September in Clunes 2016

Dear readers

Apologies in advance for the late posting but as any of you who know what has been happening in the lead up to and during  September, I  could be forgiven for having some time out and stopping to smell a rose or two. Life on the home-front and in the studio have been so busy these past months in preparation for all things textile and stitching in Clunes.


The textile art exhibition ‘A Textile Palette’, the Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat and the inaugural Clunes Village Quilt Hanging were a combined effort, respectively hosted during September and each event a huge success.

As you would be aware many hours of creating, planning, preparing and curating events like these is  an immense undertaking and and requires clear minds in tiring circumstances, positive attitudes in adverse situations, creativity when creative blockages happen and  a huge amount of support and sponsorship from the local community to run seamlessly with aplomb.


Along with these three events the region experienced the wettest spring since recording began in Victoria, the Creswick Creek threatened to flood at different times throughout the month, including the weekend of the stitching retreat, launch of the exhibition and quilt hanging. Good spirits and flexibility were needed as venues were changed at last minute and quilts were transferred from one place to another. All needed to appear as if everything was running to plan. An international film crew (HBO) were in the village for two weeks filming sections to the series ‘The Leftovers’ so the town was truly abuzz with activity and seasonal influences.



All in all, albeit challenging at times, all three events were a resounding success and the feedback incredibly positive for those who attended and visited Clunes. A personal thanks to the following people who without their support and attention to detail I may have ended up ‘worse for wear’

  • My partner Phillip – (For all the meals you force me to ‘sit down’ and eat, practical help and the odd ‘telling off’!! Without your daily patience and support my love,  I just couldn’t do anything)
  • My daughters Nasci and Gabrielle – (for your endless encouragement and support throughout the year)
  • The Clunes Community – (for your enthusiasm, interest, intrigue, participation, ideas, attendance and positive and/or constructive feedback)
  • The studio ladies – Jacqui M, Vicki B, Maureen T, Sujeeva H, Leanne W, Teresa G, Sylvia R, Christine H, Kathryn H, Al H, Ros D, Barbara CS, Jeannie K, (for assistance with everything, Im truly indebted to you amazing people who support me so much)
  • Wesley College – Principal Tim and Admin Officer Linda N (for the arrangement and generous use of the Weavery for the quilt hanging)
  • Hepburn Shire – Bree M (for assistance with event advertising and  hire of the Town Hall  and Warehouse)
  • BeckWorth Wines  – Jane and Paul L (for your professionalism attending to the liquor requirements at Keeble’s and Gallery5)
  • Brett (for the beautiful floral arrangements)
  • Keeble’s Country House – Shelley and Peter (for your warm hospitality and welcome to retreat participants)
  • Jen Bray and the Clune’s Dance Troupe – (for the fabulous and fun filled opening night dance performance at Keeble’s Country House)
  • The Gallery Wine Bar – Linda and Neil N (for hosting the evening drinks and nibbles)
  • The School of Mines – Ken C (For the generous use of the School of mines Building for the quilt hanging)
  • Jane C –  (for your assistance with troubleshooting kitchen issues at the Town Hall kitchen)
  • Ian Baker – ( for your kind donation and effort to decorate the Town Hall with your lovely antiques)
  • To my students and textile working friends – ( for your efforts to present your  creativity to the public for the textile art exhibits)
  • To the quilters – (for your exciting array of work and talented donations of quilts for the Clunes Village Quilt Hanging)
  • Gallery5 – Annie and Rob G (for your efforts in preparing the space and assistance in curating ‘A Textile Palette’ and your attention to detail hanging each piece so carefully)
  • The Ballarat Ukulele Affair – (for the fantastic and groovy music ‘with a difference’ you provided for the textile art exhibition opening)
  • Catering – Jane F (for your vibrant personality and humour and extraordinary flair with food during the retreat)

Last but by no means least,  to Rae T and Judy N my friends and business partners a big thank you for all that you have done to help promote my beautiful home town of Clunes, advertise the 2016 event/s on your journeys and who bring ‘Quilting Wisdom’ to Quiltessentially Clunes.

My warmest regards and gratitude to each and every one of you.


Our Studio Weekend

Dear Readers

Its Sunday night and all is quiet at the studio. Its been a hectic and creative weekend with the first of the ‘Hidden Word’ Workshops complete and my mind is working overtime with emerging ideas as a result. As with all events  some things worked better than others and  continuous improvement is on my agenda. Thanks once again for the patience and flexibility to all who attended. You handled the last minute changes quite well and I appreciated your cooperation very much.  Thanks also to my dear partner Phillip who provided the catering all day, did the dishes and kept the kitchen open. I could not do what I do without his support on these occasions.

Eleven women gathered at the studio on Saturday, in anticipation (I trusted) for a challenging day of experimenting with textile and mixed media. Unfortunately it was wet outside, so my plans to spend quite a bit of time outdoors was squashed and indoors it was to be for most of the day.  It was extremely cosy with us all inside, up close and personal around the work bench. (Note to self, reduce participant numbers next time)…….. however despite the blessings of rain, we managed and adjusted and progress was made elbow to elbow and a squeeze here and there.

We started off our day sharing our word of meaning and a lexicon of reflective words comprising of Belonging, Success, Settled, Evolve, Smile, Autumn, Courage, Spiritual, Mother-Nature, Purpose and Friends  was developed to be used in the journal work throughout the day and for future entries.

It was to be a day of experimental play and as highlighted at the outset “nothing is right or wrong about how things turned out”. Students were encouraged to take the initiative and make the most of each skill set to develop a journal and create spaces within for sample pieces of work along the way. We commenced our first task  with printing onto fabric from the office inkjet printer. Some were familiar with this technique, others were amazed that a simple office printer (the cheaper, the better) was capable of printing fabrics as well as paper. Such a simple application using fusible webbing or American Freezer Paper to support the fabric as it moves through the printer, was soon to be discovered, as a technique that was  accessible to most and transferrable across a range of printing needs. We printed out quotes and definitions of our chosen words and discussed the  capacity to print images and  how to use applications such as PhotoSketch to enhance photographs for use with textiles.

While we waited for the drizzle to subside,  work was progressed with covering journals and preparing spaces for  small samples of work  to be inserted. The journals consisted of old hard back books purchased from the recent Clunes Booktown Festival and to add to the discussions of the day, they came with a variety of dated titles and as some discovered some interesting and relevant subject matter.

The first of the the outdoor ‘wet work’ tasks was to layer fibres and textiles together with glue. Using a cellulose based wallpaper paste, students experimented with fusing fabrics with pieces of newspaper, used tea bags, card and paper to create small collages to be deconstructed and repurposed in later work.  The use of wallpaper paste allows the work to dry clearly, and the fabric once worked and handled  has the potential to regain its softness.  Pasted fabric pieces also aides as a supportive stiffened base for free motion machining which was to be experimented with later in the day. As with all things new, some (students) used way too much glue and others not quite enough, however a range of amazing pieces evolved and placed to dry in front of the fire.

After a light lunch we shifted position under the car port to work with painting and mark making on fabric. Leaves and plants were collected from the garden and used along with pre-prepared  blocks with a variety of surfaces for printing.  Lots of experimentation took place in this section of the day and the play with acrylic colours, fabric medium and printing blocks produced some  fascinating marks.

It was interesting to observe that whilst some were happy to embrace the experimentation which was the aim of the day, others were a bit lost with direction, not having a defined ‘project’ to commence. This happens sometimes in skills workshops and I reflected on classes that I’ve participated in over the years where I had felt very challenged and frustrated with the process, however appreciative in hindsight that I had pushed through to learn the artistic tasks regardless of how my work was turning out and what I was meant to do with it.  It is an issue that many participants face particularly women as we have been traditionally textile workers with purpose and are generally project oriented. We do and have floundered when experimenting with textile art and all that it brings just for the sake of learning.

With a little extra support and guidance we moved forward and in the latter part of the day students began to work on the sewing machines, experimenting with their work and embellishing with free motion machine drawing and simple hand stitching. For some this was a first time experience and for others a technique they loved to use and had been looking forward to all day.  Some very creative pieces/projects started to evolve and some beautifully decorated journals were coming along at this point. It had been a very busy day with much to absorb and consider and  although a tad weary, students got a second wind to progress their work a little more before the day ended.

I was really thrilled to see several projects emerge from the days experimentation which included plans to create  a lamp shade cover, friendship book, floral still life and a landscape ‘potential’!!

So finally, dear students, thank you again for such an energetic and dynamic day of creating. Your feedback was very much appreciated and I hope to get the opportunity to work with you again some time soon. I too take away many learnings from the day and the experience of working with you all. I encourage you to continue to work in your journals and/or visual diaries,  in particular those who are not accustomed to working with a variety of textile art techniques. Journals are about recording your ideas, inspirations and experiments and the more you practice and sample your ideas, the better you will become with developing your unique style of working and artistic expression using fibres and textiles.

I wish you much love and creativity in every way, Cxx

The Hidden Word

Dear Readers

Thank you to those who have expressed an interest to attend the first of a series of unique and inspiring textile art workshops to be held at the Margie & Bert Design Studio in Clunes.

The ‘Hidden Word’ is a 7.5 hour session and will be held on Saturday 4th June, 9.30am – 5.00pm. There are just two places left if you are interested in a fun and creative day. The fee for the day is $55 which includes all resources, morning and afternoon tea and a light finger food lunch.

A lexicon of words will be shared throughout the day, so bring to the workshop a word that has currency in your daily life and and any personalised resources e.g. photographs, old linens, cards, letters that you may like to include in your work.

In this workshop you will be guided in the following skills

  • Mark making including freehand drawing
  • Fabric painting
  • Layering fibres and textiles
  • Free motion machine drawing
  • Printing on fabric using an inkjet printer
  • Slow stitch embroidery technique
  • Workshop journaling, step by step


For further information contact me at
or call on 0415644101
Hope to see you there, much love and creativity Cxx


Clunes Makers Market

Dear Readers

Nothing could have made me feel prouder than when on Sunday 13th at the Clunes Makers Market, my students work was exhibited in a mini Textile Art Exhibition at the Club Hotel in Clunes. Albeit an arrangement of approximately 35 pieces, the standard of work was eye catching and gained a lot of interest from those who appreciate diverse artwork and the intrigue of all things stitched. Congratulations to students Jacqui Marshall, Leanne Wills, Ann Holden,  Maureen Thomas and Teresa Glen for the wonderful work you have completed for the display. You deserve to feel accomplished and the feedback reflected your creativity and developing talent. I am inspired that you have taken on board my teachings, embraced my style of guidance and have become comfortable with the new and challenging techniques you have learnt in class. Well done and I am so  looking  forward to advancing your abilities as we prepare for the Textile Art Exhibition in September. Cxx

Textile Art @ Millrose

Tuesday 17th February was the kick off date  for the ‘Making Art With Textiles’ workshop at the beautiful Millrose Quilting and Gallery in Ballan, Victoria.

It was fabulous to be teaching at this inspiring venue and to start the first of ongoing classes, there were 9 participants in the first workshop.  I was delighted to know that students had come from near and far and attended because they had found my work online, heard about me via the creative grapevine and others had been inspired by some of my exhibited work. Not to forget to mention Jacqui M. and Maureen T.  who are regular attendants to my Monday Sit & Stitch @ The Studio in Clunes. The lovely Tuesday staff at Millrose, Emily and Nat attended to our every need and made us all feel so welcome and  cared for, not to forget to mention our lunch next door at Millrose Cottage was ‘deliciously divine’ as always.

At the beginning of class examples of work were displayed to inspire the students and  most opted to  work on a larger piece, a floral still life, as their first project. Nothing like starting off with a huge challenge first off, I thought to myself. Highlighting at the beginning of the day that the process was iterative, organic and one of individual artistic choice (no patterns to follow), I was thrilled to find that the new techniques were embraced by most. I think it fair to say there were a few frustrating moments at times when students were challenged to break out of their usual colour ways, styles and stitching techniques.

With the initial stages of  sizing, colours, fabric and layout achieved the next phase to progress was the stitching. Commencing with simple basting and a range of embroidery stitches  I introduced free motion machine drawing in the afternoon session. Some were old hands to this technique and progressed their work easily, whilst others needed tuition.  For those new to machine drawing, once they accepted that going ‘out of the lines’ is accepted, common and  enhancing,  most were on their way creatively and with addictive passion.

All in all it was a wonderful creative day. There were certainly many milestones to celebrate as each piece evolved and the feedback indicated that the workshop was enjoyable and most wanted to continue on and come back to complete their pieces.

As much as I am the teacher in these situations, I am always on the receiving end of being inspired by the beautiful work that is  produced in every class. Students never cease to amaze me and the  teacher/student divide collapses where we ‘become one’ in the creative moment, time and time again.

