I’ve had an unusually quilty weekend. On Saturday I took the final exam for a difficult and stressful summer course. So, what could be more natural than to relax on Sunday at the Australian Quilt Convention? Much fun was had: just me and thousands of other quilty types. One thing’s for sure – on the law of averages, I’m a bit young for this caper. Don’t tell too many people I love to hang out and talk procion dyes with grandmas, OK? I know there’s been a knitting chic thing going on for a year or two, but it hasn’t hit quilts yet.

Here are a few of the best shots: I’ll keep the bulk of them stashed away in Flickr until/unless they become directly relevant to this project.

This detail shot is an embroidered mandala from the South African Kopanang Project:

This one’s ‘Screeching Cockatoo’ by Helen Godden:

and this is a detail of a skyscape in ‘Top End – In the Wet’ by Marlene King. Marlene used wonderful hand dyes cut and re-arranged, then quilted, to make an impressive stormy sky.

There were a couple of Dear Jane replicas there which were impressively lovely and skilful, as well as a replica of the Sarah Morrell sampler quilt. Judy Day, too, seems very interested in replicating some wonderful old quilts, including Australian quilts.

It interests me more, then, that nobody in this show tried to change or graft historical exemplaria. Why was that? Why is it necessary to replicate something right down to the quilting stitches, and never try to mix things up a little? Does anybody play with old quilt designs this way? Hmmm.

So, in any case, here’s my idea for the sampler: a layout which owes a lot to the V&A ‘Sundial Coverlet’, but integrates the lovely borders of the Jane Stickle quilt. It’s a rough sketch, but I hope it gives an idea of what I’d like to try, or at least my starting point.

sampler quilt layout

Each square represents a potential block. I think I’m going to make it in sky and sea colours, and perhaps to make the inner Mariner’s Compass in sunrise/sunset batik colours. Should be easy enough, given these parameters, to experiment and buy or make or discard fabric as I go along and not get lost in a colour scheme that no longer really is a ‘scheme’.

Although it must be said that the AQC is overall more commercial than artistic, the shopping side suited me quite well as I was able to buy sea and sky colours in fat quarters, fat eighths, and scraps, bring them home, and play with a potential colour scheme:

The general idea is, sea colours towards the base, sky colours towards the top, with a bit of give and take. We’ll see how many of these survive into the finished quilt!