanda T

One by me!


Judy C



Louise made this quilt top & Caroline added the boxing kangaroo and quilted it.


Tracie S

Lynn made this quilt top and Kym quilted it with sunflowers - looks gorgeous!!!

Leanne made this one and quilted the yellow section with the word BRONCOS!

It has been a busy week.  Hope you all have a good weekend, both here and there!

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

Thursday 30 January 2014

The Low Down on Laundry Bags

As I explained a few nights ago we have quite a few new followers on facebook and a number of people are emailing me and asking how to get started so I figured it would be a good idea to write a few "how to" posts.  I have been a little short on time with getting my son back to boarding school and other AHQ admin so the wonderful Joan offered to draft something up for me.  Thanks Joan. So what follows is mostly Joan's take on how to get started making laundry bags. 

So, you want to make some laundry bags???/

You like the look of what you have seen and now you are asking the question, “How to become involved if you want to sew Laundry Bags”.

The laundry bag tutorial can be found on the blog here.  Joan has added a few hints that she has acquired as she has sewn the HUNDREDS of bags she has done.  So, over to Joan.

I use my overlocker to make the bags but straight sewing is fine.
You will see on the instructions the size of the bags but I usually cut on the fold, quicker and one less row of stitching.

You will also see the instructions for the tie. I use cotton rope bought in 30 metre lengths for $5.00. It is available from one of the crazy discount shops.

When it comes to the choice of material, anything bright and colourful helps brighten the living space of our ADF personnel. I keep a watchful eye on my local fabric shops and buy when the price is right. Now is a good time to clear out that packed linen press. Bright souvenir tea towels can be made into great bags, just a little bit more work to put a border on to them. The sheets you bought and don’t like anymore can often be used for lining. Talk to your family and friends and ask them to clear their cupboards. Doona covers, particularly the cartoon type can be recycled as bags.

I tend to make bags in batches, cut out six bags, linings, collars and patches. I make the bags on the overlocker, don’t forget to leave a gap in the lining. Then switch to the straight machine to apply the collar, topsew the gap and there you are.

Initials, appliqué patches or strips of plain colour for names to be written all lead to making the bags distinctive and easily picked out in a large pile of bags.

Some of our ADF use plastic bags as laundry bags so anything bright cheerful and made with love is always welcomed. Go to it and sew, the first thank you receive will send you back to the machine to carry on.

Thanks very much Joan. That was great. Bags can either have pale patches on them so that the recipient can add their own name and number.  Joan adds a strip of pale fabric that can be written on.  some people get creative. There is no reason why the patch has to be a square.  I have seen kangaroos for example. 

Sometimes I can give you the name of someone specific to make a bag for and if you want you can put their initials on their bag.  It is up to you.

If you just want to make laundry bags then you make as many as you like - usually you can fit 4-6 in a Bx2 box - and I will tell you who to send them off to.  I have several points of contact around the Middle East Area of Operations.

I think that is about all you need to know but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact me.  My email address is  By the way if you know someone deployed on Operation Slipper, Operation Mazurka, or Operation Aslan who would like a laundry bag just let me know and we will take care of them.

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

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Happy Mail 29 Jan

    Hi all.  I am writing tonight from the salubrious surrounds of my motel room (salubrious??  NOT!!), having deposited my son back to his school in time to unpack and then have dinner.  The kid who will not unpack his toothbrush when he comes home each holidays was dead keen to get everything unpacked and stowed away ready for school tomorrow.  Ironic!    

It is happy mail post tonight and look what I have to show you.  This is our first Poppy quilt but this one is a bit special as Bev made the poppies and pieced them into a top and Geoff, her hubby, quilted it.  Don't you wish you had a hubby who was a quilter?  

For those of you who do not know, this will be used as a Fallen Warrior Quilt.  It will go to the family of an Aussie Hero has lost his life whilst on duty in Afghanistan.  All the other poppy blocks we have will eventually be used in the same manner.

Bev also sent me these two awesome laundry bags as well.

This one is a special one printed to commemorate the anniversary of The Kookaburra March. 
 "The what?" I hear you ask.  Well, read on......

On Wednesday 12 January 1916 a group of 25 volunteers left the Mountain View Hotel in Tooraweenah which is a small village just off the Newell Highway about 44 km north east of Gilgandra in the central west of New South Wales.  Calling themselves "The Kookaburras" the marchers spent their first night in the woolshed at Yarragrin where they were joined by more men.  They marched through Mendooran, Boomley Railway Construction Camp, Cobbora, Dunedoo, Craboon, Birriwa, Tallawang, Gulgong, Mudgee, Havilah, Lue, Rylstone, Kandos, Ilford, Capertee, Cullen Bullen, Portland, Sunny Corner, Yetholme and Bathurst.  By the time The Kookaburras reached Bathurst the group included 100 volunteers. 

