Men are men, blokes are quilters

Stitches in time: Robert James cannot help himself making quilts. Picture: John Veage
Stitches in time: Robert James cannot help himself making quilts. Picture: John Veage

THERE is an "empty dance card" and "a quilting wife" for Robert James, 72, of Cronulla.

These are the descriptions that Mr James jokingly uses when describing his "love affair" with quilting which began in 1990.

After meeting up with Marie, a friend's wife, he asked her to make him a quilt.

"She said to me, 'Make it yourself' — and that's what I did," he said.

"Now when Marie and I go to quilt shows she'll tell people I'm her quilting husband and the husband who pays for it all is the one at home."

Since then he has been stitching and stitching — with one work comprising 16,000 pieces in a square metre.

A rarity in a female-dominated quilting world, Mr James quipped "being from the heartland of Sutherland Shire, where typically men are men, I like to say blokes are quilters.

"Men were quilters in the Napoleonic wars, soldiers patched and cut down clothes to keep themselves warm."

A NSW Quilting Guild member for 24 years, Mr James has made more than 60 quilts.

Fellow quilters in the shire have said he has them in stitches literally and metaphorically during his quilting classes.

Mr James will have two quilts on display at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair, July 9-13.

Global Warming took him five months to complete, contains 5000 pieces that were machine-stitched and hand-stitched, and spans 1.2 by 1.5 metres.

Indigo to Silk took him 64 days to complete and utilises pre-loved kimono silks.

Fair details: Sydney Exhibition Centre, James Craig Road, Glebe Island, Rozelle, July 9-13. Adults $18, pensioners $16, children 5-16 years $9, family of four $42, kids under 5 years free. Tickets: upon entry or