Wednesday, 16 April 2014

The Wrap Up Report: Over 1000 quilts!!!

It has been some time in coming, but here it is ........ the final wrap up report.

What a huge two days we had in March with the quilts. The Public Open Day was great. We were so excited with how fantastic everything looked when it was set up. Of course, we knew we had a lot of quilts, but we hadn't seen them all in one place before. It was quite overwhelming really. So much for the eyes to take in.

We had lots of visitors on the Friday including a lot of lovely quilt makers who came from far and wide to see their quilts in with all of the others. It was a very busy day, but I had a lovely chance to sit and chat with the lovely Di, and Di and Gillian and Margaret. The two Di's had brought quilts up to my house earlier in the appeal and it was great to catch up again over a sausage sandwich. Di wrote a blog post about the day, which you can read here, and she has taken some lovely photos. There were quite a few quilts delivered on the day, and their photos are now up on Photo Gallery 2. We had only been open a few minutes when we hit the 1000 mark! By the end of the day we estimated we were up to:


There were quite a few people who had lost their homes as well. They were looking through the quilts to see where the ones they liked were. It was very emotional time for some. I can't imagine how hard it would be to be on the "recovery from bushfire" journey.

There were photo opportunities and talking and questions and talking and a few tears and talking and hugs and talking and by 7pm I was starting to realise I was running out of steam. I would have run out of steam quite a few hours earlier if I didn't have the best self-appointed executive assistant on the earth. Debbie Smith is my friend who went above and beyond the boundaries of friendship. She can't come to our patchwork group because she works, but she gave 110% to the Quilt Appeal. I didn't ask her to, but she was my guardian angel on the day. She would come and find me, look in my face for a moment, and then go only to come back moments later with something I looked like I required. She monitored my water intake, my caffeine intake (extremely important), my carbohydrate intake, my rest times, and at the same time worked very hard in the Emergency Services Truck and with the organisation of the whole day. She was an amazing blessing to me. I couldn't have done it with out you, Debbie.

And speaking of amazing people, my patchwork group and the members of Springwood Salvation Army and Hadleigh Lodge were fantastic. Their dedication to doing something for others is an inspiration. Everyone worked so hard, and were so fantastic at pulling the day off, that it still makes me get a warm fuzzy to think of it.

Our Officers, Captains David & Joy Morgan

Saturday was the big day. I arrived early in the early morning at the hall and I walked through the quilts in the total peace and quiet. That is one thing we noticed during the setting up. All of the quilts had a sound dampening effect, like you are in a well insulated box. I have to say that I felt a moment of sadness in the stillness because the journey for me was going to be over in a few short hours. It had been such a big part of my life since the fires.

Soon my fantastic volunteers arrived, and so did the people who were coming to choose their quilts. Tea and coffee greeted them until the opening time of 10am. It was very busy for the first couple of hours. Most people got the ones they wanted, although there were a few disappointments. There were plenty to choose another favourite from.

When people arrived, they were checked off the registration list and were given a purple token for each quilt they were entitled to receive, and a yellow token for a knitted or crochet rug. They could also choose one wallhanging per household, and a sewing kit or sewing supplies. We also had two tables of back issue of craft and decorating magazines if anyone wanted them. I heard a lady say she didn't do quilting but she was taking some magazines to learn about how the quilts are made, now that she has one. We also had a sausage sizzle and lovely homemade cakes and slices (in regular and gluten free) and real filtered coffee and tea and cold drinks.

If you are wondering how we worked it, we had two people standing at the doors of the entry/exit of each building. As someone left the building, our volunteers would just check to make sure they had the right amount of quilts for tokens. It was a very simple and friendly process. Sometimes a person might go back and forth between the main hall and the barn trying to decide which one they liked more.

When someone chose a quilt off the wall, our team of quilt hangers would get it down and immediately hang another in its place. With so many quilts on display, we found the one on the walls went quicker because you could see them more clearly. Lots of volunteers were on hand to help people with their choices, and the patchwork ladies were able to explain some of the stories behind individual quilts. Sometimes it was the story of a quilt, or where it had come from, which was the deciding factor. Quilts that had come from other Australian communities who had experienced natural disasters in recent years were highly regarded because the recipient knew that the maker would understand what it is like.

Some people could walk into the room and see a quilt within minutes and know that was the one. For others, it took 2 hours or more. Some people know what colours they are going to have in their new homes, others didn't have any idea but they knew what they liked when they saw it. I heard a number of times of people who didn't have a theme in mind but they have now found this quilt and they know exactly what the colour scheme in the lounge or bedroom is going to be. A lady pointed to a triangle in a quilt she had and said to me, "That is going to be the colour of my new lounge where this quilt will be." Imagine that, fellow quiltmakers! You might have been making that quilt at home in your place and someone who has lost their house, and has no idea on what colours to decorate with, has picked your quilt and is going to theme their room around it.

