Patchwork in Australia: Then and Now
A very long history
Patchwork has been around in Australia for more than 40,000 years. Yes! 40,000. The Aboriginals made patchwork cloaks from animal skins.
The first documented traditional patchwork was that made by the female convicts sent out in the transports from England in the latter part of the 1700s.
Do You Leave Tracks?
Quilt by Jan T, made with fabrics designed by an Aboriginal artist
Aboriginal Cloaks - made with patched together possum skins decorated inside
The first inhabitants of Australia used to join possum skins together
to make cloaks to keep out the cold.
Important cloaks like this one were for special corroborees.
Picture from Wikipedia
Aboriginal Possum Skin Cloaks - pieces of our past
- Possum skin cloak: Boonwurrung - Possum Skin Cloaks - Culture Victoria
Carolyn Briggs was the cultural leader in the making of the Boonwurrung and Wemba Wemba cloaks. Aun…
- National Quilt Register: Australian Quilt Tree (graphic version)
Click on Aboriginal Skin Cloaks
- Possum-skin cloak - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Rajah Quilt
made by convict women
Quote from The National Gallery of Australia
The Rajah quilt is one of Australia's most important early textiles. The quilt was made by women convicts on board the ship Rajah while being transported from England to Van Diemen's Land. While it is a compelling document of convict life, it is also an extraordinary work of art — a product of beauty from the hands of many women who, while in the most abject circumstances, were able to work together to produce an object of hope.
3 Things You Should Know
about Aussie quilters
1.They are gregarious
2.They do their own thing
3.They are innovative
Why do Aussie quilters make quilts?
all sorts of reasons
Australians who make quilts, make them for:
- a new baby's cot
- for a child's bed
- for their own bed
- as a gift to cheer a sick friend
- art quilts to sell
- art quilts for their walls
- to celebrate a birth
- just for fun
- to commemorate an event
- for public buildings...
In short, they make them for the same reason as quiltmakers all over the world make quilts.
Australian quilt milestone book
This project, of which I was a part, raised AUD$250,000 for the Paralympians in 2000, by inviting Australian quilters to send in quilts for auction. 600+ quilts are featured in this beautiful coffee table book
I designed and laid out the book
What style of quilts do they make?
All types, from utility to art quilts.
Aussie patchworkers make quilts that are:
- traditional, block-based
- free-style art
- string quilts
- strip pieced
- hand or machine worked
- any kind...
How many Aussie quilters are there?
Nobody really knows!
Recent findings put quilters in Australia at around 30,000.
The figure is not substantiated, because many patchworkers work on their own and do not belong to organised guilds.
- Some join together in what are known as cottage groups, or friendship groups.
- Others belong to large, more formal groups, with several members.
- Still others are members of their state quilting guilds.
- Nowadays they join online quilting guilds and groups.
Australian patchworkers who join a group, belong to all four types of groups or
a combination of these.
What is a cottage group?
a bunch of cottages?
A cottage group — also called a friendship group — is a small group of quilters who meet in someone's home (the cottage) to sew and share.
The reason they are small is because people's homes are limited in space.
Groups are often closed because there are no more spaces left to fit anyone else.
The bonds that exist in a patchwork cottage group are very special, like an extended family.
Members of cottage groups forge life-long friendships with each other, supporting one another in times of trial or triumph.
What is a quilt guild?
Should you join one?
A guild is a membership consisting of like minded individuals who meet to further their patchwork and quilting interests.
In the case of a quilter's guild, this is usually in the form of:
- educating quilters and others about quilts
- collecting information about the history of quilting
- providing avenues for study
- exhibiting members' quilts to the public
- grant applications to further the interests of the members
- maintaining libraries of books and other information.
These guilds are often state-based umbrella bodies that can advise smaller affiliated groups on their operations. A guild can have individual members, or group members.
That means that if a group become affiliated with the state guild, then all the members of the group are able to use the guild facilities as though they were individual members. (There may be limitations to this, though.)
What is a quilt group?
What do large, more formal groups do?
These groups meet monthly on average, and conduct their own exhibitions, workshops, retreats, and fund-raising.
Because the membership is large, the intimicay level seen in a cottage group is not so prevalent, but friendships are still forged.
If a group is affiliated with a state guild, then members are expected to volunteer for duty at state level activities on behalf of their group.
In most cases, these large groups are incorporated associations, governed by the rules and regulations of same with regard to office bearers, treasury and insurances.
The resources available to incorporated groups are much greater than anything a cottage group would have access to.
For this reason, many quilters belong at all three levels.
Photo: A few of Eastern Suburbs (Sydney) Quilters at Jan T's Utopia in 2001.
What is an online group?
Many things to many people
Southern Cross quilters, known affectionately as SCQuilters, is a large active online group of Australian and New Zealand quilters living in those two countries and overseas.
When I joined in 1995, I was number 100. The current membership of SCQ is around 2000 quilters. Several spin-off groups have formed, where areas of special interest are discussed, including art quilts, crazy quilting, charity quilts and more.
SCQuilters are actively involved in helping others. Read how they helped me...
Contact Information - Australian Quilt Guilds and Organisations
The aims and objectives of each group varies slightly, but usually similar to those listed above.
- Canberra Quilters Inc.,
Welcome to the website of Canberra Quilters Inc.
- Darwin Patchworkers and Quilters Inc.
Darwin Patchworkers and Quilters Inc, (DPAQ) was formed in 1984 by Jenny Armour, Gill Webb and a small number of other quilters.
- Queensland Quilters - Quilting, Quilters, Quilts, Patchwork, QLD
Queensland Quilters Inc. is a non-profit organisation, which was incorporated on 16-8-1988 from an organisation Guild that was formed on 9-2-1984 in Brisbane.
- SA Quilters Guild - Welcome
SA Quilters Guild
- Tasmanian Quilting Guild Inc.
Welcome and thank you for visiting this website.
- The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc
The home page of the official website of The Quilters' Guild of NSW Inc - the largest quilting guild in Australia.
- Victorian Quilters Inc.
Winner - First Time Entrant Victorian Quilters Inc. Quilt Showcase 2008
- West Australian Quilters Association
QuiltWest is WAQA's major event for the year and gives members the chance to show their work and enjoy the talent of other members. This year's theme is 'Nature's Beauty'. Entries closed on 31st Mar for 2009 however, it is not too early to whet the a
- Ozquilt Network Inc
Australian Art Quilts and Quilters at Ozquilt Network: showcasing fine art quilts and textile art from Australia's organisation for art quilters
- SYDNEY QUILT STUDY GROUP INC
We are group of passionate quilt enthusiasts interested in investigating all avenues of quilt making in both the historic and contemporary arena. Included in the group are quilt makers, textile artists, historians, collectors and tutors all with a de
Websites of a few Australian quilters - by no means a complete list
Just a taster for you to see what Aussie quilters are currently making.
- Sue Dennis: textile artist & tutor:Foliage Series
Australian quilt artist
- Alison Schwabe
Alison's work is regularly selected for prestigious exhibitions within Australia and overseas, and is held in several private and public collections.
- Serendipity Patchwork and Quilting: Brenda Gael Smith:Copacabana, Australia
The main page of the official Serendipity Patchwork & Quilting website.
- Feathers In Flight | Julie's Superior Threads
Julie's Superior Threads of Goulburn, NSW, Australia, stocks Superior Threads for quilting, patchwork and applique
- Dianne Finnegan: Australian quilt artist
Dianne Finnegan renowned Australian quilt artist, author and tutor, currently artist-in-residence for North Sydney Council, showcases her beautiful textile art quilts and her galleries of quilt art.
- Margaret Rolfe - Quiltmaker and Author
The official WWW Home Page of Margaret Rolfe
Quilters are caring, generous people
Read about their gifts to others
Quilts for Keeps - Quilters help others by making quilts
Students in my classes made this quilt for the Quilts for Keeps Project.
Quilts for sick children and their siblings
The project was planned so that each child diagnosed with cancer at The Children's' Hospital, Westmead would have the opportunity to choose and keep a quilt
Some more generous quilters from Australia
- Inspirational Quilts - Inspirational Quilts - Donate A Quilt | Inspirational Quilts
Nancy's Novelties - creating hand sewn personal gifts for all ages.
- Blanketlovez - Making Quilts For Sick Children One Hug at a Time
Blanketlovez is a volunteer, charity group who makes handmade patchwork quilts and donates them to sick children in hospitals.
- SA Quilters Guild - Charity Quilting
SA Quilters Guild
- Yahoo! Groups
3 Things You Should Know About Quilts
1.They are valuable
2.They have moved off the beds and onto the walls
3.They warm the heart as well as the body
Or do you know something I don't?
© 2009 Jan T Urquhart Baillie