News Flash!! For all the lovely folks who have been waiting for my book in Australia. Material Obsession have some copies in store. Call them on on 02 9819 6455 to get a copy today. 

And now for the 2019 Australian Quilt Convention - Australia's largest quilting extravaganza!!!

Back in April,  from the 10th -14th, I was honoured to be one of 12 tutors from around the world; different parts of the US, UK, Japan, Mexico and various places in Australia to teach at the Australian Quilt Convention, 

There are lots of things that make AQC a premier event but the first thing you notice as you arrive is the beautiful venue. The Royal Exhibition Building is a world heritage listed building built in 1880, set amongst gardens, close to the center of the city of Melbourne

Such a beautiful, grand building. I always stop to admire its ornate detailing.

Inside the ceilings are covered in painted patterns and scenes depicting different scenes. 

Painted details everywhere!! Even the ceiling is covered in a pattern of painted flowers. 

When I was at the height of my florist exhibiting days I would help out on big installations and sculptural displays here for the Melbourne Flower and Garden Show. It's quite special to come back to the Exhibition Buildings as a quilter with displays of my quilts. 

The tutors all gathered on Wednesday afternoon for a tour of the building and introduction to the event. We were then shown our classrooms. Well hello, I know that face smiling back at me at the entrance of Classroom 2. 
I walked in and my heart did a leap of joy to see 20 brand new shiny Bernina sewing machines all lined up on work tables ready and waiting for the busy days ahead. Each sewing machine had little gifts provided by Bernina for its user. Such a thoughtful touch. 

I hung my quilts around the room and got set up for my workshops.

Lots of quilts for inspiration and to add colour and character to the room.

This is a series of mini modern quilts I made a few years ago. I think this is the first time I've had them all out on display together. 

In the evening we headed off to the the Opening Cocktail Party. The night began with lots of entertainment, a sequinned dancing troupe, speeches and awards, dancing tutors, yes, they made us dance up to the stage and then we sang a special AQC song. I looked into the colourful lights and smiled my way through, its always all about having a fun time. 

Afterwards there was drinks and nibbles while circus entertainers performed tricks and wowed the crowd. I joined in and did some hula hooping. I was surprised that I still remember the moves. 

I enjoyed catching up with friendly faces.

People from around Australia who had done my classes showed me what they had made with their blocks. Mostly by pictures on their phones but Rebecca came dressed in her show and tell. 

Here I am with Skye on the left, who has magic selfie powers, and Gillian Travis, a quilter from the UK who was also a tutor.

Lovely Skye again and that's Rachel Porter in the middle. Rachel was my roommate for the week. The two Rach's. Rachel is awesome, We laugh that even though our quilt styles are totally and utterly different we got along like a house on fire!! It was great to share the teaching experience with her and I have my fingers crossed that we'll be able to meet up and teach somewhere together again. (Any shops or retreats out there that want to book a dynamic duo?)

Thursday morning, I was up bright and early. The anticipation of the exciting day ahead. Did I mention that AQC is the biggest event in Australia! I think there were lots of happy quilters waking up early knowing there were fun times ahead!

Each morning I would leave early and walk through the gardens.

A bit of quiet time in the fresh air, swishing through the autumn leaves 

admiring flowers..

I was particularly taken by this fountain and the way the sunlight danced with the water.

The first day was extra exciting for me because it was the first time my book was on sale in Australia. Here it is on the Quiltmania stand.

My dear, lovely friend Denise Griffiths was the first to buy my book, and the first to ask me to sign it. That was one of those landmark moments for me. I admit my hand was shaking a little as I wrote a message. 

Later in the day in my lunch break I raced back down to the Quiltmania stand and signed more books. 
The advanced lots of books sent specially for AQC pretty much sold out in a day!! 
Thank you to everyone who have bought copies of my book!! And thanks to everyone who have sent messages, emails, posted photos on social media and told me in person how much they like it. I so appreciate all the wonderful feedback. I really did work extra hard and put everything I had into it to make it a special book so it's wonderful to know its appreciated. 

