Posted on

Might not quilt for a while

We have moved indefinitely to care for my Dad. There’s no room for sewing machines, or stash, so…


My first quilt

My First Quilt

The first quilt I ever made (1983) and uses fabrics from my kids’ baby dresses (Vyella), an old silk skirt, and some cheap cotton fabrics.

I used the English paper piecing method, and proceeded to design my own design.

I had never seen a patchwork book, a quilt shop, and didn’t know someone else had designed the ‘Rolling Star’ pattern many years before me!

I still love this quilt, but it is truly awfully badly made.

 My first quilt

Basket Quilt: Baskets of flowers

The Basket Quilt | Detail

 The Basket Quilt

Borders of paper pieced baskets surround a heavily dimensional appliqué basket block in this double bed sized medallion style basket quilt, designed in Electric Quilt 4.

Basket Quilt: Hung on the wall
Hanging on the wall

The centre block has a story

Basket Quilt: Jan T at George Street Festival, Brisbane, 1990
Jan T at George Street Festival, Brisbane, 1990

The centre was a sample for a class I used to teach called “A Basket of Flowers” which taught students Baltimore style appliqué techniques in a large quilt block which could be framed and hung.

The first quilt was sent to New Jersey – instead of real flowers – when my pen-friend was in hospital.

The second one (this one) was meant to be a Renoir inspired ‘painting’ of a bunch of flowers. Life interfered with that plan.

The original design was worked up with place-holder blocks in version 4 of Electric Quilt

Basket Quilt: Detail

Borders of paper pieced baskets (pattern from Sew Precise! ) surround the appliqué basket in the centre of the medallion. The ‘flowers’ in the scrap baskets are large floral prints from my fabric stash, while the baskets are plaid fabrics to simulate woven cane.



Cancer Council Quilt Project

The idea

In April 2005 in Brisbane, Australia, at the Stitches and Craft Show, Jan T (Urquhart) Baillie was asked by Singer Australia (Blessington P/L) to take charge of an exciting project — asking visitors on the five days of the show to make quilt blocks to be assembled into quilts to be auctioned for Cancer Research.

Ernest, CEO, and Di Hobbes, Marketing Manager, organised nine Singer™ sewing machines, a long stand, a box of fabric samples — donated by Dayview Textiles, some cutters, boards, scissors, pins and thread. Di also arranged to have three volunteers for a day or two of the five day show to assist Jan T.

Would the participants need to be experienced?

People need have no quiltmaking experience, as Jan T was there to teach them! People from six years old to eighty-odd took part, enjoying the experience, and to support such a great cause.

Two little girls were so tiny, Jan T had to put phone books under the foot pedals on the machines, and guide their (very serious) efforts very closely. The older one (seven) said,

“My grandpa’s got cancer, so I think this is a really good idea.”

First things first

On opening the box of sample swatches, Jan T got to work ‘training’ her novice quiltmakers in the fine art of cutting patches for quilts. Since neither of them had ever cut with a rotary cutter before, or even tried their hand at patchworking, Jan T had her work ‘cut out’ for her.

Listen With Your Eyes cover

She decided to get them to use the principles of colour value from her book Listen With Your Eyes for selecting the fabrics.

The volunteers were put to work cutting rectangles and squares from all the fabrics, which were then sorted into light and dark piles.

With the exception of some nursery prints, and a few very pretty pastel fabrics, which were put aside, these patches were ready to be sewn into blocks.

What designs?

The next step was to decide on some designs for the quilts.

Jan T and her daughter had produced a book, Start Making Quilts with Jan T and Angela, in which all the designs were made from squares and rectangles, and still were lovely quilts.

Jan T decided to get all the fabrics cut into 6½″, and 3½″ squares and three and a half by six and a half inch rectangles.

These were sorted into light and dark piles.


Construction begins

Visitors to the show were arriving and, having heard about the project on the TV, had stopped by to see if they could ‘do some’.

Busy running up and down the nine metre long stand, supervising the volunteers, teaching the ‘newbies’ to sew a good ¼ inch seam, Jan T was in her element!

The designs

Since the designs were inside her head, she just instructed people to sew four patches together at first — a traditional patchwork design called a Four-patch block — small ones, using the smaller squares.

Double Four Patch

The four patch blocks were then put together into a block called Double Four-patch by adding a larger square to each four-patch.

Double Four Patch

Large four-patches, using the larger squares, were produced as well.

The two blocks were sewn into alternating rows to achieve some designs.

Block magic

More blocks were made by joining rectangles to squares:

Puss in the Corner
Pussin the Corner

and Half Puss
Half Puss in the Corner block

The Half Puss blocks were joined together and a final border of rectangles and squares added to complete this design:
Quilt 8

Fourteen quilts

In all, fourteen tops were put together over the five days of the show, and Jan T quilted them throughout 2006.

Jackie Leybourne from Hobbysew Maitland gave some backing fabrics, some of the batting came from Skaffs in Brisbane, and Birch gave the rest of the batting, as well as the threads to assemble and quilt the quilts. Angela Clark bound the quilts, and now you can own one of them!

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.

Posted on

Teaching patchwork

Worshop at Tea Gardens, NSW

Teaching product vs process

When I began to teach quiltmakers in the late 1980s, I often was asked why some classes just taught students to make patchwork blocks, not quilts. My classes were based on the work of the previous teacher at the quilt shop near my home, and students made six blocks using various techniques, set them together, layered, basted and quilted, then bound the piece.
In short, they made a quilt!

I began to teach stage 2 and 3 quiltmaking, increasing the skills of the patchworkers with each new block in these sampler quilts.
I no longer teach this way.

Product vs Process

Remember the TV ad that talked about not giving people food, but teaching them to grow their own?

