Tasmanian quilters have something to crow about
As the crow flies, a journey from Tasmania to Colorado spans 8,800 miles. For the Quilted Crow girls, who are international instructors, the trip requires 21 hours on a commercial airliner.
The pair, who hail from the island state 150 miles south of the Australian continent, are the co-owners of a business called The Quilted Crow in New Town. They are winging their way this direction.
Leonie Bateman and Deirdre Bond-Abel specialize in wool designs, with techniques new to U.S. stitchers. They will offer a trunk show and two classes this week in Grand Junction, sponsored by Hi Fashion Sewing Machines, 2584 Patterson Road, Suite B.
“We both feel that our style and inspiration come from American antique quilts,” Bateman writes by email. Having said that, though, “we think our isolation (in the Land Down Under) allows us to think independently and not follow trends.”
The women like to mix traditional styles and appliqué their designs in felted wool. Rather than using a fusible bond to fix their wool pieces to a background, they dab them with a water-soluble glue stick, then guarantee an extra-firm hold with staples. Yes, staples!
With every detail securely in place, they use a fine cotton thread in a color that blends with the wool to buttonhole stitch around each piece.
Both Bateman and Bond-Abel count as one of their most valuable tools a long-arm stapler, for reaching into the center of large areas of appliqué.
“I wouldn’t be without it now,” Bateman says, adding that a sharp pair of scissors for cutting points and Thimble-It pads to save pricked fingers while she stitches are equally essential.
Bond-Abel also lists a light box among her favorite tools: Most of her designs are symmetrical so she says it makes the job easier when arranging her appliqué pieces.
Both women travel twice a year to trade shows in the United States to showcase their designs, and that’s how Hi Fashion representatives/buyers discovered them.
“They work with wool totally different than we do (in the United States),” says Kari Harvey, Hi Fashion spokeswoman. The Quilted Crow girls do “beautiful work and they are lots of fun.”
“Yeah, we do enjoy a bit of laugh,” Bateman says.
You can see examples of Quilted Crow designs that they’ll be teaching at the local store. Their trunk show from 6–8 p.m. Thursday, and classes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday are scheduled at the Clarion Inn, 755 Horizon Drive.
Cost for their Thursday trunk show is $10 or free if you are taking one of the classes: “From My Garden” wool table runner on Friday and “Autumnal Pinwheels” wool and cotton table topper on Saturday. Each class costs $59 and includes lunch. Harvey says spaces still are available. Call the store at 256-1293 for reservations.
The most exciting endeavor for the Quilted Crow girls is their book, “Elegant Quilts, Country Charm,” published last year by Martingale (The Patchwork Place). The book is now in its third printing, the authors are happy to report, and a second book is the works for release in August 2014.
The women design their pieces separately, but both are fond of woven wool and reproduction fabrics. It seemed a natural progression to combine cotton and wool, now their trademark.
The Quilted Crow shop in New Town is housed in a huge sandstone church built in 1856, complete with stained glass windows and timber beams. You can view their “nest” at what they call Crow Central at thequiltedcrow.com.au.
“We both work six days a week in the shop and never tire of this beautiful building we are so privileged to be in,” Bateman says.
That work includes operating a longarm machine to finish customers’ quilts, teaching classes, cutting and assembling kits, and dyeing wool. The Quilted Crow girls never have time to sew while they’re in the shop, but hey, they’re not complaining: “We love it.”
The women hope to encourage those who haven’t worked with wool to “give it a go.” Not only does it add depth and texture, wool doesn’t fray, so the edges don’t need to be turned under.
What’s more, Bateman and Bond-Abel think they can convince you to make a stapler a staple in your sewing kit.
This technique really works for them, Bateman says, and for those who have given it a try, they “never look back.”
After the Crow girls share their expertise in Grand Junction, they’ll be off to International Quilt Market in Houston to expand their reach even farther. Eventually, of course, they’ll fly back to their nest at Crow Central.