A quilt from the book on display at the Quiltmania stand. My long- time blog followers will recognise that its a remake of my Sunny days in Daisy Town quilt that I first made in 2012.. It was fun to make a new version with a sunny folded star centre. 

Another morning I arrived early to find my quilts hanging in the show. Each tutor had two quilts hanging as an example of their work  I picked two of my very favourite quilts that showed different styles of using Whizz Bang circles and also my hand quilting as these were the techniques I was teaching in my workshops.  

Zap Zing Zowie

and Gee Whizz

They are such different quilts but both both equally dynamic. I find that people mostly like one or the other depending on their preference for bright colours or more neutral colours. 

I loved the way the quilts looked as though they were floating. 

In the evenings there were lectures. Joe the Quilter began his with a song. He started out in life as a folk singer which in a roundabout way lead to quilt making. (if you look closely you'll see he's wearing a heart badge that I gave him, he wore it for the whole duration of AQC and received compliments about it, I was pretty chuffed about that) 
I really enjoyed his talk for his observations about honouring tradition by making contemporary quilts. His quilt stories were all told with a lovely warm sense of humour. 

Wonderful, special, unique quilts. 

In the meantime my workshops were so much fun and a hive of activity that I forgot to take photos until the end. Everyone was lovely and so productive. So many beautiful blocks were made. 

Lots of spectacular, wonderful circles, glowing like sparkling lights!!

Happy smiles!! 

The next night Gillian Travis did her trunk show of diary quilts. Lots of mini quilts depicting the days of her life, inspired by photos from her travels around the world. 

Hey Gillian!! You're a fabric super star!

Then there was the Gala Ball on the Saturday night, another time that I didn't take many photos, just a couple...

Crowds of quilters arriving.

and Greg the Bernina King looking resplendent in his gold jacket up on the big screen.

That's my pine star circle on the Gala Dinner program. This came in handy when the lady next to me asked me what sort of quilts I make. 

Day 4, Sunday began with the most wonderful surprise. 
I was setting up my room for the days class when Kathleen Ooi from my workshop 2 days earlier turned up with a finished quilt. She created windows of painted fish swimming on a background of blue-green seaweed. Kathleen must have worked at night to get the blocks finished and the background quilted. All she had to do was bind it and it would be finished. It meant the world to me that she'd enjoyed making the blocks so much that she'd worked to get a quilt finished in a couple of days, and that she's brought it to show me. 

My last workshop was a relaxing one of organic hand quilting.

We started with straight stitches and soon moved onto all sorts of stitches.. 

As with all of my classes it's about having fun, finding the joy in creating. 

You can see everyone totally followed their needles in all sorts of fun ways. 

We were in a beautiful room with the gentle autumn sunlight shining down. Hand stitching and chatting was the perfect pace for our final day. 

For all the sewing and quilts it's the people that take these these events to the next level.

It was so wonderful to see Jo and Mandy again. We met when we had a Whizz Bang weekend at Amitie last year and have stayed in touch since. 

Joe the Quilter from the US. What a great guy!! He's a fabulous folk singer and now a super rock star quilter. He plays guitar for his students as they sew and makes everyone around him smile.

Its always a joy to see Suzanne Gummow. She truly makes my soul smile. I think we were a double rainbow in a past life!

Jenny Bowker. A most gracious and beautiful woman. I could sit beside her for days listening to her stories of travels, teaching and living in all parts of the world. 

And all of the people who said hello, that I had random chats with, and the ones who saw me and didn't get a chance to say hello in person like Sarah of PatchworksPlus in Tasmania who took this photo of me when I was talking about my quilts. 

I'll finish with some of the random photos I took during my time in Melbourne. I'm always looking for geometric shapes, lines, angles... inspiration. 

So to summarise... AQC was the best!! 
Awesome venue, fabulous people, Expertise Events/Intocraft were excellent hosts. I'd recommend the event to everyone and I'd do it all again in a heartbeat! Yes- I'd even do the dancing and singing on stage again, it's all about having fun after all.