From The Land of Oz
From The Land of Oz
©1990 by Ami Simms
46" x 34"

This was my first “memory quilt.” While it didn’t have any photo-transfers in it, this is the quilt that got me rolling in that direction. I was invited to teach in Australia back in 1990 and went over with Harriet Hargrave, Margaret Miller, Jeana Kimball, and Marsha McCloskey.

Marsha and I are great friends and we try to make the most of the time we spend together seeing as she lives in WA and I live in MI and the only time we get to play is when we teach together.

We decided almost as soon as we got there that we would make quilts to commemorate this fantastic experience of teaching in Australia. I don’t think either one of us had ever been so far away from home before.

It was the most frustrating quilt I ever made. No supplies, no fabric, no pattern, no idea of what I was doing until I did it. It was the first time I had ever “winged it.” I was way out of my comfort zone.

Students shared fabric with us or we picked through the trashcans after class. I worked on a borrowed sewing machine and nothing seemed to go together or look right. I love “darks” and here my quilt was “light.” I like “planned” and here I was working “on the fly.” This quilt just about drove me nuts!

Things started to turn around for me when I found I needed muslin and cut up my Symposium tote bag! Freed me up a little. Then I embraced the non-planned personality of the quilt and stared to have some fun with it.

From The Land of Oz has bits and pieces of all sorts of strange things. As long as I felt it related to the trip, it went in the quilt. The Australiana fabric was a gift from one of our students, and is by far the best part of the quilt because so many things fit in the quilt: I fed the kangaroos Arnott’s Biscuits, I bought Airplane Jelly (like Jell-O™) and I tried Vegimite which Aussie children take to like US kids go for peanut butter. (Tastes like the dirt between your toes!)

There are guild pins and patches, signatures and drawings, even a sprig of gum nuts! (Remember the song? “Kookabura sits in an old gum nut tree…”)

It’s also a musical quilt. I bought a stuffed kangaroo for my daughter that played Waltzing Matilda. I figured what she didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her, so I gave it a “kangroo-ectomy” and put the pressure sensitive music box in the quilt.