The Kookaburra march was conducted by the NSW State Recruiting Committee, with the assistance of Bill Hitchen from Gilgandra.  It was led by Lieutenant Middenway and David Hugh Spring of Gulgong who was known as ‘Captain Hughie’.  Local fundraising committees for the march had been organised at various centres along the route of the march.  These committees made sure preparations were in hand to feed and house the marchers.  During the first week of January 1916 the Army Recruiting Staff toured the Gilgandra district addressing meetings at various locations in connection with the proposed Kookaburra March. 

Other marches undertaken during 1916 included 

The Kangaroos from Wagga Wagga to Sydney, 
The South Coast Waratahs from Nowra to Sydney, 
The Wallabies from Narrabri to Newcastle and 
The Dungarees from Warwick to Brisbane . 

Can you imagine if recruiting marches were held these days.  I am not sure that too many new recruits would be signed up.  

Nearly forgot!  This is what kept me awake and sane on the drive.  Great story.  I am only about halfway through it so am hoping there is enough left to get me home as well.  Highly recommend it.

Here are e  few extra poppy blocks that have arrived this week.
The first lot are from Claire W

 The Second lot are from Marilyn D

Both lots are beautiful additions to the blocks we are collecting.  Thanks everyone who got involved and of course you can still send some in if you are still working on any.

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

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Grati-Tuesday 28 Jan

Well, it is Monday night and I am about to hit the hay so I wake up bright and early, well....early....for my drive.  8 hours!  Oh joy!  Hopefully by the time this goes to air I will be helping my son unload the contents of the car into his boarding school room.  Back on the road again on Wednesday from 11ish till probably late afternoon.  Will answer emails etc in the evening.  Feel free once again to call me if you have any queries.

For now, enjoy the thank you messages from this week.

Pick of the day for me is the response we got to one of the Mystery Quilts we did last year.  (Those of you who participated in it will remember it - everyone else won't know about it as that is why it is a Mystery Quilt! LOL!)
Here is the response to our Engineers' Jokes Quilt which arrived the day before Australia Day!

Would you believe it. the quilt arrived yesterday!
It is SOOOO funny! I am now the butt of many jokes, but the effort is brilliant! I will treasure it always, and my kids will forever be laughing about it too!!!!
Thank you so much for all your wonderful support. It really means a lot, and helps me and many others keep going through the days, especially on days like today when we miss family the most. It feels like a small piece of Australia here, and we are having a special BBQ tonight, as well as pie eating and thong throwing competitions. A little bit of Oz!!
Thank you once more,
Kindest regards,

Doesn't it look great!

Hi Jan- Maree,

Apologies for the late reply, and yes thank you I have received my wonderfully Aussie quilt. It has been put to good use, surprisingly being in the heat of the Gulf, our ship keeps her A/c on full blast and when we're in our racks sleeping the extra quilt goes a long way. 

Thank you for the letter and providing a little insight about yourself and your family. I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and celebrated the New Year with the family. If there is one thing that I have learnt on this deployment to the Gulf so far, it has been to appreciate family and how fortunate I am to be raised in a great country like Australia. Your work with Aussie Hero Quilts is greatly appreciated and makes a lot of us Navy sailors feel like we haven't been forgotten. Often when people think about the Gulf, they tend to generalise and only think the Army are the only ones out here. So I thank you again.

As a ships company we spent our Christmas at Sea and enjoyed each others company with a good old Aussie BBQ lunch. It was difficult for most with families at that time, because Christmas isn't Christmas without the family.  Hope you have a great day. Thank you again for my wonderful Aussie quilt

Yours Aye 

Sometimes I really hate to edit out all the personal info that is shared in the emails as there is so little left of the email to share and you don't get the feeling how personal and warm the message was.  This is just one of those times.

HI Rita, ( Granny Smith)

Thank you very much for the Port Power Quilt. It’s the best ever. "GO POWER". Everyone here was so jealous. 

Well I better get back to work. People need supplies and that’s what I provide for the Middle East area of Ops. Thanks again for such an awesome quilt. I know many of you ladies do quilts for Troops but this quilt went to an Airforce guy. Well we pretty much all come under the same banner here.   Well keep out of the heat. I here it’s been in the forties around Adelaide. We are lucky it’s winter here right now and the weather is mild. When summer hits again we will start to see temps back up in the 50+ region. It sometimes hits above 60+, I’m not kidding. It’s really hot and gets above 60 here. 

Take care Granny Smith.


I personally love the following message!

So  I'm working away, walking in and out of the server room, being all geeky and nerdie!!  Not realising that I had mail! So it was brought to my attention and I opened the lid to see a blue eye looking back at me........? WTH!  Then it clicked!  I got my Aussie Hero Quilt!!!!!  So happy and over the moon, truly heartwarming!  Thanks Stephanie T.  As I always do I wrote back and asked for permission to publish the pic and this was the response I received.  

All fine to publish the pic!  Stephanie did the best job.  I love it!  So So going to be a family heirloom!

Dear Stephanie D

Thank you so much for the lovely quilt and treats you sent me! It was certainly an unexpected surprise. The colours are beautiful and I know that a lot of time goes into making a quilt. I really appreciate you making the quilt and sending it to me. I didn't bring my own personal doona cover on deployment and have instead been using the plain white sheets provided on base. Therefore, the quilt has pride of place on my bed and is a very 'welcome home' after a long day at work. And, as the weather has cooled down it is also giving me some much needed additional warmth.

I look forward to taking my quilt home with me and showing my family and friends. Some of my friends quilt and I have spent many an evening chatting to them as they cut out fabric and sew (I usually cross stitch). 

Thank you again Stephanie for the kind and thoughtful gift.

Warm Regards

Hi Su,

Thank you so much for my quilt, I love it !!!!   & the laundry bag - I will pass onto one of the other girls - as I got one at XMAS time.
I have just put the quilt on my bed and took a photo but it wouldn't down load - so I will try again later.  Also thanks for the chocolates Emoji yummy.
THe story to go with quilt is an awesome touch - thanks I will keep it to tell my friends, when i email them a photo.


I also received a couple of photos - a laundry bag that our sweet 16 year old Amy made

And a quilt by Sandra.

Dear Kirsten,

Thank you very much for the quilt.  Even though we are in a warm climate, the air conditioning onboard HMAS Melbourne makes it very cold when sleeping.  All the quilts are of a very high quality and everyone who has received one is very appreciative, as am I.  We are in the Middle East and are probably 3/4 way through this deployment, everyone is keen to get home now.  I did the same trip last year so I'm a little more keen to get home.  

We spent Christmas at sea so we had to make our own fun.  New years was in Dubai, which was good, however would have rather been home.
Our role up here is anti piracy and drug smuggling interception.  Both these things we have been successful with since we have been here.  

I hope you have a wonderful Australia day in Orange

Thank you very much again for the quilt.

This is a news link for our pirate capture ARRRRRRR.

G'day Maree,

I hope this email finds you well. Firstly, thank you very much for your quilt and your letter. Coincidentally, the quilt arrived just after Christmas so it  was a welcome gift!

Your choice of theme is quite apt as we recently conducted a port visit to a place called Dar es Salaam which is in Tanzania. Whilst we were there I went on safari in one of their national parks which was quite an experience; seeing warthogs, giraffes, elephants etc in their natural environment was an amazing opportunity and your quilt design will often remind me of the experience.
Your quilt has done exactly as you wished, reminding me that people in Australia do appreciate our efforts and sacrifice, making it easier being away from family for such a long period of time. 
So thank you for the work you continue to do and thank you for the quilt. The efforts of yourself and Aussie Hero Quilts truly have made a significant difference to the Ships company of HMAS Melbourne.

Take care and thank you. 

Well that is it for me.  
Til next time..................keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

Monday 27 January 2014

How to get started making quilts...

Just before I start a little business.  I know not everyone reads the blog posts in their entirety so business first.  I will be on the road for the next three days, heading out at 730am tomorrow morning.  It is time to load up my car and head off to take my son back to boarding school.  Insert serious happy dance here.

 This is the final year of his schooling, the final year of anyone's school in this family! YAY for him and for this Mum. That makes the 8 hour drive a little more palatable! Something else that makes the trip a little more fun will be catching up with a recipient's mum on my way out of town on Wednedsay.  I will be back on deck on Thursday night so if I am a little slow answering emails or responding to facebook you will know why.  Mind you FEEL FREE TO CALL ME if you have any queries.  My son sits in the back of my 7 seater car with his headphones in and 8 hours can be a loooooong boring drive!  I am handsfree and legal so if the mood takes you............

Actually the next six weeks or so are going to be very busy with me getting ready for a couple of trips in early March.  I am off to Adelaide on the 28th of Feb.  I have been invited to stay with one recipient's family (so excited), will be attending a Pot Luck Dinner at Julie Ann's house (all welcome, recipients and Friends) and will be hand delivering the H quilt (yes, for all those who contributed blocks it is nearly completed but he watches the blog so no pics yet). I have one of two other things in the pipeline for that trip but too soon to tell all.

There are more plans on the drawing board but I will tell you about those closer to date.   For now though, suffice to say that I am going to have my hands full keeping up with the blog and the behind the scenes admin AND HOPEFULLY getting a little sewing in.  (Please.........I hope I get a little sewing in!)   Due to the schedule I know you will understand when I tell you that I have decided only to write Posts on Weekdays for the time being.  That at least gives me the weekends off from posting, if not from the rest of the admin. 

So now, on with tonight's post - How to get started making quilts...

