to make a quilt. Ask me how I know? In 2015, I joined a few hundred other people from all over the world in the slightly mad pursuit of a hexie swap called #hexiedownunder, making two 1"/2.5cm hexagon flowers (in a ring of six) for 20 other people. We ran three rounds of the swap, and I was on the organising committee with a couple of other people, but the swaps were really run by Fiona Forsythe, who is @bendigolioness on Instagram and together we wrangled glue basters, thread basters and toe dippers.
The rules were pretty simple, centres had to be white, had to have your name & an instagram "handle" if there was one, and be in the colours specified by each person in the group. The hashtag is still around on Instagram, with over 1000 posts. The variety is fantastic & there have been some magnificent quilts made from these flowers - Fiona's beautiful Zesty Hexies won First Prize in C49 at the Bendigo Agricultural Show.
By and large people were pretty good about sticking to giving you what you'd asked for in the sign-up, & I wanted blue and white. I did get a few that had some red and yellow and even one that was green & black, but largely they were shades of blue and white or cream.
Then in 2016 I had a total knee replacement, and was in hospital off my head on painkilling medication for a week or so, and apparently convinced myself that a really complex design which used lots of different hexie-based shapes was going to work really well and I spent the best part of a day with coloured pencils drawing the design up.
Thank goodness for Salley Govey (@appliqueensal) who made me realise that the variety of colours in the hexie flowers would make this complex pattern invisible. In the midst of this, I found the most gorgeous fabric range called "Low Country Indigo" which had about six or seven dark navy prints, and a fabulous navy on white spot, and I firmed up my quilt plans. I was going to make my ring of 6-flowers into ring of 18-flowers, and then outline each one with a ring of navy on white spots, a very tradition pattern, but one that would let the fabrics do all the talking.
My friend the lovely Mandy (@Handystitcher) started to send me fussy-cut rings made with some very interesting fabrics
, and I kept plugging away at it, and eventually got to the point where I had enough to make a top.
Only problem was, I'd developed arthritis in my hands, and manipulating the fabric to stitch the flowers & diamonds together was painful, and slow, and tedious. So I stopped. Then along came Helen (@coasttocoastquilting). Helen had previously made me lots of sets of three in the white & navy spot which were going to form part of the mad design, and so she was across the concept of the quilt. She was a great source of advice on how to join the blocks together, along with Jan @jaeuckens. They were both very encouraging, but I was still a bit meh about it all, and it sat, unloved in a box, until the #elusivemrgolightly found a large lump in his abdomen in February 2020, just before COVID got stupid.
Cue surgical biopsy, chemo, more chemo, a autologous stem cell extract & transplant, and a stay in hospital to get over that, then a locked down stay-at-home Christmas. All through this I plugged away at building diamonds and rings of 18, because amazingly, having something productive to do with your hands is a very nice distraction from the sights, sounds & smells of the Chemo Clinic at RNSH.
Then in July this year, when we were doubly locked down (him immunocompromised and both of us covid-fearful) & going insane, I was talking to Helen about it, confessed I had totally lost interest in it & told her that it would probably never be finished, and she very very generously offered to stitch it together for me. I dragged it all out of the box, and sent it off to her with about two rows stitched together (see above), and all the finished diamonds & flowers. I would get periodic instructions from Helen to "send more spotties" (the navy on white) or "make me more diamonds", and fortunately I had plenty of time to do all those things. She posted regular updates of her progress on sewing the "Community Quilt" on her Instagram feed, if you're interested.
The quilt arrived back at my house last week, and I immediately rang Jayne Rennie, my favourite local long-arm quilter, and asked if she could quilt it before Christmas. My timing was impeccable, as she only had a window of that week available. Needless to say I was in the car & driving the quilt to her house before you could say "oops too late".
It's back, but it's not on my bed until I can cut & sew the binding, (probably today) and it's much more beautiful than I imagined.
A huge Thank You to Helen for all her hard work, to Mandy for making me curse her with the glue-basting from hell but who also gave me the most magnificent of all the fussy-cut flowers:
And to all the lovely people who contributed flowers or hexies to this quilt:
@coasttocoastquilting Helen Kingcott
@handystitcher Mandy B
And in no particular order:
@gkmsydney Grace McDonald
@lorenoz Michelle Watson
@craftgodchick Larissa Hart
@prettydogvineyard Karol W (who made me rather a lot of random blue & white loose hexies)
@quilty_carlie Carlie Lincoln
@michele_kitchen Michele Wyers
@travellingdolly Lyn S
@jenredfern Jen Redfern
@rosepatch70 Cheryl Mitchell
@appliqueensal Salley Govey
@lynwotton Lyn Wotton
@urbanpolyester Jill Saunders
@bethandduke Bonnie Hazelwood
@loubeelou76 Louisa Watts
@bendigolioness Fiona Forsythe
@joybells2012 Joy Nelson
@mysewbusylife Faye Perespkin
@patchheavenstitches Olivia Shelswell
@Ruthc2607 Ruth Clarke
@mrsaeh Annette H
@frankiesfabrics Marni Franks
@sunflowerstitcheries Barbara Cutmore
@cathyEwbank Cathy Ewbank
@sometimesiquilt Katie Ley
@alisonwhite31 Alison White
And here it is (quilted, but unbound) - a true Community Quilt.