Friday, March 30, 2012

Sew…BIRTH? My first one day quilt workshop presented by The Art of Mindful Birthing

I'm just thrilled to announce that GeorGina Kelly from The Art of Mindful Birthing is presenting my very first quilt workshop! It's a combination that makes my heart sing - quiltmaking and women's relationship to birth.


A one day workshop
with Melissa Fox and GeorGina Kelly

Date: Sunday 22nd April Place: Piece Together
Time: 9am-4.30pm 33a Logan Rd, Woolloongabba

Cost: $140

The facilitators:

Melissa Fox is a mother of two daughters and maternity consumer representative on government and hospital committees. She has immersed herself in quiltmaking over the past three years.
GeorGina Kelly is a trained midwife and mother of 3 children. She has been working for 17 years supporting women as they embrace the transformative power of their pregnancy, birthing, and mothering experience.

The inspiration…

GeorGina and I are passionate about birth and it’s potential to be a transformative experience for women. We have both worked to support women to have an empowered, informed transition to motherhood, GeorGina as a midwife and myself as a consumer advocate with Maternity Coalition.

Having experienced a disappointing first birth, I felt the need to explore why it unfolded the way it did, process my fears around birth and cultivate a belief in my body’s ability to birth. Twice I completed GeorGina’s Art of Mindful Birthing course, once when trying to conceive our second child and again when I was pregnant and preparing to birth her. Along with our wonderful midwife, I was blessed to have GeorGina present at our second daughter’s birth at home, and I birthed her in exactly the same position in the birth pool as I had visualised it in a drawing in GeorGina’s course.

As I've mentioned in my previous blog post, recently we discovered the story of a mother in the United States called Renee Hoffman who experienced a traumatic caesarean in 2010. Renee created the piece below called "Caesarean Quilt". She and her husband brainstormed hundreds of negative and positive words to reflect how they felt about their disempowering, disappointing first birth experience. Renee stitched these onto red pieces of fabric which she quilted down.

Cesarean Quilt by Renee Hoffman, USA
(To read more about this powerful process and piece, go to Renee’s own blog and read her interview on the International Museum of Women's website.)

Earlier this month Renee and her husband were planning to birth to their second baby at home. In the lead up, she created these stunning red mini quilts, you can read about them on her her blog here:

Aurelia Jean was born on the 12 March, in an empowered VBAC at home after 36 hours of unmedicated labour! Renee said: “The whole at (a friend's) home birth experience was amazing for both me and my husband. My midwife and her apprentices acted as guardian angels throughout my labor--in the background, encouraging, but let my husband and I move and labor in the best way for us”.

Congratulations to Renee and her family! You can see more gorgeous photographs here (shared with Renee’s permission).

I was deeply moved by how creating their Caesarean Quilt assisted Renee and her husband to process the birth of their first child and work towards a place of healing. Inspired, I created some small art quilts for women I knew journeying with cancer. I found it very meaningful to mindfully stitch intentions of healing, love, community and acceptance into these pieces.

I wanted to help women access the healing around birth that was apparent in Renee and her husband's quiltmaking process and the power of intention I experienced in making the art quilts below.

Who the workshop is for…

This workshop is for ALL women. It is an opportunity to explore how we feel about birth. For some, it will be an expression of celebration around birth. Some may be healing from a past birth or postnatal experience, and those facing fears and preparing for an empowered birth. Others may be experiencing difficulties in conceiving a much wanted baby or grieving from the loss of their baby in pregnancy or labour. Others may be midwives or birthworkers who wish to explore their relationship to birth.

Safe space…

It is important to me to present this workshop in partnership with someone who can assist in providing an emotionally safe space for women as you explore potentially vulnerable parts of yourselves. GeorGina is particularly skilled and experienced at creating this in a compassionate way. She will guide participants through a process using mindfulness and art to bring awareness to the emotions, ideas, images, words and beliefs each of us hold about birth. This will form the basis for each participant’s quilt.

Importantly, GeorGina is available to provide ongoing support to women upon completion of the workshop, if issues arise for you.

No experience required…

This workshop is open to all women regardless of your sewing ability – whether you make your clothes for your children or haven’t touched a sewing machine since Home Ec at high school!

Making a quilt has been compared to birth. I believe both are journeys that benefit from preparation, support, creativity, curiosity, openness, persistence and acceptance. And both can create connection to something greater than ourselves, growth, connection and celebration! I will be honoured to midwife you through each step of the creative process.

Workshop includes…

• Art materials
• Sewing machine hire (very basic Janome model, used in schools and regarded as “unbreakable”. If you would prefer to use your own sewing machine contact me).
• Cutting mats, rulers, rotary cutters, scissors, tape measures, irons, ironing boards and associated equipment for sewing for each participant.
• Quilt materials including quilt “canvases” (pre-made A4-sized quilts made up of backing, batting, heavy weight interfacing and a plain fabric on top), wide array of fabric, fusible webbing, threads (regular cotton & thick variegated threads), embroidery threads, fabric pens, Shiva Paintstiks, pre-made hanging sleeves & dowel to be able to hang your quilt.
• Teas, coffee & water
• Nuts & dried fruit


Piece Together is a local business that offers workshops, sewing classes and sell local handmade and vintage items. We have hired their gorgeous workshop space and equipment for you to use.

Upstairs, 33a Logan Rd, (Antiques Precinct), Woolloongabba

There are no events being held at the Gabba on the day of our workshop. Parking is available out the back of the building or on the street (unmetred on weekends). BCC buses service the area (ph Transinfo 131230).

Please bring…

* Morning tea to share
* Lunch just for yourself (or you can buy it nearby at Pearl Café or Across Town. There is an ATM up the street).
* Extra snacks if pregnant and needing regular nourishment.
* Cushion/s (if you think you will need it – we will be spending some time as a group in arm chairs or on the floor).
* Notebook/diary & pen.

Optional for you to bring…
* Embellishments – beads, special fabrics (eg. baby clothes, wedding dress material, etc), ribbon or lace, wools, threads.

Join us...

Numbers are strictly limited. Booking will be confirmed once registration and payment is received. We will email a registration form to be completed as soon as possible, so the administration can be completed. We would appreciate payment at the latest one week before the course date (15 April). Email GeorGina at gmk at techsus dot com dot au

Looking forward to this special day with great anticipation! Hope you can join us!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Girly goodness

Back in January, with my head down in a flurry of sewing projects, I took the easy way out and picked up a store bought art smock for Lily for school. But oh no - a garish, orange, PVC sack-like thing was not going to cut it for my fashionista. So back it went to the store.

Weeks went by and finally she really did need an art smock. Like YESTERDAY. She wanted one with babushkas which her friend's Mum had bought from Spotlight(by now sold out). With the clock ticking, my grand vision of making one out of Amy Butler oil cloth ground to a halt when I discovered it retails locally for AUD$44m! Inspired by my friend Steph's approach to de-stashing, I decided instead to make one completely from my smallish but perfectly adequate stash.

I was lucky enough to have this super-cute pattern on hand - the Little Flirty Skirty Apron by The Apron Lady Designs, very kindly gifted to me by my friend Marilyn for my birthday last year from Sewco.

Using some sturdy canvas bought many years ago from Ikea for the apron, I added a small bit of babushka fabric in my scraps bin for the pockets, from the very first quilt I made for Lily. Pre-made bias binding added an accent of red.

Some divine babushka tape jazzes up the ties. (Where did I buy that from? A Brusselsprouts de-stash sale?)

The girl is now happy.

This month I also whipped up these two sweet dresses for my little cousins. Again a mission in stash-busting, I used some fabrics from Denyse Schmidt's DS Quilts Collection fabrics from her first range Picnic and Fairground for Spotlight (a "must-have" purchase that has since sat staring at me on my shelf). Thanks to Facebook I came across the Apron Knot Dress Sewing Pattern (3m-5t) by Pitter Patterns on Craftsy. I really liked their sample made using blues and grays. I tried to emulate this by using similar colours in each of mine - greens in one and reds in the other. It was a buzz to create buttonholes on my machine (not something I do very often!). I love how this pattern uses knots in the straps instead of buttons. I'd like to adapt this pattern into a top for myself, perhaps even using a voile (from my stash!).

**Edited to add pics of my darling cousins in their dresses...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Australian fabric designers:: Sarah Fielke & St Ives

I love supporting Australian fabric designers. Favourites of mine include Bird Textiles, Umbrella Prints, Kristen Doran, the many indigenous women who create the designs for M&S Textiles and of course, Sarah Fielke.

It was with much anticipation that I awaited Sarah's latest fabric range from Lecian called St Ives. A prolific Sydney-based quiltmaker, teacher and author, Sarah's previous range was From Little Things. Her book Quilting From Little Things was released last year and she is busily working away on her new book (read this funny guest post on her blog by Erica Spinks).

My local patchwork fabric store of choice, Sewco Sewing Centre at Mt Gravatt, kindly agreed to order in a selection of bolts from Sarah's St Ives range.

How to choose?!! After much indecision, I selected some prints and made two skirts for my young cousins.

The first was a Twirly Girl Skirt by Pink Chickadee Designs:

The second was a Lazy Days skirt (free pattern available here from Oliver & S) :

The girls in their skirts...

A few weeks ago, Mia decided to make her best friend Sass a "rock star skirt". She picked out the fabrics, including one from St Ives. She figured out which fabric would go where and even sewed some of it. Mia rockin' Sass' rock star skirt:

Sending Sarah lots of creative vibes, cups of tea and magically un-ending hours for the gestation of her new book!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Today I donated this wall hanging for auction to help raise money for the family of one of the women I wrote about and made a piece for in my last blog post. Her circle of women have rallied around her in the most inspiring ways, one of which includes organising a huge party and auction this Sunday.

Using the same processes as my last two pieces, I again featured Lauren Burch's Celestial Dreams fabrics, as well as an indigenous Australian print Yalke Blue (meaning Bush Onion) by June Smith for M&S Textiles. You can read about June and her work here.

I forgot to measure it before posting it off, but I think it measures about 16" x 10". I sewed on a rod pocket, inserted a piece of dowel and tied on cord so it can be hung by it's new (hopefully very generous!) owner.

You can find out more about the auction and how to help this family on this Facebook event page.