Community Quilt 65

23 02 2013

This was another very busy scrappy quilt!

How to quilt it? Well, it was so busy that I didn’t want to quilt anything that was too overpowering, so to soften the angled straight edges of the top’s geometric design I just did an all-over large meandering stipple in a pastel variegated thread (pink, yellow, and blue).

(Click on a photo to view it larger)






Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Silco in a variegated pastel of yellow, pink and blue (40? wt, cotton; colour #SCM03)
  • Bobbin: Bobbinfil (cotton, white)


Community Quilt 64

23 02 2013

This was one busy quilt! It was all scraps, and in my opinion it looks far better from a distance than it did close up. That’s not to say it was ‘ugly’ — just a real mish-mash of fabrics, prints, and colours, typical of a scrappy quilt. But from a distance, the optical illusion created by the blocks outlined in dark blue is quite striking.

How to quilt it? Well, it was so busy that I didn’t want to quilt anything that was too overpowering; likewise, I didn’t want to just ‘stitch in the ditch’ though it was tempting to do so. Instead, I went for the opposite of the straight edges in this quilt and quilted big circles, bubbles, pebbles — whatever you want to call them. I wasn’t too precious about getting them exact — as you can see from the photos!; the whole idea was to soften the straight edges of the top’s very geometric design.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)





Threads used:

  • Top:  Fil-Tec Glide ‘Rock Navy’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester; colour #30001)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80wt, colour DB 245)


We dodged a bullet

16 02 2013

About 4:15 yesterday afternoon (15 February 2013), I was working hard editing a document for my client when my husband mentioned that he could see quite a bit of smoke. A few minutes earlier we’d heard a couple of planes go by quite close. I commented that I wasn’t surprised about the smoke as there had been about 20 fires further south from us in the past three days as a result of lightning strikes from a summer electrical storm and there had been warnings about smoke throughout the south-west. One of those fires was really close to Bridgetown, where we used to live; my fear of bushfires was the reason we left Bridgetown three years ago after a fire had come really close to the town four summers ago.

But his comment about smoke reminded me to look at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) website ( to see what the current alerts were. This website is a godsend in summer for anyone who lives in Western Australia, as it reports fires, floods, cyclones etc. and I guess I would look at it a few times each day during summer.

I was gobsmacked — according to the website there was a bushfire really close to where we live, and people in the area just north of us were being told to leave their houses NOW; we were on the WATCH and ACT level. I went outside and could see the plume of smoke quite clearly, not far to the north-east of us. I also felt a breeze coming from the south-west, so figured that if the breeze didn’t shift, we would be OK as the fire was burning away from us.



Above: Google satellite image of where we live (orange home icon) and where the fire was (red A marker), with the distance legend from this map. It looks like the fire was about 1 to 2 km from our house on the other side of the highway. Note all the bushland south of the fire — thank goodness the breeze was from the south-west and not the north or north-east!


Above: Note the pattern of the paddocks/ponds in the lower centre of the photo taken from the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) spotter plane and compare them to the Google satellite image. (Source: DEC photo from

fire_from_bunbury Above: Plume as seen from Bunbury, some 25 km away (source:

What to do? Well, surprisingly, I wasn’t panicked. Our biggest threat was going to be embers, so I connected the hose and started watering the thatched roof of our Bali hut near the house and the brushwood fences. I also started the retic system manually to get water onto the lawns and gardens closest to the house — to hell with water restrictions at a time like this! I got out all the other hoses and connected them too — they would never save the house, but they could be useful if there were embers.

Over the next two and a half hours, I kept the retic system on, ultimately soaking most of the gardens and lawns on our property. I had a couple of calls from people I knew in Bridgetown letting me know that there was a fire close by (they monitor that DFES website like hawks!), and a phone call from my nephew who passed through the area on his way south for the weekend. I also contacted a neighbour to let her know that there was a fire close by — she already knew about it as she’d got an alert on her phone from the emergency alert system. More about that later…

Meantime, I packed up my client’s laptop, synched my laptop and packed it up, grabbed my most recent backup drive (from the previous night) for the server, grabbed my ‘Vital Info’ folder that I’d created when we lived in Bridgetown (passports, copies of ID, property titles, wills, insurance docs etc.), some basics like toiletries and clothes and underwear, and put two big woollen blankets in the boot of the car. If we needed to evacuate, I was ready.

While all this was going on, we were being buzzed continuously by water bombers and helitacs (helicopters with long snorkels/trunks designed to pick up lots of water and drop it on fire), some coming over our house quite low. I found out later that there were 7 water bombers and 2 helitacs, plus a spotter plane from DEC monitoring the direction and dimensions of the fire. Those guys were tireless! For two to three hours they were in the air, back and forth over the fire, dropping water/foam on it. I think they even made a last sortie after probably being told to stand down because of fading light as the sun had been down for a bit when the last ones flew overhead.

In that two to three hours, the fire went from a nasty plume in the sky (the pictures I took were as the plume was diminishing, not at the height of the blaze — I was too busy to take photos!!!) to almost nothing. There is no way that people on the ground alone could have extinguished that blaze in that time, no matter what resources they had. I believe that fighting the fire from the air like that was the only effective way to put out the worst of that fire. Sure, the ground crews are needed for establishing containment lines and fighting spot fires, and I have nothing but admiration for them all — especially as many are volunteers, but I really think that those water bombers and helitacs were what stopped this fire from getting out of hand.

By 8 pm last night the fire threat for us had been downgraded to ADVICE. We dodged a bullet.

(Click a photo to view it at a larger size)


Above and below: Plume from our backyard. Much less than it had been about an hour before.



Above: Plume behind our shed. Thatching on Bali hut on the right was quite soaked by now.


Above: Water bomber later in the afternoon–plume is dissipating now

Emergency Services Levy

I know there was a lot of complaint some years ago when the State government decided to add an emergency services levy to ALL property rates. I never complained about it, as funding emergency services, especially volunteer groups such as the SES, all volunteer fire brigades etc. with cake stalls just doesn’t cut it. There needs to be sufficient finance to staff DEC and DFES with permanent firefighters, and to provide equipment like water bombers and helitacs and their highly trained crews, and sufficient funds to provide equipment and training to the tireless volunteer fire brigades in this vast state of ours. It was only a few years ago that our state had NONE of these aerial firefighting instruments. After yesterday’s experience, I was ready to donate to those who keep these things flying! Unfortunately, as it’s a government-funded thing, there’s no way to donate, so I’ll likely donate to my local bushfire brigade.

Emergency Alert System

I mentioned earlier about the Australia-wide emergency alert system and how most of my neighbours got text or recorded messages on their mobile phones or landlines. I got nothing. After everything had settled down, I decided to investigate.

The FAQ page for mobile phones on the Emergency Alert website ( gave several reasons why I might not have received a message. I decided to investigate the one about the phone provider not having my street address. I went on to Telstra’s 24/7 online chat and found out that my mobile phone was linked to a street address I’d left some six years ago! The reason is that all my account information is sent to my PO Box, so I never knew that it was linked to a street address too and that I needed to change that when I’d changed the details for the PO box each time we’d moved. Well, I know now! The Telstra lady changed the street address immediately (after doing a security confirmation with me), so in case this sort of thing ever happens again, I should get an alert.

I’ll contact my landline provider today and make sure they have my street address too, as I didn’t get a message via the landline either. Again, that bill is sent to my PO box.

However, the mobile should still have got the message as we are in the cell area for where the fire was. That said, we are in a bit of a black hole where we are, and the signal isn’t always available, so perhaps that’s why it didn’t work. It worked for my nephew though — he got the message as he was driving through the area. I followed up with my nephew a few days later — he DIDN’T get any message as he was driving through the area; he only saw the smoke and emergency service vehicles and people who had been evacuated hanging at the end of the roads.  He knew where we lived so called me.

