The Shepherd’s Quilt

Written by AHQ

13 August 2013

I have a special post for you tonight.  Every now and then, and I haven’t done if for ages, I show you a quilt and tell you a bit of the background behind it.  Hope you enjoy this one.

Now that this quilt has been received I can share it with you.  As I said the other night, I don’t get to sew too much any more so when I do I really enjoy it and making this quilt was a blast!  The worst part was waiting for it to be received!

Ever since I started AHQ I have made it my mission to make certain quilts for certain people.  I always like to make the quilt for those that I have a lot to do with.  There are some people who I am regularly in contact with and if at all possible I like to be the one to make their quilts.  I can’t always do it but I always regret it if I can’t.  Thankfully, with Lynn’s help I can usually have some sort of input into these quilts.  Usually I do the applique and Lynn does the quilt top and the order in which that happens can vary.  Very, very occasionally I will make the whole quilt myself and these days that is a very rare luxury on my part as I am so caught up in the admin.  One group of people whose quilts I specifically like to do myself are the Chaplains, specifically the Head Chaplain in Dubai and also the Chaplain of whichever ship is deployed at the time.  I find the chaplains are often so busy looking after everyone else that they are loathe to ask for anything for themselves so it is my mission to give a little back to them – and sometimes they do not make it that easy.

I have quite a bit to do, relatively speaking, with each Ship’s chaplain, so I just have to do that quilt myself.  I love the fact that each chaplain is different.  ANZAC’s chaplain told me he loved Essendon Football Club, was a homesick Melbournian and was proud of his Scottish/Irish Heritage. That gave me loads to work with.  You can check it out here if you wish.

The Toowoomba Chaplain had a very simple request – a predominantly blue quilt with some semblance of the Navy Chaplain’s crest on it.  I was really glad to make this one, seen here, as I had seen a large version of the crest in the Chaplaincy Centre at HMAS Kuttabul and thought at the time it would be good to applique.

When it got to the Chaplain for Newcastle I asked him what he would like and he simply told me RED  SCIFI!   That is it!  Just Red SciFi!  I did ask him for some more info but he was not forth coming.  Like I said, sometimes the Chaplains do not make it easy!  🙂

Thankfully I had an ace up my sleeve!  As you may remember the wife of this current Chaplain has been sewing along with us as well as her daughters and son.  Thank goodness.

I wrote to her and asked her to expand on her husband’s scant information.  This is what she said 

“He loves battle star Gallactica, Red Dwarf, Star Trek, Firefly, Dr who, Star Wars……..galaxy prints……. he is pretty easy going with a slightly warped sense of humour………. loves the Cylons on Battlestar Gallactica, Darlecs and Tardis on Dr Who.   His favorite in Star Wars would be Chewbacca, R2D2 and Darth Vader.”

Now I was in business.   If you know me well, you will know that I also have a good sense of humour (well I think it is good, my teens tell me it is lame!) which I suppose can be a little warped.  I set about my research.  I try to be as thorough as possible when I make a personalised quilt and I do a little bit at a time.  I can’t sit and work on a quilt for a concentrated period as I have too much else to do so I do a bit here and a bit there until I have all the bits assembled and then i will spend a day, usually a Sunday while my husband is off Gliding, putting the whole quilt top together.

For this quilt I watched a couple of episodes of Star Wars for a re-famil.  My sons were once big Star Wars fans, until they became too cool for it, so we have ALL the DVDs.   I watched one episode of Red Dwarf……that was enough for me.  I hired the Firefly series on DVD and watched that one weekend whilst sewing on binding or whatever on other quilts.  I googled Cylons and Darlecs and Tardis’.    That gave me the confidence to do the rest of the quilt.

I collected a few bits and pieces from others.  Jenny made the embroidery of Buzz Lightyear, evidence of, I hoped, a shared sense of humour.  

Michele embroidered a batch of quotes for me – “May the Force Be With You”,  “No Power in the Verse Can Stop Me”, “Beam Me Up Scotty” etc.

I was very lucky that the chaplain sent me a photograph of himself, standing with his back to the ship’s railing with the USS Eisenhower in the background!  What a score.  I sent the photo to a wonderful magician who works with my husband in Melbourne and she returned it to me slightly enhanced with two different versions.  Here we have Obi Chaplain Kenobe………….

and Chaplain Lester from Red Dwarf.  If you look closely you will see that “Lester” has dreadlocks!  Don’t you think they suit him?

And I did a version of the Chaplain’s crest in the appropriate colours for the quilt.  I also needed a little bit to add to the top of one side and the bottom of the other side and found this awesome fabric with teeny tiny pics and words on it – how cute!  “Don’r Eat Me” and “Help” small enough to be read on the binding.

The Chaplain had seen the quilt that Su had made for her recipient that had “HMAS Newcastle 2013” spelled out in ship’s flags and he said that looked awesome so I knew I had to add flags in somehow but I had trouble trying think of the appropriate word.  “Chaplain”, “Newcastle” and his name seemed to obvious and not really in line with the theme of the quilt.  One day when I was driving my son to church it hit me!  In the series “Firefly” the Preacher is called “Shepherd”.  It could not be more appropriate!  Perfect for a chaplain and in line with the theme!

Finally I had to work out how to quilt the whole shebang.  I didn’t to give it to one of the quilters as I knew the photos on it would cause a bit of a problem.  As a rule quilters do not like to quilt over faces in photos.  I decided to do it myself and I call this pattern Lightsabre Blows.  Just straight lines in random directions from one side to the other and from top to bottom, strategically aligned to miss the faces but still quilt closely enough to hold the quilt together.

At last the quilt was finished.  If you are not a Sci Fi Fan I will tell you what all the pics are.  On the left hand collumn – from the top, Chewbaka, the Tardis, the Chaplain’s cross and anchor and and the essential sign from Star Trek that everyone knows and not everyone can do!  On the right hand side a Tie Fighter from Star Wars, the Star Trek Badge, a Cylon and a Darlec.

So there you go – my quilt for the chaplain and shared, including his handsome face, with his blessings.  This is his response when the quilt arrived.

“Hi Jan-Maree

Well mail is in and there are many happy people on board – including me – What can I say “thank you” does not seem quite enough for the effort that has gone into my quilt.  You will be pleased to know that I needed to get a young Midshipmen to read the flags for me and in true navy style he first spelt out “N-E-R-D -A-L-E-R-T” which got a good laugh from all present before revealing the truth of SHEPHERD.  Thank you so much, this is a real blessing.  As for the pictures you had made for the quilt – there are some very jealous people on board.  I look forward to sharing the snacks and Biscuits with the guys and girls.  I will email more later but just wanted to say how much your Quilt has brightened my day.”

And yep, that email brightened my day!  (and don’t you love that Midshipman!!!)

Till next time……………….keep spreading the word and happy stitching!  JMxx

Follow Us…

You May Also Like…


  1. Janine C

    So love the shepherd's quilt and yes, that midshipman certainly knows his chaplain. We are big Red Dwarf fans in our house … not the other sci fi though, def comedy sci fi, and love the face on that pic. Well done Jan-Maree, it's an amazing quilt.

  2. Janine C

    My husband has just had a look at the photos of this quilt and correctly named all the sci fi shows illustrated. He says well done, it's an amazing achievement.

  3. Sue Niven

    Out of this World! Being in a huge Sci Fi buff family myself, You have done the quilt Proud! I do believe the Force IS with you!


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *