Virtual Charity Quilt Sew In

A very good friend of mine, Josephine makes quilts for a Victorian based charity – Very Snuggly Quilt Program. They make quilts for sick kids in the Royal Children’s Hospital. She’s an absolute inspiration to me… the majority of her sewing time goes to Snugglies (as it is affectionately known) and they make 200 quilts Every. Single. Month for the kids.

In November last year, Josephine invited me to join her and share one of her charity quilt workshops. The makers who came along made 14 or so quilt tops for each charity. We came up with this brilliant idea to see if we could get 50 makers to come along to the next charity day with the grand plan to make 100 quilt tops on the day!

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Needless to say, we have been busily cutting up quilt kits to use on the day. I have cut up soooo many nine patch, disappearing 4 patch, disappearing nine patch, St Louis 16 patch, rail fence, square in a square, charm square quilt kits that I’m seeing squares in my sleep!

The quilt workshop is set to take place this Sunday, 12 February 2017 at 10.30am at St Augustine’s hall in Yarraville and at this stage we have 42 women confirmed to attend. It’s going to be a fabulous day – we have sponsors and prizes and music and dancing planned for the day. And we are aiming so high…. 100 quilt tops or bust.

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Genny and Ruth pattern block by me! – Free pattern on Robert Kaufman website

Thing is… I have been asked from lots of people outside of Melbourne whether they can join in on the day from their remote (to Melbourne) locations. And the answers is YES!!!

The question has also been raised about which quilt pattern should makers be using. And well… any pattern is fine, for any quilt size from crib size up to largish lap size. The quilts will be donated to women and kids in domestic violence safe houses across Australia and, really they just need to big and bright enough to give a comforting hug.

BUT… because I know some people prefer to work to a pattern I have asked the amazing folks over at Robert Kaufman have been kind enough to give us permission to use the free Genny & Ruth pattern from the inimitable Elizabeth Hartman.

I have some experience with this quilt. I was inspired by the quilt Kate Basti made for Alison Glass using her gorgeous Seventy Six and Insignia ranges so I decided to make one for myself! The blocks come together so fast and they’re huge – 20″ to be exact!

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Yummy hey!

So – if you are keen to get involved, but you’re not in Melbourne, then you could easily whip up a few of these blocks and have a quilt top to donate in no time. The great thing is that even if you only have time to make 4 blocks, that still makes a 40″ x 40″ quilt. And if you could stretch to 6 blocks, you’d make a 40″ x 60″ quilt and 9 blocks make a bumper 60″ x 60″ quilt.

Now… I’m a person who likes to give options!

When I was making up quilt kits I discovered that, with a slight variation, this quilt block can be even faster to make (read: no HSTs)! So I came up with a quick tutorial in case you are HST averse or really just need a fast finish!

SUPER QUICK TUTORIAL

Each block requires:

13  x 4.5″ background squares

12 x 4.5″ coloured squares (can be scrappy or all the same colour)

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Start with (13) 4.5″ background squares and (12) 4.5″ coloured squares

Next:

Lay out your background and coloured squares to match the picture below.

 

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Finally:

Piece each of the rows together – chain piecing works brilliantly here.

Press the first, third and fifth rows to the right and the second and fourth rows to the left.

Piece the rows together, nesting and pinning at the joins.

And voila! You have a 20″ block.

It took me about 10 minutes to piece the block together. I found that if I cut out all the fabric first, then laid out my blocks and chain pieced that it was super fast and really effective!

For 4 blocks you will need  52 background squares and 48 coloured squared (4 x 12). For 6 blocks you will need 78 background blocks and 72 coloured (6 x 12) squares. And if you really want to go big or go home… then you’ll need 117 background squares and 108 coloured squares (9 x 12).

So there are a couple of choices… and I’d love it if you joined us on Sunday for our “Virtual” Charity Quilt Making Sew In Day…

Phew! That was a mouthful!

 

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StreetSmart Grant

Hello folks… its been a long time since I updated the blog! Probably has something to do with the fact that the number of quilts donated to KeepSafe Quilts went from about 60 to over 100 in a fairly quick timeframe! I’m getting back into updating all things KeepSafe, including recording all of the quilts that have been donated along the way.

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Today, though, I wanted to talk about an organisation doing some amazing things for community projects and whose aim is to support people who are homeless or at risk – including women and kids forced to flee to domestic violence refuges and safe houses. StreetSmart Australia is an organisation who believes that no one should be without a safe and secure place to call home. StreetSmart works to support the homeless and to end homelessness in Australia.

StreetSmart was started back in 2003, by CEO Adam Robinson. The organisation seeks to break down prejudices surrounding homelessness and to raise vital funds for local community organisations by partnering with local business (funds are fed back into projects that are close to where they were raised!) like cafes and restaurants.

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When Adam contacted me to ask me to submit an application for a grant, I thought he must have had the wrong number! I had always thought of KeepSafe Quilts as a little quilting project that I had started when I felt so helpless in the face of all the domestic homicide and violence this country was experiencing. I wasn’t even sure how Adam knew about what we do!

I know that the work we do, though, has a positive impact on the lives of women and children who flee violent intimate partners (with little more than the clothes on their backs) to live in safe houses and refuges. To have something handmade, with love, that provides the comfort of home and brightens their days is one of the best gifts we can give.

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I submitted an application and was fortunate to receive a grant of $1,000. The money has been so vital to our continued growth – allowing us to buy supplies for the upcoming charity quilt making day, pay for a storage unit for donated fabric and postage to send out the quilts across Australia.  I’m just so grateful to this wonderful organisation and everything they do to support community projects and the homeless or at risk.

WHAT CAN I DO?

“What can I do?” I hear you ask. Well – there are a couple of things.

The next time you want to grab a coffee or go our for dinner, find out where your nearest CafeSmart or DineSmart location is – probably a cafe or restaurant close by – and go there frequently (or even nag your favourite cafe to become a supporter)! That way, you get your coffee and you get to support this amazing business!

Much love

Jackie xx

 

 

Tic Tac Toe Block Quilts

With the tic tac toe quilt blocks designed by Alyce of @blossomheartquilts coming in quick and fast, in no time I had enough for 10 quilts. And now came the fun part of piecing the tops and sourcing help to quilt them. I really have been blown away by the amount of support I have found amongst the quilty community. Lots of amazing women have contacted me and offered to piece and quilt, they have donated their time, fabric and batting and really supported the project.

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5 sets of tic tac toe blocks ready to be turned into quilts!

This post is going to be a picture heavy post, dedicated to those women who have lent a hand to make the #quiltblockstohealviolence project a reality. So grab a cuppa and settle in for a look at the tic tac toe quilts that we as a community have been able to make for some of this countries most vulnerable  women and children.

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The first completed quilt was pieced by me and gorgeously quilted by the fabulous Ms Midge. I’ve said it before – I am a total sucker for a rainbow and I love this quilt. Backing was donated by Angie of @gnomeangel fame and binding was provided by Ms Midge with batting coming from the lovely Clair of Clair’s Fabrics. I plan to do another post just on donations made by our awesome fabric shop contributors, so keep an eye out for that!

In the early days of the project, I had lots of energy for piecing the blocks myself and so the first few were all me on the piecing front. When I realised though how many blocks were actually coming in, that’s when I started accepting the help that was being offered!

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The second quilt was pieced by me and quilted by the lovely Kelly Wickenton, who had heard about the project on Facebook and had offered her services. Kelly also donated the backing fabric for this quilt. You’ll notice that I still need to bind this one – last week I bound 6 of these quilts in a frenzied attempt to these all finished! This one will have to wait until next week.QB2HV13

The third quilt was pieced from donated blocks by the wonderful Sue of @suesewstoo and the quilted by Sue’s friend, Sue Schultz. I sent the blocks off in the post and received back a completed quilt. Can’t ask for more than that really. It was brilliant!

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This project has really shown me how wonderful, generous and kind people can be – flying in the face of the cruelty and violence that some people show their loved ones, especially in family violence situations. One person in particular has been so generous with her time and quilt making. Lisa of @sewlamb made over 50 blocks on her own, a pieced quilt backing as well as 8 children’s quilts. I secretly decided to piece 30 of Lisa’s blocks into a quilt top which represents the good that there is in people. I have dedicated an entire blogpost to Lisa’s other makes here.

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Next up, we had the warm quilt, made up of reds and oranges and yellows. Leanne of @sewnbyleanne volunteered to take possession of 30 blocks and transform them into a quilt top. She was then going to drop them off to my mother in law who was in turn going to drop them to someone to quilt it, when plans fell through. Like a real trooper, Leanne then offered to quilt and bind the quilt for me too. She did an absolutely gorgeous job, matching up the pattern on the pieced backing and stippling in a variegated yellow thread!

 

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Honestly, this next one is my absolute favourite so far. I cheekily cherry picked the blocks to make the ultimate rainbow quilt. I pieced it myself and then sent it across to Carolyn of @freebirdquiltingdesigns. If you don’t know about Carolyn’s work, do yourself a favour – grab a cup of tea, click on the link to her IG page, settle in and prepared to be wowed. She is a master and her work is stunning!

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Coming home from work to find envelopes and packages full of blocks was a daily pleasure, but receiving a the above fully completed quilt was just thrilling! The ladies of Thimbles & Thread and the Cow Girls sewing groups in Mudgeeraba got together to piece, quilt and bind the quilt to donate. So bright and happy!

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And then it was time to be “Singin’ the Blues” – a quilt done in blue, teal and green. All the cool colours and boy do I love this one. This one was precisely pieced by Jane of @behind_lilpipdesigns and again quilted by Carolyn of @freebirdquiltingdesigns. Both lovely ladies and generous to boot!

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Part way through the project, I was contact by the lovely Rachael of @sewtodaycleantomorrow (a motto we can all get behind I’m sure!) who told me she was making some blocks to donate. She contacted me a few weeks after that to say that she had caught the Tic Tac Toe bug and had made so many that she may as well continue and finish an entire quilt. Not long after that, I received this gorgeous Zen Chic fabric creation! Rachael is a rock star!

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On a blisteringly hot, muggy, overcast, yucky day in Melbourne I got this gorgeous rainbow back from Karen of @shecooks_shesews who was so speedy that she had this back to me before I even had time to blink. No prizes for guessing who pieced this rainbowy goodness – yep, that’s right, little ol’ me – #sorrynotsorry

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You know, I did try to find other layouts for these quilts. Ones that didn’t involve rainbows, but it was like a compulsion. I rationalised it to myself by saying that the quilt would be going to different safe houses and refuges – and rainbows bring the promise that the troubles of today will surely come to pass. Rainbows symbolise fresh beginnings. So – perfect for these quilts for women escaping domestic violence. This quilt was pieced by me and quilted by Karen again (aka speedy gonzales!)

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After the bright, saturated rainbow colours, this soft, more muted quilt is so calming. Piece by the Baroness herself (Alison of @baroness_stella) and quilted by Catherine Brummell Midson who contacted me on Facebook.

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The Baroness had a hand in this colourful one too. Pieced by Alison and quilted in a gorgeous edge to edge pattern by Jan (@jan_foster) of Red Shed Quilting. So many generous people have donated their time and skills to this project and it is just so humbling.

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The generosity of amazing women doesn’t stop there – this quilt was donated by the fabulous women of the Canberra Modern Quilt Guild.  Special thanks to @bibliosewandso (for organising and being generally awesome), @procrasticraft (for quilting), @coralquilts (for binding and label), @nicships and @gigi.sews (for blocks),  @amira_littlemushroomcap and her sister (for block placement) and the other members of the @canberramqg for their generous contribution!

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This quilt is one of the first ones pieced way back in October 2015. Pieced by me on a rainy Melbourne day and then sent off to be quilted by Raylee of @sunflowerquilting. I whizzed around with binding too!

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Ok… I’m pretty sure I said above that there was a quilt I had decided was my favourite… well… maybe I’ve changed my mind and this is now my favourite! Blocks and top were pieced by Deb Slater and was donated along with another 20 or so blocks! Karen of @shecooks_shesews has again delivered on a absolutely stunning quilt design.

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This colourful quilt was pieced by the marvelous Michelle Wyers (aka @micheles_kitchen) and again quilted by Karen of @shecooks_shesews.  Bound by me in a flurry of activity that saw 6 quilts done in one day!

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A slightly smaller quilt, I love this one for its more muted colours and stippled quilting. Beautifully pieced by Michele of @micheles_kitchen from donated blocks and quilted in an all over stipple by Karen of @shecooks_shesews (bringing the total number of quilts done by Karen to 5!) and bound by me!

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And to bring us up to date, the Do Good Stitches care circle, led by Merran of @123bluejumper pieced the blocks as well as the top, then quilted and bound and sent completed this gorgeous quilt. Special thanks to the contributors Gina of @happygolizzie, Leanne of @daisyandjack, Jodi of @talesofcloth, Rachel of @rachelwoodenspoon, Lucy of @lucyfleur7, Cat of @hellofromcat, Tracy, Kath of @bluebeehive, Monique of @sharingthegoodstuff and Erin of @onceuponadonkey!

In all, 19 finished tic tac toe block quilts are finished and ready to be labelled and donated to various domestic violence safe houses and refuges across all the Australian states. I’m thrilled to be able to facilitate the giving of such gorgeous and precious gifts to women and kids escaping violence – from our hands, to their hearts. May they warm their bodies and comfort their brave souls.

Jackie xxx

In the beginning…

In the beginning, I was hopeful that some of my friends on IG would be so kind as to help a girl out! I only needed 30 blocks to make a quilt for a domestic violence refuge. Turned out I’d be getting a few more than that. In fact, almost 600!

I decided on the tic tac toe block. I wanted a block that was 12 inches finished and one that was easy to piece for beginners and experienced quilters alike. As a recent member of the Blossom Heart Quilts Bee Hive quilting bee, I thought the free tutorial for the tic tac toe block that Alyce provided on her website would be perfect.

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Gorgeous block made by Ros of @sewdeliciousros

I decided to ask for blocks with a low volume background and bright rainbow colours – in part because I love rainbows (!) but mostly because I thought they would brighten the day of women and children whose days are often pretty dark and grey.

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Made by Becky of @keiserquilts in Canada!

I put out the call for the 30 and, incredibly, the blocks started rolling in. I was pretty much inundated with tic tac toe blocks. I mean, the postie and I were pretty much on a first name basis and my kids started complaining about all the packages I was getting and they weren’t!

Amazingly, there were days that I regularly received 20 blocks and one day I even received 35! Soon I had enough to make 3 or 4 quilts and I knew I was going to need help. Along with the blocks, though, came the offers to help – for piecing, quilting and binding. Donations of quilt tops, batting and backing fabric were also gratefully received.

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Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts sent a block too!

Blocks came in from all around Australia, New Zealand, America, Canada, Japan, the UK, Germany, Holland and Singapore. The project had really struck a chord with women all around the world. That 62 women had died within the first 36 weeks of 2015 – well, the crafty community were appalled and wanted to do something to show how much they cared.

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The letters I received accompanying the blocks and the messages on IG and Facebook also told the story, too often, of women who were the survivors of domestic violence. In some cases the messages were from family or friends of a loved one who died at the hands of an intimate partner. I was honoured and horrified to read the stories – it really strengthened my resolve to make and gather these quilts so we could make a difference to the women who’s courage in leaving (and so often in staying) I so admired.

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Courage block made by Leanne Benson of @sewnbyleanne

In the beginning, the friends who I had asked for help on IG were the same ones who put up their hand and made blocks. They did so much more than that though. They also pieced tops, donated finished quilts, quilted the new quilts and supported me through it all.

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Sewing day at GJs – with Emma, me, Alison, Ros, Jane and Bronwen

I have some great friends since I started quilting and I’m truly grateful for them! Especially Jane (aka @behind_lilpipdesigns) and Alison (aka @baroness_stella) who have been a huge support and just all round awesome chicks!

Saying no to domestic violence

It was early on a Wednesday morning at the beginning of September 2015 when I heard the news on the radio. I had just dropped my 4-year-old son off at kinder. In the car on the way home I heard a news report about the violent death of Tara Brown, allegedly at the hands of her ex-partner. Tara BrownMore harrowing were the details. Tara had dropped her 3-year-old daughter off at childcare. On her way home she was followed by her ex-partner and run off the road. While still trapped in her overturned vehicle, her former partner beat her with a cast iron water hydrant cover until she was unrecognisable. Her life support was switched off the next day.

I was devastated, for Tara and for her daughter, Aria, who will now grow up without a mother.  Later that day another woman, Katrina Lock, was shot and killed by her ex-husband in a crowded McDonalds in front of shocked onlookers.The deaths of these two women saw the death toll rise to 62. In the 36th week of 2015, 62 women in Australia had been killed by intimate partners or in familial circumstances. The appalling figure represented almost 2 women every week.

I was left feeling angry. More than that, though, I felt hopeless and helpless. I decided that I really wanted to do something positive. I wanted to make a tangible difference in the lives of those women and children who suffer such heartbreaking violence at the hands of men who are “supposed” to love them.

I’m quite active in the crafty community – I started quilting when I was pregnant with my second son. I decided to put out a call for the donation of quilt blocks amongst my circle of friends on Instagram and Facebook. My hope was that at least 30 people would donate a quilt block and this would mean I could put together one quilt to donate to a domestic violence refuge in Victoria. What happened next, though, was extraordinary – a testament to the generosity of people. Call for BlocksThe idea of donating quilts to domestic violence refuges resonated with so many people that within the first week I had received 100 blocks and the promise of hundreds more. My goal of making one quilt for a refuge soon morphed into one for each Australian state and territory.

The project, dubbed #quiltblockstohealviolence, has garnered an enormous amount of support from crafty people all over Australia. I have also received blocks from the USA, Canada, New Zealand, Japan, Germany, Holland, the UK and Singapore. Women have donated fabric to cover the back of the quilts and small business owners who offer long arm quilting services have offered to professionally quilt them as well. Fabric stores across Australia have also donated fabric and batting and I have received more than 25 fully completed quilts and quilt tops from quilters who want to make a positive contribution.

At this stage I have received 572 block donations from over 120 women. This will be enough to make at least 20 quilts. A couple of the modern quilt guilds in various states are also making their own entire quilt to send across and at least 20 women have assisted with piecing and quilting. I am humbled to be a part of this wonderful group of people – our aim is to wrap women and kids escaping violence in quilts that have been handmade with love.

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Men’s violence against women is at crisis levels in Australia. Australia’s National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety (ANROWS) in its recently released report, built on data collected in the 2012 Bureau of Statistics Personal Safety Survey, shows that 1 in 4 women in Australia has experienced violence from an intimate partner – which equates to around 2.3 million women – as well as a raft of other similarly shocking statistics. To give this figure some perspective, of the 120 women who have donated blocks to the project, at least 30 of them will have experienced intimate partner violence at some point since the age of 15. Some of the letters I have received with the quilt blocks bear witness to this fact as does my own personal experience. I am grateful to be able to provide a way for women to contribute in a positive way and to raise awareness of the pervasive nature of this most gendered form of violence against women.

At this stage, I am finalising the binding and labelling of the quilts. I hope to be in a position to donate all of the quilts in the next month.