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!

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