My teaching premise is that if I teach a certain pattern or quilt, then that is all the students will be able to make. If I teach them how it works, about why colours behave in certain ways, about re-sizing, designs and more, they can make their own quilts, not mine.

I said once in a lecture that I didn’t teach quiltmaking, I taught door opening!

Read more about my ideas on teaching patchwork (or anything really).

And the payoff for the students?

When they see a design that appeals, they can adapt it to suit their own ideas. When they are inspired by something, they have the confidence to produce what they want to make.

The payoff for me as teacher?

I love to hear students in my studio at Jan T’s Utopia discussing how if this or that were changed, then this or that difference would happen. They are confident when they go to buy fabric, they produce unique quilts.
They love making their own adaptations of designs.

They quilt!

Finished Adam’s and Sara’s quilt

Adam and Sara's quilt

Blossoms in the Benches Quilt

Finishing the quilt for Adam and Sara was quite satisfying, as I added some ‘blossoms’ to it so that it complemented the floor rug which sits under the table and chairs in their dining area. The reason I made the quilt in the first place was so that Adam would like the retro dining suite which Sara’s grandmother gave them, and is so ‘now’ in decor.

The colours are to match the suite, the timber cupboards and the beige tiled floors. The strata on the quilt reminded me of mining benches in open-cut mines and quarries, and as where they live and work is a coal mining area, that decided the name.

Here’s a detail of the designer rug:

Sara's carpet
Detail — Sara’s carpet

 The quilt

While the stitching appears to be big saddle stitches, it is actually machine quilted with a King Tut thread called Rosetta Stone. (Variegated blacks and greys.)

Blossoms in the Benches

The label

Blossoms in the Benches — label on the back


Posted on

Sixty Degree Triangles and Quilts

Detail - Pass Me A Spanner

Recently on Southern Cross Quilters, a member said she had bought an equilateral triangle ruler and didn’t know how to use it. One of my students left a lovely book for me to read, and inside it were several quilts based around these triangles. And on Saturday in a rerun of Simply Quilts, Alex was talking to Sara Nephew about her 60 degree triangle quilts. Serendipity?

Sixty Degree Triangle quilts were my first real obsession with patchwork.

A big pile of sixty degree triangle quilts

I went to my local patchwork shop in Brisbane in 1988 asking if there was anything that was a bit unusual that I could get my teeth into.

Quilts From a Different Angle was shown to me, I bought it and went home intrigued. Wow!

Of course I hadn’t got the ruler, so went back, bought the 6″ size triangle – the only one available at that time – and produced my first of many of these quilts.

The designs don’t work like most patchwork (made from squares and rectangles) because the triangle is one sixth of a hexagon, and is based on a circle grid, not a square. This leads to rethinking your maths for quilts, but by her second book, Sara had great explanations for calculating how to cut the different sized triangles and part hexagons.

I was hooked!

Designs of my own

Butterfly blockI designed the butterfly in The Best Things in Life are Free using these triangles in 1989, and the Reach for the Sky quilt a bit later.

I designed a couple of 3D isometric perspective quilts before Sara released her third book, called Building Block Quilts, featuring many 3D designs.

The quilts were getting blue ribbons at shows, and people wanted to know how they worked. I began to teach Sixty Degree Triangle classes all over Queensland. Some of these early design from students are quite good. None of us were very experienced in design and colour back then as patchwork was fairly newly revived in the late 1980s.

From stars to flowers to 3D, I never tire of playing with these triangle designs.

Posted on

Teagan’s Coming of Age quilt

Kathryn's gift - finished top

The quilting’s progressing

Kathryn (a student of mine) asked me to quilt the coming of age quilt she is giving to a family friend, Teagan.

This is the quilt before quilting:

Kathryn's gift - finished top
Kathryn's gift — finished top

I have done quite a bit of the quilting, but my lovely new machine has gone to hospital, so I can’t finish it at present.

Below is a detail of part of the back, showing some of the vines (signifying the growing of Teagan) I have quilted between the photographs.

Detail of the back of Teagan's quilt
Detail — back of Teagan's quilt showing quilting

Posted on

The car quilt is finished

Bound and ready to go on holiday tomorrow, the car quilt is finished. I decided to call it Clayton’s Winnebago, because our Hyundai is the Winnebago we had when we didn’t have a Winnebago!

The end result is quite an elegant quilt for our double bed in the car.

Clayton's Winnebago quilt
Clayton’s Winnebago quilt in the iLoad (also a Clayton’s Winnebago!)


Posted on

I’ve been sewing in my studio!

Batman quilt

Playing in my studio

Yesterday I put two sides of binding on the big quilt for our car.

We have a full-size double bed in our Hyundai van, because we both have terrible backs and needed an excellent bed for travelling. I used blacks, whites and greys in one of Judy Turner’s tatami mat style designs, and had great fun quilting each rectangle in different quilting designs on my mid-arm quilting frame.
Quilt in our Hyundai iLoad van

Photos on quilts

Remember way back when I wrote A moment in Time – about printing on fabric for quilts?

A Moment In Time book cover
A Moment In Time book cover

Here’s one of the little scrapbook quilts:

Batman quilt
Batman quilt

I have been experimenting with some new information seen on a video at The Quilt Show recently, and will write some more about my experiments soon.

It’s nice to be quilting and designing for a change from web design work!

Posted on

Quilt for the bed in our car is ready to be bound

Clayton's Winnebago quilt

Finished the quilting!

Took it off the Inspira quilting frame and it’s ready for the binding.


We have a full sized double bed in the back of our Hyundai iLoad, and this is the quilt that Bob helped to design, cut and put together.

Claytons Winnebago car quilt