Thank you so much for choosing to create with me. Cxx



Sit & Stitch at the Studio

Dear readers

Sit & Stitch at the Studio has started well for 2016 and feedback has been very encouraging and supportive of the creative and friendly space in which we come together.  I have a revised schedule for the year  which is working well for those that can attend on Mondays and Tuesdays and for those unable to attend during the day, an after hours session on a Tuesday evening.

I am thrilled that participants are so enthusiastic to take on new and creative ways of working with fabrics and threads and I am delighted to be teaching my textile art again among other things. I have set days for project workshops (See my teaching schedule in the top menu) but all in all we mainly work together on existing projects or new textile art pieces. Some bring their own work, embroidery or quilts and with others I provide support where I can  and short tutorials on techniques and skill development.

My teaching style has always been to inspire and encourage practice, trial and error where possible so that each participant develops the confidence to make creative decisions and develop their own style of working. A most inspiring teacher once said to me “respect the marks you make with stitch, there are no mistakes” . This has become my motto as I too like to encourage participants to take risks with textures, colour ways and markings and dare to do things differently! I have to say I have been thrilled with the progress to date and have witnessed some beautiful work to completion.

On a final note albeit belated, Maureen T. and Jacqui M. each entered a piece into the 2015 Clunes Agricultural Show (home and garden section, novice appliqué) in November. For both it was their first ever competition entry of which I felt very proud for them both. Over 8 weeks Maureen worked on her mini canvas series and was gainfully rewarded with an overall second prize which was a huge achievement for a first ever attempt at making art with textiles.

Congratulations, you are an amazing group of women to work with and I love to create with you all. Cxx

Delizia Floreale

Dear readers

I’ve been working on a new quilt design over the past 6 months. At the same time coincidently,  I have been attending Italian lessons, so I have named the quilt ‘Delizia Floreale’  which in Italian means ‘Floral Delight’.  The title reflects my love of working with floral themes and the medallion in this project  is an abstract vase of flowers, bordered with simple block and dresden plate patchwork.

I am embroidering using needle turn appliqué and simple stitch techniques and will be hand piecing throughout.  I started the project with idea of using neutral linens as the background theme and I’ve auditioned brightly printed fabrics and primary colours  as the main colour  way.

I am enjoying working on the design an it is evolving slowly. I hope to have it ready, in my teaching portfolio  for the Patchwork, Quilting and Papercraft Cruise in April and Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat in September.

Stay posted for progress notes and images. Cxx

Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat 2015



Dear readers

It has been a couple of months now since Judy Newman, Rae Telfer and I hosted the 2015 Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat, in November and the village of Clunes may never be the same again after the huge success of the inaugural event.

In the spirit of friendship, creativity, and enjoyment, and in a venue set within the scenic and historic backdrop of the village of Clunes the event attracted 60 quilters and textile workers from interstate and across Victoria. Many of whom had never heard of or visited Clunes before. The laughter and fun, the camaraderie and friendships, the sharing and networking, new skills and much inspiration are the memorable outcome of this event.

Quiltessentially Clunes manifested its way into reality from a vision created early in the year by Judy and I and with much hard work , team effort with our additional and valuable member Rae T. the event was named and realised. The format of the weekend was planned to provide participants not only a stitching and textile experience but one of local hospitality, history and country fare.The feedback about Clunes by those that attended was extremely positive and included such comments as “ fabulous country hospitality” “such friendly people” “ beautiful buildings” and “ such a unique village”. When asked would they come back again, the reply was a very positive “YES” and many have already expressed their interest to attend the next retreat that is planned over four days in September.


It would be an omission not to acknowledge the economic and cultural value of the event for Clunes. Participants were accommodated in the town, dined in the local eateries and shopped in the local stores. A ‘Meet and Greet’ event was held in the Gallery on the Friday night which was a huge success. Following this, a Sundowner in the beautiful gardens of Keebles Country house on the Saturday saw participants gather for regional wines, cheeses and bread.

With due respect this event would not have run so smoothly nor have been the occasion for celebration if it were not for a wonderful team of local helpers who we cannot thank enough. To the community of Clunes, the Hepburn Shire, the Clunes  Warehouse, Linda and Neil Newitt at ‘The Gallery’, Keebles Country House, Jane and Paul Lesock at Beckworth Winery and the lovely donations from Leslie at French Pear your support was invaluable.


Judy, Rae and I feel blessed and thank everyone who contributed to make the inaugural 2015 Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat such a success. Much love and creativity. Cxx

Making Art With Textiles


Dear readers

Welcome to the new year. May  each of you be blessed with good health and happiness in 2016 and many creative moments to sooth your spirits. Last year was indeed one of great occasion with the preparation and launch of the inaugural Quiltessentially Clunes Stitching Retreat in November. The event was a huge success and the team and I are already planning for our next retreat in September which will be offered over four days instead of the two. In addition to this the Clunes Makers Market was also launched after many months of planning  of which I have been delegated Committee President. This will be a monthly market, with a vision of attracting unique ‘Makers and Artisans’ to both craft and sell their wares in the beautiful village of Clunes.

I have recently returned from an interstate holiday to Western Australia celebrating the festive season with my family. It was lovely to be back in my home state again and have come home feeling refreshed and inspired with new ideas to start my year. 2016 is going to be a very busy time here in the studio. I have classes booked  at Millrose Quilt Gallery, Patch and Quilt, The Embroidery Den and in Berry NSW. I am tutoring on the Quilt, Patchwork and Papercraft Cruise in April as well as my regular classes here at the Margie & Bert Studio every Monday and Tuesday.


By popular demand ‘Making Art With Textiles’ workshops will be commencing again in 2016. With the option of a single-day or two-day workshop students will be facilitated to develop skills to design and compose a naive still life (as seen above), deconstruct printed fabrics, re purpose unwanted linen and bric-a-brac, draw with your machine and become familiar with a slow stitch technique. I am excited to be teaching my art again and look forward to many inspiring and creative weeks and months ahead.

Stay posted Cxx


Quiltessentially Clunes

Dear readers

I cannot believe that so much time has passed since my last post. I have been busy with F/Book and Instagram posts though and followers on social media will know there is so much happening creatively at the studio. Relevant to the title of this post, earlier this year my friend Judy Newman and I started to dream about the possibility of running a quilting/stitching event. Judy had been visiting us in Clunes for some time and had come to really appreciate the village for its quirkiness and historic beauty and against this backdrop we began to think how fabulous it would be to bring a group of quilting enthusiasts to town and maybe . . . . . just maybe if it was successful enough hold it as an annual event. With much more organising and bringing in another partner in crime Rae Telfer to assist us with our vision things evolved quite rapidly and we had enough done to launch our first promotion on July 5th. I answered telephone calls and emails all day and within 6 hours our event was fully booked out and we had a wait list. We were so excited, I was on a high for a few days and together we were amazed at the response. Thanks to Judy and Rae who both with their quilting tuition, designs and kits have a very loyal following among the quilting fraternity this was going to be a ‘must entry’ on their quilting calendars. Me being the new kid on the block and more the ‘arty farty’ member of the group will contribute in my own way to the event but I insisted at the outset that the words ‘stitching’ and textile workers’ had to be included somewhere. So this is how our introductory blurb started off

A unique experience” is happening in the springtime. Quiltessentially Clunes, hosted by Judy Newman, Rae Telfer and Christine Lethlean is an inaugural two-day stitching retreat aiming to attract quilters and textile workers to the historic village of Clunes, in the Central Goldfields of Victoria. With a combined spirit of friendship, creativity, and enjoyment and a venue set within a scenic and historic backdrop, Quiltessentially Clunes is a must visit entry on your calendar. You will get to experience a weekend of country hospitality, enjoy local wines and cuisine and explore a village rich in history along the many trails on offer. There will be displays, fun activities, tutorials to hone your skills and beautiful prizes to win.
We so look forward to sharing this great weekend with you, we hope you can join us
Love and creativity Rae, Judy and Christine

Now its on with the show and with 73 sleeps to go time is now moving fast. The photographic shoots have taken place. Imagine how lovely it was to have all the quilts from Judy and Rae’s collection draped around the studio and anywhere and everywhere across the village. I felt so grown up and important lugging my big bag of quilts around . . . . ha ha ha. We have an Instagram account @quiltessentiallyclunes and a F/Book account so go to for a peek at our work and scenic shots of Clunes.
An added bonus to our plans so far has been that the local community has also been so supportive with sponsorship and donations and word is getting around that 50 women are coming to town. Most are staying at the different places of accommodation in Clunes which has been an added boost to tourism in the area over that weekend. We also have participants coming from interstate NSW and SA as well as our local ladies from Melbourne and regional Victoria.

So all in all I just want to finish up by saying dreams can come true. No sooner was the seed for this little venture planted and the show was on the road. Three amazing minds with equal doses of creativity are working hard to make this all happen. Stay posted Cxx