Freebies & Features

TRENDING: Australian Quilting Influences

Multiple techniques on a single quilt / A love for detail, "slow quilting" approach / Unique interpretation of colors

You've probably noticed the increasing influence of Australian designers in the quilt world today, from pattern designers and book authors, to new magazines and fabric designers. With our recent introductions of the Quilted Crow Girls and Karen Styles, we went straight to the source to learn more about the Australian quilting aesthetic, where three key factors seem to define the look. Here's what they shared with us about Australian quilting trends:

Beyond Australia's own tradition of rustic, utilitarian wagga quilts from the 1800's, our Aussie friends inherited English Paper Piecing from their British heritage, and it's hugely popular in Australia at the moment. The Quilted Crow Girls explained, "People love it because it is easy and portable, and Sue Daley of Patchwork with Busyfingers has opened up this ancient art to so many new people through her glue pen basting technique. Many of the paper piecing fans here like to make up their own designs by playing with shapes and fabrics, and some of the work that we see in our shop is amazing."

"Other types of hand work are also generally popular with Australian quilters, including needleturn appliqué, and you'll see Marcus Fabrics shown off to their full potential in many of our quilt shows. We're also largely influenced by American hand piecing with quilts designs based on antique American quilts -- Michelle Yeo is one of the best designers in this genre. Stitchery (Redwork) has been hugely popular for over twenty years now due to the work of many designers such as Rosalie Quinlan and Lynette Anderson and is still very popular. There is also a large movement of quilters that make very traditional quilts using bright and inspiring colour choices; Cathy Doughty is one such person that comes to mind, as she reinvents traditional quilts in a new and original way." Karen Styles explains, "Each shop within Australia caters to a different style or influence of fabrics. Karen's shop is known for 1800's reproduction fabrics, while the Quilted Crow Girls love theirwool projects. Because Australia's quilting population is so much smaller than the American market, designers there a sharing the same customer base, so their quilting styles need to be different."

The Crows' designs feature reproduction cotton prints and woven wool based on antique quilts, and they're also inspired by architecture, tiles, ironwork and so on. "We thought that our quilts might be similar to those made by Americans, but we soon found that our 'Australian style' is very individual." The Crow Girls believe that the continent's greatest contribution to the quilting world is their use of color. "Whether it is the more subtle colours of reproductions or a brighter palette, we interpret them in an original way. What sets Australians apart in quilting is the same thing that makes us individual in other artistic fields: our geographic isolation has led us to be free thinkers, looking at colour and design in a very different way to other people. " Technically, the lighting conditions there also contribute to their unique approach to color.

Aside from the lighting conditions that affect color choices, Karen Styles adds that Australian designers look at quilt making differently than most American designers. "Our customers don't mind if a project takes a little longer to piece / create and therefore like the many different blocks or borders that I make within my designs," she says. "Generally, we don't specialise in just one technique but cover lots of different ones in a single quilt. And we love to fussy cut - maybe some would call this wastage but we think it is a clever enhancement of fabrics!"

This mix of interesting techniques is one big reason the Australian designers are approached now more than ever for workshops and trunk shows in the US and elsewhere. Maybe you'll see them at your local quilt shop or guild meeting one day soon! Meanwhile, visit Marcus' newest designers online: