Archive for September, 2010

Pattern Princess

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

What’s Hot in the House of Blueberries



‘Sand Castles’
by Rebecca Johnson
of Chasing Cottons Quilt Designs
Linden says:
Bec lives locally and designs quilts. This one is designed for a child’s bed and has great sand castle motifs on it. The pattern has simple illustrations and diagrams that make it very user-friendly, so it’s a good one for beginners. I just love the effort she’s put into it, making it both beautiful and accessible.



Designer Diaries with Monica Poole

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

A Journey Through Creative Hearts and Minds

Name: Monica Poole

What do you design and why?
My designs are primarily for quilts, handbags and clothing patterns. I like quilts to have a fresh, modern look so I incorporate that into my designs. Handbags are designed to be fashion accessories. I moved into clothing as well because I was originally a fashion designer.

How long have you been designing and what are some of your techniques?

I’ve been in the fashion industry since I was 16 and I’ve been designing the Moonshine pattern range for eight years now. I tend to favour mainly machine-sewn techniques. My quilts are all quilt-as-you-go designs. I favour these personally because I find it easier to work in pieces when quilting.

What gives you inspiration?

I draw a lot of inspiration from nature, but I do also like to keep up with modern trends so I read a lot of home décor and fashion magazines. I’m usually inspired by fresh bright colours.

What’s your favourite design or project you’ve worked on?

That would have to be my recent book, Quilt as you go the Moonshine Way, which was published in January this year. It took me six months to put together and involved five quilts that had to be made specially. Luckily I had a friend to help me with the quilts.

Are there any new designs you’re currently working on or have recently launched?

The dragonfly quilt, which I launched in August. I was inspired by the fabric range that I used. Blueberries has made this one into a kit. *

Do you have a personal philosophy as a designer?

All good things take time.

What advice would you give our readers?

See answer to previous question. (laughs) Sometimes a design can look more challenging than it actually is, so you have to work through the pattern step by step. Trust that it will all come together in the end.

* Click here to see the article on Monica’s dragonfly quilt in last week’s Midweek Moments.


Flight of the Dragonfly

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

When it comes to nature, Monica Poole has always been intrigued by dragonflies.

“It’s hard to say exactly what it is about them,” she says. “It’s the shape, and those amazing wings. There’s something almost mythological about them.”

dragon-fly-cushion-nlThe Dragonfly Quilt and Cushion Set designed by Monica Poole.

After eight years designing her Moonshine pattern range, Monica’s fascination with the mythological dragonfly has finally found its way into one of her designs. “In that respect, it’s a first,” she says. “It’s something I’ve been thinking of for a while. I know other people are fascinated with dragonflies as well, so hopefully it will strike a chord with some people.”

Monica’s dragonfly quilt, which was launched only last month and is currently on display at Blueberries, has been designed as a fairly quick project and is therefore ideal for beginners.

“It’s constructed with simple piecing with the dragonfly appliqué and a quilt as you go technique,” she says. “A beginner could probably complete it in four classes, with maybe a bit of homework in between.”

Make this quilt in one of Monica’s classes at Blueberries, to find out more click here.

Tune in to Midweek Moments next week when Monica is profiled in the ‘Designer Diaries’ column.

Visit Monica Poole’s website at

Pattern and Kit information
This is an enjoyable quilt as you go design that combines simple piecing and appliqué. The dragonflies can be sewn with sketchy appliqué (raw edge) or with blanket stitch. Complete the set with the fun appliquéd cushion.

The pattern comes with three sizes

  • Lap
  • Single
  • Queen

This is the Blueberries version of the Dragonfly Quilt and Cushion Set available in a kit for $170 (Single Size) or purchase the pattern for $20.

The Blueberries Dragonfly quilt

Show and Tell

Tuesday, September 21st, 2010

Show us the item and tell us the story

Kerrie Hall’s gift for her grandmother

What was attracted you to the quilt?

It’s one of Susan Carr’s designs and I made it for my grandmother’s 90th birthday. She likes bright colours. I saw some lovely material in Jackie’s shop and that was the beginning of it.

How long did it take you to make?

Approximately six weeks. I mainly worked on it at the sit and sew classes and also some at work.

Did you stick strictly to the pattern or did you customise?

We changed the size from a single bed quilt to lap size, as grandma needed something for when she’s sitting in her chair. I also decided to do it in purple, as that’s grandma’s favourite colour.

How long have you been a quilter?

Not that long, less than two years. My Mum owned a patchwork shop when I was an adolescent and I sewed at high school but I’m still relatively new to quilting.

What’s the next project?

I just finished a quilt for my daughter, and also some cot quilts, one for my next door neighbour and one for my sister in law. I’m about to start a quilt for my daughter, but this one will be my own design.


“Happy birthday Grandma!” (photo courtesy of Susan Carr)

Class Report

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Where the pupil writes the report card for the class and tutor

Pupil: Monica Perry
Tutor: Chris Timmins
Class: ‘Anything Goes’ – 17 and 18 July

Why did you choose to do this class?

I chose it because it was all about making something new using your leftover scraps of fabric. I had a lot of jelly rolls and surplus bits of fabric that I wanted to do something with. Plus I have a great respect for Chris Timmins and always enjoy her classes.

What was the highlight of the class?

The highlight was to see that I actually produced a throw over sized quilt out of my scraps. It was amazing to see it coming together. I also learnt a lot of new skills throughout the class. Chris showed us some techniques that were totally new to me, like how to make three-dimensional flying geese by folding them instead of sewing them.

How was the tutor?

Like I said before, I have great respect for Chris Timmins and I really enjoy working with her. She’s such a vivacious person and so willing to give of her knowledge.

Did the class meet your expectations?

It far exceeded my expectations. I went with nothing but some scraps of fabric and an open mind and I managed to produce a quilt that I’m really happy with.

Any suggestions or comments for improving the class?

I think it’s exactly right as it is, especially being a two-day course. Having it over two days gave us the opportunity to virtually complete something, whereas one day wouldn’t have been enough.

Would you recommend the class to someone else?

Absolutely! I was 100% satisfied with it. It was such a fabulous way of using up surplus material. We all had totally different fabrics and since the class we’ve enjoyed seeing each other’s completed work.

Staff Profile

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

“Who’s That Boy?”

This is something Chris Le Marchant has been hearing a lot since he first joined the team at Blueberries. Although his official roles in the shop are mostly of a behind-the-scenes nature, being almost the only male face amongst a bevy of women meant that it was inevitable he’d find it difficult to blend into the background.

“It’s not the first time I’ve worked in an all female environment,” he says. “About sixteen years ago I was a teller in a building society that was full of women, but this is much more fun and interesting. The Blueberries ladies are always so relaxed and enjoying themselves that the shame factor is gone. There’s never a dull moment.”

Chris mentions ‘the Thursday group’ as being particularly “high spirited”.

“Some of the topics of conversation just make me think ‘oh my God’,” he says with a laugh. “But it’s a great sign. It means everyone’s enjoying themselves.”

Chris helps out with admin support, works on the website and even occasionally does some of the serving. With twelve years of retail experience already under his belt, he was well placed to join the Blueberries team. He was also involved in the shop’s recent renovations, assisting with the fit out and installing the new counters. He says he feels proud to have been part of the shop’s transformation.

So what’s the one thing about working in a quilting shop that has been the most eye-opening for him?

“The passion and dedication everyone has for their quilting,” he says without hesitation. “It’s pretty impressive. I never thought there was so much involved in quilting. Then again, I also never thought I’d be working in a quilting shop. Or being the thorn amongst so many roses,” he adds.


Quick and Easy Basting

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Get the low-down on an essential quilting prop

They’re every serious quilter’s best friend and accomplice, Susan Carr swears by them, and for a brief period of time they’re available at Blueberries for the bargain basement price of $57.50. We’re talking about basting guns, of course.

Also known as tagging guns, these handy little devices have been known to simultaneously cut quilting time in half and also save your back, two reasons alone why you should have at least one in your quilting toolbox. The main feature of a basting gun is the super fine needle, which shoots a 4mm H-tag through the layers of a quilt and holds it together while being sewn

“Its major advantages are that it saves your back and dramatically reduces time spent on basting,” explains Susan. “It’s also good for your quilt as there are no entry and exit points from the pins.”

Susan will be holding several 20-minute basting gun tutorials, more details will be available in a coming Midweek Moment, so watch this space. She will be walking people through its different uses and explaining its advantages of using it over more traditional methods of basting quilts. People will be invited to get up and have ‘hands-on’ practice if they’re interested.

Susan has accumulated a range of handy basting gun tips that can only come from extensive personal experience. Go to to see what they are.

To purchase your very own Basting Gun click here.

Say goodbye to pins, glue, and large tacks. You can now use MicroStitch for basting quilts, quick hems and clothing repairs, home decorating and craft projects. For quilters, MicroStitch makes the basting process much faster and easier than traditional techniques.

This starter kits includes the MicroStitch tool with needles, 1000 black and white micro fasteners and easy-to-follow instructions.


Women Helping Women – The Quilt Aid Project

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Part 1 of 3 – Finding the Charity

Many readers are probably already aware of the Quilt Aid Project, which was inaugurated in 2009 to raise money for Ethiopian women suffering from obstetric fistula. Blueberries is again proud to be involved in this worthy and inspiring cause in 2010, and is one of only 12 quilting shops nationally chosen to participate. Midweek Moments recently spoke to Helen Stubbings, one of the founders of the Project, to get some of the background of this amazing story of benevolence intertwined with creativity.

“We had the idea of Quilt Aid before we had the charity,” Helen explains. “We wanted to use what we were already doing (quilting) to somehow help others, and in a way that didn’t really affect people’s pockets or lifestyles. Once we got the idea of Quilt Aid sorted out, we then had to find a charity.”

Selecting the most appropriate charity proved more difficult than anyone had anticipated. Helen trawled through dozens of websites and spoke to all kinds of different people in the quest for a cause that ticked all the right boxes for Quilt Aid’s purposes.

“Primarily we wanted it to be women helping women, or women helping children,” says Helen. “We ended up going through World Vision because we wanted it to be an international thing, something that people from other countries could participate in where we were all helping someone in a common place. If we’d settled on an Australian charity, there was a danger that people from other countries might feel that they should be supporting something in their own back yard rather than in Australia.”

Finally, after an exhaustive search, Helen’s attention came to rest on the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia and the work of Dr Catherine Hamlin. “It was because I happened to see a documentary on the ABC about the hospital and Catherine Hamlin,” Helen says. “It was very moving. I went out read Dr Hamlin’s book, Hospital by the River. It was a very strong, often disturbing, book. World Vision helped to connect us. I started getting their newsletters and learning more about them. I knew then that we’d finally found the right charity for Quilt  Aid.”

Tune in to ‘Women Helping Women’ next week to find out about the work of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital and Dr Catherine Hamlin.

womenhelpingwomen1-blog1The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia

Part 2 of 3 – The Hospital by the River

Helen Stubbings already knew the basic story of the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital in Ethiopia when she read Hospital by the River, the strong and “often disturbing” book written by the hospital’s founder, Dr Catherine Hamlin. Any doubts Helen may have had as to whether or not this was the right charity for Quilt Aid were well and truly gone after reading the book.

Obstetric fistula, although both preventable and curable, is nonetheless a nasty condition. The fistula occurs through damage to the bladder or rectum caused by complications during labour and can lead to incontinence, an ulcerated vaginal tract, severe infections and even paralysis. The baby is usually stillborn. On top of these horrific symptoms, women suffering this condition are often abandoned by their husbands and ostracised from their villages, forcing them into lonely existences of shame and isolation. The World Health Organisation estimates that between 50,000 and 100,000 women develop obstetric fistulas every year with up to three million women currently living with the condition, mostly in developing countries.

Dr Catherine Hamlin, an Australian obstetrician and gynaecologist, first became aware of the plight of Ethiopian women suffering obstetric fistula when she and her husband worked on a three year contract in the late 1950s to establish a midwifery school in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. As obstetric fistula had been completely eradicated in developed countries by the beginning of the 20th century, the Hamlins were unfamiliar with the condition. When local women who were incontinent, foul-smelling and often crippled and destitute, began presenting at the hospital, the Hamlins realised that the problem was widespread and began researching to develop techniques for a cure. No-one else at the hospital knew what to do with these women.

womenhelpingwomen2-blogDr Catherine Hamlin

The Hamlins worked tirelessly to develop techniques to cure the condition, spurred on by the grim plight of its female sufferers, both medical and social. The Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital was finally opened in 1974, successfully treating almost 1,000 women a year until Dr Reg Hamlin’s death in 1993. His widow continued their pioneering work, extending and upgrading the hospital, and in 2003 establishing Desta Meder (“Village of Joy”), an on-site community specifically designed for the 7% of fistula patients whose symptoms are so serious they’re unable to be properly treated, preventing them from returning to normal village life.

The Hamlin College of Midwives was also established as part of the hospital, training young Ethiopian women with the goal of a midwife for every village, hopefully eradicating obstetric fistula completely. Dr Hamlin, now aged 86, still performs surgery every Thursday morning, and by 2010 the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital has treated over 35,000 women with a 93% success rate. It remains the only hospital in the world dedicated to providing free treatment for obststric fistula. But without any government funding, it is completely dependent on charitable donations to continue its important life-saving work.

“When I learned about the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital, I knew we’d found our charity,” Helen Stubbings says. “It ticked all the right boxes, especially being global and about women helping women.”

Helen knew they were ready to make the leap from planning to implementation. The details of Quilt Aid were in place – the 12 quilting shops throughout Australia and the 12 designers had all been selected. Now it was time to put it all together and help the thousands of Ethiopian women for whom it’s so desperately important this necessary medical intervention remains properly funded.

Read Part 3, the final instalment of ‘Women Helping Women’, to find out how Quilt Aid operates and what you can do to help.

Part 3 of 3 – Sewing for a Cause

With the Addis Ababa Hospital in Ethiopia now firmly in its sights as the recipient of funds raised, the Quilt Aid project was finally able to move into gear. Founder Helen Stubbings worked hard to coordinate the various elements that would each be playing such a crucial role in the success of the project, especially the 12 quilting shops and designers.

“Initially we thought it’d be easy to select 12 shops as there’s so many in Australia, but as it turned out we really struggled to find 12,” Helen explains. “We had criteria that each shop had to fulfil, the main one being they had to have a good e-commerce website so people could order online. We’re actually a little bit behind in Australia in that regard. They also needed to have the skills, reliability and service background to run something on this kind of scale, and also a good credit history with fabric companies.”

Another criteria Helen cites is that each shop needed the skills to develop a quilt, something that’s beyond the experience level of many of the little online stores popping up throughout the country.

“Selecting the 12 designers was also something we approached quite carefully,” Helen says. “We asked designers who we thought had a big marketing presence individually. The idea was to use the combined marketing force of the 12 designers and the 12 shops to help spread the word. The designers we ended up selecting all suited the project style-wise as well.”

From the individual quilter’s point of view, Quilt Aid operates on a similar basis to a regular Block of the Month, except that each block is sold from a separate shop nationwide. All 12 blocks can be viewed on the Quilt Aid website. Each shop also has its own finishing kit, and the quilter is able to choose whichever one they want. The donations come from a three-tiered system – the shops, the designers and the fabric companies.

“We’ve expanded it from last year when the donations were just coming from the designers,” Helen says.


‘Ribbon of Hope’ by designer Janelle Wind from the Janelle Wind Collection.
This is the Quilt Aid block available from Blueberries.

Another big change from 2009 is that this year Quilt Aid is working directly with the Sydney-based Hamlin Fistula Relief and Aid Fund, which is helping to coordinate the project with the Addis Ababa Fistula Hospital. “World Vision was great last year, but because it’s so big, once a project has reached the amount it said it would, that’s almost the end of it,” says Helen. “We ended up getting very little feedback from last year’s effort. Working directly with the Fund in Sydney will keep us more connected to the charity.”

As part of its fundraising and awareness work, the Hamlin Fistula Relief and Aid Fund is organising the screening of a special documentary detailing the Hospital’s midwifery prevention strategy. Lighting a Candle will be screened at Macquarie University on Tuesday 19 October at 8pm. To purchase tickets, which also includes a light supper, go to or phone 02 8007 7435. Separate fundraising screenings can also be arranged at other locations.

“We’re so pleased we ended up going with this particular charity because there’s a lot of women who became involved simply because they saw the link or because they really felt compelled to help with that charity,” says Helen. “In the end, it’s all about women helping women. Living in a developed country like Australia we just don’t understand that there are some women living like that.”

How can I help this worthwhile cause?

Visit for all the details, to view the Blueberries block and finishing kit for 2010 click here.

Show and Tell

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Show us the item and tell us the story

Latika Phadke’s animal passions

What attracted you to the animals?

I’m becoming a grandmother in November and I thought I’d make them for my grandchild. I saw the patterns in the shop and thought they were so cute, especially the octopus.

How long did it take you to make them?

It took me about three weeks to make the three animals. The octopus’ arms were a bit fiddly, but I was really pleased with the final outcome.

Have you been quilting for long?

No, I’ve only been quilting for about a year, although I’ve done sewing before. I’d never made animals before and thought I’d try something different.

What’s the next project?

I’m making a bib for the baby.


Photos from Sue Daley’s Trunk Show

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010

Click here to see the photos from last night!

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