AHQ: …. Ad Astra

The Corporal’s Quilt, front and centre!*


Once again, the wind made a straight shot impossible, but at least the sun obliged with some shadows to show up the (somewhat wobbly) quilting. The Corporal won’t care… Started 8 October, completed 28 October.

It’s done. Once I’d taken it down from the line I folded and packed it in the prescribed manner, to fit the free posting box and allow a little room for home comforts and edibles. It’s on its way to Iraq, to give chilly winter night-time comfort, something to wrap up in, and most of all, to remind the Corporal that his service is gratefully appreciated and remembered by those at home, even total strangers.

My next job will be to test a block for Esther at ipatchandquilt; she has designed a lovely new paper piecing pattern, and it will make a nice little break between this and the next quilt, which is going to be large, complicated and long-term – the deadline is the beginning of May 2016.

*front and centre!
(idiomatic) A command to come to the centre of attention of an assemblage of military personnel.
(From Wikipedia)

AHQ: Per ardua

The top of the Corporal’s quilt is done.

I gave myself a whole heap of trouble when I decided to have the RAAF motto and roundel at the top and initials at the bottom. 20 different appliqué elements – what was I thinking? ‘Per ardua ad astra: Through adversity to the stars’ indeed… Only on this quilt, the stars came first and the adversity followed!

finished topA day off sewing to fill a bakery order (Oh no! More cake…), and then I can look at getting the sandwich done. I’m going to use a blue and white checked flannelette for the back – the same stuff as I used for the Husband’s Truck Quilt. It makes it nice and cosy, and I have the fabric already so there’s sadly no need to expose myself to the temptation of going to my LQS, where there’s a new fabric line in stock I want to check out. Must…Not…Buy…Fabric…

You’ll be glad to learn that I got through the whole day yesterday without pricking, cutting,burning or otherwise injuring myself. No cake required… 😦

AHQ: Border patrol

Forward progress continues…

Stars & bordersI have completed the foundation pieced stars, so the Southern Cross is ready. After a lot of twiddling around, I worked out the sizes of the all bits I needed for the border. Not having much of a head for arithmetic, I do hate all the calculations needed, and as I don’t have Electric Quilt I need to work it out old-school style, with pencil, paper and calculator.  Still, it’s over, job done.

I have the border elements two-thirds completed. The plan is for a repeat of pinwheel, 4-patch and diagonal strip piecing. As you can see, I’m making full use of all the scraps and strips from the Doggies quilt, with a random seasoning of kangaroo fabric, always popular with the boys and girls in uniform. It doesn’t look like a whole lot of progress, but it’s 20 blocks and a whole lot of cutting, sewing and pressing.

Strips for blockAll that’s left to do on the main part of the front is the diagonal strip piecing, 4 strips per block, 8 blocks in total. The cutting is done, so I can just crank out the blocks tomorrow, and then at last I can start piecing it together. The appliqué is going to take some time and careful work, so I don’t want to rush it. I’m making good enough progress that I don’t feel I need to be in a hurry.

Time to put my feet up for 10 minutes before I have to head to the kitchen to sort out something to feed us both for dinner tonight. I’m thinking pork and fennel Italian-style meatballs in tomato sauce with pasta…

Right, cup of coffee and a cook book.

AHQ: The Corporal’s Quilt…

…Reporting for duty.

Corporal1Here is today’s progress. I have the templates for the RAAF roundel, the motto and his initials done. The blue squares for the main background are cut; I have 4 more stars to piece, and then the Southern Cross is done. After that, I’ll concentrate on the border squares, which are a repeating series of pinwheels, 4-patch and diagonal strip piecing in blue and white, and then I can start piecing the front together.

Following the piecing, I still have to do all the appliqué for the roundel, motto and initials. This week is pretty clear, so I should be able to make some good progress. I haven’t even thought about backing and quilting. It will make itself known in due course.

At the current rate of progress, the Corporal should have his quilt in plenty of time to hit the 100 Quilts for 100 Heroes by Christmas deadline.


AHQ: sneaking in a quick one

I needed some displacement activity yesterday.

It was a poor time to be starting the Corporal’s quilt, my head was all over the place. But while going through my AHQ supplies, I found something I’d created many months earlier for one of the AHQ laundry bags we also make. These are bright and colourful, and personalised. The forces issue plain boring green, blue and white ones, all identical, and it’s all too easy for the wrong one to be collected and uniforms to go astray. I’d made a humorous panel to go on the front of one, so I emailed AHQ to ask if they had a random someone who needed one. Back came the reply, and a lucky Flight Sergeant is getting this:Biohazard LB

Biohazard LB closeupThe fabric of laundry bags needs to be durable, since they get a hell of a beating in the laundry.