Having food and drink and a covered sitting area turned out to be a good idea, because a lot of people stayed for a couple of hours. Neighbours and friends met up, some for the first time since the fires, and sat and chatted about where they are up to. There was a lovely moment when some people from Mt Victoria saw a neighbour walking up the driveway and there was a lovely reunion. Thankfully the rain held off for both days.

And then before we knew it, it was 3pm and all over. By that stage I think we had distributed 654 quilts and most of the knitted and crochet blankets. The pack up began. I was over in the barn with a lot of helpers and we were bring down the quilts off the net. We had no sooner got them down when it started to pour with rain. I mean it bucketed down! It was so loud that we were yelling at each other and couldn't hear what we were saying. And the the hail started. I am sure I have some hearing damage from it. The amazing thing is we had all the quilts off the walls because the opening doors leak and there was a lovely indoor waterfall spraying into the barn. What a blessing it didn't rain the for the 2 days the quilts were up.

The remaining quilts and blankets went to The Salvation Army Recovery Centre In Raymond Road, Springwood. I am currently the Recovery Team Leader there and it has been a joy to keep on distributing the quilts. People have been coming in regularly to come and choose quilts because they couldn't be there on the day. Just in the last two weeks about 25 families have chosen quilts. The stockpile is going down very steadily and in another couple of weeks after everyone has had a chance to come in we will start distributing them to hospitals and other places. I think the final remaining number may be about the same as what we would normally make in that timeframe as part of our community quilting.

So, it is almost the end of the journey. There may be a few more blog posts coming, particularly when the last quilts are donated, but it may be quiet here for a while. Being part of this journey has been life changing for me. Seeing the amazing community spirit up close and personal has impacted me in a deep way. Through it all Ryan has supported me 100%. He amazed me constantly with his calm words of encouragement, cups of tea, quilt hanging skills and willingness to do anything I asked even though he works such long hours in the city. As for our girls, they will never be the same again, in a good way. They were very frightened by the fires and what was happening around them, but they have seen how people in a community, and throughout the country, band together when there is trouble, and they have seen the blessings that come from volunteering and hard work. I believe this experience will help them to be more prepared for the next bushfire that comes our way one day. Hopefully, not for a long time.

Thank for stopping by!


Thursday, 20 March 2014

The night before and we are at 998!!!

What a week it has been! So many quilts have been coming in!

On Wednesday we had 910, but by tonight we have 998 quilts. It is simply amazing! When we got them all to the hall to get ready to hang them, we were totally blown away by the sheer volume of quilts we have. We started setting them up on Wednesday, but the majority of them went up today.

We have had the most amazing support from people in my Corps (in The Salvation Army we call our church a Corps). There was a large group of people at the hall today who worked their tails off to get everything ready. Some were painting over graffiti, some were fixing nets, some were hanging quilts, a lot were sorting quilts, some were sewing binding, some were working in the kitchen, some were setting up, some were chainsawing, some were cleaning, etc. It was a very busy day, and the atmosphere was fantastic.

By the end of the day the barn looked like this:

The inside

Lots and lots of quilts

And the outside

Including the fantastic honey bee quilt

And in the hall it looks like this:

There are a stack of photos of the recent quilt arrivals to go up on the Photo Gallery page, but my computer is not cooperating at the moment. Hopefully, I will be able to get them up soon.

Tomorrow is going to be a big day, and I am so excited!! Sometimes I can't believe that there are almost 1000 quilts all together that are not just being given away, but are being chosen to bring comfort and happiness into someone's life. That just gives me goosebumps.

Thanks for stopping by! Hope to see you at the Open Day tomorrow,


Thursday, 13 March 2014

We are over 800!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

8 days to go to the Open Day and we have cracked the 800 mark. What an achievement!

We had a lot of quilts come in over the last two days. Quilters who have been working on Bushfire Quilt Appeal quilts are feeling the deadline looming and getting their projects finished. I have had a few worried phone calls from ladies saying, "I'm not too late, am I?"

The total number of quilts that came in today was 70, with one knitted blanket. So that brings our number up to.........


The main contributors this week were the Northbridge Quilters from Sydney (12 quilts) and The Cottage from East Gosford (30 quilts and the knitted blanket). Both of these groups have already donated quilts before, and I am starting to recognise certain styles or techniques that I remembered from the last donations. Both groups have been willing to travel, particularly the ladies from East Gosford, and I think it is wonderful thing that we have quilt groups in this country that are so generous with their talent.

Another lady that deserves a special mention this week is Terri Pearson from Gerringong. She had heard about what we are doing through Blue Mountains quilter Anne Sommerlad who was teaching a class down that way. Now Terri belongs to a number of quilting groups and goes to lots of classes and she was a woman with a mission - to help our quilt appeal. First she went to the Nowra Quilters and told them what we're doing. They very generously made a donation toward the cost of making and finishing the quilts. On the envelope back were the words "Keep smiling, keep sewing, keep happy", and that made me smile. They meet every Tuesday at Hood Avenue, North Nowra if anyone is down that way. I would love to drop in one day.

Now the story doesn't end there. Armed with one cheque and vision to help further, Terri went to the Gerringong UFO Craft Group (Yes, that is what the bank account is named. I love it!!) at St Peters and Paul Catholic Church, and the Kiama South Coast Quilters Guild. [NB: a UFO is an Un-Finished Object, which quilters tend to accumulate). Both groups very also generously gave Terri a cheque to send to us. She then gave them to Chris Jurd, another Blue Mountains quilter, who was teaching in the area and Chris' husband, Bob, delivered them to us in Springwood. This all happened within a few days. I want to express my warmest gratitude for the donations of these three groups. It will help us to replenish our wadding supply (which is almost gone) and complete quilts that didn't get finished in time, as well as make up more sewing kits for those who need them. God bless you, Terri, and all the ladies in those three groups.

We still have 8 days to go, and if you are anything like me, that means you have 7 days to muck around with fabric and colours and designs before you start at 11pm the night before the due date. But truly, if you would still like to participate we would like a more sewing kits in lovely fabric bags, if there is anyone would like to put some together. They need some basic sewing supplies in them like:

  • scissors
  • needles
  • pins
  • thread (white, grey, black)
  • pin cushion
  • maybe some safety pins and some buttons
If you think you can make one up, we would love to put it out for distribution. Even if you have some supplies, you can send them and we will put them together.

Also, if you know of anyone who has lost their home in the bushfires, can you please let them know about all the fabulous quilts available for them to choose from? We have had no success in getting an article in the Blue Mountains Gazette, so I would love you're help to make sure everyone is aware.

Thanks for stopping by!


Sunday, 9 March 2014

We are over 700!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not going to keep you in suspense. At the last post we were at 672 quilts. Since then we have finished or received another 87 quilts (not counting the wallhangings), so we are at 759!

The quilts can be seen in the new gallery page, Photo Gallery 2.

Here is a sneak peak:

Now this quilt is something special. It is huge! And is very heavy. It is a king sized, double sided quilt. Of course, all quilts have two sides, but this quilt has a stand alone design on each side. One side is completed with English paper pieced hexagons which form a traditional pattern called Grandmothers Flower Garden. And the other side is a more modern Tumbler Block pattern - one shape like a tumbler glass that is repeated all over the quilt. Now, the most amazing thing about this quilt is something that can't be seen on these photos. Every fabric used in this quilt, except for the few cream hexagons, has bees on it or is bee related, like honey or beehives. Fabric with bees is not all that common, and you can see from the variety of colours and fabrics that the make of this quilt has been collecting them for quite some time. The dedication to make a quilt entirely out of bee fabric is amazing. Whoever chooses this quilt will be getting a very special one of a kind quilt. And if they are a Kiwi, they will recognise the Buzzy Bee fabric in the border!

Aren't these wallhangings adorable? Irene Lightowler donated 19 wallhanging like these last week. Irene will be looking after the wallhanging display on both days, so you can ask her all about these beauties.

Only 12 days to go to the Public Open Day when all of the quilts will be on display. At this stage we are starting to wrap up all of the quilting so we have time to get the binding on. Last Thursday we pinned the last quilt top that we think we will be able to finish in time. The remaining quilt tops will be finished later in the year to be given away to one of our community projects.

I mentioned a couple of posts ago that I would explain what happens each week and now that we are coming to the end of this Appeal, it probably would be a good time to do that now.

On Wednesday night we set up the back of the hall with:

  • two tables for the quilt tops and backs and wadding and binding
  • three tables on risers pushed together to make a large pinning table
  • four tables in a long row for people who are sewing down the binding, and those who are working on their own projects
  • a table or two for sewing machines
  • some chairs for the finished quilts
  • the iron and ironing board
  • the whiteboard

We seem to have a good system worked out with different people looking after different areas, although we have always needed more quilters. A few of the ladies have spent hours and hours quilting and finishing the donated tops we have received, and it is a testament to their hard-working, generous natures.

When we have finished on Wednesday, we leave it all set up so we can walk in on Thursday morning and get started straight away. It saves a lot of time in packing and unpacking.

When donated items come in, we sort them into the right places. Finished quilts get stacked with a note attached with the maker and number of quilts. A list is started with the makers names and number of quilts. The quilt maker's name is written on the Thank You section of the whiteboard. The quilts are put in order ready for photographing so that when the photos are downloaded and tuned to a much smaller size, they are easy to match to the order on the list. Once quilts have been photographed a laminated tag is pinned to a corner. These can be used to attach labels for those who aren't able to come to collect a quilt on the day. Then then are packed into bags and taken to one of our quilt sitters to mind until the big day.

On Thursdays we have a lot more helpers, and it is basically pin, pin, pin! We try to get as many quilts backed and sandwiched with wadding as we can, and then we find people willing to take them home to quilt them. I did say early on that there was no way that we would have all of the tops done, and while there are still a few left to go, it is nowhere near the number we thought we would have left unfinished and we are really pleased.

This week, we will be working on getting bindings finished, tagging the quilts we didn't finish tagging last week, and sorting out the setting up and running of the two days. This Saturday we are having a working bee to get the hall looking spick and span for the big day. And it will probably take us a couple of days to get it all up and ready, particularly as there are some timber frames to be built, so it looks like it will be a big week after this Thursday.

Registrations are coming in and it is very exciting to see. If you know of someone who has lost their home, please make sure you pass the information on. Any help we can get to get the word out there, would be appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by!


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Where are we up to now? And what do we need ?

Well, what a crazy couple of weeks it has been since I last posted. Where does the time go? Let me tell you about what has been happening lately.

On Thursday 6th February, I thought things were slowing down. We were still getting quilts and blankets, but not as many as usual, and our total on that day was 630. The ladies were still busy pinning quilt tops ready for quilting, but we had come to a halt the night before because we had run out of backing fabric. But then Monika arrived with two rolls of wideback fabric! These were donated by Macs Craft, and I can tell you we were very appreciative!

And then last Thursday 13th February we had the opposite, with boxes and boxes and bags of quilts and blankets arriving from all over the place! A special mention has to go to the Upper Landsdowne Social Craft Group, who sent yet another parcel down. They have been amazingly generous, and if you live up that way and are looking for a community minded craft group to join, look them up.

We had 42 quilts arrive that day and one of them would be up there in my Top 10, and that was this quilt made by my mum...

It's pretzels!! How fantastic for a TV/media/home cinema room!
Food and quilting - it's my perfect combination!!

We also received 9 lovely quilts from Axedale Quilters in Victoria...

I love this! It's made from upholstery fabric samples so it will be very hard wearing.
Great for kids, or in a caravan, as a picnic rug, or if you have pets on the lounge with you.

13 blankets from the Square Knitters at the North Shore Friendship Club...

and an outstanding 29 knitted or crochet blankets as well as packets of new linen from Batemans Bay Salvation Army!

The blankets from Batemans Bay came from the residents of three of the local retirement villages. They are simply amazing. What a fantastic and generous offering.

We also received 10 beautifully crocheted blankets all made by the same person, and donated anonymously. The quality of the work is lovely. The colour choice is lovely. If you are reading this and they are your blankets, thank you so much. I know how many hours you put into them, and they are simply beautiful.

On that Thursday alone we received 67 yarn crafted blankets (that is knitted or crochet), which is the most we have ever received in one go. We also received 42 quilts, so we are now up to 672 quilts.

Over the last two weeks I have also had the chance to volunteer at the Relief Centre and I have been spreading the word about registering for a quilt. Lots of the ladies in the group have been putting flyers out about our public open day. We had a family day out on Saturday and went to the Southern Highlands Quilt Show in Mittagong, and put some flyers around. If you haven't seen one, they look like this:

I've also had the chance to talk to people who have lost their homes about the quilts and blankets, and it has been very humbling. I can't imagine how hard it is for some of our community at the moment.

So, what do we need now?

If you still want to be a part of the quilt appeal, and haven't yet started something, I would suggest making a wallhanging. These can be little art quilts, stained glass, miniature quilts or just a few miniature blocks sewn together. They need to have a rod pocket at the back, or some other way to hang them. They are quick and easy to make, and it would be great if we had a few more. If you want to make a quilt, a gender neutral quilt would be best. That is basically a quilt that doesn't have florals in it.

If you have any questions, feel free to give me a call.

Thanks for stopping by!