Friday, 25 March 2011

Melbourne - out and about

During my Australia trip, I feel I've seen a lot of different places, whether during the drive to Noosa and Bundaberg, around Maleny (especially on the evening sight seeing tour before our farewell dinner) or the evening tour of Cairns. However, while in Melbourne I got to see what quilters often enjoy most - the local quilt shops! Heather kindly organised little mini tours for me during my time off (Monday and Tuesday daytimes). My only frustration was having little space in my baggage allowance for more than a few small pieces to add to my stash, but I found several 'must have' fat quarters which will be perfect for several projects I have planned. Check the website links for opening times, locations etc. if you are planning to visit.

Victorian Textiles are wholesalers, not retailers (maybe check first if you want to visit), but there was a nice bargain corner to the side of reception where items were available to the public... They are the makers of the Matilda's Own rulers range, their own top quality cutting mats (including a recycled mat) and the famous Matilda's Own battings, among other excellent items, and mega fabric/notions distributors. I got to see the rulers being manufactured, in giant laser cutting machines. Their 'Rainbows', strip packs similar to Bali Pops and from the same top quality Bali Batik fabrics, are also precision cut by another machine (non laser), which looks a bit like a giant paper trimmer, but for fabric. If you visit Australia, you'll find their products in patchwork shops all over the place. As I didn't take my own mat or ruler, I had already used their products a lot in my workshops, on loan from other quilters.

Chandlers Cottage is one of the most beautiful patchwork shops I've seen. Lisa, owner and designer of fabric ranges featuring Australian flowers & foliage, specialises in fabrics with a 'cultural influence' (as she explains on the website), including Japanese, Chinese and Indian designs. This means the shop is loaded with jsut the kind of beautiful fabrics I love to mix and match. Everything is beautifully coordinated, so you only need look at a fabric section and all the things that will work with each other are right in front of you.

With Lisa -

Goodies found - 'Sip'n'Sew' kit in winter colourway (present for quilting friend); fat quarter (FQ) of gold on black fabric with small kamon crest design, approx. 1in across (ideal for miniature quilt); FQ with tiny owls on cream (for a remake of 'Japanese Circles and Squares' - I have all the other fabrics but really wanted little owls on cream, not dark blue).

With Heather from Victorian Quilters and Mary Parrish, formerly of Chester Ps & Qs, now living in Melbourne. I didn't think I'd be able to meet up with Mary, but she and Heather had hatched a secret surprise! :-) Of course, knowing Mary's tastes for Japanese fabrics too, it was a bit predictable that she knew exactly where Chandler's Cottage is.

Another shop on our travels was Patchworks Unlimited. More fantastic fabrics.

The shop presented more colour coordinated selections, with the shelves on the right in the photo below being almost exclusively filled with Japanese fabrics (in the floor boxes and the first shelf row up) and batiks (top row of shelves. I have tried to be restrained on buying on my trip, as I mentioned earlier the baggage allowance issue, and most of my baggage allowance was taken up with my quilts, with very little clothing (being able to wash clothes at all my hosts helped me get by with very few items, plus the warm weather helped!) Once again, I would have loved to be able to bring more fabric home, but that will have to wait for another trip. I am planning the successor to my 'Fish and Chips' quilt, also in batiks, and found three that were just right. But I could only buy the minimum I really, really needed. :-( It there had been more time, I could have sent a package home.

Our final shop call was Tombo (dragonfly in Japanese). Their furniture was gorgeous - if I lived in Melbourne, I would love to have some of these pieces in my home. Must find somewhere in the UK with a similar range! They also stock vintage kimono, kimono fabrics, accessories etc. So of course I had to browse. Admittedly, their stock was rather too similar to much of mine (fabric bolts) and my personal collection (kimono) to get really carried away, plus kimono are rather too heavy for an impulse purchase, but they had a lot of really nice stuff. One of their best deals, IMHO, was a pack of assorted kimono fabrics (I think these would be recycled?). They also had a bargain basket of old furoshiki - I wish I'd bought the really faded one with the karakusa scrolls that I was looking at... (UPDATE - Ashelee from Tombo has just e mailed me and is going to send me this one! So at least no one else grabbed it yet! - another update - it arrived while I was away in Yorkshire - thanks very much!)

A wide, lime green obijime cord had caught my eye when I went in (only $7 too and weighed very little - flat, wide cords tend to be older ones) and I spotted a featherweight piece of meisen silk ikat with stylised asagao (morning glories) on it, which I bought as a souvenir of some lovely morning glories I'd seen that day, tumbling over a car park wall. Apparently, morning glory grows like a weed in Melbourne, but it is still so beautiful! My only other indulgence there was two metres of a hemp blend summer weight kimono fabric, again weighing very little, with a beautiful design of leaves dyed on it. I managed to squeeze my extra fabrics into my backpack as carry on luggage for the trip home!

Of course, I got to see quite a lot of Melbourne as Heather drove us round. It was the perfect end to a great trip. After a while, a lot of the architecture started to remind me of Victorian spa and seaside resorts here - think of the verandas and lace ironwork on the shops in Llandrindod Wells, Llandudno and Malvern, among other places. Here are some random photos, taken from the car.

I almost didn't mention the place where we had lunch on Tuesday - I had the cheese and Vegemite scones.

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