Quilts By Design

Dear Readers

For some time now I have had two quilt designs in the making. I have toyed with ideas and dawdled  with production and as time permitted added a bit here and there but up until mid September last year time was not a concern and I felt no need to rush. A couple of unexpected phone calls arriving within weeks of each other changed all that. Initially taken aback after each call  I was left contemplating the commitments I had just made and how on earth I was going to get these two quilts completed by December.

First came the invitation from Judy Newman at Expertise Events  (EE) in Sydney to participate as a tutor at the 2017 Australasian Quilt Convention (AQC). To be honest you could’ve  knocked me over with a feather, having been asked to take part based on a growing interest in my work.  I had no idea anyone knew who I was and I tell myself far too often “I’m not really a quilter’!!  Feeling very humbled, I gained composure, said yes and agreed to the proposal. When I received a second call a short time later from Clare Moody, the then editor of the Australian Quilters Companion Magazine, to ask if I would be interested in a studio profile and project article in the 2017 May Edition my heart jumped a beat.  Left feeling quite overwhelmed I thought “What has just happened”,  “are their people talking to my people”?   I recovered quickly enough to agree before my rational mind had time to rebut my decision.


So make what you will of timing, divine synchronicity and serendipity I was now committed and needed to get focussed and begin some serious work. Its all very well saying yes and being caught up in the whirlwind of validation but in reality I had agreed to two rather large projects, and there were now new obligations and timelines to meet. Amid my already busy working schedule my energy was fast running out by the time Christmas holidays 2016 came around.


Despite initial minor set backs,  I put my social life on hold and titch and appliqué I did til the ‘cows came home’. Now months later, it is March 2017 and quilt No1. ‘Tinellen Farm’ is complete. The article for the magazine has been drafted, the official photo shoot has taken place and the quilt has been sent to and now returned from Sydney where it was measured and I guess scrutinised within an inch of its life for the project profile. The quilt itself was a pleasure to create and a loving and sentimental project.  A combination of curved dresden plates, hexagons and squares make up the simple design however against a background of contemporary grey scale prints, I utilised old and discarded family linens  from our family farm in Western Australia. These included old tea towels, curtains, meat bags, cushion covers and a doily or two that my sister Terri and I collected on my visit to the farm in 2015. To counter the weariness of these older fabrics I combined  them with new prints including my favourite of all time gingham squares and dots. I taught some women in the studio how to hand quilt using Tinellen Farm to which another layer of love has been instilled. I showed my daughter how to paper piece the hexagons using the stitching method (as opposed to glue) and I even darned a couple of spots where the old linens have perished to which is added character and charm.

Christine Lethlean 0085

Quilt No. 2 Floreale Delizia (Floral Delight) is at hand quilting stage as I write. It will be ready along with Tinellen Farm for the AQC ‘Tutors Exhibition’ section. I have had some trouble with constructing this quilt due to the perils of using linen in the centre medallion and haste and mistakes on my part to get it completed. I am loathe to admit that I have had to unpick sections and tweak here and there but happy with how it has developed despite the hiccups. I do love needle turn appliqué and this quilt has a lot of this technique throughout. Again I have used a grey scale themed background with a colourful floral medallion and borders and love the way the colours have settled in with each other. Overall the design feels easy on the eye and uncluttered. My trademark backing and border is red and white gingham on the back and green and white gingham along the edge and I love it!!IMG_7023


I will be teaching these quilt designs over time. I have a contract with Australian Quilters Companion Magazine that I must oblige before patterns can be developed and distributed for Tinellen Farm. The pattern for Floral Delizia will be developed and ready for me to teach by June.

I do hope I get to see you at this years AQC 20 – 23 April. I will be working Thursday and Friday for Jane McDonald on the BeBeBold Stand and  if you are interested in my classes I will be teaching ‘A Floral Still Life’ on Saturday 22nd and ‘Vintage Keepsake’ on Sunday 23rd.

For more information go to http://aqc.com.au/class-timetable-2017/  http://www.universalmagazines.com.au/magazines/quilters-companion/

In the meantime, much love and creativity Cxx

Establishing A Rhythm

Dear readers

Again I say “where has time gone” as I realise it has been 6 months since my last post. And of course much has happened in that time. In January I had the privilege of working with UK textile artist Dionne Swift at Fibre Arts Australia summer school in her ‘Establishing Rhythm’ workshop. What an amazing and inspiring time and the artistic wisdom I gained from the experience I find hard to express in words. It was tiring work from beginning to end and even my trusted Bernina (‘Betty’) had to go off for a major over haul after it was all over.



Dionne Swift is truly a dedicated textile artist. She is an expert in thread painting and has a unique personal relationship with her sewing machines, quite like I have never seen before. What she taught me and the other students in the class during the time we were with her I will take with me to my creative end. Her  techniques are second to none and she well deserves the international accolades she is now receiving after years of focus and dedication to perfecting her craft.


As part of the initial process, we (students) were to seek inspiration from our external environment, using our camera and  broad stroke sketching to capture images that could be utilised later for machine stitching . This is always an interesting process for me and I love to get the opportunity  where I can  to observe the finer details of the things around me that can be expressed into a different form.  After working up our images using both paper and fabric collage and with coloured pencils we began the process of preparing for free motion stitching. It was refreshing to be reminded of how important our machines are for this type of artistic work and tips and tricks  included getting your personal posture correct, working at the right desk height, then of course machine preparation and maintenance, changing needles and tuning in.

We had great instruction regarding the use of an embroidery hoop which we all had to prepare before  stitching commenced. I don’t often use a hoop when I draw with my machine but my frustrations have moved and I’m  hooked and a devotee of how useful it is to use one for this style of work.


And so our journey ‘Establishing Rhythm’ commenced. No stone was left unturned, no machine neglected, no stitch left misunderstood and no thread left unknown. How Dionne advised us to make our machines work by encouraging us to experiment with our threads, tension and  bobbins is nothing short of a miracle as evidenced by the amazing stitching that was produced by each student. Outside the weather was hot, inside our machines got hot and our tempers frayed. We  were encouraged to make our machines go fast at the pedal and at the same time remain steady and focussed with our hands and as each day passed we pushed through our fears and trusted the process more and more. We eventually all did get into ‘a groove’ with our machines as I’ve never really experienced before and I personally broke through my fears to trust and feel how you ‘become one’ with your equipment.


As a group we created some amazing work. Each one unto herself and uniquely interpretive. After our time together came to an end,  full of inspiration and raring to come back to the studio and practice,  I immediately sorted my threads into weights, types and colours and stored them in a dark place.  I purchased a couple of thread holders and  use them now like a paint palette by my side. Ive even amazed myself, where I once felt inconvenienced if I had to rethread my needle or change my bobbin it now is like second nature to do so . . . . no complaints!! Im still working on small pieces at this stage but practicing, I am and loving the experience. Im learning which threads my machine likes, which ones break and how to use embroidery threads in my bobbin. Im learning when to sit up, straighten my shoulders and take a big breathe. Im also learning when to just say enough is enough and walk away for a while. My time with Dionne has to be one of the most dynamic learning experiences I have had in a very long time and I feel deeply grateful to have shared the creative space with her for a moment in time.

Thank you for coming to Australia to be with us Dionne Swift