A bit of background… Since 2009, five of us have participated in an annual 4-day retreat down south, where we get to hang out, sew/quilt, laugh, sew some more, tell off-colour and groan-worthy jokes, play, sew some more, laugh even more, eat good food, etc. It’s a delightful break in the middle of the year and the middle of our winter. And it’s a most wonderful time spent with cherished friends. I highly recommend such a weekend to anyone!
To give some focus to the weekend, a challenge is set the previous year that we have to make and keep secret until the reveal at our retreat weekend.
Details of this year’s Challenge and the process for making my piece are here: https://rhondabracey.com/2015/07/04/2015-challenge/
Here are the pieces the five of us made, with my recollections of how they relate to something QI (quite interesting) about the history of quilting.
F chose the colour blue to use in her quilt and that colour was passed on to me to use in mine. F received ‘burgundy’ from M to use in her quilt. F’s quilt represented the Amish quilting tradition, which came out of Wales, the Netherlands, and Germany. One of the interesting snippets she spoke about related to two fashion houses that have direct connections to these traditions — Laura Ashley, which came out of the Welsh traditional quilts, and Esprit, which houses a collection of old Amish quilts.
F gave me ‘blue’ and I decided to give ‘red’ to B. I incorporated blue and red in a quilt that represents the Gee’s Bend quilting tradition of improvisation and making do with fabric scraps from old work clothes etc.
B took my ‘red’ and passed ‘gold’ on to G. B’s quilt represented two traditions — hexagons and crazy quilting (around since at least the 1770s, but made ‘fashionable’ in the Victorian era and up until the 1930s). B used English paper piecing for the hexagons, then HAND embellished each one with lace, beads, embroidery etc.
G got ‘gold’ from B and passed on ‘black’ to M. G’s quilt looked at the history of our little group — the printed newspaper fabric in the middle has black and white photos of each of us featured alongside the articles! She also added five Dresden plates, also using that newsprint fabric, one for each of us. The gold she had to incorporate was a gold thimble on the main newspaper.
M got ‘black’ from G and passed on ‘burgundy’ to F, completing the circle. M made an ‘underground railroad’ quilt, of several TINY traditional blocks. Supposedly, the underground railroad quilts were coded directions to slaves who were escaping from the US to Canada in the 1800s. She read how each block was part of the message.
Finally, Brian, who set the challenge, revealed his piece, a many-layered photograph he had created, surrounded by a wooden frame he had made. The colour we gave him was ‘pink’, and he used B’s treadle sewing machine as the centrepiece of a history of sewing machines. The background was an enlarged piece of hand-dyed fabric that B had dyed.
All the quilts together on the floor:
Show and tell
After we’ve done the challenge reveal, we get to do ‘show and tell’. Here are some of those pieces.
G’s show and tell pieces:
Ann’s show and tell (Ann is a local quilt shop owner, invited along to join us):
M’s Christmas runner made entirely from Accuquilt Go! Cutter dies:
And B’s finished piece that she started last year:
Other activities from the weekend
While we sew and quilt a lot on our weekend, we also do other stuff. On Saturday night after dinner, G handed out cards coated in a black waxy stuff. Our job was to use a stylus of some sort (satay sticks were ideal!) and scratch patterns in the surface. Great fun! It seems you can buy sets of these cards in the kids’ section in K-Mart or Big W (??) stores in Australia.
I was pleased with my efforts, especially my second one, which emulated the ‘graffiti quilting’ technique made famous by the lovely Karlee Porter:
On Sunday, we had ‘O’ day — we had to incorporate words starting with the letter ‘O’ into the day, e.g. clothing, food we made, etc. We all dressed up! From left, B was an ‘orange oblong [with owl]’, F was ‘on and off’, G was ‘Osama Bin-Liner’, M wore a ‘One-horned mystical creature onesie’, and I was ‘orange is the new black’. Brian took the photo, dressed as an ‘orphan’. The other ‘O’ thing for the day was the ‘odd’ animal tails we wore — you can see two of them on F (zebra) and me (tiger) 😉
G made some shortbread biscuits, shaped and pressed like buttons, and served in an orange plastic pet food bowl (brand new, of course!). Clever!
And M worked on an OMG quilt:
To finish off a fabulous weekend, Helen Godden and her family arrived from Canberra on the Monday. Helen revealed our challenge for 2016, and it looks like a doozy!
- 2009 Challenge ‘page 35 of a magazine’: https://rhondabracey.com/2009/09/28/long-weekend-quilt-retreat/ and mine: https://rhondabracey.com/2009/05/19/the-challenge/
- 2010 Challenge ’28’: https://rhondabracey.com/2010/09/30/challenge-28-photos/ and mine: https://rhondabracey.com/2010/09/28/challenge-28/
- 2011 Challenge ‘Monochrome’: https://rhondabracey.com/2011/10/15/challenge-2011-other-monochromatic-quilts/
- 2012 Challenge ‘I love a sunburnt country’ [poem]: https://rhondabracey.com/2012/10/20/2012-challenge/
- 2013 Challenge ‘Senses’: https://rhondabracey.com/2013/09/26/2013-challenge/
- 2014: No challenge this year (we had a year off), but we did have show and tell: https://rhondabracey.com/2014/07/22/2014-retreat-show-and-tell/