If you don't know what or who an Aussie Hero Friend is then I obviously need to tell you.  That is what someone who helps or participates in Aussie Heroes is called.  We looked at lots of different names, but that is the one that most people seemed to like so that is the one we adopted sometime in 2012 I think.  Seeing as we have had so many new people "like" the facebook page I figured that it was time to write a post on how to get involved with us. Lately I have been getting a few emails from people wanting to know how to get started so here goes.

Most of the information you need is on the blog somewhere, but here are some more links to get you started.

By the way, do you like the new colours?
If you look at the blog and look under the heading on the white background you will see a list of titles. Those are pages and they include all sorts of information.  Click on them and check them out.

Quilt Specifics can be found here.   This covers size, composition,  and label requirements plus some suggestions re kinds of quilts to make.  

You have a choice with quilts.  You can either find out what requests I have on my list and make a quilt according to one of those requests, 

or you can make a quilt to your own preference.   

Either way I ask that you send me a photo of your completed quilt (if you can).  Photos are shared on the blog and the facebook page.  

If your quilt has not been made for a specific recipient then seeing a photo helps me to allocate it.  The colour or design might be perfect for someone on my list - you just never know.  Once you have finished your quilt and you are ready to post it off I strongly suggest that you check out the Posting Instructions on the blog here especially if this is the first time you have posted for us.  The instructions will tell you what to write on your green customs label and so on.

I will always ask you to confirm that you have actually posted your quilt.  You may email me and tell me that you are posting your quilt the next day or that afternoon but I would still like a confirmatory email so that I know your parcel is actually on its way.  I have learned the hard way that sometimes LIFE gets in the way or unexpected things happen and sometimes what you intend to do does not happen.  Occasionally that has lead to a box sitting in the back of someone's car or on their kitchen bench for longer than it should and on some occasions a recipient has not received their quilt at all. So, that is why I always double check.

Obviously I would always prefer that complete quilts are made as that is so much easier for me but I understand that is not always possible for a myriad of reasons.  If you can't make a full quilt you are always welcome to send me quilt tops that I will have made up.  

Depending on how many quilt tops I have on hand it may take a while for your quilt top to be completed and sent off as I prioritize which ones go to a quilter depending on the requests. If your quilt top will suit someone in particular then I will send it off to be quilted as soon as I can.  Sometimes I can take a quilt top I have been sent and personalise it with a bit off applique, perhaps a roo, or a silhouette of someone's hobby.

  If you have any objections to me doing that please let me know and I will respect your wishes.  Once a donated quilt top is finished and selected to send off I will post a picture on the blog.  I try to keep track of who sent which quilt top but it is not easy so please bear with me if I show your top and do not attribute it to you.  If you see your work on the blog you are always welcome to message me and let me know and I will edit the post to reflect your input quite happily.

If you can't send a quilt top then you are welcome to send me blocks.  We have a BOM program - Block of the Month - so you can choose to make BOMs and send them in.  They do not get sent to me but to my off-sider Caroline.  This is her address

Caroline Gunn
PO Box 2079
St Mary's NSW 2760

The next BOM will be revealed on the 3rd of February.  At the moment we are collecting Poppy Blocks (see here). Once received the BOMs will be made into quilt kits which will either be put together at sewing days or will be sent out to volunteers to put them together into Quilt Tops.  

 Past BOM tutorials can be found here.  

I think that just about sums up what to do if you want to get involved making quilts. 

Basically I can accommodate any level of contribution.  You can make both quilts and laundry bags or just one or the other.  

If you need any more information or have other questions please feel free to contact me.

Jan-Maree Ball
Founder and Coordinator
Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags)
PO Box 248, Cherrybrook, NSW, 2126
Phone 0422227019

OK, time for me to go and pack up the sewing machine - well, I have to have something to do in the motel at night!  LOL

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

Sunday 26 January 2014

Happy Australia Day!!

Just a little Australia Day Ditty by JMB

January twenty sixth is a special date,
Country-wide it’s Australia Day, mate!
For most of us it is a day we can play.
Most Aussies will mark it in some special way.
What will you eat, what will you prepare;
A classic meal of our best Aussie fare?
Is it spuds with pumpkin and a roast leg of lamb?
Will desert be some pav, or just damper and jam?
Will you go to the beach, or just watch the cricket,
Shouting with joy at each lost pommie wicket.
However you choose to celebrate,
What we in this country have achieved to date,
Please remember our Heroes in far off lands,
Whether serving at sea, or on desert sands.
They are just where they need to be,
To keep good ole Oz safe for you and me.
We need them, we owe them, let’s salute them too.

For all that they sacrifice to do what they do.

To all of our soldiers, sailors and airmen serving our country today, especially those deployed away from home, Happy Australia Day
and thank you from all at Aussie Hero Quilts!