So, if you get your phone bills sent to a PO Box, contact your phone provider and make sure your correct street address is attached to your number, otherwise the emergency alert system may not work for you just when you need it to.

Update: I contacted my landline provider (iinet) and they checked the database for their wholesaler (Telstra) and yes, my street address is correctly recorded in that database. However, the iinet customer support person suggested I contact Telstra anyway to make sure. So I used the 24/7 live chat facility on Telstra. The customer support person couldn’t access that database, but she did say she’d ask why my landline didn’t receive a call assuming the street address was correct. Here’s what she found out and emailed me:

I have looked into the emergency notifications for you, and the reason you would have not received a landline notification is due to the fact they are only available to full Telstra Services. Because your phone line rental is through iiNet, we are unable to provide this service for you.

WTF?? Just because my landline phone is with a different provider, I can’t get emergency alerts on it??? I’ll be following this up, starting with iinet.

Update 20 October 2015: I couldn’t recall the outcome when I followed up iinet last time, so I called them again today. No-one seems to know… The customer support person at iinet looked up a database and told me that my name, landline and mobile numbers, and current address were all listed correctly (he confirmed each bit of info with me), and he *assumed* that as that database is used by emergency services that I would get alerts on my landline and an SMS on my mobile if I ever needed it. However, he didn’t know for sure, and there was no way he could find out. I guess the only way I’ll know if it works is if there’s an emergency close by and I get an alert! At that point I’ll know if it works. Not a very satisfactory outcome. I’d much rather know that I’d be contacted than be left in the dark as to whether I would be or not.

Wow! First Prize!

14 02 2013

I entered two of my art quilts into a local art awards competition/exhibition (Boyup Brook Art Awards), and found out last night that one of them had won FIRST PRIZE in the Textiles division! Not only do I get the honour and glory of being a first prize winner, but I’ll also get $300! One of the conditions of entry is that all pieces have to be for sale, so if it sells, then that will be another bonus. Gotta be happy with that!

The exhibition is on until this Sunday, 17 Feb 2013, at the Boyup Brook Town Hall (Western Australia), as part of the Country Music Festival.

The art quilt that won first prize was my ‘Estuarine Eucalypt’ piece:


My friend Bobbie won second prize for her art quilt that she made for our annual Challenge (the piece she entered is the second photo in this post:


Way to go, us!!! 😉

Many thanks to the organisers and the sponsors, without whom these art awards would not have been possible. The cash prizes were donated by IGA (overall), Scotts Brook Wines (paper, canvas, and mixed media) and Boyup Brook Farm Supplies (textiles, 3D sculptures, Indigenous, and packer’s prize).

Community Quilt 63

12 02 2013

This one was quite a traditional quilt, with some big star blocks in purple, green, and cream florals.

How to quilt it? I decided to get away from the geometry of the blocks and quilt large freeform flowers in each star block, starting with the purple blocks where the star points were evenly spaced, then continuing into the cream/green blocks where they weren’t. I was originally going to quilt the flowers in the cream/green blocks in a cream, but then decided to continue using the same purple, blue, and green variegated thread I used in the purple blocks in these blocks too. For each flower, I stitched a sort of circle around the centre join in the block, then radiated out the petals from there, doing the long petals all the way around first, then filling in with the petals to the shorter points.

For the border, I kept with the same thread and stitched loopy flowers and leaves.

(Click on a photo to view it larger. The colours look a little washed out as this photo was taken in the heat of a very hot summer’s day. Sorry about that!)






Threads used:

  • Top: Superior King Tut ‘Cairo’ (40 wt, cotton, colour #932)
  • Bobbin: Bobbinfil (white, cotton)


Community Quilt 62

12 02 2013

I LOVE this panel! Normally, I’m not fussed by fabric panels. Either I don’t like the colours or the theme, but this one was different and not like any panel I’ve ever seen before. I love the colours and I especially like the birds — macaws are some of my favourite birds, and I love the over-the-top design of the toucans.

I was originally going to do a lot of thread painting on this quilt in matching colours, but realised fairly quickly that all that would do would be to tighten up the quilt and make it quite stiff. I suspect this quilt will go to a small child, and it needs to be comforting. So after doing a little thread painting in black, I switched to an invisible thread in smoke and mostly just outlined the main features, adding a bit of texture to the waterfall, the tree trunks, the edges and veins of the leaves, etc.

(Click on a photo to view it larger. The colours look a little washed out as this photo was taken in the heat of a very hot summer’s day. Sorry about that!)


quilt62_04  quilt62_03


Threads used:

  • Top: YLI Wonder Invisible Thread ‘Smoke’ (nylon)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80 wt, colour DB 245)


Community Quilt 61

12 02 2013

Another Disappearing 9-patch quilt, this time in yellow and green, with patches of a red wattle fabric — I’ll call it an Aussie quilt! Green and gold are Australia’s national sporting colours, and the green and gold wattle is our national flower.

I used my favourite quick and easy ‘open headband‘ motif all over the main top of this quilt in a variegated yellow, purple, and green thread. And for the borders I also used a variegated green thread to stitch the meandering leaves and stems. Each stem starts at the centre of the border and extends to the yellow corner block, where it meets the leaves from the opposing side.

(Click on a photo to view it larger. The colours look a little washed out as this photo was taken in the heat of a very hot summer’s day. Sorry about that!)



Threads used:

  • Top: Superior King Tut ‘Passionfruit’ (40 wt, cotton, colour #931) for the main top; Superior King Tut ‘Green Olives’ (40 wt, cotton, colour #990) for the border
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Invisifil (100 wt, colour IF 702)


Community Quilt 60

3 02 2013

I really liked this quilt! The colours were so bright and cheery, and the black set them off perfectly. I’m pretty sure it’s a Disappearing 9-patch quilt, and it had a pieced backing in fun coordinating fabrics.

I suspect this quilt will go to a teenager (likely a girl as boys tend not to choose pink!), as the text on the pink fabric is all text message shorthand, and the pattern on the white fabric is of phone keypads and keyboard keys.

So how to quilt it? I wanted to echo the straight lines of the pieces in the blocks and give a hint of a computer circuit board, so I did a ‘squared stipple’ as an all-over motif. But unlike a traditional stipple, the stitching lines in this one are meant to cross, though typically only once per square/rectangle. I continued the single line stitching (yes, there’s only one long continuous line of stitching in this quilt top) into the border to tie the border to the quilt’s theme. And I decided on a purple/pink variegated thread to coordinate with the pinks and purples in the quilt. I think the black border sets this thread off nicely too.

(Click on a photo to view it larger.)

quilt60_01   quilt60_02




Threads used:

  • Top: Superior King Tut ‘Egyptian Princess’ (40 wt, cotton, colour #403)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80 wt, colour DB 205)


Community Quilt 59

3 02 2013

This quilt was already completed — the binding was on and some very basic ‘stitch in the ditch’ had been done around the large blocks. But the Community Quilt organiser thought I could add some ‘magic’ to it and lift it from mediocrity to something a bit more special.

I decided to quilt loopy feathers in each block — using soft green thread in the green blocks and a soft pink variegated thread in the pink and green blocks. All the large swathes (the big ‘X’) of feathers meet in the centre.

(Click on a photo to view it larger.)

quilt59_01  quilt59_03




Threads used:

  • Top: Fil-Tec Glide ‘Sea Foam’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour #97494) and Fil-Tec Affinity ‘Mauve’ (40 wt, trilobal variegated polyester, colour #60149)
  • Bobbin: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80 wt, colour DB 205)