Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie: My Art, My Quilts

Latest paintings

Why Utopia?

The dictionary definition is:

uto·pia, n., Utopia, imaginary and ideal country in Utopia
(1516) by Sir Thomas More, from Greek ou not, no + topos place

an imaginary and indefinitely remote place;
often capitalized a place of ideal perfection especially in laws, government, and social conditions;
an impractical scheme for social improvement

Imagine a place where quilters would have unlimited supplies of fabric, thread, sewing machines, ideas, coffee, food and no-one to say,

Are you ever going to come to bed, ( to make dinner), (to talk to us)?

That's what I started when I opened my retreat centre at East Maitland, New South Wales, in 2000. It's gone now, but the philosophy is present here on the website.

Ulysses Butterfly - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie

And the butterfly?

For centuries, the butterfly has been the symbol for new life, and that's the reason for my using it as the icon for my new life after my husband was killed in 1999, and the theme of my new world in cyberspace — this website. 


You can find my art, my quilts and bits and pieces of my life. I am eager to have you visit and stay awhile.

What was I doing for the last 30+ years?

I was happily making quilts from the early 1980s until 2011, winning many awards for my quilts — which number more than 200, from 1½″ wide to 12′6" square.

Making quilts using big bits and fast inspired me to develop a fast-piecing patchwork system called Listen With Your Eyes, a system that has been adopted by quilters across the globe.

Publications - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie


I have written four books on making quilts and written countless Internet articles on patchwork.

I was asked to be a guest writer for a series on computers and quilting in Patchwork Tshushin which has over 6 000 000 (!) readership.

My column (written for almost all of the first 160 issues) in Down Under Quilts magazine — Computer Quilts — had lots of readers.


I have had four solo exhibitions, The first was at the launch of my first book, then

As well, I have entered quilts in solo and group quilt exhibitions around Australia. One of my books was launched in the USA. My quilts from that book went too, but not me.

Teaching - Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie


Teaching (make that enthusing) people about quiltmaking, traditional and not so traditional for more than thirty years, was my life.

I travelled Australia teaching and made plenty of friends.

Because I taught many, many quilters how to use Electric Quilt software, they called me the EQ Guru.

You can find me in heaven (Utopia)

when I'm creating art!

The next 30 years

After spending 30+ years quiltmaking, what's the next thirty years (or whatever I'm allocated) going to hold?

So far some travelling in a caravan, and art, art, art!

I take my art supplies in a tool box and then when it's raining I get out the paper and brushes or pencils, and I'm in heaven!

My husband, Bob, and I are now retired in a beautiful little country village in the Midwest region of New South Wales. There is no patchwork and quilting, as we have downsized and taken a tree change.

I do have a studio in a spare room in the house we rent in town, so …

Rylstone Railway Station c.1894 (Now privately owned.)

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The rosella quilt got a blue ribbon

Finished rosellas quilt

I put the Rosellas in My Garden quilt in the Rylstone Agricultural Show and I got a blue ribbon.

So pleased with that.

Rosellas In My Garden Quilt finished

Quilts by Jan T

Many quilts by Jan T

Although I have participated in many, many group exhibitions and mounted three solo shows, lots of my quilts were not made to be exhibited — quilts for family and friends, commissioned quilts, and others made by me, and by my students, to give to charity.


Now a retired quiltmaker, I loved the process of starting with a photo, imagining a quilt design, and then producing in fabric what was in my head. I use the same process to paint pictures now.

Enjoy the quilts. Read about the inspirations that drew me to make them. Perhaps you might be inspired to mount a solo art/quilt exhibition yourself. VBG

Group versus Solo Quilt Shows

What's the difference?

  • Group quilt exhibitions are when quilt guilds (groups) hold a display of quilts as a group, quilts that have been produced by many of their members.
  • Solo quilt exhibitions are, as the name implies, exhibitions of quilts made by a single person.

I have participated in many group exhibitions in both local, interstate and overseas venues, and have mounted four solo exhibitions, the first at the launch of my first book — Designing Quilts is Fun in 1990.

Since that first one, I have produced three more solo exhibitions. My last solo quilt exhibition before I retired was an invited exhibition for a large craft expo in West Australia. 

Solo Exhibitions

by Jan T

One more "exhibition?"

I have had one other solo quilt exhibition, if you can call one quilt an exhibition.

Single quilt flies solo

Singer Sewing Machines Australia toured my commissioned quilt, I've Always Been A Singer Fan, across China and Asia during Singer's 150th year celebrations. It was much admired, apparently.

Quilts for Others

Quilts made for others who are in need

Margaret's Charity Quilts

Student Margaret made several quilts for those in need.

Exhibition: Old Favourite Patchwork & Collections

off centre log cabin block design

Used to interpret favourite collections in the quilt exhibition: Collections: Old Favourites  


Old Favourite Patchwork Block

The Log Cabin block has been an old favourite patchwork design for quilters for several generations, and can be straight, irregular, skewed or triangular. I have used different variations of this block in these pieces, to suit the quilt’s topic.

From tiny scrap traditional blocks to large exuberant skewed blocks, they  are all Log Cabin designs.

The images were taken with my Fuji FinePix 2400 digital camera, retouched in Adobe Photoshop CS2, and printed on ColorPlus™ fabric.

This exhibition was shown in Perth in 2006, where I was special guest at the True Blue Exhibitions Annual Craft Show.

Traditional Log Cabin in border

Some Old, Some New quilt

Artist's Statement


Collecting Australian household items from bygone eras has been a passion of mine for most of my adult life. How wonderful to meet a fellow collector — my new husband, Bob. His loves are old hand tools, and toys (especially Tonka toys) from last century.
(And me!)

Log Cabin Block Designs: Used in the exhibition quilts

Traditional | Off Centre | Triangular | Exuberant

log cabin quilt block
off centre log cabin block design
triangular log cabin patchwork

Exhibitions: Crossings

Exhibition quilts: Crossings is an exhibition of quilts and photographs about Cape York Peninsula, at Australia's northernmost tip.

The quilts are my interpretation of this amazing place, using Paul's great photographs  for inspiration.

Made from cotton fabrics, some hand painted, some commercial. The quilts are heavily quilted or have free machine embroidery embellishment.

My inspiration for the exhibition quilts:

In part our journeys through Cape York Peninsula, and in part my late husband Paul's photographs of the region — I had plenty to inspire me.

All the quilts are machine pieced, machine quilted and the images and quilt designs are the property of Jan T Urquhart Baillie © 2010-2020

Take a journey across Cape York Peninsular as you browse through the quilts

From the wet desert in the far north to the rain forest of the Daintree...

  • from the pristine coastal beaches to the crocodile infested Jardine River
  • travelling via the track which follows the never ending straight line of old telegraph track
  • or the dry and dusty but fast development road
  • there is plenty to enjoy as you cross this marvellous area.

Artist's statement:

I love quilts and I love this beautiful country of ours — Australia.

My late first husband, Paul, loved it too — his favourite part was Cape York Peninsula, the tip of which is  Australia's northernmost point.

He would take anyone who was infected by his enthusiasm for it, on a trek to "The Tip".Jan T

Towards Palmer River

Towards Palmer River

Above Mareeba in Central Queensland

Inspiration photograph


Heading north above Mareeba, and towards Laura, the arid country belies the pleasures to come.

Quilt: Towards Palmer River

Quilt Description

The quilt has free machine embroidered thread painting for the quilting, and for the embellishments.

Many of the fabrics were hand painted, as Australian outback colours are different from commercially available fabric colours.

Punsand Bay at the tip of Cape York Peninsular

Punsand Bay

Left of the very Tip


As you approach the Tip, if you turn to the left you can see this beautiful bay.

Punsand Bay quilt

Quilt Description

I painted the bay onto fabric and then curved pieced a border to take the image out to the edge.

Cape York Spider

Inner Sanctum

At the start of the walk up to the tip


The huge spiders that hide in the lower branches of the trees invite you to get trapped in their giant webs. I hid one in the bottom of the quilt

Exhibition Quilts: Inner Sanctum

Quilt Description

Inner City is a traditional quilt design, normally pieced over papers.

Machine pieced, quilted, and embellished.

Spider hiding on Inner Sanctum
Somerset buttress trees

Somerset Buttresses

In the remnant rainforest at Somerset

Inspiration photo

In a remnant rainforest just south of Somerset, in far north Queensland, Australia, you drive past these staunch keepers of the forest, vines dangling, turkey nests beneath.

Somerset Buttresses quilt

Quilt Description

The quilt was 'built' from 2 inch squares, positioned on a board until the tree was visible. There are five photos transferred onto fabric included in the 'painting'.

Collection of David and Marion Anderson
Captain Billy's fan palms

Fan Palms

Bigger than beach umbrellas, on the way out to the sea

Inspiration photograph

As you venture out to Captain Billy's Landing, you pass a stand of tall fan palms.

The light is green and they sway in the breeze as though fanning to cool you.

Fan Quilt

Quilt Description

The background was pieced with strips and squares, while the palms were raw edge appliquéd on top. The light area in the top left echoes the same area in the image.

Machine quilted with some 'ghost' palms and the leaves show the striations of the real palms which have lines along the length of their fronds.

Collection of David and Marion Anderson
Captain Billy's Landing

Captain Billy's Landing

Halfway down the coast

Inspiration Photograph

A wild stretch of the eastern coast of Cape York Peninsular, Queensland, where bats inhabit the caves to the south, where men were slaughtered in their sleep, and the wind never stops howling...

Quilt: Captain Billy's Landing

Quilt Description

The photo was scanned and traced in Electric Quilt 5.

I made a paper pieced pattern in EQ. The border expands the image outwards past the 'frame'.

Ulysses butterfly

Daintree Dalliance

At the Daintree River

The wonderful Ulysses butterfly is my talisman

They fly around the Daintree, as big as birds. Their shimmering wings delight.

But, like many brightly coloured things in nature, they are poisonous! They were my inspiration for this quilt.

Daintree Dalliance quilt

Quilt Description

Layered appliqué with machine embroidery. Applied over the sixty degree triangle background.

Quilted with my 'baked bean butterfly' quilting design.

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Tail feathers embroidery

Started on the tail feathers

Using zig-zag stitch, and with the piece turned at the direction I want the strokes to go, I have been adding stitching to the tail feathers on the two birds. And the problems I had

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Working on the breast feathers on the rosellas quilt

Playing again with the rosellas

I realised that the breasts on the birds were more shaded and shaped, so decided to add some more colours, and to move the green up in scallops to show the bird’s shape.

It is more successful, I think.

Detail improved shading on breast feathers

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My latest quilt

I’m working on the rosella quilt again, after a lengthy detour into car quilts and beginner’s quilts for patchwork school courses, among other things.

I’ve completed the design and the free machine embroidery, and the layout is now decided upon.

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Quilts as works of art?

Solo Exhibitions

I asked the question in my last post, what is an art quilt?

Is a quilt ‘art’ because it is outside the traditional patchwork style of quilt? Is it art simply because it has been hung on a wall instead of used as a bed covering?

These days many people hang quilts on the walls of their offices, or their homes, as decorative pieces, whether these quilts are so-called art quilts or are traditional style quilts used as artwork.

If it is hung as art, is it art?

Perhaps not, but if the owner of a quilt hangs it as art, then to that person it is an art quilt.

I consider some of my quilts to be art quilts, even although they are based on traditional blocks, they have been designed as art pieces, and meant to be hung as such.

This quilt, Come To The Water, is an interpretative quilt using a traditional patchwork block called Double Windmill as the background, and another old favourite quilt block, Grandmother’s Fan, as the windmill head. It was made to decorate my late husband’s newly refurbished office.

Come To The Water


You can see more of my quilts in the exhibition gallery