Making of "True Blue Mates." A Quilt.
in 2015 I made a quilt for the Australian Quilt Challenge (AQC) for the themed challenge “True Blue,” I decided on “True Blue Mates” based on several True Blue Aussie iconic images, the Swagman, based on my late husband, but with more hair… the Blue Heeler dog, my friends dog NED, a typical Australian bush scene, billy on the campfire and swag with Australian green and gold wattle just for good measure.
Making the quilt took around 9 months, from concept and design to the finished product. it is 90cm x 90 cm.
It won People’s choice that year and had an Honorary mention. the following year it went to America to the “Mancuso World of Quilts,” where it won Best of Country for Australia
Making the quilt
Each element of the quilt is made in the same way. Each image is simplified into a shape and colour making almost a “paint by numbers”, each piece of material is cut and fused into place, in this case onto calico, the image is then sewn over using multiple threads and “Painted” using the thread to depict direction and texture. I use a very simple Janome sewing machine and free motion my thread painting. I only use straight and zig-zag stitch. Once finished this image is cut out and forms a sort of “Badge” that can then be put into the final layout.
Making the "Swagman"
making the Swagman took a lot of hours, the shirt alone was a huge undertaking with multiple thread changes, as the original fabric was just plain navy with a grey grid of fabric fused on top. so dimension and shading were added using a very fine free motion zig-zag stitch.
The jeans were make from two old pairs of jeans cut to get the faded, worn look where the creases are, then stitched and thread painted.
The boots, which were so typical of Jeff, were the finishing touch to the worn well trodden look I was after
Making the background elements
A great deal of thought went into the background, I wanted to display as much Australiana as I could with out it being over the top. I decided a swag was obvious, a traveller needs his bed roll, so I made a swag for him to sit on, but it didn’t look like a swag as I had over sewn it, so I made it into a tree trunk! The swag had to be added separately and for good measure I attached a pre-embroidered Australian flag badge. The duffle bag was padded to add dimension and loose shoe laces added for a 3D effect.
Trees were sewn to look like bark and the wattle was sewn with free motion zig-zag in green with three shades of yellow forming the wattle flower. The floor covering of leaves were all individually cut and appliqued into place with some metallic filament for a bit of shine.
G”Day my name is Ned, and “Aussie Icon I’ve been told,
A true Blue Australian loved by many young and old,
Been travelling with a mate of mine, we’ve found the perfect spot,
campfire lit , billy on, its contents piping hot!
After a bit of tucker roll the swag out for a rest,
curl up by the fireside, the time I love the best.
Stories of our travels, the many miles we’ve done
as the Southern Cross lifts high after the setting of the sun.
Memories of the early days, of others that he knew
those that came before me all fondly thought of too.
Gentle hands stroke my head, I give my paw,
to let him know I’m listening, well…. that’s what friends are for!
I decided to make the quilt about the dog Ned, he is the character in the foreground so needed to be bought into the story. The poem told the story about mate ship, travel and finding peace.
Jeff died of prostate cancer in 2017, he was 61.
Neds human, my “bestie” Bev died 3 weeks before him of Motor Neurone Disease.
Ned died a couple of years later.
So the quilt is in memory of people in my life and Ned who was adored by us all, it was seen around the world and appreciated by many. It was shared as an image worldwide and I am so proud to be able to say it is mine!
A friend bought it and it is displayed in his entrance hall at his home for all to see, he has kindly lent it to me for display at quilt exhibitions.