Breaking out the Outback Wife


For those who read this post without background knowledge of quilting fabrics then the title must be mystifying if not, on humanitarian grounds, potentially alarming!  But for those who do follow fabric then you will know that this is a fabric range called Outback Wife in bark cloth by the Australian designer Gertrude Made inspired  by women she met in the Outback  (quite literally – this one is called Kirsten). That of itself isn’t unusual, fabric designers take inspiration where they can find it, but what was more unique was shamelessly going for a vintage feel in using bark cloth and some beautiful and unusual designs in a large print florals.

It got a lot of attention and despite the eye watering price at £27 per metre it caught on amongst dress makers and quilters. I resisted but gave in and bought a metre decrying it was the most expensive fabric purchase of my life. So it would take a special project to make me break it out and cut it up and thanks to a Sew Along for Aneela Hoey’s book Stitched Sewing Organisers I found one. 

Although I don’t buy many quilting books I made an exception for Aneela Hoey’s book and just like the Ronseal advertising slogan  ‘it does exactly  what it says on the tin’ it has some great projects for being more organised in the sewing room. Pennie @tuppencehalfpenny ran the Sew Along on IG for the last few months covering each project in the book, some 15.  It’s been fun to follow and it’s amazed me just how many have done every project. I just dipped in and out as I saw the need for the specific project either for me or a gift. If you are curious each is blogged here; Sewing Folio, See Through pouch (right at the end) and Triple Pouch

So the last project was the Book and Tool Folio. I decided this large in effect fabric file deserved me breaking out the Outback Wife.  I took it to the wire and sewed it in one session, although I had already cut it out which took quite a while particularily as I wanted to fussy cut both the outer and lining pieces.


Aneela’s instructions were as usual clear if not a little pared back. If I have a criticism it is just that, she is economical with the instructions which you need to read word by word because every word counts. Had I done that with the triple pouch I wouldn’t have ended up with two sides flapping! And I also would have preferred proper drawings not  hand drawn ones but I guess the economics of a specialist book means there isn’t a great deal of fat to pay for graphic artists. But don’t get me wrong this is a great book and I’ve rarely had such value from a book in terms of using so many of the designs.

I paired the Outback Wife with some Tula Pink Eden fabrics. I had a last minute change of plan and switched out the original repetition of the top fabric  for more of the harlequin. I love those tiger eyes…


So what is in store for my new sewing organiser? One of the areas of my sewing room which is muddled is the storage of specialist rulers.  I have a gowing collection.  I am quite picky with what I buy but they still multiply and they have a habit of getting lost. I managed to lose a 24″ by 8.5″ ruler the other week which I think we can agree is quite a feat. 

If I had a large room with more wall space then wall storage is probably the best because then you can see if sizes are missing but in the absence of that I needed a solution.   I have a ruler block to hold the bigger rulers and the ones in constant use ….


…but the smaller rulers tend to fall out the slots so they  don’t stand a chance!  Well now they do.  I have gathered them together from all the places they are kept and they have been safely tucked away in this portfolio.  I love the way the see through rulers reveal those tiger eyes.


If I’m honest when I forked out for the fabric I didn’t know what bark cloth was but once it arrived it took me straight back to my childhood.  The feel of the fabric is frankly, and there is no getting away from it, scratchy.  But its saving grace is that it is quite stiff and has a real heft about, more than linen for example. So I can see for a vintage dress or skirt it would have body for that 50’s/60’s flared put style. And for this item it has given it a firmness I like but if I’m honest it’s a bit bulky now to take when sewing away from home… and its not just the exterior, with those lining pieces, there are altogether 9 layers including the two interfacings.  They add up in terms of bulk without the addition of rulers or the contents.  I think I might try a lighter version using a conventional fabric  with a simpler interior but for this one Kirsten will be left on the shelf.

Linking up with Kelly My Quilt Infatuation and Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts


4 thoughts on “Breaking out the Outback Wife

  1. Barkcloth is interesting – I also caved into the eyewatering price and bought 1m, despite the offensively vintage vibe to it. I was a fabrics expo recently and they had barkcloth that was tree rather than cotton! Amazing stuff. What will you do with the rest?


  2. It’s really beautiful. And thank you for the insights into the book, I understand what you mean about instructions that are like that. Efficient but not necessarily clear for instructions – easy to miss a word which has told you to turn the whole thing round. Nevertheless I am going to put it on the birthday list because the projects look fabulous! Great post and beautiful make.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s