I had some denim and some small blue and white check for the lining, plus a little of my favourite roo fabric for a band at the top.

I thought the biohazard panel still needed some zing, so I bordered it with hi-vis orange reflective tape and appliquéd some freehand initials, and it was done.

The bag still needs a cord, I had none left, but I can get some over the weekend and it can go off on Monday, together with some goodies, up to the maximum 2kg weight limit Australia Post will carry for free for the armed forces.  I’m thinking bickies, Pringles, cuppa-soups and Cheesy Vegemite Dippers…

In case you’re wondering, that chemical formula is laundry detergent…!

AHQ: it’s been too long

It’s been an age since I made a quilt for AHQ.

Last year, to reveal the full depth of my shame. But I find myself without an urgent project, and AHQ has a list of 100 quilts for 100 Aussie Heroes by Christmas, so I held up my hand. Moving swiftly when the list came out, I’ve secured myself a great one: the only requirements are (as always) the size, 42 x 70″ to fit the ‘rack’, or bunk, and the brief: “blue and white, and be as creative as you like”. How great is that? Just when I happen to have plenty of blue and white scraps around the place…

100 Heroes Quilt design

I can get that awesome ‘roo fabric out of storage, too!

The corporal for whom I’m making this quilt is on active service in a rather lively area, it gets cold at night where he is, and the operation of which he’s a part is doing a difficult and dangerous job. He’s not just standing around being an awesome advertisement for military life… So I owe him the best I can do, in thanks for his service and the great job he and his fellow servicemen and women are doing. Nothing fluffy, floral or pretty-pretty in this quilt, either; he’ll be a fairly blokey bloke! The size format may seem stingy and skinny, but these quilts have to be easy to fold and stow quickly, to fit the rack exactly, and to be a sensible shape to wrap themselves in at night when it’s cold.

100 Heroes fabric detail

Fabrics for the logo detail. The print on the gold fabric is metallic, for a bit of extra oomph.

It does present some challenges to come up with a design that works, but I believe I have it, after lots of scribbling and rubbing out. At the top, a crest to represent his branch of the ADF. If the air force, then the Air Force kangaroo roundel (blue ring containing red kangaroo on white background) and a banner below with ‘Per Ardua ad Astra’. If it’s the army, a Dresden plate fan to represent the Rising Sun cap badge, with ‘Duty and Honour’ in a banner below. I’m waiting to find out which it’ll be; either one works. Below that, a background of fairly solid blues, but with white star blocks arranged in the shape of the Southern Cross constellation, which appears on the Australian flag and is a symbol of home to Aussies everywhere. In the bottom right corner, the corporal’s initials.

Somewhere, if I can work out how to do it, I’d like to add the following: ‘Pointy end towards the enemy’, which I feel applies equally to any branch of the Service… If any of my Australian readers has a sewing machine with an embroidery function, and you’d be prepared to create a strip of text for this quilt, I’d love to hear from you – it would need to be done within the next 3 weeks so that I can hit the mailing date to get this to my corporal before Christmas. My email address is on my Contact Me page.

Now for some quality time with cutting mat and ruler. I’d like to get the cutting done before I go into hospital tomorrow, but it’s going to depend on incoming information…


If you’re interested in the work of Aussie Hero Quilts, click on the button in my sidebar to go to their website, or in the link given in the first paragraph.  Bring some comfort and appreciation to our serving Australian Defence Force personnel with an Aussie Hero Quilt or laundry bag. For the U.S.A., please go to Quilts of Valor for the same work.

AHQ: answering the call

Many of you know that from time to time, I make quilts and laundry bags for Aussie Hero Quilts and Laundry Bags, which go to our Australian service people, letting them know that people back home are thinking of them and appreciating the work they do on our behalf.

Yesterday, I got this email from AHQ’s founder (email quoted with her permission) with an urgent call to action:

Hi all

Just a quick request. I am wanting to increase the number of Fallen Warrior Quilts we have, preferably in time for ANZAC Day. No definite plans but I know that many of the families of the 41 fallen will be together this year and there is a lot of appreciation for our Fallen Warrior Quilts and I know that some of the families who have not received one (because their loved one died before we were formed) would dearly love to. We do not have much time and there is so much on but if you have time to make a few poppy blocks and send them to ME, not Caroline, that would be great.  You just never know what we might be capable of if we try.

The tutorial for the block is here:


And the postal address is in my signature block below.
Anything you can do would be great.



 Jan-Maree Ball
Founder Aussie Hero Quilts (and Laundry Bags)
PO Box 248, Cherrybrook, NSW, 2126
Mobile 0422227019
Email: friendsofAHQ@gmail.com


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I’m making three of the poppy blocks explained in the tutorial.

Jan-Maree will collect blocks made by many, many AHQ contributors and have them assembled into commemorative quilts for the families of the fallen in time for presentation on ANZAC Day on 25 April. These quilts are always treasured and are an important way of showing appreciation and respect and support for the families left behind.

If any of you quilters out there feel able to join in, and  have time to make a very simple block or two in the next week or so, the tutorial and the address to send them to are right there. Even if you miss the deadline for ANZAC day, the blocks will be kept and used for the next Fallen Warrior quilt, so your efforts will not be wasted.

Go on, get involved and give the families left behind a poppy for remembrance…

AHQ: stitches afloat!

The stitchers of Aussie Heroes Quilts recently had this photo sent to them, full of smiling faces and beautiful quilts flapping in the breeze:

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Can you spot it? Just below the bottom right side of the gun turret, light blues with crosses. Click on the image to enlarge.

This is HMAS Toowoomba, and the big bearded smiling face I showed in an earlier post is there, proudly holding his quilt.

The Chaplain, who is a major player in getting the quilts organised for the service people, said he could not stress enough just how much he and the crew appreciated our visible and real support when they needed it most.

2015 will see me start work on AHQ again; I have a laundry bag idea lined up already, and there are some donated fabrics and blocks which are calling out to be used for quilts.

It’s a handsome display, isn’t it?

The rogue’s gallery

Lots of people publish a list of projects they completed in the year, a round-up of achievements. It’s satisfying to look at, and sometimes very impressive.

This year, I thought “nah, not worth it”. I wasn’t going to do it, until I actually listed what I’d done in the past 12 months. Twelve quilts?! That’s one a month! Granted that a few of them are baby quilts and the AHQ ones are narrow bunk size, but that’s still a lot of quilts… On top of that is the making of bags, sewing kits, boxes, garments and cushions. I’m now unreasonably proud of myself, and probably need taking down a peg or two!

Quilts: Happiness, Tree of Life, Isfahan, Amistad, Broken Bottles, Jumble, Wervelwind, Flucht, Komeet.

AHQ: 3 quilts, 3 laundry bags

Garments: Blue batik top, two nighties

Bags: Navy stripe, black & yellow, laptop bag, embroidery travel kit, hexie travel kit

Odds & ends: tea cosy, fabric storage boxes, pincushion, round box, egg cosies, placemats, 3 cushions

Embroidery: Wedding sampler, Husband portrait

UFOs: Steampunk, Woolly Thing, Worldwide Friends, Husband star quilt

I apologise for the completely random placing of the images. I appear to have no control over where things are placed, and the formatting fights back.  I have no idea how to make a nice little mosaic of the shots in this particular WordPress theme, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to view them in all their wonky glory.

Happy, happy! I love this quilt so much!

Outside, and my favourite button finally finds a home

Isfahan, complete with scrappy binding

The finished quilt. I'm really pleased with it

Three 'flying quilts' for my nephew's triplet baby daughters. Left is Komeet (Comet), centre is Vlucht (Flight) and right is Wervelwind (Whirlwind)

Visualise this with a wide brimmed pink hat and pink pants...

The nightie, posing artfully in front of my fabric cupboard

The blue one. I can't decide which one I prefer.

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Navy and white stripes, navy with a tiny white spot, and a spiffy bow tie.

Red basket, completed and already put to good use

Side 2 standing up

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AHQ: Takeoff

It’s done, and on its way to the Leading Aircraftwoman.

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I hope it keeps her warm and comfortable on cold nights, and is a reminder that not everything is a regulation shade of grey.

I won’t be taking another one on till after I’m back at the end of November, but hopefully by then I’ll be raring to go again.

Front: One jelly roll of Moda Scrumptious
Back: generic white on cream print wideback from Spotlight
Binding: Seaweed and Submarines by Tula Pink in Orange

More soon.