Greetings! I've decided to reinstate my Quiz a Quilter column on an occasional basis and I am delighted to introduce our first two subjects - Di Jobbins and Di Bracey. Team Di create the most beautiful, fresh and colourful quilts and coordinate a quilting group in Sydney. II was so pleased to finally meet them both at the Craft & Quilt Fair this past weekend- here's a pic of a Linden between two Dis which was taken on my mobile.
Tell us a bit about you?
Di J: I have three adult children and three grandchildren. Three years ago I moved, with my black labrador Chester, from an elegant historic Victorian sandstone rectory to a modern high rise apartment in hip-and-happening inner city Zetland. It’s been a huge change, but I’ve tried to embrace it and these days I describe myself as “urbanly renewed”. I think my quilt-making style has moved with me and become more modern too.
Di B: I’m a quilter and a member of Paddington Patchwork. Di Jobbins and I started St Mark’s Quilters six years ago and we co-ordinate it together. I am a dog lover; we recently said good bye to my beloved and beautiful golden retriever, Matilda, and I live with my 90 years young mother who is also a quilter. We have a very special time stitching together.
What’s your earliest memory of sewing/craft?
Di J: My Grandma used to make all her clothes on a treadle machine, and I clearly remember, around 8 years of age, sitting on the verandah of her Queenslander, cutting up scraps of her fabric and handstitching them into clothes for my dolls.
Di B: I’ve always loved fabrics and sewing, and started making my own clothes around the age of 16.
When did you start quilting?
Di J: That depends… I started stitching hexagons together and making a quilt for my first baby about forty years ago, and ever since then I’ve dabbled in quiltmaking. Being self-taught, though, I broke all the rules and made some ‘shockers’ that I’d rather forget. I really only started to learn the craft of quilting properly in 2003 when I joined the on-line group Southern Cross Quilters. Here I discovered a huge friendly community and began to pick up tips from experienced quilters like Jenny Bowker, Lisa Walton and Pam Holland.
Di B: In about 1995 my sister-in-law invited me to join a “Log Cabin” workshop with her and this was my first patchwork project, making a double bed doona cover. Then when I met Di J (it’s all her fault really!) we decided to go on our first “fabric safari” visiting quilt shops around Sydney for the day. We had a ball together, and the rest is history.
What’s your favourite part of the quilt-making process?
Di J: Definitely the quilting itself! After taking several free motion quilting classes, but falling by the wayside for lack of practice (who knew?), two years ago Di Bracey and I decided to hold each other accountable and seriously jump into learning domestic machine quilting. We worked our way through some of Angela Walters’ Craftsy classes, and took part in a “daily FMQ” challenge run by Carrie Hanson @gotchacoveredquilting on Instagram, which helped motivate us to practice. These days I love plotting and planning my quilting designs as I piece, and I would definitely say that domestic free motion machine quilting is the part of quilt making that gets my heart racing. I love the texture created by quilting!
Di B: That’s hard to answer. I love choosing the fabrics, and watching the patterns evolve as I stitch, and I really love the binding. The sandwiching isn’t my favourite task though.
What project are you currently working on?
Di J: I’ve just finished the my entry for the 2016 Sydney Quilt Show. It’s called “Out of the Square”, I’ve designed it myself, and it’s a very colourful, modern interpretation of the traditional Cathedral Windows pattern. At the same time Di B and I always seem to have a quilt percolating along for either Royal Prince Alfred Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit or the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre at Liverpool (“The Marcia”), both of which we support through St Mark’s Quilters.
Di B: Like most quilters, I’m currently working on a few projects. I’ve just finished a king size quilt, “The Chocolate Box”, by Lynne Alchin, with a few of my variations. It took me at least 2 years and will be a gift for my sister. I’ve entered my version of Cristina Tepsick’s “Hillside Houses” in this year’s Sydney Quilt Show and, in between making quilts for St Mark’s Quilters, I’m using a bundle of Karen Lewis’ Blueberry Park fabrics in rainbow colours to make Julie Herman’s “Arcade Game” quilt for my grand-niece.
When did you meet each other – how did you become friends?
Di J: Di B and I met at our church, St Mark’s Darling Point. At that time she had a business making children’s clothes and selling them at weekend markets. As stitchers we were something of an endangered species in our part of Sydney, so it was natural that we became friends.
Di B: We first met when Di’s husband Boak arrived as our new Rector at St Mark’s Church, Darling Point. As we got to know one another, we learnt we both shared a great love of fabrics, craft and stitching and our friendship grew from there.
Tell us about St Mark’s Quilters – why was it formed/how long have you been running etc.
Di J and Di B: After a visit from American quilter, Linda Hungerford, in 2009, and hearing about the Stitchin’ Mission beginner quiltmaking classes she taught in local churches back in Iowa, I dreamed of doing something just like it at St Mark’s. The dream became a reality when Linda returned to Sydney later that year to visit her daughter, and agreed to teach the course while she was here. It was a crazy plan, with only two quilters in our congregation! Somehow, though, with Di Bracey’s help, “Team Di” signed up 24 enthusiastic beginners, and over the next 5 weeks we made fun and fabulous cot-sized quilts for the newly opened KU Marcia Burgess kindy for autistic children. Some of our quilters enjoyed it so much we decided to continue and the monthly St Mark’s Quilters workshops came into being the following year.
Tell us about some of the quilts/projects St Mark’s Quilters work on?
Di J and Di B: We make two types of quilts. Using the RPA Hospital’s guidelines we make tiny Blankets of Love, approximately 24 inches square, to give to grieving parents who have lost a bub during, or soon after, childbirth, or to parents with a seriously ill bub in the NICU.
In addition, every child enrolled at The Marcia (a KU kindy named after our friend, the late Marcia Burgess) receives one of our cot-sized quilts to keep. These little children, and their parents struggling with the challenges of having an autistic child, really appreciate our comforting quilts.
What’s next for you – where do you see yourself in two/five/ten years’ time (whichever you feel like answering)?
Di J: After my first quilt show entry, “Taking Liberties”, won third place in its category at this year’s Sydney Quilt Show, I’m looking forward to entering more shows.
I find it exciting communicating with, learning from, and being inspired by quilters from all around the world through today’s social media, and I hope to grow these friendships in future, starting with my planned trip to Quiltcon 2017 in Savannah, Georgia, with Linda Hungerford. It’s my dream to have a quilt juried into Quiltcon one day.
Di B: I’d love to work on improving my free motion quilting and my quilting skills overall, work through my stash of fabrics, and reduce the amount I’m collecting. I’d like to hope that we are still successfully co-ordinating St Mark’s Quilters for many years to come, and making Blankets of Love and kindy quilts for babies and children.
Where can we find you? (FB, Instagram etc).
Di J: I’m on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/di.jobbins, but I’m most active on Instagram @darlingdi.
I also have a blog which I’m working hard to write on a regular basis. www.snippetsnscraps.blogspot.com.
Of course there’s always my email email@example.com
If people are interested in attending St Mark’s Church, or St Mark’s Quilters, where can they find more information?
Di J and Di B: Just pop one of us an email. St Mark’s Quilters has a monthly Saturday workshop in our church hall at Darling Point (Sydney) and we welcome new members who already know the basics of